Category Archives: Maintenance

The End

Wow! I can’t believe I am still actually working in Big Garden – all the way to “The End” instead of just Continue reading

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Tomato Sacrifices

I’ve been meaning to write about this for about 10 days, but soccer and football and ‘back to school’ took over.

As you know, I always get a late start to my garden because of wet springs – typical here; too large a yard and a need Continue reading

Garden Revolution – In Honor of July 4th!

Big Garden 072809

 

 

 

 

 

Ahead of my original plan, I got a wild hair and decided I had some left over energy last Sunday afternoon, and ripped out the perennial border that I have been promising myself I would do.

Well, I really did it! And, all by myself, too! Continue reading

Gotta Love A (Gardening) Project

MacGyver and I are that odd couple who actually gets along better when we are working on a project,  side by side. I provide the challenge and he provides the solution – it works for us. Provided we both are interested in the results.

And, did I mention my love for fishing line and cable ties and conduit – many things we have done have involved those very items… Yeah, I know it sounds like a shopping list from 50 Shades, but we were doing it first…

While I love getting his help on my ideas, I especially love it when he helps with my gardening ideas. I only really get his time for that when it involves protecting the plants he is interested in:  tomatoes and corn.

So, it was with a twinge of sadness, and a surge of encouragement, that I announced just before dinner that my weeding trip to the garden had revealed a pile of deer scat, two okra seedlings with no leaves, nibbled borage, and the top missing from the in-ground Better Boy tomato (not to confused with the one in the ugly white 5 gallon bucket sitting in plain view! on the pool deck, behind fencing, and now also being supported by a new tomato cage. The cages in BG are old, rusty, and held together by…   wait for it…   cable ties! But, I digress…)

I had his attention now and he agreed to a post-dinner trip to Lowe’s to purchase 1/2″ conduit! I even suggested we use 3/4″ conduit to sink as sleeves into the ground – I looked brilliant! When I asked if I could wrap cable ties on the conduit in 1′ increments to act as ‘rests’ to prevent the fishing line from slipping down, I had him. This is engineering foreplay at its best!

Conduit

When we returned from said shopping trip with seven conduits (1/2″ diameter, 10′ long), he then promptly found seven scraps of 3/4′ conduit that could be cut to 18″ lengths with one end hammered to a point so that they can be driven into the ground as sleeves. (See? After 25 years, I have learned a thing or two. Having taken a Strengthsfinder 2.0 test after being downsized a few years back, I was classified as a Maximizer – surely only because hubby has rubbed off on me…)

Oh, I also admitted that I had done a little research on-line for how this deer fencing could work but admitted that I hadn’t seen anything too ‘official’ – just from fellow bloggers and on Pinterest.  Hook, Line , and Sinker!

Then, something even funnier happened. MacGyver went to YouTube for some more ‘expert opinions’ of how to do this than I could offer and we enjoyed three videos about preferred methods of fencing out deer:

  1. Bamboo stakes holding 12-15 lb test fishing line along the length of the garden with overturned buckets at intervals supporting tin cans tied to the line that fall when a deer moves the line – interesting…
  2. 30 lb test fishing line held taut between stakes – I have 15 lb so will upgrade as this post mentioned trials and errors with thinner and thicker line
  3. A more complicated system involving lines layered diagonally to create a fencing system wider than my area will allow but one that can be lifted for mowing

All of these seemed sensible and insightful until we struck upon a video about designing a water spraying device to deter a cat using motion detection. After many minutes of admitted epic failure on the trials of making the system work, the host admitted that it had taken him 3 weeks to perfect the system only to find that the wannabe banished cat had, in fact, been put to sleep two weeks earlier.

Maybe it is my snorting laughter that keeps MacGyver inspired?

Weeds

Didn’t make it out to the garden this evening due to thunderstorms late afternoon and a work appointment at 6pm. Thought I would get there but didn’t eat until 8:40 so daylight ran out.

I’ve sworn to myself that I would keep ahead of the weeding this year. It is usually the hopelessness of ever catching up with them that leads to my letting the garden fail. So, I worked hard to get most of my beds mulched with grass clippings with the exception of the melons/squashes and pumpkins – which I should be able to do tomorrow evening after the boys cut the lawn. Now that the corn is up, I can finish mulching around the seedlings and not just between the rows, as it is now covered. That leaves the areas where I planted seeds directly that I am still waiting on:  sunflowers, herb triangles, and the cutting flowers bed.

It is the flower bed that I am most concerned about and where I have been spending my time. Wanting a totally loose, cottagy feeling, I made a flower ‘mesclun’ blend of two cosmos, cleome, bells of Ireland, cornflowers and a zinnia that did little for me a couple of years ago but I still had the packet of leftover seeds, so I tossed them in. Really wished I had ordered some nicotiana to add to the mix.  I then scattered the whole lot over the 4′ x 10′ bed.

(If this works as I hope, I will plan better for next year – more varieties and more of seeds of each… See, the invasive gene again seeping into my planning –  I can’t help myself!)

Of course, the watering needed to germinate the new seeds worked its magic on the dormant weed seeds first. Not knowing what all the good seedlings would look like (cosmos and bells of Ireland are fairly distinctive if you have grown them before), I set out to pull only known weeds – there are three that I see every year but I really don’t know what they are. I don’t typically spend a lot of time learning what they are unless really provoked, like with wintercress – long story.

After tonight’s rain and a day of no weeding, I will really need to be committed tomorrow evening!

As to the sunflowers and herbs, I have resolved to do the following if things head south:

  • Purchase a few herbs from final sales and then mulch if no seeds come up
  • Solarize the sunflowers bed if nothing germinates (details to follow, if I have to go that route).

Weeds Whacked

The help I expected to get with turning weeds into dust didn’t quite materialize but I did get my cuppa joe delivery… Next, my sons were offered up to do the chore but their OCD tendencies are still in development. I knew this would have to be my job… But, Thing Two did offer to fill the weed whipper with its particular fuel blend, prime it, and get it started for me.

I am fairly new to using this particular tool but I have been taught to try to cut from the two o’clock side so the weeds blow away with the counter-clockwise motion. It was suggested I also tilt the head a little to get under the dead weeds in order to truly pulverize them.

And for the most part, I did just that.

When the motor sputters and dies, I realize I am out of fuel and Thing Two tells me he used all of the mix available. I call Donny for advice only to have him tell me he will concoct the gas/oil cocktail when he gets back from purchasing an edger. (I am so excited he is adding a new tool to our collection; maybe I CAN get those plastic borders sunk in far enough to stay there now…).

Heading to the pool to dip, I rinse under the shower and take a look at the debris on my legs. Sure, I’d felt things hitting me, and while not pleasant, I’d still been determined to whack those weeds, kinda like Lady Macbeth washing her hands…

Once rinsed, I recognized that I had a cut just below my knew – perhaps a stick had hit me? It stung a little but no big deal. I got in the pool and floated, and then decided to sit reading while I waited for my gasoline bartender to return.

It was then, as I toweled off and sat on a lounge chair that I truly looked at my legs. It looked like I had Chicken Pox – there were  30 – 40 red dot welts on both my calves and lower thighs. Pretty much everywhere my boys’ swim trunks didn’t cover. Hubby’s response, upon return, “That’s why I wear boots…” Yeah, right, I’d have needed porn-star over-the-knee boots. Wouldn’t that just complete my gardening ‘look’?

Making Raised Beds

My significant other doesn’t help with Big Garden much but he can be counted on to do the tilling and today, he got up and went to his father’s to borrow their tiller. By the time I got up after sleeping in (he forgot to bring me my coffee – to my bed – something I trained him to do years ago), the beds were all tilled but the dead weeds in the pathways still need much work.

Since I was functioning without caffeine, I didn’t immediately notice that one of my Better Boy tomatoes had disappeared and found itself planted in a white 5 gallon bucked inside the pool fence! Can I call it or what?! This is what being with someone for 25 years does…

Now it was up to me to pull all the loosened dirt into the squares, rectangles, triangles, and diamonds that make up the layout of the garden.

Tilling 053114

I am realizing from this picture that I need to pull compost gold out and add to the beds as the piles of dirt are dwindling. (Since I wasn’t there for the tilling, I didn’t get to direct how deep and wide to go, but compost is always a good addition!)

While I work on that, Donny says he will weed whip the dried up weeds into non-existence in the pathways.

Hopefully, we will get the tomatoes and peppers in tomorrow as well as cut back the rest of the chives – working on that theory that their smell will deter deer. I did spray the borders with Liquid Fence and found a shaker can of Deer Away to try too.

I got an email from Burpee that my seeds shipped Friday, so it will be evenings this week when I get the corn in.

Still and all, we are a little ahead of most years. If I get everything planted, next weekend is all about tearing apart that perennial border.

Gallery

You’d Avoid It Too

This gallery contains 3 photos.

To be frank, I have never been really satisfied with the border that faces Big Garden and I have struggled with trying many different plants in it. Some have passed on and more are about to do the same. Here … Continue reading

Gallery

A Garden Renewed: The Challenge

What needs to happen is this: 1- Dig up and divide the keepers: tiger lilies, irises, coreopsis (the tickweed kind, which is spreading, but the yellow flowers are worth it), liatris – if there are any left under the Campanula … Continue reading

A Garden Renewed: A Plan

So, here’s the plan, sort of.

Well, I need to backtrack a little. The perennial border on the facing edge of Big Garden is roughly 34 feet long by 3 feet deep. About 10 feet from the left edge is an old garden gate held in place by two 8 feet tall posts that hold two trumpet vines that I only just manage to contain/form an arch over the entrance. (BTW, trumpet vine is one of my invasive species, but I love it, so I am willing to fight its will to get that doorway…)

So, my goal for year one of the reno is to attack those first 10 feet. The next two years will address the remaining border. After 3 years, I really should start over again with the intention to divide what I love, toss the rest (eeks, I can hardly kill a plant, so I will be giving away anything I can’t use that isn’t going to be poison to another’s garden), and find space for improvements.

I’ve already decided I need brighter colors. Big Garden is half an acre from the house so I need orange, yellow, white, purple, magenta, sage green. Currently, the pale pink Campanula, lavender catmint, pink liatris just don’t show up.

Again, I have known this in the back of my mind for a while. I am not an unread gardener; I’ve just been in denial of what needed to be done.