Saturday, March 31, 2012

It was HOT today!

I was working in the sun, and I did not even notice that I was overheating until, of course, I WAS!

I went in and laid down for a bit, when I got up again I noticed that it was 87 degrees out. I had intended to spend the entire afternoon in the garden, because DH is off this weekend with the scouts and the kids are old enough to heat up leftovers.

Nope. I must have laid down for an hour or two before I felt better. It is obviously too hot outside for me!

My youngest wanted a ride to the library so we swapped favors: He got a ride and near sunset -at which time it was only 82 degrees! he helped me get the seeds into the ground.

Seasons do not WAIT! A lot of seeds need to go in during the relative cool of spring, and it is almost too late to be planting the cauliflowers and such!

Half of the garden is ready to be seeded and we got most of that done. I had INTENDED to make a SMALL garden this year, but I had a lot of half-used  packets of seeds that were just SITTING there and.....

They are planted.

DS got way too many seeds in each hill but I can thin them later. Most of those seed packets are empty, and he did not plant that many hills! He did maybe 20 odd hills, and he had 10 half-used  packets, most of which are now empty.

I will thin, and the garden will be glorious!

Friday, March 30, 2012

My kitcchen table is full of flowers in jars!

The floor might be stripped but the table is bright and cheerfull! I must have 50 daffodils there!

The store is going to send somebody out wednesday to see if i have stripped it well enough or not. If they say it isn't good enough thenmy husband wants to go with another company, which sounds good because I am out of patience with the floor!

The 4 new chicks are getting big and they are pleading to go out with the big birds, but I know better. Hens kill stray chicks: it is only the presence of the broody hen which protects them when they are hatched in the middle of  a flock.

They are at a particularly scruffy stage, LOL!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy but tired!!!!!!!!!!!

Today my order FINALLY arrived! I was afraid that it would not arrive until it had gotten hot out!!!!!!!

As soon as I could, I drafted my youngest and we planted the dwarf Liberty apple, the V for Victory rose, and the Saskatoon berry bush. Since the holes were already dug by my daughter I could have done it myself, resting between each plant, but I decided that I did not want to. Besides, my son had expressed an interest in earning money, and I pay $5 an hour.

I showed him how to look for the color change along the stem to know how deeply to plant it, how to gently press the soil around the roots while the holes were being filled, and how to keep the roots out of the sun for as long as possible.

Then I had him water them in and clear up the mess.

I only have one tree left to arrive, and I ordered that e-mail. Since I did not get a thank-you-for-your-order email I am nervous that the order might not have gone through: I will have to closely examine my credit card statement when it arrives.

In the greenhouse the beets and the carrots are up, and so is a very tasty lettuce that I only have one plant of. I wish I knew what variety it is! I might let it go to seed to so that I can have more of it!

The turnips are dead from the aphids: the only good thing about that is that most of the aphids died with them. There was too much room between the turnips and the other plants, and not that many of them make the trip!

My greenhouse flowers are blooming, but it does not look as pretty as I thought that they would! My flower design ability has never been that great. The bed with the windflowers and the pansy's are blooming well enough, but it mostly looks untidy. Colorfull, yes, but untidy! Still, it pleases me that they are healthy and blooming!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I might have overdone it.

I worked a little on the floor, took my youngest to town after he worked ont eh floor and stacked some wood, and then DD and i worked outside for probably 45 minutes. I felt fine.

THEN, I took a long, relaxing bath to clean up and soak the grime from under my nails., I am relaxed, all right: I am so relaxed I need my cane to walk inside the house, instead of just needing it when I walk on the grass. I hate it when my body flat out quits like this, but once in a while I do too much and it does.

If it was just me I would open a can of something for my dinner. I am a little bit of a prepper, and on days like this it sure comes in handy! There is canned meat and canned stew. But, it is Sunday and I feel like something a little more fancy than canned meat over rice.

I asked my daughter if she would like to run errands and be paid for it, and so I have sent her off to the store and she will pick up DS while she is at it. I will have the family cook, because when my body stops like this it takes several hours to recharge it.

If it were not for the kids I would not dare to do so much or push myself so hard.

I drafted my daughter again!

Last year I planted vining crops through holes in woven barrier. It left a lot of dead vines behind that needed to be cleared before I plant this year! Also, during the winter we folded back the plastic so that the right of way could be cleared for the Utility workmen who will be putting up new lines.

They appear to have chosen where they will be working, and it is well away from the garden so I had DD put two of the woven plastic strips back, and I weighed it down with bricks and with metal pins. We also cleared away the dead vines from last year and made everything tidy. There is now an 8 foot by 50 foot strip of garden waiting to be planted!

Because my feet and ankles are the most affected, I did the lower level work, crawling along the edges of the plastic on my hands and knees and re-inserting pins and placing bricks, My daughter used the rake to remove and take away the dead give me a clear field so that I could work.

We are also stripping the floor of the old linoleum so that we can have a new floor. I was told that due to the age of the house that I would need to either have an asbestos test done or strip the old stuff ourselves. I thought, how hard could it be to remove the old linoleum? It was already cracked and broken in two spots!

HA! It is a BEAR! To make it worse, the kids lack patience with it and their attention keeps wandering. As a result, I am doing 80% of it. They help some, and I pay them for it, but if I keep them at it for TOO long they get not very productive. So I try to keep them motivated for an hour at a time and then release them to enjoy their spring break. I have the patience to keep coming back to it and so I have done most of it.

The kids WERE invaluable when it came to empty and move the refridgerator: they attacked the job  with energy and they did not stop until it was done. Teenagers just seem to do best when you give them an active job instead of a fiddly one. Patience seems to be a gift of middle aged people, just as energy and enthusiasm is a gift to teenagers.

I should have had the asbestos test done. It would have meant $35 and there is a fair-to-middling chance that it would have come back positive, but I really HATE sitting on the ground and scraping the old backing off that has been glued to the floor. Stripper helps and boiling water helps, but it is still a positively GRUESOME job!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Greenhouse update: The weed seeds are up but the carrots are not!

Oh, well, give it time! (Though patience is not my strong point)

On the down side there was a light brown scum on the underside of the plastic that covered the main bed. I looked at it more carefully: Yep. Aphids! I can only theorize that the increase in warmth and humidity at night made all of the eggs hatch. In the past I have thrown a few ladybugs in to keep them down, but I didn't see any this year.

I have an infestation of aphids of BIBLICAL proportions! Half of those lovely salad greens are gone, and even the tulips are damaged! I rinsed tonight's salad greens 6 times, after a 4 hour soak! And, I went over every leaf with a fine toothed comb. Bugs are part of the ecosystem but that does not mean that I have to eat them.

There is a second split in the plastic tonight: the Midwest is famous for its wind, and it has been howling all day today. Tomorrow when the drizzle stops I will go out with a roll of tape. The split is up too high for me to get all of it but the plastic only needs to last a few more weeks.

The plastic tarp cost me about $100, but there was enough for more than 2 covers. That will work out for $33-$50 a year, depending how much is left in the roll. That would buy a lot of vegetables, but the REAL purpose is recreation for the Mama! It gives me a break, and 9 months of a hobby might just be worth the $30 odd dollars.

 I have a little plastic step stool to sit on that I can pull up to a bed before I weed it, and make my plans for what to do in there next..This winter I often needed a light spring jacket while I worked in the greenhouse, but since it was well below freezing outside it was really very nice!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Greenhouse update: Just because it is warm during the day does not mean that one layer of plastic is enough!

With the temps outside in the 50s and 60s during the day, I have not been putting the cover over the beds. MISTAKE! The seeds have been planted for a couple of weeks, and not a single seed is up!

The ground acts as a heat sink, but it is still getting too cool in the greenhouse over night. Most seeds need the temperature to be in the 60's to germinate. So, I covered the beds with my lightest plastic layer, to trap the heat onto the bed.

It is possible that I am wrong, and the problem is that the high heat during the day-it must be 80 in there- is sucking the moisture out. If that is so then the moisture should condense on the plastic over the bed and drip on down again.

I hope to have seedlings up in 3 days!

On the GOOD side, the tulips and the windflowers are up. And, the few surviving turnips are putting out some lovely greens, which will be a good addition to the next salad that I make!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Today I planted 10 Martha Washington asparagus plants.

I already have asparagus, but the variety that I have has been a real dissapointment.

It is true that my existing asparagus is fat and yields well-just as promised- but it is also rather tough and fibrous. Also, each plant only sends up one spear at a time. That means that if you miss a day picking, the one spear will be too large, and until you remove it no other spears will start. Oh, a few will start a second spear: perhaps 20% at best? The spears LOOK spectacular, but for me it is all about the eating!

At any rate, I am going back to the older, more TENDER variety! The one that sends up shoots that are more slender but they are tender and there are more of them!

Now, there is a great deal of foolishness in print about how asparagus should be planted. The old method was to dig a trench 6 feet deep, plant the roots in the bottom, and fill it is slowly with composted horse manure. A truly intimidating task!

Modern directions say to spread out the roots and bury the crown under 6 inches of dirt. This, too, is unecessary.

I can tell you, it is not the method of planting that counts it is the quality of the roots! I have seen some really tiny, wilted, fairly pathetic roots out there: no wonder so many people fail with asparagus!

I simply dug a shallow hole, lay the asparagus side by side, and covered it entirely up. I firmed the earth down and I was done. The hole is from 3 to 6 inches deep,but my holes now are  however they come out, and I was pleased to be able to dig so well. The roots looked a little crowded, but I was pleased to have done as well as I did.

Asparagus is a heavy feeder, and it will want watering if the spring is dry, but the roots I found were largeish, fresh, and undamaged and so they should be fine. I expect them to set good seed and spread!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No-dig potatos

I am not really able to dig any longer, my back and legs will NOT do it, and so I have not raised potatos for the past couple of years.

The LAST time I raised potatos I just dumped grass clipping on them so that I would not have to put a shovel into the ground, but that worked poorly: the grass clipping composted and many of the potatos turned green. It was an effort to dump the armfulls of grass clippings on top of the potatos, and because the plants grew so very well I simply could not SEE that the grass clippings needed topping off! Though, with the big plants I am not certain that I could have topped thm off anyways!

I have also tried to raise them in a raised bed with a loose soil medium so that I could simply stick my hand down and take the spuds: this worked but my yield was poor. I cannot manage a large garden-yet- and it would have taken up too much room to get a meal or three of potatos.

I now have a better idea!

I have some woven greenhouse flooring left over. If I presprout the potatos, and let them shoot up about 6 inches, then I can put the woven flooring over them and let just the tip of the plant peek out. Since potatos form ABOVE the seed potato, the potatos should form directly beneath the woven barrier. That means that to harvest them, I can peel back the woven barrier and I should be able to see most of the potatos. I can get them with a trowel or something similar. My arms work fairly well and so this sounds like something that might work out well for me.

To keep the weeds down, I can overlap the woven barrier with the barrier that is already down, and let the tip of the plants poke out between the layers. Hm. That means that I need more than 6 inches of sprout if I am going to get a good yeild: I had better keep the spuds inside until the sprouts are closer to a foot long!

There are now about 7 pounds of seed potatos in my kitchen: I hope that they sprout quickly! Spring is early here, and the soil will soon be warm! I will post in June? if this works or not!