Weekend gardening

by Chuck September 4, 2012

Been spending my weekends working on the vegetable gardens. The garden inside our Tango-proof fence has always been a little haphazard – it wasn’t so much planned as it just sorta grew up over the years. One of the problems with planter boxes in the garden was that they didn’t line up with each other; that left little nooks and crannies where I couldn’t get the lawn mower in to cut the grass.

Pretty soon the whole garden got out of control:

I really needed to mow in there once or twice, and get the line trimmer in to take care of the corners, but with one thing and another I pretty much left the garden alone this summer. So in the tradition of men in my family I got out the power tools and started over:

I used the tractor to lift out the old garden boxes, then moved the planting soil over to the compost bin. After that, I stripped most of the grass out using the tractor bucket. I needed to clean up the edges by hand, so that took me another day of shovel work. Finally, I used my pile of dirt left over from other projects to fill in the hole that I made digging the grass out. Took two weekends, but all of the preparation work was complete.

Over the long Labor Day weekend I spent two days putting things back together. First I laid out, built and placed new cedar forms for raised beds (I re-used the one old bed that still worked). Then I dug trenches and laid 5 watering circuits that I took back to the side of the garden shed where I will put the manifold to control them. Each raised bed has two feed lines each on a different circuit so that I can water however I want – one feed line will be for drippers and the other will be for mini sprinklers or bubblers.

Tags: ,


Where did all those petunias come from?

by Chuck September 21, 2009

This afternoon we pulled all the petunias from the front garden. Back in the spring Dana planted three flats of petunias (plus a few more) to fill in the gaping holes between the few perennials we had planted out there.

Dana took two heaping wheel barrow loads of petunias to the compost bin, then I came out and started helping. We switched to the tractor and filled the bucket on the tractor twice.

There is almost two feet of petunias on top of the compost heap right now. I know that they will break down over the winter and be ready to turn back into the gardens in the spring, but sheesh, that’s a lot of petunias.



Cat garden

by Chuck August 23, 2009

Polly plays in the new cat garden. We built a new garden this weekend. We didn’t mean for it to turn into a cat garden, but the cats had other ideas…

The back side of new deck (the one toward the pasture) looked unfinished – we needed something to anchor the deck and provide a place for the eye to go. We decided that what we needed was another(!) garden, one with a water feature that we can hear on the deck and with a Japanese maple tree to stop the eye from wandering out to the pasture.

I went to Lowe’s in Silver Lake on Tuesday. I found a 91-gallon pre-formed pond on sale. We went back on Wednesday to buy it. Dana went to Mulbak’s on Friday where she discovered they were having a sale. She picked up perennial plants for the new garden.

On Saturday we started by cutting the sod out of the space where we wanted the new garden to be. Joey and Dana knocked the topsoil off the sod so we could use it later. Once the sod and topsoil was off the garden I used the roto-tiller to loosen the clay underneath. We dug out 4 inches of clay, then roto-tilled again to break up the next 4 inches. I added two tractor buckets of compost, roto-tilled, put another bucket of compost on and the topsoil we took off earlier and roto-tilled again. It took half the day, but we had almost 8 inches of good soil for the plants.

After taking a break I started digging out the hole for the pond. The clay around the house is pretty nasty – hard to break through and full of rocks. Eventually I had a hole I could use, but by then it was time to stop and go shopping for trees.

Dana and I went to Home Depot in Woodinville for the trees. They’re having a sale – we ended up getting two rhododendrons for the front yard, a maple tree for the end of the driveway, a willow for the other back corner of the house, and a Japanese maple for the new garden that we’re working on. Beautiful plants, lots of digging to get them in.

Sunday we finished digging in the pond, made two trips to Lowe’s for sand to put around the pond, and finally planted our new plants. We put a drip irrigation system in to water. After filling the pond we sat back to enjoy it – and to watch all the cats run around the garden, play in the pond, and play with each other. It’s pretty successful for all of us.



Stormy weather

by Chuck May 5, 2009

We had a storm last night. Lots of rain. And wind. Enough that two of the trees we planted yesterday came crashing down overnight, the two furthest from the house. Dana and I got up early to replant them, this time a little deeper than the time before.

While I was at work, two of them blew down again, this time the tree furthest from the house and the one closest to the house. I re-planted them again. Then I put stakes and rope to hold them up.

So far so good. 



Our own Arbor Day

by Chuck April 5, 2009

We have a nursery just down the hill from us, Wood's Creek Nursery. The couple that run the nursery know their stuff and are willing to take the time to walk around the nursery and show the plants that they have that'll meet your needs. I enjoy purchasing plants there, but it seems like every time I go in there I come out with a tree.

Today we headed down to the nursery to buy some plants to replace the lavender in our front garden. The cold weather this last winter was just too much for it -- first the lavender died and then one of our dogs used it for a bed. It was looking really ratty. We pulled the lavender, but that left the front garden looking bare, so we decided to replace it right away.

Down at the nursery one of the owners took us through about half the greenhouses on the place looking at possible plants. The cold weather over the winter had her spooked too, she would point at a plant and say "That's nice, but mine died this year so you won't be able to grow it" and move on to the next.

Eventually we decided on two varieties of Euonymous -- one Burning Bush and two Emerald and Gold.  

Then Dana said "And a tree. I'd like a flowering cherry." Flowering cherry is getting a disease, our horticulturist replied. "How about a flowering plum?" says Dana, since our flowering plum had come out of the ground a couple of years earlier in a wind storm. "Oh, I have some great trees on sale" came the reply, and off we went.

We did not buy the biggest. We bought the smallest. And it's still pretty darn big, about 12 to 15 feet tall. And then we headed home where I needed to get our new tree into the ground.

I dug a tree-size planting hole -- 6 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep. Not a bad day's work, most days, but I started a 4:30 in the afternoon. No sense waiting until the last minute, after all. The soil under our gardens is horrible, we have about 8 inches of topsoil on top of thick, gooey clay. I shoveled the topsoil off and set it aside, then put the clay in the bucket of the tractor and hauled if off. When the hole was big enough I started mixing the clay soil with our compost to make something that a tree might be happy in, then back-filled the hole.

Once the hole was refilled and tamped down, I dug out a space for the tree's rootball and dropped the tree in. Then I shoveled the topsoil I'd saved back over the new planting, mounding it up in the middle and making a well to water the tree. Then I looked at the tree and realized that not only had I not cut the strings that wrapped it together, I also left the red plastic flag the nursery man had tied on the top for the drive home.

Fortunately it's a young tree, and quite flexible. I pulled it over 'til I could reach the flag, then cut the bindings while it was down. A small tug was all it took to bring it back upright.

I watered it in and cleaned up to tools. And it was only 8:00 when I finished. Just in time to make dinner...

There's still a lot of bare earth in the front garden, but now the anchor plants are in. We can put more understory plants in over the next few months; later this summer the garden should be looking pretty darn good.



Starting the garden

by Chuck March 30, 2009

This morning there was an inch of snow on the ground when we got up.

This afternoon Katie and I planted the first seeds of the year. Katie put some parsley in her garden over by the barn, and I planted spinach and beets in one of my garden boxes. The garden boxes weathered the winter very well, we only had to pull a few weeds to get them ready for spring.

Later on we helped Dana weed the front garden bed. It looks good now, but we need to put more plants in it this year, otherwise weeding it will be too hard.



First planting

by Chuck March 22, 2009

We planted the first plants of the year today. We put two large packages of sweet peas seeds in the mound next to the patio. Last year we put sweet peas there, they were impressive.



Log in