Sunday, April 2, 2006

Spring - time for yard and garden - where's those helping grandkids!

Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Sweetie got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren's toys from last August when the family stayed with us....ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it's height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better - ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I'd like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I'd like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I've taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I've wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I'll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I'm receptive to the art of 'freezing' what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $$, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $$ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $$ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW - had a great time imagining all I could buy....but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn't stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun - but I had to put about 50 packets back - over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2' starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn't resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It's not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it's zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I've started for the last 3 years don't seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I'm in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where's those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil.....ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I'm also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.

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