Made a new bed. Planted corn (yellow-white hybrid, 7-14 days to germinate, 73 days to maturity). Cleaned up a bit (hard to tell!).
The neighbor sheared the forsythia and exposed a robin’s nest. I tried to keep my distance after taking these pix to let the parents feed their kids in peace.
The last first in the list of firsts (that is, the most recent), is the first mowing of the lawn in 2018 on May 5 (partial).
Also, the first selection of tomato volunteers to encourage.
The first 90-degree day of the year was May 4.
Before that, the first asparagus harvest of 2018 was on April 27, the asparagus having first emerged on April 23.
Shortly before that was the first flying insect sighting — a lazy fly flew in the front door and was easy to shoo out again. (When you garden, you notice when the pollinators show up.)
Maybe a week before that, I gave the American Holly by the deck a haircut — easily cutting out 4/5 of the branches. It has some kind of scale infestation and I decided I’d do a hard pruning to see if I could get rid of the scale. Surprisingly, the part that’s left is blooming like crazy now, so maybe I did more good than harm.
2018.03.21 — still Wednesday.
Ice fall last night and snow fall all day. When I couldn’t get the front door open last night because of a sheet of ice across the front stoop, I imagined trying to walk across the ice from the back door around to the front door to dig out, and was joking with my mom about retrofitting her walker with ski-pole tips to keep me upright.
The most surprising part of this project is that I managed to do it without injuring myself.
For two of the legs (the ones with the black caps), I used some kind of spare part from a washing-machine delivery (I never throw anything away), I think these were plastic screw-on feet for the washer. They’re held in place by large drape hooks (I never throw anything away) pushed through the retaining holes and twisted around, and the screws are held from retracting by small drape hooks clamped around the threads. (I don’t know, there’s a box of each on the utility room shelf.) The other two legs are fitted with heavy-duty lag bolts.
As it turned out, by the time I was ready to attempt to dig us out, it had already started snowing, so the ground wasn’t that slippery.
But there was plenty of ice under the snow.
Welcome Spring 2018.
No, these are not pictures of an extreme deep cleaning in preparation for Passover! This is another lemons – lemonade situation. Yesterday morning, our fridge blew a gasket (more accurately, a coil), and in preparation for removal of this one and delivery of a new one, I decided to see what I could salvage. The plastic bins, of course — those come out without the use of tools. But also the glass shelves. And the shelf brackets and internal uprights, which are interesting because they mount into corners.
And then I got curious about the doors. The molded plastic is just screwed onto the door panels. The gasket seals pull right off. There’s some fiberglass batting wedged into the gaps behind the plastic (I hope it’s fiberglass and not asbestos! the fridge isn’t that old).
It all came apart quickly. I’m having fun imagining all the ways to use my new molded-plastic shelves. Maybe an outdoor wall-mounted vertical garden? A miniature terrarium in the butter bins?
2018.03.07. Wednesday, part II.
Life handed me a power outage, so I made tomato soup.
I might never have gotten around to cooking up those three quarts of tomatoes my sister processed and froze last fall had it not been for a forced defrosting. But on Friday, icy rain and wind took out a neighbor’s tree and the neighborhood’s wires along with it.
And when you start the day by making a snowma’am, you have to post pictures of her on your blog before doing anything else. At that point, despite having no trouble getting to your office (which is just downstairs, after all), you might as well join everyone else in the county* in taking a snow day.
And because you’re too restless to read and too lazy to clean, you cook!
So we’ll have a taste of summer for dinner in winter.
*Everyone else, that is, except Mailman Rick, who caught me rolling my snowma’am’s middle as he was walking his route this morning.
March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb. Do any of us really remember at the end of March what the weather was like 30 days before? Same with April showers bring May flowers. Even the groundhog not seeing its shadow in February seems to be based more on wishful thinking — it might be dreary today, but because of today’s lack of sun, winter will end sooner — than on year-over-year observation.
Why do I bring this up? Nor’easter! In contrast to the last few days of February, which were calm and mild, with temperatures getting into the mid to high 50s (F, of course) — today it’s 35 degrees and snowing and the wind is gusting in every direction. I had to put the trashcan and recycling bin in the garage — I heard the crash of the can being blown over and came out to see the 30-gallon plastic recycling bin was on its way down the driveway. My pink plastic Adirondack chair blew across the yard and is now resting upside down among the Joe Pye weed stubs.
Watching the swirling snow, I thought of a day much like this one 15 years ago, when I sat down to write my column for that year’s spring issue of SlavFile, the newsletter of the Slavic Languages Division of the American Translators Association:
At that time, I was still pretty new to translation and even newer to gardening — like, I’d never done it before. (I didn’t break ground for my first vegetable garden until spring of 2004.)
* * *
Oh, so many thoughts about what to say next! So many analogies, so little time!
* * *
Meanwhile, another big gust of wind, and the chair is now over by the compost bins.
* * *
Where will I find myself after the next big gust?
Note: This is the first time I’m posting the same thing on this blog and my professional blog.
2018.02.28 Wednesday. And…. Begin!
Last night, I attended a talk by Mike McGrath of You Bet Your Garden, a radio show that originates at one of our local NPR stations, and in anticipation of the event I started thinking of what I’d like to ask him, given the chance.
The questions fell in three categories: asparagus maintenance, crop rotation, and crop covers (green mulches). I managed to satisfy my curiosity about asparagus before I left the house — this fact sheet answered most of my questions: http://store.msuextension.org/publications/yardandgarden/mt198365ag.pdf (I assume the principles apply whether in Montana or Delaware).
I found a lot of information about crop rotation and crop covers as well. So I decided that if I got a chance, I’d ask what kinds of ground covers I could use on my between-bed paths that would not jump into garden beds or spread underground and come up in the bed. Also, tips for composting live weeds. But I didn’t get a chance. It was an interesting talk, The Seven Secrets of Successful Organic Gardeners. Here are my notes:
I would not advise taking any definitive actions based on what you read here!
Today, I tore myself away from the computer and got a few things done. First, something I wrote down last night: I put some seeds out to see if they’ll germinate.
Then, asparagus. I made a nutrient mix for the asparagus bed. The fact sheet says this:
Unless the soil is high in organic matter, apply nitrogen early each spring at the rate of 1 to 2½ pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Every three to five years apply 2 to 3½ pounds of actual phosphate (P2O5) per 1,000 square feet and work it into the soil between hills.
I figure my bed is more like 100 square feet, which, according to my calculations, means about 4 oz of phosphate. I don’t have nitrogen, but I do have a partial bag of seed-starting mix with fertilizer that I don’t want to use any more (they didn’t do well last year, and Mike McGrath says stay away from additives in seed-starting mix), so I used that as a base. It’s a 10-8-6 mix. And to that I added about two cups of crushed egg shells, which will add calcium and maybe deter some pests because of their sharp edges. Maybe?
Now let’s get outside already! It’s been warm the past few days, and today was in the high 50s. Daffodils are pushing up, trees are budding, the ground is no longer frozen.
Here’s the front asparagus bed, between two driveways. First I weeded and scraped out old canes and other debris. Then I dug out a giant round of Joe Pye Weed roots to move to the back yard (that’s a whole ‘nother story, and I’ll be feeling it for days). Then I chatted with a neighbor. (Hey, it’s a blog.) Then I sprinkled the nutrient mix along the row of canes, and added a bucket of finished compost on top of that. And finally, I emptied two bags of shredded leaves for weed suppression, but left the row of asparagus open in the hope that the soil will warm faster without mulch and that bare soil will be less attractive for pests. (Re-reading this post, I realize I should have worked the phosphate into the soil, so I’ll get out tomorrow and do that.
Here’s what I was doing (or not) on this date in past years: