Garden Log, Week of 5/3

This week was mostly updating spreadsheets, research, buying and setting up things.

Spreadsheets

My spreadsheets listing plants in ground and seeds on hand was cleaned up and fleshed out. Having it all typed up, I felt impressed to see I currently have 42 different plants in ground! I also spent time combing through the pile of catalogs accumulated and finished compiling an organized wishlist. The process has already been helpful: not only did I root out which catalogs I can do without, but the act of compiling the list made a trip to a garden center more productive – I was able to recognize items from my list instead of feeling aimless and overwhelmed.

Seedling House

At the start of the week I scored the last little green house at Aldi – which sold out first day. Having obtained it and seeing its size once set up prompted me to finally make some purchases on Amazon I had been holding off on: a set of eight 2-foot growing lights that could be linked together, two additional heating mats, and a batch of seed trays and covers. Having finished assembling everything, I am SO very excited to finally have a seedling house – something that has been on a ‘dream’ list for a while.

The additional seed trays, humidity covers, heating mats and a thermometer are still on the way; I can’t wait to get more seeds started!

Additional purchases for the garden this week included 30 bags of garden soil, a simple rain gauge, six more 8″ terra cotta pots, a collection of seeds, and a handful of plants.

Northeast Garden Bed

I wound up removing what was left of the Fall Asters. Though a perennial, it looked (and felt) absolutely dead. I thought maybe I just needed to cut back the dead stuff to make way for new growth, but the whole plant came up, and there was no evidence of any new growth. I’m not sure what went wrong – out of all the plants that survived being under a couple feet of snow with only leaf cover, maybe it wasn’t enough protection for it, or there was some other issue. Ah well.

For the remaining bags of the coffee grounds acquired for free from a shop, I decided to simply make a ‘moat’ along the edging following the gravel path, as this is the direction slugs have come in the past. So far, I have not seen signs of ANY slugs, and my hostas and hollyhocks remain devoid of holes.

15 Bags of Progress

Southeast Garden Bed

To deepen the new bed, so far 30 bags of garden soil have been added. Rather than emptying the bags into the bed all at once and leveling it out throughout the whole bed, instead I’ve been working from one end of the bed to the other, emptying bags one at a time and leveling it from the get go to the desired depth from the edging inward. Another bag is added adjacent, and leveled. This helps me visualize a more accurate estimate of how many more bags are needed (I think another 40-45), and gives me a sense that an increasing portion of the space is “done” rather than the whole thing still feeling “not finished.”

Maintenance

This past week I treated my rose and peony plants with a spray-down of neem oil. So far there haven’t been any insect issues, so I feel proud of myself for remembering to do this task at the start of the season. Now to just keep it up.

After our fuel tank was removed, the movable section of fencing to cover its legs was left behind. I decided to drag it into the upper north yard and use it to cover some of the utilities that are up against the house, like the heat pump/AC, the new furnace exhaust, and spigot. It looks good and is a nice height for the spot. I just need to level out the ground at the sides and I’d like to paint it white to match the shed trim.

At the tail end of the week, I added back the plant supports for the peonies (made by hand from Virginia Creeper vines). I’m so thrilled by their growth this time around – there are even buds forming and I’m so excited at the idea of having blooms this year!

Research This Week: Soaker Hoses

This week I learned a little more about soaker hose care and maintenance as I was trying to troubleshoot the hose along the driveway that isn’t working as well. There could be two things going on:

#1: I need to regulate the pressure from the spigot that’s going to the soaker hoses and reduce it down to 10-20 psi (depending on the soaker hose length (10 psi for 25′, 15 psi for 50′, 20 psi for +50′). I did find a regulator off of Amazon (I did check several local garden centers then big box stores, but no luck), and it comes in this coming week. I’ll have to figure out how to re-rig things between the regulator and the 4-way splitter…

#2: There may be some calcification going on inside (due to our well water) that needs to be cleared out. I have notes now on how to do that, but I’ll have to wait for an opportunity when I have a heap of time to do it. Hopefully it won’t be bad enough that I’ll have to replace any, but we’ll see. In future, this will be a process to do when they are initially laid out for the season (or maybe it would make more sense to do it at season’s end before storage?).

I also read about a way to measure how much water is distributed in a given amount of time, and what’s an appropriate amount of water to give a garden through spring and summer. It involves using an empty tuna can (which is about 1″ deep) and seeing how long it takes for the soaker hose to fill the tin. Supposedly, gardens should receive 2″ of water per week during spring and 1″ of water per week during summer. (Hence why I also purchased the rain gauge.)

New Plant Additions

At the start of the week, we visited a friend of mine I haven’t gotten to see since before the pandemic. The driving force was to pick up a few small plants of Bloody Dock (Red Sorrel) they’d set aside for me, but we also got to enjoy a really nice visit together just being people, and I left with a handful of seeds from her library (Bells of Ireland, Calendula, Cosmos and Nasturtium) in addition to the Sorrel.

This past week having been rather rough emotionally, on my day off from work, I took myself to one of my ‘happy places,’ which in this case is a particular garden center. I intended only to browse and get ideas, but just like bookstores, I can’t seem leave a garden center empty handed.

After browsing everything inside and out, I decided there were things I wanted to come home with me, so I re-visited spots in the center where my attention had been caught.

First, there were two plants that I recognized from my wishlist: Meadowsweet, or Filipendula (rubra was on my list, but I bought a hexapetala) and Salvia nemorosa (I bought two, each a different color variety: ‘East Friesland’ and ‘New Dimension Rose’).

Then there were two more that were not on my wishlist, but I was too struck by sentimentality. While browsing through the roses, I came across a variety of yellow rose. Now – I need to tell you: generally I am not a fan of the color yellow. But this yellow shrub rose made me stop, and I felt compelled to look at the tag: “Grace & Grit Rose Shrub.”

Gram instantly came to mind. If Gram had been a rose, it would be this one, color and name both. So into the cart it went. I tried not to leak, but thank heavens for sunglasses.

Which then led to having to get this other perennial I had previously spotted before noticing the rose shrub. Initially I was on the fence about it because while I was drawn to their particular mix of dusty yellows and pinks and liked their cottage feel, I wasn’t sure how they’d fit into the general color scheme I have going (and also, the whole thing about yellow)… but now with the rose, I had to get it. So I got two Tempo Yellow Avens (Geum x ‘TNGEUTY’ PPAF) to frame the rose.

And finally, of course, there were seed packets. From my wishlist: Forget-Me-Nots Spring & Summer, Chives, Oregano, English Thyme, and two seed mixes, “Save the Bees” and “Grandmother’s Cut Flower Garden.” I didn’t waste much time starting the Oregano and Thyme indoors, as well as Cilantro and Sage from my existing stash. I thought I still had Basil and Dill, but the packets were empty. This year I’d like to grow all my herbs in terra cotta pots on the entry steps. I already had two pots, so I bought the additional 6 to fill all the steps.

A note on the seed mixes: I picked out mixes with the thought of having something easy to fill up the new Southeast Garden Bed for its inaugural year. In the catalog, there wasn’t a listing of what type of flowers were included, though now I wish I would have checked online as I just did – A good number of these are things I already have seeds for… but oh well. Moving forward, it’s nice to know or have a list of what is good to group together.

Next week I’m looking forward to taking pictures and posting the monthly Wotsitlooklike!

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