Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend in the Garden: Very Productive

weekend of 4/16

weekend of 4/23

What a great weekend! In addition to having a good weekend with friends, I also completed a lot of gardening tasks. I weeded about half the garden, plus I trimmed back the ivy and Japanese magnolia that had been bursting through the fence. It was long overdue, and Sunday was sunny and dry enough to get some of these tasks done. What a difference!

We planted giant yellow sunflower seeds in the big containers above. I also have some leftover Chianti sunflower seeds that I still need to plant. I plan to look for different varieties over the next couple of weeks to get some different colors in the garden. We plant so many vegetables, it's nice to have a few flowers around. The sunflowers also attract my favorite bugs, those little bumble lush bees.

I also added some acidic fertilizer to my hydrangea plants. The blooms are usually light to dark pink--and very pretty--but I would love to have some blue blooms. I've been adding this fertilizer for the past two springs, but no luck yet changing the pH balance of the soil to get blue flowers. Maybe I'll have better luck with the hydrangea in the container.

I also learned that my new neighbors (not the mint destroyer) have started their own vegetable garden this year. I'm very happy to have some company with this new hobby of mine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Where are the azaleas?

At this time last year, the azalea bushes were already in full bloom. I guess the cold temperatures this spring have slowed the blooms down. So far only the pink bush is in bloom. Still waiting for the white, lavender, and red ones to bloom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day 2011

Thanks to my new work schedule, I have every other Friday off, and today happens to be a day off from work for me. On this Earth Day I though it would be appropriate to spend time in the garden, tackling some of that weeding I didn't do last weekend, but the skies are cloudy and gray and they're forecasting rain. Since today is also Good Friday, this gloomy weather seems appropriate to mark the solemn occasion for those of us who celebrate Easter. (Ever since I was a little kid, I've noticed that every Good Friday is overcast. Hmmm).  So I'll try to do as much in the yard as I can, but I'm not a hard-core enough gardener to go out in the drizzle and work. I do, however, want to buy some rain barrels or larger containers to collect rainwater than the little can I have on the deck right now.

This year I also want to be better at documenting the different growth stages of my seeds. I love seeing the fruit form, but I think my most favorite part of gardening is seeing the seedling emerge from the soil, like in the second picture above. It still fascinates me to think of how a tiny little seed can grow into a plant and produce a flower, or tomato, or tree. It's pretty cool. The pictures above are of squash and bean seeds that we started indoors the first week of April. They have already emerged and in another week or so we're going to move them outside. Although I promised myself that I don't want to spend my day off work on the computer, I'm already dreaming of the different dishes I want to cook with the squash, so I'm off to do a little recipe hunting. Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the Right Track

Although spring has officially been here for a month, I don't usually feel like we've really hit spring until mid- to late-April. The temperatures here in DC have been nice and mild during the day, but still chilly at night, perfect for leaving the windows open to let the cool breezes in. I love it! I don't even mind the rainy days. There's something about April showers that I find peaceful. They're not cold like winter showers and don't leave the air thick and muggy like in the summer. I mostly feel this change from winter to spring quite literally in my skin; it's not as dry anymore as it was over the winter months.

Garden work is going well too. We have pretty much started seeds for all the vegetables we want to grow this summer, which I have listed on the Growing this Season tab. We'll be staggering the planting of squash and beans to get a steady flow over the summer. I actually did just realize that I meant to buy cucumber seeds, so that is one last thing on my list of things to plant.

Although spring just got here, I'm anxious for the summer harvest. I dug up some random pictures of my garden from last year, including some of the vegetables we harvested, which is just making my anticipation build. Crossing my fingers for a good growing season for my garden, and for all gardens big and small!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend in the Garden: Chores I Didn't Do

On Friday I made the following Weekend Garden To-Do list:
  1. Plant seeds
  2. Weed backyard
  3. Trim back ivy bursting through the fence 
This is what the list looks like Monday morning:
  1. Plant seeds
  2. Weed backyard
  3. Trim back ivy bursting through the fence
I planted a couple of tomato seeds sent to me by the very kind Emily. They are Tiny Tim and Oregon Spring varieties, and I can't wait to see what these tomatoes look and taste like. So Chore #1--check!

Now about #2 and #3: they didn't get completely done. In my defense, it rained buckets on Saturday. I'm talking destructive thunderstorms experienced up and down the east coast, making it the perfect lazy Saturday. (Side note: I secretly like rainy weekends sometimes. It makes me feel OK about not getting all my outside chores done).

Sunday was beautiful--sunny, breezy, and cool--and I decided that was the day to get to work in the yard. But the ground was still saturated from the Saturday rains. I couldn't walk behind the fence to get to the ivy without stepping in a puddle, so I decided to let that chore go until next weekend.

Our backyard is small, and much to my chagrin, full of weeds of right now. The benefit to the soggy ground was that I was able to yank some of the dandelions out by the roots just by tugging slightly on the flower. As a kid I used to love dandelions. My friends and I would take dandelions and clover and make chain necklaces and tiaras out of them. I had no idea then that they were regarded as a vile weed. Now I know better. That's why #2 is only half crossed out. I didn't get all the weeds out. That, too, is a chore for next weekend.

Also, I have new hobby as of two weeks ago--knitting! I've learned that rainy Saturdays are perfect for practicing knits and purls and trying to learn how to read patterns.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Spring Flowers

snapdragons '11, originally uploaded by Bumble Lush.
petunia '11

Spring has been beautiful in the DC area so far. Last year it seemed that we jumped from winter straight to summer with no transition whatsoever, but Mother Nature is making up for it this year. The past few weeks have been mostly rainy, but I like spring showers, and the rain is helping my plants. The few sunny days we’ve had have been warm and felt good on my skin.

I mainly grow vegetables, but in my front yard I have flowers.

I planted petunias and snapdragons in the pots in the front yard this year. For the last two years I had peppermint in the pot where the petunias are now. The pot sits on the dividing line between my driveway and my neighbor. One year, my neighbor thought they were weeds and yanked the mint out completely. She’s a bit batty and twitchy, a harmless but strange creature, and I know she meant no malice and probably thought she was doing us a favor. “Didn’t you think it was odd that the weeds smelled minty when you cut them?” I asked. “No, I didn’t notice that,” was her reply. She didn’t get ANY of my extra vegetables that year.

The peppermint grew back, and my neighbor left it alone last year. However, the company that does maintenance around the common property of my subdivision must have thought it was weeds too because I came home one day last summer to find that all the common area had been weeded, including my little mint. So that’s the story of why petunias are sitting there now.
(the peppermint in its glory days)

endless summer hydrangea 4-14-11
My hydrangea plants are growing quite nicely. The Endless Summer is shown above in the ground and the leaves look so lush and green.

brestenburg hydrangea 4-14-11
And the Brestenburg is in a pot. I will try, yet again, to get these to turn blue. The best I got last year was a purple-ish color.

hostas 4-14-11
The hostas are making a nice comeback

unknown bulb
And a surprise bulb popped up! I planted bulbs in a small patch in the backyard in 2008, my first attempt at flower gardening, and most of them rotted. I ended up starting that area over from scratch and planting blueberry bushes instead. But I guess one of the bulbs survived and here it is three years later!

Next post I will update the progress of my vegetable seedlings and list out what we’re growing this year.