SARAH THE GARDENER

The Long List of Things I Need

I have a long list of things I absolutely need as soon as we get out of lockdown level 4.  Level 3 is still pretty high security but it frees up what can be bought – it doesn’t need to be essential but it needs to be done in a contactless way.

I’m figuring if I make my list big enough my local friendly hardware store will contactlessly drop it all off.  We’ll have to give them call to see…

iris blooms by the pond

I’m so pleased that a couple of weeks ago I liberated the iris bulbs from their pots where I plonked them in the autumn. They are now blooming beside the wildlife pond in their forever spot.

The thing is, this isn’t some spur of the moment last minute list of things I have decided to do while being in lockdown.  These are things I would have just popped out and picked up in the course of normal gardening activities and for projects I have underway.  The scary thing is to add up all of the items that would have just been absorbed in small amounts into my weekly expenditure alongside coffee out and fuel and a pie on the run…  To see it all listed out as what I would have purchased and will have to pay for in one shot, is kind of shocking.

Asparagus quiche

Todays lunch came about because there were asparagus spears in the garden that just had to be eaten. I turned them into asparagus, potato and ham crustless quiche and it was delish!

Most of the items on their own don’t cost much at all and my garden budget can easily absorb $10 here and $20 there over a sensible period of time.  By the time I can get my hands on these items it would have been at least 5 weeks worth of not buying anything in the busiest time of the year as a gardener.   I guess I would have saved a lot in fuel by not taking multiple trips into town to buy these things as I needed them.   That should make things feel a little better.

Peanuts

I finally got around to sowing my peanuts after having them on the list for ages. It only took a moment, I wonder what I was waiting for?

I’m more of a spur of the moment kind of girl and will race out to get what I need for a new and exciting project.  Or I’m a procrastinator and will know what I need but the hassle of the procurement process, the reluctance to part with the cash, or just a busy life can prevent me from getting the resources I actually need.   In normal circumstances this isn’t really a problem because eventually something will happen to prod me into action.

Fennel the Cat

Fennel the Cat – Guardian of the greenhouse.

But these aren’t normal times and I need to become more like a squirrel and know what I need before I need it and store it away ready and waiting.  You just never know when things will no longer be available.  Life’s conditions should prompt a change in behaviour – not only doing things to keep us safe, but also so we can operate as normal as we can under trying circumstances.  I’m not saying I should horde things, but I know what I need for most things well in advance so I should just go out and get them without waiting around for the stars to be aligned.  I need to be like my grandmother saving string, rubber bands and brown paper, because you never know when you will need it.  Hopefully my one-day grandchildren living ‘normal’ lives won’t find this a little odd.

Carrot seedlings

I’m at this awkward crossroad where I only have two carrot seedlings up. I have to decide are these the only ones that decided to germinate and should sow more seed, or assume these are just the eager beavers who popped up first and the others will come – even though it has been a while. I guess I should be pleased that although there are only two they are in a nice row.

So in the meantime – here is my list for my current needs and to finish projects started well before we were locked away and for normal gardening activities in my garden.  It is probably not everything and I expect I will add to it before the decision is made to release us from this level (or not) next week.

  • 4 bags post hole concrete
  • 4 bags of cement to make pavers
  • Rebar
  • Waratahs
  • Lots of Paper cups (could probably get these at the supermarket)
  • A lot of Potting mix
  • A lot of Compost
  • Roll of black plastic mesh large
  • Roll of black plastic mesh small
  • 4 sheets Clear roofing
  • Enviromesh
  • Blue paint
  • Grey paint
  • Screws
  • Mulch
  • Wood for windbreak
  • Large pavers
  • Windbreak fabric
  • Neta end drippers
  • Neta in line drippers
  • 4mm irrigation tube
  • 13mm irrigation tube
  • Windbreak clips
  • Cable ties
  • Roll of brushwood screen

Come again soon – I still have plenty that can be done without the items on the list.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Small Picture Thinking  

For the last wee while I have been Big Picture Thinking, with my drive to get spring ready.  But now we are in spring and as the garden wakes from its winter dormancy I’m finding things are moving fast.   There is no room for standing there waxing lyrical about big projects and collective tasks required to complete things. 

Native plants

It is such a relief to finally see these plants in the ground! I’ll bet they’re happy to be in the ground too!

The time has come for a list less situation where I just need to instinctively respond to what needs to be done.  It might not be seeing a chore right through to the end, but just do what needs to be done right now – to halt the march of weeds, to move seedlings on to the next stage of the process or just to pick up windswept rubbish in one corner. 

Planting around the rock

I love the way the plants look around the rock, it is just as I imagined!

The control freak in me isn’t happy about it as I like to start a task, work all the way through it to completion and stand back and admire it all proudly.  This doing a bit here and a bit there is sort of satisfying because it is a means to an end and lots of things are being tackled across the garden instead of just one.  Collectively the whole garden will benefit as eventually everything will be taken care of in good time, not just one after the other. 

Tomato seedlings

The tomato seedlings look like they are ready for a next level new home.

It started yesterday – accidentally.  I don’t normally work on a Sunday, but with a week riddled with bad weather and a weary body crying out for rest, not much was done last week.  Things were done, but just not as much as I would have liked.  So, Hubby the Un-Gardener suggested he help me out with a few things to get ahead this week.   The first job was finally planting all the small native trees I’d been picking up on special here there and everywhere for ages but never got around to planting them in the native tree wind break planting in front of the house.  They were beginning to burden me with guilt.  But they are in the ground now and I can relax – although will have to remember to water them in summer.

Tomato seedlings

The root structure on the tomato seedlings is coming along nicely.

Then he set me up planting out the first stage of The Palace.  I wasn’t going to, but the wind had swept out some of the sand around the rock and was destablising the bricks, so we decided to top it up with compost and other goodies and plant the lawn chamomile to hold it all together.  It didn’t take long and looks stunning! 

Seaweed tonic

The seedlings enjoy a good soak in seaweed tonic

Today – Monday, the first day of the week is always a busy computer gardening day and I often lose the entire morning to my keyboard.   After some lunch I decided to just let the garden tell me what needed to be done, keeping my routine concept in the back of my mind.  But the first call to action was in the greenhouse.  There were quite a few seedlings that needed moving on into bigger pots.  So, I set up my little production line where I wash the pots – I should have done this during the winter, but strangely enough time is fleeting in the winter.  Then I soaked my old plastic milk bottle labels in a jar of methylated spirits to remove the ink from crops long gone.  I prepared a deep tray of seaweed tonic and a drip tray beside it with a rack on top.   Then I sifted my coarse but only available potting mix with my handy dandy homemade out of desperation sieve, made from an ice cream container, some cable ties, and some old gutter mesh. 

Greenhouse seedlings

The greenhouse is filling up, but I suspect the mostly empty seed trays will begin to bother me if we don’t see any green action soon.

Then I slowly began the process of moving the plants that were big enough from the seed trays into small individual pots, because you don’t want to make too big a leap in pot size and it doesn’t need as much potting mix.   As each pot was filled and labelled it was immersed in the seaweed tonic from the bottom up, to settle the roots and help reduce the stress of transplant shock, then after 10 minutes or so it was lifted out to drain on the rack over the empty tray and eventually moved to a spot on the greenhouse shelf.  It took a lot longer than I had anticipated but I wasn’t in a hurry.  A good job is a job done well. 

weedy path

It doesn’t look too bad, but the weeds are starting to take over.

Non weedy path

All the weeds have been removed now and I could have raked it over, but at this stage just being weed free is good enough.

Now almost half the top shelf of the greenhouse is filled with seed trays and small seedlings.  I did hear some timely advice – about a week too late, to say that it is a good idea to sow seeds with similar expected germination times in the same trays.  Ideally using a small batch concept of grouping like with like.  Unfortunately, I have a load of seed trays that have 60 cells and is really convenient to use.  But at this point, from the early sowing sessions most of the seedlings have been moved on except one or two varieties.  Which means I have these enormous seed trays, mostly empty waiting for a row or two to pop up.   This may be a problem if they don’t pop up soon as peak spring greenhouse space is at a premium! 

Vegetables from the garden for dinner

In an attempt to clear the garden for new season crops we are eating everything we can from the garden. This lot is for tonight’s dinner.

After a good satisfying session in the greenhouse, I was considering calling it a day, but walking past sector 1 filled me with guilt.  I haven’t touched it in weeks.  So, I convinced myself to just weed the path that runs across the front and as sector 2 is sorted I can spend a little more time on it tomorrow.   I’m so pleased I did; it doesn’t look half as daunting now.

And now the day can end.

Come again soon – who knows what I’ll do next.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Cement is not essential

Except it is for me…  I need it.  But here in lockdown level 4 the local shops aren’t selling it.  All I can hope is we nip this thing in the bud – and all signs show we can, and we are, so as soon as we drop a level, I can race out to the hardware store and contactlessly grab some cement.   For many folks, the level drop means takeaways, but nope – not for me. 

The end of the road

Finally I got to end of the path. It was so satisfying to get it finished.  This project as certainly been a labour of love.

I’ve been working on The Palace Garden.  I’m not sure there is a need for cement in the veggie patch, well not at this point.  But the efforts up there in The Palace haven’t really come at the expense of time spent in with the veggies as I’ve tried to be diligent and stick to my plan.   I say tried as it hasn’t been complete smooth sailing. 

Fennel the Cat

Fennel the Cat is already making the most of the space I have created, doing what I intended should happen up there… relaxing.

Last Monday was snarled up with bad weather and computer gardening and I barely had time to set foot out there.  Yesterday – another Monday, I did set foot in the garden, but thought I would quickly sow the next batch of seeds – the cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins and then get onto sector one.  But some of the earlier seedlings caught my eye, they were calling out to me like a kid with shoes one size too small.  They needed transplanting into bigger pots.  Well, I couldn’t ignore them.

Seed sowing

This was the last major push in the seed sowing sessions. I expect there will be a few more seeds sown for non starters and the inevitable forgotten ones.

It turned out there were quite a few that benefited from an upsize to a new home and I was there a lot longer than I expected to be.   It is all very well when sowing seeds to think – oh a couple more won’t hurt.  But when you extrapolate that across all the seed varieties you sow, you end up with an awful lot more seedlings to tend to than you had planned for.  Another reason to hope for a lockdown level drop sooner rather than later, so I can pass on my excess seedlings to good homes.

So, sector one is still in desperate need of a weed and a bit of love.   

transplanted seedlings

This is the first batch of seedlings stretching their roots. I’m going a little easy one the potting mix though for fear of running out before the lockdown levels drop.

Today – the 2nd Tuesday since I turned my focus away from projects and towards the routine of the garden, is rainy.  But not to be foiled – I took care of sector 2 last Tuesday and it looks spick and span and good to go for the new season.  I also managed to sort out Sector 3, but this happened across the Wednesday and the Thursday as it was bigger than I thought, and I had overdone things a little and needed to take things easy.

Seeds and seedlings

The ever expanding greenhouse bench is filling with seeds and seedlings.

But this meant Sector 4 missed out on Thursday, but it is a small sector so it shouldn’t be too hard to catch up on.  And Friday ended up being another take it easy day as it is always important to listen to your body and when it is telling you with everything it has got, to stop and rest, I’ve found in my experience it is best to listen.  But I was ok with this because there are still at least 6 weeks before the garden gets fully planted out and with 40% of the garden good to go, then there is no need to panic just yet. 

Sector 2

Having whole sectors sorted and ready to go makes it all feel good.

Saturday rolled around and while weekends are generally no-garden family days, lockdown seems to have thrown the calendar right out the window and it can be hard to tell which day is which – probably why I need a good routine with my sectors, so I know where I am.  “Weeding the garlic – oh it’s Wednesday!”  But besides – having everyone home 24-7 means we already see a lot of each other, so we spent the day doing our own things. 

Father's day breakfast

Adding edible flowers to Hubby the Un-Gardener’s Father’s day breakfast is like sprinkling it with love.

So, I made a good push on The Palace and finished the path.  Well mostly finished.  I came up with a design that would stretch the bricks I had to make the path as long as I wanted it to be.  This meant a series of large holes in the middle of the path.  My intention was to fill them with cement paving stones to finish it off.  But I don’t have any cement and can’t get any.   I did toy with the idea of planting a footstep tolerant plant, but it isn’t part of the plan, and I wouldn’t have been happy with that.  It would have bothered me.  Although I have a deadline looming, I am going to push on with the plan and hope we drop a level in time. 

The beach

I love the beach at lockdown – it feels like we’ve got it to ourselves. Although it isn’t like it is normally crowded.

The new focus up in The Palace is the planting.  But the weather this week has a wind warning so maybe the windbreak should come first.  It makes more sense, but the plants are much more fun and have been in their pot’s way too long…

log on the beach

I love the pattern on this log we found on the beach. I am so grateful for the teen lads who lugged it all the way home.

We did get some family time.  The calendar jumble lockdown brings meant we almost missed Father’s Day.  Hubby the Un-Gardener did get his bacon and eggs – with fresh asparagus and garnished with edible flowers to make it feel special.  We took a long walk on the beach at the front of our place as family and one of the teen lads ended up lugging back a lovely bit of wood I found and maybe one day will do something with it if I get the time.   Hubby the Un-Gardener didn’t get any gifts as the opportunity for shopping was lost, so we promised we’d do it all over again when it was possible.

The garden view

At this point seeing so many empty beds is a good thing – it means they are ready and waiting. Soon enough they will be bursting into life.

So here I am with the week stretching ahead of me with a weather warning, but exhausted from what gardening efforts I have achieved, and a little anxious of what has still to be done.  But that is probably how it should be after the first week of spring.  I’m on the right track.

A rewarding end to the day

There is nothing better than sitting on the swing seat at the end of the day with a chilled drink as a reward for all the hard work. I suspect more days will end like this as the season progresses.

Come again soon – let see how much I can do with limited resources in a soggy week ahead. 

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Spring starts this week

That heading has so many emotions all tied up in it:

“Hooray the warmer weather is on the way”

“…But I’m not ready…”

“Ohh so much hope and expectation – surely it will be a good season”

“I’m so excited for all the possibilities”

“Brace yourself for all the work”

“Yay Yay, Yay, and Yay!”

The push in the garden this winter to get to this point has been enormous.  I have achieved or am on the way to achieving some pretty large projects.  For some, they were at the luxury of the warmth of indoors with computer gardening projects and others were out in the cold doing the graft.   When I look back over the winter as a whole, I’m actually pleased with all I have achieved, and should try not to beat myself up over the things I’ve not yet done.  Rome wasn’t built in one day – I’m just a gardener with occasional help Hubby the Un-Gardener and a couple of reluctant teen lads.

The garden

The garden as it stands at the end of winter.

I told myself last week was the last week for focusing on big projects and this week I am to turn the tables to regular routines again.  And here we are on day one of this new week and I have been foiled by the weather.  It’s raining outside.  It hasn’t always been raining, this morning was lovely, but the start of my day was filled with essential computer gardening – and it would seem I’ve missed my window.  Not a great start but there is always tomorrow.

Fruit sector in poor repair

Before: The fruit sector in poor repair

Last week I alternated my path building in The Palace and manage to create another couple of sections.  There are only 2 more to go and I’m sure I’ll be able to fit them in somewhere in this new schedule.   And in the in between days, I got Hubby the Un-Gardener’s help and we repaired the broken strawberry bed and built a temporary anti-eddy windbreak.  I wanted to build a nice wooden permanent structure, but lockdown got in the way.  I had the forethought to grab windbreak fabric in my mad dash to the garden centre on the eve of lockdown and in hindsight it is probably best to give it a season with the fabric before investing in something more expensive in case it doesn’t work.   Although by my calculations the entire fruit section will benefit from the new protection.

Repairing the strawberry bed

First we carefully removed the wooden edges and levelled out the sandy path to undo the harm caused by the wind and then put the wooden edges back.

Building a windbreak

Next we put up a frame structure for the anti-eddy windbreak

anti-eddy windbreak

We stood back and proudly surveyed the wonderful windbreak we made.

I also had to listen to myself and have a little rest for a day or two, because I pushed myself too hard – I knew I was dancing a little too close to a bout of MSsy fatigue, but I really wanted to get things done.  Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.   Since then, I’ve made sure I’ve taken plenty of breaks along the way and have taken to sitting on the swing seat for the numerous cups of tea Hubby the Un-Gardener brings me.  Mental note to self – round up all the cups in the garden while everyone thinks they are in a teen lad’s bedroom!

Fruit sector repaired

After: the Fruit sector repaired with the anti-eddy windbreak. All I have to do now is sort out the actual plants.

This new start to a new season will look similar to last season, because it works for me.  The garden is divided into 5 groups and on a Monday, I only take care of the needs of sector 1.  Tuesday is sector 2 and so on.  There will be a bit of a catch up to be done as over the last few weeks or so, I’ve kind of neglected all the essential parts of the garden because I was focusing on projects.  So, each day I will spend my energies getting the sectors back into shape.  But if I don’t get it all done, I can do it the next week.  Spring may start this week, but there is still plenty of time before all the beds are occupied so I mustn’t panic.

A lovely garden view across to the pond

It was so delightful to look across the garden and see the light bouncing off the flowers and the wildlife ponds…

The great thing about gardening is nothing is ever urgent, there is always tomorrow and if push comes to shove there is always next season.  If you get something to eat at the end of your efforts, you have reached success.

Come again soon – winter will be behind us, and spring will stretch out ahead.

Sarah the Gardener : o)

Plans for the week

Ok, it is Tuesday, and I may have started without you, but I think I have formulated a vague plan for the week to get ahead and become spring ready.  According to my countdown to spring giveaway over on my Facebook page, there are only 8 days until spring.   Eek…  Time is pressing on.   Even the benefit of being confined to home during this latest lockdown, doesn’t change things for me at all and I feel busier than ever!

Brick path

The brick path is coming along nicely and laying bricks is kind of therapeutic… who would have thought?!

This week I have decided it will be the last big push for big projects as the focus.  After that they will need to fit in around spring things.   So, I have been working on creating the path around the rock in The Palace.  I won’t be able to completely finish it as I won’t be able to get more concrete until the lockdown levels drop.  Strangely enough bags of cement aren’t essential items.  But at least I can finish it for as far as I can go and then focus on the next tasks this garden needs on its journey to completion.  Getting it finished is time dependant as there is an external deadline to create some content for my favourite garden magazine.

garden area in need of maintenance

This looks like a huge job but I think just tackling the weeds will make the biggest difference visually and probably levelling the land.

My eye is also on the eddy windbreak and strawberry recovery plan.  This is kind of time pressing because August is the month to plant and sort out the strawberries.  I just need to make it happen.  I think if I alternate the days between the strawberries and The Palace, noticeable change will happen. 

Seed trays

The seed tray collection in the greenhouse is slowly increasing.

I’ve also decided to take a little and often approach to sowing seeds for spring.  Normally I do them mostly in one go and it sucks the joy right out of it after hour three!  As a result, I’ve drawn up a list of timely sowings that I can do every few days or so in less than an hour.  That way by the time I get to the speedy but cold hating cucumbers and pumpkins I’ll still find it as exciting as the first peppers I sowed a few weeks ago. 

garden beds

Thanks to Hubby the Un-Gardener this view no longer brings me stress.

I managed to get almost everything done last week.  Hubby the Un-Gardener did a fab job of chopping down the lupin cover crop.  So, all I have to do now is wait for them to rot down under the compost and we’re good to go.  This should take around 6 – 8 weeks and there is just over 8 weeks before the safe for planting out date so I’m all good.  There are 2 mustard cover crops left, but that should be easy enough for me to manage.

plants to be planted

These are just some of the plants that need to be planted… it shouldn’t take too long to get them in the ground?!

And we didn’t get the guttering back up but that’s ok, it’s not raining, and it is a short task for this week.   Added to this week is I want a day of just going list-less.  I want to stand in the garden and tackle the most pressing things I find and then bounce to the next one and so on until I run out of day.  I suspect this will be mostly planting things that should have been out of their pots and in the ground a long time ago.

Lemons

And then there are these lemons life gave me that I need to turn into lemonade!

Then next week I will become more regimented with my sector system for weeding and bed maintenance and redevelop the routine and rhythm that gets me through the craziness of the growing season.    On the upside my planned extended absence from the garden in late spring has been cancelled, so a little pressure has been removed from the spring preparations.

Come again soon – lets just see how far I get with these projects.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

Well, that was a surprise!

After months and months of a relatively normal existence, we find ourselves once again in lockdown.  I trust that our country is doing the right thing to keep us safe as Delta attempts to darken our door. 

seed and garden supplies

My pre-lockdown essential purchases. Although I’m not sure how the plants got there but it may have had something to do with their $2 price tag.

In the meantime, here I am stuck in my most favourite place in the world – my home and garden beside the sea.  I got an inkling something was going down yesterday and decided to top up my seed starting and garden supplies and some essentials I can use for the windbreak behind the dome to stop the eddies.  I was going to make this a permanent wooden structure but given the situation, who knows how long it will take to be able to order wood again, so I went with the more temporary windbreak fabric.  It should be fine for this season and will buy me some time to build a permanent structure ready for next year.    So, on my ‘to-do’ list this is a big tick, even if it looks a little different than I thought.

Early season seeds

It did feel good to get some seeds started but I have to remind myself not to rush – it is still too soon for most of the seeds.

I did get seeds started on Monday, but it is mostly brassica and leafy greens as is still too cold and too soon for tomatoes.  As I write this the thermometer in the garden tells me it is only 10°C.  This is also a big tick on the ‘to-do’ list of shame.

The dome is also clean and tidy, I wouldn’t have started new season seeds in a mess – it would just seem wrong.  But I didn’t find my linseed oil so went out and bought a new bottle, so the shelves have been treated and don’t look so tired and thirsty as they did before.   Oh how I took for granted the ability to just go out and buy something because I couldn’t find where I put the one I had at home. 

Linseed oil on greenhouse shelves

The wood really seemed to appreciate the linseed oil.

The red currant has been planted, a row of carrots has been sown and the rhubarb rescued, which makes me feel good.  But there is still a lot of guilt over the other plants still languishing in pots that could stretch their roots out in real soil if I gave them little more than an hour of my time. 

Carrots seeds

Sowing the carrot seeds only took a moment but was something I’d been putting off for weeks because there was more important things to do.

By some kind of miracle there was a gap in the cold wet winter weather, and I had a few hours of sunny spring like conditions and was able to get a section of the brick path laid.  It felt like such an achievement but to be able to tick off the list I need to find time to do at least one more section.  This project has a timeline attached to it.

Rhubarb ready for spring

The rescued rhubarb is spring ready.

The cover crops still need to come down and the gutter still needs to go back up.  With the lockdown Hubby the Un-Gardener found himself at a loose end because his workload seemed to dry up.  So, I sent him out to work in the garden.  But set him to clearing the overhanging lupins in the driveway.  The gutter is a two person job and I’d prefer to supervise helping take the cover crop down – or at the very least show him what to do.  But I wasn’t able to spare the time as my computer gardening has taken on more of an urgency right now – I’m not sure if it is because of lockdown or a coincidence, but either way I do love computer gardening – especially if it is cold and miserable outside. 

Clearing the driveway

Hubby the Un-Gardener did a great job clearing the sides of the driveway… and there is no hurry to clear away the debris – we aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

One of the cool things that kept me at my keyboard is my annual Countdown to Spring giveaway.  From Sunday 22nd September there are only 10 days until the start of spring, and I have managed to gather together a wonderful array of prizes to give out each day from Sunday until spring starts on my Sarah the Gardener Facebook page.   It was very fortuitous that I stopped by the good people at Yates NZ and Gardena NZ yesterday to collect their contributions to the prizes.  A day later and we wouldn’t be able to go ahead with the giveaway without the prizes.   Sadly, this is only open to kiwis living in New Zealand, but the timing couldn’t be better to bring some joy in the midst of a lockdown. 

Countdown to spring prizes

This is a wonderful array of prizes ready for my Countdown to Spring giveaway on my facebook page.

So as the week progresses, I hope to bring the cover crops down and put the gutter up and get all my computer gardening done, so I can create a new list for next week and get even more stuff done in my attempt to become spring ready in time for spring.

Come again soon – lockdown changes nothing in my garden.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

 

Time waits for no man

And it certainly isn’t waiting for this gardener!   I have been in and out of the garden this week, but I can say without a shadow of doubt, I’m not progressing with my spring preparations as quickly as I’d like.  It isn’t like I’m not achieving things, because I’ve ticked off some pretty big items off the to-do list.  I just underestimate just how far I can stretch my time.   I start the day thinking I’d like to tick these certain things off my list.  But come the end of the day I’m only two thirds the way through task one!

Daffodils

There are signs for the impending spring all around me. I can’t dilly dally while daffodils are watching.

So next week I’m going to ramp things up and be more intentional.  I have one day out of the garden, and there is the usual computer gardening that needs doing, but aside from that, there is – in theory, plenty of time to really make a dent in the list.   The weather doesn’t look that great – but it is just showers and light rain and I have a raincoat and a can do attitude!

So in a public declaration, next week I would like to achieve, sowing a few seeds, introducing Blossom – you’ll love her, finish cleaning the dome, rescuing the rhubarb, removing the cover crops – I may ask Hubby the Un-Gardener for help as it is a tedious chore, sow a row of carrots, make two new sections in the brick path, fix the storm damaged guttering, get started on the windbreak behind the dome to stop the eddies and plant the new red currant to replace the one that died.  Actually, I have a lot of plants about the place that could be planted easily so I should do that too…

So not much really, and I could easily write a list just as big for next week, however if you just put one foot in front of the other, with your head down and your bum up, you’d be surprised how much you could get done.

Come again soon – I’m on quite the mission to become spring ready.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

NB:  Clicking on the images will let you know more about them.

Thursday already

I hate it when a week disappears out from under me, doesn’t it know I have plans.   Some of the week was spent not gardening because the weather was awful – we had a huge storm – right in off the ocean.  We didn’t suffer too much damage compared to others, but a window blew off a cabin on the hill.  Fortunately, it wasn’t broken so we just got some new hinges and attached it back onto the cabin. 

Storm damage

Our neighbour lost a few trees which took out a fence. But even this compared to some of the damage in other areas seems minor in the grand scheme of things.

In the garden I lost one of the new gutters I had recently put on my garden office, but I have the spare parts to put it back up.  It could have been worse.   The biggest problem I think was the gate and windbreak above it were open during the storm due to inadequate latches.  And so, the wind was able to whip in through the gap and burn a few things.  I have also fixed this by attaching new latches.  This is the 4th attempt at latches that work well on my gate and I’m hoping this time it’s a keeper as I’m running out of affordable options.

storm damaged guttering

We’d only just put this guttering up, but its an easy fix so not really a problem.

I also went to the garden centre and ended up having a bit of a free for all and bought loads of things – some I needed, actually most I needed, but a few things snuck into the trolley that I wasn’t expecting like a dozen small trees for the wind break hill that need to be planted and a gorgeous deep dark dahlia – goodness only knows where I will plant that! 

Gate latches

Looking at this photo of my new gate latch set up I see a flaw in my system. If both gates shut while I’m in the garden I could be locked in there (not really a bad thing though…) I think I need a string attached to the top latch that is fed over to the other side so I can pull it open…

And as if I haven’t got enough on my plate, I have started another project that will be revealed at a later date but all I can reveal now is it involves a cool new thing we’ve been calling Blossom – stay tuned for more… 

Dahlia

Oh my goodness – how pretty is this?! I don’t know where it will go but you can be certain I will find a spot!

Oh, and all my seeds have been gathered and so now I need to wash all my pots and clean the greenhouse, so I am ready to go in a couple of weeks’ time!  Eek – when did spring get so close?

Seeds

There is nothing like a big pile of fresh new seeds to get the sap rising, but I won’t be sowing these yet… no matter how much they taunt me with their pretty eyes.

But for now, the morning rain seems to have cleared up, so I need to get out there and salvage something from this week.

Come again soon – I can’t wait to introduce you to Blossom.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

One Month Until Spring

Having completely missed my June garden video tour due to the work on The Palace, as well as ordinary gardening things, I decided I should make the effort for an end of July garden video tour. I was aiming for the last day of July but it was just too windy so I got up early in the still of the morning, in a chilly 10C and did a quick whistle stop tour of the garden.

Daffodils

While very beautiful, the daffodils are reminding me to get a wiggle on, there is a lot to be done before spring starts properly!

I haven’t achieved everything on my winter to-do list, but feel like I still have a opportunity to claw back some time and cross off some things and at the very least some of the big jobs.   There is nothing like the thought of the impending spring and the possibility of a long late spring absence from the garden to keep pushing things along.

Garden

A lot of the garden is in control, but I can’t stop yet in the pursuit of being spring ready.

So sit back and join me on a cold yesterday morning and see how my garden looks as we enter this last month of winter.

Come again soon – it will be spring before we know it!

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

 

 

Ready for Raspberries

Making the decision to ease back on The Palace which was taking all my time and energy at the expense of all the other spring preparation tasks has been a little liberating.  It allows me to assess the rest of the garden and make some new priorities. 

Weedy Raspberry Bed

Gosh, how did I let things get this out of control!

While also wanting to take a little and often approach to staying on top of the basics like the weeding and bed preparation, there are other projects on the list.  Some are on things it would be nice to do, but others need to be done.  I can’t make excuses.  The biggest project is to restore order in the berry area.  Once I decided it needed more than just light maintenance, I kinda just left it, thinking I’ll take care of it all in one go when I deal with the problem.  So, the weeds have grown and aside from the original problem, it has become a bigger job than it need to have been.  

Inkweed roots

Inkweed roots are a nightmare to pull out.

The original problem is to do with the wind.  While the shape of the dome greenhouse copes so well in the strongest of winds, allowing me to sleep well on the stormiest nights, it causes problems behind it.  I had a look at diagrams of wind patterns over a dome shape and most of the wind just goes up over without trouble, but a portion of it follows the shape of the dome about halfway down and then creates an eddy.   As soon as I saw the diagram it was like an ‘aha moment’ but at that same time I think I’d already figured it out. 

Red Currant

It would seem my red currant is dead. The white and black ones look so much healthier and robust. I think I may need a trip to the garden centre for a replacement.

The eddy of wind has circled about the strawberry bed and undermined it, causing the bed to collapse. In the meantime, there are piles of sand from the path in unexpected places.  Repairs are needed.  But it is a big job and I’ll probably need Hubby the Un-Gardeners help.  I will excavate all the sand that has built up on the side of the blueberry bed and install a windbreak to help prevent the eddies.  Then I can fix the strawberry bed.  Then I can tidy up the strawberries – removing the oldest third and replacing them with runners and removing the excess runners and tidying it all up.  This bit is time sensitive as it really needs to be done before end of August for the benefit of the plants.  Which puts pressure on the whole project.  As I have also neglected the raspberries and the blueberries these also need attention – particularly the raspberries as they also have winter prep needs. 

Raspberry runners

As much as these raspberry shoots are a potential new harvest, it is uncontrolled and unwelcome and needs to go.

And then if it wasn’t a big enough project, I need to dig trenches and connect all the irrigation to one central hub so I can use the 6 Hose Water Distributor and water 6 beds with the water computer so when I’m away in November the berry plants don’t suffer like they did a few years ago. 

 

Raspberry runners

I couldn’t help myself and I saved the best of the runners to gift to a friend.

So, there is a lot to be done sooner rather than later.  I decided to break the project into smaller tasks to deal with one step at a time.  In my mind the easiest was the raspberries.  All it needed was a good weed and a prune – no more than a couple of hours right?!  Err no.  The first day I started to do it was one of those patchy days when it looked like a perfectly sunny day one moment and bucketing down the next.  I managed about 20 minutes before the rain set in for good and I gave up. 

Raspberry bed

Once I cleared away all the weeds and the runners I could see more clearly what needed to be done to the raspberries.

The next day I focused on just taking out all the weeds and found it didn’t take much neglect for some pretty impressive weeds to take hold.  An Inkweed plant had invaded the garden in a couple of ways – coming through the fence and engulfing a large swath of the garden with its broad leaves.  And its thick stubborn roots well and truly made themselves at home in the lovely rich swamp soil.  It was a monster of a plant. 

Autumn Raspberry Pruning

I cut all the autumn raspberry canes to the ground.

Once I had the weeds out, I had another decision to make.  What to do with the raspberry runners.  The summer ones were quite abundant and leafing up nicely creating a raspberry carpet across the bed behind them and beginning to engulf the currants.  My instinct was to save them and maybe give them away, but from my short 2 metre row of summer berries, there were enough to start a commercial raspberry operation.  I had to tell myself that the raspberry runners were no more than invasive weeds and should be treated as such.  So, I took my time and dug through the soil to remove every last one. 

Autumn Raspberries

It may look empty now, but once things heat up this will be a lush raspberry row ready for late season fruiting.

Initially I thought it was just the summer ones being naughty, but they were just further ahead than the autumn ones and just below the surface were hundreds of ready to shoot buds, so I dug through that side of the bed with a ruthless determination.  The only raspberries growing in this bed will be the ones I want to grow in this bed. 

Summer Raspberry pruning

I thinned out the summer raspberry canes to remove the spindly ones and the overcrowded canes. As I only moved them last summer most of the canes are from last season so there were no old ones to cut down. So all going well these will bear fruit in time to go on the pav for Christmas.

Once the bed was clear of everything except the desirables, I pruned the autumn raspberries to the ground and ruthlessly thinned out the summer ones.  In the past I was greedy for raspberries so they were planted a little too close, which aside from the wind eddies could be why I haven’t had such a great raspberry result.  And then finally I topped up the bed with compost and other goodies.

Raspberry runners

I will be drowning the raspberry runners to avoid a zombie situation in the compost!

It felt good to stand back and look at a garden bed and see it completely finished and ready for the new season – aside from the irrigation and wind protection. 

Clean raspberry bed

And after many hours toiling in the garden, the raspberries are all done and ready for the new season.

I feel like good progress is being made and I’m not fretting as much as I have been about this problematic corner of the garden. 

 

Come again soon – spring is closer than we realise.

 

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

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