It’s been a whirlwind of activity since the weather has allowed me to make major progress outdoors. On Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I went ahead and planted my healthiest looking plants. I had already planned out where everything would go, and managed to get it all potted or in the ground right before/during a perfect Spring sprinkle/thunder storm. I made sure to get my netting in place ahead of time too, because I wanted to sow some seeds directly and I just don’t trust the birds around here.
Now I’ve got Tomatoes – Black Brandywine, Bonny Best, and New Yorker. As well as Large Red Cherry Tomatoes, Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries, and a Purple Tomatillo. Falstaff Brussels Sprouts, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Savoy Perfection Cabbage. Florence Fennel. I put two Cajun Belle Pepper plants in the ground, and a couple more in pots, along with, Shishito, Buena Mulata, Jalapeno Chili, Ring of Fire, and Super Chili Peppers. And I’m trying one Hale’s Best Jumbo Cantaloupe in a large container too. All of these were started from seed, indoors, under grow lights. Mostly in Jiffy peat pellets. Then up-potted into various sizes of pots and mixtures of potting soil. Hardened off. And now in the ground. I added a few scoops of Dairy Doo, about 1/4 cup sprinkle of Trifecta, plus a dousing of Neptune’s Harvest in each hole. As far as I can tell, the plants are loving their new homes.
I sowed some things directly into the ground – Paris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce, Super Red Romaine, Grand Rapids Lettuce, Roquette Arugula, and Red Giant Mustard. As well as Southport White Globe Bunching Onions (an heirloom variety from my hometown!), Detroit Dark Red Beets, Early Scarlet Globe Radishes, and Cosmic Purple Carrots.
I bought a few things from the greenhouse to fill in where my seedlings were lacking. Celery, Pole Beans, ‘Straight Eight’ Cucumbers, and and assortment of herbs including Chives, Savory, Marjoram, Dill, English Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage. I went back to grab some extra Super Chili Peppers, because not every single one of my pepper plants was looking happy in its new pot. And we need plenty of hot peppers because we dry them and use them all year long.
I also added a room! It started with an idea to tack on a smaller bed to the outside of my fenced-in raised beds. I needed a place to grow herbs. I started my own Large Leaf Italian Basil, Giant of Italy Parsley, Triple Curled Parsley, and Oregano. Luckily, in the rafters of my fiance’s boat house, I found an awesome, old, long, heavy plank of wood – I think it’s cedar, about 10 inches wide, 2 inches thick, and 12 feet long. I grabbed two cheap-o cedar planters that I bought last year for the front yard, and used them to cleat in the long plank, up against the exterior of my 12″ tall raised beds. Voila. An herb garden.
I have been waiting to try planting bulbs too, so I decided to mix flowers in there too. I’m not really sure if they are still good or if this is the right time – I hope at least some of them will grow. Some are from last year, and others I bought a month or two ago. I put Calla Lilies and Clematis in the two end planters, and some Asiatic Lilies and Irises behind the herbs in the new bed. I also bought a couple of flowering Lily plants and put those in too, flanking my proud Tarragon plant in the center – my only plant that survived the winter.
In the front of our house, I’m working on a shady bed under our spruce tree. I want to at least try Ferns, Hostas, Astilbes, and Lilies. I thought I wanted Lily-of-the-Valley but seeing how invasive they are in the area next to our garage – it’s very magical and oh so aromatic, but I don’t think I want to introduce them to a new area since we already have so many in close proximity.
The only problem with this bed is that the ground is not really workable since it’s got a bunch of pine tree roots going like crazy under a thin surface cover of old mulch. So we got a trailer load of top soil and I started moving it to fill the bed. Unfortunately I had to evict our princess Spaniel out of her dirt hole that she likes to dig and lie down in next to our front stoop. I raked the mulch over to fill the hole and moved some large field stones on top. She stared into my eyes for a whole minute after I did that, as if she were saying “how could you do this to me?” but she did get a staff infection from lying in the dirt last year so I don’t feel too bad. We plan to get some more field stone to finish off the surrounding area.
Amidst moving all the top soil, I found a great 4′ x 8′ cedar raised bed kit on sale at the local hardware store! We got it, I filled it with a base layer of dead leaves, and 5 or 6 wheel barrows full of topsoil. I just need a couple more bags of Dairy Doo, and now I’ve got plenty of space to care for all the baby pepper plants I have growing in little pots. It could also serve as a good place to start garlic this fall. In the meantime I started more Nasturtiums – Empress of India in addition to the Alaska Mixed Colors that I already have sprouted. I might like to try starting some Echinacea too.
Lastly, I’m looking into adding a hedge of Lilacs to the front of our property. We live on a dirt road, so it’s very peaceful most of the time. But we’ve not got much of a privacy barrier between the front of our house and the road, and I just really want lilacs. It seems like there is at least one bush or tree in front of every house on the main roads, so they must do well here. I saw a B&B in town that is surrounded by a thick, tall hedge of lilacs, and I am now inspired to plant several bushes to define the front edge of our yard. I’m looking at Boomerang varieties.
It’s so wonderful to go outside with my coffee every morning to look at the garden and admire the pure vitality of these little plants. It is such a joy to be at the start of a new growing season. Onward and upward!