Sunday, March 12, 2017

Planting the Lettuce and Sweet Peas

Our second lovely day this month and it fell on the weekend - hooray! That meant that I had no excuse to stay inside. It was time to get outdoor and get some things off of my "to-do" list. I started in the Kitchen Garden. Dad helped me bring a load of Nature's Best around and we added it to some low spots in the garden. Then I got out my seed stash and planted the two remaining raised beds with lettuce seed. I planted one bed with nothing but "Heirloom Cutting Mix" from Renee's Garden. Then, in the next bed I planted 3 rows of "Sea of Red" from Renee's Garden, 3 rows of "Green Oakleaf" from Seed Savers Exchange, and one row of "Yugoslavian Red Butterhead" from Seed Savers Exchange. It appears that the worst of our Winter weather is over, and I am hoping the lettuce will germinate.

After I got the lettuce all planted and covered, I couldn't help but take a peak at the Spinach bed. The spinach is doing great and I really need to thin it soon. 

The "Gazelle" plants, that germinated first, are just now producing their first true leaves.

Last Fall, when the builders were completing our new deer fence, it was necessary to move my chives from the Kitchen Garden so they wouldn't be trampled on as the posts were set in. Today I dug up my clump from its temporary home in the front flowerbed and settled it back home in the Kitchen Garden. It is growing like mad right now. My hands and the air were filled with a strong onion scent as I dug it up and relocated it. With a good watering in, I don't think it will even know that it has been relocated once again. 

After finishing up in the Kitchen Garden, I moved over to the Sunset Flowerbed. I brought out the Sweet Pea tower and set it in a bare patch of ground that had some fresh Nature's Best worked into it.

Then I transplanted the two six-packs of "Royal Family Mix" sweet peas from Hayhurst Nursery. I also dug up and moved 4 sweet pea plants that had germinated from last year's planting.

They look so little now, but will soon attached themselves to the tower and quickly begin climbing upward. I can close my eyes and practically smell them already.

I finished the day by beginning to weed one of your two new flower beds in the front of the house. Over the Winter, the new grass from the lawn has invaded the bed and is taking it over. I worked and work and managed to get a 1' wide strip weeded all along the front edge of the bed. There is still a lot of work to be done but at least it is a good start.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Early Daffodils

The early season daffodils are in full bloom this weekend. None are more vigorous than the "Tete-a-tete" narcissus lining the front of the Mudroom Flowerbed. 

In July of 2011, I dug up one fat clump of "Tete-a-tete" bulbs in this very bed. I then sorted out the Muscari bulbs from the "Tete-a-tete" bulbs. I replanted the whole bunch, dividing the "Tete-a-tete" into two separate patches.

Flash forward five years and now those two clumps are overflowing and the poor Muscari are buried once again. Looks like its time to do some more digging and dividing this upcoming Summer.

In the front flowerbed, the "Jet Fire" daffodils have just opened.  They come back reliably each year.

When the blooms are new, the orange trumpets are at their most distinct shade of orange. Over time, the orange fades and become harder to differentiate from the yellow petals.

Such a nice display.

I am most excited this year to see this nice little group of "Snipe" narcissus. Last year I dug up this variety from its old home, underneath the creeping succulent plants. There were 4 bulbs at that time. I accidentally stabbed one in half with my trowel. That left three bulbs to plant in the new spot. Two came up last spring and only one bloomed. This year, two of the bulbs have expanded. One has 2 blooms the other has 3. The third bulb has also sent up some foliage this year, so there is still hope that it will gain strength and bloom next year.

I love their long, yellow trumpets and thin white petals that reflex back toward the stem. So much drama on such a petite bulb.

Glowing in the afternoon sunshine.

In the not-so-good news department, my "Topolino" narcissus have only produced two blooms this year. As you can see there is a mass of healthy, green foliage. I am hoping it was our extreme weather this December that caused it, and not a issue with the heath of the bulbs. Perhaps, right when the plant was ready to send up the flowering stalks, our frezzing rain and snow arrived. I still might dig up this group this Summer. It wouldn't hurt to amend the soil and replant the bulbs once again. Until then, I will enjoy my two little blooms!

Friday, March 10, 2017

The First Sunny 60 Degree Day

Of coarse it had to be on a weekday, but it was still so appreciated. The first 60+ degree day of the year! We actually hit 61 today and boy was the sunny day welcome. It was hard to believe that only 4 days earlier I was driving to work in the snow. Winter will not let go of its grip on us this year but today was at least a taste of Spring and the days to come - we hope!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spinach - One Week Later

4 rows of "Gazelle" spinach

Yesterday, after the morning snowfall melted, I went out to the Kitchen Garden to check on my spinach bed. It has been such a week of mixed weather; a few mild days but also some cold days with freezing nights, and some snow! Thankfully spinach is tough and my little plants are doing well. I was especially happy to see that many more plants of "Abundant Bloomsdale" spinach had germinated during the past week. As of Sunday, my current count is 43 plants of "Gazelle" and 24 of "Abundant Bloomsdale". That is good enough germination that I will have plenty of plants to transplant if necessary and I will even have a bit of thinning to do. The spinach bed is off to a great start!

2 rows of newly emerging "Abundant Bloomsdale" spinach

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Snowy Sunday Morning - Again!

I awoke this morning around 7:30 AM and glanced out the window. Snow! Just as the forecast had predicted, it had started snowing overnight and was still at it. We had about an inch of accumulation  in all, before it stopped around 9:30 AM. Just enough snow to turn the world white once again this Winter. And now they are calling for more snow to fall tonight as well as forecasting more snow next Sunday! The groundhog was right and clearly Mother Nature is not done with this Winter weather business quite yet.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Planting the Spartan Apple Tree

Last Sunday, the "Spartan" apple tree that I ordered from Earth Rising Nursery out of Monroe Oregon was delivered to Eugene. After a few delays - like me forgetting to pick it up Sunday afternoon! -, it was delivered to the house Tuesday night. This morning, with Dad's assistance, we got it planted. I picked the same site where we planted the small "Spartan" graft that I got a few Springs back. Unfortunately, it didn't survive. But I liked the location, so we just dug a much larger hole there and set in the new tree. It's a little over 5 feet tall and is grafted to EMLA7 semi-dwarf root-stock. That means it should eventually reach a height between 12 and 20 feet, or about 60% of a standard tree. This is the root-stock used in most orchards. "Spartan" is a McIntosh cross, with good scab resistance. It ripens in mid-October. I have great hopes for this tree. We have it surrounded by protective fencing to give it a chance to grow without the deer chewing on it. Now we just sit back and wait for mid-April, when I hope to see it break out with a flush of new growth.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In Like A Lamb

"Tete-a-tete" narcissus in the mudroom flowerbed

March arrived today, coming in like a lamb. We had partially sunny skies and it hit a high of 53 degrees. Looking at the 10 day forecast, I think this lamb-like spell is to be short lived. Snow is being predict for the upcoming weekend and the temperatures are dropping. So we will enjoy today's tease, knowing we still have 20 more days of Winter left on the calendar.