Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Skip 2 Poke A Hole

Age related physical decline is making gardening an increasingly difficult activity for us.  Stubborn is our strong suit so we need to work smarter.  Last fall this 5 by 12 foot area was completely weeded.  Then soil amendments including limestone, compost, dehydrated cow manure, peat moss and sand were worked into the soil.  That was followed by a thick layer of finely chopped  hardwood tree leaves covering the bed.  Sections of wire fence were placed on top of the leaves to hold them in place.  All that needed to be done to ready this ground for planting was to remove the leaf cover and stir the soil.  The brown mound seen two beds away is the moved chopped leaves.  They will soon be put to use as mulch around other plants.

Our five foot wide beds are intensively planted.  Uniform planting requires a simple quick method to define the location of each plant.  We use 2 by 4 inch wire fence to keep the deer out of the planted areas.  We also use it to mark the planting grid.  Two pieces of fence placed with one rotated 90 degrees results in two inch squares.  In each row the onions are planted six inches apart.  Using my well worn walking stick, I push a planting hole then skip two squares before pushing another hole.  Eight inches separates the rows.  For that spacing I skip three holes before pushing another hole.  This likely seems unnecessarily fussy but it is much quicker than the traditional string between two sticks method widely used to define planting rows.

Watering the new transplants is the next to the last step in planting the onions.  The last step is to install the sections of fence around the outside of the planted area.  Four metal poles define the perimeter and garden twine quickly attaches the wire to the poles.  The wire sides are easily removed to work among the plants.  The weed covered area next to the onions needs attention now since we did not get to it last fall.

This is the garden near the back woods.  Here the planting beds are 18 feet long and only the perimeter is fenced.  270 onions were planted here three days ago.  Dixondale Farms has been our source of onion plants for the past several years.  Aware of our recent frigid weather, they promised a one week delay before shipping us their Texas grown plants.  That week turned out to be only one day and our exposed ground was still frozen.  The chopped leaf cover prevented the refreezing of this ground.  When it was cleared, some ice crystals remained in the ground but we planted.  The 2018 garden is well underway,

This adjacent bed contains 270 garlic cloves.  Not all have sprouted but that is normal.  March weather had these young plants looking terrible but they have recovered nicely.  Some of the garlic plants still look doubtful but we will continue to care for them and hope that at least some stay with us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Welcome Back!

There is a lot of interest in Native plants now.  I say wonderful, more choices for me.  But please don't ask me or the bees to give up my Glory of the Snow.  Seeing them come up and flower in early spring makes me happy!

I let out a squeal of delight when I first spotted this sharp lobed hepatica flower.  Today there are two lovely pale purple flowers!  Around here this native wildflower is blooming now.  Our first drive by Irma's Woods found countless hepaticas in bloom.  It seems that the brightness of the flowers fade as the blossom matures.  Boy, can I relate to that!

The Squirrel Corn that we moved to the new woodland garden last year shows its lacy leaves. The funky flowers will be along soon. This is a spring ephemeral will not be visible above ground very long.  Now is the time to get out there and see them while you can!

These are stinging nettles. This plant is armed and dangerous famous for burning skin, but it is useful.  Red Admiral butterflies are among many that use it as a food source for their caterpillars.  When properly prepared it is a valuable food for humans.  If the color green has a taste, this plant has it.

Here is a Johnny Jump Up coming up from between Helen's Herkimer diamond rocks.  These  stones are native fifty miles to our north.  I like to eat Johnny Jump Up flowers and like their little faces.  Native or non-native I'm glad to see them both again.  The truth is I have to rip some of these plants out as  weeds while leaving some that flower.  Welcome back to another year in the Stone Wall Garden everyone!