A Nerd In The Garden: Landscaping & Hummingbirds

Vertical gardening

3 yard^3 of hazelnut shells

3 yard^3 of hazelnut shells

This weekend the hummingbirds made their return presence known. I was delighted to see them visiting the crocosima and I’m pretty sure that I heard the chicks in their nest. The crocosima and my mallow plant bloomed about two weeks early this year and I was worried that the hummingbirds would be late. I hope the blooms last long enough for the chicks too.

A local nursery was having a sale and we picked up four plants for the empty flower bed. We got two Rose of Sharons and two elephant ear plants. I also re-planted the gunnera that died in the unexpected freeze last year.

This week we had 3 cubic yards of hazelnut shells delivered so that we could mulch everwhere we didn’t want to have to weed next year. There were a surprising amount of whole nuts in the delivery and we set them out for the squirrels and the crows.

I like the look of the hazelnut shells and they are lightweight so it is easy for me to shift a bunch of them by myself. Since we had a heat wave this weekend I was glad that I was able to get a lot of the work done myself.

Vertical gardening

Vertical gardening

The gunnera got pretty badly sunburned before we got it properly mulched. It spent a week in the ground before we were able to get the mulch delivered. Thankfully there is a bunch of new leaves coming up. It seems a lot happier now that there is a whole thick layer of mulch over it.

We planted the Rose of Sharon and the elephant ear plants inbetween a rhododendron and two pink roses. It’s a long narrow strip of a bed that follows along a fence, and I’m using the term bed very loosely here—it’s more a strip of dirt that mere weeks ago was a long narrow strip of weeds.

Garden

Garden

The pumpkins and squash are taking to growing vertically very well. We picked up some more tomato cages and they are vining up them quite merrily. We also have a nest of bumblebees living behind a rose bush. I’m fairly certain they are the ones who are so kindly pollinating the tomatoes. I made sure not to bury the entrance to their nest when we were mulching.

It’s been a very busy few weekends but also very satisfying as the garden and yard start to come together. Next weekend will be more gardening and also 4th of July celebrating. K

Along the fence

Along the fence

A Nerd In The Garden: Heartscaping & Raised Beds

Taboo

Solar Lights In The Garden

Solar Lights In The Garden

Because that is how it feels to me. An oasis of calm in the midst of chaos. A little place of rest and a tiny slice of nature in my backyard. It de-stresses me after all day at work and brings a surprising peace to my soul. It’s not much, I don’t have a lot of land or anything, but I get a little corner of the yard and with a lot of help we are turning it into a place of rest for mind if not body (gardening is hard, sweaty, dirty work; make no mistake).

We are also decorating a little bit. Apparently it’s called heartscaping. I’d never heard that term before but I kind of like it. I ordered solar lights that light up in the dark. There is a hummingbird, a butterfly and a dragonfly. We put them out and then weren’t out late enough to see if they actually worked. Sometimes decorative solar lights are a bit dicy and we’ve had spotty luck with them. To our delight all three of these work and they cycle through colors too.

We have, in the course of clearing out the spot and putting in the beds and weeding henseforth, been scratched, stabbed by thorns and bitten by little bitey insect things. We’ve dug up blackberry roots the size of my fist and had to leave pieces of blackberry root in the ground because we just couldn’t get them out. We pruned back an own-root rose that we planted a long time ago named Jude The Obscure. We weren’t sure if we had killed it or not between the brutal pruning and digging all the blackberrys out but in the last week it has leafed out all over. I’m pleased that it survived and seems very happy.

Growing Garden

Growing Garden

Some critter has been digging up the second bed of potatoes, could be the mole that invited himself into the yard the week after we got all the beds installed. Could be a raccoon, we do have a family of them living around here. Either way it killed the onion sets on its way to the potato bed, so I had to rake off the mulch and replant seeds.

Peas had to be re-planted too, as some of them had been broken off by the night-time visiting critter. The cages I put up around the surviving peas seem to have discouraged said critter from climbing into that bed. The brussel sprouts had to be thinned and I was able to transplant the few that were too close to others into bare spots in the bed.

After loosing the original Gunnera to a late freeze, we finally got a new one and put it replacement Gunnera in the ground just slightly south of the spot I planted the original one. Then we had some very hot days and it got a tiny bit, well ok about 30%, sunburned. I’m taking care to deeply water it every day now until it gets its root system established.

Vintage Wine

Vintage Wine

The first tomato has set. It’s on Vintage Wine. The other two tomato plants, both yellow Brandywine types are growing huge but havent’ got any flowers yet. The Vintage Wine has quite a few flowers on it already.

We picked up two cucumber starts, a lemon cucumber and a more traditional heirloom whose name I forget, my apologies. We also picked up an heirloom melon start at the farmer’s market. I planted all three in the same bed with the tomatoes. There’s quite a bit of basil and purple basil coming up in that bed too.

My roses have been blooming like crazy this year. I’ve been pruning them and getting a vase of roses every week. While I remember the names of most of them, I must confess that I’ve forgotten the names of a couple of them.

Honor, my only white rose, was languishing in the spot it was in. It was a bad spot to begin with but I was new to rose gardening and didn’t know better. Finally after many years of talking about moving her, we did today. She may not survive but she was dying where she was anyway.

Taboo

Taboo

Either Amethyst or Peace will have to be moved next. Both are unhappy where they are at and I’d like to give them a better spot. I finally dug the blackberries out from around Chicago Peace and it is very happy. There’s still one blackberry root I need to get out and eventually I will. We transplanted Taboo last year and at first it was very happy but this year not so much. I don’t know what has changed but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Taboo is my only red rose.

Distant Drums

Distant Drums

I’ve been looking for the hummingbirds this year. The mallow bush is in bloom but I haven’t seen them. I am afraid things are blooming too early and the hummingbirds might be late. They need that food too. I will keep you updated, gentle reader. K

A Nerd In The Garden: The Raised Beds Are In

Raised beds

Raised beds

Raised beds

Last time I wrote we had just cleared the space for my raised bed garden. I had calculated the linear feet of lumber I would need and due to pricing had gone with cedar kits which Amazon was kind enough to deliver to my door. I was too busy actually putting the beds together, filling them and planting them to blog. Now that the garden is in, though, I thought I would post about the almost completed project.

There was a minor hiccup with the fill dirt for the beds. I had calculated I would require around 3 cubic yards to fill all of the beds. On the garden site I was checking out they had a free fill dirt calculator and I went ahead and checked myself against their calculator. Their calculator came up with a fraction of what I had calculated and, being an idiot I trusted their number over mine. This was a somewhat costly mistake.

Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required

I purchased the amount of soil they said I needed and it barely filled 1 bed. Ugh. So I ordered the amount I calculated I needed and it was the correct amount. Trust yourself, fellow gardeners.

It took two days to move 4.5 tons of fill dirt. As it turns out a cubic yard of dirt weighs about a ton and a half and I ordered 3 cubic yards. A friend loaned me his wheel barrow–it was very barrowy. That helped a lot. I was using a tote in a wagon assembly that was comprised of items I actually had until he dropped off the wheel barrow.

Assembled

Assembled

Once the beds were in and we had mulched the walkways with cocoa shells and hazelnut shells I planted. I have 8 4X4 beds and in them I planted a variety of squash, including pumpkins and spaghetti squash, a mix of lettuces and spinach, tomatoes and herbs, peas and brussle sprouts, onions and potatoes (in two beds). I top dressed some of the beds with the remaining cocoa shells and intend to top dress the rest of them soon.

I also added a few decorations since I really do enjoy my garden and I want it to be lovely as well as functional. I’m going to clean out the sides and perhaps squeeze in a couple more beds and some more decorations.