Sunday, May 05, 2013

Garden hour(s)

I got a whole bunch of gardening stuff done today.

It's too early to plant tomatoes, and definitely too early for peppers, but I did it anyway. We've had unusually good weather, and it's very close to tomato time here (Mother's Day for the lower elevations, June 1 for me) so I went for it. I'm holding back my main tomato plants, though. I mulched heavily on the tomato and pepper rows this time, which will hopefully generate a lot of heat and keep those plant roots warm. This is the origin of the term hot bed. Farmers would lay down partially rotted compost with a layer of mulch and heat up the soil for tender seedlings. It is possible to make it so hot that it will kill the seedlings and seeds, so it's not a place/method in which to put your one prize (fill in name of special plant.) These are sacrificial plants that, if they survive, provide a jump on the season and yet aren't a catastrophic loss if they all die or are set back so far that you may as well have planted them at the proper time.

Planted my fuschia starts in their hanging baskets. It's easy to develop feelings of inadequacy when I see the huge baskets of blooming fuschias for sale at most stores right now, but I take comfort in the fact that I didn't spend $60 on the three of them. Having said that, yes, I did buy two hanging baskets, one for sun, and one for shade, to cheer things up in the garden. They were part one of my Mother's Day gift, gotten early and enjoyed fully in the meantime.

Against my better judgement I transplanted two orchids that were in full bloom. I couldn't handle seeing them crammed in their thimble-sized plastic cups with the roots bound tightly around a couple of teaspoons worth of icky old moss. Hopefully they won't keel over from the stress. I got them very inexpensively, which is usually a red flag when buying plants, but Mother's Day is coming up ... the nicer one will go to my mommy, and the smaller one will stay with me as my Mother's Day part II.

Also against my better judgement, I transplanted a poinsettia a friend of mine gave me when she was done with it oh, around mid-January. It's producing new leaves and is still technically in bloom. It would have been better to wait until we were at the other side of summer, but I already had all my transplanting stuff out, and ... yeah. I'll fess up if it dies so y'all will know not to do as I do, only as I say.

I planted out my Mother's Day part III gift, a You Me Forever hydrangea in pale lavender with green tones. It's in a spot that I'll be able to see it from the house, and where I'll be passing it every day that I go out to garden. The You Me Forever series of hydrangeas are exquisite. If you do well with them and have an open spot, I highly, highly recommend them.

My boxwood and chamaecyprus (I'm sure I just butchered the spelling) cuttings appear to be taking root. It will probably be fall before I put them out, but they'll need to be potted up in the meantime, probably in about a month, maybe sooner if I see roots starting to poke out the bottoms of the trays.

Geraniums went in the ground. Geraniums really, really don't like even the slightest cold weather. Mine are in a very sheltered spot, and I'll run out and cover them if the weather report warms me of a cold night in time. I should have waited, but the warm weather makes me dumb like that.

I put chicken wire around the new plantings and a purple rose that would make me cry if the deer ate it before it bloomed.

And lastly (actually, I did this firstly) I switched our back outdoor faucet into growing season mode. It now has a four-way split on it with a little gizmo that prevents water from siphoning back into the house from the icky hoses.

No hard physical labor today, but I'm pooped. I'm glad I had help from my daughter.  And now, bed.

After I set up to plant seeds tomorrow.
Because I'm crazy and I'll garden until after midnight.

What seeds, you ask?
Pumpkins, winter squashes, cantaloupe, cucumber and corn.
Yes, I know. I'm both too late, and too early. But not really. All these items detest transplantation, and need warm soil. By giving the pumpkin, cuke and squash seeds a head-start in the house, and planting in peat pots, if they make it I'll be ahead of the game. I'm also direct seeding all of these later on. As for the corn ... I've failed and failed and failed and finally I think I'm going to try to start them in trays and plant them out when they're really gotten going. Knee high by July is my goal.

I think that's everything for today. Tomorrow is another gardening day!

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