Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Binge

Love this book
So. I had to pick up some books at the library. I was participating in World Book Night. I volunteered to pass out 25 free copies of one of my favorite books. That would be The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. (I read that book that time we went to Africa.) When I got to the Wheaton Library, I found they had a used bookstore. So I went to the gardening shelf and bought four used books for five bucks. I gave away my free books and started reading my used books. One book, had a list of favorite books recommended on the inside cover. So I bought those books on Amazon in the used book section. Now I got more books coming, including this great classic called Norman Taylor's Encyclopedia of Gardening and a collection of essays and poetry by a feminist farmer named Janet Kauffman. I got up early this morning and started reading one of my used books, a collection of essays by Dorothy Sucher called The Invisible Garden. It turns out she's from Silver Spring, Maryland, like me. Great lady. Lovely book. "I had become infected with my first bout of garden fever, a recurrent disease, like malaria; an obsessive state in which plan piles upon plan, project upon project, the more grandiose the better, and nothing, absolutely nothing, seems impossible." I know this feeling. I wish I could have known Dorothy. I passed out my books last night in just 20 minutes. I gave away 25 books and most people smiled and thanked me. Some people, though, looked worried when I approached them and rushed away. Some said no, thanks. A disturbing few even laughed and jostled the arm of their buddy derisively, as if reading were so uncool and I was freakishly weird. Meanwhile, I wish I had an extra pair of eyes, because I've got a lot of books to read now. The Putterer

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Month Ahead and A Month Behind

Azaleas are peaked or past peak.

Roses are busting out.
I was just going through last year's photos of the garden and it looks like we are almost a month ahead in terms of bloom times. In fact, my garden seems like it's in a big hurry, and every flower and every plant is vying for attention. The azaleas bursted open as if they were trying to beat out the daffodils. The roses woke up so early, I thought they might ask for a cup of coffee. The dogwoods flowered so fast, I almost missed them. And the May-blooming irises and peonies are warming up in the batter's box for their turn at the April plate.

We're finally going to get some rain today and it couldn't come at a better time because while the garden is out ahead, the Putterer is way behind at work. So today, I'm going to be head down at home on the keyboard. Though, really that doesn't bother me. It's a pleasant task, I'm writing little blurbs on the cool things to see at each of the museums. I might even run downtown and take in a museum, or two, to complete the task.

A bus man's holiday.

Meanwhile, I couldn't be more pleased with the garden this year. I'm right on schedule, having put down mulch for the first time in half a dozen years on some of the beds and staunched a few weeds. I got grassseed down just before the early spring showers arrived, so the blades are robust and thick. I grew red lettuce, kale and chard from seed, so the vegetable patch is ready to deliver. I worked and worked
Dogwoods are showering their petals.
Swiss chard is ready for picking
the soil over at the community garden. I grew a cover crop of clover, then turned it over in trenches, row by row, mixing in compost so that my beds are thick and spongy, and teaming with earthworms. Over there, I've got sugar snap peas and greens growing in one bed and the others are ready to plant just as soon as the nights can be counted on to stay warm. I've got tomatoes, melons, cukes, swiss chard, basil, eggplant, peppers, onions and parsley starts all thriving under my lights and waiting to go out to be hardened off and planted.

Today, the temperature shouldn't  rise above 55, so I've got my fireplace humming with a toasty blaze. Delicious coffee in hand. Snoozy pup snuggling beside me. It's going to be a wonderful day today.

An early spring for an at-the-ready gardener. Not a bad thing at all. The Putterer

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Got Crafty Today

Made a succulent mini-garden today.
My neighbor put this pitcher and bowl out on the curb last fall marked free, so I took it home. Last weekend I drilled drainage holes in the bottom of both the bowl and pitcher and today I made an arrangement of succulents and stones. I can't get out to water all my potted plants every day in the heat of the summer, so I'm potting ups some sturdy fellas, who don't need so much water. The Putterer

Sunny Saturday!

It couldn't be more beautiful out this morning. The sun is so bright, it was piercing my eyes as I fumbled to make the coffee. I had to shade my eyes in the kitchen in order to see where to pour the water into the coffeemaker.

This morning, I'm off to Behnkes to pick up some fertilizers, non-chemical of course, to feed my soils to the letter of their needs. The soil tests came back this week and I am armed with the specific requirements to make my garden produce. I spent the whole week studying the reports and planning what fertilizers I'll use and how to make them work for me. I'll be planting four new rose bushes, a hydrangea and a native kalmia all along the fence. Last weekend, I had the boys help me dig out the holes. The soil was tough and difficult. So, I'll also amend with compost. The kalmia needs a particularly acidic soil and a place on a shady slope. Its root ball needs to be planted a bit above the ground, so I've selected the perfect home for it just beside the gate. The roses that I picked out thrive in sun, but tolerate shade. They are perfect for the range of shade and sun that play along the fence throughout the day. I'll start off the morning by putting the dry roots into buckets of water and leaving them to soak all of today and tonight and I'll plant them tomorrow for Easter Sunday. Over at the Community Garden, the water is turned on and so I can commence to begin. The soil there was higher in pH, than I expected, a 7.3, which is at the highest range for vegetables. Word up is that our compost was heated improperly, elevating the pH. I'm going to add Espoma sulfer in to help acidify.  The soil test recommended that I add straight up nitrogen in the form of urea or bone meal to start the season. I've evidently added too much compost because my potassium, magnesium and calcium levels were in the excessive range, while my phosphorus was at optimum levels and my organic matter was admirable, at 12 percent. It's going to be a perfect day. The Putterer