An iris bloomed Friday morning. The azaleas outside my front room window -- where i sit all day -- have fully bloomed. I think the Carolina Wrens are done with their nest. I'm sad to think i missed them fledging. On the other hand, i can get all the sensors out of the green house and take down the plastic. It's hard to believe it was 34°F last Monday morning, i repeat, with the next ten days predicted to have 50s to 90s. The thermostat has switched from heating to air conditioning. No reprieve.
The weekend threatened rain, but none of the localized thunderstorms deigned to visit our skies. The cloud cover did keep things moderately tolerable, even if humid. I was outside much earlier than usual on Saturday morning, which worked out well. I don't feel i got that much done, but i suspect i did lots of little maintenance tasks, in between. Christine and i also had a nice visit on the front porch, where a tufted titmouse boldly approached us so that they could pull strands of coir out of the hanging basket liners.
Saturday evening we planned to celebrate our friend J-- D--'s 50th birthday. Christine had bought a lovely gift that came in a rather large box. I recalled that the thrift store was a good place to get gift wrap on the cheap, and found the perfect wrapping paper and curling ribbon. That plus a three dollar shirt to wear as a jacket over a sleeveless dress i have came to five dollars. I spent more than that on the card in the drug store, selecting a goofy singing and animated card while listening to another couple exclaiming over the card prices. (Yikes, yikes, and yikes, i agreed.)
Just before we went off to dinner i walked Carrie and ended the walk by twisting my weak, right ankle and falling on my knee with the prepatellar bursitis. (That plus my mouth - geeze Louise.)
The celebrations of my and Christine's birthday with J-- and spouse L-- had been just the four of us. At J-'s brother's funeral a few weeks ago, we bumped into F-- and spouse D--. I didn't know F-- but he had been J--'s and Christine's dungeon master in long ago years of D&D. Christine had suggested they join us, so dinner had a sort of awkward getting to know one another energy.
I rousted myself for Sunday worship. Public Friend Chuck Fager first read from George Moses Horton's autobiographical note of his enslavement and teaching himself to read. I was expecting mostly waiting worship, but Chuck brought a message about Wisdom, and talked about the book of Proverbs. I have not been enthused about that book, as it evinces the sort of eye rolling as does Polonious in Hamlet. I feel a little more curious about it now in a "more things change the more they stay the same" sort of way.
Sunday evening i went to my folks to celebrate their anniversary with them. I may regret explaining a little about Christine's elephants to them as her absence now receives a response of "Please tell her ..." and so on, which is no help. While i was there i began attempts of air layering their magnolia tree, and one attempt with a camellia. Not as easy as it looks online with the sun beating down on my back and wrestling with the thick magnolia foliage.
This morning i am apparently off to a slow start, but since i've been away from the computer all weekend, i needed to spill all this out.
The State of the Garden
Imagine the letter E with the top of the E pointing north: that is the shape (more or less) of the border (and dividing) beds of the garden plot. In the white space inside the E are two squares, north and south, with three rows in each.
So: North border (top line of the E) The Egyptian walking onions have been growing all winter and now have tops with the tiny bubils or top sets bursting forth. A few weeks ago i put some gladiolas in among the onions, hoping that the deer would be turned away by the onion scents before noshing on the glads. Those are sprouting forth as well. On Saturday i added around eight volunteer tomatoes at the west end, presumably the same abundant grape tomatoes that delighted me last summer. At the east end i planted three rows of Fame flower or Jewel of Opar seeds, probably too close. A few ground cherry seeds also at that end. On the west end i also added some ground cherry seeds (more carefully planted). Interspersed among the onions and to the inside of the tomatoes i planted the last of the peanut seed. The deer (or other herbivore) nibbled the peanuts when they were between the marigolds last year: i don't know if the onions and tomatoes will ward them off this year, but it's worth a try. In the small section of the refilled potato trench (home of the few failed potato starts) i tossed two sunchokes that my sister gave me on Sunday -- i still have an abundance of those with sprouts to plant somewhere.
In the N row of the N square the Rose Finn fingerling potatoes are slowly coming forth, particularly around the edges of the basin. I suppose the pooling water drowned the spuds in the center of the dug out area? None seemed particularly ready for hilling. The carrot seedlings are slowly coming up. I planted them too early, i think. I suspect my soil is far from ready for carrots.
In the middle row of the N square: On the east end, Purple Peruvian fingerlings are happily growing: i hilled clay over the leaves. Most of the row is dedicated to a stick work lattice for legumes to grow up and shade three types of lettuce. The lettuce has sprouted here and there -- if they all grow to full size it should be a nice crop. The peas i planted sprouted -- but many have been nibbled away. I think this herbivory is NOT a deer. I replanted with very old bean seed (saved from California plants!) that i'd soaked for a few hours. I've other seeds if these fail.
In the S row of the N square: On the east i have a handful of impulse purchased onion sets that have also been growing all winter, interspersed with some mesculun seedlings that are now bolting without getting big enough to be worth washing and eating. I followed my dad's advice to pull back the soil from the tops of the onion bulbs to encourage the bulbs to enlarge. The onion greens (like the potatoes) are meant to be unattractive greens for deer to discourage inspection of more tender things inside the garden, so if i don't get reasonable sized onions i won't be particularly disappointed. Then there's more purple Peruvian fingerlings: these i hilled with clay over leaves as well. In the final section i planted 14 hibiscus (roselle) seeds, also soaked for several hours. I zig-zagged the spacing in seven steps: i'll thin to seven plants. The deer liked these VERY MUCH last year, so i don't know if i will have to do the thinning.
Along the western border is the deepest trench i dug for potatoes. I've been delighted to see most of the potatoes sprouting. Probably all my purchased purple viking and the norland have sprouted. I'd covered with a little soil and a lot of weedy stilt grass straw (watch me regret this in future years). In the past weeks i've hilled clay on top of that. Inside the trench is a row of mixed greens as ground cover and three rows of purple popcorn seed. They're doing reasonably well.
In the center dividing bed, the middle bar of the E: i've planted rows of breadseed poppy along the edges and alyssum and borage in the center. I've been very pleased at the borage and poppy response -- in fact the poppies have done incredibly well and i have to thin and thin and thin. The alyssum doesn't seem quite as responsive. I planted some wormwood at the E end of the bed on Saturday: it should be a good location for the plant to spill out of the plot if the seeds make it.
In the north row of the south square, i planted all the beets seeds some weeks ago. They are not sprouting particularly thickly. There are also some mixed greens (again as ground cover) that are bolting.
In the middle row of the south square, i planted my homemade seed tape months ago -- some even in the fall? There's been sporadic response here. I've got a cilantro plant that's made it and other random seedlings. This is the destination for some purchased pepper plants and basil next week, i think.
In the south row of the south square, are the the cabbage, broccoli and what i thought was lettuce but is actually sorrel that i started from seed, got into the ground in the early spring. I covered them through snows and freezes for a while. They're beginning to take off now. In the remainder of the row some weeks ago i seeded leeks (no sign of them) and radishes (looking reasonable). Saturday i added a patch of wormwood - this spot is close to the brassicas i want the wormwood to protect.
The bottom of the E, the southern border, is a patchwork of potatoes. They're doing well.
Along the western border of the south square is another trench of potatoes, some of which are setting flower buds. I've a row of collard seedlings and radishes, too.