Saturday, May 20, 2006

More planting before the predicted rain.

I’ve been too busy gardening to have much blogging time this past two days. I bought a lot of herbs and flowers to transplant yesterday and then bought some marigold to transplant today. I hope I have things enough under control next spring to grow from seed instead. But I wanted to see some instant color this year.

I have the bed by the pump house completely planted now. It contains three kinds of thyme, garlic chives, borage seeds, an Easter lily, the alyssum my neighbor gave me for Mother’s Day, some coleus I bought yesterday, a lemon scented geranium, two marguerites, gazanias transplanted from Mom’s, amaryllis in back against the wall, German chamomile and also the ground cover variety, and two kinds of parsley. There may be a thing or two I’ve forgotten. I did find my camera, but haven’t had time to upload the pictures to the computer yet. Business before pleasure!

In the bed I see from my kitchen window I have two kinds of yarrow, some marigolds, some coreopsis, some cat mint, some French sorrel and some seeds for Blanket Flower, borage, and a border plant I can’t remember right now. (See bottom picture, above.) When planting, one can only imagine what the finished picture will be and one has to keep that picture in mind when the bed is nothing but transplants and seeds. As Paul said, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. One has to have a certain amount of faith when planting a garden or one wouldn’t bother. I may or may not actually see what I now envision. I may have simply planted a feast for the gophers. One can’t make gopher cages for everything.

I also completed half the bed beside the driveway today. This is the bed where I divided the artichoke a few weeks ago. One is in the pot to protect it from the gophers. The others have to fend for themselves in the ground. I pulled a few weeds, planted one hill of light green zucchini in a cage and one hill of golden zucchini without one. I put in a marigold for good measure and planted a couple of borage seeds. I still have a tall red chard going to seed there. It looks nice in contrast, and I am looking forward to some chard there in the fall. I still have the part of the bed nearest the house to finish weeding and clearing things from. My husband got halfway through making the last raised bed there, and the frame is on its side against the shed behind the bed with the wire along side. It looks terrible, since it’s also very weedy, but first the plants had to go into the ground before the rain expected tomorrow. I like to transplant, and plant seeds, before rain is expected.

Last project today was to finish planting what I could in the fenced garden before the rain comes. I managed to plant a few green ice lettuce seeds, a few more French Breakfast radishes, some borage, and a few sunflowers (all seeds). My first pot of zucchini came up a couple of days ago, two cucumber hills are up, one of the old basil seeds (out of about twelve I planted) came up, and the tomatoes are making progress. I’m still worried about the bell peppers and basil transplants. Their leaves are yellow at the edges and they look unhappy. Can’t tell if they have too much food and water or not enough. I’m sure they have enough water. And the nutrients I put in the soil before planting were not chemicals. (See raised bed in top picture, above. Peppers are in foreground, with radishes around them. Tomatoes are in background with a couple of tiny basil in back, between them.) Yesterday I transplanted a borage (a volunteer which came up in a pot with a tomato). I felt the pot could not support them both, and if one had to die, I chose the borage. But I hope it will decide to be happy even though relocated. I added a marigold to each raised bed where I’ve planted tomatoes because they are supposed to be friends.

I would like to have done more, but I ran out of time today. Seems it goes so quickly in the garden. If the predicted rain actually comes, I may not get back to gardening until Tuesday. That will be good for the bookseller part of me that needs more time to get ready to exhibit at a home school convention in Fresno on June 9-10. When I get back from that, maybe I’ll finally get some pictures attached to these blogs.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Too Weary to Fight

Today I feel old. I definitely did not feel like getting up early to weed. I didn’t make it out to water until about 9:30. By 10:30 I was in, ready to eat breakfast and start my workday. After I got back from the post office I knew I should get back to the weeds, but instead chose to check in a book shipment. So it was about 7 PM before I finally got back in my gardening clothes. I had no energy, no enthusiasm, and absolutely no desire to pull weeds. But I realized if I didn’t they would win. I told myself I would just do a little bit, and if I got too tired I would go in.

But – as usually happens -- once I start I somehow get motivated to keep on. I told myself I would just go one foot more in a certain direction to free one more weed-covered container I need. And then I said I’d just free the boysenberry plant that was covered. And I did that. (What a mess of tangled trellis and bird netting that was!) And then I went just a bit farther to free the lemon balm, which was valiantly holding out, just waiting for more light to flourish. By then it was dusk and time to go in, and I had put in another hour.

Sometimes I am spiritually exhausted, too, and have no desire to fight the enemy of my soul. It’s easier to neglect my Bible when I’m tired, or my prayer life. I can feel too tired to help my neighbor or go to church. But I find when I push myself, even when I don’t feel like it, I can keep on, and as I push ahead in the right direction I am given the energy I need. And now, to bed. It does help to also get enough sleep to prepare for the day ahead.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Preparing to defeat the garden's enemies

My battle with the weeds has been taking its toll on me. For some reason the intensive work I did Thursday left me almost crippled by arthritis or sore muscles. I'm not sure which, but the pain in my knees and hips and thighs was so bad I got almost no sleep Thursday night, and I was forced to take a rest from the garden on Friday. Yesterday I went back to the battle.

It was neglect that left the garden in this shape. It was really defenseless against the weed invasion. As I pull the weeds out this year, I am also preparing for the next invasion. I have discovered that the garden is a great place to recycle newpapers and cardboard. I now put a layer of newspaper on each newly cleared bit of ground that is unplanted. As I pull the weeds, they get stacked on top of the papers, thorns and all. (See papers around pot with tomoato and borage, with weeds on top.) This provides a bit of mulch and blocks the light as new weeds try to grow. I don't know if this will work, but I'm rather hoping that the same thorns that cause me pain while I'm pulling them will discouage little raccoon bodies that have to walk across these dead thorns without shoes to get to the tomatoes they robbed me of last time I had a crop. I have only six tomato plants this year, and I'd like to eat a few myself.

I've taken a chance planting the cucumbers and radishes in the ground instead of in pots or rasied beds. I'm going to plant more than I need in various areas of the garden to provide enough for both the gophers and me. I'll probably also put a couple in pots to insure that we also have some. If I have a suplus, I can give some away. I also planted my first summer squash in a pot, but I plan to also have some in bare ground. It's so late now I'll probably have to wait until fall to plant carrots.

I'm hoping the preparations I'm making this year to prevent weeds from taking over again next year will leave more time for actual planting next spring. All I should need to do is push back the mulch and plant. I'm sure a few weeds will manage to poke through, but not near the amount that I had to contend with this year. I am leaving a few thorns around the rim of the garden and will allow a few to reseed. (I'm cutting the tops of most so they can't.) I have noticed that these thorns are full of ladybugs I want to encourage. If I remove all the host plants, these ladybugs might leave before the tomatos need them. So I think it won't hurt to leave a few. I'd love to hear from anyone who has advice on this matter.

I realize that I will not be able to do everything that needs doing this year. It would be nice if I could pull all the weeds before summer kicks in, but I don't think I can take back much new territory this year. The goal is to clear enough to plant what I can keep up this summer and keep it free of weeds; to mulch what I have cleared with newspaper, cardboard and weeds; to plant something I want to cover the ground before the rainy season starts; and to see that seed heads are cut down before they finish forming seeds on the thorns. If I can accomplish these things, it should make planting next year's garden much easier.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Back to the Battle

Not much to tell today. Woke up earlier than usual and decided to get out to the garden early before it got hot. Began by transplanting yesterday's nursery purchases -- a carnation, some lemon thyme, a tri-color sage, and some chamomile. Then I watered everything in and began my battle with the weeds anew. I wanted to clear a portion of ground next to the fence in order to plant some cucumbers, which I did. Then I put some French Breakfast radishes on either side. I watered the newly planted seeds and then grabbed the hedge trimmers to go after the budding tops of the thorns. I knew I'd never be able to pull them all before they reseeded. But I did keep most of them from being able to propagate for a while.

All that work made me tired, so I think I'll just go to bed without getting philosophical tonight.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Battling the Weeds

I have spent a few hours today pulling the thorns in the garden. Most of them were about 18 inches high, with many taller, and many shorter. All were sharp. I forgot to wear long sleeves and was surprised to look at my arms to see blood dripping where I had come in contact with the tiny thorns. I've been trying to step up my weeding since already the thorns are forming buds and even flowers, and I'm afraid they will go to seed before I can get them all. I can at least see my flower pots again.

Believe it or not, though, the thorns are easier to pull than my mystery weed, which is really a shrub.(See picture.) It's wandered through the garden from across the fence where there is a whole hedge of these plants, most of which are taller than I am. I'm not sure whether they reproduce from roots or seed, but I suspect roots. Near the house they are starting to grow in a row. I'm assuming this is some sort of native plant, or maybe it's a foreign invader. It has small leaves and woody branches and very deep roots. I have tried to pull a couple of these bushes out and I can't even pry them out with the fork shovel. I'll have to try a pick. After that I'm not sure what to try. One of these bushes has grown about a yard tall next to my small grape vine, and I need to give the grapes some breathing room. It's amazing what almost two years of total neglect can do to a garden. The same thing happens when we fail to guard our hearts from intruding thoughts that threaten to cover up or crowd out the thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and worthy of praise in our minds. We have to rip the invaderss out while they are still small or they are almost impossible to remove.

One way to guard against them is to plant something more worthy that will occupy the space. Today I finally planted some basil seedlings, more parsley, and the rest of my petunias. I'm hoping they will grow enough to cover what is left of the bed by the pump house, if I just keep the tiny weed seedlings from growing. I planted. I watered, and I will be patient while God gives the growth.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Sage Survival

Haven't been to the garden since Saturday except to water. John came to spray on Monday and I had a lot of work to do. One Tuesday we spent the day out of town. But this afternoon I finally planted the rosemary on the slope with the other herbs and the thyme in the bed by the pump house where the soil is a bit richer. (See picture.) The weather was just right for transplanting -- overcast and not too hot.

It was also just right for pulling some more thorns. So after watering, I decided to see if there was anything left of what was a hearty sage plant two years ago. I began to carefully start pulling out the thorns that were overunning everything in the corner by the gate where that sage plant used to thrive. After I had weeded about two feet from the gate I began to smell sage, so I knew something still had to be there. And, finally, I saw a mass of entangled brown woody stems with a few green sage leaves attached. It actually looked more like a bunch of roots above the ground. But it was there. It reminded me a bit of a strong Christian who has had trouble after trouble come into his life until he is almost overwhelmed by all the trials and can no longer see the light and has to put all his energy into just surviving. His roots have gone deep, and the rain of the Spirit has still reached him, and in spite of all the obstacles in the way of his receiving fellowship and nourishment, he is still hanging on, waiting for God to remove the obstacles to his thriving so he can once again bloom and spread leaves in all directions. Now that the weeds around and over the sage are gone and the light can penetrate again, I fully expect to see more leaves, and even flowers. I'll prune some of the tangled stems, and soon, I hope, this sage, the mother of the beauties on the slope, will once again be full, green, and lush, as it used to be.
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