Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Just a quick and  late post today.  Yesterday my spouse was bored and looking for something to do.  I suggested he go down to the basement storage area and go through a box or two.  When the basement was remodeled last summer, we were in a big hurry to get it completely cleared one weekend before the crew showed up to start framing and so many boxes got shoved willy nilly into the storage area.  Most belonged to my spouse, since his desk formerly resided in our cave of a basement and he happened to be out of town the day we were clearing the last boxes (Damned convenient if you ask me, but he isn’t the type to plan to avoid work like that – he just gets lucky sometimes).  Anyhow, he frowned and said something about that not being a fun activity for the weekend, but I gave  him a version of the “if not now, when?  If not you, then who?” speech and he trudged off.

He spent the better part of the afternoon going through boxes of cords – speaker wire, computer cords, phone cords, you name it.  They were all stuffed in a tangle  into various boxes and he sorted them, decided what to keep and bagged like items with like.  Next time I went down there, there was a nice big open space on the shelves and two neat boxes of cords.  I was impressed.

I felt like I had to do something too, so I went out to the garage and found the latest 5 boxes of books slated to be donated to the library and tossed them in the back of my van to be dropped off on my next errand run.  What can I say, I was in the middle of laundry – that was the best decluttering I could do for the day.

I talked to one of my neighbors yesterday who knew I wanted some of her dutch irises when she thinned them.  She showed me a big clump she wanted to remove and told me to come dig them out anytime.  Ack, I had been admiring her irises everytime I walked by earlier this summer, so I paced the yard, looking for someplace to put them.  Front bed next to the porch had a few spots, but I don’t think it gets enough sun.  Bed out by the mailbox had some space, but there are lots of tulips in that bed and all the foliage is now dead and I don’t know exactly where the bulbs are, so I am cautious about digging there.

The only possible bed remaining is the Darwin bed from hell – a large bed at the edge of our property that is overrun by every aggressive perennial you could plant (I seem to have a talent for finding invasive species – who would have thought that a bayberry bush sent out runners that can take over a flower bed?), not to mention some poison ivy that hopped in there somehow in the last couple years.  The bed was a mess and wasn’t helped when the cable guys trampled half of it to get at the utility box in the back of the bed – no, they couldn’t trample the invasive stuff, instead they stomped on my beautiful Asian lilies that had just flowered.

So….this morning I braved the poison ivy (I am extremely sensitive and am just recovering from exposure in that same bed a few weeks ago) and the weeds and the sci-fi take over the world plants and started clearing a space for the irises.  The cable guys actually did a great job killing everything within 6 feet of the utility box (I moved the lilies the day after they stomped on them – the lilies are done for this year, but hopefully will come back ok next year), so I only had a little bit of clean up there and some spraying of obvious poison ivy.  I tackled bayberry runners with a vengeance (the bushes are quite pretty and have lovely smelling berries, but those runners drive me up the wall) and worked on saving a few lambs ear plants (I have managed to spread these things all over the neighborhood – people take them even after I tell them they will take over a flower bed) and moving them in front of the utility box.  That way, the cable guys can trample them and I won’t be heart broken.

I was able to clear about a 4 foot by 6 foot spot and get some mulch down, since that bed has been neglected so long it is down to bare dirt.  I still don’t have a spot for the irises, but after I rip out the remaining lambs ear in the front of the bed along with some black eyed susans, I should be ready.  The back of the bed looks nice.  If I can get the rest of the bed under control, it will be a major victory toward a “Better Home and Garden.”

That’s it around here.  Maybe I’ll post a picture when I am done, though I forgot to get a before shot.

Best regards,



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For years I have called my yard “Darwin’s Garden” due to my lazy approach to gardening.  I do not like to weed.  I do not like to use pest-control products.  Every spring I approach my flower and vegetable beds with big plans and big dreams, enough so to get everything planted and hopefully weeded once, but soon the attraction wears off, and the plants are left on their own to battle weeds, the occasional deliberate planting run amok (lemon balm anyone??), wildlife, and insect pests the best they can.  Only the strong survive.

So Darwin’s garden is in again.  My 4 raised beds, kindly built for me by my husband several years ago out of standard lumber, are now missing sides and falling down, but cleared of weeds and planted, they look pretty good.  I have one bed planted with early season veggies – leaf lettuce, radishes, carrots, cilantro, swiss chard, and nasturtiums.  We’ve already harvested a few radishes and the leaf lettuce is looking like it will be ready in a week or two.  The remaining 3 beds each hold 6 tomato plants as well as  various and sundry herbs (basil, volunteer cilantro from last year, a tiny stub of a chive plant, and something I think may be parsley, but also could be more cilantro – more on that later), as well as cukes, peppers, and a lone marigold.

So, why am I not sure what the herby thing is?  Well, I generally start my own plants from seed sometime in the spring from a stock of seeds I have bought over the years and keep in a bag in the freezer.  Some of the seeds are older than my teenagers and predate the house we currently live in, but as I told my boss recently, I still get a pretty impressive germination rate, so I am sold on the freezer idea.  I group the paper seed packets by type (tomatoes together, lettuces together, cukes and squash together, etc) and then put each group in a ziplock bag and put the whole shebang in a plastic “Smokey the Bear” bag that I acquired at least 12 years ago when taking my then toddler on a leaf hunting hike with the county naturalist.

Anyhow, I have an impressive collection of tomato seeds – at least 24 packets of various hybrids and heirloom varieties.  I stood in my kitchen with seed starting supplies ready (an ice cream container full of a haphazard mix of leftover worm compost from a foray into wormkeeping about 7 years ago that until recently still contained live worms (!) and whatever other potting soils and additives I had laying around – too cheap and lazy to go out for regular seed starting mix….and a stash of the black plastic greenhouse 4 packs that you usually buy annuals in – I have been saving and reusing them for years).  I had a stash of little flags I had used in the past to label various plants and stared at them for a minute before I said, “oh hell, let’s just be surprised.”   So I planted one type of seed in each compartment of the 4 pack, mostly tomatoes, but when i ran out of those, adding herbs like chives, sage, and whatever the parsley/cilantro thing is, as well as at least 1 pepper plant, though I ended up with two things that LOOK like pepper plants, so we’ll see when they grow up:).

Surprisingly, out of about 8 four packs planted, only a few compartments did not sprout.  I ended up with 22 unidentified tomato plants, so 18 went into the available bed spaces and the other 4 got placed into various flower beds.  Heck, I am not going to waste a good tomato plant!

I started the sage as I had savagely pruned my large sage bush that grows at the front corner of my garage this spring and thought for sure the ancient thing was dead, but lo and behold, it came back gangbusters in about 4 different spots in that bed.  SO my new little sage friend went into the massively overgrown streetside bed along with a tomato plant, left to fend for itself among lambs ear and bayberry shoots run amok.

So, Darwin’s garden is planted and I am left to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I told my husband this morning that I have every intent this year of “staying on top of things.”  I also told him that I recently searching the internet to find out if anyone else had a “Darwin’s Garden”, where survival of the fittest is the rule.  Turns out that, um, Darwin had a Darwin’s garden and it has been relentlessly studied and recreated in various places, including New York City.

I told my husband that perhaps my garden needed a new name.    He said that my yearly gardening exploits reminded him of something.  He said, “you know how every year, Charlie Brown goes out to fly a kite….maybe it works for a while, but eventually, it always ends up tangled in a tree!”  I laughed.  Ok, so maybe it is “Charlie Brown’s Garden.”  At least when I pull up a radish, I don’t find that all I can grow is “ROCKS.”

But whatever I call it, I am looking forward, as always, to what develops this summer.

Best Regards,


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