Rain, Rain, Go Away; or, Be Careful What Your Wish For

As predicted, this past weekend was pretty much a wash. The weather folks all said that it was going to do nothing but rain on Saturday, as well as Friday night and possibly sometime on Sunday. While we don’t know what happened Friday night because we were sleeping, and though we did get a passing shower on Sunday, Saturday was all rain, all day. So, no planting or transplanting happened.

[huff 😦 huff]

However. We still had a pretty productive weekend.

First, there was the bathroom, which has evolved into a “re-insulating a portion of our attic” project. While the work area is still a mess, and that mess has spilled over into seemingly every part of the house, we managed to get quite a lot done — namely placing small pieces of foam insulation into about a million cracks and crevices.  That may not sound like a lot, but when the work involves lots of measuring, cutting, and crawling around in a tiny space, time seemed to fly by rather quickly. Interestingly, since the bathroom we’re working on is on the house’s second floor, it was rather serene working with the rain pitter-pattering away on the roof. That didn’t make the work any easier, but it felt a little less stressful. That was nice. (Maybe we should have one of those rain soundtracks playing all the time during work!)

That was all on Saturday. On Sunday, after getting off to a really chilly start in the morning, things warmed up significantly in the afternoon. With the sun brightly shining, we had to get outside and do something, at least. The ground remained super soggy and the planting beds were cold and muddy, so there wasn’t going to be any planting happening. Instead, we opted to start replacing the netting on our cages. Of the four that we made, three of them had been chewed through by our resident rascally rabbits, and on all of them, the netting was falling apart in some manner. So we got out the replacement netting and all the cable ties were could fine, and got to work.

It’s not obvious, but this cage has all-new netting.

In the end, we only had enough ties to complete one cage, but it’s the most important one: the net around the pea bed. If we discovered on thing and one thing only, it’s that rabbits l-o-v-e pea shoots. We actually had a few growing from seeds that we threw in the bed last month, but they had been summarily eaten. The fact that the rabbits could hop right through the cage didn’t help matters any, so getting to that cage first was the priority. Thankfully, we had just enough cable ties to do the trick. The others will have to wait another week until we can get some more ties.

They aren’t as much of a priority, because it would seem that maybe, just maybe, the concrete blocks have kept the rabbits at bay Our greens and lettuce beds are actually showing signs of life, and that life hasn’t been nibbled at…yet!

In this raised bed, there’s arugula (top right, bottom left), kale (top left), and romanesco (bottom right). In the surrounding spots we planted a variety of things from lettuces to flowers to carrots to radishes to, yes, even onions! Not sure that it will all do well, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
In this raised bed, we planted various lettuces and spinach in the main part, surrounded by more lettuces, flowers, and herbs — basil, thyme, dill, and cilantro.

So we’re on our way! With the drenching on Saturday, we heartily wished for a respite from the wetness, and it seems out calls were answered. This week and weekend there’s no rain in sight…and it’s going to be extremely warm with some days reaching into the 80s and possible up to 90. That’s a bit much for May, but we’ll take it. Plus, our strawberries should have a grand time once it heats up. Hopefully the heat won’t be too much, though. The good thing is that it should dry everything out so that we’ll be ready to plant and transplant this weekend. Can’t put things off much longer!

And here are a few more pictures to finish up this week’s garden round-up:

We planted more lettuce in our small hanging — they just started sprouting.
The radishes in our barrels are coming along nicely, and that’s despite the fact that we forgot to cover them with netting. Thankfully, the squirrels and birds haven’t dug in them too much.
This radish barrel looks a little more promising.
While weeding, we discovered and marked a patch of volunteer squash in one of the stone beds. Wonder what variety it’ll turn out to be? (Our guess: zucchini or Long Pie pumpkin.)
We’re just a couple weeks away from strawberry season! Hopefully the warm temps this week will prompt ours to grow and ripen.

 

A Beautiful Weekend Full of Chores (and That’s a Good Thing!)

Being outside this past weekend one would never know that the place was soggy from rain and snow a mere 7+ days before! As they say, what a difference a week makes. We had two gorgeous days in the 60s and 70s (almost reached 80 on Sunday!). And it was with the sun in mind that we packed our schedule full of outdoors chores. This included everything from mowing the grass to planting some early seeds.

It also included the requisite bout of resulting allergies. Ick. They aren’t too bad yet, but based on the light sneezing and wheezing in our household over the past couple days, it’s a good sign that Spring allergies are certainly on their way.

But enough about silly things like allergies — we had a garden that needed some more TLC!

After mowing and completing some additional clearing of random leaves and branches, the bulk of Saturday was spent weeding. It turned out that the little green seedlings scattered about that we initially thought might be tomatoes…

06tomatoesmaybe2

…had really just blossomed into weeds. So they had to go.

However, most surprisingly, we did find a couple of carrots growing!

011carrots
No plans to plant carrots this year, but we’ll see if these guys make it.

And then, we had to deal with this stuff.

100_3204

This ivy-like weed is called many things — we had been calling it “dollar weed” — but we like the term “Creeping Charlie” better. Not that it’s better; in fact, it’s is highly annoying, and it has all but taken over the backyard. And before we got to weeding, it has started to creep into most of the garden bed. We pulled out as much as we could stand. After awhile its “minty” scent that it produced upon being yanked up proved to be too much, and we had to call it a day. Hopefully it’ll start to die back once the weather gets warmer and less damp.

But as much as we got done well into the evening hours of Saturday (this included digging up and resetting a number of stones out in our front beds, as well. Oh! And moving/transplanting some lilies. Boy, we were busy!), it was nothing compared to the banner day we had Sunday. It was time to start some early seeds — mostly lettuce, greens, radishes, and we took a risk with peas and a couple peppers — which meant that we had to re-assemble our net cages.

Last year we made four square-ish net cages to go over our raised bed. We made them in a way that they could be taken apart and rolled up over the winter. It was all quite grand until it came time to put them back together, which we couldn’t quite remember how to do, at first. As we hadn’t labeled which pieces when together to form which cage — we had two small ones, one large one, and one with a “door” to lift for easy access — getting them back together was puzzling at first. We eventually decided to simply lay all the pieces out in the yard to figure things out.

011netcages1
So many pieces!
011netcages2
And more pieces, still.

Once we remembered how to put one cage together properly, the rest were a snap. The only issue we faced were repairs, as a number of zip ties used to hold the net to the PVC pipe had cracked. So each cage had to be moved to the driveway for inspection.

First cage in line ready for inspection.
First cage in line ready for inspection.
We removed any cracked zip ties...
We removed any cracked zip ties…
...and replaced them with new ones. Simple but a little time consuimng.
…and replaced them with new ones. Simple if a little time consuming.

Once all the cages had been checked and fixed, we placed them over their proper beds.

Good to see the gang back together!
Good to see the gang back together!

We have a couple things of note here. First is this raised bed:

Notice anything funny?
Notice anything funny?

Over the winter, the wood boards bordering the bed picture above collapsed and rotted. Rather than replace the boards, we decided to continue our “design” scheme that we had applied to our stone beds and picked up some landscaping stones to make a new border. The layout right now as seen in the image is rough. They might stay like that, we might dig them out a little to set them straighter, or might turn them up on their edges so that the cage fits better. Not sure yet what will happen, but the idea is that we’ll replace each raised bed with a stone border once the current wood borders deteriorate. The rest of the beds are fine for now.

The other new “addition” are some small, makeshift trellises that we added to the bed in which we grow peas.

011peatrellis

These were made using a set of old wire shelves, some zip ties, and some metal poles. Nothing special but it works! And it means that we can now fill the bed with different peas rather than only planted the peas along the edges. And despite the fact that the nights will be a little on the cool side for a couple more weeks, at least, we went ahead with planting out the bed.

And that brought the busy weekend to a close. Interestingly, on Sunday we were joined in the backyard by this guy:

011alittlecompanion
Hello, Mr. Robin.

While we think this Robin stuck around because he knew we were digging up the yard, and hence, digging up grubs and bugs and worms, it was nice to have to company. For much of the day he just stood around in the background watching us. But during one brave moment he got up close to our work area and got himself “stuck” in one of the net cages. (The cage was on its end with the open side out. He flew in and insisted on trying to fly up, only to meet with the netting. He eventually solved the “puzzle” and flew out instead of up.)

All in all, it was an excellent weekend, even if it resulted in muscle pain and allergies. And there’s plenty yet to be done!

 

A Slow Weekend but not a Lazy Weekend

Over the weekend, we mused about the fact that it was around this time last year that we had transplanted the first of our seedlings — two beds of greens. Considering that we woke to a frosty Sunday morning, we’re glad we didn’t follow this year’s calendar to a tee. Nope, it look like this year we’ll more than likely be transplanting the seedlings in stages at the end of April and the beginning of May, depending on how much we’re able to get done. This April we’re loosing a couple weekend days to events and other happenings, so we don’t have as much free time as we did last year. All the same, everything will  get into the garden one way or another!

And that’s not to say that we had a lazy weekend — far from it! We picked up another round of stones for the new bed. Probably one more trip to the hardware store, and we’ll have all the stones that we need.

Lookin' good...unfinished, but good!
Lookin’ good…unfinished, but good!

While the layout looks nice, the stones above aren’t in their final configuration. Rather, we’re just using them to weigh down the grass.  Once we remove then, we’ll have our digging outline set, then it’ll be a matter of removing the sod and re-laying the stones. Fingers crossed that we’ll have nice weather next Sunday as sod removal is on our calendar for then.

We also set about building another net cage.

Three down, one more to go!
Three down, one more to go!

The one we built this past weekend is slightly different from the others in that one of the sides is loose so that the net can be lifted up — in the picture above, it’s the one top right. It’s for the cucumber bed, and we left one of the side loose so that we could easily get into the bed to harvest. We anticipate training the cucumbers up the other three sides (hopefully it’ll comply…). Now all that’s left is making one for the final bed that’ll fit over the pea trellis. Like the net for the cucumber bed, this will also have an opening on one side for harvesting purposes.

So in and among other things that need attending to over the next couple weekends, we’ve got to finish the stone bed — sod removal and laying down new soil — make another net cage, till all the existing garden beds — raised, container, and otherwise — purchase more soil, and start transplanting. Whew! Can you say busy bees?