Saturday, March 31, 2012

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge 2012

Tomorrow is April 1st. That means that the annual A to Z blogging challenge begins. Last year, I had entered several of my blogs to the challenge. But when my father became ill in mid-April, posting seemed less of a priority. After he passed away in June, I made it a priority to try to complete the alphabet on all of them. But it was too difficult to do so. I did manage to fully complete the gardening alphabet, even though it was outside of the time frame.

I didn't think I would be able to come up with another alphabet of gardening ideas. I don't have much of a list, yet. But there is plenty of time to become creative and think of some. I want to push myself to do this, partially for me, to get the writing wheels greased again. And partially for my father's memory. After all, it is his fault that I am such a gardening nut.

So, good luck to you, if you are also participating in the challenge. Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

GBE 2: Make a List - Gardening Dreams

It's 70 degrees and sunny here in Upstate New York. And it is only mid-March. As these days of sun and heat descended upon us, I kept realizing how much of a mess my yard was. After Dad died last year, I didn't feel much like working in the yard. And unfortunately, it shows. These sunny days made me dream of having time to dig in the dirt in my yard. I even bought seeds just over a week ago, as I dreamed of getting started.

The irony is, now I have the time to work in my yard this week. It is sunny, pushing 80 degrees, and I am home from work for 5 days. But I am home because I have an injured leg. Yes, the klutz that I am, I fell and sprained/pulled the joints and muscles in my left leg. I am supposed to be on crutches. but don't inside the house. It is quite difficult to bend down, let alone try to work in the yard. So, here I am sitting outside in my lawn chair, getting a tan, in MARCH, and just thinking about everything I could still get done.

So, what do I want to accomplish this year in my yard? It isn't big, but I have a million ideas....

1. Redo the veggie garden.

In trying to pay homage to my mother's farmer roots, I started a small vegetable garden a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, it is only about two to three feet wide and runs along my short driveway. When I first had the idea, my neighbor was going to share his extra strip of grass along his driveway, so that there was more space and we could share. But then he changed his mind when I started it up. I still want to convince him to let me use the land, but I doubt that will happen.

It needs to be edged again, to distinguish it from his grass. And this year I need to remember to put back up the little white fence that I had purchased two years ago. That way, it is obvious where to mow. Grass is less likely to merge with my bean plants, etc.

And what to plant in it? I almost always do peas and beans. I have dreams of doing squash, melons and cucumbers. If I can get them planted early enough, it can still work. But with this much heat so early in the year, I worry about trying peas. We shall see. And yes, one of these years I will look into square foot gardening.

Tomato plants are always in pots along the driveway. This year I need to remember to only put one plant per pot and hope that they grow better. And perhaps I can start earlier. Having to take care of Dad last year, and the subsequent funeral and cleaning out of the house, kept me in Ohio until the third week in June. I was late getting in anything, even though I got all of my plants for a good price. I definitely want to try a large variety of tomatoes again.

I long to learn how to grow more things in the pots. I want to be a more self-sustained home in the summer. But, I also live in the city. I am lucky I have space to garden, at all. I need to remember my limitations and just get down the Public Market more frequently.

2. Condense pots.

I have a zillion pots. When our local Wegmans was getting rid of their flower department, they were selling their plastic black pots for 25 cents apiece. I bought dozens of them. I figure for a small investment, I could stack them up in my garage. That way, I would have plenty of pots to give away as gifts and to slowly replace current pots as they broke. This means I also now need to go through recycle all of the pots that are currently broken. I have to let go of my OCD about which plants go into which pots and just make do with what I have. Plus, it will tremendously clean up the back porch area. I live on a corner, so there is no hiding anything in the backyard.

I am also ashamed to admit that a couple of them have perennials and roses still in them that have not yet been planted. As they are all starting to grow again, I am reminded that they need to get into the ground, already.

3. Clean up the roses.

My poor rose bushes have been neglected. They take so much time and energy. Between the sadness of last summer, and a physical condition that resulted in minor surgery the previous summer, I haven't taken as good care of them as I normally would. They all desperately need to be trimmed, which will have to wait until after they bloom. I also need to dig out the edges again. The strip that serves as a border between my yard and my neighbor's yard needs to all be connected into one large bed and then mulched. It will make it easier for the man to mow and just be and look better.

My mini rose bed has some new, strange things growing in it since last year. And my plastic birdbath that I have had for 10 years (that my father bought me) finally bit the dust this winter. I need a replacement of sorts. It just added some depth and different texture to my bed.

4. Clean out perennials.

When I put in the perennial bed seven years ago, I never dreamed it could fill in so much. I dug up the space between the sidewalks that lead to the front door and the side door. It's on a slight hill and was just a royal pain to mow. Plus it was just the perfect location for a large perennial bed. I have a bench in the center of it, so you can sit and reflect. Or, for right now, it has an old rusted out coal tin that serves as an annual pot sitting on it. The stones and path all came from my place in Ohio. My father helped me put in the bed and graciously carried all of those stones from Ohio to New York for me. (They will be hard to leave behind.)

Over the years, the perennials have naturally gotten much larger. Flowers like the Shasta daisies, coneflowers and columbine have taken over the bed. What used to be an organized mess is just a mess. And they have all jumped over the sidewalks to the small framing beds that used to just be bulbs and annuals. I'm sure my mailman is cursing me because he can no longer get up the sidewalk without brandishing a weapon to move the overgrown tall flowers. It's time to pare back.

5. Figure out something with the front bed.

That front bed has been the bane of my gardening existence as long as I have been here. It faces the north, which makes growing difficult. Plus, I get a lot of runoff from my roof on that bed, now. It's gorgeous in the spring, as all of the primroses and bulbs bloom. Eventually the hostas come in. I also have a lot of lilies. But those stupid beetles shred them every year and I can't keep up.

I used to have a gorgeous "Japanese rose bush" in the center. It grows large yellow flowers that look like roses, and only blooms when it is cool. It was overgrown and I had been told to treat it like a rose bush. So, in the summer of 2010, I cut it down to the ground. That was a big mistake. Now it just grows sporadically wherever its shoots have gone. Perhaps I could dig those up and replant them back in the middle again. I have to figure something out, because it doesn't look good.

The whole thing also needs to bed edged again, both with a spade and with some pretty annuals. I usually try to put impatiens out there. I will have to also check my rock collection to see if I can edge things. I just may have enough, between rocks I collect while hiking plus the ones I have from the beaches in Boston.

6. Paint.

Every year I say I am going to repaint the wooden steps and whatchamacallits that are under the porches. They have been peeling for a few years. The problem is, it is best to do so in the spring before the plants get too big. And by the time I have the time to do it, I can't reach the wood anymore. It detracts from the garden. But it is on the list, so that one of these years I will do it.

7. Clean out hidden weeds.

Along the side and back of my garage are tons of overgrown weeds. I try to hack them down. But I also have a lot of weed trees that need to be cut down. It is difficult to maneuver in those areas, but again needs to be done.

8. Make pots.

My favorite part of gardening is the creation that goes into making those pots. I like mine better than the ones you find in the stores that are premade. Mine are more unique and original. I come up with combinations that people wouldn't normally do. I am complimented on them all the time. And dammit, it is the one thing that I know I do well. They are just expensive to make. I am hoping that I can find a way to still sneak in a couple this year, though. They are so beautiful and add year-round color. And they are great to photograph, so that I can pretend I am going to paint them some day.

So yeah, just a few things need to be done. I am very tempted to try to scoot along on my bum. But because the injury is to the back of my upper thigh, it probably isn't a very smart idea. We shall see. :-)