Sunday, March 20, 2011


Organization is a wonderful thing. Too bad I'm not very good at it.

I spent most of last spring and summer not being able to use my garage, due to a project I'd started (and not finished) that took up much of the interior space. Since I couldn't put the car in, the garage became a repository for a lot of other stuff. So even when I eventually cleaned up from the project, I still couldn't put the car in.

My parents visited for a few days in late summer. While I don't always intend to put them to work, they are good at finding projects. We started off doing something else (I don't even remember what, now), but ended up spending two days cleaning out the garage. By the end, not only could I put my car in, but some junk that I had moved from the last house and thrown in there was gone, too. And nearly everything had a place, thanks to Mom's organizational skills.

Fast forward three seasons. Here I am, doing spring clean-up in the yard. I've cut down the Buddleia (further than I've ever dared cut it before, btw).

Now I need to tie up the twigs to go out with the trash. The city requires <4 ft length, <50lb bundles, tied up. Off to find some twine. I think there's some in the garage.

Oh, look! A box labeled "Rope and Twine" - I wonder if there's any twine in there?

There is!

I love organization.

Spring Stats

When I started this blog, I didn't do an intro post about the blog, my motivations for starting it, what I hoped to accomplish, or anything like that. I just dove right in. Like much in my life, doing is preferable to planning. So I did.

A year and some later, it's time to highlight one of the things this blog does for me: it is a repository for my meager record-keeping. But without it, I'd have even less in the way of records.

One fun thing I can do now that I have a little bit of history, is compare signs of Spring in the yard. Last year, I posted that on the first day of Spring my first white daffodils opened (yellow had already started), the first dandelion bloomed, and the mint appeared. Oh, and there was one lonely moss phlox flower.

This year, I've had daffodils for over a week already (both colors), I first saw the mint sprouts nearly a week ago, and I've been picking off dandelions for 2-3 weeks. (No phlox, but that was an oddity last year) So is my yard ahead of schedule this year (I think it is), or was everything late last year? With only one year of history, I don't really know (I just have a feeling, but that's not very scientific). So I'll have to keep this blog going long enough to make another comparison next Spring.

Meanwhile, let's look at what's noteworthy on this year's first Spring day. Since Spring represents the promise of things yet to come, here's what's about to happen in my yard:

Virginia Bluebells are emerging from the ground in the side yard.

And next to them the bleeding hearts are coming up, too.

There are reddish buds on the redbud.

This is the week I call the plum tree the Popcorn Tree:


Happy Spring, y'all!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sprouting Peas

Peas are my favorite spring vegetable. My parents started me early. When they worked in the garden when I was very young, they taught me how to pick and shell peas. I kept busy, and out of their way, eating fresh peas while they worked. I still love peas, as long as they are fresh and raw.

Unfortunately, my climate is not conducive to growing peas. Sugar snap peas, maybe, but shelling peas just don’t like it here. Spring just isn’t long enough - it gets too hot too fast. Fall is supposedly a better season for peas here, but that means planting them toward the end of summer, and I never seem to have free space in the garden then. So I plant spring peas, and do what I can to cheat. Peas grow just fine in cool, even cold weather. Frosts are no problem. But they sprout better when the soil isn’t frigid. So I sprout them inside, then plant out into the cold in mid-March.

I put some peas on a moist paper towel, cover with another moist paper towel, and put the whole thing in a recloseable plastic bag. Set it on top of the fridge for a week, and they sprout. The trick is in the timing, and here’s where I have trouble.

I did the paper towel thing with the peas on March 1. Then I went off to Phoenix for 5 days. When I got home, the peas were just starting to sprout. Another 2-3 days would do it. Then it rained. Then I was working late. So it was Sunday, March 13 before I had a chance to put them in the ground. Here’s what they looked like after 12 days in their “sprouting chamber”:

Those are some long roots! And the leaves are emerging. I don’t think I’ve planted them with leaves before. I was unsure how deep to plant these. Peas normally go 2 inches down. Would that be a problem to bury the emerging leaves? Should I keep them closer to the surface?

I decided to go with the 2 inches, give or take. Planting seeds is easy: dig a trench, drop in the seeds, cover the trench. But planting sprouted peas is a bit tedious. These must be planted one-at-a-time. I stick in my skinny trowel, move the soil enough so these super-long roots have a place to go, and drop in the peas root side down. Sometimes I dig too far, and the whole pea falls in. Then I have to fish it back out, trying not to break the roots. But all that labor is worth it when I can eat fresh peas in late spring!

I planted three rows (my rows are short, 4-5 feet) this way, then sowed a fourth with unsprouted peas. Just to see if my method really gains my peas some springtime coolness. We’ll see.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 2011 Blooms and a Brand New Bloom (for me)

Bloom Day* has rolled around again, and my yard is finally starting to wake up and embrace the oncoming Spring.

Hellebores that were just emerging last month are now in bloom. Here is the white one:

Lavender and purple hellebores are also blooming.

Crocus have gone through their bloom cycle

And are wrapping up their color show. My first Spring in this house (5 years ago), I was delighted to see crocus popping up in several places in the yard. Last spring I actually planted some more. Now I have some white ones to go with the yellow and purple blooms:

The early daffodils are brightening up the front:

The ones in the side garden are waiting for Spring. I’m ok with that. I want as many daffodils for as long as I can get them!

New this year: Anemone! I’ve planted these bulbs several times over the last few years, and never had any results. Last fall I planted them in four different places, hoping they’d like at least one. Whatever I did this year worked, and they’ve all come up.

I thought I’d planted mixed colors, but all the ones in flower are blue. I’m ok with that: I never have enough blue flowers. (Trust me, these are blue. My camera just doesn’t like to photograph blue things, especially blue things in sun.)

The only problem is, these plants are small. Since I’d never had them before, I didn’t really know what they’d look like in the yard. I think now I should have planted all 30 in one spot so maybe a mass of them would be visible. Right now you can only see them if you know where to look.

Time to go see what's blooming in your yard!

*hosted by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. Thanks, Carol!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Daffodil Wars

I've been eagerly anticipating the first blooming of my daffodils for a week or two. I saw some others in town the other day, so I knew mine would be along soon. The clumps in the front of the house always bloom first.

I like to pit my daffs against each other. White versus yellow. Too bad they don't know they're competing.

The returning champion yellows are coming out strong. Any day now.

But look here: a solitary white, nearly hidden under the nandina, is OPEN!

White wins!