Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last (official) day of work!

And the weather has been lovely so I am resenting every moment I spend in this dungeon-with-no-windows. Gaah! I do have two more days to "give" them, as I'm being held to account for the 17 days' holidays I took in 2010 (instead of the 15 I am owed, as an employee with more than 8 years' service, according to the PEI Employment Standards Act.) I am also being screwed over for my holiday pay, as the only board member who's making the rules has declared that I am owed for time since January of this year, even though I have NEVER taken holiday time in advance of earning it, and I haven't taken any holiday time at all since April 2010. Is it any wonder that I can NOT wait to leave?
On to things that are more fun:
The plants in the greentent were really dry when I went to visit them yesterday after work. It was quite warm in there too. Today is windy from the north so it won't get so hot, but it will be sunny. The first tatties are showing (in 6 of 7 pots), but I'm not ready to put any more compost on just yet. They're really tiny. Karen gave me some more pots, bless her, and I potted up more of the tatties and split up some of the strawberries which I'd put in the same pot.

Then on Sunday when we got back from the pub I found that the wobbily shelving unit (seen above) I'd put them on had fallen over (pushed by the wind and the blue panel at the back) and dumped a number of the strawberry pots out. While re-potting them I had a chance to check out their roots, and there were a very few really small white ones, in addition to the old brownish ones that they had when I first potted them up. I'm going to continue to assiduously pick off the blooms. They really aren't ready for production yet. I am thinking of making them a spot against the greenhouse when I put them outdoors, although that won't happen soon - there's a 4 degrees and chance-of-frost prediction for tonight. What a great year to have a greentent!
I'm off to Veseys again today for more seeds - lettuce and edible pod peas, and I suppose anything else that takes my fancy. I'm really starting to think we have a LOT of space in the vegetable garden for two people. If I ever get all 5 of the beds completed that will be 35 x 5 = 175 x 3 feet or 525 square feet of space. I'm still looking for the cheap and long-lasting solution for making sideboards for the beds, although I did buy another bundle of stakes on Monday - enough for another bed-and-a-half, if only I had the sideboards to go with them!

I am very pleased with the Liatris bulbs that I potted up. They are coming along like gangbusters in their pots (I must check online and see how tender they are), with several plants, or I suppose flowering stalks, per pot. They are the bright green ones in the photo above. I'm going to do it like this from now on, with corms and bulbs. Apparently they grow to 4 foot high. I'm excited about that.

The tall things that I think are alliums are popping out of their casings today - and they are a lovely magenta colour. Can't wait until they're full out. They are taking their time, so I hope they last a long time as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Can't - wait - summer!

This was Emily's comment whenever we had filthy weather. However, today is glorious! It was 18 when I did my walk this morning, on the trail behind the Mall. Apparently we will have thundershowers this afternoon and evening. I think I must make an effort to put up some guy ropes on the greenhouse. I think the camping supplies should yield some things I could use for the purpose.
I did do a wander around the yard last evening and took some photos of growing progress - the most amazing thing is the Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum, probably). I planted it as a plant, so never saw it emerge in the spring - it comes up as a crazy-looking thing like the head of a snake, with all these folded-up leaves - which then gradually unfurl to overhanging branches with the little white flowers dangling in pairs along the stem. There's a white anenome out today, and a little arabis I planted by the stone steps last year is bloomin' lovely - very tiny so far, though.

The candytuft (Iberis) is coming out - I now regret that I pulled it apart last year as there are only two or three tiny ones versus the huge mat that it was last spring. But it was getting overgrown, and now that I know better I shall be pruning back after flowering this year, and they'll be more tidy plants.
The one surviving Nelly Moser clematis is coming along well. I am going to keep my eye on it - it's just under the bird feeder and there are sunflowers in plenty sprouting all around it. It's at the south end of the deck. The Samuel Holland climbing rose is just around the corner from it. I fear we may have to re-do the deck railings sometime soon - the deck, being made of cedar, is fine - and then the climbers may be challenged. I think I should make an obelisk for the clematis, at least. The rose is nowhere near ready to be tied to the deck rails at the moment.
I planted sweet peas in pots, and they are sprouting now - put them out in the deck greenhouse for the moment, as they are stretching quite a bit. Must organize more shelves for the greentent this weekend.
As of the end of May I am being laid off at work - and I don't go back until the end of September. Money-saving plan by the Corp. Aah well, I shall have plenty of time to garden. And I'm looking into the "pension-at-sixty" thing as well. That's only next June, after all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I bought some more poly yesterday and filled in the holes in the ends of the "greentent". It started to rain while I was working, and, amazingly, even though there is a seam right in the middle, with no continuous run of tape, it wasn't leaking inside! It was cozy and rather watertight! I plan to reinforce the top with another strip of plastic, and then it won't leak for sure. Unless it just blows away (still a possibility.) I was distressed to see a warning on the bag that the poly came in - that it shouldn't be used in the sun. Why was *this* not mentioned in any of the "build your own greenhouse" sites?
We are promised some decent weather later this week, so I plan to move everything into the greentent this afternoon when I get home from work. I want to make a high shelf at the north side, and a low one at the south. They're calling for frost again tonight, but inside the greentent things should be safe.
Strawberries, tatties, and all the other started plants - I'll probably leave the ones in the mini greenhouse right inside the greentent until things stabilize.
I was shocked to see on Robin McKinley's blog that she was expecting frost last night in the UK. Whatever is going on? Can it be the Icelandic ash again?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Long weekend Gardening and Dancing

Actually there was more dancing than gardening, though we did get out on Monday afternoon. Fred did almost all of the lawn (skipped the Secret Garden, as it's mostly invisible and quite shady, so not much grass growing there). I planted a little and weeded a little and worked on the greenhouse - it needs more plastic but, despite some wind it managed to stay put while I taped it up. It isn't pretty but I think it will do the job.
The weather was not bad - as far as rainfall went - for the long weekend, but it was really chilly right up until yesterday, when the wind finally shifted. We are having fitful rain today but at least it's warmer. This is not what the farmers are looking for - they want warm and dry and windy for a week, or the crops can't go in. I keep starting seeds indoors as I don't know when I'll be able to get things going outdoors. Must look for more big pots for potatoes. They are still not showing above ground, by the way - I think they need heat as well. I'll get another roll of poly today and get the greenhouse closed in so they can warm up a little.
We had quite a bit of music and dance for the weekend: Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, Sunday at the Triangle, and Sunday night at ours. Our summer neighbours returned from California on Sunday too, so they dropped in for a while! It was great times.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well, it's all over (for one day at least)

Finally, double digits (20 degrees!) so I am out mowing and getting a sunburnt face. Things are still wringing wet, but if the grass isn't cut we'll have to have the hay mower in.
Things are coming along (for example, the lettuce is up!) but there's much more in the floral. Anemonies, daffodils, narcissus and even a few early tulips, including that strange yellow one down in the vegetable garden.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

and the Rain goes on...

But at least the wind had stopped, so we got out in the garden yesterday. I did some potting on, and then started a lasagne bed, just behind the lilac hedge, facing the garden. I'm thinking small fruit bushes. After I put down cardboard and wetted it, I put on some potting soil from a bag - just to hold it - and then decided to mine some compost for it. There's a pile at the end of he spruce hedge that's almost gone. Because it was so wet, the cooch grass peeled off with no problems, but the soil/compost was really heavy! I put the first few loads on the raspberries, to give them a start for the year. I still only have one row tied up - the wind and weather snapped off our expensive stakes so I don't know what to do. Whatever it is, though, it has to be soon.
Fred came to help and we finished up the whole pile - there were a lot of sticks in which hadn't composted, so we put some on the burn pile and some in the green bin. And then I raked and seeded for grass. Of course it POURED in the night so the seed is probably all washed under the spruce hedge by now.
Anyway the lasagne bed is up to the top of the cedar post with compost, and a bit of pine needles and some kitchen waste. I'll add more leaves and stuff and more kitchen waste. And then think about fruit. I know we can't grow currants (because of the white pine rust) so I'll have to check and see if maybe gooseberries are less dangerous.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chilly as a Witch's...

Not much growing happening here as the temperatures are still in the single digits. I haven't been able to finish my greenhouse because the plastic sheeting is too wet to tape. We've had upwards of 20 mm of rain every day for days. No chance of a drought this spring. Farmers are starting to worry about getting on the land, and the winds have been worrying for lobster fishers, especially those who have to try to get out of silted-up harbours on the North Shore. Oh well, I'm sure this, too, shall pass.
Talking to Anne about plants - she has been totally converted to the lasagne bed concept, so I'm going to try it too (as soon as I can get outdoors again!!). I must collect newspapers, and various kinds of compostables (I have a whole front-yard-full of leaves and pine needles! I just have to drag them BACK from the compost heap!)
I've been studying plants for the west side of the house (I'm thinking lasagne beds along the foundation, with plants which don't get too tall) and it turns out I have quite a few already. It'll be a place for the glut of things like phlox and feverfew too.
I still want to plant shrubs - I saw hydrangeas at Jewells today, marked down from 12.99 to 6.99. Tempting!
So, I have not been successful in "Rounding Up" the dock weeds and ribbon grass - it didn't make the slightest difference - I'd just done a small sample to see how things went - and things didn't go. This being a cold-blooded killer is tougher that you'd think.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Growing Things

On my last trip to Veseys I bought some everbearing strawberry plants. I've potted them up in large-ish pots (still saving the largest ones for tatties) and made a bit of a plastic-covered cold frame at the south end of the little deck to keep them until the bigger greenhouse gets going. There were 25 plants in a $10 bundle! (I thought first they might be "Seascape", but I have found the listing for the ones I got - an un-named variety). I have been reading up on looking after them (as I plan to leave them in the pots) and I'll have to sink them in the earth and cover them so they will survive our dreadful winters. However, I am feeling pretty confident that they will do well under plastic. I have learned that for the everbearers, you do NOT pick off the blooms. So, good. They are advertised as having a big flush of fruit in June and then on and off throughout the rest of the summer. I'm willing to go U-Picking for my jam berries, and keep these just for eating fresh. Mmm.
I also got Liatris bulbs, and potted THEM up too - I am just sick and tired of popping those little dry bulbs into the beds and never seeing them again. With a greenhouse, I'll be able to take care of them until they can go out into the garden as plants.
Today I bought three perennials - two Heucheras (including Chocolate Ruffles! and even more gorgeous, Frosted Violet) and a geranium called "ballerina". And I got some Round-up to kill the perennial ribbon-grass which is the everlasting gift of the former owners of our place. They planted it and it has spread and spread, and digging does NOT get rid of it - so I'm bringing up the big gun. Look out.