Friday, May 27, 2005
The Holiday Weekend Starts Early at PrairieTide
Plant Sale Success!
Each year right before Memorial Day, my friend Nita has a plant sale. Most of the plants are perennial divides from her garden and the garden of her aunt and sisters. The plants all sell for $3 a pot, and there's a new selection every year. The last couple of years, I stopped by the sale after work, but the plant offering was a bit slim. So this year, I planned ahead.
I took off from work for Thursday and Friday. My coworkers thought I was a tad crazy for taking vacation days to work around the house, but I've been looking foward to this sale for ages. I got to the sale just as they were opening for business on Thursday morning, and I proceeded to fill up the back of Randy's station wagon, which I borrowed just for the event. The plants I purchased were mostly basics--a few hostas, some bee balm, a bunch of irises. I spent all day yesterday tucking these plants into the ground. It was the first day of a fabulous vacation weekend.
And the fun continues! Today, I tackled another project. In the backyard on the south side of the house, there's this garden bed that has been driving me batty. When we moved into our house two years ago, there were only a few flower beds around the entire yard. Most of the beds we've completely demolished and reworked. This bed, though, has stayed pretty much the same. It had a few flea-bitten perennials that I've moved around to better spots. Last year, I lined the bed with some annuals, and we grew a really productive tomato plant here. The tomato tasted so delicious, it inspired this year's veggie plot.
Last fall, I began preparing the bed for blueberries. I added a bunch of sulfur to the soil, plus I worked in an entire big block of peat moss, both of which are supposed to lower the acidity of the soil. During the winter, I coverd the bare earth with pine boughs, which I hoped would protect the bare soil and maybe the needles would help with the soil acidity, too. This spring, the bed got another couple of inches of compost. A few weeks back, I planted two bareroot blueberries and a bunch of leftover strawberries.
So with all that work, the bed should be looking great. Instead, it has just been an iritation. Why? Because the cement pavers that boarder the bed were placed in such a crappy, haphazard way. The pavers were totally chaotic. Some high, some low. There was no sense to it. Worse, the lawn happily spread right through the pavers like a tenatious virus. Grass really can be a weed. Here's how the bed looked before I began my cleanup project today.
Why does the grass insist on invading my flower beds? There are plenty of bare spots in the lawn the grass could easily spread through. But for some reason, the grass seems to prefer the nice compost soil.
Here's Another the Blueberry Bed "Before" Picture.
What a mess. No amount of mowing or hand-trimming has kept the grass out of the bed. You'd never know I've spent lots of time weeding this bed. I've been meaning to redo the border of this bed for ages, and today I finally got the gumption to tackle it.
The Blueberry Bed "After" Picture.
Not bad for a days work. After a bit of prodding around the border with my shovel, I finally decided the easiest thing would be to completely dig out all of the cement pavers. Once the pavers were out of the way, I was able to pound down a better "path" for the pavers to take around the bed. Honestly, I'm not sure who made this bed originally, but I think the pavers were just thrown on the ground like toy blocks. While I was digging out the pavers, I also dug a shallow trench in front of the bed. Once I wrestled the pavers back into place, I placed a layer of mulch in the shallow trench. My idea is that the trench will keep the grass runners from spreading into the blueberry bed. The trench should make it easier to mow, too. I can just drop one side of the mower into the trench and cut along the front of the bed.
The cement pavers are not my favorite, but in the spirit of making do with what you've got, they work fine. I think the pavers have been around for some time because they are covered with a gold-colored lichen. It gives the cement a bit of a patina.
Closeup of the New Boarder.
It's not exactly something for the pages of Fine Gardening, but it's definately an improvement. From here you can also see that the strawberries are doing nicely. The petunias are tiny, but they are still green. The blueberry shrubs look alive, though they have not put out a lot of leaves yet. I'm keeping an eye on them.
I thought this was interesting. These "slices" of grass were growing between the cement pavers. None of them are more than a quarter-inch thick, but they are packed full of roots. Some tough stuff.
Just as I was finishing up my project today, Randy got home from work. He laughed when he saw me and insisted on a picture.
Here's why. After spending the day in the garden, I was covered with compost! Time to hit the showers!