Sunday, April 17, 2005
Vegetable Garden on the Grow

Last weekend, we had four cubic yards of compost delivered to the house. Four cubic yards doesn't sound like much, but it looked pretty daunting piled there on the driveway. A veritable Mount Rainier of compost. We spent the next two days taking wheebarrows full around the yard. My first project was to build a strawberry bed, which is now built and ready for plants. Then I top dressed the veggie bed and the bed where I want to plant the blueberry bushes. More top dressing in the bed along the back of the yard where we've got to add some shrubs to block a chain link fence. Our kitchen table looks out over the back yard, and this metal fence is in view all year long. Can't wait to add something green to the view.

Next came a light top dressing in the hosta bed. Last week, none of the hostas were peaking through the soil yet, and I was afraid if I added too much compost I'd smother the plants. Luckily, this week many of the hostas have started to peak through, so I think we're good.

The final project last weekend was the build a bed along the east side of the house. This is the longest side of the house, and it has been woefully bare for the past two years we've lived here. With the new bed, I am very excited about spicing up this side of the yard with some flowering shrubs. We turned over the grass, laid down newspaper for a weed barrier, and spread several inches of compost. Once this long bed was in place, I carried my tired body to bed. After a weekend of hauling soil, I felt exhausted, but no sprangs or pulled muscles to report, thank goodness.

Yesterday, our big project was to put up the trellis on one side of the veggie bed. We'll use the trellis for peas, beans, and tomatoes. Randy spent extra time anchoring the wood supports to the box, so it should stand up to the spring gale-force windstorms we something get in these parts. The little green leaves you can see in the picture are some lettuce and spinach I planted a few weeks back. I think I can add a few leaves to our evening salad tonight.

With the trellis in place, I planted two rows of peas. I just adore spring peas. Can't wait to pop a few in my mouth. While I was at it, I added more lettuce and spinach seeds, plus some radish, beet, and carrot seeds. The veggie box looks small, but I think it will be pretty productive. And it will be easy to care for, which is good for garden newbies like me.

During the past week, the dandelion popped out of the ground in full force all over the yard. To vanquish this garden foe, I pulled out my newest weapon in the weed-wacking arsenal--The Speedy Weeder. I'd heard about this egronomic weed puller from a garden radio show, and I was delighted to find it at the local big box hardware store. The thing pulls out several inches of tap root, and you can use it standing up, which is great for my sore gardener's back. The first time I used the thing, I pulled out a long tap root and laughed out loud with delight. For an entire hour, I weeded dandelions from the lawn with renewed zeal.

Then the weeder broke. A couple of rivets popped off at a stress point. Luckily, I'm married to a engineer who owns enough tools to open his own hardware store. Randy pulled out a rivet staple-type device, and had the tool back in working order in no time.

Just about every night this week I've spent at least an hour pulling dandelions. Our lawn is apparently mostly weeds with a few blades of grass tossed in for good measure. Friday night, I had the front yard completely free of those telltale yellow blooms. As I dusted myself off for the night, I felt pretty proud of my accomplishment. Then Saturday morning, I looked back out the window and gasped. The lawn was once more covered with those dreaded puffs.

After another hour working with the weeder this afternoon, the bugger broke yet again. This time one of the tongs used to pry out the tap root snapped in half. Drat and double-drat! The yellow puffs have not yet set seed. If I can make a dent in the population before they send seeds drifting hither and yon about the yard, we might make some progress in the dandelion war. As it is, my hours of labor may be for not. There's a Menard's store near by. I may be able to find another dandelion death-dealer. There's still a couple more hours of daylight left....
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Perhaps I got a little carried away ordering plants this winter. Just today, I realized the plants will start arriving in the next two weeks, so I better start preparing soon. This week, a load of compost is going to be delivered to our place, and right away I need to start spreading it around the current beds. While I'm at it, I should also start digging holes for the shrubs I've ordered.

Here's a list of what's coming in the mail during the next few weeks.

2 blueberry shrubs
2 cranberry groundcover plants
4 hydrangea (different sizes and colors)
A whole bunch of strawberries
Even more evergreen vinca to use as groundcover

When I look at this list, I get a little queasy! The weather is getting warmer, and the busy spring gardening season has started.

I'm particularly excited about the blueberries and the strawberries. Can't wait to add fresh fruit to my morning breakfast! And there are lots more home-grown fruit possibilities out there to try. I just found a website of gardeners in the Chicago area dedicated to growing fruit. Check out midwifes for more backyard orchard ideas.


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