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Frost Dates Lie

Outside, the temperature is in the upper 70s.  However, tonight we are expecting temps of 32 degrees.  Guess what the predicted last frost date for my area is?  Yup – today.  It has been so warm that I didn’t pay much attention to that.  Yesterday we got the last of the tomatoes planted.

The last time I did this (why yes, I do tend to repeat mistakes), I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal.  It was, and we lost all the warm weather plants.  This time, even though I’m not sure that we will have frost, the low temperatures are sure to affect the plants.  I did some research and decided that some kind of cover would be sufficient as long as it let the plants breath, so I came up with this.

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It’s a couple of bedsheets pulled tight over the kids’ soccer goals and held down with pavers.  It’s pretty windy out this afternoon and the setup appears to be holding up well.  I worry about what happens if we get more rain.  I hope that I pulled the sheets tight enough that they don’t sag and damage the plants.

Spring Break

For the first time since I graduated from college, I am taking spring break.  My kids are home from school, so I took time off work to be with them.  In the past, we’ve always had a combination of family members take care of the boys during break, but this year it wasn’t in the cards.  I offered to work from home, but workplace declined saying I really needed to take a straight five days off.

Now, normally when I take off, it’s a working vacation.  Either I have to be somewhere in an official capacity for my volunteer job, or I use the time to do house chores that get put off.  We don’t ever take real vacations.

This year, I wanted to try a staycation.  We have lived here four years but haven’t done much of anything.  We didn’t manage to go anywhere yesterday because the boys and I expanded the square foot garden.  I took a picture  before the plants went in.

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The new box is cedar, and the grid fits it perfectly.  I like it much better because it is deeper and looks nicer.  Today we planted zinnias, dahlias, peppers, the rest of the onions, and straw flowers.  Four tomato plants will go in the back corner.  Now that the veggie garden is in we can work on the landscaping out front.  I’m looking forward to finally getting all the plants in the ground.

Our fun trip today was a visit to http://www.henricus.org/aboutus/.  I didn’t know that it existed until we moved here.  It’s much like a smaller and less sophisticated version of Jamestown.  There were hardly any people there so the boys got to spend a great deal of time talking with the interpreters.  Youngest boy was given a cool rock by the Indian interpreter.  We talked about the history of the site with one of the men near the armory; and the man who tends the animals and the garden gave us the history of thatching and tobacco.  It was all very interesting, and the boys loved it.  We let them get some souveniers at the gift shop.  The gift shop has a lot of reproduction items that would make great SCA gifts – lucets, period cookbooks, and pottery, etc.

On the way home we took a driving tour of downtown Richmond. (Read – I got really lost trying to find someplace.)  We decided to have an early dinner, and I treated the boys to a meal at Bertuccis, which is my favorite Italian restaurant.  Moe loved the bruschetta and chicken piccata.  In fact, everyone enjoyed everything, which almost never happens.

We had a great day, ending with a lovely moment on the porch just before sunset.  The boys declared these last two days the best days ever.  Honestly, if this is what vacation is about, I think I have been doing it wrong all along.  I feel so relaxed and happy. 

April Garden Update

So far, the garden is doing remarkably well.  The first seeds to germinate were the lettuce and the radishes.  We now have appearances by cucumber, beans, peas, zinnia, calendula, and one lonely carrot top.  Hopefully the other carrots and the nasturtiums are not far behind.  Spinach plants were purchased and planted out.  They have taken well, and are producing new leaves.  The onion sets are standing tall and also producing new shoots.  The cabbage is indifferent.  I hope for Christopher’s sake that it does better soon. It’s his first plant.  There are two squares left in that box.  I intend to put in more lettuce and radish seeds for some later harvesting.

Today’s game plan includes getting the goods to make a second box and materials to make a trellis for the climbing plants.  We have already purchased some plants to go into the proposed new box.  Sitting in their little nursery containers on the deck are four bell peppers, zinnias, and dahlias.  The other half of the onion sets still need to go in, and I’m sure there are more seeds wanting a home.  We’ll fill up a second box for certain.

Moe bought about six tomato plants.  He likes to grow those in containers on the deck.  He also got some herbs and a coffee plant.  There are two trees that need to go into the ground.  One is the lilac tree that mom bought.  It’s about to bloom.  The other is a pomegranate tree.  We’ve always wanted one.  Hopefully we will get some fruit.  Pomegranates are tasty!  There are also plans for grapes.  I think I might buy the vine and go for it.  My violin teacher has good luck with his.  The worst thing that could happen is we don’t get grapes.  I can live with that.

And so it begins…..

The garden grid arrived today.  I put it together after work, only to find that my 4×4 garden is slightly lacking in full measure.  No matter, I just moved things around a little bit. 

After squidging things up a bit (yes, I made up that word), and rewriting my little plan on the fly, I successfully put in the seeds for cucumber, pole beans, sugar snap peas, calendula, carrots, zinnia, lettuce, radishes, and nasturtium.  The cabbage went in also, as did two squares of onions.  There are three squares left which will house spinach, bell pepper, and more radishes in about two weeks.  The spinach and bell pepper will be purchased at the nursery.

Here it is in all its glory!

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Of course, I’m left with at least twenty onions to plant and the thought crossed my mind that two squares might be more fun than just one.  Then I could plant more veggies and some flowers for cutting and bringing into the house.  The lazy part of my brain is all “why don’t you just plant the onions in, you know, the GROUND?  Because that would be thrifty and a cool science-y kind of experiment.  It would be all “What grows better-onions in the soft, special soil, or onions in the silt/clay mix that passes for topsoil around here?”

Then I’d want to pave the space between the squares, and eventually expand again. And there’s still a trellis to build.  Plus all the plants that I want to plant in the yard and around the mail box have to be done soon before it gets to be stupid hot.

Once again, my ambition is getting too large for my giddyup.  Story of my life.

Anyway, I eagerly await the first seedlings.  What is going to sprout first, I wonder?  Only time will tell.  Time is an asshole.

Spring is A-Sprungen!

It’s time!  It’s finally time to put the cool weather crops in the ground.  They have forecast no more temps below freezing, though we are still nearly two weeks out from the last frost date.  Tomorrow, my square foot garden grid is supposed to arrive.  (Thank you, UPS tracking!)  After work, I’m looking forward to planting the peas, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, calendula, and onions.  What – me, excited?  Hells yeah, I’m excited!

Remind me how exciting this was when July rolls around and everything is frying in the southern summer sauna.

It’s a bit nerve wracking putting in a garden this year.  I’ve only done it twice before, and the results of both times were, shall we say, less than stellar.  For some reason, I’m good with flowers, but terrible with edibles.  Moe, on the other hand, resurrected a straight up dead tomato plant last year.  Dead, I’m telling you.  It was a brown stick.  There is no justice in this world.

There are a ton of other garden projects swirling around in my spring-crazed brain right now.  There’s a semi-solid plan to put in plantings around the mail box.  I need to come up with some sort of island around the big green electrical box in the front yard.  There’s also all the plants mom saved from her yard to plant at her new house.  If I can save the lilac tree and the irises, I will be thrilled.

Mom’s new house has been finished, by the way.  The builder is showing it as a furnished model.  At some point, I will likely go into it to see how it looks.  Although I won’t be able to help her put in her garden, at least I won’t have to mow the yard.  There’s that going for it.

The Dirt

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day. The temperature was in the 70s. I opened the windows in the house to air it out from a long, dreary winter and spent the majority of the day enjoying the outdoors.

Last year, for my birthday, my mother gave me a square foot gardening box. It was already too late in the year for me to get motivated to put the box to work by the time she presented me with it. It gets hot early around here. The kit has been languishing on the top of my workbench since bringing it home last May. The guilt for not using it yet has been eating away at me.

Because the weather was so fine, I decided to finally put that garden box to work. First I assembled it and cut the turf all around the box. Then I moved the box aside and started cutting the grass out of the square. By this time, the boys had come out to see what was going on. One of them relieved me of my shovel, the other boy scared up a second shovel, and together they finished removing all the grass from the square. The youngest then took all the grass that was removed and used it to fill holes in the yard while the eldest leveled the square and raked the bare earth smooth.

March 2014

Determined to do this square foot gardening thing properly, I ran out to the store with youngest boy to obtain the necessary ingredients to fill the box. We managed to find the weed cloth, peat moss, and compost at Home Depot, but had to make a quick run to Cross Creek Nursery to find vermiculite. I held off buying plants despite my son’s pleading because we are due to have a wintery mix of weather tonight. I almost succumbed, but managed to resist. After all, our frost date is April 15th. About the only thing that can go in the ground right now are peas which should wait a week or two anyway seeing as it’s below freezing right now.

Youngest boy helped me mix all the ingredients and supervised the filling of the box. I have to say, I’m quite chuffed with myself for getting it all prepared in time to get crops in the ground. In fact, it is very tempting to get a second box so that I can grow even more things. We’ll see if I get around to it. First I need to figure out how to put a trellis on the north side so the peas, cucumbers, and beans don’t take over the yard. Provided I can get anything to grow, that is. I’m really bad at this. Enthusiastic in the planning, but terrible in the execution.

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Now, to plan what to plant and where to plant it. I hope this goes well.

Oppositional Forces

It’s odd how life has a way of mitigating forces that oppose each other.  There have been some criticisms directed towards me this week from several different directions.  One of which made zero sense whatsoever.  Each criticism has been blunted by multiple indications of support and encouragement.

These opposite forces can be seen everywhere.  From the winter storm that shut down the city for a day, followed by 70 degree temperatures, to a shipping delay that was handled with friendly and expert customer service.  Each negative was mitigated by something that not only erased the issue, but made life in general better all around.

I think that some people do not have a personality that allows them to see the forces of good working so they wallow in misery.  They’re simply toxic, and they spread that toxicity like a disease.  It’s quite sad.  Even sadder, when it is obvious to most observers what the individual is doing, because the person they are hurting the most is themselves.  I feel sorry for them, but I gave up trying to reason with people like that a long time ago. 

In my life, I have spent a lot of time trying to rise above and be the better person.  Letting someone verbally self-destruct might not be strictly in line with that claim, but sometimes one has to walk away and hope that whatever dark thing is possessing them becomes weak from lack of input so that they are better able to see the light of day later. 

And anyway, living well and happily is the easiest way to prove them wrong.  The best way to lead is by example. 

 

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