Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity


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April 5, 2020

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Brassica area scuffle hoedMore hanging basket plantsAnnie and I thoroughly enjoyed one spear of asparagus each with our dinner last evening. Today, there weren't any more spears that had emerged, although one in Bonnie's Asparagus Patch has almost poked its head out of the ground.

I staked the rows for our broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts today. Once I defined the area to be planted, I scuffle hoed it to knock down emerging weeds and even out the soil a bit. I didn't transplant anything today, as I'm a bit intimidated by the prediction of a couple of frosty mornings (34-35° F) towards the end of this week. When I found myself frowning at the extended weather forecast, I remembered that those potential frosts may occur days before the final frost date for this area.

Before working in the garden, I brought two trays of hanging basket plants outside to begin hardening off. There were single pots of petunias and vinca and three baskets of ivy leaf geraniums. Even with the chance of frost, these plants were ready to go out. Since the plants are in trays and have their hangers attached, they're easy to bring back inside for a night or two if necessary.

I'd hoped to transplant brassicas this week, followed by transplanting onions, celery, and lettuce and direct seeding spring carrots. But the weather forecast has made me a bit more cautious. It may be mid-month before I get all that stuff in the ground.

Renee's Garden

 
 

Saturday, April 4, 2020 - First Asparagus

A tall, skinny asparagus spear A bit taller and fatter spear of asparagus

Our Senior Garden - April 4, 2020When looking over our main raised garden bed today, I noticed what appeared to be a couple of tall weeds possibly behind our raised bed of asparagus. When I approached the bed, it turned out that what I saw were two tall spears of asparagus, our first of the season. One spear was only pencil thickness while the second one was a good bit fatter. While asparagus can grow at an amazingly fast rate under the right conditions, I think I must have just missed seeing these spears yesterday.

Having discovered the two spears of asparagus in our raised asparagus bed, I walked back to what we call Bonnie's Asparagus Patch (after the land owner). It's a very old planting of asparagus that has been here since before we moved in twenty-six years ago. It got mowed down a couple of times each summer when the farm renter took care of the property around us. When we began caring for the area behind our property, I discovered the patch and fertilized it a bit. With our bed of asparagus and Bonnie's, we're sometimes overwhelmed with a bounty of fresh asparagus.

While there weren't any spears to pick today from Bonnie's patch, I could see a spear or two beginning to break through the soil surface.

First asparagus of the season - April 4, 2020

Our how-to feature, Growing Asparagus, covers how to start and care for an asparagus patch. It's something that takes a bit of time. From transplanting to first harvest takes three years, but it's definitely worth the wait if you like asparagus.

Another Pleasant Surprise

Sage plant comes to life
Purple sage in bloom (2013)

Sage plants coming to life and an overwintered parsleyAs I walked back to the house with my two precious spears of asparagus, I got another pleasant surprise. The two sage plants in our herb bed around our shallow well have come to life. I didn't notice any new growth on them yesterday when I was transplanting flowers into the bed and weeding a bit. But both plants are alive and well, beginning their fifth season in the ground. I'm hoping we might get some pretty blooms from the sage. We have plenty of ground sage from years past, but I do love to see purple sage in bloom. While we mark our East Garden's corners and halfway marks with sage plants, they only put up some meager blooms each year. Our best sage blooms came way back in 2013.

The plant in between the sages is parsley. Parsley is a biennial, so we may get some saved seed from the plant this season. Since I dried a lot of parsley last year, I may not grow all that much of it this year.

Other

Apparently, every Earlirouge tomato seed I started last month germinated. I spent a few minutes today moving the extra plants to another deep sixpack insert. While I started one sixpack insert and a few more cells in another, it appears that I'll end up with twelve Earlirouge plants, about double of what I'll need.

I also broke up our communal pot of catnip yesterday. I transplanted plants into a deep sixpack insert. I used the deep insert more because it had six cells than its deepness. The catnip will go just off our back porch in front of our laurel bushes. While our cats will only have to jump off the back porch to get high, our closest outlet for legal weed is in Effingham, Illinois, a ninety minute drive from here. I haven't smoked weed for over forty years, but Effingham also has some great shows at the Effingham Performance Center, a frequent weekend getaway for Annie and I.

More Other

I had to go into town today to pick up a prescription. I noticed that about half the customers in our local Walmart were wearing masks, per the CDC's recent change in recommendations. I didn't wear one, as our last face mask is sort of reserved for when my wife has to go into work. I'd kept some on hand for when I sprayed our apple trees with some rather non-organic materials. I did go ahead and order some face mask frames yesterday from the Garden Tower Project.

I have a pot of green beans boiling with some ham and bacon for supper. We'd had green beans from our garden this week when I'd baked a half of a half ham. I'd forgotten how delicious homegrown green beans can be. While out and around today, I picked up a rotisserie chicken for supper at the grocery. I noticed that some of the checkers there were gloved and had on face masks. Other checkers wore no protection at all. It's a crazy time in our world now.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

Overwintered dianthus, new geranium, and hacked back aggressive oreganoArea cleared by Kramer's Tree ServiceOur gardening in April is starting out fairly slowly despite some really nice weather. I mowed grass for the first time this season on Wednesday and Thursday. Mowing our yard where we'd had trees removed was interesting. While the tree crew did an excellent job of cleaning up, there still were lots of small wood chips in the yard from the tree removal and stump grinding.

While I'd rather have been transplanting brassicas today, I decided to wait a bit. The soil in our raised garden beds is still incredibly wet. Instead, I worked at cleaning up some pruning I'd done on our laurel bushes outside a kitchen window. I gave that up after nicking myself on the sharp edges left on the bush from the pruning. I let some bindweed get away from me last summer in that area and am now having to work pretty hard to cut the last of the vines which tend to come up rooted close to the base of the laurel bushes.

Petunias and geraniums around pea rowA joy today was transplanting eight geraniums, two petunias, and a dianthus into our raised beds. A couple of the geraniums went into our herb bed along with a dianthus. The rest of the geraniums and the petunias went into our other raised beds around areas already planted (peas, garlic). While we're not quite to our frost free date (April 14), I have lots of petunia and geranium plants and am willing to chance getting an early start with them.

Transplanting one of the geraniums involved hacking back some oregano. Our oregano plants have threatened to take over one side of our herb bed, if not the whole world, each year. A dianthus shown in the photo above left managed to survive the onslaught of the oregano last summer and overwintered well. We often get three seasons of nice blooms from our dianthus plants.

One very nice surprise this week was how well our fairly new John Deere X-570 mower worked. We have Alliance Tractor out of Vincennes service it each winter. Having totally worn out a John Deere X-500 in just seven season, I decided to stay with the upgraded model as it supports our pull-type tiller. The mowing was uneventful and now we'll move on to trying to get our large East Garden plot tilled.

I'm not quite sure about the the ad link below. The boys from the Garden Tower Project are offering face mask frames in this time of coronavirus fear. They're selling frames where you add the fabric to cover them.

Face mask frames

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Our Senior Garden - April 1, 2020
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Extended Weather Forecast
Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

April is the month when we try to get our raised beds planted and mulched. We have a head start on that task with garlic planted last fall and spinach and tall peas direct seeded early in March.

As the weather warms, we'll look for a window where we can rototill sections of our raised beds, although April showers often prevent that. We may have to go ahead and plant without rototilling and just hoe the soil.

We have broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts transplants hardened off and ready to go into the ground any time now. Our onions and lettuce are running a bit behind, but will get transplanted soon. Our celery transplants still need to harden off for a week or so. All of those plus some direct seeded carrots will all go into a 3' x 15' section near the south end of our main raised bed.

Towards the end of the month, earlier if the ground warms quickly, we'll transplant Earlirouge tomatoes and Earliest Red Sweet peppers. We'll also direct seed a couple of rows of green beans. Since the field beside our raised beds will be rotated to soybeans this year, our green beans have to go in as early as possible. Later plantings can get ravaged by Japanese beetles that migrate in from the soybeans.

Along with the vegetables, we'll transplant geraniums, petunias, vinca, and snapdragons into our raised beds. While some of the vegetable crops mature and get superceded by other plantings, the flowers stay put and get to bloom all season.

We'll keep busy inside seeding tomatoes, peppers, melons, and squash for our East Garden. That plot of ground never seems to dry out enough to be tilled until sometime in May. We'll also be starting transplants for our supersweet peas that don't germinate well in cool ground.

We'll probably see the last of our gloxinias from last season finally move into dormancy. We already have a half dozen gloxinias that have broken dormancy and may even begin to see some plants in bloom this month.

If we have a dry spell this month, I'll also try to do a first tilling of our large East Garden plot. It's pretty rough, as only parts of it have been planted the last two seasons.

Burpee Seed Company

Previously on Senior Gardening

 
 

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