Tag Archives: Planting

Rain Today?

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There was talk of rain moving in yesterday. It came, but not until late afternoon. It didn’t last, but the temperature dropped and the wind came up. That, combined with the few sprinkles, was enough to bring me back inside. Today, it’s still up in the air.

Will it rain? The day dawned bright, but the sun is hidden behind a cloudy sky. The air is moist; mosquitoes are out in force. It feels like it is going to rain. If it rains, I have indoor plans that far exceed the hours in this day. There is banking and bill-paying and bookkeeping to do. I am behind in my writing. House-keeping has been neglected except for the bare necessities on busy days that included garden work. I could take an entire day just to catch up! The studio calls to me, with projects underway and ideas in my head. A whole day in the studio would be heavenly!

If it is not going to rain, the yard and garden will have my attention. Yesterday, I placed my newly constructed raised bed in place, lined it with weed barrier, filled it with soil, and transplanted strawberries. I have – after many evenings spent with diagrams, garden books and graph paper – decided where I can fit asparagus and raspberries in my new -smaller – garden. It’s now just a matter of staking out the perimeter and doing the transplanting.

Then, it is more than time to get working in the actual vegetable garden. Though it’s not too late to plant – bean seeds could wait another two weeks here on Beaver Island – it is definitely time, especially for the cool-weather lettuce, spinach, chard and peas. The frequent rains have taken the “fluff” out of my newly tilled garden spot, and allowed the roots of weeds and grasses to take hold once again. It needs to be attended to with hoe and rake, to get it back in shape. Then, the rows could be staked, and many seeds planted.

The grass, as I look out my back window, is more than knee high in places. There have been good days for mowing, that I have chosen garden work instead. There have been many days that I had the time, but the weather didn’t cooperate. There were many long days when I simply didn’t have the energy. It can’t be put off much longer!

So, the only question today, as I pour my third cup of coffee, is “will it rain…or not?”

Hurray!!

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I can’t begin to describe how happy this makes me!

The garden is planted!

I had other things I should have or could have been doing today.

I have to go over my notes in preparation for a township meeting tonight. I was supposed to get to Aunt Katie’s early this afternoon to do her floors (it is now late afternoon). There is much to do in my studio, with galleries opening for the summer. There are plenty of inside chores I’d like to have finished before my work week starts tomorrow. In this year of plentiful mosquitoes, the grass should not be allowed to grow the way it has this Spring.

Still, the garden had to be planted.

We have a short growing season here on Beaver Island. It is especially short here on the Fox Lake Road, where we tend to get the earliest killing frost in the Fall, and the latest one in the Spring. I depend on my garden for fresh vegetables in the Summer, and to enrich my diet through the long months of winter.

I started planting on Sunday.

It rained that night and continued through the next day.

Yesterday, I had errands in town but came home in time to get back at it.

When I quit last evening, it looked like this:

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I snapped a couple pictures of the dogs worrying a garter snake at the fence…

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…and some blossoms from  around the yard and garden…

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…before calling it a night.

This morning, I set everything else aside, intent on finishing the garden.

And I did!

Well, the left side of the plot (not shown in any of these photos) could still use some attention. The perennial beds there – with strawberries, blueberries, asparagus and raspberries – need to be weeded and edged and mulched. The plot for my tomatoes plants still needs to be hoed up and fertilized. Tomatoes and peppers are still in pots. Flower beds need to be raked and weeded.

In the gardener’s world, nothing is ever completely finished (until, perhaps, it is buried under two feet of snow…but that’s when planning begins!)…but I feel a sense of completion today.

The garden is planted!

First of June on the Fox Lake Road

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And now here it is, the second of June.

I had barely typed the title and was waiting for the photo to download when my little dog let out a cry. I don’t know what hurt or frightened her, but I picked her up, and she proceeded to fall asleep on my lap.

I have a simple “hunt and peck” method of typing that I developed myself (not that it’s much to brag about, really). I use both hands, and a total of three or four fingers to punch the keys;  I’ve gotten pretty speedy at it.

Take away one hand, though – as when a dog is sleeping soundly with her little head cradled in the crook of my arm – and I’m useless.

I was tired, too.

I decided my “first of June” report could wait another day.

Wanting to capture the feeling of the first of June, I had taken a couple photos in the rain, from the shelter of the doorway. That alone limited the viewpoint. I couldn’t avoid the pallet leaning against the compost barrel or the white plastic five-gallon buckets filled with roots and weeds. On top of that, it was nearly dusk, and my little camera, set to automatically make those decisions, could not decide whether to flash or not. Raindrops on the lens altered the view.

I did not get good photos.

Still, I eschewed nice photos taken last week – in May – as terribly outdated in this ever-changing Spring. I decided that using photographs taken last June would be underhanded deceit, and I refused to resort to it.

I chose the best current photo to post, and started the download. That usually takes about 30 seconds. I had waited more than five minutes  when I decided to take my little dog and go to bed.

Beginning again this morning, that photo still refuses to come up.

Is my computer now making judgments about my photography skills?

Can I write a blog without an illustration?

We’ll see.

Yesterday, the first of June, was also Sunday, which marks the end of my work week in town.

Mondays, I can usually sleep in if I want to. I can write if I choose to. Then, I try to catch up on housework and yard work and laundry. Tuesdays, I devote to paperwork and phone-calls relating to my job regarding invasive species. Wednesday is for finishing up everything I didn’t finish on Monday and Tuesday, plus the day that I go to clean the floors at my aunt’s farmhouse. Evenings almost every day, from dinnertime until bedtime, I usually spend in the studio. Deadlines abound, and I’m usually behind with most of them.

The garden makes me feel anxious this time of year. So much to do! Soon, I know, it will be too late to plant. Soon, I will be too busy for it. The groundwork has to be laid early, for an easy-care growing space, or I will be frustrated all summer long, watching the weeds take over. I’ve been plugging away at it: digging and raking and hoeing, pulling weeds and hauling away debris. I rented a rototiller this year, and hired  a young man to work up the large vegetable area and the weed-choked pathways between the perennial beds.

Yesterday, with rain predicted for the first of the week, I was determined to plant.

I like to have my seeds in before the mosquitoes hatch. I have already missed that deadline this year, and the little vampires are out in force.

Sunday is a short work day; I could be home by three PM.

“My goal,” I told anyone who would listen, “is to get my entire garden planted today, before the rain comes.”

Some said, “You’ll never make it.” Others offered more hope, or at least, “Good luck!”

I went home armed with bug repellant, cedar stakes and garden twine.

I changed into short pants, a T-shirt and slip-on shoes. I put on a layer of sunscreen, then bug repellant oil to my face, ears and scalp, then an all-over spray of the “deep woods” formula.

I moved the outdoor table to my “staging” area. There, unloaded the twine, stakes and bug repellant. I brought the toolbox out, for hammer, tape measure and anything else I might find that I would need. I carried out the garden tote with hand tools and seeds. One big citronella candle, a reference book, a note pad and pencil and a pair of scissors. A big cup of coffee. My large tools leaned against the side, buckets and wheelbarrow at the ready. What else could I possibly need?

Time to get started!

First the rake, to smooth out the soil and remove the roots and weeds that the tiller turned under.

Measure. Stake. Link the stakes with garden twine. Make a furrow. Plant the seeds.

Every now and then a pause…to consult my book on companion planting, to reapply mosquito dope, to jot down notes, lest I forget what is where.

First, three hills of pumpkins against the back fence. The seed was old, so I over-planted, and used an area that wouldn’t take away from my staple vegetables.

Next, a row of onion sets. I planted thickly, as I’ll thin to use through the season, making room for some to grow into “winter-keepers.”

Then rain.

Wait a bit, to see if it will stop. Is it something I can work through?

No.

Let the dogs in first: Clover’s terror of rainstorms makes the little dog nervous, too.

Bring in the toolbox, the garden tote, the books and papers. Make another run to grab the scissors and twine. One more for the coffee…now cold and diluted.

But the rain didn’t last! My heart soared!

Five-thirty…still a couple hours of daylight.

Out with the toolbox; out with the garden tote. Another fogging with mosquito repellent…add a hat…and a face net.

Try again.

A row of collards because they are easier to grow than head cabbage but offer the same flavor for soups.

A row of Swiss chard…because since Aunt Katie taught me how good it is, I can’t ever get enough.

Rake and measure for the next row.

Six-thirty. I looked at two miserable dogs: bored, too warm and bothered by bugs.

“Would you like to take a ride?”

They jumped at the opportunity!

Me, with a thick layer of garden dirt clinging to my skin and clothes, the dogs, with wagging tails and big doggy grins, loaded into the car and headed for water. Windows down for the rain-freshened air and the breeze, two and a half miles to the access point for Fox Lake.

We had the beach to ourselves. I enjoyed the breeze that was keeping biting insects away, the view, and the sight of the dogs in their glory. They explored. They sniffed around the fire pit and picnic area, every beached boat and ‘most every tree in the clearing. They chased a chipmunk and then a black squirrel. They waded in the lake.

When we headed home, tired and happy, I told myself, “I can plant tomorrow.”

It stormed through the night. It has rained already again this morning. Right now, the sun is peaking out. Maybe I can!

And now, finally, here’s that photograph!

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