May 24: Weekend of green leaves, books, and flowers

Butterfly Mind

Time has slowed down since the pandemic began. Weekend errands, drives to and from the aquatic center, and swim meets are all gone. We planned to sail on Saturday. We had the boat hitched up and drove further away from our house than we have in 72 days now.

But the highway was closed, and traffic on the detour was backed up for miles. We turned around and came home. My boat hat transformed into my reading in the garden hat.

I sat in the garden and read Saturday and Sunday both. If the sun was up, I was outside. I finished one book, and then another. And I took some photos of the lush emerald green. The garden never as deep and fresh a green as it is in May..

The basil we started from seed went in the ground this weekend

I read The Pearl almost entirely from…

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May 17: fertilized, sowed seeds, and got a new bird bath

The weather this weekend was glorious, and I celebrated in the garden. I hate fertilizing, so I did that first to get it out of the way. Then I played with plants. I divided black eyed Susans that were encroaching on other plants, and I moved the divided clumps to the back bed where they can spread as much as they want. I sowed zinnia, cosmos, and blanketflower seeds, and I finished filling our raised bed. When I was finished with all of that, I tied on a handmade mask my friend Pam made, drove over to our local nursery during a time of day I thought it wouldn’t be crowded, and picked out a new bird bath.

I’m happy for winter to be over.

Front yard

Front bed with new bird bath

Back yard

The back bed starting to grow; I sowed seeds on the far right. It’s shaded in the morning, but hopefully gets enough afternoon sun for the full-sun seeds I sowed. The tree inside our yard, to the right of my chair, is the tree in the closeup below.
This tree was in our back yard when we moved in and has grown quickly. I think it might be a black cherry. The flowers smell sweet like candy. It is heavenly to sit under and inhale deeply.
They’re hard to see, but this is supposed to be a photo of goldfinches at the feeder. One is perched on the strap holding the feeder.
Our raised bed! I put four tomatoes and an habañero plant in today, plus some green onions I’ve been keeping in a glass of water to encourage roots. We’ll see if they do anything next year.

May 17: raised bed

In April, when quarantine was still relatively new (eg, day 30 instead of day 65), our daughter wanted to build a plyo box for working out. Meanwhile, we wanted to grow tomatoes.

We’d been talking about the idea raised beds for a while. We have no level ground on our property — the only level ground is in the shade. Where we do have sun, we either have lawn or flowers. I don’t want viney tomato plants and their cages in the middle of my flower garden.

We found a hardware store that delivers lumber, and we didn’t want to make them drive all the way to our house just to deliver a couple pieces of plywood for our daughter’s plyo box. So we researched what we’d need for a raised bed and figured what the heck, let’s give it a try and see what happens.

Step 1: dig
Step 2: remove skin of grass

Step 3: level bed and box it in

I dug out the grass; my husband leveled the bed and boxed it in with 4x4s. Today, I filled it with top soil and compost, then planted four tomato — 2 beefsteak and 2 varieties of cherry — and an habañero plant.

Step 4: fill with soil and plants

We’re ready for summer.

May 15: lilac, salvia, and working from the garden

It was warm enough today that I was able to take my laptop outside and work from the garden. Before I settled down with my afternoon coffee and the rest of the day’s work, I took a walk around the garden to check on what’s coming in and what’s blooming.

Dwarf lilac in bloom. It only has this one flower cluster this year.
The yarrow is almost there. Any day now and its flowers will be yellow as buttercups.
Salvia so fresh and pretty 😍
Volunteer dill coming up out back. I’m always happy to see dill come back. I love it with salmon. The swallowtails love it, too.

April 28: plants by mail

I’ve wanted a passionflower the past two years, but I always manage to miss the very brief window our garden center has them, if they get any in at all. I also wanted a couple more perennial milkweeds, specifically in orange, which is also always a crapshoot.

With the pandemic raging, and our local nursery not knowing what they’ll get or when, and because we’re sheltering in place, I decided to try ordering plants by mail. I wasn’t sure where to begin because I’ve never ordered plants by mail, and I really didn’t know what I should look for in a seller (or how to find a reputable one). Some Google searches turned up a few options, and I was able to find both passionflower and milkweed at Burpee online. I ordered in early April, and they said the plants would be ready to send April 27.

I had no idea in what condition they would arrive. This was all new to me! They arrived in a cardboard box. They were potted in soil and had a sophisticated cardboard contraption to hold the pots in place. The box was stamped with arrows indicating THIS SIDE UP, but of course the soil was spilled all over the place in the box.

Plants by mail
A peek inside the box — how do I get the plants out?

It was damp inside the box, and the plants looked like they’d been through the ringer, but they were intact and green. They were very small given how much they cost. I’d have been able to get plants 3 times that size at the nursery for half the price, but as I mentioned, that would have been dependent on the nursery actually having them. And also, pandemic.

Liberating the plants without injuring them
The pots underneath the pot holder

I had to destroy the box to get them out (I couldn’t figure out how to get the cup-holder like contraption out without tearing off the sides of the box), but the plants were alive, with leaves attached to stems and stems attached to roots.

Plants by mail freed from the box!
Passionflower (1) and Milkweed (2) plant tags

I put them straight into the ground and watered them in. I have my fingers crossed the rabbits don’t eat these. If they do, I’ll put up fencing.

One transplanted milkweed (foreground) and two milkweed by mail (middle and flagged)
Passionflower by mail