March 25: more seeds, more snow

We got another doozie of a snow. I think it was probably 8 inches, but I don’t know for sure.

morning after snow
More snow!

I forged ahead anyway. I’m pretending this is the final snow, and I planted more seeds indoors today:

  • Sage (10)
  • Kale (8)
  • Purple basil (6)
  • More Scabiosa (10)

I cleared out all the pots that hadn’t sprouted yet to make room for these new seeds. Only 4 of the original 12 Scabiosa seeds emerged from the March 4 planting, so I started some more. The ones that sprouted look healthy, so here’s to hoping at least some of these new ones will come up.

I had planned to take this week off to garden, but was fortunately able to push it out one more week. I don’t really want to garden in the snow. Hopefully next week it will be a little warmer for digging around in the beds.

March 18: lots of transplants, ripped out mint and bee balm

I was supposed to sow seeds today. In order to do that, I needed to move a bunch of plants to open up the spots where the seeds would go. After nearly 6 hours of ripping out mint, digging holes, unearthing plants, hauling them up hills, reburying them, and watering them in, I am pooped. And I didn’t start any seeds.

Here’s what I did do. Everything is still dormant, so I’m hopeful they’ll get established in their new spots and continue growing unstunted:

  • Sprayed weeds and grass that didn’t get killed the first go round.
  • Ripped out the mint under the stairs — two wheelbarrows full! I’m shocked by how much it spread. It was like an infestation.
  • Moved pink hydrangea spot vacated by mint.
  • Scooted white hydrangea closer to driveway.
  • Divided yarrow: moved one division next to white hydrangea, moved one to bed 9 out back, moved a small offshoot next to bee balm on side of house.
  • Moved 2 milkweeds (and a 3rd tiny one?) to bed 3 out back.
  • Moved 3 echinacea to bed 3 out back.
  • Moved 3 clumps of bee balm to bed 9.
  • Ripped out the remaining bee balm from front bed.
  • Moved 4 baby echinacea to fenced veggie patch so they can be protected from bunnies while they get a little bigger.
  • Moved 3 rudbeckia from herb bed out front to bed at top of hill out back.
  • Planted 5 liatris corms in butterfuly bush bed.
  • Moved Shasta daisy to it’s correct place in the butterfly bush bed.

I’ve got a to-do list at least as long as the one above to get to before I can actually plant the seeds. I’m bummed I couldn’t get more done today since we’re about to have 2 days of rain (and possibly sleet and snow). I guess we’ll have more rain in April, so everything can get watered in then. And this week I’ll try to chip away at my list :-).

Rainy day at the book store

I am at Barnes & Noble on a sodden Friday — my flex day. On the round Formica café table are my coffee, two gardening magazines, and a warm peanut butter cup cookie on a white ceramic plate (“For here, please”). The café hums behind me — I spent far too much time selecting my seat (in the corner? by the window? with a wall behind me? facing the tables or the bookstore?) — and in front of me a man in a cobalt blue sweater and well-worn sneakers browses the technology aisle. Rain drops run in rivulets down the store windows, and I am cozy with my coffee, cookie, and composition book.

I left my laptop at home. In this murmuring book store, on my day off, I am surrounded by physical media. Journals, books, magazines. Vinyl, compact disks. My pen tip scratching across the blue-lined paper of a wide-ruled Mead composition book (they didn’t have college-ruled, which is probably for the best now that I have old-lady eyes).

Before I left home, I opened my computer to pay a bill and look up some phone numbers (eye doctor, nail salon) and hours (library, book store). As soon as I opened it, Slack boinged at me, Telegram dinged at me, red notification bubbles glared at me, and browser and calendar banner notifications slid open in the upper right of my screen. I quit every application quickly so I wouldn’t see anything that might suck me in.

I managed to not work — a narrow escape! — but did not manage to avoid falling into the digital chasm. After I finished my online errands, I somehow spent 15 minutes searching for desktop wallpaper to satiate my craving for turquoise water, warmth, and a feeling of tranquility. I have no idea how I ended up there. I did not find satisfactory wallpaper before realizing the trap I was falling into. I shut the laptop and left it behind so I could spend my rainy day flex day at the book store.

Cherry blossoms are popping pink against the brown landscape, and I saw my first tulip of the year today, a spring yellow. 

Today’s drenching should green the landscape quickly. I wanted to spend some time today weeding,  but I’m not sad the rain is keeping me in instead. I haven’t started thinking about the garden yet this year, and with how warm it’s been, I’m finally ready. On the table in front of me are a glossy, staple-bound Virginia Gardener and a matte, glue-bound Gardening for Birds & Butterflies

The green of their covers is fresh and alive compared to the dreary March grey outside. I fear I will leave here with a mind full of wishes, and a dangerous desire to spend a lot of money on flowers.

Killing grass: we're pivoting

As I suspected, research would have helped with my attempt to murder our grass convert lawn to garden. I spent a warm Saturday cutting black garbage bags open, hauling bricks and stone edgers, and fighting with crinkling sheets of plastic in the wind while I tried to anchor corners and smother grass.

Four days later, at least five corners had dislodged; sled-sized patches of bright green grass grew happily towards the sun. Growing grass bulged under the billowing bags while a friend overseas asked, “How’s the grass-killing going?”

When I told him I didn’t think it was working, he sent me an article on No-Dig Gardening. “The hippie way,” he said. Another friend said his dad used newspaper, then covered the newspaper with mulch, instead of using plastic.

This didn’t occur to me, to smother with materials that worms can eat, that will decompose, that will become a part of life instead of a blocker to it.

On Friday, it was warm and sunny, and I decided to undo all the work I did last weekend. I pulled up the plastic only to see how ineffectual it had been. The bricks and edgers succeeded in killing some grass, but the plastic did not.

I stacked the bricks, threw the plastic away, and started reading about happier ways to kill grass.


Killing Grass

gardening boots and gloves

On Sunday, in the late afternoon after a run, when the sun was shining and the sky was blue, I dug out my gardening gloves, whacked last year’s crusted dirt off of them, and got to work in the “garden.”

I use air quotes because it’s not a garden yet. Right now our “garden” is a huge swath of gras: grass that last year had to be mowed, and grass that currently occupies the real estate where flowers and herbs will live.

In other words, grass that needs to die.

The snow has all melted, and we’ve got about 2 months until it’s time we can start putting plants in the ground.

Sunday was the perfect day to get out and get to work. I can’t start seeds indoors, and there’s not a whole lot we can do outdoors yet either, seeing as how we could still have more snow.

But in the warm sunshine, I could start laying black plastic over the grass we want to kill. At the nursery they recommended spraying it with a bunch of Roundup, but I didn’t really want to do that. So instead I cut huge black lawn bags to open and spread them, then weighed them down with bricks and edgers we dug out from the previous owner.

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Killing grass. #gardening #amidoingthisright ?

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I have no idea if this will work. I thought the plastic was to keep the light out and prevent the grass from photosynthesizing, therefore killing it. My husband thinks it’s more for heat: plastic will trap the heat, killing the grass. He says the plastic is a benefit because the heat will kill weed seeds as well, something Roundup wouldn’t do.

I’m sure I could research to find out for sure, but I’ve found that when it comes to gardening, I’d rather be outside messing around, actually doing stuff instead of reading about it. I try things on a whim, sometimes resulting in massive frustration because a little bit of research would have told me the thing I did was dumb. Usually, though, I just appreciate being outside, poking around in the dirt.