The last weekend of the year was great. Temperatures Saturday was in the sixties. I was able to get my John Deere out and haul wood chips the power company brought me and spread them out along the paths in the former veggie garden I took over in flowers. My new garden area should be ready to go this year after all the organic matter I’ve been adding to it.
With all the rain and the warm temperatures, the fire ants are starting to emerge. As soon as the rain slacks off, I’ll pour grits around the mounds. One particularly large mound may take several feedings to kill off all of the queens. Cotton seed meal was put down around my azaleas and blueberries getting them ready for spring blooms. With the warm weather, I worry about my fruit trees budding out. Two years ago a warm January was followed by a late February freeze and snow in March. None of my fruit trees, blueberries, or strawberries bore fruit or berries.
A couple of weeks after knee surgery, I found a close out of shrubs ninety per cent off. I can home with a truck load of Encores, gardenia, sky pencil and rhododendrons, normally around two hundred for a little over eighteen dollars. I put them in the greenhouse until my knee is back in digging shape. Later in the week when I went to water them, I noticed that several of the shrubs had limbs chewed off; field rats had gotten in the greenhouse and were eating everything in sight, even the half length toilet paper rolls that I use for starting seeds. After feeding them bait traps for several days, I was disposing of the casualties inside while Blackie was outside digging up tunnels; she leaned on the siding and a piece broke out and that was all she needed to burst through. The sun pounding on the western side has made the plastic brittle. I have a left over piece in the shed that will just cover the hole. For now a hooligan cage with a couple of stands covers the hole.
The first Saturday in January 2012 was rainy, (2.11 inches of rain and more coming) but pleasant temperatures in the low sixties. I was able to enjoy sitting out on the screen porch with my paper and coffee. I had planned to start cleaning my flower beds, but made up planting mix for my African violets instead and spent the day re-potting. Extra leaves were placed in a rooting medium for the Arc of the Shoals greenhouse program.
My goals this year, I can’t keep resolutions:
- Have the first home grown tomatoes in town. I noticed a couple of volunteer tomato plants coming up in a Nun’s orchid that I’m over wintering in my garage. In the last couple of weeks, both plants have grown nicely. I’m going to try and put in a larger pot and hopefully they will still be in good shape for transplanting to the garden when it warms up.
- On my try to do list again this year is not buying anymore plants until I get the rest of my potted plants into the ground. I ordered my plants and seeds the first of December so I have that one in the bag. However a couple of seed packets, Kiphofia hirsute traffic lights and Courgette zephyr, I have no idea what I ordered and will have to go back to the Thompson & Morgan website and find out what they are.
- Find some make in the USA jeans and gardengloves. I have been looking since last summer. With all the jean sewing factories in the area, why can’t I find made in the USA? My old ones have issues and things keep falling down my legs whenever I pick up something. I’m also getting sunburned in unusual places. Fort Payne used to be the sock capital of the world, and it took me months to find USA socks in local stores. My favorite Womanswork ‘original’ gloves are now made in China instead of Pennsylvia. The USA made ones would last a whole gardening season. When I placed my last order, I wasn’t aware of the switch until they wore out after two months. When I complained and inquired as to why, I was told they had trouble finding people to do the tedious finger sewing. I told them that north Alabama has had a lot of sewing factories closed and one destroyed by a tornado and we had a lot of folks that would be willing to do fingers. They also said that the it was still ‘The Original’ style even though made in China, and that if I wanted made in the US, they had other gloves still made in the USA.
- Decide the location and whether I want an arbor or two pergolas. I put up 2 poles a few years back for a pergola and then decided to do an arbor for kiwi on the other side of the garden and dug 2 holes there that I covered over with concrete blocks. Then after the kiwi died the next winter, I thought about it again, I decided to do a pergola in each spot. Blackie has partially filled in my holes digging after field mice.
- Run a new waterline along the creek and along the side of my blueberry row to replace the ones the mad tiller chopped up last summer. I have a couple of 100-200 foot sections most chopped into six inch sections that I took out when I should have hee’d instead of haw. While the ground is moist I’ll take a middle buster down as deep as I can so it’ll be safe from shovel or tiller.
- Finish the stackable retaining walls around the house and garage. I started this project a couple of years ago. Knee injuries have slowed this one down. The so called landscapers placed an uneven single row around my front beds, these will be used around the back of the house and a trench edging will be used around the front beds. I have zoysia in the front yard, so it should be easy to keep out of the beds.
- Repair and redo the greenhouse. The contractor didn’t allow enough air flow and left large gaps around the small windows and didn’t use the foam inserts at the end of the siding. I thought about checking with a local window company for windows taken out of remodel projects and recycling. Wish I had thought of this when Mom replaced her windows.
- Continue working on my themed gardens, Auburn, Deshler High, University of North Alabama, Born in the USA, song dance and people, pretty in pink, the blues have it, and valley of the lilies. And no I don’t have one for that college on the other side of the state.
The hooligans and myself wishes for you in the New Year: smell the flowers, notice the beauty around you and take it easy. I’m still trying to get Blackie to that that advice.
Check out the hooligans resolutions on my GRIT magazine blog post.
Wow, I just got a postcard from Bluestone Perennials, 15% off if I order before January 18. Oh goody I did have a wish list made that I discarded; okie dokie, now where did it go?