Weekend Garden Duties

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

After the 0.8 of rain I dumped from the gauge after Friday’s rain, and all the rain in the forecast, I wondered if I’d get anything done out in the yard and garden. Despite the forecast, and the Saturday night storm, lots of things got done.

The soil was wet, but not muddy, on Saturday morning. I was full of ambition, so by 8:00 that morning I was out in the yard. I had noticed that the Baby Iris were not doing well under the lilac bushes. Too much clay in the soil and too much shade were the likely culprits. What a great time to grab the large trowel, get under the plants, place them in a bucket, and transplant them somewhere else.  Their long, narrow and sword-like leaves made them easy to find. They were transplanted to a sloped area, just south of the south garden fence. This is a drier environment with poorer soil, and with more sun; hopefully, they will do well.

The ground was wet, and so was the foliage; be that as it may, it was a great time to dead head the hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. I only broke off the tops of those spring bulbs with seed heads on them. These were easy to find by touch, and they came off easily by hand. I had clippers just in case, but in this instance, they were not needed.

Last summer a neighbor gave us soil, as he was clearing off part of his yard for a patio. This soil was wet, but not muddy–a perfect time to fill up several large pots with this loose soil. They will hold peppers when the plants arrive later this spring. In the meantime, I placed them in the garden where they will remain until freeze up next autumn.

A friend and fellow Master Gardener had brought by three pots of sweet woodruff on Thursday evening. Again, this was a perfect morning to place them in a shaded area under the magnolia tree. Beth put the pots where she wanted them, and I quickly placed them in their new home.

Part of our program to remain certified as Master Gardeners is to have at least 6 hours of volunteer work. This will increase to 12 in 2013. Meeting this requirement has been easy, as Beth and I agreed last year to take over the “Sunshine Plaza Garden” at the Demonstration Garden in Urbandale. A clean-up day was scheduled for 9:00 on April 14. Due to the above activities, I was a little late, but no one was keeping time. Our duties on this occasion consisted primarily of weeding. There were weeds in the garden, around the shed, between the plaza bricks, and along the fence. The daffodils also needed dead heading. An hour and a half later, our mission was accomplished.

The big rain and wind storm of Saturday night caused a little more work on Sunday. A large limb from the magnolia tree was felled. This wood is rather soft and brittle, so after lunch on Sunday I broke it up into small pieces. I sawed the main limb with a small hand saw. This debris is now in two bundles, is tied up, and ready for pick up at the curb whenever pick up occurs, probably on Friday. The afternoon work was concluded by transplanting 7 Lily of the Valley clumps into small pots for the Windsor Heights plant exchange on May 12. If they don’t survive, we’ll dig up more that are growing in the lawn. Their thickly matted roots, and limited space, made this a tough job, but Beth and I got it done. The 2.8 inches of rain which fell Saturday evening did aid in getting this task done.

Late that morning, while it was still too wet to work in the yard, we ventured forth to a greenhouse that had told me they had sweet woodruff plants. By the time we got there they were sold out, but they will be getting more in; we are now on their “call list.” However, while we were there, I did pick up some plants for one of my flower beds–marigold, New Guinea Impatiens, and gerbera daisies. I said I wouldn’t do it, but there was a magnificent geranium that I bought–I just couldn’t resist. I had expressed “geranium burn out” to Beth earlier in the spring, but this one had my name written all over it. Beth tells me that it is a salmon pink. I will place it in a larger pot later this spring. In fact, before I quit outdoor work yesterday, I did pick out a nice clay pot, and fill it half full with potting soil in preparation for this event.

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