Weekend Work

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

It was a cold, cloudy and misty weekend; but the outdoor work continued.

Fortunately, by Saturday afternoon the mist had ended, but it was still cloudy and cool. I was debating as to whether to have a long nap, or work outdoors. I had promised Beth I’d plant two potentillas for her in her new front yard beds. I agreed on a compromise–plant the bushes, then nap.

Beth placed the two plants in her gardens where she wanted them. Finding them was easy. Before I dug the hole with my trusty spade, I made a trench around the pot then put the pot in back of me to get it out of the way. I also had a 5 gallon bucket to collect extra soil. With the trench in place, I had the assurance that the hole I dug would be wide enough. When I was done, the width was not a problem, but the depth was. I determined this by placing the pot back into the hole. Its rim was still above the ground, so I simply dug deeper. All of these steps can be done by touch. Once proper depth was achieved, I simply turned the pot upside down, and the bush came out. Like most nursery stock, these two plants were root bound, and they came out in one big hunk.

After placement in the hole, I dumped about half of the soil from the bucket and surrounded the new planting with it. I tamped it down with my hands, and poured some more. After the hole was full and leveled, I watered it in with a two gallon watering can. This was also on site before I began digging.

The second potentilla was easier, as I could guess at the proper depth I needed. When the hole was dug, I placed the potted plant in it, and pronounced it “perfect.” I watered it in, and took the two empty pots to the back, as we may need them for a raised bed sometime in the future.

Friday I received a box of daylilies from a new supplier. When ordering this stock, you never know what might arrive. I know I paid a pretty price for them, and in this case, it was “you get what you pay for.” There were five bunches of daylilies, all plainly tagged for Beth to read. There was a fifth bundle, and this must have been a “free gift.” These were excellent plant specimens. I had four labels already made up, and I placed each lily and its Braille tag in a separate bag. The fifth one was placed in a bag without a label.

After planting Beth’s potentilla, I felt energized. I had plenty of places for the daylilies in the apple tree garden. The clumps were shallow rooted, and with a large trowel, they were easy to plant. Since their planting, I have prepared a fifth Braille label, and the next time I am in the area, I’ll search for the one without a label, and place it accordingly. Since all five cultivars are planted in the same general area, this will be an easy task.

From another mail order catalog I received a shipment of eight elephant garlic bulbs and three tuberoses. I couldn’t wait–the elephant garlic was placed in my new raised bed Friday night; the tuberoses remain in the garage, as they are not hardy enough to go outdoors yet.

We don’t just plant this time of the year. It is mostly transition time between the cold hardy plants and the ones which require warm weather like tomatoes and peppers. So, late Sunday morning, despite a cloudy sky, drizzly weather and a stiff wind, we decided it was time to do a little fence mending. Beth opts for pretty, I opt for functional. As a team, we both get our way. We finished shortly before noon, and although it isn’t pretty, it is much better. Some of the plastic posts were bent; some of the wood posts were broken. In addition to this, part of the fence was uneven and was a couple of inches off the ground; this gap would allow rabbits in–definitely a no-no. When I mulched, I placed some of the mulch too close to the fence, and this is now corrected. This will be an ongoing task that Beth and I will attend to from time to time.

On Monday nights, I have a reader who stops by for dinner. This gives Beth a night off, and I get to hear lots of sports stuff that does not interest Beth. So, before I made dinner I snuck in a row of kohlrabi. Beth had found some seeds at Menards during a previous visit. The sticks and string were already in place, and fortunately, they had not moved. It didn’t take long to prepare a small trench with my hoe without a handle, rip open the seeds, spread out with my hand, and fill in the trench. I moved the markers a foot west, where they will be ready for the next row. While planting the kohlrabi, I felt a couple of feet to the east and found the potatoes are starting to pop up nicely. The Brussels sprouts and broccoli plants continue to do well.

Beth bought a sweet spire bush for the front of the new gardens in the front yard. I hope to get it in this week. While we were shopping on Sunday afternoon, I found two beautiful raspberry plants in two large pots. The weekend promises to be rainy and cold, but since I will plant these south of the south garden fence, I hopefully can plant them between the raindrops. Then if the weather warms next week, I’ll start planting out the hardiest annuals.

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