By Roger Erpelding
As I figured, the ground was ready for planting by Saturday afternoon at 3:00. I knew the garden was too wet to walk in, but there were plenty of other areas that needed attention. The grass was dry, the soil was damp, and I was off and running.
I had purchased two giant raspberry plants a week earlier, and I was dreading their transplant, due to their size, and the soil in the area where I planned to put them. However, the recent rain had made my life easy. I knew where I wanted to place them, and had carried the pots out to the area during the previous evening. They were just on the south side of the garden fence. One area was marked by a wooden trellis, the second by a tomato cage. With trusty spade in hand, and fifteen minutes of hard work, they were both planted in the ground at their proper depth, over a foot deep. When I thought I was close to the right depth, I took the berries out of their pots, and placed them in the hole. If the fit was comfortable and snug, the soil went in around them; if not, I just dug a little deeper. I placed the extra soil in a pile to their right when I planted them. Since these plants will grow in an area that is fairly weedy, the extra soil hurts nothing. If I’d planted these in a flower bed, I’d have placed the extra soil in a five gallon bucket.
My next job was to plant “the old plastic bed” as Beth and I now call it. This is a raised bed on the east side of the house. It is a divided bed; Beth gets the west part, I get the east part. With my Braille yardstick and trowel in hand, I began to mark off spots for some annuals. Before long, gerbera daisies, New Guinea impatiens, mixed dwarf border dahlias and tiny yellow marigolds had their spaces, and were planted. The rows are not quite straight, but the plants really don’t care. In addition to this, each plant will grow at a different rate, and nothing will look straight after a while anyway. I snuck some gladiolus around the edges as well. Since the soil was very loose, I just pressed them down. The soil collapsed to a depth of about 6 inches. After this, I just made sure they were amply covered. There is a little room in the front in case I purchase some annuals at the Polk County Master Gardener’s plant sale this weekend.
I still had a few things to place in the new plastic raised bed as well. I have elephant garlic around the edges, which is doing nicely. Along the extreme edges, and in the middle, I planted more gladiolus corms. I finished this bed by placing about ten amaryllis bulbs in the open spaces. Again, the Braille yardstick was a great help here. Since the soil was new and loose, the bulbs were easy to plant.
Late Sunday morning was cool, cloudy and a little windy–again a great time to plant to minimize transplant shock. This time I started in the herb garden, planting four basil, and one cilantro. These are fragrant herbs, and easy to identify. I also took this occasion to do a little weeding. Spearmint continues to grow in the garden at a prolific pace. I’ve placed several transplants near to where I planted the raspberries the day before. It is doing so well that I simply pull all the spearmint out of the herb garden now. If nothing else, it comes up easy, and the leaves are tasty.
My last task on Sunday morning was container planting. I placed the Sweet 100 cherry tomato plant in a large pot. Since it was a little tall, I placed it deeply in the pot, rammed two plastic stakes into the ground along the edge, and tied the tomato plant to the stakes. I have a ball of string in the garage, and a folding scissors in my pocket; these two items frequently prove very handy. This pot was put in the north east corner of the old perennial garden.
A large geranium was the next container planting. I filled the transplant pot quite full of potting soil, and after placing the geranium in the pot, placed a few more handfuls of potting soil around the edges. It too, was placed near the cherry tomato.
Last, and certainly not least, were the three carnations. I filled this pot almost full of potting soil, as these plants were quite small. They went into the garden area beside the tomato and geranium.
In still another respect, this is a joyful time of the year. Monday evening, while my barbecue ribs, fresh carrots and crescent rolls were baking in the oven, we decided to move some plants out of the sun room, and into the rock area near Beth’s bench and footstool. Hawkeye Bob was there to read, and we made him earn his dinner. We wheeled two large oleanders out in the lawn cart, followed by four large citrus trees. Beth noted a large tangerine hanging from one of the trees. I pronounced it ready to eat, and pulled it off the tree. Too bad–it was too ready to eat. The fruit was shriveled and dry; it was only good for compost. There is also a lemon hanging on, definitely hard and too green to pick, just a bit smaller than a golf ball. Following the four large citrus trees we carried three smaller ones out to this same area. Beth told us where she wanted them, as she’d moved the bench and stool for this purpose. Tuesday night we moved the two clivia miniata (kafir lilies) out into the yard in a sunny area just south of the magnolia tree. Late next week the aloe vera and Christmas cactus will come out onto the patio table. We also have four scented geraniums to take outdoors, into an area yet to be determined. We know they will need plenty of sun, so they may need to wait for a weekend so we can determine their best spot.