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Archive for the ‘planters’ Category

In between bigger projects, we spent half a morning making some fast improvements:

Swapped out last years worn and faded-to-pink flag with a fresh one from the dollar store. $2.50
Set up a new laundry line in a sunnier spot. PVC coated cable, 2 clamps, 1 turnbuckle and some hooks $21.
Installed a magnetic mesh screen on our seldom used “front” door for better air flow.
Installs in minutes and the only tool required is scissors. Great value at $16
These herb (and cucumber) planters looked messy sitting directly on the deck and attracted a lot of debris, woodbugs, etc.
Getting them up on wheeled planter caddies looks neater and the deck stays cleaner. $27 for 3.

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Its so interesting to me to look at photos I have taken of the garden over the past few months, so posting some here to make them easily accessible. The first three were taken in the exact same spot. This is a flower garden that has tomato, rhubarb and strawberries co-planted.

April
May
June

And then there is my lower veg garden that was previously full of gladiolus and some shrubs.

Snap peas left. Beets in the middle and carrots to the right. Back row is sugar baby melon territory and a newly planted asparagus patch that should bear next year.
Plus bush beans front and centre. Melons doing nothing weeks later.
Snow peas and snap peas starting to flower. Melons still nothing. Its too cool this June and they are only getting about 6 hours sun in this location when there is sun at all. So next year either no melons or find a better spot. Snuck a second carrot planting into the barren melon patch as consolation
Neighbours Derek and Natalie gave me some sunflowers!

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I’ve been tearing out plants and shrubs that I haven’t found sufficiently rewarding.

A small pine has been replaced by a spud patch, a fern and a mystery plant with two rhubarbs, and an unsuccessful attempt at a moss garden proved too sunny, so now I have shade tolerant veggies like lettuce and radish growing there.

The rose has been a hassle since day one. It grows like a weed, overwhelms the trellis, needs constant cutting back, and always leaves us bleeding. But its an old, old rose….so it stays, right? Not any more.

In an exchange of marital confidences, it recently emerged that we both loathe the rose. So I dug it out.

Just about to begin its massive spring growth.

Already beginning to mangle the trellis, again.

But now its in the trailer for its last ride to the green waste.

The rose occupied a premium spot, with lots of sun and well drained soil. There is some over spray from the watering system, and a trellis.

Vegetable seeds are scarce, but with some effort I finally tracked down some scarlet runner bean seeds. They have bright red flowers to attract hummingbirds, are heat tolerant, grow indeterminately and the more you pick the more they produce.

They should love this spot. Plus my opponents, the deer, would literally have to approach from the road to get to them, which they never have.

Rand built a quickie planter at the bottom of the trellis to tidy things up a bit, and hold some soil. And now we have more food on the way. They should be fun to watch grow as they are aggressive climbers.

Scarlet Emperor bean seedlings, each in a wreath of seaweed.

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What was under that deck? Lots of ferns, salal and blackberries…and some flat land!

A peek up at the former deck, from cottage level.

Quick, lets plant something!. I had 8 seed potatoes left, so in they went. Since big, bold deer are frequent visitors from the adjoining park, it will be tricky to fend them off.

Looking in the window.

For a start, I’m mulching my plants heavily with seaweed from the nearby beach. When I go for a walk with the dog, I take a 5 gallon pail and selectively fill it, being careful to not take too much from any one area of the beach, as it is an important part of the ecosystem.

A quick rinse and into the garden.

Opinions are split as to whether the seaweed needs rinsing or not. I give it one quick fresh water rinse to take off the surface salt. I have read that deer don’t like to eat seaweed. But I also know they love salt…Stand by for my report in the months ahead.

Rand picked up a faucet splitter that allows us to run a hose up to the new garden area. This will also allow me to keep the composter wetted. Big improvement.

There are 8 potatoes under those piles of seaweed. that mess in the background is the “door to Narnia” before I attacked it.

Behind the new spud patch, there is an area that was a hole in the now-demolished deck. My kids called it the door to Narnia.

And Rand used to sweep leaves into the hole. So now, under a stump, more blackberries and ivy vines, what do I discover but about 12 inches of dark rich compost!. So I spent the whole afternoon with a heavy maddock, chopping out huge roots.

Rand came up and sawed down an acacia (weed) tree that would impact the light. And I hauled a half ton of debris down to the utility trailer for next weeks trip to the Green Waste.

Nasty blackberry roots.
The door to Narnia is ready to plant.

I will keep collecting, rinsing and distributing seaweed, both up top, and as a mulch for the lower garden. Here are some advantages:

Its free, and plentiful

It has dozens of trace minerals and is touted as a perfect, balanced fertilizer.

It rehydrates with each rain fall or watering, and delivers its goodness to the roots by leaching seaweed ‘tea’.

It prevents evaporation of water by shielding the ground surrounding plants.

It is attractive to helpful critters like worms and pillbugs.

But slugs don’t like it because it has sharp edges when it dries, and is a bit salty.

It doesn’t contain seeds or other plant bits that can take hold in your garden. Other mulches can hide surprises like…foxtails!

Like peat moss, it aerates the soil. Unlike manure, it doesnt need to decompose before using. Pile it on, 4-6 inches deep. Or more. This stuff is gold.

The only question is, will the deer scarf it up as quickly as I can lay it down?

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Our lives are distilled to two realms: Inside the cottage or outside to work on projects and go for walks. Its all so simple. No need to keep track of the date, no need to plan days and movements around social events or the numerous groups we each belong to. So we go out whenever weather permits, and when we are tired, cold or wet – back in. Some other things going in and out:

The old sheds and deck went out.
And loads of new lumber came in.
Piles of weeds and other green waste went out…
And a fresh load of clean crush came in to be spread about.
This pine tree, which was getting a bit big for its britches, came out…
And a new deep planter for growing potatoes went in.

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Day lilies

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Phlox

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Gladiolas

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Coreopsis

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Statice, I think

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Crocisima and wild geranium

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Bee balm

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Mexican grass and annuals

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Honeysuckle and roses on the trellis.
And these…

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Yellow loosestrife and the first plox

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Alstibe

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Sweet William transplanted from the beach in the Kootenays

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Wild geranium

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Delphinium

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Clematis

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Over-wintered snapdragons

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A profusion of succulents

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Jasmine - more on this shortly!

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So satisfying to pick one sad corner of the garden and do some spring cleaning.
That’s what I did last Friday while waiting for the honey wagon to come and pump out the septic tank.

Before

Before

and After

and After

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All that cooking wasn’t quite enough to purge me of all my mental clutter and exhaustion. So when I got to the cottage that recent early morning and Cottager needed a nap on the couch to recover from a late night and an early morning, I grabbed all my sharpest and most dangerous tools and went out to deal with Laurel.

This single shrub has monopolized the sun, harboured invaders like English Ivy and Morning Glory and crowded the paths from day one.  My initial timid trims gave way to repeated efforts to keep the top shoots under control, but on this particular day, it was like I was seeing it for the first time.  I knew I couldn’t kill it if I tried, so why not  give the girl a serious haircut?  Luckily, I remembered to take out my phone and take a few pictures before I started…

From one side . . .

 

. . . and from the other side.

 
And here is how it looked a few hours later after I had unloaded all of my urban frustrations, anger and guilt:
 (yes, there was a stump in there!)
 

From one side . . .

 

. . . and from the other side.

And here is what I removed from this shrub, including the forementioned parasites and an enormous salal growing out of the stump:
 

What Cottager had to haul away when he got up from his nap.

Now, what to do about the stump? It is fairly degraded, and Cottager is of the opinion that we could tear it out easily. I, on the other hand, like the idea of chopping enough of a hole in its soft gooey center to hide a nice pot with some trailing flowers in the spring.  O!  and some small white lights for the laurel branches, I think.

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You may recall I dreamed of an espaliered Italian plum, but I was thwarted.  Having obtained a giant pot – courtesy of Cottager’s thoughtfulness – and a sufficiency of dirt and a day in which the rain promised to stop long enough to plant a tree, I went to the nursery to discover that they had no Italian plums. No espaliered trees whatsoever, in fact.

The arborist there told me that Italian plums don’t lend themselves to espaliering because they are ‘aggressive’ which I took to mean they grow big, fast, rather than that they are likely to attack.  What I wanted, she said, was a dwarf tree – of which they conveniently also had none.

And then she suggested the columnar Sentinel apple, which grows to a maximum of about 10 feet and which they did have available, in both golden and red varieties. 

When I learned that this apple wouldn’t spread its stubby little branches more than a foot or two in any direction, the need to have a two dimensional tree vanished like warm strudel. I didn’t fritter away another moment wondering if this apple tree idea was just pie-in-the-sky.  For $25 and a saucy smile, a Golden Sentinel was soon riding shotgun . . . er, be-cider me, in the Honda. 

I honestly had never heard of this apple variety, which bears a Golden Delicious-like fruit, plus all the accompanying foliage, close to the trunk instead of on branches.  That the tree is tall, lanky and essentially shapeless really adds to its beauty. If you are truly my friend, you will agree with this statement. Just nod.

So here is a picture of what my Golden girl – christened Gwyneth – will come to look like in time:

 

And here is what she looks like now, in her new home:

Gwyneth the Golden Sentinel apple twig (and companion blue lobelia)

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