We decided to take down the raised beds. We were both frustrated by the ongoing battle against the Trees of Heaven that kept growing up through everything. Chuck had put serious effort into getting the roots out of 2 or 3 of the beds last year. And it helped. But, it wasn’t a cure. And the asparagus couldn’t win.
So, Chuck sold the cinder blocks and we’re letting the grass grow in. Of course, this has been THE best year for the asparagus.
He put 2 100-gallon watering troughs in the part of the hazelnut ring where the bushes don’t grow, filled them with compost and planted salad in one and tomatoes in the other. The tomato varieties are ‘Cherokee Purple’, ‘Rutgers’ and ‘Golden (something)’. The yellow ones are cherry sized and ‘Rutgers’ is supposed to be sandwich sized.
I got another watering trough and transplanted the asparagus. Wrong time of year. I know. But, the cinder blocks were gone and the roots were exposed all around the edges. And they aren’t dead. There were even 4 edible stalks last week. So, I remain hopeful.
There has been snow in April the last 2 years. So, we’re holding back. There is a threat of near freezing/potential snow this weekend. It was 84ºF on Monday.
We have 6 types of tomatoes in the grow room/pantry/attic/3rd bedroom waiting until the end of April to go in the ground. There are Better Boys for sandwiches, Cherokee Purple for salads, Golden Jubilee and Hawaiian Pineapple yellow varieties for Chuck, Grape and Indigo Blue cherry sized varieties for both of us. (I don’t dislike the yellow ones. He’s just particularly fond of them.)
I have 4 jalapeno plants waiting, too. We’ll plant Brandywine okra, Delicata and Pattypan squash and Hamby pole beans directly into the raised beds.
The new Martha Washington asparagus is coming up nicely. I’m hoping for a nice crop next year when we can finally harvest from the raised bed.
We have taken apart the herb bed and used the blocks to edge the front flowerbed. We didn’t have enough blocks and Lowe’s isn’t carrying that style anymore. So, I filled in gaps with stones from the disassembled labyrinth. It needs mulch.
I am expanding the little planting area around the well. A circle has been requested. Cannas will be moved from the side of the house to that bed when I have the grass dug out.
Chuck has been removing the grass-laden mulch from the outer ring of the defunct labyrinth. When we take up the ineffectual weed barrier, it will be seeded with clover. When I finish tweaking the front, I’ll manage the second ring that we intend to use for herbs and flowers. I’ve already got resurrection lilies and foxgloves transplanted there.
We decided the dismantle the labyrinth because it was a pain in the ass to maintain and it almost never got any use. In the entire time it was here, I don’t think 25 people have walked it. But, we couldn’t just take up the rocks and let it go back to lawn because it has a hazelnut hedge around 2/3 of the outside.
Since there is going to be a circle in the middle of the back yard one way or the other, we decided to make it a bull’s-eye. The center will still be mulched and keep the benches. The first ring will get the herbs from the disassembled herb bed and whatever flowers I want that flourish in blistering sun like lilies, irises, foxgloves, crocosmia. I don’t know what else. The next ring will be low maintenance clover. And then, the hedge.
We decided that we really don’t need more hazelnuts, even though that means the circle of the hedge will be uneven. So, today, we added 5 new blueberry bushes. Like the hazelnuts, they will be naked in the winter. And we look forward to the fruit. (We’ve never had too many berries in life.)
We found one variety of blueberries at Lowe’s and 3 at Mebane Shrubbery. We already had one of those (Climax) by the fence. So, we have 3 Brightwells, a Powder Blue and a Tifblue.
Today, this bed holds the wild dogwood I transplanted from a friend’s yard, a rice paper bush, a cloned dogwood from the National Phenology Network, some bearded irises, some white dwarf crested irises, some Asiatic lilies, a couple of Eastern columbines, 4 varieties of hellebores/Lenten roses, a small patch of cranesbill, a Bigleaf magnolia, one tea bush, a bear’s breeches, a Daphne odora, 2 kinds of ivy, a Japanese maple, a red camellia, 5 mums and I sowed seeds for 2 heights of zinnias, portulaca and impatiens today.
The largest part of this year’s yard project is done. Grass is out; mulch is in. Tea bushes are transplanted. I hope moving hasn’t killed them. I need to get the cover weeds out of the older part of the bed so we can mulch there, too. We used a thick layer of mulch to kill the grass there and it was effective. But, that mulch has turned into dirt and needs refreshing.
I moved the Euonymus that I had planted in that bed to the back yard where the deer can’t get to it. It’s supposed to be a bush but, right now, it’s a stick because it was snacked on heavily last summer. But, it’s not dead as evidenced by the leaves popping out. So, I have hope.
Our Japanese maple was accidentally mutilated by some yard guys who were taking down dead chunks of the maple on the corner of our lot. After some consideration, I got a new tree. The mutilated one was in too much sun and looked like crap for most of the summer. So, we finished the job the yard guys started and put a new tree in the front Partial Shade bed.
I found parts of a man’s shoe and a patch of nails while I was digging the grass out. And I’m constantly amazed at the amount of quartz that grows in our ground.
I took a picture of the new asparagus bed. But, right now it’s just dirt.
The old bed has been swallowed up by honeysuckle and overshadowed by a mimosa tree. It was never as enthusiastic a producer as I had hoped. And when I finally looked up how to grow asparagus in NC clay instead of taking the advice of someone gardening in another part of the state, I learned that asparagus likes sandy soil that drains well. I had essentially planted it so that it would drown.
Lowe’s has Mary Washington crowns for sale, 5 in a box. I bought 5 boxes and returned 2. 15 crowns seem well spaced in the 40″ X 87″ bed. I put 2 bags of mushroom compost on top of them. Since the beds are raised, drainage isn’t going to be a problem.
Chuck planted lettuce in the 5″ x 6″ holes around the outside edge.
I started Beauregard sweet potatoes a couple of months ago and have put 3 slips in my raised bed this morning. I put 3 eyes of a Yukon Gold Irish potato in the other end. I stuck the rest of the eyes in empty-ish places along the iris/blueberry fence row.
I had already planted nasturtium seeds in the holes in the cinder blocks along one long and one short side..
5 Arkansas Little Leaf climbing cucumbers have gone in the center holes on the other long side. 6 bush cucumbers have gone in the other holes, 3 at each end. One of the Arkansas Little Leafs didn’t sprout. But the Mexican Sour Gherkins are volunteering in their holes. I have 4 bamboo poles in holes and I have a bottom row of string ready for the cukes to begin climbing.
I have pulled my carrots so I can plant 2 rows of the Glass Corn popcorn seeds I managed to produce last year. I’ve put them in the middle of that bed. The garlic needs to grow another month or so, so I’m leaving it alone. I”ll put the jalapenos in there when they are bigger. There are 4 spindly plants in little pots, right now.
Chuck’s carrots are bigger and more consistent, so I’ll make a huge dessert this afternoon with my multicolored ones. I hope they keep the colors when they cook. Purple okra doesn’t.
The sunchokes are coming up like crazy, so the bees should have a nice treat this Fall.
Roses and kiwis are putting out new growth.
Dill seeds are sprouting in the herb bed.
Columbines are blooming in the front.
We have bitty plums forming and one peach.
Lilacs will not be blooming this year. Their buds froze.
Iris buds are popping up, And one has even opened.
Chuck started stirring around getting ready for Spring. We have lots of seeds in little pots. He had already started some lettuce. Now, there are eggplants, several varieties of tomatoes, jalapenos, cucumbers, pie pumpkins, winter squash and basil are in yogurt cups and reused nursery pots.
I pulled up the sage because we haven’t used it AT ALL and I want the space in my herb bed. He offered to put his basil in that spot and I gave him a Look. That’s where my parsley will go in a month. I did put some sage pieces that had roots starting into pots to try to give to a couple of friends who would like some. I have dill seeds pending, too.