I’ve been busy with sessions and super busy in the garden due to a “mistake” by the Arbor Day Foundation. Actually, I suspect it was faery magick, since I’ve been wracking my brain for a non-invasive partial shade friendly garden hedge. Instead of shipping me my mock sweet orange, groundcover juniper and hazelnut shrubs, Arbor Day sent me 30 North Privet hedge shrubs, 2 forsythias and a maple sapling. At first, I felt a little upset, but once I researched North Privet, I began to suspect my faery garden landscaper — seriously, a faery who works out the designs of this place whenever I feel stuck. 😉 I had just asked for some assistance again and whammo! All my prior plant and tree orders suddenly morphed. Anyway, I contacted Arbor Day Foundation, and they said to keep the hedge and that they’d send my correct order soon.
Thank you, but it also meant digging a 24 foot and then another 6 foot trench in which to plant these babies:
North Privet is a non-invasive hybrid species of privet, which can grow 12-15 feet tall, perfect for shielding out the next door apartments.
I also planted some on either side of our trellised grape vine in my neverending vertical garden quest to remove the view of the next-nextdoor neighbors’ garage roof. Our immediately nextdoor neighbors asked me to plant the maple in front of the garage for the same reason. We’re all hoping this tree will take off and provide coverage over that eyesore. The nextdoor neighbors also got one transplanted paw paw tree from our yard, and will soon receive the companion pollinator, once I have time to dig and replant. They’re excited for trees!
Given that the hedge and tree transplants occurred in the same week as a rose hedge arrived for the front yard, plus sedum ground cover for near the driveway, last week became a crazed planting frenzy in which phone sessions felt like a heavenly rest from digging. If I had known to prepare the soil in each spot, the digging would have gone faster, but this was hard, weedy ground. I’m still tired! For the first year, we’ll need to keep the hedge low, so it gets bushy, but come next year, I’ll be grateful for all that hard work when the magical cocoon of our yard shields out yet more of the non-magical surroundings.
At least we had some good food from the yard, though. In addition to loads of dandelion roots harvested, cleaned, chopped and frozen in preparation for a big roasting project on a cold day, we’ve got lots of fresh greens and various onions and chives, plus leftover dried tomatoes from last year. Greek salad to the rescue!
Garden fresh (and dried) produce for a Greek salad
On Saturday, we had a brilliantly sunny, warm day as I worked in the garden, visited with our landlord and neighbors and prepped food for our evening Beltane celebration — all at the same time, thanks to the Sun Oven:
You can see the Sun Oven warming up above, near the newly created brick bed by a trellis that will show off the sweet potatoes, which look like morning glories. (The stone bed has row cover on it, so squirrels don’t dig up my flower transplants.) That Sun Oven rocks! On Saturday, I made moist, delicious falafel patties, as well as quinoa for a wheat free tabouli:
one of three simultaneously cooked trays of Sun Oven falafel
Sun Oven quinoa tastes amazing!
Thankfully, it’s flower season again in our yard, so we had some nice daffodils for the Beltane altar, as well as some bouquets for David’s mom and our friend who just had her baby:
We’ve also got some dandy violets in our back”yard” :
Out front, you can see the dwarf Korean lilac getting ready to bloom among friends, along with some newly cut ash logs near the garage, which will eventually house shitake mushroom dowels if they ever arrive. Yes, another plant/tree/shroom shipping mixup. You need to inoculate logs within two weeks of cutting, so I’ll just have to hope the shrooms arrive sometime within that period. Otherwise, I guess it will be hugelkulture time!
lilac, grape hyacinths, daffodils and tulips
Our Garden Tower got an early start this year. Instead of plucking out and eating excess seedlings, I put the tiniest ones into the Garden Tower to see if they’d grow. It took awhile for them to establish sizable roots, but they’ve all started growing. I keep them covered at night and during high winds:
zinnias, flamingo and red rhubarb chard, lacinato kale, fava beans, peas, and tiny lettuce sprouts up top
Mr. Meyer Lemon finally got to go outside, as our frosty nights waned. He likes the sun, but calling him recovered would be quite the optimistic spin. I think he’ll live, though. He just got some amendments of green sand, which supposedly saves everything, as well as comfrey leaves and worm castings.
Out back, I planted seed potatoes in various grow bags. The green ones I ordered last year. The burlap came courtesy of my garden coffee supplier, who owns the Electric Brew in Goshen. He brings me bags and bags of coffee grounds, which provide NPK in a ratio most plants can use right away. You need to mix it in with the soil, though, and acidic plants seem to enjoy the grounds more. They’re pH neutral, but some plants like them better than others. Blueberries and roses especially love them. I’m hoping the burlap bag works well, because I have several more in the garage. I needed to donate a bunch of seed potatoes to Redtail Farm Community Garden, because I over-ordered for the number of bags I had. Oops! Now that I have more bags, I might see if I can find anymore potatoes to plant from around here.
Although I tend to have excellent luck growing from seeds, I’m getting more and more interested in perennial vegetables that just pop up without any additional effort after the initial planting. I had ordered a rhubarb, which arrived looking terribly sad and sickly. I planted it in what I now suspect was formerly a black walnut area, and as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, a bird pooped on it! I tried to flush off the poop, but not before it burned the leaves with its nitrogen. I transplanted that rhubarb elsewhere, gave it all sorts of love and amendments, and it appears to be recovering. As synchronicity would have it, though, my across the alley neighbors offered me a free rhubarb plant on Saturday. I put this beauty under the grape vine trellis, where it will hopefully block out some of the thousands of dandelions trying to get in my garden beds:
I love having perennial vegetables green up in spring! Here’s sea kale leafing out next to Egyptian walking onions, garlic, and some annual cold season cover crop of peas and fava beans for nitrogen fixing:
I just love perennials in general. One time planting, years of enjoyment. After all the hours yanking dandelions the past couple weeks, plus all the dozens of hours and layers of cardboard and wood mulch that proved no match for dandelions, I’m beginning to realize it’s all about out-planting them if I want any kind of diversity in this yard. Some are great, but do we really need ten thousand that each created ten thousand more? Um, no. Here we have rescued trillium with Jack in the Pulpit and fiddlehead ferns just peeking out in the rain:
Much, much more to come if my ordered plants ever arrive. An April 20th “ship date” was quite awhile ago, folks. Just sayin’. At least it gave me time to plant that hedge, though! Bonus with the North Privet? It attracts butterflies and birds, and you can form it into a topiary. I saved one for a front yard specimen (OK, saved isn’t the right word. Those things kept multiplying!) just in case David wants to get creative. 😉 Meanwhile, the garden has become its own community with neighbors, landlords, friends and dog walkers all stopping by to chat, admire and inquire. I’ve given free plant starts to people, received free seeds, have been asked to be on two garden tours, and have made new friends and deepened earlier connections.
Plus, it’s great therapy. Whenever I read about another assault on the Earth, I plant more flowers. Today’s Grand Canyon news story resulted in hardy gladiolus. Yesterday’s news brought ground cover day lilies to a backyard stump. The general ugliness of our street has brought an entire ecosystem to our yard and now spilling over into neighbors’ lots. As L.A.’s Ron Finley, the Gangster Gardener says, “Plant some shit!” And so I have … so I will.