Yesterday afternoon (in the cold pouring rain with no crowds, no lines, and plenty of freshly watered plants), I went from nursery to nursery in search of garden plants. I was able to get almost all of the "plants" for our vegetable garden. And I also purchased the rest of the seeds we are going to need, except for the melon seeds. I think there is a "run" on watermelon, cantelope, and honeydew melon seeds .... of the 5 places I visited and the 3 additional placed I called .... there are NO melon seeds to be had. I did manage to find 4 watermelon plants for sale, tucked back in a tray of tomato plants -- but there were no more. So --- I may be forced to mailorder seeds for these plants. I am also unable to find strawberry plants locally, along with the other "small fruit" plants I had hoped to put in this year -- we may have to mailorder those as well. (I hate to mailorder plants and seeds because it is such a "gamble".)
Overnight our big van was filled to the brim with plants -- we had storms coming in last night with a risk of hail, so we thought the plants were safest in the car.
Today is supposed to be near 70 degrees (a cool day by Tennessee "spring" standards) and partly cloudy, and tomorrow is supposed to be near 80 degrees and sunny. So we are going to SEIZE THE (cool) DAY, to plant in this pleasant weather (rather than baking in the heat and sun, getting sunburned, etc). This morning, we will unload all of the plants and water them well. Then, when we have finished with school and have had our lunch, we will start planting. We will have an afternoon of BOTANY (to go along with our science lessons from this year - Apologia Botany). We will review blossom types, leaf types, weed vs plant identification, root types, soil needs, plant spacing, pollinators, and so many of the other "lessons" we have learned this year as we plant our garden for what we hope will be (eventually) a bountiful harvest. And by the end of today, our Garden To-Do List will look like this (below).
One quick note about a beautiful little family-owned nursery that I visited yesterday -- there is a sign near their "counter" that says: YOUR HUSBAND CALLED. HE SAYS THAT YOU CAN BUY ANYTHING YOU WANT. (HA HA HA !!) I should have known that I was in BIG TROUBLE when I saw that sign ! It was at this lovely little nursery that I happened upon some very AGGRESSIVE perennial flowers in their green houses. These plants reached out with their stems and leaves and grabbed me as I walked past, physically overpowering me, and demanding that I put them into my wagon. In the interest of peace, I placed them in my wagon, secretly planning to put them back later. Well, when it came time to pay for my vegetable plants (the plants I was SUPPOSED to be buying), these aggressive perennials overpowered me again, first forcing me to buy them, and then proceeding to muscle themselves into my van between the pepper plants and the tomato plants. So -- a warning to all -- beware of the perennials (black eyed susans, various types of coneflowers, and several other co-conspirators) !! They are very forceful this year -- plotting and conspiring against innocent shoppers. (HA !) Well ------ that's my story and I am sticking to it.
Peaches & Cream Corn seed (planting 2)
Peaches & Cream Corn seed (planting 2)
Silver Queen Corn seed (planting 2)
Cantelope seed (planting 2)
Honeydew melon seed (planting 2)
Pumpkin seeds (planting 1 - jack-o-lantern, sugar, and large pumpkins - to be sown in July)
Herb: more Lavendar
Herb: Cat Mint
Herb: Lemon Balm
Blueberry bushes (2 of each; 3 varieties)
more Strawberries (50-60 more plants; plot cleared and prepared)
Brambles (several each of Blackberry & Red Raspberry)
FLOWERS & GENERAL LANDSCAPE:
Butterfly Bushes (multiple)
Bee Balm (many more)
Evergreen "screen" (multiple - tall evergreen "trees"; rapid growing; privacy and wind / dust block)
Fruit Trees (multiple varieties of apple, peach, pear, cherry - probably to be planted next fall)
Dogwood Trees (pink & white varieties - to be planted next Fall)
** Notes Concerning Flowers: With the exception of 1 small flower bed and 4 planters, I ONLY plant perennial variety flowers. I love the "Cottage Garden" look as they all blend together through the years -- I love the variety of colors and textures and heights, and love that they are "self-sowing" and eventually get spread enough that they choke out most weeds themselves. The blend of everything reminds me of the Impressionist's works featuring gardens. All of our family members enjoy watching Birds, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies visit our garden all through the spring, summer, and fall; so we generally plant varieties of flowers that attract these lovely creatures to our garden.
May 20th Update: We did it !! Every single plant and seed we bought has been planted. HOORAY !! We had hoped to get it all done Saturday and Sunday. Saturday worked out as planned, but Sunday was mostly rainy here so we had to wait until Monday to finish up with our planting. (Our sunburned and achey bodies probably appreciated the break.)
The soil was re-tilled, and rows were marked. Then the rows were planted, the peppers and tomatoes were staked, the eggplant plants were caged. And finally every row and bed was mulched with straw. After that we mulched the melon and cucumber hills with "mats" of rotten hay.
The finishing touch to the vegetable garden was finished on Monday evening -- the "paths" between the rows were lined with landscape fabric. We do this to ensure that the children do not walk in the planted areas -- we ONLY walk on the black paths when inside the garden. Oh, and it also helps keep the weeds down between the rows too. But for a garden shared with several enthusiastic gardeners-in-training also known as children, marked paths are very helpful. (Helpful Hint: Too many landscape staples is NOT helpful though as they ahve to be removed before tilling for next season's garden - just a few is all that is needed for "paths" because eventually the warm wet landscape fabric more or less "sticks" to the dirt below.)
There was much excitement today in the garden .... our cucumbers (seeds) have begun to come up !! We can see tiny green leaves poking out of the top of the mounds. It is VERY exciting.
After lining the paths, our last project on Monday evening was the strawberry patch. We soaked the soil well, and then covered the whole patch with newspaper . Then we soaked the whole area again. The newspaper is to help the soil which is dry and seems healthy, but is VERY week-prone, as it will discourage weed growth as it breaks down, and will help retain moisture in the soil. The benefit is that the roots of the strawberry plants can easily break through the newspaper barrier, and that the barrier will soon "break down" (unlike lining the bed with landscape fabric which is more or less permenant). We put the plants in (we only have 18 so far, of the 60-75 we want to have), and then mulched the patch with straw. After watering well, the plants looked quite happy. The newspaper / straw idea for the strawberry patch was found online in articles written about strawberry farming .... now, we are not farming strawberries, but if it works for them, it is our hope that it will work for our small patch. Time will tell.
Before calling it a day, we ran the sprinklers on all of the new plantings -- the veggie garden, the strawberry patch, and the flower beds.
There is nothing to do now except water, pray, and wait .... until it is time to put in the second plantings in a few weeks time. (and rest, of course)