Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fighting Frost and Working in the Garden

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day for working outside.  And since lots of rain was forecast for today, hubby and I put in an almost full day in the garden.

But first, before I regale you with the (not) exciting saga of what we did, let me tell you about my adventure planting Sweet Peas.

Wednesday of this past week, I planted my Sweet Pea seeds in one of my raised beds.  It's the earliest I've ever gotten them in.  Supposedly the seeds can go in the ground up to 6 weeks before the last expected frost date . . . which for us (in a good year) is sometime around Memorial Day Weekend/the first of June.  From some test digging, I knew the soil in the raised beds was loose and, on a sunny day, even warm to the touch.  So I soaked my seeds overnight and Wednesday headed out to plant them.

I needed to put up the trellis they climb on so I went armed with two long pieces of rebar I fasten the trellis to and the small sledge hammer to pound the rebar into the ground.

All went well for about 6-8" into the soil, and then it was like I hit a rock.  Hunh.

The rebar was tall and I thought maybe I wasn't wielding enough oompf using the heavy hammer over my head so I called Papa Pea in as reinforcement.  After a mere two whomps on the rebar he informed me the ground in the raised bed was still frozen hard as a rock not far below the surface.  Sigh.  Well, it is very early in the season for us yet.

I went ahead and planted the pre-soaked Sweet Pea seeds in two shallow furrows on either side of where the trellis will go . . . as soon as the ground thaws a bit more.  It will be very interesting to see if I'm a success or failure in getting the seeds in so early this year.  Hope I didn't waste the seeds.  Stay tuned for updates.


Now back to our work in the garden yesterday.  We succeeded in getting compost heaps rearranged for the season (well, almost . . . more on that in a bit here), and compost spread in all the raised beds.


I used my wonderful Mantis tiller to mix the compost in with the soil, then raked the beds smooth.


Papa Pea covered the Pumpkin Patch (soon to be planted in new strawberry plants arriving in a few weeks and renamed the Strawberry Patch) with compost and then started spreading it over the Field Garden.

But once again, that little imp Jack Frost had an impact on our efforts.  In both compost heaps we hit the frost line a ways down into the lovely, black stuff which means we'll have to wait for further thawing to finish.

I tilled around the borders of the Field Garden, Pumpkin Patch, and blueberry and raspberry patches to get a jump start on the sod that never gives up on its quest to grow into and take over the garden soil.

That rain that was predicted?  Yep, it started around 7 this morning and has continued all day.  Perfect for our newly applied compost so it can soak down into the soil.  Also, our forest fire danger has been high for a couple/few weeks so it's a comfort to have everything soaked down now.

Looks like this whole week ahead of us will be unfavorable for doing anything outside.  Dropping temperatures and wintry mix (yeah, more of that stuff) all week.  Good.  That means more time for me to lie on the couch, eat bon-bons and nap.  (Just what the heck is a "bon-bon" anyway?)

P.S.  Thanks again to my daughter for loaning me one of her beautiful photos as a new blog header picture.  Johnny-Jump-Ups (violas) are one of our very first flowers to bloom.  The ones shown here are not ones currently blooming, but we're hoping it won't be long before they do.

27 comments:

Mark said...

That's a nice looking row of garden beds, even if they are still frozen part way down. Peas were one of the things I'd hoped to get in this weekend. Didn't happen. Provided I get a post out today, I'll have pics of what did happen.

Mama Pea said...

Thanks, Mark! I'm sure you managed to fill up your weekend, peas or not!

Carolyn said...

I enviously gaze at your raised beds and dream of having soil like that one day.

Not so much envious of your frost line.

Sue said...

My gosh, you are early on planting peas! I won't be doing that for another 10 days. Your beds look fantastic! I'm still working on the cleanup, but hope to catch up soon. We're downstate for a couple days antiquing and grocery shopping and trying to get the kink out of my back from the last few days of outdoor work. Ugh. I don't think I'm 22 anymore!

Tami said...

No frost line here, just clay. Which is as hard as concrete. Love the viola's.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - We've been working on our garden soil here for close to 20 years . . . and it is good now. Took quite a few years from what they call "rotten rock" soil. I'm sure you can relate to that!

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Well, these weren't pea peas, as in shell peas, but the flower, Sweet Peas. Don't think I'd get by with planting edible peas here yet! I love Sweet Pea blossoms and maybe, just maybe, I'll get them earlier this year than I usually do.

Both hubby and I "felt" the muscles yesterday after our first day in the garden on Saturday, but nothing too serious. What do they say? Better to wear out than rust out? ;o]

Mama Pea said...

Tami - Ha! On our first piece of property up here in MN we had both clay AND the frost! Ugly combination, for sure!

Kristina said...

So I need to soak my sweet peas overnight? We are a few weeks from getting our planted, but hope to soon. Sounds like you had a very good day outside.

Lisa said...

First things first.... gorgeous new blog header! Great shot! I put compost on top of our garden beds and let it 'sit' for a bit and let the rain seep through it before turning it under and planting... and thought I was being a clever girl.... not realizing that's exactly what I should've been doing! Yes!!!!! Maybe there's hope for a green thumb yet!!! Hard to believe your ground is still frozen... that hard.

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Love....love....love your new header!!!!

Oh boy, the ground is still frozen in your raised beds.....it's going to be the end of April. I'm hoping your seeds do well, and you won't have to replant.
Our temperatures dropped to 41 last night. I'm hoping the tomato plants I just planted survived the night.

Bon Bon's are candy covered with delicious chocolate :-)

Susan said...

I am going to plant sweet peas. I keep forgetting and now I have no excuse. Isn't it wonderful to get outside, even though our muscles are screaming the next day?

Candy C. said...

Frost line?!? What the heck is THAT?!? ;)
Good job getting in some work on the garden while the weather was nice. I keep wanting to plant my summer squash and cucumbers seeds it has been so warm here but I'm trying to make myself wat another couple of weeks.

Laurie said...

Typically, tax day, give or take a couple of days is when we plant around here. My raised beds have been cleaned out, but I haven't planted anything yet. I have been busy with my daughter's wedding and then after that I got sick. Head cold and chest cold. I haven't felt this miserable in a long time. I can't wait to see your garden progress. Hope it thaws out soon for you. Oh, by the way, thank you for your sweet comment on my blog the other day. Have a great week.

Leah said...

Wow looks like fun! I love when you can finally get out to dig in the garden! Looks like it's getting greener by the day out there! My sugar peas are just sprouting so I hope you have good luck with them this early for you!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Just in case you're confused, or I'm confused(!), the Sweet Peas I'm talking about are the flowers, not edible peas. The flower seeds are extremely hard and will take much longer to break open and sprout if you don't give them a good soak before planting.

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - Would you believe our night time temps for this week are supposed to get down into the 20s? Yep. The ground is going to stay frozen for a while if that truly comes to pass! Thanks for the nice words about the new blog header. :o)

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - The violas are so, so colorful and pretty, aren't they?

Wow, down to 41 degrees for you last night. Poor tomaters must have been shivering!

Hmmm, and just how do you know so much about bon-bons? Hmmmm??? ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We rely heavily on the homeopathic remedy arnica for strained muscles. Works like a charm. Now go plant those Sweet Pea seeds!

Mama Pea said...

Candy - The frost line is how deep the frost penetrates down into the ground over a winter. In a cold year here, the frost can easily go down five feet. Yep, I said five feet down into the earth. To insure septic lines and drain fields don't freeze up over winter, we have to bury them five feet down. Aren't you glad you don't live in northern Minnie-soda?? :o]

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - When we lived back in Illinois, I had a friend who always had her shell peas planted by St. Patrick's Day . . . March 17th. We'd have to dig through a couple of feet of snow to do that here!

You have had an excellent excuse for not getting gardening work done yet! Hope your cold doesn't stay with you long.

Mama Pea said...

Leah - I don't dare plant any edible peas this early, but the peas I was talking about in this post are the flowers, Sweet Peas. They take a long time to germinate and are different than shell peas or sugar peas.

It must be exciting to see your sugar peas sprouting, green and growing!

Leah said...

Yeah it really is exciting to see them pop their heads out of the ground! But I love the flowers as well they are so pretty! It's crazy how much later you have to plant and you are only like 4 hours north of me!

Nancy po said...

Wow, I envy all that room....

Erin said...

Oh my, those darn sweet peas! It makes me crazy that I can't grow them in our heat and of COURSE I check in and you are doing just that! Well, trying at least! Hope your soil warms up soon.

Mama Pea said...

Nancy po - We even have more area we could use for garden (but how much can two people eat?!) and are thinking about putting in small patches of grain next year.

Mama Pea said...

Erin - Well, if you'd move back to Minnesota . . . ! ;o) If these early ones don't come up, I'll stick in another batch at my usual (late!) time.