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Got wood shavings spread over entire blueberry patch.
Got the Sweet Peas planted.
Made the decision to plant all the potatoes in the pumpkin patch this year.
Started more seedlings inside.
Planted out two raised beds.
Did some tilling around the field garden and pumpkin patch to knock back sod that was trying to creep in.
* * * * * *
Raised Bed #3 has been planted out to our first crop of lettuce with a few rows of Swiss chard and spinach interspersed. Come on, salad greens, we're hungry for a good home grown tossed salad!
Raised Bed #6 has been planted out with alternating rows of scallions, radishes and kohlrabi.
* * * * * *
I haven't even covered the raised beds with cold frames since it's stopped freezing at night (at least for the time being), no sprouts are up yet to be damaged (obviously), and I wanted the forecasted rain on the seeds in the newly planted beds.
* * * * * *
All we've gotten in the way of moisture was a little over night (the deck was wet first thing this morning) and then about 10 minutes of light rain before noon.
The day felt very cold, gray and damp and the sun did not choose to shine on northern Minnesota at all today. But our temp now at nearly 9:30 is still 40 degrees and I have windows and doors open because some dummy (that would be me) over-fired the wood stove after dinner and it's HOT in here. I find it's difficult to heat with wood in the "shoulder seasons" as the house either feels a titch on the chilly side or you stoke the fire for 20 below . . . as I apparently did tonight.
Come gardening season, my hubby's second floor office window is truly a room with a view. I never tire of going up there to chronicle the stages of garden growth from this time of year all the way through the harvest. (I do realize this may be boring as heck to you all, but it's a visual record for me during each glorious gardening season. A gardening season which I missed so much last year while spending the summer with hands covered with minor carpentry injuries, polyurethane, paint and various adhesives rather than ground in garden dirt.)
Yesterday Papa Pea cultivated the field garden and pumpkin patch.
This successfully annihilated the robust little weeds of various varieties that were starting their assault in an attempt to take over the gardens.
We also plowed up an extension to the blueberry patch where we planted our three new little haskap bushes. This area needs to sit for a couple of days now so the roots of the sod turned over start to die. Then we'll till it up a couple more times before adding compost and a mulch covering for this year's growing season. We haven't made a decision what we'll plant there in the future (more haskaps?), but it gets rid of a little more lawn area that we won't have to mow this year.
I finished prepping the strawberry patch yesterday and feel good about that. Now the half-dormant plants need a good soaking rain and some warm sunshine and they will take off.
I still need to get the blueberry patch mulched with wood shavings. With luck, that will happen today. Starting tomorrow, our whole week looks to be filled with rain so today may be my last chance to play outside all day.
The Sweet Peas haven't gone in yet. I'm about two weeks later than usual for getting them planted, so I'd like to get that done today also. (I'm planting those you sent me, Erin, so get ready for more pictures of Sweet Peas than you may want to see.)
Now the field garden is ready for shelling peas and potatoes which I'll plant as soon as I can. I haven't figured out this year's layout for the field garden yet so I'd better sit down with pencil, paper and my thinking cap soon. I rotate everything planted there each year and am contemplating putting the potatoes, for the first time, in the area designated as the pumpkin patch. I just have to do the math to make sure the 100' of potatoes we need will fit in that area. Then the squash and pumpkins will be planted in a corner of the field garden for this season.
See that white stuff on the grass above? Yep, that's frost this morning. We had a low temp of the mid 20s overnight. A couple more weeks and hopefully we'll be done with Jack Frost's antics. For a few months anyway.
Got some more seedlings started under lights two nights ago. The peppers and tomatoes I started around the middle of the month are over an inch high. What a miracle to watch . . . those fragile, little sprouts coming from seeds so small I lose them under my fingernail when trying to plant them.
I sure don't take very good care of my house during these months of spending so much time outside. I promised myself I'd do a cursory cleaning this morning before heading out to play in the dirt so I'd better get on that pronto.
Oh, my! This week has been so perfect for working outside. And that's what I've been doing . . . which means no progress is being made on the living room remodeling. That ol' brick wall sits giving me the evil eye as I pass through. Nary a single brick has been added since Monday.
I can't convince myself to work inside, however, because I want to get as much done outside as I can before we enter another spell of rainy days or the dreaded black flies appear.
Day before yesterday, I completely finished up all that needed to be done in the raspberries AND hand weeded the entire blueberry patch. Actually, there weren't many weeds up yet at all so me and my little hand trowel zipped right through that task. (Okay, it took a couple of hours but compared to other years starting out in the spring, it was easy.)
We had saved a small garden cart trailer full of sawdust/shavings from our wood cutting last fall and I used that to start mulching the blueberries. Unfortunately, they didn't go far at all, so I've got to finish when we come up with more shavings . . . and BEFORE the weeds start to grow again.
Yesterday I took my little tape player and an audio book out to the strawberry patch and (I can hardly believe this) completely finished cleaning up and weeding the whole patch. This job usually takes me two days each spring but I completed it, start to finish, yesterday. I was vewy proud of myself. I was also vewy tired. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. That was all I could manage.
Now the strawberries need new sawdust/shavings (where does that stuff disappear to??) placed around each plant and the pathways mulched with straw. We can get bags of wood shavings from a local lumber mill, but I wasn't able to connect with the person in charge yesterday via phone. Maybe I'll give that another try today so I can finish up both the blueberries and strawberries. It would feel really good to cross both those tasks off the list.
I just put a new post up on my quilting blog. I want to try to keep up with that all summer and, who knows, once we get the living room remodeling done, maybe I can get into my quilt room once in a while to balance out all of the summer time outside work going on around here. I sure hope so!
We've all had 'em. The days we have planned out perfectly . . . but then we end up doing something entirely different.
I was going to get up early yesterday morning, do a couple of hours of desk/computer work, make a quick run into town for some needed supplies and be well into my brick work for the day by 10 a.m.
I should never had taken that early morning walk down to the raspberries to see if their leaves were starting to bud out yet. We've been wanting to get a jump start on the spring pruning of our 42' of raspberries but the ground has been too wet for a couple of weeks now.
Lo and behold, what I saw on my walkabout in the morning was perfect conditions in the raspberry patch. Plus, it was a beautiful day to be outside. Temp in the high 60s/low70s early on, lots of sunshine and a blue sky filled with cumulus clouds.
As much as I want to get the walls behind the wood stove in the living room done, I also know I can do that on a cold or rainy day. So after a quick conference with my better half, we decided to do the raspberry pruning.
Here's a "before" shot of one row.
Same row after pruning. Quite a difference, huh?
I was having such a great time out there and feeling so very good about getting at the raspberry patch BEFORE the weeds took over, I decided to tackle the few weeds that had already made themselves known in the actual plant rows and then the ones around the perimeter and between the three 14' long rows of canes we had pruned.
That took me right up until 4:30 and time to come inside (to save my lower back for another day) and rustle up something for dinner. (Nothing like physical work outside all day to give you a healthy appetite, is there?)
Now all that needs to be done in the raspberries is to spread compost around the plants, till around the perimeter and between rows, and mulch everything with the straw mulch we took off the strawberry patch yesterday morning. Oh, that's right! we uncovered the strawberries before we started work pruning the raspberries.
So as much as I'm eager to work on getting the rest of the Z-Brick installed in the living room, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be spending any decent weather days for the rest of this week working outside. For one thing, it is so invigorating to be working in the fresh air again, especially without any of our biting bugs yet being present (!), and I'm a person who feels boatloads better when I know I'm AHEAD of getting jobs done rather than being behind. It's so much easier for me both emotionally and physically to get a jump start on all the outside garden work that needs to be done this spring before feeling like it's "gotten away from me."
This week is shaping up to be busier than usual time so I may fall behind on finding time to read all of your blogs and make comments as I'd like to do. As much as I want to do everything, I know at certain times it's just not possible. But it's going to be a good, good remainder of the week and lots will be accomplished around this here old homestead!
While I was out and away this morning, Papa Pea and B got the rest of the backing up on the walls behind where the wood stove will be in the living room.
I got home about 12:30, changed into working duds and slurped a bowl of soup as the other "workers" had already eaten. (They said they were famished after such a hard morning's work.
Then I pulled up a stool and watched closely as B started to apply the Z-Brick (fake brick material) finish to the walls. I asked a million questions and tried to pick up all the tricks of the trade from her because she's going to be out of town for the rest of the week and it will be my job to finish putting up the Z-Brick.
Before she left, I was sure to ask her if she would accept emergency phone calls from me if I got in a real bind. She assured me I'd have no trouble . . . and then said I could call her any time.
I sure hope I learned enough today so I don't make a mess of it without my teacher here to hold my hand. Or trowel.
I had just barely gotten started on my weeding of the raised beds yesterday when hubby announced it would be a good time to prune the fruit trees. True, it is a good time since the buds are just starting to show and it's still super-easy to see each and every little branch that needs to be nipped off or cut back.
We usually do this job together because 1) it goes faster that way, 2) we can chat and talk over things while doing the job, and 3) he's tall and I'm short.
We attack each tree by working around the circumference of it, me taking care of the lower branches and he doing the higher ones. However, we've discovered this year that our semi-dwarf trees have now become so tall that even using the three foot long nippers, he still can't reach the topmost branches that need to be pruned. We ended up dragging out the old, sturdy, two-step stool from the garage and that got him up high enough.
Here's Papa Pea (and granddog Maisy seeing what she can do to help) next to one of our smaller trees after we finished pruning it.
We piled the trimmed branches in the garden cart and hauled them to the burn pile. A couple of times.
I came to the conclusion today (and not for the first time) that I would much rather raise and sell vegetables than own and maintain a fruit orchard and sell that produce. (Maybe it's because I'm short and vegetables are more my size; fruit trees are much bigger than I am and require too much stretching, reaching and working with hands above your head. Ugh.)
When he was in high school, hubby worked after school, weekends and summers for his biology teacher who owned an apple orchard. I asked him if they pruned all of the hundred-and-some trees by hand. He looked at me as if that was the dumb question of the century and said, "Of course. Do you think we rode on a machine that pruned the trees for us?"
He remembers they always pruned the orchard in March (this was in Illinois) and it took him and one other guy weeks of working every night after school and weekends to complete the task. The brush pile they created with the pruned branches was huge . . . about 6-8 feet high, 40 feet long by about 20 feet wide. They let it sit all summer and then burned it in the fall as soon as a few inches of snow covered the ground.
I remember getting apples and fresh pressed cider from that same orchard for a few years after we were first married, and the apples were delicious and products made from them first class.
But I still don't like pruning fruit trees and would never contemplate having an orchard of that size.
We didn't finish all of our trees yesterday. But today's another day and we hope to wrap up the project by this afternoon.
Now then, when am I gonna get my raised beds weeded?
After our unbelievably warm temperatures on and off in the months of February and March, we've fallen back into a slightly cooler than usual month of April.
We've also been getting frequent rains which are much appreciated for our area that has had extremely dry conditions because of lack of snow this winter.
But blast and dang, the cool, wet weather has put the kibosh on getting anything started out in the garden under cold frames because the ground hasn't dried out enough. Plus, it's so cold any little seed plunged into the cold, damp earth would probably just curl its toes up and rot.
However, the grass is growing like crazy. Papa Pea weed whipped the high grass that had grown up around all the raised beds yesterday.
I'd like him to do the same around the pumpkin patch and field garden, too, as soon as he has a chance. Although you can't see it from the above picture shot down one side of the field garden, the grass (in reality, mostly quack grass, a weed that thrives here) steadily encroaching on the plowed soil is about 6" higher than the grass in (what we jokingly refer to as) the lawn. Why is the grass right at the edge of the tilled up area so much more vigorous? Probably because of the compost and other organic additives put into the garden proper. The grass smells this enriched soil and makes a beeline for it. This is what I want hubby to take down with the weed whip and then I'll till the boundaries of the field garden and pumpkin patch as my first attempt of the season to keep the quack grass from creeping into and taking over my planting area.
I'm planning on getting outside today to take out the few weeds that have grown up in the raised beds. (I just came back in after taking the photos for this post and I want to report it is COLD out there! Forty-four degrees on the thermometer and the sun we had earlier has gone AWOL.)
Although I do a good job of keeping on top of the weeds in the raised beds, the biggest (and constant) problem is this quack grass that comes from the paths between the raised beds, sneaks up under the wood framing and pops up (surprise!) within the bed itself.
This stuff has roots that go on forever (parallel to the surface but deep down) and if you leave even a portion of root in the soil, the plant springs back to life seemingly stronger than ever.
What we need to do is replace the paths between all 27 beds, including the rectangular perimeter around them, with something other than grass. We're kicking around several methods/materials, but whatever we settle on, it will be one big, extensive job and most likely won't get totally finished in one season.
Just another little task to add to the To Do list, but one that will be well worth it once it's done. In the meantime, I need to get out there and do what damage I can to the quack grass this weekend because it looks like it will continue to be wet and cool through at least Wednesday of this coming week. Perfect weather for (quack) grass growing!
Okay, so that's a little (lot) over-dramatic for what I did yesterday.
I started the first of my seeds inside. Just my cherry tomatoes and four varieties of peppers, but it is the official start to the 2012 gardening season up here near the tundra.
A week or so ago panic almost took over when I was trying to figure out where to set up the lights and put my started seeds this year. In the past I've always done it in front of the large south-facing windows in the room that is in the process of finally becoming our living room. We would set up a large table, cover it with tarps, hang lights on chains from the unfinished rafters above and I had a good space for my seedlings to grow in. Obviously, this year that is no longer an option.
Papa Pea and I walked through the house for quite a while trying to find a (warm) spot that could be used as my seed starting area this year.
We narrowed our choice down to the heated part of the garage and my dear hubby graciously offered to clear off a small work bench top and let me use that for the next month and a half.
He built a wood frame to hold the lights over the seedlings so now I am officially in business. (Hopefully, more impressive photos will come in the near future!)
It's inevitable that I will run out of room once all the seedlings are started and grow big enough to need repotting in larger containers. The space I've had to work with in the past was probably at least three times as big as the top of this work bench . . . and it was totally full before the plants could be set outside in the garden.
But we'll come up with something by the time I need that much more space. For now I'm just pickled tink to finally be starting some seeds.
Oh, my. Below are pictures of a comfy, cozy living room where we spend our hours of relaxation. Not.
We pulled the stove out of its (temporarily hooked up) corner so we could work on getting the Z-Brick fireproof material on the two walls behind it. (This will be a definite improvement over the visual image created by the sheets of Durock cement board that have been leaning against the walls there.) Fastened to the fireproof material on the walls, we are attaching another layer of safety material held out an inch or so by ceramic insulators to provide air space between the two layers of fireproof material. This will insure the safest installation for our wood stove, and it's the same method we used for the installation of our other wood stove sixteen years ago in what is now the kitchen area.
Only problem (oops) is we underestimated the number of insulators required for the floor-to-ceiling covering of these two walls and are now waiting for another order of them to be shipped from a small company in Indiana. Seems the only insulators readily available anymore are now made of plastic, and that wouldn't do for our use.
So our living room remains in a state of limbo for the time being.
We could plop on the couch during down time, but the plastic sheeting is so cold and crinkly. Okay, we could easily pull that off. But we would be staring ahead at . . .
. . . this arrangement. I sorta like it, don't you? It appears as if the stove and recliner are having a private tete-a-tete. Most likely making fun of my room arrangement skills.
When one is in the middle of extensive remodeling, it seems your living space will never be "normal" again. My quilt room and the pantry are both nearly unusable because of furniture and building supplies stored there. When we're working in the living room, the recliner and another chair have to be smooshed into the kitchen.
But it's still not as bad as having the kitchen torn apart. So I'll quit my bellyachin' and concentrate on how great the living room will be when it's finished. Someday. Maybe. Dependent on whether or not the order of additional ceramic insulators arrive.
We had a high temp of 53 degrees today (it's down to 49 now at 2:30) but the forecast is for rain this afternoon (well, they got that right as it is, indeed, raining), then high winds with rapidly falling temperatures and snow tonight continuing over into tomorrow morning. Will it be just a dusting of snow? If the weathermen can be believed, it will be 2-7" of wet, heavy stuff. Oh, darn.
So what do we do around here on a rainy Sunday besides filling the wood box and pulling the snow shovels back out of storage?
Why, Papa Pea goes out to wash vehicles, of course. I'm not sure I understand his reasoning or rationale, but they are filthy so I'm letting him have his fun.
I'm doing something that strikes me as much more enjoyable --- spending quality time with one of my new spring table runners using a thimble, needle, scissors and a big ol' spool of quilting thread. This is the second of the three runners that I'm doing the quilting on. Gosh, with luck (and more bad weather) I might stand a chance of having them done and usable yet this spring.
If you could see how much I've been yawning since sitting down here at the computer, you might suggest I take a nap this rainy afternoon. That might not be as much fun as quilting but . . . hmmmm.
I'll let you know tomorrow if we're snowed in. Admittedly I'm not as smart as the weather forecasters (ahem) but I have a feeling we're going to get all rain and nary a flakelette of snow. Will I have to eat (or shovel) these words? Time will tell.
With B's help, we got the 4 x 8' sheets of bead board up on the living room ceiling today. It was a horrendous job (as any job working over your head tends to be), but it went well.
This is the only corner left to do and the piece is already cut so it can be glued and nailed up first thing tomorrow.
Here you can see the two "dead men" we built to help hold up the sheets while we nailed them. Actually, we got into a discussion as to why these helpers should be called "dead MEN." Why not "dead women?" Women can do just as good a job as men, right? (Poor Papa Pea is always out-numbered when B comes in to help.) This lively discussion continued when I left to go get a sample to show B of the flooring and tile for under the wood stove we had brought home from our supply trip on Tuesday. Don't ask me how it happened (B and hubby may well have been sniffing too much of the glue), but when I returned the two "dead women" had been officially christened Geraldine and Meredith in memory of two of Papa Pea's old girlfriends.
Being in charge of moving the "dead women" around, handing B or Papa Pea the nail gun, moving big pieces of furniture we had to leave in the room, and generally being the gofer, I didn't work as hard as anyone else. Here I am adjusting Geraldine . . . or maybe it's Meredith. I never did figure out which one was which.
B and hubby used the nail gun to secure the panels which was not easy. Nor was wrestling the 4 x 8' sheets into place after one side was heavily smeared with glue.
Tomorrow if the construction gods smile upon us, we'll finish the bead board, disconnect the wood stove and install the square of fiber cement (fireproof) board around the stove pipe, attach the grid work to cover the joints of the bead board and get the trim on the walls around the ceiling. Or maybe not. But we'll give it our best no matter what.
Erin over at Garden Now - Think Later titled her lastest post "Getting My Act Together." Ah, if only I could. Sigh.
I know I was on my feet and moving the majority of the day today but as hubby and I placed our posteriors on our chairs for dinner tonight I mused, "What the heck did I get done today?"
I know I wanted (really badly) to get into my quilt room for a little while but never made it. Also, I promised myself I'd get the Easter decorations down and put away. (And get my blog header photo changed. Ahem.)
How'm I doin'?
Not so good, huh?
Oh well. Tomorrow's another day. But tomorrow carpenter lady B joins us to help in getting the bead board installed on the living room ceiling. Wish us luck. Another fun filled day working with our arms over our heads. Don't know about you, but it's one of my favorite ways to inflict pain upon my body.
I do have a little something new to share on the quilting front. When I put my Easter decorations out (gosh, seems that was just yesterday) I realized I didn't have any nice spring-type quilted runners to put on the three surfaces that need them. So I pulled some yellow and green fabrics from my stash and got a good start on some new ones. If you wish, hope over (Hop? Easter runners? Easter Bunny? Sorry, pun totally unintended.) to my quilting blog for pictures.
The first part of today looked so sunny and lovely that I couldn't help myself. I had to get outside to do some yard work. Of course, as soon as I got out there, a nippy wind picked up and it started to . . . okay, you get three guesses . . . yup, it started to snow. No, it wasn't anything resembling a blizzard. Just lots of ditzy little snowflakes coming down and blowing this way and that.
All I accomplished was to rake the debris from the flower beds around the front deck and cart it away. Next will be to prune the Nine Bark hedge that is right up against the deck and then get down on my hands and knees to do a little more detailed cleaning and take out a few green weeds that are already popping up.
I quit for today because I was getting frozen around the exposed edges, but sweaty inside the hooded sweatshirt and down jacket I needed because of the wind.
So that you can have a good laugh at how far behind you we are way up north here, I'm including a few pictures.
A Bleeding Heart bush.
And a clump of day lilies (which will be divided this year).
Cooool temps forecast for us for the rest of the week. Lows at night of 27, 27, 30, 33 and 38 through Friday. Highs? Forty, 43, 42, 45, and 47. But if we get sunshine (and forget that wind, please), I'll be back out there doing what I can.
For some reason, the Easter holiday kind of snuck up on me this year. I think it had something to do with our early spring weather being warm way too soon, then back to more normal temps and then more days of more warmth than we usually see for another 6 to 8 weeks. So what does that have to do with feeling like Easter came too soon? Probably not a thing, except I feel all out of kilter this spring.
At any rate, I got myself in gear today and made some sugar cookies in the shape of eggs and decorated them.
They'll be slipped into Easter baskets and a few will be given away. As you know, I'm not a detailed, fussy cookie decorator whether it be for Christmas or Easter or any other holiday. I like to claim my style is "rustic." Oh well, they are colorful at least.
Since my egg-shaped cookie cutter is over 4" in length, I didn't get very many cookies out of the single batch of dough. Maybe I need to seek out a smaller cutter? Nah, then the smaller "eggs" would only be harder to decorate.
Our Easter Sunday may include a visit with friends in the morning and then our daughter will join us here at home in the afternoon. Whatever your plans may be, I hope you have a very pleasant day.
The reason for the insulation in the living room ceiling is for a first layer of sound-proofing material. Papa Pea's office is directly above the living room where our TV will be. Not a lot of TV watching will be done there but an occasional movie may be viewed by yours truly. The two people in this household don't very often agree on a movie to watch together (ahem) so most likely if I were to snuggle in on the living room couch and watch a movie of my choice, my better half might well be up above in his office. And since he's sensitive to sound (my, what big ears you have) we wanted to take what precautions we could to keep sounds in the living room from traveling up through the ceiling to his sanctuary. I mean office.
Today we installed the sound board on the ceiling.
We had (foolishly?) thought we would get a good start on the beadboard, too, which goes on top of the sound board as the finishing material, but we had visitors drop in mid-afternoon and we ran out of time.
What with Easter Weekend coming up and some other things that need to be done the first of the coming week, it looks like we won't get back to finishing the ceiling until the later part of next week. That's okay. We'll find something else to do to keep ourselves out of trouble.
Tonight after dinner we're going to do a little clean up work and put the living room back together (take the furniture out of my quilting room and the kitchen) so we'll have a comfortable spot to plop our backsides in the coming several days. It won't take long and will be worth having somewhere to sit besides the kitchen table.