Shopping trip & What’s Going On In The Garden

Today, Ken spread his seed all over the yard.  His grass seed.  He was explaining to me during our bike ride to the gardening store in Red Hook that he used a mixture of shade-loving grasses and Kentucky Blue Grass.  He’ll have to blog more about this himself – because grass isn’t really my thing.

Anyway, after he seeded the lawn, we went to Chelsea Garden Center (which is not in Chelsea, but in Red Hook.)  Specifically, I wanted to get some window boxes to hang on the bars that cover our windows.  As it turns out, the boxes hook nicely on to our fence, and now that I know this we need to get about 7 more.  The added space they’ll afford us will double the kinds of plants that we can have – so I’m excited to get a) more flowers to attract bees & butterflies and b) some smaller vegetables (cayenne peppers?).

We purchased two window boxes, 3 sizable pots (most likely for my kale, mustard greens, and cress – when the seeds come), one sage plant (because I read they attract bees, and we don’t have any sage in our pretty extensive herb collection), one shade marigold, five seed packets and 3 ferns.  The ferns are now planted behind our wine bottle garden edging in the back (depicted below).  They’ll love the shade and I hope that they fill in quickly and give the back part of our yard a distinctive woodland feel.

The sage is in one of the window boxes, and I have to decide what to put with it – maybe some more herbs?  Maybe some small peppers?  One entire window box is going to be devoted to the yellow & red strawberry seeds I already purchased.  And then we’ll go from there…

I’m excited about the seeds I bought.  They’re flowers; and this really goes back to my “roots” gardening in high school, when I pretty much just put flowers in random places around the yard and hoped they’d take off.  Now that we have a vegetable and herb garden, we will want to attract pollinators – so I appreciate the flowers for the very important purpose they serve.  I did some research and determined that good plants for attracting bees & butterflies are agastache, salvia, & lamb’s ear (obviously, among others); and good plants for repelling mosquitoes are marigold, citronella grass, and horsemint (among others.)  A lot of these plants weren’t available at the store, but I got a shade marigold plant, agastache seeds, and seeds for both French marigolds and African “Crackerjack” marigolds.  I also got a packet of gaura seeds (called “butterfly gaura”), which look pretty, delicate, and white and expressly say that they are hearty plants and attract bees and butterflies.  Lastly, I got a packet of Icelandic poppies.  I LOVE POPPIES and the variety I got appears mixed in color and ruffled in its petals (my preference is for the classic, clean red poppies – but, whatever).  I seeded the poppies just along the edge of our above ground planters Ken built, hoping they’ll add color and attract bees.  The planters are made with treated wood, so they should be okay in the rain.  They are also staked into the ground in the corners, so they should hold their shape.

We had planned on putting some of our seedlings in the beds today – but time got away from us, so we plan to tomorrow.  Here are our babies, sitting outside getting acclimated to the cooler air:

These are dill, basil, bok choy, mache verte, radish, spinach, hot peppers, peas, and three kinds of tomatoes.  I think all of these are going into the ground tomorrow (April 8), except for the tomatoes.  We have thyme growing inside, which isn’t ready yet, and some back-up plants. And our squash seeds seem to be failing indoors – so we’re going to put some of them directly into the ground.

Thyme:

Existing Plants:

While outside, I took stock of what’s been going on in the garden.  The wisteria is beginning to bloom (picture these interwoven throughout the already-blooming cherry blossoms – it’s really something to see):

Some of the rose bushes already have buds!

Our onions already look close(ish) to being ready to harvest!

The iris bulbs we planted (in the completely wrong season – they should have been done in the fall) look like they are going to come up:

We noticed the fig has some tiny figlets on it already, and we transplanted it in the hope that it will happily grow near the back of the yard and not become a fully established tree in the front where it makes no sense to have it.

We also transplanted one of our seven roses to a pot out front, to make room for the gooseberry bush I hope I’m able to grow.  I’m not sure it’s going to make it.  Some of its younger leaves look wilted after the transplanting.  We watered it and fed it compost and have our fingers crossed.

And our many mints, lavender, and rosemary are doing just fine.

The sunflower seeds I planted are sprouting – so excited!

And the chamomile and cilantro seeds I put into one of our window boxes two weeks ago have started sprouting as well.

FINALLY, I planted a shady flower mix around the back edge of our yard (which, last year, was a wasteland) and these seeds seem to have taken off!  I’m really looking forward to life & color back there this year.

To find out more about plants that repel mosquitoes, click here.

To find out more about plants that attract pollinators, click here (NYT) and here.

My friend’s Brussels Griffon, Max, helped me to blog this, as I was dogsitting him this weekend.  He has a blog and you can view it here.  🙂

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3 Griffons in the Garden

Today was a nice preview to tomorrow.  Ken got home early and set to work separating the worms out of our viable compost – so that we can add compost to our raised beds tomorrow when we transplant some of our seedlings.

I did some planting, some documenting, and some moving around of things.

And Wembley, Fergus, and Max (the puppy we are dogsitting), kicked up a whole lot of dust doing this:

Fergus, Champion of Grasses

I should slightly amend what I wrote in the previous post, below.  It was Wembley, the older of our two Brussels Griffons, who was more than happy to chip in to help trim the lawn.  Fergus, on the other hand, decided that that the grasses are his friends, and he did everything he could to stop us from cutting them (and ostensibly their lives) short.  He went so far as to throw his body in front of the evil pushmower.  Even though he’s neutered, dude still has balls.

By the way, here are some helpful pictures some kind Brussels Griffon lover put together to help illustrate the resemblance between the breed and ewoks.  (In case you aren’t familiar with Brussels Griffons… or ewoks (though if you don’t know what ewoks are, you have bigger problems.))

Grass

This year, Ken’s plan is to grow up some new grass.   Ideally, it will be soft, green, and evenly spread across the yard.  Last year, the lawn wasn’t quite such a dirt-pit, but we definitely didn’t have grass qua grass.  We had something that I’d call weed-grass, and it was thick and tufted, hard to mow, and sort of ugly.  And extremely hard to pull out of the ground.  One tip I’ve learned in my short time as an amateur gardener:  if it’s small and has roots THAT strong, it can’t be good.

The new grass project has been tricky so far.  We put some seed down late fall of last year just to see what would happen.  It kind of grew – but mostly it was very patchy and then it got cold.  This year, we’ve already tilled the yard so that the ground is ready for a bunch of new grass seed, and now we’re just waiting until it’s warm enough.  It’s April 1 and, though we’ve had weather in the 70s, it’s kind of settled around the 40s/50s this past week.  We are thinking we’ll put the grass seed down next week and see what’s what.

The trick will be to keep the dogs off it so they don’t a) dig massive holes where we want the new grass to grow, b) eat the grass seed, c) eat the baby grass, d) generally undermine us.

We have good reason to worry.  The dogs didn’t like last year’s grass either – so much so that they tried to do their part to keep the lawn at bay, by grazing across it like cows.  This is cute.  But grazing dogs = vomiting dogs.   FYI.

Wembley helping us keep the lawn closely-cropped: