Growing Things

This weekend, I drug Aaron out with me to purchase some planting supplies — most notably, a seed starting kit. I’d purchased several packets of seeds last year, and decided that this is the year I start my own plants from seed.

I ended up starting five plants each of hollyhocks, lemon basil, sweet basil, parsley, and catnip. Well, each peat pellet pot has two or three seeds in it, but they’ll be thinned to one per pot, so we’ll just say it’s five plants apiece.

I’ve never done this before, so I had no idea how peat pellets worked. It is SO COOL. They start out as little flat discs. You water them with warm water, and poof! They become little miniature biodegradable pots! How cool is that?

And what’s cooler? My hollyhocks and my basil are already starting to germinate, after only two days. There are little, pale green stems curling up out of the soil. I opened up the lid of my mini-greenhouse, and it smells like those bean sprouts we planted in first grade. *squee*

So, what’s my diabolical plan? Well, I’m planning to plant the hollyhocks close to the fence that borders the neighbors. This will hopefully act as a bit of a privacy screen, as I understand that hollyhocks can grow pretty tall. Beside the hollyhocks, farther away from the fence, I’m hoping to plant one or two of the potted Rose of Sharon bushes/twigs I’ve been trying not to kill for the past two years. I’m hoping to manage this in a way that doesn’t complicate Aaron’s lawn-mowing mojo.

In the NE corner of the backyard, I’m planning to plant a little herb garden, with my basil and catnip and parsley and maybe some store-bought plants. There’s a decent little patch of sunshine by the fence and the gate, so hopefully I can nestle a little corner of herbalicious goodness there — and, again, not complicate Aaron’s lawn-mowing mojo. I’m hoping that my strategy will reduce the amount of edging for me to neglect.

As much as I’m tempted to go buy myself a nice climbing rose, I know I should hold off. I’ve already just about killed one rosebush from neglect; I don’t need to continue my murderous rampage of flora until I can take care of what I’ve already planted. Plus, goodness knows how much I’ll be able to take care of any of this once we pop out a kid. I can’t help but assume that infant care and gardening are not particularly compatible.

But that’s not for some time yet. For now, I’ll be content in watching my baby plants germinate and make condensation inside their little greenhouse.


I wonder what will come back.

I planted some perennials last year. Some did well. Others failed miserably. I’m eagerly awaiting the return of any plants that survived the winter.

See, I’m a very beginning gardener. I also have the unfortunate habit of getting disinterested in various hobbies at various times, which is not good for living things. My houseplants are a prime example; I tend to forget to water them during the winter, and a few plants that I had intended to transplant outside have died during their dormant season as a result of my neglect.

I also am unsure about simple things, like when to mulch and when not to mulch, or how to prepare a flower bed and with what, and so on. Some of these things I can learn online or in books — still, though, it seems like so much to remember! This isn’t intuitive to me as it is to some.

Anyway, let me give a rundown of what may or may not return for the Spring of 2006…

Spring Daffodils

The two bunches of daffodils I had ordered from the American Cancer Society for Daffodil Days arrived this morning, delivered to my desk at work. I wasn’t sure if they were going to arrive in pots or cut — turns out they were cut flowers, which was a slight disappointment. (The ones from the University were potted bulbs, as I recall.) This morning, they were completely closed buds; by lunch, half of them had started to open, and by the time I left work today, all but a few were starting to open.

That made me wonder how the mini daffodils I planted last year are faring. Once I got home, and after Aaron left for work, I went outside to take a peek — and they’re growing! I had planted them in six or seven clumps, and it looks like all but one clump have a good inch of leafy growth popping up. Yaye!

I feel all springy and excited now. I have the windows open, even though it’s cooling down outside, and I’m pumped to do my new Push workout that arrived today. Yeah!

Too bad it’s going to be 30’s and flurries for the next week. 😛

My Backyard

Welcome to our backyard.

I feel, as I felt over a year ago when we first bought this house, that the backyard is a blank canvas, waiting for flowers and plants and general prettiness. Note the current lack thereof.

Gardening Update

Well, it’s been over a month since I planted my first batch of garden goodness from Michigan Bulb. I wouldn’t have bought any more this year, but Scott ended up getting the Fall catalog in the mail, replete (resplendent?) in its fantastic coupon-bearing glory.

So, before the new arrivals arrive, I thought this would be a good time to recap on this season’s gardening progress. Read on for photos and descriptions of my cute baby plants and not-so-cute weed gardens.

Gardening Update

Today, when my co-worker Scott came back from lunch, he brought with him my Moonbeam Coreopsis plants which had arrived from Michigan Bulb today. I had been hoping to plant those today, but the rain had other plans.

Yesterday afternoon, it occured to me that I hadn’t planted the bare-root Lilies of the Valley and Delphiniums that I’d picked up from Scott’s house the week before. When I went to check them out, to see how they were faring in their little plastic bags, I discovered the Lilies of the Valley growing absolutely apeshit *inside* the sealed bag. It’s like going under the kitchen counter to that sack of potatoes you forgot about, and discovering a freaking garden growing in your kitchen: kind of fascinating, but kind of weird and gross. Except these were *supposed* to be growing, so it wasn’t as gross as it was weird.

Anyway, after I put the laundry in the dryer last night, I went outside and prepared the dirt in front of the house—basically, I turned over the soil and removed the skeletal remains of last year’s gardening debacle—and planted my six Lilies of the Valley.

So, going back a little further: last Friday, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I took a look at the baby plants I’d just gotten the day before. And, to my dismay (but not my surprise, exactly), I found that the cat had knocked my Morning Glories onto the floor. They looked pretty sad. Wilty. Of course, I was running late to work, so all I could do was beat the cat and scoop as much soil as I could back into the pot around the limp leaves. I emailed Aaron once I got to work, and he was a sport and vacuumed up the soil.

Over the weekend, I put all my baby plants outside in the sunshine, still in their happy little plastic containers, and watered them. The healthy plants became even healthier. One Morning Glory perked right back up, but the other one is pretty much dead now. Ah, well. I guess that’s why I got two.

So, next on the agenda:

  1. Install decorative white wire fence border from Big Lots around the Lilies of the Valley.
  2. Pack topsoil around mailbox, since some nice person decided to hit it with their car and knock it loose while we weren’t home.
  3. Plant Delphiniums, Coreopsis, and Lavender around mailbox.
  4. Plant the Morning Glory underneath the little tree by the street.
  5. Plant Sheryl’s miniature daffodil bulbs under the small maple tree in the front yard.
  6. Figure out where to plant Snapdragons and Calamint.

If all this stuff lives to see another spring, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Free Plants Rock.

This morning at work, I was getting my water bottle out of the break room freezer when I saw a table full of plants. Full. Of little baby plants. I wandered over to where half a dozen people were gathered around, and discovered that a woman from another department was giving away extra runners and sprouts from her garden. She had everything labeled, some with care instructions, and they all looked healthy, if a touch small.

I ended up with four pairs of plants: Snapdragons, Lavender, Morning Glory (Heavenly Blue), and Calamint. I looked them all up in the plant encyclopedia that Aaron got me, so I’ll know how not to kill them. Add those to the miniature daffodils that Sheryl got me for my birthday, and the plants I bought from Michigan Bulb with Scott ($20 off a $40 order, so we each got $20 of plants for $10—I got Lilies of the Valley, Delphiniums, and Coreopsis), and I’ve got a pretty decent showing of flowery goodness.

My plan is to plant the daffodils and the full-sun-to-partial-shade plants under the small tree in our front yard. The must-have-full-sun plants will go around the mailbox. The shady front of the house is reserved for the Lilies of the Valley, which will apparently grow most anywhere, in varying degrees of sunlight and surviving varying degrees of watering neglect. Now that’s my kind of plant.

I don’t have a good track record with outdoor plants, so I’ll keep you posted on how they do. Once I get them planted (hopefully this weekend), maybe I’ll take some pictures… although they won’t be much to look at yet.

Maybe I won’t kill all my plants this year. Maybe things will bloom and grow and things will be keen.

*crosses fingers*

P.S. – The rose I thought I’d killed by not covering it over the winter seems to be springing back. I wonder if it’ll bloom this year.

Gardening, Take Two

When we moved into our house over six months ago, I had grand dreams of outdoor gardens and flowering nooks and crannies everywhere. I fantasized about a back garden that would make all who saw it envious of my mad gardening skillz. Back in early May, when I first began this undertaking, I had said:

I have planned: lavender, hydrangea, coral roses, yellow roses, ground cover in front of said roses, a rose of sharon, forsythia, catmint, more lavender, and butterfly bush. In front there, on the curve where there’s still a bit of dirt with no plants, that’s where the herbs go. Three varieties of basil, parsley, catnip, creeping thyme, coriander/cilantro, and whatever else tickles my fancy.

Alas, the only plants still thriving from my $100 Gardenland shopping spree (which did not include all of the above) are an out-of-control basil plant that’s nearly knee-high, three double impatiens, and my rosebush. The lavender’s trying to die on me, the cilantro and sage are long gone, as are the dwarf hydrangeas, and the pearlwort has shriveled into little brown flowerless carpets. No, this is not the onset of Autumn—this is my utter neglect and my poor landscape planning.

I feel like our back yard is some bizarre cross between a blank canvas and a complex logic problem. Now that I know where things grow and where they don’t, I have a better idea of what could go where. Instead of planting a giant flower garden by the house, under the heavy shade of the maple tree, perhaps some packed gravel and a picnic table would go better. Maybe some small flowering ground cover would go well by the back door, where that almost-back-step courtesy slab sits. You know, the I-don’t-have-a-back-porch square of concrete? Next to that thing, on either side. And perhaps a good place for a flower garden would be in the corner where we just planted grass—but just around the corner there, in a little curve, instead of a giant block of flowery insanity.

As for the front, under the overhang of our tri-level house, God only knows what will finally live there. Something that can stand drought and shade (since I frequently forget to water my outdoor plants). The impatiens did fairly well; but they’re only annuals, and I have a problem with buying the same damn plants every year.

First, though, maybe we ought to think about de-thatching and fertilizing and weeding and overseeding our lawn. It needs some serious work. Then we can build from there.

This Evening

This evening, at the behest of Sheryl, I went for a walk around the ‘hood. Not a particularly brisk walk—probably 2? mph or so—but I made sure to flex my toes and get my marching muscles going. Stayed out walking for half an hour, and upon my return home, didn’t want to go back inside yet (as usual). So, I weeded and watered my front flowerbed. Then I watered the back (with my watering can, as we only have one hose, and it’s currently attached to the spigot out front).

Upon noting the sorry state of my outdoor plants, I have decided that I need to take walks more often, for the sake of my poor plants.

And now for something completely different: I have coughed my throat raw today. Ow.

And finally: wonder why I think popular music today sucks? Turn up the speakers and widen the stereo spread for a little experiment.

Garden Ho…?

Well, we’ve finally started planting. I’ve documented the weekend’s progress in the Gardening section of the.details, along with more pics. As I spent $40+ on plants, Aaron spent $50, and we both spent our weekend afternoons on the project(s), it would be keen if you’d check it out.

I’ll give you more updates on the garden as I get more stuff in it… or as stuff either blooms or dies. 🙂