Sunday, May 5, 2019

Spring garden work

With the quickening of spring comes quickening in the garden. Now the race is on -- not necessarily to get things planted (since we always risk a late frost) but to get the beds prepped for planting.

I was late in trimming the raspberry canes.

Usually I try to trim the canes before the plants leaf, but a few of the leaves had already budded out. Oh well, it's not too late.

Tools of the trade.

Things always look better when they're trimmed. I even made sure to gather the dead canes and chuck 'em in the burn pile this year (I have a bad habit of just leaving the canes underfoot).

Next step, the potato and pea beds. These are vegetables that can be planted early.

For the peas, it was a simple matter to tear off the fragile tangle of last year's pea plants, and weed the beds themselves.

While I worked, I kept hearing a muffled buzzing sound. This turned out to be some sort of waspish insect hollowing out a space in the gravel, presumably to lay her eggs.

I watched over and over as she crawled headfirst into the hole...

...then backed out carrying bits of dirt, which she discarded.

Any entomology types out there know the species?

I finished up weeding the pea beds...

...and got the peas planted. One task done.

Next task, the potato beds. They weren't in bad shape, and just needed to be weeded and raked.

The rake I use is this wicked-looking thingamabob I picked up at an antique store years ago. It's a wonderful tool.

The seed potatoes were more than ready to be planted.

I planted one potato at each hole on the drip irrigation hose.

Meanwhile the pear trees are getting ready to blossom.

Just yesterday I started weeding and prepping the corn beds. I won't plant the corn until about mid-May or later. This year, instead of popcorn, I'll plant Yukon Chief sweet corn.

It's perfect weeding weather -- not too hot, not too cold -- so I'll spend a few days working my way through these tires.

We planned to expand the garden and had about 25 tractor tires outside the fence, waiting for us to put them in the garden. Now, with our upcoming move, we won't have time to install them. We're in cleanup mode, not expansion mode.

Some new neighbors very much wanted the tires to create their own tire garden, so we borrowed a flatbed truck and trailer from another neighbor...

...Don loaded the tires...

...and the neighbor drove them to their new home. It took two loads to move them, but these neighbors will have the beginning infrastructure of a wonderful garden.

Meanwhile I plan to plant the garden with "generic" vegetables and fruits that might appeal to a buyer. In addition to the perennial plants already in place (herbs, horseradish, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries), and in addition to the garlic, peas, and potatoes I already have in place, I plan to plant tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, carrots, pinto beans, onions, and seed poppies. Am I missing anything critical? Is there anything else I should plant?


  1. I believe the rake you are using for your potato beds is a lawn de-thatching rake, always like tools that can be used for more than one function. We too are still in clean out mode as we purge and tidy to get our farm ready for sale. So much stuff has accumulated after 2o years of being on our farm as well as 34 years of marriage. Has been fun to give away things to family and friends that can use items we do not want to haul with us when we relocate.
    Janae @ Creekside Farmstead

  2. Your garden is certainly taking shape! The only thing that I have in my garden that you didn't mention, was hot! Great job of unloading! We had a lot to get rid of when we left Florida for the ridge, so I don't envy your hard work ahead. Sending you strength!

  3. Every time I read about your garden, I think about your daughters. How did they adjust to a new way of eating when they moved away from home?

    1. Older Daughter had it tougher, I think. She moved from rural Idaho to the endless suburbs of New Jersey, and let me tell you she is more than ready to leave that behind. Over the years she's discovered places where she can buy heartier bread than the paste they sell in grocery stores, etc., so she's found sources, but it's not the same.

      As for Younger Daughter in the Navy -- well, let's just say when she came home over Christmas, she spent the whole time cooking her favorite meals. She doesn't have the chance to cook anymore, and she misses it.

      - Patrice

  4. Ah spring - the season of sprouting. Outside of making sure mamma and filly were fine (first foal) and keeping an eye on them, we spent 3 hours twice filling the big tractor loader bucket with newly sprouted spring rocks on about 4 acres of pasture... Like they say "City people get gym memberships, country folk do chores"! Natokadn

  5. Post Alley CrackpotMay 6, 2019 at 4:01 AM

    Ever thought about planting stuff that you weren't sure would work where you are now?

    Serrano chiles, for instance, should grow in your region, but you probably should have planted them two weeks ago, given that probably you're at risk for a frost for the next three weeks or so.

    Plant them along with the rest of your nightshade plants, they'll probably do fine ...

    And if you don't sell the place this year, you'll have serrano chiles to go with your onions and tomatoes, and you can make your own salsa with that. :-)

  6. Great black wasp?

  7. I have had a few of the huge black wasps in my garden also on and off over the past few years. They are scary looking when they are next to your hand in the flower beds, but have never bothered me when I am working in them. I think because they don't have a hive to protect. as long as you don't dig up the nest, I would think they are pretty mild tempered. Good luck with everything going forward. That will be my future in about two years (moving). Thank you for your blog and all I have learned from it.

  8. I think it's a type of spider wasp. Maybe a tarantula wasp.

  9. That is a "Black Flower Wasp" they are solitary and build a single nest for a small brood. They can sting if provoked by trying to handle them, but are otherwise non aggressive. They prey on other bugs. A good garden companion.

  10. I don't believe that's a Black Flower Wasp as they're native to Australia. I agree this is the great black wasp which is found all over North America. As for Tarantula wasps - why would we have tarantula wasps in North America? We have no tarantulas. As for spider wasps - that’s not a species identification so much as a description of activity. Thousands of wasp species sting spiders as a food source for their larva. Stick with great black wasp.