Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Little More Gardening

I was putting in the rest of the plants I bought this weekend and discovered that one of the dianthus I bought was 'Neon Star' rather than 'Firewitch'. Oopsy. Into the ground it went anyway.

While I was working outside, I heard a very strange humming and chirruping from my neighbors' maple tree. I think we may have a pair of hummingbirds staking their territory. Either that or we're being invaded by some huge, vocal insects of some sort. It's hard to tell without my glasses. Maybe they'll discover some of my plants soon.

The Lazy Gardener

It was an unpleasant week at work, so I've spent the past three evenings doing two of my favorite things -- cooking and gardening.

In my ideal world, I would spend one day per week cooking meals for the entire week but that rarely happens. I've had my menu planned for three weeks before actually getting everything at the grocery. In any case, now we have curried chicken salad, a reduced-calorie (yet still delicious) version of red beans & rice, oven-roasted chicken, meatloaf, and terriaki salmon. I made the meatloaf with bison meat. There's so little fat that I'll have to up the binding agents next time, but it's still really good. The next task will be freezing the portions that I can't eat right away. Groceries are
way too expensive to let anything go to waste. I always have lots of fun when I cook even though it's a lot of work.

This evening I spent some time playing in the butterfly garden I started two years ago. During the Fall of 2006, I mapped out the area for the garden and covered it with black plastic sheeting, the contents of my compost bin, leaves, and straw from my parents. In the Spring of 2007, I pulled up the plastic and used the rototiller to mix it all into the soil. Apparently this is a technique referred to as lasagna gardening (because of the layering of materials) although I was just being lazy since I didn't have to remove the sod layer before tilling. The bonus I didn't expect was how much healthier that part of the yard is now. In the past when I would work in that area, I'd find a lot of grubs but now I can't pull a weed without disturbing an earthworm. It's a shame I don't like to fish because I have access to a whole lot of bait.

I got a bit overzealous when I ordered the plants and didn't get them all planted. That plus the fact that the birdseed I used was apparently not sterile like it was supposed to be made the butterfly garden a bit of a bust. Some plants did survive though: 2 Caryopteris 'Dark Knight', and 3 Sedum septabile 'Brilliant'. One shrub, a dwarf "cranberry" Viburnum, that I bought on clearance in 2006 has played dead until this spring. I saw one tiny green shoot near the bottom (when I was getting ready to dig it up and inter it in the composter). I decided to give it one more summer and cut out all the dead stems. It certainly isn't flourishing but is showing some nice growth, so that's kind of a pleasant surprise. Hopefully by next year, it will actually look like a shrub.

Four plants that I ordered last year actually survived overwintering in their shipping containers in my garage, so I stuck them in the ground tonight. If they're that tough, they just might survive my low-maintenance gardening style. They didn't have their labels anymore, so I don't know what they're going to look like if they survive. Three of them are the same type of plant (possibly Tradescantia ohioensis) and the other looks like some type of clover (possibly Dalea purpurea).

I've added a number of new plants this season:
Now to order the bulk compost...