Saturday, May 17, 2014

So Much Rain, So Little Time

We’ve having a very strange Spring at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden.  The Muirfield golf tournament hasn’t even started yet, but it’s been raining buckets for weeks.   This has really cut into our gardening time, since we were rained out last Saturday and Wednesday.   I am NOT complaining.  It's so much more work to have to water everything -- like we did in 2012 and even last year -- during May.  If I had know that we were getting so much rain, I would have planted some more fruit trees, though.

 It’s also been uncommonly chilly this month.  While May 22 is the historical last frost date, it’s unusual for it to still be in the 40’s at night this late into the month.  As a result, only two of us have been brave enough to plant tomatoes and peppers.    My patio greenhouse is popping at the seams with seedlings waiting to find the ground.

So, I’ve spent my time weeding, planting beans and transplanting volunteer sunflowers and cosmos.   My green beans and edamame are now poking through the soil, so I hope our next two cold nights don’t do them in.   It was too wet this morning to plant my last two bean rows (of calypso beans), so maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow. I let my chocolate mint get out of control and have spent most of the month digging it up in order to make room for beans and to plant some near where my squash patch will be (in order to deter the infamous squash bug).

I spent this morning mulching three of the flower beds – which is about a month ahead of my usual schedule (since I haven’t been able to do much planting).  We had two geese visit us for over an hour.  The beds look so much better.  The irises are blooming and the daisies are starting to pop.  Betty's clematis, of course, have also been in bloom.   

I also had time today to research when I should be pruning our typically floppy asters (so that they flower out with shorter branches this Fall).  The University of Illinois has a great website for this type of information.  These were the suggestion:

·        Beebalm can be cut back by half in early to mid-May (which will delay blooming by two weeks).  One suggestion was just to cut back the front half in order to stagger growth height and extend the blooming season.

·        Phlox can be pinched/cut back by half in at the end of May or early June

·        Asters should be cut back by half in early June (or pinch a few times before Independence Day).

The polar vortex damaged our rose bushes, but they are finally starting to show signs of life.  Our cherry trees, strawberries and raspberries are also forming fruit.  Some of our lavender is even coming back.  We’ve had an unusually high number of volunteer flowers this year and anyone wanting some sunflowers should stop by Tuesday evening or next Saturday morning if you would like to liberate a couple for your own garden because I will have to compost them soon.  

The girls’ beds are growing fabulously.  In fact, it’s time to thin out the lettuces and cabbages.  A few stopped by this morning and had a nice baby spinach harvest.  However, grandma nixed making a salad, so they returned the leaves to me (which means I’ll be having a spinach and mushroom omelet for breakfast tomorrow).

It’s been a challenge to keep up with our grass lawn.  However, the front lawn was mowed this morning, but the back looks like we will need a scythe to catch up.  Most of the gardeners are keeping up with their chores, but not the guys assigned to weed the paths and around the raised beds . . ..

We’re supposed to have a WEP volunteer this summer (which has been a very exciting development for me since I hope to catch up on all of my overdue projects).    However, despite three different assignments, not a single one of the guys has shown up yet.   Sigh.

By this time next week, I expect that we will be heavily into summer planting and I’ll soon be able to pack up my greenhouse again for the season and reclaim my breakfast room.

Our free little library has been hugely popular.  Almost too much so.  We’re half-empty and I’m out of books (both for the kids and other neighbors) from restocking the library so often.   So, if you have extra magazines (DIY, cooking, homemaking), children's books, or young adult books, please, please send them our direction so that they can have a new home.

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