Getting It Done

Here we go, spring has turned to summer overnight and we are officially in high-gear mode at Chickadee Gardens. While there are a lot of plants to look at right now, I'll save a few of those for next week. This week it's all about the compost pile, the vegetable garden and chores.

The raised beds are filling in. In the one in the foreground I have tarragon, dill and sweet peas (which decided they would sprout this week). Finally. There are also a billion parsley seedlings. The longest bed in back is all spinach, lettuce and peas. In the upper left you can make out the vegetable garden area before FM tilled it.

This bed is strawberries, which are blooming. One variety is an alpine I bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds called 'Scarlet' that were popular in Colonial America and 17th-century Europe. They have, as described in the catalogue, a "bubblegumpineapple" flavor. We shall see, stay tuned.

The big project - the vegetable garden which has been too wet to work until this week. FM tackled the upper vegetable garden with the rental John Deere tractor with the tiller attachment. This is a yearly pleasure for FM. The man be loving him some tractor-time. We've thought of purchasing a tractor but since we love our wheelbarrows, well, it would not be cost-effective. So we rent from a local shop. As you may recall, this is the veggie bed FM un-sloped with his trusty shovel in March. Now it's pretty flat and we're all happier for it.

This is the lower vegetable garden. It is about half the size of the upper bed. It sports the better soil of the two gardens because it has had trees and plants and things growing in it, and it has been tilled several times, and the patch of red clover helped, too. With the addition of this area, we have a much larger area to plant veggies this year that will be planned rather than haphazardly planted.

Ooo, FM be happy! Sunshine and dirt makes a happy husband.

And so it tills very well. It produces nicely churned soil about 8 inches deep. We have a small cultivator, but we needed the big boy again this year after FM leveled out the field. Some of it is pretty hard clay.

The last remnants of Mount Compost. FM used the tractor-scoop to move this to the veggie garden beds. We love our wheelbarrows but when there's a tractor about, we are no dummies!

Mount Compost tractor'd over to the upper garden.

FM says this about this: On the tractor there are two pedals to the right of the engine. One pedal you push to go forward, one to go backward. Sometimes your foot thinks otherwise. Haha. No biggie. A 10-minute fix, and considering his inexperience, FM figures small potatoes here. Whew!

This is the moraine of Mount Compost. FM used the leftovers to fill gouges and holes in the lawn.

After the compost was spread about. We'll add amendments and then till it in lightly this weekend.

Amendments waiting in the garden shed. The year before last I had our soil tested at Logan Labs. They gave us back a comprehensive analysis and made very specific recommendations through Grow Abundant, a great resource for helping calculate exactly what you need to add to your soil based on the soil test.

Feather Meal - 38 lbs  
Kelp - 20 lbs           
CalPhos, Soft Rock Phosphate - 59 lbs                      
Dolomitic Lime - 38 lbs    
Bone Meal - 18 lbs                            
K Mag, Langbeinite, Sul-Po-Mag- 15 lbs                                  
Biomin Copper (4% Cu) - 5 lbs      
Potassium Sulfate -3 lbs                                 
Zinc (Zn) Sulfate - 29 oz                                  
Borax - 15 oz  
Total weight: 199 lbs.                                    

That's a lot of amendments, yes, but it will be worth it to grow nutrient dense food. We will likely have to have the soil retested a few times to tweak it a little and some amendments need regular replenishing. There is much science behind it all and I certainly don't understand it, but I take their word for it and recommend Steve Solomon's book The Intelligent Gardener for more information.

I also weeded the asparagus and artichoke patches that were infested with weeds. It will take a long time and much mulch to keep these areas under control. Right now it's a lot of maintenance, but it will pay off in the long run. I hope.

Another small project that makes me very happy to have completed, we lined this path with large chunky gravel, 1 - 2" rocks that cost us a grand total of $15 from Eagle Star Rock up the street. Yay! A little more polished, as long as weeds don't take over. OK, they will, but I'll fight them every step of the way. Geranium 'Rozeanne' on the right, moved from the berm garden last year because it ended up being too scalding hot for them. This is under a large Prunus avium or wild cherry tree (that I'm not so wild about) so has dappled shade during the hottest part of the day. The Carex (or carrot if you ask FM) triangle on the left just might fill in completely this year. Yay for that!

Another little win for me, we moved this bench that came with the house to a spot where we will actually use it.

And the fruit trees are all budding or blooming. This is one of the columnar apples.

Speaking of growing edibles: Dear Lucy. Yeah, a pretty standard scene at Chickadee Gardens. Two or three times a day the Bengals enjoy their supervised outings. Lucy likes to eat some grasses and then, ahem, puke them up. If we are lucky this all happens outside. If we are lucky! This current favorite delicacy of hers is Carex muskingumensis 'Oheme'. If it survives, it's a lovely grass.

To round it out for April, our anniversary month, here's a little garden goodie I got for FM. For our eighth wedding anniversary, FM was gifted with a sundial (one of the traditional gifts is bronze. I was sold this on Etsy as a bronze sundial. Whatever metal it actually is, it's the sentiment that counts, right?). He unintentionally set it on Daylight Standard Time, so it's an hour behind itself. The saying says "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be" which expresses my feelings toward FM, but the Grim Reaper, well...not so much. But it is funny.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting and coming along with us on our crazy journey. Happy gardening to all!


  1. Happy Anniversary! Nothing like a day in the sun snacking on grass and then puking it up afterwards. Big fun!

    1. Thank you Danger! Oh yes, I know many pet parents are familiar with the grass-n-puke ritual. Oy.

  2. I love visiting your blog and touring your farm. I have been working in the dirt all day and it feels so good to be getting everything ready to plant.
    So here's to happy gardeners everywhere, may we have dirt under our nails and a song in our hearts:)

    1. Doesn't the dirt just feel great? I'm glad you are able to get out into it again. Yes, here's to dirty fingernails!

  3. Your veg garden looks fabulous. I bet you can't wait to get planting. The FM did a fine job with the tractor. I am sure your tigers enjoy your garden as much as you do despite the unwanted results. Happy Anniversary. I hope you treat yourselves to a nice dinner out after all this hard work.

    1. Oooh, yes, we are ready to plant those veggie starts. I think today or tomorrow.

      Thanks for the anniversary wishes, we did get to go out on our anniversary after all! Everyone deserves a night out from time to time. Cheers!

  4. Your veg garden is going to be a great success! Kudos to you for getting a detailed soil analysis. I made do with one of those off-the-shelf testing kits, which is nowhere near as helpful. I always enjoy seeing the Bengals - my own cat enjoys a similar supervised grass sampling exercise every morning.

    1. I hope it will be a success. I appreciate your positive thoughts! We are all at the mercy of the weather gods after all.

      The soil analysis - boy, that was detailed stuff. The folks at Organic Calc really helped to break it down for me.

      So we're not the only ones with supervised grass sampling for cats? So what is their favorite grass - or does it change? Theirs changes every few months. I'd love to know!

  5. Happy Anniversary! So lovely to see you all enjoy the warmth and sun. Unlike here, Spring is going to turn winter again next week, yikes!

    1. Thank you, you two! Sun and was here for a week and now I look out on gray skies as I type. We do have a lot in common with you in the UK as far as weather - that is to say sometimes the sun is, shall we say, rather shy. I hope your spring does come soon, I'm sorry about the winter weather. Yikes is right. Uggg.


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