Monday, March 31, 2008

Sod Free

All the sod has now been removed from the garden, and the first few wheelbarrow loads of 3-way brought over. Most of the snow has melted off, there are just a few patches left in the shady areas. Still lots of water everywhere though, especially in the bottom corner of the garden.
The rhubarb doesn't mind the snow or the wet, it knows it's really spring. Time to get growing!
Today was a little more like spring, sunny except for the tremendous thunderstorm complete with 15 intense minutes of pea-sized hail at about 3pm. Or maybe that's exactly like spring, come to think of it...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rototilling Postponed

We had reserved a tiller from Hardware Sales rental dept for Saturday, but we woke up to a couple of inches of sloppy wet snow on the ground, and more coming down so we decided to cancel it. We'd almost removed all the sod from the garden space, only 1.5 strips and a few scraps to go, as you can see below:
Thanks to the snow and rain all week, the area where the sod has been removed is a wet sloppy mess with several inches of standing water. We're going to work in a LOT of 3-way (topsoil, sand & compost) to improve the tilth, as well as to raise up the garden above the surrounding lawn for drainage.

The snow makes it easy to see what we've been doing with the sod in the front yard:

Basically we're layering it over the top of the existing grass to fill in the low spot between the house and the fence. This is an area which is (was?) very prone to standing water.

The snow is beautiful, but I'm really disappointed that we had to cancel our rototilling plans. Instead we had to do inside chores, like cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen. Which is good stuff to do, but not really fun to blog about!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Snow

Wierd weather this week. I guess garden season is even further away than I thought.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sod is Heavy

We started clearing the sod off our garden site, and it's a lot more work than I thought it would be. We rented a sod-cutter on Saturday and cut it into strips. I thought we'd just roll up the strips, move them across the yard (we're layering the sod over a low spot to fill it) and voila! we'd be ready to rototill by dinnertime. Well, no. The sod is incredibly heavy, even on a relatively dry day. We had to cut the strips into 3 foot lengths and make lots of little rolls just so we could lift them. If we rolled up a whole stip we'd never be able to move it, it'd be a sod boulder! We got two strips moved on saturday... and then it rained. Hard. Which did not make the sod any lighter.

This is one of those projects that is going to take a while. I want a garden NOW, so its frustrating, but the truth is it's still really early so I wouldn't be able to plant much yet anyhow. I just have to keep telling myself that...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Is Here, Again

One fun thing about blogging is how easy it is to look back and see what was going on a year ago. Last March I blogged about the singing of our resident frogs, visits to our chimney from our neighborhood Northern Flicker, spectacular spring sunsets, torrential spring rains, pussywillows and other signs of spring. Now we're going into our second spring, and the frogs are singing again, the flicker is back banging on the chimney, the rain is still falling, the pussywillows are out, and when the clouds happen to clear away the sunsets are amazing. I really enjoy this feeling of getting to know the seasonal cycles of our little place, recognizing the patterns of nature, having a bit of history to fall back on.

Not everything is the same as it was last year though. Looking back at the blog also gives a clear sense of how much we've accomplished in the last year. The biggest change is that we now have a lawn, rather than this muddy mess surrounding our house:

We no longer have to use a pallet bridge to cross the mud from the driveway to the house.

Nor do we have gigantic slag piles to burn.

We have a long way to go, still... but it's good to take a minute and appreciate how much we've already accomplished. It's easy to get discouraged about our huge to-do list, but having looked back at the last year's progress makes me feel confident we'll get it all done, eventually. We'll get started just as soon as it stops raining.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Purple Kale & Raindrops

I started cleaning up my planters and hanging baskets from last season, getting them ready to plant again. I was surprised to find a number of plants survived the winter untended in their containers. The overwintered purple kale is especially beautiful, each plant is about 3 feet tall and looks ready to explode with new growth just as soon as the sun begins to shine again. I also found a surprising number of snapdragons sucessfully overwintered and looking ready to spring into action. The chrysanthemums are sprouting back, and both the pansies and the calendula seem to have throroughly reseeded themselves. It's still not exactly spring, but there are more signs every day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bellingham Roller Betties

The second bout of the newly-formed Bellingham Roller Betties provided some seriously fun entertainment last night. I've never been much of a sports fan, but then not very many sporting events feature crazy-tough women in fishnets bashing into each other at high speed as they race around an indoor track on roller skates. Not only is it really exciting to watch, it's all-locally organized (impressively so), with eclectic community sponsors like Planned Parenthood, Harley Davidson, the Co-op and Casa Que Pasa. Aaand there's a beer garden. :)

If you live around here, you should definately check it out. If you don't live around here, you might still be in luck - aparently the sport is growing in popularity and new leagues are forming across the country.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Early Spring Rain

It rained hard all night and morning, but around noon it tapered off enough for us to go outside with Gabe & Cynthia and have a look at the early signs of spring popping up here and there. The Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) is in full bloom around the edges of the yard.
Along the pathway out to the observation platform, the Indian Plum forms a thick understory beneath the Alder and Cascara trees. The alders are blooming with their brown catkins, but the Indian Plums remain the most obvious sign of spring at this early date. Their perky green leaves are so refreshing to see after the long brown months of winter.

Sanford accompanied us up onto the platform where he promtly demanded attention from Gabe, who wisely complied.

Cynthia brought a pair binoculars out to the platform, but despite a symphony of birdsong it wasn't a very good day for birdwatching. Even though the rain had let up, the birds were still staying undercover. We did see a pair of mallards take off from our pond and pass over us on their way to the next pond. It's a good season to be a duck!

Everything is super saturated right now. In the corner of our yard a small intermittant spring has overflowed its usual swampy depression and a fair sized stream is flowing along the edge of the yard.
Someday, I hope to dig a pond where the spring comes up, then landscape a little stream bed for it to flow through down to another larger pond which would occupy the lowest point at the edge of the lawn bordering the march. But today is not a day for actually digging or working outside in the yard. No, today is a day for staying warm inside, cooking, eating, and visiting with friends, playing board games, and, of course, updating the blog. :)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Birthday

Moira is Two!

Happy Birthday to the most determined, talented and mischevious little person I know. Your parents are doomed. Dooomed! DOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMED! [cackle]

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Today we went shopping (with our wedding gift cards - yay!) at some local nurseries, and then came home and puttered about the yard until it started raining. One thing I did was buy some tree-heal and tape, and take care of this huge wound that the Japanese Cedar suffered sometime previously in the winter. Poor little tree! It looks much happier now, I trimed the branches and torn bark away and got it nicely sealed. I have no idea how the damage occured.

We also got some new strawberry plants so now the raised garden bed on the south side of the house is 100% strawberries. Last year this was our whole garden! We are planning to dig up a new, big garden for this year. In the background of this picture, you can see some of the corner stakes marking out where we are thinking of digging.
We also got a base for the sundial we received as a wedding present, and a clear half-dome cover to better protect our birdfeeder from the rain. Last but not least, we got a beautiful red oxalis to put in the plant holder by our front door, which really brightens things up!