Dear Friends and Gardeners, Week Two

116 Last week, Mary Ann in Idaho was still covered in snow, and Carol in Indiana felt like spring had switched into the “on” position.  I was babying my pepper, eggplant and tomato seedlings.

For those of you just tuning in, this is our series of letters profiling our vegetable gardens (nearly 1,000 miles apart) in three different climate zones.  Please feel free to join in with your own garden group, and, if you do, tell us in a comment below.

Dear Carol and Mary Ann,

What a week Oklahoma had!  After our soaring temps came rain, sleet and even snow.  Above is the picture to prove it.  We get these freak March snowstorms occasionally.  Yesterday, the weather finally settled, and now, we’re in a warm pattern.  It will make the seeds jump out of the soil I’m sure.

The indoor babies are growing ever taller, and on warm days, like the proud mama I am, I’m parading them outdoors to acclimate them and make their stems thick and strong.  You know I’ve sworn off buying plants for Lent, but I can still get seeds and bulbs, so I bought a few summer veggie seeds.  I’m storing all of them in a basket next to my kitchen computer so as not to lose them.  Like everything else I do, I tend to garden by the seat of my jeans.  While averting my eyes from all the beautiful clovers available at a local garden nursery, I did buy some red and blue gladiolus bulbs.  I’ve never grown these, but I thought they would look great against the split rain fence bordering the veggie garden space.  I can also tie them to the fence as they grow.

Carol, you asked me how large the garden is.  The back garden is fifty by sixty feet, but that includes the paths, so the raised beds are less than that.  That number also doesn’t include the gardens along the back of the house, but I don’t grow vegetables in them.  There is also the garden out by the street where I will put the hot pepper plants, but otherwise, it is filled with ‘Old Blush,’ red, Double Knockout roses and easy going prairie plants.  Below is a photo of the back garden.  You can see how far along it is, which surprises me a little because we’re at mid-March.  I’d say the plants are three weeks ahead of schedule.

Most of the back garden.  You can't see the mirror image of the foreground.
Most of the back garden. You can't see the mirror image of the foreground.

I worked hard so hard outdoors on Saturday that I’m still feeling the pain.  I uncovered the asparagus bed to find that it was once again being choked by Bermuda grass.  It is a constant fight, but I’ve upped the ante by graveling the straight paths.  After fifteen years of amendments, the soil has the consistency of chocolate cake, so the grass runners are relatively easy to pull.  I may need to plant some new asparagus plants after Easter though because these have been here a long, long time.  I will also dig some of the composted chicken manure up by the barn and put it in asparagus bed.  It’s easy to grow, but a very hungry plant.

Closeup of Japanese maple foliage.  Cultivar is supposed to be Rooster Tail, but I've never heard of it.
Closeup of Japanese maple foliage. Cultivar is supposed to be Rooster Tail, but I've never heard of it.

I took my hoe and raked some of the weeds out of the gravel paths before they took hold.  Now, I know what the English mean by raking their paths.  It was kind of fun.

Bear and I uncovered the strawberry plants, weeded them and then mulched with shredded leaves.  Strawberries are her favorites, so she was glad to help.  The strawberries are still recovering from their move two seasons ago.

The back garden, where so many roses and vegetables reside is surrounded by oak trees.  I am amused by the irony that I rake all of the leaves off of the plants, pull up the early spring weeds and compost them.  Then, I mulch with shredded leaves. It seems a little like the old, office adage of handling the paper more than once, but I don’t know a better way.

I didn’t get the sugar snap peas in the ground, so I’ll be doing them today, along with more potatoes, lettuce, beets and more onion sets.  Although I spread the seeds for the lettuces around the landscape roses as a kind of ground cover, I do still plant the onions in rows.  I think they’re pretty that way.  Today, spinach and kale will go around the daylilies in the other bed.

Turnip seedlings
Turnip seedlings up and needing to be thinned.

I just went outside and checked the seeds I planted last week.  The turnips and lettuce are already poking their little heads through the soil.  No matter how many years I do this, I am simply amazed at nature.

I’m also going to feed the roses and daylilies with alfalfa meal and Milorganite.  I can’t use Milorganite around vegetables because it may have residue sewage, so those plants will get a dose of the meal.  I’m even going to feed ‘New Dawn’ although it may be a bad idea.

As I look out my front window, I see the peach trees blooming on the left and the new red Japanese maple leafing out on the right.   For the first time today, I heard the ducks chuckling on the pond, and a bluebird calling to his mate.  Life couldn’t get any better, except when I harvest that first tomato, ‘eh girls?

Til next time . . . .


  1. eliz says:

    Dee, I have to do the same thing with leaves. I have been advised to let them decay in place, but they’re tough maple leaves and that won’t happen. I have heard that people with grass can run the mower over the leaves …

    Eliz, mine won’t decay in place either. Yes, here, on lawns, people mow over them, but it they’re smart, they bag them and use them as wonderful mulch. I have shredded leaves in discreet piles all over this place.~~Dee

  2. kerri says:

    I love seeing the long shot of your back garden with the water in the background. You sure do have weather extremes and are so far ahead of us with what you’ve been able to accomplish already. Our garden is just barely waking up.
    I love your letter idea and your back and forth accounts of what’s happening in your far apart gardens.
    Happy spring, Dee!

    kerri´s last blog post..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March ’09

  3. I have been following your garden work for a while now. LOVE IT! Thank you for sharing your split rail garden work with us. I have been wanting to add a structure like this in our country garden to plant around. THANK YOU for sharing. Happy Planting!

    Bren/ BGgarden´s last blog post..Cutting the Grass after a Great Show

  4. jenx67 says:

    Hello! I can’t find light purple (bluish) phlox anywhere. They’re all light purple/fuscian/star, etc. I can’t find them in seeds or bedding perennials. Any ideas??? Horn said they are very hard to grow from seed, but I can’t even find seed – not even at Horn!

    jenx67´s last blog post..alexa, the web information company, eats boogers.

  5. Jeanne says:

    Dee, I agree. I’m always surprised and delighted to see things pop up in the Spring. I need to get my onions and lettuce planted — maybe tonight!

  6. CurtissAnn says:

    What fun for you and Bear, to do the garden together. Memories. I have been discovering all this social blogging stuff, no time to read blogs! 🙂

    CurtissAnn´s last blog post..Outdoors Wednesday

  7. Oh, to have gravel paths! That would be luxury.

    Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog post..Awakening – March Bloom Day

    Yes, it is. Lucky for me, there was waste gravel on a job site.~~Dee

  8. Frances says:

    Hi Dee, so much going on there, and the water view is to die for! Your stuff is ahead of mine, no maple leaves unfurling just yet. I can imagine the quality, or tilth of your soil after all those years of special care, yummy! 🙂 Your weather is the most extreme, with snow then hot then cold then tornado, and on and on. I do miss it.

    Frances´s last blog post..An Old Irish Blessing

    Frances, you miss it? Sometimes, I’m jealous of your Tennessee weather because it is so similar to mine without the extremes. It was 83F here yesterday. The tulips are gasping.~~Dee

  9. VW says:

    What a cheerful post. My heart was stirred by the phrase about your soil having the consistency of chocolate cake after years of amending. That’s something to hope for! I think the builders scraped off all the topsoil (if there was any) from our yard and left just the rocks (SO MANY ROCKS) and clay underneath a thin layer of ‘sandy loam’ (aka plain old sand). I’m hoping to have a large load of compost delivered in the next couple of weeks to spread all over the place. Soil like chocolate cake in my yard . . . someday!

    VW´s last blog post..And Inspiration Struck

    VW, thank you so much. Yes, the soil here is a mix of red sand and clay, but fifteen years ago, I brought in some soil for the raised beds. Then, I’ve amended with compost and shredded leaves ever since. It makes a beautiful soil eventually. Hang in there. You’ll get the same.~~Dee

  10. Cindy, MCOK says:

    You are indeed blessed with a beautiful place to live and garden, and we are blessed with your writings about it.

    Cindy, MCOK´s last blog post..Through the Garden Gate: March 16, 2009

  11. Marnie says:

    It was a good idea to do the post in letter form. Had a friendly, personal feeling. Love the split rail around your garden. It reminds me of the wonderful food and flower gardens you see at historical homes.

    Oh, Marnie, I hope so. When I read those books, I always felt like they were speaking directly to me.~~Dee

  12. Chiot's Run says:

    Love the overall garden photo. I really love to peek inside others’ gardens to see what they’re doing. I’m hoping to put in an asaparagus bed this year.

    I spent the weekend sugaring our maple trees and enjoying the beautiful weather here in Ohio.

    Chiot’s Run´s last blog post..Sweet Success

    Thank you Susy. I’ve never heard of sugaring maples. I need to come over to your blog to see.~~Dee

  13. linda says:

    What a nice idea!

    I’ve been reading Two Gardeners – A Friendship in Letters (letters between Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence.)

    You three are in good company!

    linda´s last blog post..Renee’s Garden Seeds Winners!

    Linda, I LOVE that book too. It was the first one of its type I ever read, and you know how I feel about Miss Lawrence. 🙂 ~~Dee

  14. Patsybell says:

    These letters are a delight to read. Just the right mix of chat and details. Or should I say conversation and information?

    Patsy, I think “chat and details.” We just aren’t that highbrow.~~Dee

  15. Leslie says:

    Lots of things are popping up there and you’ve been really busy! That is a huge (by my standards) garden…I’m jealous!

    Leslie´s last blog post..GBBD March 2009

    Hi Leslie, it seems really huge this time of year. Don’t be jealous. Head on over, and I’ll share. 🙂 ~~Dee

  16. teza says:

    What a wonderful way to pay tribute to Christo and Beth Chatto – their book of letters is one of my favourites. I shall be coming back to follow your letters to one another!

    Thanks, Teza. I hope they don’t mind that we’re following in their muddy boot steps.~~Dee

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I like the way you are incorporating some veggies with your flowers. I want to do that too. Love seeing the overall photo of your back garden.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I grow them together because, otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough room.~~Dee

  18. I agree, life gets no better than in a garden. Ah, spring. It almost sends me into a panic some days trying to figure out how to get it all done! But then the sun is warm, the birds sing, and I feel at peace, like I belong to something… my garden.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog post..Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2009

    Me too, Carol. We are indeed fortunate to be living our dreams.~~Dee

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