OLG (Old Lady Gardening) #8 Chunking the work

It is July 5th and the heat wave has returned at least for today. The day started with a humid fog and burned off by 8:30 leaving heavy air but some moisture left in the ground. As a gardener I start and end my day with the weather just like my long gone uncles use to do on the farm. The weather is really what sets the tasks for the day. It helps gage how long I can be out in the garden and what tasks the plants can handle as well. On a cool breezy day I can work till I am to sore to stand up but a day like today I last about an hour before I realized I needed to be inside and hydrate, big time.

Hot Dahlia

July is the month where the garden is planted and we have moved on to weeding and a little bit of harvesting. This year I am behind so not much happening on the harvest line. Although I did pick lettuce, the end of radishes and a few peas. I also managed to pick enough basil for 5 small containers of pesto. (4 in the freezer for winter joy and one to eat now)

I am continuing to rehab the back gardens. The forgotten garden so to speak. I have been working my way through the areas most seen when standing on the deck. It helps to be able to look out and see some areas that look clean and neat.

  • So the peony bed is mulched and they are deadheaded.
  • The new raised beds are settled into place, partially planted and mulch laid along the path between the beds.
  • The over grown Iris bed has been cleaned up and a new one has been established. Let’s hope they take root and we have flowers next year.
  • The front bed around the new sunroom is planted and starting to actually grow.
Raised beds and new iris bed

My goal with each of these beds is to spend very little money (mulch is the big spender this year). I am working on using plants that are already in the yard that need to be thinned or split. If you have been gardening for awhile you can almost always find a plant that is over growing its place or a plant that is not happy where it is and could use a new home. If you look closely there are plants that are fading away because of a big thug of a plant has taken over. Then you get to decide are you moving the thug to save the little guy or moving the little guy to a safer home.

Here is where todays work began – moving plants into new homes. I decided to take on the stone patio/old fire pit this morning. Having looked at my garden notes over the weekend I realized I had done a lot of work but not really tackling the chunks of garden I had set out for myself. Today was the day to begin a chunk. The stone patio is a big focal point of the back gardens and it is a crazy mess. It has its own story.

We put this stone down about 15 years ago. It is part of the framing of the perennial beds along the north and east fence line. There was a pit in the center for fires. It was motived by our then high school son who wanted to hang in the back with friends (which he did very little off once it was built – that is how it goes). The fire pit never really worked very well. It was too shallow and when burning sent smoke right into the neighbors back windows. It sat unused and just collecting weeds for a long time.

At some point in the last 6 years I decided to make it into a rock garden. There were/are small rocks between all the flat stones so it seemed a perfect thing to do. Problem was I did not do my research very well and just began sticking in plants. I lifted stones, added some extra soil and put in plants. Some made it some did not. The weeds loved it – new fresh soil to grow in. Some plants were really too tall for this kind of garden. Some burned out because of the heat generated on the stones as the sun hit it all day.

Let’s be honest I had no idea what I was doing. I loved when anything grew but over time my taste has become more sophisticated. I now look at this space and think what a mess. There are 3 inch tall sedum in one area and then next to it spiky Sea Holly that is 20 inches tall and seeding everywhere. There are a few herbs that have gone wild and thuggish killing off other flowering plants. The weeds have filled in many of the spaces between the flat stones and the ants have found the sand under pinning of the whole space and moved in by the hundreds.

My plan was to just weed through all the stones this morning. Then dig out all the plants to put in new locations returning this fire pit to a fire ring. Sitting in the back of the garage is a new Solo Bonfire stove. A Christmas give from the kids. A perfect way to move this back to its original purpose. The fire stove is known to be smokeless and burn much easier. The plant idea never really worked so now is the time.

I began weeding and realized there were many small plants I should dig up and put somewhere. It was also hot, humid and sticky and these tiny plants were going to fade fast. So I dug a 6 inch border around the front edge of the patio, cleaned out all the weeds from that soil and began moving plants out into this new garden bed. I like the look of it and was grateful to use the plants.

The heat and sun were wilting the plants quickly and I was also fading just as fast. I, who could work in the sun for hours and never break a sweat was going under after about 45 minutes. There was sweat dripping down my red face. My breathing was heavy and I knew I had hit a limit on this mornings work.

So in this short time a small edge type garden was started with a few plants and a very small amount of weeding got done. I hope to return later when and if the weather cools a bit. The plants got a good drink and I headed in for one as well.

Sorry for the poor image but the shade came in. You at least get the idea that is area needs work. If you look very closely ther is a small garden edge at the front edge of the stones.

Small steps, little chunks of work. A while back I would have been disappointed in the small amount of work. Now as an old lday gardener I realize I am happy to have started it. I am happy that I finally have a plan for what to do with this area. Now through out this week I can finish weeding, move the plants and get new stones to fill in the fire pit area. I am thinking 4 new cheap chairs would be fun to put out there with the new Bonfire Stove.

We will be ready for cool weather and fall fires! Oh and the garden will look a lot better. Then on to tackle another chunk. Just don’t look at the grass that is now mainly weeds. That is work for another time.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to OLG (Old Lady Gardening) #8 Chunking the work

  1. Trish says:

    Looks awesome to me, especially the shade after your description of a muggy day
    I love how you describe a dominant plant as a “big thug.” Made me chuckle.
    I find that I truly appreciate growing things, not anything on my part to make them grow, mind you, but that they grow! You, on the other hand, get to relish both. Enjoy.

  2. I enjoyed you OLG reflections, and your humility and honesty! Gardens do humble us. I think I have the same work style- I also move those plants around, I also have too many areas to keep up. But I think you are a more faithful gardener and I am inspired by your gardening habit.

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