Friday, November 12, 2010

Three for Thursday: Feelin' Good

After my last post, I thought I should focus on some positives in the garden, especially since I've probably been sounding like a total slacker lately.  We have had unbelievable weather this past week--sunny skies with temperatures in the 70's!  I managed to accomplish a lot in the garden this week thanks to the mini-Indian Summer, and I'm feeling pretty darned good right now.  In fact, I completed the top three tasks on my fall to-do list, just in time (well, maybe a day late) for "Three for Thursday,"  the brainchild of Cindy at My Corner of Katy.

1. I finally have all my bulbs planted!  I hadn't planned on adding too many spring bulbs this fall, but you know how it is when you start leafing through the fall catalogs and seeing all those tempting photos.  I wound up planting nearly 300 bulbs, including a bargain box of 120 crocus bulbs from Home Depot.  Actually, all of the bulbs except the crocus were planted two weeks ago, but for some reason those crocuses took forever--I think they were multiplying in the box::)  But with the help of my two oldest grandchildren, I finally got them all in the ground yesterday.  I know that when spring arrives and I see all these blooms, I am going to be so glad I got carried away this fall.

2.Another project I had been intending to complete all summer was building a compost bin.  As you can see, it's not the fancy wooden two or three-compartment bin I would really like to have, but a few inexpensive fence posts and some vinyl-coated chicken wire.  But it's certainly better than the sloppy pile I had, and at least it will keep materials contained, helping them to decompose faster. 

By the end of yesterday, the new compost bin was filled to the brim, thanks to the two oldest grandchildren, who had the day off from school and raked leaves while I did a little garden clean-up.

Grandson has been saving up for a new Playstation III, and Grandma was more than willing to contribute a little to the fund after all their much-appreciated hard work.

3. The third task I finished this week is the one I'm the most excited about.  I have been planning for some time to add more garden area to the circle area of lawn behind our house where the vegetable garden, the butterfly garden (also known as the Garden of Chaos), and the new lily bed are located.  This week I finally prepared a large area for planting next spring, using the lasagna method rather than the backbreaking task of digging up all the grass and soil.

A few commenters on my last post asked what lasagna gardening is.  For those not familiar with this term, it's simply a method of smothering the grass, using layers of newspaper, leaves, compost or fresh garden soil.  Over the winter these should all decompose, leaving me with a nice bed of workable soil--grass and weed-free, I hope--to begin planting. 

The project got a late start because I first had to negotiate with Mr. Procrastinator who informed me he thought I already had "enough flowers."  Enough flowers??  I didn't even know there was such a thing . . . but that's the subject of another post one of these days. His real concern, I'm sure, was having one more flowerbed to mow around.  After some threats gentle persuasion, he came around to my point of view, and I began preparing the new bed by laying out an old hose and marking the new boundaries with spray paint.

Getting a late start on this did present some problems.  My creaky knees rebel at working on my hands and knees for too long, so that I could work on this project for only an hour or two each day.  But even more problematic were the wind and the lack of enough new soil to weight down the newspapers.  Most of our garden centers and the big box stores apparently think no one gardens in November, and bags of garden soil are a scarce commodity right now.  I bought the last few bags of soil at one center, which barely covered a third of the new bed.  Lugging them out of the car wasn't much fun either, so I finally broke down and decided to have a load of compost delivered. 

And then there was the wind!  Perhaps this isn't a problem in a tree-lined suburb with houses all around to block the wind, but I live in an open area, where the wind whips across the soil, sweeping anything in its path--including newspapers--hundreds of yards away.  Thirty-mile-per-hour winds a few days last week kept me from working in this area at all.  Once the wind subsided to a more reasonable 10 mph, I began laying out the newspapers, weighting each one down with rocks before I moved on to the next paper. After I had a small section completed, I spread out the bags of garden soil, but it wasn't long before I ran out, and I began frantically looking around for anything heavy that would keep those light newspapers in place.  Small rocks dug up from other garden areas were poured into pots, and a few milk jugs were filled with water to also act as temporary paperweights.  Logs, a strip of metal, even my wheelbarrow were put into use. 

This is the scene yesterday--I can only imagine what visitors must have thought, all of whom were too polite to ask what in the world I was doing:)

A real timesaver came my way from someone else's carelessness.  There are some people who think country roads are the perfect place to dump their trash.  We live close enough to town that it's usually not that big of a problem for us other than the assortment of beer cans and fast food bags that are frequently deposited in the shallow ditch next to the road.  But this past weekend, I noticed large pieces of cardboard and styrofoam in the ditch.  Now I would hope someone didn't purposely dump these pieces, but rather had them blown off their truck by the wind.  Still, you would think a driver would notice and have the common courtesy to pick up after himself, especially when the pieces were strewn down the ditch for almost a mile.

As I fumed about this situation, I had a brainstorm.  The cardboard would be perfect in place of some of the newspapers.  I drove down to the spot where the cardboard lay, and after wrestling with it for awhile, finally got one piece in my car.  There was no room for the other large piece, so I decided to walk the 1/4 mile back to the house, fighting off the wind that threatened to take both of us across the fields.  These pieces were actually the top and bottom of a box containing a queen-sized headboard, so they covered a lot of area and saved me at least an hour on my knees laying down more newspapers.  I think you would say this turned out to be a case of making lemonade out of "lemons"!

This morning the load of compost was delivered, and thanks to Mr. P. who made short work of spreading out the mountain of dirt with the tractor, this new bed will now be left to settle over the winter.  Once spring comes, this bed should be all ready to plant.

There is still some tidying up to do in the garden, and I've been going to bed most nights with sore muscles,  but all in all, I'm feeling pretty satisfied about the garden right now.  The wind can blow, the snow can fall--I'll be happily dreaming of spring!


  1. Oh that is a nice bit of lasagna gardening you got done - glad you were gently persuasive. Now you'll have a fantastic start for your new bed in spring!

  2. Oh be still my heart. What excitement seeing your new planting area. It will be great Rose. You did a great job getting it ready for winter. I am glad Mr P came around and helped you a little. I about cracked up thinking about you struggling down the road with those big pieces of cardboard. What a sight. You did everyone a favor by picking up that cardboard. My measily small compost pile started out just like yours. The wire finally rotted away. I need to put it back to keep Luna from eating the vegetable peels. Geez...

  3. I do love the vision of you staggering down the road with the cardboard Rose, could you even see where you were going, I wonder!

    My, you have been busy. It is so satisfying when you have worked hard in the garden like that, not that I can remember the feeling really :) It will be lovely to see what you put there next year.

    We have had winds up to 100mph in the UK in the last 24 hours and most of the week has been cold, wet and miserable, not gardening weather at all.

  4. Good for you getting that cardboard and re-purposing it! Can't wait to see the new garden in action next year!

  5. i envy you, i have not done any fall garden chores. my poor garden must feel so neglected. love the lasagna method, though i have not tried it yet myself. i imagine it makes things much easier!

  6. That cardboard trek made me smile.
    I think your garden must be as big as a football pitch, possibly bigger. There seems to be end to it!
    Lasagne gardening. I like that description.
    I think your compost bin will be very effective.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  7. Ah, let the wind blow and the snow fall, Rose!

  8. What a lot of hard work you've done! It will be so worth it next spring. I love that you planted 300 bulbs - it's so easy to get carried away and just keep on popping them into the ground.

    I was planting tulip and daffy bulbs with my granddaughter a couple of weeks ago. I told her to put the bulb in with its nose in the air (so she'd put them in the right way). I told her they would be going to sleep for the whole winter and then wake up and bloom in the spring. She decided a good-night kiss would be in order, so planted a sweet little-girl kiss on the next bulb. Of course I had not brought my camera! What a "lost picture" moment (you know, like a kodak moment?) Ah well, such is life.

    I'm glad you had your grandkids help with the garden. It's good for them to pitch in and nice to earn some extra money.

    I also laughed at the cardboard caper, but hey, you got it done!

  9. Cyndy, This is the first time I've managed to get a new bed ready in the fall instead of the spring. It will be so nice to have it ready to plant next year!

    Lisa, What is it with dogs and rotting veggies?? That's one reason the compost pile before was so spread out--Sophie was always digging in it for goodies:)

    Songbird, Wow, that is some wind! I hope you didn't have any damage from it. I think my neighbors must have gotten a chuckle if they were watching me. They probably already think I'm a bit strange:)

    Rose, you can't beat cleaning up the roadside and recycling at the same time. This really turned into a windfall for me:)

    Rachel, It takes time to put all those newspapers down, especially in such a large area, but it sure beats digging!

    Maggie, My yard is big enough for a football field, I think, but it makes my garden area look small by comparison. Lasagna does sound tasty, doesn't it?

    Joey, I'm not quite ready for blizzards, but I am ready for some relaxing time indoors.

    Wendy, What a cute story! I never seem to have my camera handy for these kind of perfect moments either. I'm pretty proud of my grandkids--they would have helped me, even without the pay, but they certainly earned it.

  10. I love that "lasagne" gardening method. I can't wait to see the progress of this garden.
    It is good for kids to do yard work. Even if it is for money.

  11. If they'd tied a string on could have been a human kite. I'm anxious to hear more about this garden you are building.Balisha

  12. This post was amusing to say the least, because I can relate to the 'Mr Procrastinator' bit. ;) You got more done outside this week than I did since I was working on an inside project ( post coming next week). Glad you finally got it all done, you will be much rewarded come spring!!! :)

  13. I get the same resistance from my husband when I want to expand the garden. I've decided to use the creeping expansion method of gradually increasing the size of existing beds. I can't wait to see what you do with your new garden. Wasn't the weather just too good?

  14. When you want a job done you sure go the extra mile! What a walk you did in those conditions but what a transformation you have now with that bed. I can't wait to springtime to see what happens next :)

  15. What a great way of recycling another's rubbish. And what lovely grandchildren to help you. I hope your compost heap is dog proof - or that you only put garden waste and not kitchen peelings in it. George thought his birthday had come when I had to throw out a water melon!

  16. Oh brilliant, Rose! Was the headboard left in the ditch too? You could use it to define the head of your new bed! ;-)

    Aren't grandchildren lovely? They are so much more willing to help Grandma out--especially when funds for a new playstation are in the offing!

  17. Rosey, The grandkids are always willing to help out, but I like to add a little extra incentive:)

    Balisha, a human kite--good one:)

    Racquel, I knew this nice weather wasn't going to last, so I wanted to take advantage of it. My house has been sadly neglected.

    MMD, I've been using the "creeping method" for some time, too. I'd like another week of this weather!

    Rosie, I have so many ideas for this garden bed; winter will give me lots of time to plan and dream.

    Liz, That's partly why my old compost heap was such a mess--Sophie was always checking out "goodies," too. She prefers rotten cucumbers:)

    Jenny, Unfortunately, the headboard wasn't left behind:) Besides the work they did, I enjoyed just having the two older ones over for the day.

  18. One can never have enough flowers! :) Your new bed looks great.

    We've had identical weather to yours. There's nothing as wonderful as a lovely fall day.

  19. Rose, I am just too excited. I love to see an empty bed waiting for plants to arrive the following spring. Well done, I really mean that.....

    I understand about the wind on an open plot. I have the same problem is a nightmare.
    We had strong winds during the week with gusts of 50mph. All sorts of bits and pieces were scattered around the garden.

    Your grand-children are great to come and give a hand. I am sure you gave them plenty of treats when they had finished their work.
    It is good for children to be involved.....

    Compost bin looks good. So much easier for you. You will be able to add that rich soil to your new border next year.

    Have a good week....tku for sharing, made my day.

  20. Rose, What an image you've given me~You parasailing down the road with your cardboard! I am so glad you didn't blow away! I wet the newspapers almost immediately upon laying them on the ground~it keeps them from blowing away. You'll be so glad you made the bed this fall~xxgail

  21. Congratulations on getting so much done Rose! I've definitely been slacking in the garden lately. I just finally brought in the last of the tender plants yesterday and finished cleaning all the dead stuff out of the pots. It feels kind of good to be a slacker sometimes, but it feels even better getting the procrastinated stuff done.

    Your new bed is fantastic - looking forward to seeing what you do with it next year!

  22. Gosh Rose, you have worked so hard. Congratulations!

  23. Let me congratulate you on having terrific grandkids.

    I laughed out loud at the thought of the crocus bulbs multiplying in the box. I managed to get 50 new bulbs in the ground this comparison to your 300. I'll be looking for your photos come spring.

    The photo where you have all the miscellaneous items holding down the newspaper makes me want to say, Gardener Gone Wild!


  24. Oh My God ROSE !
    If you had heard me talking and laughing while reading your post you would have thought I was a nutter for sure !.. You worked so hard and I so understand about the knee problem .. add the back with bad discs .. well the two of us working together would be one funny sight !
    You have worked so hard at this new bed it better behave and bring you much pleasure or Dave and I will have to have words with "it" ? LOL
    All those bulbs .. yes, we are so easily lured in with the catalogs and the wistful yearnings while looking out at our gardens ..
    I applaud your resourcefulness and determination to get these projects DONE ! ... hum .. can you come over here next Spring and help me ?? LOL
    Joy : )

  25. I can almost smell that fresh loam/compost. What fun you will have planting the new garden. There is nothing quite like a clean slate. Where is your bloom post? I know you have some hiding somewhere.

  26. Hi Rose,
    I started reading your post at supper. I'm remembering that's when I started it, because I was reading the part about you and Mr. Procrastinator to my husband, since that sounds like the two of us.

    Our daughter, who hasn't been coming over as often as she had been for awhile, and I came into the living room after supper, so I could scratch her back while blogging. Our son ended up showing up, and we found out they are expecting another baby, or second grandchild the end of April. He works lots of hours, and doesn't make it over often, so he ended up staying awhile and gabbing. I just was able to get back to your post.

    I had to spread my compost a few buckets at a time. Like you, my body told me when to take breaks. I've never been patient enough to use the lasagna method. I admire you for being able to create a new bed and wait until the next season to plant it. Part of my thing, though, is that Larry would be more willing to part with grass in the spring, when he knows something else will be planted, and it won't be just dirt.

    Well, I think dirt is beautiful. With the new bed and all those bulbs you planted, you will have lots to look forward to while waiting for spring to get here.

    I like your compost bins, too. So, where is your bloom day post?

  27. Sweetbay, I agree that there can never be enough flowers!

    Cheryl, I knew you would be excited, too, about this new bed. You and Lisa gave me a lot of inspiration this September.

    Gail, I did wet the newspapers down after I did a section, but it no doubt would have been easier to wet them as I went along. Parasailing looks like so much fun, but I think I'd be too chicken to try:)

    Linda, I've been slacking off all fall, it seems, but this week I was a very satisfied tired at the end of each day.

    Suburbia, Remember I don't have a full-time job! I'd never have the energy to garden this much if I was still working.

    Donna, I don't even like crocuses that much:) I can't believe no one who stopped by last week even commented on this strange bed.

    Joy, Dave and the boys are welcome to come over and ward off any evil spirits:) Knees, back...I wish I had started gardening when I was younger:)

    Layanee, I know you can relate to this--Sophie thinks this pile of compost is her new playground. My Bloom Day post will be up tomorrow morning--I thought today was the 14th!

    Sue, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with a husband who doesn't really appreciate flowers:) Congratulations on the new grandchild to be! That is such exciting news. The Bloom Day post is late...

  28. Dear Rose,
    A new planting bed is so exciting. Using the cardboard was really a great idea...great way to recycle cardboard.
    300 bulbs, wow, your gardens will be gorgeous next springI
    You have wonderful helpers.....

  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  30. Hi Rose,
    I've gotten some off comments from that Ron Mylar. My own words were even used in one comment. I clicked on the name, and it was a site that was selling mylar film. I deleted the comments.


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