April 04, 2011

April Showers Can't Keep Me Indoors

After returning home from Germany a week ago I have been very busy at work.  People are ready to garden and shop for gardening supplies.  I've been so exhausted after work that I haven't had energy to blog lately.  But I was determined to garden this weekend no matter if it was sunny or not.  I was prepared to have my rain jacket and boots on just so I could get my garden Spring ready.  Luckily yesterday and today have been clear so far and I worked 5 1/2 hours total in the yard.  I removed the leftover garbage and litter from the fall, mowed the lawn, ripped out two shrubs that I hated, weeded, created a pole for one of my bird feeders, made the backyard puppy proof for when I get a puppy and planted veggies, hanging baskets and pots.  I still have a lot of weeding left.  I am fighting a never ending battle against blackberries and vinca vine that keep creeping over the neighbor's fence.  I wanted to share this blog with everyone so that you could get a glimpse of what I've been up to as well as remind myself when I planted and fertilized now so that in early June I will remember to fertilize again.

Planting Potatoes:

 I planted 3 tubs full of potatoes.  Here are the products I used to do so.  Planting mix, Bumper crop and Potato tubs (you get two in a package).  All supplies can be found at Schmidt's.  I also had a leftover potato bin from last year.  I thought I would compare which container works the best.

 Planting potatoes is simple.  Chose a sunny location and just fill your container 6 inches high with a mixture of planting mix and bumper crop.  Place your potatoes in the container.  3 seemed to fit in mine.  I chose small potatoes, I you grab large potatoes cut them into smaller pieces and spread them out in the container.  Then place a few more inches of soil and compost above the potatoes.  And that's it.  When the potato vines stick out a few inches from the top of the soil cover them completely with more soil and bumper crop.  Repeat as necessary until the soil fills the entire container.  Then watch them grow for the rest of summer.
You'll know when its time to dig them up when the vines die back completely in the fall.

Build a Bird feeder Station:

I have this very cute log cabin bird house that my boyfriend's family gave me this Christmas.  The juncos seem to love it (there is one in the picture above).  I didn't just want to hang this one from the tree so I decided to make it a post to sit on and create a feeder station with other types of feeders such as a suet feeder, platform feeder and a squirrel log feeder.

 First, I bought an 8' post from Home Depot for $3.  I only wanted my pole to stand 4' high so I borrowed a circular saw and cut it down to 5' so that I could dig it 12" down for stability.  I dug a hole and place the pole inside and stomped the dirt back around while making sure it was straight.  If you want to cement it in the ground for added stability you can.  I chose not to because it seemed sturdy enough and the birds that land on it don't really weigh much to knock it down.

 I then found a scrap piece of fence board and cut it down so it fit underneath the lip of the feeder.  I nailed it tight on the pole and checked again to make sure it was level.

 Finally I set the feeder on the pole.  Eventually I will add the other feeders I mentioned onto the pole.  For now this was all I had time for but I will keep you updated on the other steps in the future.

 My new shaded gnome and bird feeder station.  There used to be a forsythia bush here but it was much smaller than the other two next to it so I dug it up and placed some log stumps here that were left in the yard, set some glazed pots filled with plants on top and added some gnomes and shady loving plants at the base. 

 I planted two hosta plants and hellebore in another part of the yard last year.  I moved them to this location to add a woodland feel to the setup.  It also saved me money because I used what I already had instead of buying new plants.

 I just saw a chickadee land on the feed while I am typing this post.

 This gnome looked really cut swinging in the tree.  Unfortunately the wind knocked him down already so I will have to find a way to permanently stick him up here so he can connect with the birds.
Bee and Bird Garden:

Last year I went a little overboard planting flowers and veggies.  This year I want to keep it simple and only plant a few things that way I am not spending all my mornings and evenings watering for hours.  This year I also want to plant flowers that attract bees and birds to the yard.  If you haven't figured it out yet, I love the birds.  I also love bees, without bees our world would be quite a bit different.  And since bee population have been declining, I thought I would help them out and plant flowers to aid their survival.  I purchased two packs of seeds, Save the Bees Mix and a Song Bird mix and scattered the seed along the fence line.  Whatever chooses to sprout will be the only flowers I plant.  It will be survival of the fittest.  I'm hoping most of the seed comes up, if not, oh well, I will try again next year.

I am also working on ways to attract hummingbirds to my yard.  Currently I have only seen them in the winter.  I put two feeders out all winter and saw three different hummers almost daily. But once the weather starts to warm up they leave my yard.  I am hoping by planting lots of flowers that have nectar than they will stick around.  So far I have penstamon, black and blue salvia, foxglove, fuchsia, cape fuchsia, and columbine, all of which should attract them to the yard.  Last year with all of these plants I still didn't see any hummingbirds during the summer.  So this year I am adding red petunias, more fuchsias, red nasturtiums, coral honeysuckle and whatever else I can think of that will be a beacon to visit my backyard.  

Other Backyard Projects:
 I made my own hanging basket with the starts from the Schmidt's sale last week.  I have creeping charlie, three fuchsias and nemesia in this shade loving basket.

 For all of my plantings and transplants I used the Gardner and Bloom Starter fertilizer mixed with Bumper Crop to make my plants really bloom this Spring and Summer.

 I replanted my strawberry basket.  I chose to use this type of container hanging by the back porch because we have been having trouble keeping rats out of the yard.  I put it up high so that they couldn't eat the strawberries.  Last summer the rats ate all of our corn and tomatoes before they were just about to ripen.  We might have to take serious measures against the vermin this year.

 I planted a white bleeding heart bush underneath this tree.

 Here is Aberforth lending a hand in the garden by taking weeds out with his wheelbarrow.

  My flower bed is looking full this month.  Most of the daffodils are blooming and a few of the pink tulips are up.  There are more flowers growing than I thought.  The squirrels (Bret and David Bowie) left me lots of holes from digging up bulbs and replanting them elsewhere in the yard.

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