Monday, April 30, 2007

OOOH Pain!!

Sunday I spent 4.5 hours straight in the garden, today I hurt. It was gorgeous out, 75 and breezy. Yes I wore both my hat and my sunblock, such a good girl. I made myself some ginger peach iced tea, turned on the oldies station and went to work. We had figured out a space about 5x9 to the left of the sliders and I just started digging. I scared my sweetie when I used the circular saw to cut a board in half so I could pound stakes. He doesn't like me to use powertools, I don't understand why....

So I lined up the stakes and tore away all the sod and put it in the holes that exist in my yard. It takes work to tear away sod. First you have to loosen a 2 foot section with a shovel. Then you take the pitchfork and work your way around it. This sod section, with it's lovely clay bottom can weigh up to 30 pounds. You try and lift it in one section and inevitably it breaks off. You shake off as much clay as you can and then either throw it in the wheelbarrow (borrowed from the neighbor) or carry it over to the hole. Then you jump on it a bit to make sure it stays down. It's looking kinda lumpy but better than a weedy hole. It will probably wither and die in about 2 days but Oh Well!!

So after I lifted all the sod I decided my herb garden wasn't big enough. I did a diagonal on one side and I think it looks pretty cool. I then spent time on my knees putting in the brick border. I continued it from behind the lavender so now it extends from the steps all the way over to the neighbors privet. I bordered the other side too.
Next step was mulching it. My back yard is 95% clay so you can imagine I needed lots of mulch. I still think I need to go back to the store for more mulch. I took the pitchfork and went down the 8 inches that the herb book told me to go down (poor arms) and then I took my garden weasel, so cool that I have a garden weasel, and got rid of all (most) of the big clumps. Now my lovely herb garden is covered with a blue tarp so no weeds can grow before I go shopping.

I'm going to make a brick path tomorrow morning so I can walk through the middle of my herb garden. I want to do a diamond in the middle as I think it will look really cool. Now all I have to do is find time to get up to the nursery to get the herbs. People keep telling me where to go, but I like Valley View Farms in Hunt Valley. They are local and they have a great selection. Friday night is looking possible. Maybe I'll drag Alison up there on Thursday night.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Herb Farm

Don't you wish you could go to that restaurant? If you haven't heard of it, The Herb Farm in Woodinville, WA is supposed to be Fabulous! Nine courses over the course of 4 hours. With herb garden walks in between courses. Sounds like a bit of heaven to me.

But this is more about my herb garden. What I need to come up with is a bunch of herbs to put in the space. I already have a beautiful lavender plant, some sage and an overabundance of Phlox wedged under a yew. Here's what I think I need:

  1. Lots of Basil, love Basil, I'm thinking 6 plants of regular and then some Thai, maybe some Lemon too?
  2. Tarragon, I love how it smells when you rub your hands through it.
  3. I'm thinking some pepperment or spearment, but I've heard it goes crazy so I'm going to put it in a pretty pot in the garden.
  4. My Thyme died so I want to plant two more thyme plants.
  5. My rosemary is abysmal, maybe it will come back this summer.
  6. I'd love to put in some sorrel but I think it gets too hot.
  7. Same thing for cilantro, but I'll put a big thick clump of Italian parsley (don't like the curly stuff too much).
  8. Now something with flowers, I read that Sesame is pretty, I wouldn't have thought of sesame, but I can give it a shot.
  9. Maybe a big thing of feathery dill or fennel. Don't know which though, have to read what will grow better in the heat. I remember on the Breton coast when I saw the dill growing wild, I just thought that was fantastic.
  10. Oregano, maybe I can find a Mexican Oregano, that would be good.
  11. I think a Bay tree in a pot would be cool to put at the back.
  12. Chives, I've got wild ones in the grass but they don't taste the same, especially after they've been mowed.
  13. Lemon Balm and Purple sage?
  14. A couple of ornamental peppers like some thai hots and maybe a Jalepeno.
  15. What about garlic? Hmmmmm Pretty purple flowers.

Check out this knot garden that I found online. Really cool, not going to happen.

Directions from a professional:

Place the herbs in your garden with the short ones, thyme and chives, in the front, and the taller oregano, tarragon and basil in the back. Thyme and chives spread to about a foot, the others up to 2 feet, so space them accordingly. Dig a planting hole about a foot across for each herb. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of bone meal, or other form of phosphorus, in the bottom of each hole and mix it well with the soil. In the holes for the basil plants, add a shovelful of aged manure or good compost, then add a nitrogen source, such as a few tablespoons of blood meal or a commercial fertilizer with slow-release nitrogen. Mix the amendments into the bottom of the hole. Pop in the herb and water profusely.

It's raining, It's pouring

The grass is still growing and the rain has come. It was so beautiful when I stepped out on the patio this morning in my raincoat. You could hear the pitterpatter of the raindrops on the new leaves and the light was all soft. Some day I'll get to Ireland and really experience the soft. Though if it's anything like my "soft" vacation to Seattle, it will probably be 85 and sunny the whole time, who's complaining.

My crabapple is in bloom and I'm very happy about it. Last year it got cedar-apple rust which is a fungus from a juniper tree so this year I have to spray it twice with lime-sulpher, once before the buds come out (yaay I did it) and once when the blossoms are done. Hopefully in a week if they last that long. I like the fact that lime-sulpher is a natural cure and not chemical. Though I'm still not going to pull every dandelion up from the grass by hand.

This weekend I'm not planning on any gardening. If I'm lucky I'll get to the store and get the herbs I want to put in. I was informed that if I got the herb garden in and kept it weeded that would be a great goal for the summer. Some people know me more than I know myself. ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The grass needs cutting....

Now understand, it is not my job to cut the grass. I love a nicely mowed swath of lawn as much as the next guy, but when it starts to get above the ankles I start to get testy. I suppose I could break down and cut it, but whenever I think of doing this I get these visions of endless summer days going round and round for hours on end, the sun beating on my back on the riding lawnmower in the huge front yard. Plus, there's a hill so I'd probably cut my foot off trying to push the mower up (No, we don't have a riding lawnmower, don't think it would fit in the yard). Ah well, maybe next week :-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

What a weekend!!!

Well, I didn't actually draw up plans, finish measuring the yard or come up with brilliant ideas of what to do with the ivy. What I did do was spend three days gardening in the gorgeous weather, and what do I get? My front yard looks a bit nicer but my fingernails are shot.

We cut down a lot of dead limbs and pulled a lot of weeds, but it seems like for every weed you pull, 17 take its place. I think I must have spent 6 hours a day in the yard and it barely looks touched, very discouraging. My neighbors firmly believe in the "natural" way of killing weeds (pull them out on your knees). I gave this a try, I think I'm breaking down and using the weed and feed. At least my tulips are not hidden anymore and I'm getting a tan :-)

Talked to my neighbor about the fence the other day too. He's not against a fence between the yards which is always a good thing when putting up a fence. He also said "and I've got a wheelbarrow, a cement mixer and a post hole digger just for you". Oh good.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


So I went out and measured the back yard this morning before work (yes, in my high heels like an idiot). Only the square part, I've got to measure yet around the side. Turns out the back part before it starts angling down is almost exactly 36x36. It doesn't look square to me but tape measures don't lie. Then I have the angle by the patio. I think that area should be all about herbs as it's as close to the kichen and as close to "sunny yard" as it is likely to get.

I think I need some graph paper. I used to have some from college but that means digging in the basement. I'll probably dig and measure some more tonight (as I said, motivation) then I have all the time in the world tomorrow to plot and plan (unless I start painting which I've been avoiding for a year now).

OOOOh! the coolest thing is this shooter thing that shoots mulch wherever you want it. They have this big truck with a sprayer thing and they can accurately put it in small spaces about 40 feet away from the truck. It's either that or I'm going to have to find someone with a wheelbarrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The first post

I live in the beautiful community of Evergreen in Roland Park. No it's not in the Lake District of England, (I wish) but in Baltimore. It's a gorgeous little neighborhood with Victorian houses and duplexes. I'm hoping that this blog will inspire me to rip apart my garden and remake it. Dreammmmms! Anyway, I have an awful plot of grass right now as the yard is quite shady. This is what I have to work with:
  1. Two gorgeous trees in the back corners of the yard.
  2. A cute little crab apple that must stay.
  3. A scrappy dogwood that is half dead ( I cut the ivy off of it last year)
  4. A couple of wild cherries that absolutely MUST go.
  5. Lots and lots and lots of ivy, I'm invaded by ivy.
  6. I've also got this japonaica bush which I stupidly planted in a stump last year, poor thing needs to be moved.

So I figure I have to come up with pretty shade gardens unless I cut down my big 70 year old trees (not going to happen). I went onto IVillage today. They have these great plans from country living. Take a look:

You can limit by zone and everything on this site. I figure a few pot gardens. I like the tea one. An herb area (yeah I know, sun!) and then lots of hostas and maybe some crush & run paths. I hate my dead grass!

I'm guessing I'm going to have to start with a rototiller....