It's cold and dark

So I'm gardening.


No lame, make-believe excuses for me. I can't say "oh dear, the ground is frozen" or "oh dear, there's an ice storm and I could die". No, it's just cold. And wet. I've recorded 4.1 inches of rain so far this year, and there's more coming tonight. In fact, there's nothing in the forecast but rain and temperatures in the low fifties.

I've been having some issues with death and destruction lately... I put out a saucer of beer to kill slugs and I got a caterpillar. That's too bad. But maybe it was a moth caterpillar.


And I broke my shovel digging up the Brugmansia.


We bought this shovel in 2003, before I started gardening. Guy wanted bamboo in the backyard, and this was the shovel we planted it with. It's been a good shovel, but it's not really a gardener's shovel.

So I bought a new one. Say hello to my little friend.


There were only two shovels to choose from at the nursery. It was kinda cheap, only $15, so I hope it lasts for awhile.

I'm preparing for the spring vegetable garden. Clearing out the carrots...


Then upon tasting them, changing my mind and deciding to plant some more. So sweet! Oh, well. Maybe I can get another crop out before the squash goes in in April. I left a few carrots to go to seed when the weather warms up. Carrot flowers are cute and attract beneficials, and like all good biennials, carrots self-sow.

I started a tee-pee for the snap peas. Two are ready to plant out, and I have several more in the garage, germinating.


I love snap peas, and I don't like snow peas at all. Did you know they grew snap peas hundreds of years ago, but lost them?

Pam Peirce:
"Snap peas revolutionized pea growing several years ago, when a breeder discovered in his trial planting a pea plant bearing a thick, crisp, edible pods like those of a snap bean...
After the snap pea became popular, researchers discovered descriptions of just such peas in gardening books from a couple of centuries ago. Apparently, this is an example of an heirloom variety nearly lost but rediscovered by chance during a breeding program."

(Nothing compares to forgetting how to make concrete for 13 centuries.)

I planted an apple tree where the Brugmansia used to be.


I went with this Striped Gravenstein from Raintree Nursery, grafted on their proprietary "mini-dwarfing" rootstock which should hold the plant to six feet tall.

And actually I bought two of them. The second one I planted in a raised bed where I have grand plans for a solar-powered recirculating water fountain.


In order to plant the tree here and give it room, I had to expand the wall of the raised bed and bury a sprinkler head. I never turn on the sprinklers anyway. I turned the water off to them and unplugged the timer a long time ago.

Gravensteins need a pollenizer. They don't self-fruit, and they don't pollinate each other (they don't pollinate anything). My neighbor two doors down (about 40 feet away) has a huge apple tree in his backyard that flowers early, like the Gravenstein. Will it work? We shall see. Hopefully, it's not a Gravenstein too.


What else is going on? One other thing of note. There's a spider-web 11 feet up under my deck...

IMG_1540 IMG_1537

and the bottom of the web is anchored to the growing, grasping tendril of Cobaea scandens. I can only imagine the growing tendril slackens the web daily. Do you think the spider has to cinch it up?


Frances, said...

You have been very busy. I did not know that carrots will self sow, must try it. Will your apple tree be the type that is columnar? Keep us up to the minute with the solar pond. It looks like spring there where you are.

Brent said...

I've been gardening for some time, more avidly in recent years, and I wasn't aware that there was a consensus opinion among gardeners on what a gardening shovel looks like.

I've always used the kind that you broke. I have two in that style - one with a wider blade than the other. I've heard the shovel with the smaller width blade called a "lady" shovel or something like that. I like it for getting into tighter spots and shoveling heavy materials, since I can't get such huge shovelfuls with it.

I've always steered away from the type you have now, since it appears shorter and would require more bending at the waist to use.

chuck b. said...

The one I broke was good for big jobs. But at this point, it's pretty much small jobs from now on. Small jobs in tighter and tighter spaces. I think gardeners under-value small shovels. There's no such thing as a gardener's shovel per se--let alone a consensus. I think you'll find people even disagree about the difference between a shovel and a spade. I'm not getting in to that one.

Annie in Austin said...

The concrete article was pretty interesting, Chuck - makes me wonder how different the world might look if concrete use had been uninterrupted.

Although for that particular task I might have used a garden fork, my favorite tool for digging in crowded borders was actually labeled as a drain shovel - think I've heard it called a "shooter" since you can aim into the bed like a sharp-shooter.

But Philo prefers the kind you just bought, Chuck. Maybe it's a guy thing?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose