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March 2019, Week 4.....Finally Spring and We're Loving It!

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
March 23, 2019

We have made it through all that ugly, cold March wind and now we're having....what.....tornadoes, hail, rain, wind and flooding? At least some areas have had that this weekend. At our house it remained pretty mild and quiet, with some sunshine and warmth. So, yes, the weather escalated quickly, didn't it? It seems like we're getting April type weather early which is not necessarily a good thing since April often brings severe storms.

Spring is exploding here, but in the best of ways. Our soil temperatures are on a nice warming trend, and the cold nights are fading away. Of course, let's not get cocky. The cold nights probably aren't totally gone yet, so we still have to watch that forecast. This week seems like it will be a good time to plant, and I hope to spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday out in the garden, weather permitting.

Speaking of the forecast, ours for the coming week improved drastically over the last couple of days, with nights that had been forecast to barely hit 40 now forecast to hit the mid-40s. I love that. There's nothing worse than waking up to cold mornings. I'm ready for moderate weather to stick around a while---you know, I want Goldilocks weather that is not too cold, not too hot and is just right.

I am so tired of looking at happy tomato plants that are eager to go into the ground but which are stuck in flats waiting for the soil to warm up. I'm ready for the ground to warm up and catch up with the plants so that the soil and the plants can be happy together. No one should be surprised if I announce one day soon that "I planted the first tomato plants today". It is going to happen, and it is going to happen soon. Four plants are starting to bloom and it is time. They seem to be in such a hurry to grow this year, other than a couple of slow, sluggish varieties that don't seem to care if they live or die, thrive and grow or fade away....sigh. It is always something. I don't know why all the varieties cannot have a good year in the same year, but that never happens. There's always at least a couple of varieties that just don't seem happy.

We need to mow again this week. I guess we now are stuck in the weekly mowing rut and the only way that will change is that later in Spring, assuming it rains regularly, we'll move up to mowing twice a week. You know, I wouldn't mind a green concrete lawn or an astroturf lawn if money were no object. Mowing gets old fast, but at least it provides us with grass clippings for use as mulch or as fodder for the compost pile.

I don't think there is anything left to prune, so I'm glad all that is done.

I am extremely pleased with how few weeds there are in the garden. I worked so hard last year to keep everything mulched, and it paid off. We probably don't have but about 10% as many weeds as we had last year. Of course, last year it warmed up earlier and maybe weeds got off to an earlier start, but there's still tons fewer and I'm pulling them when I encounter them so they do not get a chance to become established.

The rain brought back the puddles. Bah, humbug, we are so tired of them. If it rains all Spring, we're going to have a swamp.

Now that all the cool season stuff is in the ground, I'm really ready to move on with warm season plants, but it still is just a touch too cool for them. I'm hoping that changes soon.

Has everyone solved their ants-in-the-house problem? We still don't have ants in our kitchen, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I saw the first crickets on Friday. They are not full-sized, but rather, about one-third the size of a typical adult. Maybe one-fourth. The only grasshopper I've seen in the garden is a full sized dead one. I left him there to scare other living ones away.

What are y'all doing this weekend? How about during the upcoming week? Is everyone getting caught up on planting now that the weather has improved?

I'm toying with the idea of moving my two folding tables to the garden tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning, and then putting all the tomato plants out there to stay. That way, they already are where they need to be when planting day arrives. I'd love to move the greenhouse closer to the garden, but I don't think Tim would want to do that. I have it midway between the two big fenced garden plots, but would rather have it near the front garden. In fact, I'd love to move it to the area just east of the garden fence....maybe it would block the herbicide drift that hits my garden every year. It is too late to move it this year, but there's always next winter......


Comments (51)

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Dawn, when I read your posts, like the one above, I am thinking I'm in the wrong state. I should be in Missouri's OKGW! We haven't mowed anything yet and aren't anywhere near close to it. I am not even seriously thinking about outdoor gardening yet. Oh sure, I've been fooling around out there the past week, but hardcore prep? Nope.

    Yesterday was a weird rain day. Off and on all day. It might rain 10 drops then quit, a while later a downpour, for 10 minutes, then off. Finally it got serious for a while and we had downpours with just brief let-ups. I've not been out to check the gauge yet. We were supposed to get about .75". I bet that's about what we did get.

    How much work would it be to move the greenhouse? Maybe you should just get another one. :)

    I got nothing for ya, HJ. LOL

    I have no plans for specific tasks outside. I'm more in a dizzy, sort of panic mode. There is SO much to be done, I just tackle whatever appears in front of my eyes. If my eyes wander and see something else, I'm off to the next thing, and the next and the next. And I'll be flurrying like this, likely, the entire month. But the BIG thing on my mind, right behind getting all the plants on the grow cart re-homed, is getting the deck and other wood structures painted.

    I remember, Dawn, that you predicted I'd have all sorts of things re-seeding this year. I was out scouting Friday. . . couldn't see much because of mulch to be cleared, but in one spot that IS clear, I saw a multitude of petunia sprouts. What a hoot! I also see that at least one of my lavenders is A-OK. Today, if it's not too wet, I'll continue clearing some of the beds out.

    I started some seeds indoors that I should have just sown directly. But now they're growing, and I'm torn--whether to toss them out or just keep nurturing them. If the indoor cart gets too crowded, THEN I can toss them, I guess, or at least put them out and let them handle their fate.

  • Megan Huntley
    Well, I’m already over spring. At work on Friday I was working on graphics to support an article I’ve recently written about storm cleanup and no joke, thought I’m bringing some bad juju on myself. In the last few years, I got what I’m 99% convinced was west nile after writing an article about identifying insect-borne illnesses and had a friend nearly catch his deck on fire when his grill got a little out of control after I wrote an article on grilling safety. Well, yesterday we were hit dead on by the hail core that got NW OKC, Edmond and Jones. Both cars are covered in hail dings. Before the hail started, I’d been watching a wall cloud that two times I saw try to drop a funnel and could tell it was very near the hospital where my FIL is currently recovering from pneumonia. Thank god nothing actually happened over there.

    I’m not pleased that this part of spring decided to show up early. I was working on getting the garage cleaned out so we could get cars inside for this kind of weather. Our roof is also just old enough that the torrential downpour of hail - it looked like bands of rain in a hurricane but it was hail - may have done enough damage that it would need to be replaced.

    Garlic was beaten up. Stems were beaten off my daffodils. Some of my kale had leaves beaten off and my lettuce was hit a little. The lettuce is interplanted in my tomato bed - which is on the south side of a large maple, intentionally for wind and heat protection, and it worked. The lettuce was only mildly attacked. Our Bradford pear was one of the late bloomers in the neighborhood and most of the blossoms were beaten off of it. Most of the others were already on mostly leafed out but what blossoms were left were scattered like snow.

    With the hail, we had a 1/2 inch of rain in about 30 minutes, so the garden will be too wet today for doing much. I got some nice video of the rivers going thru what will become the rain garden. It’s okay though that the ground is too wet. We’ll be busy. I’ve promised my MIL that we’ll come sit with my FIL so she can go take a shower and a nap. After that, because LO hit a milestone this week, and as a reward she gets to pick dinner - she’s chosen a place with a dog friendly patio so the whole family can come. Lol that will be fun, not! We were supposed to go last night and would have if I hadn’t gotten a tweet alert on my phone from NWS in Norman that storms were likely. I checked radar on my phone and could see the three super cells starting to develop. Really glad I got that tweet because I can’t imagine us being caught at a restaurant on the patio with two dogs in a hail storm.

    Not sure how much gardening I’ll get done this week. I need to work on cleaning up some containers so that might be it. I’m watching next weekend closely as it’s when I would normally plant my toms but local Mets are calling for lows near freezing.

    Dawn, I feel like I saw my first cricket a week or two ago, so I’m a little surprised that you’re just reporting one. LO told me recently that she’d read that the sound of crickets at night helps plants grow!
  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    Well, Megan, it is troubling that your articles seem to bring the subject to your door. How about articles about world peace and excellence in OK schools? Or the perfect gardening season? I can tell you you did not bring hail to Edmond. My brother lives there. Hail damaged his roof so often the last time he replaced it he got some special hail resistant product. Earned him a discount on his house insurance. That was spectacular video of the hail storm!

    I am sorry you FIL is back in the hospital.

    H/J, do your neighbors have wisteria? I'm telling you it travels. But maybe you have some mutant weed.

    We had a lovely lunch yesterday, despite the rain.

    We only got about half an inch at the Tulsa Mesonet site (all my gages are broken). Enough got to my lettuce in the planter against the house I won't have to water today. I have a few tiny sprouts out doors. The salad turnips, the Okame spinach. I hope the other spinach sprouts.

    Sasquatch's new trick is pooping in the beds. She seems to like the straw mulch.

    A new week. It's cloudy, seems like a good day to take the tomatoes for a walk, as Jen says. I'm a little afraid of moving them. You know what happens when you drop them. I have to move them through a child gate. I should set up the tallest ones on the dining room table, then it would be easier to move. Ron would hate that. Too much garden related clutter.

    Have a good week y'all.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Before I respond to anything written above, I just have to say this: It is 83 degrees at our house! 83 degrees! I am head over heels in love with today's weather, though we were up in Moore all day (or on the road coming and going) and only got home a little while ago. As we drove south on the way home, the vehicle's thermometer kept climbing higher and higher so I knew we were headed into good, warm weather at home. I had to water all the tomato plants when we got home. They weren't horribly dry, but they were drier than I like, though they otherwise seemed happy with the sun, warmth and wind. Today they were outdoors from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I think I am putting them outdoors to stay tomorrow. We are not expecting the very cold nights here next week that some of you have in your forecasts.

    Guess how warm our soil temperatures are now in the raised beds? The answer is warm enough! I'm planting tomato plants tomorrow, and I won't even be the first one to do so. One of our neighbors planted theirs yesterday.

    Jennifer, Ask away about magnolias. We had one for about a decade.

    Nancy, Blame it on our beloved Arbuckle Mountains. Those of us south of the Arbuckles warm up a lot earlier. Today we noticed as we drove up to central OK that as soon as we had climbed up (on the interstate, not actually climbing a mountain) to the higher elevation of the Arbuckles and proceeded north, the number of trees really leafing out diminished quickly, and eventually the number of trees in bloom, the wildflowers in bloom and even the amount of green grass/weeds along the highway dropped sharply. It was like someone drew a line along the Arbuckles and decreed that everything south of that line could rush headlong into Spring while everything north had to proceed carefully, more cautiously and more slowly. It is what it is. This is why I'm often so far ahead of y'all---it is, um, geography, climatology and weather, and we have no control over what conditions those give us: it is all about location, location, location.

    We've never moved the greenhouse, but I guess it would be a lot of work. It is 12' wide by 24' long and Tim wouldn't be pleased at the thought of moving it, but he might be more pleased about moving it than about building another one. I'll have to mull this idea over in my mind for a while.

    I feel the same way every time I step outdoors....like I have ADHD. There's so many things that need to be done all at the same time, and I jump from one to another. I have to really work hard to force myself to focus on one thing and finish it before moving on to the next, and I am not good at doing that.

    Megan, Wow. It does seem like you need to be careful what you're writing about.....but, the hail could be worse. I am sorry for all the damage to your plants, your house and your cars. At least it was very early in the gardening season before your whole garden was up and growing like crazy and everything was producing. In our worst OK hail storm that we have had here, tomato plants that were knee-high to waist-high and had heavy loads of fruit, some of it already half its mature size, in late May were demolished right down to the ground by medium-sized hail---roughly ping pong ball sized hail and we lost every single plant. I cleaned up all that I could and, thankfully, most of the tomato plants resprouted from the ground and grew, but we didn't get ripe fruit until August. I had to replant everything else. That was only our worst Oklahoma hail. Our worst Texas hail was baseball sized, and nothing recovered from that beating. Hail is just another reminder that gardening here is not for the faint-hearted.

    I'm sorry to hear about your FIL's pneumonia. I hope he recovers quickly and fully.

    I, too, was watching video from storm chasers of those funnels trying to come down out of the clouds, but it wasn't as scary for us because it was happening up there and not here. However, I walked out and saw a hideous cloud to our west and came in and told Tim that I wasn't worried about it for us, but I was worried about what was behind it and where it was going to go because it looked like it could be bad. We watched it veer NW of us....and then....half an hour later our son's area was under a tornado warning. As far as I know, the radar-indicated rotation stayed in the air and never reached the ground though. They did get rain, and some folks got hail, but that storm sort of petered out before it came far enough east to reach their place.

    It is possible the crickets have been around longer. Between having the kids and grandkids living with us temporarily and all the rain and resulting mud, slop, glop and mess, I really haven't spent much time in the garden. I've just been waiting endlessly for it to dry up. Usually I see grasshoppers at the same time as the first crickets, but we normally have a good grasshopper year (as in, not too many of them) after a wet winter, so after the very wet autumn and winter we just had, I'm thinking maybe the grasshoppers will be late to show up and won't be too bad this year. Or, at least that's what I am hoping will happen.

    Amy, That's a great idea about getting Megan to write about things that Oklahoma needs.

    Your Sasquatch ensures there is never a dull moment, you know? How boring would life be without her?

    You got more rain than we did. It almost all went around us and missed us, and I am not complaining. I bet tomorrow morning, after this heat and sunshine today, we will have the driest soil we've had since rain started in September. I'm excited about that. A few warm days like this and we will get some actual drying up of the excess soil moisture.

    We are warming up so quickly that I'm glad I did not devote an excessive amount of space to cool-season crops because I suspect our cool-season, or what is left of it, will be very brief.

    The birthday party we attended today for a darling 1-year-old boy who is the grandson of some of our closest friends, was just too cute. The theme was the very hungry caterpillar, from the book by Eric Carle. His mama had balloon caterpillars on the wall and all the food (including a caterpillar birthday cake made out of green-frosted cupcakes) fit the theme. It was a waffle breakfast buffet party with Belgian waffles, eggs, sausage, fruit and breakfast type beverages. We had a ridiculously good time, but I confess the caterpillar made me think of gardening and plants. Of course, in the Spring, it doesn't take much to make me become fixated on all things gardening.

    We stopped by the kids' house on our way home to see the progress they've made this week, and I saw the interior of the detached garage for the first time. Oh wow, some of the interior walls are the same beadboard from the 1930s that they found on the closet ceiling last week, only not painted with lead paint...just left their natural wood color. I am in love with that garage and hope they do not modernize it too much because it is too cool in all its old-fashioned glory. It still has the old doorknobs and hardware on the walk-in door as they have in the house, and the sliding garage doors have all the original hardware. Their whole place is a fascinating time capsule. There is a very large climbing rose outside the MB window that I'm hoping will be an old heirloom from that era, but that might be too much to hope for. Today I got at good look at the Carnegie Library just up the road from them about a block (no longer in use as a library though) and just love it. Their neighborhood is named after that library.

    It was a good day here once we got home---two tomato plants (Early Girl and Bush Early Girl) have formed their first fruit (I've been thumping their blossoms twice daily) and a Purple Cherokee opened its first bloom. Several of the SunSugar plants have formed buds but the buds are small still and won't bloom for a few more days. I'm always happy to see those first fruit form!


  • jlhart76

    I've been taking plants out most days, so I decided to just move them into the garage permanently. That way it's much easier to move them outside every day. This weekend they got about 6 hours outside, so they're ready to stay out all day while I'm at work. They'll be in this space between the garage and the van, so it's a little protected in case bad weather comes. Normally I'd put them along the sidewalk but with puppies, my brother and his girlfriend coming and going, that isn't a safe idea this year. Aldi has their mini greenhouses on sale this coming week, so I'm going to pick another one up. Put the wheels on it (Tigger ate the wheels to the one I got last year) so I don't have to shuffle as many trays.

    Looks like the sculpit I got last year went to seed, I have about half a dozen little seedlings growing in the pot it was in last year. There's also some mystery seedlings that popped up so they'll get to continue growing until I can ID them. And the 3 raspberry plants have turned into about 20. So I need to pick a good place to move them permanently.

    The guy who mows our church lawn mulched up all the leaves on the property and scalped the grass, so I asked him if I could have the bags. I've gotten them the last 2 years, and between them, vegetable scraps, and coffee grounds, the soil in my front bed is coming along nicely. I'll use a big chunk of them to fill my larger planters, then top with a few inches of potting soil. When I dump the pots this fall, all those leaves and grass pieces will have turned into some nice rich soil.

  • jlhart76

    Oh, and Nancy, what you describe is also known as but-first-itis. I need to mulch the beds, but first I need to pull weeds. But before I pull weeds, I need to empty my weed bucket in the low spot where I'm trying to regrow grass. But first I need to move the dog's ball that is stuck in the puddle in that low spot. But before that I have to get the dogs inside....you know how it goes.

  • hazelinok

    Hi Everyone.

    Megan, sorry about your FIL. Hope he heals quickly. My sister and her family live in Edmond. Her husband was grilling when it hit. Crazy. Stinks about the hail damage on your stuff.

    Two and half years ago, during the remodel, we put a new roof on. It must be the same stuff you mentioned, Amy. The insurance company paid for the roof AND gave us a refund on our insurance for this super heavy-duty type of roof.

    Amy, the wisteria would have to cross paved roads...well, there's no paved road between us and the neighbors to our south and west. It would have to travel a few acres though. Wait. I just now thought of something. We took out a fence 2 and a half years ago. There was some sort of vine growing on it. I don't know what it was, but it climbed up the pecan tree. I'll see if I can find a pic of it. Could it have lived for that long without showing itself until now? It's the weirdest thing--it seems to originate from that small round bed the salvia was in. The only other thing that was planted there was broccoli prior to the salvia. Whatever it is, I pulled out about 2 dozen more runner things this afternoon.

    Wow, Dawn! So excited you get to plant tomatoes tomorrow! I'm waiting about 3 more weeks. My plants are very small. Two of them just sprouted. They took forever and one was an Early Girl. lol

    Do your friends live in actual Moore or the west Moore area?

    Thanks for keeping us updated on your kids' house. I love reading about it.

    I had a ridiculous time today after work that involved driving for what seemed like hours with my Mom, but I won't bore y'all with the details. I was disappointed that it ate up a couple of hours of outdoor time.

    I often don't have a plan when I go out. I'm just "led" to do whatever I do. Does that make sense? Maybe it's like y'all's ADHD. But, I start one project and jump to another. It's that time of year that it's hard to stay indoors.

    I planted the swiss chard and spinach. The spinach went into a big pot. Anyone grow spinach in pots?

    Let me tell you about my thyme. Once upon a time in the spring of 2015, three little thyme seeds were started under grow lights in Jennifer's bedroom. They grew, but were sad little twig things when they went to live outdoors in May. Then it rained. It rained a lot. Jennifer was sure they all perished or were washed away, but they survived and survive they did. They grew into each other and are all woody now.

    So, today I broke them apart and left one. The other two were placed on the back fence. Maybe they'll have a chance to survive back there. They were greening up and smelling oh, so nice, but were taking over. It felt good to clean up the herb garden. The cilantro and parsley are so healthy. The lemon balm is coming back and has made a 100 babies. The lavender is coming back too! The smell while cleaning out that bed was delightful. Absolutely delightful.

    I have a friend who is slightly disabled and she so badly wants to garden. I've picked up a few things for her. I think she'll be able to do a herb garden and a container garden. Also, some flowers.

    I potted up some lemon balm for her and parsley.

    I'm rambling, huh?

    Jen, do your raspberry plants make fruit yet?

    I bought a fig tree. Just need to figure out where to put it.

    Do magnolia bushes do well here? I'll look at the variety's name next time I go to Walmart. It was not expensive, but don't want to waste money on something that won't do well.

    So far my elders are looking healthy. I want get some trees and fruit bushes planted in the next month. I've waited too long as it is.

    Nancy, I hope your cold is better.

    That is all from me. Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow. It's for a good reason, but I would rather be home.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Oh yes, we had a good time at lunch--but too short a visit. The rain didn't interfere a bit!

    Sasquatch, shame! I decided several years ago to teach son and DIL's Australian shepherd where to poop. Showed him near the alley way. It was pretty easy, didn't take more than 2-3 days. LOL Go for it!

    We had 1.25" here; it's too damp to work today, but will be okay by tomorrow, I think. 70 here today and that was heaven to me now. 83 might have been too hot, Dawn. LOL It was such a pity that the ground was too damp to work. But we do not get puddles here, you know that. I was going to ask you if we're supposed to cut verbena bonariensis back, as you must remember, last year was my first year with that delightful flower. Well, I see my answer now, with lots of new little shoots jumping up. Yours are probably up, what, about 6 inches? And my echinacea are up only an inch or two. I'm thrilled one of the two lavender clumps is fine. . . jury's out on the other one. Comfrey, I swear, grows 6 inches a day.

    Jen, you NAILED it! I go through that but-first-itis several times a day, regarding housecleaning, gardening, even cooking. It's always 3 or 4 steps forward, then back to zero to properly get to the starting point.

    I just wrote a paragraph about how cranky I get when I've got a cold. Was THAT ever rude, when some of us are at the age where our time is very limited, or others have really serious medical issues. That was a good lesson for me.

    HJ, sounds like you've got a good handle on stuff. I have a good handle on almost nothing. I have way too many healthy seedlings and no room and way too many baby seeds waiting to sprout. AGGH. I took on too much this spring, I admit it.

    I think this year, I will concentrate on keeping Bermuda out of everything. Wow, this gardening in OK with Bermuda is not for sissies. XOXO to all.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Still not much going on here, the onions are starting to grow, kale and spinach is coming up, lettuce is about 1 or 2 inches tall, radishes are like everything else, too thick. The tomatoes that I start without a light shelf look terrible and some are just starting to form their first true leaves. I might be able to save a few of them.

    We had a wonderful 80th Birthday party for Madge yesterday, had between 85 and 90 people showed up.

    We are having too much rain and the tractor is tearing up the lawn so bad that I had to stop my building project.

    My neighbor has been in the hospital for about 2.5 weeks. I hope he is well enough to go back to the nursing home this week. It is much easier to check on him and mom if they are at the same location.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jen, I'm glad you're able to get the tomato plants out of the house.

    This morning I noticed they lowered the forecast temperatures for Saturday night, and I'm not happy about it (ours currently shows 38 degrees for that night, but significantly north I'm seeing some as low as 30s and 32s) but I am proceeding with my plans. I'll just have the row covers handy even for the flats not in the ground by then. I refuse to lose a whole week of great growing temperatures, including soil temperatures now above 60 degrees, just because one cold night lurks out there almost a week away. That 38 degrees makes me a little antsy because we have routinely dropped 4 to 8 degrees colder than forecast at night a lot this winter, but we're moving into Spring and the need to take advantage of the warmer conditions to get the plants settled in and setting fruit outweighs the PITA annoyance of having to cover up the plants on an occasional potentially cold night. I do go ahead and put up my row cover hoops when I finish planting a bed, so putting out the row covers after that will take only minimal time. If I didn't have Dallas-like weather that heats up far too hot for tomatoes far too early in the growing season, I wouldn't have to push so hard to get the plants in the ground early. It is what it is. I really wanted to put tomato plants in the ground last week, but was worried about the prospect of hail on Friday so I didn't. Here in this state, though, if we hold back and don't plant because hail is possible, we'll never get our plants in the ground until mid-summer.

    I'm moving all the flats of tomato plants to the fenced garden area today and they will stay there. The longest they've been out on any given day is 9 or 10 hours, but I can tell by their fantastic color, thicker main stalks and thicker, sturdier leaves that they are well-hardened and ready. I have a work table inside the shed that would hold six flats if, for any reason, I decide I need to move them inside. The threat of hail like Megan got this weekend would be a reason to move them into the shed..or the threat of hail like some parts of the D-FW metro got last night (marble sized, but several inches of it sitting on the ground, up to at least tennis ball sized) also would compel me to move flats into the shed, and to throw row covers over the plants in the ground.

    Our ten year-old granddaughter has been raking up leaves and sweetgum seed balls endlessly at their new house and has got what looks like about a dozen bags of them saved for me in their garage. Tim and I will go up with the pickup truck and pick up those bags in a few days. I want to dump out the bags of leaves onto the ground here (don't tell Lillie!) and run over them with the lawn mower, gathering them back up with the mower's grass-catcher so I can use them for mulch. There's still several more bags' worth of leaves on the ground and I'm sure she'll be working on those after school most days this week. While raking up leaves and gathering them might not be her favorite way to spend time, she's getting good at doing it and there is a certain sense of pride that comes with accomplishing such chores. I know that she is proud to be helping get their new house and yard ready for them to move in.

    I agree with you on but-first-itis, and in my garden, it is accompanied by as-long-as-I'm-out-here-I-might-as-well-do-this too. That is how the original garden chore in our head that we set out to do then quickly turns into 9 things being done more or less simultaneously. And, of course, this is why a chore that should take an hour ends up taking 6 hours, but at least once we're done, we've achieved multiple things and finished up a bunch of chores.

    Jennifer, Every year there is just that day when the thought pops into my head that I need to plant tomatoes now. When it happens, I do it. Trusting that instinct never leads me astray. I actually wanted to do it Friday, but didn't, and we were too busy or it was raining on Sat and Sun, making today the big day by default.

    Most of my tomato plants now are 12-16" tall, except for two flats of smaller ones. Essentially the smaller ones started slower and then got trapped between and shaded by larger plants around them in the flats, so they weren't growing as well. Once I pulled all the shorter ones out of the flats with taller plants all around them and put them in their own flats together, they are making good growth now. For whatever reason, this year's tomato seeds sprouted extra quickly, except for two balky varieties, and the seedlings grew faster than usual. There's no real explanation for it...same soil-less mix as every other year, same light shelf, etc. It just seems like the plants are in an extra big hurry this year, so holding them in flats much longer isn't going to work. I am relieved to be able to go ahead and get most of them in the ground before they start flowering. Today I'll start with any that have flowered and/or set fruit and will plant those first, and then I'll plant the ones that are forming flower buds that haven't made it to blossoming size yet. I hope to get between 15 and 30 tomato plants planted, staked, and caged today. Then perhaps tomorrow I can do the same.

    Yes, I often don't have a plan either when I walk out the door to the garden, but just follow where my instincts take me and do what the voices in my head, as I laughingly call those instincts, are telling me to do. To me, when you are gardening that way, it is gardening in its purest form---by instinct or touch or feel or intuition---whatever you choose to call it. To me, it is almost like there is an unspoken communication between the soil, the plants and my soul. I think that form of gardening might not work for everyone. I think it wouldn't work for Tim if he were a gardener---he is the type who would have everything planned out on paper, diagrammed down to the inch, and would have lists of what to do in whichever order.....we are total opposites.

    There are many plants that spread by long, underground, running roots or stolons and your salvia bed area weed with those long stringy things must be one of those. I do wonder what it is. Our horrible greenbrier spreads that way, but the long running stolons are thick and hard, almost like wood, though I don't know what they look like when they are brand new and coming off new, small plants. At least whatever you're dealing with is not bermuda grass or Johnson grass, which makes my brain say "how bad could it be?" (grin)

    I do not know or understand the central OK area well enough to tell you if they are in Moore or West Moore, but they are west of I-35 and not that far from Will Rogers Airport, so could I guess that this area is West Moore? They live in what looks like a new subdivision, but I gather it is new only in the sense that it was completely destroyed by a tornado a few years back and then completely rebuilt. They are renting a place there and it is a really lovely home, but when they buy, they hope to move a little further out and have a couple of acres or maybe at least one acre. I remember we drove by a big park maybe called Lake Hills or something and the name of the subdivision may have been Williamson Farm or Farms. We hadn't been there before, but we've been close to it. When we came up for her baby shower last year, it was held in the subdivision clubhouse. This couple is about Chris' age, and the young man was a year or two behind our son in school, and then they were on the fire department together forever before they both eventually moved to other towns.

    When Tim and I come up to "the city", it is like (to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy's description of his family going to Hawaii) 'the Clampetts going to Beverly Hills....or at least OKC". We are dazed, lost and confused the whole time and never have any idea where we are once we get off I-35. If you're only up there once or twice a year for a few hours, as we are, you never develop an understanding of where the various main roads go (or even what they are!) or how they relate to one another. While I enjoy the few hours we are up there, I'm always relieved to be headed south again on I-35, returning to our quiet rural area where I could sit by our mailbox all day on a Sunday and probably not count more than 30 cars passing by between sunrise and sunset. We don't have that problem when we travel anywhere south, even though the D-FW metroplex has a population of over 7 million, because we know all the highways and main roads there. I'm sure if we were more familiar with the OKC-Moore-Norman area, we'd feel just as comfortable there instead of always feeling totally lost.

    Magnolias do well here. The ones that are bushlike are usually from the hybrid Little Girl line introduced by the US Arboretum in, I believe, 1965, and they are gorgeous. Most have violet or lavender colored blooms with some white in them. "Jane" is the one you most often see in big box stores and garden centers, but sometimes you'll see "Ann". They grow more like shrubs than the regular magnolias do. Here's some great info on them:

    Little Girl line of Magnolias

    Nancy, Some of my verbena bonariensis is at least that tall, but I've been ruthlessly hacking it back lower to the ground, and all the autumn sage as well. Some of the Malva sylvestris is a foot tall. I am surprised the 18-degree nights didn't freeze them back more than they did. Speaking of the verbena bonariensis, babies are sprouting everywhere. I love reseeding plants. So many of the plants I'd love to grow here either cannot handle our soil, our summer heat or the pronounced lack of rainfall in July and August, so I try to be happy about the ones that love it enough and tolerate it well enough to abundantly reseed everywhere with wild abandon. If I am going to have to pull 'weeds', I'd rather it be flowering annuals than crabgrass.

    Comfrey is such an aggressive grower and spreader but I have only myself to blame for unleashing it in my garden. I simply cannot keep it out of the asparagus bed. However, when I see dozens of bees, especially bumblebees, visiting its flowers all day long in April, I'm so glad we have it. I am going to dig it up out of the asparagus bed again this week and then I'm going to toss the plants, roots and all, over the garden fence into the sandy soil area beneath the pecan tree. Either they'll root in and grow, which would be fine, or they'll decompose and feed the soil, which also would be fine.

    Larry, Please tell Madge Happy Birthday for me! I am glad the party was such a success.

    I am sorry the rain is holding back your gardening. I know how frustrating that can be. Today I am going to do a lot of gardening, sunrise to sunset I hope, for the first time in ages. The heat should help dry up the soil quite a bit now, and we are supposed to be rain-free (knock on wood) until the weekend.

    Well, I don't know if my winter-lazy body can handle a full day in the garden, but we'll find out. I might have to take more frequent breaks than I used to.

    Y'all have a good day. I need to get moving and be ready to head out the door as soon as the sun comes up.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Here's more signs of Spring for y'all:

    The purple martins aren't just flying and swooping around in lazy circles over the property eating insects, but actually look like they are beginning to choose their compartments in the martin house. Nest building ought to commence after each of them make their final selection of which little compartment seems best for them and their future eggs and baby birds.

    The coral honeysuckle's first blossoms opened up today, which will delight the hummingbirds, and there are more blossoms likely to follow tomorrow.

    More bluebonnet plants are sprouting in the front pasture.

    A flock of six wild turkeys wandered into the yard around noon. I hadn't even heard them gobbling yet, but they are here.

    Songbirds are happily singing and flying all over the place, perhaps getting ready for some nest-building of their own.

    The cats are coming indoors already, collapsing on the floor, sighing and closing their eyes to sleep. Apparently 67 degrees is too warm for them and their fun frolicking in the sun already has exhausted them. Clearly they are barely ready for Spring weather to arrive.

    The red oaks are leafing out and their tiny red leaves are so adorable. I wish they'd keep that color as they enlarge, but they don't.

    I have 20 tomato plants in the ground and probably that's enough for today. I have to do all the non-planting stuff now, like staking them, dragging out their cages and setting them up, staking the cages and them wrapping them in plastic. I might not get to the plastic today because I'm also taking frequent breaks to come indoors and do some sort of housework since we were out gadding about all weekend. So far, I've swept floors, done a load of dishes and two loads of laundry. I don't like sacrificing garden time to do housework, but I need to stay on top of everything so I don't get behind on anything.

    It is 67 degrees here at 2 p.m. headed for a forecast high of 69. It feels plenty warm, which is funny, because a month from now, 67 probably will feel too cool. I know that yesterday's 83 felt way too hot.

    I hope everyone is enjoying their day.


  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Sounds heavenly, Dawn! Not here, though. It was 57, but not sunny, so just felt too cool for fun in the yard. I cut back dead plants in the bed and that was all for me out there. So I mostly stayed in doing laundry and cleaning a bit. YOU are might ambitious today! I can almost feel the "spring" in your step.

    Larry, that is an enormous number of people. Must have been quite a party. Madge (and you) must be well loved.

    And, Dawn, I was laughing at you two feeling like the Clampetts visiting Moore. You Dallas/Fort Worth jetsetters.

    Well, okay. You all are right. Lemon balm is an invasive monster. I'm going to have to perform extreme surgery on it this year. And also on daylilies. I'm going to spend a lot of time digging up and destroying those big orange daylilies. They are everywhere this year.

    Meanwhile, the middle of April can't get here soon enough for me! I want this batch of seedlings out the door and into the ground.

  • Megan Huntley

    Guess what I have more of... egg yolk tomatoes. Four of them out of nowhere this weekend. I'm laughing at it. They'll be small but if I can separate them, I'll bring them to SF. Every time I check, the forecast lows are different for this weekend but I think we're probably going to be dealing with landscape rock this weekend so we can build a path for the dogs to come in without walking through a river and I'll work on planting tomatoes in the evenings next week. FIL is still in the hospital. They think they have found the source of his confusion but more testing is needed. Sounds like they're making headway on the pneumonia though. HJ - your salvia/not salvia has me perplexed and intrigued. Where did you get it? Could there have been a mystery root with it that was busy getting established last year and is ready to take off this year?

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Nancy, I’ll take some of the daylilies. I love orange ones.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Snapdragons or weeds?

  • hazelinok

    Dawn, how many tomato plants will you have this year?

    I like how you worded the garden "instinct"...how nature communicates with you and leads you to that day's tasks. That's how it feels with me. Today's "voice" told me to put toothpicks around the pea seedlings, to water the carrot seed, and to pull weeds and put down more cardboard and wood chips in the pathways that didn't get completed last year. Almost done with that task...and then it will be time to put MORE wood chips on top of the old ones because they are breaking down already.

    If Tom is home and we have a specific chore that needs to be done, I do try to stay on task while he is around and available. If I don't , it's all too easy for him to get distracted as well. haha.

    And Williamson Farms is SO close to our old house. You are probably thinking of South Lakes Park. There is another park that is just a mile or so away (to the east). It's Earlywine Park. I lived across the street from there.

    The magnolia variety is Jane. I bought one today. I do have more questions about it--like can it be shaped like a tree. But I'll hold off asking my questions because it's late and also I should do some research on it...as well as read the link you provided, Dawn.

    Nancy, it wasn't too pleasant here either. It was cloudy and not warm. Yes! Lemon balm is a nut. Good grief I have a million baby lemon balm plants coming up all over one of the herb beds. It sure does smell good though.

    Happy Birthday to Madge!

    Megan, the salvia came from Kim. She brought it to the SF. It is a mystery. I have another pictures of it. I'll come back and post it. This one is a little bigger with more leaves, so maybe someone will recognize it.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Rebecca, I'm gonna say if you had snapdragons here, these are definitely snapdragons. Did you? AND, my friend. . . I will bring you many large orange daylilies. But they only bloom from like June 15-20 through July 20. Sure you want them? I like them, but don't like them spreading. So from now on will not be dividing.

  • luvncannin

    Was so thrilled to work outside. Goji berry elderberry rhubarb mint are up and doing great. I cleaned the yard, potted up plants, planted more herbs, and some porters. And I got a light sunburn lol.

    It was nice be out in the sun.

    I also hung out 3 loads of laundry. Very productive day.

  • Megan Huntley

    I haven't seen much of my garden since getting out after the hail on Saturday to assess the damage. I was a crabby butt on Sunday and was eventually sent to bed by my family - it was more like, "No it's okay. Why don't you go take a nap." but I knew what they meant and didn't argue.

    I hope to get some containers cleaned out and ready for all my dwarf whatnots that I'm experimenting with this year. That's about all I can do with as saturated as my yard is. You can hear the ground squish beneath your feet with every step and some areas are getting really compacted. It's been like that most of winter but now that we're outside more it's causing compaction problems.

    We got about 1/2" of rain in 30 minutes during Saturday's storm, and I got some good videos of the water runoff through what will be the rain garden area. Those will be a good reference when that work eventually, finally commences. I was planning to move a chair and bench about a foot to accommodate a narrow planting of northern sea oats that I desperately want to squeeze in but discovered that there is a very nice runoff stream flowing through there that would be disrupted, so I'm going to leave well enough alone. I'm itching to get back there and work but with our soil moisture I'll have to wait until summer. I knew this when I planned the project and thankfully there is a shade tree and I was able to get one of those beach umbrellas that screw into the ground. Plan will be to work on it in the mornings and recover by laying next to the HOA pool in the afternoon. I'll love every back-breaking minute of it once it's finally time, but I'm really itching to dig in the dirt. Outside of planting - which I can't do much of right now - my other projects hinge around the rain garden project so I'm in a holding pattern and going quite a bit stir crazy.

  • Megan Huntley
    Oh boy...
  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Megan, lol. I love the Ticker, particularly its use of humor. Spring in Oklahoma is not for sissies.

    I don't have time to read all the posts this morning as the garden is calling my name. I'll try to read and catch up at lunch or after dinner. I just wanted to let y'all know I am alive and survived the first tomato planting day.

    The latest Spring report:

    Comfrey plants are blooming. I know, I know. It is early. They'll likely suffer frost damage sometime in the next few weeks, but they are blooming now and the bees love them.

    The onion chives plants are going to open their first purple blossoms today. The garlic chives do not bloom this early, so it will be a while yet for them.

    We are harvesting asparagus. I can't remember if I mentioned that before.

    I ended up with 24 tomato plants in the ground yesterday but didn't have time to get the cages up around them. I'll start out with that task this morning.

    I am watching the weekend forecast---I have frost blankets ready and waiting (and I even washed all those humongous monsters at the end of last Spring so they look fairly white and pretty again).

    The lavender plants are getting huge. I've never been able to grow lavender here because our soil holds too much water for far too long, even in areas that are most well-amended. So, after years of failing with lavender, I decided to plant some in one of our three tall (22" above grade level and with a fast-draining mix) potato beds---the ones lined with hardware cloth to exclude voles. The beds drain extra well, and the lavender plants I planted there last Spring have quadrupled in size, so I am going to add more to that bed. Other plants growing in that bed are red yucca, autumn sage, meadow sage and Tecoma stans (not perennial though in our cold microclimate, but I'll plant another one this spring because I love them).

    Now, out to the garden I go. I actually was out there at 7:30 a.m. but came inside for a few minutes to eat breakfast after I realized that working in the garden on an empty stomach that is growling just isn't the best idea.


  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    I'm quite proud, I took tomatoes for a walk, I planted beets, carrots, lettuce and some Swiss chard that got missed the other day. One of the chard got spilled the other day, after having been soaked. It got spilled again today, but I salvaged about 6 seeds, which is more than I need. There are spinach and turnip sprouts coming up. It was a lovely day. My scooter makes working SOO much better. This is probably all I am going to accomplish today. The tree pollen is doing me in. Oh, there are baby comfreys in the bed. But mostly it looks like weeds.

    So there is a plant in a pot from last year, I THINK it is gogi berry. Pretty sure it came from SF, but could have come from Eileen. The label was a popcycle stick that is nearly composted. Who labeled with those? Do you think it is Gogi?

    Happy birthday to Madge!!

    Shoot, it's almost 6:00, ha ha ha what's for dinner?

  • luvncannin

    It is goji!!! I raran out of mini blinds lol.

  • dbarron

    Well, I finally am seeing stuff emerge from the ground, and those vile bradford pears are blooming. Redbuds probably in a week or two. I'm so ready....so very ready.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Nancy, there were mini snaps in that bed last year, so I’m pretty sure they’re probably snaps. And I still want the daylilies please.

    I’m frustrated with the tomatoes. I have lots of the ones I’m growing out for donation, but very few to none of the ones I’m planning on growing myself. Most of them were seeded in jugs a month ago. So i guess I’ll be buying or begging most of my plants this year. Even brand new seeds aren’t sprouting. 5 million Jet Stars from a 4 year old pack, but not one Bella Rosa from a brand new pack. SMH.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    dbarron, Our redbuds are glorious right now, so I'm assuming in a week or two, yours will be glorious as well.....and ours will be fading. I wish the bloom period would last longer than it does.

    Amy, It sounds like you got tons of stuff done today.

    Everyone's seasonal allergies are so bad right now. I'll be glad when all the trees are done pollinating, but that relief is some time away still.

    Megan, Same old, same old Spring weather roller-coaster. We aren't expecting a freeze here, but we'll be in the mid- to upper-30s on those cold nights/mornings, so I'll have the tomato plants covered up regardless. I'm still not sorry I planted them as our weather is so lovely and they look supremely happy in the ground.

    Being stuck in a holding pattern is tiresome, isn't it? In Spring, I feel like my gardening activities are always one step forward, two steps back. Every. Single. Year. I'd love to have a year where it warms up, stays warm and we can plunge headlong into Spring planting without holding back and waiting for the other shoe to fall.

    I thought of you and your hail damage when the DFW metro was getting hit a day or two later. There were a lot of areas that got hail similar to yours, but in a few unfortunate neighborhoods they had hail at least to the size of tennis balls or baseballs. Some folks said they had grapefruit sized hail, but I've seen no official confirmation of that and no photos either, other than busted vehicle windshields and such....which could have been from that tennis ball-sized hail.

    It looks like a lot of us are in the Slight Risk area for later in the week, and I'm just hoping hail isn't the main risk, though it very well could be.

    Kim, It sounds like you had a very lovely and productive day. I hope this means that you are feeling better too.

    Nancy, I agree with you on the ID of the snapdragons. They look just like my snapdragons. Having said that, we have a very similar weed that pops up at the other end of the garden, only its leaves are slightly more narrow, so every time I see it, I think "snapdragon" and then "oh, nope, it is that darned weed".

    Jennifer, I have no idea how many tomato plants I'll have this year. I'm feeling like I am going to plant a lot of them, scattered around between at least three locations---the front garden, the back garden, and the mostly unused third garden plot behind the garage. That garage garden plot likely is the one place that is least likely to suffer from herbicide drift because the house protects it from drift from the east, the woodland protects from the north and the west, and the garage from the south, so I'm thinking of planting 20 or 30 tomatoes in feed tubs back there. They would be my back-up tomatoes in case my garden gets hit by herbicide drift 5 or 6 times like it did last year. My break from canning is over, and I need to grow a ton of tomatoes to can for everything....not just salsa, but tomato sauce, pasta sauce, chili base, etc. So, I'm fixed on the idea of 75-100 plants. I have 24 in the ground right now, and could have doubled that to 48 today, but decided to hold off because of the cold weekend weather. I will have just the one very large tomato bed to cover, so I'm going to put up the hoops over it tomorrow, and attach the row cover to the hoops along the north side of the bed with zip ties, so it won't blow away. That way, the row cover is there, ready and waiting. If severe weather threatens on Friday afternoon through Friday night, I can quickly pull the row cover over the hoops and pin it down on the south side with heavy metal t-posts in just a couple of minutes time. Or, it will be there ready and waiting for use Saturday and Sunday nights. Everything else in my garden is cool-season and should be fine.

    I think next week I'll probably work on planting tomatoes in the large containers that already are filled with soil, and also will work on filling up the containers that currently are empty. I'm going to put hugelkultur material in the bottom half of those large planters.

    I also try to stay on task when Tim is home so he'll stay on task as well. lol.

    I bet that was the name of the park. I was watching and trying to remember how we got there so we wouldn't get so lost next time.

    Jane and all the other magnolia hybrids in the Little Girl line cannot be shaped like a tree---they are shrubby by nature and always will fight you and try to revert to their natural shrubby shape. They are gorgeous trees. One of the really old houses in Ardmore had one that was a good 20' tall, and it still was very shrubby.

    There's so many salvias and some of them have leaves that are hard to distinguish from one another, so I wouldn't try to ID based just on foliage. Having said that, the leaves on my Woodland Sage (also often called Meadow Sage, which is really confusing) 'Lyrical Blues' look very similar to those. It is Salvia nemorosa. There are lots of S. nemorosas out there, though, including May Night.

    Rebecca, I believe snapdragons.

    Megan, I'm glad that it appears your FIL's pneumonia treatment is working. Everyone must be feeling quite relieved about that. As for his confusion---when my dad was in his mid- to late-60s, he had an emergency appendectomy. It went well. There were no complications, except....it was like his brain was scrambled during surgery and in the days after surgery he had all sorts of confusion and erratic behavior that no one could explain. The hospital people were at a total loss in terms of understanding why. The surgeon feared for my dad's life and said that everyone who needed to see him should come while he was still semi-lucid, though he couldn't explain why it seemed like my dad suddenly had lost his mind. And then, about 24 hours later, my dad was back to his normal self like someone had flipped a switch to return him to normal. A day later, they released him to come home and he lived another couple of decades. He would, much later (about 12-15 years later) be diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, but by then one of his two sisters and most of his brothers (eventually all of them except for the ones who died of other causes in their 40s or 50s) already had AD so we suspected it was coming. We never felt like his post-surgical confusion was an early sign of the Alzheimer's that later would plague him, but I guess it could have been. There's still so much we don't know about the human brain.

    Nancy, We are such hillbillies when we get to a town we don't know, and the automatic pilot in my brain just wants to turn around and go home where things look familiar. lol.

    I think I figured out where we went wrong. We were using Siri on Tim's phone to take us to the location of the birthday party. Its street name was SW 122 Terrace, and Siri seemed to be guiding us there until we got to Norman. Then, out of the blue it started trying to take us another way and as Tim drove it, while I was protesting we were going the wrong way, I figured out Siri was trying (apparently) to take us to 122nd street in OKC. It was bizarre because all of a sudden she was recalculating the route and sending us off in a new direction while I was saying "no, no, no, don't listen to her".....see, we do not need to use such fancy gadgets because you cannot trust them. Then we called the baby's grandpa, who is one of our closest friends (he lives here on the same street we do) and he could only tell us the exact way he and his wife go there because they take the exact same route every time and, therefore, with us far off track, he really couldn't help us get turned around. Whew! It is just easier to stay home on the farm where we know our way around and don't get lost.

    It was another glorious early Spring day here, and I loved every minute of it, from watching the purple martins gathering materials for nest building to seeing the wild turkeys again (today there were 7 of them), to watching the hummingbirds at the feede r just outside the kitchen window when I was standing at the kitchen sink washing my hands. There were lots more butterflies in the garden.....a male tiger swallowtail, some bordered patch and some sulphur. There also was a cabbage white...and I am not ready for that. There's tons of red wasps, and I wish they would go away or something. I saw a damselfly. I heard the frogs. There are birds, birds, birds everywhere, and tons of brown snails in the garden. I gather them up and throw them on the compost pile.

    Since I decided against planting more tomato plants because more cold weather is coming, I spent today pruning back perennials and weeding. I added a ton of material to the compost pile, which always makes me happy.

    Tim was off today (on a vacation day) and hauled some junk from the garage to the dump. It was only two pickup loads, and he has a million more to go, but it was a start. Funny moment of the day: he walked out of the greenhouse and said "Man, it is really hot in there". lol lol lol. I can tell him a million times how hot it gets and how essential open doors, open vents and a fan are during the daylight hours, and yet it still stuns him when he walks into the greenhouse on a sunny afternoon and it feels like a sauna.

    The cats thought it was too hot today (we topped out at a mere 71 degrees) and spent their outdoors time moving quickly from one shady spot to another, as if they would die if they sat out in the sunshine. It is sort of shocking how warm a 60 or 70 something degree day feels in March or April.

    I have another full garden day planned for tomorrow. I want to get as many things done as possible before the Friday rain gets here. Our soil moisture level is down in the mid-80s now, so some rapid drying finally is occurring and I do love that.


  • hazelinok

    Well, I'm sorta disappoint that the Jane can't be pruned like a tree. I wanted to put it in the "backyard". I'll go back to my original thought of putting a chaste tree there. I read that Jane shouldn't be placed close to a home's foundation, so I have no idea where I'll put her. There's a spot between the pecan tree and garden--maybe she can go there.

    I had to water today. We really haven't had as much rain as everyone else. And, right now, I'm glad about that.

    Dawn, that picture that I posted was probably not salvia. It's that mystery plant that's many "heads" are surrounding the bed that held the salvia last year. And, the root things don't appear to be attached to anything or each other. The salvia that Lisa brought me was purple--that is all I remember.

    I had pilates tonight. I was so hard to give up outdoor time to go, but I'm always glad that I went. She is an amazing instructor.

    For about an hour, I watered and worked on the pathways. About another hour, and it should be complete. Well, other than the area that the giant compost pile is sitting on.

    My little Marjorie was feeling poorly again...or seemed like it. So, she is back in the brooder for a second night and given special water and yogurt. After one night of that, she seemed better already. But I repeated it tonight because I won't have time to give her special treatment tomorrow.

    Technically, your friends live in OKC, Dawn. South OKC. Not Moore. It's Moore schools, though, Westmore HS--Ethan's school. True Moore is east of there...coming off of I35 is "true Moore". It's confusing if you're not used to it, I'm sure.

    The easiest way to get there is take I35 to the 12th Street exit in Moore. Go west (you'll go 15 or 20 minutes). At some point (Santa Fe) 12th Street becomes 119th. It's all the same street though. Just stay on it. You'll cross another interstate and just a little ways after that, you'll be at your friends' neighborhood. Just a straight shot from I35.

    Do y'all cover peas and spinach and lettuce and such when we have a light freeze?

    I enjoy reading everyone's post so much even if I don't comment on them. :)

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, Thanks for the tip that Santa Fe turns into 119th! I think we would have had a much easier time getting to their house if we'd known that.

    With the peas and lettuce, it is all about how much prior cold exposure they've had. If they already have been subjected to temperatures similar to what you're expecting, the odds are that they are hardened off and would be fine. However, if you've only been having warm weather since you planted them, then they might not be as hardened off to cold as they should be and it wouldn't hurt to cover them. Peas in general can tolerate temperatures down into the low 20s but what I have noticed over the years is that prior exposure to cold weather, or lack of such, really matters. Lettuce is more delicate than peas and I probably would cover it up no matter what. Since it is mostly water, it can be adversely affected by cold temperatures more easily than some other cool-season plants.

    With the way our weather can zig zag all over the place, temperature-wise, in March and sometimes even April, I prefer to err on the side of caution and cover up plants even when they might not strictly need it. So far in March, my high temperature has been 83 and my low temperature here 17. Maybe even 15 or 16. The issue is that none of those temperatures have lasted very long, so it is hard to guess if the plants developed any tolerance of the cold because it seems like they've gone from cold to hot awfully quickly. Because our forecast is for 37 degrees, I'll only cover up tomato plants, but if we were going to 27 or 30, I might cover up the lettuce, Swiss chard and peas. You also have to weigh the odds that the forecast is accurate, and that's all about your microclimate. My microclimate runs cold and this winter we've often gone at least 4, and sometimes 7-8, degrees lower than forecast at night over and over again. With that in mind, my forecast low of 37 might give us 30 degrees. So, I'll be watching the weather closely myself. The good thing about having frost blankets in the garden shed is that I can make a last minute decision to cover up plants and all the materials I need are right there handy. The bad thing about having frost blankets in the shed is that it is almost too easy to pull them out for use even when they aren't needed.

    Those leaves on the mystery plant do resemble woodland sage a lot, but then in the plant world, many leaves resemble one another. It drives me crazy sometimes.

    Jane tends to bloom awfully early, so if you have a building that has a space on its south side, that would put her in a slightly warmer microclimate and help protect her blooms from late cold weather. The same thing is true of figs in our zone. The one I have south of the garage benefits from its protection and heat and leafs out and sets fruit a full month earlier than the same variety growing in a more open location in the back garden where it basically has no protection from anything, other than the ring of garlic planted around it to protect its roots.

    Poor Marjorie. I hope that she starts feeling better. Do they make probiotics for chickens because if they do, maybe she needs some? I do think the yogurt can help achieve the same thing though. Other fermented foods also might help her. It seems like maybe her immune system is a little weak.

    Another sign of Spring? In the asparagus bed (more about that in a second) I saw tiny amaranth seedlings emerging in a spot near where I had a giant red grain type amaranth plant last year. It seems too early, and they'll probably freeze. Maybe I'll pot them up today to 3 oz. paper cups so I can save them from this weekend's cold and then plant them elsewhere later on.

    Another sign of Spring? That would be me....hating the asparagus bed, a sentiment that has been growing like a weed in recent years. I like fresh asparagus, but I am the only one. And, after a week or two of too much asparagus, I find I really don't like it that much any more. So....our asparagus bed is two 30' rows of asparagus plants, which would be great if we had 4 or 8 or 10 people who like to eat asparagus. Instead, I harvest it every year with a growing sense of horror that I am going to have to eat, eat, eat tons of asparagus alone while everyone else ignores it. I also resent that the best soil in my garden likely is in that bed (I built it that way because asparagus is a long-lived crop, so you need to do all the soil amending for it up front) and it only produces a harvest for a couple of months. I'm forever looking at that soil as I weed and daydreaming about everything that could be growing there instead of asparagus.....

    So, last year, I decided that growing asparagus is not the best use for that specific bed. Yet, removing it would be too hard as all the plants have been there about a decade, or maybe a little longer, and I am sure their roots are intertwined with one another. Because weeds (especially bindweed) sprout there constantly and it must be weeded so much, I find myself asking why I spend so much time weeding a bed that is non-productive ten months out of the year. Even with a good mulch layer, both bindweed and lambs quarters seem to sprout in that bed every single day all summer long.To appease my desire to change that bed and to reduce the amount of space available for weeds to sprout, I took a gazillion old seeds and tossed them into that bed to see what would grow. Well, everything grew into a riotous mass of blooming plants. I was thrilled, as were the butterflies and bees. So, I started cutting back the asparagus plants every day around July, trying to starve them so they could not store away enough nutrition to come back well this year. I did that until it got so incredibly hot that I just gave up, and many of the asparagus plants were huge ferny monsters by September. I thought my attempt to weaken them had failed. When I saw asparagus ferns emerging this week, I was not happy. On the other hand, some of them are weak and spindly so I did accomplish at least a weakening of the plants, or some of them. Others, though, are emerging with big, fat spears.

    I want for that asparagus to go away, but I don't want to have to rent a backhoe to dig it out. If I could make it go away, I would immediately plant tomato plants in that rich soil. I am pondering continuing to cut it all summer long so I can maybe weaken it enough that it will just go away. In the meantime, there's a gazillion things sprouting in there with the asparagus, including 7 or 8 new comfrey plants, even though I dug out all of them last year and tried to get all the roots. I need to harvest asparagus again this morning, and cook it for myself for lunch and for dinner. Or, I could freeze it, I guess. The comfrey plants are smart. I looked at them on Sunday or Monday and said to myself that I needed to dig them out of there. So, of course, they immediately began blooming the next day, and I hate to take away any plant that provides food for the bees, so now I am not inclined to dig them up. All the comfrey growing elsewhere in the garden is not yet in bloom---just the smart confrey plants in the asparagus bed. It appears those plants, which are all together in one large clump, have crowded out the asparagus that used to grow at that end of the asparagus bed....so maybe the solution is to allow the comfrey to take over the asparagus bed. That might help kill the asparagus plants in the short term, but then I'd be stuck forever with a million comfrey plants in that bed. No one here should be surprised if I spend my whole day today digging up everything in the asparagus bed---it has a billion verbena bonariensis plants and almost as many Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' plants, and then about a trillion chamomile plants. I would relocate chamomile, Zebrina and verbena plants. I might even try to dig up an asparagus plant to see if it can be done. The worst thing that would happen? Maybe I'd kill the asparagus, or maybe break the shovel or garden fork.

    I just don't think I'd miss the asparagus that much, and no one else in the family would for sure. See, that is how my mind works in Spring....everything else in the garden is expendable if moving it means I have room to grow more tomatoes.


  • Rebecca (7a)

    Dawn, maybe gift the asparagus to the neighbors you like, or send it up to the fire station?

    Or bring them to SF. I’m sure there will be a fight for them. Door prize?

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Wow, good job AMY. I'm happy for you that it's a goji berry.

    I'm waiting til after Saturday night to rake out all the beds. I feel like such a slug, but as long as I haven't done it yet, might as well wait til the threatened frost for Sat. has passed. And I am starting to leave many plants out on the deck overnight.

    Wow, good job AMY. So what was for dinner? Baked pork chops and stuffing with a yummy sauce/gravy over the entire mess. I'm happy for you that it's a goji berry.

    I'm waiting til after Saturday night to rake out all the beds. I feel like such a slug, but as long as I haven't done it yet, might as well wait til the threatened frost for Sat. has passed. And I am starting to leave many plants out on the deck overnight.

    Loved your story about the asparagus and asparagus bed, Dawn, and now I finally feel okay about not growing asparagus. After all these years!

    I had a bunch of loose seeds in the bottom of an empty coffee can that I scattered in one of the large totes I bought. A lot of stuff is coming up--no idea what. It's a fun thing to do, isn't it!

    I also laughed at your snapdragon ID, Dawn! That's why I qualified my ID with "if you grew snapdragons there before," because of that weed that looks like a snapdragon! LOL

    HJ, how old is Marjorie? So sweet that you know what makes her feel better.

    I shuddered at your hail damage, Megan. How demoralizing! I've been through enough hailstorms! We had a nasty one 3-4 years ago, and a lot of our neighbors were doing roof repair over the next few months. We have the metal roof, so there are probably dings on it, but it's one good thing about a metal roof. The storm that year ruined our garden more because of the accompanying winds than the actual hail, I think.

    I've never grown a green bean. Other than as a kid. What is your preference in green beans, all? And do I want bush beans?

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Nancy, I think bush beans are easy. Way better than the grocery store. I’ve done both Provider and Jade, and love them both.

    I’m going to have morning glories, zinnias, and sunflowers ready to plant out before my tomatoes have true leaves. That’s backwards. The tomatoes are being so poky this year. I hope I have what I need.

    Squirrels decimated the tote I planted beet seeds in. They dug around in the cilantro and dill pots too, so who knows what will come up there.

    I cut back the rosemary today, so I think I’ll use it in the roast chicken for dinner.

  • hazelinok

    There's a new bean thread. Coincidence? Everyone's thinking about beans.

    Nancy, I've tried a couple of pole beans...Kentucky Wonder was one. Also a couple of bush beans...Blue Lakes was one. (can't think of the other names)

    I have had bad luck with them....but they perform beautifully for others. I'm not sure what my deal is. In 2015, they washed away and by the time I replanted them, it was late in the year. Maybe it was too hot. The soil hadn't been amended. They literally were stunted in 2016. They grew a few inches and never grew bigger. Weirdest thing. Can't remember 2017. Last year, disease of some sort got them.

    This is my winning year for beans. I can just feel it!

    Marjorie isn't that old, Nancy. Four. She's had health problems since she was about 7 months old, though. I put her out of the brooder this morning and she didn't go out to eat...so I'm not sure. I won't be home until dark, so she is on her own. Tom won't baby her.

    Rebecca, some of my tomatoes are being pokey too.

    I also enjoyed your asparagus story, Dawn. We love asparagus, so I would freeze it. BUT two 30 ft. beds! That's a LOT of asparagus. We only have two 10' beds of it. Everyone said one bed wouldn't be enough. If I had it to do over, I would have only planted the one bed of it. I do like the ferns--their wildness and the way the blow in the breeze.

    Well, I didn't comment on everything I wanted to comment on...but I'm at work and better get back at it here. Sure wish I was outside.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Rebecca, I am over the asparagus. Completely over it. It cannot be dug because it all has grown together in a giant mass of roots, and some of them are trying to send up new spears outside the bed. I wonder if I could burn it under wet clay. Probably not. (sigh) It should be through producing in a few more weeks because I did seriously weaken most of the plants by continually cutting them all summer---you can tell when ones I weakened because their spears are very thin. I'm still pondering how to rid myself of it. I wonder if I dumped a foot of soil and compost on top if that would kill it by smothering it. It might only make it stronger. I did find tree roots in that bed today and I cannot dig them out either, but I chopped them up with an axe when they got in my way. I usually have tree roots closer to the fence than to the asparagus bed. If it is still producing, I'll bring some to the Spring Fling, but my garden is way ahead of y'all's further north and I don't know what it will be producing by mid-April since I've been trying so hard to kill it.

    Nancy, We grow a gazillion bush beans every year---never less than about six varieties and then pole beans for fall. We fill up the freezer with a year's worth of beans in just a couple of months' time. I like to plant a ton at once because heat makes bean blossoms drop without forming beans, so we have to beat the heat. (The story of my garden is "beat the heat".......). There's many great bush bean varieties. If you want to try several different ones, you can get mixed seed packets at Renee's Garden Seeds. She'll have three varieties in one packet. She also has the really thin ones if you want to make dilly beans with them. Because I like having colorful veggies (different colors are liked to different phytonutrients /phytochemicals so a colorful diet is a more healthy diet), we usually grow: Contender, Provider, Bountiful, Top Crop, Tanya's Pink Pod and, for purple beans, either Purple Queen or Royalty Purple Pod. We don't usually grow many yellow beans as they don't seem to produce as well here, though some of the ones in Renee's multi-variety packs have done better for us than some of the other yellow types we have tried.

    Rebecca, So, were the squirrels digging up your seeds? Or maybe burying nuts or looking for nuts they thought they had buried? I imagine you've had more than enough squirrel activity to last you forever....already. Every time one runs across my yard, I think of you and your tomatoes and vow to myself that if they ever invade my country garden, I will shoot them all.

    I'm trying to remember new signs of Spring to share. I see them every day, but sometimes I forget them, which is a hallmark of being older I guess. The hollies are about to bloom but aren't blooming yet. When those buds open and we actually have blossoms, there will be a billion bees here. Right now, there's only about 10,000 (maybe a slightly exaggerated number) and they fly around the hollies all day looking for an open blossom, but there aren't any yet. There's plenty of other things in bloom, but the hollies are always a favorite of every little buzzing bee we see here.

    Oh, the cannas are up about 4" and it happened almost overnight, and the irises are up about 8".

    I now have 49 tomato plants in the ground, but only 15 of them have plastic-wrapped cages. Tomorrow I have to wrap all the rest of the cages. Then on the two cold nights this weekend, I'll throw the frost blankets over the cages. I selected the 25 plants I put in the ground today in the most logical way possible...if they had blossoms or buds, into the ground they went! I still have 20 varieties that have no buds or blossoms yet, so those can wait until next week to be planted.

    Today a hummingbird came into the garden, undoubtedly lured there by the honeysuckle. Until today, I'd only seen them at the feeders. There are a few other flowers in bloom in the garden, including dianthus, pansies and snapdragons, but there's tons of trees flowering, so they have a lot to choose from.

    The girls and their mama just came in and it is sheer chaos, so I need to get off my computer now.


  • hazelinok

    Where the heck is everyone? I thought for sure I would be SO far behind. Nope all caught up immediately. haha.

    Our first asparagus spear has showed itself. The past three years it has been April, so it's a little earlier. I'm still in love with asparagus, though. Maybe in a decade I'll be over it too.

    Other than that, I watered the bed with the carrot seeds. The soil needs to stay damp, right? If it gets crusty or hard the seed can't sprout. I have the worst luck with carrots. Only have been successful with them in Smart Pots.

    Really not much to report here. The weather is supposed to be less than ideal this weekend, so there's that to not look forward to. Also, we're supposed to do some outdoor downtown OKC senior pics for Ethan's senior pics. Not fun if it's cold and windy.

    Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying life.

  • Eileen Sim

    Hi all, it's been a while since I last posted. I need some recommendations on water hose reel carts. We have a plastic one that is leaking, so I'm looking for a new one. Has anyone used this Northern Tool Ironton Garden Hose Reel Cart or something similar? I am worried it will rust. I have to use a long water hose to water the raised beds on the west side because it is difficult for me to open the gate that's on a slope.

    Other than that, I am having trouble with the lights on my grow cart that I got from an estate sale last year. Not sure if they are old or the contact points are rusty. I have to jiggle them to make them work. We already tried cleaning the contact points, but it doesn't seem to help much.

    I hope my seedlings will be fine even though the grow lights are not very reliable. I keep forgetting to check on them because they are in the spare bedroom. I have to keep them away from our cat. I wish I can put them in the dining room which has south-facing windows, but it's not worth the risk of my cat chewing everything up. She loves munching on plants, especially herbs.

    Hope everyone is doing well too.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Good Morning Y'all,

    Perhaps everyone has been too busy in their yards and gardens to post much lately? I know that by the time I drag myself indoors from the garden in late afternoon or early evening, it takes every bit of energy I have left just to make dinner.

    Jennifer, Carrot seeds are often very slow to sprout and, yes, the soil should be kept moist but not extremely wet. Often, I just sow a radish seed here and there with the carrots because the radish seeds will break through the soil (this is especially helpful if it crusts over when it gets dry) and pave the way for the carrots.

    I wish y'all were going to have better weather for the photo shoot. Cold and windy sounds so unpleasant.

    Eileen, That looks like a nice hose reel and I think it would work fine. If I were buying one, that's the type I'd want. I have 4 hose reels, all plastic, and they've lasted me almost two decades. I'm surprised how well they have held up---they were gifts from a friend who saved them for me when his employer was throwing them away, so they weren't even new when I got them. I bet the plastic ones they make nowadays are more cheaply made and wouldn't hold up for two decades so I vote for the nice metal ones.

    With your grow cart, perhaps it is the ballasts on the light fixtures. They often are the problem more so than the light tubes. You can buy and replace ballasts if needed, and I am sure Google would describe the process of testing them and replacing them. I haven't had to replace any of mine yet and my plant shelf light fixtures are probably at least 15 years old, and some are closer to 20 years old so I suspect the time is coming.

    I have to isolate plants from the cats too. I cannot even let the cats in the garden when beans are sprouting because they love eating bean sprouts.

    The weather this week has been absolutely gorgeous down here. We hit 76 degrees yesterday despite mostly cloudy skies and the warmth just feels so good. Mowing the lawn now is a weekly thing, and at the rates some of the cool-season grasses and weeds are growing, we probably ought to be mowing twice a week.

    I've noticed that the forecast overnight lows are dropping a little as we get closer to the weekend. Our forecast low for Sat night/Sun morning started out at 38 or 39 at the beginning of the week and now is down to 35. I guess in the overall scheme of things it doesn't matter what number they say as I would have covered up the plants at 39 and I'll still cover them up at 35. Because our microclimate often drops colder than forecast, I'm expecting we may hit freezing. All the tomato plants will be very well protected. Each of them has a plastic-wrapped cage that functions like a mini-greenhouse. Wrapping those cages was tedious, but I'm glad I did it. We had winds gusting as high as 33 mph yesterday and I was working hard to get all those cages wrapped to give the in-ground plants some extra protection from the wind. In between every 2 plants there is a solar collector (cat litter jugs and cat litter buckets) filled with water to help hold a little more heat close to the plants at night. Today I'm putting the hoops over the beds and attaching the frost blanket weight row covers along the north side of each bed. Then, all I have to do on Saturday evening (or this afternoon/evening if hail seems likely) is pull the row covers over the hoops and secure the edges on the south, west and east sides. I can do this really quickly once all the materials are in place. The initial time spent today to get hoops and row covers in place (the row covers will lie in place in the pathway just north of each planted bed) today will make the rest of the weekend a breeze. I feel like I'll cover up the tomato plants for sure on Sat, Sun and Mon nights just because it is better to be safe than sorry and I don't want to lose the blossoms and fruit that's already on the tomato plants.

    I still do not regret getting these plants in the ground as early as I have. Our average soil temperatures are staying in the 60s, and during the afternoons they are hitting the mid-70s. Even our nights have been pretty decent with lows in the 60s or 50s. The plants are growing well and are extremely happy. We now are past our average last freeze date, but of course, we still have roughly a 50% chance of having a freeze or frost for the next few weeks, with the risk dropping weekly. This weekend cold front is just one more little gasp of winter and will be gone in the blink of an eye.

    I am not planning on covering up the brassicas, onions, greens, sugar snap peas, cool-season herbs or cool-season flowers. They should be able to tolerate the temperatures or even frost if it happens. Well, maybe I'll cover up the Swiss Chard as its cold tolerance is iffy when it is just a few weeks old and hasn't had much prior cold exposure to harden it. I have seen cabbage white moths fluttering around the garden this week. It seems to early for them, but then the monarchs have come back early and so have the hummingbirds, so why not the moths? I guess I'll spray the cabbage and broccoli plants with Btk today just in case they've laid any eggs while I've been busy with the tomato plants, and then I'll put the micromesh netting over them.

    Continued signs of spring: the first Asian lily emerged from the ground yesterday, and the native blackberries (dewberries) are in full bloom in my garden. I don't even want these monstrously invasive things in my garden.Our woodland already is overrun by them. I dig them up and remove them from the garden every year and they aggressively creep back in, hiding among perennial plants. I guess next week I'll dig them out again.

    Every tree and most shrubs in the county seem to be producing pollen now (except for the slowpoke pecan trees) and anyone with allergies (which is roughly every single person I know) is miserable right now. There's so much pollen! We're all sneezing and coughing and have runny noses and itchy eyes. This is my least favorite thing about the spring season and I hope the early onset of pollen season means an early end to pollen season too.

    Have a good day everyone and don't forget to cover up any tender vegetation on this weekend's cool nights.

    Oh, and hail is in the forecast with the rainstorms/thunderstorms. I hate hail.


  • jlhart76

    I think I put some things out too soon, a lot of my seedlings bit the dust. But that just means I have more room for zinnia and cosmos seeds. Down side to working is I have to move everything outside in the morning and hope for the best.

    The elderberry sticks I got from Bruce last year are almost double in size, they're about 4 or 5 inches tall right now. Think I'll leave them in the big planter for now and move them when they get a little bigger. Which means I need to figure out where to plant them.

    Peas have started to pop up. I planted some a few weeks ago, then sprouted some inside before planting them out last weekend. And of course now the first batch are popping up too.

    And I have a bunch of something (marigolds? They're in the area I had a big marigold "shrub" last year) have popped up. I'll let them grow a bit more to see what they are, then pull or move them.

    This weekend's plan is to inventory what all I have worthy of bringing to SF, then next week get it all potted up. Two more weeks until our annual reunion!

  • hazelinok

    Jen, yes, marigolds make tons of babies. That's great about your elder sticks. I'm pretty sure that is where I went wrong. I misunderstood some instructions. They should stay in the pots until they make a good root system.

    Eileen, I like that hose cart. That is the one I would buy too! Did you read reviews or questions asked about it. Maybe someone has already asked about rust, if that is your concern.

    Dawn, how tall are your tomato cages? What type of plastic do you use to wrap them AND are the hoops over the cages too? Those would be tall hoops. I'm trying to picture your set up. I know you don't like to share pics (didn't you have a stalker at one time?), but I can't quite get the image in my head of what that looks like. I like how it all sounds though...and would possibly like to try it in the future.

    How are we doing food this year for SF? Or are we doing food this year for SF?

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Tiny just crawled over my keyboard--my post went "poof."

    Sigh. My week has been a busy one; we went fishing Wednesday, broke the boat. So yesterday was spent watching a lot of boat repair videos. Garry is on his way to order a new starter--we hope that's the problem, as starters aren't cheap!

    Also have done a lot of yard work and mowed the yard for the first time this year. And tending seedlings, getting ready to plant two more flats for the grow cart. I have several living out on the deck. Laundry, cooking, We just got 1/2 inches rain. It's supposed to be no rain this afternoon, so I can get some greens planted.

    Yes, HJ. Waiting for someone to start a food thread and a plants to trade thread. Can't believe it's only two weeks for SF.

    I do hope Larry and you can get the light problem figured out, Eileen! Good luck!

    My little elderberries are doing well. Both have 2-3 side shoots and though small, are off to a good start this year.

    I'm a bit panicked about getting more seeds planted, so here I go. Happy gardening, everyone.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jen, Peas are that way you know, but so are lots of other things....they like to sprout only after the worried gardener has sown a new round of seeds to replace them. At least you should have plenty of peas.

    Our annual reunion is getting close now.

    Jennifer, I have a huge assortment of tomato cages. Some are 2' tall, some are 3' tall and some are 4' tall. This is by design specifically because of our roller coaster weather. In order to make the cages easier to cover up with floating row covers if/when cold weather threatens, I start out with the 2' and 3' tall ones. Once the tomato plants are up to the tops of the shorter cages, I add a second one, zip-tied to the first....like a little kid stacking blocks atop one another. By the end of the season, pretty much all the cages are 6-8' tall. In the spring, I cut the zip-ties and take them apart to get them back to their 2, 3 and 4' components so I can start the whole process all over again. This is a big improvement over trying to cover two rows per bed of 6' or 8' tall cages, which I only had to do once before I figured out it wasn't a great process. All it takes is a pair of wire cutters and those taller cages were cut into shorter heights to make them easier to manage in early Spring. I keep it simple with low tunnel hoops---hammering pieces of rebar into the ground in pairs across the bed from each other and bending PVC pipe, inserting it over each piece of rebar. I have different sizes of PVC so I can make hoops any height from about 2' tall to 5' tall. We have a tube bender so we can bend EMT into permanently shaped hoops, but those lack the flexibility of using PVC to get various heights and widths, so I've stuck with PVC. All this garden junk of mine takes up some space in Tim's messy garage/shop, but it is essential to have these items on hand to deal with late cold spells.

    Yes, I had a stalker, it was a horrendous ordeal/experience and I guard my privacy closely because of that, so I just don't do photos.

    We'll have to check with Bruce on food for the Spring Fling. I assume it will be a potluck dinner like always but I guess we really haven't discussed it.

    Nancy, What's with everything breaking down lately? Did one of you two break a mirror?

    Good luck with the boat.

    It was a pretty nice day here and I worked in the garden some, but also tried to spend time with Lillie since she had a day off from school. I think this is the first day since they started working on the new house about a month ago that she didn't go to the house to help Chris and/or her mom. He was staining the wood ceiling in his closet and there really wasn't anything she could do to help today since he wasn't going to let her stand on a ladder and work on an 11' foot high ceiling. I think she enjoyed her day off. We're going out to dinner later and maybe a movie (if not today, then tomorrow).

    Spring has sprung here and there's no turning back for the native plants, so they'll have to tough it out through the cold mornings on Sun, Mon and Tues.

    Today the first Texas Bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush wildflowers bloomed. It is so good to see them, and with the bloodroot flowers also blooming, we have a red, white and blue front pasture. I also saw the first potato plant emerging from the soil--I planted them 8" or 9" deep about 2 weeks ago and am pleased they're already emerging from the ground.

    I got the hoops up over the two tomato beds, both of which have two rows of tomato plants in them, and the 10-degree frost/freeze blankets are zip-tied to the hoops along the north side of each bed. Then I have U-shaped landscape fabric pins holding the fabric down to the ground on the north side. The row covers are lying in the pathways weighted down with metal t-posts. Tomorrow when it is time to cover up the beds, I just have to pick up the fence posts and put them in the paths on the south side of each bed, pull the row covers up over the hoops and down to the ground on the south side, and then use the fence posts to hold them down. Then I just use U-shaped staples to close off the east and west ends and, voila, the low tunnels are complete. Today was the bulk of the work, which will make tomorrow afternoon's process a breeze. If tomorrow were going to be really windy, I could zip tie the row covers to the hoops on the south side to ensure they don't go anywhere, but I do not believe that will be necessary.

    Remember how I said earlier that they keep dropping our Sun morning forecast low 1 degree per day? The forecast for Sun morning was 33 this morning when I said that, and this afternoon the updated forecast shows 32. At the rate we're going, I think we might hit 29. There is a really good reason that I have all the materials on hand to put up low tunnels of frost blanket fabric over all the raised beds in my garden.....and our wacky weather is the reason. I've been holding off planting beans and corn, waiting for this cold spell to pass, so next week I'll finally be able to plant the beans and corn. It is always such a rush down here to beat the heat which often arrives ridiculously early, but I've gotten pretty good at doing it, if you don't count 2011 when we hit 90 degrees the week after Easter. It was hard to beat the heat that year.

    I found something interesting and I bought it. You know that I use Slug-Go and Slug-Go plus (or generic versions of them made by other manufacturers), though mostly for pill bugs and sow bugs since traditional insecticides don't work on them (since they aren't insects or mites--they are crustaceans). Well, I found an organic ant bait that is identical to the iron phosphate/spinosad combination used in Slug-Go Plus. Identical right down to the percentage of each active ingredient. Yet, one pound containers of the organic ant bait are $2 less than almost identical one pound containers of the slug bait. Since it looks like they are identical products just packaged up for different pests, I bought 4 containers of ant bait and 0 containers of snail bait and saved $8, which is enough to buy at least one plant. That is how my brain works in the spring time.....

    Enjoy your weekend everyone, and if in doubt about whether or not something needs to be cover, consider how much prior cold exposure the plants have or haven't had and choose to cover or not accordingly. I'm not really worried about anything else other than the tomatoes because most everything else in the garden either is a perennial or a cool-season annual so those things should be fine no matter what our weather does......as long as it does not hail.



  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    I'm still experiencing my mini-cold. Still some coughing, some congestion, but still mini. It was mini, it still is, but it's still here. Groan, Dawn--and all. THE freeze on Sat night and now SUNday night too. What a drag. Thank God for frost blankets. And by now everyone knows that every year, easy come, easy go. Be thankful for the happy plants, and let go of the doomed ones.

    I got SO much done today. Planted my last couple flats of indoor seeds. Late. But most importantly, got all my seeds and the school's seeds organized.

    I keep saying and will keep saying, that every day, every month, every year. Life is blessed. I am blessed. I thank God every day for my life here, and that he instilled in me this love for tending His garden.

  • hazelinok

    This afternoon we noticed that the columnar apple trees have awakened. It must have happened today. So...the issue is the lows over the next few days. Last year I had no clue and put a large plastic bag over the trees. Didn't get any apples, but had leaves. Can a blanket thrown over the trees help? Or will the blanket/sheet be damaging like plastic? Do I need to grab tomato cages and put around them and then put the sheet over the cage and stake to the ground? These are small trees. About 5 ft tall.

    I suppose I'll cover the rhubarb, horseradish, lettuce bed, spinach and swiss chard...and let the peas deal. Oh, and then there are the cabbage plants. What do you think about those, y'all?

    Three of the asparagus crowns are sending up spears, so I'll just put a bucket over those.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    I have 14 tomato plants, 4 bell peppers, and a 6 pack of petunias living in my garage until this cold snap is over with. The tomatoes I started for me are being so poky that I don’t trust they will be big enough to set fruit before the heat. The cherry tomatoes probably will. And the pack of Jet Stars I’m growing out for a donation are going crazy. My garden has always been weird. I have 4 Early Girl, 4 Whopper (new to me), and 6 Porter (surprised Stringers had those, but I jumped on them.) Maybe I can plant everything tomorrow and wrap them in plastic for the next couple days.

    I got my taxes done, and I’m happy I’m getting enough back to get my car repaired. Just probably won’t get it done before spring fling, and I don’t really want to be on the road until the repairs are made. So now I’m scheming on renting a bigger vehicle so I can bring home feed tubs.

    Even though it’s going to be cool tomorrow, I’ll be outside. Need to start basil and okra in jugs. Have a new grow bag bed to put together, and compost to amend everything with. Some of the cosmos and zinnias may be ready to plant out next weekend, they’re growing so fast. Dianthus overwintered, so I don’t need to do those this year. I can see things starting to take shape.

    Definitely planning to cover the emerging lilies tonight and tomorrow.

    Also got to snuggle with a Cochin (?) hen. Soft feathers.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Oh brrr. It is cold. I just brought 3 of the flats that had been living on the deck inside for a little warm up. And I did my walk-around, but with my winter jacket on. Oh, it's not THAT cold. 42 WHAT? We had a half inch of rain in the early morning hours, and now no sun, a cold breeze. Inhospitable, to say the least. And yet the plants continue. But this is definitely a chili-for-dinner kind of day.

    Every year I see a large mass of mint-looking stuff coming up and every year I wonder what it is, only to remember eventually that I have bee balm planted in that location.

    Forget-me-nots are so cute. . . they're in the front bed, but they're really too diminutive to show up well there, so I may move some to a featured location in back. I see dozens and dozens of petunias springing up where I had them last year. And I see plants coming up in the big center bed, but will have quite a time figuring out what is what. Pretty funny. And as soon as it's not cold, have many many day lilies to dig up. I have a kerria japonica in the corner shade bed, but the deer stripped it last year, so it needs to go to a safer place.

    Do any of you grow moneywort (Creeping Jenny)? How invasive do you find it to be? I love it, and it makes a good substitute for the sweet potato vines in my containers.

    I am laughing at the bronze fennel situation. I expect many happy swallowtails this summer.

    I have a sweet autumn clematis coming from Select Seeds in a couple of weeks. I had to have it, based on reviews from several of you. Now I can't remember where I thought I'd put it. Hmmm.

    And I have more things coming from Almost Eden after 4/15, and then my little herd of aster tataricus showing up about then as well.

    Wow. I just remembered all the morning glories, Sempervivum and Sedum I ordered. Kinda like a mini-Christmas. I need to get them growing!

    Haha, Dawn. . . and so what great plant(s) did you find for $8?

    I don't think I have anything to cover, other than 3 totes of plants on the deck. I'll throw a blanket over them.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    It is cold here, but I dont plan on covering anything. I found my light shelf and a couple of days ago I potted up my sick tomatoes into 72 count trays and bought 24 plants to plant for home use. If any of the sick ones look healthy enough, I will have to plant them in the wildlife garden.

    I am going to move my " home use " part of the wildlife garden because of a failed sewer system near the property line that is letting water run into the area I was using to grow food. I expect that the county will make them repair the sewer system but I still dont want to grow food there. I will continue to grow wildlife food there if it ever drys up enough to get a tractor into the area.

    I have been building another compost pile of "hay ring" scrap. I expect I may get 3 or more pickup loads by the time I am through. This material should be ready by next year.

    "some may have to be used as mulch this year".

    I think it was a mistake to just go ahead and plant cold season crops when the garden was not ready. I do have crops up, but cleaning between the crocked rows is a mess, and it has been so cold and wet that everything is growing very slowly.

  • OklaMoni

    Whew, after reading the spring fling thread, I decided to open this one... and here are my thoughts:

    Like Dawn I jump from one thing to another and another. Not only in the yard...

    bought a new light fixture for my front door back in December and it is
    still in the box... as a matter of fact, it holds one tray of tomato
    seedlings up at the moment.. :) I also have a new exhaust fan for the
    bathroom that I need help with installing... and the vent hood has arrived. and then there are the out
    door projects.

    Since I now have a door from the
    kitchen directly to the back yard, I need a stoop, some steps or a
    small deck... and I am leaning to small deck. To be able to use the
    door I made a step with some pallets for now.. as I am really way to
    busy digging out Bermuda grass. Back yard, garden area, front yard,
    take your pick... I have filled a garbage container with Bermuda roots
    this week again.

    Then, when I am not digging, I scatter seeds...
    parsley is not coming up, neither is spinach, but lettuce is, thank you
    very much.

    In the front I am cutting down the tree that is way
    to close to the house (former owners planted it) and using the branches
    on the soil, where I dug up the Bermuda to keep the darn neighborhood
    cats out, and from using the area as a litter box.

    Then I had
    to move my tomato seedlings as my daughter is "coming home" again... and
    will occupy that room that my room/house mate vacated in December.

    There goes my project room... no more working can be done in there
    now... but since I really don't have time for them right now anyway, I
    guess it's ok.

    I need to dig up some plants for the
    spring fling, just to add something more to do, I offered some on that
    thread... YIKES, I sure like to spread myself around.



    Nancy, can you bring me some lemon balm, or have you tossed it all already?Nancy the dailily flowers are excellent eating! and looks so pretty in a salad!

    PPS, I will try and come here more often again... :)

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Hahaha, Moni--impossible to toss it all. Absolutely will bring some. I have never tasted the flowers. Look out day lilies, here I came. I'll still have dozens to get rid of, however, Rebecca! :)

  • OklaMoni

    Nancy different colors taste different. :)

  • hazelinok

    Wow. I'm so glad I don't have much to cover, because BRRRR! It's cold out. And what I did cover took longer than I expected.

    The peas are on their own. I had a few tin cans in the recycling bin that covered some of them...but only a small percentage. The cabbage is on it's own. The spinach and swiss chard are covered. The lettuce/greens bed is covered. The three asparagus crowns that are sending up spears are covered. And the columnar trees have tomato cages around them and sheets wrapped around the cage. The fig tree and magnolia bush are moved to the shop. Oh, I put a bucket over the rhubarb and horseradish too.

    Did y'all cover anything?

    In chicken news, I think Stormy is going broody. She is the gray baby that was hatched on summer solstice last year. She seems too young for that. She is a weird chicken. Very unfriendly--always has been. She raises her hackles even. Only chicken of mine to do that. Wow. I can only imagine how mean she will be if she hatches out some babies or even sets on eggs.

    I'm tired and I have to work tomorrow.

    Stay warm, Y'all!


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Nancy, We all seem like we have cold symptoms down here, but it is just the standard spring allergy crap we have every year when the trees are pollinating. I'll be so glad when it is over!

    The funny thing about frost blankets....when I first read about them in Dr. Sam Cotner's book, which I guess was around the mid to late 1980s, I scoffed at the thought of buying any sort of special textile to cover up plants to protect them from the cold. I thought it was a ridiculous idea, and they were so new (and we didn't have the internet for research) that you couldn't find any info about them from people who actually had used them. To be fair, I lived in zone 8 and we really didn't have that much cold weather after February, so late cold weather really wasn't much of an issue. Then we moved here.....and now I think they are essential.

    Jennifer, A blanket or sheet would be less damaging. Plastic conducts cold to any plant part that touches it, so I'd only use plastic if it was the only option and if I could wrap it around a cage or stakes or something so that no part of it touched the plants.

    I don't cover up cool-season anything....only warm-season stuff.

    Rebecca, I'm glad the tax refund will cover the car repairs.

    Nancy, I saved the plant shopping for tomorrow. Today the wind was blowing so hard down here as and after the cold front rolled through, and the wind chill was in the 30s, which is not conducive to walking around in outside garden centers looking at plants. We ran a bunch of errands and I hated getting out of the vehicle every time we stopped somewhere. I would have plant shopped (and frozen and then regretted it) but Tim said it was too cold and couldn't we just do it tomorrow, so I said OK.

    Larry, Hang in there. The cold and the wet soil have to clear up eventually, though it is hard to guess when it will happen.

    Moni, It sounds like you're staying really busy!

    Jennifer, I only covered up the tomato plants, and did most of that prep work yesterday. Late this afternoon, I went out to the garden, picked up the fence poles that were lying flat on the ground to hold down the row covers, pulled the row covers over the hoops to completely cover the beds, and then laid fence posts on the southern edges of the row covers to hold them down. I attached the row covers to the hoops on the south side of the beds with zip ties so they wouldn't blow away in the strong late afternoon wind. I was so relieved I had gotten the hoops and row covers in place yesterday when there was substantially less wind because it would have been hard to wrestle with those row covers in today's wind. I don't cover up cool-season stuff or any of the perennials....they all have endured much colder weather than the 32 degrees in the forecast for us for tomorrow morning, so I know they can handle it.

    Most chickens start laying before they are 6 months old, and a lot start at 5 months, so it seems like Stormy actually is a bit late, but blame that on winter and daylength.

    I doubt this weekend is the last gasp of cold weather and I just want to get through it, get it over with, and get on with planting more warm-season stuff. Warm season volunteers are sprouting in the garden again, so I know our soil is plenty warm---it has been hitting the 70s by about noon every day so technically I can direct-sow any seeds and expect them to sprout pretty quickly.

    It is annoying to have to cover up anything, but I had it so much worse before I invested in row covers and started using them. I used to have to gather up every bucket, flower pot, basket, box, etc. that I could find and then I'd through old textiles over them....blankets, quilts, sheets, table cloths, curtains, etc. My garden always looked like an odd redneck yard sale was going on by the time I got everything covered up. Now, at least when I have to cover up plants, the row covers go over the low tunnel hoops and it is easy to put those things out, and then to put them away. And, it no longer looks like I am hosting a yard sale in the garden.

    This year when I was getting out the heavy Dewitt row covers to use, I came across what was left of my Reemay and Agribon from many years ago...old, shredded, literally falling apart in my hands, so I bagged it up for the trash. It all lasted much longer than its stated life but it all was in poor shape and it was time to dispose of it. I won't miss it---the heavier weight stuff is so much stronger and I won't miss that lighter stuff.

    Our younger granddaughter is at her dad's house this weekend, but the older one is with us, so we took her shopping and out to eat lunch at her favorite restaurant and then tonight we went to see the movie, "Dumbo", which she absolutely adored. She said she can't wait to go back to see it next weekend with her mom and little sister, which means she really did like it a lot. I am not a huge fan of going and seeing a movie again after I just saw it, but some people like watching them multiple times, and she surely does.

    The bluebonnets are gorgeous in Texas right now and mine are substantially behind them, but that's okay---mine are still early, it is just that theirs were even earlier.

    I cannot get over how many trees are leafing out. It is happening in the blink of an eye---except for the pecan trees. Mother Nature rarely fools the pecan trees, and this year is no exception. We'll see if they start leafing out after this weekend cold spell ends, or if they're holding out a bit longer. I cannot believe all our fruit trees are done blooming already and it isn't even April yet.

    I hope all our plants come through tonight and the next two chilly nights with no damage.


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