May has been a serious “go home Mother Nature, you’re drunk!” month. We have had two hard freezes and a week when it was 90 degrees. I tried to get everything covered, but I did not succeed. Losses were minimal, but there were definitely losses to tender herbs and tomato plants. Such is Michigan spring.
My good friend Kelly wanted to learn to garden this year, so she has charge of her own raised bed. It’s nice to have company in the garden and I’m enjoying her delight in discovery. I’m not sure she 100% believes me that you should strip off the bottom leaves and plant tomatoes right up to the leaves, though. 🙂
The BSE and Gadgetron have a magnificent strawberry bed that arose from a single potted strawberry running amok. I decided to do something similar, and put a dozen or so plants under my living room window with the thought that they have all kinds of space to do what they wanna. However, since my deer are beyond obnoxious, I put down some granules that discourage deer and rabbits. They also discourage my stomach, because that stuff made me gag, seriously. I was tempted to just drop the container and run away, it’s that foul. That said, it has worked well, so it’s good I happen to have a few masks laying around.
I put the remaining plants in the flat in hanging baskets and that seems to agree with them quite well! There are two baskets and even though I covered them I lost some of the basket on the right to frost damage. The plants are showing green regrowth, though, so that’s encouraging! Check out the volunteer butter lettuce in the Coleman cooler below the baskets!
Since sweet rocket (aka dame’s rocket) thrives on neglect, I had a bumper crop of it this year. It’s gorgeous, and doesn’t seem to be as prone to powdery mildew as their look-alike brethren, phlox. The back woods was thick with them, and they were just gorgeous to behold. The scent is out of this world, this stand in the backyard came on right after the lilacs dropped off.
A couple years ago the BSE and I moved several iris roots to the bed under the walnut, since it’s one of the plants that cares little about juglone. Juglone is secreted by walnut trees and it’s death to many plants, so it’s good that irises are resistant. Plus, deer don’t care about eating them. Last year they were getting their bearings, and this year I had glorious purple irises, and this lone beauty below. I’m moving more into that space, since I’ve given up on hosta, thanks to my jerk deer.
Big changes in the front yard. I cut the front bed down to nothing last fall, and decided to take the winter to plan a perennial bed of pretty, low-maintenance flowers. This is what the front bed looked like earlier this spring.
The flags mark where my perennials were planted. I have peonies, yarrow, lupines, hollyhocks, coneflowers, salvia, lilacs, comfrey, and two Rose of Sharon bushes. It will take a couple years to get really gorgeous, and in the meantime I was dissatisfied with how it looked. I bought several bags of mulch and prepared to spread it out.
Well. For those of you who don’t know my brother-in-law Gadgetron, you can be assured he has never, ever, not once in his life left a project done in lackadaisical way. He and the BSE arrived and he swung into action, cutting the grass down, rolling out good quality landscape fabric, and cutting out spots for my plants, and making sure it was held down with proper landscape staples. You know, all fancy-like. I have to say, though, it’s quite lovely and it’s good to know it will stay that way for quite some time.
Of course, once this was done I cast a critical eye at my herb beds. I’ve been putting down successive layers of carboard to keep the weeds down for about five years now, and it looked janky as all get out. Now that I have this tidy look up front, I was consumed by dissatisfaction with the herb beds. I did not get a before shot, but I’m sure you’ll find one here in the blog somewhere if you have the patience to look. Suffice it to say, it looked pretty bad. Now it’s looking pretty sharp, thanks to my lawn crew.
I spent this weekend clearing weeds from the beds, and removing walnut tree debris. The long bed at the forefront is all perennial herbs, and I’ve got sage, dill, anise hyssop, lemon balm, parsley, and a very aggressive stand of oregano. The two square beds contain regular mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and about 9 different types of tomato seedlings. The long bed to the left has lavender, annual flower seeds, and a good stand of Ace-55 tomato seedlings. I’ve fenced in all the tomato plantings because, you guessed it, deer.
The raised beds are doing well this year. The Mardi Gras peas have taken a good leap up after two days of rain last week. I have spinach and kale making a go of it, and of course, a ton of tomatoes. I planted bush cucumbers today too, since Kelly and I both like them, and because Thai cucumber salad is the best thing ever.
I’ve given up the dream of an asparagus bed, since it’s been overrun by grass. Kelly dug out three years of grass (!!!) and I bought some good raised bed mix from my local Ace Hardware. Today was the day I bucked those bags in and got them spread out.
The neighbor’s dog joined me while I dumped out bags and raked the bed smooth, though he was little use outside of moral support, what with the lack of opposable thumbs. But, here’s how it looks now! I immediately planted Sugar Baby watermelon seeds on the far end.
While I was planting, I was joined by this little pollinator friend in the chives. I have a huge amount of big bumbling carpenter bees, and I’m totally entranced by their chill demeanor and aerial grace. I like to lay in the hammock and watch their little air shows.
Last fall I cut the entire back yard down, as detailed in my last post. My wild rose is coming back like crazy, and I’ve been vigilant in keeping the sweet potato vines cut out of it. The rose is reaching up for the metal headboard/trellis and it will be lovely this year. I’ve got the bar wall hanging there for the moment since it’s easier to water them both at once.
The backyard has been a source of true pleasure for me. I’ve entertained friends back there, and enjoyed breakfasts and a good book. I don’t know why I didn’t get it made over sooner. Here’s the Sunday morning hammock view.
That’s about all I’ve got right now. My next post will likely involve tomatoes, so keep your eyes peeled or subscribe for a notification. Signing off, from the Not So Seekrit Lair!
I love your garden post! You make me wish I had a bigger yard.
Our weather did not cooperate for me to get my seeds into the raised beds this weekend 😦
That is so frustrating! I hope you get the seeds in soon – what are you growing?
I love reading your posts; thanks for sharing this one! I’m gonna have to get myself to Michigan at some point so I can appreciate it in person . . . see you at the next writing group, I hope!
You are ALWAYS welcome at the Not So Seekrit Lair!!!
Oooh!!! I love the new look of the perennial and herb beds! And your cocktail herbs are REALLY taking off!
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Thank you! I think yesterday’s perennials will really fill in that space beautifully until everything gets on its feet. As far as the cocktail wall, that was a great idea in theory, but I need WAY bigger pots. I’m looking at bigger hanging pots, for sure, bc they’re constrained by the tiny pots. Those need a trailing flowering plant, for sure.
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