There are so many gardening and outdoor maintenance things to do. It is nice to be able to stay home and get some of these things done. So this weekend we started with chipping branches. We invested last year in a small nonindustrial chipper. We love it!!!
We had piles of branches. We chipped most of them. We used some of the branches for firewood to burn down a stump this weekend. Not only does the chipper reduce the amount of leaves and turn them into a very fine mulch additive for our garden spaces, but it chips branches into a nice free mulch. The mulch is a bit chunkier than we are used to purchasing but there are some pros. The mulch doesn’t have a ton of chemicals leaching into our drinking water and a bunch of dyes getting on our shoes or our dogs paws. We were chipping a lot of pine branches so it smells divine.
These branches took a few hours to chip with both my husband and I working at it. But we were able to finish laying down a new layer of mulch on a walking pathway on our side yard.
We also burnt down a stump in order to potentially add onto the current patio with an area on the other side of the house where we can put in a sunken fire pit. So two more mostly dead pine trees need to come down and their stumps burnt down as well. This weekend was a practice run for us, as we have never done this before. Our friends up the street have burnt down a dozen or so stumps on their property just this past year.
First thing we did was dig a a hole around the stump to expose the roots and for a secure place to have the fire.
From about 2 pm we started the fire and we continued to feed the fire and poke at the stump with fireplace tools in order to work it down until 7:45 pm. We then put our fire pit cover on the fire which was mostly coals and called it a night. In the morning we dug out the ashes from the previous day and dug out more dirt from under the roots to try to get the coals under the stump in order to burn it from below as well. We also worked on chopping up the roots and stump a bit so that it would catch fire better and burn down more.
This is a photo of the stump after we scooped out ashes, dug a little deeper around and under the roots and then chopped at the stump a bit more with the axe.
After work today if it is nice and not rainy I am going to uncover what burned yesterday, Day 2 of burning. I am hoping that we may be able to chop just a bit more at three main roots and pop the stump out. It was originally about 3 inches above the ground level and The husband would like at the least to have it about 3 inches below ground level so that there will be enough of a dirt layer on top to grow grass.
If chipping and burning wasn’t enough work to entertain everyone I also did weeding of my mint bed. As well we rotor-tilled three more garden boxes and planting in two of them.
The dead mint vines had to be cut down and the wild onions taken out as much as possible as well as raking out all the leaves and sticks. I put the dead vines and weeds and leaves right into the stump burning fire. Its nice that the fire had a few purposes.
Garden boxes that got planted. The smaller square box which had green onions in from last year that survived the winter is our onion and garlic box this year. We got a packet of 100 onion sets. I have split them up with a few close by friends as well. So each family is doing about 10 of yellow 10 white and 10 red onions in their gardens. We will see how they do and we are all interested in learning how to braid and preserve our onions. In rotor-tilling this box we found a random beet that survived the winter with a few leaves on it. I put it back in the ground, I figure it will die or get bigger. I am hoping the latter. And lastly in the very front row of the box next to the beet and last years green onions I planted three garlic bulbs. From what I have been learning about gardening the root veggies are hardier and can go in a bit earlier.
So at the bottom of the photo we have from left to right three garlic, one left over random beet and survived through the winter green onions. Then there are two rows of each onion across the box starting with two rows of red then yellow then two rows of white onions across the top of the box. The red is closest to the beet and that is how I will remember there is a random beet and not pull it thinking it is a weed. I would like to add that I am leaving a great deal of room between all of the plants this year, so that they will all do well and I do not have to thin them out, which makes me not a lazy gardener but a very busy person.
I have learned a trick or two with these cell phones and their vast digital capacity. If I see something in a store or out and about and I like it and I am pretty sure I can make it, I snap a photo of it. This way I can reference it later or better yet just show it to the husband rather than trying to explain it. Please build me one of these is so much easier to say than it was 20 years ago. So with that being said I snap a photo of the seed packets in the order that I plant them in the box. Not only can I then see what is planted in the box two months ago but it also tells me the date and time I took the photo so i can say in three months- not one single carrot came up-won’t buy that brand again. So in this long front box starting from the right and moving left I planted seeds that I saved from last years lettuce, it was called salad bowl lettuce it was lighter green and tasted good all summer and into the fall. In the middle we have carrots seeds from the neighbor. My friend and I have found that yes we both have pretty big gardens, considering most people don’t have gardens at all. But neither of us have enough garden space for the whole packets of each thing we want to grow. So she gets the things she really likes and I get the things I really want to grow but who ever gets seeds first sends a photo to the other so they can get different seeds cause we share and it splits the cost of seeds, which isn’t much but considering I paid $20 for marigolds last year and shared 6 with her and this year I have about 60 marigold sprouts coming up from seeds I saved. It means a bunch more marigolds for both of us for free!!! So in the middle plastic baggie is a pinch of short fat orange carrots. Then to the left is Romaine lettuce which she has a pinch of and has already planted hers. On the far left we are saving about three feet for Bell peppers when we transplant them from inside if they ever decide to sprout.
In addition to all of this that happened in two days. I also took the plants outside for a little bit on each day to soak up some sun and get used to the wind. This is called “hardening off” It will strengthen their tiny stems for the real world outside. A great deal of very good gardeners start their seeds in green houses. We do not have a green house, so next to the window is as good as my plants are going to get. We usually keep our house at about 66 degrees, but lately we are keeping it a bit colder to try to save electric, so about 64 degrees F. That is too cold for plants to grow inside when there isn’t enough light. So I spoil my seeds in order to encourage them to all survive. We have three grow lights as well as a makeshift heat mat. I have seen heat mats sold in stores for $30 which would only heat up 1/10 of the seeds I started. Then I remembered I have an electric blanket, I folded it into thirds and put it on the folding table where I have most of the seeds. The electric blanket will stay on for 8 hours. So basically every time I walk past the plants I check to see that the blanket is on. If not I push the button to turn it on. The results of the amount of seeds that spouted are astonishing. I have never had this much success. Next year I think that I may set up the second folding table, we have a second electric blanket that is currently not in use.
This is a photo of about half of the plants sun bathing. Hardening off means to make your plants hardy but I joke in all seriousness hardening off your plants is a lot of hard work, inside , outside, into the sunny spots, is it too cold or windy? Its started to rain quick help me get the plants inside-shoes on, shoes off, mud everywhere, because who does not have muddy shoes when they are gardening. So to wrap up a bit of March gardening. RickabaughReviews approves of hard work.
Here is a photo of the Blue bells for some spring time smiles.