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Monday, March 28, 2016

PNW Spring Gardening, March 28, 2016

I wanted to present some views of how I deal with early spring gardening challenges, I'm sure it only scratches the surface.;-)  Today I am linking with-

Today's flowers hosted by Denise

Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen

I'd Rather B' Birdin' hosted by Hootin' Anni'

In a Vase on Monday hosted by Cathy

Macro Monday 2 hosted by Gemma and Mystical Magical Teacher

Ideally I should have mulched all my grow beds with leaves last fall, but it didn't get done much because last year I injured my knees in the spring, pulling a large Rubbermaid cart uphill heavily loaded with branches, work I have for 22 years here, with lots of cedar trees that continually grow downward to modestly cover their knees.  Then July 4 I severely injured my R knee, it would not bend nor bear much weight, while trying to pull up a buried soaker hose.  All the heavy gardening and/or age and arthritis has eroded the cartilage in my knees.  I had to slowly recover flexibility and strength over 3 months.  I took supplements that helped so every week I could lift my foot a little more.  I wore braces on both knees and used walkers, I limited my gardening activities severely to the level I could tolerate and still grow my vegetables and flowers, and watered and weeded a new lawn in a large area.

My husband built me a handy gardening seat so I could sit and scoot along a row, which is nice for my knees.  The box flips for a flat sitting surface.  The handles help me push up.  It is heavy to push around though, but great for working on. long rows.

At the 3 month point I stopped wearing the braces which I decided were becoming an irritant, and could walk normally, but not completely pain-free.  But over winter with lots of rest and without the gardening chores, I am pretty much pain-free as well; I swim and can walk fast.  The challenge is to see if I can restrict my activities to what my knees can handle.

So back to gardening, one of my most useful tools is the plastic tunnel cover, 18' long.  I use it when I start working up beds to keep the nearly constant rain off my beds, fall to spring is our rainy season which can mean rain daily.

I will use them to dry beds before planting tomatoes and later vegetables too, and put them on the weeded soil to keep the soil 10º warmer so I can plant earlier.

I have been cutting weeds off with a knife or a hand mattock which gets out roots better, or a shovel for deep weeds.  Formerly I would have mattocked a bed in a single session, but feel like swinging the heavy mattock (2.5lb or little over a kilo)  is not good for my knees.  I once had a Mantis tiller but it wrapped all the weeds around the tines and was a mess to clean out, and bucked like a bronco.  Ouch.   And I read that tillers ruin the soil structure and cause hardpan.  So here I am.

I'm making progress, I got a strip done and planted peas, fava beans, and sweet peas.  I'm experimenting with times, I also planted rows of these on February 10.  They took nearly a month to come up but are growing now, though I had to fill in where some did not grow.



I will compare the two groups for which time is more effective.  BTW I grow what is called snap peas, they have thick tender edible pods and fill up with nice peas.  You can eat the whole thing raw in salads or cooked.  I've also grown snow peas, but while they are all edible, Asians usually pick the wide pods before the seeds develop for stir fries, and later they are still edible but can get stringy or tough, so I like snap peas better, I'm growing Super Sugar Snap and Sugar Snap for taller vines, and Cascadia, Sprint, Sugar Ann, and Sugar Daddy for short vines.

I'm beginning to pick the top flower buds from the kale plants planted last July.  They are very tender, and picking makes them branch from all the axils so next time there will be several per plant, which continue as long as I keep them picked, then I let them flower for the bees.

Now for my finds in the garden for In a Vase on Monday, lots of flowers are blooming now, but I just had to pick some white Hyacinths, and could find some blue for a good companion, a Pulmonaria, here in my gold trimmed pony passed along from my MIL-

Easter gives us a reminder and new beginning of grace every year, making me think of the promise inside an egg of new life-




I was pleased to see the Hyacinths return this spring when some other bulbs didn't.  The fragrance is wonderful.

The Pulmonarias are a wonderful long-lasting addition to a shade garden, coming up in spring with their gorgeous variable silvery patterned foliage, and self-sowing with unique new patterns, plus a range of colors from purple-

to the pink Mrs. Moon-

Here is a fairly new shade bed that I find very satisfying because the shade seems to discourage a lot of pesky weeds-

In addition to the Pulmonarias, the lace-edged Primulas are blooming-

The second species of Junco that comes to my deck, the Dark-Eyed or Slate-Colored Junco, is more abundant now-


What early vegetable gardening do you enjoy?    -Hannah


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29 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, having recently injured my own right knee. I was out of commission for a week - the week during which I should have been planting most of my veggie garden. So, I'm very late but hope to still get a few things in. It sounds like you are making excellent progress with yours. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Dorothy, I'm slowly trying to accomplish my goals this year like the ant and the rubber tree plant. I have 3 shelves of seedlings going, probably close to 288 plants. My tomatoes are up to the lights and need transplanting, and I have some little pots full of seedlings that need transplanting as well, that will fill up the remainder of the 3 shelves.

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  2. Lovely hyacinths and primulas, you lucky gardener ;)
    It's interesting to see your juncos. They must be the western type; when living in the Midwest I enjoyed our dark-eyed juncos in winter, but they were simple gray and white birds, without the tan sides... Wonderful birds either way!

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    1. I just google for bird ID, so I hope that is correct. They do have alternate races sometimes. I'm happy to have the hyacinths, daffodils have been the most reliable bulbs for me. Some primulas have repeated for me, many have not.

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  3. Great post Hannah. Sorry to hear about your knees. I have a similar injury I am dealing with right now and am longing to get in the garden, but find it impossible to do so. The wagon/seat your husband made is wonderful. I enjoyed reading about your garden, about the snap peas and the flowers. They are so pretty. Your vase and egg is too. Thank you for sharing this again with Today's Flowers and have a great week.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your injury as well, Denise, it is such a struggle.

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  4. Forgot to say how much I enjoyed your birds also, so cute!

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    1. Thanks, I really enjoy seeing all the little birds here in the winter who come to eat our sunflower seeds. I miss them in the summer, but do catch glimpses of the sparrows, robins, occasionally the treat of the Pileated Woodpecker. Finally some mourning doves have shown up, I love to hear their cooing.

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  5. Hello Hannah, I love the sweet Junco! I am so glad you are recovering. I hope you feel better soon. The wagon seat looks perfect for you to work in your garden. The vase is adorable, I love it. Thank you for linking up your post. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day!

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    1. Thanks, Eileen, I'm doing great right now, I just don't want to reinjure myself. The pony is maybe the cutest vase I own, it's fun to find some flowers that look good with it.

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  6. Sorry about all your joint problems, Hannah, and hope the winter's rest has made all the difference. It would take a lot to stop those of us who are passionate about our gardens getting out in them although I some things we have little control over. Your husband did a great job with his moveable seat! Your hyacinth and pulmonaria are so sweet in the little horse vase - I love pulmonaria in all its forms and am pleased I thought of including it in Monday vases sometimes too

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    1. I'm happy with my present recovery, Cathy, so try not to do anything too stressful for my knees, but it is hard on 2 acres. It does help to sit rather than bending over all the time. Blues and purples do seem the rarest colors here, so I am happy to have the Pulmonaria as well as the other Borage family flowers that make great blues. Some will be coming up.

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  7. It's lovely to see Spring flowers appearing for their brief burst of glory. I like your cute gardening seat....great idea....you have a clever husband! Thanks for sharing this....

    Enjoy your week Hannah,
    Ruby

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    1. Thanks, Ruby, I wait all winter for the splendor of spring, and I am not disappointed.

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  8. What an adorable vase and lovely flowers...no veggies out yet...soon though. I have to put it all under row covers until June as we will still get cold nights here until then.

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    1. Thanks, Donna, we have cold nights too, and I like to push the season, so I have a lot of tunnels so I can plant my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers out early. It makes me happy to pull off the tunnel and see the great growth of the squash plants, particularly.

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  9. I just love Sugar Snaps! It is not possible to do much in my garden yet, because of remaining snow... But soon!
    Hope your knees will be cooperative.

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    1. Thanks, Villrose, and I don't see sugar snap peas for sale in the stores, either, like my heirloom beans. My knees didn't like all the bending over I was doing last week so I need to bring my little wagon down but it needs painting with some preservative.

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  10. Oh, our poor gardener's bodies do get a lot of abuse, don't they? With me, it's usually my back or my shoulders. I am so behind from having to recuperate, I'll never catch up. I love sugar snaps too, but this year I sowed snow peas. Also, carrots, spinach, mustard greens, and radishes. Later on, I'll do tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, and maybe peppers. I have that Primula too, it's one of my favorites.

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    1. I didn't know how all the heavy work was affecting me, but now I have to avoid it as much as I can. You are doing well with your early spring gardening, Alison, some of those things I wait to grow until July for the fall. Oddly, I never seem to succeed with spinach or carrots, so I gave up on them. Beans are a big favorite for me and I can plant one or more in April. The tomatoes and some other warm season veggies are growing under lights, the squash and cucumbers will need to be started in May.

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  11. Oh yes, the knees are first to go. I've been doing the Aging Backwards stretching routines (classicalstretch.com) to DVDs for several months now and it has really helped. Your husband has made you a perfect custom piece of equipment to keep you gardening. All husbands should understand that a gardening spouse is a mellow spouse.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Ricki. You never know how much you depend on your knees until you have trouble. Like when I broke a rib, then I began to understand how crucial ribs are for movement in general.

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  12. Hi Hannah, thank you so much for your comment. I must be a bit foggy this morning as I couldn't find your e-mail. I wonder if you could get in touch with me? Mine is: luvinwildlife@gmail.com

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  13. I'm a bit late getting around to visit with you, but finally I made time this morning. I'm sure glad I stopped by. What a beautiful post. The gardening, the wonderful Easter bouquet and the flowers...awesome. AND your Springtime feathered beauties. I always love the bird life of course, and your images are super.

    Thank you for adding your link this week for us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Anni, I enjoy your birds but don't get out to take them in the wild in the early morning like you do, so dedicated!

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  14. I love the colors of the flowers! Thanks so much for your comments on my blog. Have a great weekend! cheers.

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    1. You are welcome, Nora, I enjoy visiting the Canadian Vancouver.

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  15. How creative your husband is.
    And the wheeled seat is beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Rainfield, he likes to build things. He is working on an electric-assist 2 person pedalled vehicle called a velomobile.

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