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Monday, March 15, 2010

Lovely Day in SW Coastal WA

What a great day outside: partly sunny and 53 degrees. Warm enough that if you have a long sleeve shirt on and are moving about, you don't need a jacket. The dogs and I spent an hour or so outside (time flies out there); they barked and ran around and I put the stuff waiting for the compost bin IN the compost bin and rolled the EcoComposter to a new location before it killed the grass under it.

We've had several rainy days and I have a sneaky way of dealing with stuff bound for the compost bin--I set it (in covered containers) outside on the roof over our basement steps--it's right by the backdoor and is SO HANDY for setting stuff there bound for the compost, recycle, or garbage containers when it's too nasty to go out in the yard. One must, however, be somewhat diligent about moving the stuff to its proper place when the weather is OK. It can pile up and that's not good.

I checked on the rhubarb (it looks good), looked for slugs in all the right places and doused them with ammonia/water, 50% of each. This time of year, there are lots of baby slugs out there, and if you get them now, you save yourself from the 30 babies each that they will each produce. Of course, you never get rid of them all, but at least you can cut down on the population and minimize the damage they do.

I am eager to make a three part compost bin I saw at the Master Gardeners' display at our local county fair last summer. It took 98 concrete blocks. Right now my compost containers consist of several garbage cans (with holes in the bottom and lids), a couple bins made of chicken wire and attached to the (cyclone)fence, a compact dome-like one sold by our county, and the ball-shaped EcoComposter I got last summer from Costco. I couldn't roll the EcoComposter on the stand they sent (free at that time) with it, except when it was empty. So right now that is laying up against the house while I try to decide what to do with it, and I just push the ball around the yard to turn it. Only problem with that is that if you leave it too long in one place, it will kill the grass. Of course, the compost will finish quicker if you roll it daily, but that just doesn' t happy in this rainy climate. I roll it when I can, not in downpours.

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier or not, but I rented two garden plots ($10 each) in the town adjacent to ours and I will grow my potatoes there this summer. I can ride my bike over there on sunny days, and on rainy days I won't need to water them, so that should work. My garden plot in my backyard is only about 15' square, and raspberries and thornless blackberries take up a lot of that room. I have blueberries, too, and they grow around the dogyard fence.

Everything in the backyard has been added since my kids grew up--before that, the backyard was theirs alone. I've got flowers on the shady part since most vegetables like sun, and it's nice to see flowers bloom. I've added them slowly, over time, as plants can be expensive.

I do a lot of rooting of sprigs of other people's and my own plants-use a brown bottle full of water and just stick them in and add water every day to keep the bottle full. I've also experimented with putting the same sprigs in damp perlite (sometimes I put rooting hormone on the tips). With both of these methods I've had successes and failures. I take what success I get and the failures, too. My husband says I'll get arrested for absconding with sprigs from yards I see, but I don't think so. Obviously, I wouldn't take a sprig from a struggling small plant--only from big established plants. Last week I took a sprig from a lovely groundcover plant at a church where we went to a rummage sale. I hope it roots as it has lovely lavendar flowers and was already blooming in early March. I like that; I'd like to have something always blooming, but I'm not there yet.

When we walk, I often carry a plastic bag with a wet paper towel inside, and a pair of small scissors, for the purpose of gleaning sprigs to root. It's an inexpensive way to get more plants; technically, I suppose you should ask before clipping, but I usually don't, unless someone is out working in their yard. Often, my friends give me plants--Carmen gave me a bunch of Peony roots in the fall, and I've planted them around my yard and put some in containers for Habitat homeowners. Like everything else, I always hope for the best and that everything will grow and nothing will eat it, dig it up, etc.

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