Monday, May 6, 2013

Tomato Bed & Root Beer Floats

These two items initially don't sound like they have an awful lot in common - but on a hot sunny day off they are almost a required pairing.

Today - Monday - is my own work-week Sunday and I spent most of my morning  working outside in what will become my tomato bed.  I overheated a little and came in for water and some shade (yes, I put on sunscreen SPF 50 - and acquired fine layer of dirt as well - both of which helped to keep me from getting too much of a sunburn - but neither of which stopped how hot I got with the shovelling and soil screening that needed doing...

Wheelbarrow and screen-y goodness!
 Once re hydrated and cooled down a little I got back out there and finished the planned activity - namely, digging out the plants and weeds, screening the soil to remove the roots and rocks and little bits of broken pottery and glass I seem to locate every time I dig and then edge off where the bed will be and back-fill the soil.  I should have the tomato plants in a week or so - Mum has some extras and I will be getting my hands on a couple.
No tarp? Use an old bed sheet!
Why yes, that really IS a bag of weeds!
What is actually pretty cool about today's project was that I was able to recycle some edging that I saved from a project last summer where I pulled out edging and white decorative rock that the previous owner had placed around the base of my apple tree and the big lilac in the back yard. The edging sat in the shed and I do admit to having considered offering it up to freecycle, but am now glad I had it take up space through the winter. It is now back in use and will hopefully help prevent re-encroachment of the pretty but persistent ground cover that had taken over a large area of my yard.
Recycled bed edging
The spinach and kale that I direct seeded a few weeks ago is doing well.  Last weekend I thinned out that bed and can see that I am at the point where I can thin it out again.  I can also see that I am going to seriously consider installing drip lines (or some other intelligent irrigation system) for watering this year.  Tomatoes need lots of water but also hot conditions... Everything else - including my fruit trees - will also need water...
My beans were direct seeded last weekend at the base of the arbour - I hope they take! If not, mind, I will just buy some beans (runner and scarlet runner) to plant there for easy access and picking.
In a couple of weeks' time, Dad's going to be coming up to help me with fence repairs... once those repairs are done I am looking to set in a raised bed along the back fence as well. I'm thinking about starting seeds for that, but, well, not certain what I want to put into it yet... One thing at a time though, right?
My reward for a day well spent and a job well dine? You guessed it - a root beer float!
With love across the waters...

Revisiting the Giant Hogweed Infestation - One Year Later...

As discussed in a couple of previous posts, I have an ongoing battle with something called Giant Hogweed.

This post: Last Few Hours

Both blog posts discuss the initial challenges I had and also the "seek and destroy" mission that I am told may be ongoing for a few years yet. I am out looking for seedlings on pretty much a daily basis in the yard - I don't want any to get missed and therefore grow to the point where I will be unable to address the issue myself. 
What I didn't do last year - that I wish I had - was post any pictures of what the seedlings and young plants look like.  The small seedlings have a bright waxy look to the leaves (and so if surrounded by other weeds they actually do stand out) and they are broad and flat in shape with a scalloped look to the edges around the leaf they seem to present with one single leaf to the stalk. 

Young plants look more like the adult plants and start showing the hairy stalk.
If you dig them up, you will notice that they have a root stalk that resembles a parsnip.  Giant Hogweed is a member of the carrot family and so the roots will look something like that. 
When I am on a Hogweed eradication mission (usually I am doing this immediately following a dog poo clean-up mission) I am wearing protective gardening gloves, using a garden hand trowel or a hand-held dandelion digging tool. Don't just pull off the leaf, always dig out the root, and always be very careful in handling the plant no matter what the size.
Giant Hogweed (the Latin name is Heracleum mantegazzianum) which in pictures looks like HUMUNGOUS Queen Anne’s Lace, but in reality is considered to be a pernicious invasive plant, not native to North America and extremely dangerous to humans.  The sap is toxic and sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet radiation - causing third degree burns that come back over and over again, any time you get sunshine on it. If the sap gets into the eyes it can cause blindness - PLEASE take some time to review the information here on the Coastal Invasive Plant Committee website and here on the BC Ministry of Agriculture website.
The seedlings go directly into the bag of waste picked up.  This bag is then tied off and thrown into the garbage can.  NEVER EVER EVER put Giant Hogweed into your compost. NEVER EVER.
Since this is the time of year most gardeners are really getting into the needs of the yard, I thought it wise to offer up the reminder.  Please be aware of what you are pulling out, how you are disposing of it and how to take care of yourself while doing it.  Giant Hogweed is dangerous and needs some extra care when working to eradicate it.
With love across the waters,