Despite living in a “cold” climate, I’m a warm-weather gal. I love sunshine and can handle heat, raised in one of the hottest, most humid places in America. Don’t get me wrong, I love Connecticut ‘s four seasons; there’s nothin’ like a fall day pickin’ punkins and havin’ cider on a crisp afternoon. But spring here can be fickle – warm or cold. We’ve spent many Easters in snow boots instead of sandals. When Mother Nature recently gifted us with an early, warm Spring, I “sprung” into action. There’s lots to do! Come see what’s on my “Outdoor To Do” list, and pick up some tips!
One of my favorite tin wall-hangings
When you love the outdoors and all things green, winter’s grey seems an eternity! When it warms up, “yard work” becomes “yard play”. After last year’s hurricane and October snowstorm, the yard resembled a war zone, with snapped branches and huge downed trees. There’s much to cleanup. As for the garden, last summer’s growing season was freakishly late. By the time the veggies were big enough to harvest, Hurricane Irene wiped it all out. I’m eager to get going!
First order of business: get my seeds planted. I bought only seeds marked “organic”. Usually, I grow them in egg cartons, but this year I splurged on eco-friendly pots made from coconuts. I’m happy to see stores carrying more organic products, even in gardening. My potting soil is an organic mix, as well. This year, I’m planting a gourmet lettuce blend, “Black Krim”, “Sweetie”, and “Roma” tomatoes, “Short ‘n Sweet” carrots, summer squash (hoping for the return of “Squashzilla”), “Halloween Mix” pumpkins, giant sunflowers, watermelon, and “Carnival Mix” sweet peppers, and cucumbers. I also picked up some cilantro seed to add to the herb bed in front. Technology meets “old world”: each seed packet has a “tag” on the front; scan it with a smartphone and you’ll find all kinds of useful info on growing that particular seed.
After planting, I placed each seed pot in recycled bread bags for a greenhouse effect, and placed them in the sunniest windowsills, in a room we call “the Tearoom”. It’s “my” room, with flowery and candy-striped wallpaper, white wicker furniture, my teacup and teapot collection on the wall, and happy houseplants on vintage plant carts picked up at an antique store. Even in the dead of winter, it’s light and bright. It’s where I’ve knitted, read, and had countless tea parties with my little girl. When seeds sit in those windows, in a few days they’re sprouted. Hallelujah!
My best fur-friend in my favorite room. Notice my sisterhood certificate on the wall.
“Farmgirl” garden boots for wet days
Bonnie and Badger often sunbathe in the “Tearoom”. See the birdhouse? My father built and hand-painted several for me, used as decoration around the house. That one is my favorite, and will never go outside!
One of the best tips I’ve been given was to start a gardening journal. I keep track of what seeds I’ve planted and where. This helps me note which plants work better than others, and keeps me rotating the position of plants from year to year, as well as remember ideas I want to later incorporate in the garden. Each year, I like to do things a little different than before. This time, for markers, I used natural wooden craft sticks.
The seeds are coming along nicely. Picture taken 3/31/12
In Texas, my brother Russell’s cactus flowers are blooming. Here in the colder Northeast, we have daffodils.
I’ve also planted snow peas. For my planting zone, they went in the ground March 22nd. Peas are multi-taskers – they’re easy to eat and a benefit to the soil, readying it for the next crop of veggies in the bed. So far, the pea shoots look great, and soon will need support.
Last year, I used yarn to stake my plants. This year, I’m using all-natural raffia to tie them. Inexpensive, it’s easy to use and biodegradable. Raffia’s one of my favorite things – use it to tie bows on gifts, decorate cans of jam, and to hang wall-hangings with “farmgirl” style.
For our early-spring get-together, my sisterhood chapter and I made “fairies” like the ones in the February issue of MaryJanesFarm magazine. This is my version, hung with raffia on my daughter’s wall.
After a long winter, it’s time to clean the birdhouse and feeder.
My birdhouse is a “Danish-Gnome Bird Home” purchased at a Danish church bazaar. After hanging for fifteen years, and countless hatched babies, it was looking worse for wear. After cleaning it out, I gave it a new coat of paint, being careful to follow the original designs. It looks brand new! I also followed a tip learned from my daddy: to keep wasps out of birdhouses, rub a dry bar of Ivory soap along the inside. It won’t harm or detract the birds, but wasps won’t build a nest in it. (He says not to substitute other soaps). We usually get a family of house finches in it each spring.
Snowplows and bored teenagers wreaked havoc on my mailbox, so I needed a new one. To keep wasps and spiders from seeking shelter in it, I filled a small jar with mothballs, with poked holes in the lid, and placed it in the back of the box.
I’ve been making wreaths for twenty years, and change the one by the kitchen door with the seasons, sprucing them up with fresh picks every couple of years or so. Don’t-cha just love the little metal birdhouse? So rustic.
I anticipate an earlier arrival of the hummingbird scout, so I mixed up a batch of homemade hummer food and hung up my feeder. (I was also excited to hang up my new feeder – a “vintage” style, made from a red glass bottle. We’ve gotten rid of all plastic, and I wondered if BPA would leach into the hummingbird food from a plastic feeder on a warm day). I also needed a new watering can, and found a lovely little red number.
If you like my hummer feeder, I found it at Lowe’s. My watering can came from the floral department of my local grocer! It’s made by the brand-name “Arrow”, and is double-powder coated to prevent rust. (Although, it “had” me at the red color- like a moth to a flame)!
Whew! I’m dog-tired now. Time to sit a spell with some iced tea. Tell me, what’s on your outdoor “To-Do” list?