Update on the Garden

by - January 26, 2017

January in Raleigh is so strange. We've had icy snow, and we've had 70 degree days. I'd like to think it's good for the soul to have days in the middle of winter where you can work outside in short sleeves. The only drawback is that it's temping to plant too early. Our average last frost is April 4 or April 11, depending on which source you look at, so we are still a good 10 weeks of being able to safely move seedlings outside into the vegetable garden. I've been gathering supplies, sorting seeds, and seeing what I have from last years trays that's not cracked. My seed packets are grouped by tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, herbs, roots, and greens, and folded and stuffed into baseball card pocket pages in a large three-ring binder.  Already we have artichoke sprouts, but I'm waiting two more weeks to start tomatoes and peppers.

Seed packet organization, Ultra Pro 25/9 Pocket Page Protectors

Last weekend, Joe built a blackberry trellis along the south garden fence. We have a thornless blackberry bush that we've failed to properly prune or train, and last summer the berries were disappointing. At the end of the season I cut the stalks back to 4 feet tall. We are crossing our fingers for a better crop this year. The trellis is three 4"x4"x8' posts, and two 2"x6"x12' boards. We hung up welded wire rabbit fencing to tie up the branches in spring.

I purchased two bluebird boxes and installed one on a tree and the other one on the new trellis. I realize this is basically inviting birds to a summer buffet, but I don't mind sharing. We can always net off a section for just us.

View of blackberry trellis

Another project I've been working on is getting Crape Myrtle roots out of the vegetable bed that runs the length of the neighbor's fence. There are beautiful trees, but over the past couple years some of the crops in this bed have not done well. Last summer while planting a last patch of tomatoes, I hit what I thought was a log. It turned out to be massive roots. It happened again last week when I was turning over a plot to prepare for a sweet pea dome. I hit roots again. So I've dug a trench that I need to line with a sheet of thick plastic or metal before filling back in. Supposedly Crape Myrtle roots are fairly shallow, so hopefully this will be enough. 

Trench along fence to keep tree roots out of the garden
Today was another beautiful day, and I spent the morning rescuing daffodils that were coming up under the shed. I also planted liatris spicata for the birds and beds, and pulled grass clumps from the garden and planted them in the yard. The established beds around the house are pretty full at this point, so I've started planting flower bulbs around the base of trees. As we've just about run out of room around the perimeter for trees, my next step is to do a step-down of shrubs and flowers. 

Daffodils under the plum tree

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