Finally! Rain!!

No posts for a few weeks, because it has been raining! It has been truly wonderful to see the soil soak up the water and the garden begin to look fresh and green again.

However, today was a warm and relatively dry day (24 degrees in the middle of May! Crazy!) so as soon as I could pull on a pair of jeans and a beanie, because even at 24 degrees I still feel the cold, I was out in the garden.

I really had no specific plans once I was out there, so I decided to dig a hole and see what the soil was like. Damp and beautiful, was the answer. The rain has really sunk through now and the soil was lovely.

I noticed that the lettuces I let go to seed have germinated, and there are baby lettuces everywhere. Some of my favourite little bulbs, Sparaxis or Harlequin Flower, have popped their heads up as well. Can’t wait for these beauties to flower for the third year running. At this point they have naturalised in the garden.

Sadly, there have been a couple of casualties of the extended dry. I had a magnificent creeping thyme plant that looks like it has been touched by a Dementor, and I am not sure it will recover. One of my rhubarb plants looks very sad. The rose bushes are still not established enough to cope with such extended dry weather.

I decided that today was a good day to plant out the lime tree I have had growing in a pot under my patio for the past two years. It has grown quickly but is quite spindly and just does not have the lushness that I would expect from two years of growth, even though it has been fed and loved. I think it needs full sun.

Digging the hole was fun. I have not dug a good, deep hole in a while. If you have the space, capability, and the time, I recommend it. Work has been busy and stressful, and I sit down most of the day. Digging a hole uses muscles that my sedentary body does not often exercise. I started sweating embarrassingly quickly.

When planting a tree, you should dig the hole twice the size (depth and width) of the root ball. Some gardener once said you should dig a fifty dollar hole for a ten dollar plant.

I placed the tree in the hole, and then ran the hose in the hole with the tree sitting in it, next to a brick of coir.

Coir is great stuff. It’s cheap as chips (a brick of it costs about two bucks from the Big Green Shed, and a bit more if you buy it from a smaller nursery). It’s organic and sustainable (a waste product of coconuts, made from the fibre, chopped up and compressed). When you wet it, it transforms to ten times its size by volume. You can then use it as a mulch, a planting medium for raising seedlings, or as an additive to potting mix to help retain moisture. In this instance, I was using it as an additive to the soil.

While the coir was expanding and the hole was filling slowly with water, I dug three bags of cow manure into a bed that has been lying fallow since the Summer. Then I planted broad beans (Aquadulce) and Dwarf Snow Peas into the beds. Last year I grew two varieties of broadies (Aquadulce and Crimson Flowered). While the Crimson Flowered were gorgeous, they did not crop that well.

Some people don’t like broadies – I do. They are good for the soil, being nitrogen-fixers, and they are lovely in pasta or made into pesto.

Once the hole had filled half way with water, I poured some seaweed extract into the hole, broke up half the coir brick and spread it around, and filled the hole back in. I trimmed off some of the lower, spindlier branches. The remaining coir brick I spread around the base as a mulch.

That’s it for today – hopefully tomorrow the rain will hold off just long enough for me to do some weeding and to plant out some window boxes of violas. Then let it rain once more.

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