Here’s the goal: To love every minute you tend your garden

Where to start?

Much has been happening in this little garden. May I emphasize “little”? If there were another 10 square feet under cultivation I don’t think I could handle it. Enough is enough. My goal is to love every single minute of tending this garden and so far I do. My hope is that you love yours too.

When thinking, almost 20 years ago, about what I wanted this garden to look like, I took birds into consideration. The land had once been part of a homestead so it certainly wasn’t virgin. The alders were flourishing and one rather woebegone spruce were all that existed. There were a few straggly raspberries and lots and lots of fireweed.

Once cleared in preparation for building the house I could see the east side planted to trees and shrubs. This has been an excellent decision. The birds thrive here. I won’t win prizes at any of the Kachemak Bay Birders meetings for accurate identifications but I do enjoy the company of the avian population while I go about my tasks.

Yesterday was the earliest ever that I have seen a hummingbird. Don’t ask me what kind it was, but it most certainly was a hummer. Buzzed right up to me and looked me in the eye, then buzzed off. Goodness. I’d love to harness that energy.

Early this spring I cut the patch of rosa rugosa “Hansa” right down to the ground. It seemed drastic but I had neglected it and it showed. There were dead patches in the middle of the thicket and lots of dead canes here and there. I usually groom the roses once a year but that patch had gotten away from me. So down it went. And it is grateful. The regeneration is remarkable. Rugosas bloom on new wood so this will be interesting. And I am determined to keep up with their maintenance, but I’ve said that before.

The Theresa Bugnet roses on the west corner of the house are slow coming on this year. I haven’t done any pruning because I’m not really sure what is alive and what needs to go. I’m being patient but this is a slower spring then the last three or four and I’ve gotten spoiled. The William Baffins (four of them) are also reluctant to show much progress. I keep telling myself that it is early but … I’m ready to roll.

There are so many Asiatic lilies in this garden and I love each and every one of them but they certainly are prolific. There is one clutch that I am particularly fond of. They are about 18 inches high and a lovely pink and look like a wedding bouquet. I love them.

But I also know they have needed to be divided for the last three years and I have been afraid I would ruin them. This was the year to make the move. Out they came, separated (they were very tightly packed) and replanted in a looser arrangement. The extras were planted here and there in groups of three. Still there were more. I potted them up in compost and recycled coffee bean bags with a slit cut in the bottom for drainage and have parceled them out to friends. May they thrive in their new homes.

The nemophilia has been successfully reseeding for several years. This is an annual with lovely blue flowers and I like to think they take the place of forget-me-nots as a lovely understory for the perennials. There are two kinds of forget-me-nots in this garden. The kind I love and the ones I hate.

The lovely ones are a deep blue and behave themselves most admirably and are starting to bloom. The hateful ones make mats that choke out everything around them. I have removed them by the wheelbarrow full. Dreadful. Those and the white violets. When these are being weeded out they go into a black trash bag and on to the dump. They are invasive and I make sure they stop here.

On to the vegetable garden. I have spotty germination for the two kinds of peas I planted on May 14. Not a problem, I started more this evening, it isn’t too late. Everything else is bursting out of the ground, thankfully. The whole shebang is covered with floating row cover. I just lay it over the starts and pin down the edges with Earth Pins. I don’t bother with hoops, just it lay it down. Its super light and the plants manage just fine. It will probably stay on until the first of July, we’ll see. The floating row cover will serve a dual purpose: 1) it will warm up the beds by four or five degrees and with this cold spring they can use a few extra degrees. 2) it will thwart the fly that lays the dreaded root maggot that will take out all, absolutely all, of the cole crops. This is not acceptable. So the garden may look like the Shroud of Turin for a few weeks but it’s worth it.

The greenhouse, oh how I love the greenhouse. We are eating lovely salads including radishes. The tomatoes are gorgeous. I have pruned off excess foliage twice already. Do this to promote air circulation and you plants will reward you with lovely fruit. Really.

Also, please, just SHAKE your tomato plants to pollinate. That’s all it takes. Just SHAKE.

The green beans are almost blooming; the cucumbers are staked in preparation for them to climb all over the place and drive me crazy. With this cloudy weather the watering has not been very demanding but water I do. That’s the catch to a greenhouse — you really need to tend it. Give this some thought before you commit to one.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.

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