In the Weeds, Literally

When I mention to folks that I live on a farm with horses, I can see their minds visualizing a farm straight out of the pages of Country Living. You know, the kind with a perfectly manicured lawn, flower beds overflowing with fragrant, colorful blooms, and a tray of sweet tea sitting invitingly on the front porch. Oh, and the homeowner out in a lovely, freshly ironed frock with perfectly clean, well behaved children.

Attack of the Knockout Roses!

Attack of the Knockout Roses!

I thought I might use today’s post to shatter whatever perfect vision you may have about our farm, and show that like most real lived-in farms, we have many tasks we fall behind on as well!

When visitors stop by, then I can see the Country Living vision quickly dissolving. Most days I’m behind on my outdoor tasks such as weeding or pruning, and my children are running around muddy and wet because they’re busy playing in puddles or the sprinkler. I can’t leave tea or other edibles on the front porch because the dog will take off with it. In fact, I can rarely put the cushions ON the furniture because the dog will decide to try out each and every chair and leave a ring of black hair.

I suspect though, very few of our homes are really Country Living-ready. With it being so wet and chilly of late, it’s been next to impossible to get outside to do much of anything. The wet weather does, however, make it very easy to pull some weeds (which is a task on tap for today), but let me tell you, it seems like a losing battle. I’ve tried every weed control known to man with very little success… so it pretty much is good, old-fashioned hard work to eliminate these things.

There is actually a blackberry bush in there somewhere.

There is actually a blackberry bush in there somewhere.

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, I’m really feeling the stress of getting the farm ready for visitors. The weather isn’t cooperating, and now that I’m homeschooling two children (and still maintaining my business to a degree), time is a premium. So, I’ve enlisted some help that arrived today in the form of three strong men who will be trimming trees and bushes, cleaning up my flower beds, and doing other small jobs around here. I actually feel a bit guilty about it, but at the same time, it feels oh-so-good to have the help. I can already imagine coming home today to that neatly manicured lawn, trimmed trees, and cleaned out flower beds!

This pot contains sage, rudbeckia, ornamental kale, and an asiatic lily. Planted last year, they are coming back stronger than ever!

This pot contains sage, rudbeckia, ornamental kale, and an asiatic lily. Planted last year, they are coming back stronger than ever!

One task (and actually one of my favorite jobs) I will do myself this year are pot up some more containers. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to really enjoy experimenting with different colors and textures. It’s something that is easy to do with almost instant gratification and is perfect for any size area – apartment balconies, or larger decks or patios. Many vegetables have also been adapted to growing in pots; check out the local nurseries for varieties if this is something you’d want to try.

I’ve been transitioning to using more perennials in my pots, so that I don’t have to re-do them each year. Plus, they are portable, so if you don’t like them, move them! Local nurseries, such as Bennett’s Nursery and Harvest Feed Mill, have great expertise with selecting plants just right for your location.

Now that I have some helpers to assist with garden cleanup, what else can I focus on? Kids, client project, indoor tasks, such as laundry, cleaning, etc?! Perhaps I need more than three men to help!

What do you need help with this year? What is your favorite garden task?

MAY GARDEN TASKS IN ALABAMA
From the Alabama Co-Op Extension Website

Vegetable Seed
– Plant heat-loving and tender vegetables
– Start cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and celery in cold frames for the fall garden

Vegetable Plants
– Plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and sweet potatoes

Fruits and Nuts
– Continue spray program
– Keep grass from around trees and strawberries
– Peaches and apples can still be budded

Shrubs
– Newly planted shrubs need extra care now and in coming weeks
– Don’t spray with oil emulsions when temperature is above 85 degrees F

Lawns
– Now is the best time to start lawns from seed
– Water new lawns as needed to prevent drying
– Keep established lawns actively growing by watering, fertilizing, and mowing
– Spray weeds in lawns with proper herbicide

Roses
– Spray or dust for insects and diseases
– Fertilize monthly according to a soil test
– Container-grown plants in flower may be planted
– Prune climbing roses afterthe first big flush of flowering

Annuals and Perennials
– Late plantings of bedding plants still have time to produce
– Watch for insects on day lilies

Bulbs
– Summer bulbs started in containers may still be planted
– Do not remove foliage from spring flowering bulbs
– Do not let seedheads form on tulips and other spring flowering bulbs