Garden Tetris

The weather has been a bit chilly, with temps only reaching the 40s to mid-50s (F) during the day and dipping into the 30s at night. For the last week, the National Weather Service has issued frost warnings for our area–and we are still getting snow flurries now and then. One frosty morning I saw all the grass edged in beautiful white frost. I’ve read that typically we can get frost in our area until mid-May and there’s a slight chance of frost into June. Not long after I’m finally convinced that “Wow! Summer is here!” then it’s the summer solstice and the days begin to shorten again.

Mostly it feels too chilly to enjoy working outside, although we do occasionally get a warm-ish day. Last week I discovered a local Farmer’s Market co-op on the Internet so we ordered a few herb and vegetable plants from them. Other states have been opening up but Michigan’s governor has kept us in draconian lockdowns, which have really hurt small businesses in our state. We’d like to try to help them out by buying from from them rather than bigger chains. We picked up our order on Saturday. Different plants are available at different times so I put in another plant order that we will pick up this Friday. Because it’s still too cold to put fragile plants outside, we have been putting them out on the patio table during the day and bringing them in at night. A few of the garden boxes have plants that have returned from last year so I’ve been covering them up at night.

An ice cream shop was next to the place where we picked up our plants so after putting the plants in the truck, EJ went over and bought us ice cream. He got Hannah Joy a small dog-cone. I think it’s likely that it’s the first cone she’s ever had. She went wild and chomped-chomped-chomped it down like pacman gobbling dots in the old video game. It was gone in seconds. She liked the ice cream so much that it was an effort to keep her from gobbling our ice cream as well. I predict that there will be more cones in her future.

Sunday we ordered some dog and cat food from the farm store online, and then drove to pick it up when they texted that it was ready. The farm store is about an hour away so we usually order several items at a time to make it worth the trip. I suspect the price of pet food will rise so we would like to get ahead while it’s still relatively inexpensive. The drive is beautiful so we don’t mind the distance.

Before we left for the farm store, EJ got bread going in his new bread machine. I told him that I bought him the bread machine for his Mother’s Day gift. Ha Ha. Actually, I bought it for him because he likes to make bread but he is finding that kneading the dough is becoming difficult on his hands–and mine as well. We try to live frugally and we buy a lot of items second-hand, but I invested in a new bread machine to make sure it worked and had its instruction booklet with it. For several months in 2020 it was difficult to find certain foods, such as bread, in the grocery stores so we would prefer to have the ability to make our own bread. Plus, when we make our own, we know what ingredients are in it.

After we got back home from the farm store, EJ went out in the garage to work on our “new” riding lawn mower. It had belonged to EJ’s friend’s Dad, who died last year. Since EJ’s friend didn’t need it, he gave it to us. Free! He dropped it off a week or so ago. There is a problem with the front end, which EJ is working on. Hopefully, he can fix it because it sure would make mowing the lawn much easier than using the push mower. I usually get overheated and red-faced mowing the lawn with the push mower, and I always have to take several breaks to cool off. The riding mower also has a snowblower attachment, which is awesome.

EJ plans to reconfigure the raised garden beds and he said that I can have a few of the garden boxes that he doesn’t plan to use. EJ is responsible for growing vegetables in the main garden in the back yard, while I grow herbs in the front yard. While EJ worked on the riding lawnmower, I shoveled dirt out of “my” new boxes into the wheelbarrow, moved it and the emptied boxes to my herb garden in the front yard, then shoveled the dirt from the wheelbarrow back into the boxes. The chickens “helped” by getting in each box while I was trying to remove its dirt and getting in the wheelbarrow that I was trying to put the dirt in, and then getting in the way while I tried to move the heavy boxes out of the back yard garden. Chickens are very curious and like to hang out with me. I think they are sweet.

The garden boxes are all different sizes so I felt as if I was playing a sort of “garden tetris” as I positioned them in places where they fit in my herb garden. I’m not sure which herbs I will plant in which box, but I will figure it out when it’s time for planting.

Some migratory birds are returning to the area. Over the weekend, we saw bluebirds checking out the birdhouses we have set out for them. A female rose-breasted grosbeak visited the feeder and we briefly saw a Baltimore oriole. This morning I saw a hummingbird hovering near the feeders so I quickly got out and washed the hummingbird feeders and mixed up some nectar. As soon as the nectar cooled, I filled a feeder and hung it up for them. Hmmmm. I wonder what hummingbirds eat when they arrive before the flowers bloom?

Last Thursday EJ stopped in at the hospital to get the stitches removed from his thumb, which he had sliced open when he brushed metal chips from the machine at work. It turns out that his thumb is infected. They suspected that a metal chip might still be in his thumb so they gave him an X-ray, prescribed an antibiotic, and told him to call the hand doctor. He called today and made an appointment for Wednesday. I certainly hope that he just has an easily healed infection and not a chip that will require surgery to remove.

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