Sanctuary Gardener Update ~ 12/23/13

Wow! What a crazy busy week this has been! And if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear we were living in the southern hemisphere, enjoying the first day of summer instead of the first day of winter. The entire weekend, the high temperature was 78-80 degrees! So, this gardener was outside Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday, working in the yard and garden. I got so much accomplished – which is a good thing because (1) a cold front is heading our way and Christmas Eve will be 27 degrees, and (2) my beds needed to be ready for the winter planting in a couple weeks.

LAST HARVEST OF 2013:

As I pulled my arugula plants and the remainder of my kale and greens, I realized this was the last harvest of the entire year.

Arugula harvest ~ December 21

Arugula harvest ~ December 21

To show you just how much arugula I harvested, look at it soaking in these large bowls. Now that’s a “mess of greens!”

Arugula harvest soaking in bowls

Arugula harvest soaking in bowls

Greens harvest ~ December 21

Escarole, kale, spinach, red romaine lettuce harvest ~ December 21

The only escarole that germinated this fall were these two plants, so I’m pretty proud of these beautiful heads.

Beautiful escarole

Beautiful escarole

MY NEW BIRD FEEDER:

My “Garden Wilson” surprised me this week by getting me a beautiful bird feeder that looks like a colonial lantern. I had no idea he had gotten it for me until I saw it hanging on the tree near the birdhouse. I’m looking forward to seeing the birds that will come.

My new bird feeder

My new bird feeder

PLANTING TULIPS:

For most areas of the country, it’s long past time to plant tulips. But in the south, we can plant through December. Okay, I cut it close, but this was a great weekend to plant those tulip bulbs I ordered. I planted 60 tulips in the front of my house, 30 on each side of the entrance. Each side will have 10 purple tulips, 10 white tulips, and 10 white tulips with purple flames. Behind them, against the house, are my red gladioli.

Tulip bulbs

Tulip bulbs

We measured each side and placed craft sticks every 12 inches with three bulbs per foot. The soil was so full of clay, I couldn’t dig the holes. So, my “Garden Wilson” dug them for me (with that handy bulb planting tool!).

Digging holes for tulip bulbs

Digging holes for tulip bulbs

I had the easy job ~ adding cow manure compost to the holes, placing the tulip bulbs in the hole, then backfilling the hole with more manure compost. Oh, and brushing the grass mulch back over the holes. Yeah…real tough.

Planting tulips

Planting tulips

RAISED BEDS READY FOR WINTER:

The most time consuming project this weekend was finishing up getting my raised beds ready for winter. The beds that won’t get planted until spring were already done, and the red clover cover crop is growing. I needed to finish the beds that will be planted in two weeks. I pulled all the weeds, added cow manure compost, then covered with leaves to protect the soil until it’s time to plant. (Added benefit – my back yard is 75% free of leaves now.)

Here are two views of the 17 raised beds I have on the side of my house. The only crop growing is my garlic (on the left, second bed from the bottom). The other green you see is red clover.

Raised beds ready for winter

Raised beds ready for winter

Raised beds ready for winter

Raised beds ready for winter

TRANSPLANTING KEY LIME TREE:

My key lime tree has been losing its leaves the past few weeks. The limes are ripening, and flowers are blooming; but if it loses too many more leaves, there will be nothing left to soak up the sun. Look at my tree.

Key lime tree losing its leaves

Key lime tree losing its leaves

After some research, I realized my tree was suffering from three types of stress: temperature changes (due to bringing it inside when the nights dip below 40 degrees), over watering, and being root bound. The first thing I can’t do much about, but the other two items have been changed.

First, I am no longer watering the tree unless the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry. All I am doing is sprinkling the leaves with a fine watering can (as key limes love humidity).

I also bought a 24-inch pot to transplant the tree into. My “Garden Wilson” added a castor wheel apparatus to the bottom so I can move it easily indoors, and he drilled holes for drainage. What a great job he did!

New pot for key lime tree

New pot for key lime tree

To be sure my tree would never again have wet feet, I lined the bottom of the pot with rocks before adding the soil (a combination of cow manure compost and potting soil with a little sand).

Rocks in the bottom of my key lime tree pot

Rocks in the bottom of my key lime tree pot

And here’s my key lime tree in its new pot ~ roots loosened, fertilized, and watered well. I think he’s happy now.

Key lime tree transplanted

Key lime tree transplanted

I feel pretty good knowing I got so much done in the garden this week. What about you? Did you have warmer-than-usual weather? Did you take advantage of it? Comment below and share about your past week.

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