68 One Day...38 The Next

What a tease.  The weather turned "unseasonably" warm this past weekend, and we headed outside with a skip in our steps.  It was fantastic!  And, it was fleeting.  But, before I begin bemoaning the return of the thirties, let me dwell for a few paragraphs on the thrill of the sixties...however brief it be.

Mr. T tries out the Mantis tiller
 On Saturday, we broke out the Mantis tiller we've borrowed from Missy M.  She's got raised beds in her garden now, so she doesn't use it anymore.  It was just sitting in her shed, so we shifted it to NC several months ago.  Haven't had a chance to crank'er up until now.  And, since the ground was still a bit too damp from the recent snows for the Big Boy Tiller, we decided to give the little lady one a try.

Mr. T got the motor going and tilled up some rows around the back of our mailbox (photo, left), expanding the flower bed we put in last year. 

Blue Star Hyacinth bulbs...finally in the ground
 You see, I had purchased some Blue Star hyacinth bulbs (photo, right) in November (past the time for fall planting) at half-price, with every good intention of forcing a few of them for Christmas gifts.  OK, so that didn't happen (this year...:), and the bulbs spent the last 10 weeks chilling out in the garage.  When I checked the box on Friday, I noticed they were ALL sporting tiny buds on beautiful, fat bulbs...not a single one had been lost.  Hooray for happenstance!  Let's get these puppies in the ground!!  We planted 68 bulbs, most in front...some in back by the new garden shed.

Row of green peas
 Mr. T showed me how to use the Mantis...and there was no stopping me then!  He tilled up a couple of rows in the garden on Saturday to demonstrate, and then I tilled 7 more rows on Sunday.  I got a row of green peas planted (photo, left), plus a row of carrots and a row of spinach...and, I got rows ready for lettuce and beets.

Aren't you pushing the season?  asked Missy M.  A little bit, says I.  But not by too much.  The planting guide says that we can begin planting peas, carrots, and spinach on February 1st...and January 29-30 looks awfully close on the calendar, don't you think?  Plus, the carrots and spinach are covered with row covers for cold-weather protection. 

Taking soil samples

In addition to the planting activities, I collected 12 samples for soil testing (photo, right).  I dug them up on Sunday and left them out to dry some.  Then, on Monday, when the weather had returned to Winter, I went about collecting the samples for the boxes.  Hoo-boy, that was hard, since the cold wind was cutting right through my jacket and hood.  Thank goodness for garden gloves...which kept my hands warm all the while!

I'll send these samples off to Raleigh, as directed on the boxes, and hopefully we'll get good reports on what amendments we need to add to enhance our soil.

Cold frame from straw bales and windows
 Last but not least, before it turned cold again, Mr. T "constructed" our cold frame, using four bales of straw and four windows (photo, left).  We'll use it to start seeds and harden off plants as the season goes along. 

He'd "rescued" these windows along with several of their friends from a roadside in PA last year, and we've been eager to get them into use here in NC.  We plan on putting two in the garden shed's back wall to give light and air to the inside of the structure, and I want to hang a couple of them (after painting the frames purple Blooming Wisteria, of course...:) on the side wall, with flower boxes beneath them.  Photos to follow!


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