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Diary of a Boy Gardener

We are in the Berkshires, the beautiful rolling hills of western Massachusetts where the season is short and the frosts sometimes win. Visit Sally and David's Gardens and see how two old farts spend their time helping what plants they can find their place in this world.

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Location: Hinsdale, Massachusetts, United States

Retired Service Engineer. Installed and repaired diagnostic x-ray equipment. Trained and supported others doing the same thing.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Another wonderful day. Sunny and hot, but not humid and some breeze. Delightful !!!
So what did they do? Well David spent more morning time doing web stuff. It's amazing how all these free tools have populated the web so that if you need a graphic heading you just find a tool like WebGFX to create it. So the borrowed generic Welcome has been replaced by some transparant gifs in a font called NewLandContour. Later in the morning work was in order and he started by working some on the cinder block corner. Dug down and found the other end of the old sewer pipe which will serve to take water from the sump pump and put it in gravel behind the soon to be build retaining wall. Then put three one inch pipes thru for electric, water supply and spare to the upper garden. Then added two rounds of mortor mix into the crevices. Later in the day it was path definition time for David in the upper garden. Mucho progress there.
Sally did her usual Sunday morning paper and TV th ing and then attacked the vegetable and back gardens, planting and cleaning. With all the rain the weeds seem to thrive, so carts are being pulled and hauled. They feel close to under control, but it's never enough ...!!!!

This is Saturday's update:
David spent the early part of the day stuck on web page stuff. Finally got the menu system graphics working. By the time he was outside just getting his hands into the dirt Sally advised they were leaving on a trip to the Bridge of Flowers. So before long off they went, tag sales both ways, lunch and clothes shopping and a wonderful look at the gardens there. By the time they got home it was 4pm. Sally watered some and David mowed the upper garden area. It was a gorgeus day and there will be more....

Friday, June 28, 2002

A nice day with some showers here and there. David had to work so Sally was alone in the garden today. She weeded and defined some new edges on the western side of the upper garden. David should catch up with some picture links over this weekend of all goes according to plan. He has been trying to get a java script menu system to work too.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Where did this week go ???? When Sally said it was Thursday, David got very confused, it feeling more like a Tuesday. Anyhow, hot and muggy. Sally was gallavanting around the county and so only David did anything and it was too hot for much. Watering alone took about an hour. Planted the last two roses, the second needed major rock removal (BIG ones). Mulched them out and finished the edge which goes west from the upper garden front pergola (gets confusing doesn't it?).
A surveryor is about the land, since we are splitting off a hunk of the north portion for Matt. We will end up with a very good map of the property including building outlines. From that we plan to map out the garden locations, then make image maps on which you dear reader will click and see what is where. Then with lots of patience and hard work this babble can link to said maps and then it won't be so confusing. Maybe even Sally and David will finally learn where everything is !!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Started out cool, but HOT was in the forecast, so they got up and out early (before 6 am) and did a lot. David screened several wheelbarrows of dirt from the wall excavation pile and dumped it the three raised beds which had been holding perennials. Sally then mixed in composted manure and planted the squash which will then be trained out over the lawn in front of the chickens. David then cleaned out the north wall and path of the vegetable garden while Sally did the same in the other spots needing some work. Strawberries are in a delicious. Swallows have their fuzzy heads and lean on the edge of the nest. They'll be flying by this time next week.
It got too hot, so off to a movie and to buy some peat moss so the remaining roses can go in, some more composted manure, and some quick set water stop concrete to work the pond with. Thunderstorms moving in, so after returning, lots of stuff brought to cover, covered in place or fretted over.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Very cool last night, down into very low 40s. But it warmed up fast and was nice and sunny. David cleaned up around the forsythia replant and mulched it and a few other areas in need. He then planted one rose and with Sally figured where the other two will go. Meanwhile she worked on putting squash in what had been the perennial holding beds (at least one of them). Also watered and picked up the last of the party stuff (tent man came and took back the 20 x 30 tent). David had to work afternoon/eve and got home so late that Sally is in bed and so he knows not what else she did for the day. Hold your breath until the morning dear reader.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Monday continued:
The daughter's roses are in bloom and she is only 15 miles away, but down the hill where it is MUCH warmer. Sally and David have a few rugosa and old farm roses just blooming now, else a bunch of buds. The only other "gardening" work today has been another course of cement on the wall project to get thos blocks tight before insulating and covering.

Another great day here. The sun is out and there is a nice cool brezze. Nice change from the hot, stuffy, humid days past. Sally and David have been entertaining house guests, so little gardening going on at the moment other than the routine daily container watering. David did dead head, water and feed the petunias in the five 2nd story window boxes and now they are off to photograph their daughther's garden where some roses are in bloom.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Here we are a bit later in the day. Sally and David had a day of rest. A dear friend is visiting with his daughter. After saying goodnight, David snuck upstairs and did some web stuff, primarily reducing images from 500 to 100K to get better load times and adding some new counters and vote machines. Tomorrow is another day.....

Whew !!!!
The picnic got us so manic that there was no time to visit this dear diary. And David's memory ain't what it used to be. Friday and Saturday consisted of more weeding, edging and some planting. For example, a new rose (a J&P rugosa) went in where the forsythia was extracted. The 2nd rose could not be planted there due to presence of large rock, so some bulbs filled in for now. The whole lower east corner of rock path was reclaimed, with about 5 wheelbarrows of weeds going over the bank. Major mulching and it looks very good now. The tent guy came and set that up and then we built our world famous fireplace which consists of stuff from Perlmans, the local scrap metal dealers. A curb drain cover is set on an old pickup tool rack and another grate under it adjusts the fire bed height. Used small chunk maple. Because the burger screen got destroyed this winter, had to use iron pans to cook, but there are plenty of those.
Picnic day was a total blur. All the last minute things like getting the ice to cool down the drinks and putting a tarp over the fireplace and trimming lawn by hand around the front sign, and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen (AGAIN!!!). David came out of the shower exactly at noon and the first guests arrived at about quarter after followed by several groups in a row. Probably about 50 people spent anywhere from 1 to 8 hours and the food was splendid. Lots of nice dishes arrived. David never even saw the cheesecake, it was devoured instantly. Beefalo burgers, hot and sweet sausage and hot dogs flew off that fire.
Cousin Dick (long lost for 50 years, found us on the web from some genealogy postings) arrived early and it was great recalling our child hood holiday meetings of the 50's and catching up each others lives over all these years.
The rain did come in, but there was no wind nor lightening. Consisted primarily of short showers. After each rain small groups could be seen walking out to the various garden spots to enjoy them. It is such a pleasure to share the gardens with friends.
There is a lot of cleanup for this morning and it is still raining on and off and the ISP is doing some maintenance real soon, so bye for now. Hope to add some pictures of the setup later (none of event, never even had a chance to get out the camera - pity).

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Thursday was a beautiful day, and also a blur. Poor David went down to Bradley to pick up his son, only to find the flight cancelled and the kid stuck in Newark. Needless to say, he headed south and west and after major traffic jams on I95 at Bridgeport and Greenwich, finally arrived at Newark around 1am. Then took a long time to find that boy (big terminal, hints via 2nd party {Sally getting collect calls from both of them} . Once found they headed home on the Taconic and got to see the dawn, hitting the hay at 4:45 am.
So what kind of gardening day was it? Sally was to clean the woodshed for the party which meant NOT moving all the small plants AGAIN, so she potted them up like a good girl. There are way too many, but hopefully the guests on Saturday will take them all away. Meanwhile David and Jeremy dug a big hole and then transplanted two forsythia into it. Roses will go where they came from. Also mowed all picnic areas and we all keep trying to organize and clean and pick up, but it seems like there is way too much too do. Hey, it's only a picnic.....

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Wednesday was another beautiful day here in the Bershires. However, David was away working all day and Sally spent most of her time cleaning out buildings in preparation for the picnic on Saturday. She did manage to cut some spinach and lettuce and week the carrots, onions and potatoes. There is always some weed somewhere. Maybe put the party goers to work on Saturday !!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Tuesday has been another great day. No rain today, lots of sun, not too hot (yet), no bugs to speak of. Sally and David continued in the upper garden and carts more of weeds have been removed. Lots of mulch has been applied ($40/yd, 8 yards so far this year). The path is well defined. In the heat of the day they treated themselves to lunch in town and then a trip to Agway where 6 roses, a cotoneaster and a potentilla snuck into the back of the station wagon while we were just browsing. Seniors day gave us a discount, so we fessed up and paid for 'em. Half made it into the ground in the afternoon, the rest will have to wait. Also moving two forsythia and the two rugosa will go to their old holes (but the new forsythia holes need to be dug (tough sod and rocks). Might just be ready for the picnic. David has to work tomorrow, so only has 2 1/2 working days left til the hordes descend....

Monday, June 17, 2002

Beautiful Monday !!! Sally and David were off to the upper garden which has been sadly neglected. They spent a good 8 hours each up there already and it started to rain at 4:30 pm. What got done you ask? Well mostly lots and lots and lots of weeding. About 10 wheelbarrows full over the other side of the road. And then David brings back mulch and dresses out the newly weeded beds. They are looking splendid and photo's will link to the calendar for today. Still another day up there to rescue all the poor guys stuck in the weeds, but it should get done if the weather and our health permit.
David has been working the web pages, especially the June page. He was up at 4:15 this morn trying to figure out how to get GIMP to do lossy compression on the jpegs which are at 400K and need to be <100K. Finally got it, now to open ever single one and save as smaller file, less quality (these are 2.2 M to start, taken with a 5M digital camera, so they can afford some loss for the web. Well, the sun is out, so post, publish and break is over!

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Sunday started out quite chilly of the middle of June. But it was a nice tempt for cleaning out the woodshd. David had to chop the last of the chunk wood and fill all the boxes (yes they still burn wood in the kitchen stove just about every morning). After the wood was gone (some stacked agains the north wall, then the last of the bins were disassmebled and the mess cleaned up. Meanwhile Sally organized her end (paints, potting materials, hardware, materials). Ended up with only a table of plants which should have gone into the ground except that on the way to the dump David heard a severe weather alert and flew home. Brought everything they could in and put up hoops and row cover over the potatoe and cover where they could. Checked the TV and saw big fat orange line just to the west (looks like wind and hail). David got a glass of wine and sat in the woodshed to watch the show. Good news, bad news. The good news is no damage. The bad news is no real wind or hail. Some heavy rain, but straight down. A few rumbles and flashes, but not really near. Seems that good old Tully mountain to the west took the punch out of it before it hit here. Cleared nicely and Sally has gone to weeding while David is cleaning basement, assembling a swing, painting some more, upgrading to 10.1.5 on Mac, etc.
Bottom line is all that got done in the gardens was some weeding and a few transplants in the vegetable and back garden. Will be adding some linked pix.
David hurt his back (first time in 12 years) and must not bend or pull for awhile....

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Saturday was raining all day. Sally worked in the cottage all day long. David did some concrete work of the wall project in the morning, then threw out all the old lattice and bought new thinner lattice so he could just buy pre made cap. Then he made four panels in about two hours. Then he started painting. Just painting all the caps and one side of one lattice took from 1-6 pm with the one lattice side taking an hour (Dave Matthews album is 106 minutes and they finished together). Seven more sides means Sunday looks like an all paint day. But then again, with two workdays coming up and the picnic in 6 days, maybe fixing up the woodshed is the new priority....

This is Friday's BLOG. It was fully intended to be posted last night, but when I got to the sign in page I started reading a few of the blogs on the recent post list and before I knew it I was surfing for so long I forgot why I had sat down in the first place.
Anyway, the weather has been and will continue to be chilly and overcast, with rain showers persisting. This has been very good for transplanting, so Sally has been doing a lot of that. Second rounds of seeds have gone in (she loves her peas) and lots of stuff has been potted up. We have been using some of the soil from the excavation (see 6/11 entry) mixed with some compost for all those pots. We decided that we will do the whole driveway and area between cottage and house with new stone, which means we will flag down farmer Ronnie and have him run his tractor bucket a few inches deep thru the area. We will wait until after the picnic.
David raked up a lot of grass from the Thurs mow and put it next to the compost pile where it can then be used to mulch the vegetable beds, which are gonna need it soon in this weather. He then finally cleaned around the three trees (one triple birch and two maples). One of the maples had multiple trunks which had their tops removed last year and finally got trimmed down to ground level so they don't look so weird. Then to basement (raining hard) to clean up and install the new stackable dado on the saw. Just as David was about to do some test strips to see how wide the various combinations of blades cut, Sally found that her friend would not be taking her to the movies after all, and so the two of them were off to the mall.
After the show they stopped at the first ever Hinsdale Farmer's Market (Fri 4-7 pm) where they found Barb, her husband and three tents set up. Barb is enthusiastic about the amount of traffic that came thru, given the cold and showery afternoon.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

David did no gardening today, as he had to help out Matt by driving down to Hamden CT to get some fence parts. All he managed to do was mow the back yard and back garden lawns.
Sally had few details to offer about her day, but it was busy cleaning and transplanting. Her biggest shock was when Jeanne was visiting and they walked over to the upper garden. A peony which had not yet bloomed in five years finally did, and Sally missed the best part, as the petals were already starting to fall. And of course Jeannes was heckling about the state of things. As we say, there is just too much to do around here. We do it all ourselves and we have too much !!! We have to stay focussed on the picnic (8 days and counting.....).

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Wednesday was supposed to be a rainy day (heavy showers predicted). Instead we got hot and muggy with rain which seemed to evaporate as it fell, so it wasn't very wet. Sally and David both worked outdoors most of the day therefore. It was a great day for planting, so Sally put in carrots, parsnips, and finally planted the tomatoes. She also did a lot of transplanting and lots of general spring cleaning/organizing (move the hastily placed pile of whatever to where belongs, etc). Overbought window box petunias, so now she is sticking them in places they have never been!
Meanwhile David finished shoveling out the old yukky full of dirt and plants gravel. He then laid down the black plastic and spread a nice layer of 3/4 native stone. Looks great and really sets of the stone borders. Plants, mulch, border rocks, stone, very pretty. It finally did start to pour around 3pm so off they went shopping and upon return Sally started a bunch more seeds in the greenhouse and David cleaned up the basement to prepare to use his brand new stacked dado blade to make the rest of the trellis pieces for the pergola.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Tuesday has been a busy day. We hung the window boxes. Sally cleaned out the back area where the had been prepared. David started digging at the corner where the new retaining wall is going. The corner is in pretty rough shape. There are lots of loose blocks and areas with no cement at all. Cleaned it all out with a hose and made some forms to hold cement in, but with storms predicted, decided not to make cement. Sally went to a garden club meeting and David mowed for a few hours. Since bad weather is prediced they both brought materials indoors so they can work various projects. Sally will be working in her cottage on a display and David will be making the other panels for the pergola. Only 10 more days til the picnic !!!!

This is Monday's diary.
It was a full day for Sally and David. Sally put lots more plants in the ground and just about finished the boxes. They should go up today if all goes as intended. She also weeded the vegetable garden (portions) and made some piles David will have to truck out.
Meanwhile David finished the eastern edge where the tables are and received 10 tons of 3/4 native stone. There is mulch up to the stone pile. David then continues cleaning out the eastern edge next to the cottage. About 2/3 clean after 6 or 7 wheelbarrows removed.
In the evening David went surfing to find a web based calender and found a great free service called Calendars.net. Spent a half hour finding it and then about an hour learning how it works and making some entries. Started out with David's work schedule, then rose care, watering, mowing and garden club, but think will remove the David work schedule and just have it be gardening. Never did mow yesterday and rain coming in soon so beter get on it.

Monday, June 10, 2002

This is Sunday's diary:
Sally put out her sign again and found a very enthusiastic customer who spent all the money she had ($25) and said she would be back AND she will be telling all her friends about the great place she found !!! Sally continued planting containers and cleaning beds and planting annuals.
David finished leveling out the roadside area (eastern edge under the maple) where plant tables are set up and laid down landscaping cloth and covered with mulch. Ronnie came by and used his the bucket on his tractor to dig out the area where a new retaining wall will be built where the basement sliding door is. Ended up with a really big pile of dirt and exposed some ugly nasties in the block foundation. Then David started cleaning up the eastern road side edge next to the cottage. Sally had earlier removed any nice plants which had wandered into there. Will put down black plastic and cover with gravel. Grass is getting long and mowing is in our future. Monday looks like a good day....

Sunday, June 09, 2002

David had to work a very long day Saturday, so all he could do was mow in the back, which is around 20% of total lawn. Then off to Mt. Hope to work at Williams college Class of '62 40th reunion (got home after midnight).
Meanwhile Sally put up her new sign and stopped some passers by. She made a few sales, taking in about $25. Not bad for first day, no advertising, small roadside sign. Hope to post later with a more productive Sunday report.

Friday, June 07, 2002

Today was a very minimal gardening day. Until noon it was still raining (soft and long). Sally went off with Dot until afternoon and David got stuck organizing and cleaning his room (couldn't find something and before he knew it, he had out the vacuum). Bottom line is the grass is growing and nothing got done. We did go over to Diane's and get some stuff from her which will get put in first thing in the morning.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Rained all day so Sally worked in the woodshed fixing up her potting area and David moved a bunch of compost and dirt from where it was piled which is where we will be selling from to out in back and up over on the upper garden side. Then David to work late morning and Sally into the cottage to work on her dolls. David not home til 9:30 and since no gardening to report, this is a short entry. Will start posting as schedule on the web site to track when things should be done and when they get done so we don't forget to feed, water, etc.......Nite.

This is the blog for Wednesday. It was another very busy and productive day. Sally painted a shutter and started to clean up the temporary potting area where the compost was delivered. She also started planting lots of the 4" pots into various gardens, especially the borders. She also worked the raised beds near the triangle, which involves cutting back tree roots, adding soil, and planting. Here went more herbs and annuals.
Meanwhile David started the day designing and making the first set of panels for the pergola. Manufactured the U-channel, trimmed down the lattice, cut the channel to length, then up to the site to mount after applying a quick coat of white primer. Sally likes it and so the other three should go faster. After lunch David watered and fed all the roses with Neptune's bounty (1st time for that, had been using kelp from Maine). After rosed done put the Miracid sprayer on and watered all the evergreens and heather on both banks. By then it was 5:30 and David was going to blog the day, but we got a call to come pick up some bittersweet. A friend was available with his pickup, so we drove the 12 miles into town and packed up a truck full. By the time we got home we realized we should watch the weather report, as it seemed threatening. Violent storms appear to be approaching, so we had to bring everything in again, and put row covers over the vegetables. Then came the show, which was major lightening and pouring rain. Lucky for us there wasn't too much gusting wind and no hail. Anyway, had to unplug the computer so still no blogging, and so a day late with this.
As for today, it will rain all morning and David has to work this afternoon and evening, so we may not have much gardening to report. Later....

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

What a busy day this has been. Sally filled up the new window boxes and they got hung. However, we noticed the shutters on one window were pretty bad, so they came down and got a new coat of paint. Then we said lets rebuild another set for the western bedroom window, so Sally picked out the pair she wanted fixed and David rebuilt them. Meanwhile the pergola up in the main garden needs fixing, so David started out making some pieces to cover the ugly edges. But it was all for naught, since that's a cludge and we should be doing things right. In this case that means making some U-channel out of 1.5 by 1.5. So David started ripping lengths. But the rain is coming in and the saw was outdoors (no sawdust all over the basement and so nice out until...) so that ended that. Takes about 1/2 hour to get everything under cover before the rain comes down too hard. We got too much stuff !!!!. David is going to work on the garden web which will link lots of nice pictures to this here BLOG. Say goodnight Gracie......

It happened again!!! Yup another light frost and this time we had not brought in a lot of stuff (primarily the window boxes full of petunias). They look OK at first glance. About yesterday:
Sally and David spent lots of time on the bank and pond. It all started when she was going over to plant just a few things she dug up on the other side of the property and saw what needed being done. She weeded the whole path line, especially the rugosa side. David did the lawn side of the rugosas and also had to trim a lot of dead wood and reach in to weed the middle (a very prickly affair). David then finished the path as it turns out between the rugosa and the asparagas patch (dug it out, laid down weed barrier, and mulched). They then moved down the hill to the pond at the foot of the bank and together dug it deeper and attempted to pack the leaky edges with the clay from the bottom. The intent is to avoid a liner. A found cylinder was placed on end to act as a feature within the pond. It sticks out above the water level by about a foot. Beat back the advancing grass in the area and weeded the area near the pond. Before they knew it, the day was getting away and they needed to shop for some lumber and for groceries.
Upon return, only enough time (and energy) for bringing in the tomatoes and a few other tender plants even though no frost was anticipated (sleep better).

Monday, June 03, 2002

It happend!! We have had a light frost. The overnight low temperature was 32 and there is frost on some surfaces. It is not extensive and we don't expect to find any damage. Did hang two of the new window boxes, but they don't have dirt yet (nor plants). Need to get some hardware for the other two. Looks like a nice sunny but cool for June day. Hope the bugs hate it. See ya later little diary.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Sunday continues. Being as how we are supposed to rest on this day, David did less gardening and did some more Web stuff (sitting is resting, right?). The most important thing was to move the BLOG to our own site. Once there it meant creating a garden portion to our site. But of course David has not even downloaded an HTML editor or an FTP client to his MAC, so that needed doing.
So now there is a primitive site which links to the BLOG (this blog), and a link to there from here.

In the actual gardening department, Sally again promoted many plants to bigger containers and we both spent a lot of time moving plants around. Seems like just a few hours after they all came out from the woodshed to get some light, the wind got so strong they all had to go back in. We are scared of frost, so covered what we could and the tomatoes are actually in the house!!!! David edged the lilac bank and finished the edge and mulch around the pond.
And believe it or not, the mowing continues, as the silly man forgot the western edge. Lisa will be happy that it is done (she borders it).

Trying to post to both blogspot and our place but using relative addressing so link above does NOT work on blogspot plus it gets stupid and forgets the ftp details after publishing on blogspot.

Saturday was a gorgeous day here in the Berkshires. We had the two grandkids most of the day and Sally was out and about with friends, so David had to mind the rug rats and get some work done. Finished the mowing (did do another third Fri night), final oil coat of white on the new window boxes, lots of edging, watered the onions, potatoes and strawberries. Cleaned up around the lower basement entrance and flagged down farmer Ronnie to hire him to dig out where the new wall is going. The hostas we thought were dead are sending up nice green shoots in the middle of the dead leaves, so the old growth was cut away. Trimmed off all old tulip blooms (they are now all gone bye). Some lilies aren't going to make it, but most are getting nice buds. One rose is dead and will have to be replaced and those Simplicities are probably gonna get pulled out and replaced. We are still worried about a possible frost tonight or Mon or Tue, and may have to cover a lot of stuff so we can sleep thru the night. Since this is morning and just catching up yesterday, hope to make another entry about today later on.....