Progress Report

b later helleboresMichigan Spring continues making fun of itself. We had a run of 60 degree days interrupted by 30 degree days, but the plants in the yard took all this in stride. The hellebores are very happy.

b tulips emergingDoug and I took advantage of a warm day to inspect the fenced garden. The tulips, safe from deer, are getting ready to provide bouquets for me. We found several broken places in the chickenwire that need replacing, and the clematis trellis was tilted at an alarming angle. I cut the autumn clematis to the ground, leaving three or four strong-looking stems at about 15 inches high, and we righted the trellis. Don’t try this with a spring bloomer, or you’ll be removing flowerbuds. Autumn clematis blooms on the new growth it produces in the summer.

b benchDoug had patched up my garden bench as needed over the years, but for my birthday he built me a new one. It spent the winter in the basement, waiting for its moment to emerge into the sunlight like a big wooden butterfly. We brought it upstairs in three pieces, and he assembled it on the spot. It is shiny and glorious, and now sports a few appropriate objects. Also the spare propane tank for the grill, which has to live somewhere.

b snow flowersThen another round of snow appeared, wet and fragile but snow nonetheless. It looked very like flowers on the hedges outside my window.

b tomato babyOn the inside of the same window, the Cobra greenhouse tomato seedlings are four feet tall and blooming. Since there’s no wind and no bugs – or, no suitable bugs – inside the house, I help the flowers set fruit by tickling them. They like that. One infant tomato has already appeared.

b tomato seedlingsThe outdoor tomatoes are doing well in their new experimental trays. They look droopy here, but it’s because I’d just turned the trays. The plants had developed a severe lean toward the glass in an unexpectedly short time — I have to remember to rotate them more frequently. I’m used to growing them in those big cardboard milk cartons, letting them get pretty big before they go outside. I can see that in these smaller circumstances they’re likely to run out of rootspace before outside time comes. I’ll need to scrounge up some bigger containers, and maybe start them later next year.

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