diary illustrations by Carol Inouye
Three of five of my mother’s garden diaries from the 90s appeared in among some papers of Allan’s in mid February, 2016. I am so deeply thrilled to have them. The other three got somehow lost when she moved from her home to Golden Sands Assisted Living in 2009. She possibly did not think them worth saving. I can guarantee she would like that they are being shared here. When these diaries were written, she lived in her retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a wooded lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington. A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden.
1995 (age 70):
Feb 1: Rain. Spent most of the afternoon on plants in Floralight. [African] violets have multiplied like rabbits. They’ll have to be cut down some way. And I know I can’t throw a plant away. AND I ordered more seeds. Tsk tsk.
Feb 2: cool/dry. Split wood for kindling and brought in quite a bit of wood—piled on porch.
Feb 3-4: Started organizing veggie and flower seeds, putting them in alphabetical order
Feb 11: Supposed to be below freezing by tomorrow so: Finally I spread mulch on as many flower beds as I could before I ran out of mulch and strength. (I got very dizzy and nauseated.) I used all 5 bags of shredded leaves from last fall and recent shredding. The stuff in old burn barrel was all composted below 1/3 of pile.
Feb 16: Finally got a nice enough day so I planted my new Stark Brothers apple tree in back. Also planted replacement rose bush at northern end of bulkhead. Finished trimming WPFB. [West Patio Flower Bed]
Feb 22: Planted new Stark raspberries (10). Heeled in new Stark strawberries (75) and put in greenhouse under lights. Then I started sieving compost box. I’m throwing all stuff not decomposed on garden area to be tilled in later. A good day’s work!!
Feb 23: Weeded asparagus bed. Cut centers off the broccoli to make plants branch out. Saved best pieces although a lot were mushy—probably from hard freeze last week. Started sieving compost. All containers were full so when 1/4 of new box was empty I started sieving compost into that end of box.
Feb 24: Continued above. Now one half of compost box is sieved so I placed board in center and have 1/2 box filled 1/2 deep of lovely sieved compost. Only have about 1/4 of box left to sieve. There are hundreds of worms which I’ll toss back into box when its empty. I am throwing the coarse stuff out into garden area to be tilled in when it’s dry enough to till.
Feb 25: It took 2 hours to finish sieving the compost. Half of the box is for use until the compost soil is used up (for baskets, tubs, etc), then the whole box will be used for compost. I put into the box all the weeds etc that were pulled so far this year. This leaves the old box available to store mushroom compost for next spring.
Feb 27: It seems like I start all my notes with “Finally”. Well, today I finally got the leaves raked up in lower driveway and behind house. I used the trash bag frame with 33 gallon bags and it worked fine. I have five bags to be shredded “someday”.
Feb 28: “Store” day. Watered houseplants. I planted a lot of the tiny trailing begonias that I started from seed into one of the terracotta planters and set it above the Floralight [indoor 3 tiered lighted plant tray]. I’m curious if they will grow and trail.
1997 (age 72):
Feb 1: Bill [hired odd job man who helped out after my dad died] fixed water leak in shop. Repaired step on back porch plus other odd jobs. It’s too nasty a day for him to crawl under the deck to see what repairs are needed.
Feb 3: Don brought more $ [from the sale of my dad’s toy train collection]. It’s dry but cold. Too cold to work outside.
Feb 5: Rec’d Park (catalog) flower seeds and the berry plants from Raintree. Still too cold to work outside.
Feb 6: Marked new Park seeds (with year, size, height, and when to plant) and filed them with other seeds. I noticed that even with my 20 page inventory, I still ordered a few that I already have. I’ll plant older seed and if they grow, I’ll save the ’97 seed for next year.
Feb 7: Only two hours! It was a beautiful day!
Brought firewood up to porch. First I had to move branches so I could get to the woodpile. I got the 100 new strawberry plants in trays under the lights in greenhouse. I also planted five of the new raspberry plants but was too tired to plant the 10 left so I put them in soil in buckets.
Feb 17: A warm day with some misty rain. Finally I got the begonia bulbs in trays in damp plant mix and under lights in shop. Also put pineapple lily and amaryllis bulbs in pots in soil under the lights. I found four boxes of train stuff under the table that I bet Don forgot to take.
Feb 18: Some of the tomato plants are up.
Feb 21: I called Al [her older brother] and he sounded great.
Feb 22: Worked about 1 1/2 hours bringing wood up to porch. Finished all wood from west side of shop. I put the wet ones on pallet boards behind shop and covered them with the tarps. Also covered were the huge pieces of that tree Mac sliced in half.
1998 (age 73):
Feb 2: I worked in back about two hours. This seems to be my limit on hard jobs. Finished spreading the mulch pile over the garden beds.
My Park seed order arrived so I started organizing them. I got the year and the page # on them and arranged them in order by page #. I think the Pinetree order should be here soon.
Feb 3: Today is a beautiful sunny day and I accomplished nothing except making up my grocery list for tomorrow.
Feb 4: I decided to wait to go to the store tomorrow. I worked on the mulch pile again. I tossed in a lot of leaves over on the garden area and dumped the 6 or 8 bags that I filled when Skyler and Robert were here, putting it on the garden area. Then I filled 6 or 8 bags of clipped leaves for fall mulch. THE PILE IS GONE. Never again will I order a big pile of mulch. I had to come in at 1:30, I was so shaky. I ate 4 slices of toast and then went out again at 3:30.
Feb 6: Store today—over $95.00! Included was a case of MMOJ [Minute Made Orange Juice] for 89 cents.
Feb 7: I weeded and raked the upper driveway and also cleaned out some old plants, such as glads, so the area will look more presentable when Skyler and Robert arrive tomorrow. She has been in Seattle this week to attend the Garden Show.
Feb 8: Skyler and Robert got here about 6:30. They had quite a hassle at the gate. [Mom lived in Nisqually Pines, a suburban development that at that time had a guarded security gate.] Even though I called the gate ahead of time, I guess they didn’t keep the message, and because I didn’t hear the phone the three armed security people wouldn’t let them in. They finally relented. I guess Skyler lit into them. [Ha! I certainly do recall firmly suggesting to them that if they would not let us through, they had better escort me to my mom’s house because her not answering the phone could mean she had a medical problem. I think that is what convinced them.]
Feb 9: Robert did a few minor jobs for me. Then we all worked on bringing firewood up to the porch. They emptied all the last year wood from the shed and brought up quite a lot from behind the shop. Now that the shed is empty I will be able to put in there the cut up wood from all the branches (when I get them sawed up).
Feb 11: Got an apple pectin perm from Lois [a neighbor]. Store doesn’t carry the Ogilvie perm so I went back to the Apple brand. It turned out nice. It’s such a relief to have it short and not blowing over in the wind. I got another case of MMOJ.
I don’t remember what I did yesterday.
Feb 16: Doctor’s appt today. I’ve gained 8# since my last appt. Glucose test ok so I don’t need to resume taking the diabetes medicine. When I got home I changed into my garden clothes and worked outside 3 hrs. I removed the tarps from the garden area to use on wood to be delivered tomorrow. Then I got the recycle stuff ready. Then I weeded the bulkhead area and planted most of the bulbs that came out of last year’s containers. They have been in boxes in the greenhouse all winter.
Feb 17: 11:45-4:15!! YES I DID! I finished planting the bulbs from greenhouse. Then I planted the polemoniums that I dug last fall thinking they were hostas. I planted some daffodils that were “lost” into the old “window box”. Planted 4 plants that I set on picnic table and forgot. Also had 2 cords wood from Corey’s Firewood delivered. Now I must saw up the tree branches so I can pile the new wood.
Feb 18: I planned on working with my begonia bulbs in shop but I stopped to mend my garden jacket and then I took off the hood and resewed the collar. By that time it was after 4 so I built my evening fire and didn’t accomplish anything except repairing my jacket.
Feb 19: 1:00-3:00 Another good day’s work. It was cool and grey so I worked in the shop putting the begonias from last year (and some from 1996) into pots with peat moss and vermiculite. I used the sawhorses that Robert fixed for me and 9 of 10 trays are 7″ from shop lights. 3 or 4 bulbs showed signs of growth and only 5 or 6 were rotted. AND I still have more to come from Dutch Gardens!
Feb 20: I spent most of the afternoon mending my work jacket. I took off the hood and then sewed up the collar w/o hood. By then it was too late to go out to work. [I wonder if there were 2 jackets or if this was a mixed up repeat post.]
Feb 23: 1:00-4:30 It seems I only do one or two days of good work each week. Today I started sawing up the pile of branches that was along the shop. I was so tired I felt sick but I got that pile cut up and about half of it into the shed. Next is the branches that Skyler dragged over to the “raspberry” path. Then the branches next to garage and in the driveway (from the mountain ash tree). Then I need to start bringing in the two cords of wood from the upper driveway.
Feb 24: 12:30-4:30 Sunny and cool. I finished sawing the branches next to shop and the ones Skyler pulled over to the “raspberry” path. I got all the cut wood into the shed and raked the area. I also moved some of the pieces that Don put into the wood box so I could close the lid. Next chore will be to clean up the patio area and “under Bruce’s window” [her husband who died in 1995]. After that maybe later this week I’ll start bringing up the new wood.
Feb 25: Too tired to do much today. Penney’s called and will install the new curtains and valences tomorrow so I had to move all my plants away from the windows.
Feb 26: The new sheers and bedroom valences were installed. The sheers are really full (almost too wide). The bedroom drapes are nice especially in B’s room. The valences in my room are really pretty. I spent the afternoon putting my plants back where they belong.
Feb 27: Didn’t get to sleep till after 4 AM—then slept till almost noon. My Dutch Gardens order came today, 5 boxes, $806 worth. Now I really have my work cut out for me. I must get the begonias potted and pot up the various perennials roots etc and get them under lights.