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 others 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 began, she and my dad lived in their retirement home, a manufactured double wide on a 10,500 square foot lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington. A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden. Her life story (obituary) is here. Her story in her own words is here.
1995 (age 70-71)
Received the Dutch Gardens spring bulbs. Unpacked and sorted them. Made some labels. I was very surprised to find I had ordered 2# each of red and yellow onion seeds. Where to put them?
April 4: Replanted all tomatoes. Put them in two trays each on top of a new heating mat.
April 6: Bruce took down the two 3-tier baskets. I added more plants from the Floralight [3 shelf plant gro light table].
April 9: Some of the tomatoes in the bathroom are sprouting.
April 10: The replanted tomatoes sprouted real good under lights and on top of two new heat mats.
April 11: Worked in greenhouse. Moved fuchsia plants under the 2nd light. Planted 6 primroses into the new shallow planters. I want to get some pansy plants to add to it. I put those 2 plants under lights. Also brought two tomato plants to greenhouse real close to light to see what happens.
April 13: Got my drivers license renewed for the second time so it’s been 8 years since I’ve been behind the wheel. I don’t understand it! [She learned to drive at age 62 but didn’t like doing it. My dad did not encourage her to drive.]
Received the really good rooted cuttings—beautiful ones. The carnations were especially healthy.
April 14: Bruce has to go in to hospital X Ray for another lung scan (no blood clot).
April 15: Went through Floralight to try to find room for tomatoes. Moved 8 or 10 trailing violets into terracotta planter and put it on top. Planted Gloxinia bulbs into pots as houseplants.
April 17: Bruce still sick and I have a cold, the first one since I started getting flu shots years ago. Rec’d Foster Farms order all in excellent condition. Only one broken.
April 18: Drs appt (Bruce) and glucose test (me).
April 21: Wasted whole day waiting to go to the store. Bought 12 pansy plants from Gordon’s [Nursery].
April 22: Finished planting 9in pots) the rest of the Foster Farms. Planted the pansy plants in baskets. Planted the fuchsia plants in baskets.
Put up two bird houses as swallows are looking for their home.
April 24: Planted the 4 bags of red and yellow onion sets 4 rows east of path and the rest in rows in asparagus patch. In the fall till the asparagus bed and next year plant veggies in that area. Started planting the new begonia tubers in “window” boxes and pots. [The quotations are because they were window boxes not actually installed under windows.]
April 25: Another wasted day except: Moved planted pots of Forest Farm plants out of greenhouse to make room for begonias. I’ll have to cover them with something as it’s supposed to get close to freezing tonight.
April 26: Finished planting begonias in baskets and pots. Was able to get them all in by moving Forest Farm plants outside. Next big job is planting the dahlias.
April 27: 1:30-4:30 Cleaned up the tam flower bed [used to be juniper tams], weeded, deadheaded some, removed mulch and put it all in bags to be shredded someday.
1997 (age 72-73):
April 7: Took Tabby to vets for booster shots. I got the Advantage flea killer stuff—supposed to kill fleas in 24 hours and last for a month. $8.00+.
I cleaned out a lot of branches and cones from patio bed so now I have another pile. There’s still a lot to clean up in driveway and front flower beds.
April 8: The GE repairman came and said the dishwasher motor is shot. I’ll not be in a hurry to buy a new one. I spent several hours transplanting tomato seedlings into individual pots. Put the flea stuff on Tabby.
April 21: about 2:30-6:00 It was warm enough to work outside. I planted the 2 astrantia replacements from VB in the patio bed next to RR ties. [Mom was very proactive about getting refunds for any mail order plant that was not good. I’m guessing the catalog was Van Bourgondian.] Planted the 10 raspberry plants that have been potted since Feb. Then cleaned weeds out of RB row and the path between RB and SB rows [raspberries and strawberries]. When I quit and came in it was 6 and Tabby was starved.
April 22: gray and damp. Went out to plant strawberries but ended up working on one row moving new daughter plants from middle of row and trimming and/or replanting other plants within the row. After about 2 hours I was rained in.
April 23: Planted some flower seeds in APS. Brought wood in.
April 24: From about 12:30-5:00. Planted strawberries. I thought I was done but just before I quit I found another tray so I guess I’ll plant them tomorrow. I also planted the pots of Gordon’s perennials from last fall into trays. Most of the dianthus were ok but some of the others didn’t make it though the winter. I am exhausted.
April 25: 1:00-4:30 Planted the rest of the new strawberries. Then I dug the plants between the 2 Tristar rows and trimmed them so now I have 4 trays of Tristars to plant. I’m going to plant the small ones in one of my square trays.
April 26: 11:00-4:00 warm and sunny Planted the Tristar daughter plans in 3 rows except the small ones which I put into square tray. That job took until 5:00. Turned on garden faucets. Watered strawberry rows. Then started weeding the pathway until I quit when I was exhausted.
1998 (age 73-74)
April 1: Cool and gray but dry. I planned to work on strawberries but the front beds are choked with two persistent weeds so I worked all afternoon in the tam area. [former juniper tam bed turned to flower bed] I weeded about a five foot wide area along the front and into the ditch in about four hours bending over and using my stool. MaryAnn came over to visit about half an hour and Darryl stopped by to talk.
April 2: This morning Tabby was limping putting no weight on back right leg so I took her to the vets. They seemed to think she had jumped on the [wood]stove and burned her foot. While there the vet treated her with antibiotics for a 103 degree fever but she jumped off the table so I guess her foot is ok. When we got home I weeded in the PRFB-So. [Patio Right Flower Bed??] It looks nice with a lot of low red tulips. Then I worked on strawberries until I got rained on.
April 3: ??
April 4: noon-4:45 I was determined to finish digging the strawberry plants but when I quiet at 4:45 there are still lots left. I got rained in to the garage 2 or 3 times. Tabby seems ok but I’m having trouble getting the medicines into her.
April 6: Again I was determined to finish the strawberries and I did. I have 24 flats of plants and each one must have about 50 plants. I even dug up the 1 1/2 rows that I had interplanted with new plants. They needed dividing so I took them up. Now the entire garden can be filled on Sat. I also pulled the multiplier onions and put them on a flat.
April 7: 1:00-3:00 It was cold enough to wear a jacket but warm enough to sweat. I only worked two hours when I felt sick probably still tired from yesterday and only 4 hours sleep. I managed to weed some in patio and moved most of the pots of perennials up to the picnic table I gave up and came in and went to bed from 3:00 to 6:00.
April 8: 11:00-4:45 Ron the tiller man stopped by to see if I can leave the leaves, twigs, etc to be tilled into the soil. It was too deep so I spent the rest of the afternoon picking all that stuff and piling it on top of the old compost box which means I won’t be able to sieve that soil for baskets, etc. When I stopped at 4:45 I was so tired I went to bed till 7:00.
April 9: Worked again in garden area digging dandelions, weeding the rest of the asparagus row. There still is a little raking to be done before Ron comes on Saturday (weather permitting) to till the whole garden area. I also finished weeding bulkhead while watching for the mail to come. I didn’t have to go to bed when I quit working today.
April 10: Rainy I was going to go to the store but I went to the [Nisqually Pines] office to pay dues and then came home and spent the afternoon planting Burpee tomatoes. I also planted tiny “like dust” begonia seeds, some were from 1995 so I don’t expect much from them. I’ve got to start planting seedlings but where will I put them?
April 11: Ron McCamment tilled the garden area from the raspberries to the asparagus for $50. While he tilled, I pulled weeds in the driveway. Later I planted the 12 Purple Wave Petunias into 4 baskets. I had to quit when it started raining hard around 2:30. Later the sun came out but I had changed into dry clothes so I didn’t resume my work outside.
I’ve got to get started planting my spring bulbs, seedlings, dahlias, etc, etc and all those strawberry plants!
April 13: Gray, cool, and rainy So much for dedicating all this week to planting. I had to go to the PO to mail my tax payment, etc. Went to drug store and QFC. But the time I got everything out away it was too late to work outside so I cleaned out the top shelf of kitchen pantry. I moved all the canned fruit into that shelf. I also found a case of 1993 canned tomatoes—two were spoiled, ugh. [We found the same phenomenon when we cleaned out her home here in 2009; we think it is a food hoarding phenomenon from the depression area, that she could not resist cases of food items on sale.]
April 14: Rain, cool I planted some seedlings in the greenhouse, some tomatoes, leeks, jicama, etc. I put them under two lights with the 4 baskets of Purple Wave Petunias. I think I will start planting the sprouted begonias and some sprouted lilies tomorrow.
April 15: Sunny, warm I decided I had to get the strawberries planted if I hope to have some in June. I worked from noon to 4:00 to plant 3 rows using 6 or 7 trays of plants—and I have 29 trays of plants! The soil is loose from the tilling so it’s easy to plant them. I’m planting the rows close together because I have so many plants.
[I feel I must insert an editorial comment that tilling has fallen out of favor now for reasons explained here.]
April 16: 12:30-4:30 Worked 4 hours again on the strawberries and only got 3 rows. It seems like I’m poking the plants in fast but it takes quite a while to plant these wide rows. Al [her brother] called tonight and we chatted quite awhile Skyler called, too. [It was mom’s 74th birthday.]
April 17: 11:30 to 4:30 5 hours today and still not finished. I have 10 rows done and probably can finish tomorrow. The berry plants in the two square trays are huge. I think they are the first ones I dug from the rows by the asparagus.
April 18: I worked on the strawberries 2 hours and got rained in.
April 20: 11:30-5:00! warm I finished planting all the berries. After I put stuff away I found another flat of plants. I added them to the last row. I have worked 17 hours planting 11 wide rows of plants. I replanted the onion plants that I dug out so that Ron could till that area. After all the above I washed more than 30 trays.
April 21: Dentist appt 1:00 for a filling. The dentist office asked me to change appt to Thurs due to emergency in other office so this day is shot. I called in $150 Bluestone order—mostly mums. I cut the tulip flowers in tam area. There are lots of weeds again.
April 22 noon-5:00 I worked all this time transplanting tomato seedlings into pots using compost with mushroom compost. When I thought it was 3:00 and I came in to take a break and was surprised to see it was 5:00 so I closed up shop and came in. Rec’d the fall Dutch Gardens catalog!
April 23: Rain, cold I got my #2 tooth filled but they said it isn’t strong and if it breaks again I may need to have a crown put on.
April 24: cool—rain—hail I was going to put tomatoes but it was too cold so I started planting seeds in the kitchen. I mostly planted low annuals for my color bowls. I planted from noon to 8:30 with time out to eat. Tomorrow I should take the new trays to the greenhouse—there’s not room in shop until I pot up the begonias.
April 25: I slept till 11:00. I worked out about 2 1/2 hours. I tried to put new bulbs in shop light but it fell out twice so I gave up. I finished transplanting the tomato seedlings (at least I thought I did). After I put everything away I saw another tray under the light near the freezer. Some of the plants I potted were small but I have so many I potted them, too. The next job is the begonias!
I turned on the NW garage faucet. I forgot to close the greenhouse faucet and I got doused.
April 27: 11:00-5:30 WARM I worked all afternoon planting begonias in boxes and baskets. There is another day’s work to finish. I took time to scrape the labels off about a dozen of the white baskets. I didn’t do that last year because I was anxious to get baskets filled. It is supposed to be hot all week.
April 28: 11:30-5:00. Ditto from yesterday. All the baskets are full. I think I have 22. I have 3 trays with 15 or so bulbs that I will put into the various tulip pots when the tulips are done. Unfortunately some of these bulbs were not labeled so I won’t know if they are trailing or upright until they bloom. I must label these begonias this summer.
April 29: I slept late again. It was hot by the time I got out. I finished washing many many pots. I had to pull the drain pipe completely off. The pipe from the sink was plugged with vermiculite. [I am sure she meant the big sink in the large “shop” building.]
I weeded in patio bed and cut back the tulips that were done flowering. Also got the 30 lilies planted in PBB [Patio Bulb Bed], NDFB [North Driveway Flower Bed] and PRFB-W [This one still mystifies me..Patio Right Flower Bed West?]. Next is the dahlias.
April 30: 11:45-5:00 I started dragging box after box of dahlias. I had them all over the shop. I planted tall ones in PBB [Patio Bulb Bed] and UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed]. I put the pompoms and ball dahlias in the PRFB center ’cause I’m not crazy about them. Why did I order them? I still have about 60+ tall ones to put in back of the tam area but it was too hot to work there in the sun. There are also many low ones to plant.