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 lot in Nisqually Pines near Yelm, Washington. (He died in June, 1995.) A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden and berry patch. Between the house and the vegetable garden were the greenhouse and the large workshop building.
1997 (age 73):
June 3: Another rainy day so I puttered with house plants. Then I potted the 3rd planting of Ed Hume’s tomato seedlings. 41 Early Girl and 43 Pik Red. I put them under lights in shop. I used the 10″ paper cups that Don gave me.
June 4: The tomatoes I potted look pretty good today. Picked first strawberries then started weeding the berries and asparagus bed. Went to bed at 9:00 PM.
June 5: 11:00-5:45! Spent all that time on my little stool [a cut down 4 legged wooden stool] pulling weeds from asparagus bed and along the back. The stool threw me once onto my back hitting my head on ground but no after effects.
June 6: Today I planted the Walla Walla onions—one fill row next to the row of scallions from last year. Then I planted tomato plants in one row between winter cabbage and strawberries. There are scads of green berries. It’s supposed to be sunny days coming up which should ripen them.
[Later she added this note:} My WW onions did not grow at all because I didn’t water them. I had planted tomatoes right up to the onion row and when I watered I tried to keep the water off the tomato leaves so the onions didn’t get much water. Must separate better next year.
June 7: Two years have gone by since Bruce died.
I picked the weeds I pulled using the garden cart from Don. Then I weeded in front of compost box, next to raspberry row (both sides) and picked strawberries. The Ft Laramie plants have huge berries like the ones from California but they are hollow in the inside. I went to bed at 10:00.
June 9: 9:30-5:00 I used the garden cart for one load of split wood from Wilson’s yard. The cart is a little awkward but will be ok I think. Then Daryl had his truck over there loading the wood in and I asked my new neighbor, Frankie, if it is ok to back truck in her driveway which we did—all in one load. Then I saw Walt cutting more wood so here we go again. In the eve I picked strawbs again.
June 10: I got 8 pkgs of berries that picked last night. Spent from 11:00 to 5:00 planting perennials from Gordon’s (last fall) and petunias and fuchsias (in baskets). [My mom’s one misspelling, which I have corrected all along, is fuschia for fuchsia; I made the same error till around age 50!] Then when I thought I had everything planted, I found another square tray of dianthus. I lost quite a few of the fall plants because I didn’t get them planted before.
June 11: Another day of puttering. Picked strawberries in a misty rain—got another 8 Sealameal bags for the freezer. Sorted the various boxes I brought up from the garage sale.
The Jazz lost—MJ 3 pointer with seconds left in the game.
June 12: 49th Wedding Anniversary.
I got a late start but did some good. I moved tomato and snapdragon flats to greenhouse and put them under lights. Finished planting the dianthus into the deep pots. In the fall I will put them out in flower beds.
June 13: 10:30-4:45 Long day. The Bulls won NBA title again. I set more tomato plants outside in a double row. These were the ones from the first planting that were too small to plant earlier. Picked berries—a full bowl (the deep yellow plastic bowl). Used Safer weedkiller on dandelions in front ditch and lower driveway.
June 15: I heard Walt’s chain saw again cutting wood in his yard, then he went over next door and cut more but didn’t feel like going over there. I went out back and picked berries again (10 pkgs).
In Bruce’s things from the shop I found a love letter written to him in January 1946. This girl (woman?) met him in Nov ’45 and he apparently came home from the war in Dec. and left her loving him. For some reason I can’t get her heartbreak out of my mind. That was 2 years before I met and fell in love with him.
[Here’s the letter:]
June 16: Several peonies are blooming for the first time. Don came and brought $30 from sale of linens and plane and asked for $25 for clock (3) repair. He moved TV in garage so I can get cart in thru small door. After he left I pulled weeds from patio (those tall ones with tiny yellow flowers). Weeded PRFB pulling mostly the little green plant. Now I need to plant some seeds in there to fill up blank spaces.
June 17 Rainy Went out to pick berries but got rained in after 4 rows so I went to bank, Payless, and market. Then finished picking berries—very dirty berries from rain splashing dirt on them. Then decided to light off the full burning barrel and I weeded in that area for over an hour while papers burned. Then I washed, hulled, and sliced berries but will package them tomorrow. I’m exhausted!
June 18: Prepared yesterday’s berries—8+ pkgs. Worked in garage—cleared off plywood table and moved plywood over against the wall. I boxed up the leftover stuff from garage sale for Skyler and Robert to take what they want.
June 19: Picked berries. Used Safer weed killer on tam ditch and lower driveway. [Noted later]: The Safer weed killer didn’t kill those weeds at all.
June 21: Now the days are getting shorter.
June 23: 11:00-4:30 I started loading chopped wood from Wilsons. Darryl drove his truck over and we moved it all in one load. Then I worked on tam area [flower bed formerly covered with juniper tams] weeding. There were some dandelions 4′ tall. I pulled a huge amount of weeds. I came in exhausted so had a root beer float for dinner then later had cereal and berries. Walt said he has more wood to chop for me.
June 24: I moved the plants (asters?) from the “salad bowl’ to the tam area and PRFB-W. Picked berries. The June bearing strawberries are getting fewer. I have over 50 pkgs of strawberries for my breakfasts in the winter. Watered baskets.
June 25: I goofed off Wed, Thurs, and Friday. I’ve been in a deep funk ever since I found that love letter to Bruce written to him 51 years ago. I can feel her heartbreak.
June 26: Didn’t accomplish anything except picked berries including some raspberries. Kathy Tye stopped by. They did sell their place and have moved over close to Debbie.
June 27: Bruce’s 81 birthday. Again very depressed. I’ve been thinking of Bruce constantly. Maybe when June is over with all its reminders I’ll be ok again.
June 28: 2:00-4:00 Finally I went outside and accomplished something besides picking and taking care of berries. I planted a double row of tomato plants, some odds and ends varieties and also quite a few Pik Red and Early Girl from my 3rd planting. Now I need to pot up the rest of those plants to get them in good soil and I hope Skyler will take a lot of them.
June 30: Picked berries and new weeder. It works pretty good. It slices weeds at surface, but it doesn’t get the roots. Then I started putting the tomato plants into gallon milk jugs. These are the seeds I planted in the 10 oz cups that Don gave me. I may set out more of these tomatoes in the garden cause I hate to throw any away.
1998 (age 74)
June 1: Noon to 5:00 Gray and comfortably cool to work I spread two black tarps on the garden area. I pulled some weeds from that area that look like cabbage but where did they come from? I move around the tomato plants removing the dead ones and added more soil to each one. Then I actually planted the old dahlias. Now if I can remember to mark them (if they bloom). I then weeded the area around the apple tree (which is loaded with apples). There were two snakes in that area.
June 2: HOT in afternoon!! Noon to six I finally got those tulip bulbs (from the tubs and pots) planted in the garden area next to the onion and asparagus bed. Boy I’m glad to have it done. Then I planted seedlings into pots—the next move will be to plant them into the various bowls. The next main job is to start planting the perennials that are on the picnic table.
June 3: 2:00-5:00 I was late getting outside and couldn’t decide what to do first. However, I started checking begonia basket hangers. I repotted a few bulbs into other baskets. I actually was able to hang the baskets. When I get the pot wire I ordered from Charlie’s I should be able to hang all the baskets.
June 4: It was gray but would have been a good day to plant the new perennials. However, I thought I should get more annual seeds planted for my color bowls. So I planted from about 11:00-7:00. Tomorrow, I’ll take more trays out to the shop. In the evening, I sorted and threw out a lot of magazines and catalogs.
June 5: Sit down before you read this. I vacuumed and dusted today! The Pines yard sale is tomorrow and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Don. [He had helped her organize a yard sale the previous year.] I started cleaning up the utility room and cleaned out the closet. I needed to change the electric broom bag and managed that but the upright grabbed one of Tabby’s toys and I had to change that bag but couldn’t. I guess I’ll have to wait for Bill.
June 6: Well Don didn’t show as I really thought he would. 72 degrees. I replanted three trays of violet leaves. I watered houseplants. I watered outdoor plants then planted the rest of the “little bulbs” and planted some other plants in various bowls. Then it was too early to come in (4:15) so I weeded two rows of berries and picked 5 ripe ones. First berries. When I decided it was time to feed Tabby it was 6:15. Quite a productive day. As soon as I get the 6 new gro light bulbs from Charlie’s I’ll call Bill to do several jobs in one day.
June 7: Al’s birthday [her older brother who lived in Seattle] and 3 years since Bruce died. I still miss him so much.
The Jazz were getting blown out when Mary Anne came over. She put on Tabby’s halter and we went out on the porch by the shop. However, Erik and a friend came over and Tabby bolted. I figured she was under the shop. Mary Anne and I kept calling and she came out from under the shed. I think she was glad to see us. Mary Anne said I should get another halter with a wider strap. I called Al to wish him happy birthday.
June 8: 11:30-5:15 cloudy in AM and then sunny
Another good day. I worked to 3:00 finishing weeding and cultivating the berry rows (that’s the job I started last Friday). I transplanted some seedlings. I moved trees around in the shop and raised the two end lights. That helped.
June 9: 2:00-5:30 grey skies I was late getting out tho I was awake at 7:30 and got up ar0und 8:00. I goofed around in the house. I took Tabby out on her leash—I think she likes it but I have to figure out a way to tire her so I can get something done. I planted some plants in bowls, I put taller seedlings in pots till they get tall enough to set out. I planted several begonias in tubs—the ones I don’t know if they are basket or upright.
June 10: I intended to take some trays to the shop but I set them out on the porch until it stopped raining. So I started planting seeds. Something seemed to pull me over the card table. I planted seeds until 10 PM. Then I had some ramen noodles for dinner and spent until 1:00 AM sorting the rest of my seeds. I still have gobs left to plant.
June 11: 11:00 to 4:45 Another good day’s work. I worked in the shop dumping the trays of planted seeds that didn’t germinate—most of them were old seeds. Then I started on plants on patio—mainly so I can get the saw horses to move the tomatoes out of greenhouse. I put several dianthus in large bowl. Planted some other plants in tam area. After dinner I planted more seeds until 9:00.
June 12: 72 degrees I had the first big picking up strawberries. It took an hour and I was hot so I came in and took care of the berries and then planted more seeds until 9:00. The Jazz beat the Bulls so it isn’t over yet. Game 6 is on Sunday.
June 13: 11:00 to 5:00 I watered plants in shop and then intended to put sawhorses behind house, so I can move tomatoes out so I can move seedling trays into greenhouse. I found myself planting mums in tam area then weeding patio bed and UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] areas. I pulled several plants of geraniums that have taken over, then planted mums and some asters in those areas. This was a good week as I worked outside every day.
June 15: 11:00 to 6:00 It took me until 3:00 to pick, rinse, hull, and slice strawberries. I put 5 pkgs in the freezer. After a short rest I went out again. I moved the various bowls over the the cover of the wood box so I could move the tomatoes out of the greenhouse. Now I’ll move out some seed trays to the greenhouse starting tomorrow?
June 16: I went through the trays to move out to the shop the ones that have germinated, then I went out and decided I had better start planting the perennials from the picnic table. I planted a lot in the UDFB and patio but there seems to be no end to them. Maybe if I work on it tomorrow I can finish. I’ll be so glad to get them in. Then comes the fun of putting the annuals into my various bowls. I had a headache all afternoon but two Excedrin and a shower and I feel better.
June 17: Watered hanging houseplants. Spent another 4 hours picking and preparing strawberries. I used the Ho-mi to loosen weeds and cultivate the plants. [My favourite garden tool…I must have given her one.] I’m pulling the small plants that are producing small hard berries. I took Tabby out about 5. She nosed around in the lower driveway while I pulled waist high weeds. Tabby started fussing about the harness so I took her in.
June 18: Got a perm so now I’m set with short hair for the summer. Also went to bank, Rite Aid, and QFC.
June 19: I picked berries again. Not very many this time. I keep pulling the small plants, mostly the ones from the row next to the asparagus row. Then I worked planting plants from the table. I dumped a lot of pots of seeds that didn’t germinate in the house and shop. These were old seeds so I’m surprised at how many did.
June 20: HOT I went out to pluck my pink rhody and then I found myself with a shovel digging and pulling out that purple geranium that had taken over all the beds. I removed a huge number of plants. That bed looks a little bleak. I think I’ll direct seed some of the annual seeds in that area.
June 21: I went out to turn the water on the berry patch and saaw so many ripe berries so I picked them and then watered on Sunday! Then I had breakfast and retired to my crossword puzzle.
Now the days start to get shorter.
June 22: Noon to 5:00 I planted more perennials. Then I started planting annuals into the bowls that I had planted the small bulbs in. The ranunculus were coming up—the first time.
June 23: COOL It rained during the night so everything got a needed watering. I picked quite nice amount of strawberries, enough for 5 bags in freezer. And I picked the first raspberries. The row is very full so I should get a lot of berries this summer. However, the canes are so thick it is going to be hard to pick them. I’ll probably be cussing them before I’m done.
June 24: Cool rainy day. Since I’ve been itching to plant some seeds I started to plant perennial seeds. I thought there was just a few till I found another box. I planted from noon to 7:00. There are still lots more but I’m running out of room again. I’ll check tomorrow to see what I can move out of the way.
June 25: Ditto
June 26: More seeds. The kitchen is a mess. I moved germinated plants from the shop to the greenhouse, then I move several trays from house to shop. Picked berries again.
June 27: ?
June 28: It was hot enough that I put away my Sunday puzzle and went out to water the baskets and tomatoes etc etc. Too hot to pick the berries.
Next January, I am going to try ordering only short annual seeds for color bowls and only a few special perennials.
June 29: Sunny beautiful hot day. I am determined to finish planting these darn seeds so I planted from about 10-2. There are still some odds and ends such as need to be soaked, etc. I separated the rest to show when they need to be planted such as late summer, fall, etc. I then moved more germinated plants to greenhouse but no more room in shop. I picked berries after 7:00.
June 30: 76 degrees I started to plant tomatoes in the “salad bowl’ but it was too hot. I separated the Determinate and Indeterminate and made new labels for each one. I’m going to try to record how many of each type I plant and the first tomato so I can know at the end of the season which ones are the best.