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, apple trees, and strawberry beds.
1995 (age 71): [Her husband, Bruce, had died on June 7. Near the end of July, her cat, Roxy, a stray they had adopted, had run away.]
August 1: Roxy came home. Seemed ok. As affectionate as ever.
August 4: Roxy hasn’t eaten anything for 3 days or used her sandbox.
August 5: Took Roxy to vets. Dr Kegler said she was seriously anemic. I sure hope this isn’t leukemia. Left her there while they run tests. Sounds a lot like Bruce’s hospital stay two months ago.
August 6: Vet woman Dr. Starry called and said Roxy does have the feline leukemia. She said to think it over and call them tomorrow.
August 7: Dr. Kegley called. Roxy is seriously ill with no chance of recovery so I gave them ok for euthanasia—2 months to the day when I gave the hospital authority to remove Bruce from life support. The vet said they would look for another kitty. I said I wanted an adult spayed cat. Dr said they can vaccinate to prevent leukemia although there is no cure if a cat gets it. Kathy Tye called to say she and Debbie want to help pay the bill. I thanked them but said No.
August 8: Picked berries. The raspberries are done but there are enough strawberries from everbearing TriStar to freeze one oleo container with a generous amount for cereal tomorrow. Weeded in asparagus bed. The strawberries there look healthy. [I am getting the feeling this was a former asparagus bed as she never mentions harvesting any.]
August 11: Burned all the papers in barrel. Dave was right—the ugly blue color burned off. Put the determinate tomatoes back into greenhouse under lights to see if I can get some paste tomatoes to dry. Replanted “late” begonias into baskets already on both porches. Was in the shop (Bruce’s haven for puttering and building things) looking for a large S hook and it was sad seeing his notes etc.
August 17: Spent the last few evenings getting my fall orders ready. I called Forest Farm and their catalog won’t come out till mid-Sept. I will be ordering some perennials from them.
August 19: I moved the chrysanthemums from the pallet boards and trimmed them and arranged them in trays according to height. I’ll start planting the healthy ones next week.
August 21: Picked strawberries enough for me and one for the freezer. I planted quite a few of the chrysanthemums in the patio bed and a few in upper driveway flower bed. There are quite a few that didn’t survive. I will reorder them probably next spring.
August 22: Weeded in onion rows—mostly purslane and pulled hundreds (?) of dandelions from behind garage and in path by wood box.
August 30: Bombed the house to try to kill the fleas. Visited at Tye’s then shopped at Tim’s, Payless, and Stock Market. I treated them to dinner at Teriyaki restaurant. Four hours later and the fleas are gone!
August 31: 1:00 to 6:00 Picked berries. Pulled onions and put them in the “corn patch” to cure. Repotted the “dead” mums and some show some life. Watered various pots on patio, etc. Watered baskets on porch and fell off the stool and landed hard on porch. Glasses flew off.
1997 (age 73):
August 1: HOT Did some watering. Started some perennial seeds after it was shady in the greenhouse. The violet leaves have been rotting. These are the ones I planted using the liquid rooting stuff. I’ll go back to rooting the leaves in water.
August 4: HOT Picked enough berries for a nice serving with cereal tomorrow morning. I should get more TriStar plants for next year. There are lots of raspberries for fall picking but they aren’t ready yet.
August 5: HOT Watered tomatoes and houseplants. Planted some of the snapdragons UBW. [Upper Bed West] Brought the trays in from shop and there were only about 20 violet leaves still unrotted. After dinner I started making labels for perennials to be planted. I’ll try to spend most of my time tomorrow planting those seeds.
August 6: Planted seeds (perennials) and hope we don’t have an early frost. Set up boxes, trunks, etc in shop under 3 shop lights to put trays in there.
August 7: HOT Watered in tam area [garden bed that once had juniper tams] and did a lot of deadheading until there was no more shade so I went in back and planted more seeds.
August 8: HOT Planted more seeds.
August 9: HOT Ditto
August 11: 2:00 to 7:45 with time out to eat After Don left I went back to work planting more seeds. I’ve done most of them, probably one more day. Don brought me some Walla Walla onions from the plants I gave him. We just visited—too hot to do any chores.
August 12: Several of the seeds have germinated. In the AM there was one Bellis plant and by night there were 10! Also several in greenhouse have germinated. Store and errand day: Tim’s, bank, and Stock Market. Cashed in $27 worth of change in wrappers.
August 13: 11:30 to 5:30 Not quite as hot today. Finished planting perennials seeds except 2 or 3 to be direct seeded (when it’s a little cooler). The snapdragons (from seeds in April) needed planting but its too hot so I planted them in various containers that had tulip etc bulbs in the spring. In October I’ll move the snaps to the garden and replant the bulbs.
August 14: HOT 85 degrees Did some watering. Picked berries in eve when cooler. The fall raspberries look to be quite a lot when they ripen. I had my first Early Girl tomato.
August 15: 10:30-7:30 with time out for watermelon and to read new Parks catalog. It was cool so I worked in the tam area watering, weeding, and tying up several sprawly plants. It looks better. Then I went back with the intention of cleaning the messy area by the house but ended up working about 2 1/2 hours on 2 strawberry rows weeding, trimming, and watering.
August 18: Cool-Rainy Spent afternoon puttering with houseplants. Repotted some, threw a few out, etc. Sprayed seed trays in shop. Later in afternoon did some weeding in strawberry rows.
August 19: Store and errand day
August 20: More time working on the strawberry rows. I’d like to dig up the runner plants and put them in trays under lights in the greenhouse but I’m not sure if I should.
August 21: Watered begonias both basket and pots. Cleaned up some of mess behind house. I put the old metal pots in greenhouse on top shelf. Emptied all the stuff from the green table—first time in months.
August 22: Finished “pruning” Strawberry Rows 1 and 2. I want to find out if it is ok to take the new runner “daughter’ plants and put them in trays in greenhouse under lights for a month or so. I’ll stop in at Gordons [Nursery] and ask them.
August 23: Watered tomato rows. Watered the strawberry rows (and 2 that took a beating yesterday). I put plastic domes over flats in greenhouse and shop. Why didn’t I think to do that as I planted the seeds?
August 25: 1:30-5:45 w/time out to visit with Don. Spent the time in the shop. Soon after I started the sun came out and I wanted to weed but I stayed in. I moved all the Robert boxes [tools and so forth of my dad’s that she was saving for my spouse to take] and stuff to the back of the shop. [It was a substantial two room building.] I moved the cupboard from the end of the train table to next to the tall paint cupboard on E side. That seemed to make the room larger. Don came out at 2:30. I look forward to his visits.
August 26-28 Again I didn’t write down anything I did all week.
August 29: Weeded in back finishing the area around apple tree and north of strawberry patch.
1998 (age 74):
August 3: NOTE: All this week I worked outside about 5 hours each day and then was too tired to write in this journal so I’ll try to write what I accomplished even though it might not be on the right day.
August 4: HOT Water day. I actually got up early enough to water from 8:00 to 10:00 AM. Store day—electric and phone bill—bank and QFC. Lettuce 39 cents each!
August 5: Did a lot of deadheading mostly in front. Since the seat of my garden stool split, I tried using the good kitchen stool (17″ high). I can use it but it is a little high as I have to bend over so far my innards are all scrunched up. I think I’d look dumb if I used it in the front so I probably will use it in the back.
August 7: I cut back Dave’s long long blackberry vines. Some had grown way over into the tam area. I also cut back the long long bamboo branches that were growing into the patio area.
August 8: I worked in the shade cleaning up the woodshed and greenhouse area. I took stuff from shed to garage. I found a lot of plant holders of various sizes that I had forgotten about. I cleaned up the area around the round table and sorted through the box of pieces of wood that had sat by the garage door for a year. Then I washed many many dirty pots. It’s nice having the sink braced. I took quite a tumble when I was watering near the pink rhody. I got my feet tangled and went stumbling across the path and ended up in the Lacey Leaf Maple. No injury.
August 10: It was supposed to be cool today. However, I couldn’t get to sleep early so I didn’t wake up till 9:00. By the time I did watering (until 10:00) the sun was too hot. I had planned on planting strawberries. So I washed another batch of pots and planted more seedlings. I went out at 7:00 to water and worked on the berries till 9:00 PM.
August 11: HOT At 7:30 AM I wanted to get up so I could get more strawberry plants planted but rolled over and went back to sleep until 9:00 again. I planted seedlings along the front porch and in the patio, being sure to keep in the shade. I even went after my dinner (cottage cheese with fruit) and planted up until almost dark. Applied lots of slug bait.
August 12: HOT HOT 87 degrees. 7:30 AM to 9:00 PM! This time I did get up early and started watering. Then I planted berries up to 10:00, came in for breakfast and back out to plant berries until it got too hot. Then I sorted the seedlings to figure which goes where. After my TV dinner I went out at 7:00 to water again and planted more berries until I came in at 9:00 PM.
August 13: HOTTER I took the day off—too hot.
August 14: HOT I finished planting the berry plants from trays. By that time it was hot again and I sneaked watering the transplants all day. I washed a zillion pots and about 50 trays. At 7:00 I went back out and watered until 9:00. I finally opened the patio faucet so I can use a short 25′ hose with white hose and wand to water pots and baskets.
August 15: COOL AND CLOUDY I woke up wide awake at 6:15 and got up at 7:00! Since it was cool, I started on the woodpile. I worked on it a couple of hours and think I moved about 1/5 or 1/4 of it. I piled it all on the porch—two rows to the top of the rack. Also filled the cart. By then I was tired so left the rest for another day. Then I started cleaning up the pile of bark that’s been between the wood box and the raspberry row. I boxed it and put in the woodshed. I shoveled a lot of sawdust into bags but I don’t know where I’ll put it. A good Saturday’s work. Bill called—he will repair bathroom floor this next week. [Her “double wide’ had two bathrooms, by the way.]
August 16: Sunday—what an odd day. I worked on my puzzle until about 10 when I got so sleepy, laid down—and slept till 5:30. I fed Tabby and laid down again. When I woke up it was dark so I thought it was morning but it was only 10:30 PM. I had some chocolate and read for a couple of hours and then slept till 8:00 AM.
August 17: NICE AND COOL 72 degrees I had a choice of bringing wood up to the shed or sifting compost. Well, the compost won out. I spent about an hour getting a bolt out of the front board so I could dig the stuff out easier. I think I can finish this job in a couple more hours. I didn’t get up in time to do my morning watering but since it’s cool that’s OK. I watered from 7:00 to 8:15. The strawberry plants have perked up due to the cool weather and the heavy watering last week.
August 19: Noon-5:00 WARM 75 degrees I didn’t get out until noon. I wanted to finish sieving the compost but it got too hot. I started sorting the washed pots and trays. I found 30-40 trays in the garage that were dirty so washed them. I brought out the last 3 trays from the shop and dumped them. If it’s hot again tomorrow I think I’ll plant some various seedlings into large pots to set out as they bloom.
August 20: 11:30-5:00 It was comfortable when I started sieving but I kept on with one break to check on my Lee tools order of hoses etc. I finished sieving, and although I was hot and tired, I transferred some of the stuff from the old box to the “new” one. The stuff is dry and dusty so I watered it down. I think it will settle.
The sieved compost filled 3 garbage cans, 1 burn barrel, 2 large peat moss bags, and a couple of other bags. All from the contents of the “new’ box.
August 21: Noon-3:00 I went out intending to do some work in the shade. Instead, I worked on the compost box moving stuff from the old to the “new” box. I used the piece of corrugated plastic as the front of the box. I secured it with two spading forks. There are a lot of twigs and cones in the stuff but I won’t worry about that until next year. Now I have a huge amount to be sieved again but not now. I don’t know where I’ll put it.
August 22: 11:30-4:30 I cut out the old raspberry canes. I chopped them up putting the leaves in the compost and the cut canes in a box to burn. Then I weeded in the strawberry rows among the 3 or 4 rows that are solid with new runner plants. I wanted to move plants into the rows but I know I should wait for cooler weather. I also covered the stuff in compost box with soil from the old box.
I checked last year’s journal and found I had the first tomato on August 14. I have lots of small ping pong size green tomatoes but no sign of any starting to ripen.
August 24: Bill Jr and 2 helpers came and repaired bathroom floor. While they were in the house I stayed in and went over my houseplants. I threw out a lot of empty pots—the leaves probably died because I didn’t water them. Poor Tabby; she hid behind the couch all day until the guys left. She is all mixed up because her potty is in the hall. The glue in the bathroom is awful.
August 25: I had to go to the store as I was out of milk and cereal. Had errands to run. By the time I got home it was too late to work outside so I didn’t.
August 26: Today was my watering day but I didn’t water and didn’t work outside either. I got started going through the pile of catalogs I had set aside to order stuff “sometime”. I placed 2 or 3 orders and threw out some. For 3 days I haven’t been outside to do any work. The next few days are supposed to be HOT.
August 27: Well, Bill and his helpers spread “mud” all over the existing vinyl. He will install new vinyl tomorrow. I asked it he did carpet installation too (he does) but I told him I’ll wait till spring. I spent the day inside. The house is a mess now but it will be nice when the vinyl is installed.
August 28 (Friday): HOT About the time I expected Bill, Bill Jr showed up with bad news. My vinyl is on a Carpet Exchange truck in Portland. Bill said the earliest he can get it is Wednesday. He was so upset. I guess he thought I’d blow my top. I didn’t. I told him I’ll just camp out in this mess. I took 6 begonia pots to the table and cut off many mildewed leaves. Also potted more seedlings to set out in patio.
August 29: 10:30-6:15 with 1/2 hour break Well, it’s been a busy day. I started by planting some seedlings in various containers, then I planted a bunch of perennials 3′ and taller at the back of patio bed. Then I put trays and pots in the garage. Then I straightened the area in garage by back door. Then cause I am hot and dirty I’m going to take a shower.
August 31: HOT too hot to do anything except do the laundry and take a nap. 90 degrees