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. Because he was 8 years older, she was able to retire at age 55 in 1979. (He died in June, 1995.) A large clearing in the back of the lot held her vegetable garden, apple trees, and strawberry beds. Any comments of mine are in brackets.
1995 (age 71, three months after her husband died):
September 3: Rain is forecast so I hurried and picked up the onions that I laid in the “corn patch” to cure. For now they are in the garage in the wheelbarrow until I have time to sort them.
September 5: Spent a couple of hours cleaning and sorting the onions. The sets from Gordons Nursery grew large onions. The other bulbs were from Dutch Gardens but those bulbs came late. I plan on weighing the onions when I get around to it. [She used this symbol instead of writing “around to it”; she had an needlepoint round “Tuit” hanging on the wall:]
September 7: I’ve been doing little jobs and I forget to write them down. I went to bed at 8:00 because being alone is depressing.
September 8: The leak in the first standpipe is now a torrent down the driveway. Kathy Tye suggested I leave a message for Roger and/or the maintenance man. Went to bed at 6:00 PM. Awake at 4 AM.
September 9: Left the message with security guard then I dug up plants near water pipe. I diverted the water so it is now going back under the UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed]. Maybe it will flood out the mole. Now to keep my mind busy I’m going to order some plants from Bluestone.
September 11: The Pines (Roger) was no help re the water leak. He said “Call a plumber”. I called and BJ Plumbing came out and fixed the leak in about two hours. The problem was one fitting at the stand pipe was broken. What a relief! I hope you are watching, Bruce, so you will know it’s all fixed.
Sept 19: store day
Sept 20: 1:00-5:00 Started potting the perennials from Owen. Did some watering. Also moved several wheelbarrow loads mushroom compost to cover the new and old compost boxes. Also sieved some MC which makes wonderful soil.
Sept 21: Finished the perennials started yesterday. Potted the new Owen raspberry plants in large pots. 5 Varieties 5 to a pot.
1997 (age 73):
September 1: Monday through Friday I did some work each day but didn’t write anything down for the whole week. Washed clothes.
Sept 2: Paid bills. Shopped at former Stock Market, now QFC. It’s very nice and some items higher price.
Sept 3: I discovered that the $6.00 sirloin tip roast from QFC was in a sack on a kitchen chair. I called QFC and the meat man said not to eat it so I’ll throw it out next Monday on garbage day.
Sept 4: Planted some seedlings and put them under lights in greenhouse. Bought 2 pairs of jeans from Jayhawks. Of course, I will have to shorten them.
Sept 5: I needed more compost soil for plants so I tackled the compost. I placed boards along the front of the “new” box and then skimmed off the weeds etc on top of the old box and piled it on top of the “new” box. Then I started sieving the contents of the old box using the sieve on top of the garden cart. It worked real good. I’ll work on the sieving on cooler days. That should be real good compost as there is some mushroom compost in that box. I plan on taking out all the stuff from the old box and then make it smaller by moving in the boards along the front.
Sept 7: I changed seedlings in shop around by putting the ones that have germinated in the center where they will get the best light. I need another shop light over table.
Sept 8: Bill Koepp finally called. He said his son will do the shop roof and front porch. Bill Jr came over. He will start tomorrow. Don came out—we just visited. I sprayed front ditch with Safer weedkiller. Then I weeded in lower driveway till 5:30. I also did some deadheading and weeding in tam area. [roadside flower bed that used to be juniper tams] Then I weeded in lower driveway. When I get the big weeds pulled I’ll go over the driveway with Roundup.
Sept 10: I wish I could write in this log each day. I worked outside and/or trotted behind Bill while he did various jobs around here.
Sept 11: Bill Sr has handed his business over to Bill Jr so I should call Jr for jobs needing doing. [I wonder if it’s because Bill Sr didn’t like being trotted after while working; I know I don’t! I’ve tactfully quit gardening jobs where I got trotted after.]
Sept 12: Bill Jr worked on porch and finished it up. He moved all but one TV back up to shop. He did some odds and ends. He’ll come back tomorrow with Bill Sr.
He chopped the big pieces of wood from the lot across the street. Moved extra plywood to garage.
Sept 13: Bill Jr and Sr moved heavy TV to shop and put 4th shop light over train table. Bill Sr put access door on porch. He had one too many panels on it so he just dug a ditch across opening and pushed door into the ditch to make it fit. I wasn’t too happy about that.
Sept 15: Wet, rainy and cool. Would like to build a fire in stove but will wait till Bill Jr cleans chimney. He said there is a lot of creosote in it.
Sept 16: Paid bill for Bill Jr’s work on shop roof and deck etc. $876.50!
Sept 17: RAIN—WIND There are quite a few Rhody branches blown over street and driveway from PRFB-E shrub. [Patio Right Flower Bed?] Moved trays of seedling plants from greenhouse up to shop and the trays of shop ungerminated seeds to greenhouse. Many of seedlings are ready for one more transplanting before planting in garden.
Sept 18: Dental appt for 6 month cleaning—much better condition since using sugar free gum, fluoride mouthwash and Mentadent toothpaste. I need a $700 crown in lower right molar. Ins. should pay half.
Bill Jr came over and cleaned chimney including vacuuming out stove which Delphi never did.
Sept 19: Transplanted a lot of seedlings into the paper cups that Don gave me. I cut out the bottoms so when I plant them I can slide the plant out of the cups right into the hole.
Sept 20: Bill Jr called to quote $808.00 for the garage roof. I swallowed hard then told him ok let’s do it. He will get the material today and start Monday.
Sept 22: Drs appt at 10:00. My glucose test was 115—which is normal! He said to quit taking Tolazimide and get another glucose test in 10 days. Bill Jr started garage roof. He took off old shingles. I weeded in the “ditch”. I thought it was kind of hot. Later I found out it was 80 degrees. No wonder I was soaked.
Sept 23: Store day at fancy new QFC. Much too high falutin’ for bucolic Yelm but it is the only big store in town. Bill Jr finished the garage roof (in two days) even tho he wasn’t feeling well. After the store I did some weeding in the berries by the asparagus. I also found blight on several tomato plants. I pulled those plants and put them in the garbage can!
Sept 24: I threw out the pots that didn’t germinate. I moved most of the flats from greenhouse to the shop. Yesterday Bill took the bulb out of the security light because it wouldn’t turn off.
Sept 25: RAIN I started repotting the seedlings that did sprout. I worked at the shop work bench. I did ok potting in there except having to bring all my stuff up there.
Sept 26: RAIN I finished repotting seedlings and got them all under the 4 lights on the train table so I was able to turn off all the lights in the greenhouse.
Sept 27: Today I finally straightened up the greenhouse!! I moved the short light from below up above the middle shelf. I moved pots onto the top shelf and sorted a lot of stuff—some I’ll take to the shop.
Sept 28: 1:00-4:00 I cleaned up the path and put some plants down in PRFB-S. Washed a lot of pots left from my potting in shop last week. I was going to start cutting branches up but it was too late to start. Maybe next week.
Sept 30: I started to chop up the branches piled next to the shop until I got rained on. So I went into the shop and weeded the pots under the lights and watered them well. I know quite a few of the plants are weeds but since I don’t recognize some I’ll let them grown to see what they are.
1998 (age 74)
Sept 1: HOT 86 degrees Too hot. I took my nap in my Lazy Boy chair.
Sept 2 HOT $300.00 bill today 80 degrees It wasn’t too terribly hot but I was at loose ends. Fat Bill came to work on the floors. [Must be another Bill. Knowing my mom (who had been fat herself for years till after my dad died and she stopped eating much at all), describing this Bill as fat was critical as well as descriptive.] Bill Jr picked up the vinyl so Fat Bill and Chris started installing it. He started at the front door and got over the kitchen area. They’ll all be back tomorrow—maybe to finish it. The vinyl is beautiful. [It was a brown and tan square pattern, as I recall.]
Sept 3: HOT $1414 bill today 82 degrees Well, there was a full crew here today. Bill Jr, Fat Bill, and his son Josh, Chris and Mike. Bill finished installing the vinyl. Yesterday he suggested using the cove border which will be available tomorrow. Bill Jr will install it tomorrow and repair little bathroom floor and repair back steps which he found to be dangerous.
Sept 4 $500+ bill today Well, the new vinyl is installed. Bill Jr finished repairing the little bathroom and put the toilet back in. He installed the cove molding. Mike repaired the back porch south steps. Bill said he might bring his wife Debbie to see my flowers. He says she wants to meet me (why?). I started putting things back where they belong—but I’m trying to clean the items first so it is slow. I got the stuff from the back porch back inside.
Sept 5 (Saturday): 81 degrees I did some paper work today to catch up. I went to Tim’s to get a copy for a return and evidently left the original in the copy machine. I’ll go get it (if it is there) and mail some packages Tuesday.
I’m having trouble with my begonias this year. First I found the ones on the porch were mildewed. Then yesterday I found several basket begonias absolutely limp. I forgot to water them last Wednesday and it was Friday when I noticed them. I took 4 or 5 baskets over to the table and cut some of the droopy leaves. Maybe they will grow more. But if they don’t, I’ll just let them die back until time to put them away for the winter. It’s supposed to rain next week so maybe I can get those perennials plants planted.
I saw the first sign of a ripening tomato this week.
Re the vinyl: It is beautiful. The only thing I don’t like is the white in the 1st bathroom along the tub and the white sealer on the floor next to the refrig. Re the porch step repair: I’ll need to replace the “grass” [artificial turf that she had on the stairs] if I try to sell this place and move to Ilwaco.
Sept 7: I had my first tomato tonight! [I think that they took this long to ripen because she grew her tomatoes from seed and most were large fruited varieties.] I didn’t wake up until 11:00 AM after I went to bed at 1:00! I watered my house plants and threw out 3 or 4. At about 4:00 I started “hand watering’ my containers—that takes over an hour. I didn’t accomplish much else. I’m still looking for stuff and watering around trying to put stuff away.
Sept 10: STORE DAY. I didn’t even get up early enough to water but I did water in the evening. It gets dark now around 8:00 so I can’t do much. I sorted some of the stuff I had tossed into a box when the guys were working here. Now the stuff is in 3 boxes to be sorted and put away.
Sept 11: I threw out 149 cans of pop! There are two 12 packs of Sprite that are probably ok. [They were well past expiration, I guess.] Also there are 7 cans of beer that I saved for slugs. Last night I saw a frog/toad in front and today I saw the one that’s usually in the garden sink.
Cool weather is forecast for next week. I’d like to bring in the wood as well as plant more perennials.
I don’t remember what I did Wednesday.
Sept 14 (Monday): Cooked first applesauce. It always seems like my busiest day is Monday. I went out about noon to do some hand watering but ended up in the garage. I brought 4 or 5 boxes of various sizes of pots from the shed and sorted all the pots by size. Then I started rooting through the stuff along the east side. I threw out lots of containers such as cottage cheese tubs etc. Now I can reach the boxes left over from my garage sale so I can sort thru them soon.
Sept 15: I received a box of Hydrangea plants and a box of Poppy plants from Spring Hill. Both orders had been cancelled by them. They are really mixed up. My froggie is in the garden sink so I put the frog/toad house in the sink with a latticed tray over him.
Sept 16: I planted the Hydrangeas in gallon pots. Also planted other various plants from seed. Everything except the Spring Hill poppies are in large enough containers to wait til fall to out out in the garden.
The frog is using his house in the sink.
Sept 17: Rain 1st time in 6 weeks. I was torn between working on strawberries, planting perennials, or the wood pile. I brought in wood until it started raining. Then I started in the garage sorting through boxes of leftover yard sale stuff—some for VCBO and some to go to the place in Rainier that took a lot of other leftovers in 1997.
Sept 18: Rain. I hope this rain doesn’t cause the tomato blight.
I worked for 2 or 3 hours on the woodpile after I straightened up the shed a bit. When it started raining hard I worked in the garage again. I finished sorting boxes to give away, then I re-arranged the empty boxes in the back, and swept up a lot of dirt. Sometime soon I’m going to use the Filter Queen vac and blow out the dust and dirt on the garage floor.
Sept 19: Watched football
- Finish sorting pots into boxes (some need washing)
- Finish cleaning up garage
- Finish bringing wood up to woodshed (done 9/24)
- Replant strawberries into proper rows.
- Plant poppies from Spring Hill (done 9/22)
- Clean up the greenhouse (done 9/25)
Sept 21: I had my teeth cleaned and went to store. This wasn’t one of my usually busy Mondays. [I still believe her Mondays were busiest because she took Sundays off to do the crossword puzzle!]
Sept 22: I planted the new Spring Hill Poppies mostly in the UDFB [Upper Driveway Flower Bed] and the special red one in tam area [former juniper tam bed, now flowers, by the roadside]. Also planted the armerias I grew from seeds. I picked some apples and peeled and made apple sauce until 7:00.
Sept 23: Noon to 4:30 COOL I worked all this time moving firewood from driveway to wood shed. I hoped to finish but had to quit at 4:30. One more day and it will be done. There are a lot of big brown slugs in the pile. Also another froggy which I caught and put in the garden sink where my other one stays.
Sept 24: 11:00-4:45 COOL I finished moving the wood to the woodshed including the small pile back of the house. I cleaned up the driveway, folded up the tarp and then moved out a dozen more pots along the RR tie that was hidden by the woodpile. I did some “hand watering”. I’m glad that wood pile is done.
Sept 25: 10:30-3:15 COOL RAINY When I went out I started moving the strawberry plants into the rows. But I soon got rained in so I started cleaning up the greenhouse. I even brought in the Filter Queen and blew the dirt off the shelves. In the meantime it stopped raining but I kept straightening the greenhouse. I was going back to the strawberries but it started to rain so I quit.
Sept 26: Noon-4:00 Beautiful day. I stayed in to watch the Huskies against Nebraska. The Huskies got whipped but I peeled apples while I watched. From a basket of apples I filled 6 dehydrator trays. The small apples which mostly had fallen were wormy but the large ones most of which I picked from the trees were nice and clean.
- Clean up shop [a large two room outbuilding]
- Sort unwanted stuff in shop to junk or give away
NOTE Last year the first hard freeze was on Oct 24
Sept 28: I hooked up the new indoor hose and it works! I even watered both back and front porch baskets and clear out to picnic table! I hooked up FQ to blow off the needles etc from the brown tarp. I’ll use it to cover the wood box. Then I blew away a lot of the dirt from garage floor.
Sept 29: I brought in two pails of apples and peeled them from 11:30-4:00. I got 7 trays to dry and 2 pkgs sieved applesauce. Also 2 pkgs of tomatoes. I picked off a lot of the small scabby apples plus those on the ground. I’m picking from the lower branches. These are the best apples in the last 3 or 4 years.
Sept 30: Spent most of the day on paperwork. Paid bills etc.