Renewal Pruning My Dwarf Burning Bush

I had a problem with my burning bush. It had grown so tall that I couldn’t hang our American flag anymore! The bush is growing in a raised planter that forms a retaining wall to one side of our front door. I just lean over the rail and set my flag in the holder bolted to the front of our house. Handy–until Old Glory kept tangling in the bush!

I have removed the old growth of this bush over the years and trimmed branches, but the bush had reached a size that called for more drastic action. The bush is a dwarf variant, and I like it where it is because it attracts birds with its berries and its shelter from predators. Even though my renewal pruning job looks brutal, I’m really not trying to kill it!

Lilacs are another bush that can take this drastic pruning and thrive. You may lose blossoms for the first year, but the next year there will be more flowers than ever on all the new wood that replaces the old.

This is a job that you should do when the bush is still dormant or before bud break. (You will note that my bush was a little past bud break when I cut it back.) I used my curved pruning saw, which went through the branches like a hot knife through butter. I did the whole job including hauling the cut branches to my growing brush pile at the curb in about 15 minutes. When you are cutting back an entire bush, you don’t spend a lot of time agonizing about how a cut will affect the shape of the whole–you just get ‘er done!

What looks like a big job isn’t always as big as it looks. Begonia


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Spring Has Sprung

Beautiful Robin Hood tulips growing in one of my front vegetable beds.

I’ve been doing a lot of odds and ends in the garden over the last couple of days alone and with the help of my husband. The local farm store had a sale on fruit and vegetable plants. I got 20 present off on onion sets and ginger and rhubarb roots. The first thing I planted was the rhubarb. I dipped into my stash of compost again for this job. Rhubarb is a heavy feeder. This fall I will dump a full bushel of cow or horse manure onto it to give it a good start next spring!

I have had lots of the small bulbs blooming and now the tulips and daffodils have joined in. I like the bulbs that naturalize.

If I buy blooming bulbs, I like the ones that are potted in dirt so that I can transplant them outside. I did this with a hyacinth and tulip I bought in individual pots at Aldi earlier this spring. They look pretty sad now, but they should come back next year.

I spent some quality time in our raspberry patch digging out more brambles and removing dead wood. The brush pile on the front terrace is growing. I also dug and pulled a lot of Dames Rocket. I love the way it looks and smells, but it is a pestilence in the back border.

Part of our willow tree came down in an ice storm this past winter. Some kind neighbors came over and practiced their newly acquired chain saw skills on it. I ended up with some nice fire wood and some very crushed lawn furniture. We took the last of the broken wooden lawn furniture to the village compost site yesterday and returned with a load of wood chips which we distributed around the yard to bare spots.

I’m going to take another shot at straw bale culture this year! (I’ll tell you the rest of the story later. )

We will have to visit the compost site about four or five more times before we have all the paths and garden areas rechipped. We also will be on the look out for three more bales of straw and a lot of scrap lumber to do a few building and gardening projects, but those will be stories for another day! Begonia



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Spring Gardening


Transplanted strawberries and the handsome fence is up, (Note the edge of our giant pile o’ brush.)

We had a busy couple of days in the yard and garden. I want to make a point of keeping up on progress in the garden because it is the most visible part of my little farm in town–which feels like less of a farm these days without the chickens.

I have a friend who is happily supplying me with various types of manure, including chicken manure, so my compost pile will be burning bright. Right now it is heating up impressively with some extremely fresh cow manure. That cow manure is like jet fuel!

Saturday we hauled a lot of branches from the willow, maple, birch, the cherry tree




we had to cut down this past winter, and some branches from one of the pines and various noxious brambles and rose-bush cuttings. We stacked them on the curb for the city to pick up. I saved the bigger branches for firewood. My husband did a lot of raking of leaves and willow twigs and mulched the raspberry patch. I hate raking. I’d rather get scratched up digging brambles–which I did!

Today, I spread compost and my husband dug it in. It is always a good idea to reserve a 30-gallon garbage can of this precious substance for spring planting. I always top up all of my containers with compost before planting. I also try to treat all of my planting beds with it either in the fall or spring. I was fortunate to get a load of well-rotted goat manure last fall, so I didn’t need to use as much compost this spring.

Spuds that started growing without permission in the perfect growing conditions of my dark, cool pantry.

Potatoes planted!

Glads about to go into the ground.

After the ground was prepared, I planted red, russet, and Yukon Gold potatoes; mixed color gladioli; early white kohlrabi; white, red, and watermelon radishes; green and red romaine lettuce; and some purple-topped turnips.  I also dug and transplanted everbearing strawberries while my husband took down the ugly (but functional) winter fence along the sidewalk and replaced it with the handsome black metal fence we put away during the winter to save it from corrosion and snowplows.

I did quite a bit of hand watering of transplants, the glad corms, and my two cold frames of greens, which are coming along nicely. In the process, I hooked up my rain barrels. Hopefully, we will get that thunderstorm tonight and I won’t have to do all that watering again for a day or so.

Sam just goes wild over stinkyness!

Sam was my garden buddy. He enjoyed the smell of goat manure and earth on the rake I used to smooth the front bed. We call him Mr. Stinky in part because of his fondness for stinky things like unwashed saddle blankets, sweaty human feet, and any type of livestock manure.

I’m tired. Begonia

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