April Showers Garden Thoughts
The showers of April water our spring Daffodils, Tulips and other early blooming flowers. They also help to wake up all that sprouts in the Spring from the grass to the shrubs and everything living in between. Yet, what about when there are no showers? What about when the showers are too heavy and the water just runs off the grass and garden areas? Get a rain barrel—or even two! My barrel has a waterspout at the bottom to allow me to fill watering cans or attach a hose while also having a diverter spout at the top to send water into my second and even third rain barrels for future use. My plan is to attach a soaker hose to the second barrel so when the diverter sends the water away from the filled barrel #1, The overflow will go down the soaker wrapped around my hostas planted under our four season’s room—an area that gets no natural rain. The barrel opening at the top has a screen to both prevent mosquitoes and debris from getting into the water supply.
Two websites clearly show both how to make a rain barrel (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-rain-barrel-1/) and how to add a downspout diverter (www.aquarbarrel.com). My fully-fitted barrel cost me $65—quite a bargain—as sold by the local conservation department; still, one could easily make a barrel for $20.00 or less. In any case, I recommend the investment which will be easily offset by the savings as well as the good green feeling one has by using natural resources responsibly.
In addition to putting in a rain barrel, I’ve listed below several other April projects to do as we await the time to begin planting in earnest outside.
Cut only the flower stalks back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of reflowering so wait until the leaves fade to a pale brown before cutting.
I plant gladiolus every year both to remember my father and for the riot of colors I have when they bloom later in the summer. To extend their blooming time, plant a number of them in one week increments until June. If you wish to plant gladiolus, choose a very sunny location and plant the corms about 4 to 6 inches deep and 8 inches apart.
Any early spring blooming shrubs, particularly forsythia, should be pruned after they have completed flowering. Another shrub I would include here are spireas that are too often allowed to grow leggy because they are not
Whether or not you put in a rain barrel, definitely install a rain gauge near your garden to measure rainfall. Generally, gardens need about 1 inch of rain per week from April to September and a rain gauge will help you to know when watering is necessary.
I’ve been trying to attract Mason Bees with houses made just for them. Mason Bees are fantastic pollinators and are not known to sting. Use this easy-to-follow instructable to build your own bee hotel: http://www.instructables.com/id/Mason-Bee-House
The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day so plant a tree. If, like me, you already have more than enough trees—remember I planted one on my property for each of my 11 grandchildren—then offer to help others plant a tree or the very least carefully tend your own. If you should plant a tree, dig a hole twice as wide as the container but no deeper. Before you plant the tree gently pulled back the soil from around its base until you begin to see what is called the “root flare” which is where the tree begins to branch out from the base. Never plant the tree below this point. Most trees from nurseries are potted too deeply in the containers which is why you want to check where the root flare is and keep that point above the ground. When you plant the tree, you do not need to add organic matter to the soil. Doing so will only encourage the roots to grow only in the richer environment and not establish roots back into the native soil. So, unless what comes out of the hole is clay worthy of sculpting, put back into the hole what came out.
Now, get out there and start enjoying another gardening season!
Shopping For Yard Equipment:
This chorus girl lamp in a top hat and red dress was made in the Art Deco style of the 1920s.
It sold for over twice the estimate at $1,968.
In the unsanitary world of the 18th and 19th century, bad smells were everywhere. There was no garbage pickup, no indoor flushing toilets and no refrigeration to keep food from spoiling. In the 1800s, a special lamp was used to remove the strong odors in hospitals and mortuaries. It was a catalytic lamp that burned an alcohol-based fuel. A cotton wick burned for a few minutes to heat a stone. After the flame was out, the heated stone turned odors into carbon dioxide and water.
In 1897, a Frenchman improved the lamp by adding perfume to the fuel to make a scented room. Many lamps were made in figural shapes suitable for a living room or bedroom. Today, perfume lamps heat with electricity. The best 20th-century perfume lamps were made by French makers Robj, Aladin or Etling. A perfume lamp shaped like an Art Deco chorus girl sold at a Skinner auction in Boston several years ago for $1,968. The 10-inch lamp was marked “Meu Bach Aladin.”
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Vintage sofas are much lower priced than new ones. I like Victorian sofas with curved backs, but don’t want to learn my bargain sofa has a problem I can’t fix.
If you want a 19th-century sofa, you should buy from a knowledgeable dealer. So little of the frame shows that it is difficult to tell a 19th-century sofa from an early 20th-century one. We once told the boss at a house sale that we would pay the asking price for a sofa if we could slit the back upholstery to be sure the frame was old. The marks from old tools said it was old, and we bought it.
Smell any old upholstered furniture. Often, the smell will not leave. Decide if the upholstery is a color and condition you want to live with. Re-upholstering furniture is very expensive. Sit on the sofa to be sure it is comfortable. Some seats are low, bumpy, too narrow or much harder than most modern pieces. Some of that can be fixed with decorative pillows. Be sure you can get it in your van or car. If you want to use it in a basement or second-floor room, the stairs may have too low a ceiling or a turn that makes it impossible to take it inside. But if all looks OK, you will have a sturdy bargain.
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Jewelry box, embossed flowers and leaves, silver plate, velvet lined, marked DS, 1960s, 5 x 3 1/2 inches, $15.
Game, bingo cage, wire, round spinning ball dispenser, handle, ball slide, stand, 73 wooden bingo balls, 1960s, 12 x 14 inches, $75.
Chatty Cathy doll, vinyl head, hard plastic body, blonde hair and blue eyes, c. 1962, 20 inches, $200.
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TIP: You can use an old iron cooking utensil. The finish on the iron will not be damaged if you wash the item properly after using it. Don’t let it get rusty.
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