Thurs. June 30, 2022: Squirrel Visitors

image courtesy of Joe Breuer via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 30, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Cancer

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Oak

Sunny and pleasant

I am thoroughly enjoying the growing season here, even though there’s a good bit of pollen flying around. On the Cape, the pine pollen dumped down like yellow snow early in the season, leaving a thick coating on everything and had to be scrubbed off. That’s not as prevalent here. But there is a lighter, steadier pollen. When I spend enough time outside, I scrape it off every few hours. And after I shower it off, I have to run vinegar down the drain.

But everything looks gorgeous. The cucumbers finally have blossoms, so I put that pot out on the back balcony, so the bees can visit and pollinate. The pumpkin should bloom soon; hopefully the tomatoes will, too.

The borage planted last week is already coming up. Borage is one of my favorite plants. I love the blue flowers. When I planted strawberries, I would keep borage nearby to protect the strawberries from pests.

The Farmers’ Market gets more and more exciting every week, too. Last Saturday, I got the most beautiful fennel I’ve ever seen. I spend a lot of time with Deborah Madison’s book LOCAL FLAVORS to get ideas.

The squirrels are being difficult. It’s not just Spiro Squirrel, who’s bad enough on his own. There’s another pair of squirrels running around. They are always together, and they have a fairly wide range of four or five properties on this block and across the street. They are always scampering around together. Well, now they come on the deck and turn over pots, bury things, and chomp on the peppermint. They are so fresh I can walk right up to them and scold them before they scamper off, jump into the tree, and watch from a safe distance. I haven’t named those two little rapscallions yet, but I will.

I guess the work we’ve done on the back balcony to transform it into a garden space has worked!

Because we have so many trees and tree-like shrubs around, the back is lovely and shady in the hottest part of the afternoon, while getting strong doses of sun in the morning and the late afternoon. It’s great to sit out there after lunch for a bit, with a book.

Of course, the cats don’t want to be left inside. Willa and Charlotte have always been good in their playpens. Willa tends to get restless after about twenty minutes or so. Charlotte looks around for a bit, then goes to sleep. It’s too difficult to take them out at the same time, but whomever is left inside gets very upset. When I water in the mornings, Willa wants to come out. She knows the playpens are stored up, folded, in the laundry room when not in use, and tries to drag hers out. Yes, she knows which one is hers.

Tessa hates her playpen. Before Willa and Charlotte came to live with us, Tessa was allowed out on the deck without restraints. She never left or ran away. She loved lounging on the deck and checking out the plants. But it’s too dangerous here. We are on the second floor and the railings are wide enough that the cats could slip through. Also, with dogs in the building and squirrels in the trees, it’s safer for them to be in their playpens. We used the playpens when the movers loaded and unloaded, again, to protect the cats.

Tessa hated it. She struggled when she was picked up to go in, and complained the entire time.

But, she decided that if the other two go out on the back balcony, she wants to go out, too. When I take them out, she sits on a kitchen chair by the window and complains.

The other day, I told her I would take her out, but she had to be in the playpen, like the others. I brought out her playpen and set it up. She sat quietly. She let me pick her up and put her in it. She didn’t like the voyage out to the balcony, but once I had her set up, she had a wonderful time. She was interested in the birds and the squirrels and the neighbors, and everything.

So now all three have to take turns coming out! But I’m glad she enjoys it.

We have a lot of birds, with all the tress and shrubs. I have to look up the ones I don’t know in the bird book. There’s one, who looks like some sort of a jay, but he’s gray with a black crest and mask. I’m not sure if he’s a young blue jay, or if he’s some other sort of bird. I haven’t had a chance to look him up yet, but every time he pops by to visit, I’m reminded that I need to.

The crows still come and visit. The scout and Tessa have a serious conversation every morning. Charlotte was in the window instead of Tessa this morning, and the scout gave her such a lecture. She was shocked. Tessa popped up then, and things went back to normal.

I’m looking at tulip bulbs in the catalogs. I might order some and plant them in pots this autumn, then leave them to overwinter out on the front porch when we close it for the season.

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. June 23, 2022: Steady Greening

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 23, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Partly cloudy and mild

It’s been rather on the cool side lately, and for that I am grateful. The heat is off for the summer, so we’ve piled comforters back on the bed, and are wearing socks again. Last year at this time, during the move, we had to be careful not to collapse in the heat. I much prefer this.

However, the squirrels are already burying the barely grown nuts. Spiro Squirrel dug up the tansy on the back balcony to bury tiny little bits of nuts in the pot. The cats are shedding their summer fur and growing in thick winter coats, which means, once the heat and humidity do hit in a few days or weeks, they will be miserable.

It also indicates the likelihood of early winter.

Plants are doing pretty well on both the front porch and the back balcony. The brown-eyed Susan gave up the ghost completely, which annoys me, since it was so expensive. I have to figure out what to put in the pot. The columbine died, too.

Some of the plants that struggled early on are doing well, such as the Marine Heliotrope, the Echinacea, and the Lemon Balm.

I planted some of the borage seeds, some pepper seeds (saved, from bought vegetables), and nectarine pits. It’s late for borage, and I’ll probably save the rest for next spring.

I’m saving some seeds from the cherry tomatoes bought at the Farmers’ Market, and will plant them next spring.

The bulb catalogs have arrived. I think I might buy some tulip bulbs and plant them in pots this October, then keep them out on the front porch over the winter, to see if they come up in spring. Trying to decide which ones to buy are a lot of fun. It means getting more pots, too.

I’ll also have to repot several things by the end of the summer, because they’re growing so well.

I hope the dahlias bloom soon. They keep growing taller, but no blooms as of yet.

We’re using the chives, basil, and parsley regularly. We need to eat the lettuce, before we lose it, and start using the cilantro. I’m wondering if I can grow the cilantro all year.

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. June 16, 2022: Garden Visit

Fountain at Berkshire Botanical Garden. Phobo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Waning Moon Third Quarter in Capricorn

Pluto & Saturn Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

There’s quite a bit to write about this week.

The hanging geranium basket slipped from my hands when I tried to put it back on its hanger last week, after a storm. It crashed the two stories below and broke on the asphalt. Fortunately, no one was out there (I make sure no one is under the balcony when I go out to work on plants).

I went down, rescued what was left of the plant, and cleaned up the mess. I repotted the geranium in the pot I was going to use for the night-blooming jasmine, so I will have to get another pot for that. It seems to be recovering, and it’s on a mosaic tiled plant stand out on the balcony. A couple of stems broke off. I have them in a vase. If they grow roots, I will pot them.

The Farmers’ Market on Saturday was lots of fun. I’ve set a budget for every weekend, and I’m sticking to it, seeing what’s fresh and wonderful, and then, going to the grocery store nearby to build the rest of the week’s meals around what’s fresh from the Farmers’ Market. It’s healthy and it forces variety. It’s too easy to get into the rut of one’s go-to dishes.

The Farmers’ Market isn’t cheap, but with the grocery prices going up in the stores (especially the chain stores), the prices are competitive with the grocery stores and the food co-op. The quality is always high, and I get to support individuals instead of corporate entities.

We replanted the cutting of the last Cape Cod Geranium (so now we have two Cape Cod Geraniums). I planted the nectarine pits and some saved pepper seeds, and more cat grass.

The columbine got overwatered, and is not doing well. The nasturtiums are unhappy. Next year, I think I will buy a small plant instead of starting it from seed and seeing if there’s a difference. The pumpkin is growing like crazy. The brown-eyed Susan is dead and gone. That’s frustrating, because it was one of the most expensive plants I bought this year.

The heliotrope, echinacea, and lemon balm are starting to do well. The spearmint is growing so fast, I think I might harvest some stems and start them drying.

Spiro Squirrel is a little brat. When we have sandwiches for lunch in the kitchen, he dashes up on the back balcony, climbs up on the bistro table and knocks on the kitchen window with his little paw, as though he thinks we’re going to hand him the sandwich through the window.

Tessa, our big black cat who is part Maine Coon, has a serious conversation with the scout crow every morning. He stops on the lamp post outside the living room window. She puts her front paws up on the back of the sofa, and they chat through the window. It’s completely different than when she’s contemplating trying to take down a bird. It’s a real conversation. It’s very funny.

The scout brought by a younger crow the other morning to say hello.

On Tuesday, we went down to Stockbridge to visit the Berkshire Botanical Garden. It was  a lovely day, and the garden is absolutely beautiful. There are various designs in different areas: an herb garden, a rose garden, a garden designed by Martha Stewart, a garden with joyful topiaries called Lucy’s Garden, a daylily walk. It’s just lovely. The photo at the top of this post is of the fountain. There’s a children’s garden and an educational center. There’s an exhibition gallery and research library. The garden is 24 acres, and was first opened in 1934. The New York Botanical garden donated some of the original daylilies when this garden formed, and other botanical gardens also sent gifts, which I think is kind of wonderful. But then, gardeners tend to be generous about sharing plants.

The current art exhibit is called “Symbiosis” and consists of various types of art in different mediums both in the gallery and installed in parts of the garden. It’s really wonderful. My favorite piece was a mosaic done on stone of two owls by Peter D. Gerakaris.

I want to return in other seasons and see how the garden changes over them. I’d also like to spend a full day there one day, with a notebook, and write a series of flash fiction pieces in the different areas of the garden. Some day when it’s not too hot! I’d also like to use the library, maybe spend time with their herbals.

I bought borage seeds in the store, and I will plant them today. It’s late in the season to start borage. I will plant about half the packet, and save the rest for next year. I wanted borage this year, and hadn’t gotten the seeds yet, so it was a delight to buy it at the garden.

The weather is much pleasanter than it was at this time last year, and I have every intention of enjoying it!

Thurs. June 9, 2022: Farmers’ Market Season Begins

image courtesy of Martin Winkler via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto and Saturn Retrograde

Rainy and cool

We took a quick trip to the Cape to pick up a few things on Tuesday. They are in a different part of their growing season. The lilacs haven’t yet started fading there, and the azaleas are fully in bloom. The pollen, however, was much thicker there. They aren’t getting as much rain as we’ve had.

When we came back, the blue car had a blanket of yellow over it. And we had to scrape pollen off our skin in the shower.

Here, things are green and luscious. Peonies are in bloom, and are gorgeous. The trees are in full leaf. The mountains are all green again.

As far as our little garden goes, things are growing. The dahlia on the back balcony was unhappy, so I brought it forward to the front. The black-eyed Susan vine is twining around the railing out back, and the lettuce and herbs are all doing well. It looks like the tansy has decided to stick around and grow, both front and back, which is great.

The pumpkin vine is growing like crazy. The cucumbers are steady, but haven’t yet bloomed. The tomatoes look small, but I bought a small variety for containers, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The impatiens and the geraniums are blooming steadily. So are the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti – at least one of them is blooming at all times.

We have some replanting to do this weekend – a stalk of geranium fell off our last Cape Cod geranium, and it’s grown roots, so we will pot it. The night-blooming jasmine already outgrew its pot, so I will put it in the big pot (I even bought a new plant stand just for it). A small seedling from Tamed Wild has outgrown its pot, and needs a bigger one. And, of course, I have to plant more cat grass.

We had supposedly organic nectarines this week, so I will plant the pits and see if anything happens.

The other day, driving through Adams/Cheshire, we passed a house with the most magnificent bed of poppies! Just gorgeous. I’ve never successfully grown poppies, so I appreciate it when other people have success.

The Farmers’ Market is now weekly, outside, on Saturday mornings. I go there first thing and see what looks good (it all does), and then build the week’s meals around what I buy at the market. I may have to start making stock every week and a half or so, instead of every 2-3 weeks, with all these vegetables!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this area come to life after the winter. It’s so relaxing to sit and watch the plants at work.

How is your garden growing?

Thurs. June 2, 2022: Deep in Growth Season

image courtesy of Ulrike Leon via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 2, 2022

1st Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

We’re definitely in growing season now. Even some of the plants that initially hung back: lemon balm, marine heliotrope, columbine – are doing better. The dahlias are growing like crazy, as are the hollyhocks. Only one pumpkin vine is still alive, but it’s growing well.

The nasturtiums are still very unhappy, and the moonflowers aren’t doing well, either. The new batch of morning glories are better, but still nowhere near as strong as they were down on Cape.

I’ll have to repot a few plants who are outgrowing their original small pots. Even the night-blooming jasmine, who’s only been around for a few weeks, will need a bigger pot soon. But I have a special pot saved, just for her!

The basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, and lettuce are doing well, and I’m using them as often as possible.

The trip to Hancock Shaker Village on Tuesday included wandering around their medicinal garden. Seeing that comfrey, coltsfoot, horehound, and calendula do well in this region means I can try growing them next spring. I always kept them in my stillroom, because I use them for various cough blends and/or poultices or salves.

The Farmer’s Market starts up weekly this coming Saturday, and I am so excited. I can’t wait to create menus each week based on what’s fresh at the market.

Everyone in the neighborhood is fixing up their little patch of porch and/or green, and it’s a delight to walk around and see how creative people are.

How are things going in your neck of the woods, sea, or meadows?