Thurs. Nov. 17, 2022: First Snowfall of the Season

image courtesy of Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

Thursday, November 17, 2022

4th Quarter Moon Waning in Scorpio

Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Cloudy and cold

We’re finally getting some winter weather. The storms are coming in from the Midwest, hitting us, and then warming up before they hit Boston.

We had our first snow Tuesday night going into Wednesday. They told us to expect up to 5 inches, so that’s for what we prepared. It snowed steadily in the evening and into the night, but then changed over to freezing rain around  3 or 4 in the morning. It was kind of yucky all day yesterday.

Fortunately, on the garden front, we were okay.

Last Sunday was a planting day, and it was finally cold enough to plant the bulbs. I have three long, narrow trough-type pots, in which I put the different colored tulips, some of the hyacinths, and a handful of miniature narcissus.

Scheeper’s shorted me on the tulips. Each bag was supposed to hold 12 tulips and only had 10, which means they shorted me a half a dozen tulips. And no, the packets are not by weight, but number of bulbs. Another strike against them, along with all the order kerflamma.

Next year, should I want more bulbs, I’ll get them from Color Blends again. Their bulbs are high quality, and they’re lovely to deal with. The only reason I used Scheeper’s this year is because Color Blends sells bulbs in packs of 25, and that’s a lot. But when you buy 25 bulbs from them, the packages actually have 25.

There were still left over hyacinth and narcissus bulbs left over after I planted the troughs, so I have one large round pot with a mix, and one smaller round pot with the rest of the narcissus.

Some of the bulbs looked like they were already sprouting, because it’s been so warm. We may have flowers for Christmas; if we do, we’ll enjoy them.

We did a bunch of rearranging plants, between what’s still on the porch and what needs to be inside for the winter.

On Tuesday morning, I dashed out to get a tarp. We brought in the rest of the plants and decorations, and some of the furniture from the back balcony. The bistro chairs and bench stay out all winter, albeit without their cushions. We tarped them this year, to protect them, and moved the bench directly under the kitchen window, where we can keep an eye on it.

I have some paint touch-ups to do on the decorations over the winter, especially on the windchimes, which need a new coat of copper rustoleum.

Instead of putting the green shelf unit out on the porch, we’re putting it in the kitchen this year, in front of the window, with some small plants on top, and storing decorations and tools underneath. We won’t have 4 around the table again until spring, as far as we know, so we can take up that space.

We’ve got most of the pots emptied and cleaned; there are still a few more to do. I brought in the lemon balm, and will cut it back shortly to dry it, so I can use it all winter.

The tomatoes are still growing, happy as can be.

We might have lost our giant peace lily, after eleven years, which would be a shame. I think I left it out too long. Even though the days were warm, the nights were too cold. I’m hoping to gently nurse it back to health over the next few weeks.

The snapdragons didn’t bloom this year, but the foliage turned pretty colors, so hopefully, it will survive again for next year. And, maybe bloom.

Pretty soon, we’ll need to decide what to plant for next year. I have to go through the garden journal notes I kept and decide what to plant again (we know we want more black-eyed Susan vine), what to skip (dahlias, they’re too much of a diva for me to deal with), and what to add to the mix.

I’m also going to look at seed companies. If it turns out that we didn’t have success with seeds from a particular company, I won’t order from them again.

I didn’t order anything from Johnny’s, up in Maine, last year, and that was definitely a mistake. And I want to buy more seeds from the Botanical Garden down in Sturbridge, because they were good.

I didn’t plant zinnias this year, either, and I missed them. I also want to get some indoor houseplants over the winter, such as another philodendron. I miss having philodendron.

How’s your garden going to bed this year? Or, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, how it is shaping up?

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Thurs. Oct. 20, 2022: Frost

image courtesy of Perez Vocking courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, October 20, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Leo

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

A little cloudy and cold

We’ve had frost several times in the past week, although it’s supposed to go back up to the 60s over the weekend. Plant rearranging time has come. By Sunday, we will move more plants in from the front porch, such as the geraniums, and probably bring in the last few from the back balcony and put them on the front porch for the winter.

We have to sort out the different pots, too, and figure out where we can store them.

The tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs arrived, and we will plant them on the next planting day, which is Wednesday. They will live out on the front porch all winter. In spring, when they come up, they will go out on the back balcony.

Pretty soon, we have to sit down and figure out what seeds we want to plant next year. I think we’ll focus more on medicinal herbs, and maybe some zinnias.

Although. . .the tomatoes are suddenly growing like gangbusters. Go figure.

The trees are absolutely gorgeous. The colors are spectacular.

How’s your garden?

Thurs. Sept. 15, 2022: Harvests and Marigolds

image courtesy of yganeshbabu via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Taurus

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Sunny and cooler

The morning glories finally bloomed, just before my friends arrived for their visit. Finally! Really pretty, too.

The marigolds are blooming – well, the ones where the squirrels didn’t eat the blooms.

The night blooming jasmine is starting to bloom, too!

We’ve used the last of the lettuce. That did well.

I’m giving up on the tomatoes and yanking them out. The plants never grew beyond shoots. It’s time to harvest the rest of the basil and make pesto. The chives are just about done. The rosemary gave up (I’m so tired of it acting like an annual). The parsley still has some life in it, thank goodness.

Slowly, we are putting plants to bed, and we’ll start bringing in some of the ones that need more warmth as things cool down.

While this season was disappointing, I learned a lot, and hopefully, I can apply it well next year.

I want the hummingbirds to be happy next year, so I’m going to grow flowers out on the back balcony that they’ll like. I’m even thinking about growing some Angel’s Trumpet (datura). Since the balcony is up on the second level, random people won’t mess with it to get poisoned, and the flowers are so pretty. We’ll see.

I need to update this season’s garden journal and then do an assessment. That way, I can plan for next year. I need to get a bigger binder. The plan is to keep that season’s notes in the smaller binder, and put the previous season’s notes in the big binder, with yearly dividers, so I can go back and see what worked and what didn’t.

Now that we have to factor climate change into every evaluation, too, that will also make a difference.

How’s your harvest coming?

Thurs. July 21, 2022: Blooms and Bombs

image courtesy of S. Hermann & F. Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 21, 2022

4th Quarter Moon waning in Taurus

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

Hazy and hot

We finally broke into seasonally hot weather. It’s nowhere near as hot as it is in other parts of the world, but it’s in the low 90’s, feeling like the high 90’s, and humid. Since we don’t have air conditioning, it’s a challenge.

Some of the plants are doing very well; some are not. One of the dahlias is doing well, and we’re getting the first blossoms. The other dahlia is dying, and I have no idea why. The cucumber got pollinated and was growing cucumbers, and suddenly, it’s up and died.

The tomatoes still haven’t grown up into anything. They should be big enough to start blossoming. I don’t know what’s going on.

The pumpkin is happy out on the back balcony, and pumping out blossoms. Hopefully, at least one of them will turn into something.

The geraniums, impatience, and herbs are doing well. The marigolds are doing well as long as I water them every day. The hollyhocks are doing well, although they’ve stalled, height-wise.

Spiro Squirrel kept digging up the tansy, so I brought it to the front porch instead. I’m hoping I can save it. The other tansy is doing well, the one that was always on the front.

The peace lily is quite happy out on the back balcony and blooming like crazy.

Well, it’s a learning curve. I’m making careful notes in the plant journal, so that I can adjust from next year, and learn from what didn’t work.

I’m getting ready to order the tulip and hyacinth bulbs. I bought long window-box style troughs. We’ll plant the bulbs in them in October, so that they’ll come up (hopefully) in the spring. We’ll overwinter them on the front porch, which we close off in winter, because of the cold. So they’ll be protected from digging squirrels, but still get the cold they need.

It gets cool by around 3 AM for a few hours, before it starts heating up again. It’s supposed to break on Sunday night into Monday, and only be in the 80’s next week.

I’m disappointed that the vegetables aren’t growing well, but it makes me even more grateful for the Farmers’ Market, which is just bursting at the seams with wonderful bounty.

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. April 28, 2022: Plant Plans

image courtesy of Albrecht Fietz via pixabay.com

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Day Before Dark Moon

4th Quarter Moon Waning in Aries

Celtic Tree Month of Willow

Partly cloudy/party sunny and cold

The photo above is not my front porch or yard, but it’s definitely inspirational!

The weather is still all over the place. We’re back into a cold spell now. It will warm up for a few days, and then, toward the end of next week, get cold again.

In other words, the plants can’t stay outdoors yet.

But the forsythia and azaleas are blooming. There are some bushes that I think are weeping cherry, maybe, also blooming. It smells lovely when I walk around to do my errands. There are daffodils and hyacinths up, and people are planting more. Really lovely. People are excited for spring.

I’ve been working to oil the teak furniture. I have one more small table to do, and then, once it’s warm enough, I can oil the bench and the two bistro chairs and the bench out on the back porch.

Plantwise, I’ve just about given up on the mallow. It’s been nearly a month or slightly over a month since the seeds were planted (the plant journal is in the other room, and I’m too lazy to check). I can repurpose the pots for other herbs or maybe some lettuce.

The mesclun greens seeds popped up and faded immediately. The cilantro came up fast and isn’t doing well. It may well be similar here as it was on Cape – makes more sense to buy lettuce and herbs as plants, rather than trying to grow them from seed. The morning glories, who’ve always grown well for me, are not happy, either. I might have to get a new packet (from a different company) and re-sow. Some of the columbine is doing well. The marine heliotrope and echinacea are not. The lavender has not yet come up.

The snapdragons and tansy shoots are still small, but they’re holding on.

The sweet peas, nasturtiums, and four o’clocks are growing well. The moonflowers are undecided; they’re hanging in there, but it’s almost as though they’re worried about the morning glories. The hollyhocks and black-eyed Susan vine are doing well. The dwarf sunflowers are doing well.

The cucumbers and tomatoes are up, but not really doing much of anything. The pumpkins are doing well, and I will have to replant them a larger pot soon.

The dahlia bulbs have both sprouted, and that’s very exciting. Those are going to be big plants. Since this is my first foray into the Cult of the Dahlia, I’m excited, but also a little intimidated.

I mentioned that I got a small Norway Spruce seedling last week, a gift from the grocery store for Earth Day. It’s sitting in its little pot, doing its thing. Since it’s a tree seedling, I have it out on the enclosed porch, with the chrysanthemum I brought from the Cape house (it used to be in the barrel outside). Eventually, I will probably move the tree seedling to the back balcony, but we’ll see.

It’s supposed to get cold again, one more time, next weekend (not the one coming up, the following one), and then, it should be steadily warm enough to set up the back balcony and leave everything out in front and in back.

Soon after that, once the car is fixed, it will be time to head to Whitney’s Farm again, and get in lettuce and maybe some more geraniums, and some begonias.

All of our philodendrons died. The move shocked them. They’d been in the same spot, growing up the walls inside the Cape house for a decade, so it’s not surprising that the move would be too much. And, after all, the biggest of the plants (that looked like it could be an understudy in a revival of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS), was originally given to us in 1966, when my dad was in the hospital after a heart attack.

But I want another philodendron. I might make a trip, in the next couple of weeks, to Plant Connector, which just moved to Main Street, and see if they have a small philodendron, and if they have a spider plant. We used to have lots of those, and I used to pot up the offshoots and give them to people. But none of the spider plants survived the move to the Cape.

I want to be more creative on how I decorate indoors with plants. I’m looking at lots of photos on Instagram and going through the garden books that made it up (I have to get the rest out of storage over the coming months). I don’t want to overdo it inside, because of the plants that spend most of the summer outside who have to spend the winter inside. But I do want to be a little more creative inside with plant choice and plant placement.

When I lived in NYC, I had a stack of books on houseplants. When I moved to the Cape, they were packed away (and are now in storage), and I focused on outdoor container gardening and outdoors, in general. I don’t have a yard here, but between the enclosed porch, the back balcony, and the wonderful natural light from the large windows, I can do a mix.

Patience, right? Isn’t that what gardening is supposed to teach? I still have a lot to learn in that department!

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. Feb. 3, 2022: Seeds Ordered

image courtesy of Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash.com

Thursday, February 3, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Pisces

Mercury goes Direct today

Chinese Lunar New Year of the Water Tiger has begun (as of Tuesday)

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Rainy and mild

It’s raining this morning, and this evening, another snowstorm comes in. I don’t know how much snow we’re supposed to get; the predictions are all over the place. So I’ll try to dig out the car in the rain, before it all freezes down again.

This week, I ordered my seeds. Yes, it’s probably a little late, but at least they’re ordered.

I did a spread sheet with information from the four different seed catalogs I got, comparing the seeds I liked best, and prices. I decided that, this year, I’m ordering from Botanical Interests (even though their seeds disappointed me a couple of years back) and Kitchen Garden Seeds.

I only ordered two vegetables this year: mini cucumbers and a cherry tomato that can be grown from a hanging basket. I want to see how they do, and then maybe add more vegetables next year.

I will buy herbs in small pots at the garden center. I ordered an echinacea mix; if it grows well, then I’ll have that, and lemon balm, and cat grass. We’ll also buy some lettuce, because we love salads with lettuce we’ve just picked.

Most of what I ordered this year are flowers: black-eyed Susan vine (which supposedly grows well here); Four O’clocks; Hollyhocks; Nasturtiums.

I’d hoped to get a globe thistle and grey poppy, but they were sold out, across the board.

So we’ll see. Hopefully, the seeds will arrive soon, and I can start the planting.

I did not do a ceremonial first planting for Imbolc yesterday; I might do one today, with some clementine seeds and some pumpkin seeds, which are part of my saved seeds project.

I have to learn how to garden here; what works, and what doesn’t. It will be trial and error.

I miss my lilacs. I might buy a lilac slip and try growing one in a pot again, like I did on Cape.

What seeds are you planting this season?

Thurs. Jan. 13, 2022: Back to Seasonable Weather

image courtesy of Robert_C via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Uranus & Venus Retrograde

Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Cloudy and cold

We’re finally into seasonal weather here in the Berkshires, which means snowy and cold. With the windchill, this weekend, it’s supposed to go down to -31F. Reminds me of living in Chicago when I was a little, little kid! But the plants need it. They need rest time (if only people could rest, too).

We are snuggled down in the house; the thermostat is set a little lower than we had it in the Cape house, but it’s warmer (heat works better, insulation is better). We haven’t even needed the hot water bottles yet, although I suspect that will change this weekend.

The minimal errands I have to do are on foot. We are pretty well stocked up, although I try to get to the grocery store to replenish things like milk, eggs, butter.

I’m reading (and re-reading) books on container gardening, trying to figure out where I have the seeds packed, and what seeds I need to order.

We won’t grow many vegetables this year – maybe some small tomatoes and mini-cucumbers and some lettuce. The focus will be more on herbs, and maybe a few pollinator flowers. It’s very different here, so we need to see what does well, and how different types of plants do on the porch and balcony.

The planning and dreaming are fun, but, eventually, we will have to get down to practicalities.

What are your garden dreams for this year?

Jan. 6, 2022: Garden Dreams

image courtesy of kryciak via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Pisces

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Cloudy and cold

The weather has been kind of wacky here, and, from what I hear from others, unusual. We should basically be snowed in here. But, while the weather has dipped down to being pretty cold at night, we’ve had more rain and freezing rain than snow. On the one hand, yay, I can run errands on foot. On the other, I’d rather be tucked in with snow.

We brought some ore plants in from the front porch, although we don’t really have room for them until we put away the Winter Holiday decorations (which happens today).

The seed catalogs are arriving, and I’m in the lovely dreamstate of over-fantasizing about how many seeds I can reasonably buy and plant for the coming year.

I ordered a bunch of seeds last year and couldn’t plant any of them, due to the timing of the move. I will see what I can do this year. The Territorial Seed catalogues and the Kitchen Seeds catalogues are here; three or four others are on the way. I will compare my favorites in each, and then decide how much it makes sense to try this year, since it will be our first full season.

I’m also going over the book GROW ALL YOU CAN EAT IN THREE SQUARE FEET to see what makes sense there, since I like growing things we can eat. I’m just not sure we have the room. We have more room on the back balcony than out front, but I’m not sure we get enough sun, since it’s northern exposure. So it will be trial and error, and I need to be better at notetaking and tracking than I usually am.

I had a lovely conversation on Twitter on Tuesday with fellow gardeners. They gave me some wonderful resources.

What are your plans for your garden this year?

Thurs. Dec. 30, 2021: Birch, the Month of Regeneration & Creativity

image courtesy of Alain Audet via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Fourth Quarter Waning Moon in Scorpio

Uranus and Venus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Rainy and cold

It’s rainy and raw over here in the mountains. We had some light snow, intermittently, over the past few days. We had snow on Christmas Eve, which was quite lovely, but it switched over to freezing rain by Christmas Day, and everything washed away. Then, the other night, we had just a bit of overnight snow, which the rain has, again, washed away.

The seed catalogs are coming in. After the holidays, I will sit down with books like ALL YOU CAN EAT IN THREE SQUARE FEET to figure out what we can and want to grow next year. I never got to use the seeds I ordered last year, before the move. In fact, I can’t even find them, although I hope to uncover them as I finish the unpacking.

Planning next year’s garden is always fun. I can dream as wildly as I want, before getting more practical, in terms of space available. It will be very different this year, because we can’t do any in-ground planting.

I miss my lilac bushes terribly.

The Celtic Tree Month of Birch is about regeneration and creativity. I could use some of that!

Happy New Year! I wish you health, peace, abundance, and joy.

Thurs. Dec. 9, 2021: Just Enough Snow to Be Pretty

Small tree on the front porch. Photo by Devon Ellington.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

First Quarter Moon in Aquarius

Chiron and Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Elder

Snowy and cold

It snowed twice yesterday, once in the morning, then a break, then again in the evening and into the night. It wasn’t a lot of snow, either time, just two or three inches. It looks pretty, it needs to be brushed off the cars.

They’re good about plowing here. Unlike on Cape Cod, where it could be days before one saw a plow, and there were times when I could see the cleared street at the end of the block, but couldn’t actually get to it, the plows are out regularly. They’re strict about the “no parking on the street” regulations from November 1 to April 30, so that they can plow, and people actually respect it. With everyone working together, it works.

Because we are on the second floor, and have these magnificent windows, I love to sit or lie on the couch and watch the snow fall. It’s becoming one of my favorite mountain pastimes! And it’s wonderful to look out of either the front or back windows and see the mountains.

I love the way snow puts a quieting blanket on it all. Our neighborhood is reasonably quiet anyway, even with the college right here. For some reason, the clock isn’t chiming anymore, or right now. I don’t know if they turned it off because there was a film crew here, or for maintenance, or if it’s off for the winter. I miss it terribly. I loved keeping track of my day with it.

We have the small tree up on the porch, with the blue and silver ornaments. It’s the tree that used to be in my office. It’s got the painted shells and starfish and sand dollars that we accumulated and painted through the Cape years, and I also strung colored lights along the windows. It’s very pretty.

detail of small tree. Photo by Devon Ellington.

The stair bannisters are wrapped in lights and garlands, and look pretty, too.

This weekend, we put up the big tree. We finally decided to put it in the doorway between the living room and the sewing room, because I can tie it off to the door hinges for security.

It will be a big job. And there are still other decorations to unpack and put up. Since this space is new to us, there’s a lot of rearranging involved! But it’s fun.

After the holidays, I will have to sit down with the seed catalogs, and we will have to decide what we can, realistically, plant on the front porch and on the back balcony in containers. The garden will be very different this year, but it will exist.

What is it like where you live?

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