Thurs. Sept. 1, 2022: Flamingo Sentinels

omage courtesy of Ulrike Leone via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 1, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Scorpio

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

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Sunny and cooler

September 1, and finally, some of this humidity has broken! The plants will be relieved. The front porch gets a little bit like a hothouse conservatory during the day. Which isn’t a bad thing, but I have to adjust which plants do well there.

The rosemary does not, so next year’s rosemary will have to go out back. I had some mugwort in the front (and in the back), but the mugwort in the front wasn’t happy, so I moved it.

The marigolds in the back are getting ready to bloom, which is exciting.

The four o’clocks are lovely in the front, the way they open and close. The night blooming jasmine is enormous, but hasn’t yet bloomed. The mountain heliotrope has lovely, periwinkle-colored blossoms. The dahlia restarted. I have no idea what’s going on there.

The black-eyed Susan plant is doing well in the back. I love how cheerful they are.

The pink flamingos are doing their job in the back, and keeping away the squirrels. So next year, I think I will buy some whirligigs, too, for the back. Put something in every pot, and maybe then the squirrels won’t destroy it all.

The black-eyed Susan vine is blooming like crazy out back, and it looks like the morning glories might start. Still nothing from the moonflowers, although the vines have grown nicely, and, between the three kinds of plants, it’s created a lovely natural curtain along the railings of the back balcony.

Apples come into season soon, and I can’t wait. I love apples, and I  miss eating an apple every day. I already had the first apple cider donuts that showed up in the store!

I can’t wait for some genuine, autumn weather!

How are things in your neck of the woods?

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Thurs. Aug. 25, 2022: Ragweed Season Begins

image courtesy of Jan Haerer via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fourth Quarter Waning Moon in Leo

Day Before Dark Moon

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

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

Cloudy and humid

Not much to tell, on the garden front. The black-eyed Susan vine is gorgeous and blooming out back. The vines for the morning glory and moonflowers are lovely, but there aren’t any blossoms yet. The four o’clocks, out front, are blooming beautifully. I’d always had yellow ones on Cape; I forgot that these were red! They are fun.

The night-blooming jasmine has grown to be huge; I hope it blooms next summer.

A lot of the plants stalled, and I’m not sure why. The tomatoes never grew up so they could have blooms that then could be pollinated and make tomatoes. The hollyhocks and snapdragons also stalled. I’m not sure what’s going on there. I think, next year, I will get a different type of potting soil, and see if that makes a difference.

It’s definitely ragweed season (Achoo!) which means it will soon be goldenrod season.

We have a few slips of plants that are getting roots, and we will put them in pots soon. We are emptying pots of plants that have come and gone, and will scrub out the pots, put the soil in a bin with nutrients over the winter, out on the back deck, and, hopefully, it will be better soil next year.

It doesn’t really feel like summer anymore, but it hasn’t taken that turn into crispness for autumn, either. It’s more like a limpid in-between state.

I’m looking forward to autumn and cool breezes, and then battening down the hatches and staying cozy all winter.

How is your garden doing?

Thurs. Aug. 11, 2022: Garden in the Month of Hazel

image courtesy of Annette Meyer via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Full moon in Aquarius

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Celtic Tree Month of Hazel

The heat and humidity have broken, which is helpful. The plants are happier; the people and the cats are certainly happier.

I’ve been cleaning up and putting aside the pots where the plants didn’t survive. I have to catch up on the notes in my plant journal, but yeah, there definitely need to be some changes next year. Live and learn, right? Part of it.

I’m hearing that the heat and humidity have negatively impacted plenty of gardens. Hopefully, some books on gardening in climate change will come out soon.

Spiro Squirrel tried to get into the kitchen via the screen again earlier this week, and Willa chased him away. Another time, he was on the bistro table, watching us through the window. I had to go out on the balcony before he jumped on the railing, ran along it, and jumped back into the tree. Little brat.

The mountain heliotrope has its first blossom, which is fun. The black-eyed Susan vine is blooming like crazy all over the back balcony, and very pretty. I will definitely plant that again next year. The morning glories and moonflowers have vined all the way up the posts to the rail, but no blossoms yet.

The Farmers’ Market continues to be amazing. I’ve made pasta primavera and roasted vegetables over couscous and all kinds of good things this week. When the eggplants appear, I will buy a bunch of eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and peppers to make a big bunch of ratatouille (Moosewood recipe), and then portion it and freeze it. And I want to make a bunch more pesto, too.

We entered the Celtic Tree Month of Hazel last Friday. Hazel is connected to inspiration and wisdom. It’s all about sacred wells and magical springs, and the knowledge that bubbles inside.  Lots of wands are made out of hazel wood. It’s a wonderful time to write poetry or songs. (Which is funny, because I’m reading the latest poem I wrote at part of the Poets in Conversation series tonight).

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. Aug. 4, 2022: Squirrel Squalor

image by Robbi Hoy courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, August 4, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Libra

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hot, humid

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

Well, this has been a frustrating week on the garden front.

Some excellent things: my friend in New York gave me a potted lilac, mugwort, and tansy from her garden. They are all doing well.

The black-eyed Susan vine has finally started to bloom. I hope that means the morning glories and moonflowers will start, too. The night blooming jasmine is growing like crazy, and I finally put it in a larger pot.

However, the squirrel not only destroyed the pumpkin on the balcony, but ripped a hole in the kitchen screen. Willa scared him off. So now I have a screen to repair. And we have to close the kitchen window during the night, so he can’t get to it, which makes it harder to cool down the place.

Some sort of insect that makes webs infected the cucumber, the impatiens, and one of the marine heliotrope plants. I hope I’ve saved the marine heliotrope, but the cucumber is beyond help, and I think the impatiens are too (I cut back the impatiens, but I don’t think they’ll recover. I overwatered the borage and that’s gone, but I’ll plant them properly next year.

The dahlias are a loss. I stripped the dead leaves off. The blossom gave up, on the bigger of the two. The smaller one is now showing new growth.

I am DONE with dahlias. I was reluctant to try them because they are such high maintenance plants. Done with those drama queens. They’ve been fussed over and coddled since they were planted. The least they can do is bloom.

When my friend with the beautiful garden comes to visit, I will dig up the bulbs and give them to her. She can use them or the groundhogs in her yard can get them. I don’t care.

I’m not sure why the marigolds on the back balcony are doing so well, but the ones on the front porch are not.

The tomato plants just sit there. They don’t grow. They just stay the same.

I think, in this place, growing vegetables is not a good choice, and I’ll rely on the Farmers’ Market. I’ll stick with flowers and herbs, especially cooking herbs and medicinal herbs. I didn’t grow zinnias this year, but they are on my list for next year.

The lemon balm and the mints are doing very well.

The lettuce is still going, which surprises me, since lettuce usually gives it up when it gets hot.

Anyway, this season has been frustrating. But there’s usually a steep learning curve when moving to a new place.

The peace lily is delighted to be out on the back balcony this year, and is not being the drama queen she was last year. The geraniums are doing well, too. And the Christmas Cacti just bloom all year round.

So there’s plenty that’s working. But I’m still frustrated.

Hope your garden is doing better than mine.

Thurs. July 28, 2022: Frustration

image courtesy of Geoffrey Hyland via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 28, 2022

New Moon in Leo

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

On the plant front, this has been a frustrating week. Even though we kept everything watered in the heat, we lost a bunch of plants. We lost one dahlia, and the other looks like it’s going, too, even though it looked like it would bloom. The sunflowers never did anything except grow about 4 “ tall. The cucumbers completely gave up, even though they’d been pollinated and were making cucumbers. The sweet peas only grew vines, no flowers. Some of the hollyhocks are starting to look unhappy. The pumpkin was doing well, but something climbed into the pot and took out most of the earth.

And I have no idea why.

They are watered, but not overwatered. They have plenty of sun.

Why are the plants dying?

I don’t get it.

The geraniums are doing well. The marine heliotrope, the echinacea, lemon balm, mints, impatiens, are all doing well.

The Christmas cactus is confused enough to bloom.

The peace lily is having a fine old time out on the back balcony.

So what’s with the others? It’s very frustrating.

Last Saturday, when we performed the World’s Largest Poem at the Mount, the Edith Wharton homestead, I got to spend some time in the gardens. It’s so beautiful. There’s a sculpture installation there now, too, and some of the poets are doing pieces inspired by the sculptures over the next few weeks, so I hope to go back and hear them.

I love how art is installed in so many of the gardens around here. Art is a living part of daily life. It makes such a huge, positive difference.

How is your garden growing?

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. July 14, 2022: More Squirrel Shennanigans

image courtesy of Alexas Fotos via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Last Day of the Full Moon in Capricorn, moving into Aquarius

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

Cloudy and humid

The squirrels have been a problem. Spiro Squirrel is the worst, going after the tansy all the time. I wonder if there’s something about the root he likes, or he’s just preparing for winter. I wound up taking in the tansy, and hope I can save it. The pot of tansy on the front porch is doing well. It’s a useful natural insect repellant, which is one reason I like to have it.

Bingo and Jingo, the pair that always pulls shenanigans together, are also all over the balcony, poking at this and that. They will be very disappointed when all the pots disappear from the balcony in the winter. Spiro is the one, though, who knocks on the window regularly at lunch time and expects us to pass out a sandwich. Just in case you worried, we do not.

As annoying as they are, the fact that they’re already burying things for winter concerns me. Along with the fact the cats shed their summer coats and are growing in thick winter coats already, and miserable, because the heat and humidity have gone up in the past couple of weeks, and are likely to remain so through the rest of the month (although it’s still much cooler than it was last year at this time). And, I noticed, out back, one of the large shrubs is starting to turn for autumn already.

I am planning accordingly.

The Celtic Tree Month of Holly began last Friday. This is about the immortality of nature, masculine energy, and protection. One of the things I miss from the Cape is the Ashumet Sanctuary in Falmouth, with all the wonderful holly varieties. Holly is one of my favorites.

The Farmers’ Market continues its wonder. The large tomatoes are now available, which is good, because our tomato plants haven’t even blossomed yet! We are getting our little, tiny cucumbers, though. They’re not supposed to grow more than 6” in length; they’re not even an inch yet, but there are a bunch of them. I put the pumpkin plant out back for the bees; once it’s been pollinated, I’ll bring it back in, before the squirrels cause problems. I harvested some spearmint, and it’s hanging to dry. I’ll harvest peppermint as soon as the spearmint is ready to strip and put in a jar.

The sugar snap peas from the market last week were spectacular, as were the new red potatoes. I bought extra lemon basil and put up some lemon basil pesto.

Last weekend, I finally stripped the pine wreath from Yule. It stayed green well into June. I have a jar of small branches to burn at Yule, and then 5 jars of needles to use in various concoctions. Tessa helped; she always loved working with me in the still room.

I bought cut flowers last weekend, a big, mixed bunch, and we have filled vases all over the house. Buying those pretty vases a couple of weeks ago at the thrift store gave me a good excuse to fill them!

I still haven’t replanted the jasmine, and I have to plant more cat grass, because the cats decimated what was there.

This weekend, in and around the work I have to do, I will take the cats out in their playpens onto the back balcony. The front porch has been too hot and humid for any of us to spend much time out there (although the plants enjoy it). The back balcony is cooler. The cats have been little fur puddles all week, although they enjoy the ceiling fans. Too bad their summer fur didn’t hold on for a few more weeks.

I’m ordering the tulip bulbs this weekend. We’re going to plant them in October and let them overwinter on the front porch, when we close it off for the season. It’s far too likely the squirrels will dig them up if we leave them out on the back balcony.

I’m looking forward to the Farmers’ Market again this week. And it’s such a pleasure to have mountain views both from the front and back windows. And so many trees out back! This is considered a “tree city” and trees are cherished.

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. July 7, 2022: Slow Growing

image courtesy of SLF via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Second Quarter Moon Waxing in Libra

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Oak

Partly cloudy and pleasant

We’ve been so lucky with the weather lately. It hasn’t bee too humid (except on the rainy days). The temperatures have been in the 70s and 80s. Pleasant. Blankets needed at night; the occasional cardigan early in the day. I’d much rather have this weather than in the 90s with high humidity.

But growth has slowed down. I feel like things should be farther along than they are, especially the tomatoes. They haven’t grown much at all for weeks. I mean, they’re supposed to be small and good for containers, but they haven’t grown large enough to blossom, and therefore, actually have tomatoes.

The cucumbers are blooming and are out back, until the bees pollinate, the cucumbers start forming, and I bring the pot back to the front porch, away from the squirrels, who have been a pain in the butt. They dug up my Blue Spruce seedling and that’s been moved to the front porch, too. (The front porch is enclosed, an extra room. The back balcony is open, but with a roof).

The pumpkin is about to flower; I will then put it out back for a few days to get pollinated, and return it to the porch. The dahlias are about 5 feet tall, but haven’t yet bloomed.

The borage is doing well, but the columbine and the cilantro didn’t make it. The night-blooming jasmine is quickly outgrowing its pot.

I have to harvest some spearmint and dry it, because that plant is going like gangbusters. It’s getting leggy, and I want to cut it back so it’s more bushy than leggy.

We’re eating our lettuce regularly, which is always fun.

We’re doing some seed saving, from produce bought at the farmer’s market, which we will try to plant next year.

The downstairs neighbors have their in-ground garden growing. The one neighbor, who had a garden last summer, has her plants all set, and they’re growing (although her tomatoes haven’t blossomed, either). The two guys that rent rooms from the other downstairs neighbor marked off a small patch. They are growing corn and watermelon, and they are so excited! It’s so funny to watch them croon over their seedlings. I love it.

All three cats now demand to go out on the back balcony regularly. Each has her own playpen, so we put the cat in, carry it out, set it up, and everybody gets a half hour or so outside after lunch, weather permitting. They are all very good, but it wouldn’t be safe for them not to be in the playpen. I tried only taking one per day out, but the carrying on and the Kitty Drama was too much.

The rest of the time, they have windows in which to sit, and the front porch, which they all love.

I’m hoping, in the next week or so, to get some black-eyed Susan plants and get those set up. I will not spend what I did on the brown-eyed Susan (Monrovia) plant, which gave it up after a couple of weeks. Live and learn, right?

How’s your garden growing?

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?

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