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. May 26, 2022: We Have Lettuce!

image courtesy of 422737 via pixabayc.om

Thursday, May 26, 2022

4th Quarter Waning Moon in Aries

Pluto and Mercury Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn

Partly sunny/cloudy and pleasant

Things are growing! It’s lovely to see the plants doing well. The tomatoes are still growing slowly, but that’s okay.

The dahlias, in particular, are nearly three feet tall. I got a book out of the library about dahlias, and it thoroughly intimidated me, but I am doing the best I can with them. My dahlia coach tells me they are actually pretty tough plants, so, fingers crossed they actually bloom.

We’re using the rosemary, parsley, lettuce, and basil. I will probably use some of the spearmint and peppermint over the holiday weekend. I plan to use the lettuce for the tacos I’m making.

The impatiens on the front porch, and the impatiens, geranium, and brown-eyed Susan on the back porch are all blooming with giddy joy. I hope to add a basket of petunias soon.

The lilacs have been gorgeous the past week and change. I’m so happy so many yards around here have lilacs. I can literally stop and smell the lilacs when I run errands. I might, just might, purchase a lilac slip next spring and put it in a pot, like I did on Cape. Having lilacs out back would be lovely.

The good thing about all these blooming bushes around us is that there are plenty of bees, so when the tomatoes and cucumbers and pumpkin need pollinating, I can put them out on the back balcony for a few days and leave the bees to it. Imagine! I live in a city, and there are more bees than we had on Cape. But then, here, people aren’t putting pesticides on their lawns, and cutting down all the trees, either.

We’re spending lots of time out on the front porch. I’m trying to spend more time on the back balcony, too, since we have it set up so nicely. We took Willa out there in her playpen yesterday. She loved it. There was so much to see and smell, and it was so different from the deck in Cape Cod.

Charlotte sat on the kitchen chair inside and watched us, very sad, so it will be her turn today. I might try Tessa out there, too, if I can get her into her playpen over the weekend. She hates being in the playpen. Willa and Charlotte don’t mind.

This weekend, passes go on sale for Windsor Lake, which is only a half a mile up the mountain. The season pass is very reasonable, and I’m looking forward to spending lots of time at the lake this summer. We’re also planning a trip to the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

In the meanwhile, we tend our plants every day. I probably fuss at them too much, but they seem to like it. I mean, the peace lily is a constant drama queen, but that’s a peace lily for you.

It’s time to give the Rose of Jericho a few days’ rest, so I will do that, and then, on Monday, the new moon, put it back in water.

There’s definitely a learning curve, and things grow very differently here than on Cape, but it’s a lot of fun to learn. And can I just say I don’t mind not having to mow, rake, and do all the rest of the yard work, at all?

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. Sept. 16, 2021: It’s Starting to Turn Colors

image courtesy of RebekkaD via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Second Quarter Moon Waxing in Capricorn

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

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Cloudy and humid

The weather has been all over the place this past week. Some days have been cool and crisp; yesterday was hot and humid and summery again. Plenty of thunderstorms coming through, although I don’t live in constant fear of flooding anymore.

One of the Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti on the back balcony is blooming like crazy, as are the red geraniums. The maiden hair fern has berries, which I’m sure the birds will enjoy. The peace lily continues to be a drama queen.

The leaves are just starting to turn to glorious shades of yellow, gold, and red. It’s already beautiful; it will be stunning in a few weeks.

Whenever I can, I walk to my errands, so that I can enjoy the beauty.

I was worried about being able to access fresh produce all winter. We’ve gotten so spoiled here with the farm-to-table commitment. But some of the farms have heated greenhouses, and, as for other produce, we’ll lean more on what’s seasonal.

Autumn is my favorite season anyway, and I’m excited to experience it here in the mountains.

How is your autumn, where you are? Or your spring, if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?

Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021: The Difference in Air (and Earth)

image courtesy of Kevin Craft via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 9, 2021

First quarter waxing moon in Libra

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

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Cloudy, rainy, humid

Yesterday, we drove to the Cape and back, doing a storage run. The contrasts are so amazing,

The air here in the mountains has a tartness to it. Even though it gets very humid (especially with all the rain), when it’s not humid, there’s a crisp dryness to the air.

I’m looking forward to watching the colors turn and reveling in all things autumn.

The air on Cape is saltier, of course, because the Cape juts out between the bay and the sea. The tang of it is different. It was sunny yesterday, and bright, but still, the air felt heavier. Also, because of all the increasing traffic, especially over the bridge, and the fact that so many trees are cut down daily, the pollution hangs more over the area, and there’s an oily layer from it that coats everything.

The air smells different in both places, and feels different when it hits your skin.

I’m surprised how different the food tastes, too. Part of it is that the water is much harder here. But also, the soil is different. So a tomato grown here in the Berkshires has a very different taste than one grown on Cape Cod. They both taste good, but the taste is very different.

I’m starting to understand what is meant in wine when they discuss “terroir.” It affects everything that’s grown.

And it’s one reason why recipes made from local ingredients in both places taste so differently on Cape Cod than they do here.

It’s fascinating.

The Canal looked beautiful as we went over the Bourne Bridge, and it was busy with boats.

I still love the Cape’s beauty, although I’m deeply saddened how those who are supposed to protect it, instead allow its destruction.

Not that everything is so perfect here, either, pollution-wise. But I love living tucked in amongst the mountains, and within the neighborhood trees that people aren’t constantly trying to cut down.

Thurs. Nov. 19, 2020: Last Tomatoes

image courtesy of congerdesign via pixabay.com

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Capricorn

Neptune and Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Sunny and cold

We are finally having some cold weather! It snowed in Western and Central MA, but not here. We had some winds, and it’s colder. It’s supposed to warm up for the weekend, so, while I will take in some of the garden decorations and more pots, I’m leaving out the furniture. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could sit outside over Thanksgiving weekend?

Our virus numbers are going up, and nobody who’s supposed to handle this is doing so. Governor Baker, who did a better job than I expected early in the pandemic, is now acting like the Republican he is and not shutting things down again. The curfew means he’s treating us like naughty high school students, although I don’t miss the drag racing at 2 AM waking me up.

We are hunkering down. Instead of the big Thanksgiving dinner in Maine, with everyone at the VFW Hall, we are having a small dinner at home, just those in the house. We will do a Zoom dessert party to catch up.

As someone online said, better a Zoom Thanksgiving than an ICU Christmas.

I dragged the brush the landlord cut and left to the brush heap in the back. The lawn guy promised to come on Saturday and suck up the rest of the leaves. I cut back a bunch of stuff in the beds, and will cut back more.

The big pots will probably come in sometime next week to overwinter in the garage. I’m leaving the furniture out as long as possible. Even when it’s cold, I like to go out and sit for a few minutes.

I still have to oil the teak furniture one more time before I put it away for the winter. I might to that this weekend.

It will be interesting to see where we are next year at this time, and what the garden adventure will have been.

I planted some organic lemon seeds in a pot and put them in a sunny window. Even though it’s not “growing season” I wanted to see if they would sprout. If they do, I’ll try the apple and pepper seeds I’ve been saving.

The last of our garden tomatoes are almost ripe from sitting in a sunny window. We will eat them in the next two days and enjoy them.

Soon, I will have to decide which tomatoes I want to grow next year, even though they might be seedlings here and then be transplanted elsewhere.

I won’t have a post next week, because next Thursday is Thanksgiving and I’ll be cooking – so it’ll be two weeks before I check back in with you again. Have a safe and happy holiday.

Thurs. Oct. 1, 2020: Chrysanthemums Start Blooming

image courtesy of Manfred Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Full Moon in Aries

Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

Cooler

Not much to report on the garden front. We had some more tomatoes, which were luscious, and enough beans for another meal – so good. In the next few years, I want to grow more beans.

The chrysanthemums are starting to bloom. I have some that are in a hanging basket on the deck, acting like vines, and then the pots I bought for the front. The one in the barrel is still considering its options.

I put lawn food down on Sunday. It rained quite a bit Tuesday and Wednesday, so I hope it soaked in rather than washing off.

Leaves are falling; soon it will be time to rake. Neighbors have started up the daily leaf blowing. Not that most of them ever stopped.

Of course, all this leaf blowing means all the leaves in the neighborhood eventually end up in MY lawn (because the neighbors blow them into corners of their property and the wind takes them here). Since I am the only person who actually brings the leaves to the dump. . .

Pretty soon, we’ll have to start taking in the big pots to the garage to overwinter, which means setting up our quarantine area in the garage somewhere else.

Today, however, is the first day of October, which means the decorating starts, both inside and outside. I’m looking forward to adding bits and bobs to the yard and gusseying up the house for the holidays.

We get two full moons in October, which makes me happy.

I will take and post pictures on the Instagram account, which is @devonelllingtonwork. I use that account for garden, cats, cooking, textiles – very little book promotion!

How’s your garden doing?

Thurs. Sept. 24, 2020: First Prep to Put the Yard to Bed

image courtesy of joeblack564 via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Capricorn

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Pleasantly warm

We’re warming up for a few days, which is nice. Hopefully, that means I can get some work done out in the yard.

It was mowed last Saturday, probably the last mow of the season, although I’m putting down some lawn food over the next few days in the front, so it has some nutrition as it prepares for winter.

Leaves are falling, which means the raking begins again soon.

Mabon was on Tuesday, and we’re tipping back into shorter days now, until the Winter Solstice. I enjoy this portion of the year, although many don’t.

Cutting back the beds as they die off; cutting back or removing the annuals from the pots as they finish.

I’ll have to rearrange the garage soon. The section where I overwinter the large, potted plants (because it gets natural light) is what I’ve been using for quarantining boxes, bags, and other things coming into the house during the pandemic.

I’m already excited about next Thursday, because it’s the first of October, and I start decorating!

As I start putting pots, etc., away, I have to do a good scrub out, better than usual, because things will be quite different when they are used again in the spring.

The pesto’s all made, and it’s yummy. I’m keeping one pot of basil inside at a sunny window, so I can get a few more weeks’ worth of fresh basil for cooking. The rosemary, parsley, thyme, and chives will probably need to come in soon. I have to find good places for them, too, so I can use them as long as they last.

Not a good year for tomatoes this year. I will try different seeds next year. The Botanical Interests seeds, which I’ve always liked, were a disappointment. I will go back to Johnny’s for seeds next spring, and also order some from Kitchen Gardens.

How are you starting to put things to bed for the winter? Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere, where things are just starting to wake up?

Thurs. Sept. 17, 2020: Rumors of Frost

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Moon in Virgo

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Cloudy and cool

There are rumors we might get our first frost this weekend. Some of the plants, such as the tomatoes, will have to come in at night. We still don’t have our new furnace (which was supposed to be installed by last Thanksgiving), so I’m getting in firewood for the fireplace, just in case, either today or tomorrow.

The cats have grown in fluffy coats. Tessa looks like a small black bear with all that fur. I think it will be a cold winter.

It’s very dry, so the yard hasn’t had a chance to do much. I’m behind in cutting things back (big surprise). I should do that this weekend. We’re getting one more mow this week, and then maybe one more in October, if necessary, and then we’re done for the season.

Then, it will be all about raking leaves – and raking the neighbors’ leaves that wind up here when they leaf blow. I am the only person in the neighborhood who actually bags them and takes them to the dump.

I should think about fall crops, but, honestly, I think the winter’s going to come in too hard and too fast for them.

I’m already thinking ahead to next spring, and how I have to set up tables inside so I can start enough plants inside early.

Autumn is my favorite season, in spite of the waning light, but there’s a lot of work involved. I want to make sure I get it done this year, so it’s not all a big mess in the spring.

How’s your garden doing? When do you plan to put it to bed for the season?

Thurs. Sept. 10, 2020: It’s Starting To Fade

image via congerdesign via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Waning Moon Third Quarter in Gemini

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Hot, humid, cloudy 

Not much to report in the garden. I’ve been delighted that hummingbirds and beautiful Tiger moths visit.

The tomatoes are finally ripening. They are delicious. I’m so delighted with them.

I’m pulling out the Tiger Lily stalks as they brown. The leaves are browning, too, and when all the chlorophyll is back in the bulbs, I’ll cut back the dead leaves, too. The grass hasn’t grown much and doesn’t need to be mowed.

We had a very short growing season this year.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll get chrysanthemums for the front of the house. We’ll take the geraniums in and have the mums out on the doorstep. I’m not yet sure if I’m going to bring the small trees back around and decorate them for Samhain, or wait and decorate them for Yule.

I’m already thinking ahead to what I want for next year’s garden. I think I’ll get seeds from Johnny’s and Kitchen Garden rather than Botanical Interests, because the Botanical Interest seeds were a disappointment this year, except for the pollinators.

There will be a lot of changes to next year’s garden, that’s for sure.

One of the things I want to do is print out calendar sheets and make an overall plan about when to plant what. I have my calendar with planting days for next year, which will help.

I planted things late, during lockdown, mostly because I was so overwhelmed by all things pandemic. I really do need to start a lot of the seeds inside in February, even the ones that don’t like to be transplanted. I have to figure out how to start them in their permanent pots – I mean, I know HOW – stick the seeds in the soil – but where to put them so they can sprout.

I definitely want to plant more Asian vegetables next year, and more herbs. This was a good year for cucumbers and beans and basil, but a bad year for tomatoes. Who knows what will thrive next year?

I also have to be more conscious of planting more of what we like to eat – yes, the tomatoes and cucumbers, but also zucchini and spinach and eggplant and other things. If I can figure out the room, I’d also like to try potatoes.

In the meantime, I want to put the garden to bed properly this year. Not just sort of let it all fade away, like I’ve done the past few years.

How’s your garden growing?

 

Thurs. Aug. 27, 2020: Visit From a Hummingbird

hummingbird-5255827_1920
image courtesy of fprose via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 27, 2020
2nd Quarter Waxing Moon in Sagittarius
Celtic Tree Month of Hazel
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Cooler

Red sky this morning. Wonder if we’ll have storms coming through?

Not much to say on the garden front. The Roses of Sharon are blooming, and the bees are very happy. We’re getting more cucumbers. We have tomatoes, but they’re not getting ripe; they’re staying green. The grass hasn’t grown much, but it’s looking a bit better. Hopefully, the lawn food arrives soon and I can feed it for the autumn.

It’s a little cooler now, and you can smell the earth early in the morning and in the evening. It’s not quite the scent of autumn yet, but also not summer.

I’m pulling out the lily stalks as they finish browning, and the chlorophyll sinks back into the bulb. When the stalks are done, they pull right out. I’ll have to cut back the hosta blooms that have faded.

The hydrangeas were lovely this year, but they’re starting to fade, too.

I can’t believe some of our pansies are still blooming!

In a couple of weeks, I’ll get a few pots of chrysanthemums, especially for the front.

I’ve been looking at garden design/planning software as a tool to draw maps for the books that have gardens in them. I didn’t realize there was so much out there!

I started with Plan-A-Garden, from Better Homes and Gardens, and even that is overwhelming. It will be useful when I get in close and detail specific plants, but it doesn’t have me do the aerial view of the design of the entire property, which is where I need to start. I’m stuck on my current book until I can map that out. The magazine does that often, so I know the software exists, I just don’t know what it is. So I guess I’ll start, once again, with pencil and paper, and go from there. Otherwise, it becomes an excuse not to write.

I’m going to look at some of the other software options, too, but many of them are too complicated. I can’t take three weeks to teach myself something and then find out it doesn’t do what I need it to do.

I’m looking forward to the cooler weather. Not looking forward to raking leaves, especially since all my neighbors do is amp up their leaf blower use (from daily in the summer to twice or three times daily in autumn). They make big piles of leaves on their property that are then carried by the wind to my property, and I’m the one who rakes them and bags them and takes them to the dump. I’m getting tired of it, after ten years.

Willa and Charlotte love being out on the deck in the playpens. Tessa would rather be free to roam, but it’s too dangerous at this point.

The other day, as I sat outside reading, a hummingbird visited to drink from the flowers. First hummingbird I’ve seen this season (we usually have quite a few). It was a delight to watch.

Next week, the summer decorations start transforming into autumn – the over-sized hummingbird comes down, the basket of fall foliage goes up on the front door. We start switching out the summer fabrics to autumn-themed ones. The big changeover comes October 1, when the white lace curtains come down and the black spiderweb curtains go up, and everything goes to Samhain décor.

Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on.

I have to figure out when to harvest the basil this year. There’s a lot of it, which means plenty of basil pesto to get us through the winter. It’s so much more delicious than anything from the store.

In the next few weeks, I’ll have to see about getting in another load of firewood for the winter, too.

But I intend to enjoy my time in the yard and on the deck as much as possible!

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