Thurs. Oct. 13, 2022: Larch

image courtesy of sergei_spas via pixabay.com

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Third Quarter Moon Waning in Taurus

Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Ivy

Cloudy and cold

We’ve had frost, which means the foliage is finally turning. I’ve become rather fascinated and obsessed by larch trees. Their color is such a vivid orangey yellow. I wasn’t familiar with them before moving here, other than hearing the name. I should have been familiar with them: I grew up in Rye, NY and took ballet in Larchmont, NY, which was named for larch trees. But I didn’t realize it at the time.

We’re watering the plants inside, letting the annuals outside finish, and then we’ll dig them out and take in the pots. The porch is still warm and lovely in the afternoon, sort of like a greenhouse, since we keep it shut all night until it’s warm enough to open the doors.

The cats love spending the afternoon on the porch. Tessa, in particular, is determined to wring out every last moment on the porch before it’s shut for the winter.

I’m having trouble with the tulip bulb order. That’s what I get for ordering from John Scheeper’s instead of Color Blends, with whom I had good experience. I wanted smaller quantities than Color Blends sells, so I went to Scheeper’s, and their customer service is awful (and ableist). So we might not have any bulbs after all. I’ve been trying for over a week to fix the issue. I keep getting the emails, and I respond, and they ignore them. It’s a simple fix that could be done in 2 minutes, if anyone on their customer service staff gave a damn. Not doing business with them again.

What a shame. I was so looking forward to having tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths again next year. And it’s too late to order from anywhere else.

Anyway, I’m getting ready to hunker down for the winter. Virus numbers are going up again, there aren’t enough protocols in many places, so I will not put myself in dangerous situations.

Oh, and tomato update: the plants are growing the way they should have been in June. Go figure. Tomatoes for Christmas, I guess?

Hope things are going well in your garden!

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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. 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. 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. March 24, 2022: Plants and Seedlings

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Sagittarius

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

Rain/sleet/snow

There’s a lot of garden-related stuff to write about this week! Very exciting.

I replanted more cat grass on the Equinox last Sunday. As of yesterday, it had already germinated, which is a good thing, since Charlotte and Willa are chomping on the second pot of it.

I’m a little worried about the heliotrope and the columbine. I’m not sure the seedlings will survive. The echinacea is growing slowly, but it’s growing. The black-eyed Susan vine is growing steadily, which is very exciting. The lemon balm has only one tiny shoot, not even a half an inch tall. The cherry falls tomato seedlings are doing well, and the mini cucumbers are growing fast! All 10 seeds germinated, and I will need a tomato cage for them by this weekend.

I bought more soil and pots, and even some more seeds, because I hadn’t bought any morning glories or moonflowers, and I love those.

I planted the Watchman hollyhocks, a rose mallow (Lavatera), a batch of mixed colors morning glories, moonflowers, jewel blend nasturtiums, marvel of Peru four o’clocks, heirloom sweet peas, and two pots of tansy seeds.

Yes, the tansy seeds finally arrived, after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago and back.

I also planted some saved seeds: pear, clementine, and some of the pumpkin seeds I saved from my friend’s Halloween pumpkin she carved when she visited.

Once the front porch warms up enough in the morning, we move the seedlings out for their sun. As it cools off in the late afternoon, we move them back into the warmth.

The night-blooming jasmine should arrive in April sometime. We’ll buy some lettuce plants and herbs, and a couple of hanging baskets of flowers later in the season.

It’s all very exciting! This is the first year we’re starting the growing season in the Berkshires, so there’s a lot to learn.

We’re in the Celtic Tree Month of Alder now, which means a focus on expressing hopes and dreams, and forgiving the past.

I focused more on flowers than on vegetables this year. I want to see how these work; if they grow well, I will try a couple of others next year, and so forth and so on. I’m more conscientious about keeping the notes updated in the plant journal, which will be a big help.

I still miss my lilacs so much it causes physical pain, but I will have to figure out what to do about it; keep some small ones in a container? For this season, I will have to buy bunches of cut lilacs.

Even missing the lilacs, I am excited about this year’s planting.

This morning, the weather keeps fluctuating between rain, sleet, and a smattering of snow., coating everything with a white sheen.

How’s your planting going?

Thurs. Dec. 31, 2020: Happy Green New Year!

image courtesy of Dirk Vetter via pixabay.com

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Cancer

Uranus Retrograde

Rainy and cold

Happy New Year, friends! We are all happy to see the back of this one leaving, aren’t we?

It’s rainy here, and the yard looks greener and happier than it has all year. Making up for all the drought. I’m worried, though – if it doesn’t get cold enough, it’s bad for the resting plants, and it also means a very buggy spring and summer. Not necessarily the good kind of bugs.

Finally got in the big bench from the deck. Now, only the large, round table sits there overwinter.

Indoors, we have plenty of artificial, glittery greenery and sparkly artificial fruit. We have a bowl of the fruit on the coffee table. Willa likes to pull out an ornament here and there and play with them. Fortunately, they’re not breakable.

Of course, yesterday, Willa went into the kitchen and pulled a potato out of the open bin in which they live and rolled it up and down the hallway. How many cat toys do we have in this house? And Willa prefers a potato. She’s inventive.

The seed catalogs are arriving, which is one of my favorite parts of the year. I will take some time in the next few weeks, dreaming and planning. Since the move will happen during planting season, I’m not sure how much will actually get planted, but the dreaming will be lovely.

Thank you for being on this journey during this weird year. I wish you peace, joy, health, and a green New Year!

Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020: Mild Days and Blooming Cacti

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Dark Moon Fourth Quarter in Libra

Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Reed

Foggy and mild

I have one calendar saying today is the new moon and Mars goes direct, and another calendar saying today is still the dark moon and that all happens tomorrow. Go figure.

The last week’s weather has been quite lovely and unseasonably warm here. I pulled out all the faded annuals from pots and put the pots away in the garage. I repotted the cherry seedlings, which somehow survived without much attention all summer. I pulled out the spent tomato plants, but haven’t put away the pots yet. I’m going to leave the large pots that usually overwinter out as long as it remains pleasant.

But the deck is tidy and it’s still a pleasure to sit out there and enjoy the final nice days of the year. Because the deck is covered and there are skylights, one can even sit out in the rain. The deck is one of the things I will miss most about the house when we move in spring.

The landlord came and did some of the heavier pruning that’s too hard for me to handle, and the lawn guy is going to come by and do leaves soon.

We’re in decent shape.

I am sick of the neighbors and their leaf blower obsession. It’s autumn. One of the beauties of autumn is the falling leaves. If you don’t like it, don’t live in New England!

The moron using his leaf blower at 3:30 AM in the rain really angered me today.

I intend to wring every moment of pleasure out of autumn that I can. Who knows what winter will bring?

Our Thanksgiving cacti are starting to bloom, and should be gorgeous by the time it’s actually Thanksgiving.

The quality of light is very different now, too. The second floor doesn’t get as much afternoon sun, but the first floor gets more. Tessa, whose domain is the second floor, blames me personally for the change, which is pretty funny.

How’s your garden doing?

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!

Thurs. Aug. 13, 2020: Bean Harvest

beans-4523422_1920
image by matthiasboeckel via pixabay.com

Thursday, August 13, 2020
4th Quarter Waning Moon in Gemini
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hazel
Humid and cloudy

I think I’ll be able to do my first harvest of green beans today. They’re ready to be picked, steamed, and enjoyed with butter.

We’re getting more cucumbers, and the tomatoes are starting to form. The tomatoes are late this year, even though they were planted pretty early.

The tiger lilies are faded and the chlorophyll is draining back into the bulbs. Some of the hosta blooms have faded, so I’ll have to cut back the stems.

I feel like I do nothing but battle kudzu.

It’s still terribly dry. I was out watering the lawn by moonlight this morning at 5 AM, because sunrise is later and later. I’m having trouble getting the lawn food I want. I thought I saw a coyote take off down the street when I turned the hose on.

There were a pair of bunnies out in the meadow eating breakfast while I was out watering (I made sure not to get them wet). And a bigger bunny later on the terraced area. He comes right up to the steps. He’s used to us.

The morning glories start the day a deep purple, and fade back to a red violet in the afternoon. I thought I had a multi-colored pack – I didn’t realize the blossoms themselves changed color.

The leaves are already falling. They’re not turning pretty colors. They’re drying up and brown, giving up and letting go of the branches.

Sort of on point for 2020.

Charlotte and Willa take turns coming out on the deck in the playpen. They both like it. Tessa hates the playpen and won’t have anything to do with it. She doesn’t even want to come out any more, which is a shame, because she always loved her time on the deck.

I’m trying to spend some time out on the deck every evening, when it gets cool enough. And early in the morning, after I water, with my first cup of coffee, for my first writing session.

How’s your garden doing?

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