Wed. Febr. 26, 2014: Some make it, some don’t

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
4th Quarter Waning Moon in Capricorn
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Stormy and cold

The pear shoots all died. I’m sad. The apples are doing okay. Both types of eggplant have come up, the leeks and garlic are growing like gangbusters. The radishes shot up, but now aren’t doing well, and I’m not sure what the carrots are doing.

None of the herbs have come up. I think it’s still too cold to start the tomatoes, so I’m waiting.

The potted tulips started coming up in the garage, so we moved them into the house. I have a feeling they will bloom in mid-March, which should be pretty.

Outside, the crocuses are up, and the daffodils just starting to poke up. Very exciting! The lilacs all have huge buds this year — I hope it will be a good year for lilacs, which are my favorite.

I have a lot of clean up to do in the yard, once the storms stop pounding us every few days. We have another one coming in today, and then another one on Monday. Getting a little tired of it, and I usually like winter!



Jasmine and Crocus

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Waxing Moon Second Quarter Gemini
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold (although they said we’re getting snow)
Leap Year Day!

New England is not known for its native jasmine, but I saw a pot of it at Trader Joe’s and couldn’t resist. I adore jasmine. I do a fire-and-ice ritual at dawn every January 1, and the candle is slathered in jasmine oil. To me, the scent means “fresh start.”

I repotted the poor thing as soon as I got home; once I’d pulled the paper away, I saw the roots were a good four inches out of the pot. It perked right up, and seems happy — in a warm place with plenty of sun. The fragrance is lovely, the cats are fascinated. I bought it about two weeks ago, and yesterday, I replaced the trellis with a bigger one. It’s growing quickly.

I soaked some seeds from a zested lemon and stuck them in a pot of earth. We will see if the seeds are from a genetically-mutated (that’s not the right term, but I can’t remember it right now) lemon or a real one. When I’ve soaked and planted citrus seeds from “organic” fruit here and there, it usually grows. My tangerine plant is one of those. I had a grapefruit plant from seed, planted the in 1968 that died in the early 90s. So, far, nothing. We’ll see. If not, I’ll dump the soil and put something else in.

I bought some pots and soil yesterday. Last year, I started everything too late. This year, I’m starting some of it early, inside. But not with those seed pots that claim to dissolve back into the earth. Because they don’t. They just get soggy, and when you pull the plans in the fall, the poor roots had to grow up and over them — no wonder some of the plants were unhappy. This year, I’m either starting the seeds in the containers in which they’ll continue to live OR (in most cases), starting them in small pots with the appropriate “seed starter” soil and then moving them into either bigger pots or the ground when it’s safe.

The vegetables that can be transplanted will get started on the Equinox. The ones that have to go directly into the bed will wait until it’s safe, but I’ll watch my Gardening King neighbor and take my cues from him (stuff like spinach, peas, bok choy, etc.)

Of course, I’m impatient (ya think? You know me so well) and stared some of the flowers yesterday (which, according to my calendar, was a planting day). I planted a container of Morning Glory and one of Moonflower, which will trellis up in pots on the deck. I used to grow them in pots in NY, and, when I did it right, trained them to grow up a window, alternating one vine of morning glory, one of moonflower, so that during the day, the blue flowers opened, and at night, the white ones did. I got that idea from Silver Ravenwolf, who talked about using the plants as a natural screen around her porch. Anyway, I have one big pot of each that will go on the deck. I planted a couple of smaller pots that I will put on the east side of the house, training up the wagon wheel. I put them in the ground last year, not realizing I had a Hosta family there, and the poor things were choked before they had a chance. This year, I’m growing them inside first, and then transplanting them, once the hostas are more visible. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to transplant Moonflower; it gets cranky. I’ve done it pot-to-pot before and it works, so I’m hoping I can get away with pot-to-ground.

Also planted some sweet peas, which will stay in a container, Love-in-Mist (ditto), and Nicotiana/Indian Peace Pipe (ditto). In a fit of “I want flowers” last week at Country Gardens, I bought a couple of African Violets — I haven’t had any of those for years, although my grandmother, in Maine, had two of her windows specially-fitted with shelves and kept pots of them.

The heather is blooming beautifully — it’s absolutely gorgeous. The crocuses are starting to pop, and the daffodils and tulips are farther along than I expected for this time of year. We’re supposed to get three inches of snow, so I hope they won’t all die. I spent a lot of money on those tulip bulbs and it’s the first time I ever tried to plant tulips. I want at least SOME of them to come up! 😉

I may have inadvertently killed my strawberries. I’ve brought them inside to warm them up, feed them, and try to revive them, but they look more dead than dormant. I may have to get another batch from Johnny’s. I wish a gardening learning curve didn’t include involuntary plant-a-cide.

I’m in the process of doing some Major Ordering from places like Botanical Interests, Miller Nurseries, The Arbor Day Foundation, and White Flower Farm. I’m getting three of the Black King Eggplants (which did so well here, until eaten by spider mites) from Territorial Seed Company, but that was the only thing from them I was happy with last year. Let’s hope everything doesn’t all arrive at once. I’m still trying to stockpile pots.

Patience in the Cold

Crocuses under the forsythia bush outside the garage

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Waxing Moon First Quarter in Taurus
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cold

It’s been cold and rainy for the past few days, so it’s nice to see some sunshine today. It’s still in the 30s, though, quite cold. I’m glad I didn’t put the pansies in the ground over the weekend.

As I visited a garden center last weekend, it sold out of manure. Only sunny day in weeks, and everyone rushed out to buy manure. We are definitely not in NY anymore! 😉

I’ve repotted the plants that arrived from Territorial Seed — the Hellebore, the Big King eggplant, the lemon verbena, and the Thumbelina Lavender. They’re all happy except the lemon verbena, which I don’t think will make it. It was badly frost damaged when it arrived, and I haven’t been able to save it.

The pumpkins inside haven’t germinated yet, but the plants I bought at the garden show are thriving. I’m especially in love with the catmint, and am tempted to buy lots of it and plant it in every possible border corner.

The eggplant has doubled in size each day since its arrival nearly a week ago.

The eggplant, however, grows before our very eyes, nearly doubling in size every day.

The crocuses are still blooming outside, and the daffodils are coming up. So are other plants which I’ve yet to identify — not sure if they’re tulips or day lilies, because I can’t tell by the leaves. There are also green things coming up under the trees all the way at the back, so I have to go and investigate. Keeping the leaves on the beds for winter made them all very happy.

I have a spade, and, once I clean off the pine cones and needles from the long-abandoned vegetable bed, I can turn over the soil and prepare it.

It’s hard NOT to jump out and start planting in the ground, but I’m listening to those who know more than I do and restraining myself. I’m watching the plants that are here, and letting them teach me — the previous tenants paid no attention to them and they managed to survive, so I figure, if I don’t fuss at them too much, and really listen to them, they’ll be fine.

The front looks a little bare, with the bushes so tiny, but I hope to plant a row of bright, cheerful pansies soon, and then add some blue fescue at the back, staggered with the small bushes, towards the end of the month. I bought some garden ornaments, but the scale is too small for the front of the house, so I have to re-think. I wish I could add fences to the property — I’d love to enclose the space with a low picket fence in the front and side, and then plant against it — but, since I’m renting, that’s not an option.

I have to be patient. Not everything can or will happen this year, both for budgetary and for practical reasons. I have to learn what’s here and how to take care of it. A garden doesn’t show up fully formed, unless you hire a landscaper to put it in. It evolves. And, no matter how many books I read of other people’s experiences and ideas, I have to figure out what works for me in MY space.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Waxing Second Quarter Moon in Leo
Saturn Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Rainy and mild

The crocuses have opened a bit more on the side of the house. I think they’re so cute! I’m absolutely delighted by them.

On Sunday afternoon, I was invited to attend an event sponsored by the local beautification committee — I’m going to spend some time with them this year working on the local parks and public areas as a way to learn to garden. Anyway, they had a talk on ornamental grasses.

Before I moved here, I had no idea what those were. I know they’re in use; I just never thought about them much. I was backed up on work and thought about bowing out, but people don’t do that here — you make a commitment, you keep it. None of this “I’m too tired” or “I overbooked” or “Something better came up.” You say it, you do it, something I totally agree with, so I had to walk my talk and go.

I’m really glad I did. It was fascinating. I learned a lot. I started to get ideas for the yard, especially on how to integrate them with plants and containers. I won the birdhouse in the picture, which I think is just darling — and I would have never thought about getting one.

And I am well on my way to becoming obsessed with Blue Fescue. Not as obsessed with it as I am with hollies, but I want to get several of them and tuck them along the front, in between the small bushes that were put in after we rented (I heard, from horrified neighbors, that the owner just yanked out the fully mature bushes).

There was also talk of the Master Gardner program, and that it accepts applications in the fall. I think it’s too much too fast — I need to take the seventh-month herbalism course next winter into spring, and then, maybe the following fall, I will see where things stand and apply for Master Gardner for the following year. I would think one needs to be an Apprentice Gardner or an Intermediate Gardner or an Adept Gardner to apply, not an I’m-Muddling-Through-Trying-Not-To-Kill-Everything Gardner.

I came home and dived back into my gardening books and magazines, dreaming dreams that I might actually be able to implement.

What I have to remember is Patience. Patience has never been one of my virtues (or even a cousin). There’s a part of me that wishes I had an unlimited garden budget and could just go out and buy all sorts of stuff. Because I’m on a budget, I have to be very careful and make sure that what I buy is really what I want — especially when it comes to patio furniture. A $3 potted plant is an expense I can afford to make a mistake on; a $750 or more patio set, I can’t.

Also, because the growing season is short on the Cape, and I keep getting advice that nothing should go into the ground until Memorial Day, I’m chomping at the bit. I don’t want to start seeds too early indoors, because I don’t want them to die off because I can’t get them in the ground fast enough. I don’t want to start buying plants and putting them outside if it’s too cold for them to survive. But I want to start! I have ideas for the front and back grounds — many of which I’m sure won’t work — but I need to be able to get out there and TRY them in order to find out!

And, while many areas in the rest of the country are already planting their early spring crops, I have to wait.

I’m not good at waiting.

I’ll have a lot to talk about on Saturday — I’m attending the Boston Horticulture Show with a group from this same organization. I can’t wait!


There’s Hope for Spring

Saturday, March 12, 2011
Waxing Moon in Gemini
Saturn Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Sunny and chilly

I’d just about given up on spring, and, if it starts snowing tomorrow again, I’ll lose it.

However, I took a break the other day from my work, and went outside to clear away some of the branches that have strewn themselves around the yard during the many wind storms over the past week.

As I hauled some of these sticks around the side of the house, to their temporary home until I can find their permanent one, I saw something delightful.

As you can barely see in the photograph, some crocuses are struggling to come up. I’m delighted. I’ve heard so many negative things about the previous tenants that I didn’t think anything like a crocus would have survived.

It’s getting me excited to get to work on the beds (as soon as it’s dry enough) in preparation for planting.

I’m going through the seed packets to figure out when I need to start the seeds inside, working backwards from the Memorial Day “Now you can plant outside on the Cape” advice.

But the beds need to be cleared and composted first.

Those tiny little shoots are giving me my motivation.