Thurs. April 11, 2019: Growth & Sunshine

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forsythia in the garage

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Waxing Moon, 1st Quarter Cancer
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and pleasant

The forsythia is blooming in the garage. I’ll have to get it out on the deck this weekend. It’s a little bit ahead of the forsythia planted outside.

The maple tree in the backyard is starting to bud. It’s always such a pretty tree.

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I finally planted my last four kinds of tomatoes last weekend: the Principase Borghese, the Purple Cherokee, The Gardeners’ Delight, and the Moneymakers.

By the end of the month, I hope I can plant the peas, beans, zucchini, and cucumbers outside. But it’s all dependent on the weather. It may well be later in May before I can.

The Roma and Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, and the eggplants are growing like gangbusters. It’s such a delight to come down each morning and see how well they’re doing.

Today or tomorrow, I will plant the first of the mixed greens, the spinach, and the kale. I might get some basil and marigold plants (if it’s not too early) to go with the tomatoes that need to be transplanted to their big pots, and some pansies for the outside hanging baskets. I also have to get some hardware to fix our lovely wind chimes. I also have to get more potting soil.

The weather is supposed to be pretty decent this weekend, so I intend to do a few hours each day of yard work. Raking leaves, cleaning out beds. I think it’s a little too early to mulch, but most people are already mulching. I’ll have to see.

There’s a lot of work to be done. So much of it depends on weather. Unfortunately, good weather is also coinciding with me being on tight deadlines, so it’s a balancing act.

I’m on Instagram, by the way. You can find me @devonellingtonwork over there. I share posts on Twitter and Tumblr, but not necessarily on Facebook.

Thurs. March 28, 2019: It’s All About Tomatoes At This Point

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Thursday, March 28, 2019
Moon 4th Quarter in Capricorn
Mercury Goes Direct Today
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cool

 

I didn’t post last week. You might or might not have noticed.

I do have a photo of the two kinds of tomatoes and the eggplants, and how well they’re growing.

I’m debating whether to repot now and then repot again to their final big pots, or to let them grow in these little pots another week or two and then put them in their final big pots.

Today, I have to plant at least two more kinds of tomatoes. I have four more kinds of tomatoes to plant, and I don’t want to wait too long. Because I’ve been lax.

If the weather holds this afternoon, when I get back from an errand, I will start on the yard. I’m hoping I can do a little bit each day all the way through Sunday.

If I look at everything that needs to be done, it’s overwhelming, but if I look at each piece, and set myself a timed work period on every weather-permitting day, eventually, I’ll make progress.

There’s quite a bit I want to do differently this year, but I need to stop feeling pressure from the way other people structure their chores, and do what works for me. They’re not pressuring me; I pressure myself, and that takes the pleasure out of it, and then I procrastinate.

I’d rather enjoy more, and then I’ll get more done.

How’s your garden taking shape?

Fri. March 8, 2019: Steady Growth

Friday, March 8, 2019
Waxing Moon 1st Quarter in Aries
Mercury Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Sunny and cold
International Women’s Day

I completely forgot to post yesterday.

Every morning, I’m absolutely delighted to come downstairs and see how much the scallions, leeks, eggplants, Roma tomatoes, and chocolate cherry tomato seedlings have grown. Still waiting for the peppers to sprout.

Sunday is the next planting day; I’ll be repotting some of the scallions (and maybe leeks). I’ll also start the Gardner’s Delight tomatoes. I may have gone a bit overboard, with six kinds of tomatoes. Plus, I’m planning to buy a six pack of Sun golds when it’s time.

I’m going to need a lot of basil and marigolds to go with them!

But we’ll have a very healthy summer, if even half of the plants are productive!

It’s cold here; not much snow, but cold. When the snow melts and it warms up a bit, I have a lot of work to do to clean up the yard. I got the front in pretty good shape in the fall, but not the back. I’ll pay for it now.

Still, it will be worth it, once it’s done.

Feb. 28, 2019: Indoor Planting Joy

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Thursday, February 28, 2019
Waning Moon, 4th Quarter Sagittarius moving into Capricorn
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Snowing and cold

I’m pretty thrilled about the way the seeds have germinated. The scallions, the leeks, and the Roma tomatoes are going like gangbusters. The eggplants are starting. I just planted the chocolate cherry tomatoes and the peppers on Monday, so they need a few more days.

It makes me so happy to check on them every day and see their progress.

I’ll have to repot the leeks and scallions soon, separating them and putting them in bigger pots.

I’ll have to invest in some more large pots for the tomatoes, but it will be worth it.

It’s snowing today, so, although the calendar calls it a planting day, I think I’ll wait. I also came across something that stated one shouldn’t plant on the first three days of March. Anyone know the story behind that? Because according to my calendar, the first and the second are planting days. But I can wait until next week — although Mercury goes retrograde next week, and I would much rather just hide under the covers until it goes direct!

How’s your indoor seed starting going?

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Thurs. Feb. 21, 2019: First Shoots

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Third Quarter Virgo into Libra
No Retrogrades
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Sleet, rain, warming up

I am so excited! Earlier this week, the leeks and scallions already started to sprout! I can’t believe how many of the seeds actually germinated.

I’ll have to thin them as soon as they are big enough, and replant some of them soon, nursing them. If I can keep them strong and healthy, we will have a good crop this season.

I don’t expect the eggplants to germinate for a few more days.

I planted Italian Roma tomatoes last weekend. This weekend, I’ll plant the seeds for the chocolate cherry tomatoes (the most fragile and fussy of the ones I’m planting this year), and also the peppers from saved seeds. Thanks to Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod for teaching me how to save seeds.

Obviously, all this seed starting is inside, and they’re placed in sunny windows. I hope that, by next year, I can set up shelves and grow lights and be more efficient about the process. But this year, it’s natural light, and lots of fussing and tending.

Even with the snow, the birds I usually hear in spring have started calling. Waking me up early. Not that I know what they are (I’m not much of a birder). But I enjoy hearing them and thinking, “oh, they’re back already.”

Bratty Bird, the nuthatch who teases Tessa all the time, is still wherever nuthatches go for the winter. But I bet he’ll be back and brattier than ever. About a dozen fat winter robins were dancing around on the terraced back area of the yard last week.

The backyard is very much a habitat.

Have you started any of your seeds yet? Which ones?

I’ll post pictures when the plants are larger.

 

Fri. Feb. 15, 2019: Starting the Indoor Planting

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Scallions and leeks, in one of our sunny windows

Even if I’m not good at blogging about it, I AM trying to get a head start on the seeds this year.

I’m determined to expand my vegetable capacity, even though most of it will be in containers. I simply don’t trust the food supply, especially under the current administration. It’s not safe, and I don’t trust them not to try to starve people who disagree with them. Control the food, control the population.

One of my freelance clients warned me about this over a year ago.

So, this year, I thought long and hard about what I like to eat, and what I think I can grow. Because, as we all know, that’s not always the same thing.

I am a cook. I enjoy cooking, and I devour (pun intended) cookbooks the way I do novels. I have a wonderful collection of cookbooks, including several from the Moosewood Collective, Deborah Madison, and Kripalu. Along with all my other Silver Palate, Barefoot Contessa, Patricia Wells, et al.

I’m not worried about growing too much of anything (even zucchini, which used to be a running joke around here), because I can cook it or freeze it or donate it to a food pantry.

Last year, I purchased seeds early and locally from garden centers. Only they were the previous year’s seeds and did not do well. Last year was an awful year for tomatoes — the first bad year we had. Not too great for cucumbers, either.

This year, I ordered directly from the manufacturer.

The seeds in the photo above are the scallions and leeks. The seeds in the photos at the bottom of this post are eggplants. If even half the seeds I planted grow into productive plants, we’ll be doing well.

This weekend, I’m planting the first of the tomato seeds — I bought six kinds of seeds this year, so it will be interesting to see how many productive plants we get.

I bought quite a few pollinator seeds, too, and will invest in small plants, because I want to encourage the bees back into the yard. We don’t use chemicals, so one would think they’d be happy, but we had a wasp problem last year that discouraged them.

Wish me luck! I’ll try to post semi-regularly and keep you up to date on my successes — and failures.

I never forget that I used to live on the Deuce, 42nd St. in NYC, across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and it was nearly impossible to keep any plants alive!
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eggplants, in our other sunniest window

Planning: Sometimes the Best Part


Amaryllis. It reached its full glory on the night of the Twelfth Night Party

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Scorpio
No Retrogrades
Celtic Tree Month of Birch

I ran into an acquaintance-on-the-road-to-becoming-a-friend a few weeks ago at a music event. She asked why I stopped writing the blog, because she enjoyed reading it! So, here I am!

My heather’s blooming, out front, in the barrel. It looks lovely, but

Learning how to maintain a garden was a little overwhelming for me last year. All in all, although I won’t win any prizes, I learned a lot, I had a LOT of fun, and there were great times. The Black King eggplant (who lived in the house until a spider mite kerflamma) grew to be nearly six feet tall and spat eggplants at us until nearly Thanksgiving; the tomatoes were put in late, so it was nearly Thanksgiving before we got any, but I’d pulled them in and put them under a grow light in the back bedroom — so we had tomatoes. It was too wet for the pumpkins, and they died, which was disappointing. The cucumbers would have been great, but the squirrels hollowed them out and left the rinds; the green peppers were good. The salad greens were amazing.

Supposedly, anyone on the planet can grow a radish. Not me.

Win some, lose some.

While I’m glad I don’t have to live through the winter on the harvest, it wasn’t bad for a first time out.

The culinary herbs did well, and I need to add some more medicinals in this year. The lavender was kind of hit and miss. I’d been told lavender is easy, but I must not have given it what it needs. Some of the plants are dormant now, cut back, so we’ll see what happens in spring. In fact, I have a whole section of the garage with dormant, cut-back perennials.

I bought a witch hazel tree from Country Gardens. I absolutely adore it. It was beautiful all summer, it turned lovely colors in fall. It wants to bud, but hasn’t yet.

My Blue Prince and Princess hollies are doing very well. I also dug up another holly from a difficult place in the yard and stuck it in a pot. It’s doing well, too. From this past Holly Walk at Ashumet, where we get to take branches, I took some of the Goldie berries and planted them — hoping something will come up. I’d love to have a holly that can trace back its lineage to Ashumet, which is one of my favorite places on the planet.

The Boomerang Lilac is still on the back deck, along with the hollies and the witch hazel. I pulled them back, to protect them from the harshest weather, but they’re out there on the deck and seem happy. It looks like the Boomerang will have some nice buds in spring.

The strawberries gave us a small harvest over the summer, but a second, much larger one in fall. We had strawberries for breakfast for weeks up until late October. And they were delicious. They’re cut back and resting, so hopefully they will be even more productive and delicious this year. The kitten (Tessa) doesn’t each much people food, but she does like to pick her own strawberries from the plants and eat them.

The plants from Territorial Seed Company did not do well, other than Black King eggplant (which was magnificent). The Peppermint Ice Hellebore (the most expensive) was unhappy (it’s struggling, but unhappy), the Huckleberry is struggling, and everything else died. Well, the Lemon Verbena arrived nearly dead, but that was simply ignored. I may buy the Black King from them again, but . . .moving on.

Eden Brothers seeds did pretty well, and the locally bought seeds were fine, too. Johnny’s, as usual, worked the best for me. The bulk of my purchases this year will either be from Johnny’s or from the local shops.

I’m sitting down and planning for planting season. I want (and need) more herbs. It makes more sense to buy them as small plants locally than start them from seed. I hope the rosemary comes back, and some of the others. I want more different varieties of thymes and basils. The Feverfew did well — this year I have to harvest it, instead of just oohing and aahing about how pretty it is. The Echinacea did NOT do well, so I’ll give that another go. I want to add chamomile and dill to the mix, and I need tansy, rue, and pennyroyal. I’d like to expand to coltsfood and horehound, but don’t know if I can this year. I use both herbs a lot in cough and cold mixtures.

Vegetable-wise, I’ll put some things in the bed as last year, and others in pots that will line up on the ground below the terraced area in the back. It gets a lot of sun. I need to grown the Asian vegetables I like to use in cooking, and have a hard time finding.

I’m going to start tomatoes earlier, and go with locally-started plants instead of trying to do everything from seed. There will also be more marigolds, and they’ll be EVERYWHERE. Cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, peppers — hey, a girl’s gotta have enough for ratatouille, right? And cucumber sandwiches. I want to try some lettuces, cabbages, spinach, and peas. I like the IDEA of corn and beans, but don’t know if I’m actually ready to deal with them. I will try pumpkins again.

My questions for planning the season are:

–what do I use most in cooking, and like best?
–can it grow here?
–what herbs do I use and need most?
–can it grow in a pot?

And then, it’s just trial and error.

I wasn’t as dedicated to good note-keeping last year as I should have been. I kept buying plants and not making up sheets for them or noting when they were replanted or died. I have to be better about that this year.

I am an azalea and rhodie convert, and I even fell for the hostas, once they were up. When we first moved here, I did not understand the love of hosta — to me they looked icky and wilted when I cut them back. Then, they came up in spring and summer and were gorgeous. I can’t wait for the Stewartsonian Azalea I bought last year to start blooming again. It seems very happy in its barrel.

I want more pansies this year, and more petunias. The petunias looked lovely with the coleus and the dusty miller in the urns out front. The mums were a little disappointing — the orange, which I loved, where the quickest to fade. Some of the deep reds and the yellows stayed much longer. We will see if they are annuals or perennials. I was told if I got them into the ground quickly, they’d be perennials. Some went into the border in the front, some stayed in pots, so we’ll see. The cosmos looked lovely, so hopefully they’ll come up well this year (I’ll plant more), and I plan to put the poppies in early enough so they can actually come up.

I planted 125 tulips in the fall — a true red, a white, a red-and-yellow (Carmen Del Rio), a yellow and maroon, and a maroon (Queen of the Night). I’m concerned, with the temperate weather, that they’ll get confused and come up before it’s time.

The Arbor Day Foundation is sending me ten trees and two flowering shrubs, so getting those situated (in pots — this is a rental) will take up some time.

The peace lily which was bought for last year’s Twelfth Night party is huge and gorgeous. The small roses are struggling — I think the spider mite plague was more than they could survive. Last year’s primrose is doing well. I bought three more small ones for this year’s party — they’re not as happy. I’m not sure if they need replanting, or were just forced too early or what. We’ll see how they fare.

I want to schedule my time better. Now that I know the garden needs more time, I want to schedule my writing day so that the writing and the garden both get what they need.

Really, this is the best time of year, garden-wise, because anything is possible!

Devon