Thurs. July 23, 2020: Oppressive Humidity

hosta-837182_1920
image by GLady courtesy of pixabay.com

Thursday, July 23, 2020
First Quarter Moon in Leo
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Rainy and oppressively humid

The pollinators and the nasturtiums are finally blooming. So are the beans and the tomatoes – let’s hope the bees drawn by the hosta blooms pop over the railing and pollinate the vegetables!

By this weekend, we’ll be able to eat our first cucumber – let’s hope there are more!

Bunnies are still dining in the yard. There’s enough that they leave the vegetables on the deck alone.

I still haven’t seen Che Guevara Chipmunk for weeks, now. I’m getting very worried about him.

It’s lovely to have my first cup of coffee in the morning on the deck and write. It’s also lovely to go out on the deck in the late afternoon to read and have cocktails. I’m lucky to have this space, especially right now, and I am grateful.

There’s something about writing in longhand on the deck that settles me. It makes me feel both peaceful and more creative. The ideas flow more smoothly and with more strength and dexterity.

The humidity is oppressive today. We’re supposed to have bad storms coming through, and it would be nice if they’d break the oppression. The fans aren’t doing much good (no air conditioning). The air’s just too heavy and not moving.

I love a good thunderstorm, so I’m hoping for one. I hope we have another one at night – it keeps the idiots with their illegal fireworks off the streets. They’ve been out every night that it hasn’t rained since July 1. I am sick of it.

Hope your summer is going well, and that you have a chance to spend some time outside!

Thurs. Aug. 22: On Break

squirrel-185162_1920

This photo is by launcalotus21 via pixabay.

It looks a lot like Che Guevera Chipmunk, although Che doesn’t have the gray and the stripes. He’s all rust and white and black.

But he often stands like that and regards me, before waving his little paws in the air, chattering to incite revolution.

I chose the photo because of the face.

Anyway, I’m on a break until the first Thursday in September. I injured my hand. I have to cut back on typing. And not do any gardening.

Sigh. . .

Feb. 22, 2018: Preparing for Another Season

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Waxing Moon
First Quarter Moon
Celtic Tree Month of Ash

It’s been far too long since I wrote in this journal. The weather is funky — overly warm and rainy for February. I hope that, because it was so cold so early in the season last year, that it killed off the bugs. Last winter, the thaw and strange temperature fluctuations didn’t kill off enough pests, and it was an awful year for creepy crawlies.

I didn’t spend as much time perusing seed catalogs as I would have liked. But I’m figuring out what I want to plant this year — more vegetables than usual, I hope, because I want more control over my food source.

I planted snapdragons indoors on Imbolc; they barely came up and then died. I hope, when it’s warm enough, I’ll have better luck outside. I also hope it’s not an omen of how my growing season will go!

I planted some sweet peas, again indoors, a few days later, and they are going like gangbusters. This time, I soaked them for several days.

According to my calendar, today is a planting day. I have some “mystery seeds” that I saved from something — I think it’s from a pepper. I plan to plant those.

I will start the tomatoes indoors soon, and some lettuce. I have saved seeds that I saved from last year, and also from a seed-saving workshop I took, given by Edible Landscapes of Cape Cod over at the Wildlands Trust in Plymouth. I bought some seeds from them, which I will plant in the next few weeks, and I also saved some seeds on my own. So we’ll see what happens.

I have a better phone in my camera and more storage, so, hopefully, I’ll also be able to post more photos over the weeks and months.

As far as the yard goes, I have a lot of cleaning up, both from what didn’t get done in the fall, and from the winter messes. I also have to get rid of that weird cedar plant that’s acting like an invasive, and some oak that’s been acting like an invasive — along with the actual autumn olive that IS an invasive. When it gets warmer, I will hack back the roses that have gone wild over on the side of the house. They’re gorgeous, but they need to be pruned way back or they will block passage on that side of the house.

The crocuses are poking little leaves up. I didn’t plant tulips in the fall, and I think all the ones I’ve planted through the years have either worn out or been eaten by squirrels.

But I am looking forward to putting the overwintered plants out on the deck and perking things up for spring.

This season, I want to concentrate on herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini, maybe some peas and bush beans. Things we will actually eat. I also want to get more strawberry plants — the ones we had last year were wonderful.

Fingers crossed for a good growing season!

 

Of Radishes and Rabbits

I’ve seen these labelled as both “sun drops” and “evening primrose”. Since they bloom all day, I’m not sure the latter is correct, but I think they’re pretty and I like them, no matter what they’re called. They’ve planted themselves all over the property. Fine by me!

Saturday, July 7, 2012
Waning Moon Third Quarter in Aquarius
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny, hot humid

I must be the only human being on the planet who cannot successfully grow a radish. I’ve read articles by ten year olds who grow them. They don’t work for me. They send up beautiful foliage, but don’t make radishes. I have one Mega-radish that flowered over the winter and has an inedible radish, but the ones I planted this year are doing the same as they did last year, acting like trophy wives — pretty and unproductive.

We’ve got a pair of rabbits – -which means, by summer’s end, we’ll have a lot more than a pair. They’ve awfully cute, and, except for the marigolds and one set of greens, they’re leaving the garden alone. They’re pillaging the neighbors’ gardens instead. I usually see them early in the morning and at twilight. Since we have an owls, I worry that one or both of the bunnies will wind up as someone’s supper, but so far, there seems to be a truce.

The peas are happy, one of the spinach plants came up well, and the bok choy has gotten over itself and it coming along nicely. Although mulched, the vegetable bed has more weeds this year than usual. I’m about the stake the cucumbers (don’t want them hollowed out on the ground like they were last year), and we can’t keep up with the chives, which are growing beautifully. The lettuces and mixed greens are all doing well, and we’re having a Summer of Salads. I don’t mind eating lots of greens when they actually taste interesting.

The round bed I prepared is not doing well. None of the herbs planted from seed came up, nor did the sunflowers (a shame, since it’s sunny). The marigolds were eaten. The pale yellow petunias I planted are doing very well, and the rosemary I planted is happier in that bed than the other rosemaries I have around the premises. The thyme is still making up its mind.

This is a good year for hydrangeas and lilies. The Stella D’oro lilies were gorgeous this year, and the Tiger Lilies prove to be even better. The lavender I planted in the terraced bed last year bloomed this year, and the catmint is stunning and spreading (not that I mind).

The poppies never came up, unfortunately, and the red salvia, which was perfectly happy last year, is struggling this year.

I’m growing three different kinds of tomatoes — Silver Fir, Principe Borghese, and Eva Purple Ball Vine Tomato plants all look good, the eggplants are making eggplants, and the zucchini and pumpkins are in bloom. Even the mystery pumpkin, which took nearly four months from seed to a shoot, looks good. I’ve got more zucchini in the veggie bed, along with heirloom squash (gift from a friend) — growing slowly, but growing.

Of the 10 trees from the Arbor Day Foundation, 8 of them are doing well, along with the Red Maple sapling. All of them are happy, for the moment, in pots. The lilacs and bush cherries and Rose of Sharon are doing well. I think we’ve lost one of our Everbearing Raspberry bushes (which is a shame, since it had the most berries on it).

We harvested our first strawberries (Seasacape) to have with our breakfast this morning. This year’s are much bigger and tangier than last year’s. Yummy!

The small hydrangea, which we thought was dead, has a new shoot. Glad I was patient with it. The Sea Holly, I’m pretty sure, is just plain dead, which is a disappointment.

This is not a good year for herbs — all of my herbs are struggling, which is frustrating. But I think we’ll have lovely zinnias and sunflowers.

The clematis and I debate every morning –it does not want to climb the hoop it’s supposed to, it wants to go elsewhere. The wisteria had a growth spurt and needs a solid trellis, or it’s going to wind its tendrils around the kitchen door and either yank it open or trap us inside.

A friend gifted me with a butterfly bush. It struggled the first few days after planting, but seems to be doing well. The impatiens down at the bottom of the driveway are doing well, but the black-eyed Susan is still unhappy, and I’m worried it will die.

The pansies are soldiering along in the urn. I did what someone suggested and didn’t dig up the pansies in the front bed, but overwintered them — and a few brave ones are sticking up their little heads behind the marigolds. The marigolds in the front are happy — they’re close enough to the house not to get munched.

I moved some hostas which had planted themselves in an unhappy clump, and lined them down one side of the driveway. They look nice and are much happier.

My chrysanthemum in front is about to bloom. It’s going to be gorgeous, but isn’t it a little early?

My heather, however — it’s turned orange. It’s a lovely color, and it doesn’t feel dead — the foliage is soft and yielding. But I didn’t think it was supposed to do that. I’m watching — maybe cut it back hard this fall and see what happens? I can’t find this situation in any of my gardening books.

The roses are fine as long as I leave them alone, and only deadhead. The minute I try to do anything else, they snap at me. A lovely pink bush (all my bushes are red) planted itself near the fence — it’s gorgeous, so I’m not arguing.

It’s fascinating to watch how differently the same plants react in a different year.

Devon

Lilacs and Ants


one of the pouffy rhodies

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Waning Moon 4th Quarter Pisces
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

The Lilacs are absolutely intoxicating this year. Sometimes, when there’s a breeze, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and just inhale. Or, I sit on the deck in the afternoon, lean back, close my eyes, and enjoy. Lilacs are out for such a short time, so every moment is savored.

The big old lilac bush in the ground here, with both purple and lavender lilacs, is gorgeous. My little Boomerang Lilac, on the deck, from White Flower Farm, is blooming beautifully this year. It, too, has a gorgeous fragrance. The small lilac from Arbor Day Foundation is growing well, as are the two from Miller Farms — the Miss Kim and the Edith Cavell. None of them will bloom this year, but I have high hopes for next year.

The Stewartsonian Azalea is in full bloom, and is gorgeous. The pink, pouffy rhodies are starting, and they’re gorgeous. The tulips are just about done. The little vegetables are doing well, and can be transplanted next week.

I put in the peas, spinach, bok choy and radishes on Monday, I’m preparing a small, circular bed for herbs/medicinal plants in a rather barren patch, and EVERYTHING is mowed. Although, by tomorrow, I’ll have to start again in the front!

The ants, however, are back, and in force, in the front. I hate putting down poison, but I have no other choice. I clear one section — they pop up in the next. I’m getting very, very frustrated.

I’m enjoying every moment in the garden, even the wet ones! If I could just convince the ants to stay down by the road instead of coming towards the house and messing up the whole front lawn, we’d be perfect!

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.

How Does My Garden Grow? Not sure, but it’s Growing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
New Moon in Gemini
Solar Eclipse at 5:16 PM
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Sunny and pleasant

What a busy time! First, Spring dragged its feet getting here; now, everything needs to be done at once!

I can’t keep up deadheading the rhododendron; there are too many, and it’s too time-intensive. I just do as much as I can each day that I can, and that will have to do.

I still have not found my mowing Zen, although I’m getting better at the physical aspects of it. And wrestling with that heavy mower means no jiggly arms — they are toned for summer tank tops! Look for the bright side, right?

The back meadow looks awesome when it’s mown!

The irises are starting to bloom! Iris is my favorite flower — heck, I even have a cat named Iris! However, the Very Expensive Iris I bought from White Flower Farm — the Moonsilk, black, and SuperEgo — not much happening there. The black iris vanished, the Moonsilk is dying, and the SuperEgo — not sure what’s going on there. Disappointing.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year — get everything locally. The local growers have to deal with you because we live and work alongside each other, so they are going to make sure they sell you something that won’t keel over in ten minutes!

The herbs I bought as plants and repotted are doing well. The lobelia is not coming up in the urn, so I will get some flowers, such as petunias or geraniums (the pelagorums, probably, not the cranesbill) and fill the urn with that. An empty urn out front just looks sad.

The yarrow and echinacea are starting to sprout, so there’s hope. I think I have a pair of male hollies, rather than a male and a female, as they were sold. We’ll find out — if Princess has berries, I’ve got the mixed set; otherwise . . .

I’m madly in love with my witch hazel plant, and need to repot the small lilac. The big limb that broke off my in-ground lilac, which the nursery said would quickly die, is thriving in its bucket of water, so I plan to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Most of the vegetables are in the veggie bed — I hope they survive and thrive. The tomatoes still need to grow a bit stronger before I plant them, but the pots are already prepared, with marigolds and basil.

The strawberries are blossoming like crazy, so maybe we will have some strawberries, even if they’re late.

I love going out every early morning, tending the garden, and then sitting with my morning coffee. The squirrel still races next door, takes two leaves of something, and comes back. He’s checked out my veggie bed, but left it alone. He came right up to the deck yesterday, while I ate lunch, and I tossed him a blueberry. He caught it and dashed off.

I named the woodpecker Carlos, and we have a little morning and evening ritual, where he’s at work, I call to him, he comes and stares at me, then goes back to work. The seven crows in the front leave the owl in the back alone, but they mobbed a hawk that tried to invade the territory the other day. They also tell me when the mailman’s here. Gossipy little things, aren’t they?

I’m in a battle with ants, who’ve pockmarked the front lawn to an alarming extent. I was told I could get rid of them by pouring boiling water down the holes, which seems cruel, but I don’t know what else to do. However, it also kills the grass. I have to call the owner and have him deal with it — that’s why I’m a renter!

The poppies and the morning glories didn’t come up — I waited too long to plant them. I should have started them inside — I’ll know for next year.

I love to sit on the deck in the evenings, with a glass of wine, reading a book, or just sitting there, listening. There’s a lot to which to listen.

Devon

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Witch hazel

Saturday, May 21, 2011
Waning Moon in Capricorn
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Foggy and cool

This is what a witch hazel looks like. This is when it’s not in bloom. I hear that when it blooms, the leaves fall off, and there are just white blooms, but I haven’t yet experienced it.

When things start to pop here, they really start to pop! The trees are finally in bud, the lilacs are blooming, rhododendron and azalea are blooming, things look beautiful.

My Black King Eggplant is enormous — the leaves are about 12” long. It got its first flower that’s preparing an eggplant, so that’s all good. The little Nadia eggplants are tiny, but I think will be ready to transplant to the vegetable bed next weekend.

The pumpkin vines are enormous and gorgeous. I hope they can hang on one more week until I can get them into the ground. The cucumbers are coming up, the marigolds are coming up. The green peppers haven’t come up. Neither have the morning glories or the moonflowers, outside. I may have put them in too early, and I may need to start some more inside and transplant.

The male holly is blooming and growing; the female still sulks. Strawberry-wise, the one plant inside is blooming, and the three big pots outside look like they’re preparing to bloom. Things are later here than usual, but that’s okay.

The huckleberry is happy. I think it’ll be a few years until I get any berries, but that’s okay. It’s a cute little plant.

I have two ENORMOUS beds of lily-of-the-valley around the house. One is in no-man’s land, between this house and the house on the left. It’s about eight feet long and four or five feet wide. The other is in the back bed, along the tree line at the back of the property, where all the lilies and extra hostas are. That one, too, is huge. They’re beautiful, and what a lovely, unexpected gift!

I’m starting to understand the hosta love around here. Now that they’re actually coming up and growing, they’re pretty darn lovely! The shape of the plant and the leaf shape, and the variegated colors do add a lot to the garden.

I also found some ferns unfolding! So many surprises! I get up every morning wondering what new plants I’ll discover.

Purslane is growing in my vegetable bed, even though I didn’t plant it. I may have to move it, once I put in the other vegetables.

The catmint I planted in the terraced border is starting to bloom. The stonecrop is naturalizing well. Most of the silver mound artemisia is also doing well — I love its texture. I always wind up petting it! 😉 It’s soft as a cat.

I put in some poppy seeds yesterday, and planted lobelia seeds in an urn in the front yard, along with moving some big pots to one side of the driveway.

If the weather clears up a bit, I have to mow the back meadow today, and then I want to set out the English garden carpet out in no man’s land, given to me by Costume Imp, so that can start rooting. I think it’s warm enough to do so.

It’s so wonderful to sit outside in the early mornings and in the evenings and listen to the yard. I am so lucky and so grateful.

Falling Behind


the eggplant is even bigger now!

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Waning Moon 4th Quarter in Aries
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Willow
Scheduled to post

I’m scheduling this to post, because I’m out the door early to volunteer at a local wildlife sanctuary to help plant a butterfly garden. I’ll have lots to tell next week.

I feel like I’m falling behind; can’t keep up. I’m going to use the lawn mower for the first time this weekend — my yard is starting to look like a hayfield. I pulled up lots of dandelions the other day, and it seems two more came up for every one I pulled!

The back bed just overwhelms me — it will take me weeks to clean it out, weeks to rake and mulch under the trees, weeks to clean up the section between this house and one of the neighbors. I’m doing as much as I can every day that it’s not raining, but I have deadlines — I can’t blow a book contract in order to rake. Or I won’t be able to pay the rent and live here.

I feel very behind compared to the neighbors, but I have to remember that the garden is a work-in-progress, and I’m not just doing my work, I’m catching up on what was left undone by previous tenants.

On a happier note, the Black King Eggplant is huge; the India eggplants are starting to sprout; the zucchini have started to sprout. The foxglove sprouts are so tiny — amazing that some of those stalks will eventually grow to be seven feet tall!

The lilac bush has arrived, and is preparing to bloom. The huckleberry is much smaller than I expected — a huckleberry sprig rather than a huckleberry bush — but it’s adorable.

The pumpkins are doing well, and the strawberries are thriving out on the deck. The borage is large enough so, once I can replace the dinner plate I’ve got under the pot with the proper saucer, I can put it on the deck to protect the strawberries.

There’s a lot to be joyful about; I just feel like I’m constantly behind.

Devon

Wet and Rainy April

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Waning Moon 4th quarter in Aquarius
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Willow
Rainy and cool

No photos today; sorry. I’ve got to take some more and upload some more.

Things are blooming in the terraced border — not quite sure what they are, but they’re pretty. The magenta azalea continues to bloom, the daffodils and hyacinths are gorgeous. My neighbor’s tulips are lovely.

Much to my surprise, the strawberry plants are doing well. They like being out on the deck.

The hollies need to be replanted, though; that mucky earth is hurting them, not supporting them. That’s a task for me to do this weekend.

The Black King Eggplant is huge; the others have yet to germinate. The pumpkins are doing well, and the zucchini are just starting to come up.

I hope, within the next week, to finish prepping the vegetable bed, and maybe, next week, starting some mixed greens and some radishes directly in the bed. I’m still trying to figure out if I should buy marigolds already up or grow them from seed. Probably the former — they’ll offer more protection.

There are certain places on the property where I’m just going to sprinkle some annuals and see what happens. Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to use graph paper and do all this intricate planning. But I’m learning what’s already here, and filling in as I go. There’s only so much I can learn from other people. The rest has to be trail and error.

I’ve got to call the Master Gardener Hotline — the previous tenants didn’t prune the lilac last year, so there are dead patches on it. I need to know if I can prune it now, or if I have to wait for the first bloom to prune all of it.

My boomerang lilac shipped yesterday, and the huckleberry bush is on its way, so I’ve got arrivals to look forward to!

With any luck, the weather will clear up and bit and I can get more work done on the back bed. My neighbors are out every minute it’s not actually raining. I’ve got to finish my contracted work first, and then I can go out and putter in the garden!

Devon