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

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.

Garden Dreaming — And Scheming!


What February should look like – -but doesn’t. This is from our storm a few weeks ago — which was all melted by the next afternoon!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Waxing Moon Second Quarter in Taurus/Gemini
Mars Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Rowan
Cloudy and mild

The weather’s been totally wacky this year; way too warm. While my bank account is grateful, in terms of the heating bill, I’m worried about my plants. Was it cold enough for the tulips, or will all 125 that I planted (on time, for once) last fall — my very first attempt at tulip-ing — rot? The barrel of heather is blooming beautifully — will it wear itself out before spring? The forsythia and lilac have buds — but my witch hazel hasn’t popped yet.

I’d hoped, since the weather is mild, that it would also be sunny today and I could get outside and do some more yard clean-up. The front’s in good shape, but the back needs work. So far, though, it’s drizzling, which means there’s not a whole lot I can do. I figure if I do a little bit every nice day, by the time it’s warm enough to really plant and tackle things, I’ll be in good shape.

I’m going through the garden books and magazines and the designs, dreaming big dreams. Then, I have to scale them down so they make sense in my life!

I have a lot of seeds, so I’m okay in the seed department. I’ll buy a lot of the herbs in 4” pots to start, instead of doing them from seed. I’ve got some repotting to do today, and, in the spirit of it being Imbolc Eve, I’m planting some lemon seeds from a zested, juiced lemon. I’ve got a lovely tangerine plant started the same way.

This year, I’m going to start the moonflowers and morning glories inside first, then transplant them up the big wagon wheel at the side of the house. Last year, I put them directly into the ground — not realizing there were hostas there, who popped up and didn’t give them enough sunlight! Plus, I think my seeds were too old. This year, fresh seeds, start indoors — in March, I will probably set up the grow light and a seed table in the back room to get things started.

The Elsa Memorial Orchid has two new shoots! I’m very excited. As long as I leave that plant alone, it’s happy. I get the hint. For those of you new to the blog, the Elsa Memorial Orchid was sent to me by a group of friends when my beloved Elsa died shortly before the move to the Cape. It blooms beautifully at least once a year, sometimes twice, and the agreement is that it will keep blooming as long as I don’t try to “help” too much. Message received.

I’m looking forward to a deck and an expanded back area full of plants this summer, especially more medicinal herbs. I’m thinking about getting some clematis or American wisteria to grow up the sides of the deck, like a natural privacy screen. But I don’t want the deck to feel closed in. The roof is so wonderful, it’s nice to have the breeze coming through. The big lilac in the ground and my neighbor’s hydrangeas work well on that side. It’s just on the other side that we need a bit more coverage.

Devon