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.

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

The Seeds Are Arriving!

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Second quarter moon in Leo
Saturn Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Rowan
Cloudy and cold

I never thought of myself as much of a garden gnome person, but this little guy was so adorable, I couldn’t resist!

Haven’t had much to say lately other than, “it’s snowing” and that gets a bit dull after a bit.

I’m not even near my garden right now — I’m on the road, working — but the seeds I ordered are arriving! I’d bought some, and the order from Eden Brothers arrived, and, I heard from home that the Territorial Seed Order also arrived (the plants will come in early April).

As they come in, I set up sheets for the garden binder I’m keeping — the name of the plant, both Latin & common, where I got it, etc. I want to see with which company’s products I have the best results (factoring in my own mistakes). I know the Johnny’s order shipped, but it hasn’t arrived yet. They’re my tried-and-true company — even when I struggled to keep seedling alive in a NY apartment with only northern exposure, I had the best luck with their seeds.

The snowpack may not be melting yet, but the arrival of the seeds gives me hope that spring will arrive — eventually.

Devon