Thurs. May 23, 2019: Trying to Catch Up in the Garden

Thursday, May 23, 2019
Third Quarter Waning Moon in Capricorn
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Don’t know the weather — this is scheduled to post

This was a week of rolling up my sleeves to dig in the dirt.

I’m behind on the mowing, as usual, although I don’t hate it as much with the push mower as I did with the gas mower. I really need to see if I can sell the gas mower for a few bucks. I just want it gone.

I did the first treatment for ticks on the deck and I’ll do another one this weekend.

I started transplanting the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. I have more tomatoes to repot this week, but I wanted the seedlings to get a little stronger before I moved them. Repotted some herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon balm, chocolate mint). Did some trimming with the clippers, and cut back some stuff in pots that I hope comes back. The clematis looks good.

The lilac is blooming, and scents every breeze, which is a delight.

I planted some nasturtium seeds, all my morning glory and moonflower seeds, and about a third of my kale, mesculun, and spinach.

The chipmunk family under the bush is gearing up for the season. One little guy scampers onto the deck and gives little chipmunk speeches.

I was reading on the deck last weekend, recovering from the day’s work, and heard a noise. I looked up to see three young wild turkeys taking a stroll through the yard. Not in the least worried that I was on the deck. They took their time. Stopped for a snack here and there. It was pretty funny.

A young woodpecker got caught under the skylights of the covered deck. I managed to coax him out. Our bratty bluejay stopped by to give me the neighborhood gossip.

My murder of crows hasn’t been around much lately (I miss them). I saw a pair of bunnies down the street, but none yet in our yard. The coyotes have been quiet lately. I hope they weren’t shot. I actually feel safer when they’re around.

I’m hoping the weather will be warm enough these coming days to finish transplanting the tomatoes, and to start the cucumbers, beans, and peas. Maybe even the zinnias and the monarda.

I’ve been taking the plants out for the day and bringing them back in at night. I don’t want to lose any more.

I’ve never lived anywhere before where so much is dependent on the weather. Living in New York, weather was just another obstacle. Here, it dictates the rhythm of the day and the week.

Have a terrific Memorial Day weekend. I intend to spend as much time as possible in the garden. The rest, reading and writing. Online as little as possible.

 

Growing and . . .Not

IMG_1086

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
First Quarter Moon in Cancer
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It’s been so cold for the past few days that we had to take in tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. By tomorrow, they should be able to go out and stay out.

The bush cherries are starting to flower, the flowering almond makes its brief appearance, and the lilacs are a bit late this year (that’s the big lilac bush behind the flowering cherry in the top photo).

The forsythia and tulips are fading. Very few of my maroon and yellow tulips came up this year, NONE of the red did, and only a few Queen of the Night, so I’ll have to replant more of those this fall. The daffodils and hyacinths are also fading. I’m going to plant more hyacinths next year — they’re lovely. Only the yellow came up, though, not the blue.

IMG_1094

I’ve started saving rainwater. I don’t have a fancy rain barrel — I’m just using buckets, pouring some of it into jugs, and setting out the buckets again. I have enough containers to capture 26 gallons from any given storm. Since watering the deck plants takes about 8 gallons a day, it’s used up quickly.

I also have to figure out how to clean out the birdbath, since I don’t have a hose that reaches that far — slosh a few bucketsfull of water through it, making sure to clean out any debris. On hot days, I’ll probably have to clean it every day, so there’s no mosquito-standing water problem.

IMG_1080

The birds LOVE it, though. As I headed down there for my morning property walk, a robin took his morning dip, not caring I was only a few feet away. It was adorable.

I have a stalk of corn growing in a starter pot – not sure where I’ll put it. Next week, when it’s warmer, I’m going to try a few hills of corn, bush bean, and pumpkin in the veggie bed.

One of the gala apple seeds has started to sprout, and I’ve got jalapenos and more lemon seeds to plant. And other seeds.

The basil refuses to come up this year — I’ll have to buy plants again, I guess. I can’t get it to grow from seed. The sage is growing, though, and, hopefully, I’ll have some luck with the rosemary. The first round of oregano didn’t do well, so I’ll start the next in its “final” pot.

The chives are growing to beat the band — talk about a great perennial — cooking chives in the veggie bed (I’ll need to dig one up to go with the cucumbers) and flowering chive in the terraced bed.

I love this time of year.

But the grass — I can genuinely watch it grow. Time to mow again — and I’m still not done with the first round!

Devon

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

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

Possibilities

Wednesday, January 6, 2011
Waxing Moon in Capricorn
Celtic Tree Month of Birch
Sunny and cold

My friend Costume Imp is here from New York. Although he’s a costume designer/wardrobe person, he grew up on a farm and also used to landscape. He knows his stuff. He’s going to help me buy a lawn mower while he’s here, and, yesterday, we walked the property, talking about its possibilities. He identified most of the shrubs and mysterious things poking up from the ground, although one or two remain a mystery.

I’m excited by the prospect of having forsythia, azalea, rhodedendron, and even some roses. The Cape has a very specific type of small, lovely rose that I adore, and I hope that’s what these bushes are — because they’re very hardy and I don’t know much about the care of roses. I would be over the moon if one of the bushes turns out to be lilac. The Cape has gorgeous lilacs, and lilac are one of my favorite flowers. It even looks like there are some irises planted — my absolute favorite, and not just because Iris (aka Princess Hellion) is the namesake!

We talked about what kind of pots and furniture to get, and where to put things. The back is a long, odd shape, but the bulk of the yard gets a lot of sun, which should make growing herbs and flowers easier. There’s holly in front and out back, and a third little bit seems to be determined to make its mark on the side of the house. I adore holly, especially after taking the Holly Walk soon after we moved, so that’s exciting to me.

We can’t figure out a good place to put a bird feeder, unless i get one that’s free standing and I can stick into the ground. Also, I’m worried that, trying to grow vegetables, supplying a bird feeder will encourage them to pick at the vegetables instead of going to the feeder. I’m not quite sure how that works. Any suggestions?

There are indications that hooks for hanging pots were once in the deck, which is great, because I want to hang pots of strawberries and maybe some other basket flower.

I’m looking forward to reading the stack of gardening books I bought in Niantic!

At this stage, there are a lot of possibilities. Even though I’m on a budget, I’m very excited by them. The garden is not a blank slate — it’s been well-loved and cared for by previous tenants. So it will be exciting to see what’s there and combine that with what I envision. I’m sure there will be mistakes along the way, but I’m delighted by the prospect of the journey.