Thurs. July 21, 2022: Blooms and Bombs

image courtesy of S. Hermann & F. Richter via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 21, 2022

4th Quarter Moon waning in Taurus

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Holly

Hazy and hot

We finally broke into seasonally hot weather. It’s nowhere near as hot as it is in other parts of the world, but it’s in the low 90’s, feeling like the high 90’s, and humid. Since we don’t have air conditioning, it’s a challenge.

Some of the plants are doing very well; some are not. One of the dahlias is doing well, and we’re getting the first blossoms. The other dahlia is dying, and I have no idea why. The cucumber got pollinated and was growing cucumbers, and suddenly, it’s up and died.

The tomatoes still haven’t grown up into anything. They should be big enough to start blossoming. I don’t know what’s going on.

The pumpkin is happy out on the back balcony, and pumping out blossoms. Hopefully, at least one of them will turn into something.

The geraniums, impatience, and herbs are doing well. The marigolds are doing well as long as I water them every day. The hollyhocks are doing well, although they’ve stalled, height-wise.

Spiro Squirrel kept digging up the tansy, so I brought it to the front porch instead. I’m hoping I can save it. The other tansy is doing well, the one that was always on the front.

The peace lily is quite happy out on the back balcony and blooming like crazy.

Well, it’s a learning curve. I’m making careful notes in the plant journal, so that I can adjust from next year, and learn from what didn’t work.

I’m getting ready to order the tulip and hyacinth bulbs. I bought long window-box style troughs. We’ll plant the bulbs in them in October, so that they’ll come up (hopefully) in the spring. We’ll overwinter them on the front porch, which we close off in winter, because of the cold. So they’ll be protected from digging squirrels, but still get the cold they need.

It gets cool by around 3 AM for a few hours, before it starts heating up again. It’s supposed to break on Sunday night into Monday, and only be in the 80’s next week.

I’m disappointed that the vegetables aren’t growing well, but it makes me even more grateful for the Farmers’ Market, which is just bursting at the seams with wonderful bounty.

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. June 30, 2022: Squirrel Visitors

image courtesy of Joe Breuer via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 30, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Cancer

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Oak

Sunny and pleasant

I am thoroughly enjoying the growing season here, even though there’s a good bit of pollen flying around. On the Cape, the pine pollen dumped down like yellow snow early in the season, leaving a thick coating on everything and had to be scrubbed off. That’s not as prevalent here. But there is a lighter, steadier pollen. When I spend enough time outside, I scrape it off every few hours. And after I shower it off, I have to run vinegar down the drain.

But everything looks gorgeous. The cucumbers finally have blossoms, so I put that pot out on the back balcony, so the bees can visit and pollinate. The pumpkin should bloom soon; hopefully the tomatoes will, too.

The borage planted last week is already coming up. Borage is one of my favorite plants. I love the blue flowers. When I planted strawberries, I would keep borage nearby to protect the strawberries from pests.

The Farmers’ Market gets more and more exciting every week, too. Last Saturday, I got the most beautiful fennel I’ve ever seen. I spend a lot of time with Deborah Madison’s book LOCAL FLAVORS to get ideas.

The squirrels are being difficult. It’s not just Spiro Squirrel, who’s bad enough on his own. There’s another pair of squirrels running around. They are always together, and they have a fairly wide range of four or five properties on this block and across the street. They are always scampering around together. Well, now they come on the deck and turn over pots, bury things, and chomp on the peppermint. They are so fresh I can walk right up to them and scold them before they scamper off, jump into the tree, and watch from a safe distance. I haven’t named those two little rapscallions yet, but I will.

I guess the work we’ve done on the back balcony to transform it into a garden space has worked!

Because we have so many trees and tree-like shrubs around, the back is lovely and shady in the hottest part of the afternoon, while getting strong doses of sun in the morning and the late afternoon. It’s great to sit out there after lunch for a bit, with a book.

Of course, the cats don’t want to be left inside. Willa and Charlotte have always been good in their playpens. Willa tends to get restless after about twenty minutes or so. Charlotte looks around for a bit, then goes to sleep. It’s too difficult to take them out at the same time, but whomever is left inside gets very upset. When I water in the mornings, Willa wants to come out. She knows the playpens are stored up, folded, in the laundry room when not in use, and tries to drag hers out. Yes, she knows which one is hers.

Tessa hates her playpen. Before Willa and Charlotte came to live with us, Tessa was allowed out on the deck without restraints. She never left or ran away. She loved lounging on the deck and checking out the plants. But it’s too dangerous here. We are on the second floor and the railings are wide enough that the cats could slip through. Also, with dogs in the building and squirrels in the trees, it’s safer for them to be in their playpens. We used the playpens when the movers loaded and unloaded, again, to protect the cats.

Tessa hated it. She struggled when she was picked up to go in, and complained the entire time.

But, she decided that if the other two go out on the back balcony, she wants to go out, too. When I take them out, she sits on a kitchen chair by the window and complains.

The other day, I told her I would take her out, but she had to be in the playpen, like the others. I brought out her playpen and set it up. She sat quietly. She let me pick her up and put her in it. She didn’t like the voyage out to the balcony, but once I had her set up, she had a wonderful time. She was interested in the birds and the squirrels and the neighbors, and everything.

So now all three have to take turns coming out! But I’m glad she enjoys it.

We have a lot of birds, with all the tress and shrubs. I have to look up the ones I don’t know in the bird book. There’s one, who looks like some sort of a jay, but he’s gray with a black crest and mask. I’m not sure if he’s a young blue jay, or if he’s some other sort of bird. I haven’t had a chance to look him up yet, but every time he pops by to visit, I’m reminded that I need to.

The crows still come and visit. The scout and Tessa have a serious conversation every morning. Charlotte was in the window instead of Tessa this morning, and the scout gave her such a lecture. She was shocked. Tessa popped up then, and things went back to normal.

I’m looking at tulip bulbs in the catalogs. I might order some and plant them in pots this autumn, then leave them to overwinter out on the front porch when we close it for the season.

How’s your garden growing?

Thurs. June 2, 2022: Deep in Growth Season

image courtesy of Ulrike Leon via pixabay.com

Thursday, June 2, 2022

1st Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Pluto & Mercury Retrograde

Cloudy and mild

We’re definitely in growing season now. Even some of the plants that initially hung back: lemon balm, marine heliotrope, columbine – are doing better. The dahlias are growing like crazy, as are the hollyhocks. Only one pumpkin vine is still alive, but it’s growing well.

The nasturtiums are still very unhappy, and the moonflowers aren’t doing well, either. The new batch of morning glories are better, but still nowhere near as strong as they were down on Cape.

I’ll have to repot a few plants who are outgrowing their original small pots. Even the night-blooming jasmine, who’s only been around for a few weeks, will need a bigger pot soon. But I have a special pot saved, just for her!

The basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, and lettuce are doing well, and I’m using them as often as possible.

The trip to Hancock Shaker Village on Tuesday included wandering around their medicinal garden. Seeing that comfrey, coltsfoot, horehound, and calendula do well in this region means I can try growing them next spring. I always kept them in my stillroom, because I use them for various cough blends and/or poultices or salves.

The Farmer’s Market starts up weekly this coming Saturday, and I am so excited. I can’t wait to create menus each week based on what’s fresh at the market.

Everyone in the neighborhood is fixing up their little patch of porch and/or green, and it’s a delight to walk around and see how creative people are.

How are things going in your neck of the woods, sea, or meadows?

Thurs. March 24, 2022: Plants and Seedlings

image courtesy of conger design via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Third Quarter Waning Moon in Sagittarius

Celtic Tree Month of Alder

Rain/sleet/snow

There’s a lot of garden-related stuff to write about this week! Very exciting.

I replanted more cat grass on the Equinox last Sunday. As of yesterday, it had already germinated, which is a good thing, since Charlotte and Willa are chomping on the second pot of it.

I’m a little worried about the heliotrope and the columbine. I’m not sure the seedlings will survive. The echinacea is growing slowly, but it’s growing. The black-eyed Susan vine is growing steadily, which is very exciting. The lemon balm has only one tiny shoot, not even a half an inch tall. The cherry falls tomato seedlings are doing well, and the mini cucumbers are growing fast! All 10 seeds germinated, and I will need a tomato cage for them by this weekend.

I bought more soil and pots, and even some more seeds, because I hadn’t bought any morning glories or moonflowers, and I love those.

I planted the Watchman hollyhocks, a rose mallow (Lavatera), a batch of mixed colors morning glories, moonflowers, jewel blend nasturtiums, marvel of Peru four o’clocks, heirloom sweet peas, and two pots of tansy seeds.

Yes, the tansy seeds finally arrived, after travelling from Missouri to Massachusetts to Chicago and back.

I also planted some saved seeds: pear, clementine, and some of the pumpkin seeds I saved from my friend’s Halloween pumpkin she carved when she visited.

Once the front porch warms up enough in the morning, we move the seedlings out for their sun. As it cools off in the late afternoon, we move them back into the warmth.

The night-blooming jasmine should arrive in April sometime. We’ll buy some lettuce plants and herbs, and a couple of hanging baskets of flowers later in the season.

It’s all very exciting! This is the first year we’re starting the growing season in the Berkshires, so there’s a lot to learn.

We’re in the Celtic Tree Month of Alder now, which means a focus on expressing hopes and dreams, and forgiving the past.

I focused more on flowers than on vegetables this year. I want to see how these work; if they grow well, I will try a couple of others next year, and so forth and so on. I’m more conscientious about keeping the notes updated in the plant journal, which will be a big help.

I still miss my lilacs so much it causes physical pain, but I will have to figure out what to do about it; keep some small ones in a container? For this season, I will have to buy bunches of cut lilacs.

Even missing the lilacs, I am excited about this year’s planting.

This morning, the weather keeps fluctuating between rain, sleet, and a smattering of snow., coating everything with a white sheen.

How’s your planting going?

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