Thurs. Jan. 21, 2021: Waiting

image courtesy of Conger Design via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Taurus

No Retrogrades

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan begins

Cloudy and cold

Rowan trees are about protection and inspiration. They often grow in poor conditions. The wood makes excellent walking sticks. It’s tied to Brigid and Imbolc, which is about the quickening and rebirth of spring.

I ordered some seeds, from Kitchen Seeds and Territorial Seeds. I hope at least some of them arrive in time for Imbolc, when I hope to start some of them.

I did not yet order from Johnny’s – and I might not. Supposedly, their catalog went out, but I haven’t received it. And now, they are only accepting orders from home growers on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The timing might not work out this year.

But I ordered enough to have, at least, a minimal garden, no matter where I end up: bok choy, only two kinds of tomatoes this year, eggplant, strawberries, morning glories, moonflowers, breadseed poppy, and a pollinator mix.

It’s finally a little colder. We had some snow flurries yesterday, but we haven’t had a bad winter. When we first moved here, the winters were harsh, and we were sometimes snowed in for days before the plows came.

Right now, I’m just in a waiting period. Eager for new seeds to arrive, so I can start them. Eager to figure out where we’ll live next, so I can learn about native plants and plan new gardens.

How’s your winter going?

Thurs. Jan. 14, 2021: Finally Winter Maybe?

image by JackieLou DL via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 14, 2021

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Aquarius

Uranus Direct

Celtic Tree Month of Birch

Cloudy and cold

According to the weather, we’ll finally get some cold for the next two weeks. The past few weeks have been unseasonably warm, most of the time. In fact, the grass has been growing, and I wondered if I would need to call the guy who mows the lawn in, say, February, to have him start up again.

It’s good for the grass to grow out at times (though, probably not in the middle of winter in the Northeast). It’s healthy for the roots. Too many people in this neighborhood mow every other day in the spring, summer, and fall, keeping their grass very short. Of course, they are also the ones who use chemicals, so that the lawn looks like astro-turf.

We replanted some cuttings. Well, they were less “cuttings” than “fell of the plant.” Bits of the Christmas cactus or the big geranium or the philodendrons fall off. We rescue them and root them in water until they grow roots. We plant them in a fresh pot. And our plants multiply.

I have to make seed decisions in the next couple of weeks, and I just don’t know, since I don’t know where we will move. And yet, I don’t want the whole season to go by and not plant anything. Perhaps I will pick one kind of tomato (a small one), and one or two other things.

I have to sit down with the seed catalogs this weekend. I’m looking forward to trying seeds from Kitchen Garden this year, and I’ll buy a few things from Johnny’s, which has been my old reliable most of my gardening life. I’m skipping Botanical Interests this year, since they were a disappointment the past couple of years, especially last year.

I also have to decide what seeds I want to start on Imbolc (February 2). Traditionally, I start seeds on something meaningful to me on that day, and nurture the plant for the entire growing season.

Remember those organic lemon seeds I planted a few months back, nothing came up, and I was so disappointed? One little shoot finally came up!

When we put away the holiday decorations, we moved the gigantic peace lily from its temporary abode in my bedroom back down to the living room. When I first bought it, in January 2011, it was in a 4” pot. Now it’s in a 15” pot and is about 4’ tall and 2’ wide.

It’s on a side table next to one of the wingback chairs and actually helps form an entryway. This house doesn’t have a vestibule – the front door opens into the living room. We’ve sort of created an entry way with furniture placement. We put the peace lily on that table because it was the only place with enough room for it at the moment, but it works well as an entry definer. Plus, it’s good feng shui.

That’s really all that’s going on right now. Today and tomorrow, I’ll break up the time spent working on a book proposal and an article, and make seed decisions!

How do you connect to the garden in January? Do you live in a place where you can garden year-round?

Thurs. Jan. 7, 2021: Wish for a Real Winter

image courtesy of Hans Braxmeier via pixabay.com

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Waning Moon Fourth Quarter in Libra

Uranus Retrograde

Cloudy and cold

I wish it looked as it does in the photo I chose for today’s post, but it’s much milder down here on Cape. It worries me; if the plants don’t get the rest from a good cold snap, it will negatively affect growth patterns. Not to mention all the bugs.

It feels frivolous to write a garden post when domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol yesterday. But I’m in touch with my elected officials, and they are representing my views in this. Thank you, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Bill Keating.

Seed catalogs are arriving, which means there will be hours of delightful daydreaming, a nice antidote to what’s going on. However, I’m not sure what seeds to order, or if I should order any, as I’m moving in spring. Since I don’t know where I’ll land, or if I can transport seedlings, I have a feeling most of my catalog reading will remain in daydreams.

We’re still in the process of taking down the holiday decorations. It will take a few days.

The live green wreath has been stripped of its decorations and is now on the hook inside the door. I have an artificial gold-painted bay leaf wreath on the front door for the rest of the month, until I put up the Valentine door décor.

I’m tired and sad and angry. I have a morning group meditation via Zoom. If the weather clears up a bit and it’s mild enough, I’ll do a meditation later in the day under the beautiful maple tree in the back. I will miss the maple and the lilac terribly when I move. They’ve both brought me a lot of joy in the past decade.

Let’s hope there’s better news to report next week. Stay safe, my friends.

Thurs. Sept. 24, 2020: First Prep to Put the Yard to Bed

image courtesy of joeblack564 via pixabay.com

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Capricorn

Celtic Tree Month of Vine

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Pleasantly warm

We’re warming up for a few days, which is nice. Hopefully, that means I can get some work done out in the yard.

It was mowed last Saturday, probably the last mow of the season, although I’m putting down some lawn food over the next few days in the front, so it has some nutrition as it prepares for winter.

Leaves are falling, which means the raking begins again soon.

Mabon was on Tuesday, and we’re tipping back into shorter days now, until the Winter Solstice. I enjoy this portion of the year, although many don’t.

Cutting back the beds as they die off; cutting back or removing the annuals from the pots as they finish.

I’ll have to rearrange the garage soon. The section where I overwinter the large, potted plants (because it gets natural light) is what I’ve been using for quarantining boxes, bags, and other things coming into the house during the pandemic.

I’m already excited about next Thursday, because it’s the first of October, and I start decorating!

As I start putting pots, etc., away, I have to do a good scrub out, better than usual, because things will be quite different when they are used again in the spring.

The pesto’s all made, and it’s yummy. I’m keeping one pot of basil inside at a sunny window, so I can get a few more weeks’ worth of fresh basil for cooking. The rosemary, parsley, thyme, and chives will probably need to come in soon. I have to find good places for them, too, so I can use them as long as they last.

Not a good year for tomatoes this year. I will try different seeds next year. The Botanical Interests seeds, which I’ve always liked, were a disappointment. I will go back to Johnny’s for seeds next spring, and also order some from Kitchen Gardens.

How are you starting to put things to bed for the winter? Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere, where things are just starting to wake up?

Thurs. March 5, 2020: Planting Dilemma

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image courtesy of Andreas Goellner via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Second Quarter Moon in Cancer
Celtic Tree Month of Ash
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and colder

I feel well enough to post something short here, in between surgeries.

It’s been fairly mild here, with some lovely, sunny days this week. It’s supposed to get colder and stormier this weekend, so I don’t know if I’ll get anything done in the yard.

Some of the crocuses are peeking out.

Today is a planting day. I have some cuttings that rooted that need pots, a couple of things that need bigger pots. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to plant vegetable seeds this year. The theft of my tomatoes from the 100+ plants I raised from seed last year discouraged me more than I realized at the time, and I’m wondering if it’s even worth it. It wasn’t an animal that took them — there was no debris.

But I want my own fresh vegetables and herbs. I want more flowers. I never got the hollyhocks I wanted last year, so maybe I can have them this year. I’m considering stopping at Country Gardens to buy some seeds.

I don’t know. It’s a dilemma. There’s a lot going on for me this year. Would planting soothe me or just be another thing I have to deal with?

Getting back on my feet, everything seems harder than it was before.

I’ll let you know what I decide.

Fri. Feb. 15, 2019: Starting the Indoor Planting

20190214_075514
Scallions and leeks, in one of our sunny windows

Even if I’m not good at blogging about it, I AM trying to get a head start on the seeds this year.

I’m determined to expand my vegetable capacity, even though most of it will be in containers. I simply don’t trust the food supply, especially under the current administration. It’s not safe, and I don’t trust them not to try to starve people who disagree with them. Control the food, control the population.

One of my freelance clients warned me about this over a year ago.

So, this year, I thought long and hard about what I like to eat, and what I think I can grow. Because, as we all know, that’s not always the same thing.

I am a cook. I enjoy cooking, and I devour (pun intended) cookbooks the way I do novels. I have a wonderful collection of cookbooks, including several from the Moosewood Collective, Deborah Madison, and Kripalu. Along with all my other Silver Palate, Barefoot Contessa, Patricia Wells, et al.

I’m not worried about growing too much of anything (even zucchini, which used to be a running joke around here), because I can cook it or freeze it or donate it to a food pantry.

Last year, I purchased seeds early and locally from garden centers. Only they were the previous year’s seeds and did not do well. Last year was an awful year for tomatoes — the first bad year we had. Not too great for cucumbers, either.

This year, I ordered directly from the manufacturer.

The seeds in the photo above are the scallions and leeks. The seeds in the photos at the bottom of this post are eggplants. If even half the seeds I planted grow into productive plants, we’ll be doing well.

This weekend, I’m planting the first of the tomato seeds — I bought six kinds of seeds this year, so it will be interesting to see how many productive plants we get.

I bought quite a few pollinator seeds, too, and will invest in small plants, because I want to encourage the bees back into the yard. We don’t use chemicals, so one would think they’d be happy, but we had a wasp problem last year that discouraged them.

Wish me luck! I’ll try to post semi-regularly and keep you up to date on my successes — and failures.

I never forget that I used to live on the Deuce, 42nd St. in NYC, across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and it was nearly impossible to keep any plants alive!
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eggplants, in our other sunniest window

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

Mornings on the Porch

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Waxing Moon second quarter in Virgo
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Celtic Tree Month of Alder
Sunny and cold

I love sitting outside in the mornings. I feed the cats, take my coffee, and sit outside for about twenty or thirty minutes, listening to the garden.

More and more birds are migrating back. I’ll have to get a Petersen or Audubon guide to learn what they are. I’ve never heard some of those songs before.

The owl in the back usually wakes me up, just before dawn. I love owls, and I’m pleased we have one in the vicinity. The neighbor’s pine has a nest high up in it, so perhaps that’s where he’s staying. I’m not sure which kind of owl he is, but from his call and the nest, I’d think it’s a Great Horned.

The songbirds and other birds fill in as I sit there, and there’s a spring robin jaunting around the grass, getting his breakfast. Before I moved here, I didn’t even know that there were spring robins and winter robins.

The blue jay zooms past, yelling at the top of his lungs, because, of course, it’s all about HIM. I know most people think blue jays are pests, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. They’re scrappy and stubborn and independent. And the blue coloring is so intense and lovely, much more vivid than anything artificially created.

The crows stay out of the back. There’s a group of seven who visit the front lawn every morning, usually a few minutes after I sit down to work. They wander the yard, peering at the windows, and give me the news of the neighborhood, then go off on their rounds. They come back and hang out in the neighborhood, though, and let me know if someone is coming. They seem to know the difference between people who live on the street and “intruders”, and only call out if a non-resident approaches.

I learned, at the various wildlife seminars, that crows mob owls and hawks, but, for some reason, My Mob of Seven seem to have a truce with the Backyard Owl. The crows stay out of the back, the owl stays out of the front, so they’ve worked out some sort of a deal.

This morning, the jays had a fit because a hawk was just outside of the property, circling, looking for some breakfast. The crows came racing around the side of the property, mobbed him, and chased him off. What was interesting was that they kept whatever truce lines they’ve drawn with Backyard Owl, not crossing through the backyard, but going around it, to get to the intruding hawk.

I’m going to start some more seeds on Monday, the next planting day. Some of them, I’ll start in seed pots, and some I’ll start in the pots I plant to put outside. My dilemma is that, in all the design books, the advice demands mixing as many different plants as possible in each pot for a lush, abundant look. However, I feel that, since I’m so new to all of this, that I should start them separately — a pot of chamomile, a pot of lemon balm, a pot of lobelia, etc. Then, as they grow and I’m more familiar with them, I can figure out what to mix and match, dig some out of some pots, put them with compatible, pretty plants in other pots, etc.

The Racer pumpkin that came up a few days ago is getting big, and the second one which came up is racing to catch up. The Chucky pumpkins are growing at a much more sedate rate.

The Lemon Verbena didn’t make it, unfortunately; it was too traumatized during the shipping process.

I heard from White Flower Farm that they’ve shipped my iris plants — iris are among my favorite flower, so I’m excited.

I like roses when other people take care of them — they seem like an awful lot of work — but some of the shrub roses I’m reading about look rather intriguing. I remember there used to be a special type of climber specific to the Cape, but maybe I’ll see more of it in June. The stores are carrying the “hybrid tea” roses, which , as I say, are pretty in OTHER people’s gardens, but I’m not up for the work.

I love sitting on the porch in the mornings, letting the yard talk to me. I learn something new every day, and, hopefully, the garden will teach me what it needs.

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