Thurs. May 5, 2022: Spring

image courtesy of dae Jeung kim via pixabay.cm

Thursday, May 5, 2022

First Quarter Moon Waxing in Cancer

Pluto Retrograde

Celtic Tree Month of Willow

Sunny and pleasant

We’ve been able to leave the plants on the front porch for most of the week, although the weekend nights are supposed to dip down into the 30’s again, so we’ll have to take the plants back in. I hope, by next week, we can set up the front porch and the back balcony the way we want to. I want those enchanted garden spaces set up, and then we’ll add/subtract/rearrange over the season.

This is our first season where we start growing things here in the mountains, so there will be a learning curve

The pear, clementine, and mallow have not come up, and I’m giving up on them. I’ve already planted the Norway spruce seedling in the pot where the pear seeds were. Haven’t decided what to plant in the other pots yet. The lavender hasn’t come up, but that’s not a particular surprise. I usually need to buy those as plants.

It looks like I’ll have to buy different morning glory seeds and try those again.

I keep planting cat grass every couple of weeks, alternating the two pots, because Willa and Charlotte love it so much. Tessa has no interest. She likes the herbs – not to eat, but to roll in.

The peace lily is very happy in its new pot, so let’s hope it can stay in it for a few years. Because I don’t know where we’d put a bigger pot to winter.

The dahlias are the big excitement. They are growing beautifully, and are such fun to watch. If they do succeed and bloom, I think they will be gorgeous. My dahlia coach will be proud!

The Tamed Wild box which arrived last week had a small plant kit (could be marigold, mint, or money plant). Today is a planting day (planting and harvesting days are noted on my Llewellyn datebook calendar), so I will plant whatever it is (I hope it’s mint, I have the other two), and I will plant more cat grass.

I’m already excited about Saturday’s Farmer’s Market. I might stop at the Plant Connector that day, too, and see if I can find a small philodendron, a spider plant, and maybe an ivy.

Once the car is fixed and we can go to Whitney’s Farm in Cheshire, I want to get some herbs, geraniums, and maybe begonias. When it gets a little warmer, I want to get a big hanging basket of petunias, and one of cranesbill geranium to hang out on the back porch. At some point, I will buy a few pots of black-eyed Susans.

I hope the night blooming jasmine arrives soon. Although it’s been so chilly, it’s not surprising that it hasn’t shipped yet.

The Rose of Jericho had its week-long rest last week, out of water, and is back in the water, enjoying it. The research I did indicated the water should be changed every day, but this plant prefers water changed every 2-3 days. Tomorrow will be its weekly rest day. Supposedly, it needs to rest one day a week and one day a month out of water.

In the neighborhood, the forsythia is blooming, and so are the tulip trees. Out back, a neighbor has a gorgeous white flowering large shrub. Not sure what it is. I thought it was some kind of azalea, but friends suggested white forsythia or witch hazel. I’m wondering if maybe it’s apple, and is actually a tree or several trees that have been espaliered against the fence? There are quite a few apple trees planted in the various streets which are coming into flower.

It smells wonderful when I run errands on foot!

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. March 10, 2022: Watching Seedlings Grow

imaage courtesy of Jesus Leal via pixabay.com

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

Celtic Tree Month of Ash

Sunny and snowy

They told us we’d have 2-3 inches of accumulation yesterday, but it snowed all day, and I think it’s between 6 and 8 inches. I have some shoveling to do in the parking lot to get my car out!

The little seedlings are doing well. When the sun warms the front porch enough, I bring out the seedlings for a few hours in the afternoon, and then take them back in when the sun angle changes.

Last Sunday, I planted the Black-Eyed Susan vine and the lemon balm. They should sprout by the end of the month.

I ordered tansy seeds from one company, and mallow and sweet peas from another. The tansy seeds should be here Saturday, so maybe I’ll plant them this weekend. I want a pot of tansy in for the front porch and one for the back balcony, to keep away pests.

I bought some more pots. I have to get the lighter ones, because I don’t want too much weight on the porch or the balcony. I could have the large, ceramic planters on Cape because they were on the deck, and that was sturdy enough to hold the weight. The porch and balcony can probably take a good deal of weight here, but I don’t want to push my luck.

I have to get some more potting soil, too, which I will pick up tomorrow. I want to get the tomatoes and the cucumbers started. I’m going to seed them directly, rather than do starter pots and then replant.

I will need to replant the lemon that I grew from organic seed into a bigger pot. It’s doing well. I have some organic pear and clementine saved seeds that I want to try.

It feels weird to focus on planting when there’s still so much snow happening, but it’s necessary. We probably can’t put anything out on the back balcony until late April or early May. The front porch, since it’s enclosed and south-facing, will be able to hold plants earlier, as long as the nights don’t get too cold.

I miss my lilacs terribly. I’ll probably spend way too much money this spring buying cut lilacs.

The cat grass grew like crazy. Willa and Charlotte love it, and have almost chomped down the first pot. I’ll order more seeds, and probably grow two pots to alternate, so they always have some cat grass. Tessa thinks it’s awful, and won’t go near it.

The snow is pretty, but it was a heavy, wet snow that’s clinging to branches and power lines. It won’t be fun to shovel. But it will all get done.

The birds are very busy, and they’re negotiating who lives in which bird house and nest out back (there were two bird houses and one covered platform with a nest up on the back balcony when we moved here). The cats love to sit on the chairs in the kitchen near the window and watch the birds. I have a Sibley’s Audubon Guide to the birds I recently unpacked, and I bet we use that a lot this year.

How are things in your neck of the woods?

Thurs. Feb. 17, 2022: First Planting

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Third Quarter Moon Waning in Virgo

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Cloudy/rainy/mild

There’s actual plant stuff to talk about this week.

Friday was mild enough to be out on the front porch. I cut back some of the plants that did not overwinter well. One of the geraniums will probably come back. Our oldest philodendron, the one that looked like something out of Little Shop of Horrors on the Cape, didn’t make it. It was never happy here, and just gave up. The chrysanthemum which used to be in the barrel on the front lawn, and was in a pot on the back balcony, blooming so well in autumn, has new shoots. That will be fine. I don’t think the Impatiens survived, but I’ll give it a few more weeks.

The rest of the seeds arrived Friday, although I didn’t get down to the mailbox to get them until Saturday. I was excited that they arrived, and then realized I’d forgotten to order one of the ones I wanted to try this year. Maybe I’ll still order it; maybe I’ll wait until next year.

Pulled two of the seed packets from the new box which also need to be planted sooner rather than later.

Sunday, I planted two pots of Marine Heliotrope, a pot of Echinacea, and a pot of Rocky Mountain Columbine. All of them could take up to a month to sprout, so I have to be patient, although I’m fussing over the pots every day. And started the journal tracking sheets, so I can see what works and what doesn’t here, and adjust as needed.

Last night, the murder of crows tried to chase away a hawk. He came to perch on our back balcony for a bit. Beautiful, gray-headed, sharp-eyed, amazing wingspan. Much as I love my murder of crows, this gorgeous bird fascinated me. He took a break, rested up, and then took off. That wingspan! Absolutely stunning.

It’s supposed to be very mild for the next few days (maybe the ice around the tires will melt), and then another storm on Sunday.

I need to get some more pots. At the end of February, I have a bunch more seeds to start. I’m excited about the nasturtiums, the four o-clocks, and the black-eyed Susan vine.

Have you started any of your plants yet?

Thurs. Feb. 10, 2022: First Seed Packets

photo by Devon Ellington

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Second Quarter Waxing Moon in Gemini

No Retrogrades

Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Snowy and cold

Yesterday, it was in the forties and slushy, on top of all the layers of ice. It was supposed to be the same today, but it snowed overnight. So that changes the schedule. Well, when we moved here, we were warned that we couldn’t expect to go anywhere from November 1 to the end of March!

The first of the seeds arrived, as you can see from the photo above.

I need to get the heliotrope into pots on the next planting day, which is Saturday. It’s supposed to be started 10-12 weeks before the last frost. And it can take up to a month to sprout.

I chose these particular cherry tomatoes because they can be grown in containers and/or hanging baskets, and I thought that would be fun. I’m not planting them until the end of the month.

The cucumbers are minis, just right to grow in pots on the deck and porch. They can’t be started until after the frosts are finished; I’m thinking the end of March.

I’m still waiting for my other seeds, and will see when/how to schedule planting them. I have a feeling I’ll need a few more pots.

I’m debating whether or not to order a night-blooming jasmine from Territorial Seed to put on the front, screened-in porch. I bet it will smell gorgeous at night.

The only vegetables I’m planning to grow from seed this year are the tomatoes and cucumbers listed above. I will buy some lettuce plants, rather than growing them from seed. I need to learn how the vegetables do in this location.

I have ordered seeds for flowers, and I will buy pots of herbs, so there will be variety. But the growing conditions are very different here than they were on Cape Cod, and I need to learn. It will be trial, and, no doubt, plenty of error!

I’m excited for the farmers’ markets to start up again. There’s one in walking distance.

Hope you’re having a good February. I usually get a bad case of the blues, the “Februaries” I call them, but I’m hoping the planting will assuage some of that.

See you next week!

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!
20190214_075541
eggplants, in our other sunniest window

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