31 March 2011


Rain, rain. I can't get out to dig in the garden, so instead here's picture of things that cheer me up.
Tulip buds!

30 March 2011

baby tomatoes

Here come the Cherry Tomato seedlings!
Now everything has sprouted in my trays except for a few of the herbs. It's too late for me to start any new seed, so we'll just have to make do with few peppers this year. I'm anxious now that everything gets big enough to go into the ground by mid-April, so I don't have to fret over seedlings when the baby comes. Although they will need watering and slug protection, but they also grow faster once outside in the ground...


Moved some of my tiny Parsley seedlings out of their tray into cardpots. I've got a handful from store-bought seed, and quite a few more from the seed I harvested out of my mom's garden.
They look a lot like celery seedlings to me. I wonder if the two plants are related?

29 March 2011


There's a big evergreen hedge in the neighborhood that overgrows the sidewalk, and recently I've noticed its seed cones are springing open and dropping seeds on the ground. So I plucked a bunch off when walking by and brought them home.
I think it's a cypress.
I wonder if I can grow them into my own hedge, ha ha. Another growing experiment in the making!

27 March 2011

more seedling news

There has been a slug in my coldframe. It ate a romaine lettuce seedling and a pepper seedling before I put a dish of beer in there and drowned it. But after bringing my peppers, tomatoes and basil plants inside, something kept chomping them- one morn the smallest Tomato plant was missing some leaves, the next morning one of my Peppers was just a bare stem! I suspected a slug again and put a teensy dish of beer out- but no luck with that. So today I potted up into cardboard tubes all those seedlings that were grouped together under the lamp, mostly with hopes of finding the slug. I did. It was a very little one, hiding between two cardpots of Tomato plants. Now I've only three of those left, but they're the ones I don't know the variety of, so I don't mind too much.

The little plants are all lined up in the windowsill now, instead of under lamps:
Here's the remaining Tomatoes.
I didn't get very many Peppers to grow at all, so it was dismaying to have so many eaten by slugs already! Now I only have three Bell Peppers left
and two from the Hot Pepper mix.
 A few Basil plantlets; there are five more in the second-seeded tray now as well.

26 March 2011


The only surviving young tree I have from the Arbor Foundation, the flowering Crabapple, is putting out new spring leaves!


I have found two more little evergreen trees of some kind growing in the grass. They're very small, and have a different look from the ones in the front I moved into the flower bed. I'm thinking of digging them up and putting in pots to watch grow bigger and see if I can identify.
Against the side fence in the back near shed two little shrubs are sprouting from the scraggly grass, too. They seem to be the same as the scrawny shrub against the fence that has small, dark blue berries in winter (I don't see any birds visiting it). I want to try and figure out what these are, too. Is it something planted on purpose? a native? an invader? worth growing and can I prune it to make it look nicer and full?
Here's a bit of twig I pulled off to look at closer. I pored through some tree-and-shrub identification books at the library today, but couldn't decide what they were.

25 March 2011


I failed to plant Garlics in the fall. We just finished eating the last cured ones from the year before, and are starting in on the nice big fat ones I got last year. Four more have come up in various parts of the garden this spring, so we'll still have a little bit new this year- perhaps just enough to plant cloves again this fall.

24 March 2011

more seedlings

I'm glad I sowed more trays of seedlings. Very happy to see all the Heirloom Beefsteak Tomatoes came up
also quite a few more Basil plants (so teensy right now)
and lots and lots of Marigolds! (I counted fourteen seedlings in the new tray and feel pretty sure even more will sprout, so there will plenty this year to fill all the gaps in the garden).

It's been a cold week of rain, with even a bit of snow mix predicted for the weekend. I've kept my Tomato, Pepper and Basil seedlings inside under lights, and left the other young plants (not quite as tender to chill) outside in the shut coldframe. If it really does snow I'll probably cover the coldframe with a blanket to insulate it more. I'm wondering if I should throw a pile of leaves back over the Rhubarb and Strawberries? or if they'll withstand one day of chill okay...

new things

We've had lots of rain the past few days, but I've got some sunny pictures here from a walk around the yard a few days ago. I wasn't expecting to see some of these plants grow for several weeks yet. Already some Grape Hyacinths are emerging.
Two of the Hosta plants are pushing above ground.
Here come the fat red shoots of the Peony!
Little pink Hyacinth. I wish I knew how to propagate more of this one, but just one plant comes up every year.

23 March 2011

seedlings growing!

These little plants are doing well! I've moved a few more up from their seedling trays into recycled cardpots.

Tomatoes (the unknown ones)
Pink Cosmos
Now the coldframe is getting quite crowded, but soon I'll move the Lettuces out into the garden soil.

seedlings fail

Some of my seedlings have not done well. The Rosemary, Oregano, Chives and Sage have not shown any signs of growing. I've only got Parsley so far. And a little Basil- just four plants came up, one withered, one is stunted and only two are doing just okay. I planted another tray of them a week or so ago, hoping for better results.
Of the two Tomato trays I seeded- one of Cherry tomatoes, the other Heirloom Beefsteak- one didn't grow and the other lost its label. So I replanted another tray of each (not knowing what I've got). Happy to find the Cherry Tomatoes just coming up a few days ago, and the Beefsteak just began sprouting today. But then I put the new Cherry seedlings out in the sun too soon. When I saw they were wilting quickly I moved them into the shade- but then they were uncovered and when I came back after being gone for a bit, some critter had dug a hole in the tray and destroyed all my Cherry Tomato seedlings! I bet it was a squirrel. Restarted them yet again today.

So I've restarted quite a few herbs, and also the Coneflowers. I'm really disappointed these didn't grow yet- it's one of the plants I want most to grow this year, and so far I'm having no luck starting the seed. Maybe they'll do better if I plant them direct in the ground when the soil is warm enough outside.

22 March 2011

carrot method

Planted a new plot of Carrots today. Five rows of the Long Imperator carrots and one row of the Crispy French ones (they didn't grow for me at all last year so I didn't want to waste a lot of space on them but still give it a try. Maybe after months in the fridge they'll germinate for me?)
It felt like quite a bit of work to prepare the bed and plant the seed, but I'm satisfied and hopeful for good spring carrots! First I raked a five-gallon-bucketful of compost over the plot. Then turned it over a spade's depth, and chopped up the soil with the blade of the spade to break up all the lumps. I'm starting to get out of the practice of turning over every garden spot, especially now that after three years of adding compost the soil is getting better texture. But carrots need nice, loose soil to grow straight deep roots, so I still do it every time for them. After breaking up lumps and removing stones I raked it smooth, then patted the entire surface with the back of the spade to make it even and flat. Took a break and went inside to start water boiling on the stove. Then back outside I used my hand trowel to scrape grooves into the soil where I want the seeds to go- six rows, three or four inches apart.

Next I did what my mom suggested last year- fold a piece of paper and pour some seeds into the crease. Then it was fairly easy to sprinkle them evenly down into the rows, with a little tap of the paper to drop each seed. I still ended up with a few seeds in little groups but they're spread far more evenly than I ever got before, and I'll thin out to leave only the biggest seedlings when they come up. Then the hot-water trick! Before I used a watering can full of just-boiled water, but felt it didn't work so well because by the time I was done watering it had cooled. This time I brought the hot pot outside, lidded still, and poured some into a little plastic picnic-set pitcher of my daughter's. It was just enough to pour the hot water in a stream water down each groove, then refill from the covered pot for the next row, still steaming. After all watered easy to use my hands to pull the soil back over the seeds and pat it down. That's it. Now just wait for green growth.


Slowly I've been making my plans for the yard- not the vegetable gardening aspect, but the landscaping. A lot of my yard is just mess of weeds or scruffy lawn where I'd rather not have to mow. I want beautiful plants flanking the yard instead of grass everywhere! Some areas I still don't know what to do with, but here are a few things I have in mind for the future. None of it will likely happen this year, but I want to make notes for when I am ready to do more planting of permanent stuff.

- The strip of soil that edges my driveway alongside the house has in the past been just weeds, then Purslane, and last year I planted it with Tithonia. I want something in that space that looks pretty, comes back every year and doesn't have too deep of roots. I think it would be a good place for a little rose bed, but of course now I have to learn about roses!

- The area that slopes down from the driveway to my patio needs lots of filler. Right now it's mostly uneven weedy grass, with a small young Crape Myrtle bush centered on each side (I moved those there last year). I want to plant a ring of nasturtiums around each crape myrtle. At the bottom of the slope against the fence, to shield it from view and give us a bit more privacy, I want some kind of tidy little evergreen hedge (this year I'm going to plant a row of Tithonias there). On the side against the house my Daylily corner is flourishing, and I want a matching patch of it on the other side against the neighbor's arborvitae hedge- but perhaps another color, not just orange ones everywhere. Around the steps that go down to the patio I want to establish some little plant that won't mind being stepped on and will keep grass and weeds out. The rest of the space between everything on that little slope I still have to think about- some other kind of perennial flower probably...

- The front flowerbeds against the house are always a mess. Right now Tulips are coming up, later there will be Grape Hyacinths and my Hostas. On one end is the Peony plant- I want to dig that up, divide it and have more plants, but not quite sure where yet. One side of the bed has a low row of two kinds of evergreen shrub, the other side has Azaleas, under the windows. I want it to look more even, with evergreen shrub on both sides. But I don't know what kind of bushes I have.... so I've been thinking of taking cuttings and trying to propagate them. Only that would take a long time, probably several years before the cuttings (if I can get them to grow at all!) would be big enough to plant there. And I'd have to move those azaleas- not sure how easy that would be, or where else they'd be happy in my yard. Then of course all the space in front of the shrubs, which is pretty empty once the hyacinths are done, I want to put in more perennial flowers...

- In the backyard, behind the rock line I've made across the edge of lawn, I want to establish another, taller evergreen hedge to give us some privacy from the neighbors (I always get the feeling they're watching me garden- the guys stand out there and stare across their yard and the fence at me. I think they wonder why this pregnant lady is digging up soil and turning compost by herself!) Problem is, right now there is a row of Hibiscus along the fence line, and I don't want to loose them. Is it possible to transplant Hibiscus shrubs? I'd like to move them closer to the lawn and prune them shorter for fuller foliage and to better appreciate the flowers. And then replace their spot with evergreen shrubs. But that seems like a daunting task- I haven't even been able to dig out all the poison ivy back there yet, which grows among the hibiscus.

- The rest of that area behind the rock line I want to have some kind of perennial plantings, shrubs and flowers- but the only thing I'm sure of yet is that flanking each side of my shed I want a Forsythia bush. I love their cheerful yellow in springtime. And at the end of the long divided garden bed I want a Butterfly Bush.

Whew! That's a lot of stuff to do, and it would only take care of half the yard area I want to improve! I've probably mentioned a few of these plans here before, but writing them all down again helps me solidify them. So far the only steps I'm taking is researching what kinds of roses would be easy to maintain and do well in my climate zone, and trying to figure out what type of evergreen shrubs do well here and have the appearance I want. It all feels kind of overwhelming.... but I'm just going to take it one step at a time.

baby chard

Digging up and turning over the old Swiss Chard plot to prepare for tomatoes this year, found one of the stumps was growing new baby leaves. So I put them in an omelette with mushrooms and onion. Scrumptious!

21 March 2011


Cleared the mulch off my Rhubarb and gave it a spring compost feed today. Two of the plants are growing  big and strong, the other two are a bit smaller. I love how fast they grow. And the stems are rosy red now!
Here is the other side of the second plant pictured; you can see the swollen stems ready to unfold more leaves.
 I am really anticipating some rhubarb pie this year!


What a wonderful surprise the garden gave me yesterday, the first day of spring. Lovely lovely Carrots! I've been watching these overwintered plants growing vigorously, but didn't expect much of them until today I noticed some had nice, fat orange shoulders just sticking above the ground. So I pulled some up. And look at what I got!
I've never had such beautiful Carrots before. The longest are six and seven inches. And the taste is amazing. We munched some up raw, it was delicious. I kind of left them in the garden at the end of last fall as a what-the-heck let's see what happens move. But now I think I'm going to plant fall carrots on purpose for a spring harvest, just like I do with garlic. I'm so delighted.


Yesterday I composted and planted a few more plots in the garden. Swiss Chard and Peas. I planted one row of Chard seed from a leftover packet, and another row from my own saved seed. The peas got planted in little circles around tomato cages, so they have something to climb on. I figure my tomatoes won't be big enough to quite need cages until after the peas are done, and it's far easier (and tidier) than using sticks again. Now I have to seed carrots, and set out the little Lettuces. But the next four days it's supposed to rain, so I have to wait a bit again.

20 March 2011

something old for new...

I'm big on recycling. Over the past weeks I've been saving cardboard toilet-paper tubes, and now have begun moving my seedlings from their sprouting trays into these "cardpot" tubes, which will then go directly into the ground (or into a bigger pot until it's warm enough, probably the case for the tomatoes and peppers).

Simpson Lettuce
Romaine Lettuce

in the ground

A few days ago finally got my Beet seed planted. Two-thirds the packet of table beets, and half the packet of canning beets. Quite a bit more beets than I've ever grown before, but the family loves them!

19 March 2011

apple leaf!

One of my daughter's little apple trees is opening new leaves. I'm wondering if I should stake it to straighten the stem? Certainly it needs a bigger pot soon... or a place in the yard!
The other one is still just budding.

18 March 2011

violet crocus

I must have two varieties of Crocus, because these violet ones with delicate stripes on their petals are twice as big as the others, which are already starting to wilt and fade.


Daffodils are blooming in the yard! I don't have many, and .... I don't actually like most of them. They have these extra frilly faces, which to me often just look messy.
I much prefer the plainer, traditional kind. But I have even less of those, scattered here and there.
Two by the front steps.
I think I might dig up the fancy ones after they're done blooming and have them out.