30 September 2011


In the past two days I took advantage of a breeze (which meant I could take the baby out into the garden) and a long nap to do some digging. With the help of compost and grass mulch, a shovel and my own sweat I moved two Crepe Myrtles out of the raised bed. This little one which came with that packet from the Arbor foundation two years ago got moved to a spot next to the small patio, just off the corner of the house near fence in my backyard. I'm picturing how it will grace that corner when it grows up. Right now it barely clears the grass!
And this bigger one which grew from the root left in the ground last year, I dug again and moved to the other side of my steps down to the main patio, so now there's one on each side, of about the same size. I do hope it survives.
There's still a fat piece of root left in the strawberry bed; I tried to get it all but failed. So next year I'll have yet another crepe myrtle to move, unless I just pinch the growth off until the root dies.

pretty herbs

It's been raining a lot lately, but also quite sunny. My little beginning of an herb garden is bursting with new growth; the Parsley though I cut some to dry weeks ago, is quite tall and the other plants all have new leaves. I think they like their grass-clipping mulch; it certainly is helping keep the weeds away (and the foliage clean, so I don't have to worry about mud splashed on it, can just pick and use immediately for cooking). I've never seen my Thyme grow so well, nor have leaves so big. It's just beautiful, so full and lush now.
One of my next major fall garden tasks is to move most of these potted herbs by the door
into the ground. I know the mints and lemon balm (also in the mint family) are notorious spreaders, but I plan to simply sink them in pots. I don't mind if that restricts their growth; we don't eat enough mint to need huge plants! I might let the lemon balm have a bit more room, though...

You can see how much they've filled out again from being cut down! The pots on the ground, from left to right: tucked against the door the Peppermint/Spearmint, in blue pot the Chocolate Mint, bright green in black pot the Lemon Balm, in clay pot the other Pepper/Spear Mint (I must figure out which one is which!) and in smaller blue-green pot the Sage.

29 September 2011

something yellow

My Rhubarb continues to thrive in the fall weather and rain.
Next to it, a bright yellow patch. I thought from the window it was a toy my kid left out there, so went out to retrieve before the rain (we've had a few blankets and dolls left out in the rain turn moldy and have to get discarded lately). It wasn't a toy. It was a big fungus.
Here's the other side.
It was growing right where the fourth, dead rhubarb plant used to be. It's not the only one, though. There are several others in the weedy part of the back lawn, scattered about ten feet apart. I wonder if it's all part of the same underground system? and what kind of fungus it is...

28 September 2011


I've been seeing these brown-and-gold butterflies with spots.
They alight on the ground, on the newly-cut grass, fly up but not very high, and land again. When I first saw this one outside our door I thought it was hurt and just couldn't fly.
Now I think they're probably "puddling", which is when butterflies sip up minerals and nutrients from moisture on the ground.

This one I took pictures of is a Buckeye butterfly; they're quite common around here.

23 September 2011


My Dracanea the dragon-tree has been doing poorly. Before, I thought it was from being in too-small a pot and put it in a bigger one. It's been doing worse than ever, very droopy. I read more and realized that dracaneas like to be a bit pot-bound. Then upended it and realized the pot had no drainage hole. I felt awful. It was drowning! So I took it out of that pot, gave it fresh soil with plenty of perlite,
and punched holes in the pot it came out of and gave that pot to the smallest unhappy Avocado.
The pot the Avocado came out of, I put the bigger Dracanea (corn plant) into (who had given its pot to the dragon-tree). It was a regular plant switcharound, and I hope they're all happier now.
I've also moved my dumb-canes. They're now in the livingroom windowsill, and seem to be doing better there.
This is the one made up of recent cuttings. It lost a few leaves, but not as many as I expected.

And since this post is about houseplants, might as well mention I've potted up some baby Spider plants off the big momma pot. Second set of offspring!

22 September 2011


I think the trimming I gave the Hibiscus shrubs months ago has paid off. They have more flowers than ever, and I'm even more determined to dig them up and make a little hibiscus hedge closer to the house someday.

The colors are so varied, too- from white and pale pink to light purple and almost lavender. I took some photos, and noticed that the petals vary in their shapes, too. Some are almost round, others more oblong or frilly.
This one has a small petal curled inside around its pistil.

bold orange

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with my Tithonias.
On the one hand, I love their bold colors, and that the flowers attract bees,
butterflies, and hummingbirds (which sadly I have never yet got a photo of- one day I will!) They also last into fall if I keep clipping the dead flower heads off.
But I always start to dislike their appearance near the end of summer. Lots of the lower leaves start to wilt and turn black and hang all ugly. It really makes them look ratty. I don't know if its cold that does this, or not enough water, or what. Haven't been able to figure it out so my next plan is to make Tithonia a background plant (which it should be anyway) next year, so something planted in front of it will hide the mess of dead foliage.

21 September 2011


This one Hosta in the backyard is pretty much the happiest hosta plant I have. It's tucked behind the rock wall that edges the rhubarb patch. It got a nice compost feed the other day.
My favorite Hostas, the blue-green ones by the house are not doing so well. Their leaf edges are all yellow. I'm not sure of the cause.
The front-yard hostas are doing really poorly, except for the one by the peony plant. I think they get too much sun. Ought to dig them all up and relocate, but not quite sure yet where to put them.


I don't know why I'm always so happy when my composting goes successfully. It's so simple, really. Throw the stuff together, and let nature do the rest. Even at times like this, when I haven't touched the pile in months, and my garden plants are all suffering from being ignored, the compost keeps quietly cooking away.

I started turning it over yesterday and was delighted to find very nice black finished stuff at the bottom of the pile. I know I say this every year, but I think this year was the best compost batch ever! Probably because I just left it alone so long. When I lifted the bin up off the pile, crumbly stuff was spilling out from the base, it was that broken down. You can see the layers quite well here. That rich black layer at the bottom, that's the good stuff!
I've started digging it out.
 Fed the Rhubarb
I've cleaned up the bed and trimmed surrounding bushes, it looks quite a bit nicer now.
and Strawberry patch today
(from this view you can barely see the strawberries for that crepe myrtle growing in the corner. One of my next projects is to dig up and move it)
Next chance I get to go out into the garden I'll finish shoveling out the compost; feed the rest of the hostas and the baby crab apple tree (which is looking sad since its transplant) move two and feed all of the crepe myrtles. Then if there's any left over save it in bags for spring or perhaps dig it into part of the garden soil now...

20 September 2011


I've got a spot for the Peppers and Basil indoors, now. They're situated in front of the kitchen window, with the Basil pots on the floor and Peppers behind them on a makeshift shelf.
The biggest pepper was awfully droopy from shock when I first brought it in, but I misted the leaves with water and it perked right up. If they don't get enough light here, I might have to put them in the mudroom for the winter, with carpet pieces against the wall behind them to muffle the draft. Of course, they probably will have to get moved anyway once the baby starts crawling. I don't want her digging her little hands in the soil or putting leaves in her mouth! None of the other plants in my house are situated on the floor, so I hadn't thought about this problem yet...


Here is the start of my herb bed! On the right are the two Thyme plants, on the left are the Rosemary (top) and Lavender (bottom). I've been wanting to have all the perennial herbs in one area, but also reading more about how herbs can repel pests from the garden, some of them would do better to be in different spots according to what's planted where. (For example, last year my thymes were planted near the cauliflowers. I had problems with white cabbage butterfly caterpillars, but not with flea beetles -which drove me crazy the year before- because apparently the thyme kept them away) So not sure about that, now.
Nearby are the Parsley plants. I think I might dig some up to bring indoors in pots for the winter.

19 September 2011


My Rhubarb seems to have revivied with the cooler fall weather and abundant rain.
It just really doesn't like our summer heat. I still need to weed its patch, though. Hopefully I can eat more of it next spring! but I'm trying to think how to better treat it so it can get through the summers okay. More water, shade, mulch?

I've finally gotten around to cleaning out my Strawberry patch, which was full of weeds (mostly sorrel and bindweed). The plants have grown back a lot since I cut them short after fruiting, but they've also gotten chewed on by the slugs a lot. One of them looks almost dead.
This one on the end is doing best. I think it's the one I put coffee-grounds around, which repels the slugs...

18 September 2011


I've planted a tree! Well, actually it was growing in my walled bed for a year, but now it's in the permanent spot. I took advantage of a warm but windy day (which keeps the mosquitoes off my baby) and put Sonja on a blanket nearby where she could look up at the leaves moving.

Dug out the middle of a rotten stump and planted the tree there. It's a flowering crab apple. My older daughter is hoping it will be a good climbing tree for her someday, but I'm not sure how many years she'll have to wait for it to get big enough!

One of her Apples suffered a shock (I'm not sure from what) and all its leaves suddenly turned brown and curled. Not winter shedding, as the other apple is doing fine still.
I have hope though, because at the ends of the limbs new fresh leaves are opening, so its still alive.


I thought Crocus only grew in the springtime? This flower, which looks very much like a crocus to me, has just emerged from its summer estivation and is blooming again.

17 September 2011


Today is overcast, so I stuck the baby snug in her stroller
and we went outside into the garden to dig up some plants and (hopefully) keep them alive partway or, in the case of the peppers, all through the winter.

As I understand, peppers can be perennial plants, they just don't like the cold. Nights are getting a bit chill now. So I've dug up my best Bell Pepper, the little Jalapeno (which still has tons of little fat peppers hanging on it) and the one that makes peppers with a pointy end (I'm still not sure what they're called) to bring indoors. I tried this last year, but my plant got an aphid infestation and I didn't know how to treat it and it died. Sad. This time I've made sure to prune off extra-heavy foliage, withered and bug-bitten leaves, and those with insect eggs on them. Also careful to knock most of the soil off the roots and pot them in potting soil with perlite mixed in. Treated the three Basil I potted up the same way.

You can see them all here. The Bell is the biggest pepper, the other two are smaller. Basils in the front
or in this photo, off to the side. I'm trying to make a good spot for them all near the kitchen window where they'll get good light in the winter but not be cold (mudroom has the best light but no heat).
Now I have a priority system for eating Basil. First we'll eat leaves off the few plants left outside, until they die. Then we'll eat off the potted plants I'm bringing indoors, until they fail. Last of all we'll use the dried leaves from the ones I've cut and hung from the beams (one of which got put into a jar already, but more on that later).

16 September 2011


Remember I tried to grow Echinacea this year? Unfortunately, some helping hands in the garden didn't recognize them among the weeds and most of the young plants got pulled up. I had two left, which were completely neglected among the rest of the garden.

A few days ago yanking out crabgrass near my driveway suddenly realized with dismay I'd pull out one of the remaining Echinacea. I hastily shoved its roots back in the ground, but didn't hope for much. But it's still alive! Even starting to lift its leaves again.
I looked for the other plant, which is growing against the house near one of my downspouts. It looks quite large and I'm hoping for some purple flowers next summer!

13 September 2011


I'm trying my hand at drying more herbs.
I cut from the garden and hung up in small bundles some Thyme, a few leaves of Sage, Parsley, wild Fennel (not sure if that's going to be any good) and Basil.
Incidentally, I already had some Thyme dried but when I removed the leaves for storage the other day noticed they were all dirty. From soil that splashed up under the foliage in rain and didn't come off when I rinsed. So this time I made sure the Thyme plants had thick grass-clipping mulch under them, and waited for a sunny day after heavy rain. I've got way too much of it cut, but will inspect all the stems after they're dry and only keep the cleanest ones.

I cut quite a bit off my bonsai-tree Thyme that lives indoors, too. It's really pathetic looking now. I think it would fare better outside in more sun; the outdoor thymes are so much more lush and thick with growth.
Oh, and I've got one Garlic head.
The three volunteer plants from the garden? They actually all gave very nice cloves; the two smaller ones are already peeled and separated in the fridge for cooking use. This one head hangs lonely next to the herbs. I'll have to start garlics all over again, after three years of not having to buy any! Granted, they're cheap but the homegrown ones are so much more pungent and strong.