24 December 2010

struggling thyme

My Thyme plant that was in the mudroom has been looking sad. Only this piece of it is left alive. So I knocked it all out of the pot, trimmed away the dead plant matter and potted it afresh.
Then moved it into the front windowsill next to the other four Thyme plants (which are flourishing!) I've been cutting off them for cooking, so they're starting to get nice and bushy. Nowadays I slip a piece of cardboard between the plants and windowpane at night, to keep the chill off.

23 December 2010

avocado update

I'm almost surprised my three Avocado plants are still doing well. The mudroom is unheated so I moved them into the living room for the winter, where there's not quite as much light but they won't get chilled. The largest one its stem is getting so thick and the original pit disintegrating so you can hardly see the original avocado it grew from anymore. Here's a picture of the three of them in their new corner.
The second one, which actually has the largest leaves right now, was looking so cramped in its pot I moved it to a bigger one. It's always so odd repotting the Avocados; holding the pit in palm of one hand to tip them out of the pot you can feel all the vibrations from knocking it about, through the strong coiling roots into the pit in your hand; it really makes the thing feel alive! Once in its new pot I noticed it's actually as big as the first plant, now.
The third one needs a bigger pot too, but I don't have another on hand yet.

22 December 2010


My Dracaena has been looking sad. A lot of the leaves are brown on the tips, and the shorter cane looked like it was dying entirely. I moved it into the kitchen where the light is better, hoping it might be happier there.
Trimmed away all the dead leaves and found that that entire shoot was dead, but further down the cane two new shoots were putting out bright green leaves.
So perhaps it will be okay?

jade growth

Now that there's nothing to do outside with plants I've been looking at my houseplants more closely. The jade leaf I stuck in soil that had tiny plantlets growing from it is quite a bit bigger now. The baby plants are larger than their original leaf.
I moved them into a bigger pot and spread them out so each has space to grow into a separate plant.
The mother cutting they came from is getting taller and taller. I think it needs to be repotted too, but I'm out of potting soil so it will have to wait until spring.

16 December 2010

snow cover

I was almost too late blanketing my perennials in the garden. I'd put about an inch of dry leaves over the Rhubarb earlier, but hadn't yet covered the Strawberries. Planned to use leaves there, too, but then everything I read online said leaves are too heavy, will smother and kill the plants. Straw (of course!) is lighter, ideal mulching material for strawberries. But it seems shredded newspaper will do in a pinch, so when I found out it might snow today I got out a box knife and scissors and kiddo helped me shred a two-foot high stack of old newspapers. It was just enough to cover the strawberry bed in two inches of shredded paper, and I got it laid down just as the flakes were beginning to fall.
Then went and raked up the remainder of leaves off the front lawn, and heaped another two or three inches of those over the Rhubarb. I'm sure I looked pretty silly raking leaves in a half-inch of snowfall, but they were there, and I needed them! I'm really anxious to eat some Rhubarb next year, so whatever it takes to get it through the winter alive.
I've just realized I forgot to plant Garlics this fall. So I won't have any new garlic next year. Spring-planted garlic doesn't work for me as well, they get harvested too late to cure in the hot summer weather. But we still have a mesh bag of small heads from last year's garlic, and all the nice fat heads from this year's, still unused. So plenty to last for a while.

My coldframes over the Lettuce don't seem to be working. The plants are wilting and frost-damaged. Stacking materials just doesn't seal out the cold well enough. I'll probably have to buy a real solid coldframe or row covers or something next year if I want to try and overwinter some greens...

07 December 2010

cold frames!

Today it was sunny so I went out and did some garden chores long neglected. Like blanket my Rhubarb under several inches of raked leaves, cut down all the dead Marigolds and Broccoli, coil up and store the garden hose.

Already the ground is frozen; my Beets look dead. But the Lettuce still seems half-alive, so I gathered up all the scraps of boards and bricks and built two makeshift coldframes over the Lettuce plot.
Had one more old window pane so I built one over some of the remaining Swiss Chard, too.
They're not pretty, or terribly sturdy, but I hope will shelter the plants enough that we can eat some greens over winter. I almost considered making one for the Carrots instead, which as you can see in the foreground here, seem to be doing fine.
But although I can easily imagine scraping snow off a coldframe to cut lettuce or chard leaves, I can't yet picture myself going further and trying to dig up winter carrots. Maybe if I'd done this sooner, before the ground froze.... as is, I'm not sure the lettuces and chard will make it, but have some hope!

Someday I'll get me a real coldframe, with a hinged lid and all one piece that I can just pick up and move, instead of restacking bricks every time.

02 December 2010

end of the year

My gardening year is pretty much over. We had a very cold night several days ago, which finally killed the rest of my flowers, wilted the Rhubarb and Swiss Chard. I went out and cut down all the Chard; about half of it was still okay for eating. Look at how much there was!
You can see in this slightly-fuzzy picture that some of the largest leaves were bigger than my daughter's head!
I still have young Beets and Carrots out there, but doubt we'll be able to eat them. The Peas and Lettuce don't seem to mind the cold, so we'll still have a few weeks of salads too, until snow comes.

23 November 2010

last tithonias

Did more yard cleanup yesterday; the Tithonias although still blooming are starting to look horrid with their dying grey and brown foliage. So I cut them all down but saved the best blooms to put in my favorite blue vase.
 Some of the flowers were still quite nice
 Others had their petals curling under so rather moon-ish faces
 And quite a few turning pale in white streaks, which is its own kind of pretty.
The Cosmos are still going strong, they don't seem to mind the cold. I notice more now their variant shades of yellow to orange.
 The only Tithonia left standing is one of the small ones, barely knee high but still flowering.
 I collected a few more prickly seed heads to see if I can save more seed for next year.

18 November 2010

bean seed

I didn't think I'd actually get any good green bean seed saved this year, but just to check opened these shriveled-looking dried up pods from the shed
and to my surprise they actually had nice dried beans inside.
 Some of them quite small and probably won't grow vigorous plants, but none have the funny colors of the earlier ones I tried.

17 November 2010

two more!

Little Nastrutium blooms. One so bold a red-orange
 and the other golden brown. 

12 November 2010


There is one Nasturtium blooming in the pot! My favorite flower, and only one bloom so far in the whole year. Daughter likes to pick these, nip off the under part of the flower and suck out the sweetness. She calls them "honey flowers." I won't let her touch this one though, its pale colors precious to me.

11 November 2010

sad thyme

I just noticed that my biggest, nicest Thyme plant in the mudroom window isn't so nice anymore. A lot of it had dried out.
So I trimmed out all the dead stuff to see how bad it was. Pretty sad how little green was left.
I'm wondering if I should snip off some of the top growth and try to start a new plant. The smaller plants in the front room windowsill are all doing fine; none of them have dried up like this. Perhaps it's too cold at night in the unheated mudroom? (the Basil I brought inside died already). Not sure.

Here it is back in its spot next to the avocados.

10 November 2010

green goods

I have been neglecting the garden again, but it still plugs along. Today in spite of their terrible appearance, my older Broccoli plants yielded up this harvest
 Even though most of the heads are still small, I got more than I expected. I ought to go out and pick bugs, though. In cleaning and trimming the broccoli I picked off these familiar (but one still un-identified) pests
and after a good washing in my largest bowl and two thorough rinsings, drowned five more green caterpillars (from the cabbage moth I'm certain). I'm guessing that's also why my plants look sad and make small heads, because they're too plauged by bugs!
 The younger Broccolis that I started this fall are growing strong,
and only a few getting bothering by slugs or something
but I'm still not sure if they'll produce before snowfall. I know we're going to have a more mild winter this year. Crossing my fingers. Maybe I'll build a coldframe over them.

05 November 2010

new accomodations

I have a bat house!
My sister so kindly sent it for my birthday (a few weeks ago). I've been trying to decide where to hang it in the yard so it's most enticing to whatever homeless bats wander through.
It has a little landing pad on the bottom and wire grid thing inside for them to hold onto. I'm so excited! I do hope I can get some bats to live in it and get some relief from garden pests.

03 November 2010


I didn't know that Celery would regrow after I cut the plant off, but that's just what these are doing. New little foliage coming up out of the stumps. Funny, some have one main plantlet sprouting from the center
and others have a ring of tiny plants around the edge.

02 November 2010

flower seed

I wasn't really planning on trying to save flower seed, but since a lot of my Tithonia and Cosmos made seed heads while they were left to themselves, I gathered them up anyway. They both make prickly shapes. The Cosmos were easy to collect; I just brush or pick the dark seeds off.
Tithonia were a bit trickier. Their prickles can hurt!
I found the easiest way to get the seeds out (which I couldn't even really see) was just to knock the prickly heads on the tabletop, and the seeds fell out. They have such curious shapes.


Found this preying mantis while I was deadheading the Tithonia and Cosmos. For once I actually got some good pictures of him!

01 November 2010

fall garden

I've got a lot of catching up to do on garden posts. A few weeks ago we were gone traveling for ten days, and my plants got kind of neglected. Most of the houseplants were watered, but for some reason my beautiful Oregano looked bone-dry when I got home. Just the tips of the stems were still green, every time I bump the plant while watering it now dead leaves fall off further down the stems. But it seems to be recovering nicely now and I've even pinched a little bit for cooking.
Outside although the garden got no attention, everything seems to be doing fine. The Strawberries are as green as ever.
 All the young plants I put in the ground right before we left are thriving (although I still don't know if I planted them early enough to get a good harvest). From front to back here you can see the Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, Peas, Broccoli (only if you click and blow up the picture) and far back in the shade, the ever-lush Swiss Chard.
 On the other side of the yard my Peas are growing around tomato cages, and already they're climbing up!