29 March 2013


My daughter picked a crocus from the flowers blooming at the old property and brought it home for me to see. She wanted a vase for it but then saw the Croton piece I am trying to root in a jar, and stuck it in the center. I thought it quite pretty, if a bit unusual.

27 March 2013


I have five Dill in pots still alive, from my crazy midwinter sowing when we had deceptively balmy weather. Starting to open the mini-greenhouse on warmer days to get them used to the bare air, so they can go into bigger containers soon.

26 March 2013

sad plant II

I am still trying to save my Curry Plant. Half of it has died. This is what's left.
I read up more on the plant- it did great when just stuck into my old garden and ignored, suffering since I brought it inside for the winter. Maybe I cut it back too soon? or am watering wrong? It needs to stay rather dry, fast-draining soil and will die (so say sources online) if the roots stay wet. So thinking that might be the main probem I have repotted it into a new mix. Sure enough, when I tipped it out the lower part of the soil was denser and damp, even though the top feels dry down to my first knuckle.

First I put a layer of broken packing peanuts into the bottom of the pot.
Then a mix of peanuts and potting soil.
I don't like the peanuts floating back up to the surface so mixed the last upper level of soil with crushed eggshells.
Only time will tell if this makes it happier. The one remaining pathetic cutting also got a new soil mix. The only reason I think this might still have life in it is because the curry/maple syrup scent is still strong, and the leaves aren't entirely brittle.

24 March 2013

violet update

I have very carefully split my African violet apart. The main plant went back into its SIP planter- it looks quite happy again and not much stressed (beyond what it was before being overcrowded). I removed all the old, fading blooms and it has new buds- you can just see one on the left.
Here are the pieces that came off it:
The second, slightly smaller crown went into a new SIP I made out of a half-gallon milk carton (the cut off handle makes a perfect hole for a watering tube). This one doesn't look so happy.
The milk carton SIP is not attractive, but there are several points in its favor. The container is something I acquire frequently- I always buy milk and never soda. I'm hoping the semi-opaque material will keep the green algae from growing, but it still allows enough light in that I can see the water level. We'll see how it does.
There was also a little baby offshoot which I put in a smaller SIP. This one looks good.
After all the work, the plants had quite a bit of dirt got on the leaves. I cleaned them off with an old, dry toothbrush.
As a side note, the petioles from the purple Violet I gave away are still alive (barely), but show no signs of growing new plants yet. I doubt now if they ever will.

20 March 2013


The Peas were overdue for getting planted out. They've been sitting outside of the mini-greenhouse for most of the day and during mild nights for the past week, to harden off.
Today they made up my first planter box. I might need to give them more strings to climb up, but this is a start!

19 March 2013


I have done it. Cut the top off my Avocado plant. It was getting very tall with tons of new rapid growth (all straight up) and starting to flop over. It's kind of a shame to see all the beautiful blue-green leaves discarded
but perhaps it will finally branch? Here's how the plant looks now:
It's about three years old now.

18 March 2013

signs of spring!

The other morning I heard a robin chirping for the first time. It's been cardinals and other common birds I don't recognize individually (by their voices) all winter but the familiar note of the robin ushers in the new season for me. It always seems like something I have forgotten what it sounded like all winter, until I hear it again and realize: oh! I know that sound. That lovely sound of spring.

And of course, things are starting to grow again. My daughter's Apple tree is putting out its first new leaves.
Of all the plants that overwintered in pots, the Chives are springing back quickest!
I wrote this post yesterday, and this morning there is light snowfall again. Plants pulled back off the balcony edge and tucked under their "blanket" of burlap. My daughter said with despair "it's snowing! that means spring isn't coming yet." And I reminded her of all the trees with fat buds or new leaves, the drifts of purple crocus, the daffodils and daylilies pushing up out of the ground. Even tulips are growing, I've seen them. So spring is well on the way, not to be halted by a freak late snowfall.

17 March 2013

happy seedlings

The little ones in my coldframe all seem content and are growing quickly! I love being able to walk past the big window all day long and glance straight down into the frame to see them.
Itty bitty celery putting out scalloped leaves:

16 March 2013

green infants

I have seedlings! The little Tomatoes have come up
Cilantro too
Plus some teensy Chard seedlings are emerging in a few of my pots.
No sign of beets yet, but I am hopeful.


plants into new containers/soil yet again. I took this bunch of houseplants and tried to make them all happier. Well, not all houseplants- there's some green Onion seedlings and mini Roses in there.
The Palms all got repotted into a lighter soil mix. I hope this is the last time I do that to them. This is the full collection of parlor palms I have now, minus one little pot of three that already had the better soil.
The baby Green Onions got moved out of their seedling tray.
I have also divided up and repotted the little Roses, which were four together. They look very well and are doing better now that I put them outside every day- last night they stayed out overnight for the first time. I think they're a lot happier outside and in their own spaces- have quit dropping yellowed lower leaves. (The last one pictured in the little red pot is in the original pot that all four plants occupied before!)

11 March 2013

new start

I have started more seeds.
The kids joined in. My older daughter sowed in some recycled containers some kew seeds (a plant that makes green fuzzballs- I've never seen anything like it but the packet looks intriguing) some cherry tomato, orange cosmos, marigolds and forget-me-nots.
For her little sister, participating meant having her own plastic tray, asking for dirt to put in it, shaking all the seed packets she could get her hands on and insisting I open them for her, sprinkling a few seeds into the dirt, pulling stickers (labels) on and off things, and finally dumping her dirt from one tray into another and back again. Of course most of the dirt ended up on the floor, but she had fun! Her biggest problem was that when I gave her seeds, she invariably dropped them and then couldn't discern them from the dirt spilled on the table (covered in old papers for easy cleanup). I wasn't sowing anything like beans or peas, so didn't give her of those bigger seeds. And I thought it was really cute that when we folded up the packets, taped them shut and sealed back into the jars she said the seeds were going back to sleep! Must have heard me explain that to her sister before. (I store them in the fridge).

I started for myself a little bit of Summery Savory, more Dill, a handful of Bell Pepper, Ancho Pepper, Cherry Tomato and Italian heirloom tomato. Will start basil, flowers, more herbs in a few weeks. And plant the carrots and green beans directly outdoors when it's time.

So glad for the coming of spring!

10 March 2013


It is so lovely and warm, and the air smells like spring. I'm shifting the overwintered plants outside onto the balcony nearly every day now, but still bringing them in at night until they're properly acclimatized again. Here's pics of a few of them enjoying the sunshine and mild breeze: Stevia
Mimosa (this one has grown a lot!)
Tarragon (not grown a lot. Hoping it does better with summer).
Lettuces and my few Broccoli in propped-open coldframe.
I also set outside the Bell Pepper, Rose and Curry Plant but they didn't all photograph well with the striped shadows cast by balcony railings.

And here's an empty pot. It used to have a Garlic in it, but suspect a squirrel thought I had hid treasures under the leaf blanket and dug it up. I'm hoping he didn't like it, and won't come back for more.
The other Garlics are all doing great!
There's Mints and on the right Chives behind these Garlic pots.

08 March 2013


My African Violet is looking so awful I'm afraid it might die. But when I peer into the heart of the Cyclamen, I see new flower buds forming! I looked at my record here and it bloomed last year in march, too.

06 March 2013

snow storm

After a week of balmy days, we're getting hit with a snowstorm in early march. Yesterday the prediction was four to eight inches, at midnight when I checked again it was updated to ten to twelve inches! Basically it's going to snow all day.

So of course I pulled inside again the tender plants, and blocked their windows with cardboard protection for the night. Then I moved all the containers outside into close groups away from the exposed edge and against the apartment wall. Most of the pots I set into the still-empty planter boxes and then stuffed and covered them with old leaves, nature's own blanket!
Here's the other side of the balcony:
You can just barely see the Rosemary, Lavender
and Thyme plants peeking out from the leaves. (The larger, bonsai-style one got its flush of leggy spring leaves trimmed off).
I covered as much as I could with burlap sacking, for good measure.The still-exposed Sage got piled with even more leaves.
This morning all seems well. There are just a few fat flakes on the burlap
and some melted drops on the plastic greenhouse box.
If you can tell from some of those prior pictures, I put my Lettuce and Broccoli seedlings plus a few little pots of new Cilantro, into the coldframe a few weeks ago. They seem to be doing fine.
The Peas I think are goners. I foolishly planted them wayy too early. At this stage they should be in ground, with something to climb, and starting to flower. Instead they're all falling over. But to my surprise the Dill in the greenhouse box seems to be perking up, and putting out new, darker foliage. You can just see it through the plastic walls here.
There's baby green onions in there, too, but I can't see them. If they don't make it I'll just start more. Got lots of that seed.

And here's what's happening just beyond the edge of my balcony: snow, snow, snow. It's supposed to come down all day and into the night as well.
I took the second half of these photos through the sliding glass door, not wanting to let cold air into my little apartment, so the quality is not that good, but you get the idea.