Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Look what we got:

Lovely for coffee in the morning or lemonade in the afternoon--not real big but neither is the space so that all works out, and the plastic "wicker" will hopefully wear well, too.

Now all it needs is a garden!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More signs that things are alive

Anyone ever read in The Secret Garden where Dickon is showing Mary the garden isn't really all dead, just dormant for the winter--"it's quick" he says, not as in fast but as in ALIVE?

That's what I've been feeling the past few days!

There's a crab-apple tree in the yard that seemed a bit creaky. Only a few weeks ago, there was no sign of life and I was trying to figure out which of the boughs would have some life and which were already too far gone. The joke was on me, look at it now:
In other fun news, get a load of this:
That little bitty bud is going to be a lilac bloom--how's that for incredible!

Happy, happy spring!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Plan? Sure, I have a plan...

Well, kind of a plan anyway.

But yes, for the back garden I do have a thought out and measured trial plan. We'll see how it comes together, and hopefully with it this year it will give me more ideas about what works and what doesn't to keep improving from there.

So, without further ado--the plan:
I think if you click on it, you'll be able to read the words, but basically, we have tomatoes (cantaloupe, too) to the left, shasta daises and foxglove to the rear, and in the middle/front, from left to right, we have butterfly weed, nicotiana, balsam, nicotiana, and blue bachelor buttons. Rose's garden is to the far right (she has a plan, too, more on that in a later post).

Remember, this is the area:

The "vision" is for the veggies to get enough light to grow and the flowers to be a full, wild-ish, profusion of color, kind of old fashioned and cottage like.

Stay tuned to see how it really works out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

So this compost thing...

Just not so sure it's working out.

I've been diligently saving my scraps, cuttings, egg shells, and coffee grounds. Throwing in a few handfuls of dead leaves from time to time. I occasionally pour over it a glass or two of rain water or Brita filtered water. I even hoist it over and roll the barrel around at least once a week, sometimes more.

Honestly, I don't see any sign that it's doing anything at all.

It doesn't stink or even smell much like anything (small blessings, I guess). It doesn't feel hot or even luke warm. Just nothing ever looks different at all from the way it was when I put it in the barrel. Ever.

Not sure how long this is going to take. Maybe I'll get some progress when it's warmer out. Other than that, I guess it isn't hurting anything, but shouldn't it just do something?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little lettuces

The past few years, I've grown loose leaf lettuces on my apartment patio. They've never minded the lack of TLC or the partial shade and having them up on the second story meant I didn't have to deal with rabbits eating my salad.

A few weeks ago I took out a packet of seeds packed for 2006 that I had kept in a zip lock in the freezer and tossed them over the dirt in the planters I had moved to our new place. I just dusted them with seed starter to keep them in place and let them go. Because the seeds were so old, I spread them very thickly.

Right after I planted them, We had lots of rain, including some very heavy rain. This past Saturday, I remembered to take a look and, lo and behold, I have lettuces! Lots of lettuces!

I'm hoping the planters will give me a head start on the rabbits here, too. I'll let the thick layer of seedlings go a bit more and try and thin them out when the thinnings are big enough to count as "baby greens" on my table.

I'm very please because a) I didn't have very high hopes for these old seeds, and b) I love fresh lettuce and am always happy to get it for free (or nearly free) and with very little actual work!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wishing all who celebrate a happy and blessed Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Moonflowers, the way God intended them to be

Finally, the first of the moonflowers, second attempt are coming up and this one, fortunately, is showing none of the suicidal tendencies the first batch did. You can look back in the blog and see, but basically, 1 left the seed/leave part in the soil and popped up headless and the other two couldn't break out of the seedcoat. Bah.

This one:as you can see, has decided to split open the seedcoat and come out. Good moonflower!

Not a big garden Saturday for me today--I'm baking our traditional lamb cake for Easter and lots of sweet bread for Easter morning, so I'm busy growing baked goods today.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lilacs are coming

When we moved in here, there were some very young bush-like plantings already in place to make the place look less like a ship that had docked and more like a permanent home.

On one of the warmer days a month or two ago, when Rose and I felt like we wanted to be outside, rather than my usual winter state of "there's really no other choice, really?" I took a few minutes to notice the tags still on these plantings and see what they had planted there.

Turns out, we have not only:

Inkberry (a most un-holly like member of the holly family)

Snowmound Spiria

But also....

Lilacs, which I love.

Right now the lilacs are so little, less than 3' tall, but the buds are swelling and what a few months ago looked like a few bunches of dead sticks are suddenly looking like they're ready to burst into spring.

I, for one, can't wait!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

See how they've grown!

We've had quite a run of gloomy weather with more gloom on the horizon, so the real world doesn't feel much like spring right now, but at least there's the inside happenings to cheer me up.

The foxglove's real leaves are getting bigger and stronger, take a look:

And the Balsam I just planted last week are sending out their little roots into the soil--got to love those seeds that like little or no covering so you can see what's going on! They're still a little hard to spot in the Miracle Grow Mix among all that pearlite, but I've marked the photos with big yellow circles, so look close and you may be able to see them.

Plus, look at this, it's the real butterfly weed, not that crazy other weed that fooled me the first time. Isn't it a funny sprout, looks like little twins more than a single seed, and if you look close a the base (in real life, not so much the picture) you can just make out little leaves starting to shoot off from the side. Strange.

And, last but not least, check out the progress the tomatoes have made! These are by far the most vigorous of my seedlings--I'm coming to the conclusion that flowers are nice, but if you want to feel like you're thumbs are really green, tomatoes are the only way to go!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Front Garden

This little area by the front porch is what I'll be calling the front garden. As you can see, it's a fairly small place with partial shade tucked behind a curved retaining wall.

Right now is has mulch and some sparse pachysandra (not my favorite), but I envision it as a delightful little hidden space with bleeding hearts, a hydrangea, and some interesting little things like trillium and hellebore. I've started the shorter "foxy" foxglove for this space.

I'm undecided about that pachysandra. My gut instinct is to just yank it all up and make it go away, but I'm also wondering it it wouldn't be good to keep it there as a green mulch thing, at least until the rest of the stuff takes root and fills out.

I've also ordered some strawberries and a pot for that front porch--that (like the whole rest of this) will be an experiment with a lot of high hopes riding on it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Muskmelons and Balsam

Those are two plants you probably don't hear of that often, Muskmelon and Balsam.

Last Friday I started seeds for both of those plants.

As I understand it, both are heirloom varieties. Your great-grandparents would probably be fairly unimpressed, common as these were way back.

Muskmelon Cantaloupe
is basically what we think of as cantaloupe with that sweet orange flesh and the net-like exterior.

Balsam Plant
(not to be confused with those balsam firs of Balsam & Protein Shampoo fame!) was, I hear, a Victorian favorite. It's the grandfather of the modern impatiens, but unlike impatiens, the flowers grow close to the stem and the leaves come out around them. I've never seen a Balsam in real life, but the combination of Victorian heirloom and the showy and slightly unusual look (not to mention "easy to grow" reputation) was intriguing enough for me to want to try some.

Muskmelon Cantelope: Hale's Best Jumbo (Cucumis melo-Reticulatus Group)

Seed from Botanical Interests. (this is a fun seed company--the drawings are beautiful and they fill their packets with tons of information)

Very thick, sweet salmon-pink flesh with a small seed cavity.

Started indoors April 3, 5.5 weeks out (recommended 4-6)

In zone 6, these need to be started indoors, but they don't transplant well. To ease the eventual transition, I started them (as recommended) in paper pots--mine were made by wraping folded newspaper around a drinking glass as seen here.

85 days to ripe fruit.

Balsam: Camellia Flowered Mix (Impatiens Balsamina)

Seed from Livingston Seed Co.

Pink and Purple double flowers.

Started indoors April 3, 5.5 weeks out (recommended 4-6)

18-30” tall, needs appx. 12” spacing


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hope amidst the ruins

Ok, I know that's way over dramatic--so some moonflowers didn't make it and my hard drive is titched, and also the sweetpeas may well be rotting under the 6 inches of mud that filled in their trench under all this rain. Not the end of the world.

This is spring and I'm starting a garden--gardening is about hope, right? Looking at little brown specks and piles of dirt and seeing green growing beauty.

The Nicotiana and Viola are (finally) coming up. These were planted at the same time as the butterfly weed, and Rose's iceplants and the herbs, but they just looked like a nice tray of dirt long after we started thinning the iceplants. I was beginning to wonder if they would ever come up.

The viola started first (3 days ago), but the viola also showed little roots out the pointy end of the seed a week or so ago, so I was less thrilled to see them. The Nicotiana, however went from nothing to something just yesterday morning and I am so happy. I'm more excited about having these deep purple fine smelling things and they seemed, until yesterday, to be doing not a thing. Ha! They fooled me.

Also, less new but in it's own way lovely--the tomatoes are starting to grow their real leaves so I went ahead and thinned the 2 out of 6 cells that had 2 seedlings in them (I planted 2 seeds in each cell, but they seem to have germinated at just over 50%). Get this: I happened to get a whiff of those little plucked seedlings and they smell like tomato plants--instant summer! Of course, logically they would smell like tomato plants seeing that they are tomato plants, but I guess I just wasn't expecting that from little sprouts. Funny how smells can take you places--instant summer, I love that!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't rain but pour--moonflower suicides and other troubles

Well, this is going well.

Remember how I planted some moonflower seeds and I was so happy to see them popup and mentioned that sometimes a few of them die because the leaves can't break out of the tough seed coat. See where this is going?

Yes, that's right: I planted 4 seeds, 3 came up. 1 left its seed/leaf part in the dirt and popped up headless, so 2 made it to seedling. BOTH seedlings died in the seed and now I have none.

Yesterday I put 6 more seeds in the cells. I nicked the seedcoats (which I rarely have to do) for good measure. Better luck next time, I hope!

I'm wondering if the seed mix was so light that things didn't get the chance to soften up as usual (in the past I've planted them in garden soil), or if maybe this is just a difficult batch of seeds. Possibly it's just an unlucky luck of the draw?

Also, a little Eden Ever After warning: my computer's hard drive is failing (see, seeds aren't the only things that can go wrong!). I have a new one on the way and will hopefully get things switched over easily without missing a beat--BUT, if I seem to be MIA for a while, please bear with me.

In other news, it rained (real rain) gallons and gallons the day after we planted the sweetpeas outside--hopefully that will help them a lot and Rose will have something fun to watch of her own soon.

And, today or tomorrow, I'm going to start some balsam and cantaloupe inside so they will be ready to go outside when the time comes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Seedling Mystery

Remember that butterfly weed seedling? The one I was so impressed by because it was thread thin and hardly seemed able to grow into a perennial thick-leaved butterfly weed? Well, turns out it may not be able to do that!

Look what I found this morning in that cell:
Can you see those two new identical sprouts sticking up with thicker, more plausible butterfly weed leaves? So what the heck is that first thin seedling?!?

I planted these in a brand new package of Miracle Grow seed starter right from the bag, so it's probably not something that was in the soil that way. Could be something that blew in when I wasn't looking? I have half a mind to try and transfer it to another cell just so I can see what it grows into--I do love a good mystery!