Category Archives: spring

Memorial Day Weekend gardening

Weather-wise, this weekend was a real mixed bag, nearly 90 degrees on Saturday plunging to the 50s on Sunday. We are safe from freezing by now, knock on wood, and the plants seem to be weathering the weather. Once again, the alphabetical approach:

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Calibrochoa and celosia

Annuals: The marigolds I planted from seed are flowering now – miraculous! I got a calibrochoa and some celosia too. Last year I had some lobelia and verbena and poppies, which I loved. Perennials make more sense in terms of money and time, but a few annuals are so nice for their bright colors.

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Magnolia grown from seed

Berries: We got to eat one beautifully red strawberry, but that brings the score to Humans: 1, Squirrels/birds: 1+????? I’m going to have to put netting around the berries if we want to eat any more this year. The raspberries and blueberries are developing too, but not ripe yet.

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Our lone, delicious strawberry

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Raspberries: if the birds get ’em all, let the record show…they existed

Coral bells: New! I read in the garden catalog that they have colorful foliage and do well in part shade, so I got one each of three varieties to plant in the back yard, between the daylilies and the hellebore.

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Daylilies, coral bells, dusty miller (from last year, improbably), hellebore

Herbs: The rosemary in the ground had been thriving, but then suddenly sort of shriveled and shrunk and wilted/dried up. I got another one and put it in a pot. Got some parsley, too. Basil is in with the tomatoes, still on the small side, but looking healthy for the most part.

Peas: The sweet peas never did emerge, but the Wando shelling peas are growing. None have quite latched onto the teepee yet, but they are sending out little tendrils…

Sunflowers: The seeds I planted in the ground sprouted and were looking good and healthy, but they have disappeared. Critters!

Tomatoes: Mine that I started from seed are much smaller than the ones in the nursery now, but I’m hoping they’ll catch up.

Wildflowers: The wildflower mix has sprouted! I can’t tell what everything will be yet, but it’s nice to have a little mystery in the garden.

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Lily of the valley (I think) in a found wooden box planter

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Spring garden, mid-May

There are beginning to be a lot of plants to keep track of, so here’s an alphabetical update!

Strawberry

Blueberry

Berries: Both the blueberry and raspberry bushes are thriving in their barrels! They are full and green, and the blueberry bush is full of little white flowers. The strawberry plants – both in the hanging planters and the pot – have white flowers and green berries.

Daffodils and narcissus: These came up beautifully! It was nice to have some early color in the garden. And gratifying to see that they are indeed of zero interest to rabbits and squirrels.

Dogwood trees: We don’t have one, but there are so many in our neighborhood, and they are all gorgeous right now. As a rule I don’t like pink, but for these I make an exception. (“They don’t look like dogs!” -toddler)

Dogwood

Herbs: Last year’s lavender, rosemary, sage, and allium survived the winter and are thriving. I got a new mint plant, and it is growing so enthusiastically in its pot that I didn’t feel bad harvesting some recently for recipes.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle: Seems to be doing very well, and has grown some nice yellow flowers. I’m hoping it will take over the back fence.

Hyacinth, grape: These got nibbled pretty much to death thanks to the urban wildlife. Also, I cannot explain to the toddler in a way she will understand that they are not, in fact, grapes.

Marigolds: The ones I bought are doing well, and the ones I grew from seed are coming along – a couple in with the strawberries, and three or four in the raised bed. It might have been too much to hope that they would deter squirrels, though.

Peas: The sweet peas have yet to emerge, and I’m losing hope, but the shelling peas are growing ambitiously. I gave some of the seedlings away to friends, and I still have more than I know what to do with.

Phlox

Phlox: My five plants from last year are a nice bright green but have yet to flower. My mom got me two more, one purple and one pink. Maybe mine are just late bloomers? Or not getting enough sun…

Pumpkins: Not sure if these plants are going to make it. They were ambitious in their seed tray, but struggling outside. They’re under a neighbor’s tree, so they probably have too much shade, plus stuff falling on them all the time, and it’s rocky soil…we’ll see.

Sunflowers: I started some seeds in pots, and these are growing upward in a leggy fashion (lots of stem, few leaves). I just planted some more directly in the ground outside, and am waiting to see if they’ll grow, or get dug up by squirrels. Pests. I’m trying two varieties, one that may grow to 4-5′ and one “dwarf” that is expected to be 18-24″.

Tulip

The lone tulip that bloomed. Beheaded less than a day after this photo.

Tomatoes: All of the varieties I started indoors resulted in healthy seedlings – more than I could plant! I’ve moved several into the raised bed (Glacier, Chocolate Cherry, and Sun Gold), planted a few in last year’s buckets, gave some (Glacier and Ace 55) to friends, and still have more.

Tulips: Every single one has been beheaded. SQUIRRELS.

Wildflowers: I planted a “bring home the butterflies” mix this past week, which was a little later than they should have gone in, and it’s too early to tell if they’ll sprout yet or not. Fingers crossed!

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Sprouts and sprouts

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Violets

A beautiful day! On our neighborhood walks, there’s always a new plant or flower to look at; today we saw yellow dandelions, lots of daffodils, some tulips, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, and violets.

The barrels of berries remained more or less unbothered by critters overnight, but I’m planning to add some cedar mulch soon – to prevent weeds, hold in moisture, and add a little acidity.

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Raspberry

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Blueberry

The seedlings in peat trays at a south-facing window seemed to have stalled, so I transplanted some tomatoes and marigolds into four-inch pots and some basil into a rectangular planter. I also dared, slightly ahead of schedule, to plant the pumpkin seedlings outside. They won’t get as much sun as they’d like, but the tomatoes and berries are my priority. For now I’m hoping we won’t have a late frost…

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Pumpkin patch, with daffodils (right) and struggling grape hyacinth (front)

I planted the honeysuckle right in the middle of the back fence. It’s already the tallest thing there – there are some daylilies to one side and some herbs to the other, but there’s not a lot of height in the back yard yet so I hope it grows up and out.

Last year’s three abbotswood shrubs have come back really nicely and have plenty of green. When they bloom, they have small pale yellow flowers.

 

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Abbotswood shrub

 

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Marigolds

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And we’re back…and it’s spring!

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Jean skirt, front.

My new sewing machine is wonderful! I got it at a local shop that offers one-on-one lessons for free if you get your machine there, so I was able to learn the basics right away, and I’ve already completed my jean skirt project (just in time for some springlike weather) and started making some fabric cards.

The latter were inspired by an archivist friend of mine; we’re pen pals and she always sends her letters on the most interesting “stationery.” Part of her most recent letter came on a card that was fabric on one side and paper on the other, sewn together at the edges (and, I suspect, with some type of adhesive between). My first two attempts – without adhesive, using a double stitch – were a bit wrinkly. The second two were marginally better – I used PVA glue, which I had from bookmaking, and tried a different stitch – but there is still room for improvement.

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Fabric card, black and white polka dots with blue thread

Spring garden update: the indoor seeds (basil, tomato, pumpkin, marigold) are still doing well, with the addition of some seed starter mix to the peat trays. Outside, my daffodils have just popped, and other bulbs are emerging as well – tulips, grape hyacinth (muscari), and narcissus. (The tulips look a little munched, thanks to the backyard bunnies, but I think at least some will survive.)

IMG_20180427_131817We found barrel-type planters for berries – last year’s “Raspberry Shortcake” thornless raspberry, which I transplanted from a 12″ terra cotta pot, and a new “Peach Sorbet” blueberry bush, which I brought home today. I was able to (trans)plant this morning while the weather was still gorgeous, and didn’t have to water because it rained this afternoon. I ran out of time to plant the honeysuckle vine, but that gives me a little more time to decide where it should go, because option #1 turned out to have a giant tree root about 8 inches down.

Around the neighborhood, snowdrops and crocuses have come and gone, daffodils are up, forsythia is blooming, and I’ve seen a few hyacinths in the past few days.

It’s still too early to move the seedlings outside or plant the strawberries, marigolds (good for repelling critters and bugs), and mint I got today…but soon.

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Daffodils and tulips

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Daffodils

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New blueberry bush

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Raspberry bush (need to prune dead canes)

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“Appletini” mint

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Spring gardening: Starting seeds

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Page from When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes: “A seed will start growing.”

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Grow cube from Gale: “Cultivate Community”

There may still be plenty of snow on the ground, but it’s the perfect time (actually, maybe a tiny bit late) to start seeds indoors! Today, we went to the garden center to pick up reusable plastic trays with peat pellets, and planted lots of seeds: “Jack O’ Lantern” pumpkins from Plimouth Plantation, sweet basil (previous year’s seeds, so we’ll see how many germinate), and four types of tomato (Sun Gold, Chocolate Cherry, Ace 55, and Irish Glacier). We also planted some marigold seeds in a “grow cube” (also peat) that I got at the Public Library Association conference last week – a rather unusual but much appreciated giveaway from a vendor.

The seed trays are upstairs in front of one of our few south-facing windows, with a grow light for extra rays, and a squirt bottle nearby to keep them moist. It will be exciting to see them start to sprout in about a week.

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Squirt. Bottle.

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Seed tray with tomato varieties

Outside, I’m keeping an eye out for shoots coming up from bulbs we planted last fall. Some poked up before the last big blizzard, but the temperature hasn’t dipped too far below freezing, so I hope they’ll be okay: we planted daffodils, narcissus, grape hyacinth (muscari), and tulips.

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From When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes: “Spring can come quickly or slowly. It changes its mind a lot.”

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Spring gardening, May update

About a month since my last garden post, and a lot has changed!

The hellebore seems to have been transplanted successfully.

I did dig up two of the clumps of chives (onion grass) and potted them; I’ve used them on bagels & cream cheese and they are tasty.

I’ve had three early strawberries, one small and two tiny. Hoping for more! So far, they seem safe from wildlife up on the front porch.

I tried to harvest the radishes, and…only greens, no radishes! This happened a year or two ago and I forgot. I think it’s something to do with the soil – I looked it up at the time but didn’t blog about it. Oh well.

Tomatoes: I’ve got five plants in the old orange buckets – we’ll build a raised bed next year. I got two basil plants but too early, and they suffered from cold; I tucked some of last year’s basil seeds in the soil with the tomatoes and am waiting for them to come up.

Raspberries: A friend from work kindly gave me three canes from her yard, but I’m not sure they’ll take. My mom got me a thornless raspberry bush, which I potted for this year; it may need a bigger pot next year.

Herbs and scented plants: Last year’s lavender survived over the winter in a bucket, so I transplanted it into a sunny area in front and put in some rose campion too. I’ve got sweet mint and chocolate mint in pots (but considering putting it in the ground…), white sage and regular sage, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. I built a “sweet pea teepee” in a large pot, and put in some sweet pea seeds around the border of the yard as well.

Large pot with Icelandic poppies, verbena, and lobelia

Flowers: A few here and there – a big pot with Icelandic poppies, verbena, lobelia, and calibrochoa; nasturtium and cosmos seeds in two hanging baskets and various places around the yard; and five phlox plants to start a border around the rhododendron. (Am I the only one who dislikes rhododendron? But it was already here and I didn’t have anything else to put there yet – maybe next year I’ll dig them out and see if anyone wants them. Ben is making a case for sunflowers there instead.)

Weeds: There are some pernicious weeds. Little maple saplings everywhere, for one, and some kind of faintly bad-smelling very invasive tall vine [note: pretty sure this is Oriental bittersweet]. There are also weeds that are less of a menace; I leave the dandelions unless I want to put something else in their place, and there’s one with a lot of greenery and pretty yellow flowers that I’m leaving alone as well.

Rain barrel: acquired from the Town and installed! I’ve been using water from it to fill my watering can and water the plants.

Compost bin: also acquired from the Town! I think it’s working, but I can’t tell yet. I did read almost a whole book about composting so I think I’m doing it right, and it feels good to have so much less kitchen waste (coffee grounds, apple cores, orange peels, eggshells…).

Lavender plant in orange bucket

Last year’s lavender survived!

Phlox and rhododendron

New phlox, old rhododendron

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Spring gardening at the new place

Spring is here, and that means plants and dirt! It also means seeing what perennials come up in our new yard, and planting a few things of our own in the ground, though I’ll still have lots of plants in pots and containers this year.

Greyhound lounging in the sun, new hellebore

Hellebore yellow flower

Hellebore

First, we raked up a LOT of last year’s dead leaves. That alone made a huge difference! Then my mom and my aunt helped me plant four hellebore plants that my aunt had brought from her own garden in Maryland. We planted them where I hope they’ll get a good amount of sun, and added some mulch. The dog also got to enjoy the sunshine while we worked.

There are little tufts of what look and smell a lot like chives here and there. I’m thinking of digging them up and potting them, since I usually grow chives in the summer anyway. If they aren’t exactly chives, they’re definitely in the onion/garlic family, so…close enough, right?

Strawberry plants in jar

Strawberry plants

I bought three new strawberry plants and put them in my old strawberry jar, on the south-facing front porch where they’ll get lots of sun (and hopefully be less prone to attack by squirrels, birds, rabbits, and any other berry-loving wildlife).

I moved the herbs that made it through the winter indoors back outdoors: mint, rosemary, and thyme. I bought three new parsley plants for the herb shelf as well – two curly, one flat-leaf – some of which I harvested to use at our seder. I’ll be getting basil as well, but it’s a little early in the season still – it may still be getting too cold at night for basil.

Radish seedlings

Radish seedlings

I didn’t start any seeds indoors this year, but I did get some radish seeds at the hardware store and planted them in containers outside; they have already sprouted! The first crop should be ready in less than three weeks, and I can plant another crop in late summer/early fall.

I tried to get the little one excited about the seedlings, but she is more interested in the slide, the hammock, throwing a ball (as of today!), and chalk drawings on the pavement.

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What’s next? I’ll plant tomatoes and basil in May. They’ll go in the same containers as last year, since I don’t think we’ll be building any raised beds in a hurry. I’ll probably get some flowers, too, and keep an eye on any perennials or “volunteers” that come up. I’d love to get a rain barrel and start composting, too. (Any tips? Leave a comment!) I’d love to get honeysuckle and/or some berries growing on the back fence, so I’ll be on the lookout for a thornless berry bush or vine. And that all seems like plenty for Year One here! Maybe in the fall I’ll put in some bulbs for next spring – grape hyacinths, daffodils or perhaps tulips. We’ll see!

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