Tag Archives: spring

How does your garden grow?

Blue-glazed strawberry jar with three side openings and one top opening, planted with strawberry plants

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?

There are no silver bells here (unless you count windchimes), and certainly no cockle shells or pretty maids, but there are several kinds of herbs and flowers. Memorial Day weekend updates:

  • Moved most strawberries from Home Depot buckets to a strawberry jar or individual terra cotta pots. Hoping this will foil the squirrels (does anything foil the squirrels?). Also, the strawberry jar is pretty – a gift from some friends who are moving away, leaving their rooftop garden behind.
  • Transplanted basil and small rose bush from plastic pots to terra cotta ones (extra terra cotta pots were gifts from same friends as above). I learned from my container gardening book that the roots of plants in plastic pots can heat up too much on hot sunny days.
  • Transplanted the grape hyacinth – which is pretty much done for the year, I think – into its own terra cotta pot, and replaced it with a new sage plant in the rectangular planter with the rosemary and chives.
  • Moved the roses and the calibrochoa from the back porch to the front; moved two mint plants from the front to the back; moved basil and kalanchoe from indoor windowsill to back porch.
  • Planted a cutting of mint for a co-worker. (Growing new mint plants from old ones is incredibly easy: take a cutting, place the stem in water for several days, and it starts growing roots; then you can plant it in soil and it should be off and running.)

I’m trying not to overdo it, but it’s easy to keep saying “just one more thing” and before you know it it’s been three hours. If I ever got raised beds I’d probably never come inside, so I’m sticking with containers for now. At least this afternoon was somewhat overcast, and I remembered to take breaks to drink water.

Basil in round pot, nasturtium and basil in rectangular planter, strawberries in new strawberry jar

Basil in round pot, nasturtium and basil in rectangular planter, strawberries in new strawberry jar

Thyme in rectangular planter, strawberry, mint, and thyme in raised pots, basil on right

Thyme in rectangular planter, strawberry, mint, and thyme in raised pots, basil on right

Mint, kalanchoe, basil, thyme

Mint, kalanchoe, basil, thyme


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Spring gardening, outdoor edition

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think we’re past the danger of frost now, so today I transplanted most of the seedlings from the peat tray and moved them outside.

A pot of basil seedlings just beginning to sprout

Basil growing on the windowsill

A row of little pots lined up on the porch railing

From left: jelly bean tomatoes, thyme and chives, mint and bunny tails in the terra cotta pot.

Rectangular planters and small round pots on the porch railing

In the rectangular planter, I pulled out last year’s parsley (it wasn’t healthy), and planted bunny tails in the middle; I’m pretty sure I planted seeds on either side, but now I’m not sure what kind they were. I thought basil, but most of those have come up by now, so it might be nasturtiums, which take longer to emerge. The two small round pots and the smaller rectangular planter all contain thyme, grown from seed.

Two small round pots, a rectangular planter, and two flower pots

From left: two small pots of chives, a rectangular planter with basil and nasturtiums, and two calibrochoa flowers. I had calibrochoa for the first time last year, and loved it: great colors, and it bloomed all summer (at least until it succumbed to aphids), plus it doesn’t require deadheading. Mostly I prefer to grow things I can eat, but a few flowers are just so cheery.

A terra cotta pot with dusty miller, little white flowers, and little orange flowers

Speaking of which, this year I added two 12″ pots at the base of the front stairs to brighten the entry. Each pot has dusty miller, a Diascia hybrid (the orange flowers), and a Nemesia fruticans (the white flowers).

Pink flowers, pale greenery in a pot overlooking the stairs

I also added a dianthus in the front. I thought it was something else – some of our neighbors have plants with a similar shade of pale greenery and super-saturated magenta/fuschia flowers, but I don’t know what those are called and this isn’t it. Still, it’s nice and bright.

A patch of earth bordered by 2x4s and rocks, a rectangular planter to the right side

Back to the backyard: This is the same patch where I tried to grow squash last year. (The squash did very well for half the summer, then abruptly died.) This year, I planted a few rows of carrots, with sweet peas along the back, close to the fence, and nasturtiums in the front. The seeds have yet to sprout, but we only put them in on May 3, and they may take up to 21 days to emerge. In the rectangular planter to the right are radishes and some more nasturtiums.

Birds' eye view of rectangular planter with radish seedlings sprouting

The radishes are very enthusiastic. This is my first year growing radishes (and anything from seed, for that matter), and I’m looking forward to them. (Does anyone know when to pull them up to eat? That’s the trouble with root vegetables…)

A row of 8 orange buckets with tomato seedlings and cages

Last but certainly not least, the stars of the garden (I hope), the tomatoes! Ben turned the soil from last year and added more soil, and helped place the cages, though obviously the seedlings don’t need them yet. (And this year I’ll be more vigilant about trimming the plants so they put more energy into growing tomatoes and less into growing stems and leaves. Last year it looked like Jack and the Beanstalk back there.)

There are four varieties of tomato: Sun Gold, Sweet 100s, Jelly Bean, and Gardener’s Delight. I’m especially looking forward to the Sun Gold and Sweet 100s, which I tasted from my cousin’s garden last summer.

I also added a few more basil seeds to the tomato buckets, as tomatoes and basil are supposed to be good “companions,” though I’m afraid the buckets will become somewhat crowded and I may have to thin them.

A birds' eye view of one of the orange buckets with tomato seedlings

A few more orange buckets contain strawberry plants from two summers ago (they keep surviving, though they didn’t produce any berries last summer, or at least none I got to before the birds and squirrels did), the rosemary that spent the winter indoors, and some sweet pea seeds (Knee-High and High Scent) that have yet to emerge.

The back porch from the back yard; buckets below, pots and planters on railing

The view from the hammock.

The peat tray was a success, I think, and I was able to give the extra seedlings away to friends and co-workers. Now it’s time to sit back, water, and watch things grow!


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Sheepshearing Festival at Gore Place

Goats and sheep running toward the cameraThis is what happens when you find a flyer in the library. Or at least, when Ben does. He was intrigued by this sheepshearing festival, and the weather was nice, so off we went. We saw a herding dog demonstration, some other animals (chickens, a baby lamb, oxen, a llama), trapeze artists, and lots of wool products.

Ben standing next to a sign that reads Sheep Shuttle StopA black-and-white herding dog crouched in the grassTrapeze equipment and netsA 2-year-old white ox tied to a trailerThe two-year-old oxen were not that impressive, size-wise; a sign said they weighed 1,200 pounds each, which is about the same as a Thoroughbred horse. But around the other side of the trailer…

Full-grown white ox tied to a trailer…an ox suitable for Paul Bunyan. Or for pulling the trailer – I don’t know why they bothered with the truck.

A llama lying down in the dirt, head up, facing the camera

Dentists’ nightmares are full of llama teeth.

A sign of "Diet Tips"

Click image to enlarge.

Outside the fudge tent (of course there was a fudge tent, what self-respecting farm festival doesn’t have a fudge tent?) was this sign of “Diet Tips,” which may as well be my family’s motto. It’s a little long for a motto, but it can be summarized as “Mmmm, chocolate.” (Sub-motto: “This is mine, get your own.”)

Blue sky with white cloudsAll in all, it was a lovely day, if five or ten degrees colder than we might have liked. At least the wool merchants were happy.

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Neighborhood flowers

grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinths marching across the lawn toward the sidewalk


Violets thriving in a crack on the sidewalk

White daffodils with orange centers

Daffodils standing tall and proud

Purple-blue hyacinths

Hyacinths, a sneaky daffodil, and small blue flowers

Bright pink-red tulips with yellow centers

Early tulips

Fuzzy-looking reddish growths on a tree branch

Some sort of…I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what this tree is growing. Last year I remember it having leaves.

Small pale-green round leaves growing close to the ground, just beginning to open.

I’m not sure what these are going to be either. Right now they remind me of those fish in that game where their mouths open and close and you have to get the fishing pole in and hook them at just the right time.

A tree branch with white flowers

Flowering tree branches

Small pink and blue flowers growing in long grass

Pinks and blues

4/27/15 Edited to add: My cousin informs me that the peculiar reddish puffball things on the tree are the flowers of a red maple; the magnetic-fish-looking ones are sedum; and the small blue flowers are scilla (though they look to me like the flowers on a vinca vine; maybe they’re related?). Thanks, Anne!

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Early spring gardening, indoor seedling edition

This is the first year I’ve planted from seeds, and the results are gratifying so far; I planted them last Friday and saw little sprouts begin to emerge in less than a week. The seed packets themselves have lots of information about planting depth and sunlight requirements, but I also found the book Successful Container Gardening to be helpful.

Peat tray, a few rows filled with potting mixThe dryer is near an east-facing window and is a perfect height for planting, as well as an out-of-the-way location for the seedlings to get their start indoors.

Seed packets: sun gold tomato, supersweet 100 tomato, thyme, chives I planted four varieties of tomato seeds – Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, Jelly Bean grape tomatoes, and “Gardener’s Delight” cherry tomatoes – and chives and thyme. I meant to get basil and nasturtium also; I may try to add those soon.

tomato seeds in the palm of a handHere are the tiny tomato seeds.

chive seeds in the palm of a handAnd even tinier chive seeds.

jelly bean red and yellow tomato seedsThe red jelly bean tomato seeds were dyed, but I planted red and yellow together, about three seeds in each little section. The book advised making little holes in the dirt with the tip of a pencil, which worked well.

peat tray with soil and seeds, plastic lid over topHere’s the peat tray all planted with seeds: tomatoes, herbs, and bunny tails (a non-edible grass). The extra green pots also hold thyme seeds, and the extra brown pots hold more chives.

And look! A mere six days after planting…

Bunny Tails sproutingThese are the Bunny Tails. (I’ve very glad I drew a diagram of what I planted where, as the book suggested.)

tomato seedlings sproutingThese are some of the tomato seedlings sprouting. I think if you stood in front of them for an hour you’d actually see them grow.

thyme seedlings sproutingWe won’t be running out of thyme anytime soon! Pun very much intended.

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Welcoming spring flowers and houseguests

It’s April! Spring has sprung! By which I mean, temperatures are still mostly in the 30s and 40s, and when it creeps into the 50s it’s usually accompanied by rain or mist. But it’s spring, and here’s proof:

A clump of snowdrops growing at the base of a tree


Purple crocuses, petals closed


My mom was visiting for Passover, so she got to see the spring flowers without having to suffer through the 110 inches of snow. Someone was very excited to greet her favorite houseguest…

Sudo lying on the guest room floor in front of a futon bed

“When is she getting here?”

Sudo sleeping on the bed, head on pillows

“I have to test it out – how else will we know if it’s comfy?”

Sudo lying with her head at the foot of the bed

“It’s just as comfy this way.”

And when Mom left, Sudo took full advantage, burrowing under the covers and sprawling on the pillows.

Sudo on pillows and blankets

“She’s gone, I am bereft, I need pillows to comfort me.”

The seder went well, with good friends and good food and a chaotic retelling of the parts of the story people remembered (we have the Maxwell House haggadahs, not the most comprehensible or up-to-date. Note to self: get new ones before next year).

Seder plate, candles, and small rose bush on dinner table

Sudo did not drink four glasses of wine, but you’d never know it from the way she passed out on the couch after dinner:

Sudo on the couch, completely unaware of the making a really hideous face she's making

Sudo on couch, eyes closed, mouth open; a really truly indescribably stupid face


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