Posts Tagged 'garden'

Here They Come!

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IMG_0274 (1)It’s happening!!! It’s really happening! Spring is on its way here! I have 3 bags of bulbs sitting in the front hall. Alert to my sister: 15 of the gladiolas are for YOU! Maybe if you’re REALLY nice I’ll let you have a few of the 9 canna lilies also. But I really love my cannas. I’m NOT sharing the dahlias – get your own. *grin*

Just 2 weeks ago there was snow on the ground and the little green shoots were being brave and pushing through. Now there is gorgeous sunshine and the snow is gone and everyone has room to stretch and grow.

All together now: PHOTOSYNTHESIZE!!!

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Why We Compost

I do the majority of the grocery shopping for our household. I use a shopping list, I check the shelves and stocks before I go.IMG_9861 While I shop I have a general idea of the week ahead – what I think we’ll be doing, what meals will be needed. Yet somehow I always seem to be led astray in the produce department. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so appealing that I’m SURE we will be running short before the next grocery trip. I’m often wrong in that assumption. A few years ago I began composting. This has alleviated a lot of my guilt about ‘wasting’ the produce we don’t eat. I don’t consider composting “wasting”. I love to garden, I need fresh soil every spring. It’s my own little circle of life – produce to dirt to produce.
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My Winter Garden

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I love my garden. I love flowers, I love growing herbs for cooking, I love the smell of greenery. I know that I have many bulbs I could dig up and winter-over, but it’s all too much effort at this point. rosemary and bay At the same time I’m very happy come the fall and I can stop taking care of all of the plants. 🙂 Maybe some day (that oft-referenced, never-actioned retirement) I’ll be the kind of person to dig up bulbs and store them in the basement. That day is not today. I do, however, attempt to winter over the succulents. They are interesting and comparatively tidy. Even more relevant, however, is the fact that the cats appear to be uninterested in them. This year I also brought in one of the palm trees from the front porch. I’m not sure which species it is exactly, but I checked all of the ones that look like what I have and they were all okay for cats. I bought it at Home Depot so if anyone can put a better identification on it, that would be helpful.

When I had the kitchen updated a bit approximately 12 years ago, I added grow lights to the bay window. I had visions of starting plants from seeds, and growing herbs in the winter. kitchen succulentsI did some of that but not very much. Instead I’ve been using that area to winter-over the succulents. I started with succulents a few years ago after seeing the beautiful arrangements my sister made. I had one pot, and it was small enough that I could bring it in and out. Last year I expanded to another pot, a big one that was on a roller out front. It weighs a ton. My husband brought it in for me and we had it on the floor by the door to the deck. This year that location is no longer available so we had to lift it up to the window seat in the breakfast room bay window. Oh my, that thing is HEAVY. Two of the three palms had already died by the time we were moving the plants inside, but one of them still appeared to be salvageable. I pruned off all of the obviously brown and broken fronds and we brought that in as well.

The major problem with bringing the plants inside is the water. First I need to remember to water them. Second I need to remember not to over-water them and flood the shelf underneath. The pot in the kitchen is easy – not too big, not too heavy.breakfast room plants The other 2 pots are extremely heavy and I thought they might crack anything that wasn’t metal or soft plastic. They are sitting on platters that function but are not aesthetically pleasing. My new kitchen and breakfast room are definitely about aesthetically pleasing. I’m on the hunt for some platter that is attractive, of the correct depth, and waterproof. And THAT’S why there is no picture of the base of the pots! I also moved a grow light into the breakfast room – you can see the pinkish light in the photo. I’m not sure that will be sufficient light for the succulents, but I hope it works. My memory tells me that the palm does NOT need direct sunlight (it was on the porch, after all), so I am hoping that it will have sufficient light from the window and what it gets from the grow light.

Many of my herbs winter-over with no assistance from me. The mint has been coming back for a few years as do the chives. Last year the thyme also managed to save a bit of itself. winterized porchI take all of the big pots, take the flowers out and put them in the compost (or in the leaf bags) and put the now plant-less pots on the porch. Then I take whichever herbs have survived the frost and cold and place those pots as the second row. They line the railing so they can get whatever sun and rain comes their way. The chives seem to manage on this benign neglect so I put them in the corner where I hope they will get the most sun and rain. We’ll see how the others do. The pot with the rosemary and bay leaves is way too heavy to move. I’ve considered digging up those 2 plants and bringing them inside simply for the lovely smell. Maybe if I get super ambitious this weekend I’ll do that. But if past performance is any indicator of future earnings – probably not that likely. 🙂

And now for the obligatory cat photo. GC was all curled up on the couch. She meowed a few times but obliged me by staying in that spot. She’s such a sweet girl.

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GC being adorable

End of Season Browns

IMG_9055This happens every year. I cannot WAIT to get into my garden in the spring. Cleaning, pruning, preparing, digging in the dirt – it’s a siren song. Then comes buying the plants, arranging, planting, potting, admiring, dead-heading – the joy of seeing the blooms and produce. Then comes summer and it’s hot, hot, hot and the rain doesn’t fall on the hanging baskets. It either is a drought and all the plants need water daily or it’s constant rain (like this year) and the weeds emerge and conquer. IMG_9053The spring flowers are past their time, the fall flowers are battling the weeds, the summer flowers are fading and being punished by the incessant deluge from the heavens. That’s the time when I say “I’m really done with gardening for the year.” That time is now.

Most of my wonderful 3 ft tall daisies are brown. The spider worts are done. The rain has beat down the rudbeckia and the giant cosmos. Some careless weed-whacker (ahem) took down some of the dahlias. The dill is done, the cilantro is cooked, the tomatoes never took, and the weeds wander at will. 🙂 Couldn’t resist that last sentence. The hanging baskets still show a pretty face to the passersby, but all WE get to see is dying brownness.

IMG_9062I did finally weed-whack the driveway and the back yard. I probably whacked some of my ivy too, by mistake (just like the dahlia), because the day I was whacking, it must have been the most humid day ever without actually raining. I know it was real-feel over 100F. And of course the weeds are flaunting their wretched little heads again. My husband razed the lawn because we are both so tired of it and our young helper abandoned our neighborhood for a better paying job. I have not yet coerced my new teenage next-door neighbor into being responsible for our lawn and walks.

IMG_9054I want to take my shears and clip all of the herbs down, down, down. The willow needs major pruning as it appears to be staking a claim on the driveway. The contractors’ trucks do battle with the willow weekly but that is one determined bush. I need to get someone to help me wrestle the rhododendron down and back a few feet. Ditto the forsythia. I have no idea what is happening in the far corner back by the water spigot and the deck. There is some weed that is about 6 feet tall now. I could reach it through the dining room window if I were not afraid it might turn me into a pod person. I’m hoping it dies in the winter because otherwise we may need a flame-thrower to battle it. That might be awkward as it IS against both the (wood) house and the (wood) deck.

IMG_9058There are still a few blooms of joy in the garden. Nothing can diminish my joy in my tropicanna canna lilies, the remaining rudbeckia laciniata hortensia (best flower ever) and the mandevilla. There are dahlias fighting the brave fight as well, and a few remaining daisies. The hibiscus has been disappointing all year – even the deer were so uninterested in it that they have done less damage than expected. But it has put out a few more blooms this week as well, encouraging me to garden on. I propped up the cosmos (as well as broke off a major stalk) so they are feeling a bit more up. *grin* The goldenrod is well over 4 ft now, which means it should have a wonderful fall bloom. Of course, most of us are allergic to the goldenrod pollen, but what price beauty, right?
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Reveling in Green

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IMG_8986I did love my time in Tempe. I’m glad that I now have an excuse to go out west to the desert regularly. (Did I mention in any of my posts that despite my belief that the Jersey shore is heaven on earth, I think that the Negev desert is the most beautiful place I have ever seen?)

It was soothing to be coming into EWR and see all the GREEN spread out below me. It felt welcoming.

IMG_8978My husband had kept all the plants alive on the porch (they are sheltered from rain for the most part) and we’d had several rain storms while I was away. When we pulled up to the house, there were my favorite plants in full bloom – rudbeckia laciniata hortensia.

The canna lilies are also blooming fully, as well as the mandevilla.

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Stalled

IMG_8695Construction has come to a halt while we wait for the township to come and inspect the insulation. I have been extremely surprised at how quickly we have had the past inspections. It seemed Don had but to call and an appointment was scheduled within the week. Not this time. This is more what I had expected, given some of my other dealings with government when trying to sell our mother’s house. We are stalled for over a week, waiting to get the next inspection done. I think this is the last inspection for quite a bit. I don’t think the next few rounds of activity are going to require stage-by-stage approvals. So no renovation news until next week sometime, when we pass inspection (we hope) and start on the walls.

In the meantime I’ll share garden pictures. I’ve been working in my sun room in the front of the house. The house faces south, which means that sun room can get quite warm. IMG_8697That’s a good thing in the winter but can be a bit much in the summer, hence the awnings. A friend of mine said “why AWNINGS??? They are so DARK!!!!” Well, yes, I replied, but come and join me when the temps are in the 90s. The awnings are a real help then. There are 8 windows in that sun room. I keep the blinds shut in the early morning, until the sun rises above the awnings and there is no direct light into the room. My co-workers have been commenting on my beach room, because that is, of course, what I did with my sun room. It is a very happy place for me, even if the chair/desk situation is not very good for my back. I’m in the office today and I’m wearing my sweatshirt and drinking hot coffee because I’m COLD in the air conditioning. But the chair is soooo comfortable and I love my 2 ft monitor. Pros and cons everywhere.

Spring flowers (peonies and roses) are done but many of the summer flowers are blooming. I love them, but I confess that I get bored around mid-July with having to water them so much. I have a soaker hose, and I even have a 4-way spigot I could put on the outdoor faucet. I just haven’t gotten to it. IMG_8710A common refrain: “not gotten to that yet”. I know Honour knows this song too. I love canna lilies as you can see in the photos – I have them in 3 places. It’s almost time for the rudbeckia to bloom as well. I picked some of my “crops” to snack on today in the office: yellow cherry tomatoes, which are wonderfully sweet, and Mexican sour gherkins. The gherkins are fun but they are very sour. 🙂 I’m trying to think of a good way to use them to take advantage of the taste. I have another tomato plant as well as the cherry tomatoes, but that second plant has produced a single tomato. One. And my hot pepper plants have done nothing. I bought all of those at the ag fair back in the spring. I’m a bit disappointed with most of my purchases there. Only the gherkins and the cherry tomatoes seem to have thrived.

I need to trim the front hedge again. I took it down quite a bit in the spring, but it needs some attention. I need to tame the forsythia and the rhododendron on the side of the house. I cropped the picture to avoid the overgrown azaleas and the huge taller-than-my-dining-room-window weed that is growing by the outdoor faucet. That side of the house is definitely in need of major pruning. The lilac bush is blocking my way to that faucet, and so are the spider webs that spring up as soon as I clear them away. This past weekend was actually perfect pruning weather but I had other plans. I need to hire someone. Of course, I now need to hire someone to cut the grass as well, because my young high-school grass-cutter found himself a permanent job. It may be time for me to stop supporting the local youths and simply hire a lawn care service. But only if they’ll do it without chemicals. Or I could just let it all grow and grow….
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Mexican Sour Gherkins

IMG_8623There is a lot of hammering and drilling and other construction noises emanating from the basement today. It’s sunny and warm and dry outside, which means it’s a good day to check out the garden.

I am growing Mexican Sour Gherkins!!!! They were a spur-of-the-moment purchase several weeks ago in May. It was FINALLY a warm, sunny, weekend day and I fled the house to soak up some sun and fresh air. Rutgers University was having its big Rutgers day celebration which I believe started many years when the Rutgers Ag school would have Ag day, and the students would sell their plants – flowers, herbs and vegetables. I have NEVER made it to Ag day, despite many of my friends singing its praise. I headed over there and picked up a few items, including my strawberry plant (which got its very own post) and something I’d never heard of before: Mexican sour gherkins. IMG_8620 I asked if I could grow it UP a trellis instead of in the ground with runners. The answer was as long as it’s supported, it should be fine.

The plant has been putting out skinny light green runners for weeks, and little yellow flowers have been appearing everywhere. Last week I noticed that some flowers had become fruit!! I’m hoping I’ll know when they can be harvested because so far the most detailed description that I have for size is “smaller than a grape”. That’s very small.

If you are going to follow one of these links, I suggest the one above to “Modern Farmer”. I found Mexican sour gherkins in Wikipedia, but they have a horrible name there: Melothria Scabra. All I can think of is scabrous which is a big yuck. *shudder* The description is a mite alarming as well. It says it can grow to 10 feet. Um, I have this in a pot. IMG_8621 There is no way I can support 10 ft of plant. On the other hand – it’s a very skinny vine. Maybe I can just keep looping it.

It’s very exciting to see these tiny gherkins growing. They are colorful and I’m getting a good crop. Stay tuned for more adventures of the ignorant farmer. 🙂


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