Category Archives: gardening

Too Much of a Good Thing

Two years ago, husband and I bought cow pots (containers made from cow manure), in which to start our vegetable seedlings. It certainly made sense, since they were advertised to fertilize the plants while they were getting started. Then the plants could be put  in the garden pot and all, so they would continue to be  fertilized as they grew outside.

They sure didn’t work the way the ads said they would. We had the most pitiful seedlings the last two years.  (It didn’t help that last year the cat ate all the pepper seedlings before we could get them in the ground.) The seedlings started out fine, but  6 weeks after of germination their growth came to a stand still as the roots made contact with the pot, and they languished until we got them out of the pots and into the ground.  It dawned on us that the manure that made up the pots was too rich and “hot” for the seedlings to tolerate. We should have known, since we put composted manure on the garden in the fall so it has a chance to really rot and cool down over the winter.  The cow pots were too much of a good thing. This year we used plastic pots to start the seedlings, and they are the best we have ever started.

When have you experienced too much of a good thing?  When has a product (or person) not lived up you your expectations?

Colorful Sunday

Last Sunday I had lunch with a friend – tried the new St. Paul Bagelry that has opened up near my house. I had a Reuben bagel sandwich (vegetarian version) – something I’d never even heard of before.  It was messy but yummy.

Laura and I weren’t quite ready to go back to our chores and regular life so at the spur of the moment we headed over to the Como Zoo and the Conservatory. We weren’t the only ones – it was a busy day at Como.  The spring show at the sunken garden is all purple and yellow – one of my favorite combinations and we also wandered through the hothouses looking for orchids and then inspected all the bonsai. It was a good way to spend a dreary afternoon.

Since I had to figure out how to make a slideshow out of a gallery this week to showcase Edith’s wonderful photos, I thought I’d try it again with some of my Conservatory pictures (not in Edith’s league but at least colorful).

When have you learned a new trick?

In It For the Long Haul

On this day in 1806, after three months overwintering at Fort Clatsop, the Lewis & Clarke expedition headed home from the Pacific coast. When they arrived back in St. Louis in September, they had been gone for 2 years, 4 months and 10 days.

I’m usually good with delayed gratification. I eat the cake out from under the frosting, then eat the frosting on its own.  I do my weekend chores right away on Saturday morning.  I get my taxes done the first week of February and you all know I do my Solstice cards and gifts way ahead of time.  But 2 years, 4 months and 10 days seems like a long time to finish a project to me.

As the temperatures begin to climb a bit I’ve been thinking about the front yard these days.  My long term plan has always been to diminish the grass and increase the flowers.  Although I still have grass, it’s not much and only takes me about 10 minutes to mow these days; the flowers have definitely taken over.  This is year 11 of my plan.

So I guess 2 years, 4 months and 10 days isn’t too long after all.

What gratification can you wait for?

Spring Dreaming

By coincidence I work with the wife of Joel Karsten, the father of straw bale gardening. When I first got interested in straw bale gardening, it was Karsten’s book that I turned to. I’ve even been to hear him talk.

He has a new book out now and this led to a conversation with his wife in the hallway at work about getting started with bale planning for this summer.

YA and I have discussed cutting down a bit – doing just tomatoes and basil. The bales are a lot of work and we live in such a farmer’s market-rich environment that fresh vegies are always right at hand.  But I do love tending to the tomatoes and basil, so I won’t be able to give those up.  We’re still considering chives but YA’s dog can’t stay away and I had to replant one of the chives plants several times last summer; that plant didn’t do too well.

I realize that I don’t really have to be making these decisions right now, but it feels a little like fantasy daydreaming while I wait for spring.

What keeps you going as the last weeks of winter play out?

What’s in a Name?

New seed catalog time has come, and Husband and I chose and ordered our selections for this year’s garden.  Husband always researches the varieties carefully and chooses based on length of growing season, disease resistance, past successes, and past failures. I don’t think he ever chooses based on the name of the variety. It seems like a lot of effort goes into finding catchy names to entice us to buy one variety over another.

I wonder how they arrive at the names?  I like it when a plant is named for a person-Big Jim Peppers  or Queen Elizabeth Hybrid Tea Roses.  Some names speak to productivity, such as Mortgage Lifter tomatoes or Lazy Housewife pole beans.   Why, though, would you name a variety of celeriac Mars? There isn’t anything particularly warlike about that humble root vegetable. Flower names get pretty fanciful, such as Double Scoop Bubble Gum Echinacea.

I wondered what names Baboons could come up with if they were to name some plants, so that is today’s challenge.

Come up with some clever names for varieties of flowers,  trees, vegetables, shrubs, or even  weeds  I will get us started with my choice of Dead Man Walking American Elm.

Today’s post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

I don’t really have a bucket list, but for quite a while I’ve thought it would be delightful to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. It’s tough to predict when to be there, but last year I thought I had it nailed. I found a website ( https://cherryblossomwatch.com/peak-bloom-forecast/ ) that predicts and tracks the probable peak bloom days for the annual display. Without knowledge of this website, you probably do not know that there is an “indicator tree” that helps the National Park Service fine tune the prediction of Peak Bloom. For reasons too complicated for me to comprehend, one particular tree hits stage one of the 6 stages of blossom development nearly 2 weeks before the all the rest; the others usually follow on a predictable timetable. Usually, but not in 2017. 2017 was not a typical year in DC, on many levels.

http://www.cherryblossomwatch.com

The latest information and forecasts on when Washington DC’s cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin will reach peak bloom in Spring 2018.

But I digress. In late February, due to a very mild winter in the nation’s capital, the indicator tree indicated that the 2017 bloom would possibly be the earliest in history and particularly spectacular. The original prediction was March 10-13. The earliest ever recorded was March 15, the latest, April 18, and average somewhere around the last week of March to the first week in April. The whole show lasts 1-2 weeks, from buds to petals on the ground and green leaves on the trees; and peak lasts 2-3 days. That time frame was particularly convenient for us to take a trip last spring, so the planning began. We decided to leave on March 11, the day after our granddaughter’s 7th birthday party. We hit the road (yes, we drive on vacations) early Saturday morning, heading east. The plan was to be in DC from the 13-15 and then spend a week in the Williamsburg area. Day one was going well until we started hearing reports of the cold snap hitting the East coast. The NPS started pushing back the prediction for peak cherry blossom bloom. Suddenly the buds were encased in ice and it might possibly be the first no-bloom year in history. Peak, if there was to be one, would be at least a week later than previously predicted.

Time to rethink. Go to Williamsburg first, spend the week there and go to DC on the way home. Good plan. No problem changing reservations, peak Williamsburg season and peak cherry blossom season do not correspond. Remember the cold snap hitting the East coast. Yep, that includes Virginia. We weren’t looking for Florida weather, but 20s? Blustery, frigid winds? For days? We made the best of it, we went to the attractions that were open; most opened April 1. We were there March 13-20. We had a good time in Virginia and there was going to be at least a 50% of normal blossom “peak” on March 25, it was now March 20 and time to leave Williamsburg. Husband had been fighting off some insidious eastern US disease for a day or so, but seemed to be winning. It wasn’t peak yet, but this might be the closest we’d ever get, so we scheduled a Cherry Blossom bus tour of DC for the next day, that would require getting up pretty early, but we could handle that. Right? Nope. The illness won during the night and a feverish, achy, mess of a man was not going to make it from Williamsburg to DC and enjoy a bus tour that day. Well medicated and much later than our original plan, we headed west without ever seeing a single cherry blossom.

I have a new cherry blossom plan in mind now. My chiropractor tells me that his uncle lived in Traverse City MI, which is known (at least in Michigan) as the cherry capital of the US. If they have cherries, they must have cherry blossoms, right? While checking it all out, I discovered that a shortcut to Traverse City is to go to Door County WI and take a ferry to Traverse City, thereby going across Lake Michigan instead of around it, and with a boat ride to boot. I’ll just look at pretty pictures of the DC peak, and head for Wisconsin next time I have a yen to see cherry blossoms.

Have you ever fought with Mother Nature?

Hoping

Every morning our grey cat sits expectantly  by the front door, waiting.  She waits for the magic moment when the light appears on the living room wall and ceiling above our media cabinet.   She knows it is somehow associated with my cell phone.  This morning she saw me walk into the living room with my phone, and immediately jumped on top of the media cabinet, waiting for the light. The kitten stays on the floor, as her legs are too short to make the leap to the top.  The light sometimes appears low enough for her to pounce, and she waits for it, too.

When I sit in the love seat  by the bay window, the sun reflects off my cell phone screen and I can flash a light all over the walls and ceiling. The kitten tries to grab it. It always slips between her paws. The grey cat just sits and watches it with fascination and excitement.  It seems to be strangely satisfying for her, as though her day is off to a good start when the light appears.  As the days shortened this fall, the light sometimes didn’t even show up, since the sun wasn’t in the right position until after I left for work.  The grey cat never gave up hope.  She waited each morning.

Today we planned our garden and chose the seed varieties for next summer. I hope the rains come and we don’t have a drought.   I don’t think we are too different from our cats, waiting with hope for the promise of light in this dark season and these even darker times.

The new year has just started. What are you hoping for?