Six on Saturday – A Retrospective – October 20, 2018

We still have no fall colors on the trees. The asters are blooming and the Sheffield mums are beginning to open. It has seemed like such an odd year in terms of weather that I thought I would go back through previous years to see what was happening in the garden during the third week in October.

1. 2018  The confused Vitex at the end of the drive is blooming AGAIN.

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2. 2017 – zebra grass in the early morning light.

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3. 2016  A good year for tomatoes and this was the last of them. I spread them out in the garage and processed them as they ripened. This year my tomotoes were okay, but nothing like this so I pulled the plants at the end of August and seeded fall crops.

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4. 2015   This photo was taken on 10-12-15 so a little earlier. The plant in the lower left is artemesia in shadow — turned blue by the morning light.

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5.  2014   – I’ve been complaining that the asters are late this year, but it turns out they are right on schedule. They bloomed the same week in 2014.

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6.  2013   This photo was taken on October 9, 2013. I have no idea why I would have covered the raised beds this early unless a frost was expected. Or perhaps it was to keep the leaves out of the beds although I doubt I would have been that industrious. There appear to be plants underneath the row covers.

The Brown Turkey fig tree in the background didn’t survive a subsequent winter. A shame as it was just getting to a size that would permit the squirrels to share with the gardener.

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It’s interesting to look back on the gardens as things fill in. Just to the left of the Direct TV antennae is a small red cedar. It is now 15 feet tall and fills that part of the garden bed along the fence.

That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

 

Six on Saturday – August 25, 2018 –

Today’s post is a melange of photos.

One and two were taken at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. We had relatives visiting from the Portland area and this was a great way to introduce them to the history and culture of the Chesapeake.

I’ve been wanting to include some specific photos from the museum gardens. The one below was a project of a St. Michaels High School student who, several years ago, received a grant to install a butterfly garden. This photo shows just a piece of it. I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season there this week, but it declined to be in my picture.

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2. There are two relocated dwellings at the museum which demonstrate the types of houses common on the shore in the 1700’s. It is important to remember that until the Bay Bridge was opened in July, 1952, the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake was isolated, only  accessed from the Baltimore area by boat or a long drive around the top of the bay and down through Delaware.

The house on the left in the photo below is the Mitchell House and was once the home of Eliza Bailey Mitchell, the sister of abolitionist Frederick Douglas. A former slave, Eliza and her free black husband, Peter, lived in this house and worked nearby on Perry Cabin Farm.

The log house on the right is a humble farm cabin, once common throughout rural Chesapeake. This dwelling served as the tenant farming house for Albert and Henrietta Wilson and their eight children for most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although small, this log cabin provided the basic essentials – a hearth for cooking, a table for gathering, and a dry, warm place to sleep at night.

My friend, Roger Galvin, designed raised garden beds to illustrate the types of food crops which would have been grown around houses like this in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The paths between the beds are oyster shells.

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3. Now back to my back yard. Several crepe myrtles that were planted when small are now tall and really blooming for the first time. This is one of two that I rescued from someone’s trash. The home owner had put them out for the garbage men to take. They seemed healthy enough so I brought them home. That was probably eight years ago. (I’m a patient gardener.) It may have helped that one of the compost bins feeds the roots.

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4. One of my leaf castings sits on the deck. I keep a little water in it for the butterflies. The crepe myrtle in the bottom of that picture is growing from the roots of one I moved. Obviously I didn’t get it all. I don’t mind it there as long as I can keep it short.

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5. The garden that is going to get an overhaul this fall doesn’t look so back from this angle. Soaker hoses are connected to my four rain barrels that collect rain from the shed roof. This area is under water when we have heavy rains and dries out to concrete when we don’t have rain.

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6. A big job this fall is to remove this multiple trunked river birch. For a number of years I had it topped to keep it in scale with my house and to maintain a weeping look. I suppose I could have it trimmed to get a couple more years out of it, but I have several other small trees that will fill in when the birch is gone. The other trash rescued crepe mytle is one of those trees. You can see it blooming behind the right side of the birch. At the left side of that bed I have a flowering cherry. The area may look slightly bare for a couple of years, but, as I said, I’m patient.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my Six on Saturday. The gardens are slowing down but the asters and golden rod are still to come.

Six on Saturday – August 4, 2018 – Successes and a Flop

It’s been raining…a lot. The lake is back in the back yard, but I’m not complaining except about the mosquitos. The second 6 cubic yards of mulch was put down before the rain started and there is no longer a blue tarp covered pile in the drive. Our neighbors must be happy. That will change in a few days, however, when I get a load of free chips from our local tree people. Most of that will go in the back of the property once it dries out back there.

Here are my six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

  1. Helenium (Sneezeweed). I didn’t really appreciate this flower until I downloaded the photos from my phone. The actual flower is small and on a very tall stem. Someone gave me one and it’s not yet a large clump. It would be easy to overlook.  It reminds me of a fantasy chapeau designed by a French milliner in the 1920’s. Or possibly an inspiration for a Kentucky Derby fantasy. It might be too overstated for the Queen. I need to save seeds and see if I can get a clump going. I can’t stop looking at this photo. IMG_6947

2.  The garden beds are producing. Tomatoes Amish Paste and Sungold cherry), green beans, carrots (purple and orange), beets, and spring onions. I found a recipe for a puff pastry tomato and cheese tart on-line. I added some ham because I had some in the fridge that needed to be used. It was a little complicated to make despite the fact that I bought frozen puff pastry, but it was delicious. I had a leftover piece for breakfast the next morning.

 

3.  Kinshi Uri or Somen Kabocha squash. Kinshi means golden threads. This is the original Japanese version of spaghetti squash. Burpee picked up this seed and began selling it as Vegetable Spaghetti in 1936. My seeds for Kinshi Uri came from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. I planted some seeds at the end of one of my community garden beds about six weeks ago where I had pulled up lettuces. The squash began sprawling so I put in some upright cages trying to keep them contained until I can pull out the rest of the beets. The plants have been setting fruit but I’ve had problems with borers in the past, so I’m not holding my breath that I will get mature squash. For the moment I’m enjoying the healthy plants with lots of female flowers. That great looking mulch between the raised beds is wood chips from our local tree company, Bartlett Tree Services. The fine mesh around the bed keeps the rabbits out and is tall enough to keep the deer from browsing.

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4. The verbena in two big pots had stopped blooming. I gave them a serious haircut and within a week had new blooms. I need to pay more attention to deadheading. The variagated liriope was dug from another spot in the garden. Soon there will be purple flower stalks which will look lovely with the lavendar and pink cleome and play off the bright cherry red verbena flowers.

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5. This mum is a favorite. It makes a compact plant that doesn’t need to be cut back and has come back every spring for probably eight years. It will soon be covered with bright yellow flowers but I don’t know why it is starting to bloom at the beginning of August. Isn’t this too early? I wish I knew where I had gotten this variety so I could buy more. I’ve taken pieces from the edge of this plant and put them in the ground, but they have not survived. I’ll try again by putting the starts in small pots so I have better control over watering.

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6. I am giving up on hollyhocks. I don’t buy alot of things for the garden but I bought these from a catalog last fall.  I think they were called something like Farmhouse Medley. How could I resist.

They looked fine this spring until the rust took them. I guess it’s just too humid in the Mid-Atlantic. Then the rabbits did in the rest, chomping off remaining green leaves. I remember Hollyhocks as a child in Indiana and thought they would look great against the lattice which would also provide support. Too bad.

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This was not my first attempt at hollyhocks, but it will probably be my last. (Notice the equivocation from my beginning sentence.) Of course  I say that about squash every year and I keep buying new varieties to try. Which brings to mind the saying about the triumph of hope over experience…  Either I am a slow learner, or a fast forgetter… or perhaps an eternally optimistic person. I think I’ll stick with the latter.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos of some successes and one total (but not totally unexpected) failure in my garden.  Until next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – I Heard My Garden Singin’ in the Rain – July 21, 2018

It rained on Tuesday afternoon this week. Several inches. I could hear my garden singing as water became available to parched roots. There will be casualties from the drought and this rain won’t see us through the rest of the hot summer, but it was welcomed by every gardener in the Mid-Atlantic region who got some. Rain here is capricious. Often storms that start on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay don’t make it across to the Eastern Shore. And when they do they may skip areas, but on Tuesday we were blessed.

More rain predicted for today. 100% chance. I’ll take it.

Here are six garden songs for this week.

  1. The schubertii allium heads dried on the stalks. I cut them, spray painted them pink and attached them to bamboo sticks. They look like pink fireworks and will give me some color for the rest of the summer. If I really cared I’d spray paint the duct tape that I used. This winter I’ll spray paint them silver or white and use them for Christmas decorations.

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2.  Yellow day lilies continued to bloom throughout the weeks of no rain. My parents both grew up on Iowa farms and both were gardeners. I think the gardening bug bit me when, as an eight-year-old, I returned to Indiana with a newspaper wrapped root of what my Iowa Grandmother called a lemon lily. I planted it when we got home and it lived and bloomed. I was hooked. How did the rest of you become hooked on gardening?

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3. The Goldsturm rudbeckia have perked up since the rain and will now bloom for weeks.  They are a hardy and reliable perennial in my garden. Upper right hand corner of this photo is Soldago rugosa (commonly called goldenrod.) It blooms bright yellow. I cut it back by half on July 4th. I’ll post a photo when it is blooming.

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4. This coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is happy in dappled shade. Others I had in full sun didn’t suvive. This one keeps coming back.

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5. Zinnias from saved seeds are blooming. Next year I need to get a packet of some that don’t get quite so tall.

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6. We are eating out of the garden. These few Yellow Finn potatoes grew in a patch where I had potatoes last year. Apparently I didn’t get all the babies out of the ground. They are delicious but not worth the bed space for the small harvest. I need to find a better variety. Suggestions?

This bowl will get turned into some German potato salad made with bacon from a local organic pig farmer. Also in the bowl are a few puny radishes I found when I was getting ready to sew a fall crop of turnips. I’ll slice them into a bowl of cucumbers and onions.

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In my beds at the Community Garden I am harvesting small beets and a few tomatoes. Yesterday I made gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic from the garden .

That’s my grateful-for-the-rain Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Fall Has Arrived

The new furnace has a thermostat that shows the outside temperature. 59 the other morning – that required a sweater. I love fall weather. Crisp mornings and evenings and mid 70’s during the day. Flowers are still blooming including one confused azalea. The flowers are beautiful so I’m going to pin down some low branches to make new plants. I think this plant came from my mother’s azalea garden and I have no idea what the name is. The only one I remember is Martha Hitchcock which has a very similar flower but in shades of purple.

Seeds for fall crops are going in a couple of the raised beds. On Saturday my husband helped me take the tomatoes down in my Community Garden bed and cut them up for the compost bin. Then we added some amendments (LeafGro) and dug the bed. I’ll seed it today. Two kinds of kale, some radishes, turnips and a couple of rows of leftover seeds just to see if they germinate.

My parsnip seeds never germinated. They came from Johnny’s Seeds and that was surprising and disappointing. I paid extra for pelleted seeds as parsnip seed is tiny. But not one parsnip seed germinated when I planted mid-summer. I think I’ll plant a row now  and see if I have better luck. You can do fall parsnips for spring harvests but I might be a bit late.

I had the last “student” at my leaf casting station.

Those concrete leaves will go to yoga class this morning to be delivered. Most of the sand I used for forms has been scattered around. It will eventually help my clay soil. The  I’ve been wanting to do some hypertufa planters and at Lowe’s yesterday found smaller bags of perlite and sphagnum moss so I think I will have to do that before it really gets cold. Then that flat door I’ve been using as a work station can go back into the garage as a colder weather project table.

My first book is at the proofreaders. The second in the series is on the dining room table. I have another plot thread I want to add, and then it will go to the proofer. I am quite impressed so far with her work. She’s asking all the right questions and is only occasionally confounded by some patois slang I use in dialogue.

When work on the second book is completed I will go back to working on book 3. I need to get up and move after working on the books and sitting for hours. These outside projects give me that opportunity. I supposed I could pull out furniture and clean behind, but being outside is always the option I’d rather choose.

 

 

One Thing Leads to Another

You know how this goes. You want to get a project finished, but before you can really start there are other things that have to be done.

The project: fill the window boxes in the front of the house.

Last Thursday the Green Thumb Garden group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club took a bus trip to London Town in Edgewater, MD. We had the first day with no rain in 20 days. After touring Londontown and its beautiful, soggy gardens we boarded the bus to Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, MD. We were there to shop! The bus had loads of room underneath and Homestead Gardens has a fabulous selection of plants for my window boxes. Oh, and llamas and alpacas.

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I wanted to find a replacement Golden Showers rose. It’s a pillar rose and the one I have is ten years old and showing its age. Three years ago I ordered another one from Wayside Gardens to put in as a replacement. It has not done well. And the three Fairy roses I ordered from Wayside the same year have never bloomed! I am not ordering plants from Wayside again anytime soon.

Homestead was very low on climbing roses and did not stock Golden Showers. I bought a pink climber to try. I also was in the market for annuals to fill the window boxes on the front of the house. Homestead had Sunpatiens – a new cultivar of New Guinea impatiens that does well in the sun. So I bought 15 which is what I need for the five window boxes. I fill in with some other things – so I bought more plants.

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Before I began on the window boxes I needed to plant that rose. I started to dig a hole but the ground was so wet that I abandoned that and will try again when things have dried out. See all those maple tree helicopters. That’s another project with the blower, but requires the fliers to be dry.

Now I had the plants, but before I could plant the window boxes I had to make sure the drip irrigation system was working. That required a trip to the store for new 9V batteries. I have two drip irrigation systems. One for the window boxes and one for the raised veggie beds. The systems have timers which need to be set for day, time of irrigation and number of minutes. But before you can do that you have to set the time and day you are setting up the system. All this is done using five little buttons. Something has to be blinking before you can program it. Since I do this once a year I never can remember the sequence. Even with the instructions it’s daunting. However this year I resolved to program the darn things before I put them on the hose. Every year in the past I’ve installed them and then ended up lying on my back trying to figure it out. Result: lots of cursing and plants getting watered at strange times.

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So now the gizmo is programed and ready to be attached to the hose. It’s really windy today, so I’ll wait until tomorrow. Then I need to turn it on and see if there are any leaks in the system. Then I can  plant my window boxes. The weather forecast is for cold night temps tonight. I don’t want to put the boxes out and have them blasted. Tomorrow might be a good day. Those window boxes will be in by the end of May.

I still have to program the system for the raised veggie beds and test it. I know there is a major leak in one of the big hoses. Damn squirrels chewed it last fall. But, of course, I didn’t put a piece of tape around it so have to turn on the system and be prepared to get wet while I hunt for the leak. Like I said, one thing leads to another. But I am going to get the system set up before I attach it to the hose outlet. I do occasionally learn to work smarter.

Note: The bunnies have found my raised veggie beds. The BB gun is coming out of the closet.

 

A White Christmas and a Winter Harvest

We spent Christmas in Montana with my son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters home from college. It was snowing when we were picked up at the airport and kept snowing for the next four days. About 24″ in all. I call this a Montana snow gauge. It’s a piece of plywood on a post and in the summer it’s a bird feeder. In the winter it makes a handy snow gauge.

Montana show gauge

The snow was beautiful. It’s been years since we’ve experienced a white Christmas.The house should be on a Christmas card. In Montana life doesn’t stop because of snow. We drove through snow covered roads to see the new Star Wars movie. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Maybe because I must have missed some of the intervening movies.

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Warm and cozy inside the house, we knit, baked cookies, and my granddaughters made a Kransekakke – a Norwegian wreath cake. The recipe is: 1 lb ground almonds, 1 lb confectioners sugar, 3 egg whites. The dough is rolled into snakes and put into special pans which create 18 rings – each a little smaller than the one before. This has become a tradition for the Christmases we spend in Montana. Traditionally you remove the rings from the bottom up so the tree shape remains. We took a vote and after Christmas dinner (where everything on the table with the exception of a can of cream of mushroom soup came from the homestead), and began eating the cake from the top down.

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When I posted pictures of the snow on Facebook people responded that they had the AC on on Christmas day on the Eastern Shore. We came home yesterday and today I went to my raised bed at the St. Michaels Community Garden. Here’s my harvest from December 29th, 2015. Kale, chard, spinach, hakuri turnips and carrots.

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I was wondering when the seed catalogs would start to arrive. This is what was in the mail we picked up at the post office Tuesday morning. Spring gardening will be here before I know it. In the meantime, somebody needs to tell the daffodils NOT YET! Plants on the
Eastern Shore are very confused because of the warm temps.

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