Monday, March 31, 2008

Pyxie Cup Snow Cones

After this post, I'll be focusing on spring, no matter the weather. Above, is the pyxie cup garden on the fence. They looked more spring-like in this January post! You can see the full garden here in Oct. 2006.
I peeked under the cloche cover and the lettuce, chard & broccoli seedlings looked fine. I have to believe that even though the cloche doesn't keep them especially warm, it does keep them dry and protected from the frosty wind and weather.

On with Spring now, I hope.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Interrupted

March is finishing up with a bang. We hope to see more of these bloomers in April, even with this little pause for snow. From my many postings in the past, you know I enjoy the ornamental cherries. Since the buds are still closed up tightly, unlike prior years at this time, I have hope for blossoms. See March 29, 2006 and March 21, 2007 and March 31, 2007
The Star Magnolia, above, is getting close. It is very cheery when full of blooms so I hope it will still put on a show this year. I see it was blooming already in March 2007. See this link for the photo.
While I did have one of these Camellias open in time for March Bloom Day, there are many not yet open.

Needless to say, I've also moved my tomato seedlings to the kitchen. The other seedlings are still in the garage under the light, but it isn't very warm out there today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March Surprise

I wasn't particularly feeling "left out" of the Easter snow many gardeners reported. Actually, I was a little relieved to be sitting in mild winter country.

It was a total surprise to me when the big snow/slush flakes starting hitting the windshield as I drove up the hill towards home tonight. I knew it was cold today, but I still didn't even think about snow. The flakes are smaller now and I doubt much will stick.

Just as well. I have tomato, basil, onion, fennel and pea sprouts under the fluorescent light in the garage. The tomato and basil seedlings will not be happy to stay out there unless it warms up (and they get too leggy trying to grow in the house by window light).

Monday, March 24, 2008

March Garden

Saturday had very pleasant weather, so in between watching herds of spiders, we trimmed the flower stalks we had left in place all winter. Here is a link to the garden in January. Click on the Garden Photo label for prior months. With the trimming, the garden looks very one level now. It will change.

I found sprouts of rudbeckia/black-eyed Susan, columbine, rhubarb, iris, lots of herbs and anise hyssop. With all of the seeds it produces, I assumed hyssop was a self-seeder annual like borage. Instead, it is clearly a perennial and it's now sending up sprouting. Garlic and onions left in the garden in the fall are growing.
I planted some of the winter sown broccoli under the cloche, and set the container with the rest of the seedlings under it also. I see a slug has found one of the planted seedling already.
The larger lettuce plants also went in the ground under the cloche.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Garden Companions

We did a little spring tidying in the garden today. We weren't the only ones enjoying the weather. Every time I moved around, a "herd" of these little spiders would scurry for cover. Pretty soon, they'd be back out in the sun again.

I hope they find some tasty aphids or something to eat. Hmmm.... but now I wonder if Petunia will be eating the spiders when she returns from her winter vacation. Are there so many of these little guys so that some can feed the other garden critters too? And some think gardens are just fluff and flowers!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mulch Run

The annual load of green coffee bags is in. You can see I had excellent bag stuffers too. This is more bags than I've had in the back of the Subaru before. There aren't too many other types of mulches I could stuff in the car like this.
I unloaded most of them into the barn. To stop the weeds that had started poking up in the paths, I also put down a new layer of bags in the pathways. It has been raining on them all week so that has now flatten them down nicely. Some of the previous bags on the paths had complete decomposed.

On another topic...
You can see the delinquent Brussels sprout plants, above. They are doing some sort of growing now, but they are still so short and not really producing little sprouts. I think I just started them too late last year and they were not were they needed to be size wise once winter arrived.

Status updates....
From the seeds planted indoors on Sunday, there are a couple sprouts almost though the soil. Either basil, tomato or onion. I didn't label the various containers as I'll be able to tell after they fully sprout... I think.

And Frog is singing in the little garden pond just off the patio. There were two different frogs out there for several days, but in these last few days, I only hear the one.

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Salad!

I have been a bit negligent of my "covered wagon" cloche. Can you believe it did pay off a little anyway? This was our salad last night!

The chard has lots of fresh leaves and so does the red lettuce. There is no chard or lettuce outside of the cloche right now. The green lettuce I started out with in Oct. turned to mush by the end of Dec. The chives and parsley are doing about the same inside & outside the cloche.

The winds we've had often blow open the ends. I will find a better way to close it up in the future. But, it is still more warm and dry inside than anywhere else in the garden. See the Cloche label for more information about it.

I will plant the lettuce and chard seedlings from my winter sown milk jugs in the cloche soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bloom Day March

On this cold and rainy March day, I found some blooms, indeed! Camellia, above. A native shrub, Indian Plum, above.
A plum tree, either a wild one or an old ornamental. Forsythia.
A young ornamental cherry tree. This one blooms earlier than our large trees. Heather, all along the driveway. It does add a nice touch of color this time of year.
And a violet, in the house.

Visit Carol's post here and here also to see her blooms and the list of other bloggers with Bloom Day posts. See the rest of her wonderful blog here at May Dreams Gardens.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A tool to weed by...

Last Monday, I got in a little weed pulling, using one of my favorite tools: a second hand rat tail file. The metal part of the file is 12 inches long. The wooden handle is just right to hold.

As the ground was slight damp, I could slip the file down along side of the dandelion root and pivot it around a little to loosen up the soil. Then a little tug pulled up the long root.

I could spend a month tackling the dandelions in the garden area and still not keep them away. Instead, I just try to keep them from taking over the garden beds. And, I still count them for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day! See this post.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Throughout March, I'll be posting about different vegetables. This is for my own reference, and chance for us to share experiences or ask questions. I appreciate your input and any questions for me or other gardeners that you also have about the subject vegetable.

Fennel; Florence Fennel; Foeniculum vulgare

Above photo from July 31, 2007. See the sweet seedling photo, here.

My first experience with fennel was in a restaurant in York, England. It was cooked with other vegetables and served with a meat dish. It was tasty and we asked to be sure what it was we were eating.

When I read about growing it, it sounded versatile and not too difficult: eat the refreshing licorice flavored foliage, stalks, bulbs, seeds. My type of plant. 2007 was my first season and I will be growing it again. Did I have beginner's luck?

Do you grow fennel, or not grow fennel, for any specific reason?

Variety I'm growing: Perfection, organic, from Territorial Seed Company
Days to Maturity: 75
Soil temp for germination: 55-70 F

Seeded: Indoors in early March 2007. I used small but deeper pots to give the roots room. Looks like it will be mid March 2008. I will also plan to succession plant fennel this year, to spread out the harvest.

Planted out: Moved to semi protected cloche in mid/late April 2007, planted April or early May. May be able to start a fall crop in July. Heat can make it bolt. Doesn't mind a light frost.

Harvested: First one in July. Others followed, though the last one went to seed. I hope it self-sowed too.

Saving seeds: Should work. Seeds are similar to dill.

Eating: Baked/roasted bulb & stalks; feathery foliage, skinny stalks and raw bulb in a salads. Lately, I had a store bought one that we added to soup and it was very tasty and tender this way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

2008 Vegetables & Friends

I've just been struggling to keep up this spring. Not for a lack of interest in the garden or blog, but it's just how it is. This blog started 2 years ago, and it has been the longest running garden journal I've kept (as I say, I cannot lose the computer)! To see the start of the blog and garden, see March 2006 archive posts. Really like that post with the 2005 garden photo. It has changed a little!

Here is the list of vegetables and other plants I will be growing this year. Many are seeds remaining from prior years. A few flowers and herbs are listed, but most herbs already in the garden are not on this list.

~Alyssum, Wonderland Mulberry Mix - around the lavender and DH bench.
~Anise Hyssop - added in 2007, I suspect is has self seeded. Bees loved it.
~Bachelors buttons-self seeded
~Basil-doesn't like our summers, but I will try to find a warm spot, sown indoors 3/16/08.
~Beans, bush-Romano Gold
~Beans, French/Filet-Cupidon, organic
~Beans, pole-Helda,Romano type
~Beans, pole-Violet Podded Stringless
~Beans, runner-Scarlet Emperor
~Beet-Kestrel, direct sown 5/4/08
~Borage-self seeded
~Broccoli-Hybrid Blend w/Southern Comet, Everest, Small Miracle and Packman, winter sown early March.
~Brussels Sprouts-Bubbles - 2007 not much luck. To plant earlier in 2008.
~Carrots-Jeanette F1 Hybrid Organic, from neighbor, direct sown 5/4/08
~Carrots-Mokum, good to harvest from baby size to larger sizes. direct sown 5/4/08
~Coreopsis-Tinctoria Mixture
~Cosmos-Unique Mix, Picotee
~Cucumbers-Lemon, 2007 was so-so, but will try again.
~Cucumbers-Marketmore 97
~Echinacea-Purple (in the garden already)
~Fennel-Perfection, organic, sown indoors 3/16/08, planted out 4/27/08
~Four O'Clocks-Tea Time Mix, 2007 started too late. Try again.
~Garlic-California Garlic, sprouting from 2007 bulbs left in the ground.
~Garlic-Elephant Garlic, pl
~Ipomoea Alba - Moonflower, seeds from my neighbor
~Lettuce, Butterhead-Speckles, organic, direct sown 5/4/08
~Lettuce, Romaine-Crisp Mint, organic, added to winter sown 3/16/08, direct sown 5/4/08
~Lettuce-a little left over London Springs Mix: Red Sails, Flashy Trout's Back, Outredgeous, Hyper Red Rumple, Capistrano, winter sown early March
~Marigolds-Mr. Majestic & other self seeded
~Nasturtiums-Tip Top Alaska, grew nicely in 2007,
~Nicotiana-Only the Lonely self seeded?
~Onion, Evergreen White Bunching, sown indoors 3/16/08
~Onion, bulbs-some bulbs hid last year and now are sprouting.
~Oriental Poppy-Papaver orientale "Karine"
~Poppy, yellow-from Sis, sown indoors 3/16/08
~Parsley -already in the garden, self seeding
~Peas, snap-Sugar Snap, sown indoors 3/16/08, direct sown 4/27/08
~Peas, snow-Oregon Sugar Pod II, sown indoors 3/16/08, direct sown 4/27/08
~Pumpkins-Rouge vif d'Etamps Heirloom
~Pumpkins-Small Sugar, organic
~Pumpkins-Holland's Land O Giants, from neighbor
~Radish-Assorted Mix, DH selected these, direct sown in April and 5/4/08
~Rhubarb-From friend in 2006, harvested 5/4/08
~Rudbeckia Hirta-Black-eyed Susan (in the garden already)
~Squash, winter-Delicata
~Squash, summer-Scallop Bush Mix (aka Pattypan)
~Squash, zucchini-Romulus PM
~Sunflower-Infrared mix, 4/27/08-volunteers sprouting
~Sunflower-Italian White, sown 5/4/08
~Sunflower-Sorya, sown 5/4/08
~Sunflower-Sunseed, with others sown 5/4/08
~Sweet Peas-Garden Orchids, perennial sweet peas (neighbor sprouting for me), seedlings 5/1/08
~Sweet Peas-Jewels of Albion, antique sweet peas (neighbor..., also)
~Swiss chard-Bright Lights, winter sown early March, direct sown 5/4/08
~Tomatoes-a grape variety tbd
~Tomatoes-Sungold (seeds), sown indoors 3/16/08
~Tomatoes-other tbd

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Spring Excursion

How to get geared up for spring when there have just been too many other distractions lately? Go visit new (to me) nurseries and maybe a geocache and/or charity shop along the way! I was really just out to see if I could round out the seed supply without the need to be tempted by the whole catalog selection.

One nice little spot I'll visit again later in the year is Thunder Mountain Farm. While too early for the plant selection and to see the garden spaces in spring glory, we did find several items on our seed list here. They carry Territorial Seed & Seeds of Change selections (plus another type I don't remember).
Driving off our usual beaten path, we came across a charity/second hand shop, I've heard about from others but hadn't visited before. I've had my eye out for a seed storage replacement for my old box. I always start out the year with it quite organized, but after it moves out to the barn/garden shed with me in the summer, it becomes a dusty shamble of a system. I was watching for something with a lid and maybe dividers. (yes, I'm an office supply junkie, but don't assume that keeps me organized.)

Second hand technology has finally caught up with garden needs as these two boxes, above, are made for 4 inch diskettes AND CDs. That means they are tall enough for seed packets. They also have little flipping dividers (movable for flexibility!) that keep the packets from sliding down under one another or side to side.

So, one for vegetables and a smaller one for flowers and herbs. Starting tomorrow, I'll be posting my notes about the 2008 growing plan, specific vegetables and questions.

No geocaching photos from the day, but I think I have a replacement for my long lost travel bug, Petunia the butterfly. She just didn't last long out there in the damp, dark geocaches. I think the replacement might be more up for the challenge...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happiness is Perennials

From the house, I could see something blue in the bed with the snowdrops. Lungwort is blooming. It's a good thing too. I spotted a bumblebee sunning himself yesterday. Hope he finds something to eat.
Bleeding heart foliage is shooting up. It looks too delicate to be above ground this time of year.

You'll see more garden planning here soon. Even with the extra day, February was just too busy.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Broccoli Babies

Here are the winter sown broccoli seedlings in their milk jug. There are some lettuce, chard and (one )nasturtium seedlings up also. About time to plant some other varieties.

Also, for the past two nights, I've been hearing the Pacific Tree Frogs singing their little hearts out. Not yet in our little garden pond by the patio, though. He always arrives quite late.