Aphids have struck and they've basically destroyed an entire planter of romaine lettuce. M is going to dump the entire thing in the back woods and after giving the planter a good wash, I shall try to grow something else there.
I do worry that the bugs have spread to my tomatoes, which are growing right beneath the lettuce, particularly since one plant has gone almost entirely yellow while the others in the same raised bed are fine. So, I shall thoroughly check all of the leaves today and see what's what.
C'mon ladybugs! Start eating the wee bastards!
As you can see from the picture above, the tulips and daffodils and crocuses I planted last autumn are preparing to make a big spring debut. When the temperatures began to climb last week, the flowers' stalks pushed past the leaves and compost I used to bury the tubers for their winter hibernation. But then winter decided spring was just a wee bit too eager to steal the spotlight and ordered a dusting of snow and several nights of temperatures in the single digits. Hopefully, this sudden weather change won't damage the leaves that have already begun to peek into the world.
According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the last frost date for my area this year is May 4. Spring is coming... eventually.
I headed down into the basement after work yesterday, cleaned up my gardening area and began to sow a whole of mess of seeds. Admittedly, I went a wee bit mad with the seed catalogs this year and purchased a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers -- all with the intention of spending less dough at the nursery. Only time will tell if that gamble has paid off.
Plants: So far, I've planted nine different varieties of flowers and herbs. What do I hope will blossom?
* Baby's breath (Gypsophila muralis) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 6 to 10 weeks before last frost. Sow on surface and press into soil. Full sun, part sun in warm summer areas. Provide 7oF to 75F soil temperatures. Grows 8 to 10 inches. Germinates in 5 to 10 days. I planted 28 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Catnip (Nepeta cataria) - Perennial. Ideally start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Needs sun. Provide 65F to 70F soil temperatures. Germinates in 7 to 14 days. I planted in three, 4-inch pots and placed under grow light.
* Daisy, white with purple eye (Osteospermum) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 6 to 10 weeks before last frost. Sow on surface and press into soil. Full sun, part sun in hot areas. Provide 7oF to 75F soil temperatures. Grows to 14 inches. Germinates in 5 to 15 days. I planted 12 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 6 to 10 weeks before last frost. Sow on surface and press into soil. Full sun, part sun in hot areas. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall. Germinates in 14 to 21 days. I planted 16 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Geranium, multibloom white (Pelargonium hortum) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 8 to 16 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Full sun to part shade. Provide 7oF to 75F soil temperatures. Grows to 14 to 16 inches. Germinates in 7 to 21 days. I planted 10 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Geranium, multibloom red (Pelargonium hortum) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 8 to 16 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Full sun to part shade. Provide 7oF to 75F soil temperatures. Grows to 14 to 16 inches. Germinates in 7 to 21 days. I planted 10 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Peppermint (Mentha piperita) - Perennial. Ideally start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Full sun to light shade. Provide 6oF to 70F soil temperatures. Germinates in 10 to 21 days. I planted in three, 4-inch pots and placed under grow light.
* Petunia, red easy wave (hybrida) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 8 to 10 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Provide 7oF to 80F soil temperatures. Grows to 8 inches. Germinates in 10 to 21 days. I planted 10 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
* Petunia, white easy wave (hybrida) - Annual. Ideally start indoors 8 to 10 weeks before last frost. Sow on the surface and cover seed. Provide 7oF to 80F soil temperatures. Grows to 8 inches. Germinates in 10 to 21 days. I planted 10 seeds in a cell tray and placed under grow light.
Oh my goodness, I am pooped! I used to think that gardening was a hobby for little old ladies and gents but it's a LOT of hard work. Thank goodness M is around (and kindly willing) to haul huge bags of compost and pull out tough weeds or I'd be back-broken by now. As it is, my back and feet are killing me. On the plus side, there's dirt under my fingernails and bulbs in the ground.
That's right, I'm preparing for the future.
Last week, M and I dumped six bags of compost on top of cardboard along the back fence. I've been wanting to turn that area into a wildflower garden all summer and failed spectacularly in doing so. Now I'm going to pop some bulbs into the soil and top 'em with more compost and all of the chopped leaves that fall.
I also cleared out nearly all of the planters on the back deck. A few (the blueberry and raspberry bushes as well as a few pots of mint) will either go under the table or covered and hidden next to the house for winter.
The deck looked so bare once all the plants were gone, which filled me with melancholy for a while. That sadness soon lifted, though, when the trees surrounding the yard began to turn fiery red, pumpkin orange and bright yellow.
Gosh, I love the Fall.
Today, we cleared out the weeds surrounding the small rockery in the front of the house. After putting down fresh compost, I grabbed my handy dandy new auger and got to work. An hour and a half later, I'd planted 50 Carlton daffodils and 75 Hokus crocuses. If we stay in this house, the flowers I plant now will give us great beauty and joy next spring. And if we end up selling the place and moving north, then all of this hard work will provide extra curb appeal.
Tomorrow, if it doesn't rain and my back has rested enough to do so, I'll head to the backyard and plant 50 Mount Hood daffodils, 100 flaming red-yellow tulips, 100 red tulips, 100 white tulips and the remaining 25 crocuses.
I may have gone a bit crazy with the Colorblends catalog this year. Ah well, live and learn!
Lastly, I ordered our Christmas trees yesterday. Due to the pandemic in 2020 and continued climate change, there were few trees to be had. So this year, instead of driving around from one empty lot to another hoping to find good trees and few crowds, we decided to pick out our trees in advance and have them delivered. I used to do this when I lived in Brooklyn and was always happy with the results.
Can you believe that I visited four local tree farms online and three of them had already sold out for the year? It's only October! Apparently, I wasn't the only one thinking ahead. One farm had a few smaller trees left but were charging $100 for each tree and $300+ for delivery.
In the end, I bought two larger Frasier firs from the Bishop Christmas Tree Farm in Springfield, Vt. (one for the living room and one for the library). They should arrive at the beginning of December. I can't wait!
Weather: Low 45/High 63 degrees, mostly cloudy, 44% humidity, 14 mph wind. UV index 2 of 10. Moon phase: Waxing gibbous.
In preparation of the Autumn cleanup, M and I purchased our first wheelbarrow. I expect this will make hauling compost, mulch and fallen leaves a lot easier.
It was a really lovely outside today and I spent the morning breaking down the garden. Eight planters emptied, at least eight more to go.
M and I will be picking up some compost over the weekend so that we can begin the massive project of prepping the spring beds. The bulbs were supposed to arrive last Monday but never showed and the seed company says there's been shipping delays (not surprisingly due to the pandemic). Hopefully, they'll arrive before first frost. On Sunday, weather permitting, we'll decorate the front yard for Halloween.
I've also signed up to Apothecary at Home, a monthly subscription service that delivers lessons about herbs and what to do with them. So far, I've received calendula and feverfew. Each box contains seeds for next year's garden, background on the plant and at least two projects (candles, balm, tea, cooking usage, etc.). Since we've decided to remain in Manchester until the spring, one of my goals is to spend the cold winter months learning a lot more gardening and natural medicine.
Weather: Low 52/High 72 degrees, sunny, 58% humidity, 5 mph wind. UV index 4 of 10. Moon phase: Waxing cresent.
Today was the first truly beautiful day of the month. The heat wave has finally ended, for which I'm eternally grateful (I've been fighting rebound migraines for more than a week).
After baking a batch of oatmeal chip scones, I plated a couple, poured a glass of iced tea and took a delightful repast outside on the back deck. It was warm, but not hot, and a cool breeze made the trees chatter. I eavesdropped a bit; the topic du jour was the coming autumn.
And look, one of my fiery sunflowers have blossomed!
Plants: So the rains of July drowned my mints. Then the heat wave burned the remaining leaves to a crisp. This brutal combination had a terrible effect on some of my favorite plants. But, Monty Don suggests that I don't give up hope, that most plants can be resurrected so I'm giving it a shot.
I cut down the catmint, spearmint and catnip and repotted them in new pots filled with fresh compost. (I would've done the chocolate mint but I ran out of soil.) After giving 'em a good watering -- and casting a growing spell -- I moved them all to a partly shady area of the deck and wished for the best. It may not work, of course, but at least I gave it a shot. Plus, the process smelled divine.
I also moved the raspberry plant into a larger pot. Now I need to figure out where it and my blueberry bush and my peonies are going to spend the winter. Oh, to have a potting shed or barn!
Pruning: Deadheading the daisies seem to be helping them grow well. The geraniums too.
Weather: Low 55/High 80 degrees, fair, 40% humidity, 10 mph wind. UV index 6 of 10. Moon phase: First quarter.