Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 31 is the full sap moon. I think sap ran early this year and is past by now in my area. But it's a beautiful full blue moon to light up the Easter eve.

Friday, March 30, 2018

spring is here - a good friday

The peepers (little yellowish wetland frogs) started singing tonight! The song of spring. They don’t start up gradually. About 4 pm today, they started in full chorus, peeping away.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

planting sweet pea seeds

sweet pea seeds with tails IMG_7462
This is the method of planting sweet peas that I just learned from nw organic gardener.

nick the outer skin of sweet peas seeds - a large fingernail clipper works...
layer the seeds in wet paper towels...
check daily after 5 days...
as soon as they get their tails, pot each in a 2 inch pot with tails pointing down...
they don't all tail at the same time so plant them as they do....
make sure the soil is damp, not wet, and wait for first the sprout to break ground before watering again...
then put them in good light, like a sunny window...
no heat mat! peas don't like bottom heat...
when the seedlings have 3 or 4 sets of leaves pinch the tip...
then harden them off and plant them in the garden...
watch out for slugs...
btw, if after 8 days the seeds haven't tailed but have swollen, plant them anyway

The same method works for other types of peas (snap peas, snow peas, etc), except that they don't need to be nicked or pinched. They can also be planted directly in the garden after tailing.

Thanks nw organic gardener!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

what's up today

 - I'm planting my snow peas (inside) today,
 - my little sweet pea seeds (in wet paper towels) are getting tails,
 - my artichoke seedlings are starting their 10 day vernalization (below 50F) out on my patio
 - my tomato seeds are planted (17 varieties), but they haven't sprouted yet
 - my vegetable garden is totally free of snow now!!
 - my garlic and my mom's are up - nice little 3 inch sprouts
 - and I think I may be able to start filling my salad bowl from my winter tunnel greens this week!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

vegetable, flower, and herb plants for shade

Last Sunday I worked in the “Ask-A-Master-Gardener” booth at the Boston Flower Show. The most popular question I had was: What should I plant in my shady garden?

I have several shady areas in my gardens. Knowing what plants will grow there is helpful. Here's a list I've put together. 

Full Shade

Part Shade (dappled shade all day or 4 hours of sun per day)
Leafy greens including arugula, beet greens, cress, collard greens, endive, kale, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, spinach, and Swiss chard

Part sun (more than 4 hours of sun per day)
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peas, garlic, beans, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, potatoes, and rhubarb. Also small beets, turnips, and carrots.

Full Shade
Lemon balm, oregano, mint, angelica, chervil, mints, American pennyroyal, wild bergamot (monarda), and sweet cicely

Part shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Chives, thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary, horseradish, and sage

Full Shade or dappled light
Hostas, wild ginger, ferns, Jack in the Pulpit, hellebores, mayapple, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff, trillium, foam flowers, black snakeroot, wild violets, vinca, epimedium, bellwort, lungwort, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, meadow rue, liriope, and Solomon's seal

Part Shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Alstilbe, day lily, ajuga, coral bells, bleeding heart, bergenia, forget-me-not, monarda, monkshood, foxglove, some ornamental grasses, lady’s mantle, bloodroot, cardinal flower, hepatica, Jacob's ladder, rue anemone, columbine, leopardsbane, platycodon (ballon flower), campanula, cranesbill geranium, toad lily, and turtle head

Full Shade or dappled light
Impatiens, browallias, coleus, and wax begonias. Also spring bulbs, like daffodils,  crocus, scillas, snowdrops, and species tulips if discarded after they bloom.

Part Shade (at least 4 hours of sun per day)
Ageratum, tuberous begonias, fuchsia, sweet alyssum, lobelia, mimulus, feverfew, and dwarf salvias

This is a partial list that I will continue to work on. I welcome suggestions. What do you grow in the shade?

Gardening in the Shade - Univ Missouri Extension
Brooklyn Botanical Garden: A Garden of Shade-loving Herbs

Friday, March 23, 2018

a little more spring ....

We only got a dusting of snow from the storm yesterday. Today the sun is shining. I was listening to the chickadees singing their spring song for the first time - dee-dee. We have a couple patches of bare ground in the yard. The warmest areas. And some spring blue bells are starting to inch up. The hellebore and snow drops are still covered, but it's nice to feel a little bit of spring.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

first day of spring

I am celebrating the first day of spring by planting broccoli and ignoring the reports of 8-10 inches of snow for tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

a gardener's lament

My muscles are sore. My hands from holding the snow shovel. My shoulders and arms from lifting the sticky snow and throwing it off to the side. In better weather, I park my car out by my mom's garden to unload seedlings and compost. This time, I parked my car out near the garden to avoid trees falling on it. I shoveled off the 2 feet of snow piled on top. Shoveled the 20 or so feet around it where the plow couldn't reach. Shoveled my mom's walkway and the driveway edges. Of course the feathery white wonderland after a snow storm is beautiful. But I look forward to blisters from turning in compost and pushing a wheelbarrow. Sunburn instead of soggy cold wet clothing. And rich brown soil instead of all this white.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In stormy fashion
Ends the dark season;
The wind's in a passion
Out of all reason.
Winter, so loth to go,
Howls, spitting out the snow,
Like froth of madness.

~Danske Dandridge, "The End of Winter," 1902

mom's garden during ANOTHER March nor'easter

mom's snowy garden IMG_1853 Arrgh! (Or as my sister wrote, AYFKM!!?) We're in the middle of our third nor'easter in 10 days. The first was 2 inches of heavy rain with very high winds and lot's of coastal flooding. The second was about 8 inches of very heavy wet snow that brought down lots of trees. This one is a blizzard that will give us 2 feet of fluffy snow with high winds. Some years, I'm out planting peas about now.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

March nor'easter aftermath

snow day tree on coop IMG_1820 snow day bonfire IMG_1830

Here's the aftermath of the nor'easter we had last night. Eight inches of very heavy wet snow piled onto the trees and brought down many branches, including two huge ones from my beautiful Carolina silver bell that landed on my chicken coop. No damage to the coop but it took a lot of effort to clear and burn the fallen wood.

I had built a lean-to over my new little lettuce tunnel and the plants look just fine underneath.

snow day garden IMG_1815 snow day lettuce IMG_1818
We’re getting a foot of heavy wet snow tonight. I’ll probably be too busy shoveling to post tomorrow.  I was hoping to plant peas and onion sets outside soon! Maybe it will melt fast..... maybe I’ll start the peas inside....

Saturday, March 03, 2018

when to plant vegetable seeds

It's definitely time to sow seeds now. Here are some suggestions to figure out when is the best time to plant different types of seeds.

- Try the iPhone calendar apps I wrote, I use these to plan when to plant: Skippy's Vegetable Calendar App and Skippy's Flower and Herb Calendar App.

- Or try my old, very simple, and free online planting calendar: Online Vegetable Calendar.

- Johnny's online tool works pretty much the same: Johnny's planting calculator

- The University of Minnesota has a nice page on starting seeds indoors. Some tables too.  So if your climate is similar to theirs, it's a good resource. UMinn Seed Starting.

- I also like a colorful chart that shows planting and harvesting times: Urban Farmer Seeds chart for USDA zone 6.

Let me know other suggestions!

planting out extra lettuce

winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7292 winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7299
winter lettuce tunnels IMG_7305 winter lettuce tunnel IMG_7295

I had a few 6-packs of lettuce left over that didn't fit in my tunnel so I set up a second smaller tunnel for it. This little tunnel is just covered with a double layer of row cover fabric. I wonder if it will do OK. It depends on the weather we get.

Friday, March 02, 2018

sowing seeds on a stormy day

It's pretty stormy here. Our road is blocked at both ends by downed trees and wires and our power has been out all day. In addition to tending my little onion shoots, I planted my next batch of seeds a couple days early:

Beets, Boro and Detroit Dark Red
Eggplant, Orient Express, Hansel, and Barbarella
Basil, Tuscany
Marigold, Giant African, Mission Giant Yellow, Tangerine Gem, Gem Mix, Cottage Red
Pepper, Highlander, Shishito, Ace, Red Rocket, and Red Ember
Snapdragon, Tall Deluxe Mix
Chamomile, Common
Lemon Mint

The rest of my sowing list is here: 2018 Planting Progress.


I've learned a new word. "Up-potting" is when you transplant into a bigger pot. Hmm. I've been spending lots of time up-potting recently as a volunteer at the greenhouses at Elm Bank. We're getting plants ready for the Boston Flower Show, which is only a couple weeks away now (March 14-18).

Thursday, March 01, 2018

newly planted seedlings in winter tunnel

winter tunnel IMG_1757

I planted my seedlings out into my empty winter tunnel last weekend. They look very happy out there. I have a few more to plant out and will set up another smaller tunnel. But I'm waiting until after The Big Storm coming tomorrow.

Everyone is talking about the Storm here. 2 inches of rain and then 5 inches of heavy wet snow are predicted with high winds and power outages. I'm glad I don't need to worry about the coastal flooding in my area, because that's supposed to be really bad. Today and yesterday have been beautiful springlike days in the 60's. The dogs and I have been out enjoying it as much as we can. I suppose tomorrow will be a day to stay inside and take care of my little onion sprouts.