Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eternal Spring Hopes

Spring has yet to arrive here officially, but this morning I saw the first two signs of the new season:  a snowdrop and a crocus.

Half of my front yard is still covered with a foot or so of snow, where I shoveled it off the driveway, and the raised bed in my back yard still has about four feet of snow where I piled it up so that my daughter could have a little back-yard sledding hill.  But the rest of the snow was washed away by a steady rain last evening.  Soon enough I'll be planting peas!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

harvesting early

The garden has been lush with strawberries, and I harvested my first sugar snap peas today, not even expecting to find them as I set about the string them a little higher on my front railing.  Delicious, each of them!

On the down side, I've also discovered peach leaf curl on my peach tree, and have been spraying it with a sulfur fungicide.  I had a bout of it last year, but just picked off the few infected leaves.  This year, it was too serious to not treat.

I'll try to post some beautiful photos in a day or two, but I've had trouble uploading them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

After the Deluge

Since Saturday, Portland has been inundated with rain, some 6+ inches.  (An inch of rain is a foot of snow, goes the old saying:  imagine!)  Today it finally abated enough to allow me to get out into the garden, which was perfectly moist for weeding and transplanting.  So I planted some bush tomatoes, sweet peppers, and an herb pot of mint, basil and rosemary.  I also moved my Russian sage out from underneath the now-larger shrub rose, and underneath the front window.  Likewise, my Roseanne geranium was getting shaded out by my grape vine and strawberry patch, so I moved it to a sunnier spot.  I moved some peonies around so that they're now clustered in one area, rather than here and there around the garden.  Finally, there is always the job of discovering rudbeckia and liatris that pops up out of nowhere.

Friday, June 1, 2012

first strawberry

It looks like a bumper year for strawberries this year, and the first of mine has ripened!

Sugar Snap Peas

I usually grow my sugar snap peas in my raised bed, up a trellis, but this year I decided to grow them in pots on the front steps, and run them up the railings.  (I've started my green beans in there too, as well as some gladiolas and morning glory for decoration.)  Hopefully it'll work out that I can sit on my front steps and munch on snap peas.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May showers

We had a dry April in Maine, but a wet May has produced lots of growth, and my garden is abundant with life.  As you can see below, the poppies and columbine have opened, as have the verbascum and sage.  Also open are chives, lupine, some flowering onions, geraniums, German iris, baptisia, some shrub roses, and a veronica. 

For some reason this morning, after a day or two of rain, the birds invaded my garden, and I saw a pair of goldfinches, a cardinal, a number of chickadees (or perhaps just the same one), and (below) a bluejay, perched upon a lovely birdhouse that my father-in-law bought for my daughter's birthday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May revise

We've had lots of rain recently, which has made weeding easier.  I'm now done with teaching for the semester, so I've had more time to spend in the garden.   So there's lots to report:

Veggies:  I've already harvested some (greenhouse-grown)  lettuce.  My spinach and kale are up and doing well.  I've  put in my summer crops, including tomatoes, celery, cukes, green beans and corn (new this year).  Also planted my potatoes, and put in a new "batch" of asparagus bare-root plants -- which necessitated clearing out a raised bed in the back yard previously dedicated to ornamentals.  It gets more sun now than when I built it, so I moved some shade-friendly plants (sweet woodruff, geranium, and ligularia) to more dappled spots in the front garden.

Flowers:  Moved my perennial bachelor buttons to the sidewalk strip, as they take up a lot of room and tended to overwhelm the area where they were.  Last fall I ripped out a lot of the yarrow in the sidewalk strip (it'll come back, alas), and created lots of space to put in a greater variety of plants.  So along with the bachelor buttons there's now a lot of lupine, day lilies, gayfeather, rudbeckia, and some others I'll identify later in the year.

Seeding:  I put in a lot of sunflower seeds here and there -- 5-6 foot giants.  We'll see how they do, and the squirrels have tended to find most of them in the past.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

seeds in the ground

Finally got around to doing some planting.

Well, I take that back. Last weekend I put my peas in the ground -- in pots so that I can grow snap peas up the front railing, and in the window box that's attached to my fence, so that I can trail the peas down and along the picket fence. What the hey.

Today, along with general Spring garden cleanup (mostly removing the leaf mulch from around the roses and the butterfly bushes), I prepared my raised bed with some lobster compost, then planted a mesclun mix, two types of carrots (little fingers and cosmic purple), Siberian kale, and giant winter spinach.

In my verge I also scattered the remained of the echinacea and rudbeckia seeds that I had collected last year and given away as stocking stuffers to friends and family. The remainder will hopefully fill out where I dug up a lot of the yarrow, which I'm getting tired of.

Alas, I was too busy to have started no seeds this year, so I guess I won't be eating my favorite cucumbers nor taking a shot at growing artichokes as an annual.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This morning we got a light snowfall, just enough to make a nice contrast between the emerging bulbs and the white background. My wife took the best of the photos.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Crocuses in their high glory!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The new normal: early Spring

After a warm winter, my Spring bulbs are up early, including crocuses and irises. But my neighbor has also detected mosquitoes in her back yard, so I'm not sure I'm all that pleased with this early Spring. This is Maine, not Virginia.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wet, Wet, Wet

We've had intermittent rain (and sometimes downpours) since Saturday, which means my garden is nice and watered, but now it's too watered, and I don't dare sow any seeds anywhere, lest they rot. But that hasn't stopped me from moving some things around: I dug some daylilies out of one area of my garden and put them in the verge (the place between the sidewalk and the road), so that daylilies now run the entire verge. Where those daylilies were (and some were just little off-shoots of my larger plants), I planted a few more peonies, two 'Benjamin Franklins' that I bought from Skillin's, and two mystery peonies that a neighbor gave me last fall (which I had planted in the back yard).

I also planted my potatoes (Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold), which needed to go in, so I had to balance not being too late with not having them rot in the ground. Let's hope I chose well. Also defying the weather, I planted some gladiolas alongside my fence.

In an annual ritual, it's pulling-out-the-blasted-oak-seedlings time. I walk around my garden, weeding tool in hand, looking for those distinctive red leaves, and out they come. With three oak trees in my neighbor's front yard, adjoining mine, we are inundated with acorns -- and their nefarious consumers, the squirrels.

Finally, my big purchase: I bought an espaliered apple tree, with three varieties grafted onto the same root stock. Unfortunately, Skillins' supplier lost track of what the three varieties were, so it'll be a surprise in the fall. Here's the challenge: I have to cut down four immature oak trees (each about two inches in diameter), which are all right next to each other and in the exact spot in the back yard where I want to put the apple tree. I'd been wanting for years to cut out those trees, but they had become a "house" for my daughter Sage's imaginary persona, Hack (who is, in her mind, a gardener and also an employee at Skillin's). While Hack still shows up once in a while, Sage now likes the idea of harvesting her own apples, so she's willing to give up the trees.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's been very dry these past two weeks, despite some brief drizzles here and there, and I've had to tap into my rain barrels for the past week to keep these moist.

I'm starting to take things out of my greenhouse and put them in the ground: nicotiana, amaranthus, lobelia, bachelor buttons, morning glories and thunbergia (the last from my generous neighbor).

I bought some red pontiac and yukon gold seed potatoes yesterday, and cut them up to harden them up before I plant them today or tomorrow. I also had to buy more gladiola bulbs: I hadn't planned on buying new ones this year, since I dutifully pulled last year's bulbs in the fall and put them in a pot to dry (I usually just leave them in the ground to rot), but I mistakenly put another flower pot on top of the bulbs, and when I discovered them last week, they were all moldly. Oh well.

New blooms: my peach (below) and cherry trees have bloomed, and my strawberries are beginning to do so. Among the perennials, the iberis and creeping phlox are in their full glory.People have been enjoying the "wow" factor of my garden this past week. A woman walking her dog paused to point out the tulips to her labrador. (I'm not sure what the dog understood.) A school kid on my daughter's bus stood up from his seat and started pointing and shouting to his friends (though I couldn't hear what he said). Passers-by compliment me on the garden when they see me out there. And my daughter thinks I have the prettiest garden in Portland. So I'm happy. Here are some pix:

Friday, May 6, 2011

getting greener

After a few days of on-again off-again rain, my garden is filling out with green stuff. And now that classes have ended, hopefully I'll have a little more time to identify what that green stuff is and separate the weeds from the rest. A few notes:

I have only a few blossoms (10 or so) on my cherry tree. It's only a four- or five-year-old tree, but I have images of the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. in my head, and I'm envious.

As I've noted, only two of the three peonies that I planted last fall came up, so I took the peonies in my back yard (that a neighbor gave to me last summer) and moved them to the front. Let's hope they put on a good show: I have no idea what they look like.

While waiting for my daughter's school bus to arrive, I shelled and sowed lupine seeds that I collected last year. I'm sure they'll all resort to standard purple flowers, but that's fine. I need more variety in the parking strip out front, and as long as they don't become aphid magnets (or even if they do), I'll be happy with them.

I soaked and sowed six more morning glories (well, moon flower, but it's the same species) and put them under lights. Once they sprout, I'll be done with my grow lights and bring everything out into the greenhouse.

So many of the bulbs are open that I had to do a photoshoot yesterday, even if it was drizzling on me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

glory days

This is one of my favorite times of year for my gardens: when most of my major bulbs are out, especially the daffodils, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, and the first of my tulips. This time of year, my garden acts serves as a traffic-abatement device, slowing down cars as they drive by. Neighbors wave and give me a thumbs-up if they walk by and see me sitting in the front window. It's very rewarding.

Seed-starting update: most of my morning glories have sprouted and emerged from the soil, as have all of the other warm-weather seeds I first started in the greenhouse and then moved into the basement. Lesson learned. My raised bed is now covered with little green things poking out of the soil. Now if I can only find the little map I made as I was sowing the seeds, so I can figure out the seedlings that I don't recognize.

My new bowl-of-beauty peonies sprouted seemingly overnight a few days a ago and are now about 9 inches high. One of the three has yet to emerge, and I'm concerned I buried it too deep.