Dear Friend and Gardener
Monthly Archives: March 2010
Seeds finally met dirt here – I am late but that will be okay. I started a flat of nasturtiums yesterday. I have these APS Starter Trays from Gardener’s Supply Company that really made starting seeds almost a no brainer. How it works: a black plastic trays functions as a reservoir for water into which a styrofoam pillar tray sits to hold the second styrofoam seedling pot tray above the reservoir. A wicking mat dips down into the water and lays between the two styrofoam parts – this keeps the soil moist as long as there is water. I add a water indicator to the set up so I know when to refill – usually no more than once a week. Add the clear top while the seeds are germinating. Over time, I have added heats mats under each which keeps the aire warm aroung the system and the warmed water that wicks up heats the soil to a nice temperature. In 6 weeks, I should have nasturtiums nearly ready to bloom. They are slated to go both in Big Garden (to remind me of Peter Rabbit…) and along the fenceline of the pool – next to the five ceramic fish that spout water in perfect arcs into the pool.
Forecast is for snow flurries (predicted to be a dusting upto an inch) overnight and lows dipping to 29 degrees – reminders, all, that Cincinnati springs are unpredictable. We had temps in the 60s last weekend and will have the same again in a day or so. How do the flowers survive – just fine, if left alone… I have literally 100s of daffodils blooming as I muse, and they will be a little sad tomorrow, but the sun will bring them back up – just as it does for people.
I don’t always put these out and they are not a part of Big Garden, but they do offer Springtime – that little burst of energy needed to jumpstart the whole process. I planted several in my galvinized bucket (along with day lilies, nasturtium seeds, and a glow globe on a tiny shepherd’s hook), another celadon pottery pot (with more daylilies and nasturtium seeds), and a funky hanging planter that I hang like a wreath to the right of my front door. I plant a mix of purples, whites, and yellow pansies since I need brights because of the long views to all the planters. But, I DO SO LONG for some of the more muted, dreamy colors – maybe next year they can just be all over!
Okay, I’ve done it – I have set myself up for a fall: it was in the mid 60s today and I started pulling out pots… I have a large (24" diameter) galvanized tin bucket (left in a trash pile in the Way Back by the previous owner). I noticed that the daylilies I put in it last spring had sprouted. I decided to put it back in its summer spot and throw some saved nasturtium seeds in for good measure. Tomorrow, I will add some pansies and all will be at peace in the world!
Spring starts tomorrow at 1:32PM EST – try to balance an egg on its pointy end and let me know if it works. Otherwise, carpe diem!
Têté a Têté Daffodils are tiny – about 6" tall and the blooms are about 1" in diameter. The kind of flowers you can pick one at a time and keep on your desk in a tiny vase – they will last there a few days and just brighten a work day. Even though so small, they still have that fresh scent that let’s you know spring is here. While they are in my daffodil patch in the Way Back, I could see them from my office window and knew to go hunt them down. Still, they would offer more reward if planted closer to the house for impact.
If interested, visit this website to view them – sorry they are out of stock now but this is not the time to plant them anyway – check back next fall…
Last fall, the boys and I added about 30 bulbs of daffodil named, Narcissus, ‘Trepolo’ – a white petalled cultivar wtih swirling inner petals featuring a center stripe of golden orange. We selected these to be different from the many existing varieties in honor of our beloved, deceased, cat, Chamois. The boys wanted to have a place to remember her since she was not buried here. The daffodil plot seemed the place – based on a sweet picture of her as a kitten: poking her nose into a bouquet I had cut.
We have been out looking at the plot to see if they are coming up – think so as there are sprouts of single leaf groups compared to the thicker plants that suggest those have multiplied with the years. I am really hoping they will come up as we did something very unconventional with them – we purchased them right after she was put to sleep, sadly, on Logan’s birthday. But, we were too sad to plant them that fall so put them in the veggie drawer of the basement refridgerator (something that is said to work in areas that don’t have a cool enough winter) in hopes of preserving them. Wish us luck on their success!
I have not had a lot to say the last couple days – just waiting. Not a bad thing since it means I am content to do so… The air is warming, forsythia was lightly trimmed to bring inside to bloom, clematis cut back, and helebores checked for a bloom to bring in – none. I remember getting ONE in early Feb but not so lately – that must have been a warmer winter. Still, the daffs are 6" up and I know it it only 1-2 weeks before I can start cutting. I have planted 1000+ bulbs in what we fondly call the "Way Back" – an area that is in the last 1/5 of our 2 acres. Under a copse of unidentified, light shade trees and cedars, I have been naturalizing Daffodils for 10+ years – early, middle and late blooming bulbs of many varieties have been dug in, sometime in the last many Novembers. Soon, I will cut with abandon for at least 6 weeks, a wide variety of golden yellow and white and safron colored gems, that remind me that all is well in the world. Enjoy!!!
It has been warm the last few days – 60s and no coat this afternoon. At this time of year, this kind of warm weather sometimes leads to storms and occasionally, tornadoes. Will be watching the forecasts closely – and not for snow for a change! We are expecting some rain in the next few days and while the ground does not really need it if I am to get into Big Garden, I know that the rain will bring some of the smells of the spring that can’t be too far around the corner. One of the smells I don’t care for, I have associated, since childhood, with the worms that exit the sodden soil. While I hate to step around them on the pavement, I have had to learn that this siting is actually a sign of my soil’s health. Worms are the aerators of the world – guietly turning soil and organic materials over. I should bless them and will try to remember that as I hold my nose!
Sunny and in the low 50s today so I got the chance to cut back the clematises (only those that bloom on new wood – you need to know this to know when to prune) as well as the Endless Summer Hydrangeas – didn’t cut back those I was unsure about: don’t want to cut back the old wood if that is where this year’s blooms are going to come from. Then, I got to look around the garden and boy, is it a mess! Three little purple crocuses have made a brave appearance and the tips of a 1000 daffodils are peaking up through the grass in the back. Other than that – I have a lot of work to do to restore the place. I’ve always heard that you should start small when beginning gardening, and although I was ambitious, I did follow this for the most part. The problem is that I have expanded and every spring it does look daunting until I get to spend two full weekend days cleaning up. Then, I’ll be able to see the vision again…
As I’ve alluded to previously, I am not a good fall gardener. I will cut down the cornstalks to make a Halloween arrangement, and if really inspired, pull up the pumpkin vines when I harvest them. But, it is all I can do to dump the 20 – 30 containers I have around the deck and pool, that I just never get to cleaning the cutting garden and vegetable areas. With my two boys playing multiple sports, I don’t have the time to devote to gardening I once did, but, I still do what I can. This weekend, we are expecting 50 degree weather and sunshine, so it is time to get started. Now, keep in mind, that if the ground is wet, you shouldn’t walk on the areas where you will grow things or you risk smashing the soil structure – I will have to tread carefully but will see what I can do to pull out old vines and stalks – I just throw them in the compost heap as long as the plants last year had shown no signs of disease. (Those plants should have hit the bonfire some time ago…) Someday, I will pull out the compost and apply this black gold to my beds – this may even be that year! Hope springs eternal!