Category Archives: Seasonal Weather Conditions

Recent Weather

It’s been warm this week – so warm I actually looked to see if the Daffodils were peeking out of the ground. Wishful thinking… Alas, my own ‘Groundhogs’ were still asleep and I hear winter is returning Sunday with a prediction of snow. Sounds like just the weekend I need to shop those seed catalogs.


Tomato Sacrifices

I’ve been meaning to write about this for about 10 days, but soccer and football and ‘back to school’ took over.

As you know, I always get a late start to my garden because of wet springs – typical here; too large a yard and a need Continue reading


Didn’t make it out to the garden this evening due to thunderstorms late afternoon and a work appointment at 6pm. Thought I would get there but didn’t eat until 8:40 so daylight ran out.

I’ve sworn to myself that I would keep ahead of the weeding this year. It is usually the hopelessness of ever catching up with them that leads to my letting the garden fail. So, I worked hard to get most of my beds mulched with grass clippings with the exception of the melons/squashes and pumpkins – which I should be able to do tomorrow evening after the boys cut the lawn. Now that the corn is up, I can finish mulching around the seedlings and not just between the rows, as it is now covered. That leaves the areas where I planted seeds directly that I am still waiting on:  sunflowers, herb triangles, and the cutting flowers bed.

It is the flower bed that I am most concerned about and where I have been spending my time. Wanting a totally loose, cottagy feeling, I made a flower ‘mesclun’ blend of two cosmos, cleome, bells of Ireland, cornflowers and a zinnia that did little for me a couple of years ago but I still had the packet of leftover seeds, so I tossed them in. Really wished I had ordered some nicotiana to add to the mix.  I then scattered the whole lot over the 4′ x 10′ bed.

(If this works as I hope, I will plan better for next year – more varieties and more of seeds of each… See, the invasive gene again seeping into my planning –  I can’t help myself!)

Of course, the watering needed to germinate the new seeds worked its magic on the dormant weed seeds first. Not knowing what all the good seedlings would look like (cosmos and bells of Ireland are fairly distinctive if you have grown them before), I set out to pull only known weeds – there are three that I see every year but I really don’t know what they are. I don’t typically spend a lot of time learning what they are unless really provoked, like with wintercress – long story.

After tonight’s rain and a day of no weeding, I will really need to be committed tomorrow evening!

As to the sunflowers and herbs, I have resolved to do the following if things head south:

  • Purchase a few herbs from final sales and then mulch if no seeds come up
  • Solarize the sunflowers bed if nothing germinates (details to follow, if I have to go that route).

Planting Big Garden – What’s Left

It’s been an eventful week including storms that prevented sowing the seeds after the tomato and pepper plants were successfully planted last weekend.

Two days ago, I did sow Arugula and a Heat Wave blend of lettuces. After watering the soil, I scattered the seeds and then dusted with a fine layer of loose dirt and watered again. I was hoping the damp soil would ‘glue’ them in place and the loose dirt was recommended on the packages.

Still, with the heavy rains yesterday, I am concerned that the little seeds are now in the pathways instead of their newly minted raised beds.  Will be watching.

And, yes, I know lettuces are better as a cool crop, but you already know my sad song about not getting to plant earlier. I am trying to promise myself to plant a late crop and should really go order the seeds now to force myself to really do it. Note to self…

Tonight I planted what I hope will become 7 okra plants and that I can keep the deer away. When left alone, okra grows really well in my zone 6 garden but I find I need several plants to have enough 3″ pods to really use for one meal. They tend to grow quickly and if they get much longer than that, they get tough and stringy, and dry. Which, if you are familiar with their usual goey-ness, is probably surprising. My kids love them since I introduced them as ‘stars’ when they were little.

Let me assure you that if you let little kids help grow them, they won’t have any preconceived notions of what is good or bad. I could get you to eat Brussels’ sprouts too, if I started when you were two.

And while I do agree that asparagus from the store may be more inclined to a mature palate, if you grow your own and pick them while pencil thin, they are so sweet they don’t even need to be cooked. In fact, they are a nice addition to a tossed salad.

Random musings aside, this is what goes in tomorrow night:

  1. 10′ x 10′ bed of Silver Queen corn – the ONLY kind we ever grow
  2. 10′ x 10′ bed of 4-6 varieties of pumpkin including  a variety that produced nearly competition sized pumpkins
  3. 10′ v 10′ bed of watermelon, cantaloupe, and zucchini

After that, I have two 4′ x 9′ beds, one to hold cutting flowers such as cornflower, bells of Ireland, cosmos, cleome,  larkspur, and another of various sunflowers.

Finally, I have to do the triangular herb beds:  one has a borage volunteer already in place. The others will likely get basil, dill, cilantro and any plants I get cheap.

I still have to figure out the addition of blackberries but that is for another story.

Finally, I have about 40 marigolds to go in in between the chives borders – anything to beat back the deer and the nematodes…


A Garden Does Not Eden Make

July completely undid me this year…

So many good intentions were left just outside the door I huddled behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hot weather – for vacation, for swim parties on a Saturday night, for reading by the pool, for a cool beverage, Oh, for so many reasons.

But, not for gardening.

I tried to keep up. Truly, I did. I half-weeded the paths and felt inspired to do the other half.

THEN, something odd happened. My tomatoes – all eight plants – shriveled.

We had been watering them. They had acclimated to their new locations and grown well through June. Then… curled leaves, bleached leaves, spindly growth and then, finally nothing.

Sun Scald? It looked like that from the pictures I “googled” but I would have thought a change in weather would get them going again. Not so.

Next, soccer took over and I gave up. Much research is needed as I refuse to not know what happened. A first in 15 years…



Rain…Rain… Science Projects?

After what must be nearly 3, if not 4, weeks without significant rainfall, we had a two recent storms that delivered nearly one inch over two days. The first nearly-half-inch probably ran off, mostly, due to ground being too hard to absorb it.

Falling the next day, this day’s half-inch probably did more good. I’ll have a better sense of that in a day or so. And, here is why (also, why I want to run a Science Project…):

SWEAR to God, plants like water from the sky (acid rain not even a factor…)_ WAY more than anything you can pour from a tap and/or add fertilizer to…

I have “known/noticed” this for several years and want to document it. (Really, I want a rain barrel – it takes 21 gallons 3-4 times a week to keep my containers and more for Big Garden – which I don’t usually water) to stay alive at 90+ degrees.

Still, an inch of rain makes them look like I did nothing for them for the last 2 weeks as they waited for Manna…

So, whether (weather) or not, I think some science research on this phenom is due for Logan next January…

Planting Big Garden

I really was so sure I would have this done before now.

You see, when I first designed Big Garden, I was able to plant by the end of May.   I remember much help from Donny and being treated to Thai Chicken Wings (an of-the-moment craving back then… restaurant long closed and I’m still trying to figure out that sauce…) I was four months pregnant, and nothing has been the same since.

Each following spring has had obstacles – planting during naps, driving two tired toddlers around until they were finally sleeping in their carseats, bad weather or too much rain to get to BG, but mostly sports, and of that, mostly soccer.

So, when that season wrapped at 11am after the final tryouts for next season, I donned the clogs, and headed out with 4 flats of seedlings, a plan, a new curlycue hose and a nozzle I can now rhapsodize about (the on/off is a thumb slide – no holding and it has about 12 spray patterns…), and my seeds.

Five hours, 20 or so trips to and from the house or barn, 3 dips in the pool, and one beer, I am done. Planting… there will be more to do, but I have to say that three weeks ago, with all  the weeds, no time and a million other things to finish, I really doubted that Big Garden would even look so good again.

I now have two perennial beds containing asparagus and rhubarb; four herb beds with four types of basil, sage, dill, oregano, parsley, borage, lemon balm; two cutting flower beds with five sunflowers, cosmos, niotiana (the old-fashioned white tubes), bells of ireland, cleome and poppies.

There are four 10′  x 10′ beds holding 5 pumpkins, zucchini, cantaloupe, acorn squash, 8 varieties of tomato (have I mentioned that DON”T eat tomatoes that I haven’t grown? Those at the store ARE NOT tomatoes!) and Silver Queen corn. (Let me give you a hint on growing corn – it is worth it if you can devote as little as a 4′ x 4′ plot! Just boil the water before you harvest – NOTHING compares!!!)

Finally, I have four peppers, two okras, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, beans, peas, cucumbers, ornamental gourds and two beds of mesclun, romaine, arugula and loose-leaf lettuce.

Chives and marigolds border one side to deter the deer and I will expand this to all sides and I need to divide the chives from time to time.

The face of Big Garden is edged with a 3′ wide border of perennials that I am always tinkering with – so much to learn about gardening for beauty and not production…

Watch for pictures for the next Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on June 15th!

This weekend…

I am so confused by Cincinnati’s weather this year! My daylilies are fully budded – at least 2 weeks early – and we are technically not yet at our “last frost date” which is truly May 19th not the accepted Mother’s Day that we all think is fine to start planting in the ground (ie. pots you can still move in if needed).

So, why do I feel all this pressure to be planting even though I am really not behind but ahead: 5 hanging baskets, 8 herb pots, 2 window boxes, and 8 pots are all done with only about 5 left to go before I put the impatiens around the deck and figure out what will go in the rock gardens?

I even feel the need to be tilling Big Garden even though my seedlings, on true season time, are still too little to consider hardening off.

I guess it has just been spring for so long that I am anxious. Of course, sports activities can interfere at any time, so that probably adds to the “need to be planting” feeling. Can’t wait for the next trip to The Flower Bed and planting time!

Spring Forward, Kinda…

If Mother Nature was going to skip a month, her decision to skip January this year, was kind of a stroke of genius. So, why is it only April 12th and I am ALREADY feeling behind?

Other years, I would still be wishing for Spring instead of already having the beds edged, preen down, mulch started, 7 or 8 pots of herbs planted, roses pruned and fertilized. I even have the trumpet vine cut back and 1/3 of the perennial border of Big Garden weeded and the asparagus bed maintained.

So, how can I feel behind? With temps in the 80s expected for this weekend, I am responding to the usual feeling I have each spring of having too much to do and not enough time – just can’t shake it. I KNOW I will be hitting my favorite nursery this weekend to start my hanging baskets – I can bring those in. And then there are the window boxes and major pots for the porch, deck and pool deck.

So, you ask, where is the downside?

I have never gotten seeds started for Big Garden. I am almost never able to plant that garden until Memorial Day, so I still have 6 weeks, which should be fine. But, I can’t even get motivated to do the plan, let alone figure out how to untangle the cords to the heat mats or the grow lights and timers. I just want to be outside, not in the basement.

What I need – don’t even think it out loud – is a rainy Saturday to force me to do this task. I was supposed to have one of those in mid-March and it didn’t happen. So, I am not only ahead of myself in some areas, I am out of order in others.

Why are we never happy with the weather?!!

Mother Nature

As I have written about before, Cincinnati is having an unusually mild winter. After 2011 setting records for rainiest year on record, rainiest April on record and on and on, winter is also setting records for the least snow. While it has been nice, and certainly the city/state budgets are happier without the salt expense, I am missing a good snow fall.

I’d like to report that this is all about to change. But, in truth, tomorrow’s forecast for 1/2″-1″ accumulation isn’t likely to make a lasting impact, if we get the snow at all.

Some of you may be concerned about the tree and shrubs that are starting to bud or the crocuses that were blooming just yesterday, or even the daffodils that are 3″ above ground already. What will become of them with a cold snap?

Fear not – Nature can take care of herself. If those little flowers do take a hit, the small shoots may die back but they will bounce back when warmweather returns.

If you pulled back mulch to see what is happening, pull it back but there is no need to add more.

If there is a special plant you are concerned about (if you see buds on a Japanese Maple, for instance), you can cover it with a sheet or towel. Just make sure to remove it as soon as the sun is out to avoid creating a greenhouse. And, don’t ever use plastic!

Also, remember, snow has an insulating effect, so if we do get some, leave it alone.

So, relax and enjoy whatever snow we might get!