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Last year I started my tomato and herb seeds on March 14. “Sacrifice seedings” started going outside on March 26 to see if they could fare well outside (I’m pretty sure all the sacrifices lived). This year I started them today, March 6. I also have a much better setup (see March 2009), so I think they’ll do much better. It was gorgeous and nice and warm out today (well, in the 50s).

Today I sowed: sungold tomato, Russian rose tomato, purple passion spinach, Japanese black trifele tomato, speckled roman tomato, black from Tula tomato, black cherry tomato, rainbow cherry tomato, Campbell’s tomato, sweet basil, cinnamon basil, lemon basil, lime basil, lemon cucumber, lovage, ground cherry (omg small seeds!), luffa, spacemaster cucumber, gold rush bush bean, lemon grass, maxibel bush bean, dragon tongue bush bean, white hot habañero, green tomatillo, pineapple tomatillo, peachy mama pepper, serrano pepper, black pearl pepper. (Thanks to betweenthelimes, snarkyvegan, and getinthegarden for sharing some of these seeds with me!)

rainbow cherry

Rainbow Cherry Tomato seeds from Botanical Interests - adorbz!!

basil

Basil is good for sharing

seed shelf

The seed rack - in the cats' bedroom/reading room.

I used my dollar store stuff plus stuff I had gotten before, except I didn’t use the sand from the dollar store. Since I know it doesn’t have anything weird in it, I used the sand from a truck weigher downer roll (do they have a name?) of sand we got when it snowed. One had busted so I used it at hubby’s suggestion and will prob donate the colored dollar store stuff to my mom for the art teacher. The sand seems to be doing a nice job of keeping things moist without just having a ton of sitting water. So I’ll water from the bottom, then I have a spray bottle to keep the tops moist without drowning them.

I also have lots of saved yogurt containers and larger pots to up-pot as needed and to start the outdoor seeds. All the other seeds I have will be started outside when it’s warm enough, or will be direct sowed…you know, once there’s actually 3 raised beds of about 130 square feet between these sticks and not just sticks stuck in the grass. (Except for the parsley, which I forgot I need to soak first – those I’ll soak then do a few cells of soon. I actually overwintered one parsley plant and the one in the pot outside looks like it may come back – hm.) Hubby has drawn up a nice plan, we just need to till up the grass and get things started. I aim to have it ready for plants/seeds by April 9 at least.

So…they’ve been in there for a few hours. Think they’re sprouted yet???

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After all that snow recently (we still have some snow and the ground is generally just mushy and gross), the plants are starting to perk back up again. And some recent 40-50° days have even made a few plants brave the possibility of a coming spring.

viola

viola

my favorite weed

my favorite weed

...up close

...up close

daffodils

daffodils

Herb AlmanacMARCH 5: March Hares were especially unlucky to meet when setting out on a journey. If you saw one, you must call it a nickname like Wat or Old Malkin. These March Hares were really shape-shifting witches. Protection from them was assured by placing vervain or rowan leaves on a gunstock and shooting them with a silver bullet.
[Lord. Anyone need to name a bunny?]

Also…MARCH 4: Herbalist Thomas Tusser says this is a good time to manure the garden.

(Finally did it! Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts.)
#wordlesswednesday

winter dowing

(And don’t worry…I did take the lids off after I asked and @getinthegarden replied!)

Thanks to twitter, I was reminded that it’s bloom day! And thanks to my hubby, I have a bloom. Inside. Because the outside it still soggy and covered with snow. There may be a pansy bloom or two under there, but I’m not trudging through the snow to check.

orchid

When he went to Lowe’s to buy stuff to hang my lights in the seed shelf, he picked me up two plants. That phalaenopsis orchid is my second. He also got me one year before last that is still alive, but I haven’t gotten it to bloom again. I think I don’t fertilize it enough. I’m thinking about repotting it into a smaller pot because I also think it’s overpotted. Then mybe both orchids can live on that plant stand in the office. For right now, it’s on top of the giant old-school style TV we never watch in the office.

office

When he called me at work to tell me what he’d gotten for the seed shelf, he also said he’s gotten me a rescue plant. I think all of us plant people are suckers for a cheapo rescue plant at Lowe’s or somewhere, and my hubby was a sucker for this one because of the cool factor.

pineapple

That’s right…a pineapple! It’s about the size of the palm of my hand. Apparently it needs high light and low water (but don’t let it dry out). I’m keeping it on top of the entertainment center in the living room (highest light place we have available) until the summer, when I’ll probably put it outside. I feel like I must be the envy of all the other gardeners. Anyone else have a PINEAPPLE PLANT? I mean, really. (If you live somewhere cool, you don’t count and I hate you.) Props to hubby.

Of course the addition of the pineapple caused massive reorganization and shuffling of all the houseplants. I’m going to take the one dracaenea to work because it doesn’t seem thrilled where it is, and my one dracaenea margerita at work is super happy. I moved some other stuff to the fridge, moved my fave “flower pot” pot to the living room, and ended up with this. (Also, I’ve decided I’m not a huge fan of peace lilies. Meh. But I have 3 of them sooo…)

entertainment center

Fun fact: That silver bowl is actually a trophy (you can’t see the engraving). My grandfather was a champion ring jouster and I have several of his trophies. Unfortunately in my teensy house I don’t really have anywhere to display them, but this one is out. The colorful glass in there is an ornament my BFF sent from Hawaii.

I also decided to repot my jade into the pot the recently deceased rescue orchid one occupied. I think it turned out cute. (How do I make it have more branches? Or will it do that by itself?) I still can’t believe this thing started out as like one leaf that my aunt gave me when it fell off her giant jade plant when I was over there. Craziness.

jade

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 15: “In February in the New of the Moon, sow borage, coriander, marjoram, radish, rosemary, and sorrel.”—Gervase Markham, The English Housewife, 1683

[I have rosemary evergreen outside, and I will be sowing borage, coriander/cilantro, and radish this year—but not for a few weeks yet!]

Also, the FEBRUARY 14 entry tells us “some herbal aphrodisiacs are cyclamen, lettuce, pansies, periwinkle, bay, marigolds, thyme, wormwood, marjoram, coriander, clove, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, rose, borage, rocket, garden cress, artichokes, parsley, carrot, dill, anise, and chervil.” I propose you cover yourself in all of them and see what your sig-o does.

So I know I already did a Wordless Wednesday post, but I can’t resist. I’m writing this post on Wednesday, February 10. Today added about 3 inches of snow on top of an inch or so of sleet from last night—all of that added to the 18 or so (some melted I’m sure) inches already there from the weekend, and the 2 or 3 that were there from the weekend before that. Wind gusts got up to 56 mph. It is the third day we’ve had off for snow this year. We were closed one day in January, got out early this past Friday, and were off Monday (still digging out from the massive weekend snow) and today. Tomorrow is iffy though the message this AM said they intend to be open. [UPDATE – Nope, we’re closed. They can’t get plowed. Probably a good call – it’ll be icy and nasssty. Our poor CFO/COO sounds so exasperated on the office message!]

THIS IS CRAZY. This has been the snowiest winter in the DC Metro area EVER. Take a look at this time lapse video for a taste. We’ll see if I have work tomorrow – my building is flat (buildings around here are dropping like flies – seriously – Catholic school, post office, sheriff’s office, elderly center, and houses, just to name some) and the parking lot was horrendous yesterday BEFORE we got a ton of freezing rain and ice. When I got to work yesterday, firetrucks were there inspecting the roof for safety (somehow did not actually make me feel safer). And oh – more snow expected next week! I looked at the local newspaper’s website this AM and it looked like the apocalypse – building collapses, car crashes, house fires, scary-looking weather maps. ACK.

Today, as my hubby got up from a nap to go to work in the blizzard (he’s a cop, so he has to work), I was in my reading chair, wearing a (Terps!) snuggie, with a cat on my lap, holding a mug of tea, reading a gardening book. That’s some sort of cliché I’m not sure I should have just admitted to being on the internet. I’m glad he didn’t know where the camera was or was too tired to care.

So anyway – the seed starting area is still in the works (needs lights – once we can you know, actually get out to get to a store again), I can’t even get to the shed without digging a trench, and I guess my plants are under there somewhere. I’d love to take some lovely photos of icicles hanging off of plants, except I CAN’T FIND THEM. Where are they? Under this….

Friday, February 5: windy, snowy, grey, gross.

I staked off the triangle garden to minimize rocks tossed in during shoveling.

Sunday, February 7: Snow stopped finally! Time to dig out. That sleet layer was NOT fun.

Thankful for my rain boots and liners. Seriously.

Wednesday, 2/10: OH LOOK MORE SNOW AND SLEET!

the icicles of death - they reach down to eye level. scary.

There goes my nicely shoveled driveway.

At least there are birds around...

...to keep Miss Alice happy.

And Hank, as usual, is just begging to play.

Wish all us metro area folks luck. It’s insanity. I can’t say I don’t enjoy the snow days, but geez.

#wordlesswednesday two weeks in a row?!

Apparently there is a house plant census going on, which is nice because it gives me something else to think about besides the 18 or so inches of snow outside. ugh.

Now I have a small house – while we have almost an acre outside, the inside is less than 1,000 square feet. It’s…cozy. We’ll go with cozy. And I have a lot of plants inside! You never realize how many until you actually go and count.

All of my plants have to be in high places since I have 2 cats. I don’t want them to eat the plants and get sick and I don’t want half-eaten plants all over the place. So I stash plants where I can.

Let’s start in the kitchen, shall we? On top of the fridge I have quite a few plants. An arrowhead plant in one of my fave flower pots (you can’t see it in the back there, but the pot says “flower pot.”). Another small arrowhead plant I am rescuing for my mom, a few philodendron cuttings rooting in water, and a parsley and geranium I saved from the summer (that lamp is on a timer for them) among other things. This area gets some sun and stays warm from the fridge. Current count: 7.

parsley, garanium, arrowhead plant, philodendron, arrowhead plant, pothos, peace lily

Let’s move to the sink area (sorry – bad pic). I have some hanging dried herbs that I will eventually use. I also have variegated pothos and green pothos cuttings each growing nicely. I’ll pot some up every not and then. There’s opal basil, sweet basil, and sage growing in the small container on the windowsill (wish I had bought more of these pots – perfect size for the sills!). I had an orchid I had rescued for $1 sitting on the sink, but that finally croaked (I’m not great with orchids), so I now have an empty pot for another plant. The little terra cotta pots are sometimes used for seedlings in the spring, but now they hold dried herbs and dried jalapenos from the summer. We’ll count the windowsill herbs all as one, so that brings the total to 11.

green pothos, basil and sage, variegated pothos

On top of the microwave I have…more pothos! These both came from the cuttings that were started in the kitchen window. The variegated cuttings originally came from my mom, and the green ones came from a plant grouping I got on sale at walmart and separated. The pothos hanging on the laundry room door (off the kitchen) is also from that same plant, and the philodendron here (some sort of silverleaf kind) is the parent of the cuttings on top of the fridge. Current count: 13.

pothos x2 - That nesting chicken was my Mom-Mom's.


philodendron, pothos

And now on to the living room. On the TV stand is a christmas cactus my mom gave me after the holidays, another arrowhead plant (this one is called Berry Allusion and has pink in the leaves – very pretty), and a peace lily. I also have a lucky bamboo rooting. So…17
arrowhead, peace lily, christmas cactus

Then there’s the entertainment center. I won’t count the lucky bamboo hanging from the curtain rod. I wanted to root it (bought a long piece and cut it), but clearly something went wrong and the yellow is slowly moving up. But on the entertainment center is, starting from the bottom, a dracena and a pothos (same cuttings)…19
dracenea, pothos...

…and then on top is another dracenea (both of these from from that walmart bunching), a bromeliad I recently rescued and need to repot, a jade that started as one leaf with a root on it from my aunt, a dracenea magenta (or similar) that also came from the walmart arrangement, and 2 pots of pothos – the greener from the walmart bunch and the smaller variegated from the kitchen cuttings. This is the sunniest area in the house that is still cat-safe. Southeast facing, I think. So um….25?

dracenea, bromeliad, jade, dracenea magenta, pothos, pothos

This little guy is in the bathroom. Came from a friend’s going away party (she moved to Hawaii – the nerve!). I bought the lucky bamboo that I killed because I wanted 3 stems in here (one was dying when I got it). We’ll see how that works out. No windows in this room, so I move it to the TV stand in the living room for a couple days each week. It’s looking kind of “lighter green” on the stem, so hopefully it lives because I’d like to have a plant in here and I think it looks cute. And yes, I do have pictures of plants in my potty. And that makes 26.
lucky bamboo

Let’s go to the office, shall we? In here I have a smaller peace lily that I separated from the one on top of the fridge. On the other shelf is an ivy that I got back in college from IKEA. It grew like a champ when I had it at work and now it’s alive but doesn’t really grow. Might eventually take it back to work. Also you can see my overwintering hibiscus and the orchid that hubby got me a few years ago for Valentine’s day that I just can’t get to bloom again. This room gets nice morning sun, but not a lot later on. That brings us to…30.

peace lily, hibiscus, ivy, orchid

30 plants! For a house this tiny, that really is a lot. The only rooms that don’t have plants in them are the bedroom and the spare bedroom/cat room. I used to have a small bit of pothos rooting in a wall hanging (actually a candle holder, but I used it as a vase), but that room gets no sun plus the room-darkening shades are almost always closed because of hubby’s work schedule, so eventually it yellowed and died. And obviously no plants in the cat room other than the occasional cat grass over the summer.

I also have (let’s see, peace lily, dracenea, dracenea, dracenea magenta, pothos) 5 plants in my cube at work. Do I have a problem???

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 6: St. Dorothea‘s Day – the patron saint of florists

Oh! Shocking! More snow!!

One of the benefits of living in Southern Maryland (or Maryland in general) is usually that we get snow every year, but it’s not a big huge deal. We’ll get a few dustings, some flurries, and maybe one or two “big” snows with 8-10 inches. The area freaks out, schools are closed, we all go play in the snow, then a couple days later it’s 40+ degrees and it’s all over. (Ice is usually a bigger problem here because of temp fluctuations and winter rain.)

In March 2009, we got over a foot of snow. In December 2009, we got about the same amount. It was nice to have a white Christmas, even though it rained on Christmas day.

On January 30, we were expected to get maybe an inch of two of snow. That turned out to be more like 10 inches or so. Today on February 5, we’re expected to get anywhere from 20-30 inches. TWENTY TO THIRTY INCHES. The estimate allows 10 inches, which would be bad by itself. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

We normally get (totally guessing here – wasn’t able to google up a good source) maybe a foot of snow a winter max, spread out over a few smaller snows. This winter – not even counting the March 2009 snow – we’re probably already over 2 feet. And usually the snowy season doesn’t even start until February or later. I’m scared! The one in December and this one have also both officially been considered blizzards. My favorite weatherman, Topper Shutt, gave this one a 10 on the bread-o-meter, which tops some storm from the 50s or something. Two top 10 snowstorms for the region in 2010 alread.

Thankfully, my office closed at 12:30 today to allow us to all get home safely. Roads were fine then, but it was snowing hard. Unfortunately, my hubby has to work tonight and tomorrow night. We’re supposed to get the vast majority of snow tonight, and things are already crazy. There was an armed bank robbery earlier today, for example. And I’m sure hubby will have to pull some people out of ditches and break up some arguments by people who have “cabin fever” because they’ve been inside their homes for 3 hours. Grr! He did take off Sunday for the Super Bowl (because he worked both xmas and new year’s), so hopefully we’ll be able to get together with my parents and watch the game on their big, fancy TV.

So I’m feeding the birdies in the mean time. They’re all going crazy over the bowls of food I put on the deck, and there are 1 or 2 smart birds who are hitting up the usual feeder on the side of the house. I also brought in a baggie of food so I can refill the deck stuff tomorrow (after I dig it out) without having to dig out the garden shed doors.

I’ll also be, very shortly, sitting in the “cat room” (spare room), reading a book and staring at the greenhouse shelf and all my seeds. Hubby is still working on getting the appropriate light fixtures before it all gets hooked up and put out in the shed. I’ll start seeds in about a month. Please not another foot of snow THIS March!

#snomg, indeed.

#wordlesswednesday

I always have at least ONE flower in bloom. Thanks, Aunt Deb!


It’s the first day of spring for gardeners according to my almanac (see end of post). What better time to post snow pics from the weekend? Seriously weathermen – if it’s going to snow 10 inches, tell us that. We’re totally not prepared when you say we’ll maaaaaybe get 3 or 4, if that. Thanks, guys.

Here are some pics from the snow on Saturday, 1/30/2010. (PS – Please say twenty-ten.)

First of all, yes I did make a snowman/pile. So let’s just get that awesomeness out of the way. (I had a scarf prepared, but he has no neck so that didn’t work.) Doesn’t the song go “two popcorn tree eyes, a fingerling sweet potato nose, and a leaf mouth”? No?

snowman

snowmanish

That’s what it looked like when we got up. As you can see, it was still snowing hard then. It wouldn’t stop until well into the night.

snow - 10AMish

Not having anticipated this much snow, I had to feed the birds (I added some on the deck as well, which was buried in a few minutes. I dug it out later that night again), get out the snow shovels, and finally screw on the temporary gutter downspout (since the rain barrel is out for the winter, and the temp one keeps falling off without a screw). I dropped a screw somewhere in all that snow. We’ll see if I ever find it.

mid-afternoon

The road is somewhere underneath there. It got better later on, but it was snowing so hard the plows just couldn’t stay ahead of it. And again, no one was prepared for this much.

By the night, the snow was deep enough to have totally met up with and covered that front stoop. This was in the afternoon – lord all these pics look dreary! But it wasn’t sunny because it was snowing so damn hard!

This is the next day after shoveling the driveway. Never thought those 2 snow shovels from my mom for xmas a few years ago would come in so much handy. Of course a snow machine would have been an even better gift…

Just for kicks, here’s a (high quality!) sketch of the veggie garden areas. The blue is all driveway/parking. We made the garden on the left when we moved in, and the area towards the front is what I have been using as my veggie garden. This year, we are also going to make a garden all along the back of the driveway (raised beds, tiered, probably). Most of this will be reserved for veggies, with the corner closest to the existing side garden perennials/shrubs. While we have almost an acre, our lot is traingle shaped. So most of our land is in the front yard up a hill, or to the right of the house (facing it). We want to put up a fence eventually – the part on the right looks like it belongs to the neighbors, but it doesn’t. That area would be PERFECT for growing veggies (great light conditions, nice open space), except that’s where all of the underground lines to us and the neighbors run. Though that is where, eventually, we will add an addition to the end of the house (since we’ll have to stay here longer than we’ll fit here with kids – stupid housing market). But anyway – I’ll be like quadrupling my space for edibles gardening, hence the big list o’ seeds and stuff in the previous few posts.

Me, looking *just stunning!* in my new, very warm winter coat (with a (detachable) hood! yay!). And I assure you that is not a booger, it is a falling snowflake. Also my hair is the same colors as whatever kind of faux fur that is supposed to be. Interesting.

Ever had snow cream? I hadn’t had it since I was a kid, and it’s still yummy. Mix together some milk (sweetened, condensed if you have it), sugar, and a little vanilla. Take a scoop of snow ans slowly stir in the mixture. Enjoy! You can jazz it up with nutmeg and stuff, but the above is good enough for me. Tastes like a perfect consistency vanilla sno-cone.

snow cream

snow cream

This has to go into the books as one of the snowiest winters in Southern Maryland in a loooooong time. And I’m scared – last year we got a big snow in March, so there’s still plenty of time for more snow! As long as I get a work snow day out of it, it’s cool. If I don’t though, then it’s extra annoying.

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 1: St. Brigid/Brigit’s Day. Also the first day of Spring in the gardener’s year. [BRING IT ON!]

FEBRUARY 2: [FYI since I doubt I’ll post tomorrow] Candlemas Day

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