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Took these of Hank and Alice over the weekend. They do love an open window! They are looking out over the driveway/parking area to the “side garden,” the end of which (that you can see) is the old veggie garden. Right under the window they’re sitting at is the triangle garden. That doodad in the window is a super cute solar-powered rainbow-maker (that I love).

Cats in the window

Cats in the window

…let’s zoom in on Hank in that last one…
Hank's tongue

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 19: St. Joseph’s Day – Children born today are especially lucky. If the weather is fair, it will be a good year for gardening.

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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.

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

Just a quick post with a bunch of random thoughts. Because I am currently stuck inside and there are at least 10 inches of snow outside. Driving home yesterday they said maybe, just as far south as me, we miiiight get 3 or 4 inches. Maybe.

It’s been snowing (hard!) since 6AM and is supposed to continue through the night. Good job weathermen!

So today I decided to go through all my seeds and start organizing things. I have few more coming (sharing with @betweenthelimes!), but mostly I have all I’ll get. I’ll buy a few standard hybrid tomatoes (Better Boy always does well) and peppers from the Amish to get some earlier fruit. Plus annual flowers. But on veggie seeds and herbs, I’m all set and just have to figure out layout.

2010 seeds

2010 seeds

(Click that to see it bigger.) So I made a spreadsheet. Looking at last year’s posts from March (use the archives link – lower left), I can see that I started right about at the right time last year. We’re usually frost-free before May 1, that’s a pretty darn safe date. And there are a couple local flower sales I hit up every year that are right around then, so I do my major planting (annuals, etc) after then anyway. If I remember, I want to put the date of first flower or fruit on the spreadsheet too, for future reference. Maybe keep it ongoing from year to year?

I’ll be starting a lot more stuff outside this year, knowing that some things just don’t really benefit from an early start and some do well started in the ground without having to be moved. So the aim is to get the raised beds that will go behind the driveway done by early April (to allow for sowing stuff outside), and also turn the current veggie garden into a small raised bed (possibly for herbs?). I’ll have to figure out the layout of the stuff IN the gardens at some point, too.

One good thing I happened to think of today while thinking of layout is that between bean trellises and tomatoes, the garden will have some height that will give the backyard some privacy from the road. We live on a back road, but it’s a rather busy one, and because our house is down a hill I often feel like I’m sort of on display when I’m in the yard (as evidenced by horn-honks who appreciate my shorts – ugh). So that’s a plus.

I’ve also decided that I want a stone garden Buddha. Not sure if I want fat Buddha or young Buddha though. There is a local stone guy that I’ll have to go to to check it out. I pass by there every day to and from work, and he’s out there with molds and pouring concrete into the drum. He supplies to other local places I think, but also sells a lot from his shop. So I think I need a Buddha from him.

Hubby and I bought a little greenhouse shelf thing (looks like this) from Lowe’s last night. It has four 3ft shelves in it. My plan is to get some fluorescent lights to hang from each level (hubby is in charge of that – having probs finding them in the right size-ish and for the right price-ish) and attach it to a timer in the shed. If I need to/can, I can also use it outside with the cover. I saved a lot of things to start seeds in from last year, plus I have a bunch of peat pots. I’ll probably go to the dollar store and get some metal plans or litter boxes or something to catch water (since there will be lights under each tier) and then put a bit of sand or rocks in those under the actual plants (I’ve heard this helps with them not soaking up too much water and keeping them moist still). I’ll probably also get a fan for outside to move them around a bit and keep them strong, and attach that to the timer as well.

I will most likely START the seeds inside on top of the fridge (where I grew them totally last year). It’ll be much warmer there both because it’s inside and on top of the fridge (tends to be warm up there), so it’ll be warm enough for germination and then I can move them outside once they get a bit bigger. I think there will be room to do that with the cycle of when things need to start, since some are 6-8, some are 4-6, and some are less.

I’ll add the Herbal Almanac stuff later (I’m in another room typing because we have a space heater in here so it’s warmer) and maybe a picture of our (again) snow-covered house and the greenhouse and stuff. Though it’s much more snow-covered now!

[…Later that night…]

Herb AlmanacJANUARY 29: Keep a pot of catnip in the windowsill for the house cat in the winter. The adage is “If you set it, the cats will get it/If you sow, the cats won’t know.” [My cats – ok, mostly just Alice – get too crazy for catnip all the time. I do grow it in the summer though and have some dried.]

JANUARY 30: To ward off nightmares from the long winter nights, try aniseed, licorice, and garlic. [um ew.]

Not a whole lot to show here for bloom day. Normally in this area, it doesn’t *really* get cold until February/March. And when it does stay cold, it generally hovers around freezing, but won’t dip below for more than a few days at a time. Well not this year! It’s already snowed a measurable amount three times and we just finally got above freezing for a bit today. So that means everything outside is frozen. The pansies are limp and sad looking, and need a good cutting back and some warm weather before they do anything. So that makes me even more happy that I brought in this pelagorium/false geranium to overwinter this year. And it bloomed!

Here it is in its natural state on top of the fridge. (Where am I going to put all that when it’s time to start seeds up there?!)

And a better look.

I’ve actually been quite busy lately. Last weekend I went ice skating at the Sculpture Garden in DC with a bunch of people…

…and saw the Terps kick some Florida State butt.

This (long) weekend, hubby and I are taking a trip up (well, left) to Luray, VA to stay in a nice cabin in the woods. We’ll soak in the hot tub and make s’mores. I was actually *supposed* to be a friend’s date at a party, and I even bought an adorable 70’s themed dress for it (it’s a 70’s theme party), but then everyone sorta forgot the dates and they ended up the same weekend. Lame! And I feel bad. But I will definitely enjoy a much-needed weekend away with the hubby. I doubt there will be any blooms in the mountains, either, but I’m sure I’ll have some nature-y pics to share when I get back. Have a great weekend, everyone!

I plan to order the rest of my seeds when I get back. And I’m still open for trades! And now some sage (and kinda funny) advice from the Herbal Almanac.

Herb AlmanacJANUARY 13: St. Hilary’s Day – This was the first day to be married after the Christmas ban. The house could be decked up with wedding herbs now: sage, lavender, jasmine, marjoram, and borage.

JANUARY 14: If you are single greet the first new moon after New Year’s by standing astride the bars of the garden gate and saying, “All haul to the Moon/Hail to thee/I prithee good moon reveal to me/This night who my wife [husband] must be.”—John Aubrey, Miscellanies, 1695

JANUARY 15: “Thy garden twifallow, ‘stroy hemlock and mallow.”—Thomas Tusser, 1557

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