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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.]

Friday - Snow-Ogelthorpe's Final Bow

Friday - Snow-Ogelthorpe

Well, the snow is gone. The pic at left was taken just as I got home from work on Friday. As soon as I was about to push the shutter button, the hat fell off! Talk about timing. Yesterday he was just a tiny snowball (pic in the gallery below), and today he’s totally gone, I’m sure. Yesterday was gorgeous, though. Unfortunately, I got some very unexpected very bad news about a friend of the family that made it a little less gorgeous. Still, I was able to get a lot done to attempt to take my mind off things (these things always make you think about parents, family members, and the future).

I bought some seeds and seed starting trays! I really want to try seeds officially this year. Among herbs and stuff, I got seeds for nasturtium, which I’ve never seen for sale around here and always found pretty – and wanted to try in salads and stuff. Also got a bright yellow/orange/red mix of cosmos. I’ve never ‘officially’ started stuff from seed before. Last year I had some free packets of cosmos, parsley, and basil that I basically just threw in a pot and they grew! Well, except for the parsley, but I see on its packet now that you’re supposed to soak that seed, so maybe that’s why that was a dud. I’m still usind the dried basil leaves from the summer though. I also got a large azalea pot that I’m hoping to be able to transplant all my little herb seedlings into. Then, apart from my perennial rosemary and lemon thyme, I’ll have basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, and sage (and nasturtium). I will admit that I did get the sage specifically because at the end of the summer, I got these cute little pots for $1 that say “sage” on them. But I think that’s good enough reason – I’ll figure out how to use it!

Also updates on the bird news. Thanks to @gettingdirty, I’ve identified this mystery bird (on left) as a dark-eyed junco. It’s related to the snow bunting, the bird my mom suggested, but a more common and more southern-found variety.

I have roughly a ton of pics slated to post, so I’ll try to save some so spread them out through the week. Later in the week I plan to do a “pretty weeds I have found” post, since I randomly was able to get on ID’d via twitter last night. Who says twitter isn’t great??

me and snow-ogelthorpe

me and snow-ogelthorpe

So we DID get a crapload of snow! Hubby had to get up at 5am to clean off the driveway some more (parking the cars there did help) and get ready for work. They sent SUVs to come pick them up. They can’t really drive the Crown Vics in this weather.

I called in to work and at 6am a message said “we plan on opening at 11am, so call back at 9:30am and check.” wtf. Come on! There was no way I could get out my driveway anyway as it was still snowing this AM, and it had already covered from where Will shoveled out this morning. So I called it a day and went out to clean off the deck so it didn’t fall down. Luckily they DID decide to close work. I’d be pissed if I had to use one of my precious few days off for this!

Again, some of you may not be impressed, but I am! I don’t think we’ve had this much snow here in about 5-6 years, since when I was in college. It’s just about a foot I think, in the nonsnowdrifty places. It’s fun! Wish Will was off so we could play. I did manage to make a snowman though! He’s kind of funky looking. Apparently I was channeling Ogelthorpe from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Also it’s hard to make a snowman by yourself. I am now told that I should have rolled the snow into a ball (I thought that only worked in cartoons?). Maybe if I go back out again later I will. I have to play in the snow while I can 🙂 But it’s super windy out, and I think it’s even still snowing (or is that just blowing snow? It’s hard to tell) so meh. It’ll be interesting to see what the work/school situation is tomorrow.

The birds have been loving my offerings of food, which is fun. Here’s a video of Alice yesterday intimidating the birdies.

Also, can anyone ID the mystery birds indicated below? I’ve looked through my bird book, but these are stumping me. The black/white ones don’t appear to be chickadees, and I’m not sure if the brown stripey one is a pine siskin or some kind of sparrow or wren…?

Today is the first day of March. It’s the first day the Bruster’s, a delicious ice cream place, is open for summer hours. And between this afternoon and tomorrow, Southern Maryland is expected to have up to 1 foot of snow. I will point out that on Friday, 2 days ago, it was 65 degrees.

Now it still hasn’t started snowing here yet (just rain and sleet), but who knows. My husband, who is a cop, has to work tomorrow AM, so he’s less than happy. I have to remember to call in to work to see if they’re open. I’m also supposed to participate in Read Across America tomorrow, so I’ll have to keep an eye on the school closings situation.

Now I know a lot of people are probably thinking “ok, 1 foot of snow, alright.” Well 1 foot of snow in Southern Maryland means CHAOS. I don’t really get it, because we DO get some amount of snow here every year. But any amount of snow basically equals EVERYBODY PANIC. Schools are routinely closed for any amount of ice or snow. If it snows while students are in class, expect an early dismissal. It’s kind of crazy.

So we’ll see what happens. We’ve taken preventative measures and already salted the driveway and parked all the cars in the driveway up the hill in an attempt to help my husband get to work in the AM. (If there’s any ice on the hill, you’re not going anywhere. We have a driveway up a hill and then a large flat “parking lot.”)

very sad cyclamenIn cyclamen news, it looks like crap (also excuse the crappy macbook cam pic). As I read more about the plant, it prefers to be in temps around 50 degrees and will get sad if it goes about 70. How is this a houseplant? Hopefully it’ll hang on until it gets warm enough (but not too warm!) and I can take it outside and plant it for the spring. After some reading, I moved it to a room with more light (our UMD/Terps-themed office! Where I am currently typing!) and am watering it less per suggestions, but I dunno…Any other ideas? Regardless of the state of the cyclamen, look forward to some snow pics soon (hopefully). Also have some adorable ‘cats clicking at birds’ videos I might have to post. I’ve been spoiling the birds lately (note to self – need to get more bird food and look for a container the mice can’t eat through) and the cats are, of course, loving it!

I’ve been feeling sickly all weekend. Sore throat, runny nose, etc. Spent a bit of time outside yesterday working on some plant stakes (will post about how I made those when I make a few more and perfect the plan – I am obsessed with labeling all my plants, but hate the white markers I have now). When I woke up today, I felt fairly horrible. Throat very bad, achey all over, and throbbing headache. I moped around for a bit and then went and sat out on the deck and wandered around the yard a little. Virtual instant cure! The nice weather had probably at least something to do with me feeling bad in the first place, since it was snowy and icy here last week, but you can’t really complain about 70 degree days in February, now can you? I finally made myself get dressed and went to the grocery store, then cleaned out the fridge and freezer when I got home, since I had to buy a lot of frozen veggies (nothing good is fresh rt now, boo) and there was no room.

Hank in the window - must be a nice day!

Hank in the window - must be a nice day!

Only problem is, it’s making me covet plants and warm days more. I now have 3 catalogs: Breck’s, Springhill, and Bluestone Perrenials. I’ll prob order a couple plants from one, just have to figure out which. Everyone says Springhill is awful, but I’ve ordered twice from there. My mom’s plants aren’t thriving, but I think that’s because she has a bad habit of buying full sun plants for part sun or shade areas. We split a couple large sets or the same plants, and mine are all doing very very well. Breck’s and Springhill also have the basically $25 free deal, while Bluestone offers 15% off. All 3 places have the Mardi Gras Helenium, which I’ve decided I MUST have. Can’t decide where to plant it, but I actually saw one pic of it in a (the one you buyt it in) container and might try that (but the right way). There’s also a shorter red Helenium that I like almost as much. I’ll have to decide what to get soon. We’re actually going to visit a friend in Hawaii at the beginning of May, so I’ll have to keep an eye on when stuff is supposed to come. Going to have to wait a couple weeks to really start planting the summer stuff since we’ll be gone.

Throat starting to hurt a bit again (possibly because the sun is going down and I don’t want to deal with awkwardness/annoyance at work tomorrow?). Maybe I’ll make myself a cup of lemon green tea and figure out what I’m going to do for dinner. Thankfully, it’s supposed to be in the 50s and 60 all the rest of this week, so maybe the pansies will get a chance to bloom again. Hopefully the hard freezes are over. But with the weather here, you never know.

brave bulbs

brave bulbs

So there are fairly remarkable and weird signs of life in parts of my garden. I have no idea why my dianthus (carnations) appear to the evergreen. I don’t think they’re supposed to be, but they look just as green as they did in the summer, minus the flowers. And though it has been warm a few days, it’s also been plenty cold enough to kill off stuff. I still have a million bells that has some green on it, and both of my spike plants that I was only going to save for a few additional weeks out of pity are still going strong. It would be pretty sweet if I could re-use the spikes in the spring. Whatever kind of seemingly creeping phlox I have is also nice and green. The one pictured here with the dianthus looks the best, but I did move the other 2 at the end of the season, so they have an excuse.
Dianthus/carnations, phlox, and brown daylilies

Dianthus/carnations, phlox, and dormant daylilies

As for the rest of the garden, I’m still enjoying the rosemary, which I know is evergreen, and the lemon thyme, which seems like it might be. The holly bushes are all berried, and the bulbs are peeking up. Frigging spring needs to hurry up. Oh well – I bought a houseplant (philodendron) at Walmart today to cope with my cold-weater blues. Can’t decide whether to leave it here or take it to work (I’m up to 6 plants there, and I do have a small cube, so eh). I think you can propigate philos just as easily and in the same way as pothos (which I have rooting all over the place and is nice and easy to deal with)? I’ll have to look that up.

Holly bush

Holly bush

lemon thyme

lemon thyme


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