It’s Time to Plant the Pansies!

I know, I know, it’s still cold out, but, it really is time to plant the pansies!

I was buying them yesterday and several other customers in the store asked me if they could go outside yet.

Yes they can!

Pansies will do just fine in early spring weather. I’ve even had them winter over in some of our milder years.

I planted in three different locations today.

My first stop was my own porch:

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I’m in love with these tiny little blooms.

IMG_8965Here they are in the bigger pot. I combined tulips, pansies and hyacinth with the hope that the tulips and hyacinth will be perfect for Easter next Sunday. My backup plan is to add blooming forsythia if the tulips are fading.

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My next planting stop was our church. I added pansies to the pots of artificial forsythia and daffodils that my friend Betsey had started.

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The front doors of Tabernacle Church look welcoming and ready for Palm Sunday!

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After hitting the church, I crossed the street and met the Salem Garden Club to help plant seven urns that are located in the center of our downtown. I joined the garden club in September and was thrilled to be part of the action out there today! It’s fun to spend time with people who love the garden as much as I do!

I love, love, love the creativity that went into the design this season. Spring cleaning… Salem witch… spring.. you can interpret this in many different ways. The colors and whimsey shout out that spring has arrived! And it has, tomorrow’s weather forecast is for 60 degrees, with several warm days as the week goes on.

So, it’s really time to plant the pansies! Don’t be afraid, they’re ready and I’ll bet you are too.

I’m largely away from the Salem Garden, but I’m hoping to pick up now that the season is here. We’ll see.. I’m trying to commit to writing a weekly post at a minimum. This full time work away from home gig is tricky. It’s great to be engaged at work and to be making some money,  but it’s hard on my family. I think things are getting better as we set up systems as a family to get things done and in some cases “adjust our expectations” about what’s realistic and important, but it’s still a work in progress. Anyway, thanks for visiting and catching up with me.  I’m hoping to offer some good posts in the coming months!

Be sure to check in and let me know how your garden is growing!

Love, Michele

 

 

 

What’s Happening in the Garden- June 2, 2016

Good morning! Happy June! We’ve made it past Memorial Day weekend and here I am AGAIN apologizing for my inability of publish anything at all here on The Salem Garden. I think about and write posts in my head all. the. time. and yet I just can’t get the hour or two needed to sit down and publish something constructive.

I think it has a lot to do with the five kids, husband, multiple animals, garden in spring and the still newish part-time job. About the job, it’s really quite good.  The work is physically hard and very good for me mentally. I love the plants, the task of finding spaces and figuring out where to put things and getting paid to work out for four or five hours, four days a week. Lord knows I wouldn’t do it any other way. My co-workers are great and I  enjoy the customers. It’s fun to listen to shoppers interact with each other and ask questions. I believe that if I blogged about the questions I’d probably have an award winning garden blog here.

I just need more time!

Here at home lots has been happening in our garden. We’ve had nice weather. It’s been warm enough, yet kind of cool. Things were getting pretty dry, but we’ve had several good rains in the last few weeks.

IMG_1492I’m very happy to report that I got the deck decorated nice and early this year so it’s already heaven on earth. I love to sit here when I have a few minutes.

IMG_1493My little fish Pepper loves the deck too because that’s where his summer house is (he spends the winters on my kitchen counter).  I put this barrel together with plants from a great nursery that specializes in ponds. If you’re a local water gardener, be sure to visit Country Gardens in Ipswich. They have everything you could ever need and it’s a fun place to look around.

IMG_1503The herb garden is filling in nicely. It looks like the foxglove that I planted last year is going to flower!

IMG_1506Iris are in bloom! I love iris.

IMG_1516Down in the kitchen garden we’re in the fence business this year because we’re sharing our space with a family of bunnies. Bunnies munch a lot.

IMG_1509In fact they munched the beejeebees out of the peas that I planted in March. Here are two of the five or six that survived. I’ve noticed that in the few days since the gates went up they’ve started to grow again. I’m not sure that we’ll have enough peas to serve a bowl on the Fourth of July, but there may some for a salad or two.

IMG_1507I planted all of my tomato plants (about 40 altogether) even though they were neglected and got kind of leggy. This is what happens when you don’t move your seedlings to a larger pot. I knew that, but repotting them just didn’t  happen. I’m going to stake these asap and hope for the best.

IMG_1510I had to share a picture of this horseradish because I think it’s going to take over the world. If you want horseradish, just let me know and I’ll dig some up for you in the fall.

IMG_1511The lettuce is finally edible, thanks to the bunny gates.

IMG_1513The swiss chard (on the right) wintered over and is picking up again. I need to learn to incorporate it into summer recipes better. The spinach (on the left) is starting to grow, but I’m worried that it’s going to bolt as soon as it gets hot.

IMG_1512Our garlic looks quite happy. It may be a big year for garlic around here.

IMG_1514Not so much for the asparagus… I should plant some new sets of roots. I’ve been wondering if we’ve over harvested it for the past couple of years because some of our plants didn’t come back this year. Any thoughts on why we’d loose asparagus plants?

IMG_1517These are kaleidoscope mix and chocolate beauty peppers. They’re on the outside of the wooden fence so I’m hoping that this metal fence is enough to keep the creatures away.

IMG_1518The onions need to be planted, like… now…

IMG_1520I grew coleus from seed this year and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’d like to increase the number of flower/annual seedlings that I grow myself. It’s very easy and saves lots of money. Sometimes I winter coleus over in pots inside too.

IMG_1522Speaking of seeds, I still have a lot to go in.  Carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, multiple flowers… I need to get out there and get these in the ground!

IMG_1523And finally, these ladies arrived on Mother’s Day.

We have two new White Leghorns, two Buck-eyes (the first chicken breed developed by a woman), two Easter Eggers and a Black Giant…

IMG_1498The Black Giant thinks she’s all that… lol..

What’s happening in your garden? I hope that you’ve been out there planting something.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

Early Spring Veggies That You Can Plant from Seed Today!

There’s lots of potential for the garden season to start much earlier than Memorial Day!

Everyone is used to planting vegetables in late May, but you can direct sow many seeds right now if you’d like to!

You only have a dollar or two to loose, and so much to gain! All it takes is a packet of seeds, some well nourished soil (add organic compost), sunlight and water.

It isn’t too early for lettuce, and with the warm weather forecast for New England over the next few weeks, I believe that we’re going to see a nice early lettuce harvest this year.IMG_8936

 

Peas are another early favorite.  They can be sown directly in an area where a fence or trellis is ready to support them as they grow.

IMG_5760Here’s the peas a few years ago just starting their climb.

Radishes will germinate now, and they grow so quickly. You could be eating home grown radishes in just three weeks if you plunk a short row of seeds into some well nourished soil!
IMG_2694As I looked at this photo from a few years ago I noticed the rocks… I’m always removing rocks.. but small rocks are okay, as long as you add lots of compost. It’s really all about the compost.

 

Kale and Swiss Chard are also very hardy. When we say that a plant is “hardy”, we usually mean that it will withstand cold well.

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This is swiss chard from last summer. Some of it actually wintered over a little bit (photos of that are  here ). I added more seed over the weekend to fluff it up and fill in the spaces between plants.

Spinach is another good early spring choice. It loves cool weather and will bolt as soon as it gets hot, so plant it now!

Here’s a quick list of spring vegetables that you can plant outside from seed right now:

-Lettuce

-Peas

-Radishes

-Kale

-Swiss Chard

-Spinach

-Scallions

Most of these will be ready by Memorial Day, or the 4th of July!

Our weather changes so quickly at this time of year, but don’t be afraid, give it a go!

Have you planted anything yet?

Leave me your questions, concerns, successes, anything that’s on your mind…

Happy Planting! Happy Spring!

Love, Michele

 

 

 

About those Onion Seedlings…. and… Spring is Springing!

Here’s my first tiny little dose of spring for you…

It’s really going to happen!

I believe that this particular crocus is always the first one every year. It’s in the exact same spot of my front yard, next to the walkway.

I don’t remember seeing it in February before but it’s out there this morning, as beautiful as can be.

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And then there are the onions…

IMG_1023I planted them on Saturday and left them covered up and in the dark. I think they should have had light for half the time.

IMG_1024Yesterday was a very busy day and I didn’t have a chance to check them. It was a nice treat to look under the wrap this morning to see that they were well on their way!

IMG_1027The only problem is this hairy looking mold.

I don’t know…

I’ve never seen this before and I’m wondering if it’s going to be a problem going forward.

Anyone have experience with this?

There’s getting to be a bit of a time crunch so I’m reluctant to start over but that may be best.

Weigh in if you have any suggestions!

About the onions:

–I planted them in damp seed starting mix

–about three or four seeds to a cell, 1/4 inch deep or so

–covered them with saran wrap (because I couldn’t find the plastic cover that goes with the cells)

–and put them on a heating pad to keep the soil at 70 degrees. I’m leaving them on the heat until most have germinated.

It’s as simple as that.

I planted four varieties… sweet Spanish, candy, southport red globe and Alisa Craig exhibition. The Alisa Craig were kind of a cheat because I used leftover seed. Generally onion seeds are only considered to be viable for a year, but I had some space so I thought I’d plant one row of cell spaces and see what happens.

I did look around at different planting methods. There were plenty of suggestions such as spreading the seeds randomly or in rows in an open container then moving them to cells or pots, direct sowing, and not worrying about drainage  (really)?  I had good results last year so I decided to let history repeat itself. I’ll try to keep you posted on  how things are going.

Further along on the spring is springing subject:

IMG_1030Swiss chard that wintered over, I kid you not!

I was very sure that the -10 temp of a few weeks ago pretty much eliminated anything that might be borderline. Swiss chard is amazingly hardy!

IMG_1033Because it’s 58 degrees outside today I moved this plexiglass over this little bed to warm the soil and create an area to start some lettuce soon. I covered that open edge with some boards, then my camera died so you can’t see it finished…

We have nothing to loose other than a $1.49 package of seed..

IMG_1029The snowdrops are popping… not sure about the cause of the blurriness of this shot, it may  be related to the mud in the yard and the indoor shoes that I was wearing…

IMG_1035And the daffodils are coming up too. February is kind of early for daffodils but if we stay in this weather pattern they should be okay.

How’s your garden growing?

I hope that spring is springing early for you too!

Lots of love,

Michele

The Seed Order Is Underway!

I’m working on the next post about our trip, but I thought I shouldn’t stray too far away from the garden. The Grand Canyon was pretty snow covered, so, not much garden activity to report. When I move on to Winslow that will change in a big way! Still wintery, but definitely some gardens to share at that stop.

In the meantime, here’s what’s happening here in Salem this morning:IMG_0753Yes! The seed order is underway!

I’m anxious to get this done because it’s almost time to start the onions and a few other things that need a lot of time to get stronger and can hang in there in the natural light of my office while I use the grow lights for other plants.

I like to use sticky notes to organize my order. This year I had these cute color coded stickies on hand so I’m actually marking the possibilities by color… green is a yes, light green a probably, pink a maybe and orange needs some research. I just texted Michael a picture of this and said “I think we need more beds”… no response back… I wonder why? Lol

This is the Pinetree Seed Catalog which is the company that I used last year. I like Pinetree because their based in Maine, so it tends to be geared toward the New England climate. Another big plus is that they sell seed in smaller quantities at a much lower price. This gives me the chance to grow close to the specific mount of produce that we’ll actually use with more variety, so my garden is more interesting and there’s less waste of plant material and money. I had a nice high germination rate last year as well. I didn’t keep track formally but I’d estimate it at about 90%. I’m looking at other catalogs but I tend to come back to this one.

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It’s also time to start saving yogurt cups, plastic cups and clear containers that make good mini greenhouses. I love these yogurt containers because their nice and sturdy and just the right size for many of the plants that are best for us.

I really, truly can’t wait to get things growing again!

Have you started your seed order yet? What are you thinking about growing?

Hope your enjoying this beautiful Saturday!

Michele

 

 

Beans Beans the More You….

…let them dry on the vine, the more new plants you’ll enjoy in the spring!

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These are Bountiful Beans, an heirloom variety that I ordered from Pinetree.

IMG_9230Here they were in July. These beans were delicious and prolific, just as promised, so we’re looking forward to next year’s crop. I already have the seeds on hand because I harvested the dried seeds and they’re ready to go!

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Pop open a dried bean and your likely to find bean seeds that are ready to plant next year.

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I’ll leave them in this pot for a few weeks, then move them to a marked envelope.

I’m not sure about reason for the color variation, but they may be at slightly different levels of dryness or they may just dry to different colors. I can’t remember what they looked like going in last summer. I tossed all of the discolored pods because the beans inside were shriveled and kind of moldy.

Moldy beans will only give us more moldy beans and we’re all about freshness around here.

If you have a few dried bean pods (heirloom, not hybrid, because hybrid won’t produce) hanging out in your garden, bring them in!

You’ll be one step closer to spring!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

Help! Help! a Lily Tree Question…

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First of all, I’d never even heard of a lily tree or tree lily depending on which web site I look at, until an hour ago. My friend posted these photos of her lily tree with these really interesting growths protruding out of the base of the trunk.

So our question is

what is this?

Are they roots or a pest or an alien life form?

I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.

What say you gardening gurus, master gardeners, people who google better than we do…

Help!!

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Here’s another photo that Denise took.

She lives just a quarter mile away so I want to be ready if I need to watch out for this thing..

and I’d like to help her too!

Share your thoughts, any at all,  in the comments section!

I know we can figure this out!

Thanks!!!

Michele and Denise

A Tale of Two Bulb Beds

So here’s what happened…

I planted bulbs from the same three packages in two different beds in my yard within an hour of each other.

I even blogged about it here. This was just a few months ago, right before we experienced the most difficult winter ever recorded in eastern Massachusetts.

There was a lot of snow.

IMG_8601Here’s the backyard herb garden today.  Remember how I carefully planted bulbs along the path, in the nooks and crannies? It was going to be amazing! The herbs are slowly coming to life but there’s not a bulb in sight.

IMG_8599And then there’s the sunny front yard…same packages of bulbs, same planting time and their blooming to beat the band.

I’ve been reading about microclimates and I think that this situation is a good example of two very different climates within about twenty yards of each other. The front bed gets morning sun that’s reflected off of the house and the big windows just above it which makes warm soil, almost like a greenhouse. The herb bed in the back gets afternoon sun and it’s kind of tucked in behind the hemlock tree and shielded by the house until later in the day. As the sun rises higher in the sky this spring it will hit this spot earlier in the day. Right now, it’s still pretty cold out there.

Or maybe squirrels dug everything up when I wasn’t looking!

I don’t think so, I would have noticed.

It could also be related to the soil. That front yard soil isn’t anything special. I kind of neglect it, but it does have years of good mulch composted in. The herb bed was just dug last spring and fertilized with compost from our piles and a few bags of organic compost that I bought.

So, I’m on bulb watch! I’ll let you know if anything pops up.

How’s your garden growing? Did your bulbs come up?

Enjoy it all!

Michele

Lettuce Plant Lettuce

LOL, I can’t stop myself sometimes…

Creating blog post titles truly amuses me.

But, the title is true, we really can start lettuce from seed now.

IMG_8530Last Saturday was cold and windy but I had lots of fun planting four varieties:

-Merveille de Quatre Saisons

-Winter Density

-New Red Fire

and Pinetree Mix

I chose each type for different, specific reasons.

I’m hoping for an early harvest from the Winter Density. It went in on the late side because the ground was still frozen but it’s an early variety that grows quickly.

The New Red Fire is said to be slow to bolt, and it’s so pretty.

Merveille de Quatre Saisons is described in the Pinetree catalog as  “truly marvelous. It was the only lettuce in our trials that remained good tasting during an exceptionally dry and hot summer years ago, and continues to impress us each year. ” I couldn’t resist that kind of high praise.

And I chose the Pinetree Mix with the hope of having a nice little bed of baby lettuces that we could pick easily and often.

We love fresh lettuce!

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I also love taking pictures of lettuce markers early in the morning in my pajamas and Michael’s mud boots. 😉

Lettuce is easy…

–You can scratch up an existing bed then add compost and seeds at about 1/4 inch depth,

–or plant it in a pot

–or open up a bag of organic soil and just add seeds to it like this (click on the link to see!)

So lettuce plant lettuce! It’s finally time!

How’s your garden growing?

Love, Michele