What’s Happening in the Garden- May 31, 2015

Hello from finally rainy Salem, Massachusetts!

I haven’t posted in quite a while. There’s been so much going on here; sick children, graduating children, coming home from college children, going to college children, dancing and soccer and proms. Big life events can be great subjects for blogging but they don’t jive so well with gardening and garden blogging, especially the sickness. I’ve been pretty consumed with the needs of my family, as I should be.

So, the garden isn’t quite where it usually is at this point in May, but that’s okay.  I can always catch up on the bean planting or substitute things or buy bigger plants that are further along. It will all work out in the end, or not, and that’s okay too.

IMG_8924These are the rainclouds that I was trying to out plant and out photograph before they burst this afternoon. I just made it and now we’re under a flash flood warning. It’s been so dry that the flood warning is welcome.

IMG_8913I post a pic of this view every year. It’s raining hard and is expected to continue through Tuesday, so I’m not sure that the iris flowers will survive. I’m glad I took this photo when I did.

IMG_8917Things are getting underway out in the herb garden. That’s parsley in the foreground. The oregano came back strongly, along with some dianthus, thyme and chives. I just put that brownish lovage in the back and added the new rosemary plants. Rosemary doesn’t winter over here unless we have an extremely mild winter, which is rare.IMG_8920 Looking from the other direction the cilantro was started from seed. IMG_8923 The blueberry bushes are loaded with berries! I need to plant more blueberry bushes. IMG_8925The Solomon’s seal is about to bloom…IMG_8926…along with my favorite yellow iris,IMG_8930 and the German iris.IMG_8931 Here’s a first for us; horseradish in bloom! It emits an odor of horseradish all around it. I don’t really love horseradish, but I’m kind of enjoying this. I hope the flowers don’t take away from root formation.IMG_8933 I planted a little bit of broccoli… so cute!IMG_8936 And the lettuce is happy. This is thriving because Michael does a good job of watering it for me with the leftover chicken water.

Here’s an interesting fact about this lettuce; the mesclun mix on the right was fertilized with vermicompost a few weeks ago and the row on the left wasn’t. Vermicompost is the way to go! I have a nice little worm bin here under my desk and all I do is feed them fruit and veggie scraps and keep an eye on the moisture content of the box. I harvest the compost once in a while and the “tea” or liquid that the worms produce every few weeks. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. I should blog about my worms more. IMG_8937I started these onions from seed in the early spring and transplanted them a few weeks ago. I need to make sure they don’t dry out and keep fertilizing them. Maybe I’ll try some vermicompost.
IMG_8941 Looking back, there’s lots of open space. IMG_8943I still have basil, tomato and foxglove seedlings,IMG_8914along with peppers.IMG_8942I dug this big pot of dill out of the front yard yesterday because we reconfigured the landscaping out there. Dill doesn’t really transplant that well, it’s better grown from seed. These are small enough that they might settle in if their handled carefully.

If any of you local friends want some dill just let me know! It will be here for a few days until the rain stops.

How’s your garden growing? I miss you and your comments and your blogs! Leave me an update so I can stop by and check in!

Love, Michele

 

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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

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day- April 2015

Yes! It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and we have a few blooms.

I can’t forget that April 15th is also the two year anniversary of the Marathon bombings. The city of Boston has declared April 15th One Boston Day.

This day will be a celebration of the resiliency, generosity, and strength of the people that make Boston the great city it is according to the Mayor of Boston’s office.

The city and region are stronger for what happened. I’m personally working toward that too. Sometimes strength comes when I least expect it, but so does weakness.

We will never forget or be quite the same, but we will  move forward and it does get a little better gradually. You can read about our marathon experience by clicking here if you want to. I have a little ptsd, but not as much as others who suffer(ed) much more.

It was quite a day, week, year, two years…

And Back to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day…

The snow is gone… totally gone…

That’s hard to believe considering that just two weeks ago the garden still looked like this:

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IMG_8552 But it’s gone and our crocus are blooming. They’re almost on their way out already.IMG_8548 A few of the anemone bulbs that I planted last fall are about to bloom.IMG_8547As I looked back at my photos from two years ago I realized that the scilla has filled in quite nicely. One of the best things about garden blogging is seeing your plant’s progress in just a few clicks.

IMG_8545These two little daffodils are the first that I’ve seen here in our garden this year.
IMG_8540 The pansies arrived (from up the street) late last night and we got them planted this morning. I haven’t planted pansies this late in the season in many years, but it happens when spring is three weeks late.IMG_8533Case in point, the snowdrops… they’ve made it, but by a thread! The snow was at the top of the six foot fence thats behind them not long ago.

Be sure to read the other GBBD posts on May Dreams Gardens, and send prayers and positive energy to the thousands of victims of the bombings here in the Boston area.

We are strong!

Love, 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

 

Here Comes the Garden Plan!

I published this post two years ago and thought I’d pull it out and share it again for new readers who might have missed it. As the post reads, for $25 a year Mother Earth News gives you the ability to graph out and print, share and post your garden plan. You can change it as much as you’d like and they send you regular garden chore reminders.  I’m finding that this year we are way behind many of the recommendations that Mother Earth News and gardenplantingcalendar.com have sent me because of our cold and snow. Maybe our weather will catch up with the calendar soon!  As a side note, this Mother Earth News planner also works wonderfully with a group of people who are planning together using a smart board or computer. The men and women at Bass River, Inc enjoy identifying all of the things they would like to plant and using their hands to place the plants on our virtual garden site. It’s definitely worth the investment. Let’s get planning!

One of my very favorite things about winter is thinking about the garden plan.  Yesterday I spent some time poking around the internet looking at planning websites and found this great service at Motherearthnews.com. For a thirty day free trial ($25/year after the thirty days),  you can design your garden space using lots of cool features.  The site uploads plant lists for your climate. Then you can determine your square footage and add all of the beds, structures and plants that you’d like. You can share it on social media, publish it, view it on your phone and print it.  I used the video tutorials that are provided to get started and before I knew it I had created this complete map of my kitchen garden.

Here is the link directly to the vegetable garden planner which I happened upon when I googled “garden plan.”   Just a side note about the Mother Earth News web site,  that’s a wonderful resource too! There’s lots of great information about gardening, sustainable living and health. I could spend days just reading and gathering ideas and information there.  Here’s the link  to the online version of the plan just above. You’ll see the plant list that comes with it just below the plan.

As I finish typing I can hear the ducks down in the pond for the first time this year.  Spring really is right around the corner!

If you create a garden plan, let me know, and I’ll share here on The Salem Garden!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

*This is not a paid endorsement, I have no connection to Mother Earth News, I just liked it  ;)*

What’s Happening in the Garden- April 1, 2015

Yes, I am very brazenly beginning my “what’s happening” posts today, April 1, because I know that things are happening in the garden already, in spite of the foot of snow that still covers it.

IMG_8468 Here’s the garden today.

Do you see the progress? I believe that that’s oregano that I never deadheaded last fall. Last week it was still buried! And right below the surface everything is just waiting for that last bit of snow to melt!

IMG_8469The pond is thawing, ever so slowly, no ducks yet but they’ll be here soon…

Has anyone noticed that I’ve been changing my header pics as the pond changes? I love to mark time and changes with photos.

IMG_8470 And, the black pussy willow is blooming!IMG_8476 I’m attached to  this plant for so many reasons.

It was a Mother’s Day gift the first year that we lived here and it’s one of the very first signs of spring that I see each year. And it’s just so lush and pretty..

IMG_8481It looks like the forsythia still needs some time. This plant is behind a pine tree and next to a fence. It might be further along if it got more sun. My friend Blaire sent me a photo of forsythia blooming downtown a few days ago. Maybe it’s a few degrees warmer down there in the city.IMG_8486 Heading inside, the onions are up! I got an almost 100% germination rate with these seeds from Pinetree. I’ve read that I should trim back the taller seedlings to let the energy go to bulb formation. I’m hoping to get to that today.IMG_8491We have peppers too.
IMG_8493 Heading out to the front yard, a few of the bulbs that I planted last year are fighting their way through despite the fact that most of the ground is still frozen. I remember thinking that we’d have these blooming for Easter this year. Maybe not…IMG_8495And here’s two of the three crocus flowers that we’re enjoying so far.

The first morning that these appeared the whole family was out on the front sidewalk jumping for joy.

The little things are the best!

How’s your garden growing? I’ll bet that most of you have more going on than we do in Salem Massachusetts. That’s okay, we’ll catch up!

Love, Michele

Our Coop Construction, 2007-Present

Are you thinking about raising chickens? It’s that “brand new flock” time of year again!  I thought I’d share this post that I wrote last year about the building and design process of our coop just in case you’re doing some research. Please be sure to leave your questions in the comments section and use the search box at the bottom of the page to find more chicken raising related posts!   We’re happy to help as much as we can.      Michele

Good almost spring morning!

I seem to be encountering lots of people who are planning to build or buy a chicken coop these days so I thought I’d share an overview of ours as it was constructed.

We didn’t exactly plan the coop before our first batch of chicks arrived in 2007 so our pullets (young chickens) lived in our basement for several months during construction. I don’t recommend that at all. You will save yourself a huge amount of anxiety by building or buying a coop before your chicks arrive. We kind of go with the flow around here but those few months were quite difficult. Fortunately we were totally in love with our brand new chickens so we all got through it together.

Okay, here goes:
IMG_0440The garden, pre chicken, around 2006.

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The very beginning… The corner posts were placed into holes dug approximately two feet into the ground. Michael hit a lot of rock but says he put them in as far down as he could go. The floor is plywood, the main posts are 4×4, the floor and ceiling were constructed with 2×6 boards and the walls with 2x4s.

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The roof going on..IMG_1511

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The roof pitch echoes our house’s roofline. It doesn’t match but it coordinates nicely.

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The walls are plywood attached to the frame with roofing paper applied over it to seal. The windows were mostly salvaged with the exception of the front window that my son is standing in. I think that one came from a building supply warehouse nearby (on the clearance rack I’m sure).

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Looking at the front; long windows for lots of light, a nice wide front door for easy access and the little chicken door on the bottom right.

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Here’s the back side. That overhang provides handy shelter for things like garden tools and wheelbarrows.You just have to watch that you don’t hit your head on the corner.

IMG_1622My little girl (who turned nine last week!)… windows and doors in. No screening on the run yet but that was in process.

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Looking down at a habitable coop without siding. It took another year or two for siding to be added.

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But then it was, and primer was applied to preserve the clapboard.

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Painted and decorated, with flowers growing, of course.

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It is a pretty little coop!

DSC01461Far back view in winter. The girls get afternoon sun through that window which helps to keep them cozy in the colder months.

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Here’s the front door and porch area. The porch is great because it gives the chickens a dry place to spend time and there’s space under it so they can hide if needed. It also saves us from having to step into mud pits…

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… like this one. Unless your a blogger who wants to take a picture of the front door of the chicken coop during mud season.

But who do you know who would do that? 😉

I realize that this is kind of a quick overview of our process and there’s lots of details missing. I took these photos as we went along but never with the idea that they would someday be used on my blog. So, I apologize for the gaps but hope it gives you an idea of what our coop exterior looks like and what our construction journey entailed. I’m going to do an inside tour in the next week or so.  I think I’ll include the head chicken keeper’s direct input as I write it to insure accuracy and probably some entertainment.

Leave me questions! Michael and I will be happy to answer them!

Happy Coop Building!

Michele

And We’re Off! Spring Has Sprung!

Yes we are!

It’s finally here….

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The very first crocus of the year!

IMG_8435It lives right next to this pile of snow.

There will be more crocus on the way as soon as it melts.

… and there’s more good news!

IMG_8439 The first onion seedlings have popped through too!

I planted these last Sunday. Yesterday I checked them first thing in the morning and there was no change at all, just little cells full of seed starting mix.

Yesterday afternoon I saw Ed, one of my onion planting mentors, and he said that once they got going they’d just take off. I held onto that thought amid my worries about too  much moisture, not enough moisture, too much heat, not enough heat and maybe I should I have used a different seed starting mix.

I went back last night and voila… there were several little sprouts.

I am feeling encouraged, uplifted, excited, happy and most of all

READY!

Spring has officially reached Salem, Massachusetts my friends!  Woo hooo!!

How’s your garden growing? Has spring sprung? I hope so!

Michele