Yesterday was unseasonably warm so I decided to take advantage of the day by washing all the containers. Usually this is a cold and miserable necessity done in late winter either in the utility tub or with a hose outside. Some folks are organized enough to do this in fall but my tomatoes and peas were all growing up until almost Thanksgiving. I emptied all the containers last week but didn’t have the time to clean them, and the temperature was far from conducive to playing outside with water.
Yesterday though was different and I filled two large tubs with warm water – one with suds in it and the other with a little bleach. I was able to scrub the containers, disinfect them and store them all in one afternoon. Self watering containers, colorful containers for the deck and those that fit on the My Garden Post were all cleaned. Now they are in the basement, clean and ready to use after Christmas.
I intend to start some of the containers as soon as the holiday season is over so that I have some colorful and productive containers for my talks on The Downsized Veggie Garden.
Even the Smart Pots got brushed and washed – they are still drying but they too will be ready to use in a day or two.
An additional benefit was that I now have too clean recycle tubs as well!
A great day to wash containers
Even the Smart Pots were cleaned
I am thrilled that my new book is due out in February! You can pre-order from our friends at Amazon and hopefully you will see me around doing book signings across New Jersey and neighboring states. The Downsized Veggie Garden is about how to grow in small spaces, particularly in containers and Square Foot Gardens. The book can also be purchased from me directly and you will have a signed copy. Just contact me through www.katecopsey.com
I am delighted to add that Mel Bartholomew, the author and originator of the Square Foot Garden method was generous enough to add an endorsement for the book!!
The New Book
The Christmas season is here again and it has been a while since I posted. My pre-Christmas chores included bringing the poinsettia in from the garden last September. I kept it from last year and planted it in a nice sunny spot, then forgot to trim it so it is a bit lanky right now but has color.
A Conditioned Poinsettia in Bloom
In September I brought it inside, and conditioned it under a large box for long nights. The box went on about 4pm and was removed about 10am for the whole of September and October. By November it was starting to show some color and by Thanksgiving it was colorful, albeit a bit lanky.
The Christmas cactus is also in bloom. The set bloom as soon and the days and temperatures drop in September so are well in bloom for Thanksgiving. I would like to think that they will still be in bloom for Christmas but I am not holding my breath right now.
Th other seasonal plants are the amaryllis bulbs which were bought inside in September and rested in the basement for a while. In November I bought them outside and trimmed the leaves. One has put out a new leaf the other is still thinking so I don’t think these will make Christmas but they hopefully will cheer the January blahs.
We know that living surrounded by woods and undergrowth there are animals – deer, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys etc etc and at least one groundhog! It seemed reasonable to fence the area that I wanted to have for a vegetable garden and those deer treats that I like to grow – such as the black elderberry (Sambuscus nigra). Last year he found the garden and entered via a side gate. He squeezed under the gate, sniffed at the lilac bush, pottered off to the deck and took a look at the mint in a tub at the bottom of the deck steps. He continued onto the deck and looked at peas etc in containers, then went back down the steps and onto the vegetable garden to snack.
He really did not find the garden until late in the year and most of the vegetables were protected but this year we needed to fix the gate (done). This year the little charmer has found the garden already by digging under the sloppy fence. That is a little more work for us to mend. So far we have laid chicken wire from under the now fixed fence, under the fence, down a little way and sticking out a little for him to travel over. We need to finish that today.
groundhog proofing the garden
This morning no sign of the little fella but it is still early in the season and we have not finished yet.
St David’s Day is celebrated across Wales on March 1st along with the national flower the daffodil which is in bloom in March. So I thought I would take a few St David’s Day pictures from my no-daffodil in sight garden:
The crocus grow here
No crocus in sight – though the little stems were showing in early January. They have since been buried.
The hellebore should be here
The hellebore are growing here – under about 4 inches of ice and snow.
Early daffodils and miniature iris should be here.
The early daffodils and little miniature iris should be brightening the landscape here in March. Today they are under 2 feet of ice and snow from the driveway.
So not a crocus let alone a daffodil in sight!
February has gone into the record books as one of the coldest and the ground, as we go into March is frozen, covered with ice and snow and not hospitable to even thinking of spring. Not to be stopped though, the seedlings are starting and I have to be optimistic that the ground will thaw soon and spring will arrive.
The early spinach and chard seedlings have germinated
Some little stir fry mix seedlings
More Seedlings for tomatoes and peppers should be being started but so far not even the cabbages are sown. This weekend that will be accomplished I hope.
We spent a week in Key Largo last week and visited the Everglades National Park – what a delightful place full of animals and birds plus lots of natural landscape. The river of grasses and mangrove swamps were truly worth seeing:
These crocodiles enjoy the Everglades too!
The natural landscape of the Everglades and grass land
Winter 2013/14 was brutal and went on waay too long so it is pleasant to be in the middle of a cold, rainy but not too bad winter. Things are progressing in the garden with the first snow drops just popping up through the frozen soil. The witch hazels are doing fine and the first one has just starting to bloom – this one is Amethyst and has a beautiful burgundy flower.
Winter flowering witch hazel
On the indoors I have lettuce and peas growing in the sunroom and they are doing great. We are harvesting lettuce for salads and sandwiches all winter long.
Last week I was in Pittsburgh!! We lived there for a few years and what I remember of the town was a poor road system and lots of snow! This conference showed me the other side of the town both downtown and slightly further out.
The first surprise was that the conference center had a garden on the roof. There were concrete beds filled with tomatoes, kales and other fresh vegetables which were harvested for the hotel or conference events.
Pittsburgh Conference Center Rooftop Garden
And there were flowers too for pollination!
This summer has been rather cool compared to normal and the amount of rain has been slightly above normal. The net result is lots of great growing conditions and that has led to some enormous plants which are, in at least one case, impeding the poor meter reader getting access to the electrical meter. These guys were a maintainable size last year, but as with so many second year perennials the size has almost doubled. Case in point these lovely dinner plate size hibiscus:
H. moscheutos ‘Blue River II’
This second image, which is closer shows where the electric meter is – slighly to the right of the lower left bloom. There is also a rather overgrown rhododendron there too. Last year I was sent a little note that they, the electric company, would appreciate better access to the meter and would I kindly clear the area – I may get another one this year !! These are really too big here anyway and will look better in the cottage garden to the side.
H. moscheutos ‘Blue River II’
Of course the veggie bed is doing well – it gets regular water and great temperatures for summer squash production. If you don’t catch the squash when it is small, the next day it can be enormous – I think it would be called a marrow at this stage. These over sized zucchini were at the back corner of the garden and I missed them. The third small one was harvested from the same plant this morning. There is not really much difference apart from size and there are some summer squash that are bred to be larger than others. Now I need a recipe to stuff these guys – of course my guys don’t like squash at all but I don’t want to waste them!
These zucchini grew too big so I am calling them marrows!