Hold this growing season close to your heart. Treat it like a treasure to be taken from its cache in the depths of January and lovingly remembered. This is truly a glorious summer.
That said, the slugs are here. I have long resisted the wholesale killing of these mollusks; after all I have created the perfect environment just by dint of planting a garden. Easy pickings.
One has only to look as far as the Homer Garden Club for a definition of “perennial.” The club’s roots can be found in a letter written to local gardener Shirley Forquer from Lois Schneyer in February 1984. It has been growing ever since.
Birds! Hummingbirds to be exact. Never ever have we had them stay around like this. Usually we catch a glimpse and are delighted, but this season they are here for the long haul. We have even heard them “talking” to each other — they sound like a cartoon bird. We have at least a pair and maybe two others. What fun!
I regret the size of our deck, too small. The idea behind this house and garden was for the two of us to age into it. Both are compact. Little did I know just how many people would gather here. Friends and family, lots of both. What a joy.
At the moment our daughter and her two daughters are here for two weeks. We could use more deck on the east side, where we have tea/coffee in the morning, catching the sun on the lilacs, watching the birds at the feeder and the bird bath, listening to the neighborhood rally for a new day.
For the last two weeks this garden has been put to excellent use — grandchildren. Our daughter, Andrea, came “home” with her daughters. These two delightful beings were added to the permanent installation grandchildren of three. What fun!
They ran and chased and hid and ate and relentlessly looked for fairies (who dutifully fill a fairy box each and every day that the “grands” must find, because fairies are pretty tricky).
Mysterious weather. On Sunday morning, with rain threatening, I watered. Even though we had a deluge the day before the ground really isn’t all that wet. Go look. Stick your finger down in there and see what you come up with. It is still dry.
So watering is on my agenda. The gray sky did not produce any rain and the weather reports don’t seem to offer any accuracy. Looking out the window still seems like the best bet. We’ll see what the future brings.
I was recently asked a very simple question: What is the best thing happening in your garden right now? Without missing a beat I replied: My husband. There is never a simple answer ... .
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The Market season has started. Last weekend was a flurry of activity, great warm weather (the smoke even cleared in the afternoon) and lots of produce, starts and crafts.
There were plenty of familiar and new things to take in. Everyone got to try out the new layout and see the familiar faces of the vendors. The Market opened with the familiar sounds of Shamwari Marimba and then in the afternoon the stage was graced with the random appearance of a gypsy jazz band, the Hot Club of Nunaka Valley, performing later that day in Seldovia.
Zounds! It is late Saturday and I have spent the day stuffing every available space in the perennial beds with annuals. I know, don’t plant out your tender starts on a sunny day, but there hasn’t been anything else so one needs to get the job done, and done it is. What a relief.
You could finally see it starting last weekend, the welcome sight of the tents going up at the Homer Farmers Market. This Memorial Day weekend the Market starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. As the weather would suggest, things are growing like crazy so you will be able to find all kinds of eager veggies to take home and starts for your own garden.
My mind is jam packed with worry about you new gardeners. You are at the forefront of my thought process. What to do about you?
All of this mental agitation has been instigated by my neighbors who have moved one lot over into a new house with so very much gardening potential. They invited me over to give them some tips. I quickly realized that they would get more out of me by visiting my garden and bearing witness to my mistakes. They got the point and altered their plans.
But what about you? Well, I decided to give you a list of thoughts to mull over.
This is the very most excellent time of year.
I found myself in the unenviable position of cooling my heels in a waiting room, on a beautiful afternoon no less. No one wants this experience, but there I was. As I settled down to read a time-worn and uninteresting magazine I noticed that the conversation among these strangers was in full swing. And it was all about gardens. Keep in mind these people had zero connection to each other — except the same waiting room.
The topic was tomatoes and these three people were comparing notes
What a glorious day.
The heat has been turned on in the greenhouse and the high/low thermometer is in place. If the heaters are holding the temperature no lower than 40 to 45 degrees, I will set out the tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, leeks and odds and ends of flowers that are thriving in the guest room. I can hardly wait, once these seedlings hit the greenhouse there is no looking back — we are on our way.
Be prepared to shift your expectations. Anything can happen in March: single digits, a ton of snow, wind. Name it, and be ready. I won’t turn the heat on in the greenhouse until the first week in April. In the meantime, all the starts are under lights in the guest room. Good thing there aren’t any guests.
February. The days are certainly noticeably longer. The weather certainly noticeably strange. Winter started three weeks ago. Does this mean that it will last until the end of July?
What to do?
Pull out your begonias, fuchsias and geraniums and get on with it. Now.
These stored plants will need a good soak and a sunny, clean window. Thankfully I washed said window when the temps were in the 40s.
Yes, I am still watering the window box. Yes, I regret pulling the tuber begonias out of said box weeks and weeks ago. They are now in forced retirement. Not a place they want to be.
They were thriving, blooming, happy as can be and what did I do? Consigned them to the basement, solitary confinement. They are still trying to accept their cruel fate.
Once they have dried I will pull them from their pots, remove the soil, and put each tuber into a brown paper bag and — well, wish them luck.
Well, this is awkward. I have not done much in my garden since planting bulbs last week. Nary a weed has been pulled, and there are plenty out there. I can’t clean my tools because there really is more to do.
The Brussels sprouts are still hanging out. I know, I know they can stay out there all winter. But not mine.
I find it a bit unusual to compose a bouquet in October of lilacs, roses, primroses and pale yellow trollius. Lovely yes, odd — definitely.
All of these plants have given me a gentle second bloom now and then over the years, but nothing like this. My garden is more lovely now than it was in late June.
What about eating huge, gorgeous strawberries in October? Here we are. The grands love each and every bite.
I have embraced kale. Last growing season I started four plants by directly seeding them into the plot. It was a very long time before I got anything that looked productive. By then I was not all that interested. But this year I set out four strong seedlings, conferred with friends who are believers and now have four kale nubs out in the garden. I researched the nutritional value of kale and had every intention of sharing that with you but, hey, the list of benefits is long and, actually, somewhat boring. My interest is that it’s tasty.
Slugs? Slugs? What slugs? There aren’t any in this garden. They must be in yours. Or, better yet, the ice sheet of winter past got the best of them.
This is the first time at this site that my garden is not being devoured by these mollusks. I like it. Not only is the garden free of them, but they are not crawling up the side of the house and the windows, leaving very stubborn slime trails.