Unseasonably Warm

78F indoors, 66F outdoors

It’s summery in the sunroom this afternoon, so I’m taking a break from laundry and housework to enjoy the sunshine for a bit.

Yesterday, I got outside to do some of the spring cleanup: raking out a few flowerbeds, cutting back and pulling up dead and dormant plants, that sort of thing. I like getting out there up close and personal with my plants before they fill out — gives me a better idea of what survived the winter, what didn’t, what got eaten by critters, what I should move to where, et cetera.

Several of the earliest bulbs are peeking up some greenery. I don’t see any crocuses yet, but some of the early daffodils are a few inches tall, hyacinth foliage is barely emerging, and there are tiny buds of peonies and alliums poking out of the soil.

I noticed that my beloved tree peony may be ailing; it’s losing its bark near the base of the trunk. Once it goes, I think I’ll be replacing it with another. I love seeing those huge mid-May blooms every time I come home from work.

I still don’t consider myself a gardener (not like some of the garden bloggers I follow), but I’m coming to realize that I really, REALLY enjoy puttering with plants.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: February 2017

While my Zone 6 garden hasn’t quite awakened from its mild winter slumber quite yet, I have plenty of blooms indoors to keep me company.

I got this African violet as a birthday present from a co-worker some ten years ago — actually, probably more like twelve, now that I think about it. It’s still going strong, which pleases me.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Feb 2017

I potted up this Ragtime amaryllis in hopes of a Christmas bloom, which it just barely missed. (Luckily, the second bloom stalk of the Christmas Star amaryllis filled in quite nicely.) This is the second bloom of Ragtime, much later than I would have expected. But I’ll take it!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Feb 2017

This is my first year forcing hyacinths. I decided to do them in rounds, partially because I bought half a dozen bulbs and only have three forcing vases, but also so I could do some trial-and-error to see how they bloom best in my house. I managed to rot the first two bulbs, but this third one is the charm.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Feb 2017

Finally — and this one might be the one I’m most excited about — this is the first bloom of this particular kalanchoe that I got as a cutting nearly three years ago. My friend and co-worker gave me four cuttings of three colors (I think), and so far I’ve seen shades of orange and pink. This is the first yellow bloom.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Feb 2017

Looking forward to seeing a few outdoor blooms by this time next month — crocuses, if nothing else.

As always, thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting this meme every month!

Did I Really Order This Many Seeds?

Short answer: Yes, I did.

My order from Jung’s Seeds came in today, and that was my first reaction. They did send me two free trial packets — bachelor buttons and muskmelon — but I really did order all eleven other packets. For many gardeners, that’s just a fraction of what they grow… but for me, well, I’m planning to expand my little suggestion of a vegetable garden patch into something a little more substantial. (Note to self: don’t forget to call 8-1-1 beforehand just to be sure you don’t dig too close to any utilities.)

Last year, I had a few varieties of tomatoes, some basil, and eggplant. This year, here’s the rundown of edibles:

Vegetables (New)

Squash, Easypick Green
Muskmelon, Pride of Wisconsin
Tomato, Early Girl
Tomato, SunSugar (yellow cherry)
Carrot, Nelson
Carrot, Bolero
Cucumber, Diamont
Eggplant, Millionaire

Vegetables (2016 or earlier)

Eggplant, Black Beauty
Tomato, Yellow Pear

Herbs (New)

Sage, Broadleaf
Thyme, Winter

Herbs (2016 or earlier)

Basil, Asian, Cinnamon
Basil, Asian, Sweet Thai
Basil, Asian, Siam Queen
Basil, Lemon, Mrs. Burns
Cilantro, Calypso
Dill, Goldkrone
Lemon Balm
Parsley, Titan
Peppers, Paprika, Dulce Rojo

I also ordered a few new ornamentals: zinnias and sunflowers — plus the bonus bachelor buttons — and I have several others I plan to start from previous years’ seeds, like cosmos, miniature hollyhock, cinquefoil, woodland tobacco, foxgloves, sweet peas, and milkweed.

That might be too many. Or, like last year, some might work out and others will fall flat, and I’ll be glad that I started so many different seeds.

Carrots and Other Homegrown Veggies

Connor told me some time ago that he wants to grow carrots in our little vegetable garden this year. A few weeks back, I started the gardener’s winter task/pastime of browsing seed catalogs for next season, and I picked out which company I would buy my carrot seeds from.

I kind of fizzled out after that.

I still need to buy seeds for some decent sandwich tomatoes (not too big, nice and round), sunflowers, skinny eggplant, some more herbs (thyme comes to mind), and a few others. I just haven’t pushed that to the top of my priority list quite yet. I have time… for now.

In another month or so, the first beginnings of seed starting will commence, complete with my datanerd spreadsheet of when to start which seeds. ¬†Come spring, I’ll be ripping up some sod to expand the garden and buying some compost to enrich the soil.

I’m being extra careful not to bite off more veggies than I can chew this year, while still growing enough to make it worth my while. All that careful starting indoors, planting out, protecting from frost, then watering and weeding last year for only a smattering of tomatoes and eggplant and basil? Disappointing.

This year will be a heartier harvest. I hope.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: January 2017

Despite my best intentions, nothing is truly in bloom today. The ‘Ragtime’ Amaryllis just finished blooming last week, and I haven’t potted up any other bulbs quite yet. The ‘Pink Pearl’ Hyacinths i’m forcing haven’t done much more than peek an inch of green out of their bulbs, and the kalanchoes are just kind of chilling with no intention of blooming anytime soon.

I do have a bit of color in the house, at least. The poinsettia is hanging in there from the Christmas season.

poinsettia with jade and purple shamrock

The African Violet is showing signs of a bloom in the Very Near Future.

african violet flower bud

I have hope that there will be more blooms next month!

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: December 2016

File under Better Late Than Never, I suppose… This month’s Bloom Day finds me with three indoor blooms and about 7 inches of snow on the ground outside.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: December 2016

My husband bought me this for some extra holiday cheer in the house. My five-year-old was much more observant than I would have expected — he pointed out the red leaves at the top, said they were really cool, and asked if it was going to bloom. That’s my boy.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: December 2016

My Thanksgiving cactus is sporting a late show of color this year — but, honestly, it’s pretty much on time for its usual bloom. This plant started as a cutting from my husband’s grandmother some fifteen years ago, at which time she told me it was a Christmas cactus. The only reason I know differently now is that I researched the shape of the leaves. This particular plant sometimes also blooms around Easter.

Also, I am NOT going to be pinching off any spent blooms this year. Every time I pinch off the first bloom once it fades, the other growing flower buds just dry up and fall right off.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: December 2016

Finally, some winter color I planned intentionally this year! I bought small, medium, and large Amaryllis bulbs this year, so I could get a grasp on what kind I like best for future years. This one (Christmas Star) started to sprout early, due to me storing it for a few days in too warm of a temperature. It may still be in bloom by Christmas, but this is the second of two stalks — the first, taller one¬†finished blooming last week.

Behind Christmas Star, you can see Ragtime getting ready to bloom. I’m really hoping that one will be open by Christmas.

I didn’t pot up the three miniature Trentino in time, so I’m going to try to time them for Valentine’s Day blooms.

Hoping for some more winter bulb forcing fun for January and February’s Bloom Days — we really can have flowers every month of the year (if we plan it right)!

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: November 2016

Most of my borders look something like this one right now:

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, November 2016

Mostly cleared out and ready for a long winter’s nap.

Our first hard freeze a few days ago (pretty late for Zone 6a / 6b) finally stopped the Cosmos in their tracks.

Cosmos, After a Hard Freeze

I’d kept deadheading them through the fall, just to see how long I could keep them blooming. They really put on a good show this year, with minimal fuss — they may be my new favorite annual.

In the front garden, though, the snapdragons and foxgloves are both keeping on, despite a night or two just below freezing.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, November 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, November 2016

I know I’d said that I probably wouldn’t grow the Potomac Apple Blossom snapdragons again, just because I can’t keep up with their need for staking… but this reblooming habit in late fall might just change my mind about them.

So ends another year of outdoor gardening in my NW Ohio home. The remainder of the fall and the winter will be spent indoors, enjoying the blooms of forced bulbs and houseplants, and making plans to extend the bloom season out-of-doors next year.

As always, many thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month, all year ’round.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: October 2016

I took photos of my blooms on October 1st, just because I expected them to fade by the time bloom day arrived. Surprisingly enough, all the blooms were still blooming — plus some more!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: October 2016

The red hardy hibiscus is still kicking out flowers! The white ones have long since been done.

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Thanks again for the Brandywine Pink tomato plant, @relysh! Currently enjoying a bit of a late #tomato harvest. t.co/uqwD2nqeO3

A counter full of tomatoes