June 13, 2010

This Year's Garden Has Been Berra, Berra Good To Me

Anyone old enough or versed enough in tv trivia should remember the tag line of comedian Garrett Morris' "legendary" baseball character, Chico Escuela, from the old (classic & best) Saturday Night Live, as referenced in this post's title.  Well, this season it applies more aptly to my garden than ever before. I don't know whether it was the uncanny - for New Jersey anyway - frigid and snow-covered winter which helped to provide a natural mulch for my perennials or that after all these years my faithful and laborious additions of homemade compost have finally struck "black" gold in my naturally sandy (aka: cruddy) soil. But, my garden has never been so down-right, upright, bee-ooo-tiful! **Insert huge, shit-eating grin here** I've also never - EVER - seen such ginormous, 1950's-nuclear-monsterized worms in my life! Without the old fish story analogy, I've yet to dig trowel into the soil for the simplest of tasks and not had a worm the size of a garter snake slither out from that recently unearthed...uh....earth.

Plants have bloomed that haven't bloomed since I first put them in.  There has been a lot of "Oh, so that's what you're supposed to look like"-moments.  I was particularly pleased by my peony's surprising  presentation of three gorgeous blooms.  Granted, only three.  But when you consider there was nary a hint of one in the five years since it was planted - and sported only one even at that time -  then three is two more than I've ever seen on it.  My Graham Thomas' Unnamed yellow rose also didn't immediately succumb to blackspot and produced not only a healthy abundance of foliage but so many fat, cushy and fragrant blooms that I felt extravagant enough to cut several and bring them inside leaving the plant still brimming with creamy, yellow globes.

Yes, Virginia, it's been mucho, mucho long since I've made a post here. All's I can say is that my garden has presented me with such a plethora of goodies and lushness it's like a starving, chocolate hound let loose in a Godiva consignment shop. In other words: so much to consume....so little time and an endless desire to gorge myself with no regard for the inevitable stomach ache aftermath. In my 'garden gorging' scenario, however, back and neck spasms and a day or two hugging the heating pad are usually the inevitable aftermaths.

But despite the gorging,  I must give credit where credit is due (in this case it's The Good Lord). I've mercifully been spared having to suck back too many Advils and the heating pad has remained cool for the most part.

Hence, there's been little time - or desire - to spend inside on this clickity-clack thing typing about my garden when I could be outside IN it. The only reason I'm posting today is because the thunderclaps ushered me inside and while rain has never dampened (oooh, pun) my spirits or work ethic in the garden, thunder and lightening and gardening in the nearby shadows of 50-foot very swayable and precarious oaks does have a way of making me think twice about doing just one more eeeny, weeny little bit of moving, planting, digging or you name it out there.

Coincidentally, rain (the gentle, steady good kind) has also been "Berra, Berra" good to me this year. It's enabled me to successfully accomplish some major transplants that otherwise would have had to wait either for cooler weather or depend upon the dictates of the weatherperson's precipitation prognostications, which aren't exactly consistently reliable to say the least.  Then there's always the mad dash outside at a moment's rainy notice.  Fortuitously, I always keep a spare trowel and sturdy, waterproof gloves tucked in a pocket of my gardening-designated rainslicker for just such unexpectedly opportune transplanting-moments.  Even then, I usually wind up only being able to move one pathetic, small thing and have to baby that under shade cloth with daily drenchings to even hope for its survival. Nope, again giving credit to the RainMan In The Heavens, I've literally had days to plan, plant, and move again. Who, me? Move plants more than once? "Bwaaahahahaaaaaa!!!"

I suppose with all this bragging should come even more pictures to put my garden money where my mouth is. So try this slideshow on for size.  It's but a mere drop in the bucket...but I wouldn't want to overwhelm you with such abundant bee-ooty.  **Insert yet another shit-eating grin here**. 

Mouse over picture for "Help" menu  and/or use your computer's "next" arrow to advance

February 25, 2010

More Snow Reflections

Sitting at my den window last night, I watched yet another layer of flakes whitewash the already existing mounds of snow deposited by three previous snowstorms that blanketed our area over the past four weeks. Dubbed "February Fury" by The Weather Channel, this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of "And You Still Don't Believe Global Warming?" began dropping its fat, wet flakes shortly before midnight the night before. After several starts and stops, the ultimate flake tally two days later would be upward of another ten or so inches.

Earlier that morning I had hurried outside just after my husband left for work around 5:15am and before the snow became too heavy. I knew at least one of the feeders was empty and three of the suet holders were either totally barren or contained pathetic dregs of lard-encrusted corn, seed and peanut pieces. After filling the feeders and attempting (operative word there being "attempting") to shovel some of the heavy, wet snow from around a few of the various feeding stations I'd set up throughout the front and back gardens, I precariously managed to fend my way around already existing piles of frozen snow that outlined the greenhouse so I could stretch up with my broom and knock off the four or so inches of freshly-fallen wet snow which threatened to collapse at least one side of the structure. After the first brutal nor'easter in January knocked down one of the internal struts, one side has been under constant "supportive vigilance" in the hopes of preventing the greenhouse's all-out-collapse on that compromised side. We'd zipped the already taut poly weave constructed greenhouse tightly closed before December. As the winter progressed, bringing colder and colder temperatures that threatened any remaining elasticity in that material, we became increasingly reluctant to try and unzip the thing in order to reattach the support for fear we wouldn't be able to zip and close the structure again. So until a good spring thaw, we just assumed a constant greenhouse-snow watch and stood ready with a very long-handled broom.

Forewarned being sometimes forearmed, I made a dash to the farm supply store the day before when the weather predictions seemed immanent. The frenetic pre-blizzard antics of my feathered and furry friends alerted me to stock up on seed, corn and of course their favorite: shelled, halved peanuts. Unfortunately, I was down to my last four suet cakes, and was unable to get to my usual haunt that tocks them in bulk and at much lower cost than the Big Box stores. Besides, I fear that when I can get there early next week, they may already have cleared their shelves of suet and other winter stores in preparation for spring surplus. Try explaining seasonal inventory control to claw and paw-tapping impatient, hungry critters! It's not business with them...it's personal.

I thought the two 24-cake boxes I'd purchased before Christmas would at least carry me through till the really frigid and snowy weather subsided. I think this is another case where I should have heeded the weather prognostications of Punxatawney Phil and the extra thick coat and fluffier-than-usual tails of my resident squirrels rather than the slick t.v. weathercasters. Nature is always a better indicator of future climatic conditions. Just ask any organic gardener.

The snow tapered off a bit when I began this, but has picked up once again now along with freight-train-roaring winds. This is when the beauty of the silent snow fall not only elevates in decibel levels but increases the intensity of my worry for the resident critters. While they can usually ferret out protective quarters in even white-out snowstorms, the frigid, 50-mile-an-hour winds are decidedly more daunting and threatening to their safety. I knew that the next day would find me on garden reconnaissance in what I hope will be an unfruitful search for any casualties of the storm. The thought of leaving anything that once graced and shared my gardens to lie lifeless and forgotten on drifting snowbanks is unacceptable to me. If my garden's flora are dignified with a protective covering of soil, albeit frozen, then I owe that same reverence and care to its fauna.

The phone rang as darkness turned my window's clear view to a blackened mirrored glass. It was my husband reassuring me that his commute home was thus far uneventful and he'd most likely be home safe and at his usual time. I'm always calmed when he calls on nights like this. He knows I worry.

I hope the critters have a safe haven tonight as well.

February 02, 2010

"Rumors Of My Death..."

"...have been greatly exaggerated", to quote Mark Twain.

Like the infamous Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxatawney Phil, or the chipmunks who cohabit my garden along with my resident perennials, we've all been hibernating for the winter. The onset of my dormancy, however, began long before winter's official solstice and may very well prove to be more protracted than Phil's, the chipmunks' or my garden's perennials'.

Frosty white blankets shroud the garden benches that await my return.

For the duration and until my gardening spirit is motivated to rest upon those benches once again and seek solace, respite and renewal of hope with Spring's promise, my only outdoor forays consist of the care, feeding and enjoyment of my faithful feathered and furried garden charges who struggle to prevail through winter's and Life's harsh realities and encourage me to do the same.

To proffer another quote, this time from Monty Python: "She ain't dead.  She's just restin'."

November 03, 2009

Ultimate Interactive Online Garden Planner

If you're looking for a true interactive garden planner, then go to The Garden Planner. It's produced online by Gardener's Supply Company. You know, the outfit who probably sends most of you gardeners catalogs every so often.

It's the most thorough interactive planner I've seen. It's for raised beds, square foot gardening...any type of garden plan or design you choose. Of course, it's primarily for vegetables. But, I suppose if you want to arrange ornamentals using the same planner, there's nothing wrong with that either.

As a follow up, here's an example of the planner in action. I did a mock up of a typical 4' X 8' raised (or mounded) veggie garden bed. I chose those dimensions because that's my typical raised bed size. You can choose whatever size you want from their drop down menu. My Mock Up.

I then clicked on "Generate My Detailed Plan & Planting Guide" for my particular garden plan and Here's My Planting Guide complete with planting/sowing/growing instructions and links to their Vegetable Encyclopedia for even further details as well as their Guide To Planting & Care

It's super easy. The only thing easier is a piece of graph paper and your own pencil. But this one comes with a bit more detailed information all in one spot instead of searching through reams of catalogs and checking online. Go for it and ...stop waiting for vague promises from vague alleged gardeners who vaguely intend to publish their vague garden software-planner. You could grow a garden, harvest your produce and put it to bed for the season by the time that happens. If ever. *grin*

August 11, 2009

A Garden In Spite Of Myself

Despite my neglect of it, the garden manages to survive and thrive in some cases. Which only goes to prove that....
"Time and Tide.....and apparently a garden....waits for no man."
Or woman.

Thank God.

(Click on the photos or run your mouse over the pictures to see viewing options along with descriptions. To view larger, click on lower right hand arrows indicating a larger screen.)