Monday, April 24, 2017

Caring for Bulbs After They Bloom

In my yard the flowering plants are kind of in limbo. 
  • The forsythia has flowered and the leaves are now coming in. 
  • The hydrangea has come back after popping back in February when we had a string of very warm days and dying a few weeks later when it snowed and was below freezing for multiple days in a row. I cut off the deadwood above the new green leaves and it looks good again.
  • All of the bulbs have passed now. My daffodils bloomed weeks ago thanks to those 70-degree days in February and now all that remains is the drab foliage. The tulips were beautiful this spring, but just a couple of blooms remain. It may be tempting to cut all the leaves and stems, but STOP! The leaves help the bulbs deep down in the dirt rejuvenate themselves. Right now, deadhead the flowers, not letting them so to seed. Don't touch the leaves just yet, though, let them die on their own. When the leaves let go with a gentle tug, then it's time to remove them. It's so tempting to cut them off, I know. They look ugly and seem to take forever to die, but just leave them be. You will be thankful next February and March when they start poking through the dirt again. If you will need to move or split the bulbs in the fall, mark the spots now - I use golf tees - so you can find them easily.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No More Decapitated Tulips

Warsawa (solid red) and World Expression tulips.
Tulips are my favorite flower. Their simple shape and uniformity are what attracts me I think. A few years ago I picked up a bag of 50 bulbs at Home Depot that was a mix of Warsawa (solid red) and World Expression (red and cream). They are starting to fill a new bed that was created under a large tree in the front yard when we put a low retaining wall around it.

Last year the tulips did not very well--I wonder if it was because of the all the rain we had. And the squirrels were decapitating them--grrrr. But things turned around this year and the bed looks beautiful. It just needs more tulips...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

It all started with the peas

Last summer I decided to really expand my thinking about what was possible growing vegetables in my climate (USDA zone 7A). I grew up in Rhode Island and my father had a summer garden with tomatoes, beans and cucumbers so that was my frame of reference. I have lived here in Maryland, in a much warmer climate, for more than 20 years now, but breaking out of that "summer garden" mindset has been HARD. This breakthrough has involved a lot of growth for me. I felt like I did have a spring garden because I grew peas. That I didn't even eat! Walking with my friend one morning in January, I actually verbalized this AHA and I laughed at myself. I was growing them year after year because I was eager to get back to my raised bed and see something grow. So I got past the mental block the peas were causing me and started growing other spring vegetables that I actually DO want to eat. It sounds to simple but it took me a long time to get here.

And here I am! I have growing cherry belle radish, bloomsdale spinach, tendersweet and nantes carrots, stuttgarter onions (started March 1) and siberian kale that I direct sowed on March 25. I have parsley and tarragon that never dies year after year and some more kale that I got as seedlings from my same friend.
Cherry Belle Radish

Bloomsdale Spinach

Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts

Stuttgarter Onions
I have lettuce and arugula planned for the next week or so. And a few hold outs from last fall-one spinach plant, 2 long island improved brussells sprouts and a few carrots. I have a full garden in April. Yay me!

My advice? Just try it and see what happens. We have had very strange weather here with a very warm February, pretty cold March and April is feeling a little warm, too. My timing was based a little on the last frost date from the Old Farmers Almanac and a little by a planting spreadsheet I got from the You Grow Girl blog the Lazy Gardner years ago and a little on my own motivation. Not scientific my any means! That's not how I manage my gardens.

Friday, December 11, 2015

New project, Halfway Wrap

I am starting a new project today that I am really excited about called Halfway Wrap by designer Verra Valimaki. The striping created in this piece intrigued me and I think I found the right yarn to really capture the color variation that the stripes create.

Browsing the shelves in the yarn store yesterday, I found myself drawn to the cool purple-gray-black color palette AGAIN. I resisted and purposefully chose this warm orange and purple "Bad Moon Rising" (left) from Dragonfly Fibers. The complimenting "Amethyst Earring" from Manos is also a warm purple.

I just finished another scarf called Color Affection by Verra.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New year, new yarn

I was in Old Town Alexandria (Va.) this week and stopped at Fibre Space to look at yarn for a couple of new projects. I would like to make a sweater using bulky yarn and I have been eyeing Geodesic, knit using lace-weight, for quite some time. Well I found a gorgeous lace yarn from Dragonfly Fibers called December Baby. How appropriate, I am a December baby! It's a rich, deep blue with very slight variation. This is my first lace-weight project so I am excited to see how it goes. It will take some time to knit, but I am already enjoying watching the color unfold. The selection of bulky was not great, so I will look around online for that.

The Koala sweater I have been working on for TWO YEARS is still lingering. I love Ravelry, but now I can really see how long it takes to finish a project-that's good and bad. Bad for Koala, my jaw dropped when I saw that I started it in Dec. 2008. It was supposed to be a quicky sweater but has not turned out that way. I watched this very helpful seaming video on You Tube (thank you Ilina) and had inspired me to finish seaming the sweater, the part I like the least.

The problem all along has been that I don't feel comfortable sewing the seams, like I am fudging it. This video put me at ease because much of what I have been doing was right! The other problem has been with the fabric curling a lot. In my mind, this is a quicky sweater so blocking before seaming was out of the question. Not anymore. It was an obstacle I just was not seeing so this afternoon I washed and blocked it all and tomorrow I tackle the rest of piecing and seaming.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preparing for winter

This year I have a new farm for CSA, Bending Bridge Farm in Penn. I am using the newish model of paying upfront for the CSA, like normal. The difference is I get to pick out what I want every week because they are at the Bethesda Central Farm Market every Sunday. I do my shopping and they debit my total from my share. I am so happy with this model because I am not getting stuff I don't want in quantities I could never finish in one or even two weeks. If you are in a CSA, I highly recommend this new model. And my farm has great selection: red and green peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, garlic, wax beans, green beans, Asian egglant, greens, lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, and more.

And being at the farm market every week is great because what Audrey and Cameron do not have, like peaches, I can buy from the other farmers. I am spoiled by the peaches (at about $2.50/lb) and would like to freeze some for use later. After trying the popular cooking web sites (for example Epicurious and All Recipies) and finding them completely useless, I found some large university extension services with great resources on freezing fruit and vegetables:
University of Minn. Extension
Colorado State Extension
University of Ga. Cooperative Extension

This will be my project for the week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Living trust and will? Done.

Every once in a while I do something that reminds me that I am 41. An adult. Who needs to handle her life like an adult when necessary. Today I finalized my living trust and will.

It has been on my to do list literally for years, ever since I bought property. One reason it took me so long is I did not really know how to start to the process*. Arlington Adult Ed can take the credit for pushing me along. I attended a class this summer about getting the will written, knowing that I need to take the first step in attaining that goal. The lawyer who taught that class was very sensible, not scary or threatening, and drove the point home to me that this is something that I need to complete.

It really was not that hard, just time-consuming. Choosing beneficiaries and executor was thought-provoking and kind of difficult. I have two brothers and I did not want to offend the one I did not choose, but in the end I know I made the right choice. And there is nothing that can't be changed if my choices are eating away at me.

So I feel a big sense of satisfaction today.

*I don't think I am alone in not really knowing how or where to begin. For example, as I was leaving the office this afternoon to head over to the lawyer's, I rode the elevator with a colleague. A very smart guy, slightly younger than me, with a wife and children. He revealed that he does not have a will. What? Dude, you have kids!