Category Archives: Gardening

Spring finally…I think

A few days after Michael and I got potting soil, mulch, etc., organized on the deck and he carried into the yard four bags of red mulch, we had an ice storm. So I hesitate to even put this down but I think spring has finally arrived in Lords Valley. This is cause for great excitement after the awful winter. On our morning walks, Sydney has been sniffing this strange green stuff that is sprouting up in little clumps.sydneysniffing Trees have buds and some even are blooming. Not yet in my backyard but the drive to Matamaros this morning to get more mulch was lined with lovely trees that are almost in full bloom. It was 70 degrees yesterday and is in the 60s today possibly reaching upper 70s or 80s next week. That seems to have helped the trees and bushes recover from the late ice and snow which must have been a terrible shock! I know it was for me and my friends, Lynda and Brian, who were visiting and were not expecting more winter.

This morning I spread four more bags of red mulch and managed to avoid being seduced by the beautiful flowering plants at Home Depot. It was so tempting but the “rule” up here is to not plant before Memorial Day! mulch I’m going with the “Don’t plant til Mother’s Day” plan and am anxious to have herbs and vegetables growing on the deck. The window boxes look a bit sad so I expect I will jump the gun and start planting next week.

I did not resist the temptation of the brand new Bagel Barn, however. What a strange combination of New York deli and Russian/Eastern European bodega (if there is such a thing!). Last time I went in, when it first opened, the shelves were bare so the selection of delicacies with names written the Cyrillic alphabet were not only interesting but very surprising. I didn’t know what half the things were just by looking at them and wasn’t interested enough to ask walking out with my two bagels and Boar’s Head turkey. You may find this incredibly boring, but for us up here, it is always exciting to have a new business open. Somehow that one business becomes many and now folks are talking about even more stores just outside the gates of our community. Will the closed for 6 years restaurant open now?? Will we get a decent grocery store so I don’t have to drive to Montague, NJ?? So many important questions to think about that affect life in a rural area. I am especially anxious to hear what the hairdresser has to say tomorrow since he seems to have his finger on the pulse of those in the know in Lords Valley. Of course I don’t believe that for a moment!

From me to you — happy Spring! I hope you are as happy about it as I am and have fun planting flowers or whatever it is you do when winter finally leaves the area. For me, I am going to sit on the porch with my bagel and enjoy the view of almost blooming trees.

Ready to Garden

As soon as it looked like spring here, I decided to start on my new hobby — gardening. I must make it clear that when I say “gardening,” I mean planting stuff in pots — at least to start. And, it also implies that I will actually pay attention to my plants, water them occasionally, and be a good caretaker. Before I even started, however, I had to get water to the back of the house as well as the front. It was a feat of engineering that I attached a Y connector and a hundred feet of hose to it, threaded it through the fence, and attached a watering wand. My second job was to figure out if it was warm enough to start planting. I am now located in Zone 5b and am at the end of the possibly frost continuum, so it should be safe to plant. I had quite a scare with my aloe plant, though, and so am a bit concerned with my ability to keep things alive. But, after bringing the aloe back onto the porch, it went from brown to yellow to green again and thus, with this in mind, I went to Lowe’s Garden Center to begin my planting adventure.

The helpful garden attendant provided me with a flatbed cart that I had absolutely no hope of pushing through the garden center so it ended up standing in one place while I went from table to table loading the cart with potting soil, hanging plants for under the deck, and several annuals. I asked, “Where are the petunias?” My helpful friend responded, “What’s a petunia?” It was immediately clear that I would get absolutely no help and so I maneuvered through the checkout and the same person helped me unload the cart into the back of my car. No plastic or offer of anything to protect the car (I am now remembering fondly many trips to Tallahassee Nursery) and he said, “Going to do some planting?” I wanted badly to say, “No,” and finish with a sarcastic remark but I held back, got in my car, arrived home, and planted the window boxes and deck rail planters.
windowboxesdeckrail
It may not look like much to you, but it is certainly more cheerful than it was so I was very pleased with my progress.

My children gave me a large planter for Mother’s Day and so we decided that would be my kitchen herb garden. Having crossed Lowe’s off my gardening list, this morning I went to The Brick House, a local nursery and only 6 miles from here as opposed to about 20 to Lowe’s. Not only did I get lots of herbs and potting soil for the same price or less than Lowe’s, but I got all the advice I could handle. The person who helped me was very knowledgeable and even helped with what to put in the upside down pots (begonias). After recommending separate pots for basil and rosemary, I purchased two planters that are made from recycled material and can stay out all winter (always thinking ahead). Pleased with my purchases, I headed home, carried everything up the stairs, and am ready to go. emptyplanter

To those of you who are master gardeners, have a natural talent for growing things, or have English style gardens in the backyard, I say “Great!” I know my limitations and know what I can handle, so am proud of this as a good start. Besides, I do not have soil enough to garden in the yard, so it would be quite an investment just to plant a small area. Wish me luck. I’m headed to the deck to get my herbs going. I think I’ll make pesto later!

I Obviously Need More to Do…

After a quiet weekend, I am reflecting on how much I accomplished. Saturday and Sunday were sunny so I concentrated on moving my aloe plant to follow the sunbeam! photo-8 Every hour or so I moved the plant until the sun went down.

If you aren’t already laughing, you should be. My intentions were good. Robin gave me this pot with aloe to start my garden this spring, provided instructions — “benign neglect” — and sent me off sure that I could do no harm. This is a test of my skill as a plant nurturer. I’ve never been much good at it. I buy plants, hang them up or put them in a window box, and then let them fend for themselves, usually with disappointing results. Since I am looking for new hobbies and spring projects, gardening seemed to be very zen and surely this will work for me. I explained to my aloe plant this morning that it’s gray outside and we are probably going to get a couple of days of gray rainy weather so there is no sunbeam to follow. Not sure how much of what I said computed, but Robin is very encouraging that I am doing the right thing. My aloe plant comes from a HUGE pot of aloe that sits on Robin’s deck and has flourished for years. I feel the responsibility for keeping it alive very strongly and am a bit concerned that I will be held accountable! When I asked Robin how often I should water it, she asked if I had watered it since I got home from my visit to Tallahassee. “Of course,” I answered. After all it was over a month ago! Robin informed me that I had already watered it too much and to leave it alone, let it get pot bound and not be so attentive.

Since moving the aloe around the kitchen was my primary activity this weekend, other than reading three Patricia Cornwell Kay Scarpetta mysteries, I think I need more to do. With spring around the corner there will be plenty of little projects, but I’m actively pursuing some online work that will provide flexibility and requires a minimum commitment. Kind of like the aloe plant! Approaching the end of my first winter here with the promise of using my driveway soon, I am encouraged that things are falling into place albeit a bit more slowly than I expected. I met with Tim, the contractor, this morning about restructuring one of the bedrooms so you can actually walk around the bed and he assures me that the rain tomorrow will clear my driveway and I can use it. Any snow that we get from here on out will melt very quickly. I trust his opinion because his business depends on snow removal and construction so he would know!

I will continue to do whatever I can to keep my aloe plant alive. I think it might be me who needs the sunbeam so the aloe is becoming symbolic of life in the Poconos. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing this! Definitely need more to keep me active! Any suggestions?