Open Thread: Thursday Garden Chat

So this week in New England it went from 50 degrees & rainy to 80 degrees & humid, just in time for the rest of my mail-order tomato plants to show up, looking much the worse for three days in transit (and with a couple of substitutions that are… puzzling, as well as disappointing). Spent the past few afternoons cleaning dead leaves and new weeds out of the planters, finding the tomato ladders and gro-bags in the shed, moving 2cu-ft bags of potting mix, and transplanting about two-thirds of the tomato plants. Still have a dozen or so plants, plus two flats of violas, cosmos, lobelia and allysum that need to be transplanted into the front yard planters before it’s too late. And then I need to find and hook up the garden hose, kill a whole lot of weeds before they overwhelm the perennial borders, and thin out the irises which are overrunning the daylily crowns, not to mention pruning back the roses & deadheading the lilacs…

Right now my yard is at its best and worst — luxuriant new bursts of variegated foliage and flowers, amidst the wreckage of the early-spring bloomers and my sad half-done attempts at landscaping. (No blog metaphors, please.) If this plot were any bigger than the average McMansion bedroom (75x80ft, including the house), I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.

How are things looking in your garden, this week?

59 replies
  1. 1
    General Stuck says:

    No garden this year, but the crazy wingnuts in the House are trying to codify permanent world war. Obama threatens veto of defense bill, if this is in in, or if DADT repeal is circumvented in any way.

    This is your president.

    Try to measure up

  2. 2
    srv says:

    Ommegang, Grand Cru, Tremens, Nocturnal, and Levitation. I would add that up but I can’t count right now.

    Where did my beer go

  3. 3

    @General Stuck:

    or if DADT repeal is circumvented in any way.

    Just words(TM).

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    Mail order tomato plants? Wow. I’ve never done that. A lot of growers in my area have pretty much all the varieties I could want, so I just go to them.

    I’m harvesting stuff every day. Tomatoes, green beans, beets, cucumbers, peppers, onions. Eggplant are getting close to ready. I’m eating pretty much all my vegetables from the garden except lettuce greens. Too hot for those at this point.

    Just planted long beans for the summer. Not a lot produces in the summer in the heat, but they’re always dependable.

  5. 5


    Where did my beer go

    It’s gone to a better place: your stomach. And that would be five, assuming one bottle of each, except that most of those should count for more than one given the ABV.

  6. 6

    150# Great White Pyrennese has excavated the back yard – excavated is the proper verb…


  7. 7
    srv says:

    @Roger Moore: Drafts. Publik House rocks.

    Break now.

  8. 8

    I’m not sure how this happens, even if it does every year–my trees look lousy with figs, and then, some will inexplicably shrivel up. It’s not lack of water, frost, or too much heat, because we’ve had plenty of rain, and it has been reasonably temperate. I think figs are just fickle at this latitude.

    My tomato plants are growing, but no little fruits, yet. I think my nettles are coming back–I did not ask for them! I know they can be a useful medicinal/food plant, but I just see them as ugly, ouchy weeds and try to dispense with them accordingly. I’m not sure why they picked my garden to be prolific in.

    We’re definitely fixed for dandelion greens.

  9. 9
    General Stuck says:

    @Vixen Strangely:

    I’m not sure why they picked my garden to be prolific in.

    If you applied any kind of bagged soil, or any other amendments to your garden, probly brought the nettles with it. We have a wild variety here in NM, that are vicious little fuckers that will ruin your day if you get into them wearing shorts.

  10. 10


    Drafts. Publik House rocks.

    Sounds good. Lucky Baldwin’s is like that, and within extended staggering range of my place. I’ve somehow managed to avoid going broke there.

  11. 11
    jharp says:

    My stuff is kicking ass and thanks for asking.

    Flowers on at least one tomato plant and others looking great. Same with the peppers.

    And just got started with horseradish and it is flourishing.

    Central Indiana. With enough rain and wind and storms and temperature changes to fuck up any garden.

  12. 12
    db says:

    Cooled and then warmed up nicely last month in AZ for tomatoes to sprout with flowers like crazy. Already harvested some Russian heirlooms I saved from a January freeze. Now waiting for some 1 pounder heirlooms and early girls to ripen before it gets too hot for them.

    Starting to newspaper+mulch like mad where I don’t want crabgrass to spread. Have already put shade covers over garden and will transplant eggplant seedlings in about a week. Then done for the year because nothing will sprout during the brutal summer heat in AZ.

    I also just found that I didn’t compost my leftover watermelon and squash from last summer very well. They are now starting to sprout in some spots around the garden where I threw compost last month. I am not going to worry about watering them. If they die, more compost. If they survive, lagniappe.

  13. 13
    PeakVT says:

    4th thunderstorm of the day rolling through. Sheesh.

  14. 14
    General Stuck says:

    You don’t see this everyday. A white Alabama republican legislator switches to dem party due to

    Chalk up another Democratic win this week: Alabama State Rep. Daniel Boman, who entered the legislature as a Republican in November, is switching parties to become a Democrat after he says the GOP went too far in attacking teachers in the state.

    Kudos to you dude

  15. 15

    @General Stuck:

    Since we do a lot of container planting–that’s probably it. Bagged soil is a regular garden expense at Casa Strangely. Nettles are weird. It survives Round-up. And the prickles even penetrate rubberized gloves for pulling. I don’t know whether to dub the plant an enemy for life or admire it’s evolutionary adaptability. I don’t like when I have itchies up to my elbows, though.

  16. 16
    srv says:

    @Roger Moore: Boston is too expensive. Toronado has a reasonable happy hour. But we can’t get Ommegang or Grand Cru on tap. But Maredsous and sometimes Unibroue. I don’t understand that. Boston can get Stone on tap, but we can’t get Ommegang…

    Cru-el world.

  17. 17
    Kristine says:

    My tomatoes are 3-4 inches tall. Bell peppers, a couple of inches. Broccoli raab, and inch or so.

    I will be able to harvest mesclun in a couple of weeks, maybe, but I doubt I’ll see anything else until late July or August.

  18. 18
    cckids says:

    I’ve got lots of little yellow pear/cherry tomatoes that are ripe, dozens of green early girl and romas that should be ready in 2-3 weeks. Yay! My herb garden is going wild, and I’ve got a lemon cucumber plant I’d never heard of that looks as though it will do well. Also peppers, though they always look great early like this, then break my heart when the hot nights of July/August roll around. For flowers, the jasmine & honeysuckle are going great, as are my wild roses–its their second year & they are beautiful.

  19. 19
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @General Stuck:

    Kudos to him indeed. Hope he survives re-election. Like TPM says, there’s these little hints of a turnaround all across the country (Ny-26, Jacksonville, special elections in places like ME, NH, and WI). Hope it lasts.

  20. 20
    Violet says:


    I’ve got a lemon cucumber plant I’d never heard of that looks as though it will do well.

    I grew one of those a few years ago! Loads of seeds, but the flavor is good. Since they don’t look like regular cucumbers it’s a little hard to tell when they’re ready. Don’t let them get too big or you’ll just have nothing but seeds.

    Also peppers, though they always look great early like this, then break my heart when the hot nights of July/August roll around.

    Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch. Actually, use a ton of high quality organic compost now, get them as large as you can before the heat hits and make sure you mulch once the temps get even a tiny bit hot. They should survive the heat and you’ll have great peppers in September and even October, depending where you live.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    newhavenguy says:

    Sorry, tried to link to today’s TPM story about NYSE threatening the former for publishing a photo of the trading floor.

    Without which above (21) makes even less sense.

    Any image or depiction of the NYSE apparently belongs to them. Perhaps they will sue me for typing “New York Stock Exchange”. Who’s to stop them?

  23. 23

    Maybe you should have linked to the post here on B-J discussing it.

  24. 24
    cckids says:

    @Violet: Thanks!! I’ve got hopes this year, we’ve moved & have more shade in our back yard/garden area. I’ll try the mulch as well. The advantages/down sides of having a 9-month growing season.

  25. 25
    Petorado says:

    In the part of the West with lots of cool and wet, but not enough heat to get the rest of the blooming/ fruiting cycle moving. Pretty flowers on everything else and world’s most tender salad out the back door.

    @ vixen – only thing worse than nettles are goat’s heads, especially if you love to ride anything with inflatable tires.

    @jhrarp – you are so screwed. Horseradish is the devil’s spawn – horribly invasive roots. Make sure you create strong physical barriers against its spread. It’s like inviting Fred Phelps to crash in your spare room next to a military cemetery. Good intentions are not repaid with horseradish.

    @Roger Moore – Great microbrewery less than 5 minute stagger from house. May have to look into new line of credit. Good combination of talent, experimentation, and good taste. Feeling like Charlie Sheen moving next door to Playboy Mansion/ crack house/ distillery, except I’m no Charlie Sheen and the brewer’s have only good intentions.

  26. 26
    GregB says:

    I’m going to pick up the loam for 4 small beds tomorrow.

    Have been moving some lilac bushes today.

    Finished a little footpath in the daylily, tall phlox garden.

    Will try to move some holly and finish the lilac moving tomorrow.

    Not a bad jump this year, but jeepers with the massive amount of acorns that needed picking up.

  27. 27

    Good morning. I woke up and didn’t go back to sleep so here I am.

    My garden is doing well. I have a container veggie garden this year because I have very little sunny space. Anyway, it continues to rain here in northern Ohio. The actual ground is just too wet to dig around in. Don’t know when my neighbors will manage to get gardens in.

    Although Memorial Day is the traditional plant-your-garden time in this area.

    My garden has been planted for about 10 days and doing fine. I’ve got tomatoes and peppers [mail order] and will plant some bean seeds this weekend.

  28. 28
    R-Jud says:

    This time of year in Old England, the herbs are going gangbusters, so I’ve been harvesting as much as possible. I made three jars of horseradish sauce last weekend (I planted mine in buried garbage cans) and four kinds of pesto (mint, basil, parsley, cilantro) along with herb butter and herb cream cheese.

    We also have plenty of salad greens, and I just discovered that chive flowers are edible, so we’ve been, uh, eddin’ ’em. They look terrific in an omelette or a salad. I’ve tried eating nasturtiums and nasturtium greens in the past, but they’re a bit too strong for me. Borage is nice, though.

    Pea plants are finally taking off, tomatoes are about 6″ tall, potatoes about 8″, onions the same, and we will be swimming in raspberries and strawberries this time next month. That should please the Bean, who’s a complete glutton for raspberries.

    The only things giving me headaches are the inedibles: the iris never bloomed, one of the peonies never budded, and there are aphids on my climbing rose that just. won’t. DIE.

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:


    I just discovered that chive flowers are edible, so we’ve been, uh, eddin’ ‘em.

    Giada DiLaurentiis is who taught me that you could indeed eat the flowers of chives. They have a delicious spicy note to them in fact.

    and four kinds of pesto (mint, basil, parsley, cilantro)

    Ifn you don’t mind, can I use your proper terminology for what some call coriander to mess with a certain Aussie’s head? When I’m a fully licensed CPA I’ll see about getting an EU certification as well to do you taxes. That’s a couple years down the pike however.

    there are aphids on my climbing rose that just. won’t. DIE.

    Ladybugs. You need more ladybugs. They lurve them some aphids.

  30. 30
    R-Jud says:

    Ifn you don’t mind, can I use your proper terminology for what some call coriander to mess with a certain Aussie’s head? When I’m a fully licensed CPA I’ll see about getting an EU certification as well to do you taxes. That’s a couple years down the pike however.

    You got me ALL EXCITED about the taxes– we just had to amend our HMRC self-assessment from last year, and it was torture (not to mention expensive).

    Do you know, I initially typed “coriander”, but corrected it to “cilantro”. I also pronounce the “h” in “herb” now, like the Brits do. They’re getting to me, man. They’re getting to me.

  31. 31
    Yutsano says:

    @R-Jud: Well there IS a fucking H in it.

  32. 32
    The Raven says:

    Lavender in bloom, here in Seattle.

    In other news, it appears that Paul Ryan has succeeded in doing what the combined might (hah!) of the leftist media (hah!) could not: make a single-payer health care system popular in the USA.

    Oh the humanity!

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @The Raven: And now we haz one. In Vermont. It’s official as of today.

  34. 34
    opie jeanne says:

    Tommy, our Maine coon kitty, has not come home yet. We have called him daily until we are hoarse, left food on the front porch which has gone untouched for some reason, (I mean even the raccoons and feral cats aren’t eating it) papered the neighborhood, gone door-to-door handing out flyers and asking people to check their sheds and garages, talked to kids on scooters and people walking dogs. We’ve also checked the four shelters in our area twice so far, none of them nearby, and we’ve advertised on Craig’s list and another helpful site.

    He may be sulking under a hedge, wondering where my daughters’ cats went (they went home with her the day before he went missing), he may have met a coyote, he may have decided he didn’t like the food here and moved in with a nice lady up the street, or maybe he’s chasing meadow voles and mice in the blackberry vines.

    We are still waiting for him.

    The garden is doing well but very slowly. We do not have lavender here, just outside Seattle yet, but we have lilacs in bloom. Wore a sprig on the 25th in honor of Alzheimers Research. Apples and strawberries blooming, potatoes are just up and almost ready to have more dirt added to their box, and there are masses of cherries on the huge cherry tree. We hope they don’t all fall off.
    And we just discovered that we own a fruiting quince. Not sure if it’s self-fertile or if it’s one of those that has a specific gender and needs another plant of the opposite sex.

    Up the road there is a huge tree on the way into Woodinville, the most amazing tree I’ve ever seen, it puts dogwood to shame and the dogwood here is amazing. This tree is called a Dove Tree. Davidia involucrata.

    Images here do not do it justice:

  35. 35
    opie jeanne says:

    @Roger Moore: Where is Lucky Baldwin’s? Is it in Arcadia, perchance?

  36. 36
    opie jeanne says:

    @Vixen Strangely: I have tried using tape, like masking tape or Scotch, to pull the nettles off my skin. It usually helps.

  37. 37
    opie jeanne says:

    @Petorado: Thanks for the warning re: horseradish. I have been tempted to grow some even though I really don’t like it much. It’s one of those things that happens when you can only stare at the seed catalogues for two months longer than when your calendar says it’s spring.

  38. 38
    opie jeanne says:

    @Roger Moore: Never mind, I see it is in Pasadena.

    If you don’t already know about Lucky Baldwin, he’s an interesting character. I grew up in Baldwin Park and Temple City, one named for him, the other for the family of a man who was unlucky playing cards with Lucky.

  39. 39
    Breezeblock says:

    My flower garden is doing well, though some of the marigolds I planted may not be getting enough sun. Also, something was munching the early zinnia shoots. I hope I don’t miss all the poppies blooming while away next week.

  40. 40
    dan says:

    From where do you order tomatoes???

    I was going to get them from Home Depot, but I am sure yours are nicer than mass-produced, big box store tomatoes.

  41. 41
    Rod Majors says:

    My yard/garden looks terrific aside from the small army of armadillos that come through every night and dig it up. They’ve damaged almost all my jalapeno plants already and are now working on the tomatoes.

  42. 42
    Luci says:

    @Anne Laurie My gardens are mainly flowers, and they are in the same shape yours are in… messy and half weeded. The flowers are great and beginning to bloom and look lovely… the weeds, not so much. But, everything is way lush though, as we’ve had plenty of rain in the upper Midwest. :)

  43. 43
    Munira says:

    @Vixen Strangely: My huge veggie garden is all planted and things are coming up, surviving the rain, rain, rain. More thunderstorms today. I have nettles, too – pull them up from the very bottom of the stem, right where it meets the soil. They don’t sting down there. Also if you can break the stem and put the nettle juice on your skin where you got stung, it makes it better. Every time I pull a nettle, i think about my son (who’s now 38) as a two year old, coming in the house crying and saying, “The stinging noodle bit me.” Good luck.

  44. 44
    kay says:


    Pea plants are finally taking off

    I can’t grow peas. I’ve been trying to grow peas for 15 years. I’m a good gardener, and I love peas, and sweet peas are my favorite flowers, and I have tried everything. Put them in early, put them in late. Start them inside, start them outside, put them in some shade, put them in full sun.
    Heritage, hybrid, cheap or expensive seed, nothing works.

    I’m at a disadvantage, because “spring” here is 15 minutes long, and then it’s broiling summer, but I’m about to give up. I can grow snap peas and I can grow snow peas but I can’t grow “english” peas or sweet pea flowers. I think I have to move to Seattle, Portland or England. It might be easier.

  45. 45
    dsc says:

    just in time for the rest of my mail-order tomato plants to show up, looking much the worse for three days in transit (and with a couple of substitutions that are… puzzling, as well as disappointing).

    started all of mine from seed–Aunt Ruby’ German Green, Brandywines, Russian Krims, Rutgers, Juliets (IMHO–the BEST hybrid) and new to me this year, Tennessee Green, Superboy, Bloody Butcher, and New Jersey Giant. I have WAAAAYYY too many plants of course, but lots of friends. I’m planting 6 of each in a specially created haven for tomatoes–layers of rotted straw, horse-stall mucked saw dust from a rough mill (aged three years!) with lawn mower cuttings on top. I have GREAT hopes–tomato juice, soup, and diced and whole. I’m a freaky canner.

    Egg plant going great guns, corn and beans up, patty pans and zuke reaching out, and habaneros are just gorgeous. Planting okra, Anaheims, Big Berthas, and purple jalapenos today.

    Flowers, well, there’s a riot going on. We have a new fence, and I’m planting flats of zinnias, sunflowers, and pineapple sage EVERYWHERE along the way.

    Sigh! The unemployed must keep busy.

  46. 46
    bob h says:

    Anyone know whether it is too late to put grass seed down? In the 80’s very humid where I am.

  47. 47
    gelfling545 says:

    I don’t know what will happen with the garden this year. I have a lot of half done spring clean up because it hasn’t stopped raining long enough for me to finish anything. It’s all very distressing. I usually have tomato plants in by now but the nights have been so chilly that I haven’t even purchased the plants yet. I gave up starting from seed years ago because I have never found a good spot in the house for seed starts that the cat wouldn’t sleep in.

  48. 48
    gelfling545 says:

    @dsc: Juliets are my absolute favorite tomato. I used to be able to get them at local nurseries all the time but last year there were none. I haven’t even looked for my plants yet for this year because the weather has been so awful but I’m hoping for Juliets when I go looking for plants (later today if the rain stops).

  49. 49
    ChrisS says:

    Here in good ol’ CNY, traditional start to the gardening season is Memorial Day weekend as well. I started a few weeks ago with the cabbage, brussels, peas, and potatoes. Started tomato plants went in last weekend with cukes, onions, beets, parsnips, and carrots. Plus early rows of lettuces, radishes, spinach, and chard. I still have some free space left to start the next crop of radishes and lettuces, plus the winter brassicas.

    I expanded my garden from three 20’x2′ rows to two 20’x6′ plots to use the rotational plan from John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Gardener. My pear tree is chock full of little fruits, but unless I get a pellet gun, I doubt very many will survive the squirrels. The raspberries are in bloom, but I think I’m going to muck them out this fall and plant new canes.

    Other than the squirrels, the only pest I have to deal with is the dog (I don’t think the birds or deer have found the garden yet). He just can’t seem to keep out of the garden despite the ~3′ fence I put up. Normally, he’s uninterested in getting over or around any type of obstacle like that (baby gates, chairs, etc.).

  50. 50
    atlliberal says:

    @bob h: You’d be better off waiting till the fall. It will grow now but with the heat, not as well, and it will require much more watering.

  51. 51
    RoonieRoo says:

    We’re entering our summer season in Central Texas. So we’ve been eating tomatoes, ground cherries, chard, kale, eggplant, beans and some summer squash for a bit now.

    It’s heating up and I had to pull the summer squash already since the squash bug population exploded and I couldn’t keep up with killing the million eggs every day on the squash.

    Right now I’m planting out Southern Peas and Luffa to fill the spots as I tear out plants that are done from the early spring.

    The corn crop was a failure this summer :( Hopefully the fall batch will be a winner.

    The other annoyance this year was a Harlequin bug explosion. Grumpy Code Monkey has spent many an hour picking those things off the kale and komatsu these past couple of weeks.

  52. 52
    The Raven says:

    @Yutsano: Has Vermont gotten the sign-offs on their single-payer system from the Federal government yet?

  53. 53
    R-Jud says:


    I’m at a disadvantage, because “spring” here is 15 minutes long, and then it’s broiling summer, but I’m about to give up.

    Heh, I was just on the phone with my Mom, who was making the exact same complaint about peas and sweet peas (she’s in NE PA, an amazing gardener, too). She was over here three Junes ago, and she could barely disguise her envy when she stepped into my mother-in-law’s garden, which has a wall covered in sweet peas during late spring/early summer.

  54. 54
    Peggy says:

    Cool spring in Boston. Started lots of tomatoes, flowers from seeds-will be selling the last this weekend. Gave up weeding the garden- need to plant the moved and divided guys (salvia, daylily, tradescatina spiderwort, asters, columbine, and the FUN mail ordered flowers. Small urban front yard with a sunny parking lot in the back. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant? will be in containers in the back.

  55. 55
    kay says:


    which has a wall covered in sweet peas during late spring/early summer.

    I’m seething with jealousy. I used to like to look at gardening books (with pictures) but then I realized they were all shot in England, estates in northern California or Seattle.

    I have to use morning glories, which, let’s face it, are a weed. It’s like bragging about your dandelion crop.

    I’ll get 20 or so sweet pea flowers, then the vines will burn to a crisp, as usual.

  56. 56
    Yutsano says:

    @kay: Yeah, it rains all the time here in Seattle and is pretty much cold fucking constantly. But you should see the rhododendrons. They exploded like gangbusters everywhere.

  57. 57
    mac says:

    Hello from West bygod Virginia. Get some Mr. Stripeys. Stupid name. Great Tomato.

  58. 58
    Denali says:

    Rain, rain, rain = weeds, weeds, weed. Plus the fact that I broke my ankle two weeks ago and can neither pot the plants sitting on the deck or finish moving the indoor plants outside. But thanks for asking.

  59. 59
    Anne Laurie says:


    From where do you order tomatoes???

    I get mine from Territorial Seeds and Tasteful Gardens, plus a local nursery (Mahoneys) that’s moved almost entirely from sixpaks to larger, individual tomato plants, including lots of heirlooms. If there’s a locally-owned nursery in your area, that may be your best source for this year, since it’s getting too hot to ship live plants. More expensive than seeds, but even if I were more mindful our cats have always foiled my attempts at indoor seed-starting, so we pay the premium in order to have tasty tomatoes!

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