Sunday Morning Garden Chat: Exotic Incognita

maryg driveway bed

From commentor Mary G:

This is the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bed in my driveway. Got three batches of blooms from the snapdragons planted in November for the first time; I love gardening in Southern California. Something is always blooming, but I like May the best.

maryg purple incognita

Does anyone know what the plant with the dark purple/orange and red flower is in the closeups? My gardener got it from a garden club sale but didn’t get the name of it. I thought it was a big nothing-burger and was going to pull it up, but am I ever glad I didn’t.

maryg orange incognita

Here north of Boston, I have twenty-two mail order tomato plants from Southern California & Alabama waiting to be transplanted — not to mention the bare-root clearance Asian pear, lilacs, blueberry & forsythia bushes that I couldn’t resist — and there’s been a persistent cold drizzle for the last three days. And if there’s any part of gardening I enjoy less than horsing big sacks of potting mix, it’s horsing big cold slippery soggy sacks of potting mix… especially when it was in the low eighties (but hella humid) at the beginning of the week. May is not the best month for New England gardeners, it’s a godsdamned tease!

How are your gardens doing, this week?

89 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    There was a “Classic This Old House” on yesterday with a short segment on about the Joe Ciampa Community Garden. Really interesting!

    Our reprieve from the city on our addition is going to mean that they will run a new sewer line from our house, through two yards and to the street. There is no way this can happen without running through some significant part of the gardens. We are not thrilled but realize there is no choice.

  2. 2
    cbear says:

    @raven: Sounds like a shitty deal. all around. :)

  3. 3
    raven says:

    @cbear: Combined with a certain medical procedure I have scheduled for next month it more surely is!

  4. 4
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Good morning.

    I lived in NE Ohio for almost four decades and became used to starting a garden on Memorial Day. Now, in Philly, I have tomatoes and peppers growing, baby cucumbers and baby beans chugging along, and infant lettuce entering the sunlight. Onions are doing well and garlic apparently loves being in the ground.

    All of this and it’s only the Memorial weekend. Amazing.

    I am a bit jealous of Anne’s tomato collection, though. Maybe next year?

  5. 5
    cbear says:

    Aw crap, sorry to hear it, Raven

  6. 6
    eric nny says:

    It’s going down to 34 tonight. On Memorial Day weekend. FFS.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @raven: Hopefully, you will enjoy the new addition.

  8. 8
    Linda Featheringill says:

    A bit off topic. File under Maybe There Is Hope After All:

    Using printer technology to produce 10 meters of solar panels per minute. These are organic cells, not as efficient as their inorganic cousins or as tough, but quite functional.


  9. 9

    Here in South Florida, my hibiscus are in bloom — they always are, it seems — and the yard is strewn hither and yon with peacock tail feathers. Must be moulting season for them.

    Waiting to see if my vanda orchid will put out some blooms. I have a couple of buds that look hopeful.

  10. 10
    c u n d gulag says:

    My parents used to love to garden.

    We moved from NY City to Upstate NY on the weekend of the 4th of July, 1969.
    My parents loved having some space, instead of the room-sized back yard we had in Queens.
    I did the digging every year, my Mom planted and took care of the flower beds and roses, and my Dad, the garden veggies.
    We had a lot of beautiful flowers, and tons of veggies, every year.
    Then, I moved to NC in early 2000, and in those years while I lived down there, they grew old. The gardening was replaced by pots of flowers, tomato’s, and cucumbers on the porch.

    By the time I moved back 4 years ago, the “gardening” they used to do, had been replaced by the two of them fighting a losing battle to keep the green barbarians from overtaking the house. The welcomed me back, glad to add another soldier to their fight.
    My Dad passed away last year, my Mom’s another year older, at 81, nearly blind, diabetic, and crippled.
    So now, it’s 55 year-old, (also) crippled me alone, fighting an ever-losing battle – alone.

    “Gardening,” is now done, purely to defend The Home(land).

    This “aging” stuff, is vastly over-rated. :-(

  11. 11
    raven says:

    @JPL: Well, it’s going to be a long delay but we don’t think we could have gotten any better resolution. I’m a little worried about our builder. His email response to me was less than enthusiastic. He wants to know if we contacted a lawyer and how long the delay will be. I can find no one who thinks suing the city is a good idea and the idea that we could do that and get the sewer rerouted sooner is folly. Hopefully he will have chilled over the weekend, he is the one who did not identify the sewer as he should have.

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I also moved from NYC on Fourth of July weekend 1969, but went the opposite direction — to Tampa, Florida. We drove and took our sweet time, with several scenic detours, but got to our new home in time to buy a Brand! New! Big! Color! TV! so we could follow every minute of the Apollo 11 mission, from liftoff to moon landing to splashdown.

  13. 13
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Gardening this weekend will be primarily repair rather than development. We need to re-seed the lawn in the hell strip between the sidewalk and the curb. It gets full south sun and burns out readily. The grass is in bad shape and looks shabby. We’ll top-dress it with 1/4″ of fortified topsoil and rake in a seed/mulch mixture. Then it needs to stay damp until the baby grass is established.

    I should also drag a bunch of the encroaching ivy out of the prickly pear cactus. I dread this job because no matter what protective measures you take the cactus will get you. It’s like glass splinters that you can’t get out of your skin. A giant blooming cactus outdoors in Detroit is a novelty but lately I wish I’d planted something a little less dangerous.

  14. 14
    JPL says:

    The weather has been so odd this year, I’m behind on weeding and mulching. For Mother’s Day the sons helped me build some raised garden beds. I have one box with sweet potatoes and the others have a mixture of beans, tomatoes, peppers, chard and squash. So far, so good. As soon as the plants get a little higher, I’ll send Anne
    a picture. American Grown by Michelle Obama is my guide. It’s a beautiful book with the proceeds going to the National Parks, for anyone looking for a special gift.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @raven: My son purchased a house in Sandy Springs before it became a city. Since he needs to have trees removed in his back yard, he has been researching the regulations. What he discovered is that most of his lot needs to be natural vegetation because a creek runs through it and forget about putting on an addition. He was shocked because the area votes for republicans but they do love their regulations. My advice was to paint the outside of the house and move because you can’t fight city hall.

  16. 16
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    A tip on garden hose management: if you store your hoses flat on the ground, don’t coil them up, lay them in a figure-8. Coiling introduces a 180 degree twist with every turn. If you try to pull the hose without untwisting, the twists become loops, then kinks. It’s frustrating. If you lay the hose in a figure-8 the 180 degree twists are canceled out by reversing direction. The hose remains topologically equivalent to one laid out straight. Then you can pull the hose and no loops appear to tangle up and kink.
    Garden hoses annoyed me for the longest time until I sat down and thought about the topology of the thing.
    Same deal with heavy duty electrical extension cords and ropes.

  17. 17
    Longtime reader and gardener says:

    Salpiglossis sinuata.

  18. 18
    Longtime reader and gardener says:

    Salpiglossis sinuata

  19. 19
    PurpleGirl says:

    The first full year I lived here in Woodside I tried to have flower pots on the terrace. I’m on the 17th floor and the terrace faces south/southwest. Full sun and relatively high up and everything I tried burned and dried out quickly.

    I wonder if the unknown flowers are lilies, especially the the dark ones. I know some lilies come in those colors.

  20. 20
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Unless you live where the winter temps still get to 10 degrees above 0 F. Then you coil your hoses and bring them into the garage for winter storage in a giant stack, or you lose them due to damage from freezing.

    Last frost in Indiana averages the 15th. We planted almost two weeks early. Had to cover plants one night to protect from possible spotty frost.

    We have 20 tomatoes planted on first pass, a couple now three feet high. And yesterday, I could not resist squeezing in three more in the garden and a japanese variety on deck in a pot.

    And three days ago we picked the first bowl of strawberries, and more must be picked today, probably three times as many, as they are starting to all get ripe.

    Last night I made a pot of one of our favorite soups that constitute a meal, based on a Portuguese style soup.

    one pound sweet bulk Italian sausage, browned in pot with large chopped onion
    add about six cups water, and while it comes to a boil add:
    two good size sweet potatoes chopped and diced into small pieced
    four carrots chopped
    two parsnips diced
    two turnips diced
    three stalks of celery chopped
    a bunch of fresh mustard greens from garden chopped
    half dozen large kale leaves from garden chopped
    some parsley and rosemary, dried, crushed into the pot
    after bringing to full boil for a minute or two, lower to simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

    We call it our root soup, and make multiple variations. Hearty, delicious, and good for you on top of it.

    Good with toast, but even better if we make up an iron skillet of southern style non-sweetened cornbread to go with it.

  21. 21
    Longtime reader and gardener says:

    For some reason my prior responses are sitting in moderation. Perhaps because I’ve not commented before?

    In any case, they are Salpiglossis sinuata.

    ETA by Soonergrunt: you are correct, sir/ma’am. You are cleared now.

  22. 22
    Raven says:

    @JPL: As we have gotten further into this we realize that the entire block is connected to this line, it is the main sewer. As much as we dislike the delay we understand that we cannot jeprodize our neighbors. Here’s the major silver lining, had the builder done the proper job and had the line identified, we would most likely have not been able to build at all. We’s makin lemonade.

  23. 23
    Raven says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: any advice on long extension cords?

  24. 24
    the lost puppy says:

    The flower in the center is gorgeous, have no idea what it is.

    I saw something extraordinary last week. A hearing about overseas tax breaks for huge corps, using Apple as an example.

    In that hearing, John McCain behaved like a perfectly sane, nice, bi-partisan guy. He even smacked down Rand Paul for his garment-rending over “villification” of Apple and how this body owes poor little helpless Apple an apology; and his implications that ranking member Carl Levin was a thug, McCain came to Levin’s defense, lauding him as an honorable and fair man all the years he has known him. And shaming Paul for his behavior.

    I’m not sure the old man is completely insane. He can turn that shit off when he wants to, when the Tea Party is not watching, maybe? I’m not seeing this kind of behavior from other Republican senators these days so it was really something to see, especially coming from the man who yelled at clouds.

    And how can you not love a man with a combover like Levin’s? With a large piece of hair just sticking out the back of his head throughout the hearing. How can you not love that?

  25. 25
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:


    It gets well below freezing here in Detroit and I don’t have room indoors for hoses so they stay outside. In the fall I drain them, disconnect them and take the spray heads off. Then I turn the hose faucets off at the valves in the basement and open the taps outdoors. That prevents any freeze damage.

    Temps here got up to the high 80s last week. Since then we’ve had several mornings with frost on the roof. I think the max/min temps for a 30 hour period were something like 88/32. That’s typical for Michigan. And it gives us something to complain about.

  26. 26
    A Humble Lurker says:

    This is an open thread and this is driving me nuts so I have to ask: has anyone else ever had apostrophe’s, along with Japanese symbols turn into black diamonds with question marks in them? Now whatever I read I’ll occasionally run into those damn things and a few JPN sites I liked to frequent are totally uninteractable. And it’s NOT an encoding issue; I’ve tried switching those around to no avail. Help?

  27. 27
    gelfling545 says:

    I didn’t do any mail orders of plants this year and the local garden centers, usually amazingly abundant, have a pitiful selection this year. My goal is to get all my pots planted today but they will be fairly dull as I have had to cross a few of the plants I hoped to use off my list entirely. Also, nobody has Juliet tomatoes of cayenne pepper plants – 2 of my mainstays, although vegetables will be planted only in pots this year I still want a few, so I have no tomato or pepper plants yet.

  28. 28
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:


    any advice on long extension cords?

    I’m assuming you’re serious. This is kind of a thing with me because I’m a field service tech and have to pack/haul/unpack my gear all the time.

    lay a long cord out straight and carefully get all of the twists out of it. Twists become loops become kinks become breaks. Coil it up figure-8 style, which introduces no net twists in it. Then when you pay it out off the figure-8 coil it will not tangle.

  29. 29
    c u n d gulag says:

    My Mom and I stayed up late, and we watched the moon landing on our 19 inch B&W TV (or, was it a massive 21 inch? I forget – but it was tiny by today’s standards).

    On CBS, of course – through the magic of Cable TV – which Queens didn’t get until 1986. And I know, because I was the Trainer at one of the 2 cable companies that launched the service there. In separate areas, of course – FSM forfend each company NOT having a total monopoly.

    Funny story – right after we launched, we had so few customers, our CSR’s were actually calling customers, asking how they liked the service?
    “Did they have any questions?”
    “Was there something we could be doing to make you happier?”
    “What? Stop calling and bothering you?”

    Ok, no problem.
    Because soon, we started to get swamped with calls as more and more customers took our service, and we were off to the races…

    But for those few weeks, that was probably THE WORLD’S BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE, EVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

  30. 30
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I worked for OnStar as a BA in 2000-2001. The service was 4 years old at that time. At rollout it was an expensive novelty and for a while had only a dozen or so customers. The call center Advisors basically sat there and waited for one of them to push the button.

  31. 31
    Munira says:

    Here in Quebec, we’ve had 3 days and nights of steady rain with a few hours of wet snow yesterday. I have some tomatoes in the garden, most of which are amazingly still standing. More tomatoes, squash, peppers, etc. in the solarium waiting to go out if spring ever returns. The peas, greens, cabbage and broccoli look happy, but I’ve been complaining a lot. Right now I have a fire going and this is the end of May!!

  32. 32
    c u n d gulag says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:
    Yeah, back then, when we called our customers, at least we knew that they wouldn’t crash into a bridge abutment, or tree! ;-)

  33. 33
    PurpleGirl says:

    @c u n d gulag: You know that the reason Queens (and Brooklyn) didn’t get cable until 25 years after Manhattan was the political fighting over the franchise and who would wire Manhattan north of 96th Street. In those 25 years, companies were formed, merged, reformed and round after round of proposals went to the City.

    By the time, Queens got wired we got over 100 channels. Manhattan had to wait for an upgrade for more channels. I had friends in Westchester (Peekskill, specifically) who still only had 30-odd channels to my 120 channels from Time-Warner.

  34. 34
    scav says:

    Co-opted into massive weeding and mulching project, may get to down a few (smallish) trees today if i’m lucky. Not my garden — ‘spose I only mention it to suggest the idea of kidnapped labor (wine nevertheless provided, plus bbq) to those in need of help. Massively good year for weeds here (uncovered a volunteer Solomon’s Seal though, huzzah!)

  35. 35
    c u n d gulag says:

    Oh, I was there in NY City during that time, so I remember that very well. I worked at Manhattan Cable TV, as both a Trainer, and salesman.
    And then, I left in late ’84 when I met this rich guy (@$$HOLE!!!) who was trying to get apartment complexes in the boroughs to allow us to put (which we paid for) large satellite dishes on their property, and then, we’d come in, cable that complex, and provide 15-30 channels. So I left MCTV, and ran the company for him.

    We were doing all right. I helped grow the company from about 300 customers, to around 2,000.

    And then the boroughs finally started to get cable (after decades of corruption and bribery), and I saw that the business model he had was now finished, so I left to work as a Trainer for the Time (this was before the merger with Warner) affiliate, in Queens.

  36. 36
    Face says:

    @eric nny: 85 and sunny here. Just thought I’d rub it in a little.

  37. 37
    Poopyman says:

    Since this is a garden thread, I hope someone can tell me what the little black bugs that look like poppy seeds are that are on the eggplant leaves and slowly killing the plants. They get blown off by the hose pretty easily but they come right back.

  38. 38
    Maude says:

    @Longtime reader and gardener:
    It’s prolly that or a lily. There are a lot of hybrids.

    Had to bring in the hanging basket the other day because the winds would have battered it. It’s on the second story. It goes out today.

  39. 39
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    Definitely CBS. The only reason we were able to get a big-ass TV (it was a console type, huge piece of furniture) is that my ex-husband worked for a subsidiary of GT&E, which made Sylvania products, so DISCOUNT! (We also had a supply of light bulbs that you wouldn’t believe. I snagged a bunch of them in the divorce, and they lasted me through four domiciles over a nine-year period.)

    Today I am having lunch with the woman my husband took up with after he and I split :-) She’s been a good friend for many years (as, indeed, was my ex until his death). Her now-husband has grown kids living here, so I get to see her when they visit.

    I don’t have a garden but always love looking at photos of other people’s flowers and veg.

  40. 40
    c u n d gulag says:

    It’s great you two get along.
    My old girlfriend, who left me and married someone else, is my best friend, and I’m Godfather to their oldest son. Her husband also become a great friend, and I was an usher at their wedding.
    Either one of us could have been jerks at that point – especially me. But, we liked each other as friends too much to do that, so we stayed close. We’re kind of having a little spat right now, but I’m sure we’ll be fine in a few more weeks.

    And we didn’t get a color TV until the mid-70’s, when the Priest at our Russian Orthodox Church had one he’d repaired (that was what he did for a living), and sold it to us for cost, when the owner didn’t want to pay for the bill. That set lasted a pretty long while.

    We’ve never had a HDTV. And frankly, since all I watch is some sports, some MSNBC, and Colbert and Stewart, I don’t see the need for one.
    Ok, maybe for the sports…

  41. 41
    jnfr says:


    Probably flea beetles. If you search on “flea beetle control” you might get some ideas that help, but they really are a scourge.

    We’re still working to crush the grass and weeds that grew a couple feet over the last six weeks while we had constant rain and snow and couldn’t work in the yard.

    But my tomatoes are blooming!

    Love the Salpiglossis, both bright and dark. I envy those California gardens, even though I don’t want to live there.

  42. 42
    Honus says:

    @raven: it sounds like you did get the best, and probably the fastest resolution. And I say this having either built things or been a lawyer for people who build things for 40 years.
    Criticism of the city seems to be almost unanimous on this topic, but realistically, they could hardly have anticipated where you would put your addition or your gardens 50 or 75 years ago when they installed the sewer line. (And yes, they failed to locate it during permitting, but the designer of your addition could have located the line fairly easily by noting the exit point from your house and extrapolating to the main) You can’t build over a sewer line for obvious reasons; imagine how upset you would be if you did and then the line required work in a few years, requiring demolition of your addition instead of digging up some of your garden. So the only solution is to stop the project until a solution can be found, which apparently has happened in less than a week. Any lawsuit would have taken at least six months, cost thousands, and the outcome would have been far from certain. So I think, all in all, you got a pretty good outcome to the problem of nobody knowing where something was that was buried decades ago. This is not an uncommon occurrence, and is why the worlds largest purchaser of construction services (the US Government) requires “FAR 52.236-2 — Differing Site Conditions” to be included in every construction contract. One of my early mentors said every construction lawyer should have it tattooed on the inside of their right hand.

  43. 43

    @the lost puppy:

    And how can you not love a man with a combover like Levin’s? With a large piece of hair just sticking out the back of his head throughout the hearing. How can you not love that?

    Was once taking notes on a white board at a mtg on stem cell research where Carl Levin was participating. He corrected my spelling. I have never recovered.

  44. 44
    tybee says:

    Raven, how did the fish head skeleton turn out?

  45. 45
    rikyrah says:

    your pics are always so beautiful on Sunday mornings

  46. 46
    mai naem says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: I had a friend whose elderly mom lived in a rural area and refused to move intown so they bought her a caddie with Onstar. She used it twice. Once, apparently, in a pretty bad accident.

    @c u n d gulag: I have HD and don’t want it. I don’t want to see the skin pores on somebody’s face. Ugh.

  47. 47
    Stella B. says:

    @Poopyman: yep, flea beetles. Grab a handful of ash out of your BBQ grill and sprinkle the plants thoroughly. Keep them covered with ashes until the hot weather sets in and the plants are big. Floating row covers will work too, but you have to start them before the infestation. Everything likes to eat young eggplant leaves.

    Agree with the salpiglossis, too.

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: I sure am. thanks

  49. 49
  50. 50
    BD of MN says:

    Yesterday we bought a dozen tomato and pepper plants, then went and picked up about $300 worth of cedar lumber and assorted stuff for a second raised garden bed. I got it about half built yesterday, another hour of labor and then it’s off to buy a yard of black dirt… Hopefully later on today the plants will be ensconced in new fresh dirt and protected from the hordes of squirrels who normally do them much damage…

  51. 51
    raven says:

    @Honus: Thanks for the reinforcement.

  52. 52
    Poopyman says:

    @jnfr: @Stella B.: Yep! That’s what they are. Thanks you two. And thanks for the tip on using ash, Stella. There’s lots of that here.

  53. 53
    SteveinSC says:


  54. 54
    quannlace says:

    Drizzle? Here in NJ it’s been almost four days of heavy rain and near 40 degree temps. Today’s the first time I’ve seen the sun since Tuesday.

  55. 55
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Bah. I just went down stairs and finished a circuit prototype for a magazine article project. I’s a crowded little mess of wires and parts. And it doesn’t work. Now I get to debug this thing. If I’m lucky it won’t take more than all day. If I’m unlucky, the design is wrong and I’ll have to start over.

  56. 56
    Violet says:

    I’m harvesting tomatoes like crazy. The stinkbugs have shown up so it won’t be long before I don’t have any tomatoes left. Hopefully green beans, cucumbers and then cantaloupe will start to fill the void.

    @Poopyman: For pest management, make sure your soil is in very good condition. High quality organic compost plus organic all-around fertilizer can really help. Plant additional things that attract flea beetle predators so they’ll eat your flea beetles. Here’s a rundown of things you can try: http://ediblesanmarcos.wordpre.....ea-beetle/.

  57. 57
    WaterGIrl says:

    I’m looking for some bunny advice here.

    A couple of weeks ago I planted 8 lamium plants as ground cover around my desk, and the “expletive deleted” bunnies ate them all down to the nubs within just a few days. Is there anything I can do? Since it’s just 8 plants around the entire deck, it’s not an area that I can fence.

    Oh, and I should say that it’s a slightly raised deck, and I see at least one baby bunny as he heads under the deck, which is where I think he lives. So he can get to the plants from underneath the deck. The only lamium he hasn’t eaten is the big one I planted 3 years ago, which is where his entrance to his “home” under the deck is. So they are smart enough not to eat that one!

    It’s kind of like I need a “new plant hat” that I could put over each individual plant, that would let the sun and rain in but keep the bunny out. I don’t think that exists, though.

  58. 58
    WaterGIrl says:

    @Violet: Violet, every week I wonder where you live since you are already harvesting tomatoes.

    Edit: this is my first year planting vegetables (raised bed). What is a good organic fertilizer?

  59. 59
    Violet says:

    @WaterGIrl: South Texas. We plant tomatoes in February and are done by June. The summer does have some production–blackberries and cantaloupe, long beans. Maybe a few other things if you like them, like black eyed peas.

    We have two tomato seasons, although fall is a little more of a challenge. You get the tomatoes in by early August and protect the hell out of them (sunshades, watering twice a day) until they’re established and then just hope they grow enough that they produce before the days get too short in November. I’ve harvested cherry tomatoes all the way until January.

    Our winter stuff is done. I’m pulling out snow peas (would have done it earlier, but we had a freak cool spell two or three weeks ago that gave us another small harvest), all brassicas (normally would have done that earlier, but spring was cold) , and most of my tomatoes are diseased and dying. Won’t get too much out of them, but meanwhile I’m giving them away.

  60. 60
    Violet says:

    @WaterGIrl: Replying to your edit: I use an organic fertilizer made near me. I also use organic compost made near me if I don’t have enough of my own home made. I’m not sure where you live, but probably the stuff I use isn’t available where you are since you remarked on how early I’m harvesting.

    My recommendation would be to go to one or more of your local garden centers or feed stores and ask them what their best organic compost and fertilizer is. Also do a little googling around to see if there are any organic vegetable growing groups in your area that might have a website with recommendations. Do not waste your time at a big box store–it’s unlikely they’ll carry what you want. The local garden centers will be more likely to have knowledgeable people who can help you find what you want.

    Once you know what you like, shop around. My favorite garden center carries the compost and fertilizer I like, but their prices are much higher than the locally-owned feed store down the road. Since they’re both locally owned and great places, I don’t feel bad buying it from the place that charges less.

  61. 61
    atlliberal says:

    @gelfling545: I bought cayenne pepper plants at home depot two weeks ago.

  62. 62
    WaterGIrl says:

    @Violet: Thanks for all the good advice! I am in Illinois.

    Wow, planting tomatoes in february. Amazing.

    I will be out of town the next 3 weekends or I would ask my favorite organic guy at the farmer’s market. But I’ll bet I can just ask someone at the counter at the food coop here, maybe someone at the store will have some local information for me.

  63. 63
    Nicole says:

    Started some heat and drought-resistant flowers from seeds, with the hopes of moving them to the roof of our apartment building, if the building manager gives me the okay. Probably too late in the season, but the toddler had a lot of fun helping me plant the seeds and I figured he should get some fun out of the experiment. The bachelor’s buttons were supposed to sprout in 7-10 days and the African Daisies in 10-14, but they sprouted in 3 days, so I think they’re both aware I’m late and are frantic to get a move on. ;)

  64. 64
    Steeplejack (tablet) says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    Maybe try using those “don’t cut your fingers in the kitchen” gloves? They’re like Kevlar or chain mail.

  65. 65
    bemused says:

    The perennials are just waking up from a long winter hibernation here. It was 35 deg last night so no planting of annuals or much else quite yet. otoh, the sight of six inch hight cold hardy garlic, 3 varieties, made me very happy.

  66. 66
    MomSense says:

    Day 7 of rain here and I’m considering building an ark.

    It is way too muddy everywhere so I have no idea what is happening in my garden.

    On the indoor plant front however I have a crazy phalaenopsis that I bought on sale for 2.99 because one of the stems was broken. I fixed the stem and it bloomed beautifully and then it started growing new stems and now I am on the fifth set of blooms on this one little plant. I just noticed this morning that it has grown another new stem which is now forming buds.

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Not sure you’ll see this, but please consider putting down 1/4 to 1/2″ of the best organic compost you can find on that bit of lawn that you are re-seeding. Soil quality of lawns is often terrible due to weed-n-feed treatments and nutrient leeching from using city water. Given the location that you’re describing, the soil quality might be worse than the rest of the lawn.

    Putting down organic compost improves the soil quality by adding humus, which increases the water-retaining ability of the soil, increasing the microbial activity of the soil, and attracting earthworms, which provide natural aeration.

    I put down organic compost in March (when our grass begins to break dormancy) and it’s amazing how much greener and healthier my lawn is than my neighbor’s. An advantage of healthier soil and grass is that the roots are deeper and you don’t need to water as often. Plus, an organic lawn is healthier for pets and people.

  68. 68
    Tbone says:

    My hops are growing a good 3 inches per day, but they still have some work to do before they start setting cones. Hopefully by the end of June they’ve hit the top of my 16′ trellis. I do the math every day – “if they grow 3 inches per day, that’s about 2 feet per week….that’s 8 feet a month” to reassure myself they’re growing enough. My wet hop ale I make in the fall won’t be the same without them!

    Going to harvest my first lettuce tomorrow for a BBQ, tomatoes are blooming, sunflowers are up, now it’s a matter of keeping the bad pests and diseases away.

  69. 69
    opie_jeanne says:

    Bought a 10X12 greenhouse kit from Harbor Freight in April and it sat in the garage for a couple of weeks. I had visions of it never being put up because of weather or family demands or laziness, but in early May we started digging out the area for the foundation, and finished it on the 14th, just in time for a windstorm to rip off the vent panels; I mean, this was within an hour of hanging one of the two doors. When the weather calmed down we discovered that there was no actual damage and we reassembled the parts that were blown off and reinforced them.

    Yesterday we potted up three large tomatoes and two small peppers that will live in the greenhouse, and we think they’ll be very happy because when it’s 60 outside it’s pushing 80 inside.
    Today we are building the potting bench so we can start seedlings with a little more success than we have had doing it outside in Seattle weather.

    We need to add electricity for a small heater, because I’d love to have a Meyer lemon in a big pot but we are pretty sure it wouldn’t survive the winters here without a heated greenhouse.

  70. 70
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @raven: Is it possible he’s trying to find out if you’re thinking about suing him for messing up the permitting?

  71. 71
    gelfling545 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Today we are celebrating my eldest granddaughter’s birthday. Both my daughters married young & both divorced soon after, daughter 1 with the kid whose bday it is, daughter 2 without offspring. Daughter 1 has not remarried, daughter 2 has & has 2 kids now. At today’s party we will be seeing ex husband of daughter 1 with his SO & his Mom and ex of daughter 2 with his Mom & Dad. He is between SO’s now or that person would be welcome as well.Everybody has been able to acknowledge that they were just kids who couldn’t get their sh*t together at that time so there’s no sense blaming anybody or avoiding perfectly nice people because of it. People outside the family tend to find this strange but it suits us as none of us has ever been that good at grudge holding. Oh, the party is at the home of daughter 1’s SO, just to add a little variety.

  72. 72
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @A Humble Lurker: Have you tried reinstalling the Japanese font?

  73. 73
    raven says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: You know, I just was driving down the street coming from the parts store and I saw him, his wife (who is involved with his business). She came over to the truck and told me how sorry she was and how she was sick about it. I said I felt at least there was hope and she said the city’s response was “pretty nebulous” and to stay on them. He did not even make eye contact with me. I don’t know what to think, maybe because it’s Sunday he just didn’t want to get into it at all.

  74. 74
    gelfling545 says:

    @atlliberal: Thanks. I will try there. I am usually able to get my plants at a very fine nursery near me that grows it’s own plants (located in what used to be called Gardenville until it was annexed into a larger town; it was home to many small growers)This year things aren’t looking so good.

  75. 75
    rdldot says:

    @the lost puppy: McCain is a weird guy, but my impression is that once you get on his bad side he goes after you relentlessly. That’s what happened with him and Obama. He especially doesn’t like the young guys coming in to the Senate acting like they run the place. It’s he and the older veterans (Senate) that are supposed to run the place – you are supposed to wait your turn.

  76. 76
    rdldot says:

    @Face: Yeah. 85 and sunny here, too. But when it comes with 65 percent humidity it’s nothing to brag about.

  77. 77
    rdldot says:

    @Violet: wow. I thought you were in Houston. Which part of South Texas?

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    Stella B. says:

    @WaterGIrl: Really they just need nitrogen. Most soils have adequate phosphorus and potassium, but nitrogen is volatile. “Dr. Earth” or something like that is fine. You can also use alfalfa meal or cottonseed meal from a feed store. Although the fertilizer manufacturers want to sell you a different product for each type of plant, that’s just hype. There’s no science behind it. A 3-1-2 ratio will work for everything. If soil temperatures are low, the organics won’t be broken down fast enough to provide adequate nitrogen, so if you aren’t opposed to the practice and want early tomatoes, a dose or two of evil Miracle Grow at planting time will juice ’em. It’s not essential, but a couple of doses also won’t turn your soil into a salty, sterile wasteland. I’m a mostly organic gardener, myself, but tomato yields are definitely better when I get plenty of vegetative growth before they start setting fruit. I also dump my kitchen waste into small holes that I dig between the plants and cheerfully layer “unfinished” compost wherever I can with no respect for the rules and it all works quite well despite the dire warnings.

  79. 79
    Marvel says:

    Yesterday we borrowed a friend’s little gas-powered cultivator and for the first time, tilled a ~15′ x 25′ open space (lovingly, “Area 51”) that we’ve spent the last four years rehabilitating. It’s a spot where, upon move-in, we found only redwood trees/roots and TONS of Willamette Valley clay. After taking out the trees, we’ve mulched & weeded and cover-cropped & weeded and composted & weeded and cover cropped/mulched/weeded (etc., etc., ETC.) and WE’VE FINALLY STRUCK SOIL!!!

    I’m planting one last cover crop on this beautiful dirt (aside from a small corner where I’ll let my Winter squash spread out), then next year it’ll be wheat or quinoa.

  80. 80
    Steeplejack says:


    Could it be that he blocked out time for this job and was really counting on the money coming in, and now he’s sort of in limbo?

    Although I think you said he is a popular, go-to contractor, so he should be able to pick up other jobs.

    My other thought is that I have known some guys who can’t admit when they make a mistake, to the point that they would (in your guy’s situation) pursue the city even if only to avoid looking at their own responsibility.

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    satby says:

    @WaterGIrl: there are little plant hats you can use to cover vulnerable plants. Look at the “Gardens Alive” website… sorry no linking on my droid.

  82. 82
    tybee says:

    @Steeplejack (tablet):

    those type of gloves are great for keeping you from slicing off your fingers – they’ve saved my drunken hands several times while fileting fish – but they are not good at preventing punctures…

  83. 83
    tybee says:


    looks pretty cool. those bony plates in their throat can crush crabs along with errant fingers. :)

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    BethanyAnne says:

    I got tomatoes! I had 2 this week, and picked 4 this weekend to eat today. It’s working! /happy

  85. 85
    WaterGIrl says:

    @satby: Thanks for the tip.

    Found the website, but nothing came up in my searching or poking around. Tried plant hat, plant cover, looked under pest control, etc. I may phone them on monday. It’s like anything else, if you don’t find the magic word to search on, you’re out of luck.

  86. 86
    WaterGIrl says:


    My other thought is that I have known some guys who can’t admit when they make a mistake…

    Ding, ding, ding.

    Even my mom’s doctor did the same thing when her cancer of the mouth came back and he diagnosed it as tonsillitis or some stupid thing. By the time they figured it out it was too late, and he couldn’t even look at her in the months when she was dying. He knew he screwed up, he knew it was costing my mom her life, but he couldn’t look at her and couldn’t admit he’d fucked up.

    Some people are just like that, and it sounds like your guy is one of them. Glad his wife spoke up; my guess is that he never will.

    Edit: also agree with steeplejack’s other thought. This may be a bit of “sleight of hand”. Pay no attention to what I did wrong, hey look over there at those guys!

  87. 87
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Longtime reader and gardener: Thank you!

    I love that we have so many experts on so many topics here — I can always count on you guys to have answers when I need them.

  88. 88
    keestadoll says:

    I was really hoping to hear from some Juicers that might have gone to a March on Monsanto in their corner of the country yesterday. Anyone?

  89. 89
    eric nny says:

    @Face: thanks face. Go bet yers…;)

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