Thursday, January 31, 2008

Birds are becoming active

Leaving the house yesterday, I saw a downy woodpecker on the suet feeder, not an unusual sight for winter, but I'm starting to see and hear birds that remind me that spring is on the way. The cheery call of a Carolina wren greeted me this morning, and later, I surprised a female bluebird near the big oak tree in front.

She's the first bluebird I've seen in our garden, although we have many breeding pairs in the botanical garden's meadows. I think we'll try moving the bluebird house on the old Pawlonia to a more attractive spot!

Poking around in the leaf litter in the perennial beds, shoots of spring bulbs are well up, and fresh rosette growth is starting to appear. Hooray!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Planning to plant

Seed catalogs are a great source of inspiration, especially in the grey days of winter. Here in the South, we often have mild days punctuated by colder weather, so we have plenty of opportunities to spend time outside evaluating new projects and doing prep for late winter and spring planting.

Perusing the stack of seed catalogs, making orders, and considering planting plans are evening and cold day activities, and being someone who loves to buy seeds -- this is a wonderful antidote to cold, dark days inside.

Some of the things I enjoy ordering are beautiful lettuces, unusual squashes, purple pole beans, small striped eggplants, specialty sweet peppers, edible flowers, potato sets in rainbow hues, teeny round carrots, yard-long beans ...

Some of my favorite vegetable and seed catalogs are:

The Cook's Garden
Johnny's Seeds
Nichols Garden Nursery
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Park Seed
Seeds of Change
Territorial Seed Company
Abundant Life Seed Co
Reneeā€™s Garden

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Friday, January 11, 2008

A Winter Garden

Returning home after 4 weeks in South India's hot climate (at least in the lowlands) found frost effects on plants in our garden. The garden sage leaves are droopy, the radicchio has been zapped, but the winter salad mix is thriving in one of the flats. The Tuscan kale looks good, as do the ornamental kales. One of the types that I snagged at a local big box store (all I could find at the time) with the pale green leaves and white center is not so pleasing --but the rosy pink ones are OK. The violas look great, lovely blue and purple flowers that brighten the landscape.

The saved mail has lots of seed and plant catalogs to peruse; the first order of business is to get fresh seeds for late winter plantings of greens, broccolini, mache, and lettuce, as well as ordering seed potatoes and onion sets. The garlic is hopefully enjoying the bit of winter rain that we've had; the drought is still with us, but perhaps we'll have enough rain to recharge the top layers of soil for planting and give trees and shrubs a welcome respite from the drought of summer and fall.

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