Thursday, January 10, 2013

A New Year

My first blog of January 2012 had me gardening in a tank top. In retrospect it was a sign of what was to come. 2012 was officially the warmest year in U.S. recorded history with the average annual temperature being 55.3 F, an entire degree warmer than the previous record set in 1998. It also had the 2nd highest number (to 1998) of disasters (11) including storms, wildfires and drought. I'm hoping, after seeing a 2 inch snowfall stick around for an entire week, albeit it's raining and 55 F today, that we are in for cooler and wetter season this year. If not, we will have to adapt. Gardeners always do.

Gardening officially began yesterday with the testing of my new loppers and cleaning up the Wild Plums and other brush along the bed near the driveway. They are fabulous. I don't know what took me so long to get a pair! Today gardening began with seed propagation and receiving my first seed order of the year.

First Seed Order of the Year: Baker's Creek
Summer items: Old Timer Speckled Cowpeas, Mexican Sour Gherkin, Luffa Gourd, peppers: Corbaci, Criolla De Cocina & Friariello Di Napoli, Lemon Squash, Upper Ground Sweet Potato (winter squash), Tomatoes: Dr Wyche's, Bali, Black Plum, Japanese Black Trifele, Purple Russian, Bonny Best & Ivory Egg,

Spring seeds: Red Wonder & White Soul Alpine Strawberries, Chinese Kale (green leaf gailan), Wild Rocket, Forage Kale Proteor (for the chickens), Russian Red Kale, Tronchuda Cabbage, lettuces: bronze beauty, cimmaron, lolla rossa, outredgeous & rouge genobloise, Boule D-or Yellow Turnip,

Flowers & herbs: Genovese basil, Lemon Bee Balm, Elephant Dill, Florence Fennel, Blackberry Trifle Balsam, Browalia Blue Lady, Gibsonii Castor Bean, Flying Saucers Morning Glory, Old Homestead Petunia, Lemon Queen Sunflower, Bright Jewels Zinnia

Mixed Columbine collected from last year- sprinkled in bed at driveway
Alpine Strawberries- planted in 4in pots, placed in tray and covered with a rubbermaid lid for stratification
Peppers: Fish Chili, Red Marconi, Serrano, Carbachi, Arbol (seed from Holly), Criolla de Cocina, Friariello di Napoli, Wild Hydrangea (seed from 2011), Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant

Witch Hazel- and it smells terrific

Kiddo and I started Project Feederwatch, a citizen science project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, about 6 weeks ago. We count the number of each species of bird that comes to our feeders and document weather data to go with it. I've learned that it is likely the same individuals of most species always returning on a daily basis to the feeders. I consistently have the same number of birds, such as chickadees, downies, titmice, brown creeper, goldfinches and nuthatches so chances are they are the same individuals. What I already knew from previous observations was that when there is snow cover I have a lot more birds and a greater diversity. We will continue the project until it ends in April. I've very much enjoyed watching them and contributing to science on a nationwide scale.

This project has motivated me to look into others at different times of the year. I tried to get into the Frog Watch program once. I may have to look into that one again (not sure it still exists). Others I would like to do this year include: The Great Sunflower Project where you plant Lemon Queen Sunflowers and document the bees and other pollinators that they attract and Yard Map, another Cornell project, where you map out your yard and relate it to what wildlife it attracts.

The various daffodils are in stages of arrival. Thin-leaved ones seem to appear earlier. Some of the thicker leaved ones are starting to pop up. I see leaves of the first white hyacinth along the south side of the house and the Hellebore has a second set of leaves arising. Only 1 of the 3 hellebores made it through the drought last year. I would like to plant a few more of these as they are one of the few winter bloomers. The chard is still producing. It was frozen for a week. Even the frosted bits are edible. We had a yummy meal of caramelized onions over greens on a cheesy grits bed last night. Very satisfying.

New leaf on Hellebore

First White Hyacinths pushing up, Heuchera

Garden in disarray 

Thin leaved Daffs up

Peppers & Eggplant- on heating pad, trays, semi-lidded

Wild Hydrangea- 2011 seed. Will it germinate?

I show these sad photos only as examples of how pathetic overwintered plants can become, yet still turn into healthy and robust summer plants.
Cuttings still hanging on

Looking sad- cannas, mandevilla vine

Begonia, coleus, elephant ears- midwinter blahs

Here's to hoping 2013 doesn't break any records. Just wishing for boring and average normalcy.