Saturday, February 1, 2020

When is Imbolc Not Imbolc

Photo by Christopher Rodgers on Unsplash



No, no, this is not Yet Another Post about how I'm so sorry I forgot this and I promise I'll do better. I think we both know that's not happening.

Instead I shall just plow straight through as if I've been diligently updating all along.

Today (or tomorrow) is the cross-quarter day of Imbolc. It's not linked to any astronomical events like the solstices or equinoxes, so for convenience-sake, once we invented calendars, it got placed halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  This is my thumbnail understanding of such things.

But, as I may or may not have opined before, the pre-calendar humans would have relied upon other things to let the know what was happening.  The quickening of lambs, calves, and kids in utero, the lactation of their mothers in preparation for their birth, would have been signs to all of coming events. Like spring and lambing/calfing/kidding, and all that entails.

I know the lengthening of days would be a sign, but in pre-timepiece humanity, I contend that perhaps this is the time when you'd notice that thing. I know even with a clock it's around this time that "Hey.....it's lighter out when I wake up...." happens, which I then verify with my timepiece.

Where I live, there is a thaw around this time.  The snow/ice melts significantly and occasionally I'm able to push some bulbs or seeds into the partially thawed soil.

Or at least there use to be.  This winter has been decidedly NON winter like.  We've had some days in the 20s, but little to no snow/ice precipitation. Most days are a high 30s with a cold wind, and we'll be heading back into the 40s the next few days.

I'm concerned. Terrified really. This is becoming more common, even as some years (last year) are decidedly more 'winter like.'  And this isn't some "I LOVE WINTER" thing. I don't.  I get SAD, I have to scrape my windows and shovel my walk, neither of which are as easy as they used to be.  If it was just about me, I'd be delirious.

But it isn't just about me.  Snow is ESSENTIALLY. It can refill water reserves, and if melts slowly, it's safe in terms of flooding (if it goes faster though, or with rain too, that's a different thing).  Super cold controls all sorts of bug populations (insect and viral/bacterial). 

In a word, this is just wrong. It stabs at my heart, as I worry about how climate change is going to all play out.

Some of my colleagues at Job #2 like to joke about how, here in Ohio, we'll have beach front property and how great it will be. Never mind the land that won't exist that might have been used to raise our food.  Never mind the climate refugees, both citizen and foreign, who will also be looking for their own beachfront homes.  Never mind all that.

Well, this is a downer. I blame SAD. And that I'm missing a favorite annual event tomorrow.  So, back to the topic. 

ANYWAY...what's a suburban gardener to do when her usual sign to 'start the lettuce seeds' is not going to happen?  Well, nature finds a way. Just last week, I saw two Canada geese flying over head. And then a few other gaggles in their usual gathering spots. They're coming back for the year.  At first I said "Y'all are early!" but then I reflected....no, they are right on time. Whatever the climate is doing, the geese know when it's time to come back to wherever their "North" is.

So...just like that...Nature gives me another sign. One that doesn't depend upon snow or thaw, but one that says "Hey, Leesa, plant those seeds."  So thanks, Geese!!  Can't wait to see your little honklings!!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What I planted

This was formerly called "Planting done" but I never got back to making the video that would go with it.  So here is what I had planted...


Front garden:

Easy Wave White Petunia
Easy Wave Red Petunia
Black Petunia

Gatekeeper

Coral rose zinnia
Dreamland mix zinnia
Zahara starlight rose zinnia
Double zahara cherry zinnia
Ironweed
Cardinal climber vine
TBD

Deck bed

Bufferfly something...

Moon Garden

Moonflower (discovered these are annuals :( )

Bridget garden

Britt marie Crawford Big Leave Ligularia

Food beds

German grape tomato
Yellow pear tomato
Black cherry tomato -- These are the ONLY ones that were productive. The rest of all the tomatoes either did not grow, did not bear very many fruit, or bore fruit that appeared to be super susceptible to the very wet-then-very hot conditions of the summer, so that they burst easily on the vine, allowing bugs, etc. to come in :(
Romas
Berkeley tie die
Cherokee purple
some other red

Patio planters
Impatiens
Lanais blue verbana
Setcreasea
3 California wonder sweet bell
nasturtium
lemon grass
geranium

Basil
Rosemary
Marjoram
Oregano
Thyme
Parsley
Cilantro

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Beltainne is coming! (Also Flora and Fauna update)

I know, it says May 3 on the calendar, but you'll recall from my ridiculously infrequent postings, that I don't celebrate Beltainne until the frost-free date, when planting can happen, so we're at least two weeks away.

"Spring" as defined by warm weather has not official sprung in Central Ohio until this week, and has basically bounced right into the 80s.  "Spring"  as defined astronomically (which, let's face it, is what it anyway) has of course been here and even through snow and sub-freezing temperatures, the birds and plants have been doing their thing, although annual ant-migration inward was delayed a bit, starting a few days ago.  While I try to ignore them, if they get on ME they may get squished. Except last night we watched the Marvel movie Ant-Man, so now I'll probably feel bad about it.

Official pre-Beltainne has begun.  It has moved from the mere "musing about what to do" to getting down to the brass tacks of what to do.  The current to-do list:


  • Begin the round of weeding. Somewhere, some botanist probably knows why weed tend to sprout forth before the things you actually planted did (please answer in the comments), but either way weeding must start.
  • Clean out beds and planters of last years' stuff.  I did clean out the vegetable garden beds last year, and two got torn out. The planters I just left in place, mostly to attempt to hold the soil over winter.  I'm hoping to score a few more from a colleague who's elderly neighbors keep dumping them on her.
  • Fix rototiller. Seamus has everything we need to fix it, so hopefully I can get him to do it, or better yet show me how to do it.
  • Survey raised beds for repairs. Some of the planks are coming apart, so we may need to just re-attach them somehow.
  • Re-establish new beds to replace the ones ripped out.
  • Make list of herbs and plants.  It's in my head, but if I don't have it in writing before I go to various sales, I'll come home with NOTHING I actually need.
  • Order dirt/mulch.
This year, I am switching it up. Because I like to can, this year is going to be tomatoes in all four beds.  Two beds of "slicers" and two beds of paste tomatoes.  Hopefully that can get us a nice stockpile, including sauces and salsas, in addition to just plain ol' canned. Next year I'm thinking all string beans, all the time, for the same reason, and then the year after that is back to adding zucchini, squash, peppers, etc.  Maybe I'll try corn again.

I have however done some spring harvesting.  Last night, with the help of a neighborhood girl, we sat in my front yard and picked dandelions, some of which are hopefully fermenting in my kitchen for dandelion wine, the rest of which will get made into dandelion bread.  I thought we had picked the front yard clean, but when I walked out this morning, it was like we hadn't even done a thing! 

That's all to update for now. The birds and squirrels are back.  The blue jays come for their morning peanuts when we whistle for them, and the squirrels don't automatically run when they hear the back door open.  I'm not sure when the juncos left, but they've been replaced by goldfinches it seems.  I haven't seen the hawks yet, so I'm not sure if they returned, but as I think about it, it might be an every other year thing.  Mr. Cardinal and Mrs. Cardinal II are back also, and still waiting to see if Waddles the Skunk is around. Stay  tuned!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planted!

 Nearly all the things got planted the week of May 15-16.   So here's what they looked like then (I am so bad at updating this...)

This first bed is dedicated specifically to the spirits of the land.  You can see the milkweed growing on the left, and I planted goldenrod as well.  The third thing that was going in there I accidentally didn't buy and now I don't know what it was. So stay tuned. There's also a hummingbird feeder in this one but I'm about done with this design.  The humming birds don't seem to see it and it's hard to clean, so now it's all gross and mildewy inside.

Nature Spirits
 This next bed is in the other corner of the house and just by default is dedicated to the ancestors. I'm not sure what else to put in there.  That is a crap ton of sage that is blooming beautifully. There's room for something else behind it (besides the weeds I dug out) and I'm still thinking of what that might be. It gets the fullest sun of all but one bed in the garden.
Ancestors
 This is a bit of the moongarden.  If I remember right, those are some kind of primrose? They come on like gangbusters.  I think we're going to get some fairy houses to put in there, knowing full well the controversy over the nature of the Good People.  I don't think it could to give them some nice houses though, right?
Moon Garden
 First of the food beds, and it's somewhat sparsely planted right now.   One of those is the Lazy Wife beans (no strings) and the other is some sort of dwarf melon.  I have plans to add more beans (good for the soil and the peeps, too!)  but I'm also not sure how much room the melon is going to end up needing.  Up in the top left-ish corner you can see the volunteer chives from last year.


Next bed is all tomatoes all the time.  And I think one of the peppers.  Right now, something is munching on the leaves, so I applied so Neem in the hopes I wasn't too late.



(TBC...I have more pictures but I they won't post for some reason..)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Weekend? More like GREENKend....

Okay, not funny.

This is, however THE weekend of gardening. If Spring/Beltane/Summer had a "Black Friday" weekend, this would be it.

Today, I went to Chadwick Arboretum's Plant Sale and Auction.  I had heard about this, but last year was the first year I went, with the Lovely and Talented Misty. Misty is so lovely and talented, she now as a job, so I went by myself.  I arrived at OSU, kicking myself for not making a List to Be Adhered To (as to avoid overspending), and resolved to be Sensible and not get more than the cart would allow.

The carts hold quite a lot.

I meandered around. I'm never sure what to get, even if I know what I'm looking for.  I mean, I want a 'tomato' but there's 87 million varieties, and each booth has overlapping types and they're organic and stuff and....*sigh*  I let intuition guide me, usually.  They have lots of good stuff, so if you're available Saturday you should check it out.

I probably got there at 8:30 and was home by 10, with:

Flowers:  Nasturtium, Brutus Hosta ("created" there at OSU, hence the name), blue salvia, pink salvia, and goldenrod for the butterfly garden. I got something else for that garden, but it didn't have a tag, and I couldn't remember where I got it.  Sadly, that did not mean I got it for free and since at the time I didn't know what it was or where it belonged, back it went.

Herbs:  Marjoram, oregano, lavendar, basil, parsley, lemon grass, and rosemary

Vegetables:  2 zucchini, 2 pickling cucumbers, lunchbox peppers, 2 yankee bell peppers, 2 amish paste tomatoes, 2 some other slicing tomato (heirloom!), 1 black cherry tomato.

You'd think I'd be done, but tomorrow is the Gahanna Herb Show.  I'll be meeting Beth, Misty, maybe Julie and Teresa for breakfast before we descend upon it.  I really don't have much to get after today, but I liked their pole beans from last year (although I have seeds I got last year too), and I'm sure I can find something.

The seeds I sprouted are doing okay. I forgot to bring them in one night, so I'm not sure how they're going to do.  I might want to replace them with actual plantlings, but we'll see.  I do need to replace some strawberry plants. I wish I had seen that before this morning; they had some there.

I came home and had second breakfast, and then after cleaning up from that, I pulled weeds in the raised beds to get them ready.  Almost every bed has had it's spring weeding, except the moon garden, and that's almost done.  I just don't know what belongs there and what doesn't.  Seamus will have to do that, and then roto-till the beds.  I may want to turn the compost and see if I get some good stuff to roto-till in there.

Pictures forthcoming.

As I look at my big box of green-kins, I remember last year how excited I was for the summer growing season to come, and the plans I had...and then how that was completely kicked to the curb by random mystery illness....it's hard to raise that level of hope again, but such is the lingering emotional challenge of the past year.  I almost didn't do any gardening at all this year, but that would be to admit defeat and while I don't always feel like it, I follow the maxim sometimes of "Fake it, 'til you make it." So much doesn't seem real, like it happened to someone else....but not all.

So I plant.  The Earth heals.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Neighbors

Technically we are getting them. The house to the west has sold, but we haven't met them yet. Jim thinks he saw them though. While bird-watching out the back window, he yelled to me "Hey, we got Asians."

Thus the "U.N." feel of our diverse little street persists...

But, those are not the neighbors I'm talking about.  It seems that Freya the hawk has returned, and this time she's got a mate!

No really, the windows are clean...



They've spent the last couple of days taking turns flying off, and standing guard in and around the neighbor's trees out back.  One hung out on our birch tree for a while...above the bird feeder.

What is interesting, is that the other birds sometimes don't seem to care that there is predator in their midst.  It's like they can sense that the hawks aren't hungry right now or something. I imagine that will be a fatal mistake at some point.

Today's activity included what was probably mating.  One of them was in a tree in between houses on a street to the southwest (behind) of us.  The other one flew over. I expected the other one to fly back to where the nest is, but, nope...It was too far away to see clearly, but I've seen other birds "doin' it" and "it" looked just like that.  And for about as long too, which is to say "not very."  Birds don't waste time.   No, I didn't get pictures of that. Perverts.

I went back to my breakfast, and trying to figure out how to get Comedy Central via Roku, since they are in some dispute with Vue.  After I ate, I looked out back just to check things out.  Mr. Cardinal and Mrs. Cardinal II were visiting the feeder together (aww..).  I sort of said out loud, "Watch out, we have two hawks around" when they both flew down to below the juniper bush (or yew...I can't remember which is which).  Suddenly, from across "The Asians" yard, I see Hawk flying low in that direction!  I wait...I yell "I think we have our first casualty" to Jim, who is busy doing dishes and doesn't hear me.  Finaly, Mrs. Cardinal II pops to the birch tree, her crest standing straight up with indignantly.  (Trust me, she was indignant.)  I wait further, and change vangage point because I can see Hawk sitting on the fence, but most of them is blocked by the bush. I can barely see their talons, but see no bright red feathers.  Then Mr. Cardinal flies over to the bird feeder.

I'm not sure how Hawk could have missed either of them, but then it might be because Hawk was on the hunt for different prey...sticks and twigs from the neighor's trees that fall in our yard.  Mrs. Cardinal II looked on indignantly still, while Mr. Cardinal ate, the only logical thing to do after narrowly escaping being eaten himself.  Hawk tried various sticks, all of which were too big (that's when I snapped the blurry pictures). Finally, they get one that is to their liking and fly off with it.

Add caption



Then I had to go to work.

The adventure continues...

Yes I'm using the singular "they" until I can tell Mr. and Mrs. Hawk apart.  And to get myself used to it in general.

Baby steps towards spring...and a tragedy

Editor's Note:  I forgot to "publish" this.  So it's horribly out of date.  But I also think it's because I wanted to add some pictures...so those have been added.  There's new wildlife activity, but that deserves it's own post.

I don't feel like winter is done. Not because of the date on the calendar, or because we usually have an April snowstorm, but be cause of the weird February.  Usually, no matter what the precipitation, sometime around the end of January and beginning of February, there's a day or two where the mercury rises to the 40s or maybe 50s and we get the 'mid winter thaw.'  It is usually a true thaw, enough so that I can often get a few cold-weather seeds planted, more in the spirit of "let's see what happens" than anything else.

This year was different.  "Climate change" continues to be a real thing, and we had week in the high 60s and into the low 70s. While that was nice in its own way, I kept having the feeling that it was...just wrong.  It just felt wrong, at like a soul level.  Only way to explain it.  It had me so discombobulated that I didn't do my land's recognition of Imbolc because...well, how do you know when Imbolc is when the usual markers you use have shifted? So the corn dolly is still unadorned, although perhaps we will take care of that at Equinox.

Shortly before that, we did have a tragedy of sorts.  I had mentioned earlier that one of the juncos hit the back patio window, and I rescued him.  Dizzies and Lizzies continue to flit around the yard, and we bought decals for the windows, but not before Mrs. Cardinal hit it.   I came home from work and Jim told me something had happened, and described the bird he found on the deck.  He put her in the garden bed we have dedicated to butterflies.  She was such a pretty shade of peach with a bright salmon beak.  We were going to bury her, but opted against it.  Jim went out to check on her the next day and she was gone, probably taken back into the circle of the life of the world.  We would see Mr. Cardinal occasionally in the yard, and I hoped he would find another Mrs.  We also hoped they hadn't nested yet, since at that point it had been in the 40s for an abnormally long time, but a friend said it was too soon.

A week later we saw her.  A new Mrs. Cardinal. She was darker, more beige than Mrs. Cardinal I, but still had a beautiful bright salmon beak.  It wasn't long before we saw Mr. and Mrs. in the yard together.  Grieving is a quick process in the bird world.

The continuation of the cardinal population secured, other birds seemed to be enjoying themselves.  We keep trying to identify birds, but some just won't sit still long enough for us.  We think that we've had a blackbird. We may or may not have had a longspur, and a few white-breasted nuthatches.  There another bird that looks like a blackbird, but is kind of yellow or tan speckled underneath the black feathers.  The Peterson Field Guide is only so helpful.  I need an ornithologist to come spend a few days.  (Pictures from allaboutbirds.com)

Lapland Longspur Photo
The Lapland Longspur




Finally, I got around to sowing some cold-resistant seeds indoors.  I have a large seeding greenhouse that is 6 by 12 spots of seeds.  It was warm enough again today (because climate change) that I put the potting soil in while out on the deck, and the brought inside for the sowing.  Now, as long as Spooky and Stormy leave it alone, I hope to get lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, spinach, and nasturtium sprouting soon.