Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year!

Best wishes from the squirrels and me for a very Happy New Year! We've been busy ringing out the old year visiting with the family. The Middle One and her fiance' have been here since Christmas Eve. We skated home safely on black ice from my sister's on Christmas day, thanks to the Lawn Man's excellent driving. Fortunately since then travel conditions have been much better, as we've driven back and forth to K's new home, helping her get unpacked and settled. The Middle One and her fiance return home this week - she's heading to DC to unpack and repack her suitcase to spend New Year's Eve with her fiance' in Miami.

Back here at home the fun will continue as I accompany K to her ultrasound appointment tomorrow - looking forward to it, and anticipating the birth of a new granddaughter early in the new year.

In the meantime, may you dance joyfully into the New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Chrismoose!

Hope your holidays are filled with love, joy, peace, contentment, and all good things. Safe travels to all who will be visiting friends and family. Stay warm! Hugs and blessings from the Lawn Man, George, the Holiday Mooses, and me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 2009 Bloom Day

Amazingly, in mid-December in Chicago's south 'burbs, we actually have a live bloom in the garden. This mini-rose bloom has survived three Garden Bloggers' Bloom Days in a row. It's broken all previous records in our garden for a single rose bloom's longevity, and this is the first time I can ever remember having anything blooming in our garden in December. This photo was taken a few days ago.

Even after several days of snow, single-digit low temperatures and gale-force winds, the rose is still holding on. Conditions have been milder for a few days, and the snow is mostly melted. The weather forecasts say we're in for another round of cold this week. I wonder how long this tough little pretty will hang on.

The rest of the December blooms were rescued from certain death and brought inside in October. Most are overwintering in the basement greenhouse, including this rose-like double impatiens.

The fuchsia was cut back hard in October, and is already blooming again. Hopefully this bodes well for it's health and survival over the winter. The fuchsia brought in last fall was already dead this time last year.

This pelargonium was cut back hard too, and has already re-bloomed.

Jasmine blooms are perfuming the basement. This plant was tiny three years ago, and really took off last winter. It seems to like the basement.

The tropical hibiscus didn't bloom outdoors at all this year. It decided to produce one bloom after it came indoors. Its rear view is just as pretty. . .

as its face.

Also blooming here this month are dragon wing and wax begonias, oxalis, a bromeliad, and Diamond Frost Euphorbia.

For more December blooms, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Santa might just be bringing her some hoe earrings this year, if she hasn't already gotten them for herself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Tiny Vegetable Garden

Now sleeping with a thick layer of leaves and grass clippings that should make a nice mulch in the spring, the veggie bed is a good spot for overwintering a few plants that didn't quite make it into the shade garden or front foundation beds this fall. We had walks and the patio replaced this fall, and I lost a small border on one side of the house in the process. Plants grown for Native Seed Gardeners were in that border. They were transplanted for safekeeping into the veggie bed back in September, and will be moved to new homes early next spring.

Also overwintering in the veggie bed are several Baptisia australis plants started from seeds back in July or August. They're so small, I hope a few will make it through the winter. Tall bellflowers from my trip to Mom's back in September were given a temporary home in the veggie bed too. Since so much of the shade garden was chewed to ground (probably by rabbits,) while I was away, I couldn't really tell where it was safe to plant. That's also my excuse reason for once again not planting bulbs this fall.

Our veggie bed is only about 4' x 10,' and gets less than 5 hours a day of direct sun. Still, it produced an amazing abundance of produce all spring, summer, and fall. We grew lots of lettuce and greens, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, peas, garlic, beets, radishes, squash, and several varieties of peppers. The bed was planted intensively using square-foot, interplanting, and succession-planting methods. We enjoyed beautiful, fresh, delicious, healthful organic produce every day, all through the gardening season, and had more peppers, green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes than we could eat.

I shared some veggies with family and friends, and made tomato juice, blanched and froze extra green beans, diced and froze extra peppers, and made pickled jalapenos, pickled green tomatoes, and bread-and-butter cucumber pickles. . . all from our new little raised veggie bed in a part-sun side yard, built late last fall using retaining wall pavers with a thick layer of newspaper at the bottom to kill the grass, and alternating 'lasagna' layers of compost, fallen leaves, and grass clippings. Over the winter the layers aged. By spring we had the most beautiful garden soil, rich, crumbly, and full of earthworms.

Newspaper-lined, lasagna-style, raised, mulched beds have made a believer out of me. I don't think I pulled more than ten weed seedlings from the veggie bed all season. Watering was minimal, limited to about six weeks midsummer when we had no rain. The soil held moisture very well, and the mulch helped prevent evaporation. I've never had such a small vegetable garden before. I'm still amazed how little work, and how productive our little bed was. I can hardly wait for next year!