Garden Daybook 2/21/13


Have you noticed the changes? Spring is sending out her first vibrations. The morning bird chatter is getting louder and louder. Many spring bulbs have pushed their first leaves from the cold cold dark into the sun.  This first show of green is a  warning to  winter  that spring will no longer  take no for an answer – warm will win again in the yearly march toward spring. Woo Hoo!! I have also found newly germinated larkspur in the herb garden . . . .


While on a walk through the front garden I found this beautiful Crustose lichen on a rock. This little “mosslike plant is a combination of algae and fungi growing in close association” – so says Webster’s New World Dictionary. This tiny plant continues to grow from the outside as it slowly dies in the middle. I love the colors and I love that it has found a home on the garden rocks. John Ruskin described mosses as – “Meek creatures! the first mercy of the earth, veiling with hushed softness the dintless rocks . . . I like to think that he included the beautiful lichens in his description.


The starlings are showing themselves in large noisy flocks in our yard and at the feeder. My reading tells me that they gather in flocks for safety, to stay warm at night, and to “talk about good feeding places”.  Flocks of starlings are known to gather in huge flocks in England and Scotland and put on daring  aerial shows called murmurations. Watch this video and you will never think of starlings in the same mundane way.  WOW!!

Meanwhile, back in the warm house, the onion seedlings have been trimmed again to help the plants push root growth. They will be transplanted into deep flats this weekend.


The pepper seeds and a few flowers were all sown on February 12  and are on bottom heat until they germinate. The bottom heat unit will hold 18 small margarine tubs. This picture shows the bottom heat unit without its plastic dome. You can see the 15 watt bulb shining on the table through a hole in the unit – the plastic dome is on the floor in front of the unit.


This morning I found the Jalapeno peppers  had germinated – they germinated in six days. Thank you bottom heat!! I expect the other peppers to begin germinating  later this week. I always sow peppers before I sow tomato seed because peppers take longer to germinate and grow more slowly. Peppers just need longer to grow a good-sized, garden ready seedling.


My Rosemary and Bay plant have wintered in a south window and are showing new growth. Longer days wake up houseplants and signal that they better get a move on. When temperatures warm up in May the Bay and Rosemary will be moved into their summer quarters in the  herb garden. Look at the center of the picture and you can see a tiny new leaf.


Last fall the Rosemary rooted a side branch – you can see it against the edge of the pot in the picture.  I tied the rooting stem to a short stick to help the tiny rosemary grow straight. The small branch coming toward the front of the picture has also been pegged to the soil with a paper clip to help it root. Hopefully, this will give me a second new rosemary. When I see new growth on the pegged stems I can cut each rooted branch from the mother plant, put them into their own small pots  and – viola –  new rosemary plants! This method of propagation is called layering. Ken Druse, in his gorgeous book Making More Plants, explains layering as “Imagine if you could lean your elbow on the ground and grow a new you”.  Layering is frugality at its best!


Last summer a friend gave me a small, hardy pecan tree that grew from seed dropped from her pecan tree. For some reason I never managed to get it planted and then forgot about it when winter cold sent me indoors. I discovered the pot one cold winter day, brought it into the house, and put it into a south window.  I have been watering it and saying blessings over it hoping it had survived my lack of care. About a week ago it opened a set of the most beautiful leaves. Yay!! It’s alive!! It’s beautiful! It’s saying “Come on Spring!!”


Here’s to knowing that spring is moving north.  My garden tells me so!

Hey from the farm,
Fran        The Country Cousin


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