Category Archives: Overwintering

A LOVE(ly) Day Filled With Tulips

DSC_0043So last week was filled with red hearts, dark chocolates and Cupid’s mischievous arrow flying about…and Mother Nature was somehow struck along the way, for she showed some sweet love to us here in the Boise valley and the thermometer topped out in the mid-50s for several days in a row!

Of course, this change in weather made my gardening DNA leap out of dormancy and I was outside poking around thinking about what could be done in the garden.

It didn’t take long for me to find something to do, for as I was out searching the garage for tools and checking on tender perennials that are overwintering, I discovered a bunch of tulip bulbs that never got in the ground!

Forget about getting a head start on Spring, I still have Fall gardening to catch up on!

Tul1Many of the tulips were attempting to put out their first sprouts and there were no signs of mold or rot on them. Since they had definitely gone through enough of a “chilling period” being in my garage the last 3 months, I drug out several pots, purchased some potting soil and “potted up” to my heart’s content on my Valentines’ day.

Tul2After planting, I watered them in and set the pots in a slightly protected southern area and fingers crossed – they’ll forgive my tardiness and show me some love this Spring with bountiful blooms glistening violet and white.

Tulip 'Purple Prince'

Tulip ‘Purple Prince’

Tulip 'Hakuun'

Tulip ‘Hakuun’

I’ve not tried tulips to this extent before so I’m unsure of what to expect. However, I discovered I’m not the only one doing this experiment. Last week at Master Gardener class, the instructor asked if anyone attempted any planting during the nice weather.

I embarrassingly shared I planted tulips and to my surprise many others chimed in saying they did the same thing!

I was not alone in my discovery of bulbs that should have been sunk in the ground last fall OR my heartfelt desire to plant something during Mother Nature’s sweet surprise of unseasonable weather.

How about you? Do you experience a strong desire to plant or “garden” during a few days of winter that are above normal temps? Have you ever tried planting tulips very late in pots or otherwise? If so, was it successful?

You Can Still Go For The Garlic!

I know it’s November and the leaves have fallen… Winter is so close that you can literally feel it getting closer each day. But you don’t have to let all of your planting aspirations disappear just yet, for you still have time to grow some garlic!  It’s o.k. to plant garlic up until the ground freezes and is actually good to wait until it is consistently cool.

Garlic is really easy to grow as I found out this past year.  I planted two varieties last fall in a small section of one of the raised beds.  In July, I harvested the garlic and we’ve been enjoying it in soups, salsa, pastas, pizzas, etc… ever since.  The flavor has been grand and it was so easy to grow that last week I was out getting ready to grow my own again.

This year I’m growing ‘Chesnok Red’ and ‘German Red’.  Both are hardneck which means I will get two harvests instead of just one.

You may be thinking, “Come again, TWO harvests?”

Hardneck varieties of garlic send up a round stalk (a.k.a. scape) mid-season and when this stalk curls you can snap it off and use it as your first garlic harvest.

Photo Courtesy of Island Vittles

The scapes can be used just like scallions.  Basically think of them as scallions that taste like garlic!  The scapes have all the health benefits garlic offers and by cutting them you are helping the plant put more energy into the garlic bulb that is forming below the ground.  It’s a win/win for garlic lovers!

Don’t sweat it if you didn’t already know this…I learned about it this last growing season and actually missed the window to harvest my scapes!  I gazed at the curly tips thinking they were “cool” but as I read other garden blogs mid-summer I realized the “pig tails” were more than interesting form.

So this year I’m reminding myself as much as any of you that are new to garlic growing – get two harvests out of hardneck garlic!

Thinking about one last act of planting and going for garlic?  If so, read on and then don’t dilly-dally for “Winter is a coming”…

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First Snow Inspires A Winter Haiku

First winter snow falls
 Dry trees breathe deeply with smile
 A joyous trip to Seattle is my tea

A little winter Haiku for me today after awaking to the first snowfall in the Boise area.  And yes, the trees and other plants in the garden are happy today because it has been such a dry winter.

When temps are below freezing every night and the air is very dry with little moisture anywhere, it is really tough on tree/plant health.  So much so, that just last week one of the local nurseries, Franz Witte, put out a notice letting customers know they should start winter watering all evergreens and deciduous plants that were recently planted (1-2 years).

Thankfully Mother Nature has taken care of this before I had to go out and find a hose and sprinkler, get a faucet turned on, water and then drain the hose before the temps fell back to freezing. Whew, thanks again Mother N!

Maybe you are wondering about the last line of my is in reference to my upcoming getaway to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle during February.  I’m so excited to go to this show again!  The display gardens and seminars are fantastic and there is a plethora of new ideas and information to absorb.

This show is a great place to spend time with gardening friends, learn from the pros and buy some fantastic plants!  The only downside is that this weekend full of Spring makes it hard to come back to Zone 6 and eight more weeks of winter weather!

If interested in attending check out the website where you will find descriptions of display gardens, a seminar schedule, travel packages and more.

Drop me a line if you decide to attend, maybe we’ll run onto each when rushing for a new, ‘must-have’ garden delight!

Reflecting and Resting…A Welcome Quiet Period

This is the time of year I am most reflective.  When people ask over the New Year Holidays about my resolutions I answer by saying, “I don’t know yet, I’ll figure them out in January.”

Throughout this month I like to reflect on the events and experiences of the previous year while thinking forward about changes to cultivate and experiences to be had in the new year. Thinking forward to the new year in a reflective state of mind might sound contradictory but somehow it’s oddly satisfying.

And I’m resting…sort of… (although I am still bumping-up the workouts to bump-off the extra bumps resulting from the holidays)

But seriously, the shorter days with less light put me in a restful mood.  I am resting because of all the fun social celebrations that took place, because this is the month with the least garden activities and because I feel a need to gather soulful, creative energy.  As I quietly think of all the activities I get to engage in during the coming months there is a realization that now is the time to take deep breaths and focus on my well-being as a whole.

For gardening in particular, the new year means a new growing season and for garden-crazies like me a new-found sense of excitement and hope. I find myself looking through photos of the natural world from trips we’ve taken the previous year and thinking about how I can incorporate some elements of the natural world’s beauty into my controlled, man-made environment. I love to take photos of the places we visit and use them as potential inspiration…the colors, textures, forms…

So with a cup of hot tea, some books and some photos it’s a good time to do as the old adage says – ‘Stop and smell the roses.’  And I’m thinking for me it means the roses of life and the year to come… since it is still January you know!

How about you?  How do you feel at the beginning of the new year?  Does January bring any changes to your behavior or lifestyle?  If living in a cold zone, how do you get your gardening fix or keep your gardening fascination?


O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
How loyal are your leaves!
You’re green not only in summertime,
But while asleep during a cold winter
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
How loyal are your leaves!

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
You can please me very much!
Awake in the Spring after rest
Your blooms smell simply the best
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
You can please me very much!

O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
Please bring me some lemons!
You tease with young abundance
then it becomes clear, no lemons this year
O Lemon Tree, O Lemon Tree
Please bring me some lemons!

Dare I share something besides the good on this young garden blog? We all know gardening has its successes and frustrations so let me share something today about the other side, the bad and ugly side.  By now you’ve figured out that I have a Meyer lemon tree.  It was a precious gift from a precious friend when I lived in CA and is one of my most beloved “green goods.” I overwinter it in my garage (near a window) because it seems much easier  than keeping it inside the house.  Yes, I know many people claim to grow citrus inside their home and citrus have a great reputation for being easy to grow inside but I had no luck with it.  The first time I brought my lemon tree in the house (winter months only) it was overtaken by scale.  I won’t even go into the details of how I had to get rid of it except to say it was an organic method and one of the most time-consuming processes ever! After that, I decided there had to be another way to “winter” my lemon tree during the cold months in Idaho. But wait there’s more