Still growing…

3 weeks + 3 days post planting…

My zucchini/squash are fruiting like crazy!

I’m still a little leery about a few of my tomatoes, but this husky cherry and 2 romas are strong!

I already have 3 bell peppers ready to harvest— that’s 2 more than I had all year last year!

I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of green beans soon.  I have planted a second crop to keep us supplied…

My Cousin Jimmy gave me these banana trees.  I think the grandkids will love them, though I have no idea (yet) where I’m going to plant them..

I finished up this morning, planting some containers, a Black-eyed Susan vine, Lavender, and the green beans.  I trimmed the basil and now have a lovely lot of fresh pesto to smear on my toast.

I hate to tell you, but my roses look like crap.  I failed to have Michael water them while we were gone and they’ve been suffering ever since.  I have fed and watered them, talked sweetly, and I have hope.  A gardener has to have a Lot of Hope.

Now it’s time to sit on the porch swing and relax…


Shuffling the Shrubs…

I returned from visiting with the NYC kids on Saturday–had a great visit, thanks–and was pleased with how well Casey had taken care of everyone.  Still, the roses were begging to be put outside.  Sunday we planted them, and they look terrific!


12 years ago we had put in holly on the south side of the porch, 3 girls and a boy, and watched as they grew into a large hedge, rather surprised at their size.  Last year we began to see black soot-like stuff all over the leaves that was rubbing off on the siding of the house.  Research showed that it was a root fungus, and the shrubs had to be removed.  Dang if it wasn’t because I had planted them too close together.  Remember how I killed a lot of black-eyed Susans by not dividing them?  Same Lesson.  Will I ever learn???

It was suggested that the roses be planted 3 feet apart for a hedge, but we chose 51 inches to line them up with our screen openings.  I’m betting they’ll still come together, only have room to breathe…  I have learned, I have learned!

Now we have this big mass of dead dirt greeting you as you enter our porch, dipping below the ancient foundation, sprouting  vintage gas pipes and the electric meter.  Not welcoming.  I don’t want to put an expensive shrub or expensive array of flowers or really commit myself to any sort of layout right now, so we used what we had:  a louvered folding door that we picked up for a couple of bucks at a rummage sale, the welcome,friends sign that was already hiding the meter, and a honeysuckle that was awaiting a home…

Casey took the opportunity to widen the steps and level out some areas of the walk.   He’s adding some cheap topsoil for now and I’m going to plant some sunflowers and zinnias.  That should take care of things for a while.


All the rest of our “leftovers” were planted in the Bird Garden…mums of various colours, purple coneflower, coreopsis that was already there, and still more daisies!

It’s all ready for mulch as soon as the rain passes…

I’m chomping at the bit to plant my edibles and herbs, but it looks like it might swoop down to the 40’s next week, so I’m trying to distract myself with some front-porch-rearranging.   I think I’ll just have houseplants out there this year, but it’s hard to not pick up some annuals…maybe just one wave petunia?  or 2 vinca?  We’ll see!


Back in the garden…

We cleaned up the yard and garden on this glorious week-end, uncovering my faithful perennials.  The daffodils and tulips were popping up as soon as the snow melted, but it’s always a thrill to me when I see the barely-there shoots of my coneflowers, daisies, and daylilies.  It’s not much of a picture, though–mostly dirt (soil to us professionals).

I planted some short rows of kale, mesclun, spinach, and my favorite sugar pod peas:


I’m planning on completely re-building the garden area.  We’ll use privacy fence along the back (to once and for all keep the deer from eating what we plant around the edge), adding 8 feet on the north side, then bring the old pickets across the east side.  I’m picturing a new gate, too.

Due to the construction, I’m minimizing the vegetable garden this year:  tomatoes and bell peppers are all I plan on putting in the ground.  We have plans to put the pool back there for the grandkids to play in during Camp Sonnystone, and we’re going to be out of town quite a bit this summer.

I brought out the over-wintered rosemary, sage, and oregano;  potted up the mint, thyme, basil, and dianthus that I bought in Nashville last week.   My cat had chewed on the pineapple sage, but I put it in a pot, hoping for the best.

There will  be a frost again, you know.  Despite today’s high temp of 78, I’ll need those storm windows for cover before we’re in the clear.  Our average last day of frost is April 15 and we have had a snow as late as April 11.

I’d be happy to be wrong about that…

garden mistakes


I’m leaving for NYC next Sunday morning, staying until the following Saturday.  See you after Spring Break!!!  (or read the News from Sonnystone Acres for updates on the trip)

2014 in the Sonnystone Gardens

Just a picture post…  I thought that would be easier, but I find I’m unable to edit what pictures I add to such a large gallery…  I’ve tried 3 times to no avail.  So there’s another lesson:  sometimes you don’t get a do-over.

But sometimes, you do…  I’ve got plans for 2015…

thyme, thyme, thyme…

I divided the thyme yesterday;  4.25 clumps were potted up nicely, and a small sprig was put in the Wardian case.  I hope to be able to keep them growing throughout the winter, possibly gifting one;  they dry out easily inside, though, and I don’t want to stress the giftee with guilt if suddenly they turn to dust…  Of course, it’s very tasty dried, so you really can’t lose.


First I gave it a haircut…a nice trim netted plenty of fresh herb for cooking…


I had to pull the entire plant out of the container, throw it on the ground, and jump on top the spade with all my might to break it up into pottable portions…


I like thyme in sauces and soups, seasoning chicken and fish.   Mix it up with oregano, rosemary, or basil for a bouquet garni or use it alone for a flavorful vinegar infusion.   It adds a spicy scent to potpourri.

Thyme is traditionally considered an herb of courage.  In ancient Greece, it was believed to confer strength and bravery to all who who used it, so soldiers would take baths in it, as well as massage their skin with thyme oil.  Historically used as a medicinal herb,  it has been said to cure fevers, dispel melancholy, and prevent nightmares, among another indications.

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight:

Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms


8 ounces/4 cups finely sliced cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon

Maldon/kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt Small clove garlic, minced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4 sprigs fresh thyme stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves (I will use more, probably 3 tbs)

1 pound linguine

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste (more for me)
Freshly ground black pepper
Slice the mushrooms finely, and put them into a large bowl with the oil, salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, and gorgeously scented thyme leaves.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain loosely retaining some water. Quickly put the pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

Toss everything together well, and then add the parsley, cheese and pepper before tossing again.

Eat with joy in your heart.

What I did this week-end…

Ah, glorious week-end!   I spent it dirty and digging, moving plants around…   Here’s the before and afters:


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I’m still mulling about what to plant on the south side of the house, against the foundation.  I’m thinking shrubbery, possibly holly, but there are so many beautiful plants to choose from, and I’d love to try something new.

The edible garden is waiting for seeding… I’m going to go by one more place on the way home from work today in my search for seeds.  ARen’t there any farmers left in Eville?  If I can’t find them, (the seeds, not the farmers), I’ll have to order some online.    The cool-weather plants at most of the big-box stores look like they have been in the Sahara for a week.



I’m so excited about the changing weather.  The cooler temperatures are absolutely rejuvenating.  But for now, I’m off to work.  Have a great Monday!


Second crops and Cat Nights

This spell from the first-day-of-school through Labor Day (week)) I am working non-stop:  M-F at school, F-Sun at the track.    I have managed, however, to plant a couple of rows of bush beans, some sugar snap peas, and some pole beans, and a small circle of spinach.  Gone are the Romas, done in by the fusarium after a brave battle, and the zucchini never did much, so I removed them as well.  The fennel and dill have been harvested and replaced with cilantro, and most of the carrots and onions have been pulled.   The tomatoes are still loaded with green tomatoes, but for now there’s no pressure to fix or eat them.

During this lull in the edible garden, we are focused on the front yard landscape.  It’s a good time to plant trees or shrubs and I’ve been cruising our local nurseries for ideas.   I love the planning stage…low expenditure of energy…

My Old Farmers Almanac gives some good advice about gardening and keeps me informed on the celestial scene.  I marked my calendar for this event:

Cat Nights Begin

The term “Cat Nights” harks back to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form. This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.” Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.

Yowl on, kittens…     gardening4