Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow, snow, snow.

21 December

12 January

29 January

Here in Boston we're in the middle of an unusually snowy and cold winter. Last year's was unusually UN-snowy, so this is kind of a shock to my poor Southern self. Last winter there were only two major snowstorms, so I welcomed spring with snow seeming magical and novel. This winter we've already had 7 storms totaling 60" of snow -- all in the past MONTH! To put this into perspective, the average snowfall for the season in these parts is just over 40", and February is historically the snowiest month. Oh, dear.

After reading Gayla's post about seedlings as therapy, I thought it might do my soul some good to start a few seeds, just as a reminder that spring WILL come and all this mess will melt! If they don't make it because I started them too early, well, what's 10 or 15 seeds? So today I started 3 calendula, 3 rapini, 6 mixed lettuces, 3 spinach, 3 red chard, and 3 dianthus. I tried to pick varieties that are not *too* far off from "proper" starting time, or that have a shot at growing indoors. But just the act of caressing seed packets, making room for my seedling trays, getting my fingers ever-so-slightly dirty? Already worth it even if nothing germinates. Ahhhh.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Planning

With well over a foot of snow covering my balcony right now, I guess it is inevitable that my thoughts are turning to days in the not-terribly-distant future when I'll be able to look out and see some green again.

Most significantly, I just took the major step of ordering fruit trees for my tiny little farm. A genetic dwarf peach/nectarine combo tree and an Asian pear featuring two varieties grafted onto the same tree for easy pollination will arrive at my doorstep sometime in April! I hope these trees will find a permanent home in the ground before too long, but I want to be ready to give them a nice, beautiful home for the upcoming growing season.

I have two large half-barrel size plastic containers in mind for the trees (you can see one on the left in the garden overview pics below). For the peach, I'm thinking a ring of garlic planted around it and eaten as green garlic, then another ring of nasturtiums spilling over the sides. While the nasturtium grows, maybe I can pop some lettuce seedlings in between. Basil is supposed to be good for repelling fruit flies, so I can either make sure to set a basil plant nearby or maybe set one on the rear of the container.

For the pear container, I'm considering moving my two little blackcurrants in along with some chives or another allium. I'm considering trying out a couple leek seedlings solely for the incredible flowers they send up! Finally, if I get my hands on some alpine strawberries, I think they'd make a beautiful addition to this little mini-orchard in a pot, spilling over the sides.

What do you think? Do you companion plant container fruit trees, or do you just mulch?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


 A few months ago, this honeybee visited me just as I was getting out of my car. I stayed very still for several minutes, basking in gratitude for the unexpected visit and taking a moment to study her body.

I thought she would fly away when I started to move, but she stayed with me as I carried the baby I nanny out of his carseat and up the stairs, careful to make sure his feet stayed far away from my little passenger. Finally, for her safety as well as the baby's, I took her outside and deposited her on a bush. I wonder now if she was in her last moments of life, clinging to my skirt for its light color.

I have toyed with the idea of bringing a hive up to my balcony to live with me. I have the perfect sun exposure for them, not to mention a safe place high above the eyes and heads of neighbors. The only potential problem is space. Not in terms of square footage -- I would easily and gladly sacrifice some of my balcony's footprint for a honey hive! -- but in distance between potential hive and garden. I haven't been able to find a solid answer, but my internet research has led me to believe that bees need several yards between their hives and human activity. Would erecting some sort of barrier between the back of the hive and my gardening space do the trick?