Category Archives: Gardening

forcing bulbs, indoor flowers

I love flowers!

Before Thanksgiving I wrote a post on forcing bulbs. I set up several containers of bulbs and placed them in a cool spot while we went away. Was I ever surprised when we got home and I saw all the green shoots coming up out of the bulbs! The bulbs were so healthy they had a huge root mass at the bottom of each bulb and were nearly forcing themselves out of the container!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

In full bloom and very tall!

I brought them upstairs and kept them watered. In what seemed a very short time I was rewarded by beautiful blooms.

paperwhites, indoor flowers, forcing bulbs

They needed support to keep from falling over.

Our kitchen has had a profusion of blooms for the last week. They were such a success I’m thinking of going back to the garden center and seeing if they have any bulbs left. I could start some more to enjoy in late January or early February!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

Incredible tall flowers!


flowers, forcing bulbs

I love flowers!

Narcissus, christmas lights

Narcissus and Christmas lights.


Transplanting Orchids

Transplanting orchids is not hard. If you have orchids eventually they will need to be transplanted. My daughter gave me three orchids that she rescued from her place of employment. The business where she worked would purchase orchids when they were blooming to decorate with. Later when they were finished blooming they were thrown away. My daughter asked if she could bring them home. When my daughter and her husband moved over seas I became caretaker of the orchids! They have done fine for the last two years however they have also grown and when there were as many roots cascading over the outside of the pot as were growing inside the pot I decided it was time to transplant!transplanting orchids

I found that repotting an orchid is not difficult, just different. Like other houseplants orchids need to be moved to larger containers as they grow. Your orchid may need repotting for one of two reasons. First, the orchid may have simply outgrown it’s pot. Repotting is necessary when the actual body of the plant, not just the roots, has grown over the pot’s edge. The other reason to transplant is if the growing medium has broken down so much that air can no longer circulate through to dry the roots between watering. Good drainage is vital to the health of your orchid, and a growing medium that is constantly soggy will lead to root rot.


The best time to repot an orchid is just after it has begun to produce new growth but before the new roots have begun to elongate. Do not repot when it is flowering or has just produced a spike. My orchid had finished blooming and was looking very tired looking, definitely a good time to repot.

I had a large plastic container that I put under the orchid and used to collect the old potting soil.  I turned the orchid upside down over the container and gently dislodged it. Sometimes the roots stick to the edge of the pot, in which case you can use a sterilized knife to loosen the plant. With some gently persuasion my orchid came out of the pot. I then gently separated the roots and removed as much of the old potting mixture as I could.roots, orchid, transplanting


Before repotting, the roots will need to be carefully trimmed. Use sterilized scissors to remove any dead or damaged roots. They are easy to spot, being either dried and crispy or wet and mushy. Healthy roots are firm and white and have light-green growing tips.trimming roots, orchids

Have your new pot ready; it should be clean and rinsed well. Because orchids require good drainage, be sure to put clean stones, broken crockery or plastic foam peanuts in the bottom of the pots. Rinse the growing medium in water to hydrate it before use. Place some of the dampened mixture loosely on top of the drainage materials. Positions the orchid, and then carefully pack more of the planting mixture around the roots, firming it with your thumbs as you go. Make sure that, when finished, the top of the rhizome is level with the top of the potting mixture.transplanting orchid, gardening

Now my orchid should be much happier, it has fresh growing material and all the roots are in the pot. transplanted orchidSoon it should be sending out a new spike and I will be rewarded with beautiful blooms.Orchid, gardening, houseplants

winter squash, produce, farming

Produce at a local farm.

Thanksgiving week was spent on the west coast visiting our daughter and son-in-law. I always enjoy seeing other parts of the country and while we were on the west coast we took a side trip to Eugene, Oregon to visit a friend of my husband’s. They’ve known each other since the age of four! He is an arborist and an avid gardener. It was fun to tour his garden and see how things grow in Oregon. I had no idea that this part of Oregon had such a mild climate. Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon and is home of the University of Oregon. It is located at the south end of the Willamette Valley, about 50 miles east of the Oregon coast. Temperatures are pretty moderate; the average low in the winter is just above freezing. Summer temperatures average in the 80s.

garden, tomatoes, vegetables

Amazing to have fresh tomatoes in November!

heirloom tomatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, garden

This was an heirloom Russian tomato that was delicious!

After leaving Vermont where my garden is put to bed I was surprised at the number of vegetables still growing in this west coast garden! There were still tomatoes on the vine!

vegetables, broccoli, gardening

Broccoli ready to be picked!

vegetables, west coast garden, cauliflower

Beautiful cauliflower

Lots of kale, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots not to mention raspberries still available for picking!

raspberries, west coast garden, gardening

Surprise to find raspberries in November!

lemons, west coast gardening

The color is a little off but these are Myer Lemons!

There was even a Myer Lemon with lots of fruit growing in their garden! I was quite impressed. The dirt in the garden was rich, dark soil with not very many rocks. Quite a bit different from my Vermont garden!

row cover, garden,

Quick demonstration on making a row cover.

row cover, winter protection,

A wonderful, inexpensive row cover!

While we were touring the gardens our friend showed us how to create a simple row cover using hog panels! Each panel was cut to form about a six foot section with the side cut to form prongs which stuck into the garden. The panel was then formed into an arch and would be tied to stakes which were placed in the ground. It could then be covered with plastic to protect your plants. Very simple and quick! I’m going to have to give it a try next year. It was such fun to have a tour of a west coast garden! We even had time to take a hike on a nearby butte. Very educational to hike in the woods with an arborist, I look forward to visiting our friends again!

Now that my garden is put to bed I can concentrate on other ‘gardening’ activities inside. Forcing bulbs inside is a good way to have blooming flowers mid winter. They also make a great present, who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of bulbs when the world is white outside! Tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley can be forced into flower in late winter or early spring.  A pot of tulips on your windowsill in February can brighten your spirits!

It is a good idea to keep the same variety in one pot as the blooming times often vary. Bulbs are also planted much closer together than you plant them outside. With the exception of narcissus bulbs, bulbs must be given a cold temperature of 35-48 degrees F for a minimum of 12-14 weeks. You can either keep them in a cold frame, an unheated attic or cellar or even a refrigerator!  In the refrigerator the pots should be covered with plastic bags that have a few holes punched in them.

Since I didn’t want to have to put my bulbs in a cold spot for weeks, I am gong to force paper white narcissus bulbs. I found some very healthy looking bulbs at the local nursery.

First I rinsed the gravel to get rid of the dust. I filled each of my bowls with gravel about 2/3rds full. I then nestled the bulbs in the gravel ½ to 1 inch apart, placing the pointed side up.  Then fill in gravel around the bulbs, leaving the top halves exposed. Place them in good light and add water up to the base of the bulbs. Keep the water level at this height.  I then placed the pots in a cool area. Within a few days roots will appear. When green shoots appear, move the pot to a cool, sunny spot. Sit back and watch them grow and bloom. It’s nice to enjoy a little bit of spring color for your home when everything outside is covered with snow!


fall, garden

Fall garden all cut back.

“Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.”
Thalassa Cruso

Some years I never get around to doing a full fall clean up of the gardens. This year almost everything is cleaned up. I really have to thank my mom for giving me a weekend of help! She came for a visit several weeks ago and we spent a good portion of the weekend cutting back the flower beds. I have one small flower bed to still cut back but the rest is cut back and cleaned up! What a wonderful feeling.

All the decaying plant material has been moved to our compost heap, which will help to keep the garden free of insects and diseases. I have weeded the strawberry beds and covered them with straw to protect them over the long cold winter. I have also added some composted manure to the rhubarb bed and covered it with straw. As I mentioned in a previous blog my garlic is planted and mulched. I even dug up my two rosemary plants and brought them inside for the winter. Nothing like a little fresh rosemary in the middle of winter!!

strawberry bed, fall garden, weeding

Fall strawberry bed.

strawberry bed, mulch, fall garden

Strawberry bed all mulched.

The last thing we did was to empty our compost bin that is close to our kitchen, into the garden. It was amazing to see the beautiful black compost! Once all these chores were complete we let the chickens have free range of the vegetable garden! They love it and in just a few weeks will have scratched every bit of garden soil. The surface of the garden will look like we’ve had a miniature rototiller busy at work! They eat up any weeds that have sprouted and pick up any lose bits of plant material. Plus it’s just fun to watch them busy at work.

compost, fall garden, chickens

Chickens enjoying the compost pile!

compost, fall garden,

Compost pile a day later.


Now the snows can come, my garden is wonderfully cleaned up and ready to face the winter. Before I know it those seed catalogs will begin arriving in the mail. I can sit by our woodstove and plan next years garden!

winter, garden, snow

The winter garden.

I haven’t grown garlic in years but this year I got my act together and managed to get some planted in the garden before the real snow! I purchased some locally grown garlic so it should do very well in my garden. There are two main types of garlic. Stiffneck and soft neck.  Stiffneck garlic plants send up a false flower stalk in the spring called a scape. Stiffneck garlic bulbs usually contain 5-7 large cloves. Softneck garlic plants do not produce a scape, and generally contain a dozen or more relatively small cloves. I planted the stiff neck variety. Garlic is multiplied by vegetative reproductions rather than by seeds. Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb. The nice thing about planting garlic is that it is planted in the fall, it’s out of sync with other crops. Garlic requires a cold treatment for about two months to induce bulbing. You want to give the garlic enough time to form roots but not enough time to form leaves! Our fairly mild fall gave me the opportunity to plant my garlic.

I pulled all the weeds from one of my raised beds and removed the various little stones that seem to pop up every year. First thing I did was to break each garlic set into its cloves, just like you do when you are going to cook them. Then I planted each clove, root side down every 5-6 inches apart. Each clove was pushed into the ground about 4 inches and then covered with dirt. I didn’t want the frost to pop them out of the ground. Once the garlic was all planted I mulched the bed with a nice layer of straw. Hopefully each of those cloves will grow into a nice, plumb garlic bulb! Now to be patient.

In the late spring the scapes should develop. These should be removed to retain the plant’s resources for bulb formation. The scapes are edible! Something new to try! I won’t be able to harvest my garlic until the lower leaves begin yellowing from the tips on down, usually in July. Ideally you want the bulbs to have attained their maximum size but the cloves have not started to separate, this way they will store better. I will let the bulbs air dry where they are protected from the sun. Then they will be ready to store.



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