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Winter Doldrums

Winter doldrums are in full effect, seems the kettle is always on these days. After a glorious Autumn, my batteries were pretty well charged up for the cold months, but I must admit, the cold and grey is getting to me.
Nothing much to do but dress warm and soldier on! The nice weather will be here sooner than you think and unit’s good to be a step ahead of everyone else when it does finally arrive in earnest.


Big plans:

There is still plenty to do and be done in the garden. Certainly, it’s a great time to plan. I find myself plotting on where to move the Dahlias this year for maximum view from everywhere on my property. Fortunately I have many of them and they will be everywhere.

♦ Cut back grasses, remove debris from evergreen plants.

It’s also great time to cut back the grasses; they were some what charming in December , but now they are frightful! It’s good to clean up the berry brambles as well as the melted bits of the evergreen plants.

Surely, there is  still some seasonal wreckage from Autumn and Winter that could move along. I often leave some debris in my garden through the Winter to help insulate the soil and the roots, at least that is what I keep telling myself.

♦ Pruning

Still a good time to prune fruit trees before they begin their growth cycle for the year. Not only are they still sleeping and do not seem to notice, the bare branches provide a great view of the tree’s overall growth pattern.

♦ Transplanting

Winter is ideal for transplanting, ideally if you can get out between rain storms. We’ve seen some very heavy rains in Portland this year. I recommend staying inside while that is happening and waiting for the earth to solidify again before moving plants. Not only is it easier and more fun to do, he soil structure stays in place better allowing the plants a better chance to acclimate.

…Put the kettle on and read something good

Almost Spring

Well, of course I wish it were Spring time already, but it’s coming soon and there are plenty of things to do.
The end of Winter is a great time to make some tea and get out there to work on the structural things that there never seems enough time for in the Spring and Summer.

Take some time to browse seed catalogs and map out your garden plan. I am currently searching for a mating pair of Rubinette apple trees. Rubinette (aka M26) is a cross between Cox’s Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious and is the best apple I’ve ever eaten. Good ole M26 is not a good keeper, but who needs apples that taste like cardboard and storage?

Rhubarb is starting to do it’s thing. Such a strange color to see bursting from dormancy on a grey day. It’s always an encouraging sign.

As Winter ends and Spring approaches, greens do well and give hope to the kitchen gardener. Kales, Brocoli, Spinach, Chard and the like.

Now that plants have returned to life, you can begin feeding perennials and preparing soil with nutrients such as compost and lime to sweeten the soil.

Fall Cleanup

Another Autumn full of rain, leaves and the colors they bring.
Thankfully, the cold isn’t too much to bare yet and there are still plenty of flowers blooming. I still have many Picotee Cosmos and several different Dahlias in my garden. 
Many gardeners suggest unearthing Dahlia tubers and storing them for Winter. I don’t often do this, really only every 2 or 3 years to divide them. Once the tops die back, I plan to dig up and divide my Dahlia tubers. If you do dig yours, be sure to label them somehow. One can see which tubers are new as they look younger and less weathered. It’s best to store them somewhere dark and dry for the Winter and cut the new tubers away from the old a few days before planting in the Spring. Alternately, you can leave them in the ground to over-winter as long as you’ve prepared the soil with plenty of pumice or such to promote good drainage. The main enemy of Dahlia tubers is too much water and thus, rot!

If you have Peonies and would like to see them continue to bloom in the years to come, don’t mulch them at all. They don’t like to have their crowns buried too deeply.

I decided it was time to say good-bye to the Sungold Cherry Tomatoes and Zucchini bush with it’s final fruit… see you next time, then!

I’ve started planting the Garlic bulbs I bought. This year I’ve decided to grow Early Italian Purple and Persian Star, both favorites from past years. For me the hardest part about planting Garlic is… where to put it?! While much of their growing season (October to June-ish), the land is not in high demand and in truth they don’t take up much space, I usually get restless in about March and want to cultivate everything! With this in mind, I usually plant them all over the yard, around the fence line and such. I like the way they look flowering near the fence. I don’t recommend putting them in raised beds or wherever you may want to plant tomatoes, Garlic just needs a bit longer to mature than the Summer growing season will allow.

Now is also a great time to get Winter greens like Kale and Broccoli in the ground. At this point, both are probably best to grow from starts.
Red Russian Kale is a particularly beautiful as the cold really brings out the red color.



End of Summer.

Ah, Summertime moving into Autumn. This is a favorite time of year for me. The fruits are bountiful and the earth is still warm.
I am still enjoying Tomatoes from the garden but looking ahead to clearing out the riff-raff and getting things tidy for Winter.

I am enjoying the Dahlias this year… again!
I’ve included some of my favorites.

Garlic bulbs and Onion sets are becoming available as well as the weather beginning to favor Kales, Broccoli and such.
The days and nights are still warm enough to germinate Carrots, Chard, Beets.


Here we are in late May. Of course, we were treated to a couple weeks of stellar weather then shunted back to the Spring rains for a while…easing back into the sunny days of late Spring just in time for the weekend. Digging is a pleasure in the days following the rains, at least for me.

Thankfully, the warm air has stuck around keeping the world safe for tomatoes, peppers and basils. Marigolds dot the landscape as Dahlias peek through the strata and begin their journey sunward. Peonies are exploding all over town soon to fill the air with that dreamy scent.


Autumn Rains Last Until Those Of Spring

These are the times that try the gardeners soul. Every once and a while, I’ll peer through the blinds or open the door and decide I’d rather stay dry. I’d like to be out rooting around and tending to the greens and such, but I’m more likely to sit inside and read about it. I’ve been drinking tea and reading a fine book called Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History. I recommend it!

Still, there’s always something to do out there. Late Winter and early Spring are excellent times for transplanting. New little weeds sprout up, mostly Cress and Fireweed. I like them well enough, as far as weeds go. They are certainly better than other weeds that might appear in their absence and I think it’s better to have something in the soil than nothing at all.

February is a great time to gather your seeds together, make new garden beds, amend soils (add lime, etc.) and plan what to grow and where.

Keep in mind general sunshine patterns in your yard to optimise growth cycles. Many plants will be ready to germinate in the weeks to come. Of course, the hot sun plants will need a more hospitable climate to grow.


Lloop “Autumn Rains Last Until Those Of Spring”




Tool Spotlight: Japanese Hori Hori

The Japanese Hori Hori is one of the most useful and versatile tools you can use in the garden.  I find it to be the most effective tool to remove weeds in a hurry and aerate soil. It’s thick blade is durable enough to cut through sod & roots, dig & pry, cut Dahlia tubers and still gentle enough to unearth plants for transplant.


The word “Hori” (ホリ) means “to dig” in Japanese and “hori-hori” ist he onomatopoeia for a digging sound. (source:


Garden friend or foe? Thoughts?