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May 23, 2015

Weather: We received a break in the heat, but still no appreciable rain. Early and mid week highs were close to 90. Thursday and Friday highs were just below 80.

Moon: Waxing crescent

In the garden: The summer squash and tomatoes have begun to set fruit. We harvested beets early in the week. We will harvest our first head of cabbage (and maybe a carrot or two) this weekend for coleslaw. The dill and parsley have been producing vigorously for a couple of weeks now. The chives are still quite robust with flowering seemingly finished.

What’s blooming: oakleaf hydrangea is approaching peak, Endless Summer hydrangea is just coming on. The first direct-sown calendula bloom just opened as well.

May 16, 2015

Weather: Still hot and no rain. Upper eighties to around 90 in the day, close to 70 over night.

Moon: Waning crescent (new moon will be 5/18).

In the garden: Finally planted my first round of beans (nearly a month late). Lettuce and cilantro have decided to bolt, so we harvested and shared the last of the lettuce and will leave the cilantro to ripen it’s seed for storage. Cucumbers are rapidly taking over the lettuce space anyway. Several peppers have baby fruit: cayenne, serrano, ancho poblano, lady bell and golden california wonder (no jalapenos yet).

What’s blooming: Daylilies and coneflowers have come into bloom. This is about a month earlier than normal for the coneflowers. Nasturtium has begun to bloom as well.

May 9, 2015

Weather: HOT! Several days pushing the ninety degree mark, and nights close to seventy degrees. No rain.

Moon: Waning gibbous.

In the garden: I prepared five new beds for sweet potatoes during the week. The slips arrived in the mail on Thursday and were planted Friday. I harvested ‘Spanish Benitee’ garlic (perhaps a little prematurely, but the cloves have formed fairly well in the heads). Now to catch up on watering and hopefully get the beans in the ground.

What’s blooming: Sweet bay magnolia, southern magnolia and honeysuckle.

May 2, 2015

Weather: A beautiful week! Highs in the upper seventies and low eighties, lows in the fifties and sixties. We took advantage of the good weather and camped in the N. GA mountains…got pretty cold Friday night (low forties).

Moon:Nearly full (full moon 5/4), actually waxing gibbous.

In the garden: I didn’t get the beans planted, although the weather has been perfect. Only had time to water and weed. The coming week will be spent preparing for sweet potatoes, so beans may not go in until the following week.

What’s blooming: At home the knockout roses are blooming nicely, blackberries and spanish lavender are past peak. In the mountains, the mountain laurel and native azaleas were in their full glory.
fringetitleApril 26, 2015

Weather: After last week’s complete washout (sorry for the lack of a report last week), the weather broke beautifully. Temperatures were in the mid-seventies mostly, with overnight temps in the upper forties to low sixties. Last night we saw a few storms blow through, and it’s overcast today.

Moon: New moon was last week, this week was waxing. As of tonight we’re halfway to full…entering the “gibbous” phase.

In the garden: all of the summer veggies we started two weeks ago are looking great. Nothing new has been added, we’ll plant beans this weekend.

At the feeders: Local residents are taking advantage of our hospitality on inclement days. After last night’s storms, we had house finches, goldfinches, wrens, cardinals, titmice and chickadees. The bluebirds in our birdhouse have 5 eggs which should hatch late this week.

What’s blooming: Our favorite landscape plant, the white fringe tree, is in full bloom. We also have blooms on our spanish lavender, “wild” geranium, and bloom spikes on our heuchera in the perennial garden.

tomatocuttingsApril 12, 2015

Weather: Highs in the eighties and lows in the fifties this week have moderated slightly. Stormy weather Friday brought a slight moderation to the early season heat. Saturday was in the mid-seventies.

Moon: The third quarter is nearly over. Fourth quarter begins tonight.

In the garden: The extremely warm weather, combined with a favorable 10-day forecast has led us to plant a lot this weekend. Transplants: tomatoes, peppers, basil, parsley, dill, lettuce, nasturtium, zinnia, marigold, calendula, hollyhock and cosmos. Direct sow: summer squash, cucumber. Potatoes are nearly a foot tall, carrots are two inches, and we’ve been harvesting our mesclun mix for over a month. LOTS of weeding has been/needs to be done.

At the feeders: see last week’s comment.

What’s in bloom: Dogwood, spanish lavender, wild geranium are in bloom. Viburnum opulus (eastern snowball) is beginning, but the flowers are still green. White fringetree is beginning to bud.

serviceberryApril 4, 2015

Weather: Since last weekend’s dip in temperature, we have had several days with a bit of rain, but mostly beautiful spring weather. Highs in the 70’s, lows in the 40’s and 50’s.

Moon: Tomorrow is Easter, and that means the moon is full. Entering the third quarter.

In the garden: Spring salad greens have exploded and are delicious! Garlic is still growing well. The bunching onions are beginning to slow down, some showing buds. Carrots and beets are putting on their second sets of leaves.

At the feeders: Mostly squirrels. The birds have found their natural sources for the most part. Cardinals, siskins, house finches, chickadees, titmice and the rest are only making casual appearances these days.

What’s blooming: The freeze last weekend knocked a few things backwards. The blueberries, for instance were in their full glory and we struggled to keep them from losing their open flowers. Happily, the serviceberry was just coming on and is now at peak bloom. Dogwoods are next up. Redbuds are just past peak.

winterhazelMarch 28, 2015

Weather: The gorgeous weather was interupted yesterday with a cold front, bringing near freezing temperatures last night and even colder temps (maybe upper 20’s) tonight. We covered the hydrangea which has begun to leaf out. Tonight we’ll cover the blueberries as well.

Moon: Second quarter begins today.

In the garden: Several harvests of Korean bunching onions, spinach, and mesclun salad mix (lettuce, kale, cilantro, beet greens, mustard).

At the feeders: the ususal local species are at the feeders. Bluebirds have begun nesting in our next box.

What’s blooming: Forsythia are past peak, redbud, sugar maple, yoshino cherry, winter hazel (corylopsis), early blueberries, serviceberries are just beginning, daffodils and tulips, henbit, chickweed, dandelion, annual bluegrass,

bloodrootMarch 21, 2015

Weather: After an overcast weekend, the temperature broke 80 degrees two days in a row on Monday and Tuesday, then held in the 60’s and 70’s the rest of the week. Warm nights, too, have the soil warming rapidly. More light rain came late in the week.

Moon: New moon was yesterday. Now entering the first quarter (waxing).

In The Garden: I planted potatoes on St. Patrick’s day, as is my habit. I covered (what will be) the new sweet potato patch with black plastic to kill off the existing vegetation over the next two months until planting time. I also turned compost piles, weeded and spread four yards of mulch.

At The Feeders: Chickadees, titmouses, pine siskins, nuthatches, cardinals, carolina wrens, house finches.

What’s Blooming: forsythia, bradford pear, okame cherry, quince…witch hazel is completely finished.

cabbageseedlingMarch 14, 2015

Weather: What a change! Spring has arrived all at once with temperatures in the seventies most of the week and overnight lows in the upper forties to mid fifties. Several days and nights of overcast and showers made a great transition for the newly planted salad greens.

Moon: We’re nearing the end of the third quarter. New moon is early next week.

In the garden: The first few carrots are beginning to germinate. Also, I planted cabbage and kale seedlings that I started in soil blocks at the end of January. We mixed the first light cutting of the salad greens that were just planted last week with some spinach from the fall for a nice green salad yesterday!

At the feeders: Downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, cardinals, pine siskins, house finches, a few goldfinches. In the yard we are seeing lots of robins elbowing for territory with a few of our regular bluebirds.

What’s blooming: The sudden warmup has started forsythia, bradford pear, and tulips; and accelerated all of the weeds. The witch hazel has begun dropping petals. The hellebores look better than they have all season. Daffodils seem to be approaching peak.

seedlings1March 8, 2015

Weather: This was another week of change- cloudy then rainy then sunny then a snowy morning followed by a mild afternoon. By Friday, however, the forecast started looking great; with no freezing nights in the ten day forecast.

Moon: Third quarter (waxing), which signifies a good period in which to plant root veggies or take cuttings for rooting.

In the garden: I took advantage of the mild weather and favorable moon phase to plant carrots, beets and onions in the garden. I also planted salad greens in the cold frame.

At the feeders: Pine siskins are still here, feeding heavily. Robins and red-winged blackbirds are travelling the neighborhood in flocks. A handful of sandhill cranes flew (low) over – the first I’ve seen in three weeks. Spring patterns are taking over.

What’s in bloom: Rosemary, hellebores, witch hazel, daffodils, okame cherries are just starting. Weeds: dandelion, henbit, bittercress, annual bluegrass are all just beginning to flower.

Garden Phenology

February 28, 2015

Weather: This was a sloppy week. Winter storms threatened and we received a little freezing rain, sleet and snow Tuesday through Thursday. The rain that accompanied it all, however, ensured that nothing lasted. Friday was crystal clear and warmed into the forties. Today is overcast with temperatures expected to reach the fifties. The ground is pretty soggy.

Moon: The waxing moon is midway to full.

In the garden: I took advantage of the wet weather and direct sowed a few radishes and carrots as the first drops were falling, in an area that had been covered with black plastic for several weeks. I chose these crops because radishes germinate easily even in the cold, and carrots can take weeks to sprout even in good weather but are cold tolerant once they get going. Today I’ll start hardening off the lettuce and kale seedlings that I seeded at the beginning of February. The fall-planted garlic looks great and the spinach is not growing but looks good.

At the feeders: Cold, wet weather brings lots of activity. It seems that the orange-crowned warbler that’s been with us through the winter may have begun its migration. The pine siskins are still here in force. Today I’ve had flocks of red-winged blackbirds and robins on the lawn for a few hours.

What’s blooming: Still not much. It’s not uncommon for us to have forsythia, okame cherry and Bradford pear blooming at this time of year, but these are all holding their buds tight. No quince yet either. So far the lenten roses, daffodils, crocuses, and witch hazel are the only plants trying to reproduce.

Garden Phenology

February 21, 2015

Weather: It’s still winter here in Georgia. A cold snap moved in this week with two separate cold fronts bringing threats of frozen precipitation, and some of the coldest temperatures of the winter in between. We received no ice or snow at our home, but we did see daytime temperatures below forty degrees and night temperatures in the “hard freeze” range all week, including two nights hitting 12 degrees.

Moon: This was the week of the new moon (Wednesday/Thursday). Now waxing.

At the feeders: Monday was the end of the Great Backyard Bird Count. The weekend count totaled 18 species at the feeders. When the cold weather moved in, we saw a few others including a rare visit from one of our local bluebirds at the suet.

In the garden: With the cold weather, outdoor gardening was limited to pruning blueberries and cold protection. I covered the recently planted strawberries with pinestraw and plastic, and the rosemary with trashcans. Indoors, I am maintaining 7 flats of started seeds, two of which will be planted next weekend in the cold frame.

What’s blooming: Only the hardiest bloomers like Lenten rose, daffodil and witch hazel have flowers at this time. The witch hazel has bloomed out fantastically in the cold weather.Garden Phenology

February 14, 2015

Weather: Last weekend’s mild weather, sunny and mid-sixties, has moderated just a bit. This week was mostly sunny with daytime temperatures reaching the mid-fifties and overnight lows in the low thirties early week. The past couple of days have seen highs in the forties and lows in the mid-twenties. I had to water the garden a couple of times due to wind and no precipitation.

Moon: Waning. It’s been coming up late so the clear skys have made for decent early stargazing.

At the feeders: I finally had to purchase my third 20# bag of bird seed this week and reloaded the  suet feeder. Activity has picked up since the finches seem to be flocking. Lots of goldfinches and a newly arrived flock of pine siskins have been ploughing through the feed. Not at the feeder, sandhill cranes were flying over in large numbers Wednesday and Thursday but none on Friday.

In the garden: I didn’t plant anything in the garden this week. I did, however, seed more lettuce, cabbage, kale and herbs. The stuff we started at the end of January should be ready for the cold frame by the end of the month.

What’s blooming: The witch hazel finally started! Next up should be forsythia, star magnolia, or bradford pear…

Garden Phenology

February 7, 2015

Weather: This week was mostly sunny, with an early-week exception that delivered an inch of rain overnight. Temperatures were average for our area. Daytime temps reaching into the fifties, hovering around freezing overnight.

Moon: The full moon was beautiful Tuesday night! Clear evening skys all week have made for bright nights. I was able to see a fox sitting halfway the driveway at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when she was disturbing the peace with her calls. That was the first fox I’ve seen here in several years.

In the garden: This week, I have been maintaining last week’s installations. I also planted a few bearded iris and crinum lilies that were disturbed when I transplanted a shrub a week or so ago. I actually had to water the garden for the first time of 2015 yesterday. Spinach, garlic and green onions are looking fantastic. Beets, turnips and collard greens are just about finished. I also covered two beds, each 4’x12′, with black plastic. Hopefully this will warm the soil enough to help the early seeded crops root in well when I plant them in a few weeks. Chickweed, henbit, annual bluegrass and oxalis are all growing like crazy in the more protected locations. A few dandelions are blooming.

At the feeders: Downy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, mourning doves, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmouse, chipping sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, towhees, orange crowned warblers, yellow rumped warblers, Carolina wrens. Not at the feeders, the bluebirds and phoebes are having daily feasts in the garden, yellow bellied sapsuckers are drilling away on the sugar maple, and sandhill cranes are doing daily fly-overs.

What’s blooming: Hellebores and crocus are approaching peak bloom. Lots of yellow on the witch hazel, but no open flowers yet. Viburnum opulus has started showing swollen, red buds. The dogwood trees (Cornus florida) in the neighborhood and in the woods nearby are all showing fat buds, too.

Garden Phenology

January 31, 2015

Weather: It was pretty much an average week. Daytime temperatures were in the upper forties to near sixty degrees, nights held closely around the freezing mark. There were a few overnight showers mid-week, both times followed by wind when the fronts passed through. Partly cloudy most of the week.

Moon: Waxing this week (full moon will be 2/3).

In the garden: Today was a busy day. I planted dwarf white clover in two spent broccoli beds. I turned in the remains of lettuce and mizuna in another bed and planted bare root strawberries. Finally, I seeded kale, cabbage, lettuce and peas in soil blocks…They will sprout and be ready to plant within three weeks. The season is finally here!

At the feeders: They weren’t at the feeders, but sandhill cranes were flying overhead all afternoon today, on their way back north. Mourning doves have been spending more and more time around the feeders this week. I noticed a male downy woodpecker suddenly coming around the past several days, with the female who has been with us all winter. We’ve confirmed the orange crowned warbler i.d., they’ve spend a couple of weeks with us as they await warmer weather to head back to Canada. The neighborhood birds have been a bit less active at the feeders with the mild weather. They have only eaten half of the suet that I put out at the end of December, compared with four times that amount last January. I have been refilling the seed feeders at three or four day intervals this month.

What’s blooming: The crocuses have popped out in flower this week. Daffodils are coming up, but are not budded yet. The witchhazel is slowly easing it’s buds open, but it’s not blooming quite yet. As I was walking through the neighborhood, I noticed the male catkins on the alders have elongated. They will likely be in bloom in the next week or so, with continued mild weather in the forecast.

Garden Phenology

January 24, 2015

Weather: This was yet another week of change. Early in the week it was beautiful, sunny, and warm enough to work outside all day in a T-shirt (upper fifties to mid sixties). A front came through on Thursday night and we got rain through Friday evening with temperatures in the low fourties. Today the wetness it blowing out with 15 mph winds, it’s still overcast at 9:45 a.m.

Moon: This was the week of New Moon. The stars in the crystal sky at 3 a.m. Tuesday were stunningly brilliant (the one benefit of my old dog’s occasional need to get me up in the middle of the night). Now the moon is waxing, time to get the new lettuce crop going.

In the garden: Everything is either getting tired out or not quite ready to go yet. No harvest this week. The seed starting rack is up and ready to go. It has been the home for some of our outdoor houseplants since November. Now it’s time to start using it for it’s intended purpose. On a landscaping note, the great weather on Wednesday allowed me to transplant a hydrangea and in the process dig up irises and crinum lilies to be divided.

At the feeders: Lots of activity…Yellow rumped warblers made an appearance this week. On the sugar maple, yellow bellied sapsuckers have arrived. Winter wren was here (amazing how tiny it looks next to Carolina wren). I may or may not have had an orange crowned warbler. Did’t see the orange crown, and there were no other distinguishing markings, but the size, shape and drab coloring seemed right. A quick, unconfirmed appearance by what for all the world looked like a brown headed nuthatch, but it was too quick to get a good look and I don’t recall having seen them here before. Otherwise the usual suspects: downy woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, titmouse, cardinals, Carolina chickadees, house finches, goldfinches, house sparrows, chipping sparrows, towhees, white breasted nuthatches. For some reason the starlings that have been hanging out in the neighborhood have stayed away for the most part.

What’s blooming: Hellebores are blooming. Witchhazel buds are cracking color.

Garden Phenology

January 18, 2015

Weather: The reason this is a day late this week is because the sun finally came out on Friday after a week of clouds, rain, drizzle and fog with temps hovering in the upper thirties. This time it warmed with the sun, to the mid-fifties. Today was windy too.

Moon: Though we didn’t see it, the moon is waning, new moon is coming up on Tuesday.

In the garden: I took advantage of the good weather and removed a couple of beds of worn out broccoli and collards. Spring planting will start in just a few weeks. The spinach looks fantastic right now! Mizuna and lettuce are bouncing back nicely from the cold.

At the bird feeders: The purple finches seem to have moved on. Haven’t seen them since last weekend. The goldfinches are just starting to get their color. One damp morning this week the birds had a ground feeding festival in the backyard: over a hundred birds including chipping sparrows, robins, bluebirds, mourning doves and phoebes leapfroged through the grass for about a half hour until a flock of starlings broke it up and everyone took off.

What’s blooming: The lenten rose will be any day now. The biggest buds are about a quarter of the way open. The siberian iris and bearded iris are pusing out foliage pretty aggressively, but it’s going to be a while before we see their flowers. I noticed today that the red maple tree buds are fat and ready to pop.

Garden Phenology

 January 10, 2015

Weather: This week saw a major change. Damp drizzle and mild temps early in the week changed to cold, partly cloudy and windy. A big storm system flooded local creeks, and made the yard soggy as the front passed through Monday night. Wednesday night was the coldest of the season at 12 degrees. Thursday and Friday nights were in the teens. Daytime highs stayed just below 40.

Moon: Waning, it was full on Tuesday.

In the garden: We took heed of the forecast and harvested some greens for ourselves and some to share heading into the cold. The lettuce, mizuna, spinach, collards and broccoli got “haircuts” but they look okay now that the coldest weather is past. We expect them to be back in production in a few weeks. Half of the scallions were made into kimchi. I also used a pile of shredded leaves to refresh the mulch on the garlic and the remainder of the scallions. We also trimmed back the herb garden to prepare for divisions and to root out cuttings for spring.

At the bird feeders: Since the weather has dried out, we are back to the usual suspects. Throughout the cold days, house finches and purple finches have alternated waves of feeding with chickadees and titmice. Added to the mix are a few isolated towhees, downy and red bellied woodpeckers, goldfinches and wrens. They went through twice as much seed as normal this week, and have fed much more heavily on suet as well.

What’s blooming: Everything that was budded last weekend is stalled. The cold has not caused noticeable damage to the camellia buds that I can see, which would be the first victim. I also noticed that the witchhazel, which is loaded with fat buds, has barely begun to show color (less than 5% of the buds are beginning to crack). For now, we’ll enjoy the color on our evergreens like the sedum pictured above.

Garden Phenology

January 3, 2015

Weather: This week has been “juicy”. Lots of clouds, several days of rain with daytime temperatures in the forties and fifties. Night temperatures have stayed above freezing.

Moon:  Waxing (full moon is next Tuesday).

In the garden: We are harvesting lettuce, mizuna, spinach, bok choy, collards, scallions, secondary broccoli florets, turnips and Swiss chard. All of it is uncovered. While we were away for the holidays, the rabbits ate our struggling carrots that they have been eating throughout fall. Beets are leafy but the roots are small.

At the bird feeders: It was drizzly and mid-forties between 10 and 10:30 a.m. when I observed a pair of downy woodpeckers, a redbelly woodpecker, a few titmice, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens, goldfinches, house finches, several male cardinals, a male towhee, 5 or 6 chipping sparrows, and for the first time ever we were visited by purple finches! Oh, and a squirrel was mopping up also.

What’s Blooming: Nothing has bloomed in the landscape yet. We’re watching the lenten rose and Camellia japonica as the next likely subjects, both of which have nice swollen buds but are not yet showing color. I noticed today, also, that the buds on the star magnolia are beginning to swell. Winter is definitely here, time to wait and watch.

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