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What the “F” is This?

What do you do when something comes up in your garden and you have no idea what it is?

Frankenplant

The easy answer is that you pull it like the weed that it is (or may be). However sometimes something starts growing that in intriguing. Thus we have frankenplant here.

Frankenplant sits on the edge of what I would call my Pumpkin patch.  Last year, after the cucumbers finished themselves for the season, Pumpkins took over this patch. They were weird organic pumpkins, that provided more blooms for the local rabbit population than actual pumpkins (I think only 2 were harvested for decorations on our front porch). And they were bright yellow.

It also sits at the end of a row that had originally been planted with a number of things that never came to pass. As I noted above, we have a rabbit problem that I did not properly fence against. I saw trays of carrots, radishes, beans, cauliflower and broccoli all dug up and killed. Since all the plants were part of a collection of organic seeds I got off Amazon, they were mostly strange and unusual varieties of veggies.

So this year, after plowing the patch and letting is sit for a month, I was faced with Frankenplant here. I figured it was some weird thing I planted that has yet to reveal its nature. 4 feet later, I am still wondering. And thus the Game begins (because I have no clue).

Help me identify it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My descriptions here are entirely non-horticultural (as I am just a garden-variety gardener whose knowledge comes from the back of a Burpee Seed package.

I offer you close ups. The leaves are broad like a banana tree or tobacco leaf. No discernible smell. New growth sprouts from intersections of leaves (much like a tomato plant that you squeeze off when you want to train it).

The branches are surprisingly thick like a succulent.

Its buds are little white flowers.

Hoping to find out whether this is a completely useless weed or if it may grow into something edible.

*–

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How One New Tool Can Start Your Season Off Right – The Black-Steel Pickaxe

I have just made my first purchase for the 2019 Gardening season. A new Steel Pickaxe.

I have been thinking about how I will organize the garden for 2019. For a long time in fact. After last year, I had to think about how I might improve my experience. My goals include:

  1. Start earlier (I did not get the ground broken in 2018 until May 1. Crappy weather was the main cause.
  2. Create better fencing – Dirty Little Creatures decimated some of my crops.
  3. Improve my herb garden.

STARTING EARLIER

While 2018 I had purchased seeds and created a good layout for my yard, getting the work done was more of a challenge. And for 2018, the main issue was weather. We had a very wet April. It was late May before I could get a roto tiller to turn over my garden patches. In the end, it did a great job. But it was borrowed. So this year I needed something new.

One of the little issues that anyone deciding to embark on any new project like this is having the tools. Last year showed that I was very weak in this area. I have a lot of gardening tools. But as I found, many of them were either inadequate for my needs or just broken.

I have 4 or five bent or broken rakes. 3 bent shovels. No broom. Various hand digging implements.

As noted I borrowed a roto tiller last year. I started with a shovel, but really had not gotten very far. Way too strenuous and time consuming. The tiller got everything done in a little more than an afternoon.

Probably my biggest wishes last year were for a decent hoe or 2, and a pick. I remember growing up, we had a pick for our garden. It was always a little too heavy for me to use. My dad would get it out to turn the garden beds. I always liked it because it was as close to being an Ax and anything we had. And an ax just seemed so cool (not that we ever needed it).

So with my dreams of a fully plowed garden, no chance of using a roto tiller without paying a bunch for a rental, I wanted a pick. And a mere $31 later, I got my tool. A brand new, carbon fiber handle, black painted steel pickaxe. And I must say it looked a whole lot more cool than I expected.

I picked it up from Home Depot using the HD Gift Card my oldest son gave me for Christmas. I knew that card would come to good use.

When I got it back to the car, I declared that it is my new Maul. Seemed like a good name for it. And cooler than Mattock. My 15 year old laughed at the gleam in my eye as I looked at it in the back seat. And she absolutely howled

with laughter when I went to work on the garden soon after parking in the back next to my grass patch.

Now the job of digging up my grass has not been easy. Even with the roto tiller last year, it took me a couple days and a lot of clearing the blades of strands of grass.After 5 minutes plowing away with the pickaxe though, I am convinced that this is the way to go. The patch was recently wet with rain, so it was ripe for the ripping. And while there was grass grown over it, the soil was still relatively easy to chunk up.

The final confirmation that this was the right purchase was the look on Mikey and Brandon’s faces. Both of them are avid gamers and play both Minecraft and  Fortenite pretty much all day long. So here is a real life pickaxe – that they have been using in games all the time. And they get to use it. It was my turn to laugh , watching them try to heft the 5 lb maul and plunge it into the soil. Worth the purchase just to see the smiles on their faces.

 

 

 

 

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Woodchip Mulching

I am starting to compile ideas to improve my garden next year. I just came across a very good article on woodchip mulching. Putting this article right here so I do not forget it. But count this as one of my top plans for 2019 (along with raising the patches, and getting good fencing and and and. . .

 

Natural Weed Control: Organic Farmers Use Woodchip Mulch to Control Weeds, Increase Crop Yields

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Time to “Roundup” the Victims

Monsanto's Roundup cleverly displayed at out local grocery store

This news is so major I am even willing to link an article from CNN

As Jordan Sather of Destroying the Illusion notes:

Juror awards near $300mill to a man who got cancer from Monsanto’s Roundup.

Work to in understand the Deep State/Nazi infiltration of the food, agriculture, and the “health” industries. Your favorite products may be slowly killing yourself and our planet.

This is a MONUMENTAL decision, paving the way for thousands of similar cases against Monsanto.

Or do I mean MonSatan? Their ending may finally be near!

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/10/health/monsanto-johnson-trial-verdict/index.html

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My First Mint of the Season

Spearmint picked for Tea

Last night, I picked my first batch of spearmint for the year. I am an absolute fan of Mint Iced Tea – Ice Tea in general. I drink a lot, so I am careful what it is that I am drinking (specifically that it is natural, has few calories). And my seasonal favorite is Mint Ice Tea.

As long as I have had a piece of dirt to grown things on, I have planted mint. My preference is Spearmint over peppermint, but either will do. I have found that the many varieties of mint that have been created are kind of mind blowing. The most interesting to me would be the “Chocolate Mint” variety. My mother in law found some once, but I thought it was a little weird.

My present mint patch is along the side of my house. And unfortunately it has not done so well in the past few years. I do not know if it is because I over cut it (usually 5 stems every other day). I would say it is low sunlight, but it used to produce much better. I will be looking into what I need to do with the soil to improve the yield, as I will be drinking this all summer.

Over the winter, I have looked for other alternatives, when fresh mint is not around. The closest thing to my tea is Boston’s Mint-in-Tea. I used that for a couple of years until my wife and I found something better. Just squeeze an orange and a lemon in a gallon of tea. During Mint season, I still have to make the orange-lemon for my wife (she is not a fan of Mint tea.).

 

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Looking Forward – New Year – New Moon in Aries

April 15, 2018

At 9:57PM EST this evening, the Astrological New Year will commence. This marks an important time with this blog mostly because it is a beginning point. I launched it on February 25th. And though I have added a few posts and some design work, this new year will be its real start time.

This Astrological New year is a time of new beginnings. And its energy, from the Sabina Symbol for 27 Aries, is,

“through imagination, a lost opportunity is regained “

so for the Astrology part of this blog, the message is about moving forward. And for me, the lost opportunity has been from my previous writing blog – BrighterSideNow. It’s intention had been all about positivity. When writing it, all things written had to be positive. Positive thoughts. Positive words. Positive comparisons. It began from the space of the Law of Attraction. By expressing in the positive, my goal was to attract exactly that, positivity. As a writing challenge, it was a hoot. You would be surprised at how much in our lives comes from the negative. This revelation would hit me often as I was writing. And would not even be able to write about it. So while it was a great challenge, it was a little restrictive.

AstroGardens will hold no such restrictions. Everything here is fair game. Each week will start with a Happy Monday. In fact, tomorrow’s will be:

Happy Monday! Today is a new opportunity, another chance, a new beginning. Embrace it!

I will continue to write about and share astrological aspects – including the sabian symbols. I will likely not hold myself to a regiment about it. But when the symbols speak to me, I will be sure to share whatever story comes to me. And I will also be sharing astrological aspects that specifically impact growing cycles. This is a Garden blog you know. And some of this may be important to some of the people who are reading.

And “Looking Forward” posts are to be expected. Here is one. This weekend I was beginning some of my planting. It has been cold. Too cold to put anything in the ground. And there has been snow and frost. Yesterday it was 80 degrees. Today did not get over 42. That is Spring back east. So I am starting seeds on my porch to see what comes of things.

And while looking at what what I was planting, I am most excited for lettuce. I am planning a bunch of different lettuce and leafy greens. I am looking forward to being able to go out each day and pick my salad and make green shakes. The varieties I have include:

Buttercrunch

Red Romaine

Paris Island Romaine

Iceburg

Slow Boat Arugula

Giant Noble Spinach

Georgia Collards

Swiss Chard

Red Acre Cabbage

Parsley

Cilantro

If it all comes up, I may be in trouble come the end of May. But I know a little grocery store and Organic Market stand within a mile that may be able to sell some. We will have to see. But they definitely could be an opportunity.

It is 9:30PM now. I will finish my cup of dandelion tea. Then I will be going outside soon to light a sage smudge and welcome in the New Year.

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Garden Astrology – The Almanac

Almanac

Do you read the Farmer’s Almanac?

Almanac
2018 Harris Almanac

If you don’t do you know anything about it?

Starting at the beginning of my 2018 Harris Farmer’s Almanac, the first line to its readers:

 

“Truth is indeed stranger than fiction” –Harris Almanac 2018

 

And in reading the Almanac, you find this to ring true. On the one hand, annual almanac is like the Reader’s Digest – with short articles about the weather, gardening, recipes and the like. Who doesn’t want to know about weather patterns in southern Iowa or bugs in South Carolina or how to make bread without a bread machine. Some are articles about wisdom from bygone days. Others are just trivia. Intelligent conversation starters that can be brought up while waiting in line somewhere.

 

But the articles are just window dressing. The real nitty gritty of an Almanac is the calendar. Especially before the Internet, sources were needed for people to be able to track cycles and events throughout the year. You have your calendar on the wall. The Almanac told you about what happens each day.

 

Is there a Holiday or special observance?

 

What is the phase of the moon?

 

How long is each day? Sunset? Sunrise?

 

What kind of weather are we expecting this month? (Can’t be any less accurate than the evening news here)

 

In American Culture, the most well-known Almanac was Poor Richard’s Almanac – published, written and sold by Benjamin Franklin. It is known as the place where he offered pithy, meaningful quotes. I will share them from time to time on this blog, as they often have great advice, and are funny as well. The quote for today:

 

“Lost Time is never found again.”

― Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

 

Reminds me that I have not written enough for this blog and need to get to it.

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Transforming our Yard into a Garden

Transforming our Yard into a Garden

Since we moved into this house 20 years ago, we have had gardens. In fact, the gardens around the yard were something that we marveled at from the beginning.

We chose this house and moved in in the winter time – February and March. We could see lawns, borders, trees and bushes. But that was about it. The real makeup of our yard only revealed itself in the coming of the spring – around about April here in Eastern Pennsylvania.

What we found was a wealth of annual plant life and some wonderfully designed gardens on the back and side yards. There was a White Hydrangea, two beautiful Peony bushes, gardens bordered with Hosta and a couple Azaleas.

Other than a few rose bushes along the side, and a Lilac bush in the center of the back lawn, we have left the planters pretty much alone. We have planted flowers and groomed the bushes.

The other unfortunate aspect of the property is the large trees. We live on a tree lined street with a beautiful canopy of Lindon trees. The affect in the summer is that our street feels like a tunnel. It keeps the street 10-15 degrees cooler, which is also a plus. However, Lindon’s are messy. They drop stuff throughout the year. And the shade, while beautiful, blocks out the sun in front to the point where not even grass will grow effectively. And other than bushes, the only flowers we can plant are impatiens.

The back yard has another feature that limits what we are able to do. Right behind the house is a huge Mulberry Tree. During the month of June, the yard is a mess with rotting mulberries and bird and squirrel droppings.

From the first year, I began planting a small patch in the back lawn – the SouthEast Corner. We have planted what most backyard gardens have – tomatos, beans, cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers and the like. Sometimes we will add something different, but usually it has been just run of the mill.

Where are we going in 2018

As the point of this blog, I am expanding the gardens to grow food and herbs in the available space on our property. It came as an inspiration last year when I really wanted to be planting a bunch of herbs but did not have the time to do it since it was late in summer.

So, this winter, I began to plan out how to gain more space. In the hand drawn diagram above, you can see where I plan to plant. Much of this will require a lot of work, including turning soil, removing bushes and repurposing existing garden spaces. This blog will show it all – and offer as much advice as I can learn along the way.

In future posts, I will explain some of my thoughts and scratched from my sketch.