Saturday, October 16, 2010

Preparing for frost, open garden Dec. 4

Today is the day that the Rutgers Extension Service says we should take in our "tropical plants." I have brought in my aloe and my great-grandmother's Christmas cactus. I think I'll leave the others out a bit longer.

However, I'm picking and freezing my basil (as pesto) and my Malabar spinach as fast as time allows. Last year and the year before we had a frost that killed them in October, and the full moon is only about a week away.

I now have FIVE freebees on my front steps: basil and parsley seedlings, potatoes, and columbine and bee balm plants. I'm ashamed I haven't offered columbine before. It turns out to be easy to transplant. It is abundant in my yard right now, so take all you want. It spreads, but it is MUCH easier to dig out than dandelions, and not nearly as invasive as euphorbia (the anti-woodchuck plant). I have composted lots before, but that's a waste of a plant that William Shakespeare obviously liked so much in early spring.

Be sure to bring a plastic bag to pick up columbine or bee balm, and plan to replant it soon after you get home. I'm a bit more cautious about recommending bee balm. It is fine in the shade; take a look at it to the right of the steps, where it's been for years. However, it went wild in the sun next to my curb, and is NOT easy to dig out.

While you are there, you have my permission to wander in my FRONT yard as long as you walk only on the sidewalks and the green grass. To the left of the steps are the day lilies. Behind them is the laurel. A lilac bush is at the left corner of the house, where I planted it not THAT long ago. Above the bee balm is Andromeda, which has little white flowers early in the spring. You can see the azalea in the foreground behind the flowers. In front of the holly tree is the astilbe; you can still see the fern-like "flowers" which were pink and red much of the season and I still think are nice. In front of that are my two primrose plants, descended from my great-grandfather's (not the one married to the aforementioned great-grandmother). The asters are just beginning to bloom on the house side of the row of chrysanthemums.

Florence and Jose will join me in an Open Garden tour on Saturday, December 4, from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. That's long enough to be out at that time of year! If you want to open your vegetable garden to the public at that time, let me know ASAP.


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