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Seattle Fling 2011

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Winterkill – Despair or Hope

Old white lilacs

Old white lilacs

Lilacs seem to know nothing of winterkill. This long harsh winter was as nothing to these ancient lilacs.

Wisteria

Wisteria

The same cannot be said for the wisteria. Winterkill in its most serious form has hit here. There is always a little winterkill, but there should be some sign of life by this time in the spring. No such luck. This might very well be the end of the wisteria as the provider of shade on the piazza.

Thomas Affleck rose in distress

Thomas Affleck rose in distress

The Thomas Affleck rose in front of the house has suffered a major attack of winterkill. I am  going out today to give it a good pruning. I am not in despair over the amount of winterkill among the roses. The rugosas are less susceptible than any of the other roses, but those that do endure winterkill often surprise me with how quickly and lushly they recover. My pruners are sharpened and ready for a major attack on dead or broken branches. Then we will see what June brings.

On this (almost) Wordless Wednesday I can think of nothing more to say on the topic.

In the Pink at the Lyman Plant House, Smith College

In the Pink at Lyman Plant House

Banish the winter blues and get In the Pink at the Annual Bulb show at the Smith College Lyman Plant House. This annual show, always fabulous, is running from now until Sunday, March 16.

It is no surprise to me that the powers that be would choose In the Pink as the theme for this year’s show. I love pink, as anyone who strolls down the Rose Walk can attest.  But there is something spring-like about all shades of pink from the most delicate aqueous shell pink to vibrant pinks, all of which find their most perfect expression in flowers.

Walking into the Lyman Plant House rooms that are perfumed with the fragrance of an early spring, it is hard to imagine all the planning and work required on the part of the greenhouse staff. I once asked Rob Nicholson, Manager of the greenhouse what it took to open the Bulb Show on the assigned date. His reply was succinct, “Patience and careful monitoring of temperature.”  That almost sounds easy.

Of course, there is work to do in the greenhouse all year to keep this wide array of plants from the tropical jungle to the arid desert in good health. I asked if they had to use a lot of pesticides and things to keep the plants in good shape.

“Of course, we’d prefer never to use pesticides, but when a collection of rare and exotic plants is kept in an enclosed greenhouse it sets up a situation where the plants inevitably are infested since they are not in a complex ecosystem where there are checks and balances. When we need to use pesticides we tend to use very mild ones that break down very quickly as we have to be able to allow visitors in the next morning. Pesticides are rated with an REI (re-entry interval) that dictates how soon humans are allowed back into the space so we are limited to those with REIs of 4-12 hours. Then I try to use ‘biologicals’ which are geared to disrupt insect metabolism such as molting cycles, rather than the old style neurotoxin types. We also use insecticidal soaps . . . which suffocated the insect pest. I find the pesticide laws are pretty inconsistent as any consumer can go to any box store and buy materials more dangerous than what we use, and misuse them,” Nicholson said.

I asked if they used neonicotinoids, nicotine based chemicals that have become controversial and are in so many pesticides. He said “The neonics we used were systemic. Granular material is applied to the soil, dissolves and gets absorbed into the plants. They have a long term effect. They were very low toxicity to humans, easy to apply, and worked well to keep our mums clean of mealy bugs.”

However, he added, “There is a lot of concern about this class of pesticides contributing to collapse of beehives. The European Union banned them last year. . . .the pesticide gets into pollen, bees collect the pollen and bring it back to the hive and taint it. As our Chrysanthemum Show in November can attract a large number of bees if the weather conditions are right (and greenhouse vents are open) we felt we could no longer use these on flowering plants that could draw in outside bees.”

Nicholson expressed his concern about the importance of protecting bees which are so vital to our food system. “. . .our country needs to take a hard look at this class of pesticides, do the proper research and then act accordingly.”

Nicholson feels strongly that we all need to be informed consumers, buy as little of any pesticide as possible, and follow instructions to the letter. All pesticides should be stored under lock and key. “As a toddler I drank pesticide stored in a Planter’s Peanuts can in my neighbor’s garage. It almost killed me,” he said. Then he reiterated the necessity to educate ourselves about “a very complex subject and industry,” especially since there are so many pesticides available that are not dangerous to the bees or to our children.

Recently there has been research that suggests acetamiprid and imidacloprid, the two most dangerous chemicals in the neonicotinoids, may cause damage to young children’s brain development. Because I have young children on my lawns from time to time I would never knowingly use products that contain neonicotinoids. That means I wouldn’t dare use common pesticides like Ortho Flower Fruit and Vegetable Insect Killer or Knockout Ready to Use Grub Killer which are only two of the many products that contain acetamiprid or imidacloprid. Further information about which products contain these chemicals are on the Xerces Society website,

The purpose of the Xerces Society is to protect invertebrates like bees, butterflies and many other creatures including mussels and crabs. I take Rob Nicholson’s advice to do my research seriously. Education is key, for all of us, and the Xerces Society is one place to start. Of course, I believe that using pesticides on the lawn is totally unnecessary, and agree with Nicholson that there are many safer products to use on plants.

To feel In the Pink, (March 1-16) the Lyman Plant House is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The suggested donation is $2. You still have a week to get there.  Talcott Greenhouse at Mount Holyoke College is also hosting a spring bulb show for the next week, through March 16.  Hours 10am – 4 pm.

Between the Rows  March 1, 2014

 

View from My Bedroom Window – February 2014

View from the Bedroom Window February 2

With this view from the bedroom window on February 2, I continue my more or less regular record of the weather and climate in this year of our Lord 2014. The dawn temperature was 34 degrees. Snow is melting.

February 6, 2014

Thirteen inches of snow fell yesterday, and so did temperatures today – 9 degrees.  But it is sunny.

February 9, 2014

More snow on February 8, about 3 inches. Temperature still cold, 10 degrees at 7 am.

February 21, 2014

Still more snow! A total of 30 inches in the last 10 days.  And this morning freezing fog turning the trees into crystal.

February 25, 2014

The road is clear, but the snow is melting very slowly because it is so cold. 10 degrees this morning,

 

February 28, 2014

The last day of February. We are glad to see this cold snowy moth depart – even though we do treasure all that precipitation. Now I walk out to the henhouse on snow that is frozen solid. The Polar Vortex seems to have left its shadow over our region. Zero degrees on this final day of the month.  How long will it take all the ice and snow to melt?

For more (almost Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Sastrugi – Waves and Caves

Sastrugi waves

Sastrugi caves

Sastrugi are caused by the wind’s blowing  and drifting the snow.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Microgreens with Dinner Tonight!

Microgreens

I planted these microgreens on February 2 and tonight I am harvesting them for our supper. Nothing could be simpler. Put seed starting mix in a container, press it down slightly, scatter your seeds which can be a mix from a company like Botanical Interests which I used, or seeds of any greens you have on hand – asian greens, radishes, beets etc. – and in two weeks or  so you will have a harvestable crop. In addition, microgreens are super nutritious!  I am sprinkling mine on my lettuce for a real boost.

The peas I planted are taking longer, but I should be able to harvest them in another week or so. I have three more little flats of microgreens coming along, and more pea shoots too. It’s February and I’m gardening!

Pea Shoots

This photo was taken 2-14, Valentine’s Day. Not quite ready for dinner.

The View from the Bedroom Window

View from the bedroom window 2-9-14

This view from the bedroom window, taken on Sunday has not changed much in the last few days. Temperatures have stayed very cold;  minus 2 degrees this morning. Occasional snow showers and the frigid temperatures have kept the snow pristine and amazingly sparkly. Big storm predicted for tomorrow. We’ll be prepared, but we’ll see.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

 

View From the Bedroom Window – January 2014

The View From My Bedroom Window January 5, 2014

This is my post for the View from the Bedroom Window for the  month of January. A continuing record.  By January 5 we  had 10 inches of snow and temperatures of  minus 10 degrees last night.  A Polar Vortex is promised  in the next couple of days.

January 13, 2014

On Monday, January 6 it was rainy and foggy and 50 degrees. The Polar Vortex arrived on Tuesday, January 7 with temperatures of minus 18 and WIND. The trek to the henhouse was bitter. I had to wrap my face in scarf.  But then  the weather became milder. On January 11 it was warm enough, 38 degrees, for pouring rain! The snow is nearly gone.

January 19, 2014

On January 18 it snowed and snowed. About six inches. This morning the temperature was 21 degrees at 8 am. Beautiful, mild day as the sun came out.

January 26, 2014

January 26 and temperatures hover at Zero at dawn.  Bright sun, brisk breezes; it is cold!  As the old saying goes, the cold grows stronger as the days grow longer. Last night’s snow showers freshened the landscape.

January is over, but I am hoping for a lot more snow. Precipitation is what we need.

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Greenfield Winter Fare 2014

Winter Fare veggies

If I am counting correctly this is the 7th Greenfield Annual Winter Fare which will bring truckloads of fresh local vegetables to Greenfield High School on Saturday, February 1.  Enter from Kent Street off Silver Street. Beyond  vegetables there will be preserved products like pickles and syrup, honey and jams. Frozen meat!  And to keep you shopping from 10 am til 1 pm music will be provided by Last Night’s Fun, and soup provided by The Brass Buckle, Hope and Olive, Wagon Wheel and The Cookie Factory will help you keep up your strength.

At 1 pm there will be a Barter Swap. Anyone with extra home made or home grown food can gather for an informal  trading space where you can make your own swapping deals.

There is more to the Winter Fare than the Farmer’s Market. Open Hearth Cooking Classes on Saturdays, Feb. 1 and 8, 10 am – 2:30 pm at Historic Deerfield.  Contact Claire Carlson  ccarlson@historic-deerfield.org.  $55 per person.

Screening of Food For Change and discussion with film maker, Wednesday, Feb 5, 6:30 pm at the Sunderland Public Library. Call 43-665-2642 for more info.

Annual Franklin County Cabin Fever Seed Swap Sunday Feb. 9, 1-4 pm Upstairs at Green Fields Market, www.facebook.com/greefieldsunflowers for more info.

Seed Starting Workshop Sunday, Feb 9, 1 pm at the Ashfield Congregational Church. Sponsored by Share the Warmth. More info: Holly Westcott  westcottha@verizon.net.

Winter Fare is obvioulsy about more  than Fare, this is a Fair atmosphere that brings a community together.

Mystery Melt – and the Solution?

Mystery Melt

What is a mystery melt? Yesterday morning we had snow showers, and cold temperatures all afternoon.  When I went out to the henhouse I noticed this mystery melt  that ran from the top of the slope towards our wellhead.

Mystery Melt

I  thought it was so strange to have such a clearly demarked area when the cold temperatures kept the veil of snow intact everywhere else.

We have a lot of water on  our hill with intermittent streams that have created paths of water/damp loving sedges in our  fields. There is a dug well up in the field, a 30 foot dug well lined with stone (an artful marvel of engineering) in back of the house near our drilled well, and a shallow dug well in the North Lawn Bed. The Sunken Garden is nearly a swimming pool from spring into mid-summer. Water comes coursing into our basement – and out through a conduit and onto the road. Water everywhere.

Thinking about all the water on our  hill showed I was on the right track. When I showed this to my husband Henry at the end of the day, he didn’t think it was a river or stream, but a spring not far below the surface. The area has always been wet. Then when we had work done on our foundation a few years ago our construction guy was moving soil around behind the house. Henry pointed out that the shape of this melt looked a lot like a bulldozer scrape. The spring was then just a little closer to the surface.

It’s possible. What do you think.

View from the Bedroom Window – December 2013

December 8, 2013

December 8 – The view from the bedroom window has been varied all this month. Temperatures ranged  from a windy zero degrees on December 17,  but on December 8 it was mild with a mere dusting of snow.

December 15, 2013

December 15 – Three or 4 inches of snow on the 13th and another 10 inches on the 14th.  We barely made it home after Gourmet Club that  night, the road was unplowed and the snow was still falling thickly.

 

December 22, 2013

December 22 – Yesterday and today temperatures in the 50′s. Showers. The snow is melting fast.

Christmas Day in the Morning

No snow. Just the sparkle of heavy frost in the dawn light.

 

For more (almost) Wordlessness on Wednesday click here.