Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chez Mosquito - April update

26 April 2016

The concrete slab at Chez Mosquito is waking up. Slowly. So far, there are no mosquitoes.

Sssssh. Don't wake them. And, yes. It is still a lot of concrete.

We face north. Most of the slab is shadeland. Deep shadeland. Sun arrives first on the left side from the east (to the right of the picture) for a few hours in the morning, and then the tall townhouse casts its long shadow. The back, earthen part, is where most of the sun is in these spring and then summer months. In winter the sun does not clear the building and it is all full, full, utter, complete, intense, saturated shade (sound-of-razor-slashing-at-wrists).

4 March 2016

The beds around the edges of the central vegetable plot are planted with perennials and a few shrubs. The idea is to 1. make it pretty and 2. attract pollinators and beneficial insects. I have not amended these beds with calcium to raise the pH - the central bed is the one stuffed with crushed oyster and egg shells to sweeten the soil for crops (if you missed that drama, read this post).

I inherited day lilies, which I divided last year, as well as a magnificent clump of Solomon's seal, which I also divided, and ditto violets. The unwelcome volunteer seedlings are something else. They will have their own post.

To these edge-beds last fall I added the plants that moved with us from the Harlem terrace in August, 2015: blueberries, one of the black raspberries, asters, calamintha, Agastache 'Acapulco,' Heuchera villosa, nettles (!) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).

Swamp milkweed shoots

Then I acquired - in an indigenous fall planting fit - ironweed (Vernonia novaboracensis), Veronicastrum virginicum, Anemone virginiana (thimbleweed), some Solidago and sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), and agastache from the nearby and inspiring Gowanus Nursery. I also planted some sunchokes/Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) rhizomes that I bought at Key Foods on Henry Street. They have come up (back, right - ugly fence and neighbor-privacy). And I was gifted echinacea, aquilegia, and clematis. And there was an impulse buy of angelica, for drama.

Ironweed shoots

This spring I planted (from Brent and Becky'sLiatris spicata, Lilium longiflorum, and gloriosa lilies for the back fence.

In the pots on the slab there are Callianthus murielae (peacock flower), lilies, hostas-from-Harlem, some dead hardy begonias, Heuchera villosa (which dates from Cobble Hill and the original 66 Square Feet, along with one of the blueberries and the black raspberries). And the other beloved black raspberry; both plants nearly died last year when we went away and they were not watered.

The pots on the slab need work. More shade plants. I'm thinking annuals. And I may try turmeric and ginger. A seven foot reclaimed-oak table will be on its way from Akron, Ohio, this Monday, and the stone-top table will move off to the side. A beautiful umbrella is waiting to be unpacked. It will help with dinner time privacy and morning sun. And I may gravel that path around the vegetable bed.

I haven't even mentioned the little sunny patch of garden on the south side, which owes a lot to GRDN and my local gardener-friends Julia and Kirstin, who gifted me garden thinnings. The view from the bedroom is so much better. And soon our third floor neighbor will start his stoop garden, again. So that will be pretty, too.

Hey. I could have worse habits. The garden serves as a lab and inspiration. And some of it is a genuine tax write-off: for my freelance garden writing I prefer to have first-hand experience of the subject and the more I grow the more I know (or realize I don't know). Any garden is a good mentor, and a better therapist.



  1. Ginger as an annual? I dream of that. I have a cardamom that is taking over the side yard. We chop it to the ground, pull up a few rhizomes and then give up for another year. It laughs at our efforts. Scroll down this post for the ever-increasing cardamom in bloom. This shows only one-fourth of its majesty.

    1. Yes, as an annual - not sure if it will have enough time to do its thing.

      The cardamon on your blog is beautiful! Is it definitely cardamom, though? I thought the flower stalks grew nearer the ground, with smaller flowers

    2. I've seen that "version" but I haven't gotten pods from these flowers so I'm kinda on the fence about it. You can't always depend on retailers getting labels right.
      I do love the flowers! So few things survive under our trees.

  2. It looks wonderful - so much progress, so soon. That speaks to many hours of grubby work ... by you! can't wait to see what the summer brings.

  3. I can't wait to see what this summer brings at Chez Mosquito!! Your gardens are always lovely and so inspirational!

  4. It snowed here in s. Ontario yesterday.

  5. I am eyeing those flat roofs on your neighbour's garage for full sun plantings....

    1. Ha, I have enough on my plate! :-) There is sun on the other side of our apartment, happily. But that roof belongs to Rose-who-hates plants and would not be available even if I had enough energy for even more acreage. Are you the Vancouver Kathryn Friesen?

  6. Marie, you've made so much progress in such a short time. I so look foward to seeing pictures of all the plants growing and blooming through the spring and summer, displaying that special touch of yours. Do you have a solution to the mosquito problem? Or perhaps it is not a problem for you? If it were me, I wouldn't be able to sit out there for dinner.

  7. I know what hard work it all is but you make it look so easy.

    What vine is that growing against the fence on the right?


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