01 November 2022

End of the Garden

This might be the latest I've been able to maintain my Colorado garden. We had our first overnight freeze of the season last week (nearly all week, actually), and I watered all the way up to the day before the first freeze. (The polar snap did not bring us more than two or three flakes and maybe a handful of raindrops until Thursday, when we got a two-inch heavy white blanket! The forecast called for a few flakes, mostly on grassy surfaces. Nevertheless, we are still in drought conditions.) Before conditions deteriorated, I kept hoping just one more red sunflower would bloom!!!

Now all those gorgeous red leaves in the background of my final red sunflower of 2022 are buried beneath the snow, and the skeleton trees make it much easier to see owls, hawks and blue jays who might happen by.

I clipped and vased the remaining cosmos (and four zinnia buds) prior to the freeze. I didn't know if the buds would open, but I knew I could at least give them a fighting chance. It's kind of joyful now to still have a few glorious blooms after nine nights of really, really cold.

And the buds are opening!!!

I hadn't planned to try to save the zinnias; they are so super easy to grow. But while weatherproofing other plants in the garden, I discovered a severed zinna bud. I HAD to try to save it. Again, I don't know if it will open, but doesn't hurt to try, right?

I crafted warm quilt and flannel sheet tents for two of the raised-bed gardens because I still had baby peppers and green tomatoes. The wind changed my mind after just two days. I brought the blankets back in and washed them, and I plucked all the pepper and tomato babies from the garden. The peppers chopped up were perfect for our salad that day. I don't know if the tomatoes are mature enough to turn, but I'll give it a try.

Some of the porch seedlings looked as if they might still give reason for hope, but I opted against bringing the most productive pot in because it's cracked.

I bug-sprayed others (because creepy crawlies do get into our pots in just the short three months they are outdoors) a day ahead of time and then brought them in once the fumes disippated. If any leaves start showing signs of aphids or white flies, right back outside that pot will go! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, no excuses and no questions asked. Just good riddance!

The porch hoyas that have been rooting and actually flourishing since I trimmed my indoor hoyas months ago were going to be left on the driveway prior to the arctic blast with a homemade "Free to Good Home" sign. I have four indoor rooted clippings I was hoping to rehome, too. I was hoping all eight plants would be adopted, but alas, the day before the "storm" was too bright, sunny and hot. Yes, hot. And low of 58 that night!!! So all hoyas still present and accounted for, and I'll try next weekend if weather conditions accommodate. In the meantime, I was pleasantly surprised to discover four of the rooted plants have already bloomed!

I've been calling my mom every weekend since my dad died in June. I told her about our garden-warming attempts, and she was super curious about the hoyas. She doesn't think she's ever seen one. I told her if I do get to go see her again this coming Thanksgiving, I will bring her one of the clippings. She's in a much warmer climate, and she was excited by the prospect of twice-a-year flowers that don't need much special attention. Now I have to figure out a way to send her a photo of a hoya flower. (She doesn't text or use social media.) I think I'm going to have to design a hoya blossom greeting card! (or five...)

My lemon tree(s) were planted from seeds early in 2020. I had to start over that year because the one I'd been growing in the office for at least two years died during "two weeks" of pandemic neglect. I hadn't taken it home in March of 2020 because I thought we would be back in the office in two weeks. I'm non-essential staff (NOT a complaint!!!) and was not allowed into the building for nearly two years. Now my new lemon tree has grown another 13 inches in the hot summer sun! Obviously, lemon trees are not evergreens, so my teenage trees got to come back inside for probably six months. Maybe a month or two longer.

My pineapple, which was becoming a bit of a disappointment because the flowers were not anywhere near as dramatic as I'd expected and because three months in, the pineapple is still only three inches tall, was beginning to make me think pineapples cannot be grown at elevation. !!! Not going to get much of a fruit salad or Hawaiian pizza from this "tine-apple" or "tinyapple"!

Turns out the two years I learned this year it normally takes for a pineapple plant to bloom is actually how long it takes for the pineapple toddler to become an adult. It won't survive a freeze, so it's back in the house again, near the south-facing window. This was both a surprise and a shock; I thought we were done with it indoors, and I didn't really want to share space with it inside the house any longer because it takes up so much space. But now that I know, in spite of our altitude, the pineapple might still be big enough to carve and enjoy one day (as well as keep flowering because each of those tiny purple blossoms becomes a pineapple "berry" in time), I'm kind of tickled to have it back in the house. It will give me something to check on throughout the waning light of the next two months.

I've been so busy with home repairs, work and taking care of Lizard the last three months, I completely forgot about bringing my amaryllis bowls back inside to ferment in the basement for three months so I can have flowers for Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a result, I may have amaryllis blossoms for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Or perhaps even Easter... A few of these bulbs in the past have taken much longer than the three months I think they are supposed to take to bloom. And that's okay. I still love them. I love to photograph them. Even though I already have too many bulbs, I'm still SO tempted to buy a new color for this Christmas!!!

My outdoor volunteer pumpkin/cantaloupe plant put up one more circular fruit a couple of weeks before the freeze. (The squirrel made off with the first baby fruit right before my eyes. Little snot!) I still can't tell yet what the plant is, so I covered it with a weighted cardboard box, hoping that might protect the fruit long enough to grow a bit larger. Or a lot larger... Warmer overnights may yet return, and I would not mind at all having a homegrown canteloupe or pumpkin, even though Lizard does not care for either. (It was beginning to look a bit like a pumpkin, but my friendly neighborhood squirrel struck again...)

As always, I'm going to miss my garden while it rests. I am so eager and excited to see what comes up next year, both volunteer and intentional. I cannot wait to see if the mini lavender farm gains some real growth next year!

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