Category: Horticulture and Gardening

The sun will rise at 8:20 this morning and set 10 hours, 36 minutes later at 6:56 in the evening. Noon elevation no longer reaches 20°. It’s still generally above freezing in the daytime, sometimes as warm as 50°F, but it freezes most nights now. Once the winter snow cover is established, which at this time of year will probably be whenever we have three to four inches of snow on the ground, the temperature will stay below freezing around the clock.

Maple 10:6:13 1845

I’m not sure what happened to the maple this year, but it certainly did not turn red.

The leaves have mostly turned color but a lot of them are still hanging on the trees. They look very dry, though, and I suspect most of them will be down at the first good wind. Enough have fallen to pile on the mints and perennials for insulation, and I hope those plants make it over the winter. I hope also that I’ll be able to get out earlier next spring than I did this year, and that my balance has recovered enough that I can work outdoors. This year I’ve had to hire people to do most of the work.

The second monitor I use for the internet died last week, and I just bought a new one Saturday. I just hope it fits on my desk, as it’s a good deal larger than the old one. Funny how electronics are one thing that seems so stay fairly constant in price while having all kind of larger sizes and new features.

Plant room shelves, 9/27/13 The sun rose this morning at 7:59, and will set after 11 hours 22 minutes at 7:21 this evening. The days are getting shorter by about 6 minutes 38 seconds a day, and the maximum solar altitude is down to 22.1°.

At least it’s warmed up enough to melt last week’s snow, though chances of snow at night (and rain in the daytime) still continue. The trees are almost all yellow to russet now, and the leaves are beginning to carpet the lawn. It’s time to get the moose fence up around the Amur maple, and the leaves piled over the perennials. This year I’m going to try the leaf Heliotrope and geran. 9:27:13piling over the mints, though I’m not very optimistic. The named mint varieties aside from ginger mint have not proven very hardy up here, though they are bouncing back from the frosts we’ve had so far.

The potted plants I’ve brought into the plant room are doing fine so far, and they do include rosemary, pineapple and orange mints, and pineapple sage as well as heliotrope and some scented geraniums. I hope the full-spectrum fluorescents keep them going through the dark days of winter.

Early fall FairbanksThe sun rose this morning at 7:17 , and will set almost 12 hrs 55 minutes later, at 8:12 this evening.  We’re still losing 6 minutes 38 seconds a day, and the equinox is less than a week away. Trees and plants in general are starting to respond to these shorter days, and some of the birches are now all yellow, though the leaves have only started to fall.

Plants respond to day length as well as temperature, and with clear skies the last couple of nights frosts have finally arrived. I’m not up to fall cleanup this year; I’m still too much off balance. So I hired help to cut the perennials short this year, as well as bringing in the potted plants, pulling the squash plants, draining and storing the hoses, and a few other things that were needed before it got any colder.

CleanupAside from the lingering balance problems I’m doing well. Chemo is over (I hope) and I’m back to the stationary bicycle just about any time I watch TV or DVD’s. I can now manage a couple of hours a day. My hair is still showing no sign of growing back, and while the wig looks good if it is properly positioned, it keeps wanting to slide down my forehead. It’s going to be an interesting reunion in Tulsa next month.

P. S. Monday morning: it’s now official that the first frost at the airport was early Sunday morning, and my thermometer read 28° F at 8 this morning. What’s more, snow is forecast for Tuesday night, though it isn’t expected to stick. Summer may not be over officially, but it certainly feels like fall here.

Yard 9:6:13The sun rose at 6:56 this morning, and it will set 13 hours, 41 minutes and 30 sec later, at 8:38 pm. The days are shortening by about 6 minutes 40 seconds a day, and today is the last day this year the sun will be more than 30° above the horizon at noon. On the other hand we now have astronomical night again, so if the clouds clear, we can see the stars. (No local street lights, though the glow of Fairbanks is certainly visible.)

Basil 9:6:13

The basil is blackened, though the parsley and thyme (and the weeds) are still untouched.

Still no hard frosts, though I have the potted plants by the garage door, to bring in fast if needed. The basil, which is very tender, is black, and we have a few yellow leaves on the trees, but mostly the plants are still green. They’ve almost quit growing, though. I’ll need to get help soon to cut the perennials back for the winter, though there aren’t nearly enough leaves fallen yet to cover the beds. Just a yellow sprinkling on the lawn.

My balance is still poor—a side effect of chemotherapy I hope I’m soon over. Other than that, I’m feeling human enough to get back to editing the trilogy. I might start sharing bits on Weekend Writing Warriors in the next month or so.

And as of this morning, the sun is finally out.

Only a few leaves are showing color on the raspberries.

Only a few leaves are showing color on the raspberries.

Herbs cr 9:1:13

Fall is on its way, and the sun is dropping lower and staying up for less time every day. This morning it rose at 6:35, and will set 14 hours and 28 minutes later at 9:04 this evening. We’re still losing about 6 minutes a day, and we start getting a little astronomical night (sun more than 18° below the horizon) in a couple of days.

Squash cr 9:1:13I don’t seem to have had much frost yet aside from a little burning on the ends of the squash leaves, and none is forecast for this week – lows generally in the low 40’s. Highs are in the 50’s and lower 60’s, so it’s not been exactly Labor Day picnic weather. But then we take Labor Day to mean the end of the reliable growing season. The frost covers are over the squash and herbs. I pulled back the ones on the herbs Sunday to let them get the benefit of a few sprinkles, and let out a wonderful medley of aromas. Whether I get any more squash is uncertain – we picked it clean Wednesday, when I had some help, and only a couple more flowers are showing signs of development. So far only a few leaves are showing yellow on the trees and lawn.

Thank goodness the last chemotherapy session was over a week ago, as it was the worst of the three. I was so anemic Friday that I spent most of the day Saturday at the hospital getting a couple of units of blood and going low on blood sugar every time I checked. I wonder – could the transfused blood have had enough insulin to throw me off? If so, it was certainly gone by last night!

Sorry for last week's photo, but as nearly as I can tell, the herb bed was untouched Saturday night. Sunday? We'll see.

Sorry for last week’s photo, but as nearly as I can tell, the herb bed was untouched Saturday night. Sunday? We’ll see.

The sun rose at 6:14 this morning and will set after 15 hours, 15 minutes and 34 seconds at 9:29 this evening. We’re still losing about 6 ½ minutes a day, and summer is definitely drawing to a close. After a cool, late spring and an unusually hot, dry summer we had our first frost advisory Saturday night. That’s right, frost. It’s not that rare in August up here, but the summer so far did not lead me to expect it this early.

Luckily I don’t think it reached here Saturday night, in spite of North Pole being rather notorious around Fairbanks for low temperatures. But the forecast for Sunday night is mid 20’s to low 30’s, and I’m not feeling up to digging out the begonias, or even getting the floating plant cover over them. I got most of the tender potted plants up against the house wall Saturday night, and I’ll just have to hope. Chemo really hit hard Sunday, and I didn’t even feel balanced enough to look outdoors, except through the windows. I hope the loss of balance is a side effect of the chemo I will get over!

I did manage to pick one oversized zucchini Saturday evening, and to get the cover over that bed, but I don’t have enough appetite to eat much beside yogurt and ice cream. As of Monday morning, I think everything’s OK, but I’m too weak to go out of doors.

Annual flowersThe sun rose at 5:52 this morning, and will set 16 hours and 3 minutes later, at 9:55 this evening. I’m going to have to start watching the timing when I go someplace in the evening, since I don’t drive after sunset (or before sunrise, but that will be a while yet.) Maximum solar altitude is below 38°, and the sun now dips more than 12° below the horizon.

The weather is finally getting back to normal – forecast highs in the 50’s and 60’s, low in the 40’s. and occasional rain. August is normally our wettest month, so the high fire danger we’ve been in so far, tempered only by the lack of lightning strikes to start fires is unusual, as is the smoke. (Locally, the Army live-fire ranges have been under most suspicion.) But we’ve had over a third of an inch of rain in the past week – still below normal, but enough to break the drought. Considering we could be having our first light frosts by now, I really can’t complain that every day of the month so far has been warmer than normal.

The perennial flowers are pretty near the end of their season, but the annuals surrounding the raised beds are in their full glory. It won’t be too long until the leaves start turning, though – a few are already littering the lawn.

Lilies 8:11:13The sun rose this morning at 5:29; and it will set 16 hours 51 minutes later, at 10:20 this evening. Solar height at noon is now below 40°, we are still losing almost 7 minutes a day, and in a few days we will start having nautical night (sun more than 12° below the horizon) again.

We’re still running warm and dry for the season, with 3 more 80 degree days since last week, and only a trace of rain. Tuesday and Wednesday might hit 80 again, but mid-70’s are still pretty warm for this time of year in Alaska. I really hope we get more precipitation than the isolated showers predicted; I’m tired of smoke.

Mint&herbs8:11:13Those lilies not badly stunted by the lack of water early on are opening, the zucchini is growing faster than I can eat it, and the mint is running riot in the raised bed, thanks to my hauling the hose around. This is increasingly difficult; my balance has deteriorated until I don’t dare water without a cane.

No pictures of me this week; the volunteer at the cancer center wasn’t there Friday. I need to go in again for labs today, so maybe today. My sister thinks I should go for red hair. I’m going to have little enough of my own by the end of the week!

Update 2:30 pm: My hematocrit and cell count have changed enough I won’t have to have a transfusion, and the volunteer at the support center was in so I spent the time between blood draw and results trying on wigs. Red and blond just didn’t work with my skin tone, but I now have a highlighted brown that I rather like. I took my laptop and photographed several I tried, so I’ll have a “chemotherapy fashion snow” on the blog Thursday..

delphiniumThe sun rose this morning at 5:06 am, and will set 17 hours and almost 40 minutes later, at 10:45 this evening. We’re still losing a little more than 6 minutes a day, but the noon altitude is starting to decline faster – it will be down below 42° today. Civil twilight (sun more than 6° below the horizon) has been back for about a week, though we still have no nautical twilight.

It’s been a warm summer after our cold spring, and while not a record, so far we’re in second place to 2004. We have, however, set a new record for the number of days with temperatures of 80°F or warmer during the summer: 31 as of Thursday, August 1. Friday and Saturday were also above 80°, though it now appears to be cooling off with some showers expected. I hope so; things badly need water and I’m not going to be feeling up to watering for the next few days. In spite of the heat, blooming is behind last year; none of the lilies have opened yet and the delphiniums are just coming into full bloom.

ADA kerchief

ADA kerchief

My favorite (though very old) gardening hat

My favorite (though very old) gardening hat

This one was purchased for a boating trip. Looks nice, but not as comfortable.

This one was purchased for a boating trip. Looks nice, but not as comfortable.

The pre-meds knocked me out when I intended to try wigs while in for chemo Friday, so I don’t have any pictures of wigs. I am including a few with the head coverings I have, and one of me au natural

Current appearance without head covering.

Current appearance without head covering.

(though I expect it will be very temporary, both in terms of what hair I have left right now and of the overall loss.) It might even come back curly.

New grass pre-mow 7:22:13The sun rose this morning at 4:42, and will set 18 hours, 28 minutes and 35 seconds later at 11:10 this evening. We’re losing almost 7 minutes a day, but the summer heat is still present. It was mid-70’s to 80 last week, with only a trace of precipitation, and this coming week is supposed to hit 80 or more just about every day, with no precipitation forecast. It is cooling off to the mid 50’s at night, thank goodness.

New grass mowing 7:22:13I’ve felt well enough to water daily, so the yard and garden aren’t suffering too much. The area changed from weeds to lawn (eventually, I hope) was mowed for the first time a week ago, and yesterday only the southwest corner looked as if the grass was totally smothered. I hope it takes a second mowing all right this afternoon; I deliberately did not water it Sunday. Watered plenty of other areas, though.

new grass 7:28:132+ weeks after the first round of chemotherapy, and I’m feeling much better. The long-term effects are starting; nosebleeds and my hair is coming out in fingerfuls, if not handfuls. I’m going to have to decide whether to go (1) bald without hiding it, (2) turbaned, or (3) with a wig. The Cancer center has the second and third, and I may go a day before my next chemo (due Friday) and have a little photographic fashion show. Think I’d look too strange in a blond wig? Shall I post the photos and let people vote?


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