Viewing Terry's Garden Diary: 2008 Diary
Wednesday, September 24, 2008Same ol', same ol'...watering, weeding and now waiting for fall to really arrive.
Still dry here, so spent the day moving sprinkler from place to place in the veggie patch, and pulling out wild onions after the soil was loosened up a bit.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008Put some water in the pond, removed some of the string algae, and contemplated what to do for the winter months while trying to water hostas, hydrangeas and the perennials on the east side of the fence.
Part of me says rip the pond out, and re-do the liner now ("...or you'll be sorrrryyyyy", says that annoying voice in the back of my mind. The one who detests being cold or wet, and loathes the thought of being both, which is what will happen if we don't remedy the problem while the weather is still nice and warm.)
Sigh...the silver maple tree needs to go. The pond and the surrounding gardens would be MUCH healthier (if a little sunnier) without it. But the expense and potential problems make me shudder and cringe.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Rain!It's been a month to the day since we had any rainfall, and today we got some. Not nearly enough to make up for the last six weeks of nearly zero precip, but we'll take what we can get, when we can get it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Mmm, mmm, Muscadines!Muscadine grapes have a very intense flavor, compared to other domesticated table and wine grapes. Jelly made from these grapes is memorable and highly addictive!
Muscadine grapes are uniquely suited to their native habitat in the southeastern U.S. While they are susceptible to a few fungal diseases, they are otherwise easy to grow in areas plagued by warm, humid summers and mild winters, which make it difficult to grow many of the more common varieties of grapes.
The fruits of Vitis rotundifolia (sometimes referred to as Muscadinia rotundifolia) range in color from darkest purple to bronze. They were first discovered in the 18th century and have been widely cultivated by southern farmers and home gardeners. Their commercial viability is limited because they don’t store or transport well, but they are well worth the space they require in any Southern garden.
My own introduction to Muscadine grapes was 8 summers ago, when our family moved back to Tennessee, and we discovered grapevines covering an old clothesline that had been converted to a make-shift arbor. When the grapes ripened in late summer, I eagerly popped a perfect purple fruit into my mouth, and just as quickly realized it was not your typical grape. The flavor could only be compared to the artificial grape flavor found in extremely tart candy. On a pucker scale of 1-10, muscadines rate somewhere between 8-10, depending on just how ripe they are.
So much for my dreams of having a ready-made supply of grapes for snacking! But just as lemons make great lemonade, the jelly-maker in me figured these grapes might make some decent jelly, if nothing else. Later I learned that most folks in the South categorize muscadine as a distinct jelly, rather than lumping it in with other grape jelly.
Since that first experimental batch of jelly, my family has eagerly awaited the ripening of the muscadines, and the jelly that soon follows.
Muscadines do not ripen as an entire cluster, so careful hand-picking over several days time is necessary, until you have amassed enough grapes to make a batch. Don’t wait too long to start picking, or the birds will beat you to them. A wide, shallow trug or colander works well for picking, since the weight of the fruit doesn’t crush or bruise the bottom layers. A good rule of thumb: a quart of fruit will yield roughly 4-5 cups of juice, which is perfect for a batch of jelly.
Saturday, August 2, 2008Hot - and VERY humid.
We decided to buy more fish to replace the ones the heron ate. After we introduced them into the pond, almost all the "missing" fish came out of hiding! We have no idea where they were..but let's hope the heron has already moved on to another pond.
Friday, August 1, 2008Cleaned the string algae from the pond, fertilized the waterlilies, and restarted the UV filter to see if it works.
Thursday, July 31, 2008No rain this week, so I watered the garden and also turned loose some ladybugs in tomatoes.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Rain!Brice called me today to let me know we finally got some rain today - yea!!!
Saturday, July 19, 2008Hot again today. Watered the vegetable garden, perennial border, and the shrub borders. We finally got rid of the forsythia bush - at least until it sprouts new growth. (Roundup will take care of that!)
Tidied up the pond (removed the dead lilypads and the tree roots growing under the waterfall, vacuumed out the muck and cleaned the pond filters. There's just one orange fish left in the pond - poor little guy. Also refilled the pond (it was down a good 2-3" from evaporation.)
Thursday, July 17, 2008The bench came! We got it put together and moved out to the sidewalk in front of its permanent home (need to get gravel in the ellipses to set it on. It looks good, though!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008Watered the daylilies and hostas around the trees; pulled the tree roots out of the pachysandra and treated the bed with some ironite (some of the plants look pretty chlorotic.)
Tuesday, July 15, 2008Another dry, almost-cool day (feels more like September than July!)
Applied Messenger to the roses and tomatoes, and fertilized the roses with a weak alfalfa tea.
Monday, July 14, 2008It seems we have a blue heron "fishing" in the pond in the mornings. If there are fish left, they're scared and hiding.
Saturday, July 12, 2008Rain yesterday, and more rain this afternoon - it was much needed.
Friday, July 11, 2008Cleaned the small pump's filter this morning (the spitter is spitting vigorously once again!), and looked closely at my white star grass and arum - and realized both were in hole-less pots. At the shallow end of the pond, where the water *barely* covers the top of the pots after a heavy rain...sigh.
No wonder they often look a little parched! Both are now in square mesh pots, which should make them much happier.
Watered the front porch containers, refilled the fountain (plus a little bleach). Put the helictotrichon in some containers, just to see if it is dead or alive. Watered the new annuals in the veggie garden, and reapplied the pyrethrin dust to the 'maters since the undersides of the leaves are teeming with aphids. A rabbit had tried to start a new nest near the onion patch, so I nipped that in the bud, and sprinkled some bone meal in the area to discourage her from trying again.
As the evening cooled down a bit, I got the daylilies deadheaded.
Thursday, July 10, 2008And more rain! Cloudy all morning, and it finally started raining after lunch.
Got more of the weedy alliums pulled up...grrr. And the shastas deadheaded again, and some more cukes planted ('Pearl' and 'Sweet Pickles' - new seeds this time.) Planted a lanky sweet basil I picked up yesterday, and pinched it back pretty hard.
Here's a picture from the north, looking south down the perennial border
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Rain!Finally...it's been a pretty long dry spell since our last rain. The clouds gathered by mid-morning, and thunder rolled on-and-off for several hours before the rain arrived mid-afternoon.
I got the concrete statue stripped and power-washed again, so it's just about ready for painting.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008H-O-T!
Up to mid 90s today, with a humidity level to match...whew!
Watered the hydrangeas and peonies around the deck, and sprinkled a pyrethrin-based powder on the 'maters, peppers and eggplants (the eggplants had flea beetles hopping all over them; the tomatoes and peppers had aphids, even after I blasted at them with the hose last night.)
The beans are up and going - I should be able to take down the temporary fence later this week (once they get a second set of leaves...) knock on wood, it doesn't look like the bunnies have even tried to nibble on them.
Sunday, July 6, 2008Got Hakone grass planted and new bird feeder post set in the ground. Hot and humid, but no rain today.
Saturday, July 5, 2008Beans are coming up, so we erected a temporary fence around the perimeter of the bed to try to thwart the rabbits, at least long enough for the beans to reach the point where they're no longer a tender, tasty treat.
Power-washed the paint off the concrete pedestal; will get paint and stain to replicate this look.
FAUX FINISH A CONCRETE URN
What you'll need:
• Foam brushes
• Cloth rags
• Dish or jar for mixing paint
• Cement urn
• Concrete paint: Copper, green, brown (optional)
• Black latex exterior enamel
The quality of the finished piece will depend on the initial selection of materials.
If you will be planting directly into the container, be sure it has drainage holes.
The most important item is the concrete ornament. It must be a high quality piece with a smooth finish and clear detailing.
The paints used for the finish must be specifically recommended for application on concrete surfaces and for outdoor use. The most readily available brand, Patio Paint (DecoArt), is available in most local craft stores. The base coat is copper (Honest Copper). The patina is created using a combination of two greens (Moss Green and Fern Green) and a brown (Woodland Brown). Select one or more greens that most closely resemble the desired patina or select a paint called patina. The final coat is made using black exterior enamel paint (flat or matte finish); be sure it is a latex-based paint.
Foam brushes work best as the paint must be dabbed and mixed on the surface of the concrete. The rags should be lint-free and absorbent (old sheets work well; paper towels are too stiff).
Clear a workspace and protect surfaces with a dropcloth or newspaper.
Prepare the piece by brushing all surfaces to remove small bits of cement or dust. Rinse the concrete and allow it to dry. If an area still appears soiled, wipe it down with alcohol to remove any trace of oil.
Base coat: Coat all the visible exterior surfaces with copper paint. Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat if necessary.
Patina: Apply the greens (and brown, if desired) in a light dabbing fashion. The finished coat should be a mottled mix of shades and densities. Use a cloth as you work to dab, blend and remove paint until you are pleased with the appearance. Allow the paint to dry.
Black glaze: The final coat is a small amount of black enamel mixed with water. The consistency should be that of milk. Apply to all the painted surfaces of the piece and pat off the excess. Work the entire surface, using a series of thin coats to gradually darken the piece. When satisfied, allow the piece to dry for 72 hours before exposing to moisture.
Excerpt from http://www.mcall.com/features/custom/hg/garden/projects/all-...
I'm using Kyrlon's "Outdoor Spaces" metallic copper/bronze paint, and Plaid's outdoor acrylic paints in "thicket" (green), "Licorice" (black) and "burnt umber" (brown).
Friday, July 4, 2008Hot, and a little rain. Watered in the new plants, then took the day off from the garden.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Lazy days of summer are here!Another hot day - there's a chance of rain over the next couple days, which would be really nice, even if it puts a damper on the fireworks.
Moved the just-finished pedestal to the garden and set the sundial on top. Next step is to move the old pedestal out of the herb bed, and get it repainted for the golfer sundial.
Went to Martin's and picked up 4 pots of 'Walker's Low' catmint to go around the pedestal, plus 4 variegated nasturtiums (unnamed, but most likely 'Alaska Mixed' or 'Variegatum'), and 4-packs of a purple Nicotiana, white browallia, and a mixed -color gazania, tucking them in the bare spots along the perennial border.
I hadn't realized how much of a toll last year's drought and heat wave took on the perennials until I looked back a couple years ago, and noticed the fullness of the Shastas and coreopsis (and how much earlier they bloomed) back then. Hopefully this year's extended mild spring, and the additional TLC I've given them will get them back to where they ought to be by next year.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Shoulda gotten out there earlier!Whew, was it ever H-O-T this afternoon! But despite the heat, I got straw around the melons, watered the garden, and planted the fig and 'Miss Kim' lilac on either side of the potting shed.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008Got a few things done early this morning - sprayed roundup on the pesky weeds in the veggie garden path, fertilized the east bed and shade garden, and pulled the Hakonechloa out of the box, watered it, and set them in the shade...they'll get planted tomorrow.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Pumpkins and melons and squash - oh my!Definitely time to get the fall pumpkins and squashes planted.
First bed (to the west) has 'Baby Boo' and 'Jack Be Little' pumpkins to scale each side of the metal "trellis", with small yellow watermelons and 'Bush Delicata' squash on either side.
The other bed (to the east) has 'Rouge Vif d'Etamps', 'Lumina' and 'Rumbo' pumpkins/squashes planted.
Also replanted cukes: one hill of 'Sweet Pickle' and one of 'Lemon'. Pulled up the teepee and planted two rows of bush-type stringless beans.
Sprinkled Dipel on the okra and eggplants, and got several of the perennials labeled, and the two tallest Dahlias staked, along with the 'Doubledecker' Echinacea and the floppy Helenium.
Some of the Pachysandra is starting to poke through some leaves in the bed around the magnolia - yay!!!!
Todo's this week:
1) Plant the other flat of Hakonechloa grass DONE!
2) Get two more scoops of mulch to finish the veggie garden and rose bed
3) Get another bag of soil conditioner to finish the perennial bed DONE!
4) Get a bale of straw for the melon/squash "patch" (and maybe a flat of
5) Spray the weeds in the veggie garden DONE!
6) Put fencing around the bed with the green beans if needed to keep the rabbits out. DONE!
7) Deadhead the shasta daisies and other perennials that are done blooming. DONE!
8) Fertilize the east-facing bed plants DONE!
Here's a snapshot of 'Limerock Passion' with purple perilla.
Saturday, June 28, 2008Watered the greenhouse beds and the hostas around the trees in the front, then weeded the blueberry plants, fertilized them (ammonium sulfate (?) and a weak alfalfa tea), then mulched them with soil conditioner.
DH tilled the gourd/pumpkin beds, so they're ready to plant.
Fertilized the perennial border, and spread a couple bags of soil conditioner as mulch around those plants. Storm clouds threatened rain this afternoon, but no rain appeared.
Finally, after several years of waiting and planning, we found (and bought) a potting shed that looks like a small one-holer - yay!!!!
Friday, June 27, 2008
Daylily bedSpent most of the day fertilizing and amending the daylily bed - I didn't do it last year, and the plants really needed it.
I went through about half of a new bag of alfafa pellets, and six bags of compost and 1 bag of soil conditioner to topdres the soil.
Found a square pedestal at Hobby Lobby today for my sundial. Since it had a chip off one corner, they knocked off 5%, plus it was on sale for half-off. ($13 instead of $29 works for me!)
Hopefully next week I can get both pedestals painted with a verdigris or "mossy" finish, and both sundials set up.
Thursday, June 26, 2008Another 90-degree day today. Fertilized the vegetables (alfalfa tea) and sprayed Messenger on the roses, vegetables, and pulmonarias.
Also watered, watered, watered...grass, hostas in the shady garden, roses and peony border and soaked the container plantings.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Veggie gardenHot today! Got the veggie garden weeded and watered - I'll fertilize tomorrow.
Monday, June 23, 2008Didn't have much time to garden, but I did water the deck plantings and sweep/hose off the deck, and put down a bale of pinestraw around the west-facing bed.
Friday, June 20, 2008Mulched and sprayed Roundup on the veggie paths, and in the process we apparently rousted out two cottonmouths, each over 4' long (Yikes!)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
PERFECT weatherWow - highs in the low-to-mid 80s, overnight lows in teh low 50s, and - best of all - low humidity!
Can't ask for more perfect gardening weather than this. I'm taking full advantage of it to get the last of the containers planted (of course, more pots follow me home from just about every garden center I visit.....)
Friday, June 13, 2008A little rain today. After I finished the walkway yesterday, and tidied up the greenhouse last night, I decided it was time to get the flat of vincas settled in next to the greenhouse, and clear out the holding bed on the other side. All done!
A much-needed thunderstorm moved through around 2:00 today, leaving a half-inch or so of rain. We may get more tonight, which would be fine by me!
Friday, June 13, 2008
New transition to the greenhouseI finally got serious about finishing the 2 ft. to 4 ft. wide section that separates the greenhouse from the sidewalk. Here's the final results.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Another busy and HOT day!The roses are showing some signs of something munching on their leaves, so it was time to break out the big guns. I treated all the new roses with Bayer's "Advanced All-in-One" systemic. Hopefully the Messenger will give them a boost and the Bayer will stop any new problems while they get back on their feet.
The new circular bed is completed (well, until the second order of Hakonechloa comes in anyway!) Whodathunk it would take 2.5 *grueling* days to apply Roundup to the grass, dig up and transplant the Vinca 'Illumination', spread newspaper and mulch, and plant 25 Hakone 'All Gold' and 70 native Pachysandras? Whew....
Also got the crab apple's "water sprouts" dealt with, and the walk between the garage and deck pressure-washed, and got several gallons of sludge out of the pond, courtesy of the wet/dry vac.
Now on to the other unfinished projects:
1) East bed: weeding, new mulch, stain our side of the privacy fence and find a clematis for the arbor. (DONE!)
2) Greenhouse beds: get vincas and salvias planted; clean out holding bed, prune back the Bradford pear and give some of the leaves a dose of roundup.(DONE!)
3) Greenhouse: clean it out and get a list of replacement parts ready to order.(DONE!)
4) Vegetable/cutting garden: get paths mulched; remove the daylilies and (argh!) the Jerusalem artichokes; get the melons & pumpkins/gourds planted.(DONE!)
5) Front yard: replace dead/dud plants in trough(DONE!); move red-twig dogwood to corner and place 'Little Honey' oakleaf hydrangea in its place, then finish adding pinestraw mulch (mulch is done, too ;o)
Friday, June 6, 2008Day 2 of working on the circular bed - the rest of the vinca has been transplanted, and the mulch is down - yea! Will plant the Hakonechloa grass and pachysandra tomorrow.
Very hot again today - no rain, of course :-(
Thursday, June 5, 2008Applied Messenger to the rose bushes and the Wine & Roses weigela. Will reapply in 3 weeks.
Started transplanting the vinca 'Illumination' and placing mulch around magnolia tree - it looks like it's going to take about 6 scoops of mulch to cover the area.
Monday, June 2, 2008Expanded the hydrangea bed and added two more hydrangeas (a 'Forever & Ever Double Pink' and 'Mariesii Variegata'); edged it with liriope and let that meet up with the brown metal edging.
Also added a Weigela 'Wine & Roses' next to the deck, and planted in the fern-leaf peony, along with two more of the 'Sky Pencil' hollies.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Rose borders in - hooray!The garage got its epoxy floor, and by mid-afternoon we turned our attention to the outside. We used brown metal edging and got the rose borders built along the sidewalk - they are about 30" wide. Planted the roses along with 2 dwarf alberta spruce (each are about 3' tall), which I also spiral-cut. The result is very nice. We also got grass seed planted in the bare spots; covered with straw. Now to keep it watered with next week's heat.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008Cleaned out the front beds of the excess hellebores and winter-damaged azaleas. Temps are cooler than normal this week (a good thing since the A/C needs a new valve and is out of commission until tomorrow or Friday!)
Monday, May 26, 2008
Rain!We finally had time to devote to getting the pond repaired. Instead of re-lining it, we found the holes and patched them. Hopefully the patches will hold for a season (or two). We mucked it out, fertilized the pond plants, added them back and filled the pond back up, added dechlorinator. All in all the fish seem pretty happy.
Just as we were filling the pond, a storm front headed our way, depositing at least an inch of water in an hour or so - which was a nice addition to the pond (better for the fish and better for the water bill!)
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Front yard TLCGot the window box planter filled and the front porch tidied. Then I planted several new hostas around the trees in front, filling in the gaps. Got all three trees weeded, and added pinestraw mulch. Warm today - high in the 80s.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The garden is in!Took me a few days, but the veggie garden is officially in.
SW Bed is all tomatoes:
'Pineapple' - 2
'Stump of the World'
'Pineapple' - 2
'Anaheim' peppers - 2
'Red Beauty' pepper
'Antigua' eggplants - 2
'Health Kick' tomatoes - 2
The west beds also have 'Earliglow' strawberries planted along the inside edges.
NE bed contains leeks, 'Red Tropea' and cipollini onions, plus 5 'Jetstar' tomatoes.
The SE bed has 'Lemon' and 'Homemade Pickles' cucumbers on a trellis, a hill of 'Super 8' zucchinis, a teepee with purple-hulled pole beans, two rows of 'Little Lucy' okra' and a trellis with miniature "ball" type luffas.
Both east beds have a row of 'Tennessee Beauty' strawberries on their inside edges.
I fertilized the onions with aluminum sulfate; will fertilize the strawberries and veggies once they get up and going.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Cool and possibly rainy - again!The high today is predicted to be 67, with a chance of strong showers today. Wow - we're into the 2nd half of May, and we aren't hitting 85 every day - yay!!!!!!
More rain? No complaints - we'll be glad we got it later this summer when the heat hits and the rain chances are few and far between.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Plans for underplanting the magnolia treeLots of rain today, so it was a good day to plan and scheme ;o)
For better or worse, I'm going to plant under this massive tree, now that the sidewalk is in. The plan goes something like this:
Immediately around the tree (roughly 3 feet out): nothing more than the thinnest skim of mulch to protect the tree roots.
In a loosely doubled row, about 4' out, a ring of gold Hakonechloa grass ('Aureola' - roughly 20-25 plants total)
Around the west and east perimeters, in a 2' wide swath, the 'Illumination' Vinca (transplanted from the beneath the tree, it should be much more vigorous with a little more sun)
The north and south sides will have symmetrical ellipses - the southern edge will house the LA irises (already there, just need to be spread out to better fill the space.) The northern ellipses will be the setting for a "wrought iron" type golf bench, flanked with three azaleas on each side.
Filling in all the remaining voids, our native Pachysandra procumbens - I've got a good patch of it in the back that I can move, and I ordered several more bare-root plants to fill in everywhere else.
On paper, I'm happy with this planting scheme: the Hakonechloa and vinca will create some gold contrast to the dark colors of the magnolia and the heavy shade beneath it. The azaleas and LA irises will give a burst of color in early spring and into mid-spring/early summer - just enough to brighten the area, but not so much that they clash and compete with the beauty of the tree. The pachysandra should do very well in this area, and it's a beautiful, elegant groundcover without being overpowering or too showy.
Monday, May 12, 2008The new sidewalk got poured today - we spent the weekend putting in the forms and adding a layer of sand.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The containers are done!This is the view from walking out the back door - the container is filled with fiber optic grass, chartreuse helichrysum, 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, and purple shamrock, and a small phormium "spike".
Thursday, May 1, 2008Rail boxes, filled with Brachyscome 'Toucan Tango, lobelia, bronze sweet potato vine, basket vine, and 'Cherry Profusion' zinnias.
Thursday, May 1, 2008Big, sunny pot near the table, filled with bright red geraniums, a spiky phormium, 'Troy's Gold' plectranthus, and a 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia. The colors are repeated in a "twin" pot set in a shady spot near the steps leading down to the pond, but that one includes a variegated potato vine, caladiums, and red-flowering new guinea impatiens.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
ContainersIdeas for the containers:
Trio of matching containers (grouped near backdoor)
Largest container: Perilla or Coleus,
Middle container: http://www.simplybeautifulgardens.com/browsecontainers.aspx?... - substitute an orange hibiscus and black sweet potato vine.
Four containers near steps and along edge of deck:
2 large containers:
2 medium-sized containers:
Purple-leaved Eucomis, blue lobelia and verbena or other mounding flowers
Monday, April 28, 2008
TomatoesWell, this is an embarrassing admission: I have perfectly good tomato seeds I ordered fresh this year, that I never got started. But, for better or worse, here's my 'mater list for 2008, with seedlings I've bought:
1 Black Cherry
1 Black Krim
4 Beefmaster (hyb.)
2 Healthkick (hyb.)
1 Giant Belgian
1 Flavor Steak (not a beefsteak)
6 Jet Star
1 Mexican Paste
1 Neves Azorean
1 San Remo (paste)
1 Stump of the World
1 Stupice (early)
1 ea. Golden Summer, Purple Beauty, Red Beauty
Eggplant - 2 Antigua (light-skinned and mild)
One more night of cold temps, then we can hopefully get the tender stuff outside!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Roadtrip!A group of us met at Rita Randolph's nursery in Jackson - what a fun trip and time we had!
I wound up bringing home many new "treasures" including stuff for containers:
'Carolina' Sweet potato vines
Variegated potato vine (Solanum jasminoides 'Variegata')
unnamed Caladiums (posted in the ID forum: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/840924/ )
Diamond Frost euphorbias (4 pots)
"Fiber Optic" grass (2 pots)
Variegated "basket grass" (Oplismenus): (http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/57257/ - also 2 pots
I also picked up three chameleon euphorbias: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/56322/ a "Little Honey" chartreuse-colored oakleaf hydrangea: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/59722/ and a pot of Leymus 'Blue Dune': http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/141623/
Saturday, April 19, 2008The rain last night has made it a bit muddy, but we plunged ahead with tilling up the veggie garden. (It desperately needed it - despite my efforts last spring to clear the weeds out, last summer's drought and heat left the bermudagrass without much competition from good plants, and I just didn't have the heart to go out and tend to it as I should have.
Saturday, April 19, 2008The rain last night has made it a bit muddy, but we plunged ahead with tilling up the veggie garden. (It desperately needed it - despite my efforts last spring to clear the weeds out, last summer's drought and heat left the bermudagrass without much competition from good plants, and I just didn't have the heart to go out and tend to it as I should have.
Friday, April 18, 2008Replanted the heucheras and hostas along the path between the deck and garage. Just need mulch to finish them out!
Friday, April 11, 2008Painted the fireplace with a high-heat spraypaint. (It's a brand-new fireplace, but the coating they put on it was so thin, it was threatening to start rusting out already.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008Overcast today, and a little windy but still nice weather ;o)
Got the outdoor furniture powerwashed and painted - yay!!!
Monday, April 7, 2008Warm and sunny - more like summer than spring temps.
Got the deck stained; looks great, and we should have at least 24-36 hours before a chance of rain moves back into the forecast.
Sunday, April 6, 2008Warm and pleasant today - got all the deck rails and spindles stained. The only thing left to do is the deck itself and the steps. Woohoo!
Saturday, April 5, 2008Cool...no, it was downright chilly today. Tony got the downed pine tree cut up and burned. The temps warmed up slightly in late afternoon, so I started staining the rail and spindles until it got too dark. Should be able to finish them tomorrow, then stain the deck.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Rainy - againSeems the weather pattern is pretty rainy this month. Today and tomorrow are "rain outs" for gardening.
I did get out and dig up all the muscari bulbs I could find, and relocated them under the Forsythia (which desperately needs pruning after it finishes blooming this spring.) I figure the Forsythia will look nice swimming in a sea of blue next spring.
I also transplanted the lone narcissus bulb that appeared out in the middle of the front yard. No idea where it came from, but I tucked it among the other daffs in the driveway bed.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Deck prep - againWell, the new power washer is certainly more powerful than the last one (3100 psi, it should be!) The chimney is cleaned - no more moss and yucky stuff on it. That's the last to-do before staining the deck this weekend (temps are supposed to be mild and dry from Saturday to Tuesday - woohoo!)
I also washed the backside of the privacy fence next to the pond. If there's enough stain/sealer left over from the deck, the arbor and fence (especially that side of it) is overdue for a fresh coat, and it'd be nice to get it done while most stuff is just breaking dormancy.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Deck prep - day 2I stripped the old posts and the lone stained deck board, then used a deck "brightener" on the entire deck...not sure how much effect it had, but I think it helped the new wood absorb water better, if nothing else. That should help the new and old woods absorb stain at about the same rate.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Deck construction complete!Finally - all the deck is done (except the new stairs.) Yay!!!!! The temps were cool, but mild - I had to shed my jacket when scrubbing the deck with a mildew remover when the sun and the exertion made it warm enough to be in just shirt sleeves.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Deck nears completionThis project is nearly done...today most of the spindles were installed, and the posts cut down and caps added (still need to be screwed into place. A few more spindles, then it'll be time to prep, stain and seal the deck. Temperatures were cool, but bearable. Spring is definitely coming!!!
Friday, March 7, 2008I had a 5-gallon bucket of alfalfa pellets that had gotten just wet enough to expand and begin to "ripen". Yummm...
I crumbled them up and cast them throughout the daylily bed - should be just in time for some spring rains and late-season snow to help them soak in, then I can spread mulch after the maples are through with their annual helicopter blitz.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Warm but windy!Today was another one of those 70-degree days, but VERY windy for here. Blowing in storms from the midwest later tonight!
Sunday, March 2, 2008
A warm day todayWe returned home this morning to find a nice, sunny day. (Later this week, storms and even possibly snow are predicted.) The earlier daffs are blooming!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Snowing!Snow last night and into the morning today. Brrrr!
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Nice day!It rained early this morning, but by noon the skies had cleared off and the sun was shining. It turned out to be a very pleasant day with the highs in the 60s.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
golfer guyI'm not a big fan of garden statues, especially in my own garden. Most garden statuary seems to be either too precious for my personal tastes, or too big and out of scale for the surroundings.
As I planned the new shrub borders, I found myself leaving two (symmetrical) spots for some sort of ornamentation. Golf seems to be a good theme to keep DH happy (since he's doing so much of the work!), so I ordered a bronze golf sundial (should be here in a few weeks), and I have a heavy pedestal for it already. Then I found this guy on eBay. He stands 38" tall and is made of cast metal, so he should be heavy - but not to big - and not too cutsey ;o)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I think we should have built an ark...rather than a deck! The bottom of the sky fell out this morning, and the rain is coming down in buckets.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Deck progressWell, the perimeter posts are all set and concreted in, even though the temps were really cold, and the wind was brisk today. Hopefully the weather will cooperate next Saturday, and we can get the ledger boards attached, and maybe even the joists in place. That would leave just the deck boards and rails to finish it (probably at least one more Saturday (at least), and then wait for warmer, drier weather to power wash, then seal/stain.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Chilly!We tore out the portions of the deck that we're replacing, and got the posts in for the new deck dimensions. It was supposed to be in the mid 50s but it seemed cooler all day, and when the sun went down it was downright cold!
Friday, February 8, 2008
Cool and windyNot much happening today. Weather-wise it was a little cool and windy, but overall not bad for early February.
Measured for the new deck, and made a materials list.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Colder againThe bluebirds are apparently hearing their biological clocks ticking because they're out today in pairs, "house hunting" even though the temps are back down in the normal range (high today is supposed to be in the upper 40s or low 50s.)
On a happy note, my 'Sky Pencil' hollies and 'Brown Turkey' fig arrived today, and look awesome - plump and healthy! Got 'em all potted up, watered in, and set 'em on the carport to catch the last few rays of afternoon sun and dry off as much as possible before dark.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Deck expansionThe new-ish deck was finished two summers ago. Our thought was that it would be used mainly for the hot tub, while the carport would be torn off and replaced with a pergola to serve as our outdoor entertainment/eating area. Plans have changed, and the carport is now slated to become an attached garage. The current deck is just 15 x 18, and the hot tub takes up a big 9x9 chunk of it.
Expanding the deck to 30 x 15 will allow us to have plenty of room for the table and chairs, plus add a small fireplace (on order) near the hot tub. If the weather cooperates, we should be able to tear into the deck and get most of the expansion work done on Saturday.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
WindyLast night's storms hit mostly west and north of us, but the cold front that triggered them has created a very windy day today. Temperatures are moving more toward seasonal norms, although we're still a little warmer than average.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Record high?We may break the old weather record today - it's supposed to be 70 or more today. There's also a threat of rain and severe storms later tonight.
In brighter news, I ordered this cool little "toad hut" today
Monday, February 4, 2008
Rain - again!It was fairly warm today (at or near 60.) But the threat of rain has materialized, and manifested itself as a steady drizzle with occasional downpours. We certainly need all the rain we can get, and I guess it's better than an ice storm!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Cooler and windyIt was overcast today, threatening rain, but it never did. The clouds kept the temps feeling colder than the thermometer was indicating (mid 50s, but it sure didn't feel like it!)
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Sunny & warmTemps today got up into the upper 50s or low 60s. With lots of sunshine, it made for a gorgeous day.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Planning, continuedBehind the greenhouse and magnolia are three (with a planned fourth) large shrub borders. One border defines the west property boundary; the others are arranged in a horseshoe shape (the fourth bed will complete the horseshoe), opening to a grove in the middle. Now that a few of the shrubs have bit the dust thanks to last year's drought and heat wave, and the white pine in the middle of the area has been taken out by the storm, it's definitely time to finish these beds.
Friday, February 1, 2008
2nd bed in the "horseshoe"This bed will have a taller backdrop to provide a screen between this area of the yard and the fire pit back behind. The plant selections are similar to the other two beds, but each will have a few unique
Friday, February 1, 2008
Third horseshoe bedThis is the third (planned bed, finishing the "horseshoe" shape. The planting scheme here has similar plants to the first and second beds, with a few unique plants to give it its own personality. One of the considerations in this bed is to keep the overall height down, since it will shade the vegetable garden if the plantings are too tall. One change from this planting scheme - I ordered a brown turkey fig, so it will either get squeezed in, or replace the Syringa or Physocarpus.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Planning some changes to the backyardOkay, it's time to get serious about the view from the house into the backyard, and adding some beds and walkways to really finish the yard.
For starters, a new sidewalk (assuming a new garage enclosing the carport) will lead from the driveway stub to the deck and back door. This should be fairly straightforward and straight. If it works out like I think it will, I'll have a generous shady bed next to the garage, plus a nice, gently curved bed on the opposite side of the walk, tying into the current bed under the silver maple
At the intersection of the current sidewalk and this new sidewalk, a path will lead into the lawn, and form an inverted teardrop shape around the magnolia, with an offshoot to the greenhouse, and continuing on with a gentle curve next to one of the big borders and leading back to the firepit area.
There will be lots of work to create the paths and fill in and expand these beds with new shrubs and evergreens. But I think it can turn out very nicely, and not be too expensive, if I focus on using many locally-available evergreens plants, such as blue junipers, cherry laurels, 'Winter Gem' and 'Sky Pencil' hollies, false cypress, mahonias, etc. Unfortunately, it also means curbing my tendency to "collect" small, choice (or quirky) plants from mail order sources, but the goal here is to quickly fill these beds in so they look mature and completed in a few years, in case we decide to move.
I'm envisioning two spiraled spruce or junipers to flank the new path, and along the path that will lead to the greenhouse, I'm planning a bed of 'Knock Out' roses (J&P have a trio collection for $27, so I ordered six altogether.) I also snagged some variegated society garlic to use as an edging plant next to them.
Opposite this bed won't be a perfectly symmetrical bed because the deck will jut out a ways, so I'll put a few roses to echo the opposite side. In this deeper bed, I'm planning an oakleaf hydrangea in the corner, plus hostas and heucheras to create a low-growing "tapestry" that should be pretty from all angles. In the center, we'll move the "See Rock City" bird feeder (after it gets re-stained!) and plant 'Ruby Moon' hyacinth flowers around it to climb up and provide great summer color.
At the point of the teardrop, the birdbath and Louisiana Iris will be expanded into a fan-shaped bed, and I'll look for additional Vinca to fill in under the magnolia tree. (The vinca plants that are there are doing a good job, but another half-dozen plants or more will help get the area filled in faster.) I may use liriope grass to edge the entire teardrop, or find enough fieldstone to create a bit of a raised bed to better define the area.
Next up: the plans to add to and rearrange the three large existing borders, and add a fourth border to finish the horseshoe "grove" effect behind the magnolia.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Orders - status4 'Knock Out' roses - 2 ea. Pink and Rose (Bloomin Designs Nursery) - to be shipped in early April (along with five hosta: 'Cherry Berry', 'Fire Island', 'Blue Angel, 'Love Pat', 'Red October')
6 'Knock Out' Roses - 2 ea. Pink, 2 Rose, 2 Double Rose (J&P) - to be shipped 3/28
24 variegated Tulbaghia violacea bulbs (BigThicketGardens.com) - mailed check today.
Harbor Freight (heat mat combo) - shipped 1/25 via parcel post
Amazon book order - should have shipped by 1/30, via surface mail
Compost tumbler - 2-3 weeks from order date (1/24)
Onions & Shallots (Dixondale) - 3/19 to 4/1
Strawberries (Simmons) - ? (sent order on 1/7; sent email on 1/31 to inquire on status)
Thursday, January 31, 2008
First (rough) drawing of entire layoutHere's a very rough sketch (not to scale), of the layout for the new (and improved) beds and borders in the backyard. This design will - I hope - give year-round interest, create a series of spaces (without the linear sense of "rooms" and guide visitors on the path to the back of the property where we have a fire pit. The goal is to let these beds fill in so that weeding and tending is minimal. The "glade" or grove in the center may be filled with fescue, or it may become a putting green, depending on how long we stay here after this year. It also leaves plenty of wide-open space for any future family's children so there's room to play ball, have a swing set, etc. Depending on our budget and exhaustion level, the path may be transition from paved to to packed/crushed rock or even mulch as it goes further back into the property.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The morning after the stormWe woke up this morning to find last night's winds felled the big white pine in the back yard. (And earlier in the day I was looking at it, wondering how to incorporate it into my new landscape plans for that area!) Looking closely at it, the root system was VERY shallow, which probably means it was planted in an area with only a few inches of soil on top of our wonderful bedrock. Sigh....
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
RAIN!Big storm system moved through here today. It started with a loud clap of thunder a little before 8 a.m., and it rained hard nearly all day. Around 7, a line of storms moved through, creating wind gusts up to 70 mph, knocking out our cable/internet for the evening, and our power was out for 15-30 minutes.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Looking for signs of lifeNot on Mars, but here ;o)
Each year about this time when the days get even a few degrees warmer, and the sun shines a little brighter, for a few more minutes each day. And something in me starts scanning the empty fields and trees for the tiniest glimmer of anything green...that first faint haze of green that lets me know spring days will be here soon. (The pragmatist in me knows there are always plenty of cold days in store for February and March, but the optimist in me is always hopeful!)
This morning I drove to town past the few empty fields that remain between here and town (they're fast filling up with shopping centers!) and I couldn't help but peer more closely than usual at the still-bare trees and fields, hoping against hope for a tiny sign of life. None yet...but there will be soon!
It looks like one of my six-year-old shop lights is shot (probably the ballast), so a new ballast - or if it's cheaper, just a new light - is in my near future. I also desperately need a package of "S" hooks for the lights. (One is hanging by a couple paperclips; the others are piece-mealed together with whatever stray "S" hooks I could find foraging around in my greenhouse.) The current set up will do for a few more days, but once I have to start adjusting the lights for growing seedlings, it's much easier to have good hooks on each light. (And good hooks means less risk of dropping a light fixture on a tray of seedlings, too!)
Sunday, January 27, 2008
A very slight warmup!The sun was shining this afternoon, and the car wash was predictably packed when we went by. Still cool and breezy, and once the sun went down, it was still downright cold. But 36 degrees sure felt a lot better than 16 degrees!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Still cold!The prediction was for the temps to get up into the 40s today - no such luck. It stayed overcast and cold all day. But it was perfect weather to go to a garden design workshop at Cheekwood Botanical Garden this morning, where I picked up some hints and tips for making sense out of the hodge-podge in our backyard landscape.
I came home to find indeed my new seedling waterer has arrived - woohoo!
Friday, January 25, 2008
Brrrr...Last night was the coldest night of 2008, so far. (Hopefully it will remain the record-holder, and only warmer days are ahead!)
They say we got down in the single digits in a lot of the outlying areas around Nashville. All I know is it was really cold. In happier news, my Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' are poking their little heads up, as are the Snapdragons. The Dianthus have been up for a few days, and it looks like the 'Red Marconi' and 'Tequila' peppers win the prize for being the early risers in their category ;o)
I'll start the tomatoes and the other 6-8 week stuff on the 8th, which will give them a good 8 weeks of growing time before we can start to think about last frost dates.
Friday, January 25, 2008
My birthday 'surprise' is on its way!I'm doing the happy dance here...DH ordered the "back porch" compost tumbler (see picture below) for my birthday - woohoo!
Planet Natural had the best price ($231, and free shipping): http://www.planetnatural.com/site/back-porch-compostumbler.h...
It probably won't be here in time for my birthday but I know it's coming. I'm sooooo excited! I can finally start whittling down that pile o'leaves out back, and once again, I'll save my kitchen scraps since I'll have a place for them.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Uh oh...spring fever is setting in!Being bored and housebound this time of year usually gets me into trouble, and today was no exception.
It should have relieved my symptoms to discover that FedEx has promised to deliver my new (replacement) watering thing-a-ma-jigger by Saturday, according to their online tracking.
Or that my postal carrier (bless their willingness to brave the cold every day!) delivered a new Tennessee Gardener magazine (which I devoured in fifteen minutes flat waiting in carpool line), and my round luffa seeds from Carolina Gourd & Seed.
It wasn't even enough to sign up for a garden design class at Cheekwood for this Saturday. Somehow in my spring fever-induced delirium, I found myself deciding I really needed a 2nd heating mat, and a thermostat to regulate them both.
Thanks to a tip from some helpful DGers, I scooped up the Harbor Freight deal ($19.99 for a standard tray, 30-cell insert and dome, plus a heat mat!), and then I used one of my $25 Amazon gift certificates to help pay for a thermostat. (Too bad it doesn't qualify for free shipping, but oh well...it was a good price, and $25 off is even nicer.)
Wednesday, January 23, 2008Set up the growlights today for one shelf. I'll need to set up a second shelf once I start the other seeds (around 2/1), so I bought a 2nd set of bulbs for it, too.
The dianthus is already up; the catgrass almost instantly greened up under the lights...now to keep the cat from uprooting it when she nibbles on it.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008Wintry weather is still here - just plain cold - and wet!
Monday, January 21, 2008
Time to set up the grow lights!Tomorrow I have to get the grow-lights out and get them set up. The cat grass is looking pretty pale and wan at the moment, although I guess it still smells/tastes good, judging by the cat's incessant snacking on it.
A little warmer today - high in the 40s, but "wintry mix" is predicted for tonight.
Sunday, January 20, 2008Still cold here!
Out of total boredom, I finally picked all the stray seed packets off my desk, and organized them into two envelopes, labeled "sow at 6-8 weeks" (before last frost) and "sow at 2-3 weeks". That way, I can still see them anytime I want, without pawing through my seedbox to find them but they aren't scattered across my desk. (Leaving plenty of room for other papers, stickies, plant markers, etc!)
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Garden coaching - part IAP article that appeared in today's Tennessean, written by Dean Fosdick:
Mentors help gardeners flourish
Coaches teach pruning, watering, design techniques
An innovative cottage industry is sprouting for people new to gardening or hoping to enrich their crop- or flower-growing skills.
It's called garden mentoring, garden coaching or garden tutoring. It's a customized kind of training people can apply immediately to their yards, their lifestyles or their family's diet.
Practitioners vary from people with vast academic training to veteran gardeners whose skills are on display from the sidewalk.
"It's often hard for people to get into gardening," said Susan Harris, a garden writer and mentor from Takoma Park, Md. "Most people new to gardening start by doing everything wrong. What that does to their confidence level can set them back a decade."
Garden coaches are there to guide the beginner — essentially, it's a formalized way of getting a helping hand from your more knowledgeable neighbor. Or they can take skilled gardeners into wow-territory. Rates vary from $35 to more than $125 an hour.
"I work with clients whose skills range from novice to master gardener," said Jack McKinnon, who runs a business called The Garden Coach in the San Francisco Bay area. "Coaches are an option for people who are just starting, bought a new property or retired and joined the garden club and want to impress their fellow gardeners."
McKinnon charges $125 an hour, and he says about a quarter of his clients are men. Most aren't quite beginners, but aren't masters yet either.
"Most want help in going to the next level. It's our job to help them achieve that," he said. "We grow gardeners rather than gardens."
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Garden coaching - part IIRemainder of text:
Tutors fill a void
Coaches are filling an apparent void. That familiar trickle-down method of learning about gardening from plant-savvy relatives or friends appears to be a fast-fading tradition for a new generation of urban dwellers or mobile, career-minded couples.
"I think there is a lapse between the opportunities to learn from a person's parents or grandparents as a child and the genuine interest (in gardening) that develops in one's 30s, 40s or 50s," said Tracey Crehan Gerlach, who lives, gardens, tutors and blogs near Charlottesville, Va. "For many, their 20s are a time to live in a more urban setting or focus on their career. And when they make the conscious decision to relocate to the country or the suburbs, they seek out learning opportunities to sustain that new lifestyle."
Young women and moms tending to a first yard are often those who approach Crehan Gerlach, who also hears from families who want to grow their own food and novice gardeners looking for an easy-to-tend landscape.
"I'll also get bursts of interest after, let's say, a long drought. Usually (from) people hoping to plan better for next year's dry summer with the correct plants and water conservation options."
A garden for all seasons
Garden mentoring can be a year-round job. Many coaches take their cues from the seasons, teaching the proper pruning techniques in autumn, garden design in winter and seed growing and planting in early spring. Composting, fertilizing and efficient watering usually are part of the training.
Teaching children are a big part of the business, too, said Robin Haglund, Seattle-based owner of Garden Mentors.
"I have a young mother whose parents bought her quite a lot of garden stuff for Christmas," Haglund said. "I'll be working with her and her kids this spring to help put their garden together."
Haglund also finds herself serving in the role of a working gift card.
"I've been given as a wedding gift, a new home gift and a birthday gift," she said. "I'm a huge fan of gifts you can use — gifts of knowledge. I love the sparkle that comes with learning."
Saturday, January 19, 2008Not much gardening going on here, but a very cold day. The snowfall stayed south and east of us last night.
Today's *HIGH* temperature was this morning, and I don't think we got up to freezing before it started drifting downward. It was a good day for making a big batch of monster cookies, runzas, and chili. My ValueSeeds.com order came today, so now I have several types of sweet peas to start when I start the tomato seeds:
Sugar & Spice
Patio Mix (dwarf)
If found some good instructions for growing sweet peas here: http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/swp-transplant-tips.htm...
Tonight will be down in the teens, with a wind-chill in the single digits; tomorrow is more of the same. Brrrrr!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Ready, set, stutter...go!I checked all over town but no dome lids are available yet. (No seed-starting supplies are available at most places for a couple more weeks, so no small plastic plant tags either.)
I found humongous ziploc plastic bags that will easily accommodate a flat, and I'll improvise a humidity dome with those.
One 20-row flat is now full:
1) Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
2) Alchemilla mollis
3) Aquilegia 'Green Apples'
4) Antirrhinum 'Frosted Sunset'
5) Dianthus - mix
6) Dictamnus 'Alba'
7) Didiscus caerulea
8) Digitalis 'Foxy'
10) Lychnis 'Morgenrot'
11) Lychnis 'Dusky Salmon'
12) Impatiens (double pink)
13) Marshallia grandiflora
15) Oenothera 'Sunset Boulevard'
16) Verbascum phoeniceum
17) Pepper 'NuMex Big Jim'
18) Pepper 'Tequila'
19) Pepper 'Red Marconi'
20) Pepper 'Blushing Beauty'
The catgrass is sprouting - now to see if I can get it up and growing before the cat decides to start pawing around in it.
Thursday, January 17, 2008Sleet and snow last night, cold and dreary today, and even colder temps heading this way for the weekend. Totally yucky except...the Gardening By the Moon forum says it's time to sow seeds, so I dragged out the seedling starter trays and cleaned them up, filled them up and they're ready to plant.
I found a replacement "seedling sprayer" online at Charleys Greenhouse (see picture below.)
My old one is splitting and dry-rotting fast, and I don't trust it to make it through this growing season. It took me forever to find this thing online (who knew it was called "seedling sprayer"?) but in case I have to do this again, this thing is manufactured by Centro (they specialize in bug/insecticide sprayers); it is sometimes called a "duster" or seedling sprayer.
I also ordered a mix of ~60 cippollini (borettana) onions, "red torpedo" onions and lancelot leeks from Dixondale Farms, to be shipped in late March. At $9.95 for the lot of them, and free shipping, it was too good a deal to pass up.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Contemplating the compostWith apologies to Barbara Mandrell, I was composting before composting was cool. I even have a decades-old t-shirt with "Compost Happens" emblazoned across the front, a gift from a college friend who shared my quirky humor and graciously overlooked my smoldering compost heap when she visited.
When we were househunting back in 2000, a huge pile of leaf mold in the back corner was the pièce de résistance that sold me on this property (the realtor thought I was nuts.) That first fall, I raked and composted with abandon: I ventured across the fence into the neighbor's cow pasture to haul buckets of manure to speed up the process. (I the cows snickered.) I begged the neighbors for their bagged leaves from their sweetgum tree, which they gladly handed over.
In those heady "halcyon days", I failed to grasp that our four HUGE silver maples (plus three big dogwoods, two red maples and a gigantic hackberry) would produce that many leaves EVERY fall. Or that an abdominal hernia would make it painful (dangerous, and next-to-impossible) for me to get on the business end of my compost fork.
Eight years later, I'm ashamed to say I have a mound of last fall's uncomposted leaves succumbing to bermudagrass tendrils, and my household waste now goes out with the weekly garbage.
So now I'm considering my options - there are many compost bins and tumblers on the market. There's the traditional "Compostumbler": [HYPERLINK@www.compostumbler.com] along with compact versions.
And there are models such as this one: http://www.tumbleweedcompostbin.com/ and the "green machine" model (picture below). Each has their pros and cons: a wheeled model would make it easy(ier) to place the compost bin in one area for filling, and move it to the garden for dumping; the taller models are bigger and allow a garden cart or wheel barrow to fit beneath it for easy dumping, etc.
My birthday's in a few weeks...maybe it's time to ask my family to "surprise" me with a composter! It would be a treat to see that pile of leaves turned into useful compost, and stop throwing out the veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grinds and cardboard/paper.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
In other newsI decided today was *THE* day to (FINALLY) sow my poppy seeds (rain/sleet is expected tonight.) To my surprise, I found I had several different varieties to sow - some I had a lot of seed, others only a few. Sooooo....I mixed 'em all up with some sand and scattered them in the south bed next to the greenhouse. This "mix" included:
'Pink' (peony type)
Red "horned" type
I used my hand to firm them into the soil, but didn't cover them up.
And while I was digging around the greenhouse, I found a big, shallow clay pot - perfect for sowing the cat some catgrass, so I did that, too ;o)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Buying Pectin in January: optimistism meets frugalityGrocery shopping today, I found some sure-gel boxes marked down to $0.50 each. As I tossed a few boxes in my cart, DD raised an eyebrow, so I explained they were in anticipation of making jam and jelly with spring and summer fruit.
I know my new berry plants won't set enough to make preserves this year, but there's always our local farmers market, which will start back up in early June, and is held Tuesdays and Fridays from 6-10 a.m. through October. And hopefully the local peach growers won't be hit by a late freeze again this year.
Speaking of berries, yes, I know common wisdom dictates that I *should* cut off all the berries as they appear, so the new plants can put their energy into producing more plants...but I won't. I've faithfully followed that advice each time I've set out berries (this will mark my fourth "berry bed" over the years), but I'm rebelling this year:
1) I don't need a bazillion new berry plants; and
2) I'm not sure how long I'll have this particular garden; and
3) that advice only works if you are very diligent in constantly renovating your bed (which I'm not.)
So my plan is to let half the fruit ripen, pinch off the other berries, and dutifully peg runners to be sure I have a fuller bed of plants next year (and nip the other runners to avoid rampant berry plants.)
Monday, January 14, 2008
mmmmm, 'matersThe tomato seeds from TomatoFest and Tomato Growers Supply arrived today. There is no greater midwinter pick-me-up than to gently brush your hand across the tops of tomato seedlings and get a whiff of that "tomato foliage" smell!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Seed Starting Mix (Jiffy ain't just for cornbread ;o)My rant of the day: Why does Lowe's offer only seed starting mix with Miracle-Gro in it? (And why do their garden center employees get a blank look in their eyes when I ask them if they have any potting soil or soilless mix without fertilizer??? Why do they look even more nonplussed when I explain that the fertilizer seems to promote mold growth and isn't necessary for germinating seeds???)
Fortunately Wal-Mart had good, old-fashioned, plain seed starting mix sans fertilizer. Granted, it's not my favorite store, but at least someone still carries the no-nonsense stuff. (This was Ferry-Morse's Jiffy Mix.) I snagged two 10-quart bags today, so I'm ready to start some seeds next week!
Took a few minutes to rake the leaves from the bed around the greenhouse in anticipation of sowing all my poppy seeds as soon as the rain and sn*w (can't say the word or I'll jinx it!) comes tonight.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The seed starting countdown beginsThe heat mat arrived, so I set up the new shelves. Looks like a week from Monday (1/21) is 10 weeks to last frost (4/1), and several seeds need to be started 8-10 weeks before last frost:
We're expecting rain and possibly snow flurries tomorrow, so I'll get the poppy seeds sown tomorrow evening or Monday a.m.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The orders are coming! The orders are coming!The thrill of Christmas morning can't hold a candle to the sight of those padded envelopes of seeds appearing in my mailbox! (Tomato Growers Supply and Parks have confirmed my orders are shipped - yay!)
Yesterday I purchased a new five-shelf unit for the greenhouse, but I'm going to first use it indoors for my seed starting shelves. (The laundry room is off-limits these days, since the cat is shut in there at night, and in a battle of cat vs. plants, the plants will lose.)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Croak, croak, croakIt always surprises me to hear the frogs start croaking so early (but it happens anytime we get a warm spell, so I shouldn't be that surprised!)
Another line of storms is heading for us today (Tuesday also saw us getting hit with strong winds and lots of rain, but fortunately, no really bad weather came our way.)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Bed plansA tentative plan for the new beds:
Bed 1 (NW corner): East edge bordered with strawberries. broccoli plants first, then 4 pepper plants & 2 eggplants when it's warm enough (6 plants total ); 'Little Lucy' okra along the back (west edge) of the peppers and eggplants, and in the remaining space, a hill of zucchini backed by a trellis for cukes.
Bed 2 (NE corner): West edge bordered with strawberries. A row of lettuce down the middle in early spring, with 12 tomato plants added when it's time to set them out. A nice planting of cosmos and marigolds down the east side for cutting.
Bed 3 (SW corner): East edge bordered with more strawberries; a row of lettuce down the middle, with 12 tomato plants added when it's time to set them out. Once the lettuce is harvested, I'll plant buckwheat as a green cover crop as an experiment. (The other beds will get the usual straw mulch), and I'll see if a living mulch results in any short- or long-term benefits.)
Bed 4 (SE corner): West edge bordered with strawberries, with a row of 6 tomato plants and on the eastern side, a row of snow peas, then green beans. If I can squeeze in enough room for a trellis, I'd like to try some miniature luffas for making into gifts.
Melon/squash patch: I've got several pumpkins and squash to plant this year: Rouge vif d'Etamps, Lumina, and some smaller pumpkins, along with delicatas, and some small "icebox" size watermelons, with nasturtiums interplanted throughout, and room at each end for a row or two of shallots and leeks. I'd like to try some ladder-style trellises for the smaller pumpkins and the cukes, like the one shown in this photo.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
So many seeds, so little time and room!Ahhh, the laws of physics - there's only so much space and time for warm-season gardening.
Lettuce - several varieties on hand; I'll start some seeds in February to set out by early March.
Tomatoes - 15 varieties this year, so I'm planning on having 12 of each variety - two each for me, ten to sell):
Box Car Willie
Neves Azorean Red
New Big Dwarf
Peppers (12 each - keep one each and sell the rest)
Numex Big Jim (anaheim)
Eggplant (12 - keep 2, sell the rest)
'Little Lucy' Okra - direct seed a row in my garden, but start 6 for sale
'Long White' Cucumber - start two weeks before setting out, or direct seed in my garden, and start 6 for sale
'Round 8' golden Zucchini - start 2 weeks prior to setting out - two to keep, 6 to sell
Miniature luffas (planning to order) - start 4 weeks prior to setting out; 1 to keep, 6 to sell.
For edging 3 sides of the each new bed, I'm estimating 160 annual flowers (21 linear feet = 40 plants set @ 6" ) - 12 different plants total:
24 Snapdragon 'Frosted Sunset'
12 Calendula 'Orange porcupine'
12 Inca Orange Marigolds
12 Striped Marvel Marigolds
12 Durango Red Marigolds
12 White/cream Marigolds (need to find seed)
12 'Quills & Thrills' Coreopsis
12 'Zowie' Zinnias
12 Bells of Ireland
12 Asperula occidentalis
12 Nigella 'Miss Jekyll'
12 Red Spider Zinnia
Other annual flowers & ornamental plants to start early for bedding and sale
Salvia 'Evolution (plan on 18 for bedding plants)
Coleus 'Carefree Mix'
Cerinthe 'Kiwi Blue' - need 2
Ornamental Millet 'Purple Majesty' - need 2-3
French Hollyhock 'Magic' - need 2
Mimulus 'Calypso Mix' - need 3
Nicotiana 'Domino Salmon Pink' - need 12
Salpiglossis 'Chocolate Royale' - need 2
Scabiosa 'Ebony & Ivory' - need 2
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The great annual mail order escapade continuesFrom ValueSeeds.com
1 of [code: 613] Pumpkin Microwavable @ 0.99
1 of [code: 1810] Nasturtium Strawberry Ice @ 0.99
1 of [code: 6210] Cosmos Psyche @ 0.99
1 of [code: 6482] Sweet Pea Fragrant Ripples @ 0.79
1 of [code: 8808] Viola Bambini Mixed Colors @ 0.99
1 of [code: 498] Thyme : Orange Scented @ 0.79
1 of [code: 840] Tomato : Sungold F1 @ 0.99
1 of [code: 3280] Pennisetum glaucum Purple Majesty F1 - Ornamental Millet @ 0.99
1 of [code: 8156] Sweet Pea Sugar & Spice @ 0.99
1 of [code: 1477] Tagetes erecta Inca Orange F1 @ 0.99
5774 Eggplant 'Rosa Bianca' $0.67
5271 Pumpkin 'Lumina' $1.57
0510 Cerinthe major var. purpurascens 'Kiwi Blue' $1.75
4815 Pansy 'Terracotta Chianti' $1.75
5197 Okra 'Little Lucy' $2.65
2140 Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' $3.55
0260 Basil 'Pistou' $1.57
5684 Squash 'Cornell's Bush Delicata' $1.75
5304 Squash 'Rumbo' $2.25
5794 Squash 'One Ball' $2.25
805 Salvia farinacea 'Evolution' $1.75
0121 Snapdragon 'Frosted Sunset' $1.35
5557 Cucumber 'Pearl' (free gift)
6988 Seedling heat mat 9x19.5 $24.25
9221 Algoflash fertilizer 6-6-6 all-purpose (1 litre) $7.16
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Wacky weatherIn other news today, the daffs are popping up. Yes, it's January 8. And it's going to be nearly 70 degrees today (but very windy.)
The sprouts of the 'Bradford' pear on the old stump never went dormant - they're still a nice pretty green (ackkkkkk! it won't die!!!!!) and a few daylilies are still in leaf, despite the dip in temps last week (three days of freezing temps with nighttime lows in the low teens.) Weird weather, for sure!
Monday, January 7, 2008
Strawberry varietiesI removed my strawberry plants three years ago, after they succumbed to crown rot. The area they occupied has been planted with a variety of vegetables and flowers each year since, so I think it's safe to re-introduce berries into my garden (I'll use them to "edge" the new larger beds, and for the most part they will be located in a different area than the old plantings.)
It doesn't look good for finding 'Suwannee' plants, so I'm ordering 25 'Tennessee Beauty' and 25 'Earliglow' from Simmons Plant Farm (their $6 per 25 plant price is VERY reasonable compared to most vendors, which want $12-$16 per 25 plants.)
For future reference, this website has some good information on disease resistance: http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pp/extension/tfabp/factshts/sm...
This one has tips for disease prevention and maintenance, plus more resistance info: http://ipm.uiuc.edu/diseases/series700/rpd702/index.html
Sunday, January 6, 2008
14 tomato varietiesI ordered my tomato varieties for this year:
1) From Tomatofest.com (a new source for me this year):
TF-0059 Black Cherry-Tomato Seeds $2.00
TF-0336F Neves Azorean Red $2.95
TF-0076 Bradley $2.95
TF-0028 Arkansas Traveler-Tomato Seeds $2.00
TF-0037 Azoychka-Tomato Seeds $2.00
TF-0294 Long Keeper-Tomato Seeds $2.00
TF-0075 Box Car Willie-Tomato Seeds $2.00
$15 minimum order; shipping was $3.95 (pretty comparable to other vendors)
2) From Tomato Growers Supply:
#5614 - Golden Queen, USDA Strain - 30 seeds $ 2.55
#5818 - Red Rose - 30 seeds $ 2.55
#3349 - Super Sioux - 30 seeds $ 2.25
#3316 - Jet Star VF Hybrid - 30 seeds $ 2.85
#6044 - Health Kick VFFA - 30 seeds $ 3.25
#2522 - New Big Dwarf - 30 seeds $ 2.85
#5582 - Gregori's Altai - 30 seeds $ 2.55
Plus one pepper variety
#9579 - Tequila Hybrid - 20 seeds 1 $ 3.70
Added two other pepper varieties by phone:
#9456 - Explosive Ember - 30 seeds 1 $2.95 (backordered)
#9071 - Red Marconi - 30 seeds $2.45
Shipping was $4.25 from TGS.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
New year - new garden ideas!I like "square foot" gardening in theory. Unfortunately, my efforts have fallen short of the ideal for several reasons, namely:
1) I'm too lazy to do the true intensive and successive planting this method advocates.
2) I've tried too many times to squeeze six tomato plants into a 4x4 bed, to no avail: bad air circulation and difficulty in reaching around to weed, water and fertilize have been frustrating for me, and deadly for my plants.
3) I have battled bermudagrass in the beds and in the narrow paths since we put this garden in. As the saying goes, "nature bats last" so the bermudagrass always wins.
So my plans for this year include removing the three rows of five each (15 in total) 4' x 4' beds I've used for several years and replace them with four bigger (6' x 12') beds. Net gain: 48 square feet (288 SF from new beds, vs. 240 SF with the old beds.)
With nice wide paths in between, these beds will occupy the same area as my current vegetable garden. At one end remains the grape arbor; at the other, I'll keep my squash/melon beds (two beds also about 6' x12' each, placed side-by-side.)
The larger beds will allow us to use our new smaller tiller more easily to prepare the beds each spring and turn them under in the fall, and wider paths will make it easier to get a cart and hoses snaked in between the beds for easier watering and maintenance.
Religious applications of roundup might keep the bermudagrass at bay, although it will be an unending battle as long as we live and garden here.