Wednesday, June 25, 2008

PARADISE?

Sometimes I wonder about this phrase. I am kind of hoping that in paradise there won't be room for weeds like thistles and nut sedge, that I fight with constantly here on earth. I am also hoping that mosquitoes and japanese beetles will be banned from paradise. I saw my first beetle today and know that the next month will be spent trying to keep them away from my flowers and grape vines. Maybe, just to please me, God would ban moles and ground squirrels from paradise, and the rabbits would only be interested in eating grass and weeds. On my way out to check on the mole that is ruining my back garden, three rabbits ran into the corn field from my vegetable garden. They have been enjoying my green beans, and not at all interested in the traps that I have set for them.
But, on the other hand, the hollyhocks are beautiful, the lilies are blooming in all different colors, and I am eating fresh strawberries and raspberries from the fruit garden. I ate green beans and broccoli last night for dinner, fresh from the vegetable garden.
So, I guess if I can get past all of the aggravations that nature throws in, my garden is still the closest thing to paradise that I am going to see on this earth. Makes me wonder how much more awesome the real paradise is going to look someday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PLANT SALE

Today was a beautiful day! I held my plant sale from 10-6. I had a pretty good turnout, but I think if I had held it a few weeks earlier I would have sold more. Note the great sign. My Brother-in-Law is a sign painter and he painted the sign for me, I think that it helped draw people in.
It was a lot of fun meeting new gardeners, that is my favorite part when I have one of these sales. I didn't have a lot of plants to sell, and of course they were mostly purple, but most everyone that stopped left with something.
Several people walked through my gardens, some asked about specific plants, and others had questions about plants in their own gardens. I always enjoy having these sales but they do wear me out, and I don't get a lot done in my yard because I have to keep an eye out for customers. I spent the time that I had between customers, finishing up the planters for the patio. Tomorrow I will have to tackle the weeds in the beds, the rain over the past few weeks have given them a great start. Our local weatherman reported that for the last 9 Fridays we have had rain. It has really backed us up in our business. Last year we had no rain, and this year we have way to much. That's Indiana for you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MISSED SPRING

I feel like I have missed Spring! I get so busy this time of year it goes by before I know it. I try to walk around the garden each evening, but that is about it. My 'Dortman' rose is gorgeous, and the honeysuckle vine smells like heaven. My vine was given to me by a good friend. It was a start from her vine, which was a start from her Mother's vine. It takes some work to keep it from taking over the garden, but that smell is worth it.
I have planted all of the properties that we maintain with purple flowers for the 'America in Bloom' competition. This weekend I am having a sale to sell the plants that are left. I do this every year, some years having more to sell than others. I put an ad in the paper with the garage sales and usually sell most of what I have left. I hate giving up the day, and the ad cost me $30.00, but I usually do pretty well. I can still get some weeding done in the beds in between customers. So if any of you are going to be in the Lafayette area on Saturday, and need some purple flowers, stop in. They usually go pretty fast. Of course I always have people ask for something that I had last year, but I usually have different plants for sale each year.
I still want to post about my trip last Friday, but I am just to tired tonight. We took a landscape job in a small town about 45 minutes from Lafayette, and we were there today. We didn't get home until 9:30, so I am off to bed. I have to drive back there tomorrow to finish up, so it will probably be another long day. Maybe I will get to my post about the trip this weekend.

Monday, June 9, 2008

COMPUTER PROBLEMS

May 25 was the last time that I posted to my blog. I have missed sharing my garden, and have also missed reading what is going on in your gardens. In one of the many storms that we have experienced over the past few weeks, the little box on my roof that allows me to receive my wireless signal, was hit by lightning. After they came out and fixed that problem, I realized that my router was also hit. So after purchasing a new one, and waiting for my son to install it, (which explains why it took so long), I am finally back online. My office computer also now has problems, and I will have to find a 'geek' to work on it. How can you love and hate something at the same time? I love how my computer has made doing bookwork so much easier, and adding my books to librarything, and blogging have been great fun also. But when they stop working, it can make you crazy!
The picture above is of my Donald Wyman lilac. It is one of the last lilacs to bloom. It is named after Donald Wyman, a well known horticulturist. When I first started working at a local nursery back in the 70's, the book that I always went to when customers had questions, was Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia. This book always had the answers. I would often look up plants just to see if they were in there. I was rarely disappointed. I remember how great it felt to finally be able to purchase the book for myself. It was a pretty pricey book back then, and there were no half price book stores, or library book sales, so I paid the full price for it. It is probably still one of the most expensive books I have ever bought, at about $40.00. I now own hundreds of books on gardening, but this is always the one that has the answers if I can't find it in the one of the others.
In the garden things are finally starting to grow. With all the cool weather and rain, most plants just sat there. Then the 90 degree weather hit, and things started to happen. One thing that happened was the strawberries. I had no idea that we would have so many. I was not prepared, nor do I have the time to put up any of them. So we are eating them, and sharing them with anyone and everyone. Most people can't believe how good they are, compared to the store-bought ones.
Well, I am cutting this post short because I want to read up on what everyone else has been up to. But I do hope to post tomorrow night on a trip that I took on Friday to a well known herb farm.
Glad to be back, and I do hope that you haven't all forgotten me!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

NO TIME FOR BLOGGING

I can't believe that it has been a week since I posted last. I also can't believe that we are into the last week of May! This Spring has gone by so fast, I have almost missed it.
The rain that we have had over the past few weeks has put us behind schedule. It is hard to make customers understand that every rain day pushes everyone waiting to have work done, back. Most people are very patient, and understand about the weather. We have had a lot of work that had to be done for graduations, so of course those were a priority. Thankfully, we were able to get everyone done that had events planned, and will now be able to get to everyone else.
This picture is the back yard of a customer that was having a graduation party. The beds needed to be cleaned up and mulched. The flowers blooming are Bachelors Buttons, or Mountain Bluets. They are beautiful, and reseed themselves every year.
My yellow tree peony is blooming! After removing the side shoot, it has done very well. I love the lemon yellow color. My "Miss Kim' tree lilac is also blooming. It seems especially fragrant this year, and covered in blooms.
I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend, because I usually can spend it in the garden. We had rain all day on Friday so the garden was to wet on Saturday to get anything done, so I spent the day organizing my shed, which I did not take a picture of, because I was so ashamed of the shape that it was in. It's all cleaned up now, and so much easier to get around in. I have found that when I am organized, I am able to accomplish a lot more. I found so many things cleaning the shed that I had forgotten that I had. I even found my bird bath heater that I replaced last winter because I could not find the one that I knew that I had somewhere. Now I have two, the birds are going to love me next winter!
After church this morning I stopped at my 90 year old friends home to check on her. It has rained the past few Friday's so I have not been able to do any gardening for her. I took a few pictures of her garden while I was there. The first is of her poppies in bloom, they have the most beautiful 'tissue paper' flowers. The second is a picture of some lupine's. The lupines sprang up in front of the compost pile, I assume the seed was dropped when they were finished blooming, and were added to the pile. The tall purple plant along the fence is Dames Rocket, also a volunteer. I commented that sometimes the random acts of nature turn out better than our planned gardens.
Our forecast is for rain tonight and tomorrow. I am hoping that they are wrong, and the rain comes tonight, and then moves on so that I can get some weeding done tomorrow.
Do take time tomorrow to think of all of the men and women that have given their lives so that we can spend a warm Spring day puttering in our gardens.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

PURPLE, PURPLE, PURPLE

Our town is participating in the America in Bloom program this summer. The flower color that they have chosen is purple. So that means that any properties that are participating, will use purple flowers in their landscapes. One of the properties that we maintain has always used a red and white color scheme, but this year, it will be purple. So, as you can see, my greenhouse is decked out in purple.
I plan to use purple and white petunias, purple verbena, and perilla. We will probably start planting next week, if it ever warms up.
My amaryllis is blooming again. If I could just get it to bloom like this at Christmas it would be great. But this flower has a mind of it's own, and blooms when it gets good and ready. I enjoy it anyway, whenever it decides to bloom.
I was able to get a little work done in the garden this weekend. I got my green beans planted, but I think that it is still to cool to plant my tomatoes. I think our April and May got mixed up. April was very warm and dry, and so far May has been cool and wet.
My tree peony is blooming. This one is a red and white
bicolor, 'Shimanishiki'. These are some of my favorite plants. They look very exotic, but are as easy to grow as the common peony.
My yellow tree peony is just coming into bloom, and my blue one is still about a week from blooming. I will post pictures of them when they bloom.
Well, it's back to work tomorrow, and I have something going on almost every night this week, so I won't get to spend any time in the garden until next weekend, I sure hope it's nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SATURDAY TRIP

Sorry that I never got back to share my Saturday trip. My Sister and I headed out Saturday morning for Cox's Plant Farm. One of our fellow blogger's recommended it, and for the life of me I can't remember who. If you are reading this, please let me know and I will give you credit for the tip. (UPDATE: IT WAS KAREN AT KAREN'S PLACE) We had not got 2 miles out of Lafayette and we saw a garage sale sign. We had to stop because you just never know what you might be passing up. In this case, it was this great fountain. It just needs to be cleaned up, and if I get motivated, a coat of paint. It is also is covered in lime so that will have to be removed, but I just couldn't pass it up for $10.00! What a bargain. My Sister got a good laugh out of me trying to get it in the car. I bought a sheet at the sale to wrap around it, but it was going to be a challenge fitting plants around it for the rest of the day, but I knew that it would be worth it.
So we head out and get as far as Crawfordsville and see I sign for Davidson Greenhouse. If you have never been to this greenhouse, it is worth a visit. They have been around for as long as I can remember and have a great selection of plants. Lots of odd varieties of coleus, geraniums, cactus, and other oddball plants. The signage from Highway 231 is very good, and needs to be because they are located in the middle of the countryside. As we were leaving I snapped a picture of this little girl 'riding' this concrete lion. I wish that I had thought to give her parents my blog address so that they could have a copy of the picture.
So we finally leave there and head for Cox's. We arrive around 1 o'clock and the place is VERY busy! Duh, it's Mother's Day weekend, what were we thinking. They claim to be the largest garden center in Indiana, and I believe them. I have worked in a retail garden center and I don't know how they do it. They must have hundreds of employees. Just keeping up with watering would be a huge job. We spent a couple of hours shopping, and decided that we were starving and needed to find someplace to eat. We both commented on the fact that we were surprised they don't have a food vender on site. As we walked outside and around the corner, there was a tent set up for the Boy Scouts, and they were selling hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips. Wow, what luck! I bet that they made a fortune that day. It looked to me, by there set up, that they had done this before, probably every weekend so far this Spring.
So, after we had each helped out the Boy Scouts with their fund raiser, (I like to think of it that way instead of pigging out), we headed into Indy. We didn't really have a plan of where we wanted to go when we got there, so we just started driving. By chance, we ran across Eagle Creek Nursery, but didn't find much there. When we left there, we got lost, which we often do when we are on on of our trips. We always say that we are going to map out our route before we go, but we never do. At one point, we pull up to a stop sign, with me driving, and my Sister trying to figure out where we are. As I look to my left there is a church there, with a sign meant just for us out front. God has a great sense of humor!
We managed to find our way back to a main road, and found a few more interesting places to stop. Of course no trip to Indy would be complete without a few minutes at the Half price bookstore, well it was actually more like an hour but whose keeping track?
Only my Sister could have gotten me out of my garden last Saturday. I knew that it was supposed to rain on Sunday, which it did, and that I would be back to work on Monday. So, another weekend that I got nothing done outside. But I also knew that if I tried to get out of going, she would give me a huge lecture about enjoying the Spring season, not just working every weekend and missing it.
I hope that everyone has someone like my Sister in their life, to remind them of what really is important.
Thanks Peg.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MOTHERS DAY LIST

Today is Mother's day, or as it is known around my house, 'Slave for a Day'. Because it is windy and rainy out, my list will probably not get completely done. Some of the things on my list had to be done outside, so they will have to wait for next weekend. I guess that is the true meaning of getting a 'rain check'. They did get my swing frame repaired, and my new water feature for my patio started. Both required the use of the welder, and I don't weld. I am replacing the water feature that I had next to my patio because it only held about 5 gallons of water, and the wind would blow the water off of it. So I was constantly refilling it. I am replacing it with a 25 gallon container, and a lower fountain, so it should not be bothered by the wind.
The flowering trees have been especially beautiful this Spring. This picture is of my 'Prariefire' crab tree. As the petals began to fall, it looked like pink confetti all over the sidewalk. It is also very fragrant, which is why I planted it by the back door to the house. These little Anemone Sylvestris 'Snowdrop' are beginning to worry me. They seem to really like this spot, and are spreading
rapidly. I really like them, and they flower very early, but I am going to have to keep an eye on them so that they don't take over the bed. Right in front of them in the picture is a Heliopsis 'Loraine Sunshine'. It has variegated foliage, and if I remember right, a yellow flower. I really like variegated plants, and this one has done pretty well. The picture below is in my back garden where I try to plant things that I don't have to fuss with. The plants in this garden need to be able to take care of themselves most of the time.
These are some variegated hosta that I had no place else to put, so I stuck them in here last fall. At the time I wasn't thinking about how they would look when the sweet woodruff was blooming. Sometimes things just work out with no help from us. I love how these two look together. Sweet woodruff is a wonderful groundcover for the shade, and spreads slowly over the years. The tree peony that I wrote about last Spring has begun to send out new growth. If you look closely it looks like two different plants. Last year I was puzzled by the plant blooming the expected yellow, and then blooming pink. When I was at the wholesale nursery earlier this Spring I asked one of the workers there about this oddity. He told me that this was very common. Tree peony's are grafted onto other peony rootstock, and the pink colored peony is coming up from the rootstock. I was surprised that they were grafted, because peony's are very hardy. He said that he was surprised too, and could not explain why this is done either. So, I cut they taller branches off of the plant. It was hard to do, because they looked really healthy and vigorous, but I know that the yellow peony is the grafted, and more desirable one.
Well, the 'slaves' need my advice on their work, so I am off. I will try to post later on my road trip yesterday, 'garden center hopping'.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mother's out there in blogger land!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PASS-ALONG PLANTS

After reading Jen's post over at Our First Garden, I thought that I might share with you my thought's on pass-along plants.
I believe in always being prepared when it comes to acquiring free plants from generous gardeners. You must always carry in your vehicle the necessary items to make the sharing of plants as easy as possible for both parties, the giver, and the receiver. The givers will be so impressed when you open your trunk and show them that you are prepared to receive as many plants as they are willing to share. They will also feel that anyone so prepared to take the plants, can also be counted on to take good care of them when they get them home.
The items that you will need will all fit into a shoe box, so there is no excuse to leave home without it. In what I call my 'Pass-Along' kit I carry these essential items.
1: A shower curtain. This is the most important item because it is cheap, folds up into a very small area, unfolds to cover a very large area, and most important, keeps my car safe from loose soil, or wet plants. This item is also very handy for garden center visits. I would never venture out on any trip without a shower curtain.
2: plastic grocery bags. We all have tons of these, so keep 10-or 20 in your kit so that each shared plant can have it's own bag. The bags can be labeled on the outside or by using the number 3 item in the kit, old plant labels.
3: Old plant labels, and marker. I keep old plant labels and a marker in my kit so that the name of the plant can be added to the bag, or written on the outside of the bag. If the person sharing the plant with you knows the name of the plant, by all means, write it down. Don't count on your memory. If you are lucky enough to get lots of bags, it will be very hard to remember which plant is which. You can also write on the bag whether the plant grows in sun or shade, and other notes about it.
4: A pair of gloves and a knife. Always have a pair of gloves on hand, and a kitchen knife, or the root knife, shown in the picture, that I bought at Lee Valley tools. It cost's $8.50, and really works well. I have several of them, and they have held up great. I even use them in the Fall when I am cutting the foliage from daylilies back for the winter. The knife is used for dividing a perennial or cutting a small start from the main plant. You may also want to keep a pair of pruning shears in your kit if you have an extra one.
5: Camera. This is not essential to the kit, but if you take a picture of each plant that you get, you will be able to look at them when you get home and decide the best place to plant it in your garden by noting the size that it is in your givers garden.
When receiving pass-along plants from other gardeners the rule of thumb is not to thank them. The belief for this is that the plant will die if you thank them for it.
I always thank the giver for plants that I receive, and don't feel that I have suffered any losses because of this. I do think that if I appeared ungrateful, they might not be as generous next time, so I ignore the 'no thank you' rule.
Don't get hung up on having the name and variety of plants that you receive. After all, they are free! Some of my favorite plants are unnamed. The miniature Iris in the picture had no name, but it always blooms first thing in the Spring, without fail, and I like it as much as any of my named varieties.
Now, to be honest, in all of the years that I have been sharing plants, not one person has ever showed up with a "Pass-Along' kit. So, to remedy this situation, I keep plenty of bags and tags handy, so at least when they get home, they know what they have got.
Maybe I should make up these kits and market them? Hey, if they can sell pet rocks, anything is possible!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

COLD AND WINDY AGAIN


Well, it is Indiana!! We are back to cold and windy weather. I was able to get a few things done outside today, but it was so windy it was useless to try to do any cleaning up. When I went out this morning I really didn't know what to do. It was so windy, that I really didn't feel like working in it, and it looked like it could rain at any time.
Then I thought of a job in the herb garden that I had been putting off and was not looking forward to doing. I decided that it would be the perfect day, and it was in a semi-protected area.
The job was to eradicate the ginger mint. Several years ago I planted ginger mint under my swing in the herb garden. Every year it would creep a little further but the winter would usually kill it back enough each year that it wouldn't take over like most mints do. But the last few years this has not happened, and the mint has moved far beyond the boundaries that I had set for it. I also had decided that I wanted to try a short variety of chamomile in this spot, so the ginger mint had to go. Removing mint that has taken over an area is no fun task. If you do not get every piece of the root it will return within a few weeks. The only good thing about the job is that it is mint, so it smells good the whole time that you are working with it. I do like this mint, the new leaves have a nice yellow variegation, so I saved enough for a pot that I sunk into the ground. This will keep it from escaping back into the garden. It took awhile but I got the mint removed and the chamomile planted. By the time that I was done the clouds had moved in and it was a lot colder, so I moved into the greenhouse to work for awhile.
While walking around the garden today, I noticed a few things. The first is the spruce tree that died earlier this spring. I have no idea why, I just noticed that it had an odd look to it earlier, and when the wind and rain hit all of the needles ended up on the ground. This makes me very sad because I really liked this tree. it was just starting to get some size to it. The only thing that I can figure caused it's death was the weather that we had last year. The late freezes, and then the summer drought, must have been what caused it's death. There was no sign of insects, or root disturbance, so this is all that I can come up with. I won't have a problem filling it's spot though, I have a shrub rose that I didn't have a place for, so it will go there.
The second thing I noticed was that my 'Sensation' lilac is in bloom. This is my favorite lilac because it has a variegated flower. It has that same lilac smell, and gets about the same size as other varieties, but the flower is really unique.
My 'Carlesii' viburnums are also in bloom. I have made a hedge with 3 plants, and they are planted near the new patio off the end of our garage. They smell so wonderful when they are in bloom, it's to bad that the flowers only last for about a week. The third thing that I noticed on my walk was the "Tiger Eye' sumac that I planted last year. I was so happy with it last summer, it held it's color the whole season, and looked great under my tri-color beech tree. So as I am checking to make sure that it made it through the winter alright, I notice shoots coming up all around it. Some as far as ten feet away. This is very bad! In researching this plant nobody mentioned that it sends out runners. Now I have to decide what I am going to do about this problem, because I do not want to fight sumac coming up amongst all of my other plants. The only solution that I see is to dig a trench around it, and sink a barrier so that the runners can not get past it. That seems like a lot of work, but probably the only solution if I want to keep it. I have circled the runners in the photo, so that you could see what a problem this could become.
I am also adding a picture here of a 'PJM' rhododendron that is in my Mother's yard. It has probably been there for 15 years and blooms like this every year. People stop and ask what it is every year. This variety of rhododendron is very hardy, and has smaller leaves than the regular rhododendrons. It makes a nice foundation plant, and it is not deep rooted, so it is safe to plant near your home.














I hope that the wind is calmer tomorrow, and it is a little warmer. I would like to get some mulching done, and maybe figure out what to do with the sumac.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL

It is a joy to drive around town this time of year. Everywhere you look, something catches your eye. Right now it is the pear trees, redbuds, and magnolias. The viburnums are just starting, and the forsythia are just about finished. My 'Ann' magnolia is in full bloom. I like this variety because it doesn't get much larger than about 8-10 feet tall, and continues to bloom off and on throughout the summer. But the 'Butterflies' magnolia is awesome! I am sure that if it was planted near the road like Ann is, people would be stopping to ask what it is. My only regret is that it is planted with a not so pretty back drop, and way to much yellow in front of it. I think that those daffodils should be dug up and moved, and maybe some nice red tulips should replace them.
I also have posted a picture of 'Euphorbia Myrsinites'. It is an interesting plant, always blooming before anything else in the garden, and continuing to bloom through the Spring. It grows along the front edge of my back beds, and never becomes a pest. It does seed, but pulling up any babies that you don't want is pretty easy.
We do need rain, and it is in the forecast for tomorrow evening, but I don't think that there is a very strong chance of it. I love how the plants just seem to jump out of the ground after a Spring rain. The farmers in my area are grateful for a chance to get their crops in, but I would still like to see a little rain, and I can't believe that I am saying this...a little bit cooler weather. Well, it is Indiana, tomorrow we could have snow!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

UH, OH, TROUBLE!!

This morning we had to travel to Indianapolis to the wholesale nursery and pick up plant material for several jobs. I do all of the landscaping, so my husband doesn't have a clue what plants go on each job. He goes with me to pick up plants, just to be the 'load and tarp down the plants, guy'. This makes it very easy to smuggle a few plants home for myself, each time we go.
Now, imagine yourself surrounded by acres of lush beautiful trees, shrubs, and perennials, all at wholesale prices. How can I be expected to behave myself in that kind of a situation? Especially first thing in the Spring! I was like a kid in a candy store!
Spring is always the best shopping because everything is fresh, and usually flowering. They must have had 500 Japanese maples just leafing out, and all of the flowering trees were blooming. They were really not much of a temptation because I don't have anymore room for trees. Where I ran into trouble was in the perennial greenhouses. There were several new perennials, and some that I had just never tried, and after all, I need to know the growing habit of as many plants as possible, in order to help my customers make wise choices. So, with that in mind I proceeded to pick out a few interesting plants.
First I chose a tree peony ('Kamatanishiki') that is supposed to have a blue flower. Now we all know that true blue flower's, are few and far between, but I decided to give this one a shot. I was not able to pronounce it's name, but that is beside the point. Next was a variegated helleborus ('Pacific Frost'), very cool looking, a heuchera ('Mystic Angel'), I just liked it's name, a baptisia (Twilite Prairie'), because I love all baptisia's, and a pasque flower, because, believe it or not, I have never grown one.
Now, didn't I do a good job of not going overboard? I controlled myself very well. Actually, I just happen to know that we will be back down in a few weeks, and they will have lots more plants in by then!

Monday, April 21, 2008

DECISIONS IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

I got home from work tonight at 5:00, so I had a few hours that I could spend in the garden before it got dark. I needed to get my new grape vines planted. They have been in the packing material for about a week, and were starting to bud out, so I wanted to get them in. I am trying 3 different varieties, Canadice, Reliance, and Interlaken.
I also planted my potatoes. I am trying something new this year. Last year when I made my tomato cages out of concrete reinforcing wire, I made way to many. So, I dug six small holes, buried a whole seed potato, and then covered it with soil and straw. Then I put a cage over each potato, and added straw. As the plant grows I will continue to add soil and straw. I have tried variations of this method before, but this time I really want to check how many potatoes I get from each cage, and how that compares to just growing them the traditional way.




I still had some extra time after getting the grapes and potatoes planted, so I decided to plant some 'Dwarf Grey Sugar' peas. I know that it is a little late, but I had the seed, so I thought that I would go ahead and try it.
I am trying something very radical this year, something that I never dreamed that I would ever do. Even my husband thinks that I have lost it. Can you guess?
Well, after reading Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels, (I didn't actually read the whole book, I kind of jumped around) I have decided not to roto-till my garden this year! This is huge for me! I love that first garden tilling in the Spring. All of the leaves, straw, and weeds get tilled into the soil, it just seems so right. Then, along comes this book that tells me just how much damage I am actually doing to my soil. Tonight when I went out to plant the peas, I almost changed my mind. The soil looked so hard, and the weeds were sprouting, the soil was perfect for tilling, and my husband was sitting there on his tractor with that look in his eye. I know what he wanted. He wanted to drop that tiller on that soil and just go roaring across my garden murdering all of those defenseless little bacteria, fungi, and other nasty sounding stuff. He tried everything to convince me to let him loose on that garden, even suggesting that we just till part of the garden and do a comparison on which vegetables do better. I finally said NO!, NO!, NO!, and he skulked away, defeated.
Now, the odd thing is that I am used to soft, freshly turned soil, that is easy to plant. Now I am standing with this little pea seeds, and this hard ground. How am I going to do this. So I go to my shed looking for some tool to get these seeds 2 inches into this ground. Then I spot my dibble. Now if you don't know what a dibble is don't feel stupid. They are not used much here in the states, but they are great little gadgets. They are made specifically for making holes, and that is just what I needed, so I grabbed it and headed back to the garden.
It worked perfectly! I have to admit, it worked better than when the ground is tilled. The holes were perfect, and I dropped a pea seed into each one, and then added a light coating of compost over the row, and covered it with shredded leaves. Now, I probably should keep notes on how the vegetables do with this new method, and I might even say that I will do that. But I know better. All I ask is that they grow and produce enough food that it was worth my time planting them.
And, I will be able to sleep soundly tonight knowing that all of that microbial stuff is safe and sound out there in the garden.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

SPRING WORK

This has been a busy week! Sunny, beautiful days! We are working on lots of cleanups and mulching gardens. One property that we worked on this week is going up for sale in the next few days, so the owners want it to look good. We spent a few days sprucing up the beds, and applying a fresh layer of mulch. We have worked on this property for several years and every time that I go there I am happy that I do not have to battle deer. The picture below shows a row of Yews that are nearly destroyed every winter from the culinary habits of the local deer population.
They munch these yews down to almost nothing. The first time that I saw this, I told the owner of the home, that I did not think that the plants would recover. He stated that this happens every winter, and that they always come back. Sure enough, they did recover. But, then the next winter, the same thing happens again. When I first saw these yews I thought that they were some interesting new variety. If you look at the closeup picture, they do look very bizarre. I wish that I would have thought of it earlier, I would have taken a few of the products on the market that are supposed to repel deer, and sprayed these plants. What a great test plot this would have been. Many of the other shrubs on the property also show deer damage,
but nothing like these yews. I guess that I will just keep fighting my rabbits, and be happy that they don't do this kind of damage, and are a little easier to control.
The forecast for today was rain, so I did not plan to work in the garden. It didn't end up raining much, but it was overcast with off and on drizzle. I did spend the day in the greenhouse. I got lots done, mostly potting and repotting. It looks like tomorrow is supposed to be a much better day for gardening, so I plan to spend the afternoon doing just that. I don't like to work on Sundays, but I often make an exception for yard work. It just doesn't seem like 'work' to me.
Friday was the first day back to my 90 year old friends garden. I check in on her often through the winter months, but Friday was the first day back in her garden. She is not able to do much, but I am always amazed at what she does get accomplished moving around her garden with her walker, and her bucket of tools. She already has her tomatoes potted up and outside against the house getting toughened up and ready for planting. As I was pruning her 'Dortmund' rose bushes, in order to install new trellises, she was standing with her walker watching me work. After a short time of silence she said to me, "you sure do good work". I said, "well thank you, I try". Without missing a beat she said, 'well, I guess I've taught you everything I know". What a character! I look forward to my Friday's with her.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

THINK SPRING!!

This is the message on my bathroom window. I think that you can tell that Mother Nature is not cooperating. This picture was taken on Saturday, the whole weekend being worthless as far as getting any gardening done. Rain, wind, and cold temperatures kept me inside most of the weekend. I did get a little planting done in the greenhouse, but I really wanted to be outside in the garden.
Then Sunday and Monday nights temperatures dropped into the 20s. I don't think that anything was hurt, the trees are not fully in flower yet, so I think that they will be alright. The weather has improved slowly since then, with the end of the week forecast to be in the 70s. But what do you suppose the forecast for the weekend is? RAIN!
Wait a minute! All week I plan for the weekend, and then it is supposed to rain! That doesn't seem fair. Why can't some of that rain be put off until July and August when we need it?
I have lots to do in the greenhouse, so it won't be a total waste if it does rain, but I would really like to get the mulch down before the perennials are up and leafed out. It makes it so much easier.
I received my shrub from White Flower Farm in the mail today, that I wrote a post about in January. If you remember I ordered a Calycanthus 'Venus' or sweet shrub. The cost was $39.95 plus $10.95 shipping. I had a $25.00 gift certificate, so the total cost was $25.00. I expected a pretty nice size shrub, but I am not kidding, what I received was a twig. I can't believe that people pay these kinds of prices. I would never order anything from this company again, after seeing the size of the plant that I got.
I also received my grapes from Miller nurseries. I ordered 1 Canadice (red seedless), 1 Lakemont (white seedless), and 1 Reliance (pink seedless). I am hoping that they are wrong about the weekend weather. I sure would like to get these in the ground. I tried grapes a few years ago, and ended up pulling them out after losing battle after battle with Japanese beetles. I have decided to try again, and will probably using netting to keep the beetles off of them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

Wow! I can't believe that I have not posted anything since Easter!
Spring hit in full force, and we have been busy. I am so tired when I get home at night, all I get done on the computer is check my mail. I really miss reading all of the regular blogs that I check in on. I haven't forgotten you, I just don't have much time right now.
I did get to spend the weekend in my own garden. Both days were absolutely perfect weatherize, so I couldn't resist. I am amazed at what a difference you can make in a day in the garden.
My herb garden did not get cleaned up last Fall, so it was first on the list for this Spring. I needed to cut everything back, and then cover the entire thing with leaves. The garden measure around 20 by 50 feet, so it's a large area. But I was fired up and ready to go Saturday morning. This picture shows how it looked last Fall, so you know that I had my work cut out for me.
I began by cutting off all of the dead herbs and cleaning out the planters. I had my husband dump a load of leaves in the vegetable garden that is right next to the herb garden, last Fall, so I didn't have far to get them to the garden. I used my trusty garden way cart, one of the tools that I couldn't garden without. When filled with leaves, it covers a pretty large area. I usually lay them about 3-4 inches thick, allowing for some of them to be blown away. Once the herbs start growing, they will stay in place, but while it is bare, they tend to fly around.
I am not very good at sticking with one job until it is completed and then moving on. I get bored, so usually do a job for awhile, and then do something else, and then back to the original job.
So, I would clear an area, cover it with leaves, and then continue like that until it's done. It took the entire day, but by evening, the job was done. What a relief! It is so much easier to do when nothing has sprouted yet. My cart can be pushed around without hurting any plants. If I had waited a few more weeks, I could not have used my cart, because the plants will be starting to grow by then, and would get trampled.
It is amazing to me that this garden can be completely bare in the Spring, and in a few months, be full, with some plants reaching 5-6 foot tall. Ninety percent of the plants in this garden are perennial. I plant Basil, Parsley, and Calendulas, but the rest of the plants come back year after year. I love herbs because they require very little care. I rarely fertilize them, and only water when it is extremely dry. The only other maintenance is occasionally dividing the plants that tend to take over the garden. I also always have fresh herbs for cooking. Many times I have run out to the herb garden for some lovage, chives, or rosemary to add to a dish.
But my favorite thing about this garden, is just walking through and running my hand across the tops of the herbs. And when people stop by, especially kids, I take them through the herb garden first. They always enjoy it the most.
I also have a swing in the garden, right across form the pond. it is a wonderful place to sit for a few minutes when I get home in the evening.
Well, I don't know when I will be back, happy Spring until then!