Monday, May 25, 2009

The Dangers of Reading Garden Books...

I hit the library shelves, yet again, for my spring fix of gardening books. 635. 715. Some scattered biographies that I haven't yet found... So I found there were few technique books I haven't already read, so I went to the musing gardener books. This is quite dangerous as when the writer waxes on about a plant they love - I start to think maybe I should try that too.. Bitten in the New York Times, led to me planting beets for the first time - though I don' t have any seedlings so perhaps I'll have to try again.

And now a piece waxing on about lima beans of all things has me wondering about growing them. I have old seed, that I got a few years back, but the piece went on about vine limas being superior so I've been taking another look at the seed racks to see if anyone has those. But no limas have yet to be spotted.

Another cart full of daylillies put out by the back fence. Need more mulch, and newspaper, and soil. I have some tame yellow daylillies that I'd like to plop where some of the oranges were - but I think annuals would be more prudent. Easier to tell the difference between them and resurging daylillies. But I do have some yarrow, sedum, and sundrops I could plop in. Who knows - perhaps the sundrops could fight off any comers... :)


Another name for the original orange daylilly is ditchweed - simply because it is on so many roadsides, especially near old abandoned farms... It seems to flourish on abuse. Rather than choke itself out, the roots go deeper and wider.

And as such, it really can overtake a flowerbed if it is not the sole member of it.
Yes, that is a whole cart full of orange daylillies - and there are plenty more in this side bed that need dug out. (They are crowding out the better mannered residents).

The problem is there are likely to be many daylillies emerging from the old roots that didn't come up with the plants. I'm adding a thick layer of newspaper before I mulch - but I know the daylillies will out. Heck, they crowded out my red daylillies that used to be on the right side of the window.

But as you can see - there is a good 5 x 2 ft of daylillies. Plus this is a foundation bed - so it needs to be at a good grade when the plants are removed...

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler - perhaps I'll get more done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sometimes the plant you want most is the one you can't have.

This year, for my veg garden there are a few musts - zucchini, yellow squash, peas, green beans, and 'Mortgage Lifter' tomatoes. There are a couple things I would still like: ground cherry, and Rosa Bianca eggplant. Unfortunately, the former doesn't seem to be available as a plant locally (and Seed Savers is out), and the latter was sold out at B's. I haven't had much luck with eggplant - last year they didn't even set fruit, and I've not made it in a way that makes me choose it yet. But I've been reading and I had the seeds from a couple years ago... But not a single seedling.

So. I bought another variety, via the hardware store. I'm going to try them in pots - maybe that will help - maybe not.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Euphoria for Spring vs. 'That's a lot of work'

Today was in the 80s again. Indiana weather is rather consistently inconsistent. Cold, wet, and more wet then poof - heat wave. And well I'm in the boring parts of gardening - the maintenance of edging and weeding... The front entryway needs a third deck wash - it's a bit streaky and still the algae persists - the weird thing was when I scrubbed it only on the first pass did anything come off.

Some of my onions need replanted - and they need mulched. I haven't been able to find a source for straw - guess I should have gotten some last fall. And the veg bed still needs expanded - and the rototiller fixed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When Deck Wash Doesn't

So I sprayed the front porch with deck cleaner. When I scrubbed it off - there didn't seem to be any change. And the algae/moss didn't seem to be effected at all.

I sprayed it off a couple times, and scrubbed the boards some more... I'll let it dry - but I think another application is called for - after the front porch is in the shade...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I have a basket of seeds. Some are as old as 2002. They've not been refrigerated or frozen - and thus are quite likely to be worthless. At the time, every packet was a daydream. A little collection of possibilities. And so I find myself this year, knowing the odds of any plants arising from the seeds, but unwilling to not give them a chance, so planting as many as possible. So with the older seeds any germination is a cause for joy. But I've gotten new veg seed - since I used most of the older already, and I've saved seeds from my own plants - marigolds, amaryllis, iris, peony, and alliums. But this is the first year I've had any trouble starting marigolds.

I think perhaps the african marigolds I saved the seed from last year must have been mules - an entire flat and a damp papertowel in a plastic bag both got 0% germination. And the 2004 seed I tried seemed dessicated. (Did get one seedling from that though). So tonight I poured boiling water over the marigold 0% germ. flat and then replanted with various perennial seeds - I think the lupines have a good chance. I planted quite a few seeds in each peat pellet, (the chances of germination are rather low) and hopefully will get a couple seedlings.

I've still got 0% for ground cherries and cleome. I've ordered fresh ground cherry seed - I dithered about the cost of shipping from Seed Savers long enough that they ran out of plants. I'm not 100% certain that the berry after dessert in France was a ground cherry - but with no local sources - growing my own seems to be the only chance to find out. I'm contemplating buying a 6 pack of cleome - or another pack of seeds to scatter directly outdoors. Perhaps I should try the papertowel method with cleome, if I can find my remaining seed.

I tried the frig then bottom heat this time. Rather than just pop it in, cover, and put under the lights. I took a few more and put them in the frig for some more time - but still no sign now that they are under the lights. I've read that people get the best germination rates direct sowing or winter sowing - so perhaps just throwing out some seed... Unless they've dropped the price on the cleome at the nursery....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden 'til your arms fall off.

I spent this afternoon edging my perennial flower beds. This means using the edger to pop up the grass about 2 inches out from where the bed is, try to free as much soil as possible from the sod - throw the sod in the cart, and continue until your arms are about to fall off.

The amount of time it takes to remove the soil from the edgings is well spent contemplating what the perennials are about to overtake their neighbors and who needs moved or divided. And the front center bed has a few challenges there. First - it is getting too wide to easily access the center to weed it. Second - it has irises, peonies, lillies, and a shrub in it. Third - most labels are gone from the bed - and I'm seeing a lot of little seedlings that may be a volunteer or a weed. Also my tree peony in this bed, is a lot bigger this year than last - so the perennials I placed halfway between it and the iris - are being overtaken by the tree peony. And there is also a cluster of non-orange daylillies quite close to the peony that will have to be moved. (I need to remember to label the daylillies this year when they bloom.)

The iris are starting to bloom.

But the Merit doesn't seem to have wiped out the borers - even though I applied it much earlier this year - I'm starting to see spotting on the leaves. And I'm wondering what it does to earthworms. So... I guess when my current bag is gone - perhaps I'm done with this method, though my irises have survived better with the Merit - I was hoping that they would be free of problems with an early application...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Funny Day...

I watered the garden today - and now rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. After all the wetness this spring it's amazing how dry the soil has gotten. I think we didn't get as much rain on Sunday as I thought we did.

I found a 4 leaf clover today - a bit bug eaten - but the first one I have ever found.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Another frost warning...

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice and warm though. Today was beautiful - though a bit on the chilly side when you weren't in the sun. But my soil seems really dry - so I need to water tomorrow morning.

The old hoses that are already linked together - should really be replaced - as should the hose cart. Until I have a full time job though - not important enough to mess with - we have 3 other hoses not in bad shape, and the best bet would probably be to take off the outermost hose on the reel, and replace it with the green hose that is the same style as the old brown hose that is missing so much of it's outer reinforcing material that it kinks far too easily. But I'm unsure if the join of the two has been run over in the past - I only know that it is covered in a ton of tape.

Though perhaps other things will come up. We'll see tomorrow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tree peony blooming for the first time (since I planted it 3 years ago).

I love my foam flower. So cute and fuzzy. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sunday Night Patchy Frost Warning...

I was in my porch - contemplating how nice it will be to bring out all the plants that overwintered inside. Outside, where the wind and beneficial insects control aphids and other issues that loom large in the closed ecosystem of the porch.

You see, the ladybug larva - have mostly molted into adults now. There are a few larva left - there were at least 2 hatchings - but the number of adult ladybugs is not as large. I think they have escaped out of the house - in the manner that their parents escaped into it for the winter. Though sitting out there for a few hours last night I saw more than I thought were left..

However, larva eat more aphids than adults - and they are confined to 6 legs - and can't fly towards the florescent lights. So the aphids are beginning to increase again..

All the area in my established garden is planted. And I've placed clear plastic on another section to solarize it. I still have plants to plant, seeds, asparagus, and seed potatoes.. So I need more room.

All the stuff in my garden has frost protection, if it's not frost hardy except for the marigolds. So the couple of heirloom tomato plants I bought when I was unsure if I could find a pack of mortgage lifter seed - Walmart switched to Ferry-Morse seed this year - and Kmart didn't have it in the heirloom selection - only Menard's had it locally. But now the aphids are a returning concern on the porch...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

April Showers...

This has been a very wet spring in my area - though not quite as bad as in others - my house didn't get destroyed by flood waters. However, this means that there have been few opportunities to plant so far this spring - for peas, spinach, potatoes, and lettuce. Also, after several years of "trying no till" aka not getting the old rototiller to work and planting anyway, I set to trying to make the aged beast run. See, it's a 1985 5 HP Briggs and Stratton motor on a Quality Farm and fleet rototiller, front tines. And the last time it worked was about 6 years ago. A week of work and a new magneto got it to the point of having a spark. And now its carburetor seems to be the next hurtle. But as there were torrential rains predicted for Wed., and a friend wanted to expand his garden, a rental was called for.

Expanding a garden/breaking sod is hard work. Most advice will say some version of smother the grass, then start next spring. There is a reason for this - sod is a survivor. After 4 passes with the rototiller - grabbing out clods of grass and raking smooth in between - there were still places that didn't seem to have been touched. However, it was far too much work - with the only available tiller - a 6 HP front tine - to contemplate another pass.

My homegarden - compacted clay as it is - was a breeze in comparison - 2 passes 90 degrees from each other and my soil was airy and begging to be planted. Hopefully even happier since I've finally added some admendments to the soil - besides the mowed down plants and some leaves left to rot over the winter. I must say though, I can't understand if anyone actually adds 2 inches of peat moss or other admendments every year - how gardening could be frugal.

So I've started a real compost heap - rather than just a pile in the corner - I've got old pallets holding in a pile of leaves and kitchen veg scraps and weeds piling up. Perhaps this will break down in time to use it next year.

But adding to the soil was a must this year. Last year my crop of tomatoes was pathetic - of course we had way too much rain, too much heat, and there was more shade on the garden than in years past, plus a late start. But adding to the soil is something I can control - and tilling to see if I can grow properly shaped carrots was just about pride.

But the kicker is - my garden is fully planted - not really frost safe - but full. I have zukes, yellow squash and watermelon under row cover. 3 Early Girl tomatoes in Walls of water. 1 cuke in a Wall of water, and one basil. The herb corner has been mulched and added to with transplanted chives, 4 types of thyme, the afforementioned basil, and parsley - with a juice jug cloche over cilantro seeds. And I used cocoabean mulch - which looks pretty, and smells like cocoa.

I'm out of space. And there are no green or lima beans - or any heirloom tomato plants - or swiss chard. So there is a spot south of my garden between two tall fir trees - that is pretty much hidden - and seems awfully tempting to convert from weedy lawn.

So solarization with clear plastic - then perhaps a run of the tiller - if the carb can be cleaned to work? A challenging prospect - yet very tempting.... But not worth renting again - can't justify the cost there. Last year we had a frost May 25. If I stake out clear plastic, there's still about 2 weeks until that date. Perhaps... But the shade - and I've already got a full set of weeding...

On the other hand - there are a lot of weeds in that grass. :)