Monday, May 30, 2011

Clearing The Shade Garden

I finally cleared a spot for my shade garden.  It's going to be a circular area.  There's a mulberry tree there, and I'm deciding whether I should cut it down or not.  The birds love it.   The area is right beside my creek, which is known to come out of its banks on rare occasion so I have to  be selective of what I plant there.  Deer are known to come close to that area as well, so they have to be rabbit and deer resistant.  Instead of mulch, I'm going to use flagstone to make a small path and garden pebbles.  Ferns are at the top of my list, they love moist conditions as well Hosta.  I have one that is so huge, I can divide it and probably get 5 plants out it.   I'm going to put a bird bath there and some kind of bench.  I'm a lover of all things old, so an old farm bench or one made out of concrete would be perfect.  

The dead trees don't belong to me, lol.  The property next to me was owned by an elderly couple who were so sweet.  They passed and it was purchased by the neighbors from hell!  The development was farm property of the elderly couple.  They sold  it to a developer, and I purchased an acre plus.  Everyone in the neighbor keeps their property up, and than we have these neighbors.  Unfortunately their property borders mine.  We cleared 200 feet of fence row to put up a privacy fence, hopefully I won't have to look at their dilapidated property much longer.  It's so sad.  When the elderly couple owned the property, we were over the fence neighbors.  We would stand and talk for hours.  They were in their 80's, and walking history books.  Each house in the neighborhood has a story.  They were able to tell which house stood on corn fields, alfalfa fields, cow pastures, horse pastures, pig pens, vegetable gardens etc.   The dinner bell still stands on the property.  My home was build on the pig pen and borders the cow pasture. 

 I did file a complaint with the county, which they responded to.  The neighbors have agreed to tear down the old barn and clear the weeds and trees.  If not, they will be fined for each day it continues to stand aftern 30 days.     

Back to my future shade garden, you can see a stump in the back of  the picture.  I was able to remove one, but decided to leave one.  The stump in the back will be covered by mushroom plugs.  In addition to ferns and hosta, I'm thinking of adding False Indigo, Forget Me Nots, Calla,  and a few Hydrangeas.   Ducks swim on that end of the creek, so it should be a nice spot to sip a cup of tea with fresh mint from the garden and watch the ducks with my grandson.  

Do you have any ideas for my shade garden?  I would love to hear from you with any ideas or suggestions.  

Can You Identify This Shrub For Me?

I planted this shrub on both ends of my deck about 10 years ago.  (I'm going to trim it as soon as it cools off).  I have no idea what it is and probably didn't care at that point and time.  As I'm getting more interested and involved in gardening, now I'm curious.  Can you identify this shrub? It's actually quite beautiful.  It attracts bees in early spring, lol.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  I can research and see if your suggestions fit my shrub.  Please leave me a comment, so I can head in some direction.  Thanks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Veggie Garden Is In

The tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, eggplant and herbs are finally planted!  With all the rain, getting any gardening or yard work completed has been a major effort.  Excuse the fence row!  We cleared it several weeks ago, but we haven't been able to find two sunny days to get the posts and fencing in place.  The yard will look so much better with the fence in place, but it looks like my patience is being tested so I will have to endure a little longer. 

Back to the garden, I planted 1 Celebrity, 1 Big Beef, 1 Roma, 1 Amish Paste, 1 Better Boy, and 1 Sweet 100 tomato plants.  Two crooked neck squash, 1 Black Beauty zucchini, 1 red, yellow and green along with 1 hot banana, chili, and jalapeno peppers.   I decided to add in a few herbs, oregano, sweet basil, chives and cilantro.  Do you see salsa in my future?  Yum Yum.  I also love fresh squash and zucchini battered and fried, and there's nothing better than a home grown tomato sliced with a little mayo and pepper.  Homemade sauce will be at the top of my list too.  Stay tuned for my first canning experience.     

Most gardeners use raised beds, but my soil is so rich I decided to set my plants right in the ground.  After having a soil analysis performed, it was determined that I just needed to add a little compost.  Besides my grandfather was a row gardener, and I like doing some things the old fashion way. 

I purchased these heavy duty tomato cages from the local Farm Supply store.  They're more expensive than the regular tomato cages, but much larger and studier.  I can use them year after year, I'll store them in one of my storage buildings after the growing season.  

I did a little companion planting to help with the bugs and diseases too.  I planted marigolds with the tomatoes and along the sides of the garden.  I planted dill with the cukes, sweet basil with the peppers, and tarragon with the eggplants.  Marigolds border the squash and zucchini on the west side of the garden and geraniums border the chives and other herbs north.  We'll see if companion planting is beneficial.   I have a ton of cotton tails and groundhogs in my yard, so I had to put up a fence.  Rabbit fencing was the fence of choice.  The grids at the bottom are too small for even the smallest baby bunny to get through.  We used a product by Sweeney to sprinkle around the perimeter.  It's suppose to deter small animals from squirrels to dogs and cats up to a week.  I've never used it before, so we'll see. 

Meet Matilda!  She's been with me for the past 5 years.  I decided to add her to the garden.  Isn't she adorable.   I hope she understands her job, scare away the birds and the critters.  I went out onto the deck last night, and she scared the crap out of me.  I forget I had placed her in the garden, lol.  What do you have planted in your veggies garden?  Did you plant in rows or use raised beds?  Do you use companion planting?  If so, what do you plant?  Please leave me a comment, I'm intersted in knowing the method of planting my fellow gardeners use. 


Monday, May 23, 2011

Do You Like My New Containers?

Do you like my new pots?  I found these at the local Dollar General for $5.00 each.  I just had to have them for my deck.  I love lady bugs and butterflies, so when I saw them I immediately grabbed them.  So glad I did, when I returned there were none left.  Does this happen to you - You go to the store for something, but if they have anything relating to gardening it finds a way into your cart. 

I spent a ton of money at Lowes this week-end.  I had to purchase fencing for my veggie garden.  I needed new shearers for the shrubs, and they were having a sale on their annuals.  I headed to Wal-Mart next and spent a ton of money there too,  I needed two plant stands for these pots, lol.  I love wrought iron, and of course that's what they had and I had to  have them too.   Price wasn't bad either.  I really need to hit a few yard sales or flea markets this year.  Another passion of mine.  I'm hoping to find a few unique items to use as containers or things for my garden. 

Anyway, I've been planting all week-end.  When I'm putting together new pots, I crumble a few of the plastic containers that I'm throwing away since I don't plant from seed yet, and place them in the new pots.  This cuts down on the amount of potting soil that you have to use to fill the pot and helps with drainage.   I've been using this trick for years, and it works.  The best part is that the money I save on potting soil, I use for a new plant

I just cover the crumbled containers with potting soil and compost and plant whatever I have.  I'm planting tiny tot glads and a sweet potato vine in these pots.  This will be the first time that I used Glads and sweet potato vines in my containers,  so stay tuned for their progress.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What Is It?

What is it?  Are these seedlings from my last year's petunias?  I'm a lover of petunias.  Red, pink, and purple petunias find a place on my deck each year.   Today when I was ready to plant this years plantings, I found containers full of seedlings.  I love surprises .

Last year, I was a little late getting my plants in.  We had a late frost and I lost quite a few plantings, so I had to replace the ones that didn't survive.  We headed to the beach early June, so my gardening was put on the back burner until we returned. 

This is what I found when I went out on the deck.  Surprise!

The container had exploded with color, lol.  I actually thought someone had intended to surprise me by planting the flowers, but mother nature had done her thing and left me a beautiful gift.  I googled images of petunia seedlings to see if my petunias had reseeded and germinated.  Yes!  I have tons of petunia seedlings in my  planters.

I took the seedlings and added them to my new plants today.  Since I plant the same colors each year, red, pink, and purple, in the containers on the deck and this year was no exception, the seedlings should blend right in when they bloom.  Can't wait to see the end result!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gladiolus Are Coming Up

Can you see the Gladiolus coming up?  I've had great success with my lilies, so this time I planted Gladiolus.  I'm so excited to see them growing.  I planted 6 in this area and all 6 are making progress.  I planted these bulbs 2 weeks ago, so I'm surprised that they would come up so quickly.  After I saw these 6 peeping through, I grabbed the bag where I had a few others stored and popped 6 more in the ground in another area.  It is suggested that you stagger the plantings, so you'll have growth throughout the season.   

I love yellow, so I decided to plant yellow this season.  I love cut flowers in my home, and Gladiolus make great cut flowers.  I planting a few behind my vegetable garden too.  I plan to use them in my foyer and great room through out the summer.  Are you a Gladiolus fan?  I would love to know your success and if you lift them in the fall.  Stayed tuned for more pictures of their progress.

A Visit To The Garden Center

I  just visited my local and favorite nursery.  The hanging baskets are beautiful.  I love this nursery, the displays are wonderful and the plants are top quality.   I purchase my geraniums, vinca and spikes here.  Today I was short on time, so I just purchased a few geraniums.  I'll be heading out again tomorrow morning.   

Their vegetable plants were beautiful.  I purchased a few tomato plants, 1 Celebrity, 1 Better Boy, 1 Sweet 100, 1 Beefsteak, and 4 Amish Paste for sauces.   I will also be planting 1 green, yellow, red and jalapeno peppers for salsa, 2 crooked neck squash, 2 zucchini, and 2 bush cucumbers.   In the herb garden I'll plant dill, sweet basil, oregano, lavender and chives. 

I purchased a few butter crunch lettuce plants to place next to the tomatoes.  Not sure how they will do, but it's worth a try. 

I'll be planting the garden over the week-end, cutting back shrubs, pulling weeds, and hopefully getting a few flowers on the deck.  Stay tuned for more on my progress. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Rhododendron Has Come To Life

Here's a few pictures of my Rhododendron in the front shrubbery bed.  When I purchased the plant, I thought it was white.  That's what the label indicated, but it turned out to be this beautiful lavender.  Since purple is my daughter's favorite color, I decided to leave it.  It's such a comforting color don't you think. 

The Rhododendron has turned out to be a very easy flower for me to grow, so I will definitely add a few more into the gardens. 

Soil Analysis Test - The Results Are In

I did a soil analysis test this week-end to see if my garden soil was lacking or contained too much of anything before I set out my veggies in the next two weeks.  The results are in.  My PH level was 7.0 which is great.  The nitrogen was medium, phosphorus was medium, but the potassium level was high.  My research showed that a high potassium level is not unusual if the PH level is 6 - 7. 

To correct a high potassium level, it was suggested that I stop using commerical fertilizer.  That's not a solution for me because I don't use commerical fertilizer.   In fact, I have never used commerical fertilizer in any area in my yard.  My acre was used as a pig pen by the farmer next door, so it was well fertilized, lol.  To amend the soil, I just need to add  a little compost.  Since I just started my compost bins, I'll have to purchase commerical compost.  Thankfully, I will never have to use it again.  I've just started a second compost bin and my neighbor has agreed to give me all her fall leaves and grass doing the mowing season.  She usually has about 30 or 40 bags of leaves each fall, so I should have plenty of black gold for the fall when I plant flower bulbs and my vegetable garden next spring.  

For now, I'll have to wait for the soil to dry out over the next few days.  We've been given our fair share of rain and a few others state's as well during the month of April and May.  Right now the soil is too damp to work in the compost.  The soil is sticking together when I squeeze it, it should crumble and fall to the ground when released.  I have two weeks before I start planting, so hopefully I can find a few days with lots of sunshine to get the compost worked into the ground.

Have you had a soil analysis done on your soil?  What was the result? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Color - Azaleas and Rhododendrons Have Come To Life

I love the shade of this Azalea.  The pink is so soft.  I was hoping to have all of the beds mulched, but it rained just about every day during the month of April putting me behind on everything that needs to be taken care of outside.  Inspite of the beds being in a shabby condition, I'm enjoying the color. 

Rain is in the forecast the entire week-end, so I'm hoping to pull weeds a few evenings this week.  When I purchased these Azaleas, I thought I had purchased 2 red.  At least that's what the marker in the pot said.  When they bloomed, I had 1 red and 1 pink.  I decided to live with it.  It adds a little excitement to the bed, lol. 

My Rhododendron has lots of blooms this year.  It has become one of my favorites in the gardens.  This Rhododendron was suppose to be white.  It is lavender.  Yep, you guessed it.  I purchased it from the same garden center as the mislabeled Azaleas.  I'm looking forward to seeing the blooms opening in the next week or two.  Stayed tuned for more pictues.           

Slogger Boot Review

Do you love my new garden boots?  I love the print and just had to have these.  They're made by Slogger, who specializes in garden gear.  This company makes boots and garden clogs in fun prints and colors.  I already have a pair of garden clogs and knee high Hunter Wellies, so I thought I would try the calf boots.  Just because I'm digging dirt doesn't mean that I can't look good, lol.   

I love these boots because they are made well and the price was great.  I believe in quality, but I want it at a bargain price.  I'm normally up early, so I decided to get my gardening out the way early on the week-ends when possible.  With that in mind the grass will be wet, so my main goal is to keep my feet dry.   As you can see, the sole is nice and thick.  Slipping on wet grass and rocks is not a concern.  

I found these ankle boots made by Slogger at one of our local Farm Supply stores and I had to have these too.  They come in three fun colors:  blue, green, and red.  I purchased the blue.  I wear the ankle boots when I'm working in the shrubbery beds or making a trip to the compost bin.  The compost bin is on the far side of the yard, so I have to walk through the grass to get to it if I go early in the morning or it's raining.  They're easy to clean, and oh so comfortable.   

If you're looking for a nice pair of garden boots at a reasonable price, consider Sloggers.  I own a pair of Hunter Wellies, and I absolutely them, but these Sloggers serve the same purpose for a lot less.   

Friday, May 13, 2011

Veggie Garden Is Tilled

Finally got the veggie garden tilled yesterday.  I ended up tilling a 10 x 17 plot for the vegetables.  This should be sufficient for a few tomato, pepper, squash, zuchinni and herb plants.  I may put in lettuce.  The soil is beautiful.  It's dark and rich and will need very little amending.  This is what a few pigs will do for you, lol.  We went down about 4 or 5 layers and hit 4 rocks in a 10 x 17 area.    I've decided to go with row planting instead of raised beds.  I think this soil will be perfect for growing anything that I wish.  There is nothing here, but rich soil and opportunity. 

I made the mistake of planting too soon last year and lost quite a few flowers because we had a late frost.  I won't plant before Memorial date this year.   In the mean time, I'll add a little compost to the soil over the next week to prepare the bed and purchase my tomato cages and fencing.  My yard gets quite a few visitors, rabbits, deer and ground hogs.  I'm trying to decide if I want to do a minature picket fence or regular metal fencing.  With the ground hogs, I'll need to take the fencing a few inches into the ground to keep them from digging under it.  Not sure I can do that with a picket fence.  One of the cons of living in the country. 

Stay tuned for the fencing and planting! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clearing A Fence Row

Spent the morning taking out shrubs and cutting back trees along 200 feet of fence line.  I'm working to clear a fence row, so I can put up a privacy fence.   I'm going to plant gardens along that side of the yard.  It currently has a dilapidated barn that needs to be taken down, which I want to hide too.  Hopefully, my neighbors will cooperate and I won't have to take legal action for them to either take it down or rebuild it. 

After hours of cutting, sawing, and hauling, we are finally finished.  Now, to pick out my fence and pray that the rain stays away for awhile.  Can't wait to get the fence up, beds tilled and the planting begins. 

Backyard Visitors

I woke up this morning to find 2 ducks swimming in my creek.  The creek, wet weather stream bed actually, only runs when we have a lot of rain or snow.  It's been running for about a month now.  I love the country life, you never know what you'll find in your backyard.