Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another Project off the "To-do" List

Today I was determined to cross another big project off my mental "to-do" list. The mudroom garden bed never was completely dug out and refilled with good garden soil before planting commenced. As a result, some areas of the bed which had received a topping of Nature's Best were considerable higher then other parts. And a dozen or more perennials had been planted over the past few years with little thought to color combinations or soil levels. While the plants were thriving in this location, the bed's visual appeal was less then idea. So today, with some much appreciated help, I dug up most of the plants in this flowerbed. Then we filled up the bed with many tractor loads of Nature's Best and leveled off the soil. The above picture shows the bed after receiving the new soil but before the plants had been relocated in the bed.

One plant that did not find its way back into that flowerbed was this hydrangea. During the Summer, the poor hydrangea received far too much direct sunlight. No matter how much I watered it, after a few days of very warm weather, its leaves would start to burn and turn brown. In its new location it will only receive direct sunlight in the early morning hours. The rest of the day it will be happily situated in full shade.

As I mentioned, I did have help with this project. As I started replanting in the mudroom bed, Tom-cat came over and was mesmerized by my work.

One new plant that founds a home tonight was this echinacea "Aloha". I purchased it almost a month ago at the Plant Nerd Night from Territorial Seed Company. We already have 3 cone flowers in this bed but there's always room for another! I do love their blooms and appreciate having a strong bloomer in August and September when so many other plants have finished for the year.

After dinner we set the plants by good color groupings and got everything replanted. The task was completed by giving each plant a deep watering. The bed looks so much nicer. Now if I can just keep the cats out of it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Tail-End of the Daffodil Parade

The warm weather that we have experienced the last three days has had the unfortunate consequence of speeding up the demise of the daffodils. We are now in the "last Hurrah" of our late blooming varieties.

These two beautiful clumps are "Passionale". They have absolutely thrived in their location underneath an oak tree. The soft salmon trumpets are framed by pure white petals. 

This is one of my favorites, called "Holland Sensation". It is suppose to be a very good naturalizer, but hasn't done well for us. Maybe I just have it in the wrong place.

Here is a crazy bloom of "Golden Ducat". This yellow, petal explosion doesn't have the normal trumpet surrounded by petals form. It is quite striking. The downside of this variety is the stems can not support the weight of all of those petals. As soon as we experience our first rain after it opens every stem breaks and falls over.

Here is a mystery bloom. Years ago we ordered a dozen or more of "Lemon Beauty" and planted them. When they came up the first year we had around eight "Lemon Beauty" and the rest were this pretty white daffodil with the frilly lemon trumpet.

This year my sister planted two clumps of "Thalia" in the front flowerbed. The have done really well and I think their pure white color is a nice backdrop and contrast to all of the other bold colors blooming right now.

One more mystery daffodil. The stake by the plants has faded and all I can read is 2005 - the year we planted them!

You might remember that last Fall we bought some specialty Narcissus at a Hardy Plant meeting. We didn't get around to planting the bulbs until January 8th of this year. But I am please to report that they survived our neglect just fine and the first two have bloomed. Pictured above is "Kokopelli". Each long stem has 3 delicate blooms. I really like this new-to-me variety. It will be interesting to see when it opens next year, after being in the ground for a full year. I am guessing that it will open a bit earlier.

The second narcissus to open is my one bulb of "Sabrosa". This petite variety is no more than five inches tall. The picture isn't the best because recent rains have splattered dirt up onto the petals. It is suppose to be fragrant but I haven't had the chance to knell down and take a smell. Scented or not, it is another keeper.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The First 80 Degree Day of the Year

As promised we were treated to another amazing Summer-like day today. The high reached 82 and everyone -people, critters, and the plants - were loving it! It has felt kind of funny the last three day having to remember to water my young garden plants each evening. I normally don't have to worry about such things in a typical Oregon Spring but I am not complaining.

The five radish varieties that I planted on the 15th have come up and are growing like - well like radish!

There's a reason that radish are one of the vegetables suggested to plant to encourage young children to garden. You plant them and they come up quickly and do well. This adult still appreciates those qualities too! It won't be too long before I will need to do a bit of thinning in the rows.

Now here's a interesting development in my garlic row. My only hardneck garlic variety that I planted this year, "Chesnook Red", has had a very different growth pattern than the two softneck varieties planted next to it. As you can see in the above picture that was taken last week, these plants have been growing with a low, outward pattern. Each new set of leaves would go up and then reach out resulting in garlic plants that weren't getting very tall. Until this last week when....

suddenly their growth pattern changed and now the leaves are standing straight up. They are now almost as tall as the two softneck varieties and look just like them. So what triggered this change - time of year, temperature, fertilizer? And is this typical of hardneck garlic plants? Inquiring minds want to know!

Behind the garlic, the young onion seedlings have settled in well after being planted a week ago. The remany is protecting them from the birds but I also think gave them some added protection from this sudden, Summer-like weather.

The "Blauschokker Purple Pod" Peas are now growing like crazy up the bean tower. 

And the "Sugar N Spice" Sweet Peas that I planted in the two pots have almost all germinated. Soon I will need to move the pots from the front walkway and set them behind some fencing, safe from the deer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! We have had a beautiful, sunny day here to enjoy. The high reached 77 degrees and the plants are just exploding in the warmth. These "Royal Raindrop" Crab Apple blossoms have literally grown before my eyes the last few days and now look like they are just moments away from opening. I hope that where ever you are today, you have taken some time to pull up a log and enjoy some sunshine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Trillium Time

The wild trillium are at their peak right now. Everywhere you look, there are delicate white flowers glowing in the amazing "green-ness" that is April in Oregon. This patch is in the back right corner, inside my big garden. The trillium are thriving in the shade of a huge Douglas Fir tree at the start of a forest.

Most of these trillium are younger and are still growing as single plants. However, I do have two really nice older clumps in the garden.

I am lucky to have this beautiful display every year, with no work at all on my part. I am just careful not to mow where there are any plants until they have completely died back, sometime around July.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Crab Apple

As we pass the mid-point of April, the "Royal Raindrops" Crab Apple is just starting to form its flower buds. I noticed this weekend that the clumps of baby buds are just pushing out of the leaf clusters. I am hoping for a much improved flowering show as compared to last year. It looks promising!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The First Mowing of the Year and Garden Cleanup

Another mostly sunny day today. We hit a high of 65 degrees and I had plans! Garden clean-up was the name of the game today. As you can see, it is still very wet in the big garden, especially in a few areas. But the grass is growing like crazy so I went ahead and did the first mowing of the year. Before I could get started I had to go around and pick up fallen fir and ash branches. The March 21st snowstorm sent a lot of limbs and branches crashing down. I ended up with a nice size pile in the corner of the garden and still haven't cleaned up the fallen debris in the actual garden yet.

With the help of my Dad and his chainsaw we also tackled the mess directly outside of the garden. My lovely tall pussy willow tree in the corner of the garden took a pretty bad hit in the snow. It was covered with silver catkins when the snow fell. The extra surface area allowed the snow to pile on and snap- the limbs broke and fell against the deer fence. We ended up removing 3 of the 5 trunks of the willow.

All cleaned up but a much smaller tree. I did save one nice branch from our pile of cut up willow and stuck it in the mud right next to the original tree. My hope is that it will root and grow to fill in some of the empty space.

We worked for over four hours today and ended up hot, sweaty, and with two full truck loads of tree limbs.

After I got back to the house I noticed that the first of my Sweet Pea "Sugar 'N Spice" have started to sprout. I have 5 plants up in both of the two bowls.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Planting the Spring Vegetable Garden

Finally - a sunny weekend in the forecast! I got up and headed right to the Farmer's Market and the Hayhurst stand. Top on my agenda today was getting my onion seedlings planted. For the last 3 years I have planted purchased onion seedlings instead of onion sets and have been thrilled with the results. My plants are larger, healthier, and have produced bigger bulbs from seedlings. For the past two years I have planted the red storage onion "Mars" and the yellow storage onion "Prince". Both have grown well and stored amazingly well. I am still pulling last year's onions out of storage now and they are firm, juicy, and in great condition. When I stopped at the Hayhurst stand this morning I was disappointed to discover that they weren't carrying "Prince" this year. It has been replaced by "Frontier" another yellow storage onion. I was assured that I would like "Frontier" just as much as "Prince" so I picked up a six-pack of it as well as one of "Mars" and headed home to plant.

I started by building a long, narrow raised bed, parallel to the garlic row. Once I had my bed constructed I set in 10 plants of "Mars" and 14 plants of "Frontier". I then watered in my seedlings well with a good drink of liquid kelp fertilizer.

A newly planted "Frontier" onion.

And a new "Mars" plant. You can see the immature bulb is red even at this young age.

Directly in front of the new onion row is the garlic row that was planted last October. The plants seem to be doing well. The tallest of them are about 14-16" tall now. The plants do seem to have a bit of yellowing in some of the leaves. I gave them a good drink of the kelp fertilizer too and hope this helps.

Here is a picture of the "Chesnook Red" plants, a hard-neck variety. They appear to have recovered from getting buried in a couple feet of snow last month after all of the snow from the roof landed directly on them. They seem to be growing in a much more compact fashion than the two soft-neck varieties.

Here is the section of "Nootka Rose". "Nootka Rose" is my only variety that has sent up more than one shoot from the individual cloves that were planted.

And finally the Silver Rose " plants.

And then there are my poor "Blauschokker Purple Pod" Pea plants. They have really struggled since getting planted a month ago. I have discovered that they really need more to climb on than this bean tower offers and getting buried in snow wasn't very helpful either. I think that I have lost about 6 plants at this point.

But those that are left have finally gotten a hold of the tower and are putting on some really healthy, vigorous new growth. We might yet see a pea blossom from this motley group!

After I finished getting the onions planted and covered I moved on to my second project. I built another raised bed. This one is for my Spring radish crop. I planted six rows with a total of four varieties. They are:
  • "Cherry Belle" Red Radish - Territorial Seed. A new variety for me this year
  • "Early Scarlet Globe" Red Radish - Seed Savers Exchange - A new variety for me this year
  • "Plum Purple" Purple Radish - Seed Savers Exchange - I grew this last year
  • "Ostergrub Rosa" Pink Radish - The Cook's Garden - A new variety for me this year

As you can see, Tom-cat was a huge help with my planting projects. I think that the cats were as excited as the humans were to finally have some sunshine to enjoy. The temperature hit 64 degrees and it felt wonderful.

After I finished planting the radish I covered them up with a remay cover as well. Last year the birds pulled up my just-sprouted radish seedlings so I have learned my lesson. I will remove the remay tunnel after the plants reach a couple of inches high.

Parvati and I hope that wherever you were today, you had a chance to get outside and enjoy some sun - Yawn!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter !

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter filled with family, friends, and sunshine!