Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tilling #2 and a Dahlias Potting Finish

The warmest day of the year so far. We hit a high of 85 degrees and it certainly felt like it this afternoon. Dad and I went down to the big garden around 11:30. He drove the tractor and I brought down the push lawnmower. While he gave the garden its second full tilling of the year, I mowed all around the garden, inside and out. The garden really looks good. The soil had completely dried out from the heavy rains we got back on the 11th and 12th and it tilled up really well. There are almost no clumps at all and the soil surface is pretty level. We are thinking, since it is in such good shape, that this might just be the final tilling of the year.

Once I got back the house, I finished unwrapping and potting up the last of the dahlia tubers. I potted up 46 more tubers for a total count of 269 pots! Not all of them will be planted down in the big garden. Some will stay up at the house and I am sure a few of them won't eye up and become plants. I imagine the big garden will have between 250-260 plants this year. After I finished potting up everything, I watered all of the dahlias that had emerged. As of today I have 81 of the 269 dahlias up and growing.

Below, a healthy start of "Hollyhill Bridget".

Friday, May 29, 2015

More Germination

With the weather back up into the low 80's the last two days, there has been a lot of action in my seedling trays. Today's big surprise were the "Cabaret" Zinnias. There was no green at all in these cells when I left for work and now 11 hours later - ta da! - I have 16 plants up.

Here is the breakdown of what has germinated at this point:
  • "Howden" Pumpkin - 5/6 cells
  • "Hale's Best Jumbo" Muskmelon - 2/6 cells
  • "Addis Pickle" Cucumber - 12/12 cells
  • "Red Metamorph" Marigold - 4/18
  • "Dancing Petticoats" Cosmos - 5/18
  • "Cabaret" Zinnia - 16/24
Below, 2 young plants of "Hale' Best Jumbo" Muskmelon, newly germinated today.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby Apples

I went for a stroll around the property last Monday. As I hit the bottom of the hill, I walked over to our wild apple tree. Glancing up I noticed that it was covered with a decent number of clumps of immature apples. Apparently the pollinators did their job this Spring! Come late September, this scrawny little tree will be dropping a fair number of lovely, red blushed apples.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Electric Blue Penstemon

The "Electric Blue" Penstemon in the mudroom flowerbed is now in full bloom.

This perennial is hardy in zones 6-9. We lost one during the Winter of 2013 which had a particularly long, deep cold spell with no snow cover. It is suggested that a light mulch would help it survive in lower temperatures.

As with other penstemons, it is very attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies which we love.

Each individual tubular trumpet is a striking shade of blue with a purple blush near the stem. It blooms steadily from May through June and can then be cut back to encourage a second round of blooming.

It grows to 16" high by 16" wide and seems to be very resistant to deer. Now that's saying something!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We Have Some More Germination!

As soon as I got home from work tonight, I went right over to my seed trays to see if anything had "happened" while I was gone. Happily, I had some surprises awaiting me.

I now have all 12 of the "Addis Pickle" cucumbers up and growing. I don't know if it is because I bought fresh seed this year, or if they just normally exhibit quick germination, but they certainly beat all of the other vegetable and flower seed that I planted that day.

I was especially happy to find that 3 of my 6 "Howden" pumpkins had appeared. There was no sign at all of them this morning when I pulled the trays out of the greenhouse.

I now have 3 "Dancing Petticoats" Cosmos up and growing.

And I was excited to finally find my first Zinnia had appeared. I now have one "Red Metemorph". Hopefully the warm weather that is in the forecast for the next 4 days will encourage a lot more of the seeds to germinate. It will be a fun surprise each day, to come home from work, and see what is new.

After dinner I worked for about an hour potting up dahlia tubers. I managed to get another 28 planted tonight, so I now have a total of 223 in pots. I should finish up with two more small potting sessions.

Monday, May 25, 2015

More Seed Planting and Dahlia Potting

Today I worked some more on potting up my dahlia tubers. I managed to get another 41 planted so I now have a total of 195 in pots. I am getting some rewards for all of my hard work. As of tonight I now have 37 of those potted dahlias that have pushed through the soil and are off and growing.

A shoot of the Anemone form "Mexico" newly emerged.

I also worked on starting some more seeds today. I planted;
  • 24 cells of "Cabaret" Double Cutting Zinnia from Renee's Garden
  • 4 cells of "Gloriosa Polyheaded" Sunflower from Seeds of Change
  • 4 cells of " Blacktail Mountain" Watermelon from Territorial Seed
  • 12 cells of "Night & Day" Antirrhinum from Sarah Raven
The Sarah Raven packet was brought back by my Mom from England 2 years ago. I have never planted snapdragons before, so I only used 1/2 of the seed. I am hoping that I have some success as the picture on the packet looks quite striking and I don't want to squander her special seed.

The sun came out in the early afternoon and I decided that I needed to water the Kitchen Garden. When I lifted the remay off of the onion tunnel I realized the the onions were pushing against the top of the tunnel. It was time to remove the tunnel for the year.

The onions are really looking good. They have developed strong necks and are putting out thick, green growth. It should be another good onion year. Pictured above, four "Candy" onions. Below, some of the "Cortland" plants.

First Harvest

This afternoon I went into the Kitchen Garden with scissors in hand and proceeded to cut my very first harvest of the year. I honestly could have done this a week ago, but the time got away from me. And my how the greens have enjoyed this past week's mild and wet weather! Just a week ago I could still easily make out each individual lettuce plant. But one week later they have all grown together to form a sea of fresh green.

This is a planting of Heirloom Cutting Lettuce from Renee's Garden. It is a mix of 5 varieties; "Speckled Troutback", "Blush Butter Cos", "Red Ruffled Oak", Devil's Tongue", and "Sucrine". I can make out 4 different varieties in the mix but I don't know my lettuces well enough to clearly see all five.

This one is definitely the "Speckled Troutback".

I am guessing on this one. Perhaps the "Blush Butter Cos" ?

And this one must be the "Red Ruffled Oak".

This is a pretty solid green one that is growing in a fairly tight bunch for a leaf lettuce.

As this is my very first attempt at growing leaf lettuce, I am very pleased. Any seed from Renee's Garden is always great, especially her mixes. You always get such an even blend of all the promised varieties. We will be eating well from this small raised bed for weeks.

Next door to the lettuce is another raised bed. This one was planted with "Charger" Spinach and "Red Planet" Radish. They too have enjoyed the wet, warm weather and have really grown in the past 10 days.

This is also the first time that I have ever grown Spinach. It is doing really well although a few of the leaves are getting munched on. I have looked all over but can't find the guilty party. Thankfully the damage is minimal.

The radish look great but need to be harvested soon! They are as big as I would want them and will be come hot if they are allowed to get too much bigger.

After I harvested enough for dinner the next two nights, I cleaned and weighted the bounty;
  • Lettuce Mix - 4.8 oz
  • "Charger" Spinach - 2.5 oz.
  • "Red Planet" Radish - 7.9 oz.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blackberry Buds

I noticed today, walking around the property, that most of the wild blackberry plants have suddenly developed buds. They should start blooming in the next 10 days or so and that will be quickly followed by little green berries. With this warm Spring that we have had, we might be enjoying ripe blackberries by the 4th of July this year.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Youth Garden Plant Sale and working in the Kitchen Graden

After getting up early to help set up our last LCDS tuber sale of the year, I drove over to Springfield to the Food For Lane County Youth Garden. I had heard about this garden for years but had never had the chance to visit it before today. It is nestle between busy Gateway Blvd and MLK Blvd in a quite oasis. The event that finally brought me here was their Annual Plant Sale. Apparently, this event has been going on for many years but I just became aware of it a few days ago.

A field on the farm was set up with row after row of green, lush plant starts. Thankfully they provided free boxes with which to transport your purchases. Since I was a rookie here, I had overlooked that important detail. I was also glad that I had arrive 20 minutes before opening. By the time 10 AM arrived, there was a very long line and parking was at a premium.

Right at 10 AM they sounded the whistle and shopping commenced!

They had an amazing amount of both vegetable and flower starts. Everything was very clearly labeled and there was a great selection of varieties with in each plant type.

There were lots and lots of shoppers but it wasn't so crowded that it was difficult or unpleasant. Really the only hard part was remembering the size limitation of my garden so that I couldn't buy one of everything!

I ended up with 4 purchases:
  • 2 - 3" pots of Sunflower "Giant Sungold". Each pot had 2 healthy plants to I got 4 for the price of 2!
  • 6-pack of Cosmos "Dwarf Bright Lights"
  • 6-pack pf Cauliflower "Snow Crown"
  • 6-pack of Zinnia "Yellow Flame"

When I got home from the sale and had some lunch, I decided to work in the Kitchen Garden. It had been more than a couple of week since I last spent some time working here and it definitely needed some work. I began by giving the whole garden a good weeding. Then I planted 3 of the Snow Crown" cauliflower that I had purchased that morning. Yes- I actually planted something the same day that I bough it!

I know absolutely nothing about growing cauliflower. I desperately need to read up on its care but for now I just stuck the plants in and gave them a good watering.

I also brought my rusty trellis out of storage and placed it over the many volunteer morning glory plants. Then I started thinning out the plants. I pulled up a whole bucketful and I know that I have still left in too many. But for now these have a bit more room to grow and I can do a second thinning later.

I then brought out my tomato cages and single leaf trellis and set up that part of the garden. Once that trellis was positioned I was able to plant the "Heavenly Blue" morning glory plants that I bought last week. I also transplanted a small "Heavenly Blue" plant that had come back from seed. This is the first year ever that I have had seed sprout the next Spring from the previous year's "Heavenly Blue" plants. They apparently have a much lower rate of germination then the morning glories planted around my other trellis that come up by the hundreds each year.

Once the morning glories were in, I also planted the "Matina" tomato that I bought last week. All in all, it was a productive day. I got the kitchen garden in shape and many of the plants that I have purchased in the last few week are in the ground. In a few more weeks, I will "finish" the kitchen garden for Summer when I put in the Winter Squash, the rest of the tomatoes, and all of the other heat loving vegetable.