Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunset Flowerbed Weeding and Bulb Planting

Yesterday I tackled the project of weeding the Sunset Flowerbed for the first time this year. Fortunately, because I have been pretty vigilant the last few years about keeping this bed weed-free, it wasn't too huge a job. I really spent as much time cutting off last year's growth from most of the perennials as I did digging up weeds.

Things are looking pretty good now. I dug up both of the Asters and moved them to the back  of the bed. They were really pretty last year, but they were also extremely tall. This will be a much better place for them. I also want to move a Lobelia or two as well as a Daphne but that will have to wait for another day.

As I cleaned up and weeded, I made a few fun discoveries. The Peony root mass is covered in tiny, blood red shoots. It looks like we are off to a good start with that plant.

And I also found this sweet little guy. Last February, I bought this Ranunculus Ficaria "Citrina" up at Xera Nursery in Portland. As expected, it disappeared in late April and there was nothing but bare dirt until I saw leaves forming once again this Winter. And today I was reward with this soft yellow bloom. Yes, only one bloom this year but still, it means the plant settled in and survived.

Today, after Mom got back from church, we planted two sets of Fritallaria bulbs in this bed. The first group we planted were these 23 Fritallaria "Alba". Boy were they more than ready to be planted! Thankfully only two of the bulbs had dried out. So into the ground they went. We next opened up the bag of Fritallaria "Meleagris". They were much, much smaller bulbs and they didn't look good at all. But we decided to plant them anyway. If a few survive then we will be rewarded with their blooms. If not, it was worth the try.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Greens After Two Weeks

Lifting up the remay cloth today brought me a big surprise. I realized that I accidentally planted the "Wasabi" Arugula in the same bed as the "Catalina" Spinach. Whoops! Well, the good news is very little of the spinach has germinated but, as you can see, the arugula is coming up like crazy. It is tiny, tiny, tiny right now but it looks like every darn seed I planted germinated. I wasn't too sure this would happen. The packet said the soil temperature needed to be between 55-70 degrees. I am pretty sure we haven't ever hit that mark, even with the protective remay cover. But the arugula is clearly sprouting like mad.

I was also pleased to see that the "Heirloom Cutting Mix" lettuce is finally germinating well. I read recently on another blog that although lettuce seed will keep for many years, its speed of germination decreases with each year. Since this seed one year old, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that it look a week longer than the two other varieties that I bought new this year.

Here's a picture of another group of lettuce plants. As you can see, they have germinated at a higher rate and are farther along than the "Heirloom Cutting Mix".

Thursday, February 18, 2016

More Seed Purchases

When I got home tonight, I was pleased to see a package from Territorial Seeds in my pile of mail. This past weekend I placed an order for a few seeds that I wanted to try this coming year. Here's what I ordered:

"Wasabi" Wild Arugula - 32 day. It is described as "this arugula mimics the true flavor of wasabi right down to the tongue-tingling flush. As easy to grown leafy green with tine, white edible blooms. This fast growing green is worth the successive plantings required for continued harvest".

"Magnificenza" Organic Melon - 78 days. "This Italian netted melon is a sweet, prolific, and a vigorous grower. The early maturing fruit offer a thick layer of the most flavorful, orange meat. Round, 3-5 pound melons have an attractive tan netting with deep green sutures and set heavily on adaptable plants. Pick the melons as soon as you start seeing a yellow stripe along the green ribs and the stem begins to loosen from the vine."

"Rubenza" Cosmos - "An intriguing, ever-changing  display of shades. As the blooms develop and persist their color develops from deep, garnet red, mellowing to rose and finally fading to antique mauve. This Fleuroselect winning cosmos reaches 30-36" tall on steady, well-branched floriferous plants."

"Xanthos" Cosmos - " A sunny diversion from the standard cosmos, this new pastel lemon yellow-colored, dwarf cosmos offers the same showy flowers and ease of care as its pink-paletted brethern. Compact plants reach only 10-24' and need no staking. A 2016 Fleuroselect winner".

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hellebore Blooms

Like so many other plants and bulbs, the Hellebores have been growing like mad the last few weeks. It seems like just overnight that they have gone from small emerging shoots to plants on the cusp of peak bloom.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Planting Spring Greens

Today I spent an overcast, but mild day working out in the Kitchen Garden. After looking carefully at the 15-day forecast, I decided to throw caution to the wind and direct seed my Spring Greens. It seems that the El Nino weather pattern is back and we are predicted to have temperature highs in the low 60's by the end of February. And there are no lows predicted anywhere near freezing. So, even though it's only February 13th, I decided to plant some Spring Greens and see what happens. In the worst case scenario, I am only out less than 1/2 of each packet of seed and can replant in another 6 weeks. In the best case scenario, I am going to be enjoying fresh salads by Mid-March!

I first brought in some new Nature's Best Soil to help rebuild the three raised beds that last held my Winter Squash last Summer. Then I slowly direct seeded each bed. In the first bed I planted "Heirloom Cutting Mix" Leaf Lettuce and "Mild Mustard Mix" Signature Greens. This leaf lettuce is the same mix that I planted and harvested so very well last Spring and early Summer. I am hoping the seed is still viable one year later. The Mustard is a brand new experiment for me. In the next bed I seeded "Renee's Baby Leaf Blend"  Cut and Come Again Lettuces and "Catalina" Leaf Spinach. Both of these varieties are new for me this year. Finally, in 1/2 of the 3rd bed, I planted "Sweet Greens and Reds" Lettuce Blend. I just discovered on-line a very interesting Arugula that I will plant in the finally 1/2 of that bed. I just need to order it. After all of the seed was planted I got out a large sheet of Remay and metal hoops and covered all three of the beds. Now it is time to sit back, hope for some nice, gentle rainfall, and see what comes up in the next week.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dicentra spectabilis "Gold Heart"

The "Golden Heart" dicentra, located in a shady corner of the front flowerbed, is beginning to emerge from its Winter dormancy. I am always amazed by its shocking pink color as it initially pushes above the soil line. It gives no clue to its future color - an equally bright tone of chartreuse! Right now it reminds me of some exotic, underwater anemone you would see in a Jacque Cousteau film.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Iris reticulata

In one of the front flowerbeds, we have a small clump of Iris Reticulata. It is a fairly young clump, so at this point the flowering display is small. But even with just four blooms this year, its beautiful blue-purple petals make a radiant and bold statement in the mid-winter garden. A wonderful burst of color just when we need it most.