Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dahlia Update

"Sandia Brocade" an orange anemone form

After watering my dahlias tonight, I took a count to see how many had come up at this point. As of tonight, I have 141 out of 271 dahlias up; that's 52%. We are over the half way point. Each day a few more dahlias push up and add to the count.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Seedling Transplanting and Starting More Seeds

I spent my holiday morning down in the Big Garden setting out 5 more dahlia rows. After that my back - and my legs and my arms ! - said enough! So I switched my focus for the rest of the day onto another project; transplanting flower and vegetable starts to bigger cells and starting a few more seeds.

I began with the "Magnificenza" melon. I started two different sets of these melons, fearing germination might be difficult. I shouldn't have worried! 9/10 of my first seeding germinated and 7/8 of my second seeding germinated for a grand total of 16/18. I set out 6 of them this afternoon in the "overflow" Kitchen Garden area, where I grew the watermelon last year. I laid out black plastic first and then planted them in slits cut through the plastic. It will be a fun adventure to see how they do. Then I transplanted the remaining 10 seedlings into bigger pots. I think they are destined for friends and perhaps I will try to grow a few more of them down in the Big Garden.

Next I got out the bean seed that I recently ordered from Adaptive Seed. I am nervous to direct sow bean seed because in the past few years, either the voles have eaten the seed in the ground, or the robins have puled up the young plants right as they germinate. So instead, I decided to plant the seed in small cells and then transplant the beans after they germinate. So into the flat pictured above, I seeded 16 cells with "Poletschka" pole bean.

Then I got out the new 36 cell trays I bought and moved my cosmos starts. First I transplanted the "Rubenza" starts. I ended up with 23/24 plants germinated this year. Not too bad! Then I seeded 12 cells with "Titus" cannellini bean.

In another tray, I transplanted my "Xanthos" cosmos. I ended up with 22/24 plants germinated. Next to them I seeded another 12 cells with the "Titus" cannellini seed, for a total of 24 seeds planted.

I also transplanted my "Country Fair Blend" zinnia starts. I ended up with 22/25 plants germinated this year so I had lots to move into bigger digs.

Finally I moved my "Lemon" cucumber plants. This was my challenging seed this year. I only ended up with 5/18 plants germinated. But 5 is still better than nothing I guess. I set them in the tray with the winter squash. I ended up with 3/4 "Crown Pumpkin", 1/1 "Delicata", and 3/4 "Waltham Butternut" germinated so I was really pleased with that. I will have to buy another "Delicata" but that's my own fault for not starting enough seed to have 2 plants.

With this big job done the pressure is off to get all of these seedlings into their final homes. The weather is suppose to get quite warm by the end of the week and I don't want to set these young plants out in a heat wave. They all have fresh soil and lots of room to grow, so they will be fine now for a few more weeks.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Laying Out the Big Garden - Day #1

I spent much of today down in the Big Garden. I went down in the morning and looked at this perfect blank canvas one more time! The soil had dried nicely from our second tilling on Thursday and the garden was ready to go. I got out the trusty landscape rake and began raking smooth and level - as much as I could - the soil. This is hard, back breaking work but I managed to get the 5 cut flower rows set up and the first dahlia row placed before I called it quits. Then in the evening I went back and set up 3 more dahlia rows. It doesn't look like a lot for one day, but it is for me and my back! I am really pleased to have so much set up in just one day, when during the week it would have taken me at least 2 nights to accomplish this much.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Patty's Plum

Our "Patty's Plum" oriental poppy is in full bloom. While it has already had a few single blooms open earlier this week, today it has three blooms open at once. It has such a unique, beautiful color. Like all poppies, oriental poppy blooms are not long lasting. But their intense beauty makes up for their fleeting presence.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Baby Apples

While I was taking a walk around the property this past weekend, I made a point to check out the wild apple tree at the bottom of the hill. Last time I stopped there, in mid-April, it was covered in lovely pink blooms. Now, six weeks later, I was wondering if any of those blooms had been pollinated. The answer was apparent once I got close. Up and down its spindly branches there are sweet clusters of "baby" apples.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Final Tilling

Tonight after dinner, Dad and I headed down to the Big Garden and gave it the 2nd and final tilling of the year. I was pleasantly surprised by how much it had dried since the last tilling. I had thought that we would have to wait until the weekend to till again. Now it will have two warm, sunny days to dry out once again, and then I should be able to start working on setting up the rows by Sunday. It will be so nice, and so rare, to be able to have the tilling done for the year by Memorial Day weekend.

As soon as Dad started the tiller, a robin flew in and landed behind him. He happily followed the tiller the whole evening, grabbing up worms. I am not sure how he was able to fly by the end!

Next to the Big Garden gate is Dorthy's rose. This lovely old rose in in full bloom right now. Thanks to our fairly dry and warm Spring, it hasn't been affected too much by black spot like it has in many past years.

Besides being a striking hot pink color, it is also quite fragrant. I would describe its scent as a light floral. Quite feminine, just like the rose.

I am really pleased that it has sent up two new canes this Spring. It didn't send up any new ones last year and the whole rose plant has been diminishing in size for the past 4-5 years. I think voles have been tunneling through its root system, causing the rose to loose vigor. My fingers are crossed that these two new canes continue to grow and thrive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Currant Dahlia Count

Yesterday after dinner, I spent a low-key evening puttering around the gardens. I needed to do some watering and of coarse, I wanted to do a count and see how all of my potted dahlias were faring. This is such a fun time of the year. The big task of potting up all of the tubers is done and the huge task of planting all of the dahlia plants is yet to come. Right now all I have to do is give them some regular water and watch them come bursting through the soil. As of last night I had 40/271 up. With warmer weather heading our way in the long-term forecast, I would imagine I should see most of the rest of the dahlias come up in the next 10 days.

Dahlia "Camano Zoe" a miniature ball in pink

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peony Blooms

Our one and only peony is in full bloom today.

It's not a huge plant, but it does have seven main blooms along with a few side blooms this year. It is also the only peony that I have ever grown that has yet to get botrytis blight. For that alone it deserves a gold metal!

We don't know the variety name of this one. It has big, ruffled, fully double blooms in hot pink and white. Definitely a feminine bloom if there ever was one.

One blessing of our cooler, overcast weather the last 5 days has been that all of the flower blooms are lasting longer, and the peony is no exception. That is especially nice, because when you wait an entire year to enjoy such a lovely bloom you hate for it to be over in a just matter of days.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Greens Harvest -Week #7

"Red Ruffled Oak" Lettuce

With rain showers threatening most of the day yesterday, I managed to find a dry spell and pick some more greens for another weeks worth of salads. All three beds are packed right now, the greens filling up every inch and pressing against the protective remay in all directions. I have been harvesting from these beds for almost 2 months now and the plants are starting to near the end. The timing is good as I need to transition these beds from Spring salad greens to Summer winter squash. But I will miss coming out here each week, to admire the amazing beauty and diversity found in simple salad greens and to harvest my family's weekly bounty. Here is this week's harvest;
  • "Heirloom Cutting Mix" Leaf Lettuce - 9.0 oz.
  • "Charger" Spinach - 5.3 oz
  • Total - 14.3 oz

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beginning to Plant the Summer Kitchen Garden

I worked outside today from 10-2 with just a quick break for lunch. The sky was dark and threatening all day but I was lucky to only encounter a few, quick rain showers. My goal for the day was to plant all of my vegetable purchases from the last two weeks.

I began by planting my four pepper plants. I purchased two more grow bags at Down to Earth, to join the two I already had from Gardener's Supply. The new bags are slightly smaller than I would like, but they have handles on them which will be great if I want to easily move the plants this Summer. I set in 2 "Padron" peppers and one each of "Cute Stuff Gold" and "Yellow Sparkler".

Next to them I planted out four "Snow Crown" cauliflower. These poor plants have been languishing in the garage for far too long and are looking a little worse for wear right now. I am hoping now that they are planted, they will bounce right back.

Thankfully their growing tips are just fine. Once I got them all settled in I put a remay tunnel over the four plants. I want to help protect them from both the finches and any rabbit that might finds its way into the garden. I learned my lesson last year how much the bunnies love cauliflower!

I spend an hour on Saturday afternoon thinning out the Morning Glory seedlings. Looking at this picture your really can't tell but I honestly pulled up handful and handful of them. I know I still left way to many but I can always do a second thinning in a few weeks. This will allow me to see what plants are the strongest. Plus I do always want to save enough plants so that I am guaranteed - I hope - to have saved an equal amount of both the purple and the pink bloomers.

I set up my tomato cages and have room this year for 7 plants. I have purchased 6 so far, so I can keep an eye out for one more that I need. From left to right "Wapsipinicon Peach", "Galina", and "Chef's Choice Orange".

And completing the row, from left to right; " Heavenly Blue" morning glory and the tomatoes "Tang", Carmello", and "Black Krim".

I took the remay cover off of my onions top give them a good watering in. Here are 4 of my "Pontiac" yellow storage onions.

The garlic is really doing well this year for which I am thankful. I planted the cloves so late and I was worried about how the plants would react and grow. So far they haven't seemed to miss a beat, though final bulb size will be the real indicator of production. Pictures above, "Chesnook Red".

Further down the row I have my "Music" garlic plants. These were the last to sprout and have been smaller than the "Chesnook Red" all Winter and Spring. But it appears like they have almost caught up to them in size now.

The Kitchen Garden in late Spring. Still lots of protective remay at this point to protect the young plants from birds and late cold snaps. But it won't be too much longer before the tunnels will come off. In the next week or two I will plant my dry pole beans, pull out the salad greens, and set in the winter squash plants. Then this garden will be all ready for Summer.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dahlia Potting up - A Finish!

I spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon working on my dahlias. My goal for the day was to finish getting all of my tubers "planted" in pots. I have been working off and on with this project as the weather and time allowed for the past 8 days. But I was determined to finish up today and I did! I now have 6 dahlia starts and 265 dahlia tubers planted in pots and beginning to grow. As much as I would like it, I know that all of these tubers won't grow. But I should still have somewhere in the 250 dahlia plant range this year. That's up quite a bit from the 205 I had in last year's garden. Let's hope my lower back and my enthusiasm don't give out before all of these dahlias get transplanted down into the Big Garden!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The End is in Sight

It was a much milder evening tonight. Combined with almost no wind it made for a very pleasant night to be out potting up dahlia tubers. I managed to get another 40 planted this evening, for a grand total of 167 completed. I now have only three boxes in the shop with tubers that still need to be planted. My goal is to get them all potted up tomorrow - the end is in sight!

As I continue to work on potting up the tubers, the first two dahlias of the year have pushed above the soil line. They are both the same variety; "AC Golden Nickles". They are both new-to-me tubers, gifted from my friend Max. They were planted during my first potting session back on May 13th. I really enjoy growing some new dahlia varieties each year and I am excited to see how this yellow stellar form does in my garden. Could there be a future Head Table flower growing in that pot?

I ended the day on the back patio with the cats. We were treated to a long, colorful sunset. Such a nice way to kick off the weekend.