Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I didn't kill them!

If you knew my track record with house plants, you would be suitably impressed.

First of all, the daffodils and bearded irises I saved in pots and then transplanted last year survived!

Then the perennials in the bean bed started coming back! And are SPREADING! Look at the creepers on the yarrow!

Here is a columbine who is larger than it was even at the end of last year.

And here is some of the sedum, at least as large as it was at the end of last year as well.

And, lastly, the sage making a reappearance.

Other yard additions!

Two winters ago we lost a couple gorgeous creeping junipers in a very severe winter. We let the space go kind of dormant last year with the plan to replace this year. I don't have a before shot of this spot, but picture the whole space beneath the birch pretty much covered by juniper. Now, we have 2 russian sage plants, 1 lavender plant (easily seen up front right) and 1 prairie star plant (up front left).

However, here's what last year's other juniper looked like.

That dead brown thing taking up the lower right corner? Yeah. Large dead juniper that pretty much took up the whole space. Instead I added a couple of japanese yew, that I plan to prune so that it stays low growing.

Those gold bushes will add a stunning level of winter interest to our landscape, too.

Garage Bed Renovation

Do we all remember when Eric dug up all my hollyhocks? Let us revisit.



Yes. So after that he was forbidden from dealing with the garage bed. But he swore that we would re-vamp it this year. Me? I wanted to re-plant all the hollyhocks he dug up. So, it made it's way onto this year's task list. And, really, that's a good thing, because here's a close-up shot of one end:

See all the grass? Yeah. That's not supposed to be there! About two weeks ago I started removing the landscaping stones as preparation for digging/edging the bed. On Saturday I went out and started edging the bed. Eric took photos while I worked and the dog looked cute.

This is the general template - edging out the border to line up with the small brick patio off the garage door.

After a couple hours, a large rain storm, and a trip around town hunting down leveling sand later, the finished product:

It looks a bit dirty but it's such an amazing improvement. Last Friday I bought a 'zebrina' mallow and a 'nigra' hollyhock plant and put them in the bed. This weekend I'll be buying some creeping thyme and phlox to help fill in the gaps (our local nursery is running a special on perennials - buy 3 get the 4th free. rawk).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review - Weedless Gardening

My sister gave me this book about a week ago. It's a down and dirty introduction to the concept of top-down gardening that has gained popularity in recent years thru such means as Square-Foot Gardening and other plans like it. Only this book approaches the topic in relation to the whole yard rather than just a vegetable plot.

Geared towards the small-scale gardener, the book covers the basics of soil testing, soil improvement, how to control and eliminate existing weeds, how to create new beds without digging, and so forth.

There was no truly new concept introduced in the book, so gardeners who are experienced with the idea of improving soil thru top-dressing may be bored. But for a quick, broad introduction to the concept, it is worth picking up.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vegetable Garden 2009

The 10-day forecast on shows no sign of spring. It's not supposed to get much warmer than 48ยบ and rain and/or snow dominate the scene.

BUT! At least I have my vegetable garden planned!

Last year I set the goal of gardening as organically as possible - no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We also had the goal of cultivating all 3 beds using companion planting to help with pests and diseases. Overall, we succeeded. We had a few issues with pests - namely the mexican bean beetle, the cabbage worm, and the worm from The Wrath of Kahn that invaded the acorn squash - but the yield was amazing on everything else. I was pulling squash off of our summer squash plant it SEPTEMBER.

This year one goal is to expand our companion planting to include flowers and herbs. Also, we're rotating the beds. Another goal was to grow garlic and shallots but I just found out you have to plant them in the fall, so there goes that idea (I did, however, find a garlic farmer who sells seed garlic that's just outside of Madison. Yay for buying local!). A third goal was to expand our vegetable selection a bit. And Eric wants to start canning this year. EEEK!

All of the beds are going to be bordered and, in some cases, interplanted with a mix of nasturtium, marigold (french in all beds except the beans, where it'll be mexican), petunias and other beneficial flowers.

New items this year are peas, carrots, cucumbers (tried last year, they all died), a new type of lettuce, new type of eggplant, chinese cabbage, leeks, tomatillos (giving them another shot), chamomile, lavender, sage.

Bed 1: beans, peas, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce (romaine and spring mix), chard, eggplant and onions.
Bed 2: broccoli, chinese cabbage, kale, collards, leeks, summer squash, chamomile, thyme, sage, rosemary and lavender
Bed 3: peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, tomatillos, winter squash, onions, chamomile, leeks, rosemary, oregano, parsley, basil


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