Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden photos - June 09

So, here's the garden from back on the 1st.


And what it looks like today:


Our attempts at container gardening - not bad, eh?




The grapevine. Last year it didn't do well at all, so this year we cut it back as far as I dared - more than 2/3 of the existing vine. I was worried when it didn't start budding this spring, but it's coming back beautifully.


Last, more of the Zebrina Mallow


Monday, June 22, 2009

Organic Gardening success story!

Every year our Mugo pine is infested by sawflies. Sawflies are the face of evil. Don't believe me?



The only thing that kills these suckers is this supremely toxic chemical crap that I won't touch with a 10-foot pole. We used it the first year we moved in and were almost as freaked out by the chemicals as the sawflies.

Last year we did nothing, partially because the chemicals scare me so I was relying on Eric to take care of it (and he is incredibly good at procrastinating when he wants to). They never really denuded the bush, but there were swaths that were cleared. So, letting nature run its course wasn't really an option.

This year I opted to do some manual pruning. I had to trim back the candles anyway as the bush is slowly growing to the size of a tree. As I was doing that I chopped off any branch that had the larvae on it and dropped it on the driveway. The birds appreciated the free feast and I didn't have to prune as much as I thought I would.

As a result, this year the bush looks happy and healthy - and all without chemicals!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Organic Lawn Care - Maintenance

To continue this series, let's address the topic of maintenance. It's all well and good to say that these chemicals are destroying the health of your family and the planet but then what do you do if you have a problem?

Assuming you've taken steps with aerating and amending to help build a solid foundation for your turf, the best thing to do is tackle the problems as they crop up. For example, we have a problem with clover this year more than the past few years. Clover is a well-known nitrogen-fixer, so that would point one in the direction of nitrogen deficiency.

That observation is backed up by another, more humbling, one - dog pee. Urine spots that people so often complain about are caused by nitrogen in the urine. Too much nitrogen in one area can burn the lawn. Which means if your dog's pee is burning your grass, in addition to other steps, you may actually want to reduce the amount of nitrogen you apply. The reverse is happening in our case - the spots where Lucky goes are some of the healthiest, thickest, fastest growing areas of the lawn.

Identifying the exact problem lets you pinpoint a specific solution. This saves you time, money, and helps reduce runoff and benefits the environment. In this case, it's a simple matter of applying a nitrogen-rich, phosphorous-free organic fertilizer. There are now several options on the market, even a mass-market one by Scotts. Butoffee grounds actually make an excellent option if you have a small lot or a specific area you want to treat - Starbucks and other chains even give their used grounds away for this purpose (be careful if you have pets, though, since coffee and coffee grounds are toxic to dogs if ingested).

As a rule, problems in the yard are symptomatic of nutrient or soil deficiencies. A simple search on the internet can turn up quick, easy and cheap (or free!) solutions to your problem.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mulching the Front

Yesterday and today, in between rain and thunderstorms, we completed one of the big to-do list items: Mulching the front yard. Some quick before/after pics and then some general photos of the work.

Before

After

Before

After






And an updated to-do list:
  • Power-wash trellis and mailbox post
  • Finish master plan of the yard
  • Clear out back woods
  • Get rid of barberry bush in back - fall
  • Trim large bush trio in back - fall
  • Re-landscape west wall bed (aka fireplace bed) (potentially optional)
  • Place stepping stones from garage to back yard (potentially optional)
  • Re-mulch front yard beds
  • Prune Mugo out front after killing the evil sawflies
  • Re-landscape garage bed
  • Re-level brick patio
  • Fill in holes in front bed (dead junipers and rose bushes)
  • Plan out vegetable garden
  • Look at and either remove or repair yard sink

Monday, June 1, 2009

Garden 2009

I think I mentioned we decided to do only two beds this year and just plant closer. So here we go.


If you notice spots of bright color, those are the annuals we planted in the beds - marigolds, petunias and nasturtium

Bed 1 - Beans, Peas, Collards

Bed 2 - Tomatoes, peppers, onions

Photos photos everywhere

Siberian Irises started blooming
Bean Bed - June 1, 2009

Things are HUGE

Columbine. This one is particularly loaded with blooms

Another Columbine... I think this one is my favorite.

Snow-in-summer - this guy didn't bloom last year

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