Thursday, August 27, 2009

photo op; hydrangeas; pulling out plants

I was visited this morning by a new friend, Anna, a photographer, who took pictures of Sage and me in the garden for a show she is putting together (her website doesn't have anything up yet about the project, but she has some other fine projects there).  Sage had a great time playing  Easter egg hunt among the flowers (a ruse so that Anna could take photos), and I hope she got some great shots.  Since it's moving time in my garden, I was happy to bequeath my loosestrife and some of my (dis-)obedient plant to her, as they tend to take over a garden.  The obedient plant is especially beautiful, but very aggressive.

In place of the loosestrife I planted one of the two hydrangeas I picked up the other day, and put the other symmetrically balanced at the other end of the garden.  One will get more sun than the other, so I'll see how they comparatively do.

One plant I'll be pulling out soon is my grapevine, as it's too much of a japanese beetle magnet, and I don't want to be spraying my garden that often to control them, even if the spray was organic.  It's not worth the effort, and the squirrels and/or chipmunks ate the grapes anyway.  I'll probably replace it with some clematis.

Finally, in anticipation of this weekend's rain I installed the second of my two rain barrels.  It's a piece of cake once you know what you're doing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Staking tomatoes; transplanting

I finally got around to staking my tomatoes today, if you can imagine that.  They look good and healthy, but I have perhaps only three tomatoes each on my five plants, so I'm not looking forward to a great yield this year.  The plants are short, due to the poor weather earlier this summer, so they have only needed staking now that the tomatoes are putting on bulk.

I pulled the last of my carrots from the raised bed, though I have more seedlings shooting up already for my fall crop.  My daughter and her neighborhood friend Bella enjoyed some fresh treats while blowing bubbles on the front porch.

I also took advantage of the relatively pleasant evening to move some plants around:  I'm making more of my parking strip (it's mostly white yarrow, which is beautiful for a short period of time, then dull when it fades) by inter-planting some other perennials.  Lately I've put in some catmint, bee balm, coreopsis (now that I know what it is) and today moved my gaillardia there.  They had been lost behind the coneflowers and rudbeckia, and as re-bloomers, they should shine in their more prominent space, especially now that the yarrow is gone.

While I was in the transplanting mood, I moved around a foxglove, two stella d'oro's (also hidden by the rudbeckia) and a butterfly bush.

After all that moving, I watered everything in -- with water from my rain barrel!  Thank you, Portland Water District, for saving me money.

Speaking of butterfly bushes, this afternoon my daughter and I watched a butterfly go round and round one flower head of the very tall butterfly bush right outside our living room window.  'Twas a beautiful sight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rain Barrel installed; discount plants

I finally got the first of my rain barrels installed this evening (in the rain).  Let's hope it's worth it.  

This is the time of year for discounted plants.  Skillin's is having a great sale, and I just picked up some clearance plants from Lowe's (where I usually don't buy my plants, but I had to pick up some gutter hardware):  some nikko blue hydrangeas (with lots of fungus and a few flower buds), and three huge bee balms, for $3.99 each.  I'll plant them in the near future.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hurricane Bill, rain barrel, trellis, fothergilla, veggies, blog followers

I write this just as the tail end of hurricane Bill abates after dousing us with heavy rain this evening.  Just in time, I installed the first of my rain barrels this afternoon (after purchasing them this Spring!), only to watch the downspout drop off and the run-off flood a corner of my garden.  I'll have to re-attach it with a stronger clamp.

As I've mentioned, to hide the rain barrel (it's near the front of the house), I purchased a nice trellis from Skillin's (50% off!) and re-installed it today, fitting it to properly hide the barrel.  I have a few clematis running up it, though they are meager plants and probably won't hide the rain barrel for at least a year.  I do have a Summer Sweet (clethra) nearby, and that covers some of the view of the rain barrel.  It's just beginning to bloom, and smelled lovely as I worked in that area today.

I also put in some lavender that I had started from seed a few weeks back.

The rain has been welcome, as I've resorted to watering this past few weeks.  My new fothergilla (purchased and planted on Father's Day) has been the hardest hit by the August drought, and is showing quite a bit of leaf browning and curling.  I'm hoping the plant survives (it still looks lively in spots), and I've taken care to water it frequently since noticing the leaf curl.

I pulled more carrots today, some of them quite big.  My habit, however, is not to thin the initial seeding, and settle for smaller but more numerous carrots.  Why?  Because my daughter loves baby carrots as a snack.  (The so-called baby carrots you buy in the store are actually milled down from full-size.)

My daikon radish have sprouted and are doing nicely, and my pole beans sure know how to climb, having found my trellis without even me training them in that direction.  I have a number of nicely-sized tomatoes on my plants.  Let's hope they ripen before the first frost.  (No late blight yet.)

I had the pleasure this week of meeting two of my blog followers this week:  Anna, who came by to take some pictures of my daughter in the garden (though Sage wasn't cooperating, and Anna went home without even taking her lens cap off); and "BG" at Skillin's yesterday.  It has been nice to meet you both.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A new book (to me)

I finally broke down and bought Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer, which is an excellent book that I've consulted frequently while working at Skillin's, and finally decided to have for my own.  She's a Maine author, so she knows Maine gardening.   It's also 100% organic.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More potatoes

I pulled up all my lettuce yesterday, and my potatoes today:  way early for my potatoes, but my daughter is on a new-potato fix, so I decided to harvest them all.  Some good-sized reds and yukon golds.  They were delicious.

My daughter is enjoying the fruits of our garden: she's been eating fresh peaches, carrots, lettuce, and beets. Last night Sage chowed down on freshly-picked lettuce as a snack before bed. What four-year-old does that?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It figures:  it rains heavily today, the day after I finally break down and water the garden (after a few weeks of no rain, but considering all the rain we had before that, I forwent, if that's a word).

I finally noticed some tomatoes on my tomato plants yesterday, as well as some more blossoms.  I have indeterminate ones, so they tend to bloom and fruit later anyway (as is the case with most heirloom varieties, which is what I planted).  No sign of late blight in my garden, probably because I don't know anyone in my urban-ish neighborhood who is veggie gardening, and so I haven't caught anyone else's spores.  Yet.

My pole beans are up, about an inch.  Spinach just poking through.

I have to plant some turnips in my raised bed soon.  Sage discovered she loved them yesterday evening, devouring them for a night-time snack, pretending to be a bunny.  (What four-year-old eats turnips for a snack?)

I bought and "planted" a small trellis yesterday to hide the rain barrel that I have yet to install.  It's a "one of these days..." project.  I plan to grow a clematis or two up it, even if it's in partial shade.  I may not get the best blooms, but I'll mostly grow it for the foliage anyway, and the blooms will be a pleasant extra.

I have a number of surprises in my garden this year:  lychnis that I forgot I had planted (from seed), some sunflowers that must have fallen from a bird feeder, and a few other plants that jumped from their original location.

The problem of over-abundance:  I now have ox-eye daisy seedlings all over the garden, which is soon going to be quite the nuisance.  I also plan on cutting back or eliminating my obedient plant (a misnomer if there ever was one) and some loosestrife.

Today's gardening embarrassment:  I finally figured out what my mystery flower was from a few weeks ago:  a coreopsis.  It's one of those plants I don't know well, despite its common nature.  I only realized it when I saw some other ones in bloom at Skillins.  Oops.

I've been filling out my parking strip with more variety, since it's mostly yarrow -- which is beautiful when it's in bloom, but then turns brown and unattractive.  I now have more coreopsis, a few nepetas, and some shasta daisies.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fall planting

This past weekend I ripped out the remains of my sugar snap peas, they being exhausted and dessicated.  Today in their place I planted some pole beans and (nearby) some spinach seeds, hoping for a fall crop of each.  After my lettuce bolts, and after I harvest my carrots and beets and lettuce, I'll replace those as well with new seed.