Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hanging Baskets

Having been inspired by the impressive Proven Winners hanging basket arrangements while leafing through a catalogue last Winter, I decided to create my own hanging basket masterpiece from seed in blue and yellow. I chose Chaenarrhinum Summer Skies and Petunia Dolcissima Limoncello from Parks Seeds.

As I blogged previously, I was disappointed in the growth rate of the chaenarrhinum, and I couldn't get the petunias to germinate well at all. Out of about 20 petunias I have tried to germinate, only 4 have been successful.

Here is a photo of the chaenarrhinum at about 8 weeks.


And here are two petunias and three chaenarrhinum at 8 weeks.


I'm not giving up on them yet, but next year I will probably just purchase Proven Winner plants from Jesse Israel's Garden Center instead of trying to grow flowers from seed since they took up a lot of space that could have been used for more veg!

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Strawberry Growin' Bags

I purchased these Strawberry Growin' Bags from Park Seed. The bags are great, because you can hang them from a fence, or a nail on the side of the house, so they take up very little space. Strawberries require a lot of space in the garden because they ramble along the ground, so using these bags is a smart idea. I ordered them near the end of Winter, and they arrived in late March. The plants came bare root, and they were all in excellent condition. They shipped 25 plants total. There are 20 slots in the bags for the plants, and you can put two in the top of the bag. I lost only 2 plants, and that was when a late freeze came through the area. The plants are thriving, and there is already fruit on the vine. I really recommend this purchase if you want fresh strawberries and don't have much space to grow them.


However, the time has passed for ordering these plants on-line. I ordered some for my MIL three weeks ago for Mother's Day, and all the plants that arrived were rotten, so I had them ship more. Out of that order, only 7 plants were not rotten, so again, I had them ship more. I was able to fill the bag with mostly unrotten plants from the last shipment, but just barely. I'm sure some of the plants won't make it though. I was really disappointed, but I should have known better than to order bare root plants so late. They can only stay dormant for so long. Park Seed tried to keep them dormant longer than they should have, probably by keeping them in a refrigerator which caused them to freeze, and the plants suffered when they started to thaw. So, if you don't order these before they start shipping tender plants, don't order them at all.


Strawberries require full sun and a good deep watering every other day. Keep the fruit safe from birds by putting a fine mesh net over the bags. Otherwise, the birds will get your whole crop!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

3-Tiered Planter

I bought this three-tiered planter last Fall on mega clearance from Lowes. I think I paid $9 for it. I was going to fill it with boring $1.50 annuals, because I didn't want to spend too much money on it, but then my MIL gave me a gift certificate to the Jesse Israel Garden Center at the WNC Farmer's Market. Thanks to her, I was able to fill it with much cooler flowers than petunias and impatiens! I chose a big geranium for the top tier, peach superbells and white verbana in the middle tier and lantana and verbana in the bottom tier. I just love the way this planter looks!


I haven't really been a big fan of geraniums in the past, but they were my Mom's favorite flower. It was near Mother's day when I was picking out these flowers, and when I saw the geraniums, I felt like getting one in memory of her. I think she would really like it (although I'm sure she would have chosen a red one), and I too am starting to warm up to geraniums. I really like the softly scalloped edges and fuzzy texture of the foliage.

The superbells are from Proven Winners. I have been lusting after Proven Winners plants, but I couldn't really justify the price. However, after buying these three, I am sold on Proven Winners. I think I will buy some of these superbells for my hanging baskets next year instead of trying to grow my own from seed. They are really worth the cost!


The foliage of the lantana has the greatest scent - it's very citrus-like. I really like the two-tone color of the flowers also. The flowers bloom all yellow at first, and as they age, the outer ring turns pink. How cool!


I think verbana is my new favorite annual. I don't even remember seeing verbana last year. I wonder if there was some sort of verbana shortage.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

See My Garden!

Here are some shots of the garden. You can click the picture to get a better view.

This is the "big picture" view of the garden in early May. The garden is separated into four 9'x9' quadrants, with a 2' path between each.


The Top Left Quadrant is growing spinach, peas, pole beans and corn. The Marigolds are there for my Grandpa who loved Marigolds and also claimed they help keep critters out of the garden. The squirrels are having a field day in there despite the Marigolds, so I think Poppy might have been wrong about that :) All the plants are doing well except the spinach, which seems to hate the warm weather. I think I will plant it earlier next year. I'm going to try the spinach again when it gets closer to Fall.


The Top Right Quadrant is growing lettuce, tomatoes and basil. There are 14 tomato plants! I read that basil helps deter bugs like aphids, so I interplanted the basil with the tomatoes in an attempt to protect them from infestations. This is the spot that used to be the "burn pit," so it is supercharged with nitrogen. The lettuce LOVES the nitrogen. All the plants are doing great in this area.


The Bottom Left Quadrant is growing carrots, onions, broccoli, peppers, edamame, cilantro and sage. The broccoli, peppers and cilantro still have their paper cup caps on to protect against cut worms. This patch of soil gave us the most trouble since the grass did not want to die. We tilled it, hoed it, raked it, sprayed it, covered it and repeated, and yet the grass continued to grow back. It's pretty weed-free now, but I do see some little buggers starting to poke up through! These plants have only been in the ground for 2 weeks, but I think they're doing OK. The carrots and onions were just planted a week ago, and they haven't sprouted up yet. Yes, they're late getting planted, but the first batch was no good and I had to resow!


The Bottom Right Quadrant is growing squash, cucumbers, melons and potatoes. The potatoes are growing like C-R-A-Z-Y! The squash are also doing very well. The cucumbers and melons haven't been planted long, so it's hard to say how they're doing. I think they're doing good though.


Here is a closer look at the corn. I need to thin it out, but it hurts my feelings to pull up the plants! I will do it though ... otherwise all the corn will die from overcrowding, and we can't have that!


Here is a view of the peas (L) and beans (R). The peas are a lot bigger, because they were sown before the last frost, but the beans cannot take frost, so they were sown just a couple weeks ago. We made this trellis from bamboo stakes and chicken wire. The stakes were just $4 for 12 at K-Mart. No, I don't usually shop at K-Mart, but it is the closest store to us, and when you're in a hurry, even K-Mart will do.


A closer look at the tomatoes and lettuce. This picture was taken just last week, but the plants have all grown since then! They are doing very well in this nitrogen-rich area. I hope the tomatoes bear healthy fruit. Nitrogen is used to produce great greenery, and phosphorous promotes good fruit development. I have fertilized with 10-10-10, so hopefully they're getting enough phosphorous too! The tomatoes are staked with the same bamboo stakes that were used to build the trellis. These bamboo stakes are very nice in the garden! That lettuce will be ready to eat next week.


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Monday, May 14, 2007

Sowing Tender Seeds Outdoors

Some seeds are too tender to withstand freezing temperatures and can be sown outdoors only after all danger of frost has passed. We sowed our tender seeds near the end of April since our last frost date was April 20. We purchased some seeds from Park's Seeds and some from Jesse Israel's Garden Center. Here is a brief summary of my experience with the seeds and my recommendations.

Excellent Success Rate - Highly Recommend

Pole Bean Kentucky Blue - The plants came up moderately quickly - in about 12 days, with a near 100% success rate. The plants are still growing steadfastly, and I expect some good beans from this crop.

Corn Honey 'n Pearl Hybrid - The plants came up moderately quickly - in about 12 days, with a near 100% success rate. The plants are still growing steadfastly, and I look forward to some fresh corn this summer.

Ferry Morse Cucumber Marketmore 76 - The plants came up moderately quickly - in about 14 days, with a near 100% success rate. The plants are growing slowly, but cucumbers require warm weather for growth, and it has just started to stay around 80 degrees in this area. I expect a good crop, as the plants seem healthy.

Questionable Success Rate - Purchase with Caution

"Olds Seed" Honeydew Sweet Delight - The plants came up moderately slowly - in about 20 days, with a modest success rate of about 75%. There were only 10 seeds in the packet, so a lower success rate means no chance to resow. The plants are growing very slowly, but melons require warm weather for growth, and it has just started to stay around 80 degrees in this area. I am not sure what to expect from these plants, but hopefully they will produce some nice fruit.

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