Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Summer That Wasn't...

It's August, and I have no idea when we will actually get some consistent heat around these parts!  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the cool evenings - and low water bill -- but my vegetable garden is stalled.  It doesn't help that my garden plot is not located in a super sunny location in the yard, but sheesh... nothing is developing... except powdery mildew...

Perhaps I'll get some summer vegetables in the Fall.  Or maybe I should start my search for Fried Green Tomatoes recipes.

Normally, I should be trying to sneak squash onto my neighbors' porches right about now... instead, here's my first and only (tiny) yellow squash.  And leaves decorated with powdery mildew.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Perhaps "Plant of the Week" was too ambitious...

So, obviously, I'm not updating my blog nearly enough to call it "plant of the week."  So here's a "plant of the when-the-mood-strikes."

Spring has definitely sprung in our neck of the woods, so perhaps you'll be wanting to do a bit of planting.  I've been testing out this plant in my garden for a few months now, and I have to say, I really, really like it!

It's a Euphorbia, which a huge genus of plants that can look entirely different from each other.  Some get quite large.  This one, stays compact.  Most, if not all, get some form of this unique flower.

I introduce to you, "Euphorbia efanthia"

 I put this plant in last Fall from a 4" pot.   They are now about 2'x2'.  As you can see they get these really cool lime green flowers.  The leaves are dark green and in the fall/winter they are edged in purple.  They like full sun.  The one in part-shade is smaller than the others.  They can tolerate dry conditions.  Our cold winter also didn't bother them at all.

The details:
Blooms Spring to early Summer
Zones: USDA 4-11; hardy to -20F
Height: Medium: 14-20"
Water: Dry to Normal
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Features: Drought Tolerant; Heat Tolerant; Deer Resistant

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gave my roses a haircut...

Last chance to prune your roses!  At least for those of us who live in more temperate climates.  For those in even warmer areas then mine, your roses might actually still look pretty good.  However, your roses will benefit from a good haircut as we approach the end of Winter.  You might have heard you should cut the roses back by Valentine's Day.  It's good advise -- and easy to remember.  If it takes you until later in the month -- that's OK too.

I like to really cut back my roses -- from 1/3 to 1/2 of their height.  And, I strip every single remaining leaf off the shrub.  Why do I do this?  Not because I enjoy getting stuck by thorns, which, by-the-way is awful.  But... because it's the best way to get a head start on organic disease prevention.   The leaves harbor black spot and rust -- two diseases that don't really kill the rose bush, but make it look horrible.  The winter rains will spread the disease from the old leaves to the newly emerging buds.  Why start Spring with a problem?

This is how my white Iceberg rose looked pre-pruning.  It was 6 feet tall.

This is how it looks now - 2 feet shorter:

Pruning roses isn't too difficult.  You need a sharp pair of by-pass pruners, some gloves (unless you are a glutton for punishment like me) and a few tips.  There are tons of "how-to-prune" rose websites.  Just Google away.  But here are the nuggets you should know.

By now, the leaf nodes will be swelling on the plant -- and maybe even budding out a bit.  This is where a new branch will form on the rose bush.  This is where you will be cutting.

Here is an example of a node -- plus a visual of how and where the cut should be.  There are two nodes in this picture.  They are the little pink bumps.

Your goal, should you choose to accept it:

1. Remove any dead or diseased canes (see below for description).
2. Remove any canes that are crossing and/or are in the center of the plant.
3. Remove any canes that are teeny-tiny (smaller than the diameter of a pencil)
4. Remove all the leaves both on the plant and on the ground.
5. Use bypass pruners (not the anvil type).  Cut with the blade on top.
6. Cut using 45 degree angle about 1/4" above the nodes.
7. Cut at the outward facing nodes (When you cut back the rose, you will want to cut just above an "outward" facing node. You want the rose to grow away from the center.)
8. Remove 1/2 to 1/3 of the height of the shrub
9. Aim to have an open form.

Dead/Diseased canes:
The dead canes are brown and dried out.  Simply cut them out as close to the plant as possible.  The diseased canes are dying back from the tip toward the center of the plant.  If you want to keep that cane, then you will need to cut back a few nodes to get ahead of the disease.  You can tell if there is disease because the cane will have a bit of gray coloring inside the stem.

Happy pruning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Planting...

I was looking for a little Fall/Halloween inspiration for my empty pot. So on a whim, I ran out to my local garden center to see what I could pull together. It needs a week or so to fill in, but it's got the classic black, white and golden/orange Halloween color. It cost about $14 for the plants.

(In case you're wondering, that's a Coleus in the background...  Home Depot special, not sure which variety!)

Here's the recipe:

24" pot
1 - 1 qt. mum, golden colored
1 - 4" Sweet Potato Vine, 'Blackie' (Ipomoea)
1 - six-pack Viola, 'Coconut'

The plants shown here do well in Sun to Part Shade and are considered winter annuals. The most tender of the bunch is the Ipomoea, which may fail in temperatures below 30 degrees.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Peony Blooms in Danville...

Who knew? I adopted this peony from my sister-in-law from Oregon many years ago. It just now decided to bloom. I guess I'll keep it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Partial Victory Garden...

I've always had a garden, even when we lived in an apartment. About 3 years ago, we removed a huge hedge to clear a spot for a garden. I love having my own produce growing in my back yard. I'm not the most dedicated vegetable gardener; however, and sometimes I forget to take a look back there for a week or so. I could probably increase my yield by just visiting more often. So, that's why it's only a partial victory. It's in and we get some food from it.

Well, this year's frost season was freakishly late. We had some frosty mornings all the way through April. I'm impatient. I put everything in while it was still frosty. I'm a firm believer in Darwinism's theory of "survival of the fittest." All my vegetables are raised with tough love!

Good intentions to re-build the raised beds have fallen by the wayside and I'm making due with what I have.

For two weeks, in preparation for planting, I brought in bags of compost to add to the bed, removed the huge amount of redwood roots that have sought out the easy pickings of water and nutrients in the beds and turned the soil. And finally, assembled a variety of structures to hold the future bounty. The effort felt like a sort of tinker toys for adults. Then we planted seeds & transplanted starts from a neighbor.

Here's a list of what I'm growing this year:

Howden Pumpkins
Oregon Sugar Pod Snow Peas
Little Finger Baby Carrots
Cherry Belle Radishes
Yellow Crookneck Squash
Green, Yellow and Purple string beans
Straight Eight Slicing Cucumbers
Genovese Italian Basil
Canteloupe from a neighbor
3 varieties of Tomatoes (Big Boy, and two unknowns) from a neighbor
An unknown pepper from same neighbor
Salad Bowl Mix of Leaf Lettuce
Bean plant that Megan is sure will take us to the Giant (thanks Miss Janie!)
Random Sunflower seeds

The radishes are ready to be harvested and the lettuce should be big enough in a week or so! Everything seems to have sprouted and I lost nothing to the late frosts we had!

April 21, 2009
3 weeks

May 6, 2009
5 weeks
(unsure why picture is sideways...)

Plant of the week...

So I'm pretty much a plant-a-holic. I don't even think there is a twelve step program for people like me. I will purchase plants at the nursery and then wander around my yard looking for a place to put it. You can tell us from the regular gardeners, because there's usually a place in the garden that looks more like a nursery -- full of little pots of plants waiting for a home!

Here's a nifty plant that you might like to find a home for in your garden.

Common Name: Wallflower
Botanical Name: Erysimum

Sunset Zones: 4-9; 14-24
Full Sun to Light Shade
Water needs vary, but tend to require less water
Bloom time: Early Spring through Summer/Fall

Height: 3'
Width: 4'

You will find "Bowles Mauve" - the purple variety, "Lemon Zest" - the yellow one shown. There is also an orange-y colored one too. These shrubs give you that "pop of color" in your garden.

Erysimum look great in a perennial garden, especially if you have low growing plants in front of it. That's because they tend to get leggy after awhile. Deadhead the flowers once they stop blooming to clean up their look.

Don't make a long-term commitment to these plants. They'll only survive a few years in your garden before you'll want to replace them.