Friday, May 29, 2009


When I moved to this house, there was a clump of irises to one side of the steps. On the other side was a clump of Hosta. The Irises didn't do anything the first year, so I deemed them too plain and boring, dug them up, threw them in an 8 qt basket in the garage, and divided the hosta so each side of the steps were the same. About a year and a half later, my husband asked my if I was going to do anything with those irises. So, I planted them along the west side of the house. One flower bloomed, and I found them to be quite unappealing lavender with yellow throats. So, I ordered a collection of 12 different colored irises. During the impending remodeling, those irises have been moved at least once. Now, five years later, they have gotten very thick and last year they finally put out some sporadic blooms. This year, however, is the year of the irises. I have literally dozens and dozens of blooms. Even the original lavender and yellow that are now thriving both along the house and in the perennial bed are quite impressive in large groups.
My favorite is a two tone blue that has five or six stalks blooming. There are also peach, a lovely cornflower blue, peach, yellow, white, white throated purple, white edged with lavender. I've run all over taking pictures in all sorts of light. My amateur photography simply doesn't do them justice.

And finally, my most impressive Bachelor's Buttons. It's amazing how well perennials do when you don't dig them up and move them every year!

The Busy Season

I am SOOO glad I did not put my big vegetable garden in this year. Thankfully, my "pot garden" is done and thriving. The new landscape and trees takes almost an hour to water each evening and will continue to do so for another week until the roots are well established. Yesterday we got a good soaking rain emancipating me from my watering duties, and freeing me up for a photo scanning project I am working on for Father's Day. Here is the earliest know photo of me in a vegetable garden, August 1973 Age 2.

I have just made my worklist for this weekend, and even without the soil preparation and planting I would usually be doing, there is a ton to do... transplant myrtle behind new garage, weedwhack around the wild strawberries, turn the compost pile, mulch the rhubarb, label existing "pot garden" so I don't forget which is which.... I always think I will remember, and I never do. When growing many colors of heirloom tomatoes, it is important to identify which variety you are looking at. Otherwise, as I learned last year with my Cherokee Purples, you will not know what color you are waiting for the fruit to turn.

This week has been the week of the Iris at my house. I have been taking pictures of each of the different colors, and if my busy weekend schedule allows, I will get the whole collection posted over the next few days.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Landscaping, Chipmunks and Bloody Marys

This weekend we got a lot done. Friday the front of the house was landscaped. Saturday I got all my tomatoes, egg plants and peppers in their big pots. Sunday, we planted 5 trees.

Also, the chicken coop got off the trailer, and up on blocks, and is presently hovering over it's foundation.

Now, about those chipmunks...

On Saturday morning, I headed out for my horse back ride, and to deliver tomatoes to both my Mom and Dad. I returned a little after noon to find my husband, the neighbor, and my sister sitting on the front porch drinking Bloody Marys' and enjoying the new landscape.

I asked what was going on, and my husband pointed proudly to a bag on the porch and said "your sister is here to pick up her fresh meat." Now, the thing about my sister is that she works for a vet hospital that rehabs wild game. The presently have both a wing shot Bald Eagle (who would DO that?) and a Great Horned Owl. She told us that if we have any "dead things" that we should call her.

Naturally, I thought my husband had shot a rabbit, or the neighbor had trapped one of the chipmunks that were undermining his Japanese Maple. Well, I was partly right. The neighbor had trapped a chipmunk. He had come over to tell Tim, and to enjoy a drink on the porch. That's when the great chipmunk invasion began. The chipmunks had the cheek to venture into the brand new, very expensive, newly mulched landscaping! Chipmunks are the most destructive critters to a landscape. Deer might trim everything off, or accidentally pull something up while trying to trim it, but a chipmunk must look under everything you plant to see if you have buried some treasure there. They throw top dirt all over the mulch, ruin the roots, and plan acorns where you don't want them.

My husband is an excellent shot, but probably not good enough to hit a flitting chipmunk. So, how did they get the chipmunks? They ran them down and caught them with their bare hands. I kid you not. There is no man more motivated than he who has just spent nearly a month's salary on new landscaping. Add a Bloody Mary and a neighbor, and you have yourself a chipmunk catching machine! They got two this way before my husband remembered we had a net for catching unruly chickens. After that, it was easy. The eagle and the owl will eat well this week. And we are presently down to one chipmunk. The cat is working on that one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hardening Off

Vivian and the Pansies
I haven't blogged much about my gardening lately, simply because I haven't been doing much of it. Since I'm cutting back this year (too many projects going on, but my new linen closet looks great!) I really haven't done much gardening. Since the mulching has been done, I have just been enjoying watching things grow. The Strawberries look wonderful and are flowering like crazy, the Rhubarb flowered (how cool is that?), my Asparagus is doing just great, and I might even be able to eat some next year.

As for the rhubarb flower, I know I'm supposed to not let it do that, but it is just so cool. I like to enjoy all aspects of my plants. Maybe next year I'll cut off the flowers. Next year will be year three so I will be able to use it. I'm not sure I will have a large enough crop of strawberries and rhubarb to make a strawberry rhubarb pie, so I am looking for some cute little tart pans, so I can make a little baby pie!

I did harvest some horseradish while I was weeding and mulching. I chopped it up and put it in the fridge per my husband's request. I don't know why I bother, he rarely eats it. The horseradish is fixin' to flower as well. My perennial herbs are busy and lush, and I have started 4 kinds of basil in a pot.

Horse Radish

This weekend is potting up weekend. For the past few weeks, I have been stuck on the cycle of the worst part of gardening.... hardening off my seedlings. Ugggh, I hate it. First there is the inconvenience of hauling them out each day. And then hauling them back in. Then there is the stress. Will I or will I not kill them? I hate when they get pale and shaky. I feel bad for them, and I worry I will lose them completely. This year they have done very well. My Snow White midsized tomatoes are this year's faint of heart. It looks a bit burned, and I'm not sure if that was from the sun, or the cold nights which they spent in the garage. Everything else looks OK. The bell peppers, pickling peppers and eggplants look the best they ever have. I grew them their own flat this year, starting them 2 weeks earlier, and because they weren't combined with the fast growing tomatoes, I was able to keep the grow light low and close to them, and they look just great, dark green and bushy, dare I say even "robust".

My Project for this Weekend

I did have a few failures this year. One pickling pepper never grew real leaves. It puttered along for weeks not growing even one iota. So I pulled it. My Rosa Bianca eggplants never germinated in three attempts. The Pineapple tomatoes did finally germinate after three attempts, so are three weeks behind everything else.

Last night I hauled all my big pots and tomato ladders out. Next I'll have to scrub them up a little and fill them with dirt. That's a back breaking job out in the middle of the lawn. I'm looking forward to having an actual potting bench. My husband is in the process of moving the chicken coop up near the garden where he will then add a potting shed so I can abandon the makeshift "outhouse" I'm using now. I will finally be able to make use of 3 years of magazine clippings and design my garden storage. Woo Hoo! Here it is loaded on the trailer.

Now all we have to do is add on to it and then side it to match the house.

Oh, and on a foot note, the landscaper will be here first thing Friday morning to landscape the front of our house. Things are shaping up around here.