Sunday, April 08, 2018

Note to self - WAIT

I blame the weather. This year winter seemed interminable (and it isn't over YET!) To combat the February doldrums, I sowed some seeds. Now most of the seedlings are of a size for planting outdoors. Tonight's low is forecast to be 19 degrees. NINETEEN! Will winter ever end?!?

I repotted some of the more spindly seedlings, as they were root bound and depressed about it. I will probably repot more. I'm happy they are so robust but really wishing it were May, not April. That's assuming May will be warmer than April. A big assumption.

Actually, today wasn't too bad, once the temps climbed into the 30's, as there was little wind and much sunshine. I attacked the yucca mound, planning to try to do in about 3/4 of it. I got carried away, though, and whacked it all. The problem was the yucca was spreading, not only within its bed but to other beds. My fault, I fear, as once upon a time I witnessed a downy woodpecker pecking at the dry seed stalk, so I stopped removing the stalks when the blossoms were done. I never saw another downy woodpecker at the yucca, but many baby yuccas sprouted all around, presumably from seed. A friend told me once that she had tried tidying up her yucca by removing the dried lower leaves, but the plant died. I'm counting on that working here, as I removed ALL the leaves, green and otherwise, plus sawed off the crowns best I could. I'm hoping that will do the trick.

Now the bed looks open and inviting, so of course I am contemplating what I can plant there going forward. There is a purple leaf sand cherry and a blue false indigo at either end. Maybe a dwarf butterfly bush between them and/or yellow flowers like coreopsis, daylily, or Profusion zinnias? And maybe I will reshape the bed to make it easier to mow around. Suggestions?

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

April showers and a few flowers

My SO and I were in Kansas City last week, where we thought there might be some signs of spring. No such luck, except for a magnolia. On our way out of town, I spotted some daffodils and forsythia. A winter weather advisory for the region was on our heels.

Not much blooming at home, either. The earliest clump of daffs are showing but the rest are lagging behind. The pink hyacinth are also blooming. I gave up on crocus because of rabbits but they keep trying to make an appearance, along with something I don't know the name of.

While surveying the yard, I discovered the bark is peeling off my 'Winter King' hawthorn tree. Yikes! But some research reveals that this is normal, part of the tree's winter interest. Whew!

The seedlings (that I planted WAY too early - most are large enough for transplanting) survived my absence although it looks like a certain someone did not water them. Right before I left, a few items arrived from Gurney's and Breck's: one 'Prairie Fire' crabapple tree, two red penstemon crowns, and three 'Lucifer' crocosmia corms. I was a little worried about the crabapple, as it needed to get in the ground before it broke dormancy, but I had no choice but to wait. I planted it yesterday, and one branch bud looked ready to pop, so I hope it does okay. It's getting plenty of water today.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Slow spring

I was hoping there would be more indicators of spring in the yard by now, but the weather is not cooperating (per usual). Nothing is blooming, not even the snow drops. Nothing more than last time is showing above ground. At least the rain/snow has stopped, for a while.

Inside, the seedlings are doing well. I gave them each a pinch of coffee grounds because I have a vague memory of reading that was a good idea. Today I thinned some of them and gave them each a pinch of granulated compost.

I did purchase a Havahart Above Ground Electric Fence Kit, from Lowes, to limit the dogs' ability to tear up the yard. I knew there would not be enough wire or posts in it, but Lowe's did not have any 17-gauge aluminum wire that was not coated, so a subsequent trip to Tractor Supply Co was required. I love roaming through TSC, looking at all that exotic-to-me farm stuff. In another life, I lived in the country and was even a stringer for the Farmer's Exchange for a few years, so visiting TSC is also somewhat nostalgic.

Today I broke open the Havahart kit and discovered right off the bat that the instructions are woefully inadequate. Thank goodness for YouTube. The kit in the video, though, is better than the one I got: it came with a tester and fence posts with a sharp end and integrated clips whereas my kit has no tester and the posts are green PVC pipe with holes for (included) cotter pins. Pretty cheap. While at TSC, I purchased more wire and some fiberglass posts with integrated clips; I think I'll get more posts, as I'm afraid the ones in the kit won't be tall enough for Legs (a.k.a. Clio).

As I'm sitting here, I'm thinking I just may return the Havahart kit to Lowe's and purchase the rest of what I need from TSC. Live and learn.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Good-bye February!

My annual complaint, that February is the longest month of the year, is about to be stashed until next winter. I find myself thinking the worst is over, but it really isn't, despite the bulbs popping up here and there. March usually brings one more snowfall.

Naturalizing Daffodils

Yesterday I did some more yardening, pruning back the hydrangea, cleaning out this and that. I tend to work on particular plants, like the catmint and milkweed, instead of beds. There is more to do, of course, but it doesn't hurt to get a head start.

Pink Hyacinth

I did find a pair of hand pruners that disappeared last year, far from the area I thought they would be, oddly close to where my SO found his missing Fitbit. I'm also rediscovering my gardening muscles. All that winter walking does not help with the bending, stretching, lifting.

Pink Snow Crocus

Inside, most of the seedlings have germinated, even the 'Luna Red' Hibiscus! A germination heating pad helps. Right now, the only holdouts are the Japanese indigo (dyers knotweed) and the parsley.

Early Snow Drops

I ordered an electric fence to limit the dogs free space. I also bought them passes to the city dog parks. We went to Camp Canine at Johnny Appleseed Park yesterday, and they zoomed to their hearts content before my SO and I took them for a walk along the River Greenway behind IPFW. Today they are still tired.

Robin's nest from last summer

This morning's rain has given way to a little sun, so maybe I will venture outside again, before the rains return. Happy yard cleanup!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Snow more!

The previous snow melted away. Last night I thought we were supposed to get rain but replacement snow arrived instead. Fortunately, it is nearly gone, again. This weather is positively bipolar.

I first planted this coleus in 2012, in the flower box on the front porch. Since then, each fall I save a "mother plant" to winter over inside and be cloned for the following year's transplants. Unfortunately, I can't find the name of this variety in my blog. I think it is 'Velvet'.

I actually did some yardening yesterday, in a desperate attempt to fight off the late February blahs. All I did was cut down the clematis, slogging around in the mushy top half-inch of lawn. The dogs kept me company, which meant they both needed baths afterwards. Mud season - ugh!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Record keeping

Diana created a post at the Garden Bloggers Fling blog asking (and answering) why gardeners blog. My personal reason is primarily to keep track of what I do in the yard and garden. Unfortunately, sometimes I miss posting a purchase. This year I am going to try to fix that by posting purchases as they arrive.

First up are some seeds from Stokes. All I was really interested in were the 'Luna Red' hibiscus seeds. I used to have some of this in my yard but somewhere along the way, it disappeared. Hibiscus blooms may be used for dyeing, so I decided to bring it back. Individual plants are rather expensive (and I want four), so I am turning to seeds. I tried this last year with seeds from a different source, but they never germinated. These seeds are supposedly scarified, though, so they should germinate sooner. Fingers crossed.

Since I was ordering one thing from Stokes, I decided to order a second thing: Profusion zinnias. Last year I tried some plants (from Lowes?) but they did not do much. I planted them at the corner of the house where the purple smoke bush reigns, a spot I have had repeated trouble populating (although the hyacinth do well there). I saw how well Profusion zinnias grow in full sun, in a downtown park, and decided to try them again but somewhere else in the yard. And from seed.

The weather has been crazy lately, with multiple "January thaws". The problem with this is Big Foot, a.k.a. Clio, my lab-pit mix, churns up the lawn when she and Watson have the zoomies. Right now I am attempting to ameliorate that by not letting the both of them out at the same time on days when the top layer of the ground is thawed and/or mushy. They don't understand, of course, but it seems to be helping, or at least keeping things from getting worse.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

It's only money

One of my credit cards was compromised, to the point the issuer issued me a new one with a new number. I put it to the test today, by ordering WAY too many plants and seeds. Well, mostly plants, as the cost of the seeds doesn't really compare. If my plans don't work out, I'm turning the yard back into lawn.

I have never been able to figure out a good way to photograph the Meyer lemon "tree", especially to highlight the blossoms. I did finally figured out how to keep it healthy, though: compost tea. At the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers Fling, one item in the swag bag was a box of compost tea bags. The idea was to soak the bags of compost in water, then use the water as compost tea. Unfortunately, my dog got into the box and tore open the tea bags. I saved as much of the granulated compost as I could. This fall and winter, I sprinkled some on the soil of the lemon plant, so now every time I water, the plant gets a drink of compost tea.

The plant is loaded with blossoms this year. They smell soooo sweet! I'm hoping for a bumper crop.