Monday, April 26, 2010

Bush Beans

Mondays and Tuesdays are my busiest days.  I did manage to get outside for a brief period of time to plant some bush beans.  

I purchased a package of a Burpee bush bean mix that contains three varieties: greensleeves (green), royal burgundy (purple), and super wax (yellow). They will all turn green when cooked, but I like that they are different colors.  I'm planting bush beans because I don't want to have to find something for them to climb on. I will also probably plant some scarlet runner beans along my picket fence because they have such pretty flowers. 

Bush beans need to be planted about 3 inches apart.  The space from the base of my thumb to the knuckle in my index finger is about 3 inches, so that's how I measured the planting distance.

I poked a hole in the soil with the tip of my index finger. Then, I planted the beans about an inch deep. I forgot to add a light sprinkle of inoculant, but it's not absolutely necessary.  Since I am planting a couple of bean plants every week for several weeks to ensure continuous harvest, I'll try to remember to add the inoculant next time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strawberries in Pots

I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I would have liked to this weekend. It was raining so much that I was only able to get my strawberries planted. It was too wet to work on my lawn and weed.

I have a small urban backyard, so I don't have a lot of space. I also have dogs that have free access to the backyard through a doggy door and who also love strawberries. The first year I grew strawberries in pots, they kept disappearing. I thought that the birds were getting the berries until I smelled strawberry on the breath of my dogs. I should have known because the sneaky little snots are also tomato stealers.

Last year, I grew Ozark, an everbearing strawberry, in two strawberry pots but I never got enough at any one time to do anything other than snack.  Only a few of the plants survived the winter, so I have to replace most of the plants.  I left out the pots in a sheltered place on the side of my house over winter.  I should have protected them better. This winter, I will probably overwinter the pots in my garage. Maybe more plants will make it through the winter.

I decided to try a June bearing strawberry so that I can get more strawberries at once. The plants will produce fruit for about two to three weeks in June. I decided to try Honeoye, which is supposed to produce a lot of sweet fruit.  I bought 20 bare roots of Honeoye.

First, I took the roots out of the package and soaked them in water for about an hour.

Then I removed the dead strawberry plants form the pots and replaced them with the Honeoye. When I planted the strawberries, I dug out as much potting mixture from the holes as I could and replaced it with with a mixture of used potting soil and compost.

When I planted the pots last year, I used a blend of compost, coir, and old potting mix from the previous year's containers. I also placed a PVC pipe with holes drilled in it in the center of the pot so that I could get more water to the bottom plants. I was losing too much water through the drainage hole in the pots, so I stuffed a plastic grocery bag in the bottom of the PVC pipe and that slowed down the drainage without blocking it off completely.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday's To Do Wish List

Spread mushroom compost over front lawn and over seed the bare spots.

Plant strawberry plants in the strawberry pot.

Dig up the raspberries that have grown out of the bottom of the raspberry pots.


What chores do you have on deck for this weekend?
Please post a link to your chore list or a project that you are working on in the box below so that we can go to your blog to see what you're up to.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Gave Up on the Celery

I tried to start celery from seed.  I sowed the seeds in February and placed them under fluorescent shop lights.  My other seedlings did just fine.  I even started taking them outside on warm days to give them as much natural light as I could and they still look puny.  

My pathetic celery seedlings

I had a bunch of meetings off campus yesterday.  I had about 30 minutes to burn and there was a nice garden center between meeting spots.  I couldn't help myself.  I really have little self-control at garden centers.  I bought some stevia, some pink poodle echinacea, sedum for a porch pot, and 12 beautiful celery plants. I'm a total celery cheater.

My beautiful new celery

I'm feeling both giddy and a little guilty about buying the celery plants, but I have little hope for the seedlings that I started.  If there's anyone out there who successfully grows celery from seed, I would love to hear your celery starting secrets.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

No Asparagus This Year

I won't get to harvest any asparagus this year. I planted one year crowns last year. I read that I would have a light harvest this year. Unfortunately, all my asparagus spears were very thin, too thin to harvest. Now they have all ferned out. I added coffee grounds and chopped leaves as an organic mulch and fertilizer. Maybe next year will be better. If there are any asparagus growers out there who have ideas for helping the bed to thrive, I would love to learn from you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Speed Bumps in the Dog Superhighway

The dog superhighway

I have a problem with my dogs running along the alley fence. In years past, this hasn't been a problem, but starting this year, they seem to have this new habit. They have trampled down some of the emerging perennials. 

The speedsters

New speed bumps

I decided to add a few speed bumps to their highway. I added some daylilies and iris since they are tall and fairly trample-proof.  I also took the opportunity to dig out all the ditch lilies that were in the middle of the bed. I hope that the new plantings will protect my bee balm, delphinium, and lupine. This solution seems to be working so far. While they did go back into the bed to lounge near the daylilies, they weren't running along the fence line.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Naughty Baby Bunny Killers

When I was out working on my perennial bed in the backyard today, my dogs found a rabbit den with baby bunnies under my hibiscus bush.  Before I realized what had happened, both dogs had baby bunnies in their mouths.  I managed to make one of my dogs release his bunny, but my other dog killed hers.

Baby Bunny Killer

I confined both dogs inside the house.  I found the bunny that I made my other dog release hiding along my fence.  The other babies escaped, so I assumed that the bunny was injured.

Then I went to a business owner, Jan, whose shop is across the street.  She's an earth mother type of person who would likely know what to do.  I was in luck.  She had some experience with wildlife rehabilitation and said that she would take care of it.  She lives on a wooded 5 acres of land, so she's going to take it to her house.  She thinks that it's old enough that it will survive so long as it's not too injured.  She said that she will find a sheltered place outside and make sure that it has plants to munch on and water.  She said that there are a lot of bunnies out at her house.

When I returned to the back yard, the bunny was still in the same place, even though neither my dogs nor I had been in the backyard for about 10 minutes.  I found a large tub and put straw in the bottom.  Then I put on some garden gloves, and gently placed the bunny in the tub.  It could move around some, but it didn't try to flee.  I took the bunny to Jan.  By the time that we got to her house, the bunny had burrowed under the straw for safety.

Since my dogs destroyed the den, Jan suggested that I find a sheltered nearby spot outside of my fence to 'suggest' a safer place for the bunnies to relocate.  

The destroyed den

My suggestion for a new den

Jan said that I might be able to encourage the bunnies to relocate to a place outside my yard if I find a fairly close spot that is sheltered and move a shovel full of the hair and dirt from the hold nest into the new.  Along my alley neighbor's fence is a climbing hydrangea that could provide some shelter and a nice hidden spot.  I found a tucked away spot, dug a little with my shovel, and placed some of the hair and dirt from the old den in the new spot.  I hope that they build their new home outside of my yard. I really don't want my dogs to be able to get to them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plant Swap Plants-Totals So Far

On May 16th, 2010 there will be a plant swap at 2pm at Holiday Park in Indianapolis.  For more details about the plant swap or ideas on how to organize your own plant swap, click here.  So far, I have potted up the following plants for the swap:

Ruby Red Stella Daylilies

Rosy Returns Daylilies (pink)

Pink Hardy Hibiscus

Moonbeam Coreopsis

  • 6 Siberian or Japanese iris (purple)
  • 4 moonbeam coreopsis
  • 3 lamium (either pink pewter or purple dragon)
  • 6 sweet woodruff
  • 3 hellebores/Lenten Rose (either pink or cream)
  • 6 monarda/bee balm (Jacob Klein-red)
  • 2 purple coneflower
  • 1 salvia (May Night-purple)
  • 6 short bearded reblooming iris (yellow, purple, or light blue---probably purple)
  • 3 hardy geranium (pink)
  • 1 stargazer lily
  • 1 daylily-probably blacked eyed stella, but I'm not certain
  • 1 snowball viburnum
  • 8 Stella d'Oro daylilies
  • 3 ruby red stella daylilies
  • 3 rosy returns daylilies
  • 1 pink hardy hibiscus
  • 3 sweet
  • 3 lime
  • 3 lemon 
  • 3 thai
8 red or yellow raspberries

  • 3 1884
  • 3 Supersweet 100
  • 3 Orange Russian
  • 3 Roma
  • 3 Black Krim
  • 5 Brandywine
  • 10 Black cherry

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bah! Catalpa Trees and Poke Weed

Catalpa trees and poke weed make me nuts.  I pull thousands of catalpa seedings out of my garden.  You can't just pull them up with your hand. Their roots get a strong grip in the ground before they grow stems big enough for me to see.  I now garden with pliers in my back pocket.  I use them to grab the section of the stem right as it meets the ground.  A good hard yank with the pliers in that spot allows me to pull most of the catalpa seedlings without having to dig them out.

I live in a historical neighborhood.  One of the original requirements for building in the area was that the property owners had to plant trees on their properties.  Apparently, in the Victorian era catalpa trees were very popular.  The Victorian residents of the neighborhood planted them all through the neighborhood.  I don't have one, but my neighbor's catalpa tree hangs over my back yard.  They have lovely flowers, but they drop obnoxious seed pods that readily grow into catalpa seedlings. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out dozens of seedlings from my front yard, and I still see more that I will have to take care of soon.

What weeds or weedy plants make you crazy?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sowing Leeks

Today, I sowed leeks directly into my back yard veggie bed.  I used my nifty weeder that my neighbor, Gaynell, gave me for Christmas.  It's perfect because it's about 1/2" deep which helps me to measure the depth of the little trenches that I made for sowing the leek seeds.

I sowed a couple of seeds every 6 inches.  When the seeds germinate and grow a little, I thin out the leeks until there is about 1 leek every 6 inches. As they mature, I will put little 1/2 toilet paper tube collars around the bottoms of each leek to blanch them so that I will have a larger edible portion of each leek.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy, Happy Pea Day

My wish came true:  my sugar snap peas finally came up.  It's been such beautiful, warm weather for a couple of weeks.  I hadn't seen my peas yet and I was starting to get worried.  I planted them along my alley next to my fence so that they will climb the fence.

Last year I planted them too late and didn't get much growth.  I was beginning to think that I had done something wrong this year.  I went out today to plant new pea seeds and I saw that they had sprouted.  I can't wait to taste them.  Sugar snap peas are one of my favorite treats.  I bet that they won't even make it into the house at harvest time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pop Up Potatoes

I checked my potato containers this morning and I found potato sprouts in all of them.  I'm so excited that they are coming out. Now if only I could see some peas popping up....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday on a Friday

Lou Murray started a Wordless Wednesday for gardeners.  Here's a link to her website where she explains what Wordless Wednesday is.  I'm a Wordless Wednesday cheater.  I posted on Friday ; )  I'll get with the program next week.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Surprise Lettuce

I let my lettuce go to seed once the weather got hot last year.  I intended to collect the seed, but I never got around to it.  I didn't need to collect the seed.  It has sown itself.  Good Old Mother Nature is much sharper and a lot less lazy than I am.

This lettuce looks like it might be red sails.

I have no idea which lettuce this one is.

The sad part is that these lettuces look much better than the ones I started inside a couple of weeks ago.  I guess the lesson here is that I will do better with my lettuce if I direct sow it than if I try to start it early inside.
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