Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rare rose sighting

I doubt the variety of the roses is rare, but that I’ve managed to keep them alive and now blooming is somewhat rare. The white one is a Katharina Zeimet rose, an antique variety.

I still don’t know exactly what the red shrub rose is, but I love its dark red color with the royal purple Victoria salvia in the background. Thank you rain.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Glorious gladiolus

An unknown previous owner of our house—who it was and how long ago, I’ll never know--planted these amazing byzantine gladioli more than 20 years ago. They faithfully show off their screaming magenta blooms for about a week every April.

Because I usually choose to plant drought-tolerant perennials for our front yard garden, I’m particularly thrilled when this hardy gladiolus byzantinus returns.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garden bloggers’ bloom day

The little bit of rain we got Sunday morning really perked up my blooms and my spirit. See more blooms from all over at May Dreams Gardens. Here’s what I’ve got blooming right now.

The magenta hardy gladiolus byzantinus is beginning its one-week-a-year blooming, with some bicolor iris in front of it and society garlic and victoria salvia in the foreground.


balloon flower

victoria salvia


society garlic

I recently bought this flower because of its unusual green-yellow color that almost matches the window trim, but I forgot what it is. (Edited 9 p.m.): It's a Lime Green Nicotiana alata. Thanks to Annie at the Transplantable Rose for identifying it!

mexican bush sage

lots of lantana

hybrid verbena

bicolor iris and hardy gladiolus byzantinus

calendula in the veggie bed

Also blooming now are purple and white ruellia, gaura, mexican heather, indigo spires salvia, turk's cap, trailing lantana, dwarf pomegranate, and mexican honeysuckle.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Alfalfa hay bale postscript

Apparently hay is not just for horses.

I caught our dog in the act and later found her three big chomping holes in the last pile of alfalfa hay. Sheesh. So we moved the rest of the alfalfa pile inside the veggie bed dog fence.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A bale of alfalfa hay will fit in the back seat of a sedan

I spent two long afternoons earlier this week weeding and mulching the veggie beds. I took lots of pictures when I finished, admiring my hard work.

Then I found out today that hardwood mulch is not good for veggie gardens because it gets into the soil and robs it of nitrogen. Grass cuttings or leaves are recommended for mulching tomatoes, but we have no grass and most of our leaves are already in the compost pile. What to do?

Alfalfa hay to the rescue! Leaving my usual three-mile diameter ant path comfort zone, I headed to Callahan’s General Store to buy my first bale of hay. Not only does it deter weeds, it keeps the soil cooler and adds nitrogen to the soil as it decomposes. And it smells good. While I was gone, husband Kurt removed all the hardwood mulch I’d applied the other day and turned some compost piles.

The alfalfa bale was extremely compressed, so we pulled it apart and chopped it up with hoes (and eventually a saw) to make it easier to spread.

The alfalfa hay mulch looks allot shaggier than the hardwood mulch, but I look forward to seeing how it works.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring veggies now in the ground

I finally harvested a bunch of the remaining winter dinosaur kale, spinach, and arugula then pulled the remaining parts out and piled them on top of one our passive compost piles. I replaced those veggies with tomatoes, mostly.

Of the eight varieties of tomatoes I’m trying (Brandywine, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Beefsteak, Black Krim, Early Girl, and cherry Sugar Sweetie), six I started from seed.

This will be my first experiment in growing tomatoes from seed. Husband Kurt will be fashioning some sort of stakes/trellises for all of them soon, but for now they’re fine because most are still seedlings. I know, I know--I still need to weed and mulch.

I also planted more oregano, thyme, and basil and added some sage and three cucumbers. My jalapeno and scallion seedlings are still in paper cups in a window sill but should be ready to transplant within a few days.

I decided I don’t really like squash, okra, or eggplant enough to try to grow them myself, so I’ll just buy those from the great folks at Boggy Creek Farm.

west garden: last kale

west garden today

Green Zebra tomato seedling

east garden: last spinach and arugula

east garden today

Swallowtail caterpillar (I think) on the last of the dill