Trials and tales of a not-so-advanced gardener--both in the dirt and beyond.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bloom Day for November 2009

I'm a day late, but I have a surprisingly large number of fantastic blooms this month. We had perhaps one of the best days weather-wise this past Saturday. It was almost t-shirt weather.

Here are some lovely annuals. The begonias above were planted in those pots in May. I can't believe they still look great!

Here is a purple coneflower that is trying to sneak in a bloom before it gets too cold.

This has been blooming since I purchased it in July and it continues to do well.

And this primrose, which generally only blooms in spring, decided to have come out once more for 2009.
Happy Blooms to all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Bloom Day - 2009!

It's already the middle of October! Even though it's been dreary and cold (44 today!) here, there is still a surprising amount of color in the garden.

Various Rudbeckia, grown from seed.

Lots of what is still blooming well are the annuals.

I especially like these marigolds, grown from seed in the vegetable beds. They are so tall they fall over!
Butterfly bush is still going strong -- both purple and white.

Finally, these are my favorite mums purchased this year. It is a Pelee Mum and this picture doesn't do it justice.

Happy Blooms to all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2009

Here we are, already half-way through September. There are a ton of faded blooms and annuals that keep on giving. Here are just a few of what's blooming where I am.

Tall grass -- not exactly a showy bloom, but very fun.

Celosia -- grown from seed, thank you very much!

Japanese Anemone -- I love how they look like balloons before they bloom!

Other things still blooming:
Butterfly bush
Orange Cosmos
and more!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Project Digging: Labor Day Weekend Landscaping

I finally got the courage to make some substantial changes on the landscaping in front of my house. Since buying my home last May, I've not really cared for some of the plants in the front of the house. It's somewhat difficult to see in this picture, but up against the house were some low evergreen shrubs and in front of those were some barberry bushes (that didn't get enough sun). In the spring there were some old tulips that threw up a leaf or two and even fewer that actually produced a flower.

So for the past week, I toiled over what to plant in this area and finally came to a decision and a plan of action. First we got everything out of the way... including a huge tree stump left in the ground from years ago. And then went to work on the soil (and amended it with homemade compost) and planted some really great plants.

In the back are Hydrangea arborescens 'Incrediball' which will grow to 5' tall with a 4' spread. Best of all they produce 10-12" balls of blooms! In front of the hydrangeas are hosta 'August Moon' -- I chose these because of their almost lime green color. And finally there are some deep purple/dark green coral bells in the front.

I'm going to finish this with some allium 'christophii' amongst the hostas and some smaller bulbs in the front. The big containers are filler for this year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trip to the Biltmore!

While visiting North Carolina recently, we stopped by the Biltmore Estate. It was incredible. Here is a sampling of pictures from the conservatory and surrounding gardens in August.

Although it seems terribly expensive to visit the Biltmore ($55/person!!), if you spend the whole day there, it's worth it. Plus, free wine tasting.

These gardens have inspired me to grow zinnias and dahlias next year!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Zucchini in the news!

Interesting news out of New Harmony, Indiana:
The town is auctioning a zucchini on eBay to help repair a clock.

Here's an article from the Indy Star. And here it is on eBay.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Success: Growing flowers from seed

I can't say that I've had much luck with growing many plants from seed. Especially those that are started indoors.

This year, though, I've been very successful with 3 flowers. They are alive, growing and, most importantly, blooming. I'm sure there are other successes I'll have. These have helped boost my seed-to-bloom ego, so I could start going crazy here.

Above are some fabulous orange cosmos. These are in a new bed I created earlier this summer. Thus far they are stealing the show in the new bed. I'm really enjoying these and think I'll branch out to some more colors next year.

These wave petunias I actually grew from seed (I will NOT do this again). I started these bad boys inside in April and they have just now started to bloom! That's too long...I can be patient when it comes to my flowers, but come on. Hopefully these will stay around and continue to do well into the fall.

Finally there are some marigolds in the raised bed. I transplanted some of the seedlings as well, so they are here and there in the yard. These seeds were saved from a few years ago as well as some that were from Tod's parents' garden.

These are small successes for some, but large for me. I'll keep trying new flowers and we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The first tomato(s)!

The first tomatoes have arrived!

They were picked this weekend and they were Roma tomatoes (7/25/2009)
Since then, I've picked about 5 more (I have 2 Roma plants) and I made a delicious Salsa Fresca (see recipe below) with them!

I've also picked countless Sweet 100 cherry tom-toms and 2 large and in charge 'Better Boy.'

Salsa Fresca Recipe:

Lots of Diced Tomatoes (I prefer Romas)
Diced Green Bell pepper (add red and yellow if they are available)
Diced White or Yellow Onion
Dash of White Vinegar
Juice of one lime
Big handful of chopped cilantro

Mix and enjoy with tortillas!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2009

The garden is full of activity -- between the blooms and the buzzes, there are lots of things happening. The bees particularly like the echinacea.

This red monarda was something I took home in the neighborhood plant swap. It was one of the neatest things to watch a hummingbird hover around it for some sweet nectar.

Pretty pink and yellow daylily. There are also pure yellow, orange with red stripes, double orange and red, and a deep burgundy with yellow strip.

Meadow Rue -- some of the smallest flowers in the yard, but some of the tallest.

The black-eyed susans are starting to open. Many were smashed in the Sweet Gum saga, but there should still be a good show.

And finally some beautiful light purple phlox -- huge blooms that seem to have doubled in the past year. I have some that are darker pink and white ones as well. These are the most prolific near the patio.

Happy Bloom Day and many more blooms throughout July!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

These are traveling elephant ears

A friend of mine was nice enough to orchestrate sending me (via postal mail) some fantastic elephant ear bulbs that his dad has grown for many years.

I received the package in June and the bulbs had already been started in some soil. One even had it's first leaf.

The picture on the left is when they'd been in the ground for about a week. The picture on the right is from last night. They've only been in the ground for about a month and they are growing like crazy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sweet Gum Saga Finale

The sweet gum tree, which suffered a big loss last Friday, came down this morning. It was time for it to go.
I am amazed by how quickly the tree company workers were able to remove it in it's entirety.

I think the back of the house looks naked...and the family room (just inside of the patio doors it a lot brighter and warmer now).

Probably will need to move a few of these plants which prefer shade. Their getting full morning sun now and a bit in the evening, too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet Gum Saga

Remember this spring when I posted about how my backyard sweet gum's days were numbered? About how I despised those little balls it produces? About how I thought it might be time to cut it down?

This weekend I got my wish...but not exactly on my terms...

Friday night there were storms with wind gusts up to 50 mph. My sweet gum lost a substantial limb.

This limb is easily 50+ feet and that hole on the side of the tree is at least 4 feet tall. The limbs reach higher than my house, too.

I'm getting estimates on having the tree removed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vegetable Garden Pics -- June 2009

Holy mole-y, the garden is growing like crazy!

With all of the rain, things have been growing very fast. This picture includes a ton of marigold (which have since been thinned), onions, bell peppers, 4 basil plants (some of which has since been used for some delicious pesto), rosemary, cucumbers, green beans, and lots of mixed lettuce/spinach (some of which has been used for salads and sammy toppings).

And here are the tomatoes. The 'better boy' already has 5 or 6 green tom-toms. I can't wait!

This, compared to less than a month ago, is just amazing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

New (to me) herbs!

Just confirmed what a couple of perennial herbs in the herb garden are!

This is winter savory.
I'm told it's good in green beans.

This is oregano. I have a lot of it and am willing to divide.
I'm told it's better dried than fresh.

This I still don't know what it is. It's an herb -- I know it looks like bee balm, but it's not...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vegetable Garden 2009

The vegetable garden is completely planted. This is strongly modeled off of the Square Foot Gardening method, with "Mel's Mix" as the planting mix of choice.

You can see both beds here. They are 4' by 8'. The raspberries are to the south of the beds.

This is the bed with the tomatoes. There are 2 Early Girl, 2 Romas, 1 Sweet Cherry 100, 1 Purple Cherokee, 1 Better Boy and 1 Brandywine.

There are also some sunflowers, 'Autumn Beauty' and a mound of zucchini and yellow summer squash each. There will be a trellis (like the one on the other bed for the cucumber) for the vines.

This bed contains lettuce, mesclun, and spinach. Nearest to the camera are a bunch of marigolds. There are also onions and carrots, green beans 'french fillet' and cucumber 'market more'. Basil, oregano, rosemary and cilantro are the herbs. And there are 5 peppers -- 2 California Wonder (green), 1 yellow, and 2 red (one is the 'Fat and Sassy' -- yes, it was only purchased because of it's name.)

For many reasons, I am hoping for some of the best produce and in huge abundance this year. I'm trusting in SFG and Mel's Mix...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My "how to" on Building a Rain Barrel

Almost a year ago I purchased a 55 gallon drum via CraigsList. My intentions were to make a rain barrel and, finally, I've completed (well, almost -- you can see I need to do some more painting) this project.

I should have painted it before putting everything together. This was electric blue, so I found some spray paint, specifically designed to be used on plastic. This color is cocoa bean.

After all of the recent rains, this bad boy is full and ready to water.

Here are the steps we took to make this happen (which is a bit different than other instructions I've found):
  • Acquire large container. I'm told pop producers generally sell these for pretty cheap.
  • Remove old downspout and affix an adjustable downspout (I bought this one at Lowe's for about $8), so that the water will run directly to the input hole of the barrel.
  • Cut a hole in the top of the barrel (we used a hand saw for this, I'm sure a reciprocating saw would have make this simple)
  • Drill a hole near the bottom of one side (we used a 1" hole bit) -- this is where the water will come out, and one near the top of the opposite side -- this is where the overflow will leave
  • Cut a piece of window screen/wire mesh for the input hole on the top
  • Screwed the wire into the plastic to cover said hole
  • Installed super handy (and available at my local Ace Hardware, $10 each) contraptions that take the place of washers, silicone, etc. to make a tight seal for both the spigot at the bottom and the overflow valve
  • Attached 3/4" spigot and 3/4" bib (to attach a a drain hose)
  • Painted it (I suggest doing this at the beginning of your project)
  • Put it in place on 2 cinder blocks
  • Attached 5 foot hose to the overflow bib attachment
  • Collected water!
Remember to close (aka turn off) the spigot, or your rainwater will just run out of the barrel...

Or, if this sounds too complicated, you can always buy one. If you're in Indianapolis, I suggest buying one from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. They will plant a tree for each barrel purchased.