Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

New Flower Bed 4

Got some plants  that I started from seed this spring added to the bed.  I enjoy starting plants about as much as anything in gardening, and a lot more than a couple of things..  In went a dozen foxgloves (Foxy), and a couple of dozen dahlia coccinea.  It was breezy, so the foxgloves are all lying on their side now, but they’ll perk up someday soon.  The dahlias were tougher.

The big project was putting black edging around the bed, which I should have done before I started putting plants in, but I put it off because it’s just not a fun job, (unlike starting new plants).

First, a trench

First, a trench

Then unroll the edging.

Then unroll the edging.

Fill the trench back in

Fill the trench back in.

Black plastic is not the world’s best-looking edging, but I think with time, grass will come up to and hide most of it.


New Flower Bed 3

Still digging up perennials and moving them to the new bed.  I have way more lambs’ ears than anyone needs.

Digging lambs' ears

Digging lambs’ ears

Stachys, liatris, achillea, and Japanese maple

Stachys, liatris, achillea, lilies and Japanese maple

There’s now some veronica in at the other end.

Veronica, baptisia, and catmint

Veronica, baptisia, and catmint

Unless I think of something more, that’s probably about it for perennials.  The rest will be filled in with annuals that are waiting in the greenhouse.

Almost ready.

Foxgloves, coleus, dahlia coccinea, and gomphrena

Zinnias, snaps

Zinnias, snaps, and cosmos, plus a few other things

I’m hoping that our frosty nights are behind us, but I’ll be cautious and wait a few more days to put these in.

New Flower Bed 2

I’ve made a start at moving perennials into the new bed.   There’s a baptisia at the far end, some heliopsis in the middle, and yarrow with liatris around the rock at the near end.  Also a little Japanese maple that I’ve raised from a seedling.  It’s just behind the rock.

It's a start.

It’s a start.

It takes a while to do this stuff when you have to work around rain, grand kids after school, and other instances of life happening.  Still waiting to be moved are veronica and stachys, plus a couple of hundred assorted annuals.

New Flower Bed

The big news here this year is that I’ve stopped growing flowers for market.  It was fun, but a lot of work and a time drain for a fairly small amount of money.  The balance between work-and-time and fun-and-money was definitely tipped too far away from fun and money, so I quit.   Now I have time for other things, for example, a new flower bed  just for fun.  It will be a mixed bed with annuals and perennials this year.

Day 1:

I did the well-known garden hose layout to come up with what I thought was a fairly pleasing bed shape alongside the driveway.

Your basic kidney bean shape

Your basic kidney bean shape, sort of

Taking the sod off is the worst part of the job, unless you rent a power sod cutter.  I don’t exactly have one of those, but I do have an excellent John Deere tractor.  With an hour or so of very careful bucket work, I was able to get the sod off.

Beats doing it by hand

Beats doing it by hand

No more sod

No more sod

I spent quite a bit of time trying to lay the sod I took out over a bad patch in the yard where we had a lot of nasty grub damage this year.  The sod was not very uniform in thickness so I got sort of a hummocky job, but I think that I can level it out with rolling and top-dressing.  It’s too ugly to show here.

Day 2:

The topsoil around here is nothing special so a couple of trips to the county recycling station for $20 loads of compost gave me this:

Looking better

Looking better

Doesn't that look nice and rich?

Doesn’t that look nice and rich?

Ya gotta love a tractor-mounted rototiller for making short work of blending in the compost.

Churning the dirt

Churning the dirt

I wanted the  bed to be raised in the middle, so I added a few loader buckets of topsoil and mixed that in too.  The blended soil and compost looked kind of pale and pathetic at this point, so I  followed up with three buckets of year-old horse manure, courtesy of my good neighbor.  I may regret that, because I’m sure there are weed seeds galore in there.

Horse poo

Horse poo

A final tilling and some raking gave me what I hope is a good flower bed.

A done deal

A done deal

A little cleanup work, and I can start on the fun part.  Annie thinks this is the fun part.

The Day Before Market

After two weeks of selling mostly basil plants because that’s all I had, it’s nice to have enough flowers to actually need buckets to hold them.

The yellow lilies are Latvia, and I don’t know what the other ones are.


The daisies are Highland White Dream.

A favorite of mine is heliopsis, and it always comes through for me.  If it came in pink and blue I’d have half my field in it. There are also a few centaurea macrocephala sticking their fuzzy yellow heads out and exactly two pink snaps.

Heliopsis and friends

The lilies don’t look too shabby in a vase with a little bupleurem and baptisia foliage.

Latvia Lilies

All together, not what you would call a truckload of flowers, but worth the trip to the market, especially with some basil plants to help take up the slack.

Free Flowers, Eventually

I got some seeds of peach-leaved bellflower, Campanula persicifolia, a few years back in a seed swap and have been meaning to start them ever since.

My Goal: Peach-leaved Bellflowers

I may as well take a few pictures while I do it and document my success, or its lack, if it comes to that.

For a seed tray, I used a plastic restaurant take-out container, the kind with a clear cover that snaps on.  The clear cover lets in light, which is reportedly needed for campanula seeds to germinate.  It also keeps the seeds very moist, which is a good thing since they sit right on top of the planting mix to get the light they need.  Without the cover, they could easily dry out and then no plants for me.  Once most of the seeds have germinated, the lid comes off immediately.  Seeds may love to be constantly soaked, but wet plants are known to be an invitation to a fungus party.

The seeds and tray went under fluorescent lights in my basement, where they stayed between 70 and 75 degrees F.  The seeds germinated surprisingly well, for being five years old, to the point that I had to thin the herd quite a bit, taking out at least half of them.

Today, 18 days after planting, it was time to prick them out of their seed tray, as British gardeners say, and put them into individual cells.  (American gardeners seem to avoid that particular phraseology.)  I had about forty seedlings, so I used a 48 cell tray, also known as a 1204.

Separating the Seedlings

To get the seedlings loose, I used a big pair of tweezers to stick into the soil and lift a small group of plants.  I could then just use my fingers to pull them apart into individual plants and stick the little guys into their new homes.

Finger pokes made the holes in the soil.

To bed, little guy.

A trickle of water in each cell helped settle the new soil around the roots, and back under the lights they went to recover and, with any luck at all, to grow up.  I’ll post back here from time to time with a photo and news from the Campanula family.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Update Photo:

Looking pretty good — 6/29/2012


When these got bigger, I gave some to my sister, who called back in a couple of days to tell me that the plants were primroses, not campanula. Someone in the seed swap got a little confused, I guess, but they’re still free flowers — just not what I needed or wanted. I stuck them in a little corner garden by my barn and we’ll enjoy them next spring.

Drip Tubing Going In

The reels of drip tape came out of the barn today as I started the yearly job of hooking it all up.  If there is anything handier around the garden than a tractor with a loader, I have yet to meet it.  Just raise the bucket up to the barn loft, roll a couple of reels of drip tape in, and drive it out to the field.  No humping the reels down the ladder or wheelbarrowing them out for me.  No sirree.  Let Johnny Deere do the heavy lifting.

My friend

I changed the length of my flower beds this year for more uniformity and that meant none of my old drip tapes were the right lengths.  I’m slow anyway, but the cutting and joining needed to get the 100 foot lengths I wanted slowed me down even more, and it took a good chunk of the day to get done what you see below.

Boring pic, I guess, but it sure looks sweet to me.

Notice the nice pile of rocks — my most reliable crop.

It would have been nice to just buy a mile of new tape and throw away the old stuff, but who has that kind of money?  Besides, it doesn’t seem too earth-friendly.  We gardeners are nothing if not earth-friendly, even though the earth seems not always friendly to us.