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Hazel the Witch Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Yellow-flowered witch hazel

I made a note to double check my modest little witch hazel. They bloom about this time and I hadn’t crouched down to double check that it was indeed blooming – sure enough. Quarter-sized yellow spidery flowers had opened up right off the older parts of branches.

It’s quite wonderful that a shrub of this name blooms around Halloween in our neck of the plains. Probably the latest blooming shrub/tree there is in these parts. If I still had my toad lilies, those would also be blooming about now.

Witch hazel is either a big shrub or small tree – 10 feet in height. I planted mine on the west side of our house amongst iris, poppy, daylilies, coral bells and columbines. It gets the hotter sun of the day. Though it prefers more acidic moist soil, it is somewhat tolerant of other types. I’ve added compost, manure and leaves to the surrounding soil. I plan on using some extra straw around it as well for a little insulation. This is its third year – it’s scruffy looking with its highly textured leaves, gnarled branches and rough dead-gray bark. But I like the interest it gives this time of year – just hope it grows up a ways so I don’t have to crouch and dig for its interest.

Autumnal snippets Friday, October 15th, 2010

What are you doing this weekend? Besides hunting.

Me, well

  • Raking – I do it more for fun and exercise – we like to fill a couple Halloween leaf bags for decoration. We still don’t have any trees more than 7 years old so we don’t get a lot for leaves except what blows over from the neighbors or the park across the street. But I am surprised to see that the meager amount has increased a bit – a sure sign our trees are growing up!
  • Starting to put away tools – clean off dirt, drag them through the oil and sand bucket to keep rust away.
  • Cleaning up leftover garden debris – cleanliness keeps disease away from next years plants. Rake it up and dispose of it – especially if you had any problems this year with mildews, blights, rusts or bacteria. Don’t put these back in your compost.
  • After the garden plot is cleaned up – turn the soil. Autumn is one of the best times to turn the soil – come spring, after snow and ice have packed it down a bit – it will still be easier to work with than if you didn’t. Add leaves while turning to lighten up your soil – great addition for heavy clay like we have around here.
  • Getting out for a walk. Listening to the crunch of leaves and the fleets of birds heading south and enjoy these ridiculously beautiful days that we’ve been having – they won’t last forever.
One for the Wall Of Shame Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This had come in the mail yesterday, a couple days after The Hub had asked if I’d taken the garbage out lately. So I went to the backyard, got to the fence, opened the gate to get to the garbage cans in the alley and was, like, “Whoh?!”  when I saw this

Between two full-time jobs, two opposite schedules and 3 kids 6 and younger, we’d let some things slide. Those are the excuses I’m sticking to. We have 10 days to rectify this situation. I am actually glad for this kick in the pants and feel I should apologize to which ever neighbor complained. I’ve grumbled about other’s unkempt lawns many times. I guess our fence put this area of our property into the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” category. Oh well, I hope to post a finished photo soon. I’ve already taken a few steps to clean up the situation: a heavy-duty serrated bread knife seems to be the best tool for the job and I’ve borrowed a truck to haul away the debris, now to get my 4-month-old cooperate long enough to let me get out there and do it – that might be the toughest part of this job.

Sizzlin’ Monday, June 21st, 2010

As the mercury rises I have a tendency to hide. I’m a wilter at the first sign of 80F, even a 75F day can get to me. Perhaps it’s that I have a little hotbox for a baby on me most of the time. I peel her away, hair curled with sweat, she smiles at me and I think, “Oh well, it rained last night so at least I don’t have to water, I think we’ll stay right here.” That little babe is a real lazy-maker out of me.

But, this is the time the critters and pests start getting my flora and I told myself I’d be more vigilant after last year’s buggy munchers got so much of our produce. Blighted tomatoes – can’t really do much except move the next season’s crop as far away from the affected area, check!

There are a few things you can do for bad buggos

  • Collar tender plants to keep cutworms away – can use a can, plastic bottle cut into a ring or a TP roll cut into a ring – immerse 1″ of whatever you use into the dirt at the base of the plant
  • Slugs – beer can be used a bait, or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (crushed shells of sea animals) around the slugs favorite plants (hosta, lettuces) or if you have no qualms go out in the morning with the salt shaker and sprinkle on the little critters and watch osmosis in action.
  • Aphids – introduce some lady bugs with short-lived success, blast them with water – simple and effective or use insecticidal soaps
  • Inspect and treat the underside of plants where most insects like to hang out and lay their eggs.
  • Self-rising flour is a home-remedy I’ve heard about and tried. Works for brassica that are getting munched and I’m thinking I might also try it on my vining plants for the squash borer I had last year.
  • Treat early in the day with most of these remedies – that’s when the munchers are most active.

None of these solutions will have a chance of working if I don’t get out there and inspect my garden. So, onward and outside I’ll be heading to ward off those pesky peskersons.

Beyond silly: Illegal to harvest rain in CO Monday, June 14th, 2010

The Hub directed me to this article: Illegal to collect rain water in Colorado. Sheesh, for a crunchy state this seems quite improbable. One argument is the rain that falls is supposed to go into a lake that supplies residents with water. Ugh, sounds to me like someone is just trying to keep CO residents from getting some of their water for free. What next, charging them for the fresh mountain air they breath? Good grief!

Perennials put in place Saturday, May 15th, 2010

I’ve picked up a handful of perennials in the last couple weeks. The first one I won by drawing at a Parkview Nursery event where they were introducing some new species. I let my daughter pick my prize from a variety of perennials. She went with the biggest and pinkest:

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Twist-n-Shout'

  • Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Twist-n-Shout’ is a lace cap hydrangea vs. mophead. It’s blooms are clusters of small and tiny petaled flowers. In more acidic soil a periwinkle color comes through the blooms but in alkaline (which we have) the blooms will undoubtedly be pink. If you want to try for bluer blooms adding aluminum sulphate will change the soils pH to more acidic. this is easier to do if you leave your hydrangea in a container instead of straight it the garden. I planted mine on the east side of my house so it will be protected from the hot afternoon and evening sun. I added a good dose of my home compost to the planting hole. This plant will be a heavier feeder so I’ll probably need to add more until mid-summer.

Lychnis 'Orange Gnome' Maltese Cross

  • Next I picked up Lychnis ‘Orange Gnome’ also known as Maltese Cross. The dark green to burgundy leaves and electric orange flowers will add a lot to my almost completely green perennial bed. Most of my flowers now are purple so I wanted to add some pops of other colors here and there to up the interest. It’s stalks were tall and top heavy so I braced it with a cut-off tomato cage so it doesn’t just flop to the ground. I planted it on the south side of my house between catmint and a perennial grass so it’ll be a mid-height plant in that area. Hopefully it will tolerate a full day’s worth of sun, which is what the tag says. I can also pinch it back if I’d like a more compact growing habit.

Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop'

  • Another color pop I purchased is an Ajuga with dark purple/black scalloped leaves. It’s brighter dainty purple/blue blooms are very cute. It’s a ground cover that should be highly adaptable to most conditions – as state on the accompanying tag. We’ll see. It also is planted on the southside in the front of my perennial border between some sedums and liatris.
  • I was able to find an Ash Leaf Spirea. I have high hopes for this one. Spirea are highly adaptable shrubs

    Sem Ash Leaf Spirea - Sorbaria sorbifolia.

    that are great for foundation planting and xeriscaping.They are low maintenance and black-thumb proof. This particular one is of interest because of its unique foliage. limey greens and pink tips with a fern-like quality.

Super excited to have these specimens in my garden! Even more excited for a spell of good weather.

Garden Line – Crabgrass prevention Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Garden Line has started on SDPB (was on last week too, sorry for the late reminder). You can catch it on Tuesday nights from 7-8 CST on your local PBS station. Once again, Garden Line brings in a panel of guests from around the state, many from SDSU as well as local extension officers and other experts on all things garden/lawn/tree/bug, etc. There is even an 800 number to call to get your questions answered live on TV.

Watching the start of this most recent episode I’m reminded that the near-blooming lilacs are a sign that it is time to treat crabgrass with a pre-emergent if you are one who likes to do that. I’m also reminded that it’s been a crazy year weather-wise and lilacs look to be hitting bloom time a couple weeks earlier than normal. That’s why it is great to use nature’s cues for things like crabgrass prevention instead of a date on a calendar. Plants don’t read calendars after all.

Feeling it Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The sun’s out, and we’ve gotten a bit of seed in the soil to welcome it. It’s been about 1.5 weeks since we planted much of my daughter’s garden. Spinach, radish, purple carrot, swiss chard, peas and some sweet pea flowers to add a spot of color. This wasn’t the original plan but very rarely do we ever follow through with an original plan. I put in a metal obilisk for the peas to climb and we marked the rows with sticks. When planting with a couple kiddos I just showed them the first furrow and let them go after that. With a little instruction on spacing and covering they did an awesome job. I’m happy to say this year my daughter seems much more interested in taking responsibility for watering and weeding. Though she did try to transplant a dandelion in the middle of the raised bed. I didn’t say “boo” about it.
Also, we have what appears to be two plum trees in bloom – will post photos later (when I find my camera) – Not sure if the 28F the other night will cause them to drop blooms or if a future frost will help them to their demise. Trees like plums and apricots can grow here but because of their early bloom time – usually before a few hard frosts – they rarely ever set fruit.

April 23-24, Aberdeen Free Clean-up Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

On April 23 and 24, residents may drop most types of trash at one of three locations — the landfill, the Brown County Highway Shop on Eighth Avenue Northeast in Aberdeen or Jensen’s Rock and Sand on South Fifth Street in Aberdeen.
The landfill will waive fees for most trash from April 23 through May 8. Items that can be dropped off for free include tires, paint, trees, rubble, batteries, furniture, waste oil, antifreeze, appliances, scrap metal, propane tanks, grass and leaves.
As posted in March 17th American News.
Time to get your yard cleaned up!

Winner is . . . Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Me! Just got home from the Safe Harbor annual Mardi Gras party (thanks Paul!) and I won the drawing for the spring gardening package. Includes: stump removal services, lawn mowing, 2 flower hanging baskets and gift certificate to a local nursery. Yeah!

  • I do know I have one stump that needs removing
  • That lawn mowing will definitely come in handy in May or June when I’ll be too preoccupied with the little Pharri (yes that’s plural)
  • I was thinking of not doing hanging baskets this year, and at the most I only ever get one done – now I’ll have a symmetrical welcoming around my front door.
  • The gift certificate will come in handy when finding a tree to plant on Pharri #3’s birth day.
  • And, new gardening gloves because I inevitably can find a matching set from last year.
  • I know in my head that I can’t keep up with my heart as far as gardening ambitions go, but I think Mardi Gras just gave me a nudge – here’s hoping it’s my Big Easy! Yeah, right