Archive for the ‘annuals’ Category

Resist being the early bird Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

I made my first nursery trip of the year this past weekend. It was wonderful just feeling that greenhouse heat and humidity while the winds whipped up a frenzy of dust and chill outside. I did purchase 3 items which I’ll talk about later but I wanted to use this post as a simple warning. Aside from cold-weather veggie crops, trees, shrubs and very-hardy perennials, please put off any planting for a while longer. We are still more than a week from the last average frost date and even then it won’t wait to hurt a little longer before filling up your flower and garden beds.

Soil temperature is a huge factor, especially with warm-weather crops like tomatoes, peppers and melons. You may have good-sized transplants that can weather a few cool days but it can really stunt their progress to have cold ‘feet’. I might wait closer to June before setting my transplants out. Transplants set out earlier can actually be set back weeks when it comes to actual production, so resist until the soil is warmer – 60F if you want to get technical. I had a grandmother that didn’t start her veggies until June and she always seemed to have a bumper crop.

Pots, baskets and raised beds will be more susceptible to temperature changes. Annuals might be in full bloom in the nurseries and garden centers but that doesn’t mean they can weather a night outside yet. If you are eager to get some pops of color outside, plant your annuals in baskets and make sure to bring them in when temps dip below 55-60F. Same goes if you fear your favorites will be picked over at the stores if you wait until they can actually spend the nights outside.

There are a few things you can do to start a little earlier in the garden:

  • Use bottles with bottoms cut off and caps removed to shelter new transplants for a week or two. Make sure to remove them if it does get hot outside or you could risk cooking the baby plant.
  • Mulch heavily
  • On an especially cool night, cover your tender plants or ones that have just set buds with cloth, overturned buckets, plastic bags or blankets.
  • Cover the ground around plants with plastic to make it heat up quicker – cut ‘Xs’ where you want to put your transplants
Monday, February 15th, 2010

YARD AND GARDEN EXPO
MARCH 13, 2010
RAMADA INN & CONVENTION CENTER
ABERDEEN, SD

Registration—8:45 A.M. Registration fee- $5

THIS YEAR’S TOPICS

  • 9:00 A.M.:  PRESERVING YOUR HARVEST – Marjorie Zastrow, SDSU Extension Educator—FCS
  • 10:15 A.M. TREE AND SHRUB PRUNING MADE EASY – Aaron Keisz, Aberdeen City Forester
  • 11:15 A.M. HARDSCAPING-PATIO PAVERS & RETAINING WALLS – Jerry Mattern
  • 1:00 P.M. TIPS FOR DIVIDING AND MOVING PERENNIAL PLANTS – Glenda Oakley, Extension Master Gardener
  • 2:00 P.M. SMALL COMMERCIAL GARDEN, MAKING/USING COMPOST – George Piper, Extension Master Gardener
  • 3:15 P.M. FLOWER ARRANGING – Cindy Carlson and Renita Kainz, Lily’s Floral Design & Gifts

EXHIBITORS
Angerhofer Concrete Products; Beadles Floral and Nursery; Gary’s Engine and Repair; Harvest Garden Center; Lily’s Floral Design and Gifts; Parkview Nursery; Boston Fern; RDO Equipment; Scentsy; The Happy Gardener; Prairie Partners Master Gardeners

HOSTS
Prairie Partners Master Gardeners
South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service

Zinnia Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Zinnia marylandicaZinnia marylandica
zinniayellowpinkZinnias are a great annual to try. They are very hardy, look wonderful in bouquets and come in a wide variety of colors.
Older varieties are tall and have a tendency to shed their bottom leaves, sometimes due to powdery mildew. One way to take of this is to plant something shorter around the base of zinnias to help zinniaredcamouflage their scraggly ‘legs’.
Now there are varieties that are smaller, bunchier and are more resistent to mildew problems.
I remember the first time I grew Zinnias is was to show as a 4-Her at the Brown County Fair. I sowed the seeds directly into the dirt and by August had my pick of bright magentas, reds and oranges. Anyone who has doodled a flower can see the inspiration of a Zinnia.
It’s a great flower for the beginning gardener. Very suitable annual for our neck of the plains.

1 month Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I want to do a little comparison with our one raised bed. Almost exactly a month ago it was planted. Disclaimer: yes, I know, for the love of weeds!!! I need to get out there and pull. I swear this all happened in this last week of rain. The weekend was nice, but way too busy – all I managed to do was mow the front yard, that’s it. But i’m happy I did not have to water.cereliagarden5-2009cereliagarden6-2009

This is the reward of gardening. This raised bed is my, now 5-yr-old, daughter’s. When she wanted to plant seeds, I let her go (lettuce, radish). When we were at the nursery, I let her pick up whatever variety of flowers she liked (nemesia, double petunias, heliotrope, trollius). Then, the eggplant happened in there because it couldn’t find a home anywhere else. There are also a couple volunteer tomatoes from using our homemade compost. MishMash would be the appropriate term I believe.

Gardener’s travels Saturday, June 13th, 2009

birdlostTrying to keep up with one’s own garden is one thing. Trying to keep up with an avid gardener’s paradise is quite another.

My mother’s garden is beautiful to say the least. Every corner finds another hidden treasure and a dozen (understatement) or so are added every year to create quite the oasis on the prairie swamp we call home.

Over the last few years she’s perfected the art of taking leave during the growing season and leaving the garden’s care in another’s hands. Some pointers for any gardeners who like to travel are:

  • Soaker hoses – if a kind friend, neighbor or child can just hook up a hose and let the water trickle for an hour or so, this really saves time. They can turn on the tap, go get some groceries and come back to a well-watered veggie bed.
  • Pots – if at all possible move them to the shade and close to a water source, be it a rain barrel or faucet. Rain barrels are great for dipping watering cans into quickly instead of waiting for a slow hose.
  • Stakes – pure genius. If you have some newly planted tiny plants amongst a bed of older, hardier plants, stick in a tall stake beside them. Then the friend/neighbor/child can see easily what needs more frequent care.
  • Have all equipment in one area and hoses hooked-up. No need to make someone find that watering wand or sprinkler.
  • Bounty as payment. Tell your friend/neighbor/child that they need to pick anything that’s ready and take it home to eat – you won’t be there to. Nothing’s better than a salad so fresh it has elm seeds in it.
  • Tolerance. Your friend/neighbor/child has tried their damnedest to take loving care of your beautiful garden because they love you, but inevitably something will get overlooked – that’s just the life of being a gardener, you gotta handle a little loss.
Container schemes Monday, June 1st, 2009

Nothing is prettier than a well-planted pot and it doesn’t take much:

  • monochromatic: Different shades of the same color
  • Contrast: dark and light, smooth and spiky (textures), or two colors at the opposite side of the color wheel (yellow, purple; blue, orange; red, green)
  • Warm or Cool: red, orange, yellow, or blue, green purple

Remember to stagger the heights so the tallest (ornamental grasses are great here) are in the center and back and get some good trailers to spill over the edge like bacopa or sweet potato vine.

Here are two of Mom’s schemes: The left incorporates warm HOT tones: the right uses contrast in both color and texture.

pot-warmcolorspot-contrast

Pot it up Monday, June 1st, 2009

emptypotsThe nights are getting warmer so it’s safe to plant pots – usually home to tropicals and other annuals. There are a variety of pots to choose from and each has it’s own characteristics when housing your plants:

  • plastic: not always the prettiest but make great protective liners for prettier pots. Also keep these around for transplants
  • terra cotta: cheap and minimalistic. These are great for good drainage. But they do dry out quickly and can be a bit brittle. Perfect for cacti or arid-loving plants
  • fiber: These look like they are fomed out of paper or cardborad. They won’t last for but a couple years. They are also good for drainage, they won’t dry out as quickly as terra cotta. They give an earthy, woodland feel, sometimes just plain drab. I have one that came with a hanging bracket  – it’s from last year and should be good to go next summer.
  • Glazed ceramic: Beautiful variety of colors and they can get expensive, not to mention heavy. If you have a large one make sure you’ve placed it where you want it to stay before filling it with dirt, plants and water. Or, there are rolling carts specifically made to make these types of pots more mobile. Because they are glazed they won’t dry out super quick.
  • Resin/foam: made to look like fancy ceramic, metal or clay pots and urns. They are cheaper than the real equivalent and are much lighter. I still wouldn’t advise moving one when it is full as some of the bigger ones aren’t sturdy enough to be pushed and pulled.
  • Metal frames: Laying down a thick blanket of spaghnum moss into a metal pot frame is another container method. They drain quickly and are most often used for hanging plants. They look like living bowls.

You can make just about anything into a pot if it can hold soil: an old boot, wheel barrow, wagon, coffee can, etc. Just make sure they have a drain hole – or insert a cheap plastic pot with holes into the more decorative one and dump excess water out of the outer one. Do not let pots dry out completely – you can hardly ever get your plants to bounce back from that. There are quite a few contraptions available to slow-water pots. If you’ll be gone for a while, set your pots in the shade and possibly in a dish of water. If you are gone for longer ask someone to stop by and give them a drink. Many annuals are heavy feeders so a slow-release fertilizer mixed into the soil is great as well as occasional liquid feedings to keep them blooming long and strong.