Archive for April, 2009

Witch Hazel found! Thursday, April 30th, 2009

witchhazel2009witchhazeltagHamamelis virginiana, or American Witch Hazel is a shrub I’ve been after for the past few years. I’ve never been able to find them at local nurseries or X-Mart store nurseries. Requests for special orders have been blown off and last year I tried one through the Arbor Day society but the stick that came didn’t make it. Most likely my fault for not babying it – not something I do with most outdoor plants.

But I found some while on a reluctant trip through Brookings at Medary Acres. Reluctant simply because the gardening itch hasn’t quite hit and I was trying to pace myself and not get too excited in April – in past years I’ve blown my budget by now. But, I just happened to walk through the few shrubs outside of the greenhouse and saw the usuals: lilac, dogwood, barberry, etc. and then witch hazel. Wah? Nice beautiful specimens, with leaves and color and lushness?! So for the mere $19.99 for a healthy looking shrub I was finally feeling the need to scratch.

Doing a bit more research I found that the American variety is hardier – a native all the way to Canada. It’s definitely a zone 4, possibly 3 with cover. the yellow, fragrant, flowers offer great late fall/early winter appeal. I’ve found that it may need more soil amendments, liking some humuus in it’s soil configuration. Some homemade compost or aged manure should do the trick.

I planted it a couple days ago and with yesterday’s rain it should be off to a good start.

Free trees Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Chamber of Commerce to give away free trees Monday, May 2, 8 am at the Brown County Landfill. The Garden Plotters is helping with the distribution.

sMothering Friday, April 17th, 2009

It’s major cleanup time around here. I didn’t get much done last fall. Seems it’s much easier to cut down and rake out dead, crispy garden debris now than it would have then. I was elated when the snow glossed over the mess like a great icing job on a lopsided cake.

But now, it’s the start of a new year. My hopes are usually high this time of year, the become less so every spring with the wisdom I’ve gained during the past 6 summer on this lot. I know not to get too gung ho anymore.

Today I set about with a heavy short-tined rake and scraped out what I could, trimmed down perennials that start from the ground and grasses. Then I set about with a large newspaper end roll and layed down multiple layers around the perrenials I remembered. If I lose some, oh well. This will then get covered with a generous helping of wood mulch – though I may try coco chips next to the house, there are termites in our area so I don’t want to line a buffet up straight to my front door.

This layering of newsprint and mulch should help stifle the weed growth. I can’t believe how many are up already!

So far a see nubbins of: baptisia, mini stella d’oro, iris, hosta, tulips and grape hyacinths in my perennial border.

This just UP! Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

A tulip, could it be – yippee. My garlic has also shown its itty bitty tips. At first I really couldn’t remember what I’d planted, or that I’d planted anything but a month ago on a flukishly warm day I putzed around the garden and uncovered tiny spikes. What the heck and it took me about a week to realize these were the garlic I’d planted last fall.

Good Friday has come and gone and I haven’t even decided if potatoes are in our garden plans for this year. They should be, they are very easy to grow and kind of fun to dig up with the kiddos. Like buried treasure. I like a combination of russet and reds.

My parents bravely broke through a couple inches of frost soil to get in their spinach and radish seeds. I still have a lot of clean up to do.

Inspiration Friday, April 10th, 2009

This Chocolate Flower Farms site has some amazing galleries. Great for ideas, great for daydreaming about the warm days and cool dirt to come.

The Indoor “garden” Monday, April 6th, 2009

I’ve found over the past decade that I’m not a skilled houseplant caretaker. I don’t know why this has been so hard for me to grasp. I overwater, underwater, overexpose, underexpose, tip over, fail to repot, repot when not needed, to much draft, etc. You name it, I’ve done it. Indoor plants need a schedule. That’s not exactly the type of people we are at my house. We don’t go to sleep at the same time every night, or wake up at the same time every day, nor eat at the same times or get dressed, washed, brushed, clean, launder, etc . . . you get the idea. But, I have learned from all of this. Make enough mistakes and one has to, don’t they?

    • Northeast exposure is best – room is bright enough without the harshness direct sunlight.
    • Southern exposure is too severe and changes too much during the course of a year.
    • Do not let the dirt get bone dry – if this happens the dirt will act as a mere sieve the next time you water, having lost all of its absorbtion properties. You must fill a bowl with water and immerse the pot in it for an hour. Then set the pot out to drain.
    • Do not overwater a plant – even an orchid will drown. Water when the soil is dry to your first knuckle. Yes you have to touch dirt. Get silk flowers if you can’t do this. Feeling is more telling than seeing.
    • Drainage – this will help you with the above. No matter if you try to use rocks or packing peanuts in the bottom of a holeless pot. You will drown or rot your plant. Nothing can replace a pot with holes in the bottom – if this is ugly, then set this pot in your pretty hole-less pot. Just make sure to drain the water from the outside pot periodically. I’ve found this works tremendously well and I like it better than messing with shallow drip saucers.
    • Keep away from draft – furnace heat is the worst. cold air could affect tropicals and keep some buffer room from drafty window.
    • Sunny bathrooms and kitchens are great places for plants with the higher levels of humidity  – especially during the winter.
    • When in doubt and everything listed above is in check, IGNORE IT. This last item has worked time and time again. Seem when I’m really watching them, they die.

      And now for basic signs of a houseplant in distress

      • Yellow leaves – overwatering.
      • Brown leaves (crispy) – underwatering.
      • Tall lanky, gangly plant – not enough sun. Think of it like they are stretching to find the light. Or it has outgrown it’s pot. Re-pot every few years into the next-size pot. Don’t go up multiple sizes.
      • Leaf drop – many times just an adjustment to a new spot, first time you’ve brought it home, change of season (especially starting winter with furnace in more use).
      • Won’t flower. Lack of sun/food. Fertilize with a houseplant fertilizer following the directions on the package. Not all plants flower in the spring. Some, are fall flowerers, others in the winter.
      Hello 2009! Sunday, April 5th, 2009

      Ok, so it definitely feels like Spring! (sarcasm) SD SPRING that is. So far I’ve received the pumpkin and squash seeds I’ve ordered. I’d seen the catalog for Baker Creak Heirloom Seeds before and was intrigued – so this year I’m giving it a shot. They have a huge variety of heirloom and unusual seeds. I decided to get the Bush Buttercup, Improved Green Hubbard, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin, Musquee d-Provence, and Rouge Vif deTamps. I’m super excited as I only seem to be ok with seeds that go straight into the garden. I’ve not mastered anything that needs to start inside – not saying I haven’t had successes but my percentage is hovering around 1%.

      Our house is on a regular city lot in the middle of the block and the above sounds like ALOT of vines for that space. That’s one reason I got the Bush Buttercup – less space to take up and fewer scratchy vines. I’m hoping the vines will keep down the square footage I’ll have to mow. I can see it now – by August our backyard will looke something like Sleeping Beauty’s impenetrable vine-covered fortress. Pumpkins and squash are pretty easy to grow in NE South Dakota. They are great ‘beginner’ crops and also fun with kids. Just plant in rows 6 ‘ apart, 12″ apart per seed or 3-5 seeds per hill and each hill 3′ apart. The latter is my favorite. Plant them in late May or early June.

      Hello world! Friday, April 3rd, 2009

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