Archive for February, 2010

Ahead of myself Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Agave parryi, zone 4, well-drained soil, most cold-hardy agave

I just stopped at High Country Gardens as I’ve been drooling over their catalog for a week straight. They have a focus on xeriscaping, native plants, and their descriptions are some of the best as far as what conditions each plant can thrive in, and what ones they can’t. Last year I ordered a zone 4 agave and a sugarbowl clematis. Unfortunately I planted the clematis in a less than optimum spot and tried too-late to transplant it somewhere better. The agave started in an elevated berm surrounded by spreading sedums and I decided to move it as well to a place where it would get better insulation from winter exposure. Crossing my fingers on that last one. I wanted it insulated but now, under 4′ of snow, will the spring thaw and wet be to its detriment? I learn best by trial and error – though it’s not easy from a money standpoint.

So, at HCG I loaded up my online cart with everything I could want (at least being that I’m in Zone 4 – my queendom for Zone 5?) and scrolled down hoping for major sticker shock to turn me away. Under $100 means plenty of room for justification, right? So, I push harder to talk myself out of hitting the ‘checkout’ button:

  • Go back to these archives to stick to my focus for the year: Here and here
  • Remind myself that I have a third child on the way who will inevitably take more time and money than I ever think she/he will
  • I love walking aimlessly around our area nurseries in May and June and usually find something there to try – yeah for supporting local businesses
  • I already have an intensive seed regiment planned
  • Remember that my garden was ridiculously out of control and haphazard 1/2 through last season so there is lots of work to do with what I already have
  • Do I actually have specific, ideal spots for these plants or will they fall the way of the clematis I shoved in the ground without enough thought? Truthfully, NO
  • Oh, and  credit cards don’t pay themselves off.

Whew, I think I finally convinced myself to sit on my hands for now.

Spring growing calendar Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This calendar may need some adjustments but should be a pretty good guide of when to start your seeds indoors during the next 2 months. GrowingCalendar Each plant has its optimum time to be germinated both indoors and out. In our zone 4, our growing season for edibles is on the shorter side. Keep this in mind when ordering seeds – most catalogs and seed packets will give you and indication of the veggie or fruits’ fruition time – how long it takes to bear produce, max. growing season 120 days. Plants with longer growing seasons will need to be started indoors or purchased as transplants and stuck in the ground starting around May 15 – our average last frost date. On especially cool years it is good to wait until soil temps are warm so planting even in the first week of June is good as planting into cold ground can set some tender annuals back weeks in growth.

SDSU Women’s Week: Gardening classes Thursday, February 18th, 2010

SDSU hosts a Women’s Week during the summer. A part of this week are some gardening classes. If interested or in the area, check out: .2010 Official Class List .

Stephanie Leibel at SDSU coordinates University Week for Women. It’s held every year at SDSU in July. 2010 dates are July 7-9.

For more information, go to  http://uww.sdstate.org.

Wish I’d have a chance to go, but I feel I’ll have my hands full with kiddos. If anyone should go – let me know how they are. Having had a couple instructors during my Master Gardening training I feel the classes will be worth it.

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

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
In preparation, 3Rs Friday, February 12th, 2010

Reduce Reuse Recycle,

I’m in full-on prep mode for the coming season.

  • I’ve started a compost jug (this may be a bit early as my compost pile is under 5′ of snow). The plastic lock-tight coffee canisters work great for this, though trying to brew the morning joe, I inevitably open the wrong one – well, that’s one way to wake yourself.
  • I’ve been collecting my clear plastic juice, water and sports drink bottles. I cut almost all the way around the base , leaving an inch to keep it still attached – this flap will be the anchor I can use by placing a rock on it or covering it with dirt. Much better than trying to pile dirt around the side – especially with our SD winds. These will act as seedling protectors when I first put the little plants out in the garden. They will help with wind, cool nights and heavy rains. If you do clip off the bases, use them for kids’ paint trays or beer trays for baiting slugs later.
  • Old plastic bottles can also be cut diagonally from the base into “scoops” to be left in fertilizer, amendment or potting soil bags.
  • I’ve also taken to collecting TP roll tubes and paper towel tubes. I saw a hint in a magazine where 2-3″ cut-up tubes were used for plant pots. Set on a tray – filled with dirt, and seed – once ready for transplant outside one needs only to slide the dirt a little down the tube and plant the whole thing, leaving an inch of the tube above ground. This tube provides a little support as well as protection from cutworms that like to wrap themselves around the base of new plants, clipping ‘em at the base. The paper tubes end up composting.
  • I’ve also made newspaper pots using an almost origami technique – those ended up turning to mush by transplant time so I haven’t tried them again.
  • Old newspapers can also be used as mulch. I’ve gone back and forth about oil vs. soy-based inks – though the latter is obviously optimum, the little research I’ve done is that oil-based inks, at such a small increments such as those used in a daily newspaper, pose no contamination risks. You can also find naked newsprint end-rolls that are free of all inks too. I’ve found newsprint difficult to work with on an average SD day – unless you wet them immediately and weigh them down with some dirt, they will end up in a not-too-pleased neighbor’s yard.
  • If you have any old mini-blinds they work great as labels. Just snip them into 5-6″ pieces and use a permanent marker to label. Popcicle sticks work too but tend to bleed their labels. They do work as simple markers for seeds layed out in a bed though. Great for this girl who forgets just where she tried to sow some poppy and hollyhock seeds in her perennial bed.
  • I went through my seeds and organized them by planting times: anywhere from 10 wks. inside to “outside after danger of frost has passed.” I used an old floppy disc holder to store them in. Other options would be recipe containers or tackle boxes.
  • My seeds came in from Baker Creek and I found some from last year. I wrote in a notebook which ones need to get planted first and I’m working on a planting calendar to post here some time soon. So far, in my garden, I’ll be planting by seed: pumpkins, winter squash (last year’s leftovers), peppers (hot and sweet), watermelon, tomatoes, okra (had good luck with past years), beans, peas, edamame (only tried once – failure – will give it another shot), slo-bolt cilantro and lavender. Some will be started indoors, some outdoors and some, both ways to see what way has better luck.
Itchy Friday, February 5th, 2010

How can one stave off that garden itch. The temp got above 30F today and I’m already feeling it. My naked hands need some dirt.

  • If you haven’t already, you can force bulbs like paperwhites, tulips, daffodils, crocus and amarylis.
  • Clean-up your houseplants, they’ll be getting thirstier now that the days are getting a bit longer. Trim off dead leaves and branches. Yellowing bottom leaves may mean time to repot. Use a pot only 1-2″ wider in diameter than the original and make sure there is a drain hole.
  • Make a terrarium. This is a great project to do with kids. Pick a clear container – anything from a clear glass cookie jar to a large clear vase will work. Layer from the bottom: pebbles, active charcoal (if enclosed), moss, screen or fine mesh (to keep soil from washing into pebbles) potting soil (or cacti specific if those are the types of plants you wish). Next plant small, slow growing plants, cuttings or seeds. Plant them using a spoon, fork, chopsticks, etc. (good tool options). Add decorative stones or figurines if desired. Water when top of soil is dry.
  • Start herb seeds in pots for trimming into dishes.