Monday, February 27, 2012

More Composty Goodness and Some Planting

Another tub of compost showed up at my house on Saturday courtesy of my lovely friends who say they currently have WAY too much of it.

Not sure what I'm going to do with all of it yet (though I'm sure I'll find something!), but I put some of it to work as mulch around my baby blueberry. First though, I had to drag it up the hill to the back of the yard where the garden is. I've definitely had my exercise for the day!

In other news, I got my nasturtiums and peas planted! My next door neighbor stuck two tomato cages in the garden yesterday, so I decided to use those as a trellis for the peas to climb. I'll have to build another one that spans the end of the raised bed later, but for now, I feel like this is a good start.

My nasturtiums went in as a companion to the tulips I potted a few weeks ago, and also in a colorful coffee can I had saved to use as a container, and poked some drainage holes in. Maybe a little strange, but it works, right?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whimsical Violas

As promised, here is a picture of the violas my husband picked out. He's got pretty good taste!

I think I'm going to do some seed planting tomorrow. Some peas and nasturtiums maybe?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blueberries and Tulips

I think I mentioned a while back that I ordered a dwarf blueberry bush called "Sunshine Blue" from Park Seed Co. Well, it arrived this morning and when my husband brought the box in the house looking confused, I got really excited. We went to Home Depot to get some potting soil and I went to work!

Here is what the bush looked like when I pulled it out of the box. I was expecting a bare root transplant, but I think this was probably easier to work with.

I already had a large container from an ornamental banana tree that outgrew its welcome. I took that up the hill to the garden area where it will get plenty of sunshine and filled it with potting soil.

Then I placed the baby blueberry, filled the pot the rest of the way and watered it well to settle the soil.

I'd say it was a success! Here is another picture...

While we were at Home Depot getting soil, my husband spotted the blooming flowers. We ended up walking out with a lot more than we'd planned! But he continually surprises me with the things he points at and says "Ooohh I like that! We should get some of those!" We left with some white and purple violas (I'm going to have to retake my pictures of those....will post tomorrow!) and some dramatic red tulips.

Do you ever buy flowers on a whim? What is growing in your garden?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Victory Gardens

I just saw an interesting article on Apartment Therapy. Apparently the University of California Cooperative Extension is offering classes on how to grow a Victory Garden.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, "Victory Garden" came up during World War II and was an initiative created to encourage families to grow food at their private residences, in public gardens, and any other spot they could find in order to reduce the strain on the food supply that was focused on feeding hungry troops. You can read about the full (well, the Wikipedia) history here.

The public community gardens in Boston's Fenway Park (the actual park....not the baseball field) started as a victory garden and is still active today. I actually used to walk by them every day on my way to school when I was at college in Boston!

A few years ago, my father gave my mother a victory garden kit from Botanical Interests and my mother spent the next year creating vegetable beds and learning to grow everything that came in her kit. She blogs about her adventures at the Carolina Victory Garden. She gets to feed her family fresh produce on a regular basis while reducing her grocery bill.

So what's the point of all this? As our economy is recovering and many of us are still struggling to make ends meet, doesn't it make sense to grow some of our food ourselves? Do you consider vegetable gardening a major part of green living, since the food we produce ourselves requires little to no fuel in shipping, trips to the grocery store, etc? Do we have a responsibility to become as self-sufficient as possible? What do you think of the Victory Garden initiative?

You can read the full article from Apartment Therapy here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sprouting Daffodils and other Bulbs

My grandmother and I used to plant daffodil, tulip and iris bulbs together when I was a little girl. Not sure how much help I really was since as a very young child, I would often plant the bulbs upside down and my grandmother would have to dig them up and replant them right side up (oops), but we always had a good time gardening together. Some of those same bulbs were blooming last year at my wedding, held at my grandparent's house in South Carolina (my mother now tends the garden there, now that both of my grandparents have passed). To this day, bulb flowers are some of my absolute favorites, so seeing my own daffodil, tulip and iris bulbs begin to grow this spring is very exciting.

One of the flower beds in front of the house is currently filled with bulbs that are beginning to grow. No flowers yet (though I have seen many blooming daffodils in my neighborhood), but the foliage is definitely coming along nicely. Here's some of what I've got so far...

I've even got a daffodil sprouting on the side of the house...

Is there anything growing or blooming in your garden?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Seeds have arrived!

My seeds arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon. I ordered from Park Seed Co. based in Greenville, SC (not too far from the family home). I find that it is less expensive than Burpee, and allows me to put some money into an economy that is, if not local to me in Nashville, is local to the economy that the rest of my family operates in.

Since it's raining and thunderstorming today, I think I will take the time to chart out exactly when I need to start the seeds for them to be ready for transplanting at the proper time.

Where do you order your seeds from? When do you start planting?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lesson Learned....always stake your tiny greenhouse!

Ok, I finally got around to setting up my little greenhouse in the backyard, only to come outside this morning to find it flat on its front, blown over by the wind. I had potted a few ranunculus tubers yesterday and put them in there, so of course, there was a giant potting soil mess. Major FAIL on my part.

Fortunately, Home Depot is not far, and a quick trip for some stakes seems to have taken care of the issue. I suspect once I get more stuff in there, that will help as well, but for now, it's ready to roll.

Bring me a shrubbery!!

Ok, maybe the title is a little cheesy (as are most Monty Python references), but it's relevant! Something I didn't do well last year is establish the "bones" or foundation of my flower beds. This is the concept of establishing larger, permanent fixtures such as trees and shrubs in a bed before adding smaller stuff.

I've been thinking about this all winter. Originally I thought I might plant something that would flower, but still be evergreen, like a gardenia. I considered the amount of light those beds get (morning sun, and into the afternoon during the summer, but it's a north facing wall), the soil, and finally decided to add a couple of small boxwoods to my flower beds.

These will be the foundation (along with the ornamental grass that was already there) around which I will plant smaller flowers and maybe some herbs this year.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Toilet Paper tubes as Jiffy Pots

So I saw this picture on pinterest the other day showing  toilet paper tubes as seed starting cups. I thought that was a pretty genius idea, so I'm trying it for myself. I'll probably have to still buy some Jiffy Pots, but if I can save myself a few bucks by saving toilet paper/paper towel tubes, why not?

The little cups were really easy to make. Just cut a toilet paper tube in half, cut four slits an inch or so up the sides and fold them in! Here is a picture for those of you who are so inclined:

What other things do you do to save money in your garden?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unplanted Tulip Bulbs

Last fall, I ordered some tulip and daffodil bulbs. The daffodils got planted, but the tulips never made it into the ground. I was going through my utility closet yesterday and noticed that they were starting to sprout anyway! So after my war with the Bermuda grass, I took a few minutes and potted my tulip bulbs.

I know that tulips have to have a certain number of hours where it's cold. Hopefully they'll get what they need outside in their pots and I will have some pretty red tulips come spring!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bermuda Grass in the Vegetable Beds

Last summer, I had some serious problems with Bermuda grass getting into my vegetable beds (mostly just in one, but it definitely made its way into both). It seemed like to matter how much I pulled (and I would pull until my hands were red and full of blisters), I still had beds full of bermuda the point it was killing off my vegetables.

Using weed killer in my vegetable beds seemed like a bad idea, and I eventually ended up giving up on trying to get the horrible stuff completely out of my beds....I contented myself with just keeping them from completely taking over.

Well last week, a friend suggested I take a hoe to it. I'm not sure how well this would work if you had lots of plants around that you wanted to keep, but today, I waged war on that Bermuda grass. I chopped and pulled and chopped and pulled....I dug up the entire raised bed! The bad news is I'm going to be really sore tomorrow from all the chopping and pulling, but the good news is that I think (hope) that I've gotten the grass out of my vegetable bed.

The other good thing about it? My soil is now turned, fluffy and ready for planting!

Flower Bed Before and After

Remember those picture I posted the other day of my sorely neglected, un-mulched flower bed? Well I've given it new life. I took myself outside yesterday in the rather chilly weather and weeded the bed.

Here is what it looked like before...

After I weeded....

And after I mulched (I used the cypress mulch from Home Depot)...

What a difference! Now I just need to find something to put in it! Last year I did a bunch of annuals, and my neighbors gave me the ornamental grass. One of my students gave me a white chrysanthemum back in the fall, so I put that in and cut it to the ground since there was no new growth. I think that's how you're supposed to do it (according to the information I've found online). I guess I'll find out come spring! It'll either grow back or it won't.

I'd really like to put in some perennials  this year, but am unsure where to start with it. This is a north-facing bed, so whatever I put in it has to be ok with shade for part of the day.

What do you put in your partial shade gardens??

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last Year's Swiss Chard

I think I mentioned this a few days ago, but the swiss chard that I planted last year is still producing! I know it's a cold weather crop, and our winter here in Nashville has been extremely mild, so I guess it just never got cold enough to kill it. Here is a picture I took yesterday.

The picture only shows a little bit of the chard (it's growing down the whole end of the raised bed....about four feet).

Usually I use the chard to make chard chips in the oven, but in light of how much chard I currently have, I think I'll be looking for a recipe that uses a LOT of chard. Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Garden To-do's

Seeing as how I'm supposed to have at least a few days of nice, not-freezing weather (in the 50's), I figure I ought to get outside and put myself to work! Here are my plans for the end of the week and weekend:

Weed this flower bed (Look at all those weeds...yikes! I definitely should have put down some mulch last year). Which leads me too....

Mulch the flower beds! If I'm going to go to all the work of weeding those beds, I think I can take some steps to keep the weeds at bay. What kind of mulch do you use for flower beds? Any particular material that plentiful around Nashville?

Remove last year's jalapeno bush. Remember me going on about how enormous it was? Here is a picture of what's left....probably should have pulled this up a while ago....oops.

Get a hoe and break up/turn over the dirt in the raised beds.

Get compost from my friends and mulch that into the veggie beds.

What are you doing to get your garden ready for spring?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2012 Planting List

I just ordered my seeds for the year! Here is my planting list for this year:

  1. Green Beans (Blue Lake, bush type)
  2. Peas (Sugar Lace)
  3. Tomato (Costoluto Genovese and a container hybrid)
  4. Jalapenos
  5. Bell Peppers
  6. Yellow Squash (Enterprise Hybrid)
  7. Lettuce
  8. Mustard Greens
  1. Basil (Mrs. Burn's Lemon)
  2. Red Leaved Perilla
  3. Dill
  4. Rosemary (this is last year's plant that I've - so far - successfully overwintered in the living room!)
I will probably also grow some type of mint and sage.

  1. Sunflowers (my mother-in-law gave me about half a pound of seeds last fall....I have plenty to share!!)
  2. Nasturtium (Whirlybird Mix)
  3. Daffodils (these are already in the ground and beginning to sprout)
  4. Cleomi
  5. Marigold (Inca II Hybrid Mix)
Lastly, I found a self-pollinating, dwarf blueberry bush that can be grown in a container called Sunshine Blue. My plan is to plant it in a large container and sink said container into the ground. That way, when my husband and I decide it's time to move, I can pull up the pot and go!

In other news, my landlord approved my request to put in an in-ground garden/more garden boxes! Hooray!!

What are you planting this year?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Orchid

My husband isn't the type who generally gives flowers. However, in honor of Valentine's Day, he made an exception! I came home from work to a lovely orchid plant! Blue dye had been added to the water to create the lovely bright blue flowers (I'm guessing this lovely is going to eventually revert to its original white coloring).

Last year's flower garden

Since I can't get much of a start with this year's garden, I thought I'd share some pictures of last year's flowers.

Miniature Parade Rose: Can't say this little guy did a while lot. There was only the one bloom you see, and it promptly died after it finished flowering.

My zinnias turned out beautiful and attracted lots of butterflies. They also grew to about five and a half feet tall! They also ended up with powdery mildew all over the stems and leaves.

The hosta put out some lovely purple blooms. I might have to plant more of these. They really liked my north facing wall.

 This dahlia grew to huge proportions. The flower was 6-8 inches across! Very pretty, but not all of the bulbs I planted sprouted (only two of the nine!).

Ok, so these aren't of flowers, but this is my garden "helper" Seger (yes, he is named for Bob). First seen helping me check over the flower beds and then napping in the sun after a hard day's "work."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last year's garden and planning for this year

Last year, I planted a VERY small garden with my next door neighbors. It was the first year I'd had the opportunity to plant any kind of garden that was not confined to containers. After some deliberation, we chose to go with raised beds rather than an in ground garden and planted a few different kinds of vegetables...Swiss chard, broccoli, peppers, carrots and one or two other things.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in how the vegetables turned out. Admittedly, this is mostly due to our rookie mistakes! The broccoli did ok, but we didn't plant enough of it for four people. Our lettuce did really well, but I planted it all at once instead of in waves, so we ended up with way too much of it and then couldn't eat it fast enough! A couple other things got overtaken by the Bermuda grass that crept into the matter how much of it I pulled, it never went away. The stars of the show last year were the jalapeno bush (I still have jalapenos from last summer in the freezer!) and the chard, which is actually still growing and has continued to re-seed itself.

As I am starting to plan a garden for this year, I have the opportunity to borrow a tiller from a very kind friend. This leaves me with the debate of whether I should plant an in-ground garden this year, or just stick with raised beds? Here are a few of the thinking points:

  1. My yard is not actually mine (probably should get the landlord's permission to till the backyard before I do it). I don't see this as a HUGE obstacle as I can simply spread grass seed through the garden when my husband and I eventually decide to move.
  2. I have PLENTY of space for a garden. My street used to be a fairway for a golf course in the 1920's, and instead of putting a road down the middle of the fairway when the neighborhood was developed, it was simply split down the middle. This means that the lot my house sits on is about 400 yards long. About 150 yards of it is the backyard.
  3. I am a little concerned about time. Does an in ground garden take more time to tend than raised beds?
  4. I could grow more with an in ground garden without having to purchase quite as many supplies...I think.
Did I miss anything? What were your considerations when you planned your garden?