>> Sunday, March 23, 2008
An old adage I recently remembered about gardening is: first year sleeps, second year creeps & third year leaps.
Sit a spell among natures beauty and share your experiences, both good and bad.
Gardening is meant to be shared and we would love to hear of your challenges and how you turned them into success. if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to comment.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6b
(-5 to 0 degrees F)
Average Last Spring Frost:
Average First Fall Frost:
"Love of nature and appreciation of the beauties of the landscape were foreign to the rural population. The inhabitants of the cities brought them to the countryside."
Ludwig von Mises
An old adage I recently remembered about gardening is: first year sleeps, second year creeps & third year leaps.
I can pay you in produce.
The News & Observer of North Carolina reports that since the drought has gone on for so long now, it is okay to use gray water to water your pansies and grass. The leftover water from washing your dishes and your car is okay to re-use. However, piping water from your bathtub or shower is still against the law and considered a health risk.
They used to claim that re-using any gray water was illegal and a threat to public safety. But when you can’t get it naturally, then you have to adapt to new ways.
"If water's clean enough to bathe your child in or wash your dishes in, it should be clean enough to put on your flowers," said Bill Ross, secretary of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Water has been on the minds of our southeastern friends a lot since last years drought turned into this years drought and now they have to get serious about conservation efforts.
The Southeast's worst drought in more than a century is forcing parched states and communities into crisis measures to conserve water and fight for more. The entire region is accustomed to plentiful rain from tropical storms and hurricanes but they are about to enter their second straight year of drought.
Small towns in North Carolina have already had to suffer from shuttered car washes and outdoor watering is completely banned in Atlanta. Georgia's top water official, environmental Commissioner Carol Couch, says industrial and commercial water users very likely will have to make "across-the-board reductions" next.
Maybe they can follow North Carolina’s example.
Now is a good time to learn about the alternative substances to replace the more toxic cleaners and chemicals around the house. Items such as vinegar, baking soda, borax, and ammonia.Those of us who camp have known about environmentally friendly soaps for years, so now would be a good time to break it out of your backpacks and camping supplies and throw out your other not so friendly soaps.
Here’s a site that offers some examples of ways to stay clean and green with environmentally friendly soaps.Oh, and if I were you I'd keep that gray water away from my vegetables and fruits.
Color in winter. Sounds like a nice change to the usual white, brown, black, and grey. After seeing this all winter I’m planning on adding some plants that actually produce color in the snow.
One of my favorite flowers is Iris, so naturally, I thought I would start here. After consulting the mother of all search engines, Google, I find that Iris reticulata is the earliest of all Iris, blooming in January in some gardens. Great, might be what I’m looking for.
It’s a beautiful blue, shorter than all the other Iris at 5”-6” tall, but that’s okay as long as its colorful, and it blooms it winter. But does it actually bloom in the snow? Despite what some reports say, I only found this one photo of it in snow. I searched through ten pages of photos on Flickr to find this one, thanks to Green Destiny. I am not told what zone the plant was grown in or when it bloomed but since there is snow there is hope that I can have some color in my part of the world.
This Iris goes by several names: Dwarf Wild Iris, Rockgarden Iris, and Netted Iris.
According to Paghat’s Garden, “Iris reticulata blooms late winter or early spring, in shades of blue & purple. In some gardens they bloom as early as January, but for us, this wild natural form begins flowering at the start of the second week of February & is done by mid-March”. Paghat, for those of you who don’t know, is Paghat the Ratgirl of Puget Sound in “old Charlestown” overlooking Sinclair Inlet Washington State. Paghat’s garden is USDA zone 8 and I am USDA zone 5 or 6 (I still haven’t gotten a definitive answer). I’m not sure how useful this information will be for me, so I think I will keep searching.
Here’s another dwarf Iris, Iris danfordiae. Wouldn’t this bright canary yellow go great with a bunch of deep blue Crocus? One caution I learned from the plant expert is that if left in the ground the bulbs will break up into tiny bulblets which may not bloom the next year. Disappointing. I’ll probably shy away from these unless I want to dig them up each year. Doesn’t sound very “low maintenance” to me. And I’m definitely into low maintenance. I found this beauty at van Bourgondien.
I know that there are several bulbs that will come up in the snow, such as snowdrop, glory of the snow, winter aconite and crocus, but these come up as winters snow is leaving us and I want to try some plants instead of bulbs.
Hellebore is one of the most popular perennial winter flowers and depending on the variety, can bloom anytime from December through March, or later. The flowers are various shades of green or cream to bright white or rose-pink. Not much of the color I’m looking for. I chose this photo because it looks more like its namesake ‘Christmas Rose’ and actually is colorful. These grow 18”-24” tall so they stand right up and broadcast their color very well. But, no pictures of Hellebores actually in the snow.
Pansies are early bloomers. Usually purple, blue, yellow, white and various shades and mixtures of any or all these colors. No photos of pansies in snow either. I find articles saying they grow in winter, but where is the proof? ‘Universal’ pansies were bred to flower in the short days of winter; they are tolerant of cold, wet and windy weather and they have the ability to stay compact and not stretch and flop over when mild weather eventually arrives. ‘Icicle Pansies’ were developed for northern and Canadian gardeners, bloom until winter's deep freeze, but don't die. They'll lie dormant until very early spring, when they bloom again! (Whisper: where are the photos of pansies in snow?)
Finally, a flower in the snow! A Primrose! I never would have guessed that primroses bloom this early. This photo was taken by lorelei and posted on the weather site I start every day off with, Wunderground. Primroses are nice looking plants with their thick almost leather-like leaves more like a succulent or cactus without the thorns. They are usually blue but can be found in yellow, too.
There are other flowering plants claiming to bring color to the winter garden, but I’m beginning to think there aren’t any flowers that actually grow in the snow. Maybe gardeners, in their haste to get away from the dreariness of winter, are stretching it a bit when they say we can have color in winter. We have plants that herald the arrival of spring by popping up as the snow recedes, but I don’t find many that grow in the snow.
Plants like lungwort, moss phlox, heartleaf brunnera are early bloomers. There are early-blooming shrubs: February daphne (March-April), Vernal witch hazel (January-March), Spring heath (March), and Winter jasmine (March-April). One site, the Independent, gave me a list of early bloomers that I had never heard of but none of them bloom in the snow.
I guess I got my hopes up too high. I’ll just have to resign myself to seeing only white, brown, black and grey next winter too.
I apologize to the many wonderful bloggers out there for not showing you on my list of 'favorites'.
When I began using Google Reader to keep up to date on all of your writings and photos, I neglected to add some of your links to my blog.
When I went to do so, two weeks ago, I discovered that Blogger would not allow me to scroll down in the Page Elements editor. I sent a request for help and realized many people have experienced the same problem. Blogger still has not fixed the problem.
Finally, this morning I read another person's request to Blogger to fix the problem and he had explained a band-aid fix. After following his instructions I was able to update my favorites list.
Hopefully, none of you have felt slighted, if so, I apologize again and will attempt to keep up on it in the future.
Happy Gardening to all.
Found an interesting website article on Victory Gardens at Kitchen Gardeners International.
I finally made it to one year! I wouldn't trade this past years experience for anything.
Jodi, of bloomingwriter, has asked everyone to post something about where we garden. I currently garden in Riverton Utah, a small town of 30,000 at the far south end of Salt Lake Valley between the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the Oquirrh (pronounced ochre) Mountains to the west.
This is a photo of the Wasatch Mountains from my backyard. It is much easier to see this time of year without the trees in full leaf.
And, this is the Oquirrh Mountains from the front yard. They are pretty well obscured from the backyard by fruit trees.
What I like most about living in Utah is the availability of hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding, and fishing available within a very short drive from home. Also, the community action network here is very extensive covering everything from getting food and shelter for the needy to co-op food purchase programs.
Hiking here is quite the challenge because almost all of it is mountain hiking. Hiking elevation changes of anywhere from 500 feet to over 2,000 feet makes for some pretty challenging hikes.
Of course we have what is billed as the greatest snow on earth and there are no fewer than thirteen mountain ski resorts within three hours drive.
Lake Powell, in Glen Canyon, is a six hour drive and offers house boat rentals by the day, week or month. It is truly wonderful to pull up to a seclude beach in your houseboat and barbecue, swim, fish and jet ski without seeing anyone for days.
Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, both within four hours drive from home, offers hiking and camping experiences that begs to be taken.
If you love to fish, Utah is heaven. Utah has what can only be described as the most excellent trout fishing in high mountain lakes and streams. We have trophy lake trout, tiger muskie, striped bass, walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, channel catfish, etc. My wife and I love to fish and do often. We have not yet tried flyfishing but there is no shortage of opportunities here.
Salt Lake City has one of the most vibrant music scenes of any city I have ever lived in! Everything from Folk, Jazz and Salsa to Reggae, Blues and Classical concerts to attend year round.
Park City is host to the annual Sundance Film Festival.
We have five brewery venues in town where you can get some of the best hand crafted beer available.
With all of this ‘outside distraction’ it is a wonder that I get any gardening done at all.
We average an annual rainfall of just over 15”, this coupled with the fact that it is not uncommon to reach as many as ten 100 degree days every summer, makes watering the garden a bit of a challenge.
Creating a beautiful, wildlife friendly perennial garden has been one of my dreams for many years. Seeing so many successful gardens over the years and through these blogs has inspired me to finally start one. Last spring was my first attempt and I am anxiously waiting to see how it faired over the winter.
These are some of the better photos I have of one of my plots.
Utah’s climate isn’t one of the most hospitable to garden in, especially for a beginner, but, as the song goes, ‘if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere”.
Thank-you, Jodi, for the opportunity to show-off where in the Gardening World I am.
Getting enough information on plants requires some work. You don’t ever want to purchase a plant based solely on what one source tells you.
Luckily, I have not yet put a plant in my garden that is aggressive enough that I have to give it more attention than anything else in preventing it from taking over its neighbors. Mint is like this. I know mint is an aggressive spreader and therefore it is only grown in containers. If I want to place it in the open garden, I will simply cut a hole in the bottom of the container and plant it, still in the container, in the ground.
I don’t know enough about all plants to know their aggressiveness and potential for crowding out everything around them. I don’t know which plants demand the extra attention required to keep them in bounds.
In researching for vines to cover up my ugly chain link fence, and my neighbors uglier habit of piling junk in his yard, I am learning that it is very difficult to get enough information to make an informed decision. I am not going to name websites that fall short of giving enough information, it is virtually all of them, but when I was gathering information on what vine will fulfill my need, I would find that a flowery description on one site was countered on another site by learning the plant was considered invasive, or poisonous.
I don’t want invasive or poisonous plants in my yard. I don’t want to have to take the extra time to fuss over one plant to keep it in bounds and I don’t want them creating friction with my non-gardening neighbors by giving them something to cut back several times a year.
Maybe it is just the nature of vines and I should learn to have to deal with it, the same goes for shrubs. But I believe that if a site is going to play up the virtues of a given plant, they should also tell you of its bad points, like being on a list of invasive plants. Knowing whether or not the plant is poisonous is a major plus for children and pets.
Here is a prime example of how one site describes Akebia quinata (Chocolate vine) as a beautiful, fast growing vine that produces spicy scented, brownish-purple blossoms that hang like pendants. The vine sounds like exactly what I want. But upon further investigation I learn, from another site, that this woody perennial plant, that can be grown as a twining vine or a groundcover, forms dense growth that crowds out native plants. Now the attractiveness of this vine is beginning to fade. It is reported as invasive in six states. The site lists it as found in 16 eastern U.S. states, while on the original site, where I first found it, I am told it grows in my USDA growing zone. I am in Utah (not an eastern state, for those of you who are geographically challenged). This plant, I am told, naturalizes in warmer climates, like mine. If I were to grow this plant here, I would be contributing to the spread of a highly invasive vine that grows up to 40 feet per growing season! I don’t want that on my conscience.
For a horror story concerning this particular plant see Just Another Pretty Face.
The bottom line is don’t trust everything you read, gather information from several sources and then make an informed decision.
In learning this lesson today, I vow that in the future, when I report any information on any given plant, I will try to present as much information as I can about that plant. I will try to find out if it is considered invasive, or poisonous, or only survives in eastern states. It was very disappointing to think that this plant would grow here and then to find out it is only found in the eastern U.S. and even further disappointing to learn it would have become a full time job trying to control it.
This is a case where USDA growing zones and lighting requirements can be misleading. I may have voiced this opinion before but I think it is worth repeating. Growing zone 5 in the western states is not the same as growing zone 5 in the eastern states.
My search for a colorful vine that has berries for the birds and flowers for beneficial insects and hummingbirds and is not invasive continues. Let the buyer beware!
(Photo courtesy of Rivendell Organics)
Here's an interesting hybrid setup of aquaponics and vermiculture to grow vegetables.
The idea is to use live fish and crustaceans, raised in large tanks, to produce fertilizer for the vegetables.
According to Andrew Bodlovich and Hogan Gleeson, creators of the ecoCity Farm, a farm the size of a city block can feed up to 300 people with no waste, little water and minimal effort.
The wastewater generated from the population is filtered through a patented “bio-converter” which mineralizes any compound that could be dangerous to plant or fish health (e.g. bacteria, feces). The bio-converter works with vermiculture – colonies of waste-eating worms that turn undesirable compounds into plant-ready nutrients. Water, filtered through the worm treatment nourishes the vegetables. The veggies use up the minerals and nutrients from the fish water, effectively filtering it to its original, clean state. This newly plant-filtered water is sent back to the fish tanks.
See Eat. Drink. Better. blog for more details.
I am in the process of adding more blogs to my blogroll and Blogger is experiencing a problem with the Page Elements feature.
Since I have been using Google Reader to keep up on all my favorite garden blogs, which has saved a ton of time over checking them all daily to see which ones have updated, I am afraid I have neglected to update my blogroll.
Wouldn't you know when I went to update it this morning, Blogger won't let me!
I apologize to anyone who has visited my blog and discovered that their blog is not among those listed. I am checking my list to make sure I don't miss anyone.
There are so many, I hope I have room for them all.
Winter just will not go away quietly.
Yesterday we had a beautiful day, sunny 58F, after weeks of highs in the 30's this constitutes a beautiful day.
All of the snow has finally melted and we are predicted to get another inch this afternoon!
Plus, wind gusts up to 45MPH!
Boy, the weather variations on this side of the Rockies can be downright drastic.
Here's a bright spot! First flower of the year. Crocus always seem to wake up earlier than everyone else by at least a couple of weeks.
According to the old saying "If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb" and vice versa.
If the lion looks like this, what have we got to worry about?
With so many wonderful blogs I enjoy I could not possibly list them all here. Please check them out here.