A Day in the Life

>> Friday, July 15, 2011

"Maybe a person's time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food. "-- Frank A. Clark

Up before the sun again. Went out into the garden and yard for a little communing with nature and was greeted by a big beautiful full moon just above the Western horizon. Also to meet me were a couple roosters down the street and some robins – one with a very large worm.

The wind is a bit cool for the what the thermometer says is 70 degrees. Feels nice after the high heat of the afternoons. You know it’s going to hot when its 70 degrees at 5:30 AM.

Filled the bird feeders, poured fresh water into the bird baths and then was off to care for some plants. After attaching the liquid plant food sprayer to the garden hose I fed all the containers and hanging baskets as well as the earth-bound annuals.

There’s a low-hanging branch of the dogwood tree in the front yard that has been bothersome when I mow so I pruned that off. Also, while I had the pruning shears in hand I took off the suckers from around the apple tree. Next up is the plum and cherry trees. The Cherry Tree. I have to pause a bit whenever I think of this ole girl. Something has a hold on it and it isn’t pleasant. Each year, more and more of its once stately branches are staying bare through summer’s heat. In the past we have gotten many, many pounds of sweet juicy fruit from this old lady. Enough so that we freely share it with the birds. But something evil has moved in and this year we haven’t gotten one cherry from her. It’s too sad to contemplate her future but I fear it is going to be needed soon.

Along the same line – that being pests – I set out six small containers of beer for a little slug suicide party. Only two of the containers caught anything for a total of six slugs. Not a very good catch especially since I know there there are a lot more than that out there. So, the party will be extended through tonight.

Pulled all the veggie containers out from under their protective row covers to catch some early morning sunlight, the best time of day for them. They being well-fed and well-watered should recover nicely from the harvest we took yesterday for our salads.

That’s it for this morning from the Utah Valley. Hope everyone’s day is pleasurable and at least productive in some way.


July 11 2011 New Blooms and High Hopes

>> Monday, July 11, 2011

Pumpkin 'Rouge d'Etampes cinderella' Cucurbita maxima
Aurinia 'Basket of Gold' Aurinia saxatilis

Clematis 'Jackmanii' Clematis x jackmanii

Hummingbird Trumpet 'Mountain Flame' Zauschneria garrettii

Geum 'Lady Stratheden' Geum chiloense

7 AM this morning

Catmint 'Walkers low' Nepeta x faassenii
Salvia 'Nymph Coral' Salvia coccinea

Coreopsis 'Nana' Coreopsis auriculata

Bluebeard 'Sunshine Blue' Caryopteris incana

Thyme Thymus Vulgaris

7 AM this morning

Hollyhock 'Brilliant Miniature' Sidalcea malviflora

Hollyhock 'Chater's Double' Alcea rosea

Clematis 'Niobe' Clematis

Asiatic Lily Lilium asiatic

Squash, summer 'Patissons Panache Jaune Et Vert Scallop' Cucurbita pepo

Bean, pole Emerite filet Phaseolus vulgaris
Pepper, sweet 'Golden Bell' Capsicum annuum

Pepper, Sweet 'Purple Beauty' Capsicum annuum

Pepper, Mild 'Anaheim' Capsicum annuum

Eggplant 'Ichiban'

Raspberry 'Heritage'

Tomato 'Cherokee Purple' Lycopersicon lycopersicum

Tomato 'Juliet' Lycopersicon esculentum

7 AM this morning


Pinch Your Mum and Go for More

>> Thursday, July 7, 2011

You ever see big beautiful Asters and Mums in full bloom? Well, they got that way from having their growth stunted until around the first of August. Pinching their flower buds every time you see them might seem a bit counter-intuitive to why you grow flowers but in the case of these two plants, you are doing yourself a huge favor by squelching their urge to bloom.

I didn’t learn the importance of taking this seemingly irrational action until just recently and allowed my Shasta Daisy bloom whenever it wanted to. I got flowers but way too early in the Summer and nothing in the Fall. Plus the plant looked scraggly and I was very disappointed in its performance. This year I’ve been happily pinching off flower buds every time I see them knowing I’m finally helping this beautiful plant reach its full potential.

six cuttings of Mums
Three hardy mums I bought last year and planted among some Tulips have been pinched as well. Since they were among the Tulips they got leggy and they really need to be bushy. This was a blessing in disguise although I didn’t realize that until today. I found some info from other mum owners who said they keep their mums cut to 6” tall but will occasionally allow them to grow a little taller so they can take cuttings. Mine are already tall and need to be cut back quite a bit so I took this opportunity to take some cuttings.

After cutting them so you have at least two leaves to trim off of the bottom, wet the bottom of the cutting to cover both wounds, dip it in rooting hormone (again cover both wounds) and put them in any potting mix you have available. The rooting hormone helps prevent any bacterial growth from occurring at the wound site. Wetting the cutting only helps the rooting hormone to adhere to the stem. Be sure you have a couple of leaves remaining on the cutting, put the containers somewhere so they stay hydrated and in as little as three weeks you should have new cuttings.

I’m going to keep mine in the basement under grow lights until they root.

Now, I’m going to do the same thing for my Shasta Daisy and a couple of Asters.


Early July Update

'What was Paradise? but a garden, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights.'  -  William Lawson, 1617.

Not too much happening around the homestead. All the plants are busy soaking up sunlight and heat building up their energy to produce their goodies.

Deck Side Garden - too much grass in it
I on the other hand have been busy helping these same plants along by deadheading, feeding and pulling weeds. And grass! Two of my beds have grass growing right up through the plants, which is extremely frustrating because I can’t get them out by their roots without damaging the plants themselves. I’m sure a solution will come about, I’ll just have to bide my time and hope I recognize it when it does.

As I dig deeper into my ‘to do’ list in a desperate attempt to get anything on it done and crossed off, a laughable endeavor to say the least, I keep finding new things to add to it.

One item that is currently on the list that seems like it should be the most pressing task is to get the irrigation system in. But honestly, after getting my watering done sufficiently well by dragging a hose around for the last six years, even that task is not really pressing. It’ll get done eventually.

Another item that really must get done this year is to find the time to dig up all of the bulbs so they can be divided. It’s a bit embarrassing that this will be the first year I’ve done this. Everything I read says to do it every 2-3 years so after 5-6 years I rather imagine they really need it. I pulled up some Grape Hyacinth a week ago and I could not believe how many bulblets there were, many still attached to the Mom. Of course the other part of getting this task done is to find room after I dig them up. Which brings me to my next tast: making new beds.

Deck Side Garden - before and after expansion
The expansion for my Deck Side bed is finally finished, for now. It would be no surprise for me to want to expand it yet again sometime in the future. But right now there are no plans. After the expanded area sits over winter it should be ready for new plants. I’ve got a bunch of new plants from cuttings that need somewhere to go but they’ll have to wait for this area until Spring. Can I keep them alive that long? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

birdhouse welcome
I finished the birdhouse-on-a-stick thingy and it needs to be put into one of the front yard beds.

There is another trellis to be built for the newly planted beans along the back fence. This should be fairly simple to build out of a pile of tree limbs I’ve been collecting.

An idea I’ve been kicking around for sometime is to make some solar powered light to spread around the yard and pathways. Really simple and cheap is the way to go here. My non-gardening partner and I have been discussing attaching rope lights around the deck too. A couple more things to add to my list.

A couple of ideas for what to put in the B1 expansion at the west gate is an old-fashioned Weigela or the lilac taking up space in one of the raised vegetable beds. I’ve tried the newer varieties of Weigela and have lost them all, so maybe the old-fashioned type will do better. Which ever one I decide to plant here, I’m sure I’ll change my mind before something finally goes in.

The Butterfly Bush is finally getting flower buds and the Hydrangea has bloomed. First time ever.

As this all of this wasn’t enough, tiny grasshoppers are beginning to show up so I need to be ready with some organic means of kicking them out should they start getting out of control.


Jun 30 Update – part Two

>> Thursday, June 30, 2011

Echinacea Bravado
I transplanted this Echinacea Bravado from a front bed to a much sunnier location in the backyard and it is clearly stressed. I have to water it almost daily to keep it looking like it could make it. These things are drought tolerant once they are established. It ust needs to be babied right now. On a positive note, it is sending up flower buds, so there is hope yet.

Salvia East Friesland cuttings
These are one of my attempts to practice propagation. Stem cuttings of Salvia East Friesland. The test to see if they are ‘taking’ is to gently pull on the leaves, if there is some resistance then they are rooting. I am happy to report that all six have rooted and since they have been in a plastic bag for three weeks, today they are getting a few hours of sun to harden them off.

Salvia Coral Nymph
Another salvia, this one is an annual, is sending up new stems that will have coral colored trumpet-like flowers running the length of the stems.

Strawberry Eversweet is beginning to produce some berries. Since this is the first year for these plants I think I’ll let the birds have them. It is good to see them finally start doing their job.

Pumpkin Orange Smoothie
Can’t wait for these 8 pound pie pumpkins. Some say they are the best for pies. Cute as a button.

Eggplant Ichiban
For those of us who like eggplant this one has a really nice flavor.

Pepper Golden Bell
My peppers are re-growing their lower leaves after being eaten by something earlier this year. Never did find out what it was.

Raspberry Heritage
The raspberries were transplanted into a raised bed in May of last year because they were spreading under the fence into the neighbors yard. Hey, free raspberries, what’s not to love? Anyway I moved five of the best plants in this 8’x4’ bed – may not be big enough – and they are absolutely flourishing. Last week I saw this wilted stem and got worried it was verticillium wilt – a soil borne fungus. I will need to watch it further before doing anything drastic.

Hydrangea Annabelle
This is one blossom I cannot wait to see. It will be the first for this plant. It was planted here October 26, 2007 from a 4” pot. Long time coming.

Hosta Piedmont Gold
Seemingly unaffected by the cooler than normal weather that the rest of the garden felt this guy is blooming right on time.


June 30 Update

Cherokee Purple getting some support
Tied up the Tomato Cherokee Purple in bed V1. The poor thing didn’t even know it had a huge cage to climb up in. To give it some direction, namely ‘UP’, I used jute twine tied off at one leg and then tied to the opposite leg diagonally.

Cherokee Purple tied with jute for support
 Then came back on the other side of the plant. Then repeated it using the other two legs. It looks like the plant is confused but I’m hoping the sun will help ‘straighten it out’. I’ll repeat this tying up about every 15-18” as it grows.


Juliet grape tomato 1st of the year
 First tomato of the year. Juliet grape is a very prolific producer. The plant will get very large and bushy If left unchecked as I usually do. This year I plan, as I do at the start of every year, to keep its size in check. It usually gets its own 4’x4’ bed, this year it is sharing an 8’x4’ with the Cherokee so it simply MUST behave.

I think I’m finally getting to the point, after six years here, where I can begin to better identify my garden beds. When we first moved in to this house in 2004 I was so excited to finally have a place where we could settle for more than just a few years that I went a little ‘random’ as to where I planted things. My main plan was to just get them in the ground and find out what makes it here. Some have survived, others have not.

Now that we are setting down roots as deep as the plants we are growing, I’m beginning to get the urge to move away from my previous random plantings and create beds like ‘Butterfly Garden’ and ‘Hummingbird Garden’ and ‘Cut Flower Garden’, etc.

In the backyard, I have eight clearly defined beds, not counting the raised beds for edibles. In the past I have very originally referred to them as B1, B2, B3, and so on because they are in the backyard. Yes, before you ask the beds in the front yard are labeled F1, F2, F3, and so on. Not very insightful labels by anyone’s measure but in my head each bed had a specific ‘calling’, even if I couldn’t put into words what it was. Now, I’m beginning to see the plan more clearly and have decided on the following ‘themes’:

  • B1 will now be known as ‘Deck Side Garden’. How’s that for a descriptive name? Bet you can guess where its located.
  • B2 is now the Hummingbird Garden;
  • B3 the Bird Garden;
  • B4 is simply the Garage Shed;
  • B5 the Herb Garden
  • B6 has yet to be built much less named
  • B7 Butterfly Garden
  • B8 another as yet built garden
  • B9 the Vine Garden because it runs along a fence, very handy for vines and such
  • B10 will be the Cut Flower or Fragrance Garden

I have been building lists of what plants are suitable for each garden, such as what attracts butterflies, and I have also been able to track what plants can survive in our climate. Keeping track of the performance of my plantings has been time consuming but rewarding. I have found that gardening affords as much pleasure in the journey as it does in the destination. Hopefully, all of this hard work will soon pay off and my landscape won’t look so random.


Updates and Plans

>> Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Veronica Red Fox finally bloomed. There is a lot of grass growing throughout this bed. This has created more work for me than weeds. It's difficult to pull grass out by the roots when they grow in stubborn clay. It's a constant struggle.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

current irrigation system
So many projects on my list, it’s tough to decide where to start. This morning, as I climbed out of bed, way too early I might add, the first thing on my mind was to work some more on the irrigation system. My current irrigation ‘system’ consists of two faucets running directly from the city’s irrigation canal system. From those two faucets I have a garden hose attached to a twenty foot long pvc pipe with an irrigation sprinkler head attached to each end. Nothing fancy but it gets the job done. Still, dragging this thing around the yard is getting old.

timer and two gates
The only thing automatic about it is a timer set to run for one hour (or whatever limit I tell it) whenever I decide to turn it on.

A week ago I decided that six years of dragging this thing around was enough. It would be easy to rent a trench digger but being frugal – okay cheap – I am digging trenches as I need them. The first part of my new irrigation system is to run a main water line to several positions around the entire yard from where will run drip irrigation and soaker hoses. No more overhead watering, yeah! No more dragging the DIY portable irrigation system around, yeah!

I had already connected pipe and ran it the length of the west fence and buried it. This photo shows grass clippings I have been saving along the fence for a couple of years now in hopes of protecting the pipe from the weather so I would not have to bury it. But in the end I decided to bury it anyway.

This will connect to another faucet at the garden shed. I cannot hook it up yet until I get to the end of the whole thing, i.e., all faucets must be on line before I tap into the currently working system. As I was burying the pipe that will connect the working faucet to the rest of the yard I got the bright idea to expand the Deck Side Garden across the two gates (shown in the photo above) and permanently anchor the largest of the two gates. That gate never gets used except to mow the grass under it so it was a very easy decision to lock it down and turn the grassy area into another garden bed, namely an extention of the existing neighboring bed. Any time I can cut down on grass to cut I am all for it.

Why not put a gravel and stepping stone path under the working gate? Sure, why not indeed. So that is just what I did today. Shown here is as far as I got today. I really can't complete the stepping stones until the pipe is hooked up to this faucet and then buried.

The thermometer hit 93 and the call of a couple of fans and the tall cold glass of iced tea won me over. I’ll finish tomorrow morning. Or maybe the next day.


Playing with Picasa

Posted by PicasaPicasa Collage feature

Just some random photos from a few beds to see how a collage would look. Looks pretty good I think.


© 2007 -2011 - Utah Valley Gardens - All photos and content copyrighted by Utah Valley Gardens unless otherwise attributed. The use of photographs posted on this site without permission is forbidden and is protected by copyright law, as is all original text.

Blogger templates made by AllBlogTools.com

Back to TOP