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.


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