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.

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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.


Garlic and Early Stardrift

>> Monday, June 27, 2011

In November 2008, I planted 9 cloves of garlic divided among six locations around the roses in order to help keep aphids away. Today, I pulled up 19 garlic heads ranging in size from a quarter to golf ball.

I think planting the garlic might have worked because I seem to remember having more of a problem with aphids before planting it. But I guess there’s no real way to determine if I would have had more had I not planted the garlic.

After cleaning them I researched how to braid them and did a thoroughly sloppy version of a braid but they are braided and are now hanging in the garage shed for the next two weeks where I hope they will cure sufficiently enough that I can use them.

I also dug up a bunch of Early Stardrift aka Striped Squill, because they did not bloom very well this year, a sure sign of over-crowding. Boy, were they ever over-crowded. In November 2006, I planted 10 bulbs in front of a couple of roses bushes, they were spread out pretty thin but I knew they would multiply and fill in. They have spread out to fill-in a space 40” long and 8-10” wide. This batch in the photo is from one clump about 12” across. There must be over 100 bulblets in here. Now I need to decide where to replant them and all the others that will be dug up.

I love getting new bulbs to spread around.



>> Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mulch is one of those things we don’t typically give a lot of thought to. We are pretty sure we need it because everyone else is spreading it around their gardens.

But when we get to our favorite garden supply center and see the different types of mulch we either scratch our heads and wonder what type to get or we just buy what’s on sale. After all, mulch is mulch, right? Well, in the general sense of what mulch is used for, the answer is yes. But what you want the mulch to do will determine whether you want the bark chips, the shredded stuff or something else entirely.

Summer Mulches
During the hot summer months plants need mulch to moderate soil temperatures, retain moisture and reduce weeds and diseases.

At this time, mulches are applied to annual and perennial beds and woody plants. For annuals, a fast-decomposing organic mulch of some kind works well: compost, leaves, pine needles, straw, grass clippings (not too thick), even newspaper or thin cardboard. For perennials and woody plants, you may want something a little more permanent and attractive: wood chips or bark, for example. These mulches come in different colors and in materials with different rates of decomposition. Some are more prone to being tossed by the wind. Some lose their color more quickly. And some cost more than others.

If cost is a concern, check with your local parks department or tree trimming service. Quite often they have it sitting around and want to get rid of it. Although be aware that since more and more people are gardening they may see that mulch as a source of income. But in many cities that pile of wood chips are still free for the taking.

Rock can be used as mulch but it is almost never a good choice because it does not moderate soil temperature, and it is almost impossible to remove once it is put down.

Winter Mulches
Winter mulches have a different function. They are used to protect plants against the freeze/thaw cycle and are most effective if put down after the ground has frozen - late November - and removed in mid to late March. The idea is to keep the ground frozen and prevent the plant from coming out of dormancy triggering a new growth during a brief warm spell. Apply a winter mulch to perennials and woody plants, especially newly planted plants. Hopefully you’ve been keeping your garden beds watered right up until the hard frost.

Use any loose, insulating material. Keep in mind that you’ll need to remove the mulch in the spring, or at least rake it aside. So choose a material that’s easy to handle. Shredded mulch, straw, pine needles or shredded leaves are all easy to remove or easy to work into the soil.



>> Thursday, June 23, 2011

We humans like to have things on a schedule, I suppose it helps us believe we are in some sort of control. But deep down we all understand that nature controls everything in the garden. Sure we can mix up some 'booster fertilizer' recipe that has been handed down through generations to help get tomatoes ahead of everybody else, or just help our little dependent plants get off to a good start. But if the weather isn’t right ‘it ain’t gonna grow’.

It has taken two weeks for these plants to go from here. . . 

Tomato Juliet June 9

Tomato Cherokee Purple June 9

to here . . . 
Tomato Juliet June 20

Tomato Cherokee Purple June 20

These tomato plants have some BIG shoes to fill.
Tomato Juliet last year June 21
 I figure they are about a week to 10 days behind schedule but with the upcoming hot weather they'll get back on schedule in no time.


The Garden, She Is A Seductive Mistress

>> Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Went out into the garden today.
My sole intention was to just sit, enjoy the sunshine, listen to the wildlife and read a book.
Before I realized what was happening, my gardener self had pulled weeds, spread mulch, deadheaded flowers, planted a squash, and was digging for bulbs that did not come up this year.

All in all I believe I feel just as contented as if I had sat down and read a book.


Hydrangea Annabelle Finally Coming of Age

I first received this plant in May 2008. It was hard to believe that such a little slip of a plant had the potential of becoming such a beautiful large shrub.
Hydrangea Annabelle Hydrangea arborescens

It has taken three years to get its first blooms. Now, finally, the long awaited moment is upon us. Hydrangea Annabelle’s first blooms. Well, almost. Okay, maybe I'm pushing it just a bit. I feel like this photo is one of those scanner pictures that baby doctors take of expectant mothers. A baby in the womb sort of thing. But I just know its gonna be big, really big. These little buds can get up to 12" across. This thing is, what, maybe 1" across.
First bloom?

Anyway, this plant is pretty rare around Utah. At least to me it is. In all my travels throughout this state I have found but a handful. I was beginning to think it would be too much trouble to get it to grow here, much less get it to bloom.

The shrub is a remnant of a memory from my childhood. My grandmother had one of these proudly displayed in her front yard. I remember walking up the pathway to her front door and this thing just about covered the whole front porch. And the fragrance was heaven. This one is sitting right next to our back deck and I simply cannot wait to get a whiff of it when we are sitting out there eating supper or just relaxing.

I've actually tried growing two other hydrangea at this house and neither made it past the first winter. I'm either getting better at prepping the planting hole or my luck is simply changing. Either way I was ecstatic when  I saw these blooms forming.

Any day now I'm going to look over the deck railing and see this starring back at me:

This photo comes from www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com


Puttering Around the Garden

Picked some peas this morning but all in all it is turning out to be a very disappointing harvest. They taste sweet enough it's just that we have had too much rain and they haven't grown as well as they usually do. Plus, they are just tiny.

Trimmed the Aster ‘Snowdrift’ to allow one of the petunia's more room. When I planted these two Asters in 2008 this space was going to be just the right size, according to the description I was given when I ordered it. Little did I know it would get almost twice as large. Nowadays, every plant I buy I allow for an additional 20% growth in width.

My Acorn Squash has sprouted. One out of three seeds isn't too bad considering these seeds were saved from a squash were purchased at a local farmer's market last year.

You may be wondering why I started it in a pot instead of just straight in the ground, well, I have to confess I had no idea how things were going to work out this year as far as what was going to go where and I didn't want to wait any longer in case it got too late. What with the terrible gardening weather we have been having lately it would not have been too late to wait until next week. So I decided to start a bunch of plants in containers and counted on the weather co-operating by they time they got big enough to plant.

Radicchio ‘Variagata di Chioggia’ has sprouted. About a dozen plants have broken ground and boy are they small. I can just barely see them but in no time at all they'll be big enough to eat. This is the second batch this year. The first batch was in a raised bed that was planned for the squash and pumpkins. Again the weather slowed things down.

The Butternut Squash has gotten large enough to go into a bed so I put it at the foot of a ladder trellis I built for this purpose. In all the years I have grown squash this is the first time I've tried it on a trellis. Normally I just let it spread out but I'm testing the 'vertical' theory this year. Hope I didn't get it too close to the pepper plants.

 Same story with the Pumpkin Orange Smoothie. Each pumpkin will only weigh around eight pounds so a vertical trellis should hold them just fine. They are not sitting on little hills but they will do just fine.

Gotta go check on my stem cuttings. This is the first time I ever took cuttings so I'm pretty anxious over how its going to turn out.



Residents of the Valley

>> Monday, June 20, 2011

My wife and I decided to take a walk along the Jordan River Parkway between 12600 to 11400. It was a beautiful day and we hadn’t been along this stretch of the river since last Autumn. The river was up high and running very swiftly due to the Spring snow melt from the Wasatch Mountains. In other parts of the state the unusually heavy runoff is causing many problems for homeowners and farmers. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have lost homes, farm land, and loved ones. But where we live, far south Salt Lake City, we have only experienced minor flooding over parts of the trail.
flooding at 11400 bridge
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Close relative of the Red-winged Blackbird, which are everywhere along the river, this is the first time I have seen this bird this far south of wildlife refuge at the Great Salt Lake. Their call is a very distinctive squawk, much like a parrot and has often been described as a ‘rusty hunge’. They make their nests attached to cattails and reeds over water.

These cliff swallows have built their mud nests under every bridge crossing the Jordan River. They are very social birds and often make their nests in large colonies. It is not unusual to see 10-20 of them at a time gracefully swooping through the air just above the water grabbing flying insects by the hundreds


This Killdeer sat here for a very long time, quite unusual for these because they seem to be constantly on the move. These are becoming more common around here as sections of the Jordan River are being converted into wetlands areas.

These guys, as well as the Mallard duck, are all along the river and very often we see them resting in farm fields on both sides of the river.

We heard frogs. I have yet to actually see a frog around here, but today with the abundance of extra water, we heard several. And we also saw what looked like a red fox bounding across a meadow of high grass. There was no way I could get a photo but another first for us here in the valley.

New Flowers
The greenery is especially nice for mid-June this year after the extra rain and the extended pleasantness that is Spring. We, my wife Linda and I, saw many new flowers.

These poppies were quite unusual for the river environ. I’m pretty sure someone tossed some seeds to see if they would take. I want to thank whoever did it. Very nice touch.

The weather may be giving us gardeners a few challenges in our backyards this year but what we get in exchange along the river more than makes up for it.


Central Utah Gardens Water Conservation Garden

One of several of Utah’s water conservation gardens, created to demonstrate and encourage the wise use of water in Utah landscapes, is located in the Central Utah Water Conservancy District.

At the gardens and in their series of classes you will learn the 7 steps of water-efficientlandscaping, also known as waterwise landscaping. Often, when people think of saving water in a landscape, they picture a yard full of rock, cactus, and yucca plants. Water-efficient landscapes can be anything from an English cottage garden style to a formal garden to a southwest garden style. The key is to follow the seven water-efficient landscaping steps that help you use water wisely in your Utah landscape.

To learn how you can cut down on our water usage for landscaping visit a water conservation demonstration garden and be informed.

355 W. University Parkway
Orem, UT


Sego Lily Gardens

Sego Lily Gardens, winner of Best of State Utah 2011 for their conservation efforts, is sited on 2.5 acres in the heart of Sandy, surrounded by residential homes and is one of the first demonstration gardens along the Wasatch Front to emphasize low-water use plants and landscaping. They have done an outstanding job of displaying plants native to Utah and the staff is very informative and eager to answer any questions. I went with the idea of learning what plants are already adapted to our local environment and I was not disappointed.

On display are a large variety of drought tolerant plants, including trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, groundcovers and vines. The gardens are simply beautiful and every plant is clearly identified.

There are over 1,100 plants at Sego Lily Gardens and different types of irrigation systems. Overall it was a very informative visit and I encourage everyone to make plans to see what you too can learn on water conservation techniques and what plants are best adapted to our climate.

Sego Lily Gardens
1472 East Sego Lily Drive (10200 South)
Sandy, UT


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