April Fool

The joke’s on me! I had no time in March to write my second Blog. We had solar installed instead – quite the process. We’re still chasing pantry moths, though not as many. The exterminator I spoke with said, “It’s a process.” Indeed!

So what with one thing and another, I have had no time to Blog about the spring garden. And I’m not gardening because it turned cold – April Fools – and wet.

I’m out of excuses. Here are some of my favorite spring photos from the past week.

The sweet gum tree against the still-winter sky.

My three-year-old red bud. I was told it wouldn’t survive. It’s thriving!

Bleeding heart starting to bloom. A bit early.

Daffodils this week. Maybe tulips next if the sum comes out.

If the weather ever turns spring-like, I may Blog more. Happy April!

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Time Passes

I put my head down in early March, preparing for NaNoWriMo Camp and just today looked at the calendar. Only to discover I had arrived at the end of April. Time passes quickly!

Plenty going on in the garden. Asparagus season is rolling to a close. A ten-year old viburnum that never flowers has decided to flower.

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Jim has started the annual rebuilding of the garden wall. With Juno looking on. Love that my dogs garden with us!

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We planted two new trees, a Forest Pansy Redbud and a Red Oak. It looks like this will be a drier spring than normal, so I’m committed to hauling water hose and buckets for my baby trees.

So despite time’s fly-by, spring has been productive with only one stumble. One of our neighbors down the road rented the field behind ours and brought out a huge sprayer to cover the weeds with … what? I think 2, 4-D but I don’t know for sure. Certainly he wasn’t fertilizing those weeds?

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But he is in shirt sleeves, wearing no protective gear, so I wonder if he read the label. Assuming it was an herbicide. I walked out and stood menacingly, arms akimbo. Did he stop to tell me what he was doing? He did not! Lucky for us, our garden is quite a distance away, so I hope we didn’t get any overspray on the asparagus or garlic or baby sugar snap peas.

As a cautionary note, if you are using a pesticide, pull the label out and read the entire thing. You’ll find lots of amazing information there, including what protective gear you need and whether the target area is safe for children and pets.

I’ve marked my calendar for another Blog next week. Hopefully time won’t get away from me again!

Spring Tour

Mostly photos for this Blog.

Decided to do more containers this year. Here are some African daisies (Osteospermum) and Easy wave petunias.

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A container from Sullivan’s. For those who live around the KC Metro area, great place to shop on select Saturdays!

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Supertunias silverberry. We’ll see how they do in containers.

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Clematis – always a sure thing!!

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One of the new ‘almost black’ sedums. I was certain it had died last fall, but here it is thriving!

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Pink tulips year two. Color me happy!

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Alium – also another tried and true returning plant. I always mean to buy more, then think I have too much in this garden!

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Can you spot Fat Boy behind the climbing hydrangea? This is year two for the hydrangea and it’s really starting to climb. We’ll have to see whether it decides to flower…

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And this is year two for strawberries. Looks like we’ll have lots. Yum!

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The yard is starting to look like something! Stay tuned for more raised beds… coming soon!

Deck with a View

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I’ve always wanted an herb garden near the house. This is my ‘mixed metaphor’ plot. We’ll see what it looks like once the basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, and flowers fill in.

Kansas Blues

Three years ago, long before I even imagined taking the Master Gardener classes, I planted blueberry bushes on the north side of my house. Why the north? That’s where my mother planted hers. Growing up in NJ, we had blueberry bushes that I remember as at least ten feet tall and five feet wide.

I know I wasn’t able to pick the berries without a ladder.

So now, 50 some-odd years after childhood, I plunked three expensive-yet-straggly-looking blueberry bushes in the ground and hoped for the best.

Little did I know that acidic-loving blueberries hate Kansas soil. I’ve written about my soil test before. Blues grow best when the pH is 4.5 to 5. My soil, two years after planting, tested at 7.5.

Ouch!

I side-dressed with sulfur and again, hoped for the best. But at the end of last fall, I was pretty sure those bushes were dead. A bit of research led me to growing blueberries in containers.

I pre-ordered the right types of Blues (Top Hat and Northblue dwarf bushes), devised a soil-less mix of sphagnum peat moss and cedar mulch, and bought pots. Here is the result.

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Wandering through one of the big-box store nurseries about a month ago, I stopped to see what kind of Blues they were selling. Next to me, studiously reading labels, was a young man who seemed to be struggling to make a decision.

Me: “Buying some blueberries?”
Him: “Maybe.”
Me: “Have you had your soil test?”
Him: “Huh?”

Now imagine me giving forth, chapter and verse, about the proper growing conditions for blueberries versus the growing conditions in Kansas. And imagine him looking befuddled.

Him: “So I should add lime?”

Yippee for the chance to show off how much I know. I explain how lime reduces acid in the soil while sulfur increases it. By the end of my little nerdy lecture, that poor guy had moved on to raspberries. I had successfully prevented yet another disastrous planting of Blues in Kansas.

And now for the punch line.

Remember those Blues I planted in ignorance three years ago? Here they are today.

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Blueberry pie, anyone?

Asparagus Harvest

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This morning’s asparagus haul.

We grill it, steam it, add it to eggs and salads and casseroles. Anyone have ideas for fresh asparagus? Anyone successful at freezing it?

All’s Well that Ends Well?

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Saturday, I set my lettuces and cabbage seedlings outside on the deck to harden off. Out of enthusiasm, I didn’t bother to look up any how-to articles. Or maybe I thought I knew how this should go.

But if I had researched the hardening off process, I would have known that “…Initially, you will put plants outdoors only for short periods of time, perhaps for a couple of hours.”

The rationale? Seedlings started indoors are spoiled, delicate creatures. The harsh conditions out-of-doors may do them in.

Uh oh. Beginning day one, I left mine outside all day.

Lucky for me, Saturday was a bit cloudy since I also didn’t know that “…You’ll want to set them in a semi-shaded area of the yard. Gradually, you will increase the time plants are kept outdoors; you also will gradually increase their exposure to sun.”

Really? They’ve been outdoors for three days straight and at least eight hours a day.

I’m blaming the sudden change in weather for trying to rush the process. Today the thermometer on the deck reads 79.8 (that’s Fahrenheit). My worry is that the weather turned too warm for cool weather crops. I have to remind myself that in March we can still get more snow, much less more frost.

Reading on, I discovered a third important how-to, which is “…As part of acclimating the plants to the outdoors, you also will cut back on watering. This will allow plants to toughen and will prepare them for being transplanted.”

Oops. I watered my seedlings every other day, as usual.

Despite my errors of laziness and ignorance, my plants have thickened and grown. They don’t seem as leggy as they did under fluorescents. A couple of pots that hadn’t germinated now have.

I plan to transplant them to the garden on Sunday. That will give them a full six days of hardening off. Maybe it will be cloudy so that they won’t wilt in a day of full sun. And hopefully, we won’t have freezing temps before they have a chance to fully acclimate to the out-of-doors.

Need more information about hardening off? Look for Hardening Off Isn’t Hard from the University of Colorado, quoted in this Blog, and Hardening Off Transplants, from the University of Nebraska.