What a title for a post, right? It fits. People ask me all the time why I garden. It is a lot of work – especially when you garden on 2 1/2 acres. There are weeds to pull, land to till, never enough mulch and it gets darn hot in the afternoon in Indiana when you are working in full sun. No matter how much I amend my soil not every plant makes it – and most grow quite slowly. I seldom fertilize unless it is organic fertilizer. I do spread compost but not as much as I would like to or as is necessary for a garden this size. I don’t water on a regular basis either. The cost is one reason and not enough time to do everything that needs done is the other. This year health issues have also come into play.
I have learned weeds are a fact of life. I cannot keep every bush, tree or plant perfectly pruned alone. Not given the sheer number of plants I have. I have learned to relax a little and realize I can only do so much. I no longer have a fellow gardener to work with – not since Jerry passed away. Yet I am not giving up. I am just stepping back. Observing. Allowing nature to run its course. Not every plant will survive. Not every plant is meant to survive. This is life. Next year will be better. Next year I will survey the garden, make a list of what stays and what goes then begin the daunting task alone.
As a gardener one problem I frequently run into is the ability to get light into the center of my plants. I grow a lot of tropical plants. Since I live in Indiana these plants are grown in the greenhouse over winter and even with supplemental lighting getting the light where it needs to go is difficult. When I heard about the Ultimate Plant Cage I was excited to give it a try. I knew – if it worked like they said it did – that it would make gardening under low light conditions easier and during the summer months when I have full sunlight, I knew my plants would thrive in a way they never had.
I also find that often plants become unruly as they grow. Using a trellis is an option but sometimes simply does not display the plant so it looks great. The Ultimate Plant Cage helps keep plants growing upright and offers a solution for keeping those unruly stems under control. This means you end up with bigger, healthier and happier plants that you can truly showcase.
The Ultimate Plant Stakes truly help #supportplants and do not break or rot the way bamboo stakes do. Not to mention bamboo is the perfect hiding place for bugs and mites which then attack your plants. The Ultimate Plant Stakes support your plants in the same basic way bamboo stakes done but have numerous advantages. They do not hold water, they are adjustable so you can adjust them to fit the height of your plants as they grow – up to 36″ – and are made of high quality plastic. This means you can use them for years to come. You can use them alone or with the Ultimate Plant Cage.
We moved here in August 2004 and I brought plants with me. Some I had grown for many years and some had just been bought that summer. I also brought tubs full of seeds in anticipation of having acreage that I could garden on. Over the years I have watched the garden change drastically. Some plants live – some die. This past winter was the worst one since moving here. I am seeing plants begin to die off that I thought had made it through the winter. My roses took a hard hit and until they bloom I’m honestly not sure if what I am seeing come up from ground level is the actual rose I bought or grafting stock. I do plant my roses so the graft is two to three inches below ground – so there is a good chance that the roses – while killed back to ground level – did survive. Even my Rugosa roses are showing mass damage. The poppy in the photo above made it through the winter and has spread. I love this poppy so I am excited about that.
In this post I am going to share some photos of plants in my garden with you. I have realized that I take the photos, put them on my hard drive and never look at them again. It is time to stop doing that and start sharing. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments on this post. We are all here to learn from one another.
Even though the sun is shining and spring is on it’s way, the cold nip of the wind still hangs in the air. The garden beckons – and I obey. It is muddy – but drier today than a few days ago. The brisk breeze moves the wind chimes – sometimes ever so slightly, sometimes violently. It is a sound I enjoy and often hear late at night or first thing in the morning upon awakening. Many of the wind chimes are now broken so I cherish the few that are left. I don’t know when I might be able to replace the missing ones.
Many of the bird houses and feeders are on the ground – and some of the birdbaths are now broken. These past few years – especially last year – made it hard to get into the garden to do any type of upkeep. It shows. There is dead plant material and leaves everywhere. Plant tags are scattered. The entire garden is in disarray. Weeds linger that should have been removed long before they ever bloomed – but bloom they did and thus the seven year weed seed cycle begins again. This time I fight the battle alone – or so it seems.
It has been a long, snowy winter here in Indiana. The large amounts of snow and extreme cold temperatures prevented me from getting the greenhouse up and going in January as I usually do. I am glad the severe weather hit before the greenhouse was put up. I’m convinced that the amount of snow we received would have destroyed the plastic covering – and even if that had not been the case, there is no way the heater I use would have kept the plants warm enough. On the downside, no greenhouse means I didn’t get most of my seeds sown. It looks like it is going to be a late spring, so maybe this is a blessing.
Today we had a heatwave – upper 50’s and lower 60’s (F). I had ventured outside briefly yesterday but today – with the warm temperatures – I couldn’t resist spending most of the day outside in the garden. The ground is soppy wet in some places and frozen or covered in piles of snow in other places. I don’t remember another spring quite like this one since we have lived here. Typically I would have more than just hellebore and witch hazel (picture above) in bloom by now. Typically I would be planting the early spring vegetable garden. This is not a typical year.
I really love growing my own celery and typically start the seeds of this wonderful plant on January 12. Since I am in Indiana, I do not end up with stalks of celery but I do not try for that either. I grow the plant in the ground and harvest the leaves. I dry them in my dehydrator and use them as seasoning. I have thought about trying to grow celery in my high tunnel or even in a container just to see if I could get stalks, but to date I have not done this. Have any of you – in cold, short season climates – figured out how to get celery to mature and produce stalks?
Soak celery seeds for 2 to 8 hours to increase germination. It can take anywhere between 14 and 25 days for celery seed to germinate, depending on the exact variety.
Celery Amsterdam Seasoning: This variety is ideal for me because it is grown for the celery flavored leaves the plant produces. It does not form thick stalks – so if that is what you are after, this is not the variety for you. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and 8 inches apart in the garden.
Filed under Seed Starting, Seed Starting and Cut Flower Production Calendar January by on Jan 25th, 2014. 1 Comment.
National Wildlife Week 2014 will take place from March 17-23 this year and will celebrate wildlife and our mutual connection to Water. Water is a life source for all living creatures (whether human, animal or plant) and each of us depend on having clean and safe waterways. Over the course of the week, NWF and its partners will highlight this connection by exploring our waterways – From the Mountains to the Rivers to the Oceans.
NWF will shed light on the connection between wildlife and water by examining over 40 different featured species across the country, from the endangered Hawaiian monk seal to swamp rabbits, whooping cranes and loons, spring peepers to spotted salamanders, rainbow trout to walleye and blue crab to dragonflies.
You can get involved by adding an activity or lesson each day to do at home, school or with a youth group in your community. Host an event highlighting wildlife, such as learning to fish, taking a hike along a waterway, or even planting trees to help clean our water and provide habitat for wildlife. Or even join in our social media campaign to get students and adults aware about wildlife and the important role of water.
To be completely honest with you, I am not a fan of onions. I just don’t like the taste of them. They are a member of the Allium family however and do have a place in every garden. So, what do I do with the onions I grow? I donate them to local food pantries, soup kitchens and sometimes people I know who are in need as part of the Plant-A-Row For The Hungry Program.
I even plant onions in my flower beds around my roses. Members of the Allium family planted around roses do several things – the roses have a stronger smell, a biochemical is released that repels aphids and prevent black spot on roses. Now, don’t ask me exactly how this works, because I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that it does work. This is why there are so many varieties of onions, garlic and even ornamental Alliums growing throughout the property.
It is a good idea to pre-chill onion seeds for at least 30 days before planting them. This is easy to do. Simply put the seed packets in a plastic bag or other sealed container and put them in the refrigerator. Keep them dry. I often store seeds left over from previous years – or seeds I bought in the fall – in the refrigerator. I put the seed packets in small plastic bags, then put those in plastic containers with a lid.
Filed under Seed Starting, Seed Starting and Cut Flower Production Calendar January by on Jan 10th, 2014. 2 Comments.
Statice, botanically known as Limonium, is a wonderful flower to grow for fresh or dried floral arrangements, potpourri and other floral crafts. The flower heads are made up of numerous florets – which are tiny flowers. I prefer to start my statice seeds indoors in peat pellets because they are so small and need the extra growing time. I typically start my statice seeds on January 10.
I sow one tiny seed per peat pellet or soil block. I spread the seeds out on a paper plate and use a pair of tweezers to pick the seeds up one at a time. They are small, black, tiny and very slippery. These seeds require a good amount of patience to sow them in this manner. I lay the tiny seed on top of the peat pellet and do not cover it. I make sure it is making good contact with the soil and then very lightly sprinkle a bit on vermiculite on top. The average germination time is 10 to 20 days.
Statice Rainbow Mixed Colors:
The seed packet for this variety says it blooms one year after planting. I know for a fact, if you start the seeds indoors early enough you can get blooms the first year. In cold climates this is important because they won’t survive the winter outdoors. The mature height of the plant is 2 1/2 feet. This variety is heat and drought tolerant making it an ideal addition to rock gardens.
Filed under Seed Starting, Seed Starting and Cut Flower Production Calendar January by on Jan 9th, 2014. 3 Comments.
Starting peas early in the year is not something most people think about – but did you know you can plant peas as early as January 6 in Indiana, USDA Hardiness Zone 5 and 6? While I didn’t get out into the garden or hoop house to plant my pea seeds this year because of the blizzard, I have done it plenty of times in the past. Sometimes the pea seeds I plant later in the year germinate faster, however the ones I plant this early come up stronger – and the difference in germination times is two to three days.
So what’s the point of going out in the cold weather and planting pea seeds if they don’t germinate earlier? Well there are several advantages. The first one is you have one more crop planted and ready to go come spring. This has made a huge difference here because during the early spring months it gives me more time in the greenhouse and barn to deal with seedlings and baby animals. As I said, the plants are actually stronger – something that I hadn’t expected but saw with my own eyes. Another advantage is you don’t have to worry about how wet your garden is come spring – and we all know you shouldn’t work wet soil.
Here is a little bit of basic information on seed starting. First, most pea seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days – the exception being the ones you plant before the ground begins to warm up. It is best to direct sow pea seeds in the garden and I do cover my pea seeds with row cover or plant them inside a tomato cage. This helps prevent critters from digging them up and they climb on the tomato cages once they begin to grow making harvesting easier. An alternative to tomato cages is garden netting. Sow pea seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. A good rule of thumb is to make the planting hole twice the depth of the actual seed. As you can see from the photo above, pea seeds come in different colors and sizes. This is why knowing how deep to plant each seed is important. Planting seeds too deep affects germination. The seeds in the photo above are ones I saved from my own garden.
Filed under Seed Starting, Seed Starting and Cut Flower Production Calendar January by on Jan 8th, 2014. 1 Comment.