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FALL'S IN THE AIR!
Category: gardening | Posted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 7:42 pm
The trees aren't losing their leaves yet, but all the signs are there: the feel and smell of the air; sounds of the birds gathering for migration; seeing pickup loads of fresh cut firewood being hauled off the Mountain; and seeing the differances in the animal's coats as they get themselves prepared for what's fastly coming..WINTER!
So far, we've had beautiful weather for September in this part of Wyoming, very DRY but beautiful none-the-less. Days are still quite warm, nights have put frost on the pumpkin in some local areas, but..to date..have been "spared" at this location, a REAL ODDITY! Time is limited so have been busy with fall cleanup and trying to get as much done/prepared for the next growing season. As containers have been denuded of what grew in them, they've been hauled into workshop, emptied, soil "reworked" then marked and bagged. All needed to do next spring is water the soil down, add compost, fertilizer and transplants. As workshop is HUGE, I have plenty of room to make a GOOD mess and store everything.
Last two days, it's been taking cuttings from various plants and prepping them for starting. If anyone looked in the fridge, they'd be in total SHOCK: have one whole shelf covered with cuttings of scented geraniums and ivy geraniums that need "callusing" before having their little feet placed in soil to begin rooting and a warm place to do it. The scenteds will be grown in large styrofoam cups (that let forming root systems "breathe"), the ivies are slated to go right into sphagnum moss-lined hanging baskets to begin their growth: all will be quite LARGE by May. Am not propagating any zonal geraniums this year..am, literally, overrun with them..just giving the ones in containers a drastic cutting back and fertilizer to ease the shock of what they've underwent (I really DO have a "heavy hand" with the clippers, nothing is safe when I start in!). A few have already gotten the treatment, are already showing new growth, should begin blooming along about March and continue on thru the summer despite of how they've been treated this month. They're like the Duracell Bunny: just keep going and going, are really amazing!
Was given a neat little Australian Shepard three weeks ago to replace my Saint Bernard I lost in August. Is very well mannered; extremely QUIET; LOVES to ride in the truck; is a real joy to have! Didn't take him long to begin "ruling the roost" but isn't overbearing about it, just lets me know..for sure!..what's what around here! He's on a DIET due to fact he's one bubbly chubby guy: couldn't believe it when the Vet looked, from the back, at him sitting down and LAUGHED saying: "Buddy's PERFECTLY PEAR-SHAPED! Small head, HUGE BUTT!" So, diet it is for him: weight-watchers canned and dry chow; diet cookies and bones; absolutely NO table scraps. It's working as can be witnessed by his expanding energy level..NOW, if only I could do the same!!
Back to work! Went fishing a week ago: lake had just "rolled over", caught nothing but did manage to be privvy to the Canadian Geese "discussing" about leaving for Southern pastures. The breezes are still warm; the trees are "talking"; the antelope have cleaned up the remainder of the fallen apples: YEP! Fall's here!
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GOOD WEATHER..BAD WEATHER
Category: gardening | Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:29 pm
Has been a very "squirrely" year for growing with as much as a 40 degree temp differance between day and night, day after day. The cool weather crops, and a lot of the flowers, have just LOVED it but the poor tomatoes have suffered drastically as a result! The big, lush plum tomato plants are about to be pulled up as they're suffering extreme blossom end rot despite soil treatments AND spraying for the problem..so much for the salsa this season! However, have other tomato varieties that are doing quite well, picked 5 this morning that are as big as baseballs, totally blemish free with several others "coming" on each plant: all is not a total loss in that category anyway, and there's always Green Tomato Pie or green tomato relish to be made if they don't get a chance to ripen on the vine.
Curcubits have produced nicely; Swiss Chard is more than I could hope for (as was the Red Russian kale); Nadia eggplants (a purple Italian variety with no bitterness and very few seeds)are setting fruit FAST! The zinnias, double petunias/single blossomed ones, pansies, hanging ivy geranmiums and zonals have far outdone themselves as have the herbs with the cooler nights we've had, have been little hummingbird magnets, especially in the evenings. Did have lovely roses and tiger lilies til the ANTELOPE discovered the "delicacies", DENUDED the plants along with a few other bushes in the front yard as the browsed their way thru to greener pastures. Enjoy seeing them, tho': (the does..or females) have the longest BLACK eyelashes imagineable; the males sport very ebony black horns (that they never shed like other members of the deer family) and this years' kids are just adorable! Have had as many as five in front yard at once, others are here on a daily basis looking for fallen apples off trees on property, so is a busy place at times (is sad, but the antelope are being pushed off their native feeding grounds by the never-ending building in this area, are seeking new areas to graze and it just happens to be in the residential ones).
Lost my "Big Buddy", my constant companion Saint Bernard, last week. Was expected because of his age, was..at least..a peaceful passing and he's now interred in a nice "doggie cemetary" out in the quiet countryside. House is too quiet without him; is hard to water plants every day and not have him there by my side; think something of me left with him as he was such a sweetheart! Am still not "right" over the loss, will be very hard to find a replacement when the time comes.
Last edited: Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:30 pm
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FINALLY it's GROWING WEATHER
Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:43 pm
Mother Nature couldn't make up Her mind what she wanted to do weather-wise, but OUT a number of plants went the first week in June. Rather felt like I was "throwing them to the wolves" for a while there as temps were up and down, were like riding a pogo stick, never knew from one day to the next what to expect! Needless to say, there were several plant varieties that just sat there looking back at me, almost asking "WHY have you done this to me?".
The weather broke just a few weeks ago, everything has been "triggered" into a fast pace of growth to say the least! A Marianna's Peace tomato, put out in latter May and wrapped with plastic, has now gone over the top of the cage which is 3 feet high, is setting fruit and has too many blossoms to count. The others (Oregon Spring; Grandma Mary's Paste; Original Goliath; Ugly; Bush Early Girl; and hybrid Patios) are coming into their own right, appear to be growing INCHES per day, and are beginning to bloom. Two zuchinni plants, in a large container, are doing what only zuchinnis can do: are producing squashes like there's no tomorrow! Other squashes, and cukes, are trying to play "catch up", even an heirloom winter squash variety I'm leaving in the greenhouse to assure it won't be killed by frost before fruits can ripen (am hand-pollinating these to be SURE they'll produce). What looked like was going to be a sure bust gardening season has, amzingly, turned around and become VERY promising indeed, not only for the veggies, but flowers and herbs as well (have a Russian tarragon plant, started from seed 3 years ago, that's topping out at SIX FEET TALL!).
My absolute pride and joy, however, are double petunias started from seed this spring and put into hanging baskets. I counted OVER 20 opened, very double white/purple and white/red frilly blooms on one basket yesterday. Had only gotten packages of 30 seeds for each color, germination was 50%, and when transplanted into the baskets, seedlings were extremely SMALL, looked almost lost in the 12 inch containers. When transplanting the seedlings, I lined the inside of plastic baskets HEAVY with dampened sphagnum moss for better water retention, plants are now overflowing them in all directions and offer a beautiful "spicy" aroma if you're anywhere within the vicinity of where they're at.
Yes..it's finally "growing weather". Didn't believe it'd EVER arrive, but it's HERE in all it's glory!
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Why I have gray hair
Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:48 pm
At this time yesterday morning I was diligently weeding out a front rose bed again. It was almost 80 degrees with a 20 mile an hour warm breeze blowing, sun was hot, skies were crystal blue. Rains came in during the night, along with MORE wind, woke up to a temperature of 50 this morning..AND it's not supposed to get any warmer today!
This IS June..I think!..have been setting out veggie starts, put in 14 various pepper plants just two days ago that were the "Last of the Mohegans" to be transplanted into containers. Really was necessary to do so as the plants were beginning to set fruit in the greenhouse, couldn't wait any longer!
Eggplants were put out several days before, had to put up a windbreak in back of them for protection, and put partial protective "breaks" around most of the tomatoes (I use plastic sheets held on to cages with old-fashioned wooden clothespins for easy removal later on), am keeping my fingers crossed it's been ENOUGH way things are going weather-wise!
So far, things LOOK like they've adapted to this pogo ride of temperature differances and still Artic-like winds very other day..or so..but I want to CRY when I look at the warm weather plants as I just know they're cold and struggling!
The cool weather plants, and herbs, are just LOVING these extremes however, and the flowers don't seem to be minding what they're subjected to either: are blooming away! Some look a bit tattered from the winds, but the pansies, petunias and verbenas are continually putting forth new color all the time, are really strong little devils that absolutely amaze me to no end with their sturdiness!
At one time, I had nice brown hair, but this Wyoming gardening, and weather, has taken care of THAT: it's now all very silvery-gray! The term "you can't fight Mother Nature" must have originated in this State, but being a thick-headed gardener, gotta keep on a'tryin' every year..regardless. So yesterday was 80, today it's 50: give it a few days and it'll be 90 with blast furnace heat and NO breeze what-so-ever. Just HOPE my plants can hold on til then... .
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Webbed feet and feathers..
Category: gardening | Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 4:42 pm
For the last several years this area has suffered extreme drought conditions, for the last several days its been weather for the DUCKS: rain, rain and MORE rain with cool temps (in the 40's) to boot! Rivers are swollen too capacity with snow runoff and with what's fallen the last week, ground is saturated to a depth of four inches then peters out below that where it turns into the local "concrete". Had hooked up the 100 foot hose over a week ago to begin watering outside plants, and its been patiently sitting ever since, wondering exactly WHAT its purpose in life is. The front "hayfields", mowed a short eight days ago, will need a John Deere with a rotary scythe to do it the next time around, and the weeds are big and rampart!
However, cool weather plants (cabbages, kales, Swiss chards, spinach and herbs) already out have simply flourished! The Red Russian kales, that were sitting and pouting for over a month, are just about three feet high and ready for its first picking, the window box of spinach is literally "overflowing its banks" with lush, dark green foilage also begging to be harvested and enjoyed. Cabbages are beginning to head, and the chards are looking better all the time. As for the herbs (chives, green onions, garlic, garden sage, etc.)..anyone want some? The few flowers I've chanced on putting out early don't seem any the worse for wear, just a bit water-logged is all.
Tomato containers are all prepped and awaiting their summer wards that'll go in them as soon as this weather breaks; squashes and cukes, planted in peat pots, are screaming to get their roots in soil, am wondering where to put them all for best growing conditions. Have heirloom "Lakota" winter squashes, whose vines will run 10 feet, will definately have to put their container somewhere my delicate little Saint Bernards' feet won't trample them into oblivion, rest of things I'm not too worried about as they'll be in raised beds or easily moved containers that can be put anywhere with plenty of sun. I just want to get everything OUT and going now that the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen!
Our Wyoming winter has been a rough one with never-ending high winds since last October, snows more than we've seen last several years, now we're into a veritable monsoon season..which we drastically NEED! Everything that grows has seemed to be late this year til the rains, now appear to be making up for lost time with rapid growth and blooming periods. The Oriental poppies are lush bushes; the comfreys are taller than they have been; other things, that have laid dormant, are popping up everywhere you look..is NICE! We'll get the "dry period", for sure, later on when the hose will be put to GOOD use daily, and our "wet spring" will just become a memory as the webbed feet go back to normal, and we molt the feathers!
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Gaining Ground..I think!
Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:53 pm
Now that the snow's melted off and the never-ending winds have dried things up a bit, all I see is work, work and more work to be done outside. Was debating having the Siberian elms "cleaned out" again this season, but looks like there's no worry there: anything loose, dead or fragile is now on the ground, patiently awaiting pickup and a quick trip to the local landfill as a "mulch donation". Surveyed the leaf accumulation across front of property, appears to be another 18 bags worth..at least! Grass is growing faster than I'd like to see, looks like another bumper crop of weeds as well mixed in.
However, Oriental poppies, white valerian, lambs ear and comfrey in a front garden are up and looking good, lilacs are setting buds, and there's actually some "green" showing in herb bed as horehound, garden sage, hyssop, chives and a few other things show signs they made it thru the winter. French tarragon is off and running, noticed the spearmint and oregano aren't far behind, dish gardens of various sedums are "coloring" as well. Green bunch onions are almost a foot high, and there's an Earthbox of Red Russian kale starts, and one of early cabbages, OUT! Have them "caged" for time being, more to protect them from the wind than anything else, but they seem quite happy in their makeshift tents. Doesn't look too pretty, but you gotta do what you gotta do in this country!
Prepped all the Earthboxes (have 7 of them) and large containers left outside, are now ready for their 2008 plants after reworking the played out soil a bit, adding some builders to and much needed nitrogen sources. Soil is now nice and pliable, the two resident PEST red squirrels are having a field day re-digging them up for me on a daily basis, are probably looking for their peanuts (that are long gone!) they got somewhere and hid in them last fall..what can I say?
Plant starts are doing nicely, should have them out in greenhouse but winds' have been so bad, I can't get trays from sunroom to it without them taking off for parts unknown in the process! Do have gorgeous pansies out there tho', and have been picking GH leaf lettuce on a regular basis for a month, feel like a rabbit from eating it all.
Checked barrel composter yesterday after turning it's contents, was surprised to see some great black and sweet smelling compost in there, plants are gonna LOVE it! Another few weeks and it'll get emptied, will start another batch with old leaves and grass clippings plus ?, put it to good use! Will be adding comfrey as fast as it grows also.
Am gaining on things, slowly but surely, just can't WAIT to get everything outside now, get green things everywhere you look! Hanging baskets of ivy geranmiums on the old windmill, containers of other flowers here and there, tomatoes/peppers/eggplants/cukes and other edibles growing! I'm a very impatient gardener... .
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Signs That Spring IS Trying To "Sprung"
Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 3:45 pm
Tulips have begun to pop up all over the yards, and it looks like a few daffies are beginning to show also after the long, hard winter we've endured. See some "green" on the Oriental poppies, Johnny Jump Ups, bunch onions and sedums, even had the first antelope of the year wander thru back yard last weekend, surely a sign of better things to come! Weather's still doing its pogo-ride however: is near 50 one day, back to the 30's and SNOW the next, but at least it's melting off fast, actually contains a fair amount of moisture that we drastically need after several years of drought. Notice the birds are back at feeders in force, are singing their beautiful Spring songs, think it's almost time to brush the loose hair out of my Saint Bernard and let it "fly" for the birds to gather for nesting purposes again.
Inside, the sunroom is beginning to overflow with held-over ivy geraniums that, despite a DRASTIC cutting back last fall, are back to full size and blooming away (as are the zonals), shelves in front of big south-facing windows are crowded with trays of vegetable and flower seedlings, all waiting patiently til the day they can safely be put outside for the summer. Many of the seedlings should be put in the greenhouse, but every time I'm ready, the winds pick up and it's impossible to make the transfer without them suffering a "quick trip to the mall", windburn or experiencing a chill between here and there, so the jungle continues to grow in the small, crowded space. Mother Nature has really triggered the plants the last few weeks, another sign of impending Spring? Hopefully?
Time to plant tomatoes, and TIME I begin taking some photos with new digital camera so I can begin sharing growing experiences with everyone. Had been putting off purchasing one, but after seeing such great pictures on this site the "seed was planted", decided the time had come to finally "spring" into the 21st. Century and join the fun! Nice thing about a digital is I can always delete my OOPS! shots and try, try, try again!
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I'm ready..where's SPRING?
Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:40 pm
The snow has finally melted off yards, and I'm chompin' at the bit to start outside work! Was contemplating having the property boundry Siberian Elm trees "cleaned out" again this year, but after the winters' drastic winds we've had and looking at what's on the ground, I don't think it'll be necessary: everything that could come down did, will take a month to clean it all up!
Was all primed to begin on prepping outside Earthboxs, containers and raised beds few days ago, sadly discovered majority are still just a wee bit too froze, would need a jackhammer to dig in them. One raised bed, that gets a lot of sunlight, was manageable, so tackled that, perked it up with pelleted lime, wood ash and dried steer manure. Covered it with black plastic to warm the soil enough to plant beets and yellow onions ASAP, hopefully within the next few weeks. Rest? I'll just have to be patient I guess, grit my teeth and WAIT!
Now, inside is another story. Pots of pansies are blooming as are zonal and ivy geraniums that have been wintered over. Have trays of seedling peppers, flowers, and herbs growing in sunroom as well; an Earthbox of Red Russian kale going in greenhouse with 3 inch pots of blooming pansies and cabbage starts to keep it company for time being. In the house itself, a "Sherry Baby" orchid is putting up a flower spike, two kalachoes are blooming, and a "goldfish plant" is ready to burst foreward with brilliant color. An orchid cactus (that gets 7 1/2 inch bright red blooms)should put on its usual display in May, and a vanilla bean orchid is now at 3 feet tall. The African violets are like the Duracell Bunny: have been in almost constant bloom since early last fall, just keep going and going!
It's these plants that bring the greatest joy at this time of year when we're still getting periodic snow storms, their color just lifts the spirits to NO END, brings on mental pictures of greenery and color to come IF Spring/summer ever gets here!
I did notice yesterday, however, tulips are breaking ground, green scallions are beginning to color, some dish gardens of sedums are showing new growth, the lilacs are beginning to bud, and two variegated ivies (wintered over inside)have nearly doubled in size in just last few weeks, will be really lovely hanging off an old, full-sized whiskey barrel this summer.
I'm ready, now where is Spring?
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Old soil reuse
Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:30 pm
I have containers, pots, window boxs and raised beds full of soil that drastically need HELP! For last several years, have been hauling out two wheelbarrows, lining them with loose plastic sheets, emptying soil into one then using an ancient plastic hand sieve to sift soil into the other before putting in additives and refilling everything. This year I purchased a hand-operated rotary sieve in HOPES it'd make the backbreaking job just a wee bit easier..and BOY! has it!
In anticipation of the unit's arrival, I hauled in hanging baskets, containers I could MOVE easily and other pots full of soil into the sunroom, had 'em stacked everywhere! The rotary sieve arrived, got it put together, then realized I had NO WAY to get a wheelbarrow in there (and it was way too cold to work in garage or workshop), so now what? I wanted to start using the thing!
Sieve came in a box that was packaged within another box, discovered it was just right to set the 16 inch diameter new fangled object in, lined the box with a big plastic garbage bag to catch sifted soil and went to work.
It's truly amazing the amount of soil things hold til you empty them OUT, and would be a shame to not reuse it all! Took only minutes to get soils sieved: just half-filled the drum on rotary unit, sat on a bucket and turned the handle, watched the bag under it fill with SPEED, went "WHOA! This is too good to be TRUE!" as pot after pot, container after container of old, worn out soil disappeared into the depths of the garbage bag. When there wasn't room for any more, I put "processed" soil into empty heavy-duty wood pellet bags to sit til phase #2 came into operation, tied them off and stacked them..didn't take long to get a good supply on hand.
Phase #2 was "cutting in" new soil (Pro Mix BX) with the old to give it a boost at a 50-50 mixing rate. Made a scoop from an empty plastic bottle with a handle on it, worked beautifully for measuring soils.
Did three scoops of Pro Mix to three scoops of old, ran it thru the rotary sieve for blending, then rebagged and marked it as "done, ready for additives". Piece of cake!
Yesterday, I put together baskets of pansies and transplanted some Crego asters into bigger pots. Just opened a bag of the blend, scooped some soil into a bucket, added what I felt was needed ( a bit of bone meal, pelleted fertilizer, epsom salts and dried blood), dampened the soil with a liquid root booster, and tranplanted away to my hearts content! Sieved/blended soil was totally old root/stones and stick free, didn't clump, still retained enough perlite for lightning the soil, was just lovely to work with! As compost is still frozen solid, that'll be used to top off things later.. after a good sieving, of course!
As soon as weather permits (hopefully by late March) I'll tackle the raised beds and too-heavy-to-move containers outside, use the two wheelbarrow method so they won't feel left out, set the sieve in the largest and have at it, big time! Just LOVE that unit!!
(For general information: rotary sieve was purchased from Charley's Greenhouse and Supply of Mount Vernon, Washington. Cost was $64.95 on sale, has already about paid for itself.)
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Planting by the moon's phases
Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:46 pm
A full moon conjures up pictures of wolves howling, a witch riding his/her broomstick around the neighborhood, or pople just acting "loony" for some odd reason.
Folks who take stock in the moon phases think it's due to attractional forces created at that period in time. It appears to affect nature, and humans, in the strangest of ways.
Believers feel that plants also respond to these attractional pulls, the same ones that affect tides in the vast oceans of the world. They believe that this action stimulates root and leaf growth, seeds sprout faster, plants grow sturdier, harvests are heavier, and "bolting" is retarded. The method of planting by the lunar phases, and lineup of various planets at certain times, is an ages old practice that dates back hundreds of years, and believers swear it works! But, how do you even begin to grow this way? Where do you start?
When using the moon as a growing guide, two related lunar phases will surface: waxing and waning. Waxing occurs in the first two quarters between the new and the upcoming next full moon when light is increasing, is an excellant time for planting above ground crops. Believers feel that during this phase, more moisture is pulled to the surface to aid in the germination of seeds. Waning occurs in the third and fourth quarters AFTER a full moon when light is decreasing and energy is "drawing down" and is an excellant time to plant below ground crops. However, they also think that they should not plant directly on either the day of the new moon or a full one due to the changing forces of nature that the moon dictates.
The second factor in gardening by the moon are the astrological signs the moon is traveling through, which change every few days or so. The moon phase believers think that the most fertile times for planting/transplanting are during the water signs of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. Second best are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. The other signs are best suited to weeding, cultivation, and garden maintenance in general. There are a few exceptions to the rule, one being melons that seem to enjoy being planted under the Gemini sign which is thought to be arid and barren.
Calenders that we all have hanging in our kitchens have the moon phases on them. The Old Farmers Alamanac annually prints an astrological planting guide using the moon and planets to one's advantage. If you are truly interested in gardening by the moon, it is highly recommended you purchase a calender specifically formulated for your growing season whether it be a short, or long, one. It will explain everything in detail right down to the best for starting seeds, transplanting, or planting directly out in the garden.
Visit www.gardeningbythemoon.com , an excellant source of more information about planting in accordance with the moon phases/astrological signs. It's a fascinating field of interest, and gardeners SWEAR they get great results. It has certainly helped me to know when I should be baying at the moon, riding around on my motorized broomstick, planting seeds, or just mowing the grass. As for the loony part, what CAN I say?
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