Autumn Chores in the Garden

Today is predicted to be the last good weather day for a couple of weeks.   So, with that in mind,  I have spent the day taking care of some end of season gardening chores.  I really enjoy growing plants from seed, so the first thing I did today was to gather all the seed that I wanted to save for next year.  Growing from seed is not hard, and is very satisfying.  The main obstacle is having a place to grow the plants, and adequate lighting.  Zinnias are my favorite, or one of my favorite, annuals so I am saving seed from each color I grew this year.  Zinnias are not particularly reliable.  By this I mean that the plant you grow from your gathered seed may not be the same as the parent plant.   I like them all, so this is not a problem for me.  If you want a particular color or kind each year, you are better off to order the seed.  I usually order from Park Seed Company, but there are many good companies out there.

I have also done a clean-up of the flower beds.  The more weeds you pull now as small plants the less work you will have in the spring.  I know for myself that the last thing I want to do in April is weed.  I want to plant those new flowers.  I always tell my children to work ahead and not behind, so I am trying to take my own advice and get rid of the pesky weeds now.  After the first frost, which is predicted for sometime next week, I will cut back the perennials and remove the debris from the annuals from the beds.  I wait until all the leaves have fallen and then also will add a layer of mulch to the beds.  Basically, the work I do this fall will determine the amount of work I will have to do in the spring.  By cutting back and mulching now I will reduce the chance of disease and over-wintering insects  infecting my plants, and provide protection from the cold weather.

I am also moving all the plants I want to over-winter into my growing area in the basement.  I am attempting to keep my seed-grown Geraniums from this past spring, as well as a Mandavilla that Mitchell gave to me this year.  I would love to keep my Begonia and porch ferns, but I only have so much space to work with.

Have a great weekend!

Sonya

 

January in the Garden

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

 

    We have had a very wet and warm winter so far, and I am contemplating the number of gnats and mosquitoes that will mean for this summer. 

There are signs of spring believe it or not, even on this gray January day. As you can see in the picture above, the Iris are poking their heads through the soil, and giving me hope for the ugly bank they are planted on.  The Lenten Roses are budding which is usual this time of year.  Our temperatures have been in the mid to high 50’s for several weeks, so I almost expected them to be blooming already.  This particular plant came to me from my father-in-law, and it was given to him by Mrs. Padgett who gardened for many, many years in our community.  It has more of a pink tint on the flowers, and the blooms may last into March.

 

  The Mediterranean Heather is also in full bloom with flowing purple spikes that the honey bees love when they are flying.  Of course the bees will stay snug at home today, feasting on honey and visiting with the other girls.  The rain has been coming down in sheets, and the best place for the bees today are in the hive.

 When I found this plant at the garden center, it was new to me as I had never planted heather of any kind.  The bees, however, were working the plant so busily that we had to clear them off  in order for me to buy the plants and get them to the car.  I have two of these and they both do very well in full sun and poor soil.  The second is not doing nearly so well as this one, as I have neglected it and a clump of grass has almost taken it over.  Maybe guilt will get the better of me and I will lend it a hand. 

The Forsythia bush is also showing signs of spring with swelling buds.  I grew this particular plant from a cutting from my mother-in-laws huge Forsythia bush growing in her yard.  She passed away several years ago, and this plant always reminds me of her.  I hope to have several of these shrubs ready for Emily when she has her own garden.  I would love for her to have plants from her grandmother, maybe that is just a southern thing.  Some of the Bradford pear are also budding.

 

 

 The Pieris are doing well this winter.  They look wonderful, but this is only because our Australian Shepherd is not here to wallow them.  She passed away last summer, and this was one of her favorite places to frolic.

 

This is Bo.  He is a shelter dog who needed a home, and as much as I hated to admit it, we needed a dog.  He did not want his picture taken, and I don’t think he has made up his mind as to how much havoc he will create in the garden.

 

I do not have any seed started just yet, but they are on order.  I found through the Park Seed company a pollinator mix of herbs that I am anxious to try.  I want to do a raised bed near the bee hives with this mixture and see what happens.  I don’t want to make them too comfortable close to home, because I will need their help across the road in the orchard pollinating the fruit trees we planted last fall.  The bees are so important to the fruit trees, but also the vegetable garden, and many other things we take for granted.  We feed the bees through the winter will a sugar-water mixture, but solid bee food is available also.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.  Cicero

Sonya

Late September

Late September is a beautiful time on the farm.  The temperatures average around 78 degrees, the morning are cool, and the afternoons are warm.  The morning glory vines are in full bloom, and you can almost believe that fall is really coming.  Of course, the fact that it is football season helps too.

As you can see, anywhere there is a fence row that hasn’t been cleared the morning glory vines take over.  They are even growing in the fig trees at the front of the garden this year.  I really can’t complain about free flowers now can I?

My hollyhocks are making one final attempt to impress before fall.  If I do say so myself , they are succeeding.  Emily has already collected the seed from the other hollyhocks that have  finished blooming.  I will save these in a paper bag, which I will label and fold closed and then re-plant come spring.  These are an old-fashioned variety that reach about 6-7 feet tall and bloom pink, yellow, and a beautiful soft cream color. 

The walnut tree is full, and the walnuts are just starting to fall.  I love almost any kind of nuts, but these will go to my mother who loves walnuts. 

We have golden rod blooming everywhere, even in the barn lot.

I have to admit they do make the barn lot look a lot better. 

We have leaves coming down from a few trees, but the trees don’t really lose their leaves for a couple of months.  The grass is still green, and everything else still looks like summer.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecc. 3:1

Sonya

September Roses

It may be September, but my roses are still in full bloom.  I took these pictures a couple of days ago when I went out to dead head the rose bushes.  You might get the idea that I love pink.

I love roses, but I have never had much success with them.  They have been, for the past several years, planted along side my house with good western exposure.  I have watered, fed, and checked sunlight times to try to ensure their growth.  They have bloomed, but have had black spot and have just not looked healthy, certainly not the vigorous plants I had in mind.  I finally realized that despite the fact that they were receiving a good eight hours a day of sun, they were shaded until late each morning.  This was  allowing the dew to remain on the leaves and the plants to remain wet until almost lunch time.

So…M spent several days early this summer constructing a new rose bed, and the roses have done so much better.  They are receiving the same amount of sun, but have better air circulation.  They are terraced with a walkway behind them, and it makes it so much easier to take care of them.  Phase two, will be the second rose bed above the walkway, and hopefully will be done soon.  This lovely rose was a gift from Aunt S., who grows beautiful roses.

This is a knock-out rose.  I know that some rose growers think of this plant like a professional chef might think of boxed cake mix, but I love Duncan Hines, and I love how easy these roses are to grow.

This was how Milton felt about the whole experience.  I think he was giving me the stink eye.

Have a great day!

Sonya

Catching Up

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I last posted, but wow what a busy two weeks.  I have moved about half of my plants to the portable greenhouses, so I am dividing my time between there and the lab-lol.  Soccer season has started with N working with two teams this year.  We have started putting in the cold season vegetables in the garden, and Emily celebrated her 17th birthday.  Not bad for two weeks work if I do say so myself.  I almost forgot we have graded the area for the permanent greenhouse and added all the drainage tile to the orchard site.

March has just been a whirlwind, and now that I look at the list of things we have been working on I can see why. 

Emily’s birthday was so much fun.  We had lots of family and friends and the food was really simple but good.  For the third year in a row Emily asked for Chocolate Pound Cake for her birthday cake.  It is really good cake that starts with a mix.  I am not sure if I have posted the recipe, but I definitely will.

A girl has got to have flowers on her birthday, so I bought her a pretty spring bouquet.  Turns out , I was not the only one with this idea.

Aunt S. also brought her some beautiful flowers from her garden.  I didn’t get a picture, but her Nana also brought her a beautiful Johnson’s Blue Geranium.  The girl was well-flowered.

Emily and Miss A, they have been friends since they met in the church nursery when they were 2!

Emily and Lake, her little cousin.  We had a houseful of blondes on Saturday.

Emily and Nicole, she is such a sweet girl.  I am so thankful Emily has friends like these.

I will do a separate post with the orchard details and an update on my work in the greenhouse.  I really don’t want our readers who don’t garden to have to listen to my excitement over how my Basil is growing.  I am not sure why anyone would not be interested, but there could be those few.

Have a great day!

Sonya