Monday, July 26, 2010

This Sunflower makes me happy!

So... the sunflower natives have started to bloom.... they're sunny and happy looking. And that's all I have to say about that!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let's discuss Immigration shall we?

I know, most people will immediately think of illegal immigrants crossing the US borders.... But that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about Green Immigrants -  the "native" plants vs the poor garden immigrants I planted rather haphazardly this spring. In looking at how the plants (in both cases) have grown, I realized a couple of important things:

1) I want to take advantage of the native plant species in landscaping the property - I mean really - we KNOW they grow well and survive the winters here so why not capitalize on that?

2) Gardening is only successful if you do not wing it. You must prepare, plan, revise, plan, account for variables, plan and then stick to the plan!

Native plants!! These are just a handful of the native plants that are growing well, despite NOT being watered regularly, in our yard. I have no idea what most of them are called, so I'm guessing LOL! All are "native" and volunteers. In the few cases where they HAVE gotten some water by accident, the difference in growth is truly amazing. I'm leaning very strongly toward trying to use as many of these plants in our landscaping vs bringing in "immigrants." At the very least, I want to do as much as we can with these plants BEFORE we go buying stuff!

Cottonwood Tree- there are many of these growing around town and this one popped up all on it's own at the back corner of the property. Eventually it'll make a nice privacy screen! The only downside is that these can get VERY tall and we can't plant them under power lines.

Sweet Pea #1 - these are a a little past their prime, but when they ARE in their prime they're a bright fuschia. They reseed every year and you can harvest the seed pods and plant them in other places - they grow like CRAZY in huge mounds.

Sweet Pea #2 - a more diminutive version with a darker purple flower - very delicate. These also start well from seeds, though the pods and seeds are MUCH smaller than the others.

"Stink Weed" - or at least that's what Dad calls it. He's always hacked it back with the weed eater but I wanted to see what it does - right now they're almost 3 feet tall and have these gorgeous green leaves.... Waiting to see if they do anything else.

Alfalfa (according to Dad) - now, I've never seen Alfalfa up close when it's growing. I've only seen in cut, dried and in bales, so I have NO clue IF this is really Alfalfa - can someone please set me straight here? What I do love is that it's a HEARTY plant - you can dig it up and it still comes back the next year. And, it's got pretty purple flowers.

Sage - as in Sagebrush, or Tumbleweed? I think.... This plant grows and grows - it's very woody. It drops it's leaves in winter and then sends up new shoots in spring/summer. Has a nice sage-y scent... So far no flowers but it's got a very pretty heather gray color and the leaves are really soft.

I think these are going to be Sunflowers - I recall my grandma used to grow GIANT sunflowers - they'd get over 8 feet tall and have flowers as big as dinner plates!! I'm thinking that these or some of the giant ones might make a good camouflage for the semi trailers....or maybe some of these in front of the giant ones?? Hmmmm.......

Reeds - I love these. They grow in clumps like and make great lining for the ground in a fort or tunnel.....

And at the top of each stem is a bulbous thing like this

My Grandpa called these Morning Glories. They spread out like a low-growing carpet. Pretty funnel-like flowers stay open during the day and close up at night.

Unknown #1 - reminds me a bit of Alyssum, has a mild sweet fragrance early on in the bloom season which dies off later, and is very prolific. Pretty clusters of tiny white flowers.

Unknown #2 - leaves look somewhat like tomatoes or potatoes. They have a pretty little white flower. This one has sprouted up around the peas and squash so I'm not sure what the heck it is. Looks like it might be poisonous. This is the only one of this plant I've found anywhere on our 1/2 acre.

Unknown #3 - mounding plant with round leaves that remind me of lily pads. The plant can get about 12" tall, sometimes more. Leaves here are only about an inch in diameter but they can get bigger - nearly 3 inches. Pretty little flowers that are light pink and white.

Unknown #4 - another creeping plant, with delicate feathery leaves that spread out fairly low to the ground, with tiny pink flowers and sword like seed pods (look at the upper left of the photo for a seed pod).

Finally, this is what happens to your garden when you don't plan, etc -  it becomes overrun and it becomes tough to tell what is something you planted vs something that is native. Next year will be better..... I hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How does your garden grow?

Mine is sort of "wild." lately.... ok, it's always been wild. As in unruly, as in unkempt, as in not maintained... as in I didn't really plan this out very well, planted too many seeds, had too many seedlings and just stuck them in the ground and said, "ok, lets see what happens."  A few got stuck in the green buckets.... Well here's what has happened.

The plants in the ground are growing quite nicely - Peas

Two kinds of squash

And potatoes

The ones in the buckets, well, they're sort of doing ok...

I think too many plants and not enough soil to hold the water has caused the peas to do this:

The squash are just, well... ok

The cherry tomatoes are doing well, looks like we'll have LOTS of them as well as the red "Patio" variety.

The Strawberries keep getting picked off by the dang blackbirds.... I see them get red, one at a time, and then they're just GONE. Oh well....

All in all this has been a good learning experience.... Next year will bring bigger areas up front in which I'll be planting MORE plants and more variety... I just need to figure out how to keep those birds away!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summertime Thunderstorms

The summers up here have something that I missed when I lived down in the valley. Summertime thunderstorms. We got to enjoy one yesterday evening - complete with dark clouds, big booming claps of thunder and even a rainbow. While yesterday was not "hot" compared to my weekend spent down in Paradise, it was still warm, and the storm brought in a really nice cool wind and slightly cooler temps. Plus... oh that smell!!!

As it started to roll in from the east I had high hopes that we'd get a little rainfall. I could see it but the rain never really hit us.

See the two little black things on the power line - those are our resident swallows. They were VERY unhappy about all of this.

There was also a rainbow that I could see both ends of ..... unfortunately, I couldn't get enough distance to capture both ends in the same shot - unless of course I wanted to hop in the car & drive down the road a few miles... and well, that just wasn't gonna happen.

The "sunset" was pretty spectacular as well, I love when it lights up the backs of the clouds like this.

All the wildlife tends to get a little riled up when these come through.... there were birds flying around all disoriented - like they didn't really know where they wanted to be, only that they wanted to be somewhere ELSE....
Yesterday's storm was pretty mild..... I'm hoping that we get one that will rattle the windows soon!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In the ground....

Beth & I put the last of the peas & squash in the ground from the little indoor greenhouse. We had to settle for a spot on the far side of the yard - there's still a lot of work going on this summer so we needed to find a location out of the way that would still get some sun.



More Squash:

And finally, we had some red potatoes which had started to sprout... I figured what the heck, let's see what happens. So, they're under the ground here as well.....

Now, we wait and see how they fair.... no fertilizer, no mulch etc....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Overcrowding is not just an issue in big cities.

It's a problem in the country as well... Particularly when you plant a bunch of seeds in a little indoor greenhouse and do so with zero idea that they're going to grow like they're on steroids before you can get them transplanted. Then there becomes an issue of NOT enough space for them all to be transplanted.

Today, LD and I planted not quite half of the seedlings into our "bucket pots" - We've now got a pot of squash and peas:

And a second pot of a different kind of squash:

But, we're also now faced with this dilemma:

These are the "wayward" extras of both kinds of squash and the peas (in the middle). Looking at our forecast today shows no freezing temps at night looking ahead 15 days... I think I'm going to watch the forecast a few more days and if that doesn't change I'm going to do an experiment.... I'm going to plant these little "extras" around the property.... see what happens in various locations - do they get eaten by the wildlife? Do they produce any produce? Should be interesting!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It must be the water?

A week ago, we planted seeds - squash and peas - in a little indoor greenhouse in an effort to get a jump on having fresh veggies this summer. Seemingly overnight, the greenhouse went from looking like this:

To looking like this - these seedlings are on crack... It must be something in the waster! And our dining room table is starting to resemble a jungle:

I am now concerned on several levels -

  • I didn't anticipate this level of success - I figured only 50%, if that much, of the seeds would sprout at all and in reality we are looking at nearly 100% success.
  • They're growing at an exponential rate - literally an inch or more overnight - especially the squash. They actually pushed the greenhouse lid off in the night before last.
  • I have a very limited amount of "portable" planting resources - I was only planning on one pot of each type of plant - so two different pots of squash and one of peas. I could now plant two dozen pots of EACH plant
  • I don't want to throw them away, it'd be murder! (not to mention a waste of resources)
  • I can't plant them in the ground yet, I'm not sure that the freezes are all over but I'm afraid they might get big enough to eat the small dog very soon.

I think I may plant some in the compost pile - it's got a lot of dirt in it right now. But that puts them at risk of being eaten by deer etc. and I'm not interested in feeding the wildlife! If I do manage to find a "safe" place outside to put them in the ground, I still have to wait a while to do that because I can't take the thought of my babies freezing to death!