Saturday, May 31, 2008

Overwintered and other Geranium (Pelargonium)

Here are some of the overwintered geraniums (Pelargonium). The most successful and easiest approach was to have them in containers and just leave the containers dry out in the garage for the winter. This is the "cheap+lazy" method since it really doesnt entail much effort, and results in nice good-sized plants by early summer.

The variegated pelargonium was overwintered. It is just coming back into its own. The finely cut leaf pelargonium was just added. It is scented, citrus. The smaller flowers are sweet alyssum, probably coming up from seeds from ones that bloomed in the container last year.

So tell me, please - why do I need a peppermint scented pelargonium when I have peppermint-scented peppermint growing all over the place? Anyway, it does smell, strongly, like peppermint. This one is new, so is not an overwinter example.

This wals also overwintered as above. This one is pine scented and it smells very much like pine. The scent is stong. Cool. Each time that I walk past it, I pinch off some more and smell it. The dark purple leaves are part of a Tradescantia pallida. This did well in other containers, using the dry-for-the-winter system. I was also surprised to see one poking up in the strawberry border, surviving the winter in ground. That is probably a fluke, this is really a tender tropical plant.

This is another scented one. I forget the variety. It did not survive the totally dry method 2 winters ago - this was kept as a cutting over that winter. So this winter I kept it almost-dry in a cool sunny room. Also took a cutting, using the lazy-gardener's method of cut off a piece and stick into some potting soil and water like any other house plant. That worked too. I cleaned it up a bit, and stuck some cuttings in the ground or with other plants. If they grow, that's good. If not, nothing lost.

Just regular run-of-the-mill geraniums. The prior over-winter entries show how they looked coming out of the garage. 6 weeks ago the leaves were dry and crispy, and the stems didnt look much better. All that I did was clean them up and set them in a semi sunny location. Again, the lazy gardener's method of overwintering, and the cheap gardener's method of having some large geraniums for the deck. They'll be blooming soon.

Magnolia sieboldii

This bush is now 7 years old. I bought it mail order from Wayside Nursery. This is the first year that it has bloomed. It has about 6 flowers, smaller than the usual magnolia. The advantage of this tree was that the flowers were described as fragrant. I cant smell them at all. Also that it blooms later in the Spring than other magnolias, so that the flowers are less likely to be touched by frost. I think that is true.

I'm not sure that it was worth it. Maybe next year it will have more flowers. Novelty is worth something. I've never seen one before, except in the catalog.

Addendum: I went back out and stuck my nose into a flower. It IS sweetly, but faintly, scented. Well, I'll give it a chance for another year. Many shrubs and trees improve with age, including color and scent. The wisteria didnt bloom for about 6 years, and it was worth the wait.

I looked around google for more information about this Magnolia. It is also called "Oyama magnolia" for the mountain where it is native in Japan. It also grows in Northern Manchuria and Korea. (Ning grew up in Manchuria and states that he's never seen one before). The Japanese and Korean varieties may have lighter coloration of the stamens, with the Manchurian varieties having darker red stamens. This information from "The World of Magnolias". This variety seems to be in the darker stamen group, although not as dark as in the original catalog picture. Apparently it is better suited for shade, and this one is in a more sunny spot - maybe that's why it dried out 2 years ago during the summer. Last year I watered it more frequently, compared to the other shrubs, and it did not lose leaves that summer. According to multiple sources, it blooms over a several-week cycle, and then sporadically through the Summer.

Peach Tragedy

With the warmer sunnier weather, the Peach Leaf Curl seems to have stopped infecting the newest leaf sprouts. However, so much damage was done that many of the branches are dead. I pruned off everything that I thought was dead, and then a few strategic shaping cuts, and pruned back to new growth where I could. Most of the prunings were dry and crunchy.

This is "Honey babe". It was the hardest hit. I still dont know if it will survive. I gave it a good dose of fish emulsion.

This is "Garden Gold". It seems to be starting a recovery. I hope so. It also got a dose of fish emulsion.

Fish emulsion is stinky, and probably for that reason the dogs love it. They follow closely and lick the watering can when I set it down.

The newly planted peaches were completely untouched by the leaf curl. As bare root trees, I suspect that they were stored indoors, in a climate controlled barn (I saw that at Raintree Nurseries). That supports the idea that preventing rain from washing spores into the buds might help prevent the disease. I had worried that covering them would make overheat, due to solar energy, or make them dry out, because the rain would be diverted. However, this is far worse. It's also proof that neem oil is not a panacea. Of course, nothing is a panacea, and I knew that. My plan this fall will be to build a 'barn' to cover each tree. Since they are miniature trees, it should not be too difficult.

Kitchen Garden

We have been eating lots of cilantro. This was sown by crushing old flower heads from last year's cilantro, letting the seeds scatter on the mulch. The flower heads were saved by leaving them in the garden shed over the winter, unprotected. The cilantro is flavorful and tender. This method fits into the "cheap+lazy" gardening philosophy. I putter around far too much to be considered lazy, but "virtually no effort" takes up too much room in the labels.

The strawberries hold a lot of promise. The most blooms, ever.

The Inchelium garlic looks like corn plants. No scapes yet.

Several of the tomatoes have flower buds, even though they are only about 9 inches to a foot tall. I've started pinching out the lower branches, to maintain a cordon shape. One grouping had pale leaves - uncelar why, but this area did not get as much chicken compost. I added fish emulsion and added some epson salts for good measure (Mg and sulfur) and the leaves ARE greener today.

I hate to say it, but I planted some 'orphan' tomato plants in an area that is frequented by the cat for her litter box. These ARE larger and greener than the others. I guess this is OK - they are fruits, so the food part is not near the cat's 'products'.

We've been eating lots of scallions, both of the 'potato onion' type (my favorite) and the "Egyptian walking onion' type. And some of the 'I don't know what they are' type, that just happened to be left in the ground from previous years. These are perfect for the "cheap+lazy" gardener, since each onion produces sets for next year, at the top of the plant. These can be planted in the fall for early scallions, at zero cost and little effort. If you ignore them, they'll fall over and plant themselves, which is esentially zero effort for the gardener.

Today I planted another set of Ning's beans. In addition, I planted bush zucchinis. Something ate the prior seedlings. I planted new cucumber seeds, for the same reason.


The is the largest of 3 ginkgo seedlings in the yard. Ning started it about 8 years ago in a flowerpot, from seeds that my Dad collected in Quincy Illinois. The parent tree was in the yard of Herman Deege, who taught me about the ancient heritage of the ginkgo trees, and told me that they were deciduois but more closely related to conifers, and taught me that they came in 2 sexes. I was 10 years old at the time. When it looked like this tree might not flourish in the flower pot, I planted it in the ground. It has the advantage of lots of nutrients, since it is in the area that the dogs use for their bodily functions. It is also watered during the summer, for the same reasons.

This tree is the same age, but was planted in the ground one or two years after the first, for the same reason. This year I fed it with fish emulsion and compost. The cat was using the compost mulch for her litter box, so I mulched it with thistles, which seems to have corrected that behavior quite nicely. It has grown about 9 inches so far this year.

I am somewhat of a ginkgoholic. There are 3 seed-grown young trees planted in the yard, with intent to grow into full sized trees, and multiple seedlings in flower pots. I don't know what I will do with those.

More Irises

"Bumblebee Delite". It's in a container. This is a small flower on a small plant. The falls stand out at a horizontal angle, rather than drooping. As soon as I find a location, I'll move it into the ground, where I think it will do better. Very cute little flower.

No-name 'Black Iris'

Liaison. This was the first one that we planted. It's a late bloomer, nicely fragrant.

A view of multiple varieties.

Another view of various varieties. The dark one is "Dusky Challenger" The color is a very dark blue, almost black.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Trachycarpus in bloom

Irises in bloom

China Moon

Edith Wolford

"American Classic"

Immortality. I hate to say it, but this one smells like cat urine. I first noticed it when I brought some inside. I kept thinking, "Where did the damn cat pee?". After taking it to work, people kept commenting "something smells like cat urine!". So it is very pretty, but stinky. This one is also supposed to be remontant. It is, but the first flowers are the most significant.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whats blooming / what's planted / what's growing

This is the first that this wisteria has bloomed. It only took 6 years! Very fragrant.

SOme bearded iris are blooming. Photos hopefully to follow.

Tomatoes were all planted 1 week ago. Purchased pepper plants as well.

95 degrees for 3 days. Now in the 50s.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cluster Map shows 14,612 visits as of today. Hello there!

Ning's beans

Yesterday I planted more of Nings beans. Today I re-stringed their trellises. These are on the South side of the house, so they shade windows in the summer. Also the location is warmer in Spring so they might germinate and grow faster. It's hard to see the trellis - it's just cotton string, and doesn't show well in the photo.

The seeds that I planted were old ones from the bottom of the seed box, so I dont know how old they were. They did swell nicely on soaking. Then I found the package here, probably about 4 years old. So I soaked some of those to plant as well.

Just follow these simple instructions.... Maybe I'll have Ning translate when he returns from China later this month.

Finally, I found the seeds that I had saved last year. These will be planted if the others don't grow. They are about 5 or 6 consecutive years of saved seeds, so I'm hoping to continue them.

Spring Garden Diary

This is where things are currently.

The new little Desert King is either quite happy in this location, or it just gets to an earlier start compared to the other fig trees. It looks quite happy.

The garlic is knee high. These are on the south side of the house. The garlic in the front yard (north of house but still in sun) is not as large, but is also not from the 'prime' garlic bulbs (Inchelium red)

Grapes are starting to bloom. This is Venus, but other varietes are not far behind.

The recently planted beans have started to show. These were the Romano Bush Beans planted April 26th. About half are showing now. None of the corn or squash planted that day are up. Yesterday I planted some yellow string bush beans, and more romanos, after an overnight soak. Also replantged the corn after an overnight soak. I suspect the issue is soil temperature, but the soaking probably wont hurt anything and might speed germination. Also today I planted old seeds. I mixed together old packets of lettuce, mesclun, basil, spinach, and vegetable chrysanthemum, then planted thickly. These seeds are anywhere from 1 to 5 years old, and most probably wont grow. I didn't want to waste space for individual trials, so they are all planted together. Of note, this WSU publication gives life expectations for common vegetable seeds. They show lettuce, cucumber, and spinach seeds may be viable for 5-6 years; carrots beans and peas for 3-4 years. Maybe they WILL grow, after all. Oregon State say's don't presoak corn or beans at all - that this method damages seeds! Of note, I did presoak beans last year and they sprouted well, so who knows?

Here are some comments about presoaking seeds: This author - goes further and and discusses presprouting (chitting) his seeds. Hmmm... I'll have to try that. This author says DON'T soak bean seeds! Apparently they become more fragile when soaked. This author says DON'T soak them, due to concern for rotting! This author says DO presoak them! This author recommends presoaking certain seeds but doesn't address beans. Well, the consensus appears to be that I shouldn't have soaked them. We'll see if they grow! If no growth in 2 weeks, there is time to try again.

The chickens laid one egg each today. Must be the lengthening days, although I would like to think it is all of the weeds that I have been feeding them!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Tomato planting time

After a trip away for a few days, now some time at home for a brief "staycation". The tomatoes look sturdy:

So I planted them. This year I learned from past mistakes and placed the stakes before planting the tomato plants.

In light of recent entries regarding phenology, "When the flowering dogwood is in peak bloom it is time to plant tomatoes, early corn and peppers. "

So here we are:

Also, the "Tomatoes can be set out when lily-of-the-valley is in full bloom." And it is (sorry, they are too small for this camera to do a good job photographing).

So, I planted most of the tomatoes. About 6 remain, due to my un willingness to throw away some 'duplicates' that I had thinned out at the seed-leaf stage and stuck in soil to see if ehy would grow. They did.

So what other phenological phenomena should I be tracking. Well,

The dicentra is blooming.

The miniature (early) iris have been blooming for one week.

The wisteria catkins reach from the 1st joint of my thumb to the end of my index finger.

The purple rhodie is starting to show color.

The strawberries have begun to bloom.