Friday, June 30, 2006

daily garden inspiration

this is a strange flower among the PRINCESS MIX dianthus annuals in the memorial garden. i checked, all the others are single color. i don't know if it happens often...

what lies beneath

so i was out taking pictures of the MEMORIAL GARDEN at work and we were brushing off the plaque when we spotted this!i think it's a gypsy moth caterpillar, but i looks fatter, longer, and the spots did not seem to be the exact color. but it's the closest i could get to it so if anyone knows, feel free to comment! i am glad it's sleeping under janien's sign (almost like she's keeping it safe) and not in my garden!

go on a vacation and then what....

so i took the remaining days of vacation i had left before i lost them. i was gone 8 work days. i came back to my ivy house plant just HANGING ON WITH THE BARE SKIN OF THE TEETH. i tell you, leave for a bit, and it all goes to poo. well, at least the plants.

it suffered a great deal of damage from a very large spidermite infestation. look, you can see one of the tiny web (the white specks). which probably would not have been bad if i had been there and got it in the beginning. the mites have taken over all but a few leaves. and it's sorta creepy when you turn the leaf over and you find little black dots crawling around .....

so i have taken it home to try to nurse it back to health. it looks so wiry and spindly now! the leaves were so weak that half of them fell off when i sprayed the plant with a stream of water. then i attacked it with some homemade insecticidal soap, and will plan on spraying it again until they all DIE SPIDER MITES DIE! i just hope that the soap is strong enough to get rid of the population (they have taken over).

so wish me luck (or i guess wish my plant luck) to save this office plant. i do have to say though, that the other office plant (schefflera) is flourishing and continually shoots out new babies daily, and the MEMORIAL GARDEN of dianthus and gerber daisies is doing quite well.

i found my macro button

so i found my macro button on my digital cannon camera. now if only i can afford a macro lens for my cannon slr. *sigh*

my only lily left after momma's little helper ate the other 4

cut lillies

cut lillies

lemon thyme

Thursday, June 29, 2006

things are surprising me in the garden

lily of the valley's putting out a berry like seed pod. i never noticed them before in the YEARS i have had them. maybe i am starting to become an actual gardener.

have you ever seen pansies growing so high before? i have never. they usually don't grow that high and flop all over the place. not this year!!!! you cannot really tell by this photo, but the tallest pansy is a little over 1 foot above the soil level. they actually look like they are waving!

beauty in basil. and i found the macro button on my digital camera.

this weed also has surprised me. i have noticed, especially since i blogged about not having bugs yesterday, that i'm starting to have bugs. however, the bugs (i think they are flea beetles) seem to be attracted to this weed, and live in the crook of this plants branches. they seem to be drawing the bugs away from the vegetable plants like nasturtiums tend to do with aphids, as there is NO sign of pests in ANY of my herbs/vegetables. maybe this is a beneficial weed (the oxymoron of all garden oxymorons), or it could just mean that in a week my plants will be covered in pests. so i'm leaving a few "weeds" in, and picking those dang bugs and sadly drowning them in soapy water. at least it gives me a chance to be rid of the bugs from a plant i don't really care about hurting.

good night bugs

so i think (knock on wood) i have been pretty lucky in regards to my garden. i read about japanese beetles, cucumber beetles and what not, and i (again, knock on wood) have yet to wage battle with pests. but never the less, i've found some interesting creatures sharing my garden, and if they are not hurting plants, i generally try to leave nature to nature (hence keeping my windblownin mint garden):

this little guy was afraid of nothing. i actually thought he was dead, and only after poking him a couple times was i fully aware of how alive he was.

i was excited about this little one. i found him crawling around my lettuce. which means my garden has graduated to attracting beneficial insects and i feel i have graduated to being a true gardener. or it could just mean that i have aphids.

what type of critter is this? he was hanging on my mint stalks (but after close inspection, none of my plants anywhere showed signs of pest damage) and i was mesmorized by his color. reminded me of a clownfish like aphid really. he too was not afraid of anything until i tried to hand pick him. that's when he jumped super high.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

garden update

basil is the most glossy, beautiful ever. the leaves are very large and fragrant, and the flavor is scrumptious. i have been encouraging branching and bushiness by pinching the tops.

the basil seedlings are doing well too, and i might have to thin them soon. i think i am going to have to cut back the bushy basil over hanging the babies.

my first casualty. i fear something got to the pumpkin sprouts buried in this mound. i tried to salvage the rest, replant them, and mounded the dirt over. we shall see.

my second casualty. i don't think the candytuft likes this soil. all of them pretty much look like this. the stems are still hardy and tender, just the leaves seems to be getting some sunburn.

so the birds did not get to the lemon cucumber seeds like i had feared, and are looking great. click here to see the seeds 4 days ago.

large cherry tomato update



cherry tomatos 6/17/2006 (closest to stone)


cherry tomato plants have started to flower!

now, is there anything that i should do (like pinching, etc) to have the best harvest?

Monday, June 26, 2006

a watched plant never...not grows?

so, i'm back from my minibreak (click here to see pics), and i'm delighted to find that my garden exploded with new growth, flowers, new critters, and, of course, weeds. i should go on minibreak more often.
garden image 6/21/06

west side of the garden 6/26/06 (click to enlarge photo)

east side of the garden 6/26/06, and the extraneous herb pots i had to plant due to lack of space

so much has occurred in the garden, i think i may need a couple posts to cover it so bear with me for a couple of days. the lettuce i cut back to 1.5 " on 6/22 regrew to the same size pre-harvest. thankfully, nothing bolted but the mint, which i spent the better half of the afternoon cutting back. i love mint, but the thought of this nature-born bush "seeding" more of my yard was too much to bear.
bolting mint

but i was too excited to step out of the car this afternoon to find this:
potted nasturtium blooming

and there is so much more! but for now, i will leave you with this. i am stumped by this ???? no particular scent or taste, and it's branching, and growing fast and tall. can anyone tell me what this is? click to enlarge photos.
???? bunch

close up of ????

???? roots

Friday, June 23, 2006

pre-vacation gardening

so, i've left for minnesota to visit family and friends, and to attend a wedding. last minute touches to the garden include:

1. weeding, weeding, forever weeding (ah but it's oh so calming to YANK the little devil spawn out)

2. harvesting lettuce to try to save them from the bolt (sounds like a disease...)

3. planting sugar pumpkin seeds which have already sprouted (i know, a little late, but if the weather holds out in autumn, and i just get 1 pumpkin, it will be worth it)

4. planted lemon cucumber seeds already sprouted hoping the birds don't eat them (ditto)
5. found new plants/weeds in the garden borders. i'm leaving them for now to see if i can identify them later. this one actually looks like some sort of sedum type plant while this one looks like some sort of scary pepper...
6. caught a glimpse of a rabbit similar to this one (i wasn't quick enough for the photo) hopping along in my neighbor's yard right as i was leaving for the airport.
oh darn cute rabbit, i beg your pardon
just wait to see what will happen
should you chance eating my garden

lettuce saga continued...

so with the warm weather, the downpour of rain for an entire day, the lettuce starting to crowd each other, a minibreak coming where i would be absent from the garden for the better part of the weekend, my tendency to poorly plan vacations around flowering time (or my flowers tend to wait until i've long left to flower in some evil facist scheme of "hide and seek"), and reading billy's and steven's blog about their bolting lettuce and vegetables after a minibreak, i thought it best to cut back all the lettuce, for fear that it would bolt while i was gone. by cutting back to 1-1.5", i might have a chance, if the weather doesn't get too dog gone hot, to have one more "cut and come again" crop. good thing i started another pot with lettuce seed.
harvested lettuce

lettuce patch post cutting back

lookes like i've about 3 gallon sized bags of fresh lettuce. they are off to my mother-in-law's for eating, as both my husband and i will be gone for 3.5 days.

good thing i got around to planting some more lettuce seed.

oh, and one more thing, but i noticed with my smaller harvest a few weeks ago that this home grown lettuce, has lasted me quite a LONG time--much longer than storebought. i washed/rinsed it very well, let 99% dry on some papertowels, then kept it in the fridge.

daily garden inspiration

first of the millions.

rain rain go away...

okay, not really. as a new gardener, i find myself enjoying rainy days. the sights and sounds, and SMELLS are amazing. although we had an entire day of hard downpour (complete with lightning and thunder so loud my dog and cat bolted to the back of the house)(and before i get too many crazy comments, no, the pets did not flower). but a quick check on my garden and things seemed to be okay. the mounds and ditches still seemed intact, and for the most part, my plants seem to be veg/herb garden 6/22 (click to view larger image)
(click here to view garden only 4 days ago...i cannot believe the growth)

the bordering calendula, nasturtium, and something (ie. probably a weed) have exploded in the front borders nicely after the rain. (back row, from r to l) the cherry tomatos are taking off (still no signs of flowers yet), while the keeping the italian parsley partially shaded so now the leaves don't turn yellow. the brandywine tomatoes have started to grow larger as well now that i've thinned them, and the basil is branching lovely, and gives a nice aroma every time i bump it while weeding. next to that are my green zebra tomatoes, which are still quite slow to grow (is this normal?) but seems to be filling out now. at least you can see them in this picture as opposed to before. i have 2 small cilantro plants growing next, and previously dumped a handful of chive seeds next to that, which have been starting to sprout. to the right of the cherry tomato plants, i also sprinkled some scallion seeds recently, hoping to get a little something before summers end. middle row: lemon thyme, english thyme, thriving happy lettuce, and hot pepper plants. all doing quite well.

i also have rosemary, garlic chives, extra hot pepper, extra cilantro, extra nasturtium, extra cherry tomatoes, extra green zebra, and that mystery plant growing in pots surrounding that is growing quite nicely.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

daily garden inspiration

things are starting to bloom around here. like this hosta.

daily garden inspiration

primrose (earliest spring flower bloom) that they said would not flower again this year, flowering again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

japanese maple update #2

my japanese maple has really defied the odds. it's placed in hot dry sunny spot, with average soil, and a venegeful dog....but it's thriving to say the least. i think the dog had really given it the pruning it needed last fall....but anyhow, this is for ngrish, who asked me about the maple.

japanese maples tend to do best in well drained, and fairly rich soil. if the ground does not drain well, i might amend the soil with peat moss and/or sand, and add some compost or other NATURAL fertilizer like manure (you may risk chemical burn with chemical fertilizer and i just dont like chemicals period). i have heard they prefer acidic soils so if you do go the chemical fertilizer route you can get plant food for azaleas and rhododendrons.

i would clear the area around the maple and mulch thickly to keep the roots cool and retain moisture. we mulch the entire area around the maple every year (the mulch turns into soil and is great compost the next year), and do not have any plants around the tree.

i don't know where your parents live, but here in michigan, the summer does tend to get a bit toasty during the day so i usually water in a hot dry spell 2x per week, putting the hose on a bit more than a trickle and leaving it at the base of the tree for 15 minutes to saturate the surrounding ground.

i do know that japanese maples love dappled shade, although mine is in full hot sun and still does well but mine is older and well established. the leaves tend to get fried during the full hot sun of summer and this year i am playing around with putting up a shade cloth on those really toasty days during mid day. i would suggest this to your parents if the tree is in full sun and young.

the last thing i would do is prune it in the fall to get rid of any dead branches, and any small branches coming out of the trunk of the tree that is unneeded, etc. my dog this this for me, and overpruned a little.

hope this helps, as i am just a mere gardener and trying to nurse this poor thing back to health. japense maples are sooo expensive that i would do anything to save mine! so, ngrish, hopefully your parent's tree will be okay!