Wednesday, May 30, 2018

After Memorial Day

Hope everyone's Memorial Day weekend was a good one!

   There were lots of "firsts" going on gardening-wise this holiday weekend.  That's what makes Spring so much fun, I think!  

First Zucchini Sprouts

First Carrot Seedlings

First Yellow Rosebuds

"Wild" roses in bloom

These roses only bloom once per season, now that they're older and weren't properly over-wintered one winter.  Roses are supposed to be mulched in the fall before first-frost, and I didn't realize what would happen if they weren't - until the following summer, when they only bloomed once, and continue to do so since then. 

Pretty hedge in bloom

   We planted this fragrant hedge with two cuttings from our neighbor's hedge, about twenty-five years ago.  It needs to be trimmed in about mid-June, after blooming, or it will grow to about nine feet high, which is too high to be managed easily.

Two Zinnias in the Center are Coming Along

   The zinnia packet says to thin them to six inches, and I really just want a tall center plant in place of last year's spiky dracaena, because of the grasshoppers' fondness for the plant.  So, I'm going to try to transplant one of them into the matching planter on the other side of the front door, soon.  If it doesn't survive, I'll plant another seed.  

Mushrooms in my lawn

   I have been watering a little bit too much - trying to get the lawn to "green up."  I was going to apply a fungus-deterrent, but after researching the subject on the Internet, I decided to just remove them and reduce the watering.  After waiting a day to water, there were no new mushrooms, and they didn't even return after a nice rain.  

It appears that the bare spots on the lawn are probably partly crabgrass, so that means that the Scotts with crabgrass deterrent did work.  However, now I will need to rake, dig out more crabgrass roots, aerate, and over-seed in the bare spots.  Then I'll have to water about twice a day for two weeks or so.  I'm trying to wait for a "cool spell" to do that - which hasn't really happened yet this spring.  I tested some left-over grass seed to make sure it will germinate, and it did sprout in a cup, so all's ready there.  

Sprouted Grass Seed


Kids Crocs on sale at Walmart!

Monday, May 21, 2018

   My raised bed garden is "coming along," as Dad used to like to sayI was going to plant broccoli in my new cedar raised bed, but the directions on the package say it is best for "sun and shade," and the container is placed in an "all sun" location.  So, I decided to just plant brussel sprouts, oregano, basil and bell peppers.

   Before planting, though, I noticed a few ants, and another undesirable bug (a rolly polly), so, in the interest of trying not to use toxic insecticides, I decided to use some diatomaceous earth that I had on hand.  I sprinkled some around the ground that the container is resting upon, and also a couple of teaspoons over the top.  Hopefully, it will lacerate the outer shell of any insect that comes into contact with it, and then the insect will become dehydrated and die.  I checked to see if it would bother earthworms (which would be undesirable - need earthworms!), and it doesn't, since earthworms don't have an "outer shell."  

 Diatomaceous Earth

All sprinkled, and hopefully protected.

Brussel Sprouts, Oregano, Basil and Bell Peppers

   Those covers behind the cedar raised bed will be used to protect against hail, birds. cats (I have a couple of neighborhood visitors) and squirrels, for the first few weeks or so. I might end up having to purchase or make some cages for it, and my other planters, because I spotted a rabbit on my security camera, in my front yard this morning. I plan to mulch with left-over pine needles.

I decided to go ahead and use my old raised bed by my patio for the lettuce, spinach and more herbs, because it has partial shade, which the greens will need.  I'm going to need to reinforce it a little bit on the corners, though. I don't really have time to rebuild it this year.  I will add some new soil, though.  I'll have to replace the yard sprinkler with a 3/4 spray, though, so it will be watered if I miss it once in awhile.  It can get pretty hot here in August.  I probably won't be growing greens in August, but I might still have some herbs growing, like parsley, basil and oregano.

Old Raised Bed (It needs work.)

   The old raised bed has two old rose bushes, a trumpet bulb plant and some spearmint in it, already.  I think I can keep the yellow rose bush, but I'll probably need to dig out the oldest, non-blooming rose bush, eventually.  Maybe not this year, though.  I'll also keep some of the spearmint, since I just found a couple of new recipes that call for fresh mint. I'm hoping to cultivate a 4-foot by 4-foot space that I can keep growing greens and herbs in during winter months.  I haven't figured out a cover, yet - I'm thinking maybe a ready-made window well cover.  I'll keep my eyes open.


Check out one of Walmart's raised bed kits:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

   Today was cooler, and slightly rainy.  I'm still trying to get my containers ready for planting seeds, but it is going pretty slow.  I did manage to clean two old planters that I have, and also drill some drainage holes.  I found a recipe that called for 1/2 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and two drops of Dawn dishwasing liquid. I put the solution in a spray bottle, and then sprayed the containers inside and out.  After soaking for a few minutes, I scrubbed them well with an abrasive pad, and then rinsed them well.  Then I checked the drainage holes, to make sure the water would drain out the bottom of the bowl.
First drainage hole

All four drainage holes, after cleaning.

The drainage holes work!

   After the drainage checked out, I filled each container with the "Magic Dirt" (soil) and planted a hill of three zucchini squash seeds in one, and three yellow squash seeds in the other.

   I also cleaned, and filled with Magic Dirt, two hanging planters for flowers.  In one, I planted three petunia seeds, evenly-spaced in a circle, about 1 1/2 inches from the edge, and two parsley seeds in the middle.  In the other planter, I planted three petunia seeds, two Heavenly Blue morning glory seeds, with two zinnia (Envy) seeds in the middle.  

   I finally planted some carrots, in this 18 inch by 8 inch container. 

   I planted some beans (bush-style - not vine) in a 12 inch plastic container with supports.  I also went ahead and poked some drainage holes in my new cedar raised bed.  I think I'll try some brussel sprouts, broccoli and bell peppers in it.  I have tried broccoli before, and was not successful, so I hope some brand new organic soil (Magic Dirt), and better growing conditions will spell success this time. Since my attempt at growing seedlings indoors before Spring flopped, though, I'm going to be planting seeds again, from "scratch," since danger from frost seems to have finally passed.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

   It's been a very warm, dry Spring.  As previously mentioned, I tried to wait until all danger of frost had passed, before watering my lawn, and my plan backfired on the south-facing front and east-facing sides, and succeeded on the northern-exposure back yard. There's also a chance that I might have burned the two fronts, because I had applied quite a bit of fertilizer to the front and side yards, with no water except for a light dusting of snow and a few rain drops, and very little to the back yard; also with no water, but plenty of shade. My other theory about why my front and side yards didn't "green up" as well as the back yard, is that the back yard was better-protected against the high winds that we have had in the area in the last few weeks.

In order to help the grass "green up," I ordered some IRONITE from Walmart, but ended up returning it because the directions said to apply it only to "actively-growing" lawns.  Since my lawn was still "dormant," I decided to try MILORGANITE instead, because it is organic and can be applied to dormant plants.

Organic Milorganite

   The Milorganite has worked, to a certain degree.  That, and getting the sprinkler system going has been helpful.  Also, today the temperature got up to 93 degrees, so it is safe to plan on no more freezing weather. It's difficult to believe that a year ago on this week, we were bracing for a major snow storm. That's why I was counting on some fair moisture, but Colorado weather is not predictable. It's only been five days since I applied the Milorganite, but I think the lawn is "waking up," and  I will only have to reseed the areas where I pulled out the crabgrass roots. I have had to water every day of the five except for one, though.

Front and Side Yards, after Milorganite

Back Yard - no Milorganite, but 
Scott's Fertilizer in February

   Many of my perennials and bulbs are peeking through the warm soil, and the trees are leafing out, too.

Volunteer Berry Tree
                                                         Deciduous Broadleaf Evergreen

                                                                      Tiger Lily Bulbs

                                                   Perennial - (Sorry, I don't recall the name.)

 My Boston Ivy has had to be completely cut back because I read that snakes tend to hide in it.  I have had to prune my Juniper tree, also, because it has become overly large and unbalanced.

                                            Clippings from pruning the Ivy, and Juniper tree
                                                                    My trusty tools

   There are several volunteer decorative grasses that need to be cut back too. I cut three on Tuesday, but had to take a break on Wednesday, because it's a really a tough job. They will be completely green again by summer's end. I'll let them stay for now.  One is a fairly efficient privacy screen.

                                                       Before pruning
                                                                        After pruning

I love to wear my Crocs when I'm gardening!

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