Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Keeping busy

I checked last year's posts this time of year and saw that we had a freeze on 10/11.  

There is freeze predicted this weekend so I thought I'd get at the annuals a little sooner than last year.  

I pulled all the Cut'n'come and Zahara zins as they were really looking the worse for wear as we've had nights in the high 30s and they weren't pretty or attracting bees so out they came.

Considering the freeze will make mush of the marigolds, I pulled out all the plants in the Sargeant crabapple bed.  Good grief for DWARF French marigolds, some were over 3 feet tall!

I added them to the cut pile.

I'm worried I won't have enough chopped leaves this year.

Both of my green ash and the blue ash are dying (most around here are due to Emerald Ash borer).  My neighbors gigantic green ash is also dying.

These trees have been steadily dropping their leaves all year so there will not be a lot to collect this fall.  Aside from the expense that will be involved to eventually remove them, the loss of leaf harvest for the beds is distressing.

Meanwhile, I've been surprisingly busy in the arbor bed.  Check out the recent posts on the FLOWER PAGE.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

A darn good day

Yesterday went really well.  I awoke before 6:00 and looked out my bedroom window.  There was Jupiter, Mars and Venus trailing beneath a crescent moon.  Just beautiful.  I even saw a shooting star.  What a way to wake up!

I eased into the day sitting on the deck just as the sun was coming up.  I sorted out my head for a good 90 minutes with 2 cups of tea and a savory oatmeal wedge.  

I realized early on that the 7.5' tall zins off the deck were blocking my view of the laden crapapple trees so I trimmed them back a bit and the cutting made a fine bouquet for the table.

Then I washed dishes, changed clothes and did a slew of errands. I hate shopping, but needs be done and fortunately I found everything on my list.  Home by 11:15.  

The zinnia in the driveway pot was really ratty so ran over to my favorite nursery who still had some mums.  So glad I did. The owner told me the nursery is closing for the season this weekend she and I wandered around for 30 minutes, chatting and catching up.  I came home with 2 mums and couldn't wait to put them in pots (one along the driveway and one back in the arbor).

Planted, watered and mulched with golf balls to keep out squirrels (they are burying nuts everywhere right now), time for lunch.  It was near 70 and pleasant so a nice cold salad and chips.

It's amazing how clipping something blocking a view and then getting rid of something ratty and replacing it with something pretty brightens up a whole acre of gardens.  (Getting rid of the flu and feeling human again is also good thing - I was so weak and tired and overwhelmed with even the slightest little chore last week.)

The day progressed.  I cleaned up in front of the fence - put all the stakes, nets, trellises, cages, etc in the shed and rolled the water barrel back there too.  Nice and tidy now.

Then another llittle sitdown with an iced lemon tea and had a think what's next.  Time to start getting some potted material into the ground for winter.  So for the next few hours the arbor bed got some attention: I planted a spirea, dug up/divided/spread out a big clot of coneflowers and transplanted in a peony from the swing bed.  I found an overlooked pink perennial salvia and transplanted that next to the swing.

Digging was easy.  Even though we've had 2" of rain within a week, the soil is still very dry and crumbly.  Then I moved 2 small hostas from the middle of the crab bed to the fore where they would show better.

Next I wandered around and collected over a dozen volunteer Sweet Joe Pye seedlings and put them in a pot.  I added a good dose of seeds in the pot too.  I'll keep the pot for a couple weeks until the roots grab hold of the soil and then it will get planted in the arbor bed near the new caryopteris.  It will grow tall and fill in the big space that the honeycomb butterfly bush used to fill before it died.

A simple supper on the deck (honestly I don't know why people even go inside on days like this) and I thought I'd settle down, but know.  I'm antsy when I feel good, always walking around with my mug instead of sitting and sipping.  I'll clip something.  Deadhead something else. Move something.  Water something.  It takes for.ev.er to wind down and it wasn't until after 6:00 pm that I settle.  Finally, as the sun went down and the security lamp came on that the day was done.  

Twelve hours.  Tea on deck before dawn.  No mishaps.  No injuries.  No stress.  A lot done.  Tea on deck till after sunset.  I savored every moment.

Yep.  Just a darn good day.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Catching up

Early morning visitors October 1
Sorry for the quiet, but I've been busy and now I'm down with the flu.  Should have gotten the shot a couple weeks ago but I let it slide.  Now I have to get well before I can get this year's shot.  

Before I got sick, though, I was a busy gal.  The plant purge progresses with only 1 more plant (a Pink Delight butterfly bush) to come out of the ring bed.  I dug out asters, caryopteris and 4 unknown shrubs.  I also dug up 2 petite wigelia and potted them up for next year.  I cut down all the perennials in the arbor bed.

Though I've been going to the yardwaste depot regularly with removed perennials, there is no dearth of wonderful color close to the house.  

Then I shut down the veg for the year.  CLICK HERE for post.

After that, I had some fun sealing stuff with TWP.  CLICK HERE and HERE for those posts.

Thankfully all this got done before the temps plummeted and 12 hours of rain dropped 1.5" of cold water.  Brrr. 

But I think I overdid it, got run down and right now I'm really under the weather and want only couch, tea, and ibuprofen.  It's barely 50F outside, blustery NE winds, thick clouds and I'm glad I'm inside.  Thankfully there are lovely colors right off the deck to brighten such a dull day.

More soon *cough sniffle* when I'm back up to speed.

(Needed some soup therapy - check out Chef's page HERE.)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tidying up

Click to ENLARGE
Cooler morning temps and shady conditions back by the golf course allowed me to do a nice tidy up the back bins.  I consolidated the screened compost into 1 container and the topsoil into another.  Then I weeded between the wooden bins. Really shows off the flowers now.

The State Fair zins have just been spectacular this season, even with weeks and weeks without rain.  I started them from saved seeds and they did even better than the original plants last year.  The blooms are very large, saturated colors and sturdy stems.  

I found that growing them in front of or (even through in the case of the butternut squash vines) that they show great with extra background foliage.  

I'm starting to cut down some perennials, but no zeal to the effort yet.  The weather is really nice - an old fashioned September with blue skies, cool nights, clear air.  We're promised another cool bright week so will postpone any major work a little later.  

I tried to pull out veg plants, but same thing happened.  Check out the Veg Page post or click this pic ==>

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Another product disappointment

While the veg are winding down, the annuals, with the help of a late August application of fertilizer, are going gangbusters.

Usually a June application at planting time of Miracle-Gro shake'n'feed gets me through to frost.  Year after year.  Decade after decade. But this year they changed the 10-10-10 formula to 12-4-8.  

And I didn't notice -- until the annuals showed so poorly.  They had upped the nitrogen (from 10 to 12).  So more fast green growth.  Then they reduced the phosphorus (from 10 to 4) resulting in fewer blooms.  Finally, the potash went from 10 to 8 - so root systems weren't as good resulting in less water/nutrient uptake.  

When I figured out what was the problem - the Shake'n'Feed that I'd used for FOR.EV.ER - I was, um, pissed.

I contacted Miracle Gro and they 'noted my concerns' and refunded my $$ for not only a large jug of Shake'n'Feed, but 3 - 2cuft bags of potting mix (which includes their reformulated fertilizer).

After the refund, I shopped around on the internet and managed to find some eBay sellers who still had the old formula.  Bought some.  Then went to Home Depot and perused other options (eBay stuff is pricey).

On the railing is the old Shake'n'Feed jug (left) and the new.  (Note different label pics.)

Beneath are my new purchases: StaGreen (15-30-15) and Scotts (10-10-10).  The smaller jug of Shake'n'Feed is the eBay purchase of old formula (10-10-10).  

Ironically, the Scotts IS Miracle Gro.  So don't ask me why the heck they changed the Shake'n'Feed formula unless the Shake'n'Feed is a better seller and nitrogen probably costs way less than phosphorus and potash so they make more money with each sale.  I don't know.  But for cryingoutloud, if you're going to make a major change like that why not let us know by putting a big "NEW FORMULA" on the front instead of the micro printing on the back of the jug.  

Long story short (what? oh yeah, too late for that LOL), I sprinkled some StaGreen on the potted annuals over the past couple of weeks and WOW.  New green leaves, bright new buds and blooms.  Happy bees. Happy gardener.

You just can't trust ANY company these days.  Really.  These days I take a magnifying glass in my purse - I'm watching the fine print from now on.

P.S.  They also changed their PREEN products - they are no longer just a corn gluten-based pre-emergent, they have added HERBICIDE.  Be careful shopping your usual products these days...


Hey, vegetable harvest update on the VEG page.   Or just click the pic.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Senior moment??

Moment?  Moment? Maybe all summer!

It's been an 'interesting' vegetable year what with container gardening et al.

Yesterday I had another WTF moment.

Click the pic for details.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ring bed perimeter nearly empty

More and more there is less and less on the bee ring bed perimeter.

The view from the house is much more pleasant, tidy and gives a better view of the tall zins in the back bins.

Click the pic for the full story.