Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sunny September

After 2 rainy (blessed!) days this week, everything in the gardens perked up considerably.

Yesterday I started moving perennials from the deck/bench out into the gardens.  I find that the lighter-colored mums are easier to see from distance, so will keep the darker ones toward the house.

It seems that this year Ohio mum growers have had a bumper crop and the selection and lower prices are reflected at the store.  I'm stocking up - gorgeous 8" mums for half the usual price.  While I don't have the exact space (yet) for all that I want, I'm going to overwinter a handful back in one of the new raised beds.

I've never paid much attention to late-blooming perennials before.  Sure, I've always had a couple of mums.  But this year the established mums are just outstanding and are overtaking the bird bath.

I've had time to reconsider my Fall bloomers: mums, sedum, montauk daisy, asters.  Usually I cut down all the weedy perennials after frost.  This year, however, I decided to cut some down in mid-September.  Not so much to get a start on shutting down the gardens, but to allow these Fall bloomers to better display instead of screening them with other faded perennials.

Honestly, I don't remember a September with this much color.  Battling drought and deer, while crazy annoying, did let me come away with some valuable garden insights (deer don't eat mums and they are very drought tolerant) to file away for future use.

Nice weather for the next few days.  I'll be planting shrubs and perennials and thinning out the jungle on the deck.

How's your Fall gardening going?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yummy mum-my

Large-blossomed apricot mum

After a hectic and stressful couple of events early on in the week, the latter part ended on a high note.

While it had taken me 4 days (jeez, where IS all my energy?), I finally built 3 new raised beds back by the shed.  (CLICK HERE for the story and then CLICK HERE for the real dirt.)

Mid-week I actually took time to do some serious house cleaning (advent of having to live INside for the winter - heh).  For those of you who know me, this was quite a feat. LOL

Saturday a.m. was rain and storms until dawn (.8") followed by buddy Dave coming down for a market foray up to Hartville and - what a surprise - he managed to drag along buddy Doug who I'd not seen for over a year! (Yay, Doug! ;-P)

We always shop at Beilors first for veg and local foods.  Finally we're seeing decent prices on homegrown stuff (peppers, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, greens, etc.).  I stocked up a bit for the freezer and we will return next Saturday for more.  MY veg garden was a near total wash this year. *sigh*

Large-blossomed lemon sherbet mum
Then some browsing around at the Hartville market (deli delights for lunch and Doug introduced me to Strongbow English dry cider - VERY refreshing!) and another look around the new monster facility that is Hartville Hardware.  (I think they are so big they have their own zip code).

On the way home we stopped for a few edibles at a supermarket and I was seduced by ANOTHER new color (apricot) that I just HAD to add to my growing collection (I'm such a mum junkie this year! LOL)   (The lemon mum?  Today's purchase.  Do I need an intervention?)

Back home we set out all the deli on the table in the sunroom, piled up the plates, sipped cider and enjoyed the views from the (recently cleaned) bay windows.  The skies had cleared by mid-afternoon so we were then able to mosey around the gardens for an hour in sunshine.  Then the fellas packed up and left, just as the clouds rolled in again and we got another downpour (.2").

All in all - a great way to end a week.  This week is starting -- cold.  Only 36 degrees this morning.  Good grief.

Looking forward?  Since it's now officially Autumn, it's time to get a lot of plants/shrubs off the deck and into the ground.  The temps are cool and we're getting more rain.  I figure I'll be doing a lot of digging for the next week or two. (*ugh*)  After all, were only a couple of weeks from our first frost date and from the looks of it, there's no time to waste.

(OH GOOD GRIEF.  There is a FROST ADVISORY for tonight!  There darn NOT be.)

I covered the tomatoes.  Better safe than sorry.  *sigh*

Thursday, September 20, 2012

10 garden lessons learned in 2012

Between the devastating deer, the drought and virtually no garden projects achieved this season, some lessons were, eventually, figured out.

1.  I realized I cannot count on help.  I have to either figure out how to do the "heavy lifting" part of a project of just let it go.  Case in point: how to open 55-gallon drums, where to get rid of the contents (liquid soap), and how to collect rain from downspouts.   I'd been promised help from 2 - ended up having to go it alone.

2. With rainbarrels in place, I figured out how to move water around the back of the property with a drill pump and reservoirs.   Having water available in back then allowed me to plant more veg & flowers along the golf course margin as well as install 3 new raised beds.  Lack of water there has always kept me from developing that area.

3. Realized I do NOT need 4 raised bins dedicated to composting.  Now I use only 2 (one to cook, one to accumulate) which provides me with more humus than I need in the gardens.  Now I take the excess plant material to the township yard waste site where they grind up the stuff and make compost for the county parks.  Less work for me. 

4. Frugal living is of no use if, when you need tools or equipment, you don't let yourself BUY them!  I had a long talk with myself and, finally, pushed myself to purchase - electric pressure washer, upgraded riding mower, gas powered string trimmer, garden implements (shuffle hoe, etc.) and garage tools.  For years I felt that less is more and working hard was a good character trait.   Finally figured out that working STUPID is not!  I'm too old to not invest in mechanical help! *sigh* Now I plan to work less, get more done and have more time to JUST SIT DOWN.

5. If there is not a supply/vendor of wood chips for paths, bare landscape fabric is not awful.  I scraped all the decomposed chips from both the path in the arbor garden and around the raised beds in back and, honestly, I didn't miss having chips underfoot when working in both places.  I'll see how the exposed fabric wears through the seasons.

6. Instead of mucking about with several hoop houses in spring for seedlings, hanging large sheers from the deck arbor creates a huge, walk-in space under which to work with the plants.  Also, having the trays of plants on the deck allows me to quickly schlep them into the sunroom when cold or other severe weather threatens.

7.  Placing a bench in front of the deck encouraged me to 'flow' the bird bath bed up to the deck, onto the bench, then let the eye travel to the flower boxes on the other side of the railing.  And all because I just wanted a place to set the bench off the deck and out of the way after all the spring seedlings were planted out.  A very happy accident.   One that is now a permanent addition to the deck/bird bath area. 

8. Don't jump too fast to weed in Spring.  I thought I had not WS'd 'coral nymph' salvia so was hoping a seed or two would germinate from around the birdbath.  I was really happy when at least a dozen seedling sprouted (along with a couple of zins and lavender agastache).  Meanwhile, behind the privacy fence, last years couple of straggly annual delphiniums had dropped seed and there were masses of gorgeous blooms back there this year.  So the bottom line lesson is - loosen up.  I don't need to micro-manage beds like I usually do.  Chill.  Let Mother Nature make some suggestions. *heh*

9. Now that I see what havoc deer can do, I'm forewarned for next year.  I expect I'll be putting up a yards and yards of deer netting from the get-go instead of agonizing over devastated plants and shrubs.  It's certainly not a pretty way to garden.  But, otherwise, there just wouldn't BE a garden.

10.  And - finally -  I'm reminding myself that, ultimately, if gardening isn't fun, then why do it?  It's taking an effort, but I'm trying not to feel a FAILURE if I don't go 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the gardens.  If I'm not always into a construction or landscape project.  If every bed and bin isn't tilled, filled or fruitful.  I've got to stop angst-ing over every setback.  Nor is it a competition.  It's just that - what I'd like to do and what I can do keeps getting further apart.  It's in this gap between the two where lies madness -- and not the GOOD kind. LOL

Saturday is the Autumnal Equinox - equal day and night followed by the  inevitable slide into the dark and cold of Winter.  Hopefully, though, there will still be bright days, blue skies, and time to execute a calm and controlled shut down in the gardens before retreating to the warmth of the house and a re-introduction to the neglected (but not forgotten) cozy reading chair.

So - how the heck did YOUR summer turn out?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

eBay burn

eBay picture
I found 3 metal lawn chairs on eBay.  I'd always wanted something like this for the gardens.

They were $99 and 20 miles away.  I just had to have them.  (The heart wants what the heart wants.)

I emailed the seller and asked for a better picture of the 'hidden' chair.  He didn't provide one, only saying they were all in the same condition.

He had a 100% rating.  I took a chance, paid for them, then arranged with a friend w/truck to pick them up.

It was getting dark, so we loaded up and came home.

Don't they just look lovely against the zinnias?  The lavender will really pop in the gardens next year.

Then, this morning - in the daylight .... 
....I flipped them over.

The 'hidden' chair is damaged - right on the bend of one of the runners.  Son of a .....!

Really, it's no use going through any eBay arbitration.

Even though I suppose I could have refused the purchase when I picked them up and contacted eBay,  I'm just too tired anymore and have to pick my battles.

Obviously, the seller deliberately deceived me.   Buyer beware.  *sigh*

I'll see if I can strengthen this runner, somehow.  If not, this chair will (most likely) become a planter.

As for the 'heart wants what the heart wants' - I'm really gonna have to slap that thing.  Stupid heart.

Saturday night: the 2012  VEG  BED is done.  CLICK HERE for the post.

A little Sunday morning project on the deck.  CLICK HERE for the post.

And FYI - electrical appliances cannot SWIM!  CLICK HERE for the post.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sound and fury

The cold front moved through about an hour ago.  There were terrific gusts of wind - knocking over all the vicary and burning bush plants on the deck.  I had to run out and hold onto the big umbrella so it wouldn't get torn out of its pot and go flying through a window like a couple of years ago.  Finally the winds calmed down and it rained.

Not much, maybe 15 minutes giving us only .3" in the gauge.  But the temps, oh my, did they plummet.  From 79 to 69 within 10 minutes.  It's supposed to stay 69 tonight and not get any warmer than that tomorrow.

Helloooo Fall.

The clouds have moved to the east and now bright sunshine streams through the front windows.  Out off the deck, though, is a parting shot of the storm clouds.   And a nice double rainbow.

The radar shows we may get more rain tonight.  It also shows (thankfully) that my friends in Oklahoma and Missouri are finally getting some rain too.  Yay for all of us.

Saturday a.m.

We got a thunderstorm around 4:00 a.m.   I could hear heavy rain for a bit, then not.  Went back to sleep.  This morning - all barrels topped.  The birdbath has overflowed.   It's raining lightly now with heavier rain on the radar, and only 58F.  

So (at least this morning) we're having a COOL RAINY DAY.   Ahhhh.  I'm sitting in the sunroom with a hot coffee listening to the rain on the roof and just lazin' in the rocking chair.  What a lovely change in the weather.   Why, I may even do some cooking or (horrors) cleaning today.  Who knows....

Or maybe I'll just make another pot of coffee.  :-D

Saturday p.m.

Rain total = 1.25"   That's HUGE for this year.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Movin' on : bin bed redo

The bush cuke vines are finished.  Oh, there were still blossoms, but the leaves are pitted, rusty, brittle and brown.  Time to pull them out.  They did a good job for 2 months.  (BTW of the 2 varieties, Bush Champion are my fave and will appear in next year's lineup.)

So I picked all the stubby cukes that were large enough to slice for salads.
Then rearranged things so I could use those special mums that I showcased on the Flower Page link from last post to 'season up' the front of the deck.  (Observant readers will notice 2 other new players there on the right side of the bench.  During that Home Depot trip I was seduced by their 2/$10 perennial sale and brought home a Nanho Blue butterfly bush and a Blue Bomb veronica. )

Sometimes the most innocuous thing leads to something terrific.  Like putting that ReStore bench I got last year right in front of the deck.  It needed to be put somewhere and other than putting it away behind the shed, the spot in front of the deck was the only other option that didn't involve heavy lifting.  Well, I'd always wanted plants there, but then I didn't want to block access to under the deck (for various reasons).  The bench turned out to be just the ticket.  The bins (originally for spring greens), morphed into a cucumber experiment and now sport some sale mums.

Meanwhile, to screen the emptiness beneath the bench, I lucked into  a $3/tray of late season short salvia (half dead poor things).  With a little water and fertilizer, they recovered and are doing great growing just under the bench.  Honestly, in the 10 summers I've been here, the birdbath bed has never been this successful, drought notwithstanding!

So tell me, readers.

What little something have YOU done in the garden that eventually took on a life of it's own?  Something you would never have thought of initially, but now that it's turned out so wonderfully that you unabashedly take full credit for the idea.  ;-)   Fess up....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saving salvia

You'll remember how I grew salvias (Yvonne's and Blue Bedder) back in one of the compost bins.  How I kept them netted to thwart the deer.

Then, when they came into bloom I festooned the bed with 'deer spears' (thanks for naming them, Tammy) so as to keep out the deer, but allow bees and hummers access to the blooms.

Well, I also grew a row of Yvonne's behind the privacy fence.  Deer ate them, too, until I draped them with netting.

They've started to bloom, so in this case I've tented the netting to create a tunnel to allow 'nice' critter access from the open ends. 

Haven't actually seen any bee or hummer activity there yet, but I'm sure they'll figure it out.  After all, what's the point of growing flowers if they don't do any good but look pretty?

Hey, speaking of pretty...

Click the pic to read the latest post on the flower page.  ===>