Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Repotting Bulbs and Plants

I spent some quality time repotting a few plants and adding bulbs to some of those pots, since I currently have a shortage of pots for my garden and pots tend to be extremely expensive. Since the dirt level had lowered quite a bit in the Hostas pot I decided to lift it in its early growth and add more soil, planting it closer to the front of the pot. This particular pot drains well so I added the two red Amaryllis bulbs I have towards the back of the pot. This way after the hosta dies back in fall/winter the Amaryllis will be growing and blooming, ready to flower during the holiday months. The photo shows one of the Amaryllis bulbs in full bloom indoors during the winter. With all this repotting happening I may have a solution to my gardening container problem after all. There are many garage sales in our area during spring and summer, its time for me to check the local garage sales featuring plants and pots so I can build on my collection of usable pots for the garden.

After repotting the mint into the large thyme pot, I used the freed up green pot to plant my new purple Astilbe bulb. The potting up was easy to do with all new soil and the Astilbe bulb already showing growth at the top of the bulb, ready to grow. The mint and thyme pot lives on the wooden bench on the deck as does the new Astilbe plant. Since the pots seemed very wet in soil after the rains I moved the bench and pots to a more direct sun area of the deck where the soil should dry out more readily.

My final job for the day was to add some slow release fertilizer to our potted Christmas tree and move the tree back into the semi-shady area it used to live in. I was hoping the sunnier location would help green up the leaves of the Christmas tree but in fact it didn't help at all, looking worse than usual. Back it went to its original location. I expect with the shadier spot and some fertilizer the green of the tree will look better in the coming months.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Updating Hanging Fuchsia Baskets

My hanging fuchsia baskets have worn down in dirt and coco shells, sorely needing to be replanted. We had some burlap fabric we decided to try using to see if it held up better than the coco shell liners, which gave out after a year's time. The replanting of the fuchsia baskets was not a full on pull the fuchsia plants out of the original dirt and replant but required taking the top soil with the plant, then adding the burlap and dirt and placing the old top soil in place. We'll see how this works and if this strategy works or fails. I thought it would be safer to keep some of the original plant in place where the fuchsias are growing in case the burlap layer did not work well.

My husband helped me replant four of the seven hanging baskets with burlap lining and some new dirt, leaving a few hanging baskets to work on in the coming weeks. I placed some slow release fertilizer in the dirt with the fuchsias to help them grow better this summer. The replanting was mostly successful for now. I'm hoping the fuchsias react well to the new dirt and grow well this season since last season it was obvious they needed more soil and some rehab from the minimal flowering going on in summer. If the burlap does not hold up well and the fuchsias do not flower well this summer, I will use moss to line the baskets and redo all the dirt surrounding the plants.

I already did some basic cutting back of the fuchsias in the long back yard flower border. I still need to prune back my other pink fuchsias throughout the front and back yard. Since all plants here on the North Coast are a good month or two behind of flowering in summer compared to the flowering in May for my Petaluma plants, pruning in the next few weeks will be no problem, leaving plenty of time for the fuchsias to grow and flower.

Along with the replanting of the fuchsia baskets I planted some dark pink and purple babiana bulbs in the half moon shaped planter along with the alyssum that is struggling in the little clay pots. Originally I tried some dwarf nasturtiums in the pots but they didn't really take off. After adding the babiana bulbs to the pots I moved the half moon planter out into a full sun area of the deck, thinking that perhaps there was too much filtered shade under the pink jasmine vines where the planter was living. The small terra cotta pots float inside the three holders of the half moon planter and look great, now if only the plants would grow better in them all would be well with my garden world.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Clearing Skies And Summer Bulbs

Towards the end of April I saw an opportunity to get out in the garden and plant my summer bulbs. I'm recovering from a chest cold so I knew it was now or never what with the North Coast and its continuing rain showers through April and sometimes into May. I planted part of the bulbs I had then had to stop from my cold fatique.

First I took a pack of my nasturtium seeds and threw them on the ground under the roses in the front yard. I am trying a different method of how nasturtium seeds tend to take hold after dropping off the vine to the ground. I covered the seeds in a thin layer of potting soil, letting the natural rains water the seeds in to take root. I am determined to have nasturtiums naturalize in the corner under the climbing roses, we'll see if this method works well and if so, the second pack of nasturtiums will be finding a home soon as well.

Next I planted two Japanese windflowers and two blue echinops in the space between the climbing pink roses and passionflower vines on the fence. These plants are both taller and should make a nice contrast of daisy-like flowers on both the Japanese windflowers with pink with yellow centers and the blue colored echinops. I planted the two tall pink coneflowers in the back of the front flowerbed behind the drooping cherry tree.

My final planting was of two pink spider lilies, the photo is very pretty so I hope they are as lovely as the photo shows them to be. I took a chance and planted the two pink lilies under my green arbor, which has a canvas top. The area is next to my chair and sheltered, with filtered light, which the planting instructions say work for this lily. The bulbs already had quite a bit of tip growth, I'm eager to see how they do in this spot.

I still have a Siberian iris to plant and a few other summer bulbs including a lavender astilbe. Siberian iris like wet areas but I'm not sure where the best place to plant it in my yard since its so rainy here most of the year. My guess is with fog and rainy weather, anywhere in the yard will work here on the North Coast.

I need to buy some more stand alone plastic pots to plant the pink dahlia bulb and the astilbe. I prefer terra cotta or ceramic pots for my plants but it seems all gardening pots are very overpriced at the local stores since we are so far north. It's frustrating, but the green pots at the local nursery will do for the dahlia and astilbe that will be sitting on the patio table. Time to plan a trip to the nursery and stock up on cheaper pots.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sowing Summer Seeds In The Garden

April is one of my favourite months to get onto the allotment and start sowing some summer yielding crops. There is an abundance of seeds to choose from to start growing this month, but we all must hurry as the month has nearly come and gone. Luckily we have a couple of days holiday coming up, so I will be getting my hands dirty to provide my family with some great organic home produce.

Over the course of the month I have been working the soil and adding some organic fertilisers to boost the nutrients, so the summer should provide my family and I with some healthy crops. I am planning to grow some lettuce plants, carrots, potatoes, beetroots, peas, peppers and radishes this month, but there is so much more you can grow.

When growing potatoes, I take out a trench to a spade's depth and fork over the bottom, before adding some well-rotted manure or compost. I have found covering the manure with a thin layer of soil and a dusting of fish, blood and bone gives marvellous results. However, it is important you lightly incorporate it into the soil with the fork tines and ensure the manure is not brought to the surface. After your soil preparation is complete sow the potato seeds roughly 12” apart and cover with the soil from the trench, leaving a slight mound. In about three weeks use the rest of the soil to earth up the vegetable as soon as the shoots appear.

Lettuces are a great summer crop to have, ideal if your family loves to have accompanying salads with their meals. Lettuces are so easy to grow, not minding what soil they are grown in, as long as it is well dug and drained and are kept out of direct sunlight. Inter cropping them is a great way to ensure they are kept out of direct sunlight as shelter is provided by the taller plants. Dig out shallow drills half inch deep, 12” apart, sowing three or four seeds every 6”, every three weeks to ensure a continuous supply over the summer months. After 14 days begin to thin them out, leaving approximately 10” between each plant.

When I first started growing, I was a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of different seeds and crop varieties that I went a little overboard. By doing this I didn't get a great return, so now I have calmed myself down and only grow what is needed and what my family enjoy. I have also learnt not to sow a lot of seeds of the same yield; a couple of years ago I grew a couple of rows of lettuce, having it set in my mind that not a lot will be harvested. However, I was greeted by the opposite and had lettuces growing out of my ears; my neighbours were quite happy opening their front door to me offering the fruits of my labour.

With the weather being as glorious as it is and hoping it will be here to stay for the holiday, I will be down the allotment making the most of it. I have found that having an allotment is also a brilliant way to get the family involved, my son loves to see the seedlings beginning to appear from the earth and is amazed at how a single seed can produce such delicious and appealing food.

Before we know it, May will be coming and yet again we will be heading to the allotment to sow and plant some more crops for the family to indulge themselves in. The next couple of months are going to be very exciting, with many vegetables ready for harvesting and many more to sow.

Notcutts Garden CentreAbout the author: Mr McGregor is a guest blogger for popular Garden Centre, Notcutts, who are proud to offer their customers the best products and start up kits to get their own kitchen garden up and running.

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