Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Planting Up Spring Daffodil Bulbs

During the fall I spent some time planting up some of the low priced bulbs that are available at my local store. I picked out a few pots to house my daffodils in. I had a mix of daffodils in whites and yellows and what looked like geranium daffodils. Geranium daffodils have white outer petals with orange petals in the center, they have such a wonderful fragrance and I rarely see them in the local nurseries. I also planted up some totally yellow traditional daffodils in the pots, and mixed in some totally white daffodils. I usually plant out daffodils in the yard but here for some reason they don't do well in the ground. I'm not sure if critters underground get to them or if they just don't grow well here, but planting them in pots should help them grow better. I added some small grape hyacinth in both pots, the grape hyacinth will grow vigorously but I'm sure the bigger daffodils won't have any problem keeping up with them and filling out the pot. I love the combination of the purple hyacinth with the yellow daffodils, it should be very pretty when they are all blooming. These bulb pots will sit on the patio table right outside the kitchen window so I can see them blooming all spring long.

I also had some small mixed color windflowers to plant, I usually place them in the big barrel along with my five heather shrubs. The windflowers are low to the ground and ideal to dress up the base of the heathers. The colors of the windflowers are a mix of pinks and purples, which always look good as you look down into the barrel from the dining room window. The heathers are growing slowly as heathers do, but they are also smaller sized heathers in the barrel. The heathers are filling out nicely so far and eventually will fill up most of the barrel space, there's still a good two years or more before that happens.

I planted some tulips and other small bulbs in the ground near the obelisk, some of the tulip leaves are coming up now that we are into February here on the north coast. I planted some grape hyacinth last year surrounding the walkway up in the front yard and in front of the pink roses but not many of them grew, which is surprising and disappointing. Grape hyacinth grow like wildfire once planted, I have tuffs of them all over the back yard in Petaluma. For some reason they are not catching on too well in the front yard. I am hoping I see more of them coming up this year. Once they are planted they multiply rapidly and cover areas very nicely with their grassy leaves and purple grape shaped flowers. I hope they do well this year otherwise I will need to plant up a large amount next fall.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Signs Of Spring In The Garden

As winter continues ours is mild and the rains are sporatic. A mild winter on the north coast isn't unusual but the lack of rain until end of January is very unusual. We're finally getting some showers a few times a week, which is helping my garden.

The green pot I planted up last year with tulips and ranunculus bulbs are starting to sprout stems. The tulips did really well last spring with gorgeous purple tulips and yellow tulips. The pot is sitting on the back yard patio table and does very well in the sun there. The ranunculus bulbs did not appear last year but they started with leaves coming up through the dirt during the holiday season. This is a mix of ranunculus colors, can't wait to see them grow fully and bloom. The tulips should be arriving first and flowering, it will be a full pot of color that's for sure.

The hebe in the front yard is getting much bigger even in these colder months. I don't see it showing any sign of stopping growing, instead it's a good foot and a half to two feet tall and even sporting a few purple blooms. I'd say that is a little odd during the cold winter months but if it wants to bloom then I'm happy it's blooming. I have a piece of this hebe I sprouted in a small pot and the plant is growing like crazy with some help from some time released fertilizer. This hebe will go into the ground this coming spring when things warm up a bit. I'm hoping it will do well in the ground across from the other hebe on the other side of the rose bushes.

The piece of garnet pestemon I rooted was planted last summer near the hebe and it is growing well. I'm pleased to see the pestemon stem growing tall and look forward to it widening and blooming well by this coming summer. If this pestemon does as well as the original it will take up a good two to three feet of space under the pink roses and be filled with deep pink tubular flowers.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gardening Infographic - How Big a Backyard To Live Off The Garden?

Ever wonder how well you could live by gardening and raising your own animals? This infographic gives you eye-opening, detailed information on how much square footage you need to grow enough vegetables for your family and what it would take to raise animals on your property.

Click on the image below to get a close up look at this gardening infographic.

Home Solar Power Discounts - One Block Off the Grid

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gardening Article: Early Spring Vegetables: 3 Mainstays

Before winter comes to a close don’t forget to spend a few minutes planning your early spring vegetable garden. Of course, not all vegetables are suited for growing in cool months but there are probably more than you think. After figuring out what are some cool weather edible plants to grow, I always narrow the list by considering which will be the most productive. Here are 3 of the most productive and easiest to grow early spring vegetables.

These vegetables can be used in a winter seed sowing setup or plant them out in the garden a few weeks before the last expected frost in your area. Whichever works best for you, eating fresh early spring vegetables from your edible garden is only a few steps away.

Lettuce – Lettuce is a perfect early spring vegetable since it doesn’t need much room and can be started indoors, allowing an even earlier jump on the growing season. Good choices for lettuce are black seeded Simpson for a loose-leaf type and buttercrunch for a butterhead type. Lettuce seeds are very small so be sure to cover them with a very fine and light seed starting mix. Lettuce can start to be harvested when the leaves are 5-6” long. Harvest the outer leaves first and more leaves will grow from the center of the plant for continual harvest.

Peas – Peas are a great cool season crop since they are extremely productive. In fact, harvesting the pods will make the plant produce more pods. Peas are also very fast growers and cold tolerant. In maritime climates peas can even be planted in the fall and over winter until spring. Peas produce best in cooler weather so by the time summer rolls around you can plant another crop in the space.

Turnip – Talk about a super fast vegetable! You can begin from seed and harvest turnips in a month. They have a creamy texture with sweet and peppery notes to it. Turnip greens can be eaten as well as the root, so it is very versatile. A great way to prepare turnip is to think mashed potatoes. In fact blending turnips in 50/50 to mashed potatoes makes a great and very creamy mashed side dish. Harvest can begin when turnips are 2-3” in diameter.

Lettuce transplants well but for peas and turnips that do not, one of the main problems you will encounter in our wet Northwest climate are slugs and snails. They love to eat tender young seedlings. The impact of slugs and snails can be minimized in a number of ways. My best advice is to assume they will eat your early spring vegetables so start your prevention measures early.

Another issue in early spring gardening is that food availability for animals and birds is low at that time of year. Birds and animals such as squirrels and chipmunks will be excited to feast on the seeds you just planted. For this reason it is also advisable to cover areas of newly planted seeds for 10-20 days with something like clear plastic sheeting or hardware cloth.

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About the author: Galen Williams is the creator of Edible Garden Northwest and is an avid edible gardening enthusiast.

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