Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Plants for the Herb Barrel

On our trip to the local nursery recently we bought two passionflower vines and a few herbs to plant up in our new barrel for the back yard so we have some fresh herbs to cook with. No basil this time, since its later in the season I'll wait until next year to grow it. One of the nursery people at Pierson's a few years ago told me to break off a piece of basil and put it in water and it will root quickly, an easy way to make more plants.

I bought a small chick and hen succulent plant for my half-moon planter on the back deck. Nothing else seems to grow in the little terra cotta pots but I've grown the hen and chicks before in terra cotta and they will do fine in the dry environment. The plant I bought has a main plant and two babies growing from it. I discovered when living in Petaluma you just pluck off the babies and plant them in a pot and they take off and fill the pot with more babies surrounding the outside of the plant. I am hoping the one plant will do the trick for the three pots. I also grabbed a small fuchsia to add to one of my hanging baskets.

The kitchen herb barrel will start off with perennials only: a lemon thyme plant, a greek oregano (the greek oregano looked more robust than the regular oregano), a sage plant and a mint. I have some chives growing in another pot, next season I'll nab some of the seeds and plant them in the herb barrel. We planted up a mint plant in another container and it didn't do well. I know mint can go crazy once established so we'll see if it takes over the barrel or not when planted with the other herbs. Eventually I would like to add a winter savory, good for soups and stews. I grew one of these plants in Petaluma and it grew well and was good for cooking. Next spring I will buy a flat leaf parsley, I had a plant but it finally died off and I didn't grab seeds in time. Flat leaf parsley is great for cooking with for all sorts of dishes. We already have a large rosemary shrub back near the barrel that is well established, and another small potted rosemary that needs to go into the ground. I'd also like to add basil annually, and possibly a few other thyme plants as the barrel fills out. I do have one thyme plant that is growing with the original mint plant, I'll dig that one up and plant it in the barrel as well. Not sure if the original mint plant can be saved, its pretty sparse looking. I have quite a pot of blue lobelia that seeded itself in a pot so there is nothing but lobelia in it, I will plant the lobelia along with the herbs to dress up the barrel. Some nasturtiums may join the barrel eventually, always a nice combo with herbs.

Hopefully there will also be time to fix up the herb barrel to protect the plants. We plan to use some chicken wire to cover the herb barrel in case the raccoons get interested in it, hopefully they won't care about the herbs but you never know. The raccoons do like to get into things so the chickenwire should keep them out of the herbs. Once the plants are established for a season and fill out the barrel there should be no problem pulling off the chicken wire, hopefully the raccoon won't care about the barrel by then.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Red Passionflower Vines for the Trellis

I had purchased four passionflower vines a few months ago from an online nursery with the gift card I received for blogging. Over the past weeks two of the smaller vines in the front yard trellis died, a third one looks pretty bad and only one is doing ok but none of them really thrived or grew very much, very disappointing. I took some photos and emailed them to the store and they gave me a refund on my gift card. We used most of that money to buy two red flowering passionflower vines at the local nursery and in fact they were a dollar cheaper than the online nursery and three times as big as the ones I planted before. We had seen the red flowering version of the passionflower vine around town and thought it would be very pretty on the white trellis. I had no idea Pierson's carried gallon size passionflower vines at such a cheap price ($8.99). I had seen the red passionflower vines on a trip to the nursery shortly after purchasing my online vines and was bummed they had the vines so cheap there since they usually have larger vines that cost $20 to $35 dollars a pot. Two months later I was sure the passionflower vines would be bigger and cost more but luckily there were three red passionflower vines in gallon pots at the low price so I feel lucky they still had a few of the smaller vines left at this price to purchase.

I can already see a small red flower starting to bud on one of the vines. I am hoping these vines really take off for the last two months of summer here so they are established before the cold weather sets in. October cools down typically here, feeling like fall from the first week of the month and the rains have started mid-October before. The passionflower vines are a good two to three feet tall so their size should help with establishing them quickly in the trellis boxes.

We purchased the two passionflower vines, four herbs for the herb barrel, a small starter fuchsia for one of my hanging baskets, and a small hen and chick succulent, all this for $13.00 less than what it cost for the four online vines and two packets of seeds (which also aren't growing btw) plus shipping.

We plan on planting up the two vines and the other plants this coming weekend. I will dig up the plant or two that are alive (one is barely alive) and plant them on either side of the V-shaped wood arbor over our back door. Maybe planting these wimpy passionflower vines directly in the ground will work, but I'm not holding out much hope, my guess is they both eventually die off like the other vines from the online store. Its frustrating to buy four of one plant and not a single plant really thrives. You wouldn't believe how hardy our other passionflower vines on the front fence grow, they are massive. Hopefully these other two red passionflower vines take off quickly, if so we'll purchase another two next spring to join them in the trellis boxes.

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