Aug17

lady-bug-clip-artBUGS. When it comes to bugs in the garden, there are the good, the bad and the, um, BUGLY. For the bugly ones (the ones who truly ARE on a mission to destroy your garden), there are a variety of ways to hinder the havoc they can wreak. You can choose to bathe your garden in harmful pesticides (ugh), or you can try some more natural, earth-friendly ways to win the battle against these relentless little creatures.

First, you can strive to keep your garden plants strong. Pests will usually prey on the weaker RTG64oqTLplants, so make sure your garden’s soil is loaded with compost and organic materials. A healthy environment in which to grow provides a strong foundation for plant health.

You can also invite the GOOD pests to take up residence in your garden. When it comes to pesky things in your garden, these good pests aren’t aren’t so pesky at all… quite the contrary! Welcome the bees, butterflies, wasps, ladybugs, spiders and dragonflies into your garden domain with open arms. Not only will they fertilize the flowers, but they’ll also feed on those true garden pests that get out of hand. Put out a fragrant welcome mat of mint, sage, salvia, dill, lavender and rosemary to attract them. Beware! YOU will be attracted, too… These lovely, natural scents are hard to resist. Go ahead.Take a big whiff.insect_character_clip_art_22955

May18

white lilacLearning about my Lilac

Nothing says spring like the sweet smell of lilac bushes in the air and the beautiful bunching of their flowers.The colors are so varied with the most common purple ,from light purple to dark purple,pinks to burgundy, whites and even yellow.They are truly some of my favorites,and for years, I thought I knew the best about how to take care of my lilacs.I was completely wrong,and I learned it the hard way. One year, my beautiful flowers just didn’t come. I was so disappointed.The bush had been planted in the same spot for some years and watered regularly so what was the problem?

Pruning is good for flowering plants, right? Well, yes, but there is the matter of TIMING!  I was pruning at the wrong time and eliminating the flower buds and my spring blooms. Lilacs bloom on old wood so it very important to prune in the spring right after they bloom. A good tip to go by is if your lilac clusters are getting smaller, its time to prune.
Every year after your lilacs bloom ,remove any of the dead wood. You can also prune out the oldest canes right down to the ground. And remove the small suckers. Cut back any weak branches to a strong shoot.
If your lilac is old you might want to take a more drastic plan in cutting the whole thing back to six or eight inches tall. Lilacs are very hardy and this will start them again from the ground up. The bad part is they will take a few years to grow back. The good part is less work for you and the lilac will grow back and bursts with bloom.

Also make sure your lilacs get lots of sun at least six hours a day of sunlight, water and fertilize in the spring (and of course, proper pruning!) will yield happy, health lilacs.

Apr24

20140921_094655I just read an article that the monarch butterfly population is at an all time low. And when I think about it the last four to five years we did not see them in our garden. We would find them in the garden and bring them in and watch them metamorphosis,from a egg to a beautiful monarch butterfly that we would let go to start the process all over again.

This year I will help them come back to my garden again.It’s really very easy,this year I will let the milkweed grow in my garden. Twenty years ago common milkweed was growing all over in the mid-west and eastern farm fields and this was great for the monarchs (milkweed is there host plant where the monarch will lay there eggs) so no problem keep that next generation going strong. Then according to An article in “Birds & Blooms” Roundup Ready crops showed up-crops that could tolerate the herbicide Roundup without being adversely affected”. And one of the plant it killed off was the milkweed.
It really has affected the milkweed. It still grows along the roadsides but millions of acres have been wiped out.

So lets help the monarchs make a comeback lets fill the gap. Growing common milkweed is really very easy,plant,water and they will spread by running roots. The sweet honey smell will do the rest and bring those monarchs to your garden.
There are many varieties to choose from, you can find seed at a native plant nursery or go online for a retailer.

It will be very easy for me, there already growing in our garden this year I won’t weed my milkweed out they will make a great backdrop for our lilies. And anytime I can do less weeding…..

Come on monarchs dinner is served!

Apr07

DSCN2105

 

As we are planing our garden this year we have decided to add some fragrance to it.There is nothing like the windows being open and smelling the flowers as we doze off.  So I was looking in to some of the more fragrant flowers and found these, as ones that will do well in our area, zone 4.

Oriental Lilly: We have some in the garden already so in the fall which is the best time to separate them after they bloom we will do that.
I find their care is relatively easy.

Water freely and apply a high-potash liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks.

Keep moist in winter snow helps with that here.

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring,we will be following that by a 2-inch or more layer of cedar chips.

Water plants in the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.They like the water but make sure there in well drained soil

Stake the tall lilies.

Dianthus or as grandma use to call them Pinks:

They have a clove scent but some don’t so sniff before you buy.

They to have little care.

They like full sun and well-drained soil, Dianthus won’t tolerate wet soils.

Plant in spring or fall 6 to 12 inches apart.

Stake tall varieties.

Remove old flowers.

Trim mounding kind to encourage reblooming.

You can divide plant every 3 to 4 years in the spring by lifting the plant and dividing them into clumps.

Lily-of-the-Valley: one of my favorites that brings back lots of great childhood memories

They have a very sweet heavy scent. The leaves will turn golden yellow in the fall with a stem of bright red berries.

Lily-of-the-valley loves the shade.

They will multiply to a thick colony.

It can be very aggressive so you will want to plant it where it can be contained.

Sweet Iris: I love this plant even though I don’t get a really strong smell ,like grape soda, the leaves and flower are so beautiful and classic to me.

The striped is the most common form of this iris.

It like well drained soil and a least a half a day in the sun.

It can grow up to 3 feet so it will be a very striking addition to your garden.

Last on my list is

Mock Orange:

This is a shrub and with the citrus scent it work great next to a walkway or by your patio.

Plant as you would most shrubs with the hole twice the diameter of the pot and water thoroughly.

Mock orange benefits from regular pruning. The process typically involves removing one-fifth to one-third of the oldest and largest stems at ground level. This will make the shrub full from the bottom up.Selective pruning also improves the shrub’s flowering capacity by allowing more light to reach the interior of the plant.

So this spring will be busy for us but we sure will enjoy smelling that smell.

Mar31

DSCN1893 DSCN1885DSCN1890The weather here is still cold but I’m ready to start those seeds! Here are a few ideas you can use to start yours.

Those plastic berry containers, the ones I get from the grocery store are great for starting seeds. They are clear so they can get sunlight and the cover will keep the soil moist so the seeds can germinate.

I also like to use those disposable shower caps I get from hotels! They make a great cover for any container, and the elastic stays tight to keep the moisture in.

I also had lots of clear plastic shoe boxes from a garage sale… I got a great buy and a batch of perfect seed starter boxes.

When I watered my little seedlings, I would often flatten the young plants. Now I use a turkey baster to gently water the soil around the seedlings. Turkey basters are so versatile… Who knew they were a seedling’s best friend?

My brother told me the importance of letting a fan blow on seedlings once they get 2 to 3 inches high. This simulates a breeze and strengthens the stems. I keep my babies in a window, so I turn them every other day to keep them growing straight.

Mar12

DSCF1309Nesting Season Is Almost Here!

The warm weather the last couple of days has had me thinking of spring. Sitting outside listening to the birds singing I know it will soon be nesting time for my backyard birds.  (That is not one of my backyard birds in the picture that’s one of our indoor birds and she loves the warm weather too!)


Nesting season varies depending on a variety of factors including:

• Bird Species

• Weather Condition

• Geographic Location

• Food Availability

Most birds start nesting from March onward. Studies show that the basics in nest construction are primarily instinctive across species but that a bird’s nesting skills improve as it ages and gains experience. Even with their skills, they sometimes need a little help, so keep that cat indoors! I think a great project for my grandkids and me is making some nesting boxes. You can easily make them, or simply buy some from your local garden store.

Mar03

Mar05335

Ahh, it’s snowing again! We do live in Minnesota so at this time of year its really not that surprising. As I sit here by the window watching it snow, I remember my mama saying

“Look at all that beautiful white manure.”

For me as a kid, snow meant no school, sledding, snowmen and snow angels. Now that I’m older, I’ve thought about what mama said, and I’ve wondered what it meant to her.

A little bit of research has shed some light on the subject, and I’m excited to share it with you!

One big benefit of a good snow cover is it is a excellent insulator of the soil. With out snow, very cold temperatures can go deep into the soil and damage root systems of your trees and shrubs. I like to mulch with the snow on some of my gardens.

It can also help protect perennials,bulbs,ground covers, and other plantings from freezing and thawing cycles. Milder temperatures and the sun could warm the soil surface, leading to damage from soil heaving, which can break roots and dry out plant parts.

Snow also helps conserve soil moisture over the winter.

Of course there are the drawbacks of snow (shoveling it is one) Heavy snow can damage trees and shrubs as the weight accumulates on branches. If there are heavy snows, carefully brush off snow from branches.

The other drawback of snow in the landscape is small animals, such as voles and mice are now protected from predators. These pests will tunnel under the snow and may gnaw on tender bark at the base of young tree trunks and the stems of shrubs. Rabbits will also be more likely to feed on tender bark when the ground is covered.

One final positive on the snow is it really make some landscape plantings. Trees and shrubs with ornamental bark, such as red dogwood or river birches, look more brilliant. Ornamental grasses left standing from last season are much more visible. Evergreens may look much greener.

Hmmm… It appears the snow has stopped for now. Time to go shovel some white manure off my driveway and onto my landscaping!

Jun13

dwarf red canna lillieHere are some tips on Canna Lilies.

Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a hard rain, look for another site, or add an addition of organic material to raise the level 2″-3″ to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available. Canna Lilies thrive in soils too moist for many plants but will not survive in soggy settings.

For the best foliage color and the greatest number of blooms,your Canna Lilies will be happy in a spot where they’ll receive full sun.

Dig holes and plant the rhizomes 4″-6″ deep and 2 feet apart (for tall varieties) or 1 foot apart for the medium to dwarf types. Place the rhizomes with the eyes, or growing points, facing up.

After planting, water your Canna Lilies generously to settle the soil around the rhizomes. Roots and sprouts will form in a few weeks, depending on soil and air temperatures. If temperatures are still cool in your area, wait until they warm before planting, Or start your tubers indoors in a pot for earlier blooms. Canna Lilies need heat to get them going.

Water your Canna Lilies enough to keep the soil slightly damp but not enough for it to be soggy.

When in bloom, feel free to cut Canna Lilies flowers for bouquets. Some gardeners grow the varieties with deeply colored or striped leaves for the foliage only and snip off all the flowers. If you prefer this approach, go for it. The plants will be fine if pruned this way.

After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place, don’t cut it off. The leaves gather sunlight and provide nourishment for next year’s show. Water as needed. Leaves may be removed when they yellow. In cold areas, to save your Canna Lilies rhizomes for next year, dig them after the first frost. Let the rhizomes air dry for several days. Then store in a cool location in paper bags or boxes filled with peat moss. While this approach doesn’t always work because holding temperatures and moisture levels for rhizomes and storage medium must be fairly exact to please these tropical plants, if you’re an adventurous gardener it’s worth a try. We store ours in the basement in a tub with straw and they seem to do just fine

Your Canna Lilies will rest for a few months before beginning the next growing cycle in spring.

Planters, Pots, Tubs and Urns

Fill your containers with good quality, well-drained soil. Almost any commercially available potting medium will work fine. Make sure there are adequate drainage holes; Canna Lily rhizomes should not sit in waterlogged soil or they risk rotting. Keep in mind the mature size of the varieties you have chosen and plan your container sizes accordingly.

Feel free to mix Canna Lilies with other plants in the same container. Just keep in mind that all must have the same light and water needs.

Dig holes and plant the rhizomes 4″-6″ deep and 1.5 feet apart for tall varieties or 1 foot apart for the medium to dwarf types. Place the rhizomes with the eyes, or growing points, facing up.

After planting, water your Canna Lilies generously to settle the soil around the rhizomes.

Provide full sun and water, and you will have happy Canna Lilies. Happy Canna Lilies equals a happy ME!

 

 

May19

20140527_114359I always remember Grandma saving her coffee grounds for her garden. As I got older with gardens of my own, I either forgot this of couldn’t imagine putting acid-rich coffee grounds on my gardens. As it turned out, granny knew best! Coffee grounds are great for your garden! As I found out not only acid loving plants    ( tomatoes, roses, azaleas & blueberries) love them, but if you mix a tablespoon of garden lime into a five pound bag before you dig them into the soil it will also benefit non-acid loving plants. 

Coffee grounds add minerals, vitamins and nitrogen to the soil so that the vegetables are stockier and less prone to insect infestation.

As with any type of fertilizer, though, don’t overdo it. Mix at the rate of five pounds per three square feet.

You can dilute coffee grounds with water for a gentle, fast-acting liquid fertilizer. Use about a half-pound can of wet grounds in a five-gallon bucket of water,and let them lounge outside  to achieve the ambient temperature.
Sprinkle used grounds around plants before watering, for a slow-release nitrogen.

Some other good uses:

Slug Deterrent

Coffee is a natural slug deterrent slugs hate crawling over the coffee grounds !  Just put coffee grounds in a uniform circle around the plant as a seedling, and keep topping it off with more coffee grounds periodically.

Suppression of Fungal Diseases

coffee-for-my-gardenDecomposing coffee grounds have their own fungal and mold colonies and those fungal colonies tend to fight off other fungal colonies.  The world of teeny, tiny things is fighting for space and resources just as fiercely as the world of big, visible things, and you can use that to your advantage.

The natural mold and fungus colonies on coffee appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, .  If I have coffee grounds on hand, I will throw a handful of grounds into the transplant hole for tomatoes, peppers or eggplant, since these plants tend to be susceptible to various wilts. As granny would say”It can’t hurt!”

And of course you can add it to your compost or add it to you mulch and when you do mulch with it , don’t pile it on. That’s a sure-fire way to get moldy mulch. A good half-inch thick layer atop your normal organic mulch in any one spot will do nicely. It will break down relatively quickly as worms and soil microbes go to work.

 

 

 

 

 

Jul17

20130620_165421And the winner is……

I just read in a local paper that the 2013  Perennial Plant Association’s perennial of the year is  Polygonatum Odoratum ‘Variegatum’, also known as Solomon’s Seal. This excited me because my brother just gave us one two springs ago and this year it is simply beautiful.

The Perennial Plant Association was formed in 1990 with the idea of promoting perennials that meet certain conditions including ease of maintenance, pest and disease resistance, plant availability, good seasonal interest and suitability to different climates.

Our Solomon’s Seal when first planted in an unfenced garden, was sturdy enough to survive our two dogs who loved to sleep on it. This year I’m happy to say the garden is  fenced, and now the Solomon’s Seal has room to grow.  It is vigorous in our area in both full and partial shade.  As the Latin name suggests it has a beautiful smell and the the variegated foliage looks very nice in a flower arrangement. This perennial beauty has something of interest from spring through fall. It has arched stems that form a  loose mound 18 to 24 inches tall.  The white blossoms, appearing in mid to late spring, are small and bell shaped and are followed later by bluish black berries and yellow leaves.  They can be divided in spring or fall and have no serious insect or disease problems.  Our garden look very elegant with this handsome Solomon’s Seal planted with our hostas.  This easy-care plant may be something you’d like to dress up your landscape or garden.