Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Been Too Long!

I've been extremely busy, so this blog has gone by the wayside this year.  Not that there's much to report, however.  We're in a drought watch (the lowest level and not really a drought yet), but the lawn is dormant and temperatures are too high to bother trying to keep it awake.

The gardens are doing very well, so I've highlighted some of the better images below.

A rarity this season, but we did get a double rainbow tonight as a series of storms rolled through and dropped over an inch of rain!  That almost doubles our total so far for July, and might restore the grass a little bit.

This is immediately post-storm and I haven't swept the mulch back into the garden.  Still, you can see these are doing well.

A Madagascar periwinkle.  Although gorgeous, these are difficult to start, slow to grow, and don't really show off well until July.  They probably won't appear in the garden again, except via volunteers.

An Inca II Gold marigold.  These are 3-4" puffballs on 12" plants, and very showy. They'll definitely find homes again next year, and will partially replace the zinnia to cover the yellow part of the spectrum.  I still have to see performance in August and September, but so far these started strong right out of the gate and just kept getting better.

Friday, January 15, 2016

An Early Start

The summer garden plants are getting a bit of an early start this year.  After rampant fungus issues in the gardens last year, I've cut the zinnia to give the soil a year to rest and get rid of the disease spores, at least a little.

One of the replacement flowers is annual vinca.

Those need to start about four months before planting, which is exactly today.  So I have most of a flat planted and on the warmer.  I chose both Jaio and Pacifica vinca, in the red ranges.

Friday, November 27, 2015

2015 Lawn Additons

This year's lawn additions didn't differ too much from last year, except that I had sufficient fertilizer on-hand to winterize correctly.

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, and I skipped the corn application.  That turned out to be a slight mistake as the summer resulted in small amounts of brown patch.  In the future, I'll make sure to use it.

The ferrous sulfate resulted in a bit of color enhancement for late in the season.  It's subtle, but my soil iron levels can always use the help.

The Vigoro Super Green has a bit more slow release nitrogen than I generally recommend, but I'm seeing a very mild winter coming.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/9/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
9/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
10/1/2015 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
11/11/2015 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.50 0.0 Ferrous Sulfate Monohydrate
11/25/2015 1.33 0.00 0.19 0.19 0.0 Vigoro Super Green

Total per K ft:    5.53     1.20    0.79     1.69     60.0     600.0 active organic total  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Soybean Meal Down

I snuck some time late this afternoon and got the October application of soybean meal down.  Like last month, it was just a hair early, but if it had rained just as I finished I'd only be off schedule by seven hours.  Rain isn't expected until late tonight or tomorrow.

This application should become available around October 20th, depending on the weather, and will gently feed the lawn through the remainder of the season.

This is the last organic feeding of the year.  The only remaining application will be winterization, which will generally be around Thanksgiving.  At some point after that, I'll post the complete list of 2015 lawn applications.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kelp, Humic Acid, Prodiamine Down!

I also put down the soil conditioner, but that wouldn't fit easily in the headline!

As of today, I've applied the remaining dose of Prodiamine, 0.33 tablespoons per thousand square feet, to bring myself up close to 1.5 tablespoons per thousand this year.  The old April-applied shield is calculated to drop in early October, so this will carry me through late November.  Post that, sprouting weeds aren't generally of much concern, if any.

We're expecting modest amounts of rain in the next three days, so this won't need to be watered in.

Since I was already hauling out the hose-end sprayer, I also applied a little over 3 ounces each of kelp extract, humic (and fulvic) acid, and soil conditioner (6% sodium lauryl sulfate in water).

The kelp is supposed to gently encourage root growth, supply trace minerals, and supply tiny amounts of micronutrients and macronutrients.  In practice, it does seem to improve the lawn a bit, and the gardens moderately.

Humic acid is supposedly a good feed for the soil fungi, adds a tiny touch of organic matter, and will raise the soil's exchange capacity just the tiniest hair.  In practice, I can't say I see much effect one way or the other, but I have plenty on-hand so I use it.

The soil conditioner is sodium lauryl sulfate (6%) diluted in water.  Use of a few ounces per thousand square feet really does soften the soil and increase water infiltration.  I've conditioned the soil so well and added so much organic material that one or two applications per year are all that's required, but I do use more in the gardens to function as a surfactant for the kelp and anything else I need to have stick to the leaves.

Applications of all three (kelp, humic acid, and soil conditioner) can theoretically be done up to monthly at 2 to 4 ounces per thousand square feet.  My kelp and soil conditioner usage in the garden generally exceeds that, but with watering well, buildup is extremely unlikely to occur.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Breaking The One Third Rule

The One Third Rule:  Always mow your lawn before it's half again the normal mow height--so that you never mow off more than one third of the blade.

The mower is currently out on the north face, mowing away, and blatantly breaking the one third rule.  This time, it's more like the one half rule or even a touch more.  The grass is pushing six inches easily.

However, we're now on Day 12 without any appreciable rain (Day 9 with no rain at all), and temperatures holding in the mid seventies to mid eighties.  Mowing under those conditions would have invited a burn.

I've spent the last three evenings watering, so the ground is now moist and more normal rainfall is expected next week and the week following.

In this instance, I don't expect any serious side effects, although the grass' growth will slow temporarily while it recovers from the shock.  In late September, in tolerable weather, and on freshly irrigated soil, the shock should be minimal.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 Garden Additions

It's very early for me to be posting this, but I've finished with all garden additions for the year that will be recorded on the chart.  There's still a modest amount of calcitic lime to be applied in October when the plants are removed, but that won't supply any of the major nutrients and won't be placed on the chart.

The corn meal in late August was to fight alternaria blight, and it worked very well.  Although I lost wide swatches of zinnia, I had plenty of surviving volunteers to replant the open areas.  Those new zinnia are now starting to blossom.

Overall, levels of organic feeding rose this year, not quite doubling last year's totals.  I find that the garden does better when fed a bit more heavily.

N, P, K, iron, and organics are the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and organic mass per thousand square feet, in pounds.  The notes indicate what was used, except for the total line, where it tells you the total organic poundage used through the garden that year.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/5/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
6/3/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
7/1/2015 2.22 0.66 0.25 1.08 39.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/1/2015 1.32 0.30 0.25 0.36 21.5 Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/26/2015 0.10 0.04 0.02 0.00 6.0 Corn Meal

Total per K ft:    6.28    1.60    1.02    2.16    110.0    220.0 active organic total  

Monday, August 31, 2015

September Soybean Meal

I had time today, so I already dropped the September soybean meal at 15 pounds per thousand square feet.  Sure, it's a hair early, but even if it rained right now I'd only have jumped the gun by a bit over 12 hours.

It doesn't look as though this will water in until later this week.

The August feeding darkened the lawn noticeably, but the lack of rain has taken a slight toll.  I need to take photos of the lawn.  All things considered, it looks pretty good.

After this, there's one more organic feeding on October 1st or so, followed by a synthetic feeding for winterization when the grass ceases growth but is still green.  That's usually around Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Few Good Questions

Dear Reader questions recently include:

How long does Milorganite take to work?  --I've answered this before, but it bears repeating.  It's about three weeks to full effect, assuming decent rainfall and tolerably good soil.  Milorganite does contain some fast nitrogen, so you may certainly notice some impact on your lawn or gardens much faster than that.

However, Milorganite does not generally work quickly, and several applications may be necessary to build the biology and protein levels to a point where sustained, good effects are apparent.

Can you combine Milorganite and blood meal?  --Yes, but be a bit careful.  Milorganite has 40% or so fast nitrogen, which can burn plants when combined with blood meal's very high and very strong levels of fast nitrogen.  I'd probably separate applications of the two, or use the blood meal at very low levels.

What's the comparison of lime vs. Milorganite?  --There's actually no comparison.  Lime is either dolomitic (magnesium plus calcium) or calcitic (calcium only with very little or no magnesium).  Lime raises calcium (and magnesium in the case of dolomite) levels in the soil, usually raising the pH of the soil.

Milorganite is a feeding, although it does contain about 1% calcium as well.  Overall, any pH change of the soil should be minimal to slightly acidic, and it won't appreciably raise calcium levels at normal usage.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Soybean Meal Down

The first "fall" (really, late summer) feeding is down on the lawn--15 pounds per thousand square feet of soybean meal.  I actually did it last week, I just neglected to blog about it.

It takes about three weeks to decay in, so it should be available to the lawn around August 21st or so, given normal rainfall.  At the moment, the soil is somewhat dry, so decay won't be quite that speedy.

The next feeding will be around September 1st, and the last organic feeding for the year on October 1st.  Post that, I'll winterize with a high nitrogen synthetic when the grass stops growing, which will be around Thanksgiving.  However, that date varies very widely depending on the year.

Happy Solar Fall!

Actually, it began on August 5th, but I neglected to blog about it.

Solar fall is the twelve weeks a year of greatest downward change in day lengths.  So for the Northern Hemisphere, it began August 5th and continues through November 5th when we start solar winter (the period of lowest light for 12 weeks).

It's not that the gardens and lawn aren't still in summer mode--they are--it's just that the highest light period for the year has ended.  With proper care, gardens look great into October in this area, and lawns can flourish ten to twelve months a year.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Early August Photos

Traditionally, this is the worst time of year for lawns, but gardens are generally doing well.  This year, rainfall has been common and heavy enough (more than heavy enough) that the lawn is also doing very well.  There are, however, a few minor brown patch infections in it, currently being held at bay but not improving.  I may end up having to treat those with a fungicide, little though I like to do that.

First, the standard lawn shot.  As always, click to embiggen.  Color is characteristically not as dark this time of year as the sun is very high and bright, and that's holding true so far.
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The comparison shot has attained some popularity.  Although not as green as May or September, it's still doing better than most other lawns.  The darker area is in the shade of a pear tree.
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The gardens are doing fantastically well this year, to the point that plants are competing with each other.  Some have had to be removed as they were choked out by others, but there really aren't too many holes.
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Here's another face of the back garden.  The Color Spectacle dahlia isn't in bloom yet as the entire plant broke in an early July thunderstorm, but should be along shortly.
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The Blue Boy dahlia didn't break completely.  So although smaller than average right now, they're starting to bloom.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Late June Photos

These aren't the official July Fourth photos just yet, when I traditionally photograph the end of the early season flower and lawn development.  These are just extras for fun, and due to the fact that we've had so few days without rain that I'll snag any excuse to slip outside for a bit into the sun.

As always, click on any photo to embiggen it.

The first shot, as always, is the traditional lawn photograph.  Again this time, I took it before mowing the north face but after mowing the back.  You can see that the lack of sunlight is taking its toll on the grass quality a bit, although the back has already improved since yesterday.  Quality is tolerable, color is only OK due to the iron binding in the wet soil.
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The general garden shot.  The gardens are doing fairly well, but would bloom more heavily in more sunlight.
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Another face of the garden.  This one features plenty of dahlia and celosia.  I probably won't be growing the celosia again next year as development is not impressive until very late.
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The red Figaro dahlia are doing very well and will be making an encore appearance next year.  This is a closeup of some of the blossoms on one single plant.  A quick count shows 16 fresh blooms on this one plant, with dozens of developing buds.
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Harlequin dahlia are something I use as an accent.  They don't bloom nearly as copiously, but the color contrast is more than enough to make this an impressive plant in the garden.  This plant isn't in as good a location and only features two or three blooms at once.  Other Harlequin in better conditions will have a dozen simultaneous blossoms.
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Here's a Fireworks dahlia.  While an impressively copious bloomer, the blossoms themselves have too little impact from a distance.  Unfortunately, these probably won't make the cut for next year.
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The large dahlia are just beginning to bloom, with the first buds developing now.  Blossom on this Sun Lady dahlia will be this week.  These larger dahlia are more of a late-season flower, featuring two dozen blooms per bush from July through October.  Flower sizes range from 4" (the Sun Lady and Blue Boy) to 8" (the Color Spectacle).  I tend to avoid larger flowering dahlia as they require staking.
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I have some baby swifts this year in a nest over the front door.  While annoying--and dirty--I didn't catch the nest until the eggs were already in it, at which point I wouldn't dream of removing them.  Once the babies are out of the nest, I'll remove it.  Look closely here and you'll see four young swifts, getting large enough that they'll fly soon!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pouring Rain

Two weeks ago, we were just beginning to exit a month long drought.  Now, we've caught up. Although the official numbers show that we've received all of June's normal rainfall already (and a bit more), the numbers on my deck are somewhat more inflated due to the very local nature of the thunderstorms that have hit.

We received nearly four inches of rain yesterday evening alone, plus another quarter inch today, on top of the heavy rainfall we've received for the last two weeks.  It finally cleared out, but more rain is projected for Thursday and again this weekend as the remnants of tropical storm Bill come through.

Soils are sodden, but that won't be a problem over the short term.  There's really no way to do anything about this, so when it happens the only choice is to ride it out and wait for drier weather.

On the up side, plant growth in the gardens has been incredibly fast, and the grass has fully recovered from the shock it received from a very dry May.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Early June Photos

I've been rather remiss in showing off photos of the lawn and gardens.  For the most part, the lawn has been nothing spectacular this year.  The gardens have been fairly impressive.

The first image is the standard lawn shot, taken intentionally just as I'd finished the back zone mowing but not yet done the north face.  Where it's grown in, the color and quality are excellent.  Post-cutting, the limited damage from the month-long dry spell we had shows.  This damage is reversing slowly as June so far features a large amount of rain.

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The general north face garden photo also shows the grass in both zones.  However, at least the generally hot weather has moved the gardens along much faster this year, with plant sizes more like July 4th than June 10th.

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The larger dahlia are fairly well-developed, although two of these have been nibbled at by the rabbits.  The Tabasco sauce spray has stopped that and they're growing in nicely now.  And yes, I need to add mulch here!

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The smaller Figaro red dahlia are doing well so far!

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The red zinnia always do well, although they usually haven't divided stems this yearly.  This year, they have.

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And the ageratum.  Most people report having some trouble with these.  My only problem is keeping them constrained into their designed areas every year.

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