Saturday, June 23, 2018

No Rain

We're getting rainfall in occasional drips and drops, but nothing appreciable. The grass is starting to go dormant, although I'm maintaining the gardens, of course.

You can water, about an inch a week total on most northern (and most southern, for that matter) lawns, done either all at once, once a week, or half the amount twice a week. Mow as long as you can tolerate the lawn to preserve water, and try to mow very early in the morning or just before sunset to minimize water lost to bleeding.

If you'd rather not water, that's fine for northern lawns, at least. Bluegrass will go dormant and incidental rainfall is usually more than enough to keep the roots alive. Rye and fescue will stop growing and are tolerant of weeks of little to no rain, although they have no dormancy mechanism as such. For southern lawns, Bermuda will go dormant and the mechanism is at least as good as bluegrass'.

If you see the dry spell coming, stop mowing. Even if the lawn is a little long, don't mow it. Longer grasses use less water, and shade their soil better, slowing evaporation of the water that remains.

Try to minimize the wear on the lawn during the drought. Normal usage isn't a problem, but a game of football might not be the best idea. Grasses that aren't quite fully dormant will take damage, as will fescue and rye that can't go fully dormant.

Don't feed. That's a good summer rule to begin with, but skip even the organics.

And other than that, don't worry too much. Grasses can tolerate a summer drought just fine and, worst-case, you may have to reseed in some places in very early fall.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Images Down

PostImage has had some problems lately and has changed their domain.  As time wears on, I'll work a bit on restoring old posts--but not very hard or very much.

Things Are Really Underway...

I got distracted by any number of things and could either do the work or talk about the work.  I did the work.  :-)

The lawn's been fed (soybean, as always) as of May 1, and the gardens were planted shortly thereafter, once I was sure all chance of frost is past.  Rain's been relatively consistent, with just a short June dry spell so far that had no real consequences.

The Babylon Red dahlia are doing extremely well.  I hadn't expected them to blossom this early!


A new addition this year, the scarlet Profusion zinnia look like they're going to be incredible.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Things are Underway

I haven't blogged because I've mostly covered things in previous years.  I'm moving dates around a little bit, so the blue and red salvia are both starting later this year.  They were crowding each other out a bit.

I moved the ageratum earlier as it had a very slow development last year.  This year, it's already starting to get rootbound with 2 months left to go before planting.  I'll pinch them back if I have to and they'll be just fine.

I took a few photos of the setup downstairs. Again, click on any image to embiggen it. This is the sprouting area in my home office. The red/white light is a set of 12 volt, total of 12 watt, LED strips I cobbled together and mounted on flexible vinyl. I use that to illuminate my wintered-over flowers as well as to help new plants sprout.


Only one deck is currently in use downstairs, out of six. The second will come online sometime late next week, probably. After that, it moves fast. We're currently 8 weeks out from last frost.  On the left are Easter Egg plant and ageratum.  The right is the newly-sprouted heliotrope (which is not going well) and the blue salvia (which is just small and will be fine).

Sprouting_Plants_03.10.<br />
<br />2018_3

This is a wider view, also showing my very messy working area.  My better half won't come downstairs until I clean all this up, so we're talking May.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Cycle Starts Anew

Yesterday, Groundhog's Day, marks six weeks until the official Spring Equinox...and about 12 weeks until the annuals are planted.

It's time to start the seeds that require the longest development time, like vinca, ageratum, heliotrope, and the like.  I started the first set (vinca, ageratum, and heliotrope) last week, with the heliotrope continuing on the heater this week with the Easter Egg plant.

The heliotrope, so far, has 5 of 24 plants sprouted, but typically takes a long time and has a very low germination rate.  I put dozens of seeds in each cell.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017 Lawn Additions

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, with some corn early in the season.  Even with the heavy rains, fungal issues never occurred. 

I did spray ferrous sulfate as well, which helps enhance the color, back right around the time I winterized.

2017 was very similar to 2016, and I expect no major revisions for 2018.

DateNPKIronOrganicsOther Notes
5/1/20171.220.370.190.0025.0Soybean Meal, Cracked Corn
8/1/20170.930.260.130.0013.3Soybean Meal
9/1/20171.120.320.160.0016.0Soybean Meal
10/1/20171.100.310.160.0015.7Soybean Meal, Urea

Total per K ft:   5.51  1.27    0.54    0.00    70.0   70.0 active organic total  

2017 Garden Additions

2017 is almost a carbon copy of 2016's garden applications, with levels more than sufficient to sustain a dense flower garden.  As the photos show, I certainly had no problems with blooming intensity!

About the only change was a reduction in the amount of monoammonium phosphate.  Phosphorous levels are already very high.

I didn't list the slow calcium I added this year, about 20 pounds per thousand square feet.  That will gently release over the next few years, holding the pH in the lower 6 range.

DateNPKIronOrganicsOther Notes
4/9/20170.110.520.000.000.00Monoammonium Phosphate
5/12/20171.320.300.250.3621.5Milorganite, Soybean Meal
6/1/20171.320.300.250.3621.5Milorganite, Soybean Meal
7/1/20171.320.300.250.3621.5Milorganite, Soybean Meal
8/1/20171.320.300.250.3621.5Milorganite, Soybean Meal

Total per K ft:   5.56    2.50    1.00    1.44    86.0    172.0 active organic total  

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Last Night

First frost is expected this evening, although it's possible that we might miss it.  In that case, frost won't be expected until very late October.

Still, even a near miss will damage or kill some of the gardens.  Some has already gotten old and died, some don't respond well to temperatures under 45°. I've pulled out and composted about a quarter of the gardens at this point.

First, the standard shot.  As always, click to embiggen it.  Although we had a short drought, the grass came through just fine and has attained its October dark green.


The front gardens are doing fairly well.


Whether we get frost or just very cold, the Melampodium won't ilke it and will probably die tonight. They don't much like temperatures below fifty and they're extremely unhappy at 45.


The dahlia are still doing pretty well. Here's a Jennifer's Wedding dahlia, probably on its last night. I cut off all the fresh blossoms just after photographing this and put them in vases indoors, where I can get three or four extra days out of them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Late September, Spinning Down

It's not noticeable unless you know the gardens very well, but they're starting to slow down and come to the end of the season.  Some plants I'm letting seed out at this point.  Plus I need to deadhead again, which is a huge job at the end of the season as the flowers don't last nearly as long.

Here's the standard grass photo.  As always, click on any image to embiggen it.


And the standard garden shot, showing the northwest edge of the gardens.


While still bright and colorful, plants are now a bit harder to control, and the bud production is slowing as the days get rapidly shorter.


They're still impressive, but even the marigolds are sporting smaller blossoms.  The blue and red salvia aren't showing any seasonal changes as of yet, but that's coming.


I've imposed the garden edge for the fall so the grass is a touch brown around the gardens.  That'll go away the next time the gardens are edged.  Still, the front edge under the fringe tree looks pretty good!


Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Photos

While the gardens are moving past peak, the lawn is just coming into its own as of today.  It'll continue to improve through late October before starting to stall for winter.  As always, click on any image to embiggen it.

The standard lawn shot:


And the standard garden shot.  No real fading is visible here yet, but things are starting to get a little leggy and weaker as the sunlight fades.


Here's a closeup from the center of that shot, facing the house.  Again, you can see the over-growth and the fact that I have to work much harder to keep up with the dead-heading.


Individual flowers are still doing very well, of course.  This is a Magellan scarlet zinnia, one of my favorites.


The front garden is doing well.  This is the section north of the driveway, but I'm also more careful here since this is visible from the street and to all the surrounding neighbors.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

September Soybean Meal Down

I was up extraordinarily early today, so after a trip to the grocery store I applied September's soybean meal to the lawn while it was nice and cool.  This time around, I used up most of the spare leftovers from August, for a total of around 160 pounds (16 pounds per thousand) on the lawn.  That works out to about 1.1 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet, a completely reasonable amount even when delivered synthetically.

That will become available around the middle of September and continue to feed right through the end of the season (and weakly into next year).  However, there's still an October application to go yet, and winterization using urea in November.

Synthetics users should be applying their lawn feeding right about now.  Labor Day is considered the optimal time to feed the lawn.

Also, the gardens are doing extremely well for very late August, so I do need to photograph them.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


It doesn't get any better than this, since the Black Eyed Susans are already starting to fade.  They're not a huge section of the garden, and I can force them to re-bloom, but it won't look like this again this year. As always, you can click on any of these photos to embiggen them!

Here's the standard lawn shot. We've had so much rainfall that the lawn never went dormant this year, and never stressed in the heat.


And the standard garden shot:


I posted this approximate shot last time, so I did it again.  This shows the fading Black Eyed Susans as well.


Visitors are extremely common here.  Although many shots have incidental butterflies in them, they usually won't allow me to get that close.  The bees simply don't care, and tend to ignore me as I'm distracting them from the cosmos.


This was an heirloom flower that apparently crossbred the yellow and orange zinnia from two years ago into a very attractive tangerine color that I've never seen before.  I'm allowing all the flower heads to age on their own, and I'll collect them to see if they breed true next year.  They're an imperfect double flower, taller than the average bedding zinnia, but very attractive.


Sometimes little surprises hide under the leaves, peeking out when the sun touches them.  This is a Sun Lady dahlia, cheaply available every year at Home Depot and a good performer in any sunny spot.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

August Garden; Very Near Peak

The gardens tend to have a very extended peak period from July 15th through October, which is by design.  However, just due to the nature of most annuals, the highest peak is the month of August. The rest of the period is still mountainous, but not quite so much as August is.

Today shows that we're approaching that peak period very quickly.


The bees seem to agree.  There are thousands in the garden at any one time.  Fortunately, they're very well-fed and very placid.  I've had them in my hair and down my shirt.  I've never been stung.


I've always felt like I shouldn't have a favorite flower, per se.  But if you pushed me to choose one, these would be close.  They're Sun Lady dahlia, a gorgeous yellow with a slight greenish tone that makes them look like yellow highlighters.  They're the size of my palm, the 3' bushes produce flowers copiously from now until they freeze, and the flowers are sturdy-stemmed and last four or five days in a vase.

They're also around a dollar a tuber at Home Depot in spring.  They don't store or over-winter well, but they're cheap enough that it doesn't really matter too much.


Rare for me, here's a photo from indoors.  These reflect so much infrared light that the color warps badly when photographed in the garden.  Even here, they're much more purple in person than here, where the color has a strong note of mauve.  My hand is in there as a reference; I have average sized hands for somebody who's five foot eight.  The blossoms really are that big.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Soybean Meal Down!

August's soybean meal for the lawn went down this morning, a bit trim at 13.3 pounds per thousand square feet.  I have about a third of a bag left in the garage, which I'll drop in September as I wasn't going to bother going back over the lawn to put down 15 pounds.

I also fed the gardens this weekend, completing the organic feedings there.  Urea feeding continues into September, but I can publish the 2017 organic garden additions at any point now!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Late July Photos

For late July, the lawn and gardens are doing very well.  It's been extremely rainy, which is causing a lot of fungal issues in many lawns. So far, mine hasn't been harmed and I see no signs of any damage.

As always, click on any image to embiggen it.

Here's the standard lawn shot:


And the standard garden shot:


The roses are re blooming after a very energetic June blossom:


I have both Magellan and Dreamland red zinnia this year.  This looks like a Magellan.


The coleus are doing extraordinarily well this year in cooler temperatures and more rainfall. I always put them in too much sun, but they generally manage fairly well.


These are Cosmos sulphureus, Cosmic Red--mostly. As the generations pass, they're getting a bit taller and a bit more orange than red.  Some have retained their red hues, however.


And lastly, to nobody's surprise, the marigolds are doing beautifully.  They're reliable producers, year after year, under almost any conditions.