Monday, March 27, 2017

The Last Flat

Or, Flat #12.  While the Moonsong marigolds are still being pokey, I can handle four flats in the office if I absolutely have to.

So I started the last flat.  This one is composed of some final Janie Primrose Yellow marigolds, some Harlequin dahlia, some Cosmic Red cosmos, and a scant few Strawberry Fields gomphrena.  That last is only 12 plants, a trial this year, and the only larger amaranth I've ever grown (I've grown celosia in the past, but those are much shorter).

The season, although spring, still feels a lot like late winter...but at least spring is well underway in the cellar!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Flat #11

Flats #9 and #10 are being a bit pokey about sprouting, with the Moonsong Deep Orange marigold being rather slow this year.  I do build time into the schedule to account for that, but not a full week.

So I now have three flats in the office as I added the Janie Primrose Yellow marigold to the mix late on Friday evening.  Even if everything is very slow, I can handle the fourth and last flat if I have to.

I also started 12 coleus--Giant Exhibition Marble.  But those are sitting on a ceramic tray on the windowsill as they're not particularly touchy.  They'll be slower in the colder air, but they'll sprout.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Flat #10...

I'm coming in to the finish line (as far as planting, anyway!) at just about the average pace.  The Inca II marigolds sprouted quickly, as expected,  and made room for the Moonsong Deep Orange marigolds and Janie Deep Orange marigolds.

At this point, the only things remaining are a flat of Janie Primrose marigolds and a flat of assorted late-sprouting things.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Flat #8...

The zinnias, as always, sprouted in just a few days and are already under the lights.

I started the Inca II Gold marigolds, and the Vanilla Improved marigold today.  Those are on the heater and should be sprouting very quickly as well.

Atypically for March, we're going under a blizzard warning for 18-24" of snow and very high winds tonight, so it's nice to have a bit of early spring under the lights downstairs.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Halfway Point

The ageratum did well, the Impatiens are slowly coming along but being rather dodgy about it.

Regardless, the days are passing and the zinnia have to start.  As of this evening, I planted 72 Dreamland Scarlet zinnia, and 72 Magellan Scarlet zinnia.  Two different cultivars tends to slow down the spread of the inevitable fungal issues in the garden.

Those should sprout rather fast, clearing the deck for the larger marigolds which will start next.

Still, the zinnias bring the grand total to six flats, of the 12 I do, so that was the halfway point for the planting!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Last of the Early Stuff

I started the ageratum and Impatiens (Sunny Lady lavender) a few days ago, which is the last of the early season plants.  From here on out, I have a short lull until the zinnias begin in a week or so, followed by the marigolds and a few oddballs like the coleus.

Ageratum definitely benefit from a few extra weeks than you think they'd need, and even so, they'll go into the ground as fairly small plants.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Moving Further...

The weather here has been more like May than February, with highs in the mid-seventies.  That's projected to change late tomorrow, with weather more appropriate to late March.

Still, it was time to finish the last of the Salvia splendens "Flare" and begin the Profusion zinnia.  I'm growing both yellow and flame (almost red when they open, turning a reddish-orange when mature).

I had tried the cherry last year, but the flowers tended to bleach too much in the gardens.  Some ended up a pale rose, which isn't nearly dominant enough with the other plants.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Moving On...

Most of last week's plants did very well, with only the heliotrope having a more limited sprout percentage.  However, a 67% sprout isn't terribly bad for a plant that can be very difficult to sprout from seed.  It just doesn't compare to everybody else's 100% sprout.

This week, the Salvia farinacea "Rhea" start, along with about half the Salvia splendens "Flare." Those are on the heater as of right now and should be sprouting slowly by mid-week.  Both benefit from a bit more time under the lights to grow in before planting in mid-May.

While temperatures outdoors are a most unusual 67 degrees, it's not May just yet...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Launch Date: Today!

Today officially kicked off the 2017 gardening season with the start of some of the annuals for this year's garden.  Currently planted and on the flat heater are the Easter Egg plant, annual vinca, Melampodium, and heliotrope.

Only the heliotrope is new this year while all the others are heirlooms.

Sprout should complete in the next week or so, at which point the heater will be taken over by the blue salvia ("Rhea").

Saturday, November 19, 2016

2016 Lawn Additons

I just came in from winterizing the lawn. Although temperatures are nearly seventy out there, we're forecast for a thirty degree drop this evening with snow and sleet.  Tonight seems to mark the end of the growing season, and if not, I can always cheat and nudge a little extra nitrogen onto the lawn in December if I have to.  I used urea to winterize as I found a very inexpensive source ($15 for 50 pounds).

This year's heavy hitter was soybean meal, as usual, with some corn early in the season.  We're in the midst of a moderate drought and have been for months, so fungal and disease issues weren't a problem at all this season.

I did spray ferrous sulfate yesterday, which has noticeably enhanced the color on the lawn.  Given the long period it was dormant this summer, I'd like to keep as much of the lawn active as far into the winter as possible.

Date N P K Iron Organics Other Notes
5/16/2016 1.21 0.60 0.19 0.00 25.0 Soybean Meal, Cracked Corn
8/1/2016 1.05 0.30 0.15 0.00 15.0 Soybean Meal
9/1/2016 0.88 0.26 0.13 0.00 12.5 Soybean Meal
10/1/20161.34 0.26 0.13 0.00 12.5 Soybean Meal, Urea
11/19/2016 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.0Urea

Total per K ft:    5.48     1.18     0.60     0.00     65.0     650.0 active organic total  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Liming and Fertilizing

Another Dear Reader question:  "Can you lime and fertilize at the same time?"

The short answer is no.  The lime will tend to deactivate most commercial fertilizers and render them inactive much faster than they otherwise would be.

The longer answer is, it depends.  Fertilizing organically, there's no problem and you can mix the two.  Even synthetically, immediately watering in the mix with at least a quarter inch of irrigation (or timing it just before rainfall) will tend to limit the problems.  Or, if you choose a fertilizer that doesn't use urea or ammonium-based products, you don't even have to water it in immediately.

Some fertilizers can even function as lime, such as calcium nitrate.  They do tend to be expensive, but it's another example of an exception to the no fertilizer and lime rule.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mid-November Photos

Rainfall is still scant, but with temperatures dropping that matters a bit less.  The remaining plants are able to work with it.  Although temperatures aren't dropping nearly as much as they normally would, with highs still in the sixties today.  There are a few tolerant flowers still blooming in the gardens, and the lawn is acting as though it were mid October.

The unusual weather is setting off some spectacular sunsets, as pictured below.  I caught the roof of the house behind us in the photo.

A few minutes later, the image was no less spectacular, but a bit dimmer.

Earlier that day, the lawn was doing very well.  There's no comparison between ours and the neighbors' lawns, which are paling out rapidly.

This is the remaining garden, with only a few blue salvia ("Rhea") remaining in bloom at this point.  The orange fruit is from an Easter Egg plant, which I tend to throw into the gardens for the animals.  And the animals are Casey (the larger) and Riley (the smaller), who are very interested in the lilac where a rabbit had been sitting some time before.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Late October Photos

The grass is recovering very well, although the rainfall levels are still very trim.  We finally received a quarter inch of rain last night, which is enough that I can mow today.  Temperatures also dropped from the low 80's to the low 60's.  That's still warmer than normal, but cool enough to work with.

The gardens are well past their prime and will start being removed wholesale this week.  We're also projected for a light freeze this week, which will kill the vast majority of the remaining greenery.  I included photos below only because it's amazing to still have a blooming garden in any capacity in late October.

The standard lawn photo.  The color is finally restoring to darker green (helped by a very small amount of iron) and the problem areas are filling in nicely.  What hasn't yet filled in will need to wait until spring.


The new cable box installation by RCN Cable.  When installed, this was canted twenty degrees, and they had broken the mower guide wire that I had specifically notified them was present.  They had promised not to break it.  Fortunately, they missed destroying the irrigation system by about a tenth of an inch.  Complaints were met with a completely uncaring response, including the supervisor, so RCN will never have me as their customer.

Note to RCN:  I will not approve commentary from your customer service agents.  It will be deleted.  I have repaired the wire--as I told you I would do as I don't trust you on my property again--adjusted the box as well as I could from the top, and am repairing the lawn damage.  Just go away.

I'll plant a rose garden around there, plus a few hydrangea. I have the roses cloning in my office now.


The garden section close to the house in the back.  While worn, this isn't doing too badly and will probably be the last section removed after it finally dies.


A section just to the left of the above, somewhat further from the house.  This has seen better days, but still looks OK.  Or at least the red and blue salvia do, most of the other plants have visibly faded.


The dahlia by the front door is doing fairly well.  Please pardon the mess, a nest of swifts lives above the doorway and they never clean up...


Friday, October 21, 2016

Organic Feedings Done

I dropped the last blast of soybean meal (identical to September's slightly lower amount) of 2 1/2 bags of soy, 125 pounds, over 10,000 square feet of lawn.

The drought continues, even today, although it's not severe.  We've been without significant rainfall for 12 days, and don't look to receive appreciable rain during the rest of October.  Consequently, I've been watering a bit, but the amounts are reduced since temperatures are no longer in the nineties.

Conversely, the gardens look incredible for mid-October.  The warmer than average weather has been very good for them, although they're noticeably aging and starting to die back just due to reduced sunlight and reaching the end of their lifespans.  I have photos on the docket for the weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Soybean Meal Down

I dropped the soybean meal feeding for September this morning, early enough that I thought I'd be OK in terms of temperatures.  I managed to get a bit of heat stress, but that's another story.  Suffice to say, please be careful out there.  This year's late August weather is more like July.

Because of the excessive heat and near-total lack of rain, I doubt that August's feeding has fully incorporated yet.  Consequently, I cut back the September feeding to 2 1/2 bags of soy, 125 pounds, over 10,000 square feet of lawn.  While only about 0.88 pounds of nitrogen, there will be enough left from last month to make up the difference, and the lawn simply hasn't had enough water to be terribly active in terms of growth.