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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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Feeding The Gardens...Again

The rain let up after two days (no complaints, we needed it desperately) and I fed the gardens this evening.  It's a few days late, but I had delayed until after the rainfall as I wasn't sure if we would get minor flooding.

This month, just like last month, the application was 9 pounds of Milorganite and 12.5 pounds of soybean meal per thousand square feet, for a total of 21.5 pounds of organics and around 1.3 pounds of nitrogen.

That's a high level of feeding, but the gardens are fairly tightly packed and I demand almost constant blossoms.

Applying Milorganite Every 30 Days

Or, can you apply Milorganite Monthly?

This is another Dear Reader question from my search results.

And yes, you can apply Milorganite every month to your lawn and gardens if you want to.  Personally, I'd recommend skipping July on northern lawns as the grass isn't interested in feeding that month, and any very cold month is also best skipped as the Milorganite can't decay.  Use in July in the gardens is fine, however, and I do this every year.

When It Rains...

In this case, it didn't pour, it kind of deluged.  We've received nearly three inches of rain in the last forty eight hours.

Sections of lawn I thought were dormant turned out to be badly shocked and are rapidly recovering.  At the moment, there's perhaps fifty square feet that will require consistent rainfall to fully recover while the rest will be back by the end of the week.  The forecast for the next ten days includes very consistent and rather heavy rainfall, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Rainfall contains an average of around 3 parts per million of nitrogen, which sounds like absolutely nothing until you begin calculating the weights.  Each inch of rainfall, per square foot, is approximately 0.6 gallons, or 600 gallons per thousand square feet.  Water weighs 8.8 pounds per gallon, for 5,280 pounds per thousand square feet.  At 3 parts per million, that's 0.016 pounds of nitrogen per inch of rain.  In our case, with 2.8" of rain (and a little more, but close enough), we also received 0.045 pounds of nitrogen total.

While hardly extreme, that also helps the grass to gently, slowly recover.

The gardens have also responded to the wetter weather by growing extremely fast.  Unfortunately, the weeds also responded by sprouting at incredible speed, so I'll be weeding those out shortly.