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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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And the standard garden shot:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July Fourth Photos

I was busy yesterday afternoon, so I waited to take these photos until this morning.  But that's close enough for me to call these the traditional yearly images!  As always, click on any image to embiggen it.

The grass is doing extraordinarily well for early July.  We've had more than sufficient rain this year and fairly moderate temperatures.  Rain is expected again tomorrow and Friday.

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The general garden image also looks good for early July.  While rainy, we're having more than enough sun to foster incredible growth.

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I added thirteen large dahlia this year, the majority of those inexpensive ones on sale at Home Depot. This is a fairly inexpensive one that I got at my grocery store, "Jennifer's Wedding."  It's just beginning to open.

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The ageratum looks particularly good this year.

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Unusual for me, I bought a few coleus.  They're doing fantastically well and I find I like the mixed colors of the leaves.  I may add more in the future.

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These are Cosmos sulphureus, small red or orange cosmos that bloom well all season long.  The parents were "Cosmic Red," but the daughters are getting a little bushier and a touch more orange.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Still More June Photos

Things are doing extraordinarily well for June, with the gardens accelerating right up to where they should be now that the constant rain has abated.  As always, click on any image to embiggen.

The lawn looks fantastic for late June.

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And, as noted, the gardens are doing very well, too!

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The very first of the dahlia, a Duet, is opening. It's extremely early for dahlia to be blooming, and the bush is young, so I expect the flower size to increase over time. The flowers, even at their current 3", are still very striking.

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The rose bush is just finishing up its first bloom.  Since the Japanese beetles are going to be out and about shortly, this is as good as it'll look until August and its third bloom.  Once this finishes, I'll do a full shaping cut on the bush.

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Even though it may be finishing up, the bush can still produce several hundred perfect roses:

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Sometimes the Profusion zinnia surprise you.  This one is producing blossoms that are almost red:

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The Vanilla Improved marigold are rapidly becoming a new favorite.  They look white in sunlight, pale yellow in overcast conditions, and almost yellow in moonlight or outdoor illumination.  They're also one of the few flowers you can see in moonlight.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

More June Photos

It's been very, very hot and very, very sunny for the last several days, which is kicking the gardens along nicely but starting to cost quality on the lawn. Fortunately, rain is forecast for Friday, along with much cooler temperatures.

I'm not including the general garden shot here as I took these photos at right around 12 noon. The sun was too bright and too directly overhead for good general photographs.

The yellow Inca II marigolds are doing very well and like this weather quite a bit!

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I bought a few Safari Red marigolds to round out.  They're doing extremely well:

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Not to be outdone, what the Janie orange marigolds lack in multi-colors, they make up for by being very numerous and very bright.

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I gave the Knockout Double Red rosebush a regeneration cut this spring, essentially shearing it back to the ground after twelve years.  It responded well and needs a shaping cut.  However, I'm not going to do that until after the first bloom finishes up.  That's going to be a while, it's loaded with buds.

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A closeup of one the roses:

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Photos for Early June

The weather here has finally brightened up considerably and we've had several days of sunnier weather and warmer temperatures.  That's starting to move things along a bit.

First, the standard lawn shot:

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The garden has grown a little over the last week and a half:

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So far, I like the "white" marigolds quite a bit.  They accent the surrounding reds very well, and they're one of the few flowers that's easily visible under moonlight and at deep twilight.

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The red zinnia are what the white marigolds accent.  With the cold, wet weather, they're barely started.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day Photos

The July Fourth photos are traditional, these are not, but they're still fun.  As always, click on any image for the larger version.

The lawn is doing OK, but the lack of sunlight has cost it some color.  It'll recover without any issues, and I'd rather have less sun and more rain than a drought!

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The gardens have grown noticeably in two weeks, although the zinnia have been a bit of a battle.  They seem to have a fungus.

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The Yellow Knockout Rose blossomed beautifully this year!

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The ageratum are just getting started.  Year by year, they get a little taller as they revert to type, so at some point I'm going to have to jettison the ones I have and buy new seeds.

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Profusion zinnia (Flame, in this case) always do well around here.  This one is just getting going for the season, but it's already filling a quarter of the pot.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Excessive Heat

We just came through our first heat wave here, with temperatures reaching an unofficial 95° on Thursday.  I had just finished planting the gardens the week before.

Losses were reasonably heavy, about 35 plants out of 700 or so.  I ended up replacing those with things I purchased locally, mostly Durango and Safari marigolds and some coleus for both sunnier and shadier areas.

And those losses were after running cooldown watering in the afternoon for two to three minutes, plus watering more heavily an hour or so before sunset.  Unfortunately, it simply got too hot too fast.

Repel Garden Rabbits

I have families of rabbits living under my Thuja, with the consequence that it's open season on the gardens until they mature a bit (I plant flowers, not vegetables, but the damage is still very bad).

Over time, I've looked up and cooked up a homemade repellant that works fairly well. Here it is:

In a one quart sprayer (or multiply by four for a 1 gallon sprayer, and so on):

1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp dish soap
1/4 tsp white Elmer's glue (optional but very helpful) (distasteful to rabbits, and helps the solution stick)
1 tsp Neem oil (optional but extremely helpful) (helps the solution stick and mildly distasteful to rabbits)

Spray plants lightly; no need to soak the leaves. 1.5 quarts covers 2,000 square feet of flower garden around here. Reapply after moderate or heavier rainfall, this should stick through light showers.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Soybean Meal Down

I fed the lawn right around the first of May but neglected to blog about it.  If you were waiting for me to announce the feeding, you're still in good time, though!  The window is very wide.

I applied 15 pounds per thousand square feet, and dropped the GrubEx at the same time.

I fed the gardens yesterday with 9 pound of Milorganite per thousand square feet and 12.5 pounds of soybean meal per thousand square feet.  Since I have 2,000 square feet of garden, it works out to half a bag of each.  I'll use the other half around the first of June.

May Photos

I've really been negligent about posting photos this year, so I made sure to take some late yesterday after I finished the gardens.

Here's the standard lawn photo.  The lawn recovered beautifully from last year's drought, with a little help and some judicious applications of urea.

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The gardens are in but these are Day 1 photos.  They're always a bit sad looking until the plants establish and start to grow.  The light brown edge on the gardens is where I've killed the grass to re-establish the edge.  The light brown in the gardens is the soybean meal to feed the gardens!

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Hardening Off

I set the plants out to harden off yesterday, a fairly long hardening off period comparatively speaking. The weather looks as though we won't freeze again this season, but I have a tendency not to trust that. I'll allow the flats to sit out until at least May 6th before planting.

Until then, the flats will gradually move out into the sun from the north wall.  Right now, only the marigolds are getting any appreciable sunlight as their hardening off period is essentially nil.

I did plant the pots, both front and back for a total of about 15, last night.  However, if the weather turns, I can pull those close to the house and cover them very easily.

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").