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I have one word for my garden this weekend…….discouraging!  We had so much rain/snow in May that the weeds (thistle, grasses) are taking over.  I’ve just identified two of my nemeses, can anyone guess the other one?  Critters!  The little darling’s (she says sarcastically).  So what happened this week?

Well, the ground squirrels or chipmunks have managed to dig into my greenhouse and have proceeded to strip one pot of chard, two separate pots of basil seedlings and have munched on at least one tomato plant.  They are also nibbling at my greens (mesclun mix, microgreens).  I’m not really sure what to do about them, other than fill the holes back in to make it harder for them to get in the greenhouse.

Last weekend, I was so happy as my lupines were producing flower stalks and getting ready to show their colors.  This week, they looked like this:

IMG_20150627_174752182I don’t know whether it’s the ground squirrels or deer that have managed to chew their way through all the flower heads on my lupine.  I only hope they will produce more.  The flowers are really pretty.

I weeded some of the large perennial garden today and planted Liatris and Hosta.  The thistle and grasses were taking over so it was time to pull them out of there.  I guess I’m the perennial optimist.  I keep weeding and planting and am hopeful that plants will survive.

There are good things about the garden this week.  Some of the iris are finally blooming and looking fabulous.  My peony came back in great shape and has flower buds.  The geraniums I planted in pots on the deck a couple of weeks ago are blooming.  The potatoes are going gangbusters.  The Purple Viking potatoes I planted a month ago are really tall!  I planted the potatoes in stages, so they are not all at the same growth stage, but they are looking great!  The carrots have germinated and are starting to get bigger.  The garlic are all up and doing well, although they haven’t produced scapes yet.  That will probably happen in the next week or so.  The peas in the walls o’ water are coming on.  It looks like they may flower soon and then we’ll have peas.  I think all of my roses that I replanted last year are coming back.  Hopefully, they’ll produce some flowers.  I’m also hopeful that with all the lush grass around, the deer will leave my garden alone and not try to eat all my plants.

I guess there is more good than bad happening in the garden this week, so that makes me happy.  I think now it’s time for a margarita!

Finally!

Well, The weather has finally warmed up a bit from the May snowstorms and rains so I finally got all of my potatoes planted. I put together 6 more tubes/cages so I would be able to plant all of them. I planted the first variety a month ago, then it got cold for a weekend, I went to visit my mom and sister over Memorial weekend so finally last weekend, I was able to get my gardening on. I wanted to clean out an area that was on the east side of the greenhouse to put the new tubes. Digging up all that grass was tough!! But I got it all out, chicken wire laid on the ground (to keep the ground squirrels from digging into the tubes from underneath) and tubes staked in and wrapped. Then I put mulch on top of the exposed chicken wire. Wrapping the tubes in plastic helps keep the soil from drying out and, as I have discovered, makes a slick surface so small critters can’t climb the wire of the hardware cloth tubes.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

End of day 1 digging grass

End of day 1 digging grass

Finished!!

Finished!!

I must admit that I am an over-achiever when it comes to potatoes. I planted 19 varieties total this year. That’s really too many. Next year, I’m scaling back on the potatoes (she says now). But if you are a gardener like me, you just want to try them all. Most of the potatoes I planted are considered short season, meaning they can be harvested in 60-80 days. That’s just about right for this elevation since I figure we have an average of 90 frost free days a year. Once they are ready, I can leave them in the tubes even after frost (but not freeze) which will help set the skins for storage.

In other veggie news…….this year, I did plant carrot seeds in three of the tubes (not with the potatoes) and they are starting to germinate. My parsnips overwintered, but I am not sure how they will taste. They might be rather bitter. I harvested the first round of greens from the greenhouse today and those will go in the salad for dinner. My peas that are planted in the walls o’ water are growing well. They have not been discovered by critters. And all my garlic is finally up. I’m looking forward to scapes on the garlic soon……..they are wonderful in stir-fry dishes.

Next weekend I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs that I’ve started. Those will go in the greenhouse. I changed up my tomato varieties a bit this year, using determinate and cold-hardy/short season varieties. I have several different varieties of basil, which will help make marvelous marinara in September. I also want to try some broccoli rabe, rapini and a purple broccoli, but I have to figure out where to plant it. I’m glad the weather is (mostly) nice enough to be able to get out into the garden now.

I posted last month on the unusually warm weather we were having up here. I also mentioned that we needed a few nice, wet spring snowstorms since the winter has been kind of dry. Well, I got my wish. Except, it was all in one storm. Two weeks ago we had a snowstorm that dumped about 3 feet or more of wet, heavy spring snow. In some places there is still over a foot of snow on the ground. It’s great for the garden, but not so great when you have to shovel all that wet stuff. And now, today, there is thunder with a 60% chance of rain. It’s definitely spring in Colorado…….if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change.

I did make it out to the greenhouse to check on the greens I planted 3 weeks ago. I planted some butter lettuce, microgreens, mesclun mix and chard in the containers in the greenhouse. They were just a bit drought stressed, but they seem to be doing well. And some of the peas that I planted outside in the walls o’ water are finally sprouting. They’ve been protected from the coldest temps, which is good. I also have some parsnips seeds/seedlings that held over from last summer and they are starting to grow as well. I can’t tell if the daffodils and lupines are in good shape, they are still covered in snow.

Looks like it will be a couple of weeks before I can do much else out in the garden. I need to wait for the snow to melt, the soil to dry out a bit so I don’t compact it when walking through the garden. Looks like I’ll have time to make some more potato cages and get ready for when I can get out to plant.

The last couple of weekends up here have been unusually warm for this time of year. In fact, I think this is the warmest I have seen it this early since we’ve lived up at this elevation. Last weekend I cleaned up all the pots on the deck so I could put out some annuals later this spring. I tried to go out in the garden, but it was too wet to do anything. This weekend, I figured it was time to get out and inspect the garden to see if the soil had dried a bit and what, if anything, I could do. Turns out…..quite a bit for March.

I cleaned out the greenhouse, getting it ready to move new plants in in a couple of months. I need to get out today and repair the plexiglass that broke out over the winter. Luckily, the pieces that came off, came off in one piece and did not break up, so they are reusable.

I noticed the lupines and daffodils around the greenhouse are starting to come up. I think it’s a bit early for them, so hopefully we won’t get any really bad storms. The bearded iris are starting to nose up as well. I hope they do well since the deer discovered them last year and ate the leaves. I thought that they were mostly deer-proof, but apparently not much is totally deer-proof up here.

In the big garden, the iris are starting to come up. The garlic that I planted last fall is starting to show a few stems here and there. I cleaned out the pea stems from last year and actually planted new peas in the walls o’ water. The soil is not frozen anywhere in the garden which is most unusual for this time of year. I also got some daffodil bulbs last November but it was too late to plant them out in the garden at that time so I overwintered them in the garage. They got a good chilling period so when I planted them out yesterday, they were starting to produce stems and should produce some nice flowers in about a month or so.

I still hope we get some nice spring snows up here. The added moisture will help, otherwise it will be a really long spring/summer up here. And I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. We’ll have to wait and see.

This weekend, I harvested my garlic. I turned the water off to the bed that they were in last weekend so the soil would start to dry a bit and I could get the garlic out of the ground. The German Brown garlic was very prolific, but produced the smallest bulbs. The Nootka Rose didn’t produce as much but the bulbs were bigger than the German Browns. The biggest bulbs were from the Island Rocambole, Siberian and Bzenc. They are now curing in the garage for the next week or two and then it will be time to snip the greens off and get them into storage.

Complete Garlic Harvest

Complete Garlic Harvest

Island Rocambole

Island Rocambole

Bzenc

Bzenc

Siberian

Siberian

German Brown

German Brown

Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose

I need to start looing at garlic to plant for next year. I’ll need to plant about the first week of September in order to get a decent harvest next year. Maybe I’ll get some different varieties to try this year.

I harvested a couple of tubes of potatoes this weekend. Neither of them had a label, so I figured I would go ahead and pull those and see what they are. Looks like they might be Desiree and Nicola. One tube was a light redskin potato and the other was a white skin. I think this weekend will be the last big drink the rest of the potatoes are getting. I need to let the tubers size up and the foliage dieback so I figure I should be able to harvest the rest of the potatoes in about 2-3 weeks, provided we don’t get much more rain up here.

I finally got the apple trees planted. They are a cold hardy rootstock, but I don’t know what the fruit will taste like. These are just little whips so it will be several years before they even think about flowering. They need a few weeks in the ground before it starts getting cold up here. I hope they survive. My goal is to graft other varieties onto this particular rootstock once this rootstock gets established.

And last, but not least, I put mulch on the roses and irises that I transplanted a month or so ago. I actually have a flower on one of the roses and with consistent watering after transplanting, they are putting on new growth. I need to start thinking about cutting back on the water in order to let them harden off for the winter. I really would like them to survive.

So I finally have had enough with the weeds in my big garden. Last weekend, I got out the big guns to tackle the Canada thistle and apply another application to the smooth brome. These weeds are nasty. Thistle has roots that go straight down, then take a sharp right (or left) so you never can pull the whole root. And when you pull the thistle, it just sends up more shoots from the roots from hell. I took a couple of pics of the thistle plants in decline from the herbicide. I may have to spray again, but they are on the decline!
DSC06769

DSC06770

DSC06771

I also harvested peas today. I got a full colander of snow and sugar snap peas. And last weekend, I harvested the same. I’m really happy with the peas. Since I put the walls o’ water around them, they have taken off. Plus, the rain we’ve been getting has helped a lot, too.

Pea harvest today

Pea harvest today

And the best news (because I’m a geek) is in my greenhouse. I have parasitic wasps that are starting to take care of the aphid problem. I hope I didn’t kill too many of the wasps with my insecticidal spray a while back. These guys are awesome! You really can’t see the parasitic wasps, they are so tiny. They are not like yellow-jackets at all! The parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the aphid, when the egg hatches, the larvae eats the aphid from the inside out, then pupates and exits the dead aphid, leaving aphid mummies. It’s really cool. The aphid mummies are golden in color and more swollen than a regular aphid and if you look at the back end of the mummy, you can see the cut end where the adult parasitic wasp emerged. And the best part is the parasitic wasps showed up on their own. I didn’t have to purchase them or anything.

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

I have a couple of tomatoes on one of my tomato plants in the greenhouse and lots of flowers on the eggplant. I hope it’s not getting too hot in there and the flowers are aborting. I opened the door a bit to help it cool down, so hopefully more tomato and eggplant flowers will set fruit.

It’s another good week in the garden.

The July monsoons are officially here. It has rained at least two or three days this last week and at least once each day this weekend. What does this mean for the garden? I didn’t have to water much! The greenhouse veggies needed water, but the outside garden is doing great. The peas in the walls o’ water are flowering. The roses are settling in nicely from the transplant last weekend and have actually put on new leaves.

I got insecticidal soap and drenched the peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse this weekend. I will probably have to make another application, but I hope I put a serious dent in the aphid population. The beans, tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse have flowers on them as well, so I hope they will set fruit soon. I will fertilize the tomatoes next weekend to make sure they have enough food for fruit production. Last weekend I harvested a bunch of basil to dry down and it looks like next weekend I’ll have to harvest again. It is doing fabulously well in the greenhouse.

The iris got planted this weekend, which will be a nice show of flowers next year. The lupine that was feasted on by critters is really making a nice comeback. I hope the lupines flower this year. It will be a nice addition to the garden.

The potatoes are producing nice vegetation and I am seeing little flower buds on some of them. I’m hoping to have a great crop this year. The garlic seems to be doing well, but it has not produced scapes yet, so I think they are a little behind this year.

The peony that I planted on the west side of the house has bloomed! Yay! I planted this peony 3 years ago and had forgotten what color the blossoms were supposed to be. They are a beautiful ruby color.

Peony bloom close-up

Peony bloom close-up

Peony blooms

Peony blooms

I think I will have to use the grass herbicide again. I was told that smooth brome can be a bugger to get rid of, so that might happen next weekend. The first application may have set it back a bit, but it hasn’t totally killed the grassy weeds yet.

Lastly, the Rufous hummingbirds have finally arrived and are battling it out with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds for space on the feeder. I always assumed we had Ruby Throated hummingbirds, but doing a bit of research for the links, Ruby Throated hummingbirds are east of the Mississippi. They don’t migrate this far west in the summer. The Broad-Tailed hummingbirds are the ones that migrate to the Central Rockies. They look pretty similar to the Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Either way, they are just amazing to watch.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

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