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Archive for the ‘perennials’ Category

This summer is turning out to be more of a maintenance year than actually doing a lot of gardening.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still growing a couple of veggies and have worked on weeding and putting new plants in my perennial beds, but it’s not the all out gardening of years past.  In the perennial bed close to the deck, I planted a Charles Jolly Lilac and a Miss Kim Lilac.  I added another peony (white) to complement the magenta peony that is already established.  The Russian Sage I planted a few years ago is doing good this year…..amazing what weeding and some water will do for plants!

The big garlic bed was a no-show this year.  I think the voles that tunneled in ate most of the cloves or at least enough of the clove so that they could not produce new garlic.  I still have some garlic that I planted in another area that is doing well, in fact, today I harvested the scapes off of them.  The bulbs should be ready to harvest in another month or so.  I think I will try to plant the garlic for next year a little earlier so it has time to sprout and set roots before winter.

I still have 10 roses that have survived from the rose trial several years ago.  I noticed today that a couple of them have flower buds and a couple have produced some blooms.  Yay!!  The lupines by the greenhouse are going gangbusters.  At the start of the season, the lupines were covered in aphids and I wasn’t sure they would make it through, but a little help from some insecticide solved that problem.

The research potatoes seem to be doing well in the grow bags.  This weekend when I was watering, a few of the potatoes look like they got scorched by something.  I am not sure what is causing that.  It doesn’t look like a disease.  It might be insect feeding from the lygus bugs that I found on the potatoes or maybe since the deer have been in the garden nibbling on the potatoes, they peed on the plants??  Who knows?  I’ll keep an eye on the potatoes and hope it doesn’t get any worse.

Last weekend I watered the peas I planted this spring and was really excited as they had flowers so I knew I would get some peas.  This weekend…….I think the deer got in the garden and had a feast on my peas.  The peas had been eaten down to about a foot from the soil level.  Rat b**stard deer!  The good thing about peas is I can grow some more into the fall so I should still have a harvest, albeit a small one.

My big achievement this weekend was getting the first raised bed built.  I still have to fill it with soil, but it is in place and ready.  I found the bricks at the store that have slots to slide boards into and also a 1/2 inch hole in the middle to be able to put rebar or similar through to stabilize the stones.  The bricks take a 2″ x 6″ board (I used kiln dried–not treated), cut to any length you want.  I used 5 foot lengths to make the sides and 4 foot lengths to make the ends.  I had to level the area since we do live on a mountain and things are on a slope, but it wasn’t that difficult.  Because I had to level the area, I used the bricks 3 high so the bed is 18″ tall.  I don’t have to put soil up to that level, but wanted a sturdy foundation for the bed.  I laid down chicken wire before putting everything in place to prevent voles and ground squirrels from being able to tunnel up into the bed.    And it looks really nice!

If you live in town, the bricks in the middle of the sides probably aren’t necessary, but since there are large mammals, like deer and moose, making their way through my garden, I wanted to make sure the bed would survive.  The added bonus of the rods through the bricks is that next spring when it’s planting season, I can get some bendable poly tubing and place it on the metal rods and use it to make the bed a small hoop house with deer netting or row cover to keep the critters from eating the veggies.  I think this raised bed will work well and I might even be able to get another one built before winter.

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So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.  I figure I had better get caught up.  Last year’s potatoes were harvested early due to the fact that the ground squirrels or chipmunks figured out how to climb up the potato cages and get inside to eat the growing tubers.  I had a few carrots to harvest and not many tomatoes from the greenhouse.  But this is another year and another gardening season begins.

I had my first chance this past weekend to get out into the garden to survey what Mother Nature had wrought this winter.  The big snows have melted except in the shaded parts so it was easy to check out the garden.  The voles have been very active this year.  I planted the majority of my garlic last fall in a different area  of the garden and it looks like the voles have made a lot of trips through that area.  I hope they didn’t eat too many of the cloves that were planted.  I did not see any little green sprouts coming up in that area.  I have another smaller area with garlic and they have sprouted and are coming up nicely.  No vole damage in that area.

I weeded in the walls o’ water and around them (in the big garden) so I could get the peas planted, which I did.  And that was great, because last night we had another 2-3 inches of snow.  The peas will be well watered and I hope they sprout soon.  After I finished that project, I moved over to the greenhouse to check things out.

4.25.16

This was the view that caught my eye as I headed to the greenhouse.  There were several plexiglass pieces blown out of the greenhouse by the wind.  This picture shows the largest piece from the east side.  There were two other smaller pieces, one from the roof and one from the south side of the greenhouse that were also blown out.  The dead aspen fell at the edge of the potato cages, with just some minor crunching of the top of the hardware cloth cages.  The poor lupines under the plexiglass managed to survive and were growing very nicely.  I hope that they survive this spring snow now that they are not protected by the glass.

On the positive side, the daffodils by the greenhouse are almost ready to bloom.  The daffodils planted in the large garden are emerging and should bloom around the end of May.  It appears that most of the roses survived the winter as did the bearded iris.   Most of the lupines up by the greenhouse have nice leaves. It’s spring, and I hope the weekends stay nice so I can continue to get things cleaned up.  I’m hopeful………again.

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I must admit that I love gardening.  It feeds a part of me that nothing else can.  It feels good to be outside, sunshine on my face, working the soil.  Planting little seeds or transplants that will transform into these marvelous plants that produce food to feed us.  And today, I finally was able to spend some quality time in the garden.  The new area for potatoes had compost added and was tilled last fall, left to rest over the winter and today, has potatoes in it.  Today the thistle was pulled from the patch (you don’t want to till thistle as each little piece will make a new plant and it is a horrid weed to try and get rid of), some fertilizer added and tilled once more.  Twelve potato varieties are now planted in this new area.  And I have them labeled so I can remember what I have planted.  I can’t wait for them to sprout.  This is the earliest I have planted potatoes, I don’t usually plant until the first of June, but the temps have been higher than normal the past month or so, so the soil has warmed up enough to be able to plant some things.  And even though we are still getting down into the 30’s at night, it is not cold enough for the soil to freeze.  We had some great moisture yesterday which will help the potatoes sprout. 

The potato varieties include Russian Banana Fingerlings.  Four red varieties:  Sangre, Colorado Rose, Mountain Rose, and Red McClure. Several yellow-flesh varieties:  Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Nicola and German Butterball.  I also got some assorted fingerlings from a friend that I planted as well as some Rio Grande Russet.  I was looking for some Purple Viking potatoes, but haven’t looked real hard yet so I may be able to plant those as well when I find them.  There are still a few slots left in the potato patch in case I find another variety.

All the apple trees have survived.  I had thought that I was going to lose at least two of the trees, but all four are leafing out.  This is good, it means that these may well be cold hardy for our area.  I don’t know if they will flower or produce fruit this year (or any other year for that matter), but I’m always hopeful.  I don’t know if you can see the leaves of the apples in the photo, but they are there.  The grapes are another story.  I do not see any buds that look like they will leaf out at all on any of the vines, either the table grapes or the wine grapes.  However, it may be too early for the grapes.  I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.  If the grapes don’t make it, I may be able to use the cordon system to plant some pumpkin and winter squash varieties to see how they do up here.

But in the perennial beds, the Shasta Daisies are making a great comeback as are the Echinacea, Liatris, Red-hot Poker and Bearded Iris.  And if you think the cold temps and high altitude will kill mint, forget it.  The mint is coming back gangbusters.  I will definitely have to weed it out as it will take over that whole perennial bed if given half a chance.  In another perennial bed, the peony is coming back.  It’s the first peony that I have ever planted that returned the following year.  Who knew that I would have to move to the mountains to get a peony?  Granted, it’s in a protected area, but still, it came back.  I hope it flowers this year.  I know that the peonies along the front range at lower elevations have or are blooming now, so I expect that mine won’t bloom for at least another month.

All in all, it was a good day in the garden.  Just what I needed.  A feeling of accomplishment and looking forward to another season in the garden.

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……….well, almost the first of May, but who’s counting?  The days have been pretty warm for this neck o’ the woods and the garden is starting to show its colors.  The garden got a perfunctory going over yesterday afternoon.  The daffodils by the greenhouse are blooming as are the daffodils in the perennial bed in the big garden.  I hope all the hyacinth bulbs I planted come up soon.  They smell heavenly and will definitely provide a burst of color to the garden.  It looks like 11 out of the 12 surviving roses from the trial are coming back in good shape.  The canes are starting to green around the crown and there are new leaves forming at the base of the plants where they are protected from our cool night temps by the mulch.  Buds on two of the four apple trees are swelling.  The grapes didn’t get inspected very well, they need more time to show if they are going to survive or not.  There are quite a few green tops showing in the huge allium bed that got planted last fall, so even if everything that got planted doesn’t come up, there will still be plenty of garlic.  It’s really nice to see some green out there.  I need to check the soil temperature to figure out if I can plant potatoes yet.  This year, after planting, once the potatoes sprout, I want to start ‘hilling them up’ and covering them with some straw so the potatoes don’t turn green by being exposed to the sun.

The perennial beds next to the deck of the house are starting to show activity as well.  The peony that was planted last year is coming back.  There are four, reddish colored shoots peeking out from the mulch.  The roses in this bed look like they have survived as well.  I didn’t see anything on the Cheyenne Mock Orange shrub, but I said that last year and it came back like gangbusters.  The lambs ear has survived wonderfully well and I can’t wait for the iris to start blooming.  I got anxious yesterday and finally bought some pansies for the deck, but think I will keep them in the greenhouse for another week or two just to make sure the cold temps don’t take them out.

It’s also time to start clearing out the greens in the greenhouse.  There is a great crop of mesclun mix and microgreens, but the containers need to be cleaned out for the herbs that were started.  I just hope there is enough room for everything in that greenhouse.  This past Friday, some of the veggies that got started in a different greenhouse got transplanted out of the plug trays up to a larger size pot so they can start putting on some healthy roots.  Tomato varieties for this year include ‘Black Krim’, ‘Brandywine‘, ‘Speckled Roman’, ‘Italian Roma’ and ‘Zapotec’.  I may also try a couple of other varieties of tomatoes as well.  There are four varieties of eggplant, ‘Long Purple’, ‘Nadia’, ‘Beatrice’ and ‘Rosa Bianca’ along with about 6 different varieties of peppers.  I may have gone a bit overboard on the basil this year, planting 9 different types of basil, but it is a wonderful addition to most dishes, so I don’t think any will go to waste.   As usual, I have probably started too many veggies and herbs, but I can always give them to friends to plant if there is not enough space in the garden.

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Given that the temperatures at our elevation dipped into the 20’s on Saturday night, it seems that the garden needs winterproofing.  The tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos that are outside in the walls o’ water got their tops toasted.  I’m leaving the toasted foliage on the plants to help protect the developing/ripening tomatoes in the walls.  Even the foliage on the artichoke that was hanging outside the wall o’ water got a  bit of frost damage.  The shallots and chard made it through the frost with no evidence of damage so they will be staying in the ground for a bit longer.  The grapevine leaves also had some serious frost damage, all of the leaves are curled and brown.  Here are some photos of the tomatoes and peppers that got hit the hardest. 

So, this weekend was all about winterizing some of the large garden.  The grapes and apple trees had a fair bit of weeding done around them then some fresh mulch was added to the base of each plant.  I planted some daffodil and ornamental allium bulbs in the perennial bed inside the big garden, then added more mulch to help protect the crowns of the perennials.  One of the mint plants suffered from frost damage, but a different type of mint actually seemed to thrive.  Guess it’s time to make mojitos with the mint before we get a serious freeze.  The perennials in the beds closest to the house can wait a bit longer for winterizing.  They are more protected and not so exposed to the elements.  But, still have my work cut out for me.

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It has definitely been a busy spring so far.  The weather has been extremely cool.  The potatoes finally got planted a couple of weeks ago and are just now starting to push a bit of foliage up through the soil.    I planted eight varieties of potatoes this year, Nicola, Russet Norkotah, Colorado Rose, German Butterball, Yellow Finn, Purple Majesty, Rio Grande Russet and Russian Banana Fingerlings.   The shallots are producing lots of little green shoots.  The onions are doing well, but may not bulb if we don’t get some warmer temperatures.  We’ve been eating the greens from the greenhouse for a couple of weekends now and they are tasty.  The spicy mesclun mix with some baby swiss chard makes a fabulous salad. 

Perennials have been planted in the big garden and in the small beds close to the house.  I planted Gayfeather (Liatris spicata), Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum), Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily (Kniphofia uvaria) and some more Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia).   The apple trees were planted last weekend (see Jan 2, 2011 post for info on apples) and then last week it got a bit chilly at night, so they were struggling a bit even though I had tried to acclimate them before planting. 

But the biggest accomplishment this weekend was getting my posts set for the cordon system so I can plant the wine grapes (next post will be all about the grapes) and finished stringing the wire around the big garden to keep the deer and moose out.  All in all, a very good weekend.

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……and don’t trust your eyes when making a cursory inventory of the garden after winter.  It has been a beautiful weekend up in the mountains, very little wind, mild temperatures and no rain or snow.  So, it was time to get out in the garden and see what’s what.  The last post lamented the loss of some of my plants, but that was a bit premature.  A perennial bed by the stairs to the deck needed rehabilitation, so all the weeds were removed, composted horse manure added and it has been replanted along with 5 roses, 1 peony and a winecup to create an instant garden.  I discovered a russian sage (1 of the 2 from last year) that was starting to leaf out so it was replanted as well, and the lambs ear in this bed was coming back strong.  The annuals were put in the pots on the deck, mostly annual geraniums since the ground squirrels/chipmunks don’t care for those, and watered and fertilized.   

The perennial bed on the other side of the deck has been weeded (mostly) and both lavender plants are still going strong.  Only one lambs ear plant did not make it, but the other two are doing beautifully. The globe thistle is coming back as well as the Cheyenne Mock Orange shrub.   It is starting to leaf out nicely.   Hopefully the irises will bloom in another 2-3 weeks and they will be spectacular.  I know what you are thinking, haven’t the iris already bloomed?  Well, along the front range at the lower elevations, they have, but up here, they generally don’t bloom until mid-June to the first part of July.  The daffodils by the greenhouse didn’t even bloom until about 2 weeks ago. 

 Composted horse manure was also added to the potato patch and all of my spuds are planted as well as the shallots.  The aspen are starting to leaf out and are providing a nice, light green color in the background.  The only drawback to having the aspen leaf out is looking out and seeing how many have died and need to be cut down.  That is an entire summer project in itself.   

All in all, a very productive weekend in the garden.

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