Plants – Mid-Spring Garden Update

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden: planting, weeding, watering and tidying up. Likewise, the garden has been the subject of quite a few recent posts. Here are a few quick updates on some past posts, and then I’ll try to turn my blogging intentions elsewhere, at least for a few days. ūüėÄ

Birdie, birdie in the tree

Sparrows made use of my birdhouse and the tree has been a-twitter with the chirping of baby birds for over a week.

Koi in Pond

I’ve been enjoying the pond,¬†it is¬†on the small size, but the koi are huge. They don’t seem to mind the small confines. Two have grown to twelve inches from three/four inch sized babies.

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A coleus grown from my own gathered seed has finally, after years of pampering, become a beauty. I love the finely edged leaves and vivid pink color. I named it Raspberry Twizzle. It has the characteristics of other coleus I have grown, but I have never seen such a brilliant pink in other coleus. I love it.

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I love my potted pansies and dahlia near the front porch.

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I found an old favorite, Mimulus, or monkey flower at a local nursery. The plant is heat intolerant, so I am growing it in pots on the porch.

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My Meyer Lemon and  Carambola sprouts are also vacationing on the porch for the summer. At some point I am going to have to decide which to keep and which to give away or discard.

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I replaced a rose that didn’t make it through our long winter with one of the Hasslefree Roses variety. I love this beautiful apricot beauty called: About Face.

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The Tomato Transplants in the Straw Bales are doing very well, so are a crop of mushrooms. The mushrooms sprout up overnight and succumb to the heat of the afternoon sun. They don’t seem to be doing the tomatoes any harm. This new technique of growing tomatoes has been a lot of fun.

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The Square Foot Gardens are up and doing well.

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Our Iris plants in this area are blooming weeks later than usual. Here is my favorite. I can’t remember the name, but oh the joy I feel when it unfurls its amazing pink petals. The blooming of this beauty prompted me to go on my yearly “Iris Hunt.” My “hunt ” is a long, circular bike ride through all the surrounding neighborhoods to find and photograph as many gorgeous Iris as possible. More on this at a later date. Thanks for looking, and thanks to those who have been asking me for this garden update. Blessings on your day!

Photograph – Peas and Arugula…Oh MY!

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There’s some excitement afoot in the Square Foot Gardens; the seeds have sprouted underneath the newly built Hoop House. The peas and arugula are doing best, the lettuces (Mesclun varieties) are sprouting too, but at a slower rate. Hooray!

The Daily Post for this week is: Achievement.

“Have you just run 26.2 miles, finished a long-term project, or met a personal goal? This week, show us an achievement.”

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Growing cold-season vegetables is not new, but it is a first for me. My new Hoop House is everything I had hoped. Yes, I consider my vegetables sprouting in mid-November’s very cold temperatures quite an “Achievement.”

Perspective & Problem-Solving – Rivers of Difficulty

“When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” Isaiah 43:2

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I didn’t plan on this post in advance, heavy storms arrived, and the problems they caused seemed like a good subject to blog about today. In some areas of Maryland this morning the rain was falling at a rate of near 12 inches an hour. This type of rainfall can create the danger of flash flooding. Here in South Jersey the heavy rains happened early in the day before people left for work, and although many are now stuck in standstill traffic due to rain-drenched and flooded roads, many more opted to go into work a bit later today.

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My Square Foot Gardens are now Square Foot pools of water. I’m thankful all the new seeds I planted last week already sprouted, and hopefully are rooted deep enough to withstand the heavy downpours.

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Horrors! As I was sitting in the living room, sipping coffee and watching the rain pour down, I became aware of a drip, drip, drip. NO!!!!!!!! Oh yes, the rain fell so fast and blew so hard it somehow managed to get into my house around the fireplace brick and mantel. A good tip to remember when this happens is to mark the area with tape. I positioned a piece in exactly the spot the drip was occurring and also marked where the drip hit the ground, or hearth in this case.

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Stay safe, and stay dry everyone! Happy Tuesday!

Plant Tips – Nasturiums/Salad Flower

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My nasturiums are coming into bloom this week. I have these beauties planted in my Square Foot Garden. You might wonder why these flowers are planted in a vegetable garden. The answer is that all parts of the plant are edible.  Here is a good link on how to use nasturium flowers, leaves and seeds in your salads and other dishes. Happy Dining!

Wikihow’s Tips On Using Nasturiums In A Salad

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Projects & Plants – Square Foot Garden Update

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SQUARE FOOT GARDEN 

I had a lot of success last year with my square foot gardens. To conserve even more space, we have decided to build this year’s garden a bit larger than the recommended 4 x 4. It will stand in back of the two square foot gardens already in place. Yesterday, it warmed up a bit, and we headed out to pick up two bales of vermiculite, two bales of peat moss, and bags of compost, mushroom soil and aged horse manure. We also added some of my own compost to the mix. I can’t wait to water it, let it settle for a day or two, and begin to plant.

Here’s a link to the blog of Mel Bartholomew, the creator of the Square Foot Garden Method: Link to Mel Bartholomew’s Blog

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I’ve had a few of my very late planted Autumn crops over-winter. Below is a picture of the parsley I was able to use all winter.

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I’ve heard that if parsley goes to seed or develops a stalk the taste will become bitter. I’m going to leave these four plants I grew from seed in their square, and if, and until, they grow bitter tasting, they have a home in my square foot garden.

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A few brussel sprout and broccoli plants also lived through our winter. I’ll give these hardy individuals a chance to bear fruit too.¬†Here’s a link to my Square Foot Garden of 2012:¬†Square Foot Gardens 2012

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Painting – Red Poppies

Here is the finished painting. I opted to change the color of my reference photographs into a brilliant red and black flower with a green-blue center. They are lightly shaded with no shadows. The¬†flowers are a rendition of¬†the Bread Seed Poppies growing in my¬†Square Foot¬†Gardens. Three artists inspired this work. Georgia O’Keeffe for her pure, oversized flower paintings. Vincent Van Gogh was definitely in my thoughts as I created the swirling movement around the sun. Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh, and O’Keeffe¬†are¬†all in my lack of dark shadows. I wanted color, color, color…not distracting blotches.

Kathy’s Poppies – June 2012 – 24 x¬†34 Acrylics on Stretched Canvas

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Plants and Pleasures – Volunteers

Ground Moss

¬†I am not a gardener who uses much mulch. In fact, this summer the only mulch I have is around the beds of my Square Foot Gardens to keep the weeds away. I¬†like the way dark mulch sets off the colors of my flowers, but I love¬†the way the absence of the mulch allows many “volunteers” to sprout in the hot month of June. I have¬†ground moss, spilanthes ¬†(toothache plant), coleus, perennial blue lobelia and many other little sprouts showing amid the weeds that need to be pulled out. Before I put my gloves on and pull out the pesky weeds, I will first gently remove these small plantlets with my trowel and place them in bare spots in my garden beds. I love volunteers.

Coleus sprout in between sidewalk squares.

Another coleus hiding among the leaves.

Coral Nymph Salvia sprouting in a between porch steps and sidewalk.

Problem Solving – Critter Wars Part V

I’ve been visited by a lone wild turkey once in the past few years. Yesterday, I looked out my back window, and there beneath my bird feeders, feasting on fallen seeds, was a flock of five of the big birds. Yikes! They are unique and a bit intriguing, but I was not going to stand at the window gawking and allow them to jump the chicken wire enclosing my Square Food Garden. I could envision all my gorgeous lettuce, bread seed poppies, peas and other sprouting vegetables quickly disappearing down their long throats. As I chased them out of the yard, their gobbling sounded like snarky laughter. I guess I did look a bit comical¬†gallumphing around the yard in a big purple robe and floppy slippers. They sauntered away, unafraid, through a gap in the back fence. What, or should I say, who is next, in the constant backyard invasions of critters?