Grow Write Guild: Garden Observations in April 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When I look out at my garden this time of year I rarely see it as it is, rather I see what I want to make it into.  This is the view of my veggie garden from the house.  The new greenhouse makes a nice focal point with its artistic woodwork.  Just left of the greenhouse the rhubarb is up and the white rock cress is blooming.  To the far right the raspberries are leafing out. All that bare dirt out there is my nicely tilled veggie gardening area.  The peas and potatoes are already planted to the right of the greenhouse, but they can't really be seen from this far away.  The orange flags mark where I measured for the tomato fences.  By July this will be a jungle.

This is my berry patch behind the garage.  Everything in this area has just been planted this spring after we removed a large tree.  Currently there are seven service berries bushes that I rescued from my dad's lawn.  Between the bushes I transplanted strawberries and some bee balm.  We may devise some sort of netting hanging off the garage to keep the birds from eating all the berries.

The path is made of concrete pavers that were here on the property.  I transplanted some creeping thyme and some lemon thyme into the spaces beside the pavers.  My lettuce crates are lined up along the path currently for ease of harvesting.  So that is a peek of what things look like now, I am excited to see all the changes that the growing season will bring this year.

This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day: April 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Every spring is a roller coaster of weather as winter and summer collide.  The first spring flush of new growth and flowers gives way to a slower, more steady pace that at first feels like a crawl in comparison.  I guess it is a bit ridiculous to expect significant growth in all of my plants every single morning...

 This pasque flower honestly isn't my favorite bloom.  I can't wait until the flowers fade and the wispy seed heads appear. 

The fat buds and ruffly pink flowers of my flowering almond shrubs.

The fuchsia pink of these phlox is so hard to capture true to color with my camera, but it really enlivens the garden in the spring.  

 This serviceberry bloom is more than just a pretty face---It will turn into a delicious berry in June.

 The fleeting flowers of the blue flax have always been so alluring to me.  I would try to pick them as a child only to be crushed when they withered almost instantly.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

 I planted my peas on the on the 20th of March.  My dad always said you could plant peas on President's Day, but I can never quite get the garden tilled by then, so I aim more for St. Patrick's Day.

This variety is called Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea and this is the first year I have planted it.  I am anxious to see how I will like it.  I have grown Oregon Sugar Pod II for several years, so it seemed time for a change.

Book Review: The Art of Flower and Garden Photography

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just seeing the stunning photograph on the cover of The Art of Flower and Garden Photography  should be enough to encourage you open up the book and read it.   The pages are filled with even more beautiful images of gardens and flowers.  The bonus is that the book also gives detailed instructions on how to create beautiful garden images yourself.  The author uses both film and digital cameras and all the photos have all the relevant shot information listed beside them for reference, including location and camera settings.  He breaks down all the key elements of a good shot with chapters covering light, color, weather, etc.  He states that most of his best images are taken at sunrise and encourages you to seek that beautiful morning light.  This book gave me fresh inspiration for taking photographs of my own garden, but I have yet to get up before sunrise. :)

My Dream Garden

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Number one on my dream garden list is an irrigation system with drip nozzles and an automatic timer to run it all.  I know it doesn't sound beautiful or exciting but it would be so nice.  Making sure everything, especially the veggie garden has water in our arid climate is a full time job.  I also have to be very careful not to over water because of the clay soil.  A well designed irrigation system that would give everything just enough water automatically would save so much time and water.  I am hoping that we can make some progress on this soon.

Blue Velvet Honeyberry
The next dream for my garden is to have lush groves of all types of berries---not just the common ones like strawberries and raspberries, but also honeyberries and hardy kiwis.  I want a sturdy and beautiful trellis system for the plants that needed support and some type of frame for netting to keep the birds out.  So far I have some strawberries, raspberries, serviceberries and one female kiwi that needs a pollinator.  I gave up the blueberries as more work than I was willing to tackle with my alkaline soil.

Brilliant Canvas
I wish this was a picture of my yard.  I would love to tear out all the lawn in our side yard and have a wide stone pathway and vibrant plants that provide all season interest instead.  I would really like to add some conifers maples to our landscape this fall.  We have a huge number of trees, but they are almost all locust trees and not very healthy ones at that.

design by Piet Oudolf
 Another dream that I am working on is adding a large sweeping border of perennials in the Piet Oudolf style around the vegetable garden.  This border will be filled with perennials and self seeding annuals that are especially attractive to bees and other pollinators---salvias, alliums, coneflowers, hyssop, bee balm and more.  Insects have always been fascinating to me and the rush of joy at seeing butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering all around my garden will never get old.  I am going to try and grow as many of the plants as I can from seed to make it more affordable so there won't be any real progress until fall.

And those are the current elements of my dream garden, but I am always finding new things to dream about so this list could be totally different by fall---between gardening books and pinterest I will never run out of new inspiration.

 This post is written in response to the writing prompt found here by You Grow Girl as part of the Grow Write Guild.


Spring Lettuce

Friday, April 5, 2013

We have been eating our own lettuce in salads since the end of March.  I have them planted in crates so I could use potting soil and hopefully avoid any bitterness from our alkaline soil.

This crate I planted on March 17th and kept it in the greenhouse at nights.  I cheated and used starts from Columbia Grain and Feed instead of starting from seed.  It has been harvested from several times, but is still going strong.

 This crate has another pony pack of starts I bought several weeks later and I transplanted in some that I started from seed.

These are my little baby lettuces from seed.  It is a loose leaf variety called Salad Bowl.

Seed starting tip #1: Don't skip the plant labels

Monday, April 1, 2013

 When it comes time to start sowing seeds in trays or pots the first thing I do is lay out all my available containers (or the amount that will fit under my lights) out and figure how many potential plant spaces I have.  Then I lay all my seeds out and figure out how much I want to plant of each.  Then the juggling comes in as I have to pare down what I want to plant to fit what I have room for. When I finally get that decided, I always label every pot or pony pack with a plant marker even before filling it with soil so I can stick to my plan.

This year my plant markers are cut out of an empty white plastic jug, but I have also heard that broken mini blinds work well.  If you are not into scrounging in the junk pile, they aren't expensive to buy either.  The "hassle" of marking every plant is worth it to avoid mix ups.  I will often move plants around on the tray as they are growing so they are getting even light and don't end up leaning sideways.  I may be able to tell an onion from a marigold, but I can't tell a beefsteak tomato from a roma tomato.  In the past I have accidentally planted a Super Sweet 100 tomato instead of a Sungold, which was a tragedy, because it meant that I had one less Sungold growing in my garden than I could have had.