View from my Kitchen Window

Kitchen WindowWhile I am scrubbing out the dinner scraps from a pan, I love to be distracted by the plants outside the window.  Here is my view in April!  Love to see the variety of color of the tulips!

Everyone needs a kitchen window to look outside, to distract, to remind yourself of the beauty waiting outside.  My advice to you: plan your garden so it is at it’s best from your favorite window. When life is handing you dirty dishes, you can always expand your view!

Brilliant color close up

March Rains bring April Flowers

Several times in the past 2 weeks, I have stopped to admire the tulips in my garden.  The flowers are larger, the leaves are larger, the stems are longer!  I know it’s not my imagination.  I remember some springs where a particular group of tulips near my sidewalk, barely bloomed- the size of a golf ball- and then dropped their petals within a couple of day.

Brilliant color close upThe tulips are the largest I can recall seeing in my garden.  And some of these bulbs are 12-15 years old!

tulipsAll I can think of, is that it is due to the large amount of rain we had in March.  Wow, thank God for the rains!

One red lily flowered Tulip

 

I think the red tulip in the foreground is a lily flowered tulip.  The flower is larger than most of the other tulips and it is my favorite!  (If I am wrong about that, please let me know.)

I will have to plant more of these next year.

Windflowers and Muscari

Spring is for Photography!

This time of year I cannot resist putting up a bunch of photos- everything is so beautiful!Lettuce and Spinach

I have planted 2 shallow pots with lettuce and spinach to sit right outside my front door.  That way, if I’m in a hurry, I could just run out there and start cutting.  The red leaf lettuce is sometimes referred to as “cut and come again” type.  Meaning, you just cut a leaf or two off of each plant and it will regrow more leaves.  Gotta love that, because just 2 plants of lettuce is not going to make many salads, if you have to replant everytime you pick!   I have a lot more lettuce out in the regular garden, too.

Plum Tree blossoms

 

If you own an ornamental flowering plum tree, be sure to go outside in the evening to really enjoy the fragrance of these blossoms!

RoseNot a particularly beautiful photo, but the new leaves emerging from this rose bush are a bright red!  I cut this rose bush pretty darn short this spring and removed a lot of the older stems- to produce larger flowers, but, on the down side, there will be fewer flowers.   This is a very vigorous tea rose so I have no worries cutting it this short. Japanese Maple in budSedum

This groundcover Sedum shows off some brilliant colors in spring.  This plant spreads without taking over other plant’s territories and is drought tolerant.  Gotta love that.
soapwort

This is a soapwort and I love the tiny pink flowers.  It’s much more brilliant in person.  The brick warms the plant and forces it to bloom earlier than the other soapworts.  In July it will die out due to the heat, but return again in March.

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Blues and purples shine here- dwarfed by tall chives in the background.  The columnar flower is a grape hyacinth (muscari).  If you want some, let me know!!  It spreads like crazy.  The other purple flower is grecian windflower (anemone blanda) and I love that this one spreads on it’s own.

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Planting Seed Tape

Here is a short video on planting some home made seed tape.  It’s March and the weather is warming up-  nights are below freezing but just barely and the day time temps are in the 50′s.

This seed tape I made with a strip of toilet paper and glued the radish seeds with simple water based glue.  (Elmer’s school glue for paper).

If you want to see how to make seed tape check out my blog here.  http://vickisgardentips.com/?p=868

I really like the seed tape- it’s SO expensive to buy it from the nurseries, but easy and quick to make.  When it’s chilly  and windy outside and your seeds are miniscule,  it’s so much easier to lay out the seed tape than to have to hold onto the tiny seeds and try to sow them carefully.  Give it a try!

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Soil Survey on the Web

Here is a link to the USDA Web Soil Survey.  http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/WebSoilSurvey.aspx.

You can put in your physical address and obtain a free report on the type of soil in your garden.  Don’t confuse this with an actual soil test, though.  The soil survey tells you the general properties of the soil in your area, its water holding capacity, stability for building, and many other things.

A soil test uses your actual soil from your land and is sent to a lab.  The lab then provides you with a soil analysis and instructions on how to amend your soil.  The soil test will let you know if you need to add fertilizer or organic material, it will show you the presence of heavy metals that could be detrimental to your garden. It is recommended to do laboratory soil tests about every 3 years.  Soil tests are not free, but once you have the results you will know exactly what amendments to add to balance your soil to make the most productive garden.  So, you could say it will save you money, because you won’t be buying additives or fertilizers you don’t need.

Back to the soil survey.  My survey shows the soil is called Elijah-Urban land complex.  What?? That I don’t understand, but it does tell me that the slope of my property is 0-2 percent, well drained, more than 80 inches to the water table, no chance of flooding or ponding. It has moderate water capacity and is primarily silt loam.

You can locate your property on the site and print the report for your records.  My report was 15 pages long, including a color photo of the property.  Give it a look!

 

 

 

November 1 and Here is What is in Bloom!

It’s been a mild fall.  The tree colors have been fabulous and we really have not yet had a hard frost.   The frost has taken out the tomatoes and the basil, and the melons, but there is still plenty of color to be enjoyed!

My favorite rose, Mr. Lincoln, has several fragrant blooms.

Bright and fragrant and very tall! Mr. Lincoln.

Bright and fragrant and very tall! Mr. Lincoln.

This is an annual: bacopa.  Where were you this summer?

This is an annual: bacopa. Where were you this summer?

The white flower just above here is an annual, but not as tender as some of the others that I had in pots.  Now it is really flowering abundantly, but those blooms were non-existent in the heat of summer, though!

The shrub in front of the house is still attracting bees.  The blue blossoms of the Caryopteris, “blue mist” are  going strong, although the leaves are yellowing.

Blue mist caryopteris continuing to bring joy to the pollen gatherers.

Blue mist caryopteris continuing to bring joy to the pollen gatherers.

Jupiter's Beard, centranthus ruber

Jupiter’s Beard, centranthus ruber

Perennial red lobelia

Perennial red lobelia

 

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis- a fall bloomer and prolific self seeder

I like to allow the verbena bonariensis to self seed and then, in the spring, I will pull out any plants that show up where they are not needed.  I love that this flower keeps reseeding through out the summer and fall.

Fragrant alyssum

Fragrant alyssum

If you still have some alyssum in your flower beds, be sure to sprinkle any seeds from the dry flowers around and next spring they will come back for you.

Mum- pretty in pink!

Mum- pretty in pink!

No surprise,  the mums continue to bloom and delight the eye!  How nice it is to have flowers in bloom in the late fall garden!

 

Broom Corn

This year I grew some broom corn with the plan to make a broom, of course.  The corn is fun to watch it grow- it starts out slow, but once it get a few feet tall and the weather heats up, it seemed to grow several inches a day. The tallest stalks were about 8 feet tall!

They were a great backdrop to the flower garden, along with the joe pye weed.

Broom Corn in the field just starting to tassel.

Broom Corn in the field just starting to tassel.

Broom Corn set out to dry.

Broom Corn set out to dry.

Now, I have to remove all the seeds from the corn tassels, that is not an easy job.  I have tried a knife- takes the tassels with it. I have tried beating it- that’s pretty intensive work and spreads the seeds everywhere.  Now, I am going to try a rolling pin to crush them.  We will see what happens.  I just want to make an decorative broom!

I love that there are several different shades of reds and browns in the broom corn seeds.

Tall Corn with Joe Pye weed in front

Tall Corn with Joe Pye weed in front

Worm Camouflage

I keep worms- worms eat my garbage! I live in the high desert and the weather outside this summer has been hot hot, hot! So, I cannot keep the worms outside, even in the shade, when the temperatures reach into the high 90′s in deep shade. Wet burlap wrapped around the worm bin stayed wet for about 3 hours only- so that didn’t work to keep them cool outside, either.
I have resigned myself to the fact that the worms will stay inside the house. The basement is a likely place to keep the wrigglers but I might forget about them, so they are in our fireplace area for the summer and fall season.
They have been sitting out on the hearth for a month or so and then, when we were going to have company for the weekend, I decided something had to be done to at least camouflage their presence. Luckily, the wood storage area of our fireplace is just large enough to hold the worm bin! Here are a few pictures of the new worm treatment. Visitors will never guess what is behind the framed painting!

Worm bin on the hearth

Worm bin on the hearth

Worm bin pushed back into the cubby

Worm bin pushed back into the cubby

 

Can you see the worms now? Camouflaged!

Can you see the worms now? Camouflaged!

 

Fall Planting! And Frost Cloth

Why not plant a few things now that will live after the frost and you will be eating greens until Thanksgiving!
Here are a few things you can plant now – there are many more, but once you read the list, I think you will get the idea.
It’s all the same things you can plant in early spring- they are hardy enough to take some frost. And if you add some straw or leaves on top of the bed, the carrots might make it through to spring.
Vegetables to plant in September
Kale
Chard
Collards
Radishes
Lettuce
Carrots
Arugula
Peas
Spinach.

In October, plant garlic.

I have purchased some frost cloth or row cover, as the company calls it. I plan on putting this over as many of the tomatoes as possible. I bought the Agribon 50, or AG-50 the heaviest weight Agribon, (1.5 oz/sq yd) from GrowOrganic.com. They say it protects crops and nursery stock in freezes down to 24°F, with 50% light transmittance.
Using the Agribon will be better than covering the tomatoes with blankets and sheets because of the light transmittance. I will not have to remove the Agribon during the day if I don’t have time to do so. When you use sheets, you really need to take them off during the day to allow the sun on to the plants.

Follow this blog in October and I will let you know how the frost cloth works!

Tomatoes- will they ripen?

Boise, August 26, 2013. Our average frost date is October 6. That leaves us with 41 days left for the tomatoes to ripen! Will they make it? Last week I finally was able to pick several tomatoes off the vines. Enough to eat in salads, not enough to think about making tomato sauce- not by any stretch. But now, the San Marzano tomatoes are really starting to change color from dark green to something almost pink. According to my “tomato meter” I have about 20+ days before many of these romas will be ripe enough. So, I will get some tomatoes to process into sauce after all!
If you want to see how long your tomatoes have to be on the vine, check out the website in last week’s post. It has pictures and shows the day to day progression of the tomato from bud to ripe red.

Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes

San Marzano

San Marzano

Gardening in beautiful Idaho!