Pampered Plants or Plants that Thrive?

After many years of gardening in Idaho I have come to a conclusion about how I will grow my garden. I am tired of pampering plants, I am tired of buying some new beautiful variety to find out in a year or two, they don’t like my soil, or the humidity or the winter snow or the summer sun. I have spent a lot of money on “eye candy" plants that I bought 'cause the nursery had them front and center and they looked so beautiful in the greenhouse!

Aha, that should have been my first clue.... plants that look great in a greenhouse are going out into the rough harsh weather conditions of my yard and I expect them to more than to just survive, but to FLOURISH!
That may just be too much to expect from some plants. Blame it on the growers who promote their new plants as the biggest hottest thing going since the David Austin rose. Blame it on the nurseries who buy those plants from the growers, breeders because they know their valued customers need to, want to, are salivating for some new green, chartreuse or red leaved thing to put in their yard.

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Saving Water in the Garden

This is a HOT week. Probably every day will be over 100 degrees. Hot weather, drought, expensive water- all reasons to pay attention to how you water your garden. You want to make every drop count.

First, you should watch what happens when you are watering. I say this to those people who do not hand water, but have their plants on a timer or automatic system. You may well be sending a lot of water down the street or into an area that does not need water. You may be making weeds by not paying attention to your water. You want to make sure when you are watering, you are watering the plants, not the street, gutters or the fallow area nearby.

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Too Much Kale OR Kale for Kristmas!

KALE!!! So much kale, so little time… I love having a lot of kale, but there is no way it can all be eaten this summer.
So, it has to be put up to enjoy for fall and winter and Kale Kristmas.
Here are 2 ideas on what to do with all that kale.

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Trap Crops

Trap crops are used to keep the bugs busy eating a plant you don’t care much about so they leave your more treasured plants alone.
Consider a trap crop a distraction, a red herring crop? It’s like they are saying, “Hey, look at me- over here- ignore that big green handsome crop down the way- I taste much better!"
I think I have discovered -inadvertently- a new trap crop for some kind of bug. I am guessing it is earwigs.

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Lavender Farm

This week the garden gals visited Lavender Acres in Meridian, Idaho. We were allowed to help harvest the lavender and then hang some in the barn. We learned lots about lavender, the harvest and we all came home with a couple of bundles of the their wonderful fragrant lavender.

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Spring Plants That Repel Animal Pests

GBtulip2Today, I have a guest writer on Vicki’s Garden Tips:
Her name is Trisha Miller, from http://www.thatdangvegan.com.

trishasmall

You can find more about Trisha at twitter @thatdangvegan, or email her at thatdangvegan (at) gmail (dot) com.
Thank you, Trisha for your timely article! Thursday, this week, I had a gopher tunneling through my front door flower bed, eating my tulip bulbs.

Spring Plants That Repel Animal Pests
Animal pests are inevitable when growing any fertile garden. However, some early spring plants actually attract critters much more than others. Often times, pesky intruders will chomp on just about anything living – seemingly without purpose. Even if this seems the case, annoying animals always leave behind clues of their identity and exactly which plants are their favorites to nibble on. We are here to show you that there are steps you can take to ward off any trespassing animals that intent to destroy or eat all of your hard work this spring.

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Tour a Peaceful Boise North End Garden

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Last summer, we filmed a beautiful North End garden in Boise, Idaho. The tranquil sounds of water from the stream and waterfall greet you upon entering the backyard.
Take the tour of Gail's garden.

Or follow this link to the vimeo site for full page viewing:
https://vimeo.com/159252013

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A Simple Guide to Pruning Hybrid Tea Roses in Spring

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Double Delight

I said simple, so I’m gonna make bullet points for those who skim read only. For you who want more detailed info, it will be after this text.
1. Clean all your pruning tools.
2. Prune all the canes for height. You determine the height you want. More info below
3. Cut to the base of the plant all canes that are damaged, diseased, broken. Also any canes that are growing towards the center of the plant or that are crossing over another stem.
4. Cut to the base any stems that are smaller than a pencil.
5. Thin the rose plant buy cutting more canes so there is room for each remaining stem to move with the wind and to grow. Leave the center of the plant uncrowded.
6. When pruning the stems develop good pruning technique -- see below.
7. Rake up all the refuse under the plant and dispose by burning or putting it in the trash. Don't compost rose cuttings.
8. Fertilize

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Spring is almost here!

Sometimes, I dread the approach of spring. There is so much work to be done, raspberries, blackberries and grapes to prune, cleaning out the old garden scraps that were left over the winter. Once I get outside, though, it is a different story. I love the sunlight on my body, the fresh breezes, the solitude of being outside alone.
If you have grapevines, time to get on with the pruning in February. This is also the time to consider what went right or wrong with the grapes from last year. In the past few years, I have kept a garden journal, writing notes about the type of pruning, size of my harvests, the month I pruned, etc. I never remember this stuff from year to year, even though I often tell myself I will. I think, "How could I possible forget how I pruned the raspberries this year". Then, next spring I will have no idea at all.

I have become dependent on that little garden journal, the entries are very helpful to clear out the mental cobwebs each spring.
If you had poor pollination of your grapes last year, this is the time to do some research and find out why. If most of your grapes didn't ripen before the frost, maybe you need to change your pruning technique. Last year, I tried 2 different ways to prune raspberries. I left one row taller and thinned out and pruned another row at 6 inches or less. Then, I documented the amount of harvest. Now, I know in order to get the largest individual raspberries and the largest quantity my raspberries must be thinned to 3-4 canes per linear foot and the canes trimmed very little for height.

When I am looking for information on how to prune, I always check out Youtube, since I find it so much easier to understand while watching someone pruning, rather than just reading about it. But there are a lot of good and bad videos out in youtube land so I will watch a couple of individuals and see their methods and then I always look at a couple of Cooperative Extension videos. The extension videos are most often based on current research rather than wives tails or personal experience. Always check the accuracy of your information source so you can have the best garden season ever.

Bulbs for Spring- Plant now.

Pink and<script type=
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Somehow, it doesn't make sense: We have worked through a long hot summer of weeding and deadheading
Now, processing tomatoes and peppers, pumpkins.
I want a rest!- But, if I want flowers in the spring (tulips), they have to be planted this month. It is so easy to talk yourself out of doing it and to put it off for next year...
BUT DON'T!!

You will be so happy that you worked a few extra hours in the fall and put in the bulbs. The long-delayed springtime reward is worth it!!
A few dreary cold months are spent looking out the window and brown and white, then almost magically, you spy a bright purple spot in the flower bed. You rush out with your camera and take a picture and smile. See, it's worth it!

The crocus are the earliest bulbs in my garden and I love seeing them pop out of the ground. They are just happy and bright.

I love my crocus, yellow purple or white.  They are all beautiful.
I love my crocus, yellow purple or white. They are all beautiful.
Golden yellow crocus in the snow.
Golden yellow crocus in the snow.

This year, I have 180 pink Darwin hybrid tulips waiting to be planted. What a show they will perform in April! I selected this variety, because I am expecting them to naturalize- I mean, come back every year for years to come and multiply. Perhaps, I am a bit optimistic about the multiply part. But, they will return for years to come. I have some tulips I planted 15 years ago, that continue to produce bright flowers. That is what makes these bulbs worth the effort.
Planting hundreds of bulbs is not that difficult: plant in large drifts with 15 or 20 tulips in an area.

How I Plant Bulbs

Here is how I plant large groups:
1. Have the wheelbarrow close at hand and dig a trough 6-8 inches deep by 2, 3 or 4 feet wide. Put that soil in the wheelbarrow, then dump the bulbs in the hole.
2. Spend a minute or two organizing the bulbs with their root side down and spreading them out evenly.
3. Cover them up with the soil from the wheelbarrow and tamp down. Water, if the soil is dry. I like to tamp the soil firmly- I think it keeps the squirrels out. This is the time of year, those rodents are out preparing for winter and they would love to steal your fresh meaty bulbs.

Enjoy your bulb planting and you will be rewarded in spring! Thanks for reading. I hope to see you again soon!

Tulip in bloom.  I love the variegation!
Tulip in bloom. I love the variegation!
Discovering the first colors of spring, I have to run and<script type=
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Cages!

I love my flowers, but by August, I am worn out. It’s the heat, the vegetable garden that needs attention and running off to see the grandkids that keeps me away from the flower garden. Today, I finally decided enough is enough- the flowers are an unruly mess and I placed cages around the worst offenders and removed some that were not worth caging or done blooming.
It is wonderful to have some real height in the flower garden, to have some plants really stand out and make a statement. That is why I have planted Joe Pye weed, an amaranth and ornamental grasses. I like the height and the general wild un-ruly-ness of it all!

before-cage
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The photos above are BEFORE I did any work on the flowers. It has endured about 2 months of being ignored and the thugs are taking over and it is just too messy.

flowers at different height
Joe Pye is the red flower at the top, fennel-yellow flower- Amaranth the dark red

This photo shows the area before the tall flowers were caged. Removing the ruby red amaranth calmed the garden color down a lot( see photo 1). There was just too much dark red in the back yard garden and many were flopping all over.
Then I placed an old extra large tomato cage and baling twine around the 6 and 1/2 foot tall Joe Pye Weed to hold it more upright. Gathering the blooms together produced a much more pleasing view, than having them sprawled and drooping all around.IMG_6876

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The ornamental grass is about 5 feet tall and that was also caged up with some twine. The variegated grass was cut down and some was removed entirely. It was vigorously spreading through the daylillies and it had to be stopped!

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Here is the after photo, with the 6 foot Joe Pye weed caged, the 5 foot tall grass gathered together and most of the 7 foot amaranth removed. There is still one specimen in the back of the photo and the plant behind the amaranth is 9.5 foot tall broom corn. See I do love TALL plants.