This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT


You know you're a gardener when...
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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Mar 31, 2009

Spring is definitely here!

 

I’ve been so busy sowing more seeds, harvest greens, and taking care of the greenhouse that I haven’t really taken the time to look around my beds to see what is perking up! I’ve also been watching all your gardens and I’m truly amazed at how beautiful they are! My beds are a mess! I’m not really great at bed or garden design, but I’m learning a lot by reading other blogs. Joy at GardenJoy4me has recently posted about her beds- they are just beautiful! Or how about Catherine at A Gardener in Progress, she has such beautiful things growing in her garden. And then there is Frances at FaireGarden her garden is really something and her pictures are stunning! And this is only the beginning of spring! I can hardly wait to see their gardens as we go through the year. These are only a few blogs that I visit regularly- there are probably close to 50! I can’t list them all, but if you too are looking for some inspiration don’t hesitate to visit these blogs along with the other great blogs in my blog roll at the bottom :)

Back to the growth going on here in my garden. I took a few shots today, not much but things are really growing fast.

Anemone and Bleeding Heart are doing well.

 

This Columbine (below left) was grown from seed about 7 years ago-  About 3 years ago I pulled it up right in the middle of bloom and moved it and it still grows. Last year, however, it didn’t do well, but there were babies all around it. Why it took so long to self sow I don’t know, but I plan on rounding them up and grouping them this year, just in case the original doesn’t do well again. On the right is a huge patch of Coreopsis. I brought this plant home and we thought for sure it was going to die- it didn’t look good to start with. It was a rescue plant. Now it has taken over a huge spot in the bird area bed and I love the way it looks- now if I could just design the bed to look a little better- ‘Sigh’ in time, I suppose.

 

Here is the bird bed (left). The Coreopsis is right of the cut down cherry tree, you can just barely see it starting to grow. The daylilies in this bed are getting bigger, along with the grape hyacinth. You can’t see the top of the cut tree, but I plan on drilling some huge holes in the stump and planting some lobelia or something :). On the right is Johnson’s Blue Geranium.

 

The Filipendula is coming up. Not long after planting this, I kind of decided that I really don’t care for it- again garden design ;) The dark red Scabiosa is doing well, but I really need to move these- they were planted way too close!

 

Seedlings are doing well. The ‘Gold Nugget’ yellow, cherry tomato has been moved to the greenhouse and is doing great! I started some more the other day to go in a hanging bag, but it hasn’t germinated yet.

The crops in tunnel#1 are growing well. I think they really like the weather! The mound of growth in front of the tunnel is Oregano- very happy, it seems.

 

We finally got pictures of what we think is a Bushtit. We had purchased one of those cheap suet blocks and tie wrapped it to the squirrel feeder- no one liked it! Then a few weeks later these little guys show up- they are so cute!

 

And the first bouquet of the year- not much, but it was pretty!

Not too much going on in the garden, but it’s something. I have started a lot of seed recently, and some have germinated- I’ll post on those next time!

Here is a slide of the flowers above in bloom- hope you like it!

 

                        

 

 

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Mar 28, 2009

I let my fingers do the walking!

 

Well, night before last I planted some watermelon and zucchini in a new 50 cell plug flat that we purchased from Territorial Seed. I forgot that both of these plants don’t really like having their roots disturbed much and not knowing how easy it will be to remove the little starts from the plug flat, I decided that I’d better put them in paper pots. I had no newspaper on hand, so I grabbed a phone book and went to work.

 

    Yesterday, I didn’t have the time to make some soil blocks, so I had to grab whatever I had. I’ve never used phone book pages for paper pots before, but it’s all I had.  I don’t know about you, but every year they bring me the phone books and every year they go in the recycle bin! I can find things twice as fast online. I do have a couple around for pressing flowers, however :)

 

 

     I cut them in half and folded it over a little on the edge to give the bottoms some thickness. Next I rolled it around the wooden pot maker my mom and dad bought for me, and pressed it into the molding base, giving it a gentle twist. I like to give the bottom a mist with water before twisting it- it helps it hold until I can get the soil in and moistened. I did notice that I had to be a lot more gentle while twisting it as the phone book paper is much thinner.

    Viola! Dex paper pots :). I quickly transferred the seeds and put a cover on. I hope they do okay in these- time will tell. After all, there is a reason my blog is named Blunders with shoots, blossoms ‘n roots!

 

 

 

So, will this work? Will the paper turn to mush? Can I keep them evenly moist until germination and not cause the pots to fall apart?

 

 

Only Dex knows!

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Tessa

Mar 27, 2009

Two great, recent finds!

 

I’ve found a couple noteworthy sites that I wanted to share with you all.

www.wintersown.org
www.lettucegrow.org

The first one is an intriguing idea for starting seeds that I plan on trying. The concept is simple and anyone can do it with a few recyclables I’m sure we all have saved and have on hand. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that have already discovered this great method- but for those of you that haven’t, take a look at it. Trudi Davidoff, at wintersown.org was tired of the stress of getting all those seeds started in spring and came up with a great idea. You should read it, if you choose to, but I’ll try my best to describe the idea here too-

You want to find a container that has a clear lid if possible, but Trudi and others using this method, use a variety of containers. So lets use a lasagna pan as an example- the frozen kind that comes with a clear lid. Make drainage holes in the bottom and then make a few slashes or holes in the lid. Add the soil and water it well as usual. Sow your seeds- there are lists of plants that can be started this way on her site as well. Close the lid and secure it with tape, label it and set it outside in full sun...in winter! Now the idea here is that you’re working with nature- no heat, except what builds up in the container and the excess is vented through the holes in the lid. No artificial light. It’s watered by the rain and snow and might even freeze, but seeds not sown by us go through this cycle- so they’ll be fine, and the excess water drains out the bottom. The seeds know much better than we do when it’s time to germinate- is the idea.  You’re making a mini greenhouse, but using it in winter and the seeds will come up when they should- there is no forcing here. It’s one step better than direct sowing because the seeds are protected just enough that germination has a much better chance.

Now here is the best part. When the seeds germinate you start making more holes in the lid each week or make the slits bigger. By the time the seedlings are ready for transplanting, they’ve been hardened off. The resulting plant is hardier, and can go right in the ground :). The transplants will be smaller than usual, but much stronger.

After reading through her site, and looking at the photo gallery, I am more than intrigued! I am definitely going to give this a try! There is one thing I know I’ll do different, however. The way I sow my seeds now, in single cells, whether it be soil blocks, 6 packs, 50 cell plug flat or 200 cell plug flat, makes it easier in the long run because there is no ‘pricking out’. A tedious job to say the least. I can’t stand untangling roots of little seedlings, hoping I don’t damage them in the process. Most people I’ve seen using this method just sprinkle the seeds when sowing. If there is going to be any part of it that’s tedious, I’d rather it be when I’m actually sowing the seeds, not transplanting them :). Of course there will be exceptions- like with really tiny seeds, but in general I will try to space them a little bit.

Maybe a few of you have tried this method- I’d love to hear all about your experiences with it! And if anyone wants to join me in trying this in the coming winter (seems so far away,) we can all cheer each other on- I may try to do the Mister Linky thing, if I can figure out how to use it :), or If I have time to maintain in. We have a long way to go until winter, so I’m going to start looking at the containers I want to use in the meantime.

 

Now onto the next site.

Sarah, at lettucegrow.org, has a really great project going. Along with quite a few volunteers, she is creating an organic garden at the Coffee Creek Prison for Women in Wilsonville. There are a few local businesses that have generously donated a lot of materials such as soil amendments, seeds, etc. That’s how I found out about it, through Concentrates, Inc. in Portland- I read about it on their blog. I think it is wonderful what they’re doing, so go check it out! I have attempted to contact Sarah to get more info and will do a follow up post about it when I hear from her.

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Mar 25, 2009

How do they know?

 

It is truly amazing! I wish I had a bird cam so I could have caught the action as it was slowly happening! Wondering what I’m talking about?

Well, yesterday there was no rain. I planted all the strawberries that we purchased from Territorial Seeds on our way home from Medford. I had to work around some that were already there and I even had to separate a few babies from last years plants.

 

 

But that is not really what I’m so amazed about.

I was all finished up for the day and decided to pop a few sweet peas in the ground as well. I grabbed some more compost and bone meal, made the holes and popped them in and was finished in no time (I only planted 5 or 6 :).

Here is a really bad picture of one of them.

 

 

I’m sure by now you’re wondering if I’m ever going to get to the point- Alright then, are you sitting down? This is really, really big news!

An hour and a half or maybe two hours later, I went out to check on everything and close up the cold frame, and one of the sweet peas had wound around the wire fence- in that short amount of time! I’m sure this news won’t make the front page, and maybe people might think I’m a little nuts (I can hear you!), but I’m amazed at how fast it found the fence! How does it know which way to go? It didn’t just find it, but it wound around the fence 3 or 4 times!

I know, I’m easily entertained!

 

 

It is actually daytime in this shot- I messed with some settings to try to get a clearer picture. The other sweet peas didn’t have a chance to find the fence because I covered them with soda bottles, I just didn’t have enough bottles to cover them all. It was getting really windy as I was finishing up, and I wanted to protect the little ones for a few days.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my insanity today...

 

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Mar 24, 2009

Why didn’t they just name it Rain, Oregon?

 

Yes, Portland is rainy and cloudy! I understand there is a ‘port’ here, but sometimes I think the name Rain would have suited this town much better! Who knows, maybe there is a city named Rain already somewhere in Oregon.

Each time I venture outside of Oregon, people always tell me ‘Oh, I love Oregon! It’s so green!’ I bet the rain has something to do with that- ya think? I wouldn’t mind the rain so much if the constant cloud cover would give us a break! That’s exactly what it did yesterday, so I’d better stop complaining!

I awoke to sun yesterday- I knew I’d have maybe 3 hours outside if I got my butt moving! I managed to do a little weeding in the cold frame- amazing how fast those little weeds grow, especially when you don’t want them to! I also managed to do some fertigating- what is fertigating you ask? Well, I’ve been reading Steve Soloman’s book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, and I have to wonder why in the world have I not read this book before! He has a great low-tech way of fertilizing/irrigating his crops! Saves your back as well :)

Luckily, I already had the materials needed to make this. This low-tech system directs the fertilizer right to the root zone! We don’t need to be helping those weeds any, do we?
Here are the materials needed.


  An old broom or tool handle 
  Small tubing  
  Tie wraps 
  Milk carton or bucket
  Fish emulsion or whatever you’re using at the time

You can use any handle from a broken tool or whatever- come on, I know you have them somewhere in your shed! The tubing needs to be one that is small in diameter, so you’re not drowning the poor plants. I had this one on hand from a fish tank siphon- it was perfect, and it was about 4 feet. A milk carton works best because you can keep the tube in the water easier- when I tried a bucket, the tube kept curving up and was harder to hold onto. Tie wraps are something I usually have on hand and work best for this, hubby is in telecommunications and always has them somewhere!

Now there is one unpleasant part of this, if your using fish emulsion. You have to get it going...and that means you have to have great skill at spitting! And quickly! For those of you out there that never learned to spit effectively, learn :). So, get the water moving by sucking on the tube a little- it doesn’t take much, and put the tube down at the base of the plant, and move from plant to plant. You can raise the milk carton, that should be in your other hand, higher or lower to control how fast the water comes out too. It goes very quickly, and all with no backache! Viola! Fertigating!

 

Which brings me to the other things I managed to get done yesterday, I planted out some more lettuce- some of these will be harvested when they’re small and tender, and the others will have more room to get a little bigger before I harvest them. I usually sow a different lettuce for the warmer seasons and will be starting them in April.

 

I just love how easy it is to work in this tunnel now that I’ve made  it into a chenille! The plastic is insanely easy to move up to do any work that’s needed. This isn’t all of the lettuce I planted, but I needed to take a shot before the rain came :). I sure wish I’d never put in the 4x4 SFG boxes and the perennial bed because I really need my chenilles to be a lot longer, and more of them- hind sight is 20/20! I’ll work with what I have and take everything I’ve learned with me wherever God plants us next! The SFG method (square foot garden) works well if you’re just starting out and don’t have much room. I have noted over the years, however, that the plants need to be watered more often when planted that close!

I also moved the cherry tomatoes on to their next pots yesterday. They look very healthy and happy!

‘Gold Nugget’

Next the eggplant and some flowers will need the same thing.

I started 3 different Nicotiana-


  ‘Lime Green’ 
  ‘Perfume Deep Purple’ F1 hybrid 
  ‘Sensation Mix’

There is one more variety that I wanted to get that is lower growing-  Lime and Purple bicolor! They were out of the seeds when I ordered mine, but now I see they have them in stock!

I’m still waiting on the Lantana! If you remember, it takes 40-62 days to germinate. The one little seedling that came up did end up being a weed, so it was tossed! It will be 40 days on April 2. The wait is killing me. All I’ve managed to grow in that flat is beautiful moss! I was sure that there would be no way for the Lantana to germinate with the moss there, so I removed it. Luckily the Lantana seeds are shiny black so I think I managed to leave the seeds in most of the cells!

I’m about ready to put out an ad- ‘Missing...Lantana seedlings, last seen in someone else’s garden!’ This was too much for me to tackle, I think. I don’t know how the nurseries do it! I think I need to call Portland Nursery and see if they have some suggestions.

Lastly, some really exciting news! My greenhouse tomatoes have buds!

When we returned from Medford, I thought the ‘New Girl’ tomatoes didn’t look that great- they looked worse than the ‘Beef Steak’. Yesterday, I went out to have a look at things, figure out what needs to be potted on, etc. and there they were! This is an early tomato variety, so I guess I should have expected it- still, it was very thrilling!

Both of the large tomatoes I started this year will be grow in the greenhouse. I did grow some extra of the early ‘New Girl’ for friends and they will get them with buds on them. Now I’ve always read, both online and in books, that you want to set out your tomatoes before they have buds on them. I’ve read that it is a bad thing for them to have buds, or flowers at planting time. In Steve Soloman’s book, he says otherwise! He plants out monsters in his garden, protected, 3 weeks (I think) before last spring frost and has a large harvest, early! The ‘Beef Steak’ doesn’t do well out of doors, here in the PNW- so they always stay in the greenhouse. I may try and find a spot of 1 ‘New Girl’ out in the open, just to see what happens. This year, I’m going to plant them on their sides too- read this post over at Aunt Debbi’s Garden for a great tip on planting your tomatoes sideways!

 

I hope all your gardens are looking lovely this spring day, and as always,

 

Happy Gardening,

Tessa

Mar 23, 2009

Driving into Spring!

 

Our trip to Medford this week was great! And it started with us literally driving into spring :). We went down there to visit family and had a wonderful time! I used to live in Medford...before I was a gardener, and I had forgotten how wonderful the weather is there.

When we hit about Roseburg, OR we started to see the plum trees in full bloom. Once in Medford I noticed things in full bloom everywhere!

Note: Images are bigger on mouse over!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really spring- and the smell in the air, heavenly. If only I could put the scent on this blog! This is the best I can do :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started to see a few Magnolias at about Roseburg, but they were just barely budding. I didn’t notice any in Medford, but right outside grandma’s house, along with the tree above, was a beautiful Tulip tree!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, a beautiful bunch of tulips sitting in a window at grandma's.

gmadeetulip

 

I thought the light drenching the tulip petals was lovely. Yes, spring was definitely gracing Medford with its presence! I sat outside and filled my senses, dreaming of my own yard and the coming beauty!

We didn’t stay long. And the drive home was a little depressing...driving back into winter! As we hit Roseburg on our return home, the clouds closed like a door, shutting out spring for just a bit longer...but not much longer!

We returned home the first day of spring. I have to say it is nice to go away for a few days. My daughter, and mom & dad took care of everything while we were away. I was a little nervous leaving everything in the greenhouse, but it all turned out okay. With the exception of the day we left, of course, it was nothing but overcast skies. Just before we left, I was forced to put the huge tomatoes out in the greenhouse- that was a little scary. Usually I get them used to different conditions slowly- but I had no choice, they outgrew the lights inside, and in spite of the lower night temps, they had to go to the greenhouse. By the time I got home the night temps had risen enough that the little heater didn’t have much trouble keeping it at above 50 degrees- just in time! The tomatoes aren’t happy, exactly, but they’ll make it I think :)

Funny how you notice things growing when you’ve been gone. The early, gamble broccoli crop looks like it not only made it through those first few days in their new home, even after high wind, but are actually looking pretty good!

broccoli&beets321 
The peas are up and doing well. I can’t wait to taste that first crisp, sweet, crunchy pea!

peas

I think I may sow a few more seed to fill in spots where seeds didn’t germinate.

chenille#1


The spinach and radish is up in the first chenille I built a while back- This spinach will be used in salads- and finally I’ll let a few get big as I thin the others out and eat them! Yummy! I love spinach :)

coldframe3-21

The Mizuna, lettuce and beets in the cold frame went nuts while I was gone! So did the weeds! It’s harvesting time again :). I may just keep the Mizuna as a cut-and-come again to see how far I can push them into warmer weather, we’ll see.

I have so much to do- catching up reading what you all have been up to in your gardens, for one. I’m behind on starting more broccoli, lettuce, and a ton of flowers! The tomatoes will have to move on to a bigger pot this week, as well as the cherry tomato in the house. Here are a couple shots of the greenhouse- notice the tomatoes don’t look particularly happy!

greenhouse2

These tomatoes will be a little upset for a bit, but I think that potting them on will help...we’ll see! If not it’s off to Portland Nursery we go.

I’ll get some more shots of them later, when they’re not so mad at me!

I think Catherine’s babies over at A Gardener in Progress are much happier and healthier looking :)

 

greenhouse3-21

The pansy and wood hyacinth continue to bloom, and I’m expecting the snap dragon to make a show soon. The dill there in the lower right is going nuts, so I hope everyone at church likes dill! I never water that volunteer plant- but it just does it’s thing anyway :)


Things are getting a little crowded again- and it will only get worse as I sow more. I think it’s time to go up on the other side of the greenhouse benches now...ya think? I’m going to try to jimmy something this week.             

There is a bit more blooming in the garden, one of the camellias in the back yard and some hyacinth, more pictures will be on the way! I hope you all had a great first day of spring, and as always...

Happy Gardening!

Mar 15, 2009

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day- March

 

After planting out some early, gamble crops last week, a storm hit. A warm store, thankfully! The wind is pretty strong, however, so crops will have to stay under cover for a while. Not a great day to go take pictures of blooms in the garden, but I managed to get some :) for GBBD. Thanks again to Carol for hosting this- it’s so much fun to be a part of it, even if I don’t have much to add :). Make sure you head on over and check out what others have blooming in their gardens!

 

camelliafront

Here is another Camellia bloom out front- the blooms are so big, I hate to chops this shrub down. It is in the wrong spot, however, and way too big for its space- I may try to move it, but it’s doubtful because I just don’t have the strength to do these major things in the yard anymore- and it’s huge! I can just imagine the root ball!

 

hyacinth

Some Hyacinth is coming up here and there in the yard- these are some that I gathered from around the garden that I want to keep track of. I can’t wait to see them again- not to mention smell them! Since I didn’t start any in the house, these are a welcome site!

 

 

ageratum

The Ageratum in the greenhouse is about ready to pop- I grew these in hopes of some early color, but I’m afraid that March is as early as I’m gonna get! The lower light levels we have here in the winter in Portland, just don’t cut it. Bend or Redmond is looking better and better every day!

 

 

woodhyacinth2

And lastly, the Wood Hyacinth is finally blooming. Last fall I had divided a small area where tons of these grow- I had some extras (some of which are still in peat moss in the garage!) and just threw some in a pot, hoping they would have blooms a little earlier than the ones in the bed. Looks like it worked.

 

 

I have pansies, of course, and some of them went in the beds last week. Also the daffs are starting to bud. The crocus are still in bloom, but I’ve posted a few of those pics already.

I am wondering how I managed to have all the same color family! I’m not really a purple fan, but it is a good spring color, I suppose- and my blog has it in the new spring look. Some of the pansy are a burgundy, white, and a few yellow, but the main theme seems to be purple-ish!

I wish the Dwarf Snapdragon would hurry up!

snapdragonmidmarch Snapdragon bud!

Oh, look! More purple pansy ;)

Not much going on- I really do need to work on my beds more. With growing so much food I haven’t been concentrating on color. It’s hard to split my time between crops and flowers. I do have a lot I’ve started for the beds that will help, however. Lets just hope I can get everything through the rest of the winter and the always unsettled beginning of spring! I’ll be starting more flowers coming up soon, but I have a trip planned this week, so it will have to wait!

I hope you all are enjoying the early spring color in your gardens! Only a few more days to go for spring to start officially!

Happy Gardening!