Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

Don't get any funny ideas!

©2018 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved

My Peeps!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What a great autumn

Here it is the end of October when I usually have to worry about killer frost and the occasional snow flurry, and just a few days ago I was out in just a sweatshirt digging out the Canna. Yes, it was a tad blustery and even cloudy but it got into the 60s! That never happens in the Pocono Mountains. At least not as far as I can recall and Ive been here 21 years.

So, I dug them out and placed them to cure in the greenhouse. Theyll have to stay in there for a week or so to ensure they are totally dry before I place them into their plastic tub full of peat moss for their long winter rest in the top shelf of the garage. There they will be safe not just from sub-zero temperatures but mostly mice and even moles who always find their way into a warm-ish garage, the greenhouse and even the tool shed for their own winter nesting place.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gardening definitions explained in simple terms, part 2

This will help you pick plants which will survive your temperature extremes.For example, if a plant is said to be a perennial up to zone 7 then I, who lives in zone 5 where it gets much colder, can expect this plant to die over the winter if left outside. I could bring it inside to winter-over but that's a tale for another time. The Mandevilla is such a plant. My uncle out on Long Island (zone 7) can grow this beautiful plant outside but I must treat it like a houseplant.
The educated gardener is the best gardener.
So, now we come to the biennial. These cause undue confusion. This plant category includes some Foxglove, Hollyhock and Queen Anne's Lace. The biennial completes it's life cycle in two seasons. The seed will grow the first year but is not likely to flower until the second year. This means it will live through one winter and reemerge in spring to bloom and hopefully go to seed to perpetuate the species. If seeds are planted two years in a row and allowed to self-sow they act like a perennial and that is where the confusion may come in. To add to the confusion the biennial can be easily tricked into blooming in less time simply by planting them later in the season, allowing them to winter over and then, come spring, they are ready to bloom in less than the usual 12 month's time. Also planting them extra early indoors during the winter months may allow them enough time to mature and bloom by summertime.

Annuals come next. This includes Marigolds, Zinnia, Cosmos, Petunia and Impatiens. These generally grow and go to seed within a season. They will die after the frost zaps them. Many of these throw their seeds around and come back in the spring without any trouble from you which at times makes people think they are perennial. But these are new plants coming. The old ones died with the cold but not before sowing seeds for the next generation. Isn't that nice of them?

The semi-hardy annual refers to those annuals which can sustain cooler temperatures and if planted in a temperate region may be able to be wintered over sometimes with a just a bit of extra protection like a thick covering of dried autumn leaves or evergreen branches. Snapdragons and at times Four o'clocks have been known to make it through some winters when covered well. It's hit and miss with this bunch. Experimenting is the only way to know for certain.

I hope this has eliminated some confusion. I know you won't want to do any gardening if all that Greek makes your head hurt. Oh, yeah, I forgot. It's Latin. Whatever, just go out there and plant something regardless what it may be called. It'll do you some good I just know it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gardening definitions explained in simple terms, part 1

I'll bet there are times especially when you read the tags attached to those pretty little plants at the garden center when you're scratching your feeble head and thinking "Why do they have to make everything sound like Greek?" Actually it's Latin but that's neither here nor there. It's those confusing garden terms which are giving you trouble. I can clear it up for you if you're willing to listen.
What's a biennial?

Some of you perhaps do not know the difference between a perennial and a biennial, between a semi-hardy annual and a tender perennial nor the difference between a tuber, corm, rhizome and a bulb. While it's not essential to know these definitions in order to have a stunningly beautiful garden it might provide you with some answers like why that Foxglove didn't come back when it looked so pretty last year.

Let's start with the term perennial. When a plant is called a perennial it simply means it will live through the winter. They will go dormant but reemerge in spring. That technically would make your Japanese Red Maple just as much a perennial as your Rhododendron and your Peony. Each one of these gets its own category with its own definition.

Trees in general are deciduous perennials. These drop their leaves in autumn, sleep through the winter and grow them back in the spring. In a separate sub-category there is the evergreen which retains its leaves, or more likely needles in the case of pines and spruces. Rhododendrons and some azaleas are evergreen shrubs because they keep their leaves through the winter.

Now we come to the herbaceous perennial. The Peony, being it dies down to the ground every winter and comes up afresh in spring, is an example of the herbaceous perennial. In the case of the peony it is a long-lived perennial because it will live for several decades if provided with some essentials, water, nutrients and sun. The roots remain alive and well even through bitter cold winters and reawaken in the spring. Some others included in this category are Shasta Daisy, Daylily, Iris, Hosta and Coreopsis.

But not all perennials always make it through the winter unscathed. That's when we get into the tender perennials. These are plants that come back year after year but only up to a certain point can they tolerate the cold rather a bit like me. I am Caribbean born and would wilt quicker than a Poppy in water if I was sent to Alaska.. That is where understanding the plant label will help you make the right choices. You must first know in what zone you are planting.

Next time: Part 2

Monday, October 25, 2010

While I'm usually all for Live and let live', most rodents don't fall under this mantra if only because of all the damage they bring to my gardens. The mole, the vole, the house mouse, the field mouse, the rabbit, the jabbit....oh, sorry. I thought I was channeling Dr, Seuss for a minute. Anyway, all those nibbling, gnawing, digging critters do is cause trouble and make life difficult for the gardener. So, when my friend came to me in desperation saying "Squirrels are eating all the bulbs. Is there any way to stop them?" I knew where she was coming from, Rodent hell.
They look innocent enough, don't they? And yet the damage they can do!

Squirrels are tricky, resourceful creatures and therefore deserve...something...though I can't say what. A kick in the butt comes to mind but then I'd have a bunch of animal rights people on my case. Therefore, I must keep things on a humane level, at least until they look the other way.
There are a few things you can do to deter rodents from digging up those freshly planted spring bulbs. I said deter not completely and absolutely stop them. We're talking about tenacious and unfortunately intelligent creatures here. Nothing will stop them if they have enough determination. You'll just have to try each trick to see which works best for you.

Bloodmeal, which is readily available at any good garden center can be used to scare most rodents away. This is spread on top of the soil after the bulbs are planted or around a bed you'd like to keep them out of. This is supposed to scare them off but how long it lasts depends on how much it rains. It does wash away with rain and loses its intensity in time so it will need to be replenished. How long it works in scaring the squirrel, I can't say. They may get used to it and not care at all after a while. In the same way black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic and scallions all are said to be offensive to rodents. You could try them alone or all together.

Spreading a layer of sharp pea gravel on top of the planting bed might make it more difficult for rodents to dig for the bulbs. If the squirrel is hungry enough this would only impede their progress but it's worth a shot. Pea gravel works to prevent moles from tunneling under ground to feast on the bulbs and some folks plant the bulbs with a handful of gravel for further protection.
Another suggestion is to make a planting basket out of wire mesh. This is the last and most effective way I know of keeping your bulbs safe from all rodents not just squirrels. If you're as tenacious about having spring blooming bulbs more.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn is the time of year when the weather cools, the tree leaves turn vibrant colors and we gardeners need to think of the Spring. What? Think of spring in autumn? Why? Well, Autumn is when we must plant the bulbs that will give us those early flowering beauties which herald the growing season.

Before summer is through the garden centers are already bursting with possibilities. There are great displays of Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, Snowdrops, Grape Hyacinths and Alliums among others. My mailbox is full with mail order catalogs which offer a greater variety of these old-time favorites plus others you might never see in stores. I defy anyone to look through a few and not fall in love with something new and different every Autumn. Those catalogs are a danger to wallets so pace yourself. In general you won't spend a single cent without it giving you endless payback. Bulbs multiply readily with some naturalizing quite enchantingly.

When wishing to create a dazzling Spring flower display one needs to prepare the planting sight which should get ample sun exposure. Remember that in early Spring there are no leaves on trees to shade out the sun so planting under trees is usually all right. Ridding the intended space of weeds and fortifying the bare soil with compost tilling it in well is the best thing you can do to ensure wonderful productivity. Good rich, well draining soil is a must. This has to be done first because once planted these bulbs need never be disturbed except for dividing.

After the sight is prepared one needs to decide what flowers to plant. The best Spring displays I've seen in Botanical gardens (and I've seen plenty in my many travels around the US) are those with a long blooming time. To achieve this a good mixture of bulbs is required. This doesn't mean you have to have Daffodils with Tulips or Hyacinths with Crocus unless you like that look. Combinations look amazing when done with contrasting color and shapes. Experiment and you might surprise yourself. Most people, however, seem to prefer a bed devoted to one flower. The look is stunning I must admit but I find it limited. Once they flower, mostly all at once, you're left with bare ground again. How boring it that?

What I see as the good alternative to the sole flower approach for the home garden is layering the bulbs this way you have a continuous display which can last for over three months if properly thought out. When purchasing these bulbs they are usually labeled as early, mid or more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Great reasons to plant trees around your home

In case you didn't know Arbor Days pop up all over the country each and every spring. Each state has its own Arbor Day and with that comes the celebration of trees. The Lorax of Dr. Seuss fame along with many a tree-hugger, environmentalist, nature conservationist, not to mention birds, squirrels and chipmunks, no doubt love this time of year. But if you are not one of these you may be wondering why you, the average homeowner, should celebrate this most holy of gardening holidays by planting a tree. If the beauty of a tree alone isn't enough to get you digging a hole for a tree whether it be a wee sapling or a six foot tall Spruce, a small ornamental or a huge shade producer then stick around. We'll go over a few great reasons to plant trees around your home.

Doesn't matter if it's a tiny bonsai on your windowsill, a Crimson Queen Japanese Red Maple, a huge Weeping Willow, a Magnolia Grandiflora perfuming the entire neighborhood, a Washington Hawthorn in its floral spring splendor or a Sugar Maple ablaze in autumn colors, all trees are beautiful. Needless to say a tree can beautify and gives year round interest to your landscape like nothing else.

Privacy Is King

Planting a row of evergreen trees around your yard will ensure your privacy without having to go to the added expense of an ugly chainlink fence. Another bonus is to the wildlife they attract. Birds love to nest particularly in evergreens as they provide great cover from predators and ample protection even through winter storms.

Breath Easy

Ever notice how fresh and clean the air smells in heavily forested areas? You would if you spend a considerable amount of time in big, noisy, dirty cities where a tree is a rarity. Trees are the reason for our clean air. They act as filters and the more you have around you the better you breath. You like breathing, don't you? Then plant a tree or seven of them.

Healthy world, Healthy You

As trees will make for a healthy environment just by being, so do they better your health. Studies have proven that plants reduce stress levels literally just by being there. From potted Palms in your home, a small Ficus in your office or an ornamental Banana on the patio they are all designed to make your blood pressure behave, your heart work properly and your general attitude to improve. Why question it? Just surround yourself with trees and perhaps you'll live at least half as long as they do.

Climate Control

Those big, bad cities where the only place you can more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Funny how that goes

I was so very proud of my pumpkin harvest that I posted a picture of my "Sugar babies" on my Facebook page (In this picture you'll see one of six pumpkins I found growing in the privet hedge. Please, don't ask how that happened. I truly don't have a clue!) Several of my buddies commented on it and I told them I would soon be bringing them inside (They are currently decorating the front entrance to the house, one for each step leading up to the front porch) to cook some up in my Dominican beans recipe. 

Well, wouldn't you know, Ann Hinds, a fellow Heliumite, Channel manager of Grand-parenting and adoption and all around great gal, asked for the recipe. Actually, she said I should post the recipe on Helium, which I did. From a picture of my pumpkins I got another article, a recipe showing a new yummy way to use pumpkins. Funny how that goes, isn't it?

So, if any of you would like to try a new way to use pumpkin,  the recipe for my Dominican Beans over rice is posted on the "In the kitchen" page.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Growing ornamental grass

There is nothing so soothing as the sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the long slender leaves of the stately Maiden Grass and setting the Purple Moor grass swaying gracefully nor the sight of the burgundy-colored frothy clump of Shenandoah Switch grass on a crisp autumn day. That was what I was trying to impart to a friend as we walked around my yard when he had the audacity to say derisively "When you've seen one ornamental grass you've seen them all."

My love affair with the ornamental grass started with the unassuming and utterly delightful fountain grass, Pennisetum as it is known botanically. I saw it first at the garden center near my mother-in-law's house. Bribing me with a little romp at that garden center was the only way my husband could get me over there semi-willingly.

The fountain grass had me captivated. It was displayed artfully with other much more impressive flowering perennials and annuals. You'd think a plain clump of grass would be lost in all that color and grandeur but it gave movement to the garden, the texture mixed well and lent an ethereal softness from its arching leaves and feathery flowers. They weren't fabulous flowers by any means. They were subtly-colored, frothy plumes which swayed so delightfully I thought they might just fly away any moment like a moth. I was hooked.
I brought my baby Pennisetum home and placed it in my perennial border where it still currently resides happily. It grows between 1 and 2 feet tall and when in bloom its flowers, depending on variety can be pink, white or black and double the height of the plant. Of course, Pennisetum is not the only grass in my possession anymore. Allow me to tell you about my collection of ornamental grasses and all the ways they can enliven your yard.

Miscanthus Sinensis, is the most common of ornamental grasses for the home garden and makes a bold statement in the landscape. The long, light green leaves often have a white stripe down the center giving it a lovely glow in the sunshine. Most varieties can reach 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide. I have several of these scattered around tucked in shrub borders, planted along a fence to soften the effect and more.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Long term herbs for the garden.... part 2

Last time we spoke of the herb garden and now here's the list of the more common perennial herbs found in a typical kitchen garden.

Pick and chose that which appeals to you. The first herb that comes to most people's mind is arguably Mint. All mints, from the licorice, chocolate and apple flavored kinds to the candy cane peppermint are aggressive plants. So aggressive in fact that once planted you may never be rid of it and it will go everywhere and possibly choke out other plants. Believe me on this one.

Oregano is an herb I love to use in cooking. I grow two kinds, your average mild Italian Oregano and Cuban Oregano. (I prefer the very strong Caribean type my mother grows in the Dominican Republic but this is very hard to come by where I live). These two plants look entirely different though the taste is similar with the Cuban being more pungent. I actually prefer the Cuban because it over-winters so well in the house to give me a constant supply when the other Oregano is dormant under the snow. The Italian Oregano grows 2-3 feet tall, and bushy. It has a tendency to flop over when it gets too tall. It also gets tiny purple flowers if you don't continually snip it back. It can spread quickly and take over the garden unless trimmed often and it dries well. I take the entire plant, snipped almost at the root, place it in a paper bag and hang it to dry in the green house. In a few days it's dry enough to run my hand over the branches to pull off the leaves. I place these loose leaves in air-tight canning jars for use in winter.

The Cuban type grows more like a succulent so it doesn't dry well.(It freezes fine). Snip a piece off and you can root it in water very easily. That's how I grow new plants to give away. I gave one Cuban oregano plant to a friend and she told me it actually got her husband cooking for the first time. Anything I can do to help the busy working woman!

Lemon balm is another perennial herb which makes a wonderful, calming tea. It grows to be around 2 feet tall and if left to go to seed can produce many offspring. This can be dried or frozen for later use.

Chives is one of those plants I love more for the flowers which I pack into jars and fill with plain white vinegar to make pretty blushing vinegar with a slight oniony taste. This is great on salads. Woe to those who allow chives to go to seed however! more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Long term herbs for the garden

Every accomplished cook and possibly the unaccomplished ones too, should have an herb garden. Yes, that's my opinion but it also happens to be the right opinion even if you have no intention of cooking with the herbs. Why would you have an herb garden if you weren't planning on using them to brighten your food? Have you never seen one? Herbs are beautiful. Bees buzz around them, butterflies flutter to them and deer can't stand them. Good enough reasons for me. How about you? That's what I thought. Let's plant a perennial herb garden.

So, how does one plant an herb garden? Not very differently from any other type of garden really. Herbs in general prefer slightly dry, poor soil and full sun. Rich soil has a tendency to make herbs go to flower more quickly which draws the flavor out of the leaves. You don't want that. The flavors of the herbs becomes less intense so if you are planning to use them in cooking don't worry about enriching the soil with organic matter as you would when planting flowers. Also add some sand before planting. This will make it drain better.
Once the sight is picked out and prepared, removing rocks, weeds and such, you'll have to choose from hundreds of herbs. So, which ones? This depends entirely on you, your taste preferences and what you consider pretty. For instance, I dislike the taste of Rosemary so I never cook with it. On the other hand Rosemary is such a pretty, tender perennial plant that it would be a pity not to include it in every herb garden. It has a dense, bushy form that begs to be a topiary of some sort. The more you clip it, for use in cooking, the more bushy it becomes. It even can be over-wintered indoors if you live in cooler regions of the world and comes back better than ever in spring once replanted outside. In temperate zones it does fine, staying evergreen in most places.

I shall give you a list of the most sought after herbs in the next post. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I am a gardening genius and I never make mistakes in the garden.

Pumpkin growing in a Pee Gee Hydrangea shrub is not a mistake...I keep telling myself, anyway.

Yes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it and if you had brains you'd say the same. Was it a mistake when some idiot left the mixer on at the soap factory and came up with the wonder soap we know as Ivory soap, so pure it floats? Heck, no! Was it a mistake when some moron left out a beaker full of who-knows-what chemical and a wayward mouse spilled something from a top shelf into it only to have the scientists find the miracle that is plastic come next morning? Absolutely not! So I ask you, is it garden mistakes we're making or our own genius at work? Well, you know how I feel about it! 

Garden mistakes, what most people think as garden mistakes, well, yes, I have made a bunch of those and not just in the garden if you don't include the greenhouse, houseplants and when those wonderful catalogs come pouring in during those dreary winter days and I order bunches and bunches of seeds. You can ask my hubby, Tommy, when he's trying to balance that mess we call a check book. Not a pretty sight, but we are talking of garden mistakes so, let's stick to that, if you please.

One time I made the "mistake" of planting a bit of Lysimachia Nummularia (perhaps better known to you as Pennywort, Moneywort or Creeping Jenny). This is a lovely low, ground-hugging plant with abundant bright-as-sunshine star shaped yellow flowers and round brilliant green leaves. They like to root all along the trailing stems making it a perfect ground cover for my yellow flower bed. I loved this little plant.

Only problem was I didn't know of its tendency of being rather invasive. Cute little Creeping Jenny pretty much spread like the flu in kindergarten class. It took over the entire bed. But then I realized that it was also suppressing weeds very effectively. It saved me loads of work not just in weeding. I didn't need to mulch anymore. It was, in fact, a living mulch and quite attractive too. So, you tell me, was it a mistake? Well, Jenny's still there, isn't she?

Another time Tommy asked me to remove a tree peony from its home at the edge of a flower bed.. It was the beautiful Paeonia Suffruticosa Rosea, a pretty pink ruffled double blossomed Tree Peony which always bloomed profusely and wonderfully. I didn't want to move it from that place of honor, the perfect spot for maximum impact.

"You gotta move it or it's going to get run over with the wheelbarrow when I'm trying to put it away," Tommy said to me.

With a resigned sigh I more.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An oddity in the garden

There I was on a sunny Sunday, temperature around 65, very pleasant, listening to great music and....this is the odd part.....weeding. No, finding me weeding the garden, as huge as it is with so many flower beds, shrub borders and such, isn't the odd part. It is odd, however, that I actually enjoy doing it.

You got it. I like weeding. Why? Well, let's think....
#1. I'm in my favorite place.
#2. I'm among the flowers, bees, butterflies and tweeting birds.
#3. I'm doing something physical which will only improve my body (even as it hurts parts of it, like my back, wrist or shoulders, if I'm not careful)
#4. I'm relieving stress which I may not even know I have.
#5. I'm at peace in the garden.
#6. I get to think things through in the garden.
#7. I don't have to think at all in the garden.
#8. I can "write" a story or the next chapter of Violet's in Bloom in my head, while in the garden.
#9. I'm improving my garden.
#10. I'm imagining the garden next spring while I put it to rest this autumn.

So, I ask, what's not to love about weeding?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Growing bamboo indoors

After you see a huge stand of Bamboo growing wild in the tropics and swaying gracefully in the high breeze you might not think it remotely possible to have that in your own landscape. So, who says it can even grow indoors?  No way, you say.  Well, I’m here to say yes way. You can grow Bamboo indoors. Want to know how? You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t.

The one good thing about Bamboo is they are quite adaptable to container growing. They don’t mind being confined in a large tub. Of course, this only holds true of those Bamboo more suited to growing somewhat lower than your ceiling height. Therefore getting the right cultivar is crucial. For indoor cultivation the Bamboo likes cool temperatures,  bright sun though not necessarily direct. At the end of a winter they could look a bit scraggly and sickly but then don’t we all when confined to the indoors for too long? Just take the pot of Bamboo out for a bit of a vacation on the back patio to revitalize it and don’t worry about it being root bound. Bamboo is one of the only plants that actually does like to be rootbound in order to preform better. If, however, it does look a bit too cramped in the pot take it out and trim away some of the rhizomes which will be twirling all around the pot. When taking it outside for the spring and summer months watch that you don’t shock it with sudden temperature changes. Ease it into the outdoors and again ease it into the indoors once autumn temps start dropping.

Phyllostachys Aurea, the Golden Bamboo, is one especially good for container growing. It is hardy, meaning without leaf damage, to zone 7 . The roots if mulched could sustain another zone colder but for all other colder areas, it would do fine overwintering  indoors. This one is a running type of Bamboo which gets 6-10 feet high when confined grown in poor quality, dry soil without feeding.

Pleioblatus Varigata, the Dwarf White-stripe Bamboo, grows 1-3 feet high and looks very nice in a tub whether indoors or out. It is a rather fast growing Bamboo but can adapt to container life.

Bambusa Multiplex, Golden Goddess Bamboo is a clump forming plant getting 6-10 feet tall. Good for high ceilings in a foyer. Stems are golden, dense and arch gracefully. Hardy to zone 8.

Semiarundinaria Fastuosa, Narihira Bamboo, a running type, grows 8-10 feet high with very rigid culms 1 1/4 inches in diameter. This is a slow spreader and easily kepp to a clump form outdoors too. Hardy to zone 6.

For all those living too far north or simply frightened by the Bamboo’s reputation of being an invasive plant, growing them in containers and bringing them in for the winter is the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to eliminate chemicals in the garden using worms and compost by Mac Pike

*Another great article from Mac Pike. This time he stresses how easy it is to go organic and still have a beautifully productive garden.*

It's so easy to stop using chemical fertilizers!

Gardeners today are keenly aware of the benefits that stem from taking an organic approach to growing their vegetables. They know that avoiding harsh chemicals whether in the form of pesticides or fertilizers is good for the garden, for the gardener and for the environment as a whole.

And yet, growing vegetables uses up the nutrients in the soil; nutrients which fuel those luscious tomatoes and crisp cucumbers. If this situation remains unaddressed the garden patch that was so bountiful the first year or two will slump into a rapid decline in yield from year three and onward. What is a gardener to do?

Growing the soil:

There is nothing inherently wrong with soil amendments as such; it just depends on the composition of these additives. Natural nutrients like greensand, blood and bone meals, seaweed and fish extract, or even fish scraps themselves can and should be added to the garden soil from time to time. But wouldn’t it be great to put a dedicated work force to work on the problem, one that single-mindedly addresses soil fertility issues twenty four hours a day, seven days a week even when the gardener is miles away? As it happens, that work force is right beneath the gardeners’ feet

Earthworms are Mother Natures own little corps of gardening engineers, always ready to give their all to any garden plot. Earthworms churn and aerate the soil, opening tunnels as they wriggle through the earth. These tunnels make it easy for air, so vital for photosynthesis, to penetrate deeply where roots and important micro organisms can use it.

When it rains, these tunnels speed water absorption. Soil with a healthy earthworm population will absorb water as much as four times faster than will compacted soils that are relatively devoid of these valuable garden allies. Just as important, plants send their roots through the tunnels for easy and deep soil penetration.

Self propelled nutrient factories:

Perhaps best of all, earthworms love to consume organic matter, and when they do they excrete it. The results are called castings. These casting are water soluble concentrated organic plant nutrients that can be used by any plant a gardener could wish to grow. As the worm eats and processes its food it concentrates the nutrients the plants need most to a surprising extent. Their tiny palletized castings contain 5 to 11 times more nitrogen, potassium, calcium, more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Collecting seeds, Gotta love it!

It may sound bizarre, but I love collecting know... like Jay Leno collects cars, like little boys collect baseball cards, like little girls collect dolls, like Lindsey Lohan collects subpoenas ....hmmm, that one just slipped in, Sorry!

The point is, I love collecting seeds and simply having them around, almost like a potential garden in a box! That’s exactly what my collection is; a potential plethora of plants . I can visualize every single seed-- whether flower, vegetable or tree, annual, perennial, vine or herb, tropical or not-- bursting into bloom and leafing out and growing tall or sprawling on the ground in the case of a ground cover.

This time of year is when I take stock of what I have stashed away, mostly because I need more room for what I collect from this years crop of flowers and veggies. I always have tons stashed away, more than I should! I need to look through everything to start planting. Well, not really planting. I don’t actually want anything to grow now, going into winter. I just want the seeds in place to grow when they see fit once the snow melts and spring returns to the Poconos. *Sigh* it’s such a long wait for both me and the seeds!

It’s so wonderful to have mystery plants show up. Well, with a memory like mine (Dory comes to mind here) I forget all that I “Plant” so, I get surprised all the time. It’s good when I recognize them as plants I want, and bad when I forget they are not weeds and I yank them out. Of course, that is why I started this blog, to have a record of my garden adventures, including what seeds I scatter about and where! If only I can remember to check here before weeding in the spring...Hmm, wonder if I will?

So, I take stock of my seed collection. I take each seed packet or envelope or zip lock baggie out in turn, recalling from where I pilfered it. Oh, yes, I do a heck of a lot of pilfering of seeds. Can’t help it. At any botanical garden  I’m like a kleptomaniac at a Target store. Just can’t resist taking a seed. I’m truly ridiculous about it too. I mean to say, how many live oak nuts should I take home before I realize that I simply can’t grow one in Pennsylvania? If that number is a hundred, I’ve already exceeded that. I’m hopeless! Is there, by chance, a seed-pilferer’s anonymous? *

Friday, October 1, 2010

When one door closes, a garden gate opens

I do like the sound of that! Here is what I mean.

This is my pond and if you look at the edges, where you see all that black plastic, that should be covered in water. The water normally reaches the large boulders along the edge, but in this hot dry summer it’s down quite a bit.

Frankly, I thought Mother nature was screwing with me, not giving me enough rain this summer, but I re-thought that. I took a closer look and found, much to my amazement, a thick layer of leaves on the dry edges of the pond. The 40 foot sugar maple which stands sentry by the manmade pond always drops its leaves into the water below and it collects at the bottom. This is supposedly horrible for the fish. The goldfish I have in the pond thrived without me going to extremes to pull out these leaves, after all.

This, however, is really great stuff for the compost pile. I filled up several pails full with this slimy leaf mold and onto the compost pile it went. I still had plenty to get out but I ran out of time that one day. I’d do it the next day, I told myself. I’d  get all that good stuff out and possibly thin the Lilies.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? It rained like the dickens the next day. After weeks and weeks of no rain, it decided to rain once I found a useful endeavor! The pond filled almost up to the top, too, hiding all that good leaf stuff again. Blimey! That’s when I knew Mother Nature really was screwing me.

But I need not have worried. Pond dried up enough for me to get most of it and what I couldn’t really get, I will the next time we have a hot, dry summer. Drought, it turns out, can be good.

So, one door closed and a garden gate opened. Sounds really good to me.