Monday, May 21, 2018

Weeds-Easy Control

When reluctant or non-gardeners talk about gardening , they usually groan about the weeding. I don't particularly like weeding much either which is why I don't do much of it! And yet I still have quite a lot of garden space : veggies, annuals and perennials.
I grow my vegetables in containers and raised beds. It's much easier to control the soil and fewer weed seeds make their way into a raised bed. I do get some weeds in my big pots but it's so much easier to  pull them out when they are up at a convenient height. Of course if you want a big garden, container gardening probably isn't practical but it is surprising how much produce you can get from a small space.
This raised bed has newspaper covering plantings of carrots and peas.  The newspaper has a dual purpose at this point. It is keeping the soil moist and keeping light away from weeds.  Once the peas and carrots sprout, I will put strips of newspaper 5 to 6 layers thick between the rows and cover it with  some dirt so it looks better.


Here I have used an opened-up cardboard box to mulch near a tomato plant. The hose water uncovered some of it but I can quickly shovel a bit of dirt over it again. You can use lots of things as mulch. It just has to keep out the light. Old clothes, old reusable shopping bags, even opaque plastic if you punch a few holes in it are all possibilities.
I also don't stress if I have some weeds in the vegetable garden. Unless they are really out of control, the vegetables still grow just fine.

A lot of people use bark mulch in their perennial beds. I personally don't find it friendly for my kind of gardening which involves frequently moving plants. I find the bark is hard to push aside and turns the soil into a messy mix of dirt and bark. Plus it costs money. In this free form garden, I simply plant vigorous plants that come up early in the spring and beat the weeds to it. Here I have hostas, brunnera, bee balm, wild ginger and pulmonaria. In a month, it will be a solid mass of green that will shade out most weeds.
I had a weedy patch next to my foamflowers so for a couple of years I just made a leaf pile on it in the fall. The weeds have been smothered and I can plant something there if I want to. Right now, I don't really mind the dried leaves.
Another idea is to cover the ground with pots. This is a new planting area. Instead of just filling it with soil, I will keep it covered in pots for a couple of years which will kill any weeds. Then I can dump the soil out of the pots onto the ground. Meanwhile, I have some peas and lettuce growing in the pots. Eventually it will be planted with perennials.
 I like to use perennials that make a good sturdy clump that's impenetrable to weeds:
sedum,
phlox,


 daylilies. Other good ones are hostas, rudbeckia, coneflower, perennial cornflower, ornamental onion.

Here is a messy little patch that has been planted with nasturtiums and rudbeckia. In a couple of weeks, I'll know where the nasturtiums have sprouted and the rudbeckia will be bigger. I'll mulch around the plants with newspaper covered in dirt and I'll be set for the summer.
I hope some of these tips help you to enjoy your garden more. And remember , it's a garden, not a living room. A few weeds are not the end of the world.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Various Varieties




It's always fun to see what annuals are for sale as the selection varies from year to year. This year Home Hardware had a flashy selection of hibiscus. In our climate, it's used as an annual. You can see how big the blooms are compared to the petunia. I'm curious to see if the hummingbird that usually comes in June will like it.
I don't always buy pansies as they flag in the summer heat but I got some this year. I like this soft purple one with the distinct veining.
To me this is a really classic pansy.





 Some of the tulips are going wacky. I think they are reverting from red to yellow.  The in between phase is very colourful.



Grape hyacinths are not the showiest flower but they do smell like grape popsicles.



 Bishop's cap is a silly looking plant but it grows well in the shade and makes a nice leafy clump after the blooms fade.
Native merrybells have a lovely form. I let them pop up wherever they like.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mallards and May Flowers



I saw a Mallard pair swimming in the ditch by the road in front of our property. I thought it was rather sad that they thought the ditch constituted a pond, rather like the urbanites in their 500 sq.ft. condos who think their little rooms constitute a house.  But I guess we have to make-do with whatever is available.
I hope the ducks find better water to swim in as there is a stream not far away.


 They wandered away and then flew off as I approached them. Funny how the female is always to the right of the male.
I saw two lovely rose-breasted grosbeaks this morning. So happy they have stopped by. Usually they  move on in a couple of weeks.  Now I am waiting to see or hear a Baltimore oriole. They also come by this time of year and have a beautiful flute-like song.
 Some pots on the deck. I noticed several missing  pansy blooms and I suspect it's my little friend, the chipmunk, who has been nibbling on them.
 The tulips are starting to bloom. I like the purple, mauve, yellow mix that came from Veseys. I was pleased to see the small reddish ones are still blooming as this is year 3 for them. I have some grape hyacinths at the edge of the tulips. The green clump to the right is wild ginger which makes a nice ground cover although it can be somewhat aggressive.
 Click for full photo.The red  primula polyantha bloom a little later than the bright yellow ones but the flowering time overlaps somewhat. The red really stands out next to the yellow. Near the back are some pale yellow polyantha and in the upper left are some cowslip primula which are just starting to open up. In the lower left, is a gold-leafed bleeding heart a friend gave me last year.
 I planted a regular bleeding heart near the purple windflower. I think that will work .

The white trilliums are welcome volunteers.
We are expecting thunderstorms this evening so that will perk up all the plants.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Springin' Up

 A bright little patch of miniature daffodils.


 The trilliums bloom without fail the first week of May. It doesn't matter what the weather, their internal clocks have them opening up at the same time every year. We are gradually getting more red trilliums , while the number of white trilliums stays about the same. The white trilliums are happy to pop up in the flower beds where the soil is a little richer.


The dog-tooth violets are also becoming more numerous which is nice. Our patches of wild garlic keep expanding as we don't pick it. Many wild patches are picked bare by people who sell it at markets so I'm happy to nurture our patches.



 The pulmonaria is so happy on our property. I started with a couple of plants from my mother's garden which originally came from my grandmother's garden, and now I have hundreds of plants growing with no care at all. I love the pretty colours and spotty leaves. It's also a very, very good plant for the bees, both honeybees and bumblebees.
 Who is this? One of the clan of Rascally Rodents. I think their latest snack is nasturtium seeds as I saw some empty hulls where I had planted nasturtiums.
The robins are nesting in the horse shed and I saw a pair of flycatchers a couple of times so I guess they will build a nest on the property.  I see and hear a cardinal pair regularly just across the road so they are undoubtedly nesting over there. So nice to have the birds around.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Making Lemonade

 I like crocuses. They are  cheery announcers of spring.  Alas, our squirrels and/or chipmunks have developed a taste for them and I am left with just the odd one they missed. So now I am planting more chindoxia (glory-of-the-snow) which they don't like.




 The critters also don't like scillas which freely self-sow on our property. I'm happy for that because they give the bees and other pollinators something to feed on early in the season. I saw a bumblebee this afternoon feeding on the chindoxia , but the honeybees liked the scillas more.







And they are very pretty.


 My trusty yellow primulas always come through the winter unscathed.
The weather has been warm the last few days so suddenly the plants are coming awake.
It was a long winter so hooray for spring!!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

We All Need Gardens

 Here are some cherry tomatoes reminding me that, in spite of the wintry weather outside, spring will come and gardens will grow.
At church this morning, a fellow was sharing about a trip he recently made to Guatemala with his brother. He grew up on a dairy farm so he is a practical sort of guy and knows about growing things. The soil in the area he visited  is heavy clay. The locals primarily eat corn which will grow well in that kind of soil, but the people are malnourished because they lack variety in their diet. So this man showed them how to make raised beds and how to lighten the soil with compost and sand. Now they can grow root vegetables like carrots, beets, onions, etc.
 He and his brother also built a cement washing area away from the river so that the river wouldn't get polluted with soap and dirt. The washing area drains into a big pit which is filled with leaves and loose dirt. Around the perimeter of the pit, banana trees are planted that will soak up the water and nutrients in the grey water. Simple, practical solutions that will be helpful for years to come.
Here's a pot of globe amaranth I am starting. I like this flower because it has red stems and  a branching habit. The round flowers in pink, magenta or white, dry very easily and keep their colour for months. We all need colour and light in our lives.
The fellow who visited Guatemala also helped with installing some lighting in the school's classroom as they only had one light bulb which wasn't adequate at all. Now, in the rainy season, the students will have some brightness in their classroom and will be able to learn better and feel happier. There are so many ways to help each other.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Fresh from the Indoor Garden

 I pulled two radishes from their pots this morning.  I planted them in mid-Februay and they have grown just fine on the windowsill. I put 5 seeds in a 4" pot and that gave them enough room. I fertilized them once a few weeks after planting and made sure I kept the soil damp which usually meant watering every day. Although they look small on the large plate, they are about 1" across so average radish size.
Also on the plate is celery from the plants I brought in from the outside garden last fall. It has been growing well albeit a bit leggy.  The flavour is mild - almost a bit sweet.
At the front of the plate, is a piece of basil. I started that at the same time as the radishes. It is easy to grow on a windowsill. It adds some zing to a salad or sandwich.
This is the view outside my window. Spring is slow to come this year. We had some nasty, extremely windy weather a couple of days ago . On the plus side, I read the cold might be hard on the deer ticks. April is often the month when the dog and/or I pick up a tick but I don't have to worry with snow still on the ground.