Monday, June 29, 2009

New Heirlooms

One of my Opalka tomato plants is now producing tomatoes! As of now they all show signs of speck, but the new foliage is healthy and forming quickly. The fruit is uneffected. The Black Krim plants appears to show signs of what might be early blight near the bottom. Every couple of days a small shoot will wilt. I've been cutting them off and throwing them into the trash. Not the composter. The rest of the plant looks good, so I'm not going to pull it up. The only plant that has yet to produce is the Cherokee Green. It is just as tall as the others, and has blossoms, but no fruit. Most likely because I started the seed a few weeks later to replace the Cherokee Purple seeds that wouldn't germinate. The KBX and Constoluto Genovese tomatoes are getting pretty big. In a few weeks I might get my first ripe tomato of the season! I can't wait!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I've Got Cowlick's!

This week has finally brought us some hot and sunny weather. The tomatoes are taking off! They are lush. My KBX tomato is nearing the size of a tennis ball. Constoluto Genovese now has three tomatoes on it. In fact, everything but my Opalkas and Cherokee Green plants have tomatoes on them. I just came back in from checking on their progress. By far my most anticipated tomato this year will be Cowlick's Brandywine. I've never tried an heirloom tomato before, but everyone knows their great reputation for taste. I hear that Cowlick's is one of the best, if not the best Brandywines for productivity and taste. I can't wait to try one!

I think the hydrogen peroxide treatment is keeping the bacterial speck from spreading too quickly. I've treated all of the plants three times so far to help keep it in check (they all have shown signs of speck to different degrees). I've also been removing diseased foliage as needed. Despite this, all of the plants are doing well.

Overall assessment: It's a good day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Asclepias tuberosa

I started this asclepias tuberosa from seed last year. It's finally in bloom, but the butterflies don't seem to be as numerous as they were in past seasons. We have had a ridiculous amount of rain in the last few weeks, so I'm hoping that with this warm, dry stretch of weather that they will be returning soon. I have started more of these plants in peat pots. I'm hoping to entice some monarchs to hang around in my yard for a while and lay some eggs on the plants.

White Squirrel

Since I have lived here there has been a wonderful visitor to my garden on a daily basis. The neighborhood white squirrel. He (I've got a 50/50 chance of being right) is a beautiful, red-eyed, albino squirrel that loves to dig up my potted plants out front. I don't know how he has survived the last few years. He sticks out like a sore thumb, but it is always a joy to see him prancing around the yard...or hanging out on the porch on a rainy day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Latest Additions

I have added a few plants in the last couple of weeks. I found a great sale at Kmart on 'Goldmound' spirea. I also ordered a 'Black Lace' Sambucus to add some nice burgundy foliage to my back hedge and a 'Vanilla Spice' clethra. The clethra is something I had never heard of. I decided to try something new, because I had credit I needed to use. The description said they are good for butterflies. I hope so. My favorite addition may be the 'Little Henry' sweetspire though. I never even considered getting one until I saw it covered in pollinators at the nursery. They had a huge selection of trees, shrubs, and flowers yet everything flying around seemed to want to get a piece of the sweetspire. A plant that attracts that much activity is exactly what I want for my garden. It has white shoots of flowers with a soft, sweet scent. Here is a picture of it.

The Garden In June: A Photo Update

My Lady Emma Hamilton rose is finally in bloom. The coloring is gorgeous. The scent is like a citrus, lemon Pledge. It's wonderful! Each rose have little green worm nesting inside the blossom. They don't seem to be doing any damage although I saw one toss a little piece of poop out of the blossom. Kind of gross, but I don't mind them so much.

My first attempt at growing celery appears to be a huge success. After the rainiest, record-breaking, Spring I can remember the only plants that seemed to thrive it were the Tango celery. All eight plants actually look like...celery. I wasn't sure how they would turn out at first. They were a bit floppy, but after all that rain they stood right up and have developed nice, thick stalks. It felt like it happened overnight. That was a great garden surprise.

Another great surprise, despite the rains, was how well this Red Morn Madness petunia held up. The other varieties took a few days to start blooming again. This variety just laughed at the rain. It's a real winner.

Unfortunately the rain took a toll on a few plants. One of my Autumn Joy sedum and about half of my Burpeanna pea plants rotted out of the ground. They just couldn't handle the massive amounts of rain this month. On a more positive note, I uncovered a nice-sized, Mucho Nacho jalapeno pepper yesterday while crawling around my raised beds. It won't be long until this little guy is ready. Both the Fat n' Sassy and Mucho Nacho plants all have small peppers on them.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bacterial Speck, Meet My Pruners!

Round One: Ding!
Once the sun came out today and dried off all the tomato foliage I went out with my pruners to face my tomato nemesis. Bacterial speck. Using advice from my friend, a tomato guru, I went out ready to fight. Armed with pruners, a garbage can, and a 1:1 mixture of bleach and water.

First, I started with the healthy tomato plants. I removed all foliage that came within a few inches of the soil. That way when it rains, diseases in the soil won't splash up onto them. Then I went through and removed all foliage that had signs of disease and threw them in the trash. Do not compost them! Between EVERY cut I dipped my pruners into the bleach/water mixture, so I would be less likely to spread any diseases amongst the plants. All diseased foliage is now gone with the exception of a 3 inch section of vine smack dab in the center of my Constoluto Genovese plant.

After some online research, I have decided to fight the spread of the speck with hydrogen peroxide. I've read that is you mix 1 Tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Spray it on the plants at night. The peroxide reacts to light, so don't spray when it is sunny outside. It's worth a try. If you try this, don't go crazy and add too much peroxide. Too high a concentration can act as a herbicide and kill your plants.

Score: Kim: 1 Bacterial Speck: 0

Round Two: Ding!
On a side note, my nice-sized Constoluto Genovese green tomato was slain during the fight. It was lost in the battle when I cut an infected branch. Sadly that spotted branch was the lifeline for that poor tomato. I didn't realize it until my hopes for tasting a delicious heirloom in the near future fell to the ground. He will be missed.

Score: Kim: 1 Bacterial Speck: 1


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Heirloom Tomatoes---Disease Rears Its Ugly Head

I've encounted a slight disease problem with my heirloom tomatoes. It all started after a particularly long stretch of rainy weather. Cowlick's Brandywine was the first to show signs of bacterial speck. Once the foliage was dry, I removed the foliage that was infected and threw it away. We've hit another rainy and humid patch. The speck continues to plague Cowlick and now it has moved onto Constoluto Genovese. Ugh! My knee jerk reaction is to pull these two plants before they infect the other 8 along that section. I think what I am going to do is to continue to remove the foliage with a good bit of speck and hope for the best for this season. Heirlooms may not have the disease resistance of modern hybrids, but I don't want to give up on them yet. Especially not before I get my first taste of them. If it continues to spread heavily in the next week or so, I'll just cave and go to the nursery to get replacement plants that have more disease resistance for those spots. I'm willing to hold out and see what happens though first.

'Blue Satin' Hibiscus---My new addition

Today I received two 'Blue Satin' Hibiscus plants to fill in empty gaps within my back hedge. I ordered them from Great Garden Plants, and they are just that. They're around 18 inches tall with several blooms on each plant. They will be a beautiful addition to my garden. They are said to get around 6' tall and 4' wide. The blooms are a beautiful shade of blue-lavender with a maroon eye. It was quite a surprise to see them blooming so heavily already. I can only imagine what this plant will look like in its maturity.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Photos From The Garden

'Lady Emma Hamilton' Rose
Update: My new addition from David Austin Roses is now has two buds forming. I can't wait to see what they look like in person.

'Pandora's Box' Hosta
In it's second season from Great Garden Plants. This is an adorable miniature hosta. Although mine is doing well in the ground, it would make a beautiful addition to a container.

'Tequila Sunrise' Coreopsis
I purchased three of these at Lowes 3 years ago. These are on the verge of opening their blooms. Even without flowers, the foliage has a lovely variegation that keeps the plant interesting all season. It is a tough plant. I've moved them all about 3 or 4 times, and they never missed a beat. It even managed to self-seed itself twice and still maintain its variegation in its offspring. If leaves start to revert back to green (you can see a few at the bottom of this plant), just pull them off. They may be short-lived (although I haven't experienced this yet), so propagate them through division.

Heirloom Tomatoes Are Here!

My first little green tomatoes have developed over the course of the last week or so. The first to pollinate was Constoluto Genovese. This was followed by Gold Nugget and KBX. It looks like it is going to be a flavorful year. My very first taste of an heirloom tomato is not too far away! I can't wait. As you can sort of see in this photo, my Constoluto Genovese tomato from a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Square Foot Garden

This is my first year doing square foot gardening. At the end of last season I purchased three raised beds. In the fall I started many types of garlic in one bed (8 of 9 squares). I planted 9 per square foot. Also in that bed is a Mucho Nacho jalapeno pepper plant.
The middle bed has eight Fat n' Sassy bell pepper plants and one Mucho Nacho jalapeno plant.

The front bed contains Jericho and Little Gem romaine lettuce (4 per square), Simpson Elite lettuce (9 per square), Scarlet Nantes carrots (16 per square), Tango celery (4 per square), Salad Bush cucumbers (2 per square), and bunching scallions (16 per square).

Overall assessment: After a fall and winter of squirrels digging up the garlic cloves, they seem to be doing well. The beds dry out quickly so plan on watering daily. Growing your own lettuce is surprisingly easy and WAY cheaper.

I found a GREAT Mail Order Company! Should I share the name?

After purchasing plants, trees, and shrubs from, many different local and online sources I have to share what I've learned. Most likely there will be many sources for the plants you want. Never buy from the online source with the cheapest or highest prices. If the prices are to low, you're most likely getting a small plant recently started from seed or a rooted cutting. If you go with the source with highest price, you're just wasting your money. I've ordered plants from numerous places, but over the last two years I have been purchasing most of my plants through one company in particular. They have the best plants for very reasonable prices. Not quite the cheapest. Certainly not the most expensive. Quality...unbeatable. In fact there plants are typically better than those I find in most nurseries.

Now I'm wondering... Should I share my source? Demand might go up. Then prices might follow. Should I? Um, Okay. I will. Only because I wish I would have known about the years ago. I love GREAT GARDEN PLANTS! Their site is at I thoroughly recommend that you check them out. They have a great selection. The last two seasons (perhaps longer) they have been giving out a free daylily with every order. It's worth buying from them it even without the bonus plant. If you sign up for their newsletter you even get a coupon for $5 off your first order. That's what reeled me in, but it was the large, healthy plants that hooked me. Customer service is unbeatable as well. They even have a triple guarantee. I've never had to use it, but it made me feel better about placing my first order. On a scale of one to ten...Easily a 10.

Oh, and I am in no way affiliated with this company. I just love buying plants. :)

Time for Change

We purchased our house a few years ago. I've always hated the front pachysandra bed along the sidewalk. As of this season it is officially gone! After pulling as many runners out by hand as possible, I finally had the chance to start planting. Once they fill in it will be a huge improvement. In my eyes it already is. :) I did place chunky, bark nugget mulch on the bed to also help prevent erosion while the plants are rooting out. This bed now has the following plants for more curb appeal:

Hostas: Guacamole, Patriot, Paul's Glory, Wide Brim, William Frances
Heuchera: Creme Brulee, Peach Melba, Can Can, Silvery Scrolls
Unnamed blue columbine
Stella de Oro daylilies
Impatiens (as filler to prevent soil erosion on this steep slope)
Two unknown azaleas, a pink and white one, are at the back of the bed.

Spring is Blooming! Garden pictures!

'Graham Thomas' David Austin rose

It has an true tea scent. A lovely shade of yellow. Just one in a small vase can make a beautiful centerpiece for days.

To the right: 'Hollywood' Heuchera.
Although the foliage mound stays shorter than I expected (about 5 inches tall), these have the best blooms I have ever seen on a heuchera. Rich color and stems fully covered in blossoms. Absolutely gorgeous!

To the left:
'Maynight' Salvia
'Magnus' Coneflower
'Crimson Pygmy' Barberry
Name unknown Irises
'Double Knockout' rose
'Brite Eyes' climbing rose
Orange unnamed Asiatic lilies
Asclepias tuberosa

To the right:
'William Baffin' Rose
'Blue Spire' Russian Sage
'Sunshine Blue' Caryopteris (just purchased this year)

William Baffin Rose

Two years ago I purchased two William Baffin roses from Jungseed. Last year I had tried to trellis them along the back hedge. Notice how I used the word tried. Take a look at these thorns. Instead I decided to just let them loose this year. They are beautiful, thorny monsters. They are currently in the midst of their large spring flush. It's absolutely gorgeous! I wouldn't place this rose where someone might brush up against its canes, but it sure is a showstopper for a garden.

Since the canes are long, yet unrestrained, they shoot out like fireworks. Bright pink fireworks. The canes are approximately 10 feet long. They rise up from the roots about 5 feet, but the are so floriforous that the arch over and just touch the ground with the other five feet of canes. I know this rose is a climber. I've seen some amazing pictures of it trellised (that's why I bought it), but it is spectacular left to its own devices...luckily. I barely did any pruning of it this Spring. It is an extremely hardy rose, so there were no dead or damaged canes. Disease and pests haven't been an issue with this rose either.

The picture to the upper right is of one of the William Baffin roses next to a Pink Knockout rose (on the left). They blend almost seamlessly. You can't tell when one ends and the other begins. Other than a slight shade difference in the color of the foliage, the blooms are remarkably similar in form and color.
The photo on the left is a closeup of the Pink Knockout blooms on the left and William Baffin blooms on the right.

Lady Emma Hamilton---Third update

This is my Lady Emma Hamilton David Austin rose as of two days ago. Although it does have a few leaves with the dreaded black spot (we had a long, rainy stretch), it is filling in nicely. Overall it appears to be a pretty healthy rose so far. I also had to cut off the end of one of the branches due to a cane borer hole, but now all seems well. I still can't wait to see her beautiful blooms and smell her delicious fragrance.

Insect Lore Painted Lady Butterfly Release

For Christmas I had purchased a Butterfly Pavilion by Insect Lore for my four year old. Just a few weeks ago I sent in the coupon to get the butterflies. They arrived about two weeks ago. In that time our nine little caterpillars doubled their size many times over. Today was the exciting part. The started to emerge as butterflies today! Two were released this afternoon and while we were doing that another had started to fill out its wings. In a few hours, after a quick drink of sugar water on a flower, we will be releasing that one as well. Although it was a short-lived experience, it was definitely worth it. Not only did my son learn about metamorphasis, he learned about patience and how to be gentle with such a tiny creature. Here are some pictures that we took before they flew too far away.