Monday, June 23, 2008

Garden Update: We're Making Progress!

This weekend, Fernymoss and I finally had a weekend off together and we vowed to really dig in and get areas of the garden(s) cleaned up and planted with some of the plants we've already purchased who have (mostly) been patiently waiting to be planted..

Somehow, though, all that ended up requiring another trip (and shopping spree) at one of our favorite garden centers (at one of the local Hy-Vees of all places!). They're starting to mark down their stock drastically (like 50%!), so we picked up a lot of bargains and 'hadn't thought of' additions. The biggest bargain by far was the price of their peonies ... back in late May we had picked up 3 'Karl Rosenfeld' peonies for the sweet price of $9.99 each and those just got put in the ground in the past few days. The real eye-popper today was that they still had a great selection of peonies, now at the bargain basement price of $4.99! The plants were still in great shape, so how could we pass this by? So ... we bought 4 more! We got another Sarah Bernhardt, (pink) two Felix Crousse (red) and a Duchess de Nemours (white), all of which were planted within two hours of their arrival at Casa IVG. They are now well watered and settling into their new positions, just on the other side of the fence from their cousins who've already bloomed. So the total for this year is 7 new peonies, now happily planted! Yay!

And those weren't the only things that got in the ground (finally) this weekend. Alas, where we were planting wasn't merely a matter of just digging holes and plugging them in, no ... due to all the rainy days and nights when we couldn't get anything done, the weeds came in and engulfed many areas of the various gardens. So, to plant anything, we had to weed heavily first, so out came the usual weeds (lambsquarter, dandelions, wild lettuce, etc.) then the violets underwent a mass uprooting. Our philosophy is, they're taking up precious Woodland Garden space and so they need to give up the room to more worthy (I know, that's a mean thing to say, but still ...) plants waiting for their spots to grow.

Fernymoss was concentrating entirely on the far end of the Woodland Garden, not only getting in the peonies, but also planting our new Ligularia dentata ('Desdemona,' the red one), the two new Pulmonarias ('EB Anderson") and 3 Torenias we bought earlier. He's still going to move some of the more intrusive Ostrich Plume ferns in as well, but the emphasis this weekend was getting the potted newcomers in first. He also got the new 'Voodoo Lily' (Arum cornutum) bulb my sister gave us in, so it will be joining in with Mr. Stinky next year, (though it probably won't bloom its first year). So, things are looking much tamer (there's still work to be done) in the far end of the Woodland Garden now!

Yesterday, I focused partly on the Hibiscus and Butterfly Bush bed, which I had just cleaned out and planted a couple of weeks ago. It needed another good weeding, and I was disappointed to see that almost all of the seeds I had planted (granted, they were seeds from last year) hadn't come up at all. So I weeded, replanted Nasturtium and Four O'clock seeds, along with 3 new Flowering Kales who were patiently waiting to get plugged. I staked up the Blue River hibiscus (it always has to be staked, because it grows to about 7 ft every year!), did general weed patrol and then called it a day and watered it well, because it tends to be the driest of our individual beds (it's in the parking next to our neighbor's driveway). I watered it again tonight, so it's in good shape until the next watering.

I also worked pretty diligently in the veggie and herb bed I started behind the house a couple of weeks ago. I had mentioned in a previous post how overgrown it had gotten through neglect last year, so initially I had to "claw" my way through before any of the peppers and herbs could be planted. I spent an afternoon clearing it all out before planting our peppers, a bush 'Celebrity' tomato (which already has 2 small ones forming), some herb seeds and 3 new Thymes and 2 new Sages. Well, the peppers are doing fine (we have 3 jalapeños already) so far and growing ... I had planted a rough row of Zinnias behind them as well, and most of those came up, but where there were gaps this weekend, I filled them in with new seeds to complete the backdrop of this bed. I also stuck in some 'Alaska' Nasturtium seeds in a few bare spots as well, since those cucumber seeds I planted didn't do anything (they too were old). The Basil seeds I planted are doing fine (now that they're weeded!) and you can see their progress in the second shot posted. We did pick up a couple of larger plants today as well, but those are headed for the back veggie garden with the rest of the tomatoes, onions, the corn and pumpkins and other Zinnias.

As for today's purchases at half price, I also added a 'Bulgarian Carrot' pepper, which is reputed to produce 3.5 inch long, fluorescent orange and "fruity and pungent" peppers. On a previous visit, I had looked at them and negligently passed over them, then later regretted my decision. Today, however, they had one left and I snapped it up and then planted it in with the other peppers (in the first shot, it's the furthest to the left, back behind the Jalapeño. It joins its other cousins, the Yellow Bell, 'Cherry Bomb' and 'Cubanelle' peppers, and on the far right of the first photo you can see the more familiar 'California Wonder' bells, one of the more generic peppers I like to plant. In this shot (gardener evident in shadow ... these are not 'art' shots, they are documentary), you have probably noticed something 'oniony' looking ... well, we found LEEKS today and I couldn't resist ... Thanks to my time in France, I've really come to love them and have never seen plants for sale before, so I had to get 6 of them! And with the total coming to a whopping $1.50, I couldn't pass them by, since when you can find decent leeks in the store, those huge monstrosities they offer often cost more than that for one ... so now I can have my very own organic ones to harvest whenever I deem them ready to pull! And I've never grown Leeks before, so I'm especially excited to have some of my own to eat come later this summer ...

I also replanted the area where I had sown Italian Flat Leaf Parsley seed, because nothing but weeds came up in it, so I bought a fresh pack of seeds today and got those in as well as a few Nasturtium seeds in front of one of the new
recently planted Thymes. We also got a Purple Sage today which joined the herbal party, along with a 'Munstead' (the only one that seems hardy for us) Lavender we had previously purchased (back in late May) which are now settling in and well watered. You can't see those in these shots, but they're there and to the right is a still weedy area in which we plan to put Hollyhocks (there are already some seedlings), Zebrina Mallows and a few other plants, such as a Gaillardia, 'Blanket Flower,' because most of our others have seemed to disappear since last year. We also plan on seeding this area heavily with Moss Rose and putting a few of the sun loving plants from the front garden to complete this entire bed, which is only about 3 ft wide by 30 ft long (the length of the house) and ends at that back yard gate. Yes, it's a relatively small space to pack this much in, but the intent was to get the peppers in some less fertile soil (they just don't produce in the back garden where there is so much rich compost), as well as getting a kitchen herb garden (Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Chives, Thyme and Sage) as depicted in these shots.

I hope this all turns out according to plan, and that we have plentiful peppers, leeks, tomatoes and herbs, all with a backdrop of colorful Zinnias to complete the effect. This area gets plenty of sun most of the afternoon and even late in the day, so we have great hopes for it this year! Last year we just ignored it and it turned into weeds, mint and trees, which have since been eliminated ... it's past time it become productive again, and that is the goal for this summer! I think we've got a good start on it, and I look forward to providing periodic updates over the summer, so stay tuned, as they say.

The back veggie garden is looking good too ... the tomatoes are growing nicely, the Zinnias are up, the onions are thriving, and the corn is up about 3 inches now and looking like corn. My only regret is that we've not found any of the 'Bush Cucumbers' we usually like to plant. Oh well, we still have asparagus roots to get in this year, so I guess we'll get by. Seeing asparagus will be more than an ample reward, even though it will still be a couple years' wait to start harvesting it!

Obviously, more to come on this subject ....


Gail said...

when I read the description you gave of your garden at MMD..."We're kind of savage cottage garden with a prairie native twist and a Woodland chaser." It is wild, and should stay that way to an extent, but I've always thought that total dominance over Nature was generally not a good thing." I had to drop by! If only I could hover above your garden to see the wildness! It sounds right up my alley! My garden is wild, too...I frequently refer to it as clown pants but really it is a Cedar Glade-Cottage Garden!

You were very busy this weekend and the veggies sound wonderful!

clay and limestone

Family Man said...


Just reading about all that you've done is making me tired. When I read, It needed another good weeding, then I knew that wasn't something that I'd be doing. :)

Maybe one day I might start a veggie garden, but.......

Hope you and Fernymoss are doing well, and I'm glad to know that a lot of that flooding is starting to go away.

Take care.

boran2 said...

Hi IVG. You have been busy! I am amazed at the variety that you have managed to squeeze in on a city lot. I've been a bit lazy this year having added some tomato plants, a single petunia and my cutting-grown coleous to our existing plantings. I've got to go out and follow your example and look for some bargains!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail! Great to see you stopping by, and your place is quite inviting too! It's going to be on my must visit list from now on ... I really loved your post on coneflowers, and am slavering over getting the TN coneflower.

Seems like there comes a time (July/August usually) that we can't deal with (due to the heat) the usual garden work and it really gets 'wild' on us, which, of course we always pay for in the spring/summer of the following year! Oh well, such are gardeners' woes, eh?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there FM! So good to see you popping in, blogfather! I suspect having a veggie garden would overwhelm you and your slackerly ways ... but you'd have much tastier veggies to eat, so the trade-off is well worth it.

Weed a bit every couple of days and you could have 2 productive tomato plants at least. Plant a 'Sweet 100' cherry tomato (a no fail plant) and a 'Better Boy' (bigger tomato) plant and you and FMom would have plenty to keep you fed. They're really easy, believe me.

Think of the money you could save by going organic!

--toes tapping --

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2! You should get out and see what stores are offering .. it's not too late to get annuals in, and given that your season is probably a bit shorter than ours, I bet they have things marked down at this point. Only ONE petunia? Come on, even we petunia spurners have about 10 to still get planted!

Ok, that would take away from painting time, so forgive the nag! :-)

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