Wednesday, May 25, 2005

17 May Spring Annuals

19 May 2005
Oh yes, the sky is all cloudy and it looks like rain. I put the Calendula of low growth habit in my front rain garden in the front row. They were getting crowded in their little plastic box. Next will come Zinnias from the Zinnia flat and Marigolds, tall growing, maybe. Big Marigolds reach 3 ft high. I'd say that is too tall for the front bed. Maybe I'll put the Marigolds by the Oak tree or by the house. I have a lot of Marigolds, but no small ones. Might start some small ones.
Common garden annuals are very satisfying to grow. They don't need much attention, call to mind the bounty of our earth. I sprouted them on the porch in flats, kept them in my spun polyester house when it was too cold for Tomatoes outside and moved them out to make room for the tomatoes. Now I have lots of annuals. I saved the seed from last year, so they didn't even cost anything. Marigolds, Calendula (two kinds), Zinnia and Cosmos are a good deal in gardening. Love in a Mist would work too. I did start Allysum in the open garden. Either the seed was too old or it was too cold, it has not come up. On the other hand, there are a lot of first leaves sprouting in my pots and flats that I look at and my refrain comes, "what is that". "What is that?" and "What did I put there?' are FAQ's. These will lessen in frequency as the season gets old.

Marigolds, musings, seeds

24 May 2005 Marigolds, Calendula, Zinnia
We have had a couple of good days of rain. I transplanted Zinnias and Calendulas into the front rain garden. I massed them, making unusual shapes with them rather than rows. I like the unusual shape idea. The Calendulas with the small growth habit are roughly in front, Zinnias in a meandering stripe down the middle and taller Calendulas towards the back of the bed. The yellow Dahlia is showing itself. The succulents in this garden are finding their own, filling in nicely. Lilies may need dividing. I will do it in the fall if they don't bloom well this summer.
The tall habit Marigolds are interspersed in the back beds. I didn't take out the leaves, thinking of a permanent mulch in the front bed, south of the front walk. I have had experience with transplants being eaten in a leafy bed, and will a have to monitor. Not many garden bugs like to munch Marigolds. In our world, if there are carbohydrates to be found, there is often some creature to eat them, especially if they have leaf cover to live in. Not much stays unaltered in the garden. I will move the mulch, rather than let the marigolds get chomped.
Everything is looking green and well. Echinacia and Rudbecias are spreading, except in the circle garden. The GH is fond of Echinacea and eats it in August. Why the critter waits until bloom time is a mystery to me. Plant's hormones change when they flower. I notice a blooming plant will not as easily root.
Watching seeds unfold is fascinating. Many seeds root before they send up first leaves. They are not attached to the dirt they live in at first. The micro-climate in their vicinity must be damp and cordial to them, although many seeds have probably evolved though sprouting habits to survive tough conditions.

19 May 2005 The Gift of Surprise

19 May 2005 The Surprise
I was sinking into that overwhelming feeling. Mother taught me you ought to feel overwhelmed this time of year because, have it all done RIGHT NOW. The thing is, it can't all be done now. Making art in the garden builds on itself. What sprouts and grows is not always predictable. I don't like to garden in a mechanical way. I wouldn't garden if there weren't surprises. I like the interaction, the tension between how I envision it will look and how it does look. I like the unpredictability of it. Anyway as I was sinking into thinking about all that needed to be done, how little time I had and how much I had to do, something visual struck. My mind made a connection on how things could go together. I could stack some pots in a certain way, and they looked good and would facilitate watering later in the season easier. The blues had no room.
The top pot acts like a mulch, blocking evaporation of water. The bottom pot is full of soil, so water that flows from the top pot isn't wasted on the sidewalk, but goes into the bottom pot for the plats there. Plants stick out the sides of the bottom pots and have the benefit of the wet soil there. That way, they need less ground area to grow more plants, as in a strawberry pyramid. My small stack creation on the back porch has five levels of succulents. When I water the top, water percolates into the layers. The bottom doesn't get much water. ones at the top get much more, making the thing top heavy. I figure four levels is about the limit. More layers would require son type of a center tube take water to the bottom layer.
If last year was the year of the standard in my garden, this year is the year of the stacked pot. I have two strawberry pyramids, a stack of succulent pots on the porch, three Kale stacks, several geranium stacks, three lettuce stacks, and a few other miscellaneous pot stacks. I am calling these things pot stacks, as I have no other name for them.
It was a phase shift that took me into right brained thinking and I was lost in gardening for a long and productive time. I emptied some pots, geraniums needed transplanting and pruning and the beans I'd soaked were in need of planting. One long window sill pot was in a container full of water and beginning support smelly anaerobic bacteria. All these little things were in need of attention.
The Rev's retirement dinner table decorations were starting to weigh on me. I thought of some ways to do center pieces. In stacked pots, the bottom with Carasula, that I have a lot of and can root by July and the top with cute little annuals that I can start soon and have ready for the event. If the annuals are not flowering by July 10, I can purchase some that are and put them in the inner pots without disturbing the Carasula. The Carasula was taking over all the pots on the window sill this winter. I may as well use it, as I have so much of it. I need to find pots and inner pots. They don't all have to be the same and it would be good if they were recycled, as the crowd at church would be appreciative of that. I may have to start robbing recycle bins, as it is getting over late for me to assemble so many containers out of my own houshold. I think I will need at least 12 table deco places, one for each table. I need to start the outer pots soon to give them time to look "naturalized", like they had always been that way.
Maybe I just had too much caffeine today, but I'm feeling quite productive. I was glad to get the beans planted before the rain came. It was a long soaking rain, the kind that is good for spring gardens.

15 May After the Refreshing Rain

16 May 2005
Finally, a good rain fell. The little plant starts got a new set of leaves. Time to put things in the ground.
The annuals in flats are too numerous to put in larger pots before they go in the ground. I don't have enough pots, even though my family members tell me the pots take up too much of the garage. I will have to let them grow large enough to put it in the ground, but not leave them too long in the flats to become crowded. The mulch needs to be pulled away from their little stems when I plant them, as bugs find transplants succulent.
I want to take things down to the church, Sage and Hyssop, to put in while the ground is wet. The Salvia can wait. I'm afraid groundskeepers will think it is a weed and pull it up. I shall have to make markers.

13 May 2005 Rain, What's being planted, Spring garden etceteras

13 May 2005 Rain, water, seeds
Rain fell short of promises. It was a light penetrating spring rain, but it wasn't long enough to penetrate. I have a lot of little seeds planted and am hoping they didn't try to sprout during that rain, as it was scant. Forecasters predict thunderstorms this weekend.
I scattered the sunflowers Amanda and Charlie passed out at their wedding. I put in a row of Nasturtiums in the sidewalk bed. I thought the number of seeds from the packet I bought from NK (formerly Northrup King) was miserly and won't go for them again if I can help it. I got quite expansive for a while there and put quite a few seeds in. There are two more lettuce towers. There are vines, Nasturtium, and Thunbergia. I put in the remainder of the Red Orach, in pots and lettuce towers, thinking it might take to vining habit. Basil doesn't seem to think it is warm enough to bother sprouting, except for the purple decorative basil that seeds itself all over. Morning Glory waits until warmer days before it sprouts. Some of the Lavender I have sprouting in plastic bags on the heat register sprouted and I put it in a pot. Maybe it ought to stay on the warm porch for a week or so, just to give the little seeds a bit of a push. No sign from the zucchini or cuke yet. Maybe they would be happier inside too. Vegetable seeds seeds seem sprout when and where ever they are planted, and only tell you what they need by becoming exhausted or expiring. Perhaps they have lost their sense of place. Tomato seeds left in the garden from last year will wait to sprout until it is warm and mild.
Garden design is being done on the fly, or it seems that way to me, as I didn't get out the graph paper and plot my beds in January. I do have some grand plans in my head and some small ideas of what can go on. I want to put the Silicone (tomatoes and peppers) out behind the garage where the Raspberries have abandoned ship. The GH will eat and greens I put here. I might put a small patch of corn here too. I have to cover each ear with a paper bag lest the squirrels think I planted it for them. I like to start corn in a flat and transplant it. There is room for winter squash to meander around here. I only wish I could find a way to keep it from the ground hogs.
I'm putting Beans in the bed up by the cement. I had brick edging here, but took it out and had thought about making it a pond. When the cement became car parking space, I moved some pots, etc. onto this plot. There is room in the middle for beans. I put off beans so the GH won't think I do it for him, as he likes new beans. He hasn't gotten the peas behind the hoop fence. I will have to put a hoop fence around the beans too. The beans could go in any time, I think. Alan, my neighbor and organic gardener extraordinare, plants by the phases of the moon, like his father did. He is very organized and methodical in a way I only dream of being. I plant more variety of things though.
I don't get as much written as I have to report this time of year, as I get antsy and have to get beck out there and see how things are doing. Like right now, how is the transplanted parsley surviving. I figured the rain would keep it happy. It has been two days since that disappointing rain. We shall need a rain dance.