summer 2013

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day before snow

I have 2 days a week to work outside in the garden.  Tomorrow we are expecting 1-3 inches of snow, so today  I  worked on the pathways in the raised beds.  I had a lot of crabgrass in my mulch last year that I want a better handle on this time around.

We had a lot of large pieces of cardboard left over from some work my husband has done in his office.  This I hope will stop the grass from settling in.  My expectation is that the cardboard will kill what is underneath and any seeds that sprout in the mulch won't take hold too tightly on top.

I do like mulch instead of  weed block or plastic.  It is just a preference. Any would be fine.

I had an audience while I worked today.  A lazy day in the sun for Wes' cows.

The garlic is doing well.  I had to remove Brooklyn's present from the bed before I took the picture. (the remains of a deer skull.)  Yuk.

The strawberries from last year look good.

The seeds are doing very well.  A lot have germinated almost overnight!

Spent most of the morning with Master Gardeners in our Demonstration Garden.  We are renovating and planning to add more native plants to our section in the next year.  I then went to an urban community garden in Frederick City.  The organizer arranged for a Master Gardener to be available for advice if they have any questions.

I was very impressed with the work they have done in such a short time.  I think her vision is very exciting.  She lives in Frederick city and has converted her yard into a garden with raised beds.  A couple are elevated for people who are disabled or have a hard time getting down on the ground.

They have a plan to fill up her back yard with multiple raised beds with trellises, and plans are being made to install a 1000 gallon rain barrel.

I hope they invite me back.  This will be a very interesting garden.   It amazes me that she has more trouble with wildlife in the city than I have in the country!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The best thing about starting your plants from seeds - variety.  I have started a lot of seeds in flats this week.  I am going to list them - don't be bored please - this record keeping is for my benefit.

If you double click on the photos, you can zoom in.

Shasta Daisy
Echinacea  Purple Coneflower  Purpurea
Hybrid pepper, ethnic sweet carmen F1
Tomato Heirloom tall vine Brandywine
Burpee Tomato 4th of July hybrid
Burpee Tomato  Big Boy hybrid
Black eyed Susan  Rudbeckia Hirta
Burpee Cucumber Tendergreen
Cantaloupe Halona F1 hybrid
Leaf Parsley  Titan
Creeping Thyme  Thymus serpyllum
Watermelon  sweet favorite hybrid
Cucumber, hybrid american slicing  corinto F1
Romaine lettuce Vivian Romaine
Broccoli  hybrid Windsor F1
Burpee Tomato Roma
Tomato hybrid  Mariana  F1
Zinnia  Giant Dahlia mix
Basil Genovese
Broccoli  Hybrid  Arcadia F1
Lavender  Munstead-type

The shelves are put together, the lights have been hung.  I am using a cool light fluorescent bulb and a plant/aquarium bulb together in each fixture.   The lights are a mere 4 inches away from the containers.
Each bulb has different colors of light that the plants need to germinate and thrive.

The lettuce seeds I planted 2 days ago have sprouted.  I plan to keep the lights on for 16 hours a day and off for 8.

I planted some perennials about 2 weeks ago - couldn't help myself.  They were in a southern window.  I think I got them under the better lights in time.

Shasta Daisy

Purple Coneflower

You may notice the diverse list of annuals, perennials and vegetables.   That is part of Integrated Pest Management.  I want to attract a lot of different bugs to my garden to keep some of the pesky bugs in check.  Also, I want to attract butterflies just because I like them.

My strawberries  will be here around 4/1, along with my red potatoes.  They are from Johnny's Seeds out of Maine.  Great quality and good prices.  I am buying as many disease resistant varieties that I can (F1.)  I did not get one cucumber or cantaloupe this year.  They were knocked down quickly by disease.  They were my true weaklings last summer.

I am ordering some native perennials this month to plant in the garden also.  Native plants are very important. That will be another whole page in a week or two.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First day of Spring

Finally!  It is SPRING  as of 34 minutes ago.  Busy day.  I haven't done anything at the farm garden this week.  Too busy.  I was up last week to clean up old vegetation out of some of the raised beds.  Found the remains of a deer skull in one of the beds.  That would be my daughter's dog,  Brooklyn.  She is a scavenger and obviously likes to share.

Red Maple 

I have decided to cover the pathways with mulch this year.  Last year  I tried mulch on bare earth.  That means I ended up mowing.  This year I am going to lay large pieces of cardboard and then cover with mulch.  In the last 30 years I have tried black plastic and weed cloth.  I am still finding bits and pieces of these materials in my yard every year.  I want biodegradable products this time around.  If I run out of cardboard, wet newspaper or paper mulch in a large roll will be used as well.

My husband Mike dropped off 15 bags of mulch at the garden yesterday while I was at a day long class in Baltimore.  He also picked up several hundred pounds of lime that I had to put on my lawn today.  Last summer I had a soil analysis done on my lawn as well as the garden soil.  Ph was 5.5.  Too low for grass to be really happy.  Southern States recommended 80 pounds of lime per 1000 square feet.  The kicker is, you cannot lay more than 50 pounds at a time, so I spent my day in the yard.

We also pruned a lot.  We had some fierce wind storms this winter and lots of broken branches to deal with.

In our town, we have a yard waste drop off at Heritage Farm Park.  It is great!  You show up, drop off your yard waste and they grind it up and make mulch, which is free for the taking.  I personally like the bags.  Easier to handle and you don't find any Christmas ornaments in your mulch.

This pile is about 15 feet high

Our dog, Bear came along for the ride

Well,  the shelves have been bought, I bought grow lights to put into fluorescent fixtures, added potting mix to  the containers, and brought them inside to warm up.  I want everything ready when Mike sets  up the   shelves and lights.  There is construction going on here and it will be a few more days.

  The chances of me not being sore tomorrow are pretty slim.  It is now 8:36 pm.  I need a shower and 2 Aleve.  I will try not to whimper when I am working with my patients tomorrow.  I am in constant motion at work (Thank God!) and then there is yoga after work.

These used to be brown

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Good Rainy Morning!  We need it,  so no complaining.

I found a  Praying Mantid sac this week.  Good news.  When these little guys emerge they come out hungry.  So hungry they will eat their siblings if there is nothing else to eat.  If you find one of these, let them be.

In my University of Maryland Master Gardener education program we had a wonderful instructor come in and talk about bugs.  This truly was my favorite class.  I am the bug person in my house.  I can deal with anything with more than 4 legs. (I suck at mice.)  We learned about Integrated Pest Management.

"IPM is a knowledge-based, holistic approach to managing pests at an acceptable level.  It emphasizes biological, cultural, and physical methods to prevent and manage problems." (UM MG handbook)

The gist is - do not kill bugs indiscriminately.  When we blanket our gardens with insecticides, we kill all the good bugs as well.  This means butterflies and honeybees!

Monarch butterfly caterpillar

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

If I plant certain plants, in some cases weeds,  predator insects will live in my garden to help balance the population of insects I don't want.

Not my picture - I had one of these guys in my garden last summer.  It felt like Christmas when I found him.  Unfortunately I did not have a camera last summer.

This is a tomato hornworm covered with braconid wasp pupae.  This wasp is a beneficial insect.  It lays its' eggs in the worm.  When they hatch, they use the hornworm as their food source.  The worm stops eating and soon dies.  The wasps then find more hornworm hosts to feed on.  If you see one the these, let it alone.

 I do use some pesticides.  Bt to control cabbage worms.  This is a bacteria that kills only cabbage worms.  It is safe for birds and people and other bugs.   Insecticidal soap to kill aphids.  Water spray works too.  So does waiting for the lady bugs to show up!  Milky spore to kill Japanese beetle grubs in the lawn.

There are some bugs you want to encourage and leave alone if you see them.

Syrphid fly


Assassin Bug

Praying Mantid (Mantis)

Spined Soldier Bug
I know it looks like a Stink bug.  Look for the spikes on the shoulders.

I just got back from Lowe's with my husband Mike.  We bought the shelves and lights so I can start my plants!  He will assemble and find a place to put the shelves in the next day or so.

I brought in some forsythia branches to force a few days ago.  Spring is almost here!