summer 2013

Friday, March 30, 2012


Wow, so many new countries have signed on!  Up to 47.  Welcome to Jordan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Pakistan, New Zealand, Chile, Qatar, Jamaica, France, Slovakia,  South Africa, and Gabon (Western Africa - I had to look it up.)

pieris - Japanese Andromeda

We were teased terribly by an early spring heat wave.  People wearing shorts and sandals, air conditioners turned on and plants and trees forced into early bloom.  Heaven!!!!


I have been burned in the past and I have learned from my mistakes.  I have to restrain myself.  I waited to start seeds indoors.  How many years have I had a jungle growing in my basement because I couldn't wait to start my tomato plants?  Most gardeners know that tomatoes grow like weeds when the temperature soars.

The stores already have tomato plants for sale.  You know some poor soul is going to put that in the ground and lose it to frost. Last night and tonight we have frost and freeze warnings.  I will wait til Mother's day to set my summer plants and seeds out.

 I have planted some perennials.  Siberian Iris, Liatris - blazing star, and bugle weed.

home to new perennials (and a few weeds still)  Just wait a few months 

Ready to go into the ground is Chelone lyonii - false turtlehead and Culver's root Veronicastrum virginicum.     Culver's root is a native beneficial to butterflies and other pollinators.   Chelone glabra is the host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.  I will add this as well when I can find it (cheap and on sale.)

The critters have not been kind to the small shrubs I planted last fall.  No deer.  Bunnies.  Saw it with my own eyes or I wouldn't have believed it.  If they survive, great.  If not, I may replant and protect them in the fall with wire.  My dogwoods and paw paw look great, but they were larger plants and could tolerate more trauma.

My little dogwood - rabbit food

I haven't been to the farm garden recently.  I know I have root crops and greens I can harvest.  Got sidetracked by a trip to Florida for a birthday party, (Happy Birthday Aunt Shirley 100!!!) and the UMD Extension service Demonstration Garden.  And last but not least - the flu.

I did take a walk around the yard to see what is happening:

Mountain Mint

bearberry and fall blooming anemones

bearberry - a native ground cover that has red berries in winter

painted fern

black eyed susan

broken boxwood (thanks, Bear) cut all but one limb

native columbine

dicentra - bleeding heart  will die back and disappear then come back next spring

hostas and violets


naked ladies in front

pachysandra in bloom


photinia fraserii - new foliage is red


virginia bluebells - mertensia virginica with pieris

My next plan is to get to the farm garden to get it in shape for all the seeds I have started.  I still have about 5 weeks.

No rush  :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Everyone was out today.  Sunny, temps in the mid 60s, no wind.  Ahhhhh.    Started the day watching my grandson so some cement work could be done at the farm.  Just as well, it was in the 40s when they started the work.

Went to an antique barn in Emmitsburg, MD when I was finished babysitting.  50s around 1 O'clock.  Still too cold for me.  Found a really cool box for my seeds and an antique wooden yardstick with holes drilled every 2 inches.  I plan to use this for planting seeds.

Got home around 3:30.  Perfect weather.  Went to work.  It was time to clean up the plants lining my steps to the house.  Cut the liriope down with a serrated knife, pulled up lots of weeds, tore out most of the prickly pear.  Left a few plump pieces in the dirt.  They will attach just fine and continue to grow.  I do this every year and never seem to learn.  You need to pull the prickly pear LAST!  I wear thick leather gloves, long sleeves and long pants, yet I have those tiny spines everywhere.  I spent the next 2 hours working in the garden and trying to pick out the spines as I went.



Knockout rose

prickly pear

The box I found is really solid.  I have no idea what it was used for or how old it is, but it is perfect to store my seeds.  It has really pretty brass screws.

The wooden yard stick has "Compliments of Creel Bros."  stamped on it.  My plan is to lay the stick on the dirt and drop a seed into each hole.  Of course  just plants that need to be 2 inches apart.


My seeds used to be in two cardboard boxes.  I am very happy with my new box:)  Everything fits great.



While we were out front enjoying the early evening,  I start pulling rocks from a rock pile that has been in the front yard for many years.  The idea was to line our culvert when our new driveway was installed. Life got too busy and that job was pushed to the bottom of my husband's list.  While I was talking to my husband and son, I was throwing rocks into a circular pattern.  In my head I was planning what I have to add to the soil and what perennials I am going to plant.  It started getting dark, so I stopped at this point.

That is a contorted filbert on the right.

rocks on other side of driveway

I am very fortunate that I can do this.  I have cut my work hours back a little.  I will now have an extra day off every 2 weeks.  My goal is to spend more time in my gardens.  This year I  have one more.  My home, my farm, and the demonstration garden for the University of Maryland Extension Service, native and vegetable.  It is good to be busy!

A true sign of spring - my first crocus


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Too Early to Plant

35 countries and counting!  Welcome to Columbia, Czech Republic, Romania, and Spain!

Touran Neon Rose Saxifraga


Earliest flowers

Well, it's been one whole year since I started this blog.  I feel like I am starting all over again!  Seed catalogs have been scoured, existing seeds counted and ordering of new seeds has begun.  I will be setting up my lights this month to start a lot of seeds.  Learned a lot, that was my goal with this blog.  I wanted to keep a good record so I knew what to change the next year.  I will not be growing potatoes this year.  I had a wireworm infestation last year.  That is the larval stage of the click beetle.  I really didn't like paying too much attention when I cleaned the potatoes and had to cut away the parts that were eaten. Yuk. The stink bugs did a number on my tomatoes at the farm garden, but not in my garden at my house.  So, I am trying sweet potatoes at my house this year, and I will plant my tomatoes in my back yard.

I do use seeds from other planting seasons.  The rate of germination goes down, but when they do germinate, the plants do just fine.  The trick is to put an extra seed or two into the planting cell.
Look for the strongest seedling and then cut the others down to the dirt with a pair of scissors.  Pulling the weaklings out will disturb the root system of the remaining plant and possibly weaken or kill it.

I still have to clean up my perennial beds here at the house and up at the farm. I am waiting for a nice warm day, though.  My hellebores are blooming nicely.  They are also called lenten rose, I assume because they bloom around Lent. The Witch Hazel at the Demonstration Garden is in bloom also.  Smells medicinal, and very clean.

 Our Master Gardener group has taken on a huge project this year.  We are adding on to our existing Demonstration Garden at the Extension office.  A HUGE vegetable garden.  I have even started a blog for that garden for the MGs.  Check us out at  FREDCOMGDEMOGARDEN.BLOGSPOT.COM.

On the Mother Earth News website I found a really nice garden planning program.  You design your garden and then post it to the web so others can view it.  I put my first rough draft of one of the garden beds on the web  so my team members could view it and have ideas to change or add when we have our next meeting.


Also on my list of garden chores is pruning back my Japanese maple and my magnolia shrub/tree.  We had a professional arborist come out to do the big trees.  Looks great, lots of dead wood and broken branches were taken out.

Checked my oak log inoculated with shitake fungi, nothing yet.