Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gnomes and More Gnomes

We love Reiman Gardens, and we visit a lot.  This year, their theme is lawn decorations...specifically:  gnomes!  Now this is something that could be very tacky, but when you see it, they did it so beautifully.  It is so full of fun, and whimsy, you just want to take it all home with you and put it in your yard.  They had almost 30 gnomes in the gardens, and I think I got almost every one of them with my camera. The very first one we saw was this 'biker' gnome.  They all had really cute names, I won't list them all here, but you may be able to find them on the website. 

Each gnome was exactly alike in form, but was painted and decorated by different groups, so they each have their own distinct personality.  I love this one, he seems to float in this cloud of catmint, which is one of my favorite perennials.

My son found the bell chimes, and was getting his boogie on for our amusement.

This is my favorite space in the whole garden.  I don't know what its' real name is, but I call it the agave room.  Usually it is filled with huge blue and green agaves and aloes.  I never thought a flock of plastic lawn flamingos could be peaceful, but it just works. The blues and purples, mixed with the silver draping; I could just sit here all day and be content. 

My dad visited us last week, and he accompanied us on our trip to the gardens.  Here, he and my son pose next to the world's largest concrete gnome.  There is a larger gnome in I think, Norway, but it is made out of something else.

Each gnome is so individual, we delighted in finding them hiding behind things, on top of walls, around corners. We even got to vote for our favorite at the end.

In the tropical room, they had a huge center display of bottle trees representing different seasons.  I understand that bottle trees are quite common in the south, I have only seen one in someone's yard here in Iowa. I can't say that I would want something this big with bottles on it in my yard, but this one is definitely pretty. 

This was my favorite gnome.  I loved all the blown glass he was wearing and holding.  I have never been much of a gnome person, but I might consider getting one after this.  I guess you can order replicas of this gnome and paint it yourself if you so desire.  This was a wonderful day, getting to spend time with dad and my son, seeing the beautiful flowers and on top of it all, the cute lawn ornaments.  What a fun way to spend a summer day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blight in the Limas, Squash in the Geraniums?

While doing a 'walkabout' in my garden the other day, which is actually one of my favorite things to do, actually, I noticed some 'spots' on some of my beans.  On closer inspection, I noticed it wasn't ALL the beans, just my Christmas Lima beans.

I knew it wasn't good, but luckily, I seemed to have caught it before it spread anywhere else.  By what I can tell, this is common bacterial blight. It is very common in times of excessive rain or moisture.  That was a big clue, because we have had thunderstorms and rain almost every day for the past several weeks.  The bacteria stays in debris or soil, and then splashes onto leaves.  The symptoms are large wet green spots on the leaves that later turn brown.  If you already have bean pods, the blight can damage the beans as well. 

This is the bean area after I ripped out the limas.  It is such a bummer that I had to destroy them, such a waste.  Unfortunately, you have to destroy all the plants so it doesn't spread further, plus I wouldn't get any good beans out of them anyways.

Also, i did not notice that the limas were pole beans, I thought all the beans I planted were bush beans, oops. So, I am going to stick some stakes in there tomorrow to give the beans something to grow up.  Also, I planted okra in the hole where the limas came out of...the beans can grow up the okra as well.

My back up plan is to buy some regular lima bean seeds and plant them in my son can have some.  He is a funny kid, lima beans are one of his favorite foods.

If you want to avoid bacterial blight, here are some tips:
-Don't grow beans in the same spot that beans have been for 3 years.
-Leave ample room in between bean rows to allow for good air circulation.
-Try not to work around the beans when they are wet, to avoid spreading the bacteria.
-Destroy infected plants immediately and do not save seeds from infected plants.
-Mulch with grass clippings or such underneath plants to keep bacteria from splashing up on plants.
 -Sometimes, you will do all these things and you will still get blight, especially in times of excessive rain and humidity, but you can lessen your chances by doing one or more of the above items.

I also ripped out a bunch of lettuce that was bolting.  I left one of each kind in my raised bed to go to seed.  I will save it for fall and next year's planting.  The red sails lettuce is holding on a little longer, so I let it stay.  In the lettuce's place, I put sunberry plants.  I started them from seed.  I have never done them before, but the seed packet said they are similar to blueberries, but you get fruit the first year, more like annuals.

I am not sure what this looks like a cucumber or a squash of some kind.  It is growing in the side of my variegated geranium.  It looks like it is making little buds along the bottom stem, so I am going to leave it and see what it does.  I have no idea where the seed came from, but I like surprise plants, so its okay.

My whiskey barrel planter is coming along very nicely.  It will be perfect once the cannas get tall enough to get out of the way of the other plants.  I took this picture to show off my new 'flowers' that I bought.  I got a little too much setting sun in the pic, but you can see that they are made from copper piping and reused glass pieces.  They look so cool, and I love stuff made from recycled materials.

Are you battling any diseases on your plants this season?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Starting Over in a New Garden #3

Now that I am done with school...I have a lot more time to work in the yard.  You might remember last week I showed a picture of my stick-tree, my brugmansia.  You can see it has leafed out quite a bit.  I can't wait for the big beautiful blooms.

One of my nasturtium starts I bought at the master gardener sale is really taking off.  My DH calls them 'button-weeds'.  It is sending out little creepers across the pavement.  I am trying to get it to go to the side, instead of in front of the garage, so it doesn't get run over. 

I finally got my hosta bed expanded...I added in the new edging, and put in new mulch around my hostas that I added to the old hosta areas.  You can see most of my hostas are little, compared to theirs.  I also have some very vigorous coral bells going in there.

The sun bed is finally taking off.  My perennial sweet pea vines are up to 6 inches tall.  I hope I get some flowers before the frost comes in the fall (being sarcastic).  My hibiscus are really starting to go, some of them are 18 inches tall now.  Because everything got moved this spring, my stuff is really behind where it usually would be in this warm of a year.

At last week's farmer's market, I bought a century plant.  I put it out in the sun, since it is actually from the desert.  The lady I bought it from said she brought it back with her from California.  Since I was repotting all my aloes yesterday, I put this one in a pot too.  I have to be able to take it inside in the winter, since there is NO way this thing would survive outside in Iowa. 

Here is the jungle...I have never grown potatoes before.  Are they supposed to get so big?!!!! The plants are huge, and they take up a lot of room.  However, I hope to have a lot of potatoes, so we will see if it is worthwhile in the fall.  I worked on weeding my asparagus bed today.  It had gotten a lot of grass in it, and that is pretty much what I will be working on most of this next week, is getting caught up on the weeding.  With all the rain we've had, I haven't been able to keep up at all.

The pea pods are fattening up. Probably in a few weeks I will be harvesting peas.  I love to just go by and pop a pea pod open and eat the peas fresh from the yard. 

I am really surprised how fast the zucchini is growing. They are already 3-4 inches long.  Of course I will probably be cursing the zucchini in another month, but as for now, I am excited.  I just did one zucchini start this year, to try to keep it to a minimum. 

I love all the lilies that were already here!  There are so many of them.  They are huge and fabulous colors. 

The colors are so favorites are this orange one....

and this fuschia one....They are actually a little redder than the picture shows.  There has to be several hundred blooms, if I counted all the ones that haven't opened up yet. 

The latest addition I've done is adding to my living fence.  I put in three blue willow bushes, and a holly bush.  In between are sunflower seeds and zinnia seeds.  I think I have 5-6 varieties of zinnias this year.  Plus 3-4 kinds of sunflowers.  I need to use some fertilizer on my grasses so they grow faster.  However, even the living wall of grasses won't block out having to listen to my neighbor's horrible rap music.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Starting Over in a New Garden #2

These pictures are actually from memorial day weekend, and since then, we have had a lot of rain and heat, so everything has quadrupled in size from what you see here.  I need to go out and take more pictures again, but I have been very busy getting ready for my Dad's arrival this weekend. This is my mixed flowers/cucumber/bean bed closest to the camera. 

This view shows you the new fence that has gone up about 3 weeks ago, because I got tired of freaking out about the bunnies trying to eat my peas and other things.  I just decided to fence it in, and quit worrying about it. In front of the fence  is my new herb garden, which I have been slowly filling in with mostly perennial herbs.

This is the view from the opposite can see my 2 new blueberry bushes, and the tropical/sun bed (ie lilies and hibiscus).  All of this is new...I have also cleaned up the mulch some since this shot.

This shot is from the far end of the garden...I've gotten a few tomato plants in here.  No cages yet, but a few mulched tomatoes. 

From the left you can see beans, onions, garlic, potatoes, peppers, and the asparagus bed that has overrun with grass. 

I did not put this in...this is the lily bed at the rear of the yard.  I did add in a few phlox and sedum, but the lilies they left are going nuts.

I ripped out more sod in the front and added zinnias and some other annuals, including nasturtiums.

One of my favorites, a shade bed with a little pizzazz.  The black petunias are one of my favorites.

Here are where all the 'nasties' hang out until I plant them in other places. I grew 4 different kinds this year.

This is the last area I needed to work on organizing outside. Unfortunately, most people have to have a dump zone as they are getting things together. I need to take some more pictures because I have been working like crazy even since memorial day weekend and pieces already look different.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Heat Helps

Well, I am almost caught up.  I worked really hard this weekend, and this is what is left of the stuff I need to plant.  I also have some extra nasturtiums to plant (not spitfire) that aren't in this picture.  I am trying to get everything I've started or bought in the ground before my dad comes to visit.  I was SOOO involved in trying to get my garden ready this weekend that I totally forgot yesterday was the day to do my nasturtium post.  I am not only getting caught up on gardening, but caught up on blogging.  I finish teaching at school this week on Thursday, so after that I should be able to get back in my summer pattern of blogging every couple of days...which is more fun for me and everybody that reads.  Thanks everyone for their patience while I have been getting things done.

Here are some spitfires I planted a few days ago when I brought my brugmansia out. I am hoping that the nasturtiums will get big and clumpy and cover the soil and shade it, because this brugmansia dries out quickly.  Sometimes I have to water it 2 times a day in the summer.  I think at least one of these is another variety of climbing nasturtium that I saved the seeds from last summer, a jewel-toned one.

Unfortunately, the brugmansia gets upset VERY easily.  It drops its leaves every time I bring it outside.  It is shocked by the sudden increase in light.  It would be better to harden it off a little and let it get used to the light, but the thing is so heavy it is hard to move around.  It may look like a bunch of sticks, but it already has many little leaf buds forming all over it.  In no time it will have beautiful nasturtium spilling over the edges of the pot and huge leaves and hopefully beautiful cream-colored trumpet flowers hanging down from the top.

This year I bought a large whiskey-barrel planter and put wheels on the bottom.  I planted several red/orange canna bulbs in the middle, which you can see poking up.  Around the middle are yellow marigolds and red/purple flowering kale.  Finally I put spitfire around the edges so it will spill down the side.  It should be a gorgeous display of different kinds of foliage and reds/oranges/yellows/purples by late summer.  I can't wait!

This is a planting you saw on my last post.  One of the seedlings I transplanted out died, so I added a few of the ones I started outside in long planting boxes to fill it in.  They are still small, but the heat is really helping everything take off in my garden. 

I planted more of the pretty flowering kale as a companion for the nasturtiums that will grow on the gate. One thing I have noticed when germinating all the seeds is that nasturtiums definitely do better when started outdoors. I start mine in a long box, and then transfer them to whatever spot I wanted.  Even doing that, the quality of the growth and health of the outdoors ones was very noticeable compared to the indoors ones.  Besides the spitfire, I started 3 other kinds of nasturtium.  I mentioned the jewel-toned climbing kind, the other two are just regular clumping kinds, peach melba and mahogany.  The peach melba has the most lovely bluish foliage. 

These you saw last month as well.  They are really starting to take off.  You might notice there are little tiny holes in some of the leaves.  I believe this is due to sawfly larvae.  I have them all over my roses, and I had to use some neem oil, but a friend turned me on to this 'spinosad' stuff.  It is a natural bacteria that kills the sawfly larvae, but doesn't kill beneficial insects like ladybugs.  I am excited to get some and try it, because the more organic, the better. 

 The planter is getting some company as we go along.

Also up front of the house, I cleared some grass to plant zinnias.  Around the edges of the this bed, I planted a different kind of kale, some bunny grass, diamonte, and some of those regular mounding nasturtiums, since the spitfire would snake all over the place here. 

In the bottom of my tippy pot planter, I put a nasturtium start I got at the master gardener sale in the bottom.  It has pretty yellow flowers.  It is on its way to spilling over. 

I put a few spitfire farther up. 

This is the sort of finished project.  There is a little bar sticking out of the top, but DH is going to saw that off for me.  I had a lot of trouble making this work for some reason, and I was nervous about it falling over, even with sinking the pole so deep in the ground, so I have a little 'crutch' just for insurance.  It ought to look really neat once everything fills out.  Besides several nasturtium, I have 2 kinds of petunias in there, as well as some other trailing plants that I have forgotten the names for.  Anyways, that is the update on my spitfire seedlings.  By next month, I should have enough flowers and leaves to start eating them.  I have a couple of really interesting recipes in the works to share once I can start harvesting.  As always, I am so grateful to Renee's Garden for providing us with this opportunity.

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

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