Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trellis, Morning Glory, Cleome, Etc.

Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that those green sprouts don't look like miniature daylilies for the very good reason that they aren't daylily seedlings.  They must be sprigs of grass.  Oh well.  It did seem a little too good to be true.

I dug out the true daylily seedlings and put them into pots.  They'll be easier to keep track of, this way-- not to mention the weeding.  There aren't a lot of them, but it was (all together, now) a learning experience, and if even five of them make it to maturity, it's not a total loss.

To soften the blow, I ordered another batch of seeds-- from a different seller this time.  I've seen this particular seller mentioned by name as a good source of quality daylily seeds, and in any case, it's nice to get some variety. 

The new seeds should arrive by the middle of next week, so in the meantime, I'll try to get the pots ready for them so they can go right into the garden and have as much growing time as possible.  That's right: I've learned my lesson, so pots it is.  It might take some work to keep them watered, but better to water them a couple times a day than to fight the weeds on their home turf (so to speak) or have the seeds washed away entirely! 

All these seeds, by the way, are unknown hybrids.  We won't know what they look like until they bloom-- and they may not bloom for two or even three years!  No instant gratification, this project, but it's a fairly cheap way to get quite a few interesting daylilies.  (I'm hoping our germination rate with this batch will be much better than last time.  Avoiding flooding should help.) 

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Here's what the trellis for the passionflower vine looked like back in mid-April:

Trellis for Passionflower

And here's what it looks like now, at the end of May:

Passionflower Vine Progress

Slowly but surely, the vine is filling in the gaps.
Here's from the other side:

Passionflower Vine Progress

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I separated a very small bit of English dogwood (a.k.a. sweet mock orange) from the mother plant last autumn or winter and put it next to the bay window.  It's put on a lot of growth this spring!  (It's finished blooming for the year, but I like it without flowers, too, though I've seen some describe it as "relatively nondescript".  (g))

English Dogwood

The mother plant has a lot of dead wood and needs pruning.  I may just cut it all the way back to the ground. (I've read that that's the best move if it's died back too far.)

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We have a decent number of cleome that came up this year, and a few are already blooming.




Ever since I listened to The Day of the Triffids, that's what cleome bring to mind.  They're so tall and strange-looking.  It doesn't seem so far-fetched that they might be able to lift up their roots and walk around, if they had a strong enough motivation.  ;o)

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And finally, a few photos of the Grandpa Ott morning glories:

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory

Grandpa Ott Morning Glory

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Garden Photos

Some of the vegetables look like they're doing well.  Others, not...

Doing Well:
-- tomatoes (so far, at least)
-- chives
-- bell peppers
-- mesclun (but it's kind of odd-tasting to me... I prefer plain, sweet lettuce)
-- radishes

Doing So-So:
-- onions (looks like they're mostly just growing the greens)
-- bunching onions (ok, but a little slow)
-- squash & zucchini (not sure what's wrong, but they seem a little sad)
-- okra (think they need more sun, maybe)
-- Swiss chard (not growing much)

Not Doing As Well As Hoped:
-- broccoli (one has bolted)
-- lettuce (not enough of it coming up, and what does is a bit limp)
-- cucumbers (just sitting there, looking pitiful)
-- snow peas (no surprise there, but some of them are hanging on)

Oh well.  I guess we'll chalk up the failures as a learning experience.  ;o)  (Isn't that what we're supposed to say when we've messed up something?  At least it's not quite so obnoxious as that odious "teachable moment".)

There's probably still time to plant more squash, zucchini, and okra.  (Maybe the chard, too?)  I'm not sure, but I think all of those like our hot summers, and I think I planted some squash fairly late, last year.  Working up the enthusiasm might be difficult, though.  It's so hot outside, already, and yet people persist in talking about how "nice" the weather is.  Pfpt!  Nice?!

I can't believe it's going to be even worse in a month's time.  I know it will be, but I don't really believe it.  I refuse to believe it can be worse.  It's some sort of defense mechanism, like women forgetting the pain of childbirth so that they're willing to have more kids. (g)

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Here are photos of some of the more successful (so far) vegetable plants...

Cherry tomatoes:

Cherry Tomatoes

"Regular" tomatoes:


Bell peppers:

Bell Peppers

We've harvested a few of the cherry tomatoes.  I tasted just one, and it wasn't my favorite thing, to be honest.  I'm not a huge lover of raw tomatoes as it is, though I'll eat them on a hamburger/sandwich or diced into a taco.  Generally, though, I like my tomatoes cooked.  This one was a bit tart for my taste, though Donald thought they were ok.  I've been reading about things you can do to sweeten tomatoes.  Some suggest mulching with grass clippings... adding Epsom salts... or even rabbit droppings.  Well, we have all three.  Not sure which I'll try.

The bell peppers look pretty good.  I looked up the variety online (Bonnie Green Bell Pepper), and they're supposed to reach 4.5 x 4 inches.  Still a way to go, I guess, but I may pick them earlier than that, if it looks like something's messing with them.  (If these peppers do well, I might want to try more peppers next year.  Jalapenos seem interesting, but I just don't know if we'd use/freeze enough to justify growing them... Of course, we could always pass the extras on to someone else, if we had a bumper crop.)

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The lantana is blooming again!  (I'm glad I put it outside the fence, where I can enjoy it without worrying that the dogs will hurt themselves by eating it.  I just hope it gets enough sun where it is.  I'll have to keep an eye on it.)

They really are interesting-looking blooms.  I love the way they change color and end up with that progression from yellow in the middle to fuchsia on the edges.  They remind me of fireworks. 



And see how neat the flowers look right before they open?


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The passionflower vine is growing nicely.  It sneaked up on me.  I hadn't noticed it growing much at all, but comparing to the photo I took right after we planted it, the change is obvious.  (I'll try to remember to take a photo of the whole trellis soon.)

We're enjoying a fair number of flowers (no more than two at a time, yet, though)-- and these springy tendrils that bring back memories of the passionflower vine Mom grew on the fence at the old house:

Passionflower (Leaf & Tendril)

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A couple different types of daylilies are blooming at the moment.

Earlier this year, I divided a large clump of this variety, and now I think every division is blooming:


I don't have photos of the other variety, because the blooms were damaged by the thorns of the rose bush they grew beneath.  I transplanted them this morning, and with any luck, the shock won't ruin the remaining blooms.  (It had to be done, eventually, anyway.) Here's a photo of the same plant from an earlier year, I think.

Still on the subject of daylilies... Remember that we planted the daylily seeds right before a massive rain and that I was concerned that the seeds had possibly washed away?  I've been trying to weed around the few green sprouts that I thought might be daylily seedlings that survived the deluge.  (It's not an easy task!)

I've done enough weeding in this yard to be familiar with most of our weeds.  I recognized some of them right away.  However, I've never really seen a teeny-tiny daylily before, and looking them up online was only slightly helpful.  There are some of these so-called daylily seedlings that I'm 100% sure are daylilies.  Then there are some that I was fairly sure were daylilies.  They grow differently, but they don't look like any of the baby weeds that I know by sight... and they seem too thick and "fleshy" to be plain old grass... But I'm not sure.

Today, I came across a bunch of the maybe-daylily-seedlings popping up  outside the daylily "nursery-bed"!  They all seem to be in an area where they could conceivably have washed during the Great Flood.  Ever since spotting them, I've been waffling between, "YAY!  More of our seeds came out!  We'll be rolling in daylilies by July! ;o) (Except now some of them are growing way too close together, which isn't ideal...)" and "*sigh* Those must not be seedling daylilies... All this time, I've been carefully nurturing some random weed/grass."

I'm still not sure.  Trying not to get my hopes up, but that never works completely.  You can't help but hope.  Well, it wasn't a huge investment in time or money, so even if we get just a few plants out of it, that'll be ok.

Here's an example of one that I'm just about 100% sure is a daylily, because it's growing in a pot (fewer weeds to contend with) and it just looks like a miniature daylily, minus the flowers:

Daylily Seedling

And here's one of the "possibly a daylily" seedlings.  This one also happens to be growing in a pot, but see how differently it grows?  I suppose slightly different growth habits might be possible, among the varieties and types in that seed mix.  That's what I was telling myself, before I saw the many little plants that bear such a striking resemblance to this one. 

Is This a Daylily Seedling?

Fingers crossed that when they get bigger, their daylily-ness will be confirmed and we will, indeed, be rollin' in the lilies.  ;o)  (Of course, I've heard and read that it can by years before you actually see flowers from daylilies grown from seed.  The suspense!)

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Few New Flowers

New(er) flowers making appearances around the garden...

Daisy Gardenia

The "daisy gardenia" is blooming.  It has the same wonderful (and powerful) fragrance as a regular gardenia (I think), but the blooms look different and it stays relatively compact.  This one is more or less in the same spot as our full-size gardenia was, before we moved it.  (The other gardenia is doing well in its new home in a back corner of the yard.  Looks like it should bloom before too much longer.)

When I was looking up the daisy gardenia, I saw that it is also known as "cape jasmine".  In fact, it looks like "cape jasmine" and "cape jessamine" are alternative names for all types of gardenia.  "Gardenia" seems a little bit boring through over-use. "Jessamine" feels like a very old-fashioned name for a girl.  I prefer "cape jasmine", which suggests exotic locales, spice-scented sea breezes, and extravagantly colorful sunsets.  I doubt I'll remember to use that name, though, and more people would recognize "gardenia", anyway.

"Cape jasmine?  I've never heard of that before.  What does it look like?"
"Oh... It's... it's basically a... Well, it's a gardenia."
"Oh, a gardenia."
And you'll sense that they're politely refraining from asking why you didn't just call it a gardenia to begin with.  (g)

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I don't know if it's a difference in varieties or the weather or something we did, but whereas last year's blue morning glories didn't put out any flowers until late summer, the 'Granpa Ott' morning glories are already blooming!  In May!  There aren't tons of flowers,yet, but then again, the vines have only barely gotten started.  The flowers so far seem significantly smaller than those of the 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories we grew last year-- and from the little I've read, it sounds like that's to be expected.

They're a really deep purple-- kind of like the purple petunias we grew last year.  Here's a slightly out-of-focus photo of the first bloom we saw:

Early Grandpa Ott Morning Glory!

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And here's an even blurrier photo of verbena:


I don't think I've ever planted verbena before.  The blooms are pretty, but I'm curious to see how they hold up.  They were a little leggy by the time I planted them...  Probably ought to trim them down...

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Other recent(-ish) plantings:  
-- Lantana.  I remember Mom used to have one in the old yard, by the natural gas tank.  It was a good-sized bush, with flowers ranging in color from yellow to orange to pink.  I remembered it, recently, and I thought it might be fun to have one, here.  (They attract butterflies.)  But then I read that certain parts of them can be dangerous if pets (or people) ingest them, so to be safe, I planted it outside the fence. (I know that lots of plants already in the yard have poisonous parts, but... ~shrug~  At least I know that none of our dogs have poisoned themselves on those plants, yet.)  It's pretty small right now, and there are no blooms at the moment.  I'll be curious to see how it grows and if it can survive our winters. (It may not be the exact same type Mom grew.)

-- More seeds.  A mixture of cosmos, California poppy, zinnias-- and also some marigold seeds saved from last year's plants.  Many little seedlings have already popped up.  I hope some of them will make it!  If they do well, I'll plan to do more next year.   I'd already planted some of those marigold seeds, earlier in the year, and they're now blooming.  I was a little disappointed when the first blooms looked kind of small, sad, and insignificant.  I wondered if maybe these were plants that simply don't do well from home-harvested seed.  But no!  Now that they've had a little more time, they're looking great!  I'll definitely harvest more marigold seeds, this year.  Well worth the (small) effort for the satisfaction of growing something from your own stock. 

--  Ghost plant.  This succulent has not been doing very well for a few years, now.  It's just been barely hanging on, though I'm not sure what it needs that it's not getting.  I'm trying to get a few new plants started from dropped "leaves".  Succulents are really interesting plants.  I'd hate to lose this one entirely. 

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Other things:
-- We need to take photos of the peppers.  They're really growing!  

-- Also need to photograph the garage progress.  The storage is nearly completed.  Just a few finishing touches, then we'll be done.  (Hm.  Well, except for figuring out where everything goes...)  We put up a system to hold (most of) the garden tools, too, to keep them tidy.  I'm very happy about that!

--  We may do some burning this weekend.  There are piles and piles of trimmings waiting.  

-- I've been gathering pine straw for mulch.  There's still a need for much, much more.  Mucho mulcho.  ;o)  Still, every load helps!

--  I need to remember, for next year, that the impatiens I planted this year are doing better than the ones from last year.  I did a little research this time and decided to plant them directly in the ground instead of in pots.  At least a couple of them are doing really well (by my standards, at least), and though I think we lost one of the six to puppy-attack, I think they're generally performing better than last year.  If they continue to do well, we should try them again, next year.  I probably wouldn't even have gotten any this year, if Donald hadn't wanted them. 

--  Of the coleus we planted, there is a marked difference in hardiness among the three varieties we got.  The ones that are red with light green edging are doing best.  The darker red/burgundy ones are doing pretty well, still.  The ones that are mottled red and green aren't doing as well.  (One was eaten whole by something.)  So, mixed results, but not too bad. 

--  The begonias are wonderful performers, again, this year.  Definitely want to get more of them for next year.  Or maybe I'll see about keeping some of them over the winter.  (If that's possible with begonias.  I know you can with some annuals, by taking cuttings.) 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Take Us Back"

...Just because it came up on my mp3-player again this afternoon, and I enjoyed it. :o)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vegetable Beds Update

Between the last post and this one (early last week?), we got a ton of rain.  I can't recall the exact numbers, but somewhere around 11 or 12 inches, I think, in about a 24-hour period.

We're lucky that most of our yard drains pretty quickly-- due more to sloping than to soil quality (because we have our share of heavy clay), but we'll take what we can get.  ;o)

We didn't have too much standing water, but there were a few puddles and maybe one spot of very slight erosion (on the corner of the pad where the grass and even weeds haven't really taken hold).  The worst damage (evident so far, at least) was to some newly planted daylily seeds.  I'm afraid that some of them washed around a bit.  I tried to repair the damage, but I'm a little skeptical.  If we try again next year, I'll consider putting them in pots, instead of directly in the ground.  (Might've done that this year, but it was already kind of late in the season, and I thought they might be prone to drying out in pots.)

Here's the place we planted the seeds.  (A handful did get put into pots.  I'm hoping we'll get at least a few plants to sprout!  I'd love to have more varieties of daylilies...)

Daylily Planting Ground

The twine is to keep the dogs from digging up the bare soil.  Once they've had a chance to spout and grow a little, I'll put down some mulch and remove the ugly protective barrier.

That's the night-blooming jasmine in the back.  We're still waiting for it to bloom.  I think it's more likely in mid-to-late summer.

The terra-cotta pots have morning glories in them.  Our first batch of morning glories all withered away.  (I think a late cold spell killed them.  Evidently the plastic pots we covered them with wasn't enough protection.)  This new batch is doing much better.  They're the Grandpa Ott variety, which is a really dark, rich purple.  Should be pretty, if we can get them to bloom.  (Last year, our morning glories bloomed very late in the season.)

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Here are the latest photos of our raised vegetable beds. First, the original bed:

Raised Vegetable Beds

Raised Vegetable Beds

Above: Snowpeas, chives, broccoli. 

Raised Vegetable Beds

Yellow squash and zucchini. 

Then the new bed:

Raised Vegetable Beds

Dill, okra (in need of thinning), and tomatoes.  (Also some barely-visible lettuce and bunching onion seedlings-- and a couple of pepper seedlings, in the back, from seeds.  We'll see if they ever catch up to the larger pre-started plants we bought later...)

Raised Vegetable Beds

Tomatoes.  (Donald has since put cages around all of them.  We want to remember to do that earlier next year, to make the job easier.  This time, we simply didn't have the cages on hand, and the tomatoes grew fast.)

Raised Vegetable Beds

More tomatoes.  (And bunching onion and chive seedlings in the small cells up front.)

Raised Vegetable Beds

Tomatoes, peppers, bunching onions in front, regular onions in back.  You have to really look to see them in this photo, but there are tiny, cute little baby peppers!  (A few early-- but still green-- cherry tomatoes are a bit easier to spot.)

Raised Vegetable Beds

Tons of chives and onions.  Swiss chard, mesclun, loose-leaf lettuce, and radishes.  (The "Black Seeded Simpson" lettuce is getting a slow start.  Though I've read that lettuce seed can last two years, the leftovers from last year underperformed, so I've re-sown that row with fresh seed.  It's coming up a bit sporadically.  The mesclun looks ready to start eating, though, so that's good!)

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I happened to read about "kudzu bugs" earlier this week-- something I don't recall hearing about before.  They're another alien invader from Asia.  They made their first appearance in Georgia in 2009, and they're spreading quickly throughout regions where kudzu thrives.  Unfortunately, they don't eat only kudzu (wouldn't that be nice!), but will make a meal of a variety of things.  They're very fond of legumes-- soybeans, for instance.  Actually, from what I've read, it sounds like they'll eat all sorts of plants.  Oh, and they're stink bugs.  And they can invade your home during the colder seasons.  And they can leave stains if squashed.  And some people have allergic reactions to their "juices".  (Gross.)

Well, this afternoon, I spotted some bugs on one of our "Little Gem" magnolias.  "Hm.  That looks familiar..."

Kudzu Bugs

Yep.  I'm pretty sure those are kudzu bugs.

*sigh*  Another darned bug to deal with, as if we didn't already have enough in this humid little bug-haven.  (~soft sobbing~)

Oh well.  I guess we can count on our abundant bugs as a reliable (if undesirable) food source, come the zombie apocalypse.  Maybe save the stinkers for last, though...

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On a prettier, less bug-juicy note, here are the latest photos of flowers around the yard:

Hover over the photo to get arrows, if you want to click through to other photos. :o)