Friday, August 8, 2014

Sunshine!

I love my garden in the bright morning sun, even if it makes for not the best photography.









Saturday, August 2, 2014

Getting Rid of Blackspot

When the kids and I came home in late June, two of our young rose bushes were covered in blackspot. This picture below actually shows a new spot coming on, but when we first arrived the spots were all over most of the leaves, and many of them were yellowing and falling off.


One of the roses was nearly dead. We had already lost our gorgeous Joseph’s Coat rose over the winter and I wasn’t about to lose any more, if I could help it. Lily helped me make a fungicidal soap out of 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons of organic soap and one gallon of water, to spray on the leaves of the roses. She and Jasper also wanted to help spray it on. In fact they wanted to spray it on everything in the garden. 


Not only were they super helpful, but they also added a bit of flair to their outfits or uniforms, as they were calling them. Jasper, of course had many different outfits, and Lily fashioned her own sort of spray bottle.  I love how one of Jasper’s outfits includes a sweater of Lily’s from when she was about nine-months-old.





The fungicide has been working great on the rose we used it on. I picked off most of the leaves with blackspot then sprayed the fungicide on the rest of the leaves every few days for the last month.  I also continued to pick off any new leaves that developed black spot, and it looks gorgeous now!  




I sprayed the puny sick rose at first but then I decided to prune it way down, fertilize, compost, and water the heck out of it because it looked like it needed more than just fungicide. It needed some serious pampering. Since it looked close to death I didn’t think my overzealous care could hurt it. Thankfully it is coming back strong with all kinds of new healthy growth all over it.  



And of course the kids are now addicted to spray bottles.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Playing with Snails


I think my kids are obsessed with snails.  For years we’ve been going for walks in our neighborhood, usually the same direction or path (to avoid some random off-leash dogs). One particular block has a lot of retaining walls that are often covered in snails especially during the rainy days. In fact, when they know we are going for a walk, Lily and Jasper yell, “Can we go to the snail wall?”

But if you want to see their obsession in action, come visit on a rainy day after a long hot dry spell. Yesterday after breakfast they both threw on their rain boots and coats and went splashing outside to find snails, because as Lily said with a look of glee (obsession) in her eyes, “On a rainy day there are usually a ton of snails!”


So we went snail hunting and as the three of us discovered them hiding in the strawberry plants and hanging onto the sides of planters or crawling up the trees, Lily and Jasper collected them in their pots. They played with them for almost an hour as the rain poured down on them.



This morning, right after breakfast, Lily was out there playing with them again. Poor snails, they don't stand a chance in our yard.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recovering My Garden

Leaving a garden for six weeks in the spring definitely means you’ll come home to lots of work. We sure did!  Aphids, snails, some roses covered in black spot, some roses nearly dead, and not a lot of good growing going on. The broccoli was struggling. The kale didn’t make it, the arugula had already gone to seed and flower; at first glance it seemed like anything thriving in the garden was weeds. Including the six-foot-tall bindweed that had taken over a patch of our backyard. Actually the entire backyard was a tangled up mess of weeds and strawberry plants and my Dahlias trying to bust through. Oh and some random lilac shoots climbing out of the stone planter.


Sunflowers and garlic were thankfully growing strong, and some of my roses, my favorite rugosas and old English rose bush were covered in healthy, lovely scented blooms. Plus there were bunches of strawberries left.  I could come home to roses and strawberries any day.


I tackled some of the smaller tasks first like getting all the weeds out of the raised beds and getting our beans, yellow squash and onions in along with some more arugula, although it’s been so hot and dry for us here that I’m not sure this new crop of arugula will make it either.

Then I got Greg to help me in the backyard where the bindweed had completely covered over the raised beds in back. Ever since we built the beds in front, I’ve halfway ignored the ones in back, sometimes planting flowers or late summer/fall crops, but this year it just looked like a crazy, scary jungle. 



I was so smug when we left Georgia and its KUDZU behind all those years ago. Uhhhgg! Bindweed is my own form of Kudzu! As in, it’s a complete fast growing menace, climbing over and killing everything in its wake, and nearly impossible to eradicate. 

Along with all the other projects we have going on inside our 101-year-old house, we’d like to do something fun after we clean up all the bindweed and rip out the old rotten wood from the beds. Keep your fingers crossed! (Or wave your magic wand for me and magically redo our entire backyard!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Garden Anarchy

Weird things have been happening in our garden this year, weird bad things.  It's like the garden is staging a revolt. Maybe it knows the kids and I are going to be gone for six weeks and it's angry!

First there are our sugar snap peas, or rather, lack of them. Lily and I started them inside on a tray between two damp paper towels the way we do successfully every year. Not only did most of them fail to open and sprout, but they all turned moldy.  That has never happened to us before.  I bought a different kind of seed this year, I wonder if that could be it.  After our moldy starts we planted over a dozen seeds directly into the soil outside and this is what we have right now.


It's been almost a month and only four tiny sprouts are even trying to grow.  They are joined by a tiny tight mess of lettuce which we didn't plant.

The strawberry plants did not have a good winter; one whole row is practically decimated.


Luckily we had lots of runners popping up all over the garden so I transplanted a few into the strawberry bed and hopefully they will flourish.

The weird winter also killed my two favorite Spanish lavender bushes.  Both of them completely dead. I've never lost a lavender bush before either.


Last year I planted a dozen beautiful fringed leafed tulips on either side of our front gate. One side looks like this,


the other looks like this.


I have no idea where the bulbs went, perhaps some underground creature. 

My peonies have almost no blooms starting, and we won't even talk about what's going on with my radishes




But worst of all, two of my biggest rose bushes have tent worms!!!!!!!!



Goodbye for now garden. I'll be back in June!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's All About the Sun


Let's talk about the sun. We have had so much cold hard rain this winter and spring, the kind of relentless chilly monsoons that make you want to keep your head down, not lift it up like you do when you want to feel the sprinkles of a warm summer storm. The kind of rain we’ve been having is the kind that saturates the earth, making it dangerous, dangerous enough to come crashing down and bury people.  

I know we need the rain for our gardens, our land, our lives, but right now we need a break from the rain. We need the sun. 


And oh how we love the sun!  We are just like our gorgeous little sprouts, reaching towards, stretching for, basking in the sun.









When it’s late September I’ll probably be crying for some rain to drench my parched plants, but for now, for us on our tiny spec of land and, I suspect, for many of you out there, it’s really only about the sun right now.  Bring! It! On!



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roses


A couple of weeks ago, I thought I picked my last roses for the year. It felt like we'd suddenly gone from summer to winter, skipping over fall completely, with the chilly pouring rain and cold nights. Part of me wanted to leave the last few blooms in the yard, uncut, to kid myself into thinking that the lovely heady scent they perfume my yard with wouldn't be gone just yet. My selfish side wanted to put them in a vase and have them inside with me to ward off the winter.  My selfish side won out.  


If there's one thing I'm selfish about in the garden it's my roses. Not selfish in the sense that I won't share them with anyone, just in the sense that I 'm the one who takes care of them, talks to them, adores them. I soak up their essence every day I can.

My rugosas and my very old English rose bush start blooming in late March or April and they bloom all summer long producing the most wonderful spicy, musky rose blooms. Their fragrance is what wakes my up in the spring after our cold, soggy winters. After I'm certain I just can't handle one more day of that wet chill. Picture yourself walking outside into the garden in the morning with a light rain or leftover dew settled on the plants, when the roses begin blooming, and oh the musky rose scent, it's intoxicating. It can stop me in my tracks. It's my antidepressant.



And I don't have to do much to these rose bushes; I fertilize them and deadhead them and prune a bit, but even when I completely neglect them, they grow and flower and make me happy.  Their scent surrounds my garden and  breathes life into my senses all summer long.  And so much of what gardening is for me is about scent.

I also have one Joseph's Coat Rose, which isn't the healthiest rose in my yard, but is hands down my favorite looking bloom. It begins as almost a dark reddish orange...



and as it opens up becomes more orangey-peachy-pink with hints of yellow.  





It's scent changes too from spicy to passion-fruity.

My dear friend, Ingrid gave me two roses to plant for my birthday this past February, a Touch of Class...



with a lovely spicy balsam scent, 

and a White Licorice Floribunda which smelled sweet and sugary, like vanilla.




I love the scent of roses in my garden, so unlike most store-bought roses, but this year I was surprised when the kids started to enjoy them too, how different each one smells, the way the bushes change and grow, how fast black spot can spread through a plant. Plus, all the rose bushes attract ladybugs, snails and weird looking aphids, and their thorns are amazing!  



One of my favorite things about the garden this year was watching Lily and Jasper decide how perfectly lovely it is to cut a few roses every day, put them in a vase, and set them at the dinner table to enjoy while we're drawing or eating family dinner.  


Our family dinners can be absolute disasters sometimes trying to get Jasper to eat what we make, but the ritual of sitting down together is one I hope he will grow to love, and I like to think this summer helped a little bit as he always looked forward to putting a vase of roses at each meal.