Primary Earth-friendly Gardening Tenents:

*Tolerate minimal damage to plants and lawn from pests. *Build and maintain healthy soil by using compost and natural soil amendments. *Use chemicals as a last resort. *Use native plants when possible. They are adapted to the climate, soil and area pests. *Attract Beneficial Insects to increase pollination and decrease harmful pests. *Conserve water by using responsible watering methods.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Garden Center Visitors

Each year it seems we attract new friends to the garden center. This little guy is looking a bit bloated after consuming two bags of koi food. And I suspect, from his size, that momma and siblings may be nearby.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Phenology: temperature and day length in the garden

Just two years ago I took a photo in front of my azalea in full bloom in March, the past two years this same azalea has not bloomed until May. 

You may have heard the saying, "when the forsythia bloom it is time to prune (roses, specifically)."

For centuries farmers have taken their cues from nature. Watching these natural indicators has evolved into the use of soil themometers, greenhouses, and cold frames to extend the natural growing window.

One of the first things I learned after moving from Zone 8 to Zone 5 was that I now have 100 fewer growing days. Wow. That has a lot of impact on seed selection and planting dates, as well as being more aware of days to maturity.

Peas, onion sets and lettuce follow forsythia bloom, whether you are watching the bloom or the soil temperature for germination. 

Beets, carrots and chards follow your daffodils. And plant your bush beans following your apple blossoms. Peppers and eggplant may be transplanted out with your Iris blooms.

What cues from nature do you follow in your garden?  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Early Spring Zone 5

I have gained a new appreciation for bulbs here in Zone 5. In Zone 8 bulbs were often lost in the burst of Spring that presented an orchestra of colors in one maddening show following early rains. 

Here in Zone 5 Spring emerges so slowly, following months of snow and sub freezing temperatures. There is not only an excitement that builds in the gardener, but a deep anxiety tracking night time temperatures hovering at freezing with alerts for freeze and hard frost.  

Often bulbs emerge well before trees and shrubs break dormancy, waiting for the rain and welcome temperatures. Early bulbs push up through the still cold soils, and withstand those finally dustings of snow. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Looking Back: Garden Projects 2012

2012 was our first spring in the new home, new state, and new hardiness zone. As I look back I now know that the weather was a complete fluke. We completed a lot more projects than I remember. Most of these projects involved clearing and hardscaping.

There was no path from the driveway to the back door, so we added a walkway
We used 24" river rock pavers that would match the use of river rock in the overall plan. 
There was no usable patio space, so we deconstructed the old patio and reset a new patio in a more usable location. We reclaimed the sand from the old site, and initially reused the canopy frame. 

The new plan has the back deck, sidewalk along the house and new pathway from the driveway all intersecting near the new patio space to improve flow.

Frech drains were added along the west side of the house where we had observed overflow during storms.

Reclaimed wall stone created a planter to divide the living space from the kitchen garden. And a small sitting area and bird feeding station were added.

The drainage areas were covered with river rock.
We pulled the broken pieces in the sidewalk along the house and offset them to their original location.
Next we filled the area with river rock to connect the overall look with the drainage plan.

We cleared, we transplanted, we reclaimed materials all over the property.

Many of the materials reclaimed from other areas of the yard where then reused in the new plan.

The perennials were transplanted into the new plan.

We brought in river rock to fill in the french drains and border areas that needed additional drainage.
We brought in a topsoil compost mix to establish the kitchen garden.

Cuttings and starts filled pots, awaiting their new homes.
And soon the plan came together.