Saturday, June 2, 2012

Writing Camp Begins June 4!

Hope you stay tuned for a new season of gardening with Jacquie and friends. I've joined a Writer's Camp with Kate Messner; she has invited teachers and librarians from all around the world to join in on a summer of writing. My gardens have long been my muse. I look forward to sharing with so many others and am excited about what's ahead.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Butterfly Moment

Listened to a butterfly expert give a talk to a small audience of Milbridge Library goers. I realized again how much I respect these creatures that I often don't notice lighting on a daisy or a cluster of milkweed flowers. But jeez, they're remarkable. Did you know the monarch butterfly lays only one egg per leaf on the milkweed plant. Somehow she knows the newly hatched young will eat the egg casing first and then find the leaf to eat. Any unhatched relative would be eaten by that firstborn. Interesting. The expert reminded us of the defenses butterflys and moths have... they eyes on upper or lower wings trick birds into thinking they're about to feast of the body. But alas, they clip the wing and the "eye" decoy, and many butterflies survive.

The butterfly guy travels to Mexico during the month of November which holds special meaning for many Catholics there. All Souls DAy commemorates the day many believe the souls of lost ones are closest to them in the year. The ancient Aztecs believed spirits of dead ones would come back as monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. Every year around this holiday, monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico and are greeted as spirits.

I'd love to see this happening. Hope your garden is full of these souls and I for one will step up on my resolve to plant more for them...milkweek, butterfly bush, bee balm, etc.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friendship Rose

This climbing rose would struggle in my garden were it not for the place it grows. Planted between the garage and main house, it is shielded from the north winter winds. The noon day and afternoon sun beat down on it from the other direction. It's hot hot hot, like a micro climate where it grows. I feel like I cheated Maine weather with this one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jack in the Beanstalk sunflowers

Jack and the Beanstalk sunflowers are racing toward the sun and they'd best get a move on. I purchased these seeds from Pinetree Seeds Company located in Maine and have high hopes. Why...because I've underplanted pole beans around them. So grow, grow, grow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What do sunflowers, polebeans, and cukes have in common?

Somewhat of a trick question really. I purchased Jack and the Beanstalk sunflowers from Pinetree Seeds this spring and plan to use these 9foot towers as the base for the pole beans and cukes. I've long believed plants fare better when they are matched to companions. I might have a challenge keeping all these plants happy with plenty of water and fertilizer because these are heavy feeders. Maybe a soaker hose will do the trick.

Another great sunflower is the Teddy Bear which I grew for the first time last year. My sister turned me on to this variety a few summers ago. They grow to about 5 feet in my gardens but hers grew much taller in the desert sun of eastern Washington. I loved them and the bees were in heaven. The neat feature is the side shoots that are all over these stalks and each produces 3 more flowers. Teddy Bear sunflowers are aptly named as they have a thick dense texture which is produced with a seemingly infinite number of petals. The traditional center clusters of flowers are not visible on the Teddy Bear...just a endless array of yellow petals. You really have to see these to understand their unique appearance.

So the cukes, beans and sunflowers will grow together this summer. A shot of my brother's compost will surely be appreciated! Plant a row for the hungry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Impatiens, Delphinium, and Cukes

That's right, I did type "cukes" because you can germinate those seeds in February and eat cukes in June. I recommend you plant the seeds in a good sized pot because you will not be transplanting these fussy seedlings. I buy straight eights but any cuke will work and I sow about 8 seeds per planter. Cover the whole deal with saran wrap and find a warm, draft free surface to allow these newbies a chance to germinate. The top of the fridge works but a germination table, which my son built for me, has served me well for 2o years. Will post later.

I love delphiniums and rather than spend $15 on a plant from the nursery, I purchase seeds which will present me with a full tray of 8 flats of these and the most giant the variety, the better I like them. These fine seeds need an early start. Fill your seedling pack with a light planting mix, NOT potting soil, and water it down. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the mix, press lightly with the flat of your finger tips, and cover with saran wrap. These will need a warm, light area too.

Impatiens are tiny tiny seeds so handle these like delphinium but check the seed package. Some varieties like a dark germination condition so you may have to cover the tray with the saran wrap and a damp towel for a week or so.

Never let your seedlings dry out. Never. They will be history. Water from the bottom. No need to fertilize seedlings for a while because Mother Nature has provided all the nourishment it needs for a couple of weeks after germination and then only a kiss of fertilizer in the water.

Have a green time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Receiving my White Flower Farm catalog in the mail is as good as opening a gift from a best friend.  I've been requesting my copy for over 20 years and here's why...

Many of us love to garden and share our experiences.  Well, have you ever stumbled on pronouncing the plant names correctly?  This catalog is a treasure of information on each plant and the editors provide pronunciation info.  Nothing worse than being corrected by another gardener when you discuss your latest peony, right?

Another biggie...amazing photographs which offer ideas for planting combinations and these are breathtaking ideas.  Since the company is Connecticut based, the plants are more adaptable to Maine gardens.  These plants can be pricey but always read the welcome letter on the inside front cover;  the owners share best buys and the reasons why.  ONe year I purchased Casablanca lily bulbs by the dozens and I owed it to the insights they provided about the bumper year a farmer somewhere on the planet had so the surplus brought the prices down to a mere $1 per bulb.  A steal!

Get yourself online and order your copy.  Sure, you can order online but this is a magazine and you will find yourself picking it up over and over.  I keep mine handy to my journal so that I can jot ideas down for future planting purchases and placement ideas.  

I highly recommend their begonia bulbs and oriental lily collections.  Heaven!