Saturday, March 31, 2007

Petunia's Cafe

Petunia's Hummingbird Cafe - Ornamental Cherry Blossom Breakfast
Petunia's Gardener Cafe - The best Saturday morning spot (view above)! Errr...sorry we didn't wait for you (coffee below).
While we're not sitting outside today, we have the same nice view of the trees from our inside table (the trees you can see behind the chairs in this summer shot, above, are the cherry trees).
A shot from the side in the sun with a little blue sky too. The rains have been hard on the blossoms this year. You can compare to last year, here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cloaking Catnip

I've noticed little catnip leaves working their way out of the ground. I'm not the only one that noticed... evidence says a certain gray shedding furball has also noticed. In order to give the catnip a fair chance of growing large enough to handle the kitty visitors, it's been cloaked!Ms. Emily, having a good roll last summer. The poor plant was pretty pathetic looking by the end of the summer. That's why I'm so happy to see the new leaves this year. Has anyone tried catnip tea?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hummingbird Feeder Follow-up

Here is little Nikko pondering what type of treats (for her) go in this funny dish. In this post, I commented about this feeder, and the KC MO Garden Guy asked me what kind it is. I have also tried different styles. This one is easily cleaned and it doesn't leak. This photo is the 16 oz size. The earlier posting was the 8 oz. which is a better match for the bird traffic here (though neither needs to be filled completely, so I use them both).

It is made by Aspects. I found it at a local store some time ago, but here is the webpage about it:
The nectar is one part sugar mixed with four parts boiling water. Dissolve, cool and pour in. Any nector I'm saving for the next clean nector replacement goes in the refrigerator.
To answer Julie's question posted in the comments, I've never used food coloring. This feeder is colorful enough! If you have a feeder without color, you could hang something bright with the feeder to help the hummers find it the first time. Once they find a good source, they'll remember it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Beware of Baby Tomato Tricks

Sweet little (tricky) tomato seedlings...

~March 3 - sown and soon sprouted.
~March 17 - inspired me to add a fluorescent light in the garage and they moved out with the other seedlings.
~March 22 - shivering, purple tomato seedlings come back inside (I think they held their breath to turn purple and get their way...)~March 24 - potted up in good potting soil, and a little kelp meal to see if that will help their phosphorus deficiency...

~March 25 - two came inside, one stayed out in the garage to see if it was just the lack of food or the low temperatures that was causing the purple.
~March 27 - the one lone baby in the garage is more purple this morning:
So now all three are snuggly tucked inside the house! We'll try again when it warms up more. At least the peas, broccoli and lettuce aren't complaining about life in the garage.

Reminds me of Emily, the stray cat that moved to our deck, then the patio, then the garage, now the house (but she still likes having her own room in the garage). Apparently, we're softies.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Welcome, Little Barn Guest

Always room in this barn. Heck, we might even turn the lights and music on for you. This female Rufous Hummingbird (I think) showed up in the barn last night. It was going to be a chilly night so Dear Husband wanted to be sure she had something to eat too. She didn't wait long to take him up on it. (this is the best hummingbird feeder - it's cleanable & doesn't leak!)
She kept flying around the ceiling, even though the doors were open. She'd land in one of the vent cut-outs and hang out there for a while, then fly around some more. We finally decided to leave the doors open a little and let her stay. Maybe she was our garden bird from last year (see photo here). I saw the first hummingbird of 2006 while the cherry trees were blooming so I've been on the watch for them.

Tonight, she seems to have moved on. Maybe she was just passing through and needed a spot to keep warm. After seeing the frost this morning, I didn't blame her.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Seeding-Round 3

It's the year for seed experiments for me. Last year was the first inside seeding I'd done in years. Those cute baby basil seedlings hooked me so I'm back for more this year. With one round of garden seeding and one round of inside seeding so far this year, here is the next round.
Angie posted about winter sowing here and here. I wondered if cool season varieties sown this way might be less inclined to grow so leggy, plus move more easily to the garden. I'd sow some directly in the garden under a cloche, except it is too wet to be digging in the beds and the sweet gardener might melt in the rain. So, these 4 containers have trials of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, Swiss chard, catnip and chamomile (both old seeds), nasturtiums and columbine. If my labels dissolve, this might be interesting to sort out later. Thanks for the great information, Angie. These are the latest seeds in the "oven" (the cabinet under the kitchen sink that is warmed by the heating vent). Tomatoes (current 3 seedling are just not enough), the basil from Germany that sprouted so well last year, spicy globe basil (grew beautifully in AL, we'll see about WA), and anise hyssop. I believe they all like warm spots for sprouting, but then will be happy in cooler spots as seedlings. I'm still using up the planting pellets I have so that's what's inside this box.

Next up: Baby tomatoes threaten to split if not transplanted immediately. Gardener complies.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring (Inside)

These are the Cherry Tree clippings I brought inside on Wednesday. Go here to see the limbs that I cut them from, laying on the ground where they have been laying for about a month. This is great! Blossoms in the house and I don't have to cut the living trees to have them. I'll be bringing in some fresh clippings tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Which way?

Which do you think is the path most followed? I pass this way quite often (on one of the paths) and always stop to look at it. In these spring days of being pulled/going in many directions, this photo came to mind. For those of you still seeing white, sorry I cannot find the snow version photo right now.

The rest of the story: The path less followed is the big path (for big feet). The little, well defined path...? It is from hundreds & hundreds of ant feet! I have to stop and watch them every time I'm on the big feet path.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pre-Spring Pause...

Here at Petunia's Garden, we'll welcome Spring soon, but not just yet. A little cool and gray today. The cherry trees out the kitchen window have a few early blossoms open but most are still wrapped up. Even the robin I can see sitting on the gate to the garden looks like (s)he's not ready for the party yet either.

This gardener is home early after a long dentist appointment, but not really up to accomplishing much. A good day to read my first Thompson & Morgan catalog that just arrived! Not to worry, we'll give Spring a worthy welcome soon.

More blossoms here, but there is something special about these.

They are on limbs cut from the trees a month ago! I clipped some branches and brought them inside to see if they'll open.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Garden Stars

First bloom of the Star Magnolia (hope that's right).

On Sunday afternoon, I did a little trimming & weeding around the pond, the patio and the shade bed under the cherry trees. Due to certain plants that came with the house, I'm always trying to figure out what should just be removed rather than maintained (i.e. somewhat invasive ground covers...). Sure, it looks better than nothing, but do nothing to control and it, and it will take over. I'd rather weed the garden than edit landscaping. But, that's enough of that for now.

Other garden stars kept me company on my trimming job. Frog was hiding in some of the pond overgrowth and gave me threatening looks before finally jumping into the little pond. Follow this link to see frog last year (& what he also looked like on Sunday). I did leave some overgrowth for him and I'm happy to say he (and another) are out there singing tonight. Last year (see that link above again), it was in late May when frog and a friend had a singing competition.
Of course, Emily kept me company too. This picture is late in the afternoon when she was hoping to convince me that we were done.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lights, Lettuce, Tomatoes!

What did the tomato inspire? A little light for him and his leaning lettuce friends!

We have had a shop light hanging above this window in the garage. It has only worked occasionally. While we were out yesterday, we picked up a replacement and some extra chain. Here are the early testers (moved from a house window) just after the light was turned on: Below, is later that evening:
And, today, the word has gotten out... "There's a party in the garage and someone brought LIGHT!"
The white pot was just brought in from the barn. In it is an old fuchsia with new sprouts. The little man showed up yesterday evening. Dear husband must have woken him up. Everyone knows a gnome with a job to do finds less time for mischief.

Wish the replacement curtains (for different window) I picked up today worked as well as the replacement light. Oh well.

So, any seedling lighting tips?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Inspiring Tomato

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here is one of the sweet Sungold tomato seedlings. I'm so proud of him putting out his first real leaves in spite of some not ideal housing. He inspired me to try something. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bloom Day - March

Carol at May Dreams Gardens is collecting Bloom Day posts (every month around the 15th). Visit the comments to her post here to find other bloom posters.

Here is one of the camellias, not quite open yet. Weird weather year we've all said, but here is the same plant on March 12, 2006.

~Indian plum, a native shrub
~Plum trees (watch for photos later as they aren't on this computer)
~Winter pansies in the cows
~Little blue flower in the shade bed, didn't notice it last year
~Blue & pink flowers on plant with spotted leaves, shade bed -Just found out what this is! Libby posted it here: Pulmanaria, aka Lungwart.
~Corydalis growing in the garage
~Oh, yes, the one small ornamental cherry (large ones are not there yet)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 15th Garden, Parsnips & Garlic

Doesn't look much different than February 15th (see last summer links in that post too). It does look different than January 15th! I've turned over the 2 furthest beds, but we've not yet 'tilled the new beds to be or widened the herb bed yet. The mole has done a little turning in the herb bed, I see. The perennials tucked in the vegetable rows are sprouting and will need to find new homes around the yard this year. I set the bean climber up so I could see how it creates shadows at different times. It is sitting where the 2 new beds will be and where I'll probably plant the beans too.
What hardy and pretty plants these parsnips are (above)! I need advice from the parsnip masters, however. According to your growing advice, Mr. Clodhopper (see link here), I think mine have taken on a schedule of their own.

Planted in April 2006, they were slow to sprout (as warned) and, by summer, the zucchini and bush beans took off and the parsnips were left in their shadows. Winter came and the weather wimpy zucs & beans left for a Mexican vacation. Parsnips saw their chance and they are happily growing more every day now. Don't think the roots are of any size yet, as I pulled one crowding his neighbor. From this point, when do you think they'll reach harvest size? Fall 2007 or some time this summer? And the garlic starts, planted February 10, have mostly sprouted. Finally, this weekend, I can see 2 of the 3 elephant garlic cloves sprouting in a row by the board at the top of the photo. I think I've given the garlic too much of the row space and I do have other things I want to grow. Hopefully, though, the harvest will last for a while in storage.

Last Oct., I decided to plant a few garlic and onion starts. But, then the rains and frost and snow and rains kept me out of the garden. Finally, in February, feeling sorry for the sprouting garlic in the little bag, I planted every one of them that seemed alive. The six roughed up places in the photo above? Yes, the onions are now sprouting in their little bag! So, right time or not, out they went last weekend to some wider areas among the garlic plantings.

This is not unlike how I also ended up with a number of perennials stuck in the vegetable beds: (1) Have sweet little starts from someone/somewhere desperately needing contact with soil, (2) have nicely dug up vegetable beds just waiting for their spring plantings, (3) oh, let's just let the sweet little perennials hang out in the veg. beds and we'll move them "later," (4) enjoy the flowers in with the vegetables and call it all "planning" as they bring in the good bugs and confuse the bad bugs!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sprouting Notes

For reference, from the March 11 indoor sowings:
Lettuce - many sprouts today, March 14th!
Snow peas - 3 out of 8 have sprouted today.

From the March 3 indoor sowings:
Broccoli - 4 of 4 sprouted earlier
Fennel - 1 of 4
Parsley (old seeds) - none yet
Tomatoes, sungold - 3 of 4

From the March 4 outdoor sowings:
Peas - none yet
Radishes - 1, maybe 2 sprouts

Bloomin' Lichen

Or Gardening in Small Spaces III. Came across this on an old fence post while we were planting the trees this weekend. I thought they were young pyxie cups in bloom, but they might actually be "British Soldiers" (Cladonia cristatella).
With maybe some Cracked Shield Lichen and who knows what else mixed in. Click on the photos to get a larger view, but neither are especially sharp.

I've really used the lichen pages of my North American Wildlife book. May have to move up to a whole book on lichen! Check these out too: Small Spaces I and Small Spaces II.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Don't forget to plant...

Christmas trees! Specifically, Noble firs, above. Our friend delivered some seedlings for the hill. And also Douglas fir in the photo below. We planted at least 50 trees on Sunday afternoon. The sound of rain that night was quite a relief (i.e. no thirsty seedlings)!

See the tree in the background above, top left corner? That's our hillside retreat tree. Here it is with its October decorations.
Now that the sheep (see them here) aren't here to eat to them, they might live longer than the last trees/shrubs we planted. A little difficult to tell at this size if we planted them where we think we need trees. We'll see which ones manage to grow taller than the summer grass. I can hardly wait! Much thanks to our favorite tree person!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Corydalis Growing in My Garage

Here is what the January Surprise found in the garage now looks like. And the bonus surprise is the fragrance! I probably wouldn't have noticed it outside, but standing next to it in the garage, its fragrance really had me dreaming of spring. It's a Corydalis 'Blackberry Wine' that came to me as gift on May Day 2006. It lived on my front porch until I thought it was a goner in December and moved the pot to the garage. For now, it sits by a window in my garage, but in a few months, I think it will find a permanent home in a shady flower bed by the patio so it can really do its thing.

Sowing update:
No peas sprouting in the garden from last week's sowing so I decided to get a few cool weather crops underway inside. Lettuce, spinach and snow peas, plus flowering sweet peas. I really hope the sweet peas will grow well here. We've had a few days of some odd & warm weather (more Pineapple Express from HI, I've learned), but the garden soil just seems so cold and wet for encouraging little seedlings. I can watch them grow inside for awhile, protect them from slugs and then get them cozy outdoors later.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Definitely Started Something

A year ago today, I spent some time on a rainy afternoon searching for vegetable garden ideas and photos. I landed at Mike's Allotment (searched for vegetable garden photos and there was his blog), Clodhoppers (parsnip lessons), The Allotment Lady (and the "girls"), and Allotment 21 (now living at Veg Plot). Before the day was over, Petunia's Garden was launched! The garden was named this before the blog, and Petunia really is the snake that lives there.

Don't know that blogging has done much for the garden, but it has really helped me pay attention to the changes over the year and the critters that visit the garden. Your blogs and comments here have been a tremendous help, though!

Above, you see the early sprouters from last Saturday's planting. Tomatoes on the left, broccoli on the right. I wasn't going to use these little seed starting pellets, but I had some already. They've also allowed me to transfer these early sprouters to the window while the others stay on a slight heat source (ok, in the cabinet under the kitchen sink which gets warmed by the heat vent). It's the fennel and parsley seeds that seem to be taking longer. The parsley seeds are quite old but I had good results from some other older herb seeds last year.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gardening in Small Spaces II

For some gardens, the gardener just needs to keep the hands in the pockets and pay attention.

See another natural small space garden here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Shhh! We're Geocaching

For the last tour from last weekend, in addition to the stack of gardening books I brought home, we found a geocache at one of the local libraries! Well, we knew it was here somewhere and did have a clue (so it wasn't found by chance). I always enjoy browsing and reading at this library as it has a nice view out the windows (sorry about the reflection in the photo, though). Getting warm...
Success! Inside is a log book, but this one isn't made for leaving & taking little treasures.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Emerging Rhubarb

A friend gave me starts of rhubarb last year. This one is sprouting already while the others remain tucked in. We will see if the early riser is the wiser in the March garden.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Garden / Geocaching Tour

A red-winged blackbird singing to spring but not showing his red.
Geocache hint: It's under a rock.
What is geocaching (aka garden tours)? - see here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Colors & Sounds of (False) Spring

I noticed the finches are getting their spring colors. And the tree too. Just a quick shot through the window.
Not to worry. They were fed after the photo.

The nearby frogs are singing up a storm each evening. The stars and the moon must have them in the mood. And, get ready... LAST NIGHT Frog returned to our little pond by the patio! If it isn't Frog, then I'll say the early frog gets the pond. Last year, he didn't arrive until May 20th. Here is a picture of him.

For those of you still white with snow, you might like to know that this is really our early false spring. We'll go back into cold & gray in Apr/May and cannot hope for regular better weather until July! Even then it won't be what most of you call a summer.

Monday, March 05, 2007

March Garden Madness

A fine surprise, weather-wise, yesterday led to some garden madness. The garden soil was quite workable and I was able to dig the winter crop of rocks while preparing a couple beds for future planting. Each was only a small pebble when planted last fall and now I'm set for many meals of rock soup!

Hopefully the snow peas and snap peas planted yesterday will do as well! I've never planted them this early, but thought I'd give them a try since some in this area plant them around the February Presidents' Day holiday. I can plant more later if needed. Oh yes, planted a few radish seeds also. The nice condition of the soil also meant the grass & weeds pulled quite easily. I brought out my favorite weed pulling tool (see this post for more about it). Yes, it is a "rat's tail" file, but you'll notice it easily loosens the soil to the bottom of the dandelion root.
Fortunately, I have friends who help in the garden rain or shine, even when I'm stuck inside.
I noticed last year, and again yesterday, that the worms really seem to like the green coffee bags used as mulch/weed block. This is one I picked up to move.
Not only can we recycle the paper/jars/cans from inside, we also have a yard waste wheelie bin. I can use a lot of yard waste in the garden, but not the awful blackberries! No way these cuttings will go to my garden. Starting this month, I'll be able to fill this up every two weeks and off it will go to more powerful composting than I could ever do.

On Saturday, I also planted a few seeds indoors: broccoli, fennel, parsley, and tomatoes. I'll do a post later if they show any promise of sprouting!

Needless to say, I'm going back to my desk today to recover!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Snail Mail Brings Ducks!

This is the nice surprise in my mailbox last weekend! I was lucky number 13 in Mrs. Nesbitt's drawing to celebrate her 300th post. Fortunately, the talented Elsie liked 13 also.

It is an artist trading card she made to look like a mini Woman's Day magazine cover. Then she attached it to blank greeting card in case I want to share it with others. It was just the right topic for the past rainy weeks we've had! A little break today so I'm on my way outside.

Thanks, Denise, for the fun drawing and mail (I do love snail mail too). I think I'll have to keep it though, because it reminds me of the funny Jo, your faithful gander!