Sunday, July 9, 2017

Some Days it's too Hot to Garden...

Just blocked & dry
So, when it is too hot to work in the garden I have been knitting. While I was in Scotland this April, I was not only visiting new sights, but I was also on a personal international yarn crawl. I came home with 16 skeins of yarn! It wasn't all for myself, though I was tempted, my daughter received some skeins of yarn from that suitcase stash too.

I selected a wonderful lace weight yarn to knit first. I had made this purchase my first day in Edinburgh at Kathy's Knits, see http://www.kathysknits.co.uk/ . I was wandering, a bit lost with my backpack and looking for my B&B when I noticed Kathy knitting in a patch of sunlight at her basement shop doorway. I was very tired, my backpack had become much heavier the longer I walked, so I was more than happy to leave it on Kathy's stoop and shop for a few skeins of yarn. She suggested this limited edition wool, called Autumn, by http://www.blackbat.co.uk/ , a 50% Romney/50% Shetland lambswool yarn. Its color scheme reminded me of a mossy forest having olive greens, rusty browns and mushroom-y silver shades that stripe. I purchased this 50g skein (380 yd/350 mt) whose label had a photo of Kent, the sheep whose wool produced this yarn as a memento of my wanderings. I returned to Kathy's Knits later on my trip to purchase more yarn and found this wonderful shop a calming place to chat and relax, a LYS that made me feel "at home."

The pattern I used for this shawl is Sylvia McFadden's "All About Love," see here http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/all-about-love . This pattern was fun! You initially cast on for the lace border, then complete short rows for the stockinette section. Yardage-wise, I still have approximately a quarter of the Autumn skein left after completing the pattern as written. This pattern is completed as ONE piece, which appealed to me because I do not consider myself skilled at attaching lace borders. I now have a lovely souvenir of my springtime visit to Scotland. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Tomatoes!

Have just picked, or rather harvested my first tomatoes of the season. The larger Roma finally got fully red and the two yellow pear tomatoes are a great size for "minis."

I am looking forward to an upcoming deluge of tomatoes from my three plants. They are loaded with green tomatoes, so I will have to be patient while they ripen, but I am pleased with my on schedule success.

There isn't any vegetable tastier than a warm, sun-ripened tomato. I shall be slicing these three up for a gourmet tasting tonight.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pests

The Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica) are back... I know I was all excited about being a Humane Backyard, but I checked the paperwork and insects are not listed for nonlethal resolutions to their presence. As I have said before, I do not spray anything but Neem Oil and soapy water, but with this many Japanese Beetles, I have resorted to handpicking them or knocking them off the plant into a coffee can with an inch of water before killing them. Also, I have noticed leaving a few crushed beetles around the roses does seem to discourage any surviving beetles from returning for a couple of days.

I have to admit that these bugs do creep me out with their front legs splayed like pincers, and they frequently fly in your face if you miss squishing them too. Every year they seem to target a different selection of plants; this year the Knockout roses, echinacea, butterfly bush (Buddleia) flowers, and surprisingly, only the yellow gladiolas seem to be their menu favorites. My son's poor nectarine tree is also infested, so I think this will be another year we see the fruit feeding nature instead of us.

These destructive insects emerge from the soil, where they have spent a year as white grubs underground. Historically, the Japanese beetle arrived from Japan before 1912, since then the beetle has spread west and north from New Jersey. See here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_beetle

So, while these beetles are doing their best to eat through my roses, I am committed to smooshing them before they complete the egg laying portion of their life cycle. I am sure this battle will end up at best a draw, more likely, I will make little impact in their population. In my gardening notebook I will highlight the timing of my Neem oil application next year for a late June hatch. Hopefully, the spraying and my squishing efforts this summer will create a smaller population of Japanese beetles next year.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Growing now...

The garden has been growing so well this season! Here's a few more pictures of my garden plants doing what plants do. I have to say that I am very excited about the ripening tomatoes, I am going to have ripe produce on the usual Missouri expected date of July 4th. The gladiolas are brilliant this year, I planted another 70, but the speckled cherry one has been reappearing for the last few years. The large, heavy petalled orange gladiola is one of the new ones I planted this year. The "tigerlily" has been a little less productive this year with fewer plants. I am hoping the seeds from this years growth will increase this charming plant's presence on my backyard garden slope.






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kimmswick Daylily Sale

Kimmswick Dayliy Garden
The garden on the south side of my house has been covered with roofing felt for the last year. I had grown irises in this garden for over ten years, but the plants had become overgrown with invasive Burmuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). I do not use poisons, so aside from futilely pulling the grass or fantasizing about more drastic measures involving fire, I was stuck. Eventually, I decided to dig up all the irises and replant them throughout my other gardens, then tacking down roofing felt to light deprive & hopefully, kill the Burmuda grass.

I've had a whole year to consider what I will plant to fill in this garden and decided daylillies would be the best choice. Daylillies (hemerocallis) grow in thick bunches, have lovely blooms, are minimal care and important to my Burmuda grass battle, shade the ground. Burmuda grass once established, can never be eradicated by non-chemical means, so I decided to pursue the easiest option, hence daylilies.

Mr. Carrol Wrather
Kimmswick has an Annual Daylily Sale as a fundraiser for their Visitors Center. The master gardener who grows all the magnificent daylilies is Mr. Carrol Wrather, and his gardens are a delightful experience. It is amazing how many different varieties he has planted in his garden! The sale has both hundreds of labeled bare root plants available, for those who can wait until next season for blooms or Carrol and his helpers will dig the specimen of your choosing. An additional treat is that Carrol is willing to freely impart his wisdom regarding daylily care. I got a wonderful garden tour, some helpful daylily tips and a lesson on composting. I toted home 20 bare root daylilies  and planted them all!


My son and I broke up the dry, dry, dry clay left below the removed roofing felt in my southside garden---pick axe mandatory, then added a soil mixture of these components:  4-40 lb. bags of topsoil, 2-40 lb. bags of cow manure compost and 2 bags of mushroom compost. It was hard work, but will benefit the newly planted daylilies and the central small shrub, Ninebark, now planted in this southern exposure garden.  Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is a Missouri Native shrub, which will add seasonal flowers to support both pollinators and nesting birds.

There was only one nursery in Missouri that had this shrub available, so my road trip to Kimmswick morphed into a garden trek to the outskirts of Jefferson City to visit the Missouri Wildflower Nursery. See their website here http://mowildflowers.net/ They have a WONDERFUL free catalog loaded with pictures, categorized by plant sun and soil requirements, along with a helpful star rating appraising plant culture. My 2 gallon potted Ninebark was very reasonably priced, approximately a foot and a half tall and not pot bound. I am pleased to have found this Native plant nursery, as I continue to work to naturalize my yard and gardens. Next Spring should be exciting!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Donating

I just received my Humane Backyard sign from the Humane Society! It was a donation premium with an associated pledge to provide:

1.) Natural sources of food for wildlife, including native plants.

2.) Water for wildlife through natural or manmade sources.

3.) Shelter and safe places for animals to raise their young.

4.) Avoid the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

5.) Be aware of the harm free-roaming pets can inflict upon wildlife, and take steps to ensure that   my companion animals will not pose threats to wild animals.

6.) Use humane, nonlethal approaches for resolving any conflicts with wildlife.

This 12" x 12" metal sign is going to be posted in my more visible front yard, in hopes it will inspire my neighbors to participate.  Perhaps it will also notify the city inspectors that those "weeds" I occasionally get cited for are important plant resources for pollinators, birds and other wildlife. Regardless, I am thrilled to be part of this program as I continue to shrink my lawn by planting supportive habitat.

I found this program through the library... I read, The Humane Gardener, by Nancy Lawson, which is an excellent resource for beginning to experienced gardeners. Everyone can do a little to support our natural environment, see:  www.humanebackyard.org  Also included in the package are some helpful info sheets & a pair of gardening gloves.



Monday, June 19, 2017

More rain

I am not complaining at all, I love rain! We have had some hot temperatures, so my rain barrels were getting low. Natural rain is much more effective and beneficial to the plants than my hand watering, because I realize I probably don't water long enough, nor deep enough with my watering can. The gardens are looking marvelous! I got some "wet" pictures this morning after a thunderstorm last night. The daylilies and gladiolas look doubly pretty with raindrops on their petals. Enjoy.