My Garden Diary - 2007
by George Kingston
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Well, it's been a while, but I'm back. Picked my first tomato (Early Girl) today. We've had beans for about a week and herbs and greens all month. It was a great day-lily season with some of them still hanging on. The sunflowers are blooming as is the campanula. My roses are still going strong. The recent rains have been welcome, but the ground is still very dry and needs watering almost every other day.
Midsummer's Day. Hot and dry again. Spent some time weeding and deadheading in the town center. This is a garden club chore. Then came home and planted out some more of the new plants, a mix of perennials and annuals. There's an interesting dwarf sedum called 'Lemon Drop' that looks interesting. Watering again and weeding (always).
Rain, finally, this morning, but just showers. It all amounted to less than a tenth of an inch. So it's out to water again. I started setting out some of the plants that arrived yesterday.
A surprise showed up today. Fedex delivered a box of promotional plants. They had been misdelivered elsewhere, so that by the time they got here they had been in the box for a week. Amazingly, more than half of them survived. I wasn't expecting the box. Somehow I got on a list of garden writers, and the nursery sent them to me in the hopes that I would like them and perhaps write about them next spring. I'll plant the ones that survived and we'll see what happens.
The summer bloomers are starting. Rose Mallow, Scarlet Lychnis, Coreopsis, roses, and Campanula are all starting to bloom. The iris are past. It has been very dry lately and the plants are showing some stress, so it's time to water most mornings.
Still planting out perennials. Today I put in some Rudbeckia, also known as black-eye Susan 'Godsturm'. Weeding continues as does lawn mowing. The bearded Iris are in full bloom, with a few going past. My new 'Endless Summer' hydrangia is in bloom as well. Garden loosestrife is just starting to bloom, while the shade geraniums and the columbine continue.
Today I visited the Massachusetts Horticultural Society headquarters at Elm Bank in Wellesly and got a chance to see the various society gardens. The daylilies were not yet blooming in the Hemerocallis Society garden, but the Herb Society Garden and the grasses were beautiful
Weeding. May is a good month for weeds. Plus, I discovered that the topsoil the power company used to cover their excavations in the lawn is full of Japanese knotweed, and invasive species. So, I've got to dig all of those roots out. We also started setting the support poles for the dwarf apple trees. The first step is to set steel post holders into the ground. Then we'll buy cedar 4x4's to hold the support wires. The apple trees did leaf out and bloom. Soon we'll be pruning them.
May 28 - Memorial Day
Today we planted annual flowers. A wide assortment of stuff, including zinnia, cosmos, dahlia, gazinia, and more. These are for bright color during the summer. We didn't get the rain they promised, so we are watering everything.
Planting herbs and annual flowers today. Our herb garden is shaping up nicely. We have English and variegated thyme, garden sage, chives, garlic chives, Egyptian onions, basil, parsley, Greek and standard oregano, borage, lemon balm, lemon verbena, sweet woodruff, sweet leaf, and curry plant.
Planted out my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants today. Last night was a frost warning, but it only got down to 42, so I think I am safe. The worst part of this is selecting the plants. I always start more seedlings than I can use because of germination problems, damping off, and other attrition. When it comes time to plant, I have to select the best ones and dispose of the rest. This is not easy, and I sometimes wish I had twice the garden space so I could use them all. Except then, I'd probably start twice as many and be back where I started. We also visited a couple of nurseries for annuals and herbs. I finally found some lantana for a hanging pot to attract hummingbirds. It is a beautiful day!
It has been a busy couple of weeks. We have been preparing the vegetable garden beds and doing a lot of weeding in the flower beds. The tiller has been cranky. It runs for a while and then stops. So I'm doing a lot of tinkering. Sometimes I think it might be easier to just get out the shovel and spading fork. That would certainly be quieter. The May apple is blooming. You have to look carefully, because the flowers are under the large leaves. I have four varieties of trillium blooming now: red erect, red sessile, white-and-purple cernunum, and yellow luteum. A Carolina wren has built a nest in the greenhouse. For now, we're tolerating each other, but I'm trying to minimize any disturbance to them.
Sunny and cool. Divided perennials and potted some up for the East Longmeadow Garden Club plant sale on May 19. Replanted the rest. It is sort of moving day, shifting the perennials around in hopes of siteing them better.
Spent most of the day planting the dwarf apple trees in the front yard. We have a Pioneer Macintosh, a Northern Spy. a Suncrisp and a Macoun. The grass is just getting high enough to mow, but it is too damp after the morning drizzle.
May is here at last. The pears and apples are starting to bloom. The Virginia bluebells (Mertensia) and the twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphyla) are also blooming. I spent the last two days digging an 8' by 2' by 18" deep trench in the front yard to plant the new dwarf apple trees in. Once I got through the roots of the maple tree that came down last summer, all I had to deal with were the rocks. Well, it was good exercise.
Rain and sun today. The celandine poppy is starting to bloom. Working on cleaning up the flower beds and weeding. The grass seen I put down where the utility excavated is sprouted. The Forsythia hedge is in glorious bloom. I put some corn gluten down on the parts of the lawn that are still battling crabgrass. We put the rosemary plants out in the herb garden for the summer. Only one of them had a little damage from overwintering inside. When we put them out we leave them in pots. We will repot in the fall before bringing them in.
Today the trout lily flowers opened. There are only two of them, but it is a start. The red sessile trillium is also blooming now and the twinleaf (Jeffersonia) has buds. I've been clearing oriental honeysuckles from around the trillium patch to clean it up and work towards eliminating these invasive species, even if they do attract hummingbirds.
Today we received a shipment of 4 dwarf, bare-root, apple trees. After attending a seminar on dwarf fruit trees, my wife decided we need to try them. For the moment we have heeled them in in the north kitchen garden. We will probably get around to actually planting them next week.
After five years my trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) have buds. Up until now, I got leaves but no flowers. Who says patience goes unrewarded? I especially wanted these for my woodland garden because the first time I saw them, in John Bryant Park in Ohio in the early 80's, they seemed to really herald spring. The spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is blooming. I now have three specimens in bloom. Also, the shadbush (Amelanchier sp.) is breaking into bloom. Chickadees are checking out the bird houses. I guess spring is finally here. We had some friends over today to make hydrotufa planters. These are lightweight concrete planters made with perlite and peat moss. They turned out great but it was really hard work.
April 22, 2007
Put compost on one of the vegetable gardens and the new annual bed. Cleaned out the far south perennial bed. I will need to lay this one out again and edge it. Some of the plants are spreading and trying to take over. Sessile trillium foliage is up, but no flowers yet.
April 21, 2007
Bloodroot bloomed today. Pireis japonica is in bloom. Rototilled the north kitchen garden and replaced some fence around the south kitchen garden.
April 19, 2007
Virginia bluebells (Mertensis) is up but not blooming yet. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) has swelling buds but no blossoms yet.
Planted four white trilliums (T. grandiflora). Daffodils are beginning to bloom. Put down grass seed where the utility dug last fall.
April 14, 2007
Created a new annual bed by moving the border in front of my front foundations plantings 2 feet further out. This area used to be shaded heavily by a big red maple that we had taken down late last summer. It will be interesting to see how the rhododendrons respond to all the new sun.
April 11, 2007
We have spent the last two days starting to prep the vegetable beds. The soil is dry and looking good. In the north garden, we always have to deal with lots of roots from the nearby white pines, but it's the only room we have. Crocus are still putting on a great display. My first batch of tomatoes has germinated.
April 8, 2007
I have now started all my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants under lights and am waiting for germination. This year I started Brandywine, Better Boy, Stulpice, Roma, Big Mama, Viva Italia, Patio Roma, Amish Paste, and, Heart-shaped tomatoes. The last two are heirlooms given to me by friends. For peppers, I have Senorita (a mild jalapeno), Serrano, Ancho, Anaheim, and Holy Mole. My eggplant this year is Little Fingers. The cold snap forced me to bring my artichokes back inside. I'm afraid that some of them aren't going to make it. Nothing new blooming in the garden, and even the crocuses look like they're sorry they came up as early as they did.
April 1, 2007 - 21 GDD
In the garden, my crocus are coming into full bloom, winter aconite is starting to bloom, and snowdrops and pulmonaria continue. In the house, the winter jasmine is blooming as is the "Christmas" cactus. The Oregon Spring tomatoes I started are up under lights. I moved the rest of the artichokes out to the unheated greenhouse today.
March 27, 2007 - 18 GDD
Put up two bird houses today, my wren house in its usual location in the apple tree and a bluebird/titmouse house in an open spot in the woods. First crocus - an orange one - is up in a sunny spot.
March 25, 2007
The latest snow is finally gone and the snowdrops are still blooming. The buds on the spicebush and shadbush are starting to swell. I moved a couple of my artichoke plants out to my unheated greenhouse to see how they will survive. I also took a chance and direct seeded some spinach and lettuce in the garden. The soil is still cool and damp, so we'll see if anything comes up.
March 15, 2007 My artichokes are up and have been repotted in 4-inch pots. They are still under lights. I am monitoring my unheated greenhouse and it is still too cold at night for the plants, although it does get up to the high 70's during the day when the sun is on it. Daffodil foliage is starting to poke through.
March 14, 2007 - 9 GDD
The first snowdrops are up in the warmer beds. Can spring be far behind?
February 11, 2007
It was 9 degrees F outside this morning and there are 2 inches of snow on the ground, but I've already started my first seeds. Yesterday, I planted artichoke seeds in 2-inch seed starting cells under lights. This is an experiment for me this year. I am in Zone 5 - 6, depending on the winter, so, although the variety, "Green Globe", is supposed to be hardy, I don't know if I will be able to treat it as a perennial. The seed packet says to start the seeds 8 weeks prior to planting out. The planting out should be done when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees F. This means that I am expecting to be able to put them out around mid-April, which for this year seems reasonable.