Front Garden

Front Garden
Full Bloom

Monday, December 31, 2012

Black Currants - Picture(s) Of The Day 12-31-2012

I have 2 black currant bushes.

Each bush is about 3 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter. They get full sun. The bushes are 5 years old.

The bushes are maintenance free. I throw well-rotted cow manure at the base of the bush in the late Fall and in the Spring after the ground starts to loosen up. I mulch the base of the bushes before the snow.

The berries grow in clusters throughout the entire bush.

I hand pick them by gently sliding my hand down the cluster freeing the berries. The berries are ready to be picked at the end of July. I have to pick them quickly because the birds love them. It takes a week for all of the berries to mature and be picked. I spend  couple of hours a day picking them.

I eat them sprinkled with sugar. They are very rich and tart. I use the balance to make jam.

My neighbor coincidentally shows up right around harvest time for his handful.

The berries are ready to be picked at the end of July. I have to pik them quickly because the birds love them.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow On the Hoop House - Picture Of The Day 12-29-2012

I have a seasonal hoop hose. It helps extend my growing season. I made it myself with help from a neighbor. After every snow fall I clean it off. I have 2-30ft X 3ft beds and currently have  lettuce  growing inside.

One day I hope to own a large greenhouse.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Zinnias, Cosmos, Marigolds, Petunias - Picture Of The Day -12-28-2012

I line the entrance to the vegetable garden with flowers. I like to attract pollinators for the vegetables. I use two levels of large flower pots. Every year it's different and always beautiful.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hops - Picture Of The Day 12/27/2012

I live in an area once known as the hop capital of the US. This is my first year growing hops. I bought and grew 6 Mt. Hood hop rhizomes. My hop bines ended up being 10 feet long. I harvested about a pint of hops before the first frost. They smelled great! Pretty good for the first year. In a few years I should have large hop bines. I plan to make beer with my hops.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mortgage Lifter Tomato - Picture Of The Day 12/26/2012

Mortgage Lifter tomato. My signature "fruit" in the garden. All meat on the inside. Perfect for sandwiches and salads. A meal in itself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Seed Saving Rudbeckia

I love Rudbeckia. The plants are strong and the blooms last a long time. Only hard frosts bring their blooms to an end.

I like to seed save Rudbeckia.
I take pictures of the individual plants and put little tags with numbers on their stems. That way when they die off I still know which ones were which. Then I collect the seeds from the plants I want.

Here is some Rudbeckia finished for the year. I collect the seeds after the first hard frost. 
Identify the plants you want to seed save. Cut the stem right below the seed head. Or pull the seed head off the stem without pulling the plant out of the ground. 
Collect the seed heads. Remember what color they are !!!!
Spread them out and let them dry. I use clear plastic flat covers to spread out the seeds. I leave them alone for about a week.
 Put the seed head between your thumb and index finger and roll the seed head.
You will release the seeds. Don't sneeze now !

Label your seed head by color (noting the picture reference ex: #10, large, dark brown 2' tall)). Use whatever you need to remember what seeds refer to what plant. Add date of harvest. Place in ventilated container (I use unsealed envelopes) and put it in the refrigerator or other cool dark place until you are ready to plant.

I will have a future post about starting Rudbeckias. Enjoy!

Fragrant Lilies - Picture Of The Day 12/25/2012

A picture of my fragrant, show stopping lilies. People smell them 100 feet away. In full effect in July.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Zinnia and Bumblebee - Picture Of The Day 12/24/2012

I like zinnias. They can handle the weather in my area. I don't spray my yard. I encourage bumble bees to nest in the ground by leaving logs near loose soil in sunny areas. The queen bumble bees burrow under the logs and creates.  I just mark where they build a nest and give them space. They are every active in my garden and help pollinate my berries. I am surrounded by them in the garden and have never been stung. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rudbeckia - Picture Of The Day 12/23/2012

I've decided to add a picture of the day. Hopefully, you will find inspiration during the Winter months.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Snow And Cold Weather But The Lettuce Still Grows

It snowed last night and the sun has been barely out all week. But the lettuce continues to grow in the plastic covered raised beds. I use 4 mil clear plastic. I use old political sign metal bent into shape t form the hoops. Clothes pins attach the plastic to the hoops and rocks hold the sides down to seal the edges. 

A little sneak peak to check on the lettuce. The snow acts as an insulator. 
This picture was taken a week ago when the sun was out for a couple of hours.
More shots of the lettuce. These were taken  two days ago.
I'll start harvesting and eating this crop next week.
Here are some seedlings ready to go.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seed Saving Radish Seeds

Why buy radish seeds every year when you can make them in your own garden?

It's sustainable, lowers your carbon footprint, and saves you money.

Radish are easy to seed save. Instead of harvesting your radish to eat, leave a few alone and let them grow. They eventually will sprout stems and seed pods. Radishes can get pretty big (3 feet tall) if allowed to grow.

Let the seed pods dry out and then harvest a stem with pods. Here is a typical bunch of branches, stems, and seed pods.

Break off a small stem with a couple of seed pods.
Break off a seed pod.
Crack open the seed pod.
You can see the little round seeds in the pod. Separate the seeds from the pod.

In a little time you can make a lot of seeds for next year's planting. 
Put the seeds in a ventilated, water proof container and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant.

I seed save when I am taking a break sitting on the porch enjoying the front flower garden. 

Seed saving radish is an easy and enjoyable activity !

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seed Saving Purple Coneflowers

Purple coneflowers are great for my area. We can have a frost before Memorial Day. We can have a frost by Labor Day. The purple coneflowers don't care!

The first year the coneflowers bloomed the butterflies showed up.

And the bumble bees too !

I start coneflowers in the Winter of the next planting season. They establish their roots in the first growing season. I don't usually get any blooms. In the 2nd outdoor growing season the plants really take off. They grow even larger with more blooms the next year.

Here is how to seed save purple coneflowers. Here are some purple coneflowers finished for the year.
Close up of one of the seed heads.
Another one.
Another one. You can see the white seeds on top of the seed head.
Remove the seed head from the stem by holding the stem firmly with one hand and pulling the seed head from the stem with the other.

Collect the seed heads in one container.
Bring them inside and let them dry out.
A close up of the seed heads.
Roll your fingers around the seed head. The seeds fall off the seed head. You can see the seeds. They are the white things.
Another close-up. The seeds are easy to separate once they are dry.
Put the seeds in a ventilated container and put them in the refrigerator or a few months. This simulates the cold winter. I will post a blog in a couple of months on seed starting.

They are beautiful, hardy, long blooming flowers!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seed Starting Buttercrunch Lettuce Update #1

I posted about seed starting started Bibb Buttercrunch lettuce on 12/13/2012. I decided to post an update of how they are doing. Bibb lettuce is a good beginner lettuce to grow. There are my Bibb types. They all grow great. You get good results. It's a real confidence builder.

The covered Bibb Buttercrunch seedling tray.

The top is removed to show the seedlings starting to grow. You want to keep the peat pots moist but not dripping wet. I mist the seedlings every other day. I have to fight back my tendency to over water.

A close-up of the happy seedlings.

Another close-up. I will post more progress photos as they grow.

Taking Advantage Of The Warm Weather - Getting Ahead Of Spring Things

The weather stayed above freezing so I spent a couple of hours in the garden trying to get ahead of next year's garden chores. It gets quite hectic when Winter breaks and the growing season goes full blast in the Spring.

I usually have about 200 plants growing in pots in addition to my beds. I grow beneficial flowers (nasturtium, marigold), tomatoes, peppers, and flowers (petunias, zinnias, coleus, and whatever extra things I have) in the pots.

I'm increasing the bed height of one of my beds by 6 inches. I spend a lot of my time on making good soil so I reuse last year's soil as much as possible.

I dump the contents of the pots into the empty bed. You can see a lot of the soil was frozen. I just pile it up. The natural freezing and thawing process will break the soil apart. You can see very heavy roots in the pots. Sometimes the roots prevent the soil from breaking apart over the Winter. I wait until the Spring to break it up with a shovel.

In the Spring I hand dig the soil and remove whatever vegetation didn't breakdown over the winter. I try to remove weeds now.  Less weeding next year!

One of my many stacks of pots. They are ready to go next year!