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How Does Your Garden Grow?

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Also, I was wondering what garden forums you guys use?

I'd agree with forumfish's suggestion of the agricultural extension office.  I'm not sure where you live - if you have hedgehogs in your garden you must not be in North America.  Otherwise I'd recommend the American Horticultural Society.

Edited by ratgirlagogo

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The last couple of years I've had problems growing anything in my beds. Something wrong with the soil even though I got rid of the top foot or so and put new stuff in. At the end of the season last year I "bleached" the soil and so far so good. My tomato plants seem to be doing okay. My probkem now is white fly on my dwarf Meyer lemon. Clouds of those things. And they will move on to my tomatoes. Any suggestions on how I can get rid of them?

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Ever since I moved to my current house, I can't seem to grow any vegetables. I used to grow so many that my neighbors would get sick of tomatoes, cucumbers and the like. I grew cucumbers so big that people called them home wreckers.

What happens now is my big beef tomatoes, which used to grow to the size of softballs now turn red when they're the size of ping pong balls. My cucumbers get to about an inch long and shrivel and die.

I'm doing the exact same things I did at my old house but nothing works here.

It can't be the soil because last year I did tomatoes in a 5 gallon bucket with potting soil and they still ripened when they were tiny.

I've decided I'm not going to bother this year.

Would any of you know why this keeps happening?

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Hi Maharincess.  We are in very different zones, I think - I'm in CT (6B) and I think you're across the country - so what's worked and not worked for me may or may not be of any help to you, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.  Also - was the climate where you lived before and grew massive tomatoes and cucumbers markedly different from where you live now in any way?

 

Tomatoes - did you have any blossom end rot with your tomatoes?  BER is when the bottom of your tomato flattens and turns brown, and the fruit ripens prematurely. There are a couple of remedies:  1) water adequately, evenly, and consistently; and 2) add calcium either to the soil (plant a Tums next to each plant every week or ten days)  or to the water every once in a while.  Despite our best efforts, we always get some tomatoes with BER, always with the early fruits; then it seems to work out of the plant and we're good.

 

Other reasons we've had prematurely ripening fruit have been heat waves and/or drought-like conditions.  Even if we did our best to keep plants adequately watered, the environment itself has created a stressy condition for the plants, and sometimes premature ripening is their reaction to it.  (A badly-timed heat wave last summer really diminished our potato crop.)

 

The plants could also be stressed if their soil is weak.  When I plant in pots,  I use potting soil but add peat, compost, Plantone (organic fertilizer), Osmocote (slow release plant food), urea, triple phosphate, and potash (but maybe I'm a little obsessive).  When you water a potted plant, the water that runs out of the bottom of the takes a lot of the nutrients with it; so if you feed your plants, you'd want to feed potted plants more frequently than ones planted in the ground.

 

In other words, your tomato issue could be almost anything, or any combination of things. And quite possibly something I haven't even brought up.  Can you tell I have a love/hate relationship with tomatoes? 

 

Cucumbers require a male flower, a female flower, and a pollinator in order to get you a mature cuke.  If you're missing one part of the equation - and if you have a fruit that shrivels up after a week, I'd guess you're missing male flowers and/or pollinators to go between the two sexes - you won't get a cucumber.  This link says it more clearly than I can. 

 

Please keep in mind that these are just my best guesses; and seeing as you've gardened successfully in other places, I'm not trying to tell you what to do at all. And if it comes off that way, that is not my intent. 

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Riley, here's some information on whiteflies.  I'm a fan of predatory insects who eat whiteflies, and I use flowering plants to get them into the garden, but I realize not everyone has the room for that.  Here's a list of beneficial insects - ladybugs and lacewings are at the top of the page, and I think they're specifically what you want, though I find any of these insects seem to do a great job - and the plants that attract them.  My garden always has cosmos, zinnias, alyssum, lavender and other herbs, and it seems to bring in a good selection of the good guys.  

 

Insecticidal soap can work, too, and I think the Safer-TM brand one tries to be non-harmful to the insects you want to keep around. 

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Thank you so much harrie.

I always get those darn whiteflies on my petunias. I love big pots of petunias on my porch, they're about the only thing that can take the direct sun that hits my porch most of the day. I've found that the soap only works if you spray directly on the flies. I've never been able to get rid of them, about halfway through every summer I pull them up and buy another flat to plant. At least they're cheap.

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I think I'm going to buy a bag if ladybugs this weekend. I hope they stay around and eat the whitefly! If that doesn't work I'll move on to the spray. Thank you harrie for the information.

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Tomatoes - did you have any blossom end rot with your tomatoes?  BER is when the bottom of your tomato flattens and turns brown, and the fruit ripens prematurely. There are a couple of remedies:  1) water adequately, evenly, and consistently; and 2) add calcium either to the soil (plant a Tums next to each plant every week or ten days)  or to the water every once in a while.  Despite our best efforts, we always get some tomatoes with BER, always with the early fruits; then it seems to work out of the plant and we're good. 

Last year was the first time in a long time, I had zero BER.  The weather was absolutely perfect, and I had to do very little to keep the soil moisture consistent.  SO many tomatoes last year...

 

My tomatoes are about two inches tall right now and looking good to be ready for Memorial Day.  I always mean to start my cherry tomatoes earlier since I plant them in pots and could protect them from a late frost, but once again I did no such thing.  Oh well.

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This is the first weekend that has been suitable for yard work; seriously, we had snow flurries 2 days ago.

So I'm enthusiastically raking away, when some unseen creature flies into my glove and stings me.  Hurts like a mother%&*.  I have no known allergies, but my lips feel Kardashian-esque.

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Does anyone have an everblooming lilac?  They intrigue me, but I had an everblooming hydrangea that was more like neverblooming, so I am hesitant to spend the money and time.

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9 hours ago, stewedsquash said:

What do you do with those tulips in a pot after they have died off? Do you keep them dormant in the pot for next year? Or do you plant them outside? They were really pretty, a deep purple red color, a gift, and I want to have them bloom again if possible. Could they be put in a planter outside or should they be in the ground? My thoughts are to either put them in a planter, with other annuals planted for each season and then watch them bloom in their season. Or to put them in a protected spot in my yard and hope a rodent doesn't eat them.

It's a tough process, but it might work.  The standard method is to keep the plants alive in the pot, feeding and caring for them until they start to die down naturally. Then let the whole pot dry out and store it somewhere dry until the fall when you plant them like you would any other fall plants.  

I would also throw out an extra idea for you. When you plant them in the fall, you could actually put them back into a well draining plastic pot and sink the entire thing into your garden soil. When the spring arrives, the bulbs have gone through the proper cold cycle, and you can go retrieve the pot and bring it back up to somewhere near the house where they are more protected from the evil tulip eating deer.  You could do this with fresh tulip bulbs as well.

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Has anyone tried zucchini or yellow squash in a container?

I'm contemplating it but made the mistake of googling it where it was 50% fabulous idea/50% you must be drunk to consider this......

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The house I bought at the end of last year used to have a great enclosed vegetable garden, but a bird got trapped in it and the prior owner tore it down.  The soil there is still so awesome, but the last person planted some viney things there.  I keep pulling them up and they keep coming back!  I'm making a feeble effort to regain the vegetable garden, but the vines are winning.

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2 hours ago, bosawks said:

Has anyone tried zucchini or yellow squash in a container?

I'm contemplating it but made the mistake of googling it where it was 50% fabulous idea/50% you must be drunk to consider this......

Yes. You need a very large pot (minimum 5 gallons), and it will require a lot of attention in the form of food and water.

I grow my cherry tomatoes in pots, and the plants get freaking huge and require food and water, lots of water, but I am always successful doing it.  Squash plants need that attention, plus you have the extra issues of needing bugs to fertilize the flowers (not necessary on tomatoes) and keeping the water even when the actual squash are developing. 

I find that peppers grow pretty well in pots. They like to be hot and they aren't so darn big.

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6 minutes ago, JTMacc99 said:

Yes. You need a very large pot (minimum 5 gallons), and it will require a lot of attention in the form of food and water.

I grow my cherry tomatoes in pots, and the plants get freaking huge and require food and water, lots of water, but I am always successful doing it.  Squash plants need that attention, plus you have the extra issues of needing bugs to fertilize the flowers (not necessary on tomatoes) and keeping the water even when the actual squash are developing. 

I find that peppers grow pretty well in pots. They like to be hot and they aren't so darn big.

Thanks for the advice.  Will a cage help or hurt?

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1 hour ago, bosawks said:

Thanks for the advice.  Will a cage help or hurt?

Cage on summer squash will probably keep that plant too squished together. They tend to grow in a bush form as opposed to winter squash which need room to climb or spread.

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On 5/5/2016 at 8:45 AM, JTMacc99 said:

It's a tough process, but it might work.  The standard method is to keep the plants alive in the pot, feeding and caring for them until they start to die down naturally. Then let the whole pot dry out and store it somewhere dry until the fall when you plant them like you would any other fall plants.  

I would also throw out an extra idea for you. When you plant them in the fall, you could actually put them back into a well draining plastic pot and sink the entire thing into your garden soil. When the spring arrives, the bulbs have gone through the proper cold cycle, and you can go retrieve the pot and bring it back up to somewhere near the house where they are more protected from the evil tulip eating deer.  You could do this with fresh tulip bulbs as well.

Some people also recommend throwing in some dried blood when you plant the bulbs in the winter.  It is supposed to deter squirrels/deer from digging up the bulbs - though in a pot that may be less of a concern - and also feed the bulbs. 

 

 

ETA:  In the winter? Don't know where that came from (mentally, that is; I know I typed it). 

Edited by harrie
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I'm thinking of digging out an evergreen.  It's gotten really overgrown,and I'm tired of cutting it down.  Plus, that flower bed is the worst in terms of weeds, mainly thistles wanting to grow in there, sometimes inside the bush.  Any suggestions on what would be a nice, mainly green bush or plant that would be extremely low maintenance.  It is south facing, so it gets a good amount of sun, mainly from mid morning until end of the day.

Also any suggestions for getting weeding done quickly?  I'd called a could of landscapers to do some spring cleanup; one may be able to fit me in before the HOA deadline, but I'm not counting on it.  I'm at least going to try to get the weeding done.  I figure I can take a rake along and brush out the mulch; it looks pretty good, not too faded, so maybe raking it will freshen it up (at least until the one guy can get out here.  My landscaper last year, I would never use again, as he had a team of mainly high schoolers, who dug out 4 knock out roses, when all they needed was to be pruned.  I only told them to weed, trim bushes, and mulch.  I didn't tell them to remove a thing.  I got immediately on the phone with the owner's son, who promised to make it right, but they've done nothing since.  I got them thru Angie's List, so there goes their rating.  I'm giving them once last chance.  What makes me sick is they dug out one of two roses that were identical;they had red and pink blooms on the same bush.  I got those specifically to be alongside my garage.  The odds of finding another plant like that is basically null.

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7 hours ago, hoosier80 said:

I'm thinking of digging out an evergreen.  It's gotten really overgrown,and I'm tired of cutting it down.  Plus, that flower bed is the worst in terms of weeds, mainly thistles wanting to grow in there, sometimes inside the bush.  Any suggestions on what would be a nice, mainly green bush or plant that would be extremely low maintenance.  It is south facing, so it gets a good amount of sun, mainly from mid morning until end of the day.

What zone are you in and how big can this mainly green bush get? Also, what is your deer situation?

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I'm in zone 6a.  I really only want maybe 2 to 3 ft wide at most, with maybe 2 ft high.  I really want something that requires little or no trimming.  Thanks for any suggestions.  I also was pondering a nice big hosta or some sort of green plant.  Not sure about how the hosta would do in the sun, but there could be other varieties or something similar.  I would go with a flowering bush, but I have nothing really green in the rest of the beds.

Well the landscaper who thought they could maybe fit me in, no dice.  But they gave me the name of someone else, who said yes they can get it done within two weeks!  

I'm in the process of removing this stupid bush right now.  It's got a lot of dead underneath, but it's not coming out easily.  I think I have it maybe halfway out.  Lots of roots to slice through.  So all I have to do is get this sucker out and let the weeds and mulch for the landscaper.  So very happy about that!

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20 hours ago, hoosier80 said:

I'm in zone 6a.  I really only want maybe 2 to 3 ft wide at most, with maybe 2 ft high.  I really want something that requires little or no trimming.  Thanks for any suggestions.  I also was pondering a nice big hosta or some sort of green plant.  Not sure about how the hosta would do in the sun, but there could be other varieties or something similar.  I would go with a flowering bush, but I have nothing really green in the rest of the beds.

How about a Goldmound Spirea?  Easy to grow, easy to maintain but it will get wider than your requirement.  

A big old hosta would probably be okay too, just check the variety. Some work in the sun, and they would fit those dimensions perfectly.

And if you don't mind putting another evergreen there, a Dwarf Alberta Spruce would fit that description pretty well except for the height, as after 10 years it will be probably three feet wide but 4 feet tall.

You could put a Peony there.  A little taller than you want, but you get the great late-spring flowers and then a bushy green plant after that.

All of those require almost no maintenance other than food and water.

Edited by JTMacc99

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The front planter bed is fairly large and I have weeded and reweeded it repeatedly over the past few months.  I would make good progress and then hit a roadblock before I could put mulch down to (hopefully) slow the weeds down.  Some of the plants I was pulling out are incredibly viney and I would come across a patch of vines too tough for me to pull out so I would need my son (who still had classes).  Didn't want to bug him midweek, but by the weekend, the weeds I had pulled had regrown.  Or I would weed, get rain for a few days and then regrowth.

I've had bags of mulch sitting in my garage for probably 5-6 weeks while I did this annoying cycle.  Yesterday, we finally got the mulch down on about 1/2 of the planter bed before we ran out.  I need to go get more today and finish up the job.

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@hoosier80 - I currently have a whole string of hostas (a vibrant green variety) growing very happily in lots of sun. They are south-west facing and get thoroughly cooked by the afternoon sun, and seem to love it to bits. Sadly, I can't say for sure what kind they are, but it helps to remember that while most hostas are "shade tolerant," it doesn't mean that they might not also enjoy sun. It pays to poke around your garden center to see what's available. (Check the tags for sun-lovingness. Or whatever that's called.) They are pretty much the anchor of my garden, along with my fruit trees, but there are a couple of things to consider before opting for them:

1) In the winter, they have absolutely nothing to offer. Zilch. They're a bit depressing, really. (Stuff like Rudbeckia or Echinacea, by contrast, has interesting seed heads in winter, although they both bloom later in the year, making them less pretty in early summer.)

2) After they bloom in late spring (they are awesome in that they bloom when basically nothing else around seems to), you'll probably want to get in there and cut down the expired flower stalks, which is work.

3) They are total slug magnets. You need to get ones that are large enough to not care about the slug damage, live somewhere magical without slugs (*dream*), be willing to use poison/ slug pellets, or have a crack team of trained hedgehogs (like myself :-)) who will happily munch them up and protect your plants for you. (I jest, my hedgehogs are wild and thoroughly untrained. But still good on the slug front. ;-)) Or maybe birds?

4) Every five years or so, depends on the size you start with and the quality of your dirt, you'll have to get in there and subdivide your hostas, or they go sort of naked in the middle and get too large. It's weird, and it means work.

@JTMacc99's suggestion of peonies is a brilliant idea, too. Love them, also for blooming when stuff pretty much doesn't. Objection 1) applies to them as well, but there seems to be less work on the deadheading/post blooming front 2). Also have never had to sub-divide a peony.

 

As to weeding, we have a Fiskars weed thingie, which allows you to weed while standing, for which my back is grateful, and does a great job at getting the roots out. (That's for a picture of it. I doubt the text will help. ;-)) Not sure if that's available where you live. It has been a real help in the garden. We neglected things a bit last year, and that led to some pretty unfortunate weed spread. The other tip would be to stay on top of mowing, which gets stuff before it self sows, but that only helps on your lawn. I also have a dandelion hunt daily to make sure those are kept in check. Just ripping off their heads goes a long way to keeping things under control, and takes not much time at all, depending on the size of your garden.

UPDATE

On 2/10/2016 at 2:40 AM, krimimimi said:

Worse yet, lot of the articles were actually about how to *attract* mice to your garden (the insanity!) as a food source for birds of prey, but since they increased the number of houses around here, simultaneously increasing the number of free roaming cats and decreasing the fields, the prey birds have pretty much flown the proverbial coop.

Guys, we now have a pair of Kestrels!! Mating! In our backyards! *swoon* I am thrilled! Probably not coincidentally, no one has seen a mouse in ages. They have trashed a couple of my feeding bowls, swooping in for the kill, but I completely don't care. It seems like they were considering the eaves of our house for a nest (Mr. Mimi wasn't exactly thrilled about that), but wandered off. I keep hoping they'll settle here. They are beautiful!

"Otoh, I expect the chili will be a problem when the hedgehogs come out of hibernation, so maybe this is the ideal time to start using it, and once the mice give up, I could lay off the chili. I'll need to give that some thought."

So I used cayenne pepper (no chili flakes to be had here :-() on the bird feeders, and that definitely seems to have helped with the mouse issue in winter. If that's an issue for anyone, give it a try, it worked like a charm for us. And I poured cayenne into any mouse hole I found. But come spring, it proved problematic for the hedgehogs, as expected. I got to witness that on the webcam, poor thing. I had de-chilied the bowl, but hadn't considered that stuff on the ground would still be covered in cayenne, and the poor guy ran off sneezing. So the next morning I disinfected the ground and put down new top soil and mulch. That seems to have done the trick, and they visit regularly, for which my hostas are thankful.

 

CRY FOR HELP ;-)

Other than that, we don't seem to have an agricultural extension office here, so I joined the RHS. That's only slightly helpful, as I'm not in the UK, but I have used their website for years for plant recommendations, so it seemed fair. Still haven't solved my boxwood problem. There's a rumor that sparrows might help with the Chinese caterpillars, but if they don't that situation goes sideways very quickly, which has me pretty nervous. The local lepidopterists' forum seems to think I haven't a prayer of stopping the buggers, and recommends giving up on box entirely (that was cheery reading, much along "abandon all hope" lines) - but I still don't have a good replacement. :-( Once again - tips on alternatives or recommendations for lay person friendly forums are greatly appreciated.

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I thought about Echinacea (Cone Flowers) too, but I like them in big groups.  I planted them in a 12 X 4 area between my driveway and the fence to the backyard, and it just fills the whole area with pink and green for a couple months. It also fills the area with butterflies in the summer and goldfinches in the late summer and early fall.

This is one of my more successful attempts at gardening.  

Edited by JTMacc99

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I guess I was writing that while @DeLurker posted. She's got a great point about the mulch. A few years ago, I redid the planting around our parking spot, and two things made a huge difference: I put down a weed suppressing tarp (not sure if that's really a "tarp" per se - it lets water but virtually no light through, and it's hard for weeds to penetrate), and then covered it with mulch. The tarp meant that even though I didn't weed it as well as I should have in advance (life's too short), that the weeds didn't come through anyway. The mulch made it prettier and helps keep water in (which is both good for the environment and saves money). It's pretty easy to weed now. There was a small strip that the tarp couldn't cover, and that the neighbors seem to regularly drive over (scattering the mulch), and by contrast weeding that is an absolute bear.

Of course, that only helps if you know where your plants are and can cut holes for them, and isn't as useful if you have a lot of self seeding things that pop up in different spots every year.

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@krimimimi - I thought about using the landscaping fabric (whatever it is called), but I just bought this house and know I am going to want to make some changes in the planter beds.  I am the most non-committal gardener ever so I can't rush myself.  I figured I should wait on buying/laying down the fabric until I had a good idea as to what I wanted.  Plus, I have a feeling it is going to take a while to eradicate those viney things - ugh!

That weeder tool looks pretty great though...will need to track down one of those.

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@DeLurker, two thoughts on that:

1) You can use the landscaping fabric (sounds like it's probably the right term for it) even if you change stuff around, as long as that changing isn't too excessive. Basically, I just cut X's or + signs (whichever) with a box cutter into the fabric where I wanted to place a plant, folded them back to dig the hole/ put the plants in, and then folded the flaps back into place to increase weed resistance. When I've moved plants, it only leaves a tiny bit more exposed than it previously was, and hasn't been a real problem. (I suppose you could work an extra square of leftover fabric into the hole (covering it more thoroughly from below), too, if you wanted.) Of course, if you do that too often, it will make swiss cheese of the thing. 

2) When we built our house, we started with nothing in our yard but building site rubble and weeds. To combat that without the use of chemicals, I put down an actual tarp (not the landscaping fabric, but a real sheet of plastic) over the weed strewn area, and cutting off the light as well as reducing the water supply went a long way towards sorting that for me. Basically dead weeds prove a lot easier to pull out of the ground and weren't spreading like mad in the meantime. Seriously, it was about fifteen minutes of work getting the tarp spread and weighted down, and the actual weeding I ended up doing took a lot less time than it would have otherwise. 

Edited by krimimimi
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On 5/24/2016 at 10:15 AM, krimimimi said:

Other than that, we don't seem to have an agricultural extension office here, so I joined the RHS. That's only slightly helpful, as I'm not in the UK, but I have used their website for years for plant recommendations, so it seemed fair. Still haven't solved my boxwood problem. There's a rumor that sparrows might help with the Chinese caterpillars, but if they don't that situation goes sideways very quickly, which has me pretty nervous. The local lepidopterists' forum seems to think I haven't a prayer of stopping the buggers, and recommends giving up on box entirely (that was cheery reading, much along "abandon all hope" lines) - but I still don't have a good replacement. :-( Once again - tips on alternatives or recommendations for lay person friendly forums are greatly appreciated.

But if you're not in the UK  what country ARE you in??????  New Zealand?  South Africa? Since as I said in March if you have hedgehogs you're not in North America, where I am.

Edited by ratgirlagogo

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@ratgirlagogo, Central Europe, where we have Kestrels, tits and hedgehogs, all of which I gather folks in North America do not. (Well, not the kind I mean anyway.) (But then, I haven't got bluebirds, cardinals or blue jays, so...) But that doesn't keep me from tuning in to the BBC. Hence the question about Chelsea. (The antipodes just scare me. It seems like every second animal is trying to kill you, and the weather isn't hugely conducive to cottage gardens, my garden of choice, next to modern formal.) 

This garden was designed by an Aussie, though (it's not all bad down under ;-)), and it's one of my favorites from the show this year. My partiality towards box definitely plays a role in that. If you can find footage of the Harrods British Eccentrics Garden, it's worth a peek (link to stills). They've used animatronics, and it's like Disney meets the Botanical Gardens. Got a giggle out of me. Some of the others I liked were the M&G garden (the pics don't do it justice), Chelsea Barracks (I'm a sucker for corten), God's own country Yorkshire (the planting did a truly great job of echoing the stained glass), the Morgan Stanley garden (more corten), and as always, whatever Kazuyuki Ishihara's does this year (less moss than usual and more acers). I find I like more woodland oriented planting, things you'd find in a cottage garden (bring on the foxgloves), box, corten, naturalistic or super formal designs. Hope you guys enjoy them, too. 

 

And looking back at my description of the tarp above, I think I'm making that confusing. When I say "sheet of plastic," I don't mean the stuff you'd make a poly tunnel cheapo (or just large) greenhouse out of. You need the opposite effect. It needs to be a solid color that keeps light out.

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26 minutes ago, krimimimi said:

 Central Europe,

Aha!  now I can work on trying to find some body/group that might be of help to you.  Hope your spring is coming in a little less weird than it is here in good old New York State.

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If the UK garden shows are anything to go by, most of us are having the same weird weather. (We have the same climate as central England.) Winter was mild as can be, and then spring was unusually cold, so the blooming times are all off, and a lot of the fruit trees bloomed all at once, instead of staggered. Apparently that should have led to improved cross pollination, and we can expect bumper crops this fall. But it's been too cold to put out grass seed, because it needs to be reliably above (I think it was) 5* C (roughly 40* F) for the seed to germinate, which wasn't happening, and also kept us from putting out the valves and controllers for the sprinklers, the water feature, or even just a hose nozzle. If the temperature drops, they go kaputt, and that adds up quickly.

That resulted in my watering things less than I should have, and the Kerria (japonica) is showing its displeasure. But I assume it will perk up again next year, and all will be forgiven. I love that about gardening. :-)

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14 hours ago, ratgirlagogo said:

Aha!  now I can work on trying to find some body/group that might be of help to you.  Hope your spring is coming in a little less weird than it is here in good old New York State.

So an unusually dry April, followed by a cool May which is now finishing mid-summer hot isn't working for you either?

At least when I drop in my tomatoes and start the rest of my summer garden this weekend, it will be nice and warm.

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On 5/27/2016 at 10:17 AM, JTMacc99 said:

So an unusually dry April, followed by a cool May which is now finishing mid-summer hot isn't working for you either?

It's also the very warm winter, followed by a cool spring.  Cool to the point of a couple of nights below freezing in late April that killed not just all my new  little sweet basils and two of my new little Thai basils but one of my rosemarys that up to that point had been doing fine living outside for the past four years.  Sigh.

Edited by ratgirlagogo

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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

I got a referral from the landscaper I'd contacted; they couldn't fit me into their schedule but the referral worked out.  Some guy who's trying to start up doing gardening or doing it on the side.  He weeded all the beds, took off the old mulch, put down new, and it was done so neatly.  Even called me to ask if there was anything he missed, was it ok.  I am keeping his number!

The front bed has a big empty spot now, so I think I may go for some hostas, at least for now.  I have 3 peonies on the side of my house, so not sure I'd want more.  They are easy to trim back anyhow.

I'm planning on going to the nursery for annuals to put in rail planters that I put on my front porch railing.  I think I'm going to try wave petunias, mixed with some other plants.  I like that you don't have to dead head, so I may mix in with some coleus, greenery of some sort, possibly some other colors of petunias.  The nursery I go to (clear across town so it's a 1x a year deal for me - there's a smaller branch closer but they don't have the inventory the other one does) typically has beautiful colors in petunias, so I'll look for accents.  I did get a deal on ready made hanging baskets - just filled with vincas.  I find they last the best for me as the one side of my porch gets a lot of sun, and they can take the heat.  On sale for $5 a pot, and they are bushy and healthy.

I also put out two large planters on the porch, typically with geraniums, spikes, dusty miller, and coleus.  Then by my garage (back of house), I put two planters with impatiens.  In that spot, the impatiens just thrive.  I really don't have to do much other than water occasionally if we haven't had any rain.  The plants grow almost into a huge ball shape on top, just with maybe doing a half flat between the two planters.  

 Hopefully it doesn't pour rain on Saturday and is just hit/miss like they're predicting now.

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Wave petunias are great.  

I spent Memorial Day weekend turning over the vegetable garden beds, built another 4X8 bed, uncovering and transferring a bunch of compost, and the usual stuff.  The only thing I didn't get to do was put down some weed barrier and mulch between the raised beds.  This needs to be done as soon as possible. Damn weeds will be the death of me.

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Asiatic lily beetles. Bastards. 

Anyone have any suggestions that don't involve picking the creatures off one by one?

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Pretty sure those are the guys responsible for my not having lilies anymore. They decimated mine, and nothing I did worked (including hand removal). That bed now just has roses and mulch in it. :-(

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The prior owner of my house had planted a couple of butterfly plants (milkweed) in the small planter leading up to the front door.  I know have a couple of cocoons hanging from the exterior wall near my front door.  I am able to monitor the process as the butterfly develops - it is really cool!

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On 6/2/2016 at 6:04 PM, Quof said:

Asiatic lily beetles. Bastards. 

Anyone have any suggestions that don't involve picking the creatures off one by one?

 

if those are also called red lily beetles, my local Agway recommends this stuff: 

 

 

 

Beetles Sign.jpg

Bon Neem Package.jpg

 

Bonide isn't organic, but most of their stuff has less harmful impact on the environment than some of the scorched-earth type of remedies. 

Edited by harrie

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The first butterfly has emerged!  I think I barely missed seeing it happen because it was right next to the empty cocoon. 

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After some research (and a serendipitous find on my local online classifieds), I have decided to start my gardening efforts with Ice Follies daffodils.  I like the colors, they are supposedly almost unkillable, and they grow back each year. 

Wish me luck!

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4 hours ago, DeLurker said:

After some research (and a serendipitous find on my local online classifieds), I have decided to start my gardening efforts with Ice Follies daffodils.  I like the colors, they are supposedly almost unkillable, and they grow back each year. 

Wish me luck!

It's a good choice. And pretty much nothing eats daffodils.  All of the regular plant eaters know enough to avoid both the plants and the bulbs.  (I know a Labrador who gave the flowers a shot once. Didn't sit well.)  I think you'll have good success. 

I was about to order 250 crocuses from a site yesterday from their year end sale, but all orders from clearance had to be over $60.  That's a lot of crocuses for me to bury, so I passed.

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My dog will gladly dig up your yard to make planting easier. 

And I had to look them up, but crocuses are beautiful.

Edited by DeLurker

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Went to Home Depot yesterday - bought a package each of freesia, paperwhites and crocus bulbs.  Thanks for mentioning the crocus @JTMacc99 because I would have totally overlooked them.

I went to a composting class a group of master gardeners gave in my town today and I bought a compost bin.

Now I have to actually put together the bin and get the bulbs in the ground.  Baby steps.

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I have a 4x4x8 compost bin I built. I'm not a religious composter, but I do throw enough in it every year to get a few wheelbarrow loads to but back into the vegetable garden. I just tossed some leaves in today as a matter of fact. 

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My dad built our compost bin years ago, and I'm ashamed to say I've let it go these past few years (along with the rest of the yard). It's really a nice one, he designed it himself and I told him he should have drawn up the plans and put them for sale online. Each of two opposite sides has a hinge several inches above ground so it's easy to raise the bottom part of the "wall" like a door and then scoop out compost from the bottom. The stuff at the bottom of the pile is the best, as you know.  ;)

Now that we're finally having decent fall-ish temperatures, I am on deadline and don't have time to cut down volunteer trees and rake leaves. Why couldn't it have been 70-something two months ago, when I actually had time to work outside?

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