Open Thread

Last year, one of you posted in the comments the most amazing set of tomato stakes/cage/teepee and for the life of me, I can not find them. They were wood, and they sort of fit together to form rows of angular cages. Anyone remember what I am talking about?








Open Thread: Thursday Night Garden Chat

Our lilacs are gorgeously productive this year, with flower trusses in all shades of lilac and purple and white. The flowers almost hide the new green leaves on the towering front-yard bush which was one of the reasons we bought this house, coming up on 20 years ago now. And the masses of dark-purple irises (don’t know the proper name; I call them ‘Auburndales’ because that’s where I thinned out the overcrowded patch next to the rental duplex and ended up with a handful of leftover root crowns which have multiplied relentlessly ever since) are in glorious competition. Usually the irises come up either well before or just after the lilacs bloom, so this is a bonus season.

Also growing very vigorously is what’s left of the lawn; it’s approaching knee-deep now, and if the local weatherpersons are correct it might actually be dry enough tomorrow to commit the first mowing of the year. Does anyone have any advice / recommendations on reel mowers? Our current model is electric, and I can just about manage to haul it around, but I’d really like something lighter even if it meant more “work” pushing it…

What’s your gardens looking like, this week?








Open Thread: Thursday Garden Chat Edition

No gardening for me right now, until the wound on my palm closes up. And now that it’s forbidden, weeding & mowing suddenly seem much more attractive. The cherry blossoms have fallen, the lilac trusses are starting to open, and with any luck there will still be a few six-paks of pansies and allysum available at the local garden center this weekend…

Farhad Manjoo at Slate wrote a highly enthusiastic review of Ray Newstead’s EarthTainer system for tomatoes. I’ve been very pleased with the Gardeners Supply Company’s self-watering troughs during the last two growing seasons — even during a week-long vacation that turned out to be the only bone-dry spell, the plants in the troughs stayed hydrated & fruiting while those in the regular pots between each trough withered. And I’ve been crowding 4 or 5 tomatoes into each planter, supported on tomato ladders, which is far from optimal but there’s very little sunlit space in my yard and I always order too many plants during the dreary February catalog season.

Anybody here have experience with building and/or using Newstead’s EarthTainers? How complicated is the construction? Have your harvests been satisfactory?








Open Thread

Spring is finally here, so I am prepping the yard and getting things in order. I’m putting up a fence around the back yard to keep the dogs in and the critters out, so the tree folks came and trimmed all the pine trees up to a manageable height and got rid of decades of dead wood and growth. It looks a lot better and my yard seems much bigger. Also, they ripped out the dying bushes in the front of the house and took out the dead rhododendron, and I planted a bunch of evergreen groundcover with two decorative trees. Will be glad when that is done, but it already looks so much better.

Next up is plowing the garden and framing it. This year I am throwing down some railroad ties to help separate the yard from the garden.

Finally, the winter ceasefire with the dandelions has come to a close, and we are now engaging on several fronts. There has been a major push from the south, east, and west, and after a number of successful missions, I can report that the enemy suffered many casualties. This isn’t over by a long shot, and it is obvious to me that they are using the neighboring lawns as staging areas, but armed with my Fiskars, I think another Friedman Unit should do it. I have ruled out the use of chemical weapons for now.

Also, Pens, Game 7 tonight.








Open Thread: Thursday Evening Garden Chat

This is a frustrating time of year in my garden, cleaning up all the dank detritus I didn’t get around to last fall, watching the temperatures bounce between the 40s and the high 70s, and judging exactly when the tree pollen level goes from ‘moderately high’ to ‘off the charts’ by the state of my sinuses. But the handful of leftover 2-year-old ‘Tete a Tete’ mini-daffodil bulbs I hastily stuffed in the raised bed last Thanksgiving weekend are blooming bravely, as is the vinca, and all the other mostly cream-colored daffodils I’ve been ‘naturalizing’ since we bought this place 17 years ago.

This weekend, with any luck, I’ll be able to pick up a few six-paks of pansies at my favorite garden center, and some asparagus crowns for the raised bed that finally got tucked in one corner last fall. From what I’ve read, that spot is probably not quite sunny enough for best results, mostly because one hideously misshapen oak tree leans over it. I’m hoping that the new crowns can leaf up in advance of the tree… or that the latest winter-split branch dangling over the power lines will finally convince the city to prune it, if they won’t remove it from the public way altogether.

What’s it like in your garden right now?








Gardening Question

I’ve got a bunch of brush I was going to burn to get rid of, and I thought maybe what I would do is just pile it into my empty garden, burn it, and then till the ashes into the soil. Would it be ok to do that? And would it be ok if a lot of the brush is dead pine branches?








Open Thread: Thursday Garden Talk

This time last week we got four inches of wet snow, but today was shirtsleeve weather, so I pulled the sodden remnants of autumn’s oak-leaf mulch off the “display” raised bed in our south-facing front yard. Four of the six miniature roses have leaf buds, the daylily crowns are sending out green shoots, and the unstoppable Siberian iris fans are nearly a foot tall (no flower buds yet, though). Ripped out whole mounds of invasive catmint, but there’s still plenty for when the bumblees first emerge (I hope). The daffodils closest to the house, whose first flowers got crushed by the snow, don’t look like they’re coming back this year, but the ones by the chimney on the east side are starting to blossom. Best of all, it looks like the lilacs made it through okay — lots of fat pistachio-sized buds, some of them already showing miniscule developing purple florets. One reason I’ll never live below the Mason-Dixon line is that giving up lilacs would ruin Spring for me.

The nice weather almost made me wish I’d reserved this year’s tomato plants (36 varieties, mostly heirlooms, from 2 different sources) to arrive during the first half of May instead of the later weeks. (Of course, if I had, there’d be snow on Mother’s Day.) Since I couldn’t find any Isis Candy plants for sale, I bought a packet of seeds, and I’m going to try direct-seeding them in the sunniest planter and experimenting with the red plastic sheeting left over from last year.

Also thinking about getting a waist-high wheeled planter to grow mesclun. I have no faith in my ability to tell edible greens from the wide variety of ferociously invasive weeds here, but maybe elevation and the judicious use of row cover would help…

What’s your garden look like, right now?