Go Ahead, Spoil Your Soil

Is it me, or do the days get busier and faster? This fall has been wonderful, and our days have been filled with the usual day to day work schedule, along with all the other things that have helped our weekends go by at warp speed– weddings, birthday parties, pumpkin picking, walks, bike rides, etc. I have also been busy doing things around the house as opposed to any garden work. I got some necessary painting done, along with organizing the house, while the weather is nice.

Now I am back to the garden, and I am so happy to be– it’s been another spectacular weekend here in Western New York, and I really don’t know how much longer we will have days that are 70+ degrees. Fall garden prep is underway! I have been collecting seeds as much as I can, but also need to work on some other very important parts of the yard. My front yard and flower beds are in desperate need for improvement. My garden plan for next year includes revamping the front yard and foliage. I seem to have some serious problems with things doing well in my front beds. With last year’s house remodel and other things going on, I haven’t given them enough attention. I need to start from the ground, up (Hehe) — I need to spoil my soil!

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Since we sank our toes into veggie gardening this year, (tomatoes, and some gourds from seeds of last year’s gourds), I have been learning more about soil and how important it is that it is healthy for the sake of not only your veggies, but your plants and flowers as well.

Soil contains many beneficial bacteria and organisms that are vital to everything on earth. Sometimes it needs a little boost:

  • Time to turn it up. I use a garden hoe or a spade and turn up my beds to bring up some of the good organisms to the top to revitalize the soil.
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  • Give it some help. Add more fresh top soil, manure, peat moss, compost to your existing flower beds to give it the health it needs to keep your plants and flowers energized during the growing season.
  • It doesn’t cost much. Top soil, mulch, compost, etc. does not cost a lot, so if you are on a budget, this will definitely not break the bank!

I decided this year I needed to add some composted manure to my front beds. Every other year I usually add top soil, but I thought adding manure to my existing soil would give my beds a good boost of nutrients for a healthy, bountiful growing season next year!

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I am using a bow rake to level out the manure I added to my flower beds.

My large front bed also got a few allium bulbs added to it. It seems too bare out there! I need more of a four-season feel out front of the house, too!

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New layer of manure and new bulbs will make this bed look a little more full come spring! 

Happy fall prep to you all– what do you do in your part of the world?

Seeds n’ Things

Happy fall! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer– which honestly, it still feels like here in Western New York. The weather has been beautiful– however, maybe too much. It has been so warm here that my spring bulbs are starting to sprout again! I fear that we won’t have such a colorful fall like last year because it has been so dry and warm this past summer.

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Never the less, I am not wasting another minute inside, it’s time to get along with my fall garden preparation tasks. A couple of years ago, I wrote a step by step on how to plant bulbs in the fall. I know a lot of people really don’t know how to (I know I sure didn’t at one time), so I wanted to give a little tutorial on how to plant them.

Well, now I am learning how to preserve seeds more. I have done this a little bit in the past, but this year, I have found great joy in harvesting seeds. Every plant has its own unique seed pod.

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The seeds of the hollyhock are slim, wafer-like discs.

Here are a few tips when collecting seeds:

  • Make sure the seeds pods are completely dry when you harvest them.
  • When storing seeds, never place them in plastic bags. Use paper seed packets or bags to allow the seeds to breathe.
  • Remember to share them– think of them as holiday gifts!

Harvesting seeds is a good thing. It is a natural way of controlling individual plant species from taking over your garden.

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The seed pod of a Giant Hibiscus is, well, giant!

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Hollyhocks, Cosmos (Upper Right), White Globe Thistle (Lower Center) will make any gardener happy!

I spent a good portion of last weekend re-organizing and making a place in the unfinished side of my basement to become my little gardening area, which means, saving seeds and storing bulbs that cannot stay outside for the winter. I plan on scouring  Etsy in search for the perfect antique printer tray to hold all my seeds until spring!

I also have purchased 3 more varieties of Allium bulbs that need to be planted, but until it cools down a little more, I think I will wait it out a little longer.

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What are your plans for fall planting? I would to hear what everyone is planting. Trust me, I am not done purchasing bulbs, yet…

 

Falling for Dried Flowers

Good evening, everyone! It seems as though these blog posts get further apart, but I am trying my hardest to get them closer together. It’s been a activity packed summer, and my daughter started Kindergarten this week, so it’s been more emotional than usual around here.

First and foremost, yesterday was my 2nd Anniversary blogging! I can’t believe it’s been two years already– time does certainly fly! Born out of professional frustration, my dream is to one day blog full time, but until that day comes, I will keep doing what I am doing and improving and learning as much as I can to attain that goal. I want to thank you for reading my blog and letting me know what you think and for giving me suggestions that will help my blog in the long run! I am always trying to mix things up, but I want the intent of the blog to stay the same– to help new gardeners start their own gardening adventures by giving advice and ideas as simply and honestly as possible. I want my blog to be the “seed” that starts some great gardens out there! I am still learning a ton about gardening. I am no expert — I just pass along what I have been taught, told, shown, etc. It’s really fun, and I enjoy this immensely. So, let’s get back to business, shall we?

Now, I have to say that I actually have 3 blog posts that I could be posting tonight. I have a couple of “Field Trip” posts that I think you will really like, and hopefully will give you some inspiration in your gardens! But, my intuition was telling it’s time I do an informative piece, because it’s been a little while since I have. And I got the idea of this post from an article in a magazine, along with my blog post I did last year, The Beauty of a Fading Fall garden.

*Remember– your garden doesn’t end when the growing season ends– it keeps giving year round.

I have blogged about the garden and how it gives back to you year round, including the fading fall garden. Planting for Winter Interest also allows your landscape to work for you. Now, I know a lot of my fellow bloggers live in places that don’t have snow (and boy, do I sometimes envy you), but you still have to deal with a Winter garden as well, so please use my post as a springboard of ideas that could work for your nice, warm, green winters.

So, after some researching and getting a lightbulb to go off on my own, I was inspired to take the plants I usually keep to collect seeds, and use them in dried flower arrangements for fall. I even tried to “forage” on trails in the Niagara Gorge this past weekend, but, let’s be honest, it’s a little too early for that. LOL.

My garden grows every year. I mean, I plant more things every year. And I have had some unique things come up in my gardens that I can’t help BUT use dried.

My number one plant? Alliums. At the beginning of the summer, when my Alliums were done, I noticed how beautiful they were dried, and I snipped them off and brought them inside to use as a decoration. I have been using them all summer, and they look great with my fall decor. Yes, my house throws up with Fall decor this time of year:

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And then this happened today:

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My sunflowers came crashing down– no worries, they will be part of some dried flower arrangements to come this season.

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Soon, I will be embarking on my usual pilgrimage to the Erie Canal to get some cattails, but these fake ones I found in the store last year will do for now.

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Here are my white globe thistles in a vase. This plant has been the biggest surprise for me this year, and I am so glad I purchased these last year!

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Here are some other things that would be great to use in any fall arrangement:

  • Seedpods— Chinese lanterns, etc. The more unique looking, the better!
  • Acorns, nuts, etc.–This is what I was looking for, unfortunately, I think it’s too early. Any kind nuts or berries will do!
  • Pinecones— this one needs no explaining. You could call this a default fall/winter decoration.
  • Any flower that dries beautiful in your eyes. It’s limitless. Use what you love and make the most of it!
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This is just the beginning of a beautiful arrangement!

 

 

 

 

The No-Kinks Sprinkler Guide

Disclaimer: I am just passing on knowledge in regards to shopping for a sprinkler. If you are in a drought stricken area, where watering is NOT an option, then I am by no means advocating watering. If you are fortunate enough to use a sprinkler regularly or on occasion, then I hope you find my sprinkler-shopping guide helpful. I also just thought it would be fun to blog about sprinklers.

Hot. Dry. Crusty. Brown. All great words to describe the summer so far in Western New York. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong. We get some rain here and there on occasion, but nothing adding up to much. I have been diligent when it comes to watering, though I have slowed down some, as it is August, and unfortunately most of my plants have faded out fast. There are a few plants that really like hot, dry weather, so I am focusing on them.

In order for me to keep watering my flowers, and I have been advised to really douse them periodically, I use a sprinkler to get them. Because, let’s face it, standing there with a hose in your hand only wets the very top of the soil, and doesn’t do much. So, I went sprinkler shopping to get the one that would fit my needs perfectly.

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This sprinkler is for small yards and waters my plants perfectly!

Who knew there were so many different types of sprinklers? There was one long cavernous aisle devoted to them.  I currently own three, and they are the right ones for my needs.

Things to consider when purchasing a sprinkler:

The size of your yard. Big, small, they have a sprinkler for all!

What you are going to use it for. Watering your lawn, or watering your flowers, there  is literally a sprinkler for every watering purpose.

How much water you want to use. Want a soaker? You got it! Or, just a little mister to keep your plants looking shiny and nice? They have that too!

Currently, this is my sprinkler rotation:

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The old fashioned sprinkler at the bottom of the picture should be a default for everyone. It is good to cover bigger areas of your yard, and because it can be great fun running in it when the thermometer reads 91 degrees!

So, if you think that there is just one sprinkler to use, and it doesn’t suit you well, always remember– this is modern-day America, where the choices are there for you, and they are abundant!

 

 

 

What’s Growing On in My Garden — The Summer Update

As usual, the summer is just flying by! It’s been super hot and humid in Western New York this summer. We are in a severe drought. The grass is brown and brittle. I have had to water my flowers to keep them alive, and I am afraid that doesn’t help the cause. We need a few days of nothing but good ole’ rain.

This year, I have observed some things that I unfortunately don’t have much control over:

  • The deer. No matter how much I try, they are desperate for food. They have eaten all of my hostas, even with my egg mixture on them. It is simply too dry and food is scarce. I am not really too worried about this. I am just going with the flow this year.

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  • I am covering up my tomatoes and and daylilies at night just to deter the deer from devastating my tomato crop, and my lilies. This is the first year I have actually had a great bunch of lilies! They usually eat them before they even bloom!

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  • The garden is lacking a bit of luster because of the drought, but also, I have worked harder than any other year to keep up on watering. I have to remember that it’s still just the first quarter of summer and things will eventually start blooming more.
  • I am also realizing how important the morning dew is for your plants, especially during a drought. What little moisture it brings makes a big difference!

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I have added the following to my garden:

  • Foxglove — Light orange and different!
  • Delphinium — Love the look of these, and got two at the Farmer’s Market.
  • Hydrangeas –I purchased four of these, and I plan on buying more. These are perfect for most parts of my partially shaded yard.
  • Balloon Flower– I dug up the one I bought last year accidentally!
  • White Globe Thistle — My most surprising, unique addition. It grows like crazy and has done well in the drought!

So here are a few things that are blooming in my garden, some new, some old. All make me happy to see them in the morning!

A Spring Showcase

Warm weather, bring it on! We are finally getting nice, mild temperatures in Western New York! I am happy to report that a good portion of my bulbs I planted last year are coming up very well! It’s been really great to see everything in bloom. For a long time, I didn’t have anything come up for me in the Spring, only because nothing was planted! I took a lot of time in the fall to plant over 200 bulbs, which included everything from daffodils to alliums — one of my favorite spring flowers. I have a post in the works for why you should plant them. I have planted many different varieties that will be coming up at different times of the growing season. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of planting different types of plants, shrubs, trees, etc. that come up at different times of the year. Making a show for your landscape last year round is a long and slow process. Enjoy the process and remember that your hard work will not go unnoticed.

I have a few pictures of my spring show that’s going on right now. Please hop on over to my instagram feed to see more of my spring flower photos.Instagram is one of the easiest ways for me to post all of my pictures on my many outdoor excursions.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. In between all the BBQs and fun, make sure to take a moment to remember and appreciate those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom every day.

Enjoy.

 

The Bare Necessities of Spring Gardening

Ok, way too much time is going by in between blog posts– and I apologize for that. There is so much going on in life these days that I squeeze in a post as soon as I get some time. I have also been changing up my blog posts lately just to see what you, the reader, likes best.

Life has been happening, and weekends have been full. We are trying to get big house projects out of the way now so we don’t have to do them during the dog days of summer. I have a special project coming up that I am really excited about, and I can’t wait to give you details within the next few months!

For the past couple of weekends, I have been out in the yard preparing my flower beds for the upcoming growing season. It’s so nice to see so many of my spring flowers on their way. The daffodils are up, my hyacinths smell and look wonderful, and my alliums are on their way.

I was trying to weed around all this great, new growth, and I needed a few tools to help me get my garden in tip-top shape!

I like to write my posts to be as simple and direct as possible, but I also like to take the time to explain certain aspects of gardening as well. One thing in particular I like to make clear to every gardener, from novice to master, is that you do not need to have a lot of fancy tools to garden. 

Here are the bare necessities of gardening, plain and simple. In one of my first blog posts, I explained a few garden tools and how they work. 

Here are a few things that will help you through spring garden preparation:

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  1. Shovel— The shovel is one of the most versatile tools in the garden. Even if you don’t have anything else, or can’t afford to buy too many tools, the shovel could be your one and only and that would be ok. It is your trowel, edger, transplanter, and everything else in between. This will do the job regardless of anything else.
  2. Straight edge rake— This rake helps you even out mulch, turf builder, rocks, etc. on any surface you are working with. Trying to even out the holes or dips in your yard with topsoil? Make sure to use the straight edge rake to keeps things smooth.
  3. Wide Brimmed Hat — This is the barest necessity of all! Spring sunshine is the best sun shine, but it can burn you, too! (My forehead is a great example). Wear your hat while you dig in to yard work!
  4. Trowels — Need I say more? I had to include the trowels in this one. Planting seeds? Or other plants? The trowel is a hand tool that becomes your best friend!
  5. Gloves — I have mentioned many times before that I used to scoff at people who wore garden gloves — boy, was I WRONG. I love wearing them– it’s much easier to pull weeds with gloves than without! It just protects your hands in general should you come across something not so desirable in the dirt.
  6. Rake–This is your regular joe schmo rake. Whether you are raking up debris and other yard rubbish that accumulates from the winter, or raking the thick piles of grass from the first lawn cutting of the season, you won’t be sorry to have one of these!
  7. Garden stool— this handy little stool saves your back, knees, and also has several compartments that allow you to carry all of your hand tools and a knee pad. This will be your savior after hours of garden work.

Here is the list of Spring’s bare necessities for the garden. It doesn’t take much — you don’t even have to have all of these– just a couple will do. It all depends on what you like to use the best and what works with your gardening style.So, here’s to sunshine weekends and happy gardening!

 

 

Consider This: Hellebores

Happy April! It has been a busy last few weeks– between Easter and my daughter’s 5th birthday, there hasn’t been a dull moment.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do too much outside because of this crazy weather. Easter weekend was 72 degrees, and now it’s snowing and blowing! With the weather the way it is, this is the perfect time to add to the “Consider This” series I started at the beginning of the year. I think it is important to introduce and learn a little bit about the different plants you can put in your garden.

Spring is my new favorite season. I have always said that fall was, but my thought pattern has changed. This year, especially, since my winter was not one of the easiest, and I am not talking about the weather this time. I have really been anxious for new life, growth and sunshine. Lots of time outside. While the weather goes up and down, it’s still a little too drab for me outside, though signs of life are popping up a little more now than a couple of weeks ago.

I have been loving all the different floral bouquets that have been at my local grocery store. I usually end up picking up a bunch of tulips every year, but this year, I have been picking up every different flower that has been available!

I picked up calla lilies for my mother and mother-in-law for Easter (yes, and my daughter thought we should have one ourselves), a couple of mixed spring bouquets, and my pussy willows of course.

To my surprise, there was a potted flower at the store that also was something I have been reading a lot about this year. They are called Hellebores.

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Hellebores have petal-like “sepals” that hold nectar.

It seems to be that Hellebores are the “It” plant of the 2016 growing season. Everywhere you turn around, there has been an article about them, and I can understand why. They are beautiful flowers with lovely delicate blooms.

Here are some things you need to know about Hellebores:

  • They are also referred to as “winter rose”, “Christmas rose”, “Lenten rose”.
  • They grow is zones 5a – 8b.
  • They bloom in late winter, early spring, usually around Lent.

This plant is an excellent addition to your garden because:

  • It starts blooming in late winter, early spring. An important step in the direction of having an all-season garden!
  • They are hardy. Despite their delicate look, they can handle whatever comes their way!

Did you buy one in your local grocery store like I did? You can put it in the ground!

  • Wait until the threat of frost is gone in your area of the world. You can plant them at the beginning of your growing season.

Consider Hellebores for your landscape. It’s one of the few plants that gives some life to the end of winter and that drab time in early spring before everything starts blossoming. You will be glad you did!