Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Growing Guide- Cone Flower loves Sun, full Sun. It will tolerate a little shade. But if it has too much shade it will stay very small, yellow up and probley not make it through the winter. You may have to stake this plant. Those blossoms get big and top heavy after the plant has grown a few years. I use those small green bamboo sticks. They hide well, and the plant stands up very nice. This plant would never do well in standing water. The soil must drain. But it can stand much less frequent watering after the first or second year. My Cone Flower was small the first year, and then I moved it. It was small that next year because of the move, I am sure. But this last year it was huge. I loved every second of it. I use a time-release fertilizer in the spring. And if you keep Cone Flower dead headed, you will have regular prolonged blooming. One of the greatest things about this plant is it is long lived. It blooms and blooms. If you consider yourself a real "black thumb" try Echinacea when it is already started at the nursery. The only problem's that this plant has is with the starting out process. At the Greenhouse they have already tackled this problem for you. When you pick it up it will grow and be beautiful for years to come. Cone Flower comes in a variety of colors. So it can’t just be called Purple Cone Flower any longer! A White Variety is called Echinacea Purpurea 'White Swan'. But there are so many choices with Echinacea. Tall, Medium & Short. Purple, White and Pink.
Hope this gives you a reason to plant Echinacea. If not for the look of the plant, for your own well being. Hee hee
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
First things first. Is your pot in the shade or in the sun? Obviously this is important. You can't put shade plants in the sun. Everyone should know that. But equally as important is you can't put full sun plants in the shade! Although I will admit that in central and southern Utah, sun can be brutal. And some plants that normally wouldn't take shade, will take a little in Utah.
Next, decide your color scheme. The guy I work for says that Mother Nature just throws out seeds and pays no regard to where they land. Obviously fields of wild flowers are beautiful. But here in the "Pot Head" world, things are a bit different. Pick your colors wisely. Last year I planted pink in all of my pots. Partly because my daughter was with me while I planted them, and she is a pink freak! I have never been a real pink girl. By July, I was already finding reasons not to go out and water my pots.
Once we have chosen shade/sun and colors, we are ready for action!
Fill your pot with "new" potting soil. Most nurseries, and even Wal-Mart will have something to purchase. I choose to support my local nursery. Fill your pot full to the top with dirt, then water it in. This is an important step. When you put water in the pot, the dirt sinks! Make sure that you water your pot well enough that water starts to drain from the bottom drainage holes. (You MUST have drainage holes unless you want an aquarium full of dead plants.) Finish filling and watering down until your dirt line is about an 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the top.
Shopping list for a regular 18 to 24-inch pot: (this will work for Hanging baskets as well)
1 ivy geranium
osteospurmum, coleus, angelonia or licorice vine
The above all work for Sun or Shade. But if in dense shade you could use a Tuberous Begonia in place of the Geranium, keeping the Ivy Geranium. Depending on color choices and shade vs. sun options I choose 4 to 6 of the following plants. On dialogue these plants are represented by a Purple Dot. This is your "color"
Some sort of Trailing Petunia, Supertunia or Wave (sun & shade, Not dense shade)
Verbena (sun or shade)
Trailing Lobelia (sun as long as it isn't full sun, and shade)
Euphorbia (Diamond Frost) (sun or shade)
Homestead (sun & is also a perennial)
Fan Flower (sun)
Fusia (only shade & hates wind)
Million Bells (shade)
Lantana (part sun or shade)
Some Proven winner vines that I love but either have no flower or insignificant flowering
Sweet Potato Vines. Limey for Sun Black for Shade (I love these, wouldn't have a pot without)
English Ivy (shade)
Boston Ivy (both Ivy's come in variegated versions) (shade)
Then I add at least one 3 pack of vines (these ironically are mostly house plants)
These are your "Vines" represented on the dialogue as a light green/yellow dot.
Green Charlie (Sun)
Red Charlie (sun)
Yellow Charlie (sun)
Mary Jean Ivy (shade)
Archangel (my favorite) (sun or shade)
Wandering Jew (full sun)
Green Jew (sun or shade)
Bridal Vale (shade)
Creeping Jenny (sun or shade)
If you use the above recommendations, your pots could turn out like these below. We use the same plants and basic standard chart. Also if you feel like you have a big empty spot, fill it in with a simple vine or another color.
Now for taking care of the pots. If you put this much work into them, you might as well take good care of them. Here are some basic guidelines.
Keep evenly moist. Often in Utah that is daily watering. Pots in the sun will need more water than pots in the shade.
I apply a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10-)at least every two weeks. Fertilizer that completely dissolves in water is the easiest. (miracle grow, but I am not advertising) You can also use a time release fertilizer, but check the package for how often to use. Fertilizing is necessary because the nutrients are flushed through the soil through the constant watering.
Your plant probably receives light more from one direction that the other, turn your pot frequently to avoid lopsided growth.
If you remove dead blossoms your plant will continue growing and giving more blossoms. If the dead flower remains, the plant is putting most of its energy into seeds rather than new blooms and foliage.
Some plants become "leggy" or get huge as the season progresses. You can trim back using sharp scissors or pruners. Cut the stem just above a leaf. You plant will be happier, and produce better foliage.
There are so many variations on pots. You need to find the plants that work for you. If you do or don't use this advise, I hope that it gets you excited to create a beautiful pot for you porch.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This is the color of my Rose of Sharon
One of the best things about Rose of Sharon is that it blooms for a very long time. It also has profuse blooming. You will be wowed at how many blooms will be on this shrub. It also blooms late into the fall. As other perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs are turning yellow and closing up for winter, Rose of Sharon will love the cool weather and continue to bloom. This shrub will attract butterflies and humming birds, which is a plus for me. In the spring, this shrub will be the last in your yard to get leaves. You will think it is dead! Don't give up on it. Mid-summer, Rose of Sharon will finally wake up ready for work, and stay later than the rest. Most Rose of Sharon bushes can get 8-10' tall and have a spread of 4-6'. Blossoms come in TONS of colors: white, red, lavender and light blue. Some even have double blooms. Most Rose of Sharon bushes have small, light green leaves.Have I talked you into it?
The list can go on. But these seem to be some of the most popular here in Utah. I have experience planting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, peas, and lettuce. I don't feel like I have the space for potatoes, I am not fond of beets, and I have just never tried brussel sprouts.
In the ground in my garden already, I have a row each of lettuce, peas and carrots. All of these I planted from seed. From the nursery, I purchased broccoli, cabbage and onion sets, and I also planted those. I think I may be a little late on a few of these plants. For instance, the peas should have gone in a little earlier.
Utah weather has been difficult this year. I am not necessarily referring to the snow. It is the overcast clouds that make it impossible for plants to germinate. If you noticed, last week while the snow was melting, steam was rising from the soil. The earth is warm.
Here are some simple instructions for starting your cool crop.
First you will need to get your soil worked well. Whether you do that with a shovel or a tiller, get the ground loose and easy to work. Hopefully you amended your soil last year when cleaned up the garden for the winter. If not, and if this is your first crop. I say go for it! Take you first step. It never hurts to learn. The only amending I would suggest is to clay soil. Clay is very hard on plants. I would say add some nutrimulch or utilite, so that your roots can grow.
If you are starting with seeds, you will need a furrow. Some people put one seed in each hole, but I do not have that kind of time, and not every seed will take hold. (Read the seed packet for germination rates, it may surprise you.) My dad taught me the long furrow way, and it works, so I am sticking to it. Next make a thin row of seeds in the furrow. Cover that over with dirt, and then add the mulch to the top of that. Simple! Seems silly to explain. If you have a very high rate of germination, just move along the row and "thin" the plants. This is especially helpful for carrots.
If you are starting with a plant, whether from the greenhouse or one you started yourself, (bravo! if you started it yourself) make sure the plant is hardened off. Dig your small holes in the pattern of your choice, then plant. Make sure to interrupt the root system. (also called scoring) If you do not, the roots will continue to grow in a circle and your vegetables will not grow very large. This is true of anything root-bound. Cover with dirt, tamp down softly and mulch! (Tamping insures that there is not excess air around the roots that will dry them out. But remember to only tamp gently.) Once again, simple.
Each of these different ways of planting your cool crop will require watering. For proper germination and growing, the soil will need to be warm and moist. But don't leave them in standing water. The seeds will rot and never germinate, or they will be very unhealthy.
If you have never grown a cool crop before, you may be asking yourself if it's really this easy. And yes, it really is. Here are a few extra steps you may want to take.
Some gardeners will put black plastic on the ground before they plant their cool crop, and then put it down after the plants are in the ground, making sure to cut holes where the plants will come through. This can surely give your plants a boost in this weather. The black plastic will heat the ground and add a little jump to whatever sun that does show up. It also inhibits weeds. That alone makes this step really worth it! I personally don't do this. Partly because I don't like plastic on the ground, especially in the heat of the summer, where it can heat the ground too much. Also, for me it is just another step, and I rarely have that much time.
I would really like to give a shout out to MULCH! This step is often forgotten, but is so important. Mulch will keep your plants moist and warm. And if you buy Nutrimulch, it will also fertilize. It breaks down and makes the soil good for this year and next. Most mulch can be purchased in bags or by the truckload. Don't forget your mulch.
Beware of the hard Utah frost! It happens and we all know it. Even with a cool crop, a hard Utah frost will kill them dead. If you hear of an oncoming frost, take these few steps. First, water. This is the "old farmer trick." Water all of your plants. Then carefully cover them with an old sheet. Never use plastic. If your plant is too tall for a sheet, put a tomato cage around it and pull an old pillow case over the cage. Remove the sheet the next morning, and they plants should be just fine.
I'm going to try something fun this year: worm casings! (Basically worm poop.) Yeah! Doesn't that sound horrible? I am totally excited. I found some people in West Mountain that actually sell worm casings. I am going to go over to purchase a big bucket full. I have heard that if you plant it in each hole, your plants will really take off.
I really hope that everyone will take this opportunity to get some cool crop planted this year. This week! I will spend a bit of time over the next few weeks going over the individual needs of each plant. If you have questions about any one plant in particular, please leave me a comment. If you have different experiences than I have had, please do share.