It was great while it lasted. My lilac bloomed beautifully this spring but that beauty was fleeting--I only got to enjoy it for a few weeks. Despite its name, Bloomerang, and all that it implies, it only bloomed once last year. However, I read online that I should deadhead those blooms and by doing so maybe I could get it to rebloom later in the season. I didn't do that last year, but I will this time around. I'll report back. Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures. I wish I could electronically transmit the amazing fragrance. There's not a manufactured perfume out there that smells half as good as this.
This lilac is hardy to zone 4 and it's about 3 feet tall now in its 4th year.
I've been there. I've tried to divide plants with a butter knife (seriously, I have). I've labeled seeds with markers that fade under the hot summer sun so I can't remember what organic version of pepper I planted. I've pruned roses wearing regular garden gloves and still have the scars on my arms to prove it. Let me save you the aggravation, disappointment, and Neosporin. Here's a list of my favorite garden tools and supplies:
1) A kneeling pad. I garden out on my deck and am either sitting or kneeling on the hard, sometimes splintery wood. My husband bought me this kneepad. It's great. Get one. Your knees will thank you.
2) Gauntlet gloves. These are what you need when you're dealing with thorny roses and blackberry bushes. They can take a beating. I left mine out all winter.
3) Wilcox All-Pro transplant trowel. This is one of those times when the brand makes a difference. You can't destroy this thing. You can try; you will fail. It's stainless steel, has depth measurements stamped right on it, and it's made in the USA. Cheers for the home team!
4) Metal plant markers with pencil. What you write on these will never fade. I tried scrubbing an old one to reuse it. Ajax wouldn't even get it completely clean. I write stuff like what I planted, when I planted it, what its basic requirements are, when it will bloom/bear fruit, what color it's supposed to be, etc. Order a bunch.
5) Felco pruners. Another time when brand makes a difference. I'm not saying there aren't a bunch of pruners out there to choose from, I'm just saying I've tried a whole lot of them and found these have never let me down. You can see from the picture, I don't do the best job of maintaining them. And yet they keep doing the job they were meant to do. You can even get a holster so you can really look like you mean business.
6) Joyce Chen scissors. I bought my first pair about 12 years ago in the kitchen department. Yes, they're great in the kitchen, but I found they are fantastic for the garden. I use it to snip herbs, deadhead flowers, and prune scrawny branches.
7) Stretch garden tape. I use this to train my climbers on a trellis or to tie plants to a stake. The tape is soft and it gives so it won't dig into the stem of the plant.
Make your hands happy
8) Felco saw. This is what I got to replace that butter knife. It has cut through some of my most stubborn, root-bound plants like nobody's business. And it's great for pruning more mature branches.
9) Hand cream. Sweet relief. Even when you wear gloves, your hands somehow manage to get beaten up. Sure, any old lotion will do. But why not spoil yourself a little?
She may sound like high-maintenance royalty but the truth is, she's anything but. Daylilies are known for being super easy to grow and they're reliable bloomers. I ordered Elizabeth from White Flower Farm and this is how she arrived: bareroot. I know; it looks like she could never survive a trip across town let alone the violent jostling she had to withstand on her trek from Connecticut to Virginia. But I've received many plants this way (including roses) and it's rarely a problem. So, all I did was separate the roots from the shredded paper, pull off the rubber band, and plant it in potting mix so that the crown of the plant is at soil level. Then I watered. Now I'll wait.
Plant crown at soil level
Elizabeth will grow to about 18" high while enjoying full to part sun. She's hardy to zone 4 so there's a really good chance she'll survive winter in a container. But I'll probably have to divide and replant within a couple of years because daylilies are prolific multipliers. I'm supposed to see blooms starting in July. Let's hope she lives up to her royal name.
Most of my weekend was spent cleaning up the garden. Trimming, pruning, emptying, and scrubbing. I also had to do a little gluing. All of my terracotta pots made it through the winter unscathed except for one. I had to break out the Gorilla Glue. That stuff is awesome.
Anyway, even though I'm still in cleanup mode, I was able to plant a few things. I bought some spinach plants from my favorite nursery and I ordered some broccoli seeds from Seeds of Change. After consulting this cool companion planting chart, I decided to plant them both in the same container. Both spinach and broccoli prefer to be planted in the spring or fall so I hope to have a good harvest before summer's heat arrives.
To plant, I used an organic potting mix and some Osmocote fertilizer. I also mixed in some earthworm castings, which is a nice way of saying worm poo--there I said it. Basically it's what's left over after an earthworm has digested organic matter and it's used as a fertilizer. I buy it at my local nursery. Is it necessary? I have no idea as I've never done a controlled study. I'm sure your plants will do just fine without it.
So, I'll report back on my vegetable progress--crossing my fingers that those broccoli seeds actually germinate.
I planted broccoli very late last year; I think it was the end of October. Even though it's a cool weather vegetable, it occurred to me that once November rolled around and I still didn't have any broccoli, I probably should have started it a little earlier. But then I looked out at my container at the beginning of this month and I noticed these florets. I had broccoli on all four of my plants! It was oh-so-tasty in my salad.
I've started making plans for this year's garden. There's major cleanup to be done, which I'll document here--it won't be pretty though. And I'll post the new things that I plant in the garden this season. Look for posts on the weekend throughout the growing season.
Well, not real money. This is Eucalyptus "Silver Dollar" and it actually does grow as big as a tree, if you let it (and if you live in a warm enough climate--which I don't).
Silver Dollar is an annual in my zone but it can be overwintered indoors (I haven't tried it yet). It's native to Australia and likes part shade to full sun. It is drought tolerant, in fact, take care not to over water it or you'll end up with an unpleasant case of root rot. Mine was a little slow to get going in my pot but once it did, it grew fast. It's branched out all over the place and is about 3 feet high now. In tree form, it can grow as tall as 50 feet and as wide as 40 feet.
This eucalyptus is very fragrant and the oil in the leaves repels insects. That alone is reason enough to have one in my garden every year.
I grew two types of red peppers this year: one hot; one not. I'll talk about the one that's not first. It's called Bell Pepper "Red Beauty." I bought it as a very small plant rather than growing it from seed. I planted it in mid-May and it started producing about a month ago. But you should know that first the peppers are green and then they turn red. It's perfectly fine to eat them when they're green, but I think they get sweeter once they turn red so I wait. And these peppers are very sweet (they have 0 Scoville units, remember Scoville units?) Red Beauty is an annual that requires full sun, grows to about 24" high, and the pepper is about 4-6 inches from top to bottom.
Serrano hot pepper
The second red pepper I grew is the Serrano. And it's hot. Like Red Beauty, it starts out green and you can use it then if you want. I mostly use serrano when I make salsa. Full sun for these as well.
Neither of these peppers has been bothered by pests this year and they demand nothing in the way of maintenance. Also, I like to plant them with other things in one container. For example, I have my serrano planted in a container with basil. Neither has seemed bothered by being paired together.