Sunday, June 24, 2012

And Now For a Little Texture

This is Astilbe.  I've written about it before but I want to emphasize that it's a great way to add some interesting texture to your garden.  And talk about low maintenance.  It asks for no special treatment.  I inherited it from a fellow gardener two years ago when it was just a little stub of a thing.  I planted it in a pot that's about 19" in diameter and now it's huge.  I'm sure I'll have to divide it next spring.  Astilbe comes in lots of different colors--you'll find it in white, red, and various shades of pink and purple.  It is hardy to zone 4 and likes part sun.  It can tolerate full sun (mine does) as long as it's not the scorching afternoon sun.  And finally (drumroll please), it's virtually PEST FREE!  Actually, it's completely pest free in my container garden but I don't want to make that guarantee for everyone.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Visitors

Visiting ladybug
 Some garden visitors are welcome and others are not.  Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.  Ladybugs, all cute and nonthreatening, are always welcome.  Plus, they do an especially good job of taking care of aphids which can destroy a plant in no time flat.  So definitely leave the ladybugs alone and let them do their thing.  What about spiders?  Well, there's nothing cute about them at all, but when I see a web, I take special care to leave it alone.  That web is a sign that there's a barrier between my healthy plants and the annoying pests that seek to destroy them.  I've mentioned before that I avoid all chemical fertilizers and pesticides in my container garden primarily because we eat many of the things I grow.  But it's also been cool to see how nature works to solve a problem so that it does not get out of hand. 
Ladybug found home in Penstemon "Husker Red"

Web between carrots and hydrangea

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Sample Harvest

Sample harvest
Here's a small sampling of the sorts of things I am growing this year in my container garden:
Early stage bell pepper
It's getting hot so the snap peas and lettuce are near their end for now--they are cool weather crops.  But I've gotten my money's worth from those seeds because we've eaten lots of salad this spring.  I will plant more seeds in September and, if the winter is anything like last year, I'll be able to harvest until December. 

I have also planted the following:
  • Carrots
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Tomatillo
  • Serrano pepper
  • Italian Parsley
  • Bay Leaf
Cascadia Bush snap pea
Obviously, if I had more space, and if I were willing to sacrifice more of my flowers, I'd be able to grow more food.  But the reason I'm writing this post is to demonstrate that you don't need much space at all.  Even if you only have a few pots, you can grow some lettuce, or strawberries, or a selection of herbs that you use the most. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Never Say Never Again

Rosa Carding Mill

When I started my container garden 10 years ago, I swore off roses.  I thought they were just way too much trouble--picky, demanding, elusive.  Of course, I had no first-hand knowledge.  All I knew was what I heard from other gardeners who were forever feeding, pruning, coaxing, and babying their roses.  No thanks--not for me!  Well, a fellow gardener told me about the roses she bought from a company that specializes in "antique" roses--the kind that seem to thrive on neglect.  Sign me up!  I have accumulated several  of them over the past few years.  And after tiptoeing into those rose-y waters, I've gotten more brave and have bought others.  Here is "Rosa Carding Mill".  It's a David Austin English Rose.  All I can say is , "Wow!" Now, time will tell if I maintain my enthusiasm.  So far Carding Mill hasn't been a bit of trouble but I only bought it in March.  It's definitely going to have to prove itself. 
Rose arrives bareroot

Closeup of Carding Mill bloom

I bought Carding Mill online from White Flower Farm (WFF).  This rose is now out of stock but WFF still has a lot more roses to choose from.  Almost all of their roses arrive bareroot.  So basically when you get it, it looks dead.  Don't worry.  Just plant it according to the directions and within about 3-4 weeks, you'll see signs of life.  Carding Mill is hardy to zone 5, likes full sun, grows to 6 feet high, and is very fragrant.  It's also supposed to be a repeat bloomer (another big plus) between the months of June and September.  I planted it by itself in a pretty large terra cotta pot.  I don't know how many years it will be before I have to transplant it.  

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books