Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Eggplants

I dislike eggplant.  You could even say I despise eggplant.  That is, cooked eggplant.  It tastes nasty (to me, you may love it with a passion I save for my plumcots), and usually ends up a disgusting grayish slime.  The only eggplant I found palatable was eggplant Parmesan, which basically hides the eggplant in sauces and cheese!  Why bother?  Someone shared a favorite eggplant recipe with me a few days ago.  It included not only eggplant, but fish sauce.   Nope... don't do fish sauce. 

So, why did I plant an eggplant?  Simply for one reason.

They are beautiful plants.  Beautiful leaves.  Beautiful blossoms.  Beautiful fruits.

I grew Dusky a few years ago:

beautiful plant with beautiful leaves
beautiful blossoms
beautiful fruits
beautiful fruits and a Doodle
lots and lots of beautiful fruits
I don't have the room for a full size eggplant this year (I never did get around to building raised beds with the bargain raised bed corners I bought.  Short on time and money... Next year...)

So, I got a Patio Baby!  Isn't that a cute name?  It grows only 24" or so high, with fruits about 2" long.  Perfect for a the large ceramic pot on my deck. 

What will I do with the beautiful fruits?  I'll take them to work and leave them on the employee break room table of course!  I won't be eating them, that's for sure! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Whole Lotta Plantin' Goin' On

Seeds have been planted...

Jade II - I was fine with the original Jade, so we'll see how this II is improved!  I will plant more in two or three weeks.

Small Sugar, a small variety with thick flesh great for eating.  I tried this manure bag planting a few years ago with good success.  It's a good way to plant pumpkins in out of the way corners of the garden, with plenty of room to spread.

manure bag pumpkins several years ago

Poke holes in the bottom of a manure bag (this is steer manure, I haven't tried chicken to compare). Turn it over and place it where you want the pumpkins to grow.  Cut out the top.  Push in the seeds, ignoring the 6' apart advice!  Water and wait.


I have thousands, literally thousands (the packets I ordered contain hundreds, and in one case, a thousand, seeds!) of butterfly favorites.  I directed seeded:

  • cosmos (grocery store seed rack)
  • anise hyssop (You Grow Girl)
  • Mexican red sunflower (annual - eBay)
  • Mexican butterfly weed (annual - eBay)
  • white yarrow (eBay)
  • rue (eBay)
  • mixed packet containing Bishop's flower (which needs to be pulled out when identified, as it's toxic to dogs), black-eyed Susan, butterfly milkweed, California poppy, candytuft, blazing star, Indian blanket, coreopsis, aster, lupine, vervain, Shasta daisy, Siberian wallflower, alyssum, Sweet William - eBay) 
  • purple coneflower (eBay)
  • Rocky Mountain penstemon (this is for both the butterfly garden and the rock garden in the front yard - eBay)
The wire "fences" are just right to keep Edward the Goldendoodle from stumbling through the beds!  These two were part of the city-wide garage sale deals.  I need one more!
The Shasta daisy has almost turned into the type of flower I dislike!  Where there are so many flowers you can't see the green foliage!  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Just a Few New Things Planted and to Plant...

The weather is warm and sunny at long last!  It's going to be one of those years that just jumps into summer after a long cold spring.

I planted lemon cucumbers.  I didn't get to the FFA sale at the high school this year, so these are from work.  They are smaller than the FFA ones tend to be, but I am confident they'll catch up.  We do carry quality plants at work!

Another mint!  I missed out on several new to me varieties, but found a nice Sweet Pear mint.  It doesn't smell as pear-y as the strawberry mint smells strawberry-y, or the apple, apple-y.  It's quite a pretty plant though.

Cilantro is up.  I have had it self-seed for several years, but this time I had to plant seeds myself.

In pruning off the spent lilac blooms I found this...  Once these shelf, or bracket fungi appear it's a sign the infection is inside, so nothing to be done.  Beautiful, but not welcome.

There's a new Gaura for the rock garden in the front yard. It's funny, last year's label called it an "Indian Feather," but now they are labeled "Wand Flower."  They are the same plant.  I don't think they are very attractive plants, but I love the flowers waving around at the end of the long, wand-like stems.
I have two in the older part of the rock garden, planted a bit behind some rocks that hide the plants themselves!

Working in the rock garden yesterday I came across far too many "deposits" the neighbor's cats have left (and they eat some nasty food that makes their "deposits" extra nasty) !  I bought some cat repellent and will spray it around the edges of the area and some random spots where the cats seem go most.  The spray smells like cilantro, at least to me!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trying Some New Things: Onions and Potatoes

I've never grown onions or potatoes. Even as a child with a gardening father we never grew onions.  I have one memory of his growing potatoes, in which the harvest were teeny tiny spuds we laughed about for years.  Now those baby taters are "in!"

So, when bagged potatoes went on sale for $1.00, I thought, "Why not?  I'll give them a try.  After all, I'm only into it for $1.00."

The potatoes are German Butterballs.  There were several other types, but I loved the name German Butterball!  Turns out they are supposed to be an easy one for beginners to grow.  Good!  I got 12 in my package of 10.

I'd been reading a lot about potatoes in containers... potatoes in trash cans... potatoes in laundry baskets... just how easy it is to grow potatoes nearly anywhere.  I had some old wire left from when the boysenberries were still little sticks and needed protection from Boo's ball.

December 2012
I hooked two together, and lined the bottom part with cardboard.  I had made a pile of old potting soil mixed with new steer manure I fitted the wire around.

Then  I just placed the potatoes where I wanted them, and pressed them into the soil a few inches.  As they grow I'll snug straw up around the plants.  It's supposed to be as easy as that!  I had five unused potatoes, which I just stuck in the compost heap.  Who knows...  peelings have been known to sprout!
Most of them had some growth on an eye.  I knew enough to face that up!

As for onions, we don't eat a lot of them.  I like the taste they give foods, but not the cook onion sliminess, or raw onions at all.  I will cook onions when I make chicken fajitas, for the taste, but pick out them out before eating.  I usually use onion powder when a recipe calls for onion!   But, the little six packs of baby Yellow Sweet Spanis looked good!  A six pack is waaaay too many!  I only planted a fraction of what I got.  A six pack does not have six onions, it probably has a dozen in each of the cells!

I only planted about ten.  I am not confident I planted them correctly, so it's another "we'll see what happens."  They are "garden bed friends" with tomatoes, so they are in the same raised bed as the Sungold and Siletz tomatoes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Garden Shots and another Bargain Deal

I think I forgot to mention the fire ring.  Another "lost on the shelf for several years" deal from work. We need to make a fire-proof base for it, like concrete stepping stone or something like that.  The Internet is full of inspiring photos!  $10.00.

It casts such a pretty shadow
And just some pretty shots from around the yard...

bearded iris

bearded iris

spider on a boysenberry blossom

Shasta daisies just a week after planting

pansies in a bargain container

alyssum in a bargain container




Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sunny Days Bring Lots of Projects! (part 4, in which we see some terrific bargains!)

So, I came across a pile of old boxes at work the other day.  Discounted trellises, arbors, etc.  Could I resist?  Of course not!  These were super good deals on things I have wanted for years!
  • Trellises - two each of the cedar Eiffel Trellis and cedar Pyramid Trellis.  Talk about bargains! The Eiffel ones were slashed from $45.99 to just $19.40!  The Pyramid version were originally $80.99, for not quite as good a deal, but still a big savings, of $32.40.  I will admit I splurged, but I really, really have wanted some of these... even one of these... for so, so long...  

  • Rose Arches - two of these as well.  Sort of a Noah's ark of plant supports!  Once built I am surprised these originally sold for $53.99!  I got mine for $21.60 each.   

Not sure if we bent one of the top pieces or we put one on the wrong way... 

This one hasn't been sunk into the ground yet, so it's crooked.  I was going to plant the not-so-bare-root climbing rose, but my son asked me why I keep planting things with thorns where we walk!  So, I am going to plant a wisteria vine in an oak half-barrel.  We have both a work, and I have a 25% off coupon to use on the barrel!

That's it for my Sunny Days series!  I got a lot of bargains and got a lot done.  Gardening is great!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sunny Days Bring Lots of Projects! (part 3 - front yard rock garden project)

Not that it's sunny anymore, the weather is much cooler, overcast, and a bit dreary.  But, it did hold off during my wonderful five days off!

The front yard is coming along nicely, after one huge disappointment.  Well, not a disappointment so much as outrage, but there's nothing to be done for it currently, so no sense staying upset.  Although I still am.

I am edging the rock garden planting areas with river rock, and putting pea gravel for the paths.
Last year's work:

I ran out of both rock before finishing the largest area.
Last month's work:

BUT... having been buying this same rock, both river and pea gravel, for several years, I didn't expect an problems.  BUT... the company must have a new supply, a new quarry, something different, because the sizes of both have changed drastically!  I can't use it. The pea gravel is about 3x the size it was, and the river rock is half the size, so there is barely any difference between the two.

Pea gravel in hand, river rock below - that's not pea gravel!
new "pea gravel" in front is considerably larger than existing gravel and would stick out like a sore thumb if I tried to mix them

I ended up spreading the pea gravel out near the sidewalk, around the rock roses.  If nothing else, maybe it will cause the clod who throws his or her cigarette butts in my yard to think twice.  Not that it was okay to do it before there was gravel, but now it looks more tended.  I have thought of posting a sign saying, "My gravel is not your ashtray."

So, until I can find the same sizes, that part of the project is on hold.  I did put in all the plants I had already purchased. I need more of course, but it's a start.

Up by the sidewalk, between the rockroses is where the giant pea gravel was placed 

There are blue fescues, creeping phlox, sea thrifts, lewisias, and lithodoras so far. I have a list of "wants" as well!  Lots of "wants!"

Oh, the rock roses at the sidewalk edge are beginning to bloom!  Such pretty blossoms with their wrinkles from unfolding!