Monday, February 28, 2011

Documenting The Garden

I've been sharing my lists with you for the coming growing season. Now, I'm going to share with you the "records" for Garden on Sherlock Street.

We closed on our house in December of 1997. We moved in the first weekend of January 1998. All we knew about the garden was that there was a fruit tree, two large bushes, a handful of small evergreens and some perennials along the foundation. Everything was asleep.

My wonderful husband and I took a landscaping class from our local horticulture extension agent that February. We received a lot of written information, a template of circles, a ruler, graph paper, transparent paper and great advice. Our first "homework assignment" was to measure our garden and draw it on the graph paper. In addition to the size and shape of our garden, it shows all the hardscapes. Anything not soil or plant. It didn't look like this when we started. I draw in changes as we make them to the garden.

On one of the transparent papers, we made notes of what we had in the garden when we moved here (turns out it was a cherry tree which has since died, two lilacs, some arborvitae, Russian sage, purple irises and sedum autumn joy), what we hoped to have in the garden and conditions outside the garden we needed to consider such as planting tall evergreens along the driveway to screen the view--done!

On the other transparent paper, we draw all of the trees and shrubs. Since these are large plants that take a serious commitment to plant or remove, they get their own layer on the large maps. I update this layer as well.

From the large maps I made smaller maps. I photo copied the front garden with the hardscapes, trees and shrubs, and the back garden with the hardscapes, trees and shrubs. I made multiple copies and use them to mark where different things are in the garden: paths and walkways with yellow highlighter, soaker hoses with orange marker, ground covers, perennials and bulbs. For the perennials and bulbs, I use numbers on the maps with a list of the plants and varieties along the sides. I use pencil because something gets erased every year.

Front Garden

Back Garden

I also keep the tags, catalog descriptions and receipts of as many plants as possible. A lot of my plants were given to me by friends or family so I'm guessing on those plants sometimes. I have a pocket for trees/shrubs, bulbs, ground covers and perennials for both the front and back gardens just like I have the maps for those categories. I try to write the number from the maps on the tags. I never leave the tags outside with the plants. They won't last and I'd lose all the information. I'm considering making some plant markers that can survive our weather; but as of yet, nothing in the garden has a label by it.

My plan hope is to make a list of all the plants on the computer so I can search it easier. My little maps work fairly well and I will still use them, but a searchable list will help with finding the info I need about a particular plant.

I also need a place to put garden ideas and information about plants I hope to add to the garden. Every gardener should have a wish list!

I've seen some great ways to organize garden records on blogs this past year. What ever plan you use, try to keep up with it. It will keep you from accidentally digging up something because you forgot it was there while it was dormant. Been there, done that.

I also started keeping the lists and notes about the vegetable garden and containers from previous years so I can check on what I did.

This year, I'll also have this blog.  Yea!!

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

See...Winter Again

In addition to the sleet, freezing rain and snow Thursday, it snowed lightly Friday and we were treated to freezing fog this morning.  Everything is glazed or frosted.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Defining The Paths

Now that there is no lawn in the back garden, I find myself needing to define paths.  Our new beds are framed with broken concrete pieces making those areas obvious, but I have other plants I need to protect. 

Last year, I purchased a handful of decorative edging.  These three did a great job of protecting the plumbago and marking where the path is around the locust tree. 

I wanted to extend the line a little farther to protect more of the area around the locust tree.

I took photos of all the decorative edging I own and when we ventured into the big city last weekend, we stopped at the store where I purchased the edging last year.  The store did not have the style that I currently have around the locust tree but it did have another style I own.  I purchased two of these last year. 

The store had five when we stopped.  They all came home with me and now are around one side of the locust tree.

I used a stick laying by the locust tree to help space them evenly.

This was done Wednesday afternoon when it was nice and warm outside.
Winter has returned to GonSS.  Thursday we had sleet, freezing rain and snow.  Possibly more this weekend.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Look Familiar?

The very first post on this blog showed yellow crocus blooming.  Well, the crocus are at least one week earlier this year than last year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dreaming Of Containers

I plant a lot of containers at Garden on Sherlock Street.  I always think I won't add to the list and that I may even remove containers from the list, but that never happens.  It seems for every container that breaks or is given away (with plants) to someone, another one finds its way to GonSS.  I really like having containers sitting on the patio and along the sidewalks.  Those plants do so much to 'soften' the hardscapes.

Below is a list of what I consider my large outdoor containers and hanging baskets.  I also tend to have a number of plants in smaller containers that also find a home outside during the summer.  And, then there are the houseplants.

The list is fairly self explanatory.  Each container is listed by material, shape, size or some other descriptive term.  Containers that have 'mates' exactly the same, get a symbol of some kind to mark that they are a set such as with the @ symbol on the tree pots.  I usually plant matching containers with the same plants.  Usually.

I have reviewed the plants overwintering in the family room and checked my seeds to see what I already have on hand that will need a container this summer.  Then, I dreamed about what I wanted to fill out the containers.  Those plants are highlighted in yellow.  I'll need to purchase those plants (and the fish).

The photo I took of this list last year showed a lot of changes by the time I planted the containers.  Don't be surprised if this changes.  A few are a given.  I've already ordered the gooseneck loose strife and elephant ears.  I know I will plant purple fountain grass.  I usually purchase just one container of it and divide it up.  We'll see if I get enough for three containers.  Then, there will likely be something that looks good at the greenhouse which I haven't even thought of yet! 

What fun to dream of beautiful containers with foliage spilling onto the patio.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Putting The Puzzle Together

We have two raised vegetable beds built with concrete blocks.

I have "maps" of each bed pretty close to scale on graph paper. I make photo copies of the original drawings to use each season. The scanned images below are this year's "proposed" vegetable planting plan. I know the scans are not great because I wrote on the "maps" in pencil, but I think you get the idea.  This could change. The garlic was planted last fall so that is decided. And, I'm positive I want the tomatoes where I've listed them. Anything else could change. I drew in the two cold frames (the rectangles), the foldable cages (the squares) and the "tornado" cages (the circles). Otherwise, I simply wrote in the general plant names for the different areas. I will modify the map as I actually plant everything and add notes about varieties, etc.

I'm sure you're thinking some of these plants are too close to each other. I've had good luck planting large plants close together such as the squash plants and the peppers. What I have to watch closely is that the smaller plants like carrots and kohlrabis don't get shaded or buried.

Hopefully, everything will fit!

In addition to the two raised vegetable beds, we will have edibles in some other areas.

The strawberries will share the berm with pea, watermelon and basil plants.

A new bed which we plan to build in the space where we mulched out a large amount of the lawn in the back garden last year will be home for pumpkin, mesclun, spinach and radish plants.

I'm also going to try growing rosemary in a container so it will be easy to bring indoors next fall.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Color In Winter

The snow is melting at Garden on Sherlock Street.  In fact, today is so warm, we have the doors open to enjoy a breeze.  I ventured out to get a couple of photos of color in the winter garden.

The hens and chicks which grow in the side garden and by the air conditioner, turn a nice shade of purple during the winter.

Also, the red twig dogwood really shows off when there is snow.  I didn't venture out into the deep snow to take a photo because I didn't want to track up the back yard.  There is a little snow left so I got some of the contrast.

Enjoy the red color for Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Winter Sown Seeds

Since starting this blog last March, I've read a lot about winter sowing.  This is a new idea to me.  I've been reading posts and researching it online.  WinterSown.Org has a lot of great information.

I have some seeds I saved from a flower in my neighbor's yard.  She doesn't know what the plant is.  She got it free at a plant giveaway.  It had yellow flowers that resemble sunflowers and yet resemble coneflowers.  No, I don't have any photos of it blooming.  It reached about two feet in height and bloomed mid summer to frost.  She saved me some seeds.  I decided they would be used in my first winter sow attempt.

Many different containers can be used.  I went with free and am reusing some of our milk jugs.  Also on the table, potting soil, the seeds, packing tape, shears and a permanent marker.  Saturday, I put it all together.


I cut the bottom off the milk jugs except through the label making that area a "hinge."

I cut slits in the bottom of the milk jugs around the edge for drainage.

I filled the bottom of each jug with potting soil.

I soaked the soil very well and let the jugs drain in the sink.

These are the seed heads I received from my neighbor.

I loosened all of the seeds.

I sprinkled seeds on the soaked potting soil.

I covered the seeds with a little more soil.

I pressed the soil down on the seeds.

Taping the container back together was messy because I sat each one on the counter to put the tape over the slit.  They all continued to drain and made a mess!

After I dried the counter and the containers, I labeled each one.  I only planted one thing, but I wanted to be covered in case I decide to plant some other seeds.

I sat the containers outside where they will get full sun.  They're beside the pile of concrete pieces.  I'm hoping that will protect them from any crazy strong winds we may receive.  You'll notice there are no lids on the spouts.  The containers need ventilation.  If your container doesn't have a small opening, you should cut slits in the top. 

The idea is that the seeds will sprout when temperatures are appropriate for the seedlings to grow and they'll be easy to transplant.  I'll check on them occassionally to see if they need water.  Although, right now, they're buried in a snow drift from Tuesday's snow storm.

I have more of the seeds which I will also plant directly into the garden when we're past chances of frost.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The snow is deeper than when I took the video this morning, and it is still snowing.

All Birds Are Snow Birds Today

Freezer Burn And Promises

I was surprised at how well the lettuce in the cold frame was doing the day we pruned the trees.  However, the recent Artic blasts have taken a toll.  Hopefully, the plants will recover and grow new leaves.

In other news, promises of fresh vegetables and beautiful flowers arrived in the mail Saturday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Febrrrrrruary Tour

The February Tour is ready!  You can find all of the monthly tours under 'Pages' in the right hand column.  For February's tour, please go back one post.

Not much has changed in the garden since January except for the snow piles.  You'll also see a little pile of branches in the alley waiting for us to take them to the city tree disposal.  We pruned trees a week ago.  Then, we had an Arctic blast taking us below zero Fahrenheit.  This weekend, we were up to 50 degree weather again.  Snow predicted for us Tuesday.

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Tour February 2011

Front Garden


Back Garden

Side Garden