Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Quick Survey Question

I have a small survey question in the right hand column.  I'm planning to leave it open through Friday.

I try to use labels with my posts to make it easy to find other posts about the same subject.  I use them a lot to search the blog myself to check on when plants bloomed the year before, etc.  I am curious if you use them too. 

I appreciate labels on the blogs I follow especially if I'm reading a blog for the first time and they're discussing a plant I'm particularly interested in.  I use the labels to get more background.

Hope all is well in your garden.  My garden has a lot of trash because we've had so much wind lately.  It seems plastic shopping bags, candy bar wrappers, styrofoam cups, and miscellaneous receipts find their way to the garden no matter which way the wind is blowing.  I need a nice days just to do trash pickup soon.  I check on my winter sown seeds often as this warmer winter is drying out the containers frequently.  I'm also seeing a lot of bulbs sprouting.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Composting Confession

Gardeners know that compost is "black gold" for plants.  So many good things in compost to feed the soil and feed the plant.

Our city has a compost site where gardeners can take plant material and pick up free compost.  If you have a large amount of plant material (such as grass clippings or raked leaves) it's super easy to make a trip to the site.  Getting the compost involves some effort shoveling it into a container or vehicle, but is worth it.  We utilize the free compost for large planting areas.  Now, if you only have scraps from the kitchen or clippings from the garden occasionnally, it's not worth the trip to take them to the compost site.

With a small garden, I didn't want to give a lot of space to constructing large compost bins.  Nor did I have enough to fill them for the composting process as often is described in gardening information sites.

Several years ago, I purchased a compost tumbler.  I have not gotten the hang of it.  I keep reading about putting in this ratio of dry material to that ratio of green material and letting it 'cook' turning the compost tumbler occassionally.  I never have the right ratios available.  Plus, what about the kitchen scraps I have accumulating?  Where should they go while waiting to be part of the composting process?  It is great when I pull a lot of weeds.  I just stuff the compost tumbler full and let them bake in there.
Giving up on having the right ratio of materials, I just started sticking what ever I had in the tumbler spinning it when I walked by.  I would eventually get compost.  Lumpy compost, but it is better than nothing.  Often the material gets too dry in the compost tumber.  However, when it rains; the compost tumbler manages to capture water.  Now, that makes great compost tea.   I have encouraged that process and use the compost tea on containers.

  In the winter, nothing 'cooks' in the compost tumber for me very well.  So, what do I do with the kitchen scraps?  I just toss them on the ground in our 'wild area' next to the compost tumbler.  It's a bit unsightly, but it's winter.  I don't spend a lot of time out there looking at the space.  The view from our table is in the opposite direction.

In the spring, I rake together the scraps and last fall's garden clean up material and then dig out the awesome soil that has formed below.  We did this for the new planting bed we created last spring and that soil was wonderful.  I then push all the scraps, etc. into the hole, level out the area and let whatever decides to grow there have the space (plus a few things I may add) for the growing season.  We often just toss garden cuttings, etc. amoungst the volunteer plants through the summer too.  The jungle of plants hide the scraps easy.

So, while you see a compost tumbler at Garden on Sherlock Street, it's use is minimal.  I don't know what I'm doing with it!  If you have some advice, feel free to share.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Forsythia Blooms In The House

There are more buds forming on the larger branches, but I couldn't wait for them to share some flower photos with you.  I'm guessing that the different sizes of branches take different rates of time to bloom when brought in like this.  I think a more even display would bloom more evenly.  I'm just tickled to see the flowers.  Enjoy!

This post is property of

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yellow Tips

Our weather has been more winter like lately; but at the end of January, we had some very warm days.  On one of those days, I did some pruning including on the forsythia bushes.  There are four forsythia bushes at Garden on Sherlock Street.  I have read about forcing flowering shrub branches to bloom inside during the winter, but had never tried to do it.  This year, I took a few of the forsythia branches and put them in a vase of water.  This was on February 1st.

I brought the vase into the house.

Today, I saw the buds growing these tiny teardrops with yellow tips.

The flowers are coming!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lavender Correction And Last Of The Database

As I worked my way through numerous plant tags, planting maps, receipts and catalog clippings I discovered that I had posted an incorrect variety for one of the lavenders growing at Garden on Sherlock Street.  What was reported as Lavandula x intermidia 'Grosso' in Lavender Longings and Harvesting Lavender is actually Lavandula angustifolia 'Royal Velvet.'  It is the taller of the two lavenders with Lavandula angustifolia 'Buena Vista' the shorter one.  So, I guess that means 'Grosso' died at some point.   Sigh.  Another plant lost.

Here's the last installment of the Plant Database.  In addition to the lost lavender plant, I think some of the other plants listed have perished.  If the plants on this list don't appear this year, I will remove them and look for others to take their place.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Crazy Number Of Bulbs In The Database

Putting all the bulbs planted at Garden on Sherlock Street in the Plant Database was an interesting project.  Some were super easy like the three different types of red tulips I planted last fall in the red bed. I have the tags, know when they were planted and exactly where.  The front garden was the biggest challenge.  So many daffodils planted in so many different years.  I just made a note for each section which has daffodils and clipped all the tags together.  Some of my tags are for bulbs I haven't seen bloom in years.  I searched my maps for their supposed locations.  If I don't see them this spring, off the list they'll go.  Making this database is kind of like spring cleaning.  I'm getting my plant tags and maps in order.  I'll know where I have space to put new plants!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Database of Plants In Containers

This list includes house plants and the plants that I bring in during the winter.  Many of these plants were shared with me from family and friends.  I also noted what type of container they are in.  I don't know if that matters, but it's on there.  I had to take the screen print a few times.  The list was too long for one image.

This tiny list is of the water plants I have.  One.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ground Covers In The Database

There aren't very many ground covers at Garden on Sherlock Street.  However, there are some other plants doing their best to cover everything.

These are the plants that I planned to spread in an area.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holly Out

Remember last summer when it was over 100 degrees for several days at Garden on Sherlock Street and the holly bushes gave it up?  I decided they were coming out so I could plant something else in their space.

Well, on February 2 (Ground Hog Day) with a winter storm in the forecast, I headed out in 60 degree weather and removed the holly bushes.

They came out fairly easily.  I did have to cut some good roots.  With roots like that, one would have thought they would have looked nicer.  During the digging, I found a lot of nice earth worms.  I told them all to retreat to the depths of the soil as winter was to return soon.  The plan is to plant agastache cana, caryopterisis, and candytuft between the clematis trellis to the far left and the sunflower sculpture on the right.  Next fall, I'll probably add some flowering bulbs too.

Here's a closer photo of the sunflower sculpture.  My uncle enjoys making garden art from different scrap he finds.  The petals on the sunflower are spark plugs.

Here's a shovel bird he made too.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Again

We had just thawed from Friday/Saturday's snow system when another front brought us a nice dusting of snow.  Unfortunately, it also brought us cold air.  Brrrr.  Good night to stay in and curl up with a garden catalog.

Shrubs In The Database

Here are the shrubs at Garden on Sherlock Street.  After I took this screen print, I added a column for bloom color which will help a lot when I get to the perennials.  I'm finding tags in my notebook for plants that have died.  It's going to be sad when I get to the perennials.  I've killed more plants in that category than any other.

Monday, February 6, 2012

2012's Winter Sown Seeds

I took advantage of a warm afternoon last week to winter sow some seeds.

I saved milk jugs cutting them in half with an area still attached by the handle.

I also saved a plastic container we got to take home some food from a restaurant.  The clear lid makes it a great winter sow container.

I planted chocolate flower, false sunflower and gardillia.  These were seeds I saved from last year or got from a friend. 

A little dirt on top of the seeds and a good watering.  All done outside so I don't have the mess in my kitchen like last year.

The containers have drainage holes on the bottom and ventilation on the top.  I taped the milk jugs back together.

The ribbon on this milk jug is to mark it as the one with the gardillia.  Last year, all my writing with a permanent marker came off with one snow fall.

I taped the lid of the take out container on too.  This container has the false sunflower.

The containers will sit outside between the raised vegetable beds.  I'll check them occasionally to make sure they have moisture.  Otherwise, a little cold, a little sun and a little time should sprout the seeds.

I also sprinkled some lettuce seeds in one corner of a raised vegetable bed.  I'm inspired by Sue at A Corner Garden to put out some lettuce seed early.  She says it will come up when it is warm enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Winter Returns To GonSS

The very warm weather we've been having allowed me to do a lot in the garden this past week.  I'll have upcoming posts about some of the projects I worked on when it was sunny and warm.

Thursday night brought rain.  Friday afternoon brought rain.
Friday night brought snow.
We're very glad to have the moisture.

This morning, Saturday, it snowed a bit more and the wind blew.  Brrrr.

To see the February tour photos, go back one post or click on the Tour Garden on Sherlock Street link in the right hand column.

One of the projects I completed while it was warm was the removal of the holly bushes.  You may notice they are no longer in the back garden but sitting in the alley for a future trip to the city tree disposal site.

I also pruned the trees I could reach.  My wonderful husband will have to help with the locust.  I put the branches from a red bud on the raised vegetable beds to hopefully keep the neighborhood cats from using them as litter boxes.

February Tour 2012

Front Garden


Back Garden

Side Garden

Vegetable Garden



Friday, February 3, 2012

Finally, The Plant Database Begins

Last February, I shared how I keep records of what is planted at Garden on Sherlock Street.  I also mentioned that my plan hope was to put everything in a searchable database.  Well, I have finally started the database.  This is a screen print of the page for trees.  It is the smallest category, but it's a start!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Did Your Zone Change?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail. The new map—jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group—is available online at ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.  (from the U.S. Department of Agriculture).

Garden on Sherlock Street went from 5b to 6a with the new map.

The website is very easy to use.  You can really get detailed information for your area.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Paperwhite Blooms

I came home from work and found blooms!

As many comments have noted, paperwhites can have a strong odor.  Some love it.  Some hate it.  I'm in between.  I won't stick my nose in them, but I don't mind the scent.  I will likely put the vases in different rooms now that I have blooms to distribute the scent.

The blooms are just so sweet.

Paperwhite Progress

The paperwhite bulbs have either sprouted sporting buds or given up and been removed from the vases.  

The glass vases make it very easy to watch the roots too.