Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
Yesterday my kitchen looked like a garden center. It was filled with three mandevilla vines, two big potted tomatoes (a Mother's Day gift) and a couple dozen random annuals. I had hauled them in from the deck because it was supposed to freeze Sunday night. (Freeze! In mid May! Good grief!)
Then came today, with the forecast for 90 plus. So I hauled all those pots back out to the deck this morning, to soak up the warmth and sunshine, and doused them with water to keep them from getting parched.
I don't know if I dare plant the tomatoes yet, even though it's now hot enough to sun-dry them, if I had tomatoes to sun-dry.
This year has been such a bizarre extreme, especially compared to last year, when we were warning eager gardeners not to plant tomatoes in April, even though it was consistently warm and balmy and all the perennials were pushing up weeks ahead of schedule.
My garden remains in a state of suspended animation. There are a few signs of life on some of my perennials, but not all. The coneflowers haven't budged out of the ground yet. Two of five hydrangeas have yet to emerge. Even my hostas and sedum, the toughest stuff in my garden, are only showing about an inch of growth.
Now that it's finally quit snowing and freezing (I think), I know we're all impatient to start planting and get this growing season underway already.
The U of M Extension recommends May 15 to June 1 as the optimal time for planting tomatoes. I think I'll plant mine this weekend. I haven't even gotten a chance to plant my cooler-crop stuff like lettuce. The window between frozen, snow-covered winter and baking-hot summer has been so whisker-thin that I missed it entirely.
What will you do different in the garden this year, given that spring appears to have come and gone in about a day?
We've been waiting SOOOO long for spring to arrive. I'm dying to plant things in my plot and containers and make up for lost time. But spring's very lateness is forcing me to slow down. My perennials are so poky to emerge this year, that I can't tell what's coming back and what's dead.
I took a quick inventory last night. Of my five peony plants, only the early bird, the one that gets the most sun, is showing any life at all, and that's only a couple of stubs, no longer than the tip of my pinky finger. My Endless Summer hydrangeas are even more delayed. Only one plant is showing a few hints of green near the base. The rest look like Endless Winter, brown and lifeless.
My containers are a mystery. I have moneywort and creeping sedum that I use for "spillers" in several pots. They come back year after year, and I put the showier annuals in the middle, trying not to disturb the perennials on the edges. But this year, they moneywort and sedum just look brown and crispy, with no signs yet of new growth.
We just need to be patient, said Karl Foord, educator in horticulture for the University of Minnesota's Extension Service. Because of the unseasonably cold temperatures in April and into early May, we're weeks behind "normal" for plant growth. It seems especially stark because we were weeks ahead of schedule last year.
Foord isn't worried about heavy perennial casualties this year. "It was not a severe winter in any respect," he said. "It was long." But there was adequate snow cover, and temperatures weren't lower than usual.
So go ahead and plant your cool-crop veggies, but hold off on tender ones, like tomatoes, until Memorial Day, he advised. And don't give up yet on perennials that look like they didn't make it. They'll be poking their heads up soon. "It's going to happen fast now," Foord said. (For information about what veggies to plant when, visit (http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1422.html)
What's going on in your garden? Are your perennials later to emerge than they've ever been?
What's coming up and what's not?
Growing cannas was a test this year. I had traded hosta plants for canna bulbs at our Plant Swap back in May. I had the spot to plant them – on the side of the garage in full sun. The blank wall needed something showy in the summer that would die back in the winter leaving room for the pile of snow.
The cannas should work.
It took a while for them to emerge. (Maybe the soil is bad because we grew arborvitae trees and it could be acidic.) But they finally started growing. July came around and my neighbor’s plants were a foot taller than mine. (A different variety I’m sure.) Then I talked to a friend last week who said she was ready to pull her cannas out of the ground already. What the heck. Mine haven’t even flowered yet.
I’ve been waiting all summer to see a glimmer of red on the peak of my cannas. The leaves look spectacular – tropical, but I wasn’t getting any blooms.
OK canna lovers and the person who I swapped with at the plant sale, what did I do wrong to get a bloom finally in September? And when am I supposed to dig the bulbs?
You know it is State Fair time when you see a trailer full of sheep driving down 35W at 2 in the afternoon. The hay was
carefully piled on top of the truck’s cab and the sheep were happily smiling at those of us staring back at them.
There’s so much to love about the Fair, but I must admit, my favorite building is the Horticulture Building. I usually start off in the building at the honey ice cream line. Then I see some friends, admire the photography and check out the fascinating honey exhibits. Make sure to check out the thousands of colors of honey, it’s amazing.
I always make my way to the apples. My husband gets one kind and me another and we taste the difference. Then I wander and read and learn. It’s fantastic. Last year, my visit to the fair prompted me to plant a green manure crop of buckwheat near my beehives. The girls liked it so I’ll probably plant it again, the soil really needs help.
If I’m lucky, we are there on the day of the floral show. I’ve entered a floral competition and it isn’t easy. When you look at a Hosta leaf in a bottle, you might think, nothing to it, I could win that. Go ahead and try. The judges look at everything! How healthy is the plant, is it symmetrical, is it displayed properly. There are rules! But don’t get me wrong, there is also quite a bit of satisfaction when you see you name displayed next to a ribbon! Then you can say You Did It!!!!
A few of us GreenGirls will be at the Fair! Friday 8/24, Monday 8/27 and Wednesday 8/29 from 3 PM-4. Stop by the Star Tribune booth and take the Compost Quiz!
Do you enjoy the Hort building? Have you ever exhibited? Share!
I planted my pots late this year. I was disappointed when I went to the garden center and couldn’t find a little trailing purple tradescantia (sometimes called wandering Jew) that I love, and had to settle for a giant version called “Purple Heart.”
Ick. I put it in the pots with the sun coleus, and let them slug it out. Here’s the result:
So I’ll give the backyard pots a solid “B+,” and all my pots together a “B.”
I am determined to try something new next year. Minneapolis has some crazy color combinations in giant urns along the light rail line downtown, with oranges, violets, lime greens and maroons that really light up the street. On a walk in my neighborhood, I saw a planting of tropical bromeliads and philodendrons nestled up against the corner of a house in a bed of gray rocks. It was odd — striking.
And here’s something I saw during a visit to Bachman’s. Interesting, eh?
What would you do differently? Do you see any trends in pots that you’d like to use next year?
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