Friday, June 29, 2018

Summer is here, and the growin' is easy

It's a beautiful summer morning here in the land of cinders and grasshoppers. We've had warm, sunny weather, including warm nights, all month, so the garden is going crazy. Every day plants are noticeably larger, and blooms appear as if out of nowhere. Unfortunately, weeds also appear as if out of nowhere--they seem to spring forth from our crappy soil and instantly become 3 feet high. I need to get busy this weekend clearing them out. Anyway, we'll ignore the weeds for a moment (or probably for another week, said the Procrastinating Gardener) and take a tour of the garden at the beginning of summer. There's a lot to see. 

First up: the containers. I've learned that delicate little seedlings often do better here in containers than left to their own devices in our horrible soil with our horrible grasshoppers. So I've started doing more container gardening. So far, the experiment is successful. This is basil potted with something that goes by various names, including ornamental eggplant and pumpkin tree. I got the seeds in an online trade and applied my usual gardening philosophy: "Why not?" Apparently they become enormous, so this pot may end up being too crowded. We'll see. 

I built a seed-starting rack this spring so I could start tender annuals and veggies from seed. The basil above is seed-grown, and so is this coleus. I'll move them to their own pots when they get a little bigger.

One grouping of containers by the front door:

And another. The white puffballs are onion blossoms. I keep a couple of pots of onions just outside the front door so I can have green onions year-round (this corner is the warmest spot in my yard). The pollinators love the flowers, so I let them bloom.

The tall thing in the white pot with the basil is Clematis tangutica. I grew it from seed I got from our local hospice garden, winter sown in 2017.

This is a rose called Purple Tiger. It has a story (yeah, I know, all my plants have a story, and I won't freakin' shut up about 'em. It's my blog, I'll blather if I want to). Anyway... Roses can be a challenge here in Flagstaff, especially out here on the east side with our cinder soil, grasshoppers, wind, and grasshoppers. I've killed more roses than I care to think about, including all the ones we brought with us from Southern California--except this one. (Yes, we actually moved some of our roses 450 miles in the dead of winter. We are a tad passionate about our roses.) We planted this poor thing in our backyard, where it got little more than water for about 3 years. It flourished. Last year we decided to stop trying to grow stuff in the backyard, since one of our dogs likes to dig, so we dug this one up and stuck it in a pot. It flourished. This spring it got too dry and died back. I kept waiting for it to recover, but it didn't. I gave it up for dead. A couple weeks later, a single tiny shoot appeared. Now it's blooming. I need to trim off the dead branches and decide whether to keep it potted or put it back in the ground. This is the toughest rose I've ever grown. I need to tell my local nursery about it so they can stock it. Oh, and it's gorgeous.

Our soil here is too alkaline for blueberries, so I grow mine in pots. I've managed to harvest about half a handful of berries so far this year:

Finally, I'm attempting to grow watermelons in a container. Yeah, I know, watermelons in Flagstaff. Sure. Good luck with that. The container is up against a south-facing wall, so I'm hoping that will provide enough heat and a long enough growing season. So far, so good:

Moving on from the containers. The mixed border looks like a jungle, and the hollyhocks are trying to take over the neighborhood:

The pond is thriving too. All ten of our fish (6 goldfish, 4 koi) made it through their first Flagstaff  winter just fine and seem to be doing well, as are the pond plants:

The plant with the tiny yellow flowers is Ranunculus flammula, small creeping spearwort.

Water mint and my favorite water lily, Perry's Almost Black.

I had to drop my son off at the Phoenix airport earlier this week, so I stopped by my favorite water garden backyard nursery and picked up some water lettuce and water hyacinth for the summer. They're still looking a little pathetic from their sojourn in the car trunk on a 113-degree day, but they should bounce back in a week or so (side note: why, oh why, does anyone want to live in Phoenix? 113 degrees? Seriously? And that isn't even unusual down there).

Veggies are lookin' good. The garlic is starting to brown, which means harvest time is coming soon.

Tomatoes, beans, squash, and more.

And finally, the walking onions are going crazy!

If the wind lets up, I'll do some weeding this weekend and put out the last of the seedlings currently occupying the back deck. Hooray for summer!

Highlights of the garden in spring

I've been slacking on my blogging lately. Life has gotten in the way this year, with the loss of a dear friend, my mom's and husband's health issues, and new responsibilities at work. So instead of my usual habit of chronicling every little thing almost every week during the growing season, I'll post a spring highlight reel.

When we last left off, it was mid-April, and the daffodils were blooming. Next to bloom was the crabapple tree near our front door. I wish I'd noted the variety--it's gorgeous. These were taken on April 28.

Fast forward to May 8, and a bit more is stirring in the garden. Bog plants are coming back from their winter sleep:

Mixed border is greening up:

By May 15, a little more is happening:

And we have some flowers! The irises are blooming:

My favorite iris and the only one I know the name of: Batik.

And so are the daylilies:

There's even a little activity in what I pretentiously refer to as the potager (inside my head anyway. I'd get laughed out of my own house if I tried that out loud). The garlic I planted last November is doing well:

And the lovage, rhubarb, and walking onions are thriving:

In late winter/early spring, I cleared some weedy mess and expanded some beds:

In June, the soil starts warming up, and the garden transforms quickly.

By June 7, the mixed border is getting bushier:

And lots of stuff is blooming - like larkspur and snapdragons:

And Canterbury bells:

And delphiniums:

The pond plants are getting bigger - and we have a bench now:

Vegetable seedlings are transplanted into the "potager":

And this morning, as June comes to a close, everything including the weeds is growing, often an inch or more a day. I'll give today's pictures their own post, because just like the weeds, I can't restrain myself this time of year.

Monday, April 23, 2018

First garden pictures of spring

These pictures were taken just over a week ago, on April 14. I should have grabbed some new pics this weekend, because this time of year the garden changes amazingly quickly. That clematis that was 4 inches high on Wednesday is 8 inches high by Sunday. Buds open, blooms fade, perennials break ground, and the !@#$% grasshoppers hatch and start chomping. Yes, this has happened. We have tiny nymphs about 1/4 inch long. They're almost cute. They'll be a horrible garden-eating plague in less than a month. Ah, spring...

OK, back to the pictures, none of which contain grasshoppers (yet).

Look! Green! It's so exciting to trim away the brown, dead foliage and discover green treasures underneath.

Living in a place with a short growing season has made me appreciate anything that blooms early--like these daffodils and grape hyacinths.

We planted this apple tree our first spring in Flagstaff. I think it's a Fuji. This year it put on a lovely display. No clue if we'll actually get apples. As soon as it started blooming, we had a hard freeze (because of course we did), but it's still lovely.

We have crabapples too, which are a bit hardier in our less-than-optimal climate. Mine have survived on way too much neglect. This year I've resolved to actually water them regularly. Still, the blossoms are beautiful:

We even have a few (very few) edibles already, mostly chives and onions. Here are the walking onions that survived last year's horde of grasshoppers (grasshoppers seem to love anything in the onion family):

That scruffy thing to the left is a leek I planted last spring and forgot to harvest. Some garden handout I read when I moved here said that leeks are, "not adapted" for our climate and/or altitude. Good thing plants don't read garden literature.

I planted garlic last fall. We had a very warm fall, so it sprouted in about November. I worried that our cold winter temps would kill it, but nope. It's standing tall, at least till the grasshoppers show up.

And finally, there's the pond. All ten fish (6 goldfish, 4 koi) survived the winter - hooray! They've starting coming out of hibernation in the last couple of weeks and seem to be doing fine. I've had a heckuva time keeping debris out of the pond (gotta love windy spring days), but it's starting to look tolerable. The day I took these pictures, it was full of algae (blech), but here's a pic of an area onshore that's starting to look spring-y. Just ignore the nasty algae-covered water in the background. It looks better now.

Spring is springing!