Finally the tomato plants are ready to be planted out into the Potager.
We ‘hardened them off‘ which means exposing them to natural light gradually. (Till now they have been raised under lights.) The first day they were kept in a shady area, then we exposed them to morning sun for two days, while protecting them from the hottest part of the day. Finally they are left in full sun and watched carefully. Not a leaf wilted, so we knew these babies were ready to go.
Habitually,we would pot the plants up; that is, put the seed starting cells, as seen in photos, into a larger pot with rich compost. There was just no time this year.
We had prepared the soil beforehand with copious quantities of compost and rabbit manure.
My husband digs a hole in this rich mix. He removes the lower leaves of the plant with a pinch, and fills the soil around the stem up to the top leaves.
The plant will grow roots all along the stem and make it stronger (DO NOT DO THIS WITH OTHER PLANTS)
He inserts a toothpick on both side of the stem. This prevents the dreaded cutworm from wrapping itself around the stem and cutting the plant down at soil level.
When the soil is firmed around the plant, I like to create a small well or indentation around the root-ball to direct the water.
Finally the plants are MUDDIED-IN, the best description I know for deep and long watering, Then we place the cages around the plants….
We will mulch tomorrow; that is place a 2″ layer of shredded leaves on the exposed soil. These will retain the moisture in the soil and prevent annual weeds from germinating, I hope. We used to do it all in one day…. but we used to be younger.
BACK IN THE GARDEN
Well, I’m back in the garden and dancing as fast as I can . There is no end to the debris…..
Screaming to be pruned are the ‘ Annabelle’ and paniculata type hydrangeas*, roses, grapes… the list goes on… plus the hellebores need to be deadhead. (who am I kidding? the hellebores will not get done) This list is for the ornamental garden; right now the preparation of the beds for vegtables is proirity. This week end we turned the beds in the potager.
My friend Julieta of the incredible blog LINDARAXAS GARDEN is buildng a potager. She will be posting recipes created with the bounty of her garden; and I can’t wait! If you appreciate good food and have not yet discovered her blog, you are in for a treat.
So here is a brief outline on how to prepare your soil.
Idealy beds should be 4′ wide, so one can reach into them (from each side) without the need to step-in, as this compacts the soil. Paths between beds should be 18-24″; wide enough to accomadate a wheelbarrow.
Turning the soil is simply, a shovel inserted fully into the ground and the soil removed is flipped over. To this add a good thick (6″) layer of compost, manure & chopped/shredded leaves. (run over a pile of leaves with a lawn mower a few times.) and chop into this soil, or use a tiller to incorporate. Add another layer of compost etc. and again ‘turn’ this into the soil. This brings the amendments to where the plant roots will feed. Water well and let those soil enzymes go to work for a few weeks before planting. NOW is the time. (the above beds are not yet amended)
Lacking these amendments; I have had very good luck with NATURES HELPER and composted cow manure from DIY stores. The best brand is BLACK KOW,it comes in a yellow bag. Avoid the .99 cent variety as it is mostly pine bark and less than 1% manure. If you are fortunate to have a good nursery close by, they should stock soil amendments, buying in bulk is cheaper and it will be delivered.( the bags weigh 20 to 40 lbs.)
In Georgia, lettuce is a cool weather annual, so one grows it in the winter. This year they are maturing very quickly, due to the warm weather, Lots of salad on the menu!
**Hydrangeas DO NOT PRUNE THE BIG BLUE MOPHEADS!
GARDENING IN THE SOUTH
Perhaps what I appreciate most about gardening in the south is the fact that it is year round.
While many of the deciduous hydrangeas are loosing their foliage, the Arum groundcover is coming into its own and will soon blanket the ground.
Then there are the shrubs that bloom a second time. Above, the Chinese Witchhazel (Lorapetalum chinensis) in its second flowering.
For the rest, far from looking bare the camellia sasanqua are putting on quite a show. From a distance they could be mistaken for cascading roses ….
Close up, just as enchanting with as much diversity in form.
The potager is done with the summer crop and we are now planting garlic (late), seeding lettuce and arugula, planting kale, cabbage and broccoli. Believe it or not the summer peppers are still going strong, I just harvested these….
When the summer wildflowers die down I can see the bee hives…. wish you could taste the honey….
No, we don’t do that, we have a beekeeper in fact the bees are his, we just supply the nectar and then share the honey, good deal!
THE VEGETABLE GARDEN / POTAGER
The Vegetable Garden, my POTAGER…is a dream come true. I wanted to go into the garden and bring in fresh organic vegetables, the best varieties of course, and turn them into delightful & healthy meals.
Although I am a fairly accomplished cook, I get overwhelmed when the harvest starts coming in. Time and again I turn to Julieta Cadenas’ blog LINDARAXA to find recipes to inspire me.
I am excited and honored to be teaming up with her. As the harvest comes in we will link to each others blog and, she will create recipes for all of us to enjoy.
Julieta is one knowledgeable lady, a former investment banker, lifelong food aficionado, great cook and a delightful & generous friend. Check out her blog, she writes about more than cooking.
So, as soon as I saw these in the garden…
I immediately went to LINDARAXA for inspiration. Soon my kitchen will be overrun with squash. and I want to be prepared.
Last year, for winter use, I roasted and froze some squash. This year I’ll do the same. They were wonderful ! I used them with scrambled eggs, I added them to a saute of onion garlic, red pepper, and some artichokes & served with pasta. But I need to ‘do’ something NEW, and as usual Julieta has some inspiring dishes. Here is Julieta’s Squash casserole .
Enjoy, my husband can’t wait for the squash to come in! Once again Julieta, thank you. You STAR in my kitchen!
THIS ‘N’ THAT…
This is the busiest season in and about the garden.
Seedlings must be nurtured in the house,
the semi-finished Bothy is being organised… with a nod to its previous tenants.
Weeds are rampant and everything needs attention at once!
Still, the garden is beautiful and feeds my soul.
The potager,is putting forth such succulent delights as ‘Gourmet Lettuce Mix’ ,’ Italian Kale’ & ‘Red Mesclun Mix’.
Finally the arbor has found its home. Poor thing , one has moved her about so often…
I like the way it ties into the Bothy. Evergreens will be planted on both sides of the arbor, forming a hedge. This will serve as the entrance to the Potager and the end of the ‘Pleasure Garden” (so Edwardian don’t you think?)
© all photos 2011
GARDENING TRUMPS BLOG!
Goodness , I have no idea where the time goes. It is already
Friday Saturday! This week there was so much to do in the garden. The pruning of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas & Hydrangea paniculata, along with some Clematis… Still not done with all the ‘Annabelles.’ Every year I have the same lament. When I am pruning I have too many….when they bloom there are not enough!!
Much weeding in the potager where I am growing salad ….delicious! A few stragglers from last years tulips popping up between the lettuce… and much weeding ….
Spring is going forward at breakneck speed, it seems. Viburnum burkwoodii in bloom. If I could share the fragrance, you would know why it is so cherished among gardeners.
It does get large, with a beautiful vase shape. There are several Clematis planted at its feet. Reminders of a lovely day, shared with dear friends, in a beautiful garden.
The new kitty is at the vets with serious upper respiratory infection…….
© All photos 2011
THE SEED PROJECT
It’s that time of year again…
Last minute check of catalogues to make final decisions…. it’s the same routine every year…In January the descriptions, read by the fire, seduce us with their prose. We lust after so many varieties and make endless lists, finally the seeds on hand are checked and then we decide what will be ordered.
Dahlia, gets into the act…
My husband trims the list to a “reasonable” size …….15 types of tomatoes, three of each. Those are the beefsteak type. Then there are the Plum tomatoes the best known is probably Roma. I like the ‘San Marzano’ and ‘Amish Paste’. We should have a dozen or so plants of these….
and probably way more …. I have to remind him… we garden, not farm….
© All photos & text 2011
GARDEN UPDATE CONTINUED
Plants with a cascading habit, call attention to the ground plane. Above, The heavy flowers of Snowflake Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’), draw the eye to the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum).
The flower on ‘Snowflake’ has double sepals, significantly different from that of ‘Amethyst’ above, or ‘Alice’ below.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ forming it’s flower heads. This is one hydrangea that SHOULD BE PRUNED early spring. These hydrangeas form flower buds on NEW GROWTH.
UPDATE ON EPHEMERALS:
The Trillium are fading, (see yellow foliage). What will clothe the ground now is Vinca. I really tried for Selaginella kraussiana aurea, below
but it prefers the path so I’m going to stop fighting and let the vinca do its thing.
Arum foliage has died down & the berries have formed. They need to ripen, then they will be spread where more are needed. See previous post on Arum.
FINALLY THE POTAGER:
Below squash, peppers, cucumbers, beans, Eggplant
Have a great week end!
©All photos and text 2010
The Hydrangea serrata are in bloom.
Hydrangea serrata ‘Kurenai’ + Hydrangea serrata ‘Shichidanka’
Close up of flowers, H. serrata ‘Kurenai’ above. H. serrata ‘Shichidanka’ below.
The grapes will soon obscure my old tool collection. below.
Mouth watering anticipation…Blackberries (thornless).
Base of Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) with a river of Japanese Painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum) & Japanese Hydrangea-vine (Schizophragma hydrangeaoides ‘Moonlight’) Below.
Oak Leaf Hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia) below, in all their glory.
© All photos & text 2010
To a peek through parts of my garden. Nothing is styled here, this is real-time. Hoses snaking around beds and weeds.
Poppies, from a dear friend who acquired them from a 90-year-old gardener 40 years ago. End of this month we will celebrate her 94th birthday.
some semi double, some single, all stunning.
I spread the poppy seed on cultivated soil in the late fall, after a rain. These seeds need light to germinate. If they were scattered in cultivated dry soil & then watered the soil would cover the seed, excluding the light.
I always allow the seed pods to ripen. After extracting the seed to be used in bread making and saving some for the garden, the pods are used in dry arrangements. This is an annual show.
And there are more Clematis.
This Clematis is ‘Multi-Blue’, the Viburnum is ‘Michael Dodge’. The viburnum flowers will turn to clusters of yellow berries in the fall when HOPEFULLY, the clematis will bloom again.
Another clematis, ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ cascading through a Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans).
The Potager. Growing now, Onions, Leeks and garlic. All the beds are enclosed with wire to keep the rabbits out.
© All photos & text 2010