Thursday, June 23, 2011

Too busy to post...

 The greenhouse, tidied up. Needs a few more shelves, and doors at both ends, I think, to get the breeze through. So, currently, the things in there are enjoying shelter but not exactly warm greenhouse conditions.
I have planted all the tomatoes out in the garden (except the 6 I plan to keep indoors, 2 Sweet Million, and 4 Early Girl). I need a couple of tomato cages and they will all be ready for the growing season. I also put in the ground cherries and the rhubarb in the lasagne bed yesterday, and planted carrots, more lettuce and spinach, and a short row of beets. I'm really getting into this succession planting lark.
I managed to get most of the plants from Veseys $2 sale, which had been soaking overnight, potted up, Now to wait until they are a bit bigger before putting them out in the garden beds.  Some of them looked quite healthy - and others are definite long shots.
We dug a trench in the western garden and put in the willow twigs - we have been keeping them in water, and the ones with their heads covered have done best. However, they apparently root readily anywhere so we are hopeful.
Must go arrange dinner, as we are at Small Halls tonight! Cynthia MacLeod, Tony McManus, and Nuala Kennedy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Visits to Plants

Anne and I set out yesterday to visit greenhouses and plant sources in the East, mainly on the lookout for groundcover plants, and willows.
Started at Jewells, where there were lots of big begonias and pelargoniums but nothing much that was unique at all. I did get a pot rhubarb, Anne found a yellow-flowered groundcover, and I got some liquid tomato food, of which I have heard such good reports. Then we went to Veseys. They were having a sale on all of their remaining roots and bulbs, all at $2 a bag. Most were quite dried up, but we got 8 different things - three geraniums, a couple of calla lilies, some white liatris, oxalis, and firecracker plants, whatever they are. We soaked them overnight, and will pot them up and monitor their progress before putting them out to fend for themselves in the garden. Also got two more packets of bean seeds, as the ones I planted have not shown - I think the seed was bad. I also picked up carrot seeds because I suddenly remembered that I hadn't bought any. Have to put those in today. We dropped in to the York Greenhouses but again didn't see much.
Then we went to Covehead and had fish lunch on the wharf (I had a lobster roll - delicious!) while looking at the following view:

Then we drove cross-country and ended up in Orwell, headed to Wood Islands first, to the Island Pride Nursery, where Anne found a gorgeous climbing hydrangea ($29.99) and I got a couple of groundcovers, a moss phlox in white and another thing with pink flowers. Can't remember the name right now, but it feels like that plastic "parsley" they used to put between meat trays at the butchers. Then, on the way back, we followed a sign to The Flower Patch on the Glasvin Road in Pinette, and WHAT a Place!

We didn't know how much the plants were going to cost, so just bought three things, a little cushion dianthus (SWEET) a big bunch of Iris Siberica in White Swirl, and a gorgeous Japanese Iris in Wine:


I have planted it in the middle of the N-S bed - there were two big blooming ones in the clump. Total cost? $12. That's $4 each, folks. Race down there and buy this lady's plants. They are field-grown, weed-free, healthy, and there are shrubs too.

On the way back we drove down to Orwell Cove, just to admire the view, and found this gorgeous rugosa rose growing wild on the side of the road - it's single like mine but a deep, deep pink. There were cinnamon roses too.
Here they are:

And then we found a clump of WILLOW!! so we picked a few samples. We are on the hunt of willow that we can propagate and make into willow things - furniture, living fences, that sort of thing. Can't find any trees for sale (except pussy willow and weeping willow) but whatever kind this was it was hardy, had long branches, and its feet were in the water.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Greenhouse is Up!

 So, we got the hoops up without any trouble at all, and then this morning Anne and I fastened the three lines of strapping to the hoops- one across the centre of the ceiling, and two at the sides. They are much sturdier now that they have been joined together. Naturally it was raining, so we couldn't put up the skin. However, I did finish potting on my seed-raised strawberries, which are looking healthy. Then I had lunch, and after it was drier (and even a bit windy) so I pulled up the two pieces of plastic to see if they would dry - enough to tape them together, anyway. This greenhouse is smaller than the tent, so my shorter piece fit fine, and the longer one probably needs to be cut off. I put the railway ties on the edges, as it was still windy and the canopy was threatening to take flight.

I then went on to work on the raspberries - I used all of the two reels of 12 ga. wire and could use one more - however that took care of 7 of 8 of the needed strands. I then cut up a lot of green polarfleece into strips and got busy tying up the canes. They are still a bit bent over but at least you can get through the rows, and there wasn't too much damage to the fruiting canes - and none to next year's crop, as far as I know. There are still lots of WEEDS, but I've pulled out a lot and could do a lot more.

The greenhouse is 12 x 15 feet, and the hoops were all 20 feel long, so it is about 6 foot or a bit more high at the centre. I don't know exactly how I'm going to fit the door, but we're planning a visit to Lee Valley - they have clips to fit 3/4-inch plastic pipe, and a stick-on zipper for construction sites that might work. 
I have all the remaining plants back in, although I should try to get the annuals out into the garden this week, before we go to Halifax later. I may have to get Karen to water the plants as well as feed the cats!
The roses are still struggling to come out. I did have a Souvenir de Philemon Cochet partially out to day, but there just isn't any warmth in the sun (even when it is out) so I am not expecting any big flush of roses anytime soon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Greenhouse assembly ready to go

I finally have all the pieces necessary for raising my greenhouse again from the dust. I am planning to use the railway ties (instead of 2 x 6s) to hold down the plastic since that part, at least, worked with the former, tent greenhouse. This way I shall be able to open it, should it get too hot inside. I think I want to have a door at each end, for cross-ventilation. And perhaps that oscillating fan will be useful in there as well.
It was NOT sunny at the PGI yesterday, in fact, if it got above 12 degrees I would be very surprised. It was mighty chilly on the old North shore. Lobster lunch at New Glasgow was excellent, though, and far, far more than I usually eat at lunch!
And it looks like we may be getting a break in the weather. Or else the weatherman is tired of all the complaints and is lying. I am hopeful, though, because Anne arrives today, and we have some serious Small Halls concerts to attend!! As well as the usual visiting and gardening and so forth.
Two burgundy tree peonies out today. If it would only warm up, I would have quite a few roses, too. C'mon, sun!
Because I'm outdoors so much, knitting has suffered a bit. However, I am making reasonable progress on the stranded "Thistle" shawl, and I just have to finish the toes on my illusion socks. Then, I should try to complete one of the two Briggs & Little sweaters that have been on the go for so long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Peony and Iris Time

We put the rest of the raspberry posts in on the weekend - we ran into some issues with the septic tile, which is lurking just 16 inches below the surface, so we decided to brace the posts, rather than putting in a middle one. I bought 12 big zinc screweyes and 200 feet of 12 ga. galvanized wire. It's chilly out again today, and rain is threatened for this afternoon, so I may not even get a sample wire put up today - and tomorrow I'm volunteering at the PGI (it's supposed to be sunny, drat) so I am cleaning house and doing some baking, as my sister arrives on Friday for a visit.
I ordered my rebar for the greenhouse - it comes in 20-foot pieces! but luckily they are going to cut them up into 2.5 foot pieces for me. They only had 6 pieces of conduit (I need 16) so I will pick it up in Summerside when I pick up Fred tomorrow after the golf. They have 25 pieces in stock at Kent in Summerside. They might have some more of the screweyes too. I need four more.
The burgundy tree peony is blooming (it didn't bloom last year) and it's gorgeous. It's also the first of the three to come out. The white one took a kicking from the snow and its trunk was broken (I must stake them next year), so it's just coming back, and no blooms this year. But the pink one has three buds as well. Last year I was a bit disappointed that they bloomed so early, but I'm pleased this year - they make a nice bridge to other, later blooms.

The white iris has been out for some time, but the other-coloured ones are not out yet. I have quite a few of those common blue-and-yellow ones to divide and move - and share - after they bloom.

I planted some more vegetable garden yesterday, 4 Sweet Million and 8 Early Girl tomatoes, 10 zucchini and 5 shallots. I have the other bed-and-a-half to prep. I put the other two Sweet Million in pots - I am hoping to be able to raise them in the greenhouse, and maybe some of the Early Girl as well (and extend the tomato season). I have found more asparagus coming up - there are now 6 plants (of the 10 I planted), and one of them is already branching.  When they get a bit of headway I hill them up with soil-and-manure. I don't want to fill in the whole trench, as I still have hope of the other 4 showing up.
I also planted some of the cleome I started from seed - I'm pulling out the forget-me-nots and weeds in the middle of the borders and plopping them in - they are still small but they seem vigorous. There are many more to go as well.
Helen gave me a bag of gladiolus that Veseys had given her and she didn't want, so I potted them up too. No more putting bulbs and corms in without starting first (in the spring, anyway. Wouldn't work with fall bulbs!!).
I had dropped in to the York Greenhouses on Tuesday and got three kinds of tomato plants (Sweet Million, Roma and Early Girl), two flats of impatiens (pink), lobelia (bush-type, white) and white begonia, with green leaves this time. I also got a flat of 6 amaranthus with burgundy leaves. The low stuff is for the edges of the borders, and the amaranthus is for a change from cleome!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Much garden work is done

Today I had a whole day at home, and I took advantage of it!

I cut the main part of the lawn; I hung out laundry and ironed what was dry from yesterday; and then I got to work on the staking of the raspberry canes. I dug 3 post holes and sharpened three posts (on my mitre saw), and actually pounded in two of them. I've decided that if I dig down 20-22 inches, and then pound in the post another 8-10, that will make 2.5 feet below and 5.5 feet above ground, and that should be enough.

The raspberries still haven't bloomed, but the buds are forming so I have to rush this job. It's a bit hard to do, though, especially the pounding part, so I don't know how many I can get done in a day. I think I should put one in the middle of the row as well. The rows are 30 feet long, almost, so wires stretching 15 feet - I hope it will work. I think stretching the wire might be a bit of a job.

Because I was away yesterday afternoon, the cold frame didn't get opened, and some of the plants got scorched - including three of the potatoes! Drat! I must go out and open it first thing every morning (unless it's raining, I suppose).

I did NOT get to the new bed on the west side of the house. However, the green cart was emptied today, so I can work away there and get the rest of the dreadful ornamental grass out and put in the bin, and then I think I'll cover the bed with newspapers and get the lasagne part going - before something else decides to move in. It's going to be a rather large space to plant. I think I'll use seeds for some of it at least.

The oil tank goes next week (probably Wednesday) and then I'll have the full 54 feet by 3 or 4 to work with! That is going to take a lot of seeds (and compost).
There are actually two teeny asparagus plants showing above ground (at last!!). I am supposed to feed them now, but I am afraid to put on composted manure on its own, in case they get scorched. I am going to have to buy more potting soil asap.

The lilac are at the perfect stage - some bloom but the tip of the bunch is still closed. Perfect!
I have a new-flowering geranium this year - a blue one. It's FAR more spectacular that the old pink one, which is the same style but not yet in flower - in fact there is a lot of foliage but not much bud showing yet.  I hope the blue one makes more plant quickly!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Holiday work

So, unfortunately, my greentent has gone - one of the aluminum tent legs bent in the wind and this took the whole thing with it. I'm falling back to the plans (available right here on the internet) for building one out of rebar and plastic electrical conduit. Haven't gotten it done yet, though. I am just using the plastic as a cover for a lean-to cold frame for now. But, even in the very short time I had it, I grew to LOVE my greentent so I have to have another. Soon.
I have planted a lot of the flowers that were in the greentent into the flower beds (almost all of the Rudbeckia, most of the Liatris) but I haven't tried any if the Cleome yet. They seem very tiny so far, given how tall they will get later.
I have to say that things are just popping along, even in the cold frame. My tiny seed-grown strawberries are beginning to look like plants! The cilantro has started to look like it could be put out sometime soon. I have planted more of the actual garden today - a lot of peas and one colour of beans - probably green ones. I threw away the bags when I soaked them so I don't remember. The yellows are soaked too, but the bed needs digging (and boards, darn it!!) and it started to rain, so I came away in.
Fred bought cedar posts at a mill in the Brae - 16 of them for $2 each, 8 feet long! These are to stake up the raspberry canes. I tried digging a hole for them - they have to go 2.5 feet underground, I think...anyway I started with the third row, and, on the east end, managed to dig down to the septic tile. It's only 18 inches below the surface!! So now I have to wait and see what we have to do - move over the post? Think of something else?
I've staked up all three of my clematis and they are growing like gang-busters. The lilacs are out, and I have bunches of both blue and white in the house. One of the alliums got broken off, so I have it floating in my $store glass bowl. What an amazing thing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A whole day in the garden!

Actually it's only the morning, but it does feel luxurious. I did a lot of potting on in the greentent, then put 5 of the Rudbeckia (Cherry Brandy) in the bed in front of the lilac. And, miracle! I found a clematis, a beautifully healthy-looking one, growing in the bed, just in front of the rose trellis. The problem is, I have NO IDEA what it is, colour or brand or whatever - and of course that means that I won't know how to prune it either. You can just see it in the photo. I must buy an obelisk for it.
Part of my plan for the summer is to do over a lot of the beds which have gotten overgrown and weedy - and certainly the southern end of that bed is needing it a lot. Probably I'll wait for the iris to be finished blooming first.
Must get out and take some more photos.
At Vesey's I got more seeds and some columbine roots, which I soaked overnight and potted up today. I am beginning to worry that I won't have enough tomatoes - varieties or amounts - but I think at this stage I'll just have to buy some. I had better do that today, before there's nothing left but Scotia.