Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2014

10 days ago my soil looked like this. Just 2 inches deep it was frozen solid, I called in permafrost because I couldn't believe it will ever thaw.


Guess what? It did. Yesterday I got crocuses! Crocuses 2014

And these are snowdrops from my neighbor's garden.
Snowdrops April 2014

But it's snowing today again. What a weather!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2014

Here in upstate New York we have no spring yet so I got myself a new orchid as a consolation prize. Its name is Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Bluebird'. When I first saw the plant I thought it's related to vanda family in terms of light requirements but that didn't matter because I was determined to get it. It smells like heaven! The scent is similar to citrus flower scent but with more vanilla to it. It's truly outstanding. Another good thing is that it needs less light than Vanda; somewhere in the cattleya range. Love it!

Neostylis Lou Sneary 'Bluebird' orchid 

I also tried to force hyacinth bulbs in water this year and was quite successful. Next year I will get actual hyacinth vases instead of a makeshift contraptions out of pickle jars and orchid net pots.

Purple Hyacinth

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2014

 If you want to look at some flower pictures please head on to Carol's blog May Dream Gardens. Someone from the community will surely have some flowers. Not me.

Here in Upstate New York we had between 1 and 2 feet of snow yesterday. This is a view from my bedroom window after the parking lot was cleared by tractors. Regular pickups with plows can't do the job anymore: there is no room to push the snow to so it had to be stacked.

I think I'm done with Northeast.

February 2014 in upstate New York

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January 2014

This is my first Cymbidium orchid.
- It is enormous, more than 3 feet high.
- I have no idea where to put it until May when it will go outside.
- I never grew anything like. I have epiphytic orchids figured out, same for regular houseplants, but this is semi-terrestrial so it will be a new learning curve.
All these difficulties don't matter because I really wanted it. I've been delaying this impulse purchase  for more than a year. Besides, who wants to be flower-less on a Bloom Day?

Cymbidium Orchid

Sometimes I envy myself. In a few years I will be a proud grower of many challenging plants; I will have grown many pounds of sweet peppers, eggplant and even broccoli. There won't be many novelty plants left. But until then I celebrate every new and unusual plant I grow as a small victory.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My Garden Champions 2013 - Part 4

Guerrilla Champion - Potatoes

The most productive crop of 2013 was - guess what? - potatoes. I harvested 45 pounds of potatoes at the end of July and they lasted until the end of October. The overall yield was about 8x by weight with ample watering.

The best-tasting variety is, of course, Yukon Gold although I'm not satisfied with their uniformity: too many small tubers. Every plant had a single monstrous tuber, couple of average ones and plenty of small tubers. What am I doing wrong?

It doesn't make much sense financially to grow potatoes in such a small garden but I did it for my husband. He was so enthusiastic and happy about them, how could I've said no?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Seed shopping on January 6, 2014

Today I allowed myself a seed shopping spree. Hey, the first week of January is almost gone. Only 4 months to go!

I wonder what fraction of these plants will not get planted this year. Plans do change and I have a tendency to over-buy.

P.S. Why does these guys price a packet of seeds at 3.95 online while it's 2.29 in store?
P.P.S. I don't endorse any of companies whose products are mentioned in this blog. They are just in for pretty pictures.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Garden Champions 2013 - Part 3

What is the next plant which surprised me in the year 2013?

Exotic Champion: Lemongrass.

It's pretty easy to grow lemongrass in the garden. Get some fresh stalks from an Asian grocery store, put them in water for couple of weeks and transplant them in soil after roots appear. It's not frost-tolerant so act act accordingly. My lemongrass yielded 10-15 stalks per plant. I gave away about 3/4 of my harvest and still have so much of it in the freezer that I won't need to plant it this year.

I had 7 plants total. This is what 3 plants can give you: Growing Lemongrass in zone 5

Growing Lemongrass in zone 5

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Garden Champions 2013 - Part 2

Who's my next great plant?

Low Maintenance Champion - Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan).

Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)

I hear people strive for no-maintenance gardening. Of course, zero maintenance is a myth but Rudbeckia comes pretty close for me. I didn't do anything to this plant in 2013, didn't even water it. Maybe I weeded around it once, can't remember now. Some of the nearby Echinacea plants suffered from lack of water but not this one.
Highly recommended!

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Garden Champions 2013

I've been gardening on my own for only 4 years so I'm still a beginner in many aspects. Every year I try several new plants and "retire" a few (nice euphemism for ripping them out). Every year there are plants which behave in some unexpected ways, plants which really stand out; let me call them champions.

Yield champion: fall raspberries.

Caroline Raspberry (primocane)
My Caroline raspberries were on their 3rd year. They occupy 5x4 feet piece of land and bear like crazy. We kept eating, making jams, even inviting friends to graze over and still could not keep up with the harvest. I thought I could eat raspberries in unlimited quantities but what used to eventually stop me is their sourness. Maybe the berries didn't have enough sun in October.

Carolines are "two-way" raspberries; they are primocane so plants can either be mowed in fall to bear the following fall or left overwinter to have crop the following summer.
I left some of the canes standing to get crop earlier in 2014. We'll see how it goes: tonight forecast is -25C, hope they will survive.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Forcing Amaryllis to bloom for Christmas

I have a very large amaryllis bulb from last year so I was determined to make it bloom for Christmas in 2013. I chopped the leaves back in August, lifted the bulb and stored it in a closet until new leaves started to poke through. This happened around November 1st so I potted the bulb around that time. Just in time for Christmas blooms!
Amaryllis Red Pearl
I have a few more bulbs which I didn't force into dormancy by cutting the leaves. They are still sitting in pots with no blooms in sight.