Sunday, April 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2012

May came early this year, what a joy! I've got red, yellow and orange tulips

red and yellow tulips
orange tulip

Blue scilla
scilla siberica

White hyacinths
white hyacinth with a honeybee

And even alpine strawberry flowers.
alpine strawberry Ruegen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Things I wish I figured out sooner

  1. Many perennials don't bloom from seed the first year. Sounds easy enough, isn't it? But I didn't know that when I planted coneflowers at the back of a carefully designed flower bed. And waited. And waited.
  2.  Four O'Clocks are perennials. When you hear the loud "thump" digging in flower bed it's not a shovel that broke, it's a taproot of Mirabilis.
  3. Don't step in blooming flower bed in sandals. Ever. Bee stings HURT.
  4. Flowers are not veggies, they don't look good in rows!
  5. Alpine strawberry plants can get as big as regular strawberries. Those teeny-tiny leaves in the woods are small because they lack sunlight and nutrients.
  6. Plant labels can be messed up. The probability of getting all white blooms from a 12-pack of mixed hyacinth bulbs is 1 in 200 millions. I have better chances winning a lottery jackpot. Labeling error at a nursery is far more likely.
  7. Cucumbers don't transplant well. The attempts to fill the gaps in rows by moving cucumber plants are futile.
  8. Yes, mint spreads like crazy. No, several cups of mint tea aren't worth the trouble of pulling runners from strawberry patch, between thorny raspberry canes, from the lawn and even neighbor's garden plot.
  9. A single zucchini plant can take 9 square feet of space and is a powdery mildew magnet.
  10. Voles love beets. I didn't harvest a single beet in two years. Wish I didn't chase that snake out of my garden.
  11. Peat pots plus unheated greenhouse in early May equals stressed tomato seedlings. Water evaporates freely from a peat pot surface lowering root zone temperature quite a bit. Two people out of 30 used peat pots in our community garden and we both ended up with purplish seedlings and delayed growth.
  12.  99-cent tomato cages not only break, they bend under the weight of tomatoes.
  13. Mulching tomato plants with straw significantly cuts on early blight.
  14. Osmocote slow-release pellets are too slow for me. It seems like they don't dissolve at all.
  15. Putting 80 lb of bagged soil in a wheelbarrow and going downhill can be spectacular, especially if you own weight is 110 lb. Not quite the "barrel of bricks" fallacy but a capsized cart nonetheless.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why I'm not planting blue tomatoes

 I noticed that breeders usually improve on one plant trait at a time disregarding the rest. Take Caroline raspberry I planted last year. It's productive, has huge berries, up to an inch long, but the taste is somewhat bland. Giant strawberries are tasteless too. A beautiful Romanesco broccoli has strange texture making it inedible both raw and cooked for me. People keep complaining about the taste and the long season requirements of yellow watermelons. That's why I'm not jumping on a blue tomato bandwagon just yet.

There are several varieties on the market including the famous Indigo Rose tomato from Jim Myers at OSU or the whole "blue tomato" family" from Tom Wagner but they are all quite new. People worked hard to achieve the color goal so I feel a great taste is just too much to ask. I would patiently wait for them to introduce Brandywine or Sungold traits into the fruit even if it takes decades to accomplish.