The Impatient Gardener: October 2009

31 October 2009

The Dancing Peacock lives up to its reputation

One reason I was actually happy about fall was because I've been dying to see what my new tree, Acer japonicum acontifolium, would look like. Since it's called the "Dancing Peacock" I was anxious to see if it lived up to its reputation. And as you can see, once it got going, it went quick, and boy was it beautiful. I'm so looking forward to watching this tree mature throughout the years. I'm very happy with how it did in its first summer. Readers of this blog will remember what it looked like when it arrived on the scene.


26 October 2009

The reason why I don't go crazy in autumn

Let me be clear: I'm not one of those people who loves autumn. Sure, I can appreciate a beautiful autumn day when you can take a walk through the woods, admiring the sun coming through the colorful leaves and your feet shuffling through them on the ground. But those days, especially this year, are rare. And just when I'm ready to about throw in the towel and move to Florida, I come home and see this, and I remember why I put up with all this crazy weather.


How found money is going to make my garden better

I went to the bank today. This is not that exciting. Except that even though the bank is a block from my office I drove there, and not because I was feeling lazy. I had 43 pounds of change in my car (yeah, I weighed it).

We have two jugs in the house. One is by the back door, where we throw the contents of our pockets before walking out the door. The other is in the laundry area. The rule is that anything that is in a pocket by the time clothes reach the laundry pile becomes communal property.

So, once a year or so, I take all the change and random folded up dollar bills that are collected in these two jugs and go the bank (where the tellers see me coming with the jugs and suddenly all go on break). Today I had 43 pounds of change and about 3 inches of dollar bills. They put it all in their little change machine (I go to one of the few banks in the world that will still do this for you) and came back with the report. First of all, the teller admonished me for having so much dog hair in my change (I'm sorry ... I live with two Newfoundlands; there is dog hair EVERYWHERE), and for not picking out the Euro coins, drill bits, random washers, dog treats and scuzzy pennies (which I don't understand ... isn't a scuzzy penny still a penny?), and then I got the good news. All of that saving came to $715.48!

Since the last time I turned in the change I spend it on furniture, I told the hubby that he can use it to buy some stuff for the house this time. And since we desperately need a lawn mower that actually starts, we're going to get a mulching mower with a bag so that I can have all the chopped up leaves in the world!!!!!!

I know it seems crazy to get so excited about chopped up leaves, but they are great stuff. My mom's been putting them on her garden and her soil is so fantastic. What doesn't go in the garden will go in the compost pile and make great compost.

In the past I've raked up the leaves, run them over repeatedly with the lawn mower, then raked up the little leaf shnibbles and bagged them or used them. This will be so much better. And since our change collection yielded more than we expected, we might just get a new snowblower (again, that actually starts when you want it to) too.

23 October 2009

A giveaway to help deal with your leaves

Over at The Lettered Cottage they are giving away a leaf blower/vacuum, which is exactly what most of us need these days. They are part of the True Value DIY Blog Squad, which basically means that True Value gave them a $1,000 gift certificate to buy stuff with and then blog about the projects they did with them. They are working on a few projects, but they decided to spend a little of the cash on a giveaway item. Our local True Value store is literally my favorite store on earth (seriously ... they have almost everything you could need including a huge selection of rental equipment that we regularly drag home to tackle big projects), mostly because of the nice people who work there (who don't give you that "Oh, you're just a dumb girl" look like usually happens when you walk into the big box home stores), so I'm flabbergasted that they didn't call on me for this program.

OK, flabbergasted is a strong word (but oh so fun to use), and I'm just a DIYer in training, but really ... where's the love?

Anyway, hop on over to The Lettered Cottage and enter to win the leaf blower/vac before your arms fall off from raking.

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21 October 2009

Bluestone inspiration

I've been looking for some bluestone inspiration online given my impending bluestone acquistion and came across a couple ideas that might be a jumping-off point for something that could work. Hopefully these will inspire someone out there to throw me a great idea.

This is a path from Fine Gardening magazine that uses a whole bunch of materials:

And here's your basic grass/moss growing between the stones thing that does make it a bit more casual. Of course all of these are patio ideas and I'm not sure I have a need for a patio ... although there may be an option for that (stay tuned!). This is from Yardscapes, Inc.

OK ... so does that help someone out there have a great idea? Please share it!

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A whole lot of bluestone, now what do I do with it?

See this beautiful bluestone path? I'm about to inherit it. It is the stairway to the front door of a family member's house that is about to be torn down. Right before the big machinery comes to take down the house, I'm going to disassemble that path and take the bluestone.

But the question is, what should I do with it? Bluestone is a pretty formal material for my cottage-style house and garden, but certainly there must be a way to make it a bit more casual. Unfortunately I just can't figure out how.

Some of the pieces are quite large, maybe 30" by 22" or so on the biggest, and obviously some are already cut to have a curve. Right now we have a small fieldstone path going through a corner of the garden (pictures will be included in a future post on the topic) that we use every day as it is the main thoroughfare to our garage, and my husband would like that path to extend in some way to the garage. I'm not sure if there's some way to incorporate the bluestone into that (or if I should quickly scrap that concept).

Anyway, I'm open to any creative ideas you all have, because I really need help on this one. I don't want to lift up and move all the bluestone only to have it stockpiled behind my garage for the next decade. Nor do I want to take on a project so big I'll end up having to buy more bluestone to finish it (which is usually what happens when I get "free" materials). So help!

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19 October 2009

Planted some of these this weekend

That's ivory queen allium, and I don't think it grows in a cute little bunch like that. They are shorties, so I made sure to put them right in front, and I only got three of them (they aren't cheap) so I clumped them all together although at right this moment I couldn't tell you WHERE I put them. I threw in about 150 bulbs (daffodils and alliums ... no need to plant rabbit food around here) the last two weekend. I still have 75 drumstick alliums to stick here and there, but I think I'm done with bulbs after that. The real fun comes in about seven months when things start showing their face and either get one of those "A ha" moments when I remember where I put things or one of those "What the hell?" moments when I wonder what possessed me to think that was a good spot to plant them.

I also planted these:

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Something to aspire to

There was a great article about creating great entryways in the Fine Gardening e-newsletter that showed up in my in box this morning. It's something I'd like to do in my garden, although I have a difficult time see how I can create any kind of entryway garden here. What I may be able to do, however, is create an entryway garden into another part of the garden. Anyway, it's great food for thought from a great magazine.

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18 October 2009

Another great house Web site

I'm not turning "The Impatient Gardener" into "The Clueless Home Decorator," I swear (well, I'm trying really hard not to). But I have found a totally cool Web site that I thought some of you might be interested in knowing about. It's called Houzz, and it's like someone took all the cool design photos from all the great home decorating magazines and talented designers, and organized them on a free site. Then they let you sign in and create a virtual "Ideabook" (so much handier than a giant file full of ripped out magazine pages) so they are all there. Check it out, it's fun!

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16 October 2009

I have seasonal Attention Deficit Disorder

This post is not about gardening. It's about almost everything else. Mostly it's just me fessing up to my weaknesses.

I, apparently, am a very predictable and cyclical person. Every year, right after the Christmas decorations go away, I start thinking about gardening (oh wait, I said that this wasn't going to be about gardening). It starts with catalogs. Then I start filling up the DVR with every garden show I can possibly find. This continues more or less through June, by which time I'm mentally and physically exhausted.

Then the sailing season starts. It's not really possible to fill up one's DVR with sailing shows (um, there aren't any) but I pretty much spend every free moment sailing or doing water work with the dogs.

Then suddenly (and this year it was VERY sudden), one day it freezes and your whole garden is brown. Other than the fall cleanup, gardening is all over, and sailing isn't much fun after October.

And that can only mean one thing: the home renovation madness begins. I have always had grand plans of renovating our house. We adore it, but it leaves a few things to be desired. This year we are very close to actually doing a fairly major house renovation project (and a few smaller ones), so I really have the bug. In fact I'm so obsessed with it that I'm already sick of it. It's unhealthy I tell you.

Anyway, if any of that house renovation stuff actually happens I'll either mention it here or start a small house reno blog, so you'll know about it if you want to, but in the meantime I've found some great home design blogs.

Here's the latest one I found, called The Lettered Cottage. Unbelievably cute stuff.

04 October 2009

Interesting notes from the summer Part 1

Since I was less than faithful about posting this summer (and trust me, it pains me to even think about refering to it in the past tense) I thought I'd just hit on a few highlights and lowlights of the season.

First off, the veggie garden: This was a hoot this year! Thanks to my new veggie garden, I really enjoyed growing veggies this year. It was so easy, since weeding was super simple and didn't require any bending over so that helped a ton. And even though there were a few times when I wished I had more space, it really produced the perfect amount of food for the two of us.

A quick review of my thoughts on the various stuff I planted:
- Onions (from Dixondale farms). Awesome. Great tasting, easy and fun to grow. Wish I could have planted many, many more. In the future I may consider a new, ground level bed specifically for onions and garlic since (hopefully) that should be safe from critters.

- The zucchini plant that tried to eat the world. I bought an heirloom variety called black beauty and that thing took over the world. When I finally pull it out I'm going to try to stretch it out and measure how long it is. It got so unruly (and I stupidly planted it right at the entrance to the garden) that I had to sacrifice my only pair of pantyhose to rein it back in. Let's hope I don't have to dress up anytime soon.

- Carrots. Eh. Oh sure, there's a great deal of satisfaction when you pull them out of the ground and they tasted great, but it's an awful lot of work for a small return. Maybe if I had a huge garden, but when space is at a premium, I think I'll pick up my carrots at the store.

- Peppers. I plants four or five plants. Way too many. The sweet bananas were the biggest success. I'll plant them again, but not as many.

- Peas. These took forever to get going and I was eating my first pea weeks after most people were done with their harvest. I'm not sure why, other than that we had unseasonably cold weather all year.

- Cucumbers. I planted the small kind for pickling. I don't make pickles, but I prefer the smaller ones. These were fun to grow (they hide on you!), but I'll try a different variety next year .. the seeds were too big, even when picked with they are small.

-Beets. I planted a mixture of different varieties: a red, a yellow and a "bullseye." They were great! I'd love to plant more in the future.

- Lettuce. All great. Can't get enough of it and this year I actually staggered it more or less properly to have a fresh batch on hand for most of the summer.

- Basil ... not a great year. It was ok in the beginning, but then it sort of stalled. I think it was too crowded by other things.

- Tomatoes. And this is the sad part of this year's story. After all that work making a new garden, mostly for the tomatoes, I had the worst tomato year of my life. The two cherry tomatoes (Sungold and Black Cherry) that I put closer to the house produced a couple handfuls each and never really thrived. The six plants (all heirlooms) I put in the new veggie garden were largely a disaster. I read some about tomato/potato blight being found in Wisconsin so I'm wondering if that wasn't it (I really hope not). The leaves started dying, mostly from the bottom. I trimmed off any diseased looking areas. By the end of the season, it was most stems with tomatoes on them, and the tomatoes were starting to have something horrible happen to them too. I bought dirt for the bed, including compost, from reputable nurseries, so it's possible something came in the dirt, or there could have been something else. I think I maybe had 20 tomatoes.

I'm going to have to do my best to figure out the tomato situation and rearrange things for next year, but all told, I'm declaring the veggie garden a success!

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02 October 2009

I'm back!

This will be brief, but I just wanted to apologize for my extended absence ... that is, if anyone is still reading this! Summer sort of took hold and then next thing you know, it's bulb-planting season.

I promise to catch you up on what's been happening in the garden, but in the meantime, I have very exciting news. The Impatient Gardener was named the best Wisconsin gardening blog on Blotanical! Thank you to everyone who voted for the blog! I'm honored!

More to come soon!