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Everything’s “Rose-y”

Knockout Rose

Several of the Rose bushes my friend selected were KNOCK OUT Roses, which are great for beginners.

I’m beginning to see that it really is amazing – and interesting – the things we are more than happy to do for our friends.

The weekend before last my daughter and I got to spend time with one of my oldest and dearest friends. When I called to see if we could stop by, she mentioned she was going to be planting some flowers. For some reason I thought she was talking Annuals and offered to help if she needed it. She gratefully accepted.

Well as it turns out, we were planting roses. As she had never grown a rose before, I was glad I could step in and share my knowledge.

Healthy-soil-slide

When planting in clay soil, it is important to add amendments to help add air to the soil.

After pulling some weeds and turning over the soil, we had to address the fact that her soil had a lot of clay in it. Clay soil tends to drain more slowly when you water it and it tends to hold on to the water longer, which can cause problems with your plants. One of the first things we needed to do was amend the soil. By mixing in top soil, peat moss or compost, you are adding air to the soil and lightening it up which helps with drainage.

Once the soil was ready, we started digging our holes. With clay soil, you want the hole to be wider than you might dig if you had looser, sandier soil. We also put some mulch at the bottom of the hole to help with drainage then loosened up the root balls, added some starter fertilizer and dropped in each rose bush. As we filled in the holes, we mixed in a little more top soil.

It was a great afternoon and I was so glad I was able to help. I can’t wait until the next time we go over so I can see how our “labor of love” is doing.

Until next time……

Mary Gold

The seedlings appear!

As I mentioned to you a couple weeks ago, my daughter and I are trying a new veggie garden experiment this year: growing carrots, cucumber and zucchini from seed (including mom’s “back up” rows of carrots).

Fortunately I haven’t had to worry about watering them the last week or so, with all the rain we’ve had. Apparently carrots in particular like “even moisture.” Yeah, I had to ask on that one, too. My friend Roy tells me that means you don’t want to the soil to be soggy but you don’t let the soil dry out between waterings either. Makes sense.

Between the rain drops I was able to take a peek at the garden. It looked like I might have some weeding to do until it occurred to that I had no idea what a carrot, cucumber or zucchini seedling looked like. Well Google is my friend….apparently I have seedlings! Yay!

Carrot Seedling

This is what carrot seedlings look like….I can see how you could mistake them for a grassy weed initially.

Cucumber Seedling

This is a cucumber seedling.

Zucchini Seedling

Zucchini seedlings look an awful lot like cucumber seedlings….I’m not sure which mound is which now. Oh well…surprises are fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I brought my daughter over to the garden to show her our handy work. Needless to say, she was very excited and proud to see the carrot seedlings sprouting through the ground.

“Are those the seeds I planted?”

“Yes….they’re growing.”

“We’re going to have carrots soon!” Big smile!

Until next……

Mary Gold

A “Mole” in One

The other night after dinner, I’m sitting outside on our [cement] patio, watching my Moledaughter play, when all of the sudden she practically jumps in my lap. I was rather confused until I saw what she was pointing at. There was blackish-brown furry animal crawling on the cement along the side of the garage. It was either a mole or a vole.

Since moles are typically nocturnal and voles don’t like to be seen, my husband and I were surprised to see one crawling across cement. Once we caught it, the unspoken decision was made to let it go in the vacant lot next to our house; killing it in front of our daughter seemed inappropriate. (We were equally surprised, once it was on earth rather than cement, at how quickly it burrowed itself back underground.)

bonide_mole_max_10lb_tnail

Molemax repels moles and voles in your yard! I can work with that.

Unfortunately, as my friend Kristi pointed it out, it will likely come back unless we do something. Fortunately we can still put a repellant like Mole Max granules down. With the first application, you cover the entire area you want to protect. This drives them out. Then every 25 – 30 days you apply a 3 foot strip around the edges of the area to keep them out.

Looks like I know what I’m doing this weekend!

Enjoy the sunshine!  Until next time…..

Mary Gold

Growing at the “seed” of light!

I'm helping Mommy prep the garden with some Dairy Doo....

I’m helping Mommy prep the garden with some Dairy Doo….

Another beautiful weekend! I was so happy to be able to get outside and get my vegetable garden cleaned out and prepped. (A little Miloganite and some Dairy Doo…healthy soil = healthy plants = healthy me!)

Once that was done, it was off to Flowerland with The Princess. Here is a snippet of the conversation when we got there.

Me: “OK, what do you think we should grow this year?”

I wonder why it's called Dairy Doo....oh well.

I wonder why it’s called Dairy Doo….oh well.

The Princess: “Carrots.”

Me: “Carrots?”

The Princess: “Yes.”

Me: “You understand you have to grow these from seed, right? We can’t just pick up a plant and put it in the ground like we do with the tomatoes.”

The Princess: “I know….my teacher says the green part grows above the ground but we eat the roots of it.” [She just “graduated” from Kindergarten. I’m no longer the ‘smartest’ person in the room. 😉 ]

Me: “Will you eat the carrots we grow?”

The Princess: “Probably.”

Mommy says I have to mix in the Dairy Doo.

Mommy says I have to mix in the Dairy Doo.

Good enough for me. My friend Bonnie at Flowerland encouraged me to also try growing my cucumbers and zucchini from seed as well. Since I’m a little behind in planting, we picked out varieties with shorter growing seasons. Bonnie promised me seeds would be pretty easy to grow and the warmer weather will help. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes.

 

 

 

 

Now I have to make a hole 1/4" to 1/2" deep. I'm not sure what the means exactly but Mommy says this will work.

Now I have to make a hole 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep. I’m not sure what the means exactly but Mommy says this will work.

Now I can drop in a few carrot seeds.

Now I can drop in a few carrot seeds.

Okay, seeds are in so now I have to cover them up.

Okay, seeds are in so now I have to cover them up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a little water and I'm done...Yay! I can't wait to try my carrots.

Add a little water and I’m done…Yay! I can’t wait to try my carrots.

“Playing” in the dirt has become almost therapeutic for me. (If you knew me “back in the day,” you’d appreciate the irony of that statement.) Plus it’s a great activity The Princess and I can do together. I can’t wait till this weekend!

Until next time…..

Mary Gold

Warm….and Sunny….Together? Yay!

I have so loved the last few weekends. They have been sunny, warm and not too rainy – or at least enough so that I haven’t needed a parka or a boat to play in the yard.

And “play” I have. In May, I was able to light-rake the remnants of winter off my front yard (left over leaves, ‘helicopters’, etc.) before putting down my crabgrass preventative (no raking once that goes down).

helping rake the grass

My favorite little helper! She did a great job too.

Time to clean up!

Time to clean up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Princess planted these tulips about 2 years ago...Beautiful!

The Princess planted these tulips about 2 years ago…Beautiful!

I also had the chance to clean up my flower beds in the back yard to better showcase The Princess’s beautiful tulips. (They really were gorgeous this year!) I couldn’t believe how many maple tree sprouts I pulled. Fortunately my favorite little helper was all about helping mommy pull them out…and she did a great job too!

I love my Mother's Day roses. The Princess thought I needed some yellow to go with my pinks.

I love my Mother’s Day roses. The Princess thought I needed some yellow to go with my pinks.

I was also able to plant the beautiful new Rose bush I got for Mother’s Day. I’ve already had a couple of blooms and they are the most lovely yellow! Before I planted it, I made sure I “prepped” the area with some compost soil (I love Dairy Doo) then mixed in some Rose Tone so it doesn’t get hungry and sprinkled in some Myke’s to help it adjust to its new home. I can’t wait till it blooms again.

This weekend’s project: Finish up the vegetable garden!

Until next time…enjoy the beautiful weather!

Mary Gold

It’s beginning to look a lot like…well….winter

Mosaic Tile ArtIt’s hard to believe we are one week out from Christmas. Where did the time go? The ongoing snow is definitely making it look like Christmas but it’s tough when the kids have to stay inside when the wind chill gets too cold. Fortunately, I’ve got some tricks – or at least games – up my sleeve.

Last year, right before her birthday, my daughter and I were walking around Flowerland and she saw these Mosaic kits. Of course it became the “must have” gift. I was a little concerned because it looked kind of detailed and I worried it might frustrate her. But I decided to get it for her anyway.

kt-tile-art-3Apparently, “Mother” doesn’t always know best. The kit is the Mosaic equivalent of a Paint by Numbers. Basically the pictures have squares that are numbered and sheets of small, sticky, colored tiles that correspond with the numbers. As my husband explained to her, you match the tiles with the corresponding numbers on the picture. You need to be kind of exact on placing the tiles because you have a limited quantity in each color.

kt-tile-art-4In addition to creating beautiful, frame-able pictures, it also helped her with following directions, numbers, hand-eye coordination and dexterity.

She loves doing them (all by herself, no less) and they look great! She had some much fun with the first one, she asked if she could give a kit to her friend for a birthday gift. Her friend loved it too!

Until next time… Stay warm!

Mary Gold

Winter Protection Time

rhododendron

Rhododendron in bloom

We need protection from the cold winds of winter and so do our favorite plants. You’ve been so attentive over the warmer months, don’t forget about them now.

While we’ve had some rain the last few days, you want to be sure plants such as evergreens don’t go into winter dry. Be sure you give supplemental water as needed.

Bonide Wilt Stop

Bonide Wilt Stop

Apply anti-desiccant sprays like Wilt-proof to broadleaf evergreens like Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Burlap screen susceptible evergreens like Dwarf Alberta spruce from winter burn. Plants most susceptible to damage are those that go into the winter dry, do not have a mulch cover and face the south or southwest.

Trees

Trees

If you have a young tree in your yard, be sure you protect it from South-West disease. During the winter months, shifts from cold to warm air temperatures cause trees to naturally expand and contract. That expansion and contraction can cause splitting or cracking in the bark of young trees. Protect these young trees by wrapping them with tree wrap.

If you tip toe through my tulips, don’t squish my pansies

Bulbs and Pansies 2013

This is how the bulbs and pansies mixed this year at my house. I think I need more of both to make a real splash!

I have to tell you, I love spring flowering bulbs. They are so easy…you just dig a hole (3 times the height of the bulb is recommended), drop in the bulb in the hole (it will right itself if upside-down), water and done. Nature handles the rest.

It’s always fun to add new bulbs to my flower beds. Last year when my daughter and I picked out new ones to add to the front yard as well as along the fence line on the back patio, we selected bulbs the bloom at different times in the spring. That way, we had something pretty to look at throughout the spring.

Another thing we did (and plan to do this year) was plant some pansies in the bulb beds. To be honest, without colorful flowers the front of my house would be pretty dull. Because they are frost tolerant, they keep smiling at me even when

Pansies and Tulips

This is how the professionals do it. Did you know the reason we plant bulbs in the fall is so they can cool over the winter before blooming? I didn’t know that.

my impatiens (which looked beautiful this year BTW) have succumb to the weather. In addition to coming in colors like blue and purple (my daughter’s current favorite colors), they come back in the spring. In fact this past spring, they come so full I was afraid my bulbs wouldn’t do as well. Not to worry; the combination was actually really pretty. Little did I know the Pros actually suggest planting them together.

Guess I know what my daughter and I will be doing over the next few weeks!

Until next time….

Mary Gold

Heavenly Hibiscus!

Hibiscus is considered by some the perennial that ushers out summer. This beauty is definitely saying something at the Wyoming store; the blossom is huge!

How did it get so big? Dave, the Nursery Manager at Wyoming, tells us Hibiscus love tropical weather like we’ve had the last week, which is probably why this one is “smiling” on us.

Hibiscus love sun, attract butterflies, are easy to grow and like moist, well-drained soil. They can get up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Wouldn’t one look great in your garden?

 

Hibiscus

Have you ever seen a Hibiscus blossom this big?

Hibiscus

This “neighboring” Hibiscus is showing off three more typical but equally beautiful blossoms.

 

 

 

 

It’s harvest time!

Home Grown Vegetables

Nothing beats homegrown veggies in the summer!

I really do love this time of year. All the flowers are blooming and the warm weather crops are hitting their harvest time stride. Nothing beats Michigan grown fresh fruits and veggies – especially when you grow them yourself and can eat them right off the vine.

My daughter is having so much fun picking her strawberries and helping me pick my cucumbers (“Mommy, there’s a cucumber…it’s got prickers so you pick it”) and my tomatoes. She still won’t eat the tomatoes and cucumbers but the strawberries don’t make it into the house very often.

 

 

Sherry the Berry Strawberry

The “Sherry the Berry” strawberries my daughter planted (from the Chef Jeff Kids line) seem to be an ever-bearing variety…I’m good with that!

picking_strawberries

Picking my own strawberries is really fun….

....and eating them is even more fun!

….and eating them is even more fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing I have learned this year is about watering veggie plants. Again this year I’m having trouble with my zucchini and summer squash. I do the tickling to help with pollination. What I didn’t do initially was water consistently. Veggie plants need moist soil 2 inches down. My soil has a lot of sand in it so it can dry out quickly. I put my soaker hose around the plants (try to water at the base to prevent disease issues) and run it for about 30 minutes every other day. This seems to be helping although I’m still hoping for a bit more output.  I’m also going try adding in some more compost and organic matter to the bed to see if that will help.

In the meantime, I’m going to harvest and enjoy the yummy “fruits” of my labor.

Until next time….

Mary Gold

 

“Mum” – Ma – Mia!

Hardy Garden Mums are now available at all three locations!

Mums provide great fall color. Because of their tight, mounded habit and stunning bloom cover, garden mums are perfect for mass plantings.

Hardy Garden MumsHardy Garden MumsHardy Garden Mums

Staying grounded!

brown-mulchFor the last couple years, my friend Doug at Flowerland had been telling me about the advantages of mulching my flower beds. As he always points out, there’s nothing wrong with not mulching but mulch does a lot to protect plants. It helps keep the plant’s roots cool during warm stretches like we’ve had the last couple weeks and it helps the soil retain moisture. It also helps protect the plants during the winter as the ground shifts between freezing and thawing.

Mulched Flower BedFinally last fall, I decided to give it a try. My friend Brandon helped me decide on quantity and select an appropriate type (I went with the Pine Bark Mulch). This spring and summer have been the real test. One of my concerns was feeding my plants. I like using the Tone fertilizers in addition to water solubles on my plants. It was so easy. I just pulled the mulch gently back from the base of the plants, sprinkled on some Rose Tone or Flower Tone, scratched it in to the dirt and pushed the mulch back over top. (It’s also a great time to “stir” the mulch so it doesn’t get matted down.)

I also found mulching to be an advantage with watering too but not for the reason you Mulched Rose Bedmight think. The soil in my beds has a lot of sandy in it so unless I used a soaker hose to water I would end up with holes (literally) in my beds where the soil “collapsed.” With the mulch cover, that doesn’t seem to happen. I can water directly from the hose at the base of the plants without “sink holes” appearing.

I still don’t mind getting my hands in the dirt but mulch is proving itself a good tool in my gardening adventure. I can’t wait to get outside this weekend and “dig” in!

Until next time…….

Mary Gold

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