Thursday, May 23, 2013

Allium Ready to Burst

The flower heads are on stalks about three feet high. Can't wait for the show.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Never Doing the "Toilet Paper Tube" Seed-Starting Again

I saw it on Pinterest! A few weeks ago, I posted about seed-starting using toilet paper roll tubes. My initial concern turned out to be true. The cardboard is a tough medium because it absorbs moisture from the soil - and the seedlings need it. When the seed-starting tray is covered, there's no problem. When uncovered, the tubes dry out more quickly than plastic pots do. Normally, I would transfer these seedlings to bigger pots before putting them in, but this year, they'll go directly into the ground and/or pots. They've been hardening off for a few days on the covered patio, in preparation for planting later this week.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Potato Planting WITH Glitter

 Potatoes were prepped and planted this week. My kiddo is in charge of spud gardening. She sprinkles glitter on the potatoes before putting them in their mounds. Our planting is a little late this year, so here's hoping for three, perfect-looking potatoes in time for the Western Idaho Fair. Aviana planted Russet Norkotahs. The key to beautiful spuds is even watering - which can be a challenge if we get into a streak of 100-degree weather.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

First Harvest of the Season

My kiddo reports that they were extra sweet.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Flower Time

Lupine, fuchsia, zinnias gerbera daisies, campanula  and agastache are some of the plants in this collage. The lupine is a lovely surprise. Years ago, I planted pink lupine. Now purple pops up in that space.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Repurposed Mailbox

Our old mailbox got a pink makeover. It's now on my gardening bench as protected storage for tools.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Irrigation Season - Water the Lawn Only Once a Week

Putting on my Master Gardener hat today. It's common that we have automatic sprinkler systems, and for years, first myself, and then my lawn maintenance guy, dutifully set the sprinklers to run 3 times a week for 20 minutes or so. Well. That's not ideal. The Kentucky bluegrass mixes most of us have need to be watered once a week. Three times a week encourages short root growth. Think deep and infrequent. Think flood irrigation. One to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. If your soil is too clay-ey, put the total on during several sprinkler rounds in the morning - all on the same day. Yes, your lawn will be very wet that day.

If we get super hot weather this summer, watering may need to happen every 4 days, and you may need 2 inches. You can measure how much water is coming out of your sprinkler system, or just check your soil profile. Dig down 12 inches. You want all 12 inches to be moist so the roots grow that deep. Yes, Kentucky bluegrass roots can grow that deep, they usually don't because of incorrect watering. (Caliche can also stop roots, and if that's your situation, it's tough to grow anything).

Twelve inches is also good for your trees, since their roots only go 12-16 inches underground. When you starve your soil profile of water using the 3 times a week for 20 minutes method, you're also starving your trees.

In between waterings, the top portions of soil and roots will dry out and that's exactly what you want. Then load up on water again so the entire profile is damp. Controversial? I don't really think so, but some argue about it because it doesn't "feel right" to water only once a week.

Now, I know folks will also say they've watered that way for years and their lawn looks fine. Mine looked fine, too. But the point is that more treatment is needed to keep problems away (like billbugs and thatch build-up) and far more water is used. Using the once-a-week method means about 40 percent less water is used during the season.

Also, be careful about doing Internet research on lawn care. Most of the information isn't written for our zone and climate.

There are some companies selling automatic systems now, mostly for commercial landscaping, that include soil moisture probes installed about 10 inches into the profile, and the sprinklers will run only when needed.

A lot of research has been done on this topic, and if you want to read more, I recommend, "Scotts Lawns: Your Guide to a Beautiful Yard." It also includes details on the proper fertilizing schedule for Kentucky bluegrass, and it's not the one most service companies provide.

Wishing you a green, lush lawn this summer!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tulips in the Peacock Tail

Last-of-the-season tulips on the north side of the house. Peonies and violets in the background.