Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peonies in the Cold

I got three huge blooms from the peony this year. The first spring that we were in this house, I decided to clean up the border along the back of the house where the roses are. I weeded, laid out newspaper and covered it with mulch. I started to see something growing up next to the roses and was annoyed by this stubborn weed growing up through my mulch. So I cut it back. I'm not sure for how long I cut this thing back, but last year I let it grow and saw big beautiful flowers grow from it. Soon I realized that it is not a weed, but a peony. Huge blooms with lots of petals. Glad I took a photo because the blooms really don't last long.

This is one of my birthday irises. Blooming the first year in, not bad!

I was surprised to see the Spanish Lavender growing out front already. It's beating it's peers by a few weeks at least. The Spanish is my favorite lavender. I like it's purple tufts at the top.

In other garden news, preschooler has already eaten about a dozen Alpine Strawberries. The Tri-star and Seascape strawberries might be ready within the next month. Apparently, I made a mistake when I planted tomatoes behind a row of strawberries. Of course, I researched my garden placements too late, once I'd already done it. It turns out the strawberries can get some of the same diseases (Fusarium and Verticillium Wilt) as tomatoes, so it's not recommended to plant them in the same spot. I will leave things as they are but I will keep it in mind for next time. There's always the chance that both the strawberries and tomatoes will grow and ripen just fine. My tomatoes are all resistant to at least one of those diseases, and both Tri-star and Seascape strawberries are labeled "disease resistant", so I will call it an experiment and see what happens.

I think I'll have some pepper plants to pass out soon. I have about a dozen down in the basement and I don't know where I'd put them all. We really need to dig up some more of the lawn for a bigger garden next year. Peppers are great for freezing and the whole family loves them, so the more the merrier if I have a place to put them. Perhaps I can squeeze a few into the flower garden out front?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Yes, that is a new word. Mayuary means a time when a given area has the exact same weather in May as it did in January. As is happening here. A few days ago, we had a winter storm warning with high winds and snow up in the mountains. The good thing is, the snow pack is back up and once again we have no worries for drought this summer. Nonetheless, our high summer water rates are back. I really wish I had another option to water my garden, but all we have is city water. Anyways, right now it's a balmy 49 degrees outside on this 5th day of May 2010. I'll admit it's a little humorous. I'll also admit that I am tired of the chilly weather and I am wishing for a perfect 73 degree day. The lettuce is just sitting out there barely growing and the spinach looks extremely sad. Looks like my cold weather plants have some more time left. The peas are growing happily as are the strawberries.

Which brings me to the battle against ants and their aphids. I have learned that little sugar type ants farm aphids. The ants bring aphids into their nests and keep them over the winter, then in the spring, the ants plant the aphids onto your favorite plants with new growth, and farm them. Sometimes, the ants remove the aphids' wings so they will just stay in one spot. Then the ants feed off of the "discharge" from the aphids as they suck on your plants. The ants also go after the natural predators of aphids, such as ladybugs and their larvae. What I have done is allow husband to go after the ants any way he chooses, because only by getting the ants can we control the aphids. I'm refusing to spray my plants with anything besides insecticidal soap, so it works to let husband go after the ant nests as he hunts and destroys them. I hope we can get the ants under control, then I plan to buy some extra ladybugs and "plant" them in our yard to build the ladybug population back up. I'm providing a link to one of the many articles on this creepy ant behavior: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071009212548.htm

In other news, I was curious as to why some of my tomato plants have leaves curling inwards while they otherwise look fine. I found an interesting article that put my worries to rest. I will just try to water more carefully and hope for the best. Here is a link to the article in case your tomatoes are doing the same: