Sunday, April 26, 2009

I don't care what month it is.... and a wonderful book

90 degrees is too hot any day of the year, in my opinion... all those cool spring plants would rather have a light frost. my pansies pant and celebrate some cool water at the end of a long day.

OK, rant is over.

Tina's comment on my last blog had me looking for the seed packet for the Thoroughly Modern Millie Godetia seeds, which reminded me of why I don't favor that seed company except of course for their varieties of flowers. The back of the packet had little or no info to pass along.

So I turned to a highly favored book...

From Seed To Bloom: How to Grow over 500 Annuals, Perennials, & Herbs by Eileen Powell.

How many times have I turned to this book? It is wonderful. Looking up Godetia, the author had me go to Clarkia. and here is the advice Tina wanted...

space them around 9 inches apart,

Light: full sun in cool climates, otherwise part shade,

Soil: cool, moist, well-drained, pH 6-7, and prefers low nitrogen content.

at the school we got the onions and leeks and pac choi planted. We will try to get the fingerling potatoes in the ground this week. Some seedlings got too dry this week. But nothing was devastated, which is always good news when one is not careful and mindful. However, I was aware enough to notice that these tulips had opened this week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Being Thoroughly Modern Like Millie

Stepping out into the home garden with my egg timer (giving my shoulder 30 minute work outs) I glance down on the mud-room floor and see a plant label. Curious, I see it is for Hemerocallis: Red Razzmatazz. My mind remembers last fall and I head out and there in the bunch of weeds are the four varieties of day lilies. But first to mulch the pansies in the front yard. Given the option of open space for a month or pansies, my wife chose pansies.

Gardening at the school is time specific. I've got lots of onions to get into the ground, and now my potatoes are here, and what about that box of raspberries, and hey we have those pac choi seedlings. The beautiful weekend did nothing for them. Rain yesterday kept us in and made it too wet today to do much outside. We did divide up a blanket flower, so now two more areas of our flower garden will be blessed with them. I love flower buds and here is a photo I took last year...

I failed to mention in my last post that last week we had divided our yarrow and that we had carted up our water gallons filled with our winter sowing projects. Plenty of tiny seedlings, and these which were ready to be put into 6 packs...

This would be Godetia seedlings: Thoroughly Modern Millie. So there I was on break last December checking out flowers, which students had circled in seed catalogs. And yes, my wife and I had just watched the movie, so what could I do but add it to the list. The ones planted indoors sputtered which made looking down into this container even more joyful. We ended up with 18 plants which made the rain yesterday quite tolerable.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

welcoming back --- workers and perennials and tulips

I am sitting here at home just having spent some time cleaning up a bit of the backyard. Who thought that removing all the grass was a good idea was confused, well I am sure I was young and delirious. But there is something about welcoming back the perennials each spring. Some can surprise me like a long lost friend from college finding me on the internet.

My workers at the school garden came back this week. Their vacation time is excessive if you ask me. They were away from school for 11 days this spring break. They will get 2-3 weeks off at the end of June and another couple weeks of at the end of August. This is one of the limiting factors to the size of the gardens which we can maintain at the school. During vacations, I am seen at the school keeping an eye on things. While I do agree students and teachers need vacations... my whole view of this has changed since I began the horticulture program. In the past, 11 days or 25 days would seem just about right. But now with so much to do, I am joyful to see them back in my classroom.

some of things which we did this short week of three days...

  • potted up tomato plants out of 6-packs. (many more to do)
  • planted some of the onion sets that came in the mail, which of course arrived just after the students left for their homes. I used to grow onions by seed, but have much better results these days with sets. My favored onion has become Ailsa Craig, which I bought from Johnny's this year... here is their description. Basically it is a great option for those of us who don't have the right growing season for sweet Spanish onions. (many more to do)
  • tried to show some weeds who is boss (many more to boss around)
  • cut some daffodils for the good women who work in the education office. (sadly, not many more)
  • divided three yarrow in half and moved half of each to make a new threesome.
  • and greeted the first tulips ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

of biomes and brownies

My school has just celebrated Friends and Family Day. I opened my room up as a visiting spot. No big shows, just students making our potting soil mix, while other potted up our billion varieties of hot peppers. I had the Mighty assistant and some students bake up some lavender brownies the day before. As you may remember the human suggestion box has big time issues with lavender in his food and even tried to have a petition stop me. So there were the parents. And there were the brownies. And there was the man with the suggestions. So I put it all together...

"Could you please hand out the lavender brownies to the parents?" Soon enough they were enjoying the brownies and I was telling the story with the human suggestion box adding details, which of course led to a few minutes exploring the suggestion box.

The teacher, who has landed the job of teaching our youngest students, asked me for some plants for what she was planning for the parents. She was one of several teachers who were focussing on biomes and she wanted to place some critters around real plants. I needed space for my seedlings... clearly it was a win-win situation and our largest plants went out on loan.

What I hope to do by the end of the week is get an e-mail sent out to all the parents (some are here already and that makes me happy) to visit the blog... if you have made it... welcome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Blind gardening

"I could tell my husband now about Goodman in the garden. I raised Goodman myself—solid black Lab—and, after a year gave him up, the way you do, for further training and a life with Alice Banks. Alice was a gardener. She and her husband relaxed on weekends tending beds of annuals and several kinds of tomatoes. When Alice and Goodman graduated from the program, Alice said I was welcome to stay in touch. It is always the Blind person's call."

from The Dog Of The Marriage, a short story by Amy Hempel

I had nearly finished the collected stories of Amy Hempel the last time I was on break from teaching. Maybe it was being on break which brought me back.

I stopped while reading and wondered... can you garden blind? Blind gardening, can you imagine? I try. I imagine the difficulties. The struggle. How much of gardening for me is a visual joy? With that gone...

I end up pondering the state of my spirit if I was to lose my vision. Would I become deflated and bitter? What would happen to those things for which I have a passion?

My students come to school as I would enter blind to a garden... every right to be bitter. Paper and pen... words and numbers... these things make school a hard place filled with failures. It is my job more than any other to show them the joy that can happen in a classroom. Sometimes I can do this, with their help.

If I become blind, I hope to remember to find those who bring joy into my life. So now I I imagine entering my garden blind, but I am not lost and alone for I am guided by my friends, family, and one hip black Lab.

want to help a blind gardener... check this out.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Timber Press--- a highly favored catalog

I am not sure when I first came across the Timber Press catalog, but I am always glad when it arrives for I know it will be filled with books I would love to own. Gradually, I may own them.

Do you have a favored garden book press?

Do you buy books on gardening?

Do you buy too many books on gardening?

Do you read the books you have bought?

I am not a fan of magazines in general, not just gardening/horticulture specific. I do find much information on the internet. However, there are many books in my classroom and a few at home, which I trust. It may still be faster than doing an on-line search to get an answer to a question.

as for my fourth question, I have not read many of my gardening books. maybe one day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

back at the blog... return to amazing hanging baskets.

billions of seedlings, two craft shows in two weeks, science classes to keep moving forward, a very cool jazz concert, and a couple evenings with friends before they moved to NC, and a virus that found home in my respiratory tract (first cold of the 2008-09 season).... OK, enough excuses for not blogging...

A few weeks back My wife and I headed to Longwood Gardens to see the orchid show. Orchids were everywhere including hanging in amazing baskets. I have not had much luck with orchids or creating baskets (well, if one does not put much time and energy into it... what results should one really expect)

But this year, I've got a few things started that I hope will make for a good basket. Thunbergia alata (Black-eyed Susan Vine), Lobelelia erinus (color cascade mix), and Nemesia (Mello Red and White). The seedlings are doing well. Hope flourishes that this summer my own hanging baskets will be featured here.