Gardening for me is therapeutic, zen for body and soul. Something about getting dirty and working the earth. Planting, growth and reaping the rewards or lack thereof, I’ve had those too! I’d like to share with you my garden adventures here. Building stone walls, putting in new flower gardens and tending to my kitchen potager. I’ll share my tips on gardening and welcome your feedback as well.
Since I am stuck indoors this spring (due to my ski injury), I decided to start seeds indoors. I had to get my hands into the dirt somehow! Also, I’ve started these seeds directly into the ground before, but without too much luck, plus the growing season can be so short, it’s much more satisfying putting a decent sized plant into the ground to enjoy it’s blooms earlier in the season. Here are my results so far!
I was so inspired by these beautiful container gardens. The hibiscus tree was no doubt the summer display, but as autumn came along, there were mums and flowering kale added. Sometimes our summer blooms are just too pretty to throw out and this is a great way to take them into the next season. I live in the northeast, so the hibiscus would not last outdoors. I would experiment with over-wintering indoors to see if I could coax another summer out of it! For more moderate climates, this is a great example of how to move from one season into another.
I have a very large clay pot on my patio. It is challenging to fill so that it looks lush and full, primarily because it would take so much soil to do so. Also, since I am in a climate with freezing winters, I would have to empty it at the end of each season so the pot would not crack. I came up with this solution. I have a “saucer sled” – yes, the kind that kids like to go sledding on – that fits perfectly a few inches down into the pot. I fill this with dirt and plants. Regardless, I feel that height always adds more visual interest, so I stacked bricks in the center and placed an already potted plant atop the bricks. To secure it in place, I used a decorative garden stake that is pushed through the bottom of the potted plant. Be sure to leave just enough space between the bricks to hold the stake securely in place. Now at the end of the season, clean up is a cinch and the summertime results show a pot that looks overflowing and colorful.
Click on the post title to see my Amazon picks!
Well this is on of my ‘learn as you go’ type of posts. I’ve had gorgeous hollyhocks for a few years now (grown from seed originally!). They really are a showstopper by sheer size alone! Last year I noticed that the leaves started to become mottled just about at the same time that the flowers started appearing. I thought maybe it was just the lifecycle of the plant – obtaining its’ fruition and then dropping leaves as it slowly ends its cycle for the season. However, this year that started happening much earlier and it was much more invasive. I discovered the culprit is a rust fungus (Puccinia heterospora). It is very disfiguring and even though it does not destroy the plant, you’d almost rather it be gone that look at it. I am currently treating my plants with a fungicide. Not sure how I’ll do, but will update this post as I go along. Meanwhile, I have copied off some information from a site “Gardening Know How” below.
What is Hollyhock Rust?
Caused by the fungus Puccinia heterospora, hollyhock rust is a disfiguring disease that infects members of the Alcea (hollyhock) family. It begins as yellow spots on top of the leaves with rusty pustules on the undersides.
Over time the spots can grow together and destroy large sections of the leaves, causing them to die and drop off. At this point, the stems may also develop spots. Although the plant may not die, you may want to put hollyhocks with rust fungus out of their misery because of the severe disfigurement.
Does hollyhock rust spread to other plants? Yes, it does! It only spreads to other members of the Alcea family, so most of your other garden plants are safe. There are mallow weeds that are members of the family that can act as a host reservoir for the disease, so it’s best to keep weeds away from hollyhocks.
Hollyhock rust disease occurs anywhere you find hot, humid temperatures. This is especially true in the southeast where these conditions persist throughout most of the summer. Below are some hollyhock rust treatments to try. Bear in mind that you’ll have more success if you employ several of these strategies at once.
When you first notice rust spots, pick off the leaves and either burn them or seal them in a plastic bag and discard them.
- Keep the soil around the plants free of debris, and keep the garden weed free.
- Spread a thick layer of mulch under the plants to prevent last year’s spores from re-emerging.
- Water the soil rather than the leaves. If possible, use a soaker hose so the soil won’t splatter onto the leaves. If you must use a spray of water, direct the spray at the ground and water early in the day so that the leaves that get wet will dry completely before sundown.
- Make sure the plants have good air circulation. They look great growing up against a wall, but the air can’t circulate around them and moisture builds up.
- Cut down hollyhock plants at the end of the season and burn or bury the debris.
This has always been one of my favorite little books. It is full of delightful little illustrations and garden advice. The drawings are so charming and whimsical, I never tire of looking at it. Despite having been published years ago, it is still available. Click on the post title for a link where to purchase.
Brick and pavered walkways and patios will eventually grow moss between them, especially in areas that don’t get a lot of sun. There are many ways to deal with this unsightly growth. I’ve tried a few. Naturally there is the power washer, but unless handled carefully, can cause more damage than good, plus you may have to re-apply the poly-sand that gets washed out. If you have excessive moss growth the power washer is the best way to get rid of it and start over with a clean slate. For yearly maintenance, I have tried salt. Yes, just plain white table salt poured directly onto the moss. It takes a little time, but it will kill it, plus there is the added benefit that it is eco friendly. Bleach mixed with water sprayed on the moss will also work, it has to be sprayed on and allowed to sit for a day or so before rinsing, but be careful because it can be slippery when wet. This year I am using a new product, Wet and Forget”. It is also sprayed directly onto the pavers. It will slowly turn the moss and/or algae brown and it will eventually break down the moss entirely avoiding picking out the unsightly brown moss usually left behind. As I mentioned earlier, if you have a serious condition, I would recommend power washing first, then any of the other treatments for yearly maintenance. If you’d like to try “Wet and Forget” just click on my post title and you will find a convenient link to the product.
I purchased this little lemon “tree” a few years ago. Truthfully it was just a little plant, but I was intrigued as to whether it would actually produce lemons or not. It always flowered and the scent was intoxicating, but didn’t really produce anything that grew larger than a marble then fell off. Nonetheless, it continued to grow and I was just happy with the flowers. It spends all summer outside and comes in around late fall. Then I move it to a very sunny location. This year I received a bumper crop of lemons! It is so satisfying to pluck them for use in the kitchen. I noted that as the lemons were growing and ripening the plant was shedding almost all of it’s leaves. It is nearly bare. I am assuming that as the lemons grow all the energy is going into fruit production and as the lemons are harvested, then it will grow new leaves as I can see the buds forming already. It really is a great fuss-proof plant and one I highly recommend trying. I am going to try to force it into a small tree – I’ll keep you posted.