Sunday, August 7, 2011

Strange time of year for my garden

Every year I run into basically the same problem at this time of year. Everything starts to look scraggly.

This year the squirrel from hell decimated my grape tomato patch. I'm already making my plans of squirrel attack for next year. It involves mouse traps and bells thus far. Spraying the plants with bad tasting stuff didn't make a difference to the bushy rat. If he didn't like the taste of one he just left it on the ground to rot and moved on to the next.

I started a new raised bed for my cucumbers hoping I'd avoid last year's problems but nope, they followed. I have some beautiful cucumbers but I'm in a race against the dwindling vines. They turn yellow, then brown starting at the bottom of the vine. It's working its way upward. I've tried the fungus stuff, fertilizing (but not too much), watering in the morning so they don't get damp at night and have cut off the bad leaves as fast as it happens. Oh, I also tried some industrial strength bug killer (plant safe, made for plants) despite trying to stay organic.

I know I whine a lot on this blog but it is a bit frustrating to put so much effort into getting some decent veggies only to lose so many to a combination of drought with downpours, excessive heat and critters.

I do realize that if I spent more quality time with my garden I could probably avoid some of the problems. Having a garden requires a commitment that I seem to just fall short of reaching.

I'm considering taking a master gardening class, but I'm not sure if that will really result in great veggies. I think maybe next year I'll just pull everything up, work my soil, and give it a break. Although, I do love those grape tomatoes... and cucumbers... and beans... hmmm...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Squirrels with issues...

My squirrels have developed addictions this year.

I've always had the usual problem with the pesky rats with tails getting into my bird feeders, snitching my sunflower seeds and other bird favorites. I've adapted. I put a hot pepper mix on the seeds and it keeps them away for a while. I have fun in my pottery studio with them, too. I'll put the seeds in the window feeder, then sneak over and bang on the two-way glass when they climb in... After a couple of scares they usually stay away.

Now, however, I have a tomato addict.

And, I have a sugar water addict.

I added some extra fencing around my raised tomato bed initially, not knowing what was getting into it. Then I walked out one day and saw a squirrel sitting inside the bed munching away on my tomatoes. It sat there brazenly snacking until I was just a couple of feet away, almost within swatting range (not that I'd take a chance on tangling with a potentially rabid squirrel). It scampered off to a nearby tree where it sat at eye-level on a branch, one beady eye focused on me, while it finished its delicacy. Grrrrr...

I've been spraying stuff to keep deer and other animals away around the bed and even on the bottom tomatoes (as I've given them up to the cause). It's been working. However, we've been having rain every day lately and I notice that there are once again discarded tomatoes on the ground around my plants.

A few days ago I went out and found one of my hummingbird feeder on the ground, empty, ants crawling all over it. We'd had a bad storm so I "assumed" it had gotten knocked off in the high winds. I refilled it only to find it completely empty the next day. I refilled it and moved it. Humph, empty again. I moved it around the house to the other side on a taller pole, next to another one. Hump, empty today.

So, I'm going to move the shepherd's hook away from any nearby climbing or hanging spots and grease the hook. I don't know if that'll work but I want my hummingbirds and I don't want the squirrels.

I went out and did a little research. Some have suggested hanging them from a baffle and even share how to make a home-made baffle with pie pans. I may try that next.

Sugar is highly addictive. It's what they feed to drug addicts to wean them off the 'hard' stuff. Having a sugar addicted squirrel is going to be difficult. I can't put pepper water in the feeder as the hummingbirds won't touch it. However, once the hummingbirds leave, that's exactly what I'm going to do if this keeps up.

Ideas anyone?

I did find it funny when I read the comments on other discussion boards about the subject. Quite a few people said squirrels don't like sugar water. I found that humorous. I used to have those baby feeders hanging inside my window bird feeder. I'd sit there and watch the squirrels come up, tip the feeder and greedily finish off the sugar water in the little thing. I quit putting them out down there.

Love to have any suggestions from friends. I didn't have any luck doing an Internet search, just found a lot of people with the same problem!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Figured out how to get my grass to grow...

I have a couple of acres of grass surrounded by woods. I call it grass but in reality it only looks like grass right after it has been mowed. Give it a day and the weeds explode. I can see the bare spots once the wind blows the cut grass away. When it rains the spots increase in size.

I'm not even sure what kind of grass I have. I think it's a combination of every kind of seed made as over the years I've tried the various mixtures that "will grow anywhere".

It finally struck me this year how I could grow grass.

I will plant flowers all through the yard.

I know, I know, it sounds crazy, but I am convinced it will work.

I had the epiphany as I was cleaning out my flower beds. I pulled up handful after handful of beautiful, lush grass. It was then that I realized I had been going about this grass-growing things backwards. Even in the worst soil, if I plant a flower and leave it, within days it will be surrounded by grass. It's the planting of the flowers. Grass likes flowers. It thrives on flowers. Either that or it just likes to aggravate me. But giving grass a mind is even crazier than my flower theory.

So, I recently came into possession of a ton of flower seeds. I'm going to plant them all through my yard and watch the grass grow! Sure, I know that every time the yard is mowed I'll be cutting down flowers. On the plus side, in those crazy months were you almost need to cut grass daily to keep it reasonable, maybe I'll have pretty flowers instead of just those old dandelions. And grass. I'll have beautiful grass.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Past time...

Yes, it's past time to get my garden going. I am partially on my way. I've cleaned out the beds, have some Coco Peat in my wheelbarrow soaking and I have two grape tomato vines awaiting in pots.

I planted some asparagus bean seeds and one has started pushing up through the soil. I'm hoping for more. I decided to fill a number of pots with them this year as I really did like the few I managed to harvest last year. Some pest got hold of them before I ate too many. This year I'm going to be more vigilant and will get the creeps before they creep up on the plants.

I'm rotating my 'crops', too. Tomatoes will go where the beans were last year. No cantaloupes, squash or pumpkins though. They were too much trouble last year. I will be growing cucumbers though. I'm hoping that by cleaning out the beds and allowing for more sunlight around the trellises that I'll be successful.

I may try some lettuce. I have an extra raised bed this year so I'll need something new to grow in it.

Just thought I'd share that I'm slowly moving in the right direction. I'm behind in some ways given that I'm in Georgia.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Annual Plant Fair and Sale at Callaway Gardens®

FREE Admission; Including Plants Unique to the South; Great Books and Tools; Beautiful Garden Deco

Head to Callaway Gardens with a plant list and a vehicle large enough to take home all of the great finds from the Callaway Gardens Annual Plant Fair and Sale, March 24-27, 2011.

Choose from garden-d├ęcor, gardening books and tools as well as an incredible array of flowering plants and shrubs, including many unique, hard-to-find varieties and native plants that thrive in the Southeast, often in challenging weather conditions.

In addition to Callaway Gardens’ plants and specialty items, 15 other nurseries and specialty vendors from throughout the Southeast will have plants for sale, answer plant-related questions and offer their very unique garden-related wares. Those participating include: Chattahoochee Valley Day Lily Society; Eagle’s Roost Herb Farm; Fern Ridge Farms; Garden Delights; Garden Solutions; Hollonville Nursery; JAM‘n Designs; Laurel Springs Nursery; Massee Lane Camellia Gardens; Our Secret Garden; Petals from the Past; Rocky Branch Nursery; The Garden Enthusiast; and Waypoint Nursery.

The Plant Fair and Sale will be open to the public Thursday, March 24 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; March 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and March 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission to the Plant Fair and Sale at the Beach Dome at Robin Lake Beach is free when entering through the beach gate on U.S. Hwy. 27. Admission will be charged to those who wish to visit the rest of Callaway Gardens. Special event pricing for Celebrate Spring! $25/adult; $12.50/child; children five and under are admitted for free. Callaway Gardens Annual Passholders and active and retired military, with valid identification and up to five guests, receive free access to Celebrate Spring! Enjoy the explosion of color among the Spring blooming trees, azaleas, bulbs!

Callaway Gardens is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. For additional information, visit www.callawaygardens.com or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).

PLUS

Garden with Confidence: Learn from Erica Glasener at the 13th Annual Callaway Gardening School

NEW Landscape Design Workshop; Learn About Plants Best Suited for Southern Gardens

Launch your Spring gardening endeavors with advice from experts at the 13th annual Callaway Gardening School March 25, 2011. Join us for a fantastic gardening experience with one of Georgia’s own gardening gurus, Erica Glasener.

Glasener, an Atlanta television host and author, will share information on how to choose plants best suited for gardens in Georgia. This knowledge will allow gardeners to create the best plant combinations for their personal gardens and landscape projects. Many of these plants will be available at the Annual Plant Fair & Sale simultaneously and throughout the weekend.

Living and gardening in Atlanta, Georgia, horticulturist and author, Glasener has hosted “A Gardener’s Diary” on Home and Garden Television (HGTV) for 14 years and has written a biweekly column on plants and garden design for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is the co-author with Walter Reeves of The Georgia Gardener’s Guide (revised edition published in 2004) and Month-By-Month Gardening in Georgia (revised edition published in 2006). Her latest book is entitled Proven Plants: Southern Gardens. Glasener has also served as a contributing editor for Fine Gardening, a Taunton Press publication, and her articles have appeared in New York Times, The Farmer’s Almanac and Atlanta Magazine.

In her own garden, Glasener grows vegetables, fruits (including blueberries) heirloom roses, bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees. She strives to have fresh flowers and foliage for bouquets to bring indoors or to take to friends throughout the year. Glasener lectures on gardening topics such as fragrant plants, perennials, the winter garden and garden design.

Glasener will be joined by horticultural experts on an in-depth question and answer panel including David Chambers, manager of Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden at Callaway Gardens; Helen Phillips, manager of Garden Solutions Garden Center of LaGrange, GA,; and Ernest Koone III of Lazy K Nursery and Garden Delights Garden Center. Bring your gardening questions and challenges to see if you can get your perplexing gardening issues solved as well as receive practical, down-to-earth advice and insight into your gardening activities.

During lunch, Glasener will be available to autograph her many books. These will be available for purchase at the event.

The schedule for the Callaway Gardening School is:

9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
Registration Beach Lane Four, Shuttle to Function

10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“Proven Plants for Southern Gardens” by Erica Glasener

11 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.
Break

11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Questions and Answers by Glasener, David Chambers, Helen Phillips and Earnest Koone

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 a.m.
Lunch and Book Signing

1:15 a.m.
Return to Beach and Plant Fair and Sale

Registration, which includes lunch, is $45. To register, contact the Callaway Gardens Education Department at education@callawaygardens.com or 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292) ext. 5153. Space is limited so register today.

Enjoy free admission to the Callaway Gardens Plant Fair and Sale happening alongside the Gardening School. The plant fair offers hard to find plants that are unique to the Southeast. Plan to visit March 24 between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; March 25 and 26 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and March 27 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Be sure to travel in a vehicle large enough to take home your finds!

Callaway Gardens® is in Pine Mountain, Ga., 60 minutes southwest of Atlanta and 30 minutes north of Columbus. For additional information, visit www.callawaygardens.com or call 1-800-CALLAWAY (225-5292).