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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘Rhubarb’

A Cottage Garden May Be Just Right For You…But Don’t Plan a Cottage Garden

If you like a lot of different kinds of plants…

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Asian Lilies, Delphiniums and Hollyhocks

If you like a lot of flowers blooming…

If you don’t want to worry about strict, formal lines and forms…

If you want your garden to feel natural, like it all happened on its own…

If you like using vintage pieces in your garden…

If you like the idea of plants seeding themselves or multiplying on their own…

If you want a garden that make you want to just hang out and relax in…

Maybe a Cottage Garden is just for you.

A cottage garden is loosely planned, and heavily planted. I think that most gardeners are a lot like me when it comes to plants. It seems that I’m a plant-aholic. I can’t seem to ever have too many. Even when I’m sure that I’ve maxed out the space available, I can always squeeze in one more specimen I’ve found.

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2011 - perennial bed beside deck

Plants that bloom, smell good and re-seed or spread will eventually find a way into my garden. The great thing about having such a variety of plants is that most of them bloom, but not at the same time. So I have something blooming somewhere all during the growing season. If you have all the same plants then the blooms are all done with at the same time.

I did lay out a plan of the yard but only loosely designated a certain area for “flower bed” or “berry patch”. I paid attention to the height of the plants, so they would all fit together nicely, and to the sun and water requirements. It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the bloom time but I didn’t really do that, and most of the time I was lucky. The blooms for any season, spring through fall, are spread around the whole yard pretty evenly.

If you follow the planting guides on most seed packets or plant instructions, your garden will look good eventually. While the plants are growing and reaching their full potential, there can be a lot of empty space to fill. It can either be filled with annuals for a year or two…or three, or with mulch. I like to plant things much closer than the instructions say because I like a very full garden. If the plants get a little crowded, it’s okay. If they ever get too crowded, I divide and move some or share with friends.

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Loosestrife and roses by garden gate

I like blooms. I love having flowers in the house, so I plant plenty so that I can cut plenty to use and to share. Try some of the cottage garden favorites like hollyhocks, foxglove, phlox, daisies, roses (of course), peonies or lilies.

It doesn’t take a lot of room to have a cottage garden either. A tiny plot by the back door will do. How about a 3′ border down the side of your lawn? I’d rather have the 3′ lawn and the rest in flowers, but that’s just me.

Mix in some vegetable plants along the way. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, squash and many other beautiful vegetable plants will fit right into a cottage garden.

Formal gardens are pretty but they don’t draw me in and make me feel as happy as I feel when I’m in my (slightly messy) cottage garden.

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Agastache, Sedum, Phlox, Roses and Rhubarb

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Phlox, Echinacea or purple coneflower by birdbath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Start a Garden

hyssop, sedum, phlox and rhubarb

2011 - Agastache, Sedum, Phlox and Rhubarb

This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.

Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Start-a-Garden-In-5-Easy-Steps&id=6559034

before deck was built

2009 - Newly planted Agastache and sedum

 

potted plum tree and flowers by back door

2011 - Deck with potted plum tree and flowers.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Gardening Thought For The Day…

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Garden with no boundaries

 

The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.

-Thomas D. Church

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Flowers, herbs and fruit growing along the garden path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Room To Grow Vegetables

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Rhubarb, chives and bell peppers growing in flower bed. Corn in raised beds with squash and pole beans. Peach trees beyond.

Would you really like to grow vegetables but you just don’t have the space?

Guess what? You can grow a lot of vegetables in a very small amount of space. They don’t even all have to be in the same area. You can tuck vegetable plants in among your flowers or shrubs. Just make sure it is a place that will get lots of sunshine. Most vegetables can be grown in a space as small as a square foot. Some, like lettuce, can be grown in a narrow strip 6″ wide. Vegetables that take more than just a few plants, such as beans and peas, can be grown in a little larger areas. Even then, you’d be amazed at how many peas and beans a 2′ x 6′ bed can produce. Vegetables such as squash can be planted in a 1′ x 1′ square, if they can be allowed to spread out a bit.

 

 

Vegetables suggestions for small spaces:

Cucumber – bush or pole type, which can be grown vertically if given support

Beans – bush or pole type, which can be grown vertically if given support

English peas – can be grown in rows and kept very vertical with support

Lettuce – can be grown in narrow strips or small square areas (Romain grows sort of vertical while Bibb grows low)

Kale – grows well among other plants or in a row

Swiss Chard – can be grown tucked into flower beds, in small square areas or in rows.

Spinach – very beautiful foliage that can be grown with herbs or flowers

Cilantro – does well grown in flower beds

Beets – beautiful leaves with red veining and you can eat tops and roots

Basil – beautiful plant that fits in well with flowers or shrubs

Parsley – beautiful foliage that works great in flower beds or with shrubs

Summer squash – beautiful plant, large leaves can take up lots of room

Peppers – bell peppers or hot peppers, very ornamental plants that look great in flower beds

Eggplant – beautiful plant that will look great mixed in with the herbs or flowers

Radishes – low growing and very easy to grow, (let the kids help)

Tomatoes – can be grown vertically with support and can fit into a relatively small space

Green onions – always useful to have on hand and they don’t take up much room

Also see Page: Container Gardening > Grow Vegetables in Pots : http://wp.me/P1OXDF-1bc

How do you find the room in your yard for a few more plants? Walk around your yard, paying attention to empty areas that might be 1′ x 1′ or how about a 3″ – 6″  strip that you could put in a row of lettuce, radishes or green onions, which are very ornamental with beautiful foliage. If you’re planting lettuce, don’t plant it all at once. Stagger planting every couple of weeks to prolong your harvest time. Also, one way to harvest lettuce, don’t pull up the whole plant, just cut outer leaves off each plant

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Tomatoes and Petunias share a bed

and the plant will continue to grow and produce.

What about along a sidewalk or pathway? If you can squeeze a plant in here and there, you will be amazed at how much food can be produced. Is it possible to extend an existing flower bed out 6 – 12″ to plant some low growing plants like lettuce or beets?

Do you have lawn growing right up to a fence? How about clearing a 2′ – 3′ strip along the fence and planting vegetables. The fence would provide a convenient support for the taller vegetables, such as tomatoes or beans and cucumbers, at the back of the garden and then you could plant many different kinds of vegetables in front of those.

No yard? No problem. You can grow quite  a lot of vegetables in containers, whether on a patio or deck, along the sunny side of your house or just out your back door.

Don’t plant and forget. Make sure the plants don’t have to compete with weeds for nutrients or moisture. Be sure to keep your vegetables picked so that they will continue to produce. If you’re going to be away when they are producing, ask a neighbor to pick for you to keep them in production.

As you assess your yard and garden,  decide on what you want to grow and where in your yard would be the best place to grow it. Now is the time to make all those gardening plans so when the warm weather comes, you will be all ready to get stated.

Get creative and have fun!

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Rhubarb Relocated…Finally

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Rhubarb plant, trimmed back and transplanted.

Earlier I wrote about some rhubarb growing in the wrong place in the yard. There were two, side by side, and when they were planted, the bed was plenty roomy enough. But as I begin to add more and more roses and herbs, the bed shrunk and the rhubarb just kept on growing….and growing. It was shading everything around it with those beautiful, huge, tropical looking leaves.
I knew I had to move it but I wanted to wait until the weather had cooled off a lot. As the plant begins to go dormant, the transplant won’t be as shocking for it. At least that’s the plan. So on a very cold day last week, I found a new, very sunny, spacious place at the end of one of the raised vegetable beds, and dug two holes deep enough to hold each of the plants. The plants that had loomed so large in the rose/herb bed seemed so small, with all but the new center leaves trimmed off.
I got it planted and mulched and watered. So now I have to wait until spring to see if we’ll still have those 2 pretty rhubarb plants to enjoy. If so, I will mulch them, fertilize them and watch them grow huge.

Two rhubarb plants transplanted Nov.,2011

 

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Rhubarb in early July, before it outgrew its bed.

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Pruning

garden tools needed to prune raspberries - gloves and clippers

Raspberries and Rhubarb in July 2011

A friend asked a question about pruning raspberries, so I thought I’d mention something about raspberries here.

First of all, I am so excited to live in a place where we can grow raspberries because I love them and they are so expensive bought fresh. So you know that I have to have them in our garden.

Raspberries should be pruned in the late winter/early spring before they bud out.

There are 2 kinds of raspberries, Summer Bearing and Everbearing. We have the Everbearing, but they don’t really bear all the time, just in the summer and again in the fall. The Summer Bearing bear in the summer, but I think it depends on the species as to when, in the summer, that happens. Or it could depend on the climate. Sorry, don’t know about that. If anyone does please comment.

The “How” is the tricky part when it comes to pruning raspberries. On both kinds, you prune out the canes that bore fruit, because they won’t bear again. Then, on the Everbearing, you prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving the tallest, strongest, thickest canes (5-6 per foot). Tie these up to some kind of support. We have ours against a fence, so that’s easy to do. Or…I recently learned that you can cut all canes down to the ground (late winter/early spring) and as they grow in the summer, prune out all but the tallest strongest canes, again, leaving only 5-6 per foot. They won’t bear in the summer but the crop in the fall will be heavier. This would work for us because our summer crop isn’t very big compared to the fall. I think I’m going to try this way this year to see how it goes. It sounds a lot less complicated. I’ll let you know.

You should wear good leather gloves and use sharp, clean clippers to prune the canes. If you’ll remember from an earlier post, I highly recommend deer skin gloves. They are the only leather gloves I’ve found that won’t let thorns in.

garden design with raspberries and rhubarb

Raspberries ripening in September 2011 (click to enlarge)

The Summer Bearers need to have the damaged or dead canes removed, as well as the ones that bore fruit in the summer.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

The Rhubarb Outgrew It’s Bed

Rhubarb before it outgrew it's place in the perennial bed.

Never having grown Rhubarb before, I hadn’t realized how big they actually get. Not only did I plant 1 in the wrong place, I put 2 in there, side by side. This is one of those mistakes I was talking about that you can learn from and not repeat.

The bed was plenty large enough when I put the two of them in there, but as I began to add other plants, and they began to grow, well, those giant leaves started trying to shade all the other plants around it. So…it has to go. I’ll find a sunny spot on the south, side yard and when the weather is cool enough, I’ll transplant those large Rhubarb plants.

Here is a video of the Rhubarb and the bed it’s in now.

As I move it I’ll post videos of that process.

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by Eliza Osborn

Rhubarb – A Beautiful, Edible Plant

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Rhubarb in flower bed

Rhubarb is a beautiful vigorous plant that comes up faithfully every spring and gets bigger and bigger each year. It will send up a huge stalk with a not very pretty bloom on it but you shouldn’t let Rhubarb bloom. Cut back the blossom stalks to the ground to keep the plant vigorous and producing. Also, the leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid and are considered toxic. So when you cut the stalk to eat be sure to cut the leaf off immediately since the poison will travel into the stalk once cut. Actually the leaves can be simmered in hot water to make an insecticide.

The stalks are delicious in pies and you can dip the raw stalks in sugar and eat like celery. This is really good and kids love it. It is high in Vitamin C and Calcium.

Rhubarb is one of the most carefree plants to grow. It does best where the winter temperature goes below 40′ and the summer highs average around 75-80. Don’t harvest any stalks the first year and only a few the second year. But after that you can harvest up to 1/2 the plant. Stop harvesting though when the stalks become thinner because it means the roots are getting weaker.

Since we really enjoy more tropical settings than we are able to have where we live, it’s fun to use some plants that look tropical, like the rhubarb with its big, leathery leaves. We are even trying to grow some palm trees, but I think that is pretty optimistic of us. Maybe some of them will make it though, if we can have a few milder winters until they can get established.

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by Eliza Osborn

Enjoying the Garden

Phlox with buttefly

Beautiful butterfly on Phlox

Garden in back yard

Agastache, Sedum, Phlox, Roses and Rhubarb

Taking time to enjoy the garden is such an important part of gardening.My husband would probably smile to read this.

As a gardener, it is hard for me to just stroll through the garden without bending over to pull a weed or move something around. Even as I sit and relax with a book and cool drink, something will catch my eye and I’ll get an idea of where to move a plant or how to change something.

I’m trying though, sometimes I have to focus on just listening to the birds and enjoying the beauty of the garden. Forget about the weeds, I know they will be there tomorrow and will be easier to pull because they’ll be taller and I won’t have to bend over so far.

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by Eliza Osborn

Getting From There To Here – Landscape Gardens and How to Garden

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2011 - Path beside grape arbor with herb bed on right.

I thought I might go ahead and post a picture of the yard now so you won’t think we’re subjecting the neighbors to the eyesore of yesteryear. With a garden design and using the right garden plants, the landscape gardens were created. We used compost, earthworms and some fertilizer in the beds go grow the perennials, herbs, annuals and fruit trees. The raised beds have a special mix in them that we’ll discuss in later posts. Learning how to garden is fun and worth the effort as you create areas to relax in.

In future posts we’ll talk about garden design, landscaping, growing flowers (perennials and annuals), growing vegetables in raised beds, growing fruits and herbs and how to do it all on a budget. We’ll talk about fertilizers and soil and how to care for it.

Please come back often to see what’s going on in the garden.

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2011 - perennial bed beside deck

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Our Garden Gate
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Japanese Anemones
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Echenacea
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Agastache, Sedum & Phlox
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