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Archive for August, 2015

IT’S RAINING!!!!!!!

Are we happy?  You bet we are!  It’s raining.  I understand it’s supposed to rain all weekend!  All of us in the Pacific Northwest are ready for this rain, it’s been MUCH TOO DRY!  Our gardens have needed to be watered because they haven’t gotten any help from Mother Nature this summer.  Our forests are ablaze because of drought and our reservoirs are being depleted.  We are supposed to cut back on our water use, just when most of us just want to water our gardens.

This is the time we should have been planning for.  Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 1.55.07 PMWe should have been planting plants that don’t need so much water; we should have been mulching; we should have remembered not to water from above, but from below (soaking); our lawns should be shrinking (bringing our garden beds further into the lawn area); we should have been watering deeply (running the hose very gently for a longer period of time); and finally we should remember to plant our trees and perennials in the fall if possible.

I found a wonderful video about fall planting and why it’s so important.  Try visiting this site.  The video is put out by the Seattle Channel.  It explains why fall planting is so helpful for our plants.  It makes a lot of sense!  It just takes a few minutes to view.

Enjoy the rain!  🙂

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Oh, my!  Why didn’t I know about this method of gardening about 40 years ago???

When our log cabin was built in New Hampshire, the builder cleared an entire meadow stacking the branches, logs, soil, grass, etc. in a huge pile at the back of a meadow.  I pretty much ignored it!  Sure, it grew wild flowers and plants.  Blackberries loved it, and so did the snakes, bees and other critters, but, since it was in a shady and out of the way place, I essentially ignored it.

Hugelkultur (or hugel) is a pile of logs, branches, wood chips, (etc.) covered with soil and planted!!!  It generates it’s own nutrients; stays moist; and because it is breaking down, it stays warmer generating a longer growing period.

Here is a link showing all the details of hugelkultur17 hugelkultur_bed I have included here a photograph taken from that page to show you how pretty they can actually be.  This one is small compared to what I might have had in New Hampshire!

It is such an obvious, good plan.  Where have I been???

I must admit, I did have a pile of chips (awaiting use as mulch) that I called my “nursery”.  I used that pile for inserting little trees, plants and shrubs I didn’t have time, or a location decided on yet.  It was wonderful.  The little plants grew so happily with little or no extra fuss.  They were warm and happy.  The pile was in the shade too.  I think that actually worked to the advantage of the newly planted orphans because they didn’t have to worry about sun scald, or the drying complications of too much sunshine.   That pile however, did not have any soil, which kept the plants from growing too rapidly.  It was kind of a “holding” technique.  I also have to say, that NH gets more inches of rain than our Pacific Northwest climate affords.  I think the plants might dry out here, using that technique.  From that standpoint, I’m sure the shade also helped.

I wish now that I’d included something about that huge pile, or the nursery, in my book…but I didn’t.  There’s lots more to read there however.  Aside from the calendar, there are tons of vignettes about my gardening adventures in New Hampshire.  🙂

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Mulch?  What is it?  Why should I DO it?  It sounds “labor intensive”…is it?  How will it help my garden?

Well, let’s look at all those issues:

What is MULCH?-1

  • Mulch is really any material you apply to the surface of the soil around your plants that
    • keeps weeds down
    • helps keep moisture in the soil, rather than allowing it to evaporate
    • provides nutrients (unless you use fabric or plastic) as it breaks down
    • Improves soil structure, if mixed in as you plant new materials
    • attracts earthworms
  • Why you should do it?  RE-READ the list above!-2
  • Labor intensive?
    • NO…once you’ve laid it down your garden is EASIER to care for and looks WONDERFUL!
  • How will it help the garden?  AGAIN, RE-READ the list above!

What’s not to like???-4

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I have always considered myself a “lazy gardener”.  On thinking about all the requirements of a Low Maintenance Garden…I guess that’s me in spades!

Give me a garden that is:

  • Drought resistant
  • One that resists insects and diseases.
  • A garden that won’t succumb to the first little frost, and if it does, still live through a cold winter.  In other words, be hardy!
  • One that comes up each year stronger than the year before, otherwise known as a perennial.
  • If it’s an annual…one that will reseed itself in a pretty “cottage garden” manner.
  • One that needs a minimal amount of care once it’s established.  Little pruning or need for extra fertilizer would qualify.

Does that sound like you?  If so, remember that first requirement.  When you bu4628-Kims-Knee-High-Coneflowery plants be SURE you look for a label that says it can tolerate dry conditions!  Here are some suggestions from the University of Nebraska Extension Service.

Here’s another list from Iowa State University Extension.

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I don’t like to put links to commercial sites into my blog, but sometimes they are just GOOD for the purposes I’m trying to impart.  Today is one of those times.  This is a link to P. Allen Smith’s site.  pwTuscanSunI’m sure many of you are familiar with P. Allen Smith…anyway, I suggest you click on this link and find some lovely pictures of great suggestions for “Drought Tolerant Perennials“.

Here is another link from Clemson University with more lists of drought tolerant plant material than you’d ever want…it’s very INCLUSIVE!

Here’s one from Oregon State University Extension, that should speak to our specific area!

With all of these suggestions, I’m sure you can find SOMETHING you’d like!

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