Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Giant Hydrangeas - was it the compost tea?

This fall my Annabelle Hydrangeas are bigger and better than ever. I wondered how they managed to get so big and if it was the "special" fertilizer I used or the compost tea? I am still making compost but the days are so cool I am not making tea any more. The Sustainable Soil Solutions fertilizer was only applied once so I am not sure if that had any special effect. With the cracks in the soil as it dries out this fall I am also wondering about adding more calcium this fall. Research shows that cracks are often caused by a deficiency such as Calcium and that needs to be sprayed onto the soil instead of the plants so I might do that now. Many of us deal with poor soils and cracks form when the clays shrink. If it is a problem a fertilizer can solve then gardeners need to know.

Meanwhile don't forget to water - it is fall but micro-organisms in the soil are still working and probably need the moisture to do their life's work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall is my Favorite time of Year

It is hard to believe how nature keeps ticking even as the evenings get so cold. Remember all insects are cold blooded so they are hiding in leaves and duff and cracks and crannies when it is cold but as soon as it warms up they are out and about on the flowers looking for a little last minute snack. Here I caught a painted lady butterfly on a sunflower.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Harvest

With frost pending this week I am hurrying to gather up all the produce. What a beautiful sight this squash makes in the sink. These are all summer squash which means they don't have a long shelf life.

I have also pulled all the tomatoes and they are laid out in boxes between newspaper while they finish ripening. I plan to roast the tomatoes on the barbeque or in a low oven. My favorite is to slice the cherry tomatoes or paste tomatoes in half, brush them with olive oil which has crushed garlic in it. Then I lightly sprinkle sea salt on the works and roast in a low oven for an hour or more. I want things to dry out a bit before I either freeze them or mix them with fresh pasta. Yum, Good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

1962 Pontiac Landscape

It's the first day of fall - hotter than blazes and I am happy to report I saw the best fall landscape the other day. I was emerging from the LRT and there was the landscaped Pontiac. Complete with a water feature.

Someone had to do it - makes me wish I had a spare pontiac. Or not.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Fall Colour - from Annuals?

What a surprise to come home to! The asters ordered from Vesey's in January; started from seed in March and planted outdoors in late May have finally bloomed in September. Gardening certainly beats the "slow food" movement in terms of testing patience. And within a few weeks it will all be compost.

But who is thinking about the next few weeks? The reward right now is in the beautiful deep purple blooms spilling over the sidewalk and sprouting between perennials. True to its description, Pavlova Dark Blue Aster is icing on the cake of my 2009 garden.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hardy Korean Maple- Fabulous fall colour

Years ago Byland Nursery in Kelowna gave me three little maple seedlings to trial. They were promoted as similar to Japanese maples but for a cold climate. I was in between gardens at the time so I gave them to three different gardeners in different parts of Calgary. Two out of three survived and the fall colour is amazing!

If you don't have enough fall colour in your yard why not try this plant - especially if you are in an inner city location with good sun and some shelter. This photo was taken today in the SW neighborhood of Spruce Cliff with a spruce hedge behind it and a full west exposure. What a way to welcome the first day of fall.

Happy Surprise!

In happy news a cluster of fall crocus met us at the front door as we arrived home this weekend. When did we plant them or did they come from the previous owners? Who knows and who cares. These simple and beautiful fall crocus are a short-lived and apparently deer proof plant so we love them! If you haven't got any they are still available for sale in the garden centers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blue Chiffon Blooms

In a run of bad luck reported earlier this season, my new Blue Chiffon Hibiscus was initially yanked out and cast aside as a dead duck in my Calgary garden. Then, after seeing a single bud emerging from the cast-off root I decided to pot it up and brought it out to God's country - Vancouver Island - in its pot this August.

Planted carefully and fertilized with only the purest enzymes and cold water Kelp, I babied it to the still fragile but stable flower bud stage. Then we got busy on a rotation of bed changing, shopping and cooking for visitors to our west coast getaway. We basically forgot about the buds that had formed and when we got back from "the daughter's" wedding there it was in all its glory. The leaves were all munched away but the blooms were showing their prize winning form.

Sadly, the deer noticed the plant while our killer cat was trapped indoors while we were off to the wedding. Now the deer were back for another taste. As the baby deer posed in all his spots and charms I ran to grab my camera. My husband, dear thing, decided to take the offensive and tried to chase the deer out of the yard in an attempt to figure out how he got in. This produced one very scared deer, once frustrated engineer and a hapless photographer begging everyone to just hold still for a moment so a photo could be snapped.

In lieu of a photo of the deer I snapped a photo of the flower- close enough I hope to show the splendor of the late season, deer attractive plant without illustrating the stripped and naked stems. Is it just me or is this plant a prima donna? Late to come to the party and then attracting all the attention with its tasty and primed leaves. My neighbor reports these plants are so poisonous to deer he had one legs up in his front yard shortly after a late night snack. He felt ripped off because not only had the deer eaten his deer repellent and reportedly poisonous plant, it had died on his front step and the fish and wildlife had refused to pick up the rigid body. In fact they suggested he dig a hole somewhere in his own yard and bury it. It was not enough to provide the last meal, he had to provide the burial grounds as well.

Dear husband has just left the house again for another trip to the hardware store. He is reportedly planning some tweaking to the deer-proof fence he built earlier this year because although he is now getting good at running an unofficial bed and breakfast for relatives I am sure the last thing he wants to add is an animal graveyard. Not yet, anyway.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Name this plant...

A friend gave the  wife of a cousin of my husband the most beautiful impatience plant. What could it be? It came from Ontario originally so I know some of my friends/readers know this one. Help me out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Codling Moths and Apple Maggots

On CBC radio today I received a question about Apple worms. Andrea from Edmonton wanted to know what to do about holes or worms in her apples. I suggested she pick up the apples on the ground right away but also that she get traps for next year so that this problem is diminished. Many organic growers are also finding Pheromone traps are effective and studies done in BC confirm these traps may be better than sprays so these new products are all worth testing.

Traps are available on-line and at some garden centers but they need to be installed in the spring when the moths are flying. Here is an excerpt from a web page selling the apple maggot taps:

Red plastic spheres that mimic apples and catch apple maggot flies on their sticky surfaces. We are glad to offer reusable traps, which you can order in bulk or in kits. The kit contains everything you need to set up 3 complete traps (optional apple scent lure may be purchased separately). You may also order the spheres and sticky coating separately. For monitoring, use 1-2 traps/acre. Home gardeners, use about 1 trap/100 apples (2-6 traps per tree, one per dwarf tree). Set the traps out 3-4 weeks after petal fall (mid-June).

Note: Apple maggots are present but are not yet a significant problem. Codling moths are much more common. The damage is easy to distinguish. Apple maggots riddle the fruit, codling moths make an entry and exit hole. See also the Fruit Fly Trap Kit for another apple maggot trap option.

The bottom line is that gardeners need to determine if they have coddling moths or apple maggots and then look online for traps that will work best. Meanwhile, pick up the fruit this fall, cut it open to see what you have and toss it out rather than leaving it on the ground.

Special Crops on Tap

As I arrived at my friend's house she began apologizing for her garden. "I really only grow petunias and margaritas", she explained,  as we looked at her front yard. 

"You are going to have to tell me how to grow Margaritas!" I replied. "That is something all gardeners should know. "

"Oh" - she replied- "I guess they might not be margaritas ... maybe marigolds?"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Beautiful Boulevards

After struggling with the maintenance needs of our blvds on 4th Street in Calgary I was shocked - no amazed - by the boulevard plantings in Victoria on a recent visit. How do they do it? Well to be honest I guess they just don't have any worries about winter ice or salt so it is a bit easier to have a dazzling display. Or is it simply a priority of the Victoria residents to have beauty everywhere?

This blvd. is in the Cook Street area of Victoria - just across from Beacon Hill Park - notice the brown lawn in the park - obviously they don't water in summer- a time of drought and water restrictions in this Canadian hot spot.

Dahlias are at their peak in Butchart!

Yes I went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria and yes the tourists were glued to their cameras taking pictures of dahlias and roses. So of course I took a picture of tourists taking a picture of Dahlias. Why not? They are at their peak for such a short period and so dramatic right now in this moment of summer end glory. Frost isn't on the horizon for Victoria gardeners but all us Prairie folks know it is coming soon .

Honestly - and back to Dahlias- what other garden annual reaches heights like these but is also available in dwarf plants? It grows in so many colours and shapes and is stunning in bloom in late summer? Sadly it is fleeting beauty and that is why Butchart is so succesful. Unlike the rest of us they can grow plants on in a holding area and bring them out when they need to fill a hole or want a spash of colour.