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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Stink Eye

It is beginning to feel like June. May held off those 90’s as well as anyone could wish for. The rains came mostly at night so we had busy days with well watered plants. There is something special about rainwater instead of hose water. I get a giant sense of relief when I know my entire yard is getting treated with “sweet water”. I’ve been trying to to work my fertilizer and spray days around the regular rains. If I see rain coming I get as much slow release fertilizer out as I can in the areas of the yard that didn’t get it last time. I get my weed control in when I see there won’t be rain for a couple of days.

Fertilizers have to watered in after they are  applied, even the organic , slow release ones. I get scared it might burn the foliage if it sits on there too long ( like a few hours) and I know the plant gets the nutrients faster if I wet it down with hose water until the granules turn to liquid. Getting out the hose also gives me a chance to wash any loose granules off the driveway or sidewalks so they don’t leave a stain which inevitably gets me a good case of the stink eye. I try to avoid that as much as I can. June is the month that the pansy and other fall planting hold outs are going to have to throw in the towel and replant their summer annuals. Some of those plantings are going through their best look right now but it won’t last much longer. I’m still dragging my snapdragons through the heat just as an experiment.

They are on their third bloom and looking good but I’m really doing that to hold a spot for my caladium bulbs as late as I can so they will still be looking great for the late October wedding. That’s a long time to ask them to stay right so I’m waiting as long as I can keep my hands off of them . This is just a theory of mine, plant late, have them perform great late. I have also learned that Caladiums are very heavy feeders, I’ve never given them much help so this year they will get lots of nitrogen. I’ll start by planting them in mostly mushroom compost. I have cut all of my roses back after a fantastic bloom. We have huge banks of coral Drift roses and big swaths of Double Red Knockout. We are trying a new Knockout Coral, that color should be just what the doctor ordered. I waited until they were all finished blooming to cut them back so they will all be blooming at the same time 45 days from now. I clean out the stuff that gets caught in the branches and gave them each a good dose of Espoma Rose Tone. That is a slow release organic fertilizer that does magic on roses. The roses get a big drink of water next, I water them in soon after not only to soak the fertilizer down but also to wash off any fertilizer that might have wound up on the foliage. I will get 2 more 45 day ( plus 3 weeks for blooming) intervals to repeat this process to have them in full bloom for the October 26 wedding.

I am experimenting with another plant in my yard that will be singing loudly for that date, swamp Sunflower. You may have seen it growing in the ditch banks around Mississippi. They tend to be invisible all spring until late fall when they open up with bright gold daisy like blooms. They usually stand 8 to 10 feet tall so I have to be careful to put them in spots where they can look over the beds from the back. They colonize in thick groups by dropping seeds  which is part of why they get so tall so I pull one or two from the big clumps from time to time and replant them in the appropriate places until the big clumps are gone. This year what I’m doing differently is that when I’m moving them I’m cutting the back about halfway, and I will keep cutting them every chance I get over the summer months to get them to branch out instead grow straight up like they do. Some areas where I can spare the space I will leave big clumps of it and net them so they will stand straight up. I will net them the same way a cut flower grower nets their flowers to keep them straight and off of each other. I will hammer 4 T-posts in the ground surrounding the swamp sunflowers, I will pull the netting over the posts as tight as I can, the first layer will go down to about 3 feet. I will put a second layer of netting at about 5 feet high, they will grow through the holes in the netting and won’t be able to fall down or lean over my walkway.

Mimi and I are almost finished with another fun project. In our vegetable garden we have raised box beds. The boxes are in rows which left a center row that runs the length of the garden. We are putting arches down the center walkway so we can plant late fall blooming vines on them. We are using Coral vine, Firecracker vine and Flame vine, all October bloomers. We brought in some 16 foot long cattle panels and fit them between the boxes in that middle aisle which are 4 feet apart. They fit perfectly, that gave us enough height to feel comfortable walking under it (about 10 feet high at the peak). We anchored the bottoms down to the ground and that really straightened them out nicely. We started our seeds for those vines a month ago so they are ready to be planted today when we put up the last arch.I think It’s going to be beautiful and will make some great back drops for pictures on wedding day. If you are not familiar with these fantastic vines I will post pictures of the ones growing in my yard from last year, I will also post pictures of the swamp sunflowers from last year, you’ll be able to see why I want to give them a little lawn and order. I post photos for this article on my blog on our website, type in Martinsons  Garden Works, go to the Life’s A Garden blog to see the photos that go along with all my articles.

Things are falling into place as far as the big projects in our yard. The tree guys came and did a big job beautifully as usual. We did some regular maintenance on big oak trees but we also had pine beetle trees that had to be removed and some wind damaged trees that had to go. We found lots of new daylight in those trees absence. We have already built new beds in those new areas and figuring out what to fill them with. Next will be the new spillway that he is halfway finished with now. We are going to pour concrete this week so the Water will stay at a depth that will be healthy for the plants and the fish that will be living in there. We have the pond mostly drained right now so we are looking forward to a wrap up on that so the pond can slowly start to fill back up. I assume we will be getting less and less rain as we head into June so I’ll be sweating that a little bit, don’t need a half full pond on wedding day, stink eye magnet.

When he wraps up the spillway part we will be able to drive across it with our golf cart, that will help a lot with maneuvering around the yard. The ongoing adding of drainage , walkways and tons of great soil for the new beds and finally the planting of all these cool plants that we’ve been collecting for this project will come together pretty soon. It has been fun planning together and stepping back together to see this project coming together as well as it has has been what keeps us excited at home when we have had enough work stuff excitement. I guess we need to have more functions over here because it does help spur us on to get those projects done. All this big stuff was coming wedding or not but it has been the most fun figuring out the right plants for the bloom dates, I hope I got all this right or I will be living under the wrath of that stink eye big time on the wedding day. I think most of the stink eye is in my own mind…. But not all of it is imaginary, some of it is as real as the day is long.

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