Category Archives: Gardening

Can you name this plant?

My sister couldn’t remember what it was. When she brought it to my house last year, it had already finished blooming.

IMG_2794

This year I was greeted with a slightly drooping blossom, and a sort of cilantro/parsley/strawberry shaped leaf.

Using the app “Like That Garden”, I think this may be a Columbine? I took this picture back in may and completely forgot about it until recently. Now it has a bunch of brownish seed heads that I plan on collecting once baby girl is born.

Can you Identify this plant?

Flowers like dandelions, thorny leaves, and most of them are anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet. I have a handful, and they weren’t there last year.

IMG_3078

I had two packages of wildflower mix from walmart, and I’m wondering if there is a chance these were mixed in with those? Personally, I think its a weed, maybe a thistle, but the leaves aren’t quite right, and the short spines are only at the edge of the leaves. I have a few of them I need to pull. But I am so close to my due date, and squatting down is impossible. That, and the Liatris is the only thing in bloom right now, so it makes for a nice contrast, up close, the purple liatris and the yellow  . . . . whatever this is.

I guess I’ll have to kill these next year. The boys have been pulling the volunteer maple trees (those are easy), but they aren’t about to touch this thorny monster. Not that I blame them. I suppose I have to ask myself (if it is, in fact, a weed), how much I really like it? The answer is, I just don’t.

Onion flowers

This is my second year gardening, my first year seeing onions bloom! They are so much prettier than I imagined! Both the red and white onions have the same kind of blooms, so I can’t even tell the difference! I wonder if they cross pollinate to produce some weird hybrid?

IMG_3076

I have always been told not to allow your herbs and vegetables go to flower because that means they are at the end of their growing season. Onions are no exception. The only reason this has happened with me is that I have neglected growing my garden to grow my baby.

In other words, I am pregnant, miserable, and I forgot to water anything for over a week. So . . . my onions, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes . . . everything is under stress whoops.

But that’s ok. Even though my onions are now, apparently, ready to perish, they have had quite the last hurrah! I am just loving these tiny, compact flowers, and I now think maybe I should incorporate them into parts of the flower garden! Once the heads are dry and brown, I will try to harvest the seeds for next year since they are already well under way.

What do you think? Pretty enough for a cottage garden? Or is that just another one of those crazy ideas that my pregnancy hormones are responsible for?

Milkweed and butterflies

We recently went to visit the Burr Oaks Conservation Center in Blue Springs, Missouri. As we passed the sign I observed that dozens of butterflies were attracted to this particular plant, which was previously unknown to me.

IMG_3036

I took this picture and showed it to the receptionists, who informed me it was milkweed, and briefly discussed its importance. Not only does the milkweed attract dozens of butterflies, but it is also the only natural habitat for the Monarch butterfly-it will lay its eggs nowhere else.

Until this visit, I was both unaware of the relationship between the Monarch and the milkweed, and unaware of how beautiful the milkweed can actually be. IMG_3037

From a distance, I can see how it looks a little weedy, but it also has a sort of tropical look to it, since the leaves are glossy and broad, instead of dull and grassy. With the right low growing bush or plant, placed directly in front of the milkweed, this will make a stunning back plant for any butterfly garden.

I’ll be doing some research this fall on how to obtain and plant these stunning specimens. I hope you feel led to do the same, and not just because they host the monarch! They are also very beautiful on their own!

Gardening: The Accidental Bean

IMG_1698

This is what happens when you tell your child to throw stale beans out in the yard, but forget to specify “into the compost bin.”

IMG_1699

It rained a ton since the fateful accidental planting, so these beans lost no time in germination and growth. We have dubbed them “bean forest.”

IMG_1703

See the leaf? Definitely beans! And you can barely make out the beans on the ground that failed to germinate. So far there aren’t any beans, and it’s late enough there may not be.

But I have learned yet one more thing about gardening-an expiration date for consumption has little to do with germination!

Next time you find yourself with an expired bag of beans, maybe you should try planting them, so that you, too, can experience a forest of beans!

Review: Panacea Galvinized Tomato and Plant Support Cage

In an effort to save money, I have been trying my hand at gardening. Last year I devoted four of my larger pots to tomatoes, and was successful in germinating tomato seeds for this years crop, as well.

IMG_2963

I purchased tomato cages last year, and didn’t think I needed anymore. But I was surprised by a few volunteer tomato plants, most likely the result of half-eaten tomatoes left on the ground by right next to my patio (Until my sisters cat came to live with us, the squirrels were dragging off my tomatoes, and I was constantly finding their half-eaten remains all over the yard).

IMG_2964
Volunteer Basil & Tomato

I decided to keep them. But now I needed more tomato cages. Unfortunately, due to my pregnancy complications and my husbands exhaustion from taking over most of the household duties in addition to being the income earner, he was in no mood to indulge me.

What he did do was instruct me to purchase them off of amazon “no matter the cost.” He knew gardening was one of the few pleasures I could still enjoy (at least for a short time), and it kept my mind off the pain. I had already transplanted them into another area of the garden (with what remained of the lettuce), now I just needed the cages.

IMG_2958

We have had Amazon Prime for several years now, so I selected the brand that I thought had the best “bang” for my buck-the Panacea galvanized tomato cage “set of 10” for $23.50, shipped.

The reviews were mixed-some of them noted that there was rust on many of the welded joints. Others noted that the joints were poorly welded and arrived already apart. I considered myself informed, and got them anyway.

My selection had both problems, as you can see here. Many of the welded joints were, indeed, rusted, and most of the legs bent somewhat when I inserted the cage into the ground. Also, just as I suspected, at least one of the rings was broken upon receipt.

IMG_2960IMG_2961

But I didn’t send them back. In reality, that is the same quality I have experienced in the past with similar tomato cages (with the exception of the bent legs). Eventually there is rust, and breakage. And while I would have preferred to pay less (these were more expensive per cage than what I purchased last year), I was grateful to have it sent to my house instead of having to trek through a home improvement or gardening store.

IMG_2962IMG_2957

Overall impression? I would give this product a 3 out of 5. The reviews were spot on-both the quality and the price are questionable. However, for someone, like me, who (at least temporarily) has limited mobility, I’m not purchasing this for quality of price-I’m purchasing for convenience. And for that I give it a higher rating. It did arrive within the expected time frame, and even gave my boys a new “toy” to play with. I guess the extra money was for the box!

IMG_2965IMG_2966

 

 

 

Can You Identify This Plant?

This has been growing in my garden for about a month now. I have no idea what it is.

IMG_2925

Best I can tell, it seems to be some kind of native wildflower (I’m hoping). I didn’t pull it at first because it looked so much like my blazing star liatris as it emerged through the ground, but now that it has bloomed it’s quite obvious it isn’t. And the leaves are all wrong.

Does anyone know what this is and if I should keep it? It is quite pretty, but there are sparse blooms on it, and they are now dying off. I’m not sure it has enough personality for me to keep, but I am too pregnant now to bother with it.

What do you think? Keep it, or Kill it?

Saving money on Boxwood

Last year I landscaped my sideyard. It had gone from looking like this (halfway through the project) . . .

IMG_1047

. . . to looking like this.

IMG_1363 (1)

The plan I used was adapted from the arbor day foundation, and featured a blue hydrangea in center, with prairie fire crabapples on either end.

IMG_2397

To add further interest, I decided to add 3 boxwood, in a triangle formation, around each tree. Originally, I had planned on placing hostas between the boxwood as fillers, but I decided to replace them with Iris until the trees fill out enough to provide more shade most hostas burn in the sun.

The Iris I had in spades (I was still working on placing that box of 100 or so that I had kept). The boxwood required a conversation with my husband financial committee. A good sized boxwood could cost me $50 or more apiece, and I needed six of them.

I had a feeling I would lose that conversation, until I happened upon ten, 8” boxwoods for $3 apeice at Lowe’s. It would seem they have their spring plant clearance sale the first week of June. I bought all of them, spending only $30 with the committee’s permission. Whoot!  $3??!! I was in heaven! I only needed six, but the four leftover boxwood could easily be heeled in elsewhere until I figured out what I wanted to do with them.

IMG_2643IMG_2644

Today I went shopping with hubby at the local Costco. They always have “bulk” plants available, and I always check them out. They are currently selling their version of a good deal on boxwoods for a mere $17.99.

Only! That’s a steal, right? Not for me. For $17.99 I can buy a Costco boxwood roughly the same size of the ones I bought last year for $3 apiece. And though the “cheaper” boxwood was about half that height last year, it only took a year for it to reach the size of the ones now being sold for six times the price I purchased them for.

Here are two pictures for comparison. The first is my son standing next to the costco boxwood (you have to visually take out the height of the container).

IMG_2645The second is that same son standing next to the boxwood I purchased last year.

IMG_2646

I quickly estimated my savings: $17.99 (rounded to $18), minus $3, is a $15 savings per plant. Multiply that by ten plants, and my cocky self took the opportunity to brag to my husband “See honey! We could have spent another $150 if I had only waited to buy the boxwood at Costco!”

He just looked at me, but I could tell he was proud.

Secret Admirer?

A few days ago, I came back from the doctors office and noticed that a hanging basket of Petunias and Dianthus had been placed on the ground right next to my driveway. Since it was so far up our driveway, I had to conclude it was meant as a sort of gift, but from whom?

IMG_2882

There was no note, and no clue as to whom had left it there. Initially I thought it was from the young couple to the north of us-the wife had bought 6 hanging baskets the week before and I wondered if maybe it was meant as an early mothers day present. However, they denied any knowledge of it.

And besides, it wasn’t on the front porch where most gifts would be left-it was off to the side of our driveway between my house and my elderly neighbors house.

Which made me wonder if it wasn’t him. First, he does have COPD, so the distance from our driveway and up the stairs to our front door would have taken a lot out of him. It makes sense, then, for it to be him. That’s about how far he can get before he tuckers out. I can see him leaving it there and then making his way back across his yard and into his house.

Second, I think he has a tiny bit of a crush on me. He’s always saying “Sarah, you’re a neat gal. I think you’re just neat!” We have a few things in common, and I think he’s lonely, so I like to let him talk, and he seems to enjoy letting me complain ramble about nonsense.

At any rate, that poor basket was so dry I had a feeling it had either been there for awhile (I haven’t been out in a few days), or maybe it just hadn’t been cared for before being dropped off.

IMG_2883

I don’t have hooks where I can hang a basket, so for now it will sit on my table outside. I’m not really sure what else I can do with it since the blooms have all but faded, and both plant varieties are typically annuals in this zone (though I understand they can be perennials in zones further south, or with specific varieties).

At any rate, there is someone I need to thank for a lovely pop of color in my backyard. Nothing else is in bloom right now, at least not en masse, so it is nice to have something in the backyard that looks lovely.

I just wish I knew for sure who gave them to me, and why.

Where are the Veggies? Garden Update

IMG_2843As an effort to save money on fresh vegetables, I am attempting to grow my own veg from home. Together, with my little ones, I have seeded tomatoes, basil, and carrots. While we also seeded sunflower seeds and corn, that job was really left up to my kids. Which means that somewhere in the middle of my lawn, a tiny little sunflower plant is preparing itself for the world above, unaware of the impending lawnmower blade. Alas, what can I do?

I still need to have my husband till that little semi circle in the foreground of the picture above-I may seed more carrots or possibly even watermelon in that spot (if it isn’t too late for watermelon).

Here is my current progress-like anyone new to gardening, I am anxious to document what each new sproutling looks like when it first emerges. I don’t want to make the mistake of pulling a vegetable and keeping a weed like the ragweed I mistanly identified as an herb, and pampered to life in spite of my growing allergies. Hubby got a kick outta that one.

IMG_2846

Here are my baby basil! The Basil clump to the left features what I like to call “kissy-lip leaves” (the initial leaves that first emerge). In the upper right hand corner, you will see a single basil plant with its first set of adorably tiny basil leaves. I’m going to have to thin these out pretty soon.

IMG_2853None of my carrot seeds have emerged yet, but I planted them about 9 days ago the day after planting my Arbor Day trees. Mr Cat is in the half circle where my new carrot patch will be (previously they had been planted in the long strip to the left of the patio). He’s quite fond of that half-circle.

IMG_2844

I didn’t even know these purple flower topped fellows were chives until an internet search this year. I found them growing wild in the grass last year, and they never flowered. This year I am inspired to plant them in with my flower garden-I had no idea they were so lovely!

IMG_2848

Speaking of lettuce, here are my little ones! The boys planted these . . . I want to say three weeks ago? I can’t remember when I need to reseed, but those are totally going into the flower garden-mainly because I no longer have room in the patio containers.

IMG_2847

My baby tomatoes initially had only the longer leaves you see there on the sides. Again, I am new to this gardening experience, but I did remember this from last year, and the secondary leaves confirmed that this is, indeed, tomato. That, and apparently most vegetable plans have tiny hairs  on the stem (which these have). Last year I bought two tomato plants, and seeded two tomato plants. This year I am trying them all by seed-not only is it cheaper, but I won’t have to deal with a plant that is stressed out (it was pretty warm this time last year, and my nursery plants all experienced stress).

IMG_2849The peppers are harder to identify. I placed three Cayenne in a pot, and I think that’s what these are? Does anyone know? I don’t want to get halfway through the summer only to find out I have been watering a maple tree (sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time).

Take that back-maple trees are pretty obvious (I should know that by now)! But you hopefully know what I mean.

IMG_2850

Last year I was able to seed some thai peppers from a stock of thai peppers my husband bought from the Asian store. They had been in the freezer for three years, and the seeds were (remarkably), still good! I tried this year, and something is coming up . . . well, two somethings. I’m not sure which is the thai pepper (I suspect the darker, pointy leaved specimen).

Since we didn’t have enough cilantro last year, I decided to plant more. My carrot crop was sufficient for our needs (we still have plenty of freezer stock), so I have planted the cilantro where the carrots were last year. When cilantro first comes up, it looks like voluntary grass sprouts, but wait a week or so and you will see the immature cilantro leaves emerge as the second set of leaves (or the first set of true leaves).

IMG_2851IMG_2852

Last year’s garden was a semi-success. Nothing really matured well, and I have spent the winter investigating my potential failures. I think I have it down to two things:

First, I never fertilized anything, so my plants were starving for nutrients. I didn’t know at the time that container plants suffered from lack of nutrition.

IMG_1447

Second, my containers had 2-3 different kinds of plants in them, packed very tightly with other, larger plants. My tomatoes were neighbors with four onions and four cilantro. In a small 2’x 2′ container. With no extra nutrition. And those cilantro got tall. And very spindly.

IMG_1445I also had onions in with everything else. They gave me a lot of sparse leafy growth, and were great as a substitute for chives. But my onions never “grew up”. Since they wintered well in the ground, I left them there and just rearranged them this year.

To make up for my mistakes, I am only plant one of each kind of plant in the large round and square pots, keeping the onion plants out of the pots altogether. They don’t need to be there.

I also placed fertilizer spikes in everything-the pots and the ground. Next year I won’t be pregnant, so I look forward to tilling in some peat moss, vermiculite, and cow manure to loosen up the clay soil. But for now? This is the best I can do.

IMG_2842Another gifted plant is this Egyptian Walking Onion. I had to look up his name because the previous owner didn’t know it, but it wasn’t hard to do-this unique plant grows another set of onions on its head. The weight eventually pulls the seed pod down, and it drops into the ground, “walking” its way into a slow spread throughout the growing area. Pretty neat, huh? Also, I don’t think these guys are in any way genetically modified.

How is your garden doing? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with me? Trade gardening secrets you’d be willing to pass on? I would love to hear from you!