Monday, March 31, 2014

So you want to Start a Garden (Part three)

Continuing with our questions from So you want to Start a Garden (Part One)

Most people when they think of gardening think of vine-ripened tomatoes, crisp beans, and zucchini bread . . . lots of zucchini bread.
Me, I think of flowers. I love the variety I find in their colors, their fragrances, and their size and shape.  I have people come to me all the time saying, “I’ve got this flower growing in my garden.”  Usually within two or three questions, I have identified the plant without even seeing a picture of it.

I told you I was a borderline obsessive gardener!

When it comes to flowers, I could go on forever.  But, don’t worry I’ll keep this short.

Flowers come in many categories, however, I will limit the discussion here to two—annuals and perennials. The question is which one do you want to grow?  Both have their pros and cons.

Annuals

Annuals are fun flowers to grow. The give it their all, pouring out nonstop blooms all summer long.  They general start from seed, bloom, and produce seeds all in one year. But once frost touches their tender stems, they often die out.

Pros:
·       They are good for container gardening and hanging baskets.  You plant seedlings into pots around your house and within a very short time, you’ll have colorful additions to your patio or entryway.
·       They are a great burst of color for a dreary location. Sun or shade, annuals can brighten any area.  I have even gone so far as to put pots among the green foliage of Hosta plants to add a smattering of color to the usual green leaves of the well-loved perennial.
·       They are usually easy to grow and very forgiving.  Just keep an eye on the amount of water they need.
Cons:
·       The biggest drawback is they die after one season.  Although you can plant them in a garden plot, having to replant them year after year, this gets tiresome, especially if you have a large garden.

Perennials are wonderful plants if you want to put them in the ground one year and have them return year after year. These are my favorites for garden plots. 


Pros:
·       Each plant has a different blooming season, which means your garden is always changing.  I had a one plot near the entrance to my door that changed with the seasons. (Shown above.) Tulips and Daffodils in early spring, Lily of the Valley in late spring, followed by Cone Flowers and Black-eyed Susan in the summer months. 
·       They come back year after year after year. 
·       They grow in size will every passing season.  The nice thing is if you want to grow the size of your garden, or add an additional garden to your yard, after several years you can divide some plants.  Instead of one plant, you now have two or three. (This is a great offset to the original purchase price.)
Cons:
·       Their blooming season is short lived. Most perennials put out blooms for no more than four to six weeks a year, unlike annuals that bloom non-stop.
·       They can be pricey.  However, if you subscribe to garden catalogs, you can get them for much cheaper.

That’s some of the basics about the two categories of flowers.  There are others like shrubs and trees, but I’ll handle them in another post.
Your turn:  Which flowers are your favorite?

Friday, March 28, 2014

It is spring . . . therefore, there is wind


I never knew what wind was until I moved to Nevada.  Yes, we had windy days in Ohio, but nothing like what I experience here.  I live along a wind-blown corridor that runs from Carson City north to Reno.  It is a long valley between the Sierra Nevada and the Pine Nut Mountains where the wind blows so hard, they will prohibit high profile trucks, campers, and SUV’s to drive along the one and only route between the two cities. 

Mostly when we get those days, it is because a weather system is pushing its way over the mountains on its trek east.  It is nothing for the wind to blow up to and even higher than 70 mph.  It has been known to blow eighteen wheelers over with one gust, which is why they prohibit them from getting on the roads.  Needless to say, these gusts will blow over your lawn furniture, knock down fences, and scatter debris across your yard.

But the spring winds I’m talking about are the ones that start shortly after noon every day in the spring. It occurs when the valley floor between the two mountain ranges is warmed by the sun.  The warm air rises because it is less dense and lighter than the surrounding air.  As it rises, the cool air hovering over the still snow-covered mountains rushes downward.  It is a localized phenomenon called convection, that doesn’t stop until the valley floor finally cools.

The winds caused by the exchange of air masses aren’t as fierce as when a storm is passing over, and, once the snow on the mountains melts—the winds are gone.

Your turn:  Do you have any strange weather incidents where you live?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

So you want to Start a Garden (Part two)


In my last post, (So you want to Garden -  Part One)  I gave you several questions to consider prior to starting your garden.  Here and in the subsequent posts, I'll be discussing why those questions are important to consider long before the ground awakens from its winter slumber.
What zone do you live in? 
This is critical to deciding which plants can grow in your garden. You can find a gardening zone map almost anywhere on the internet, but I’m providing the Farmer’s Almanac version here. As you look through gardening catalogues, make sure you pick the ones that can grow in your zone. However, keep in mind that plants in zone five in Ohio, which is a very wet state, may not grow well in Nevada’s zone five because it is an arid climate. That’s where you need to read up a little more on the plant themselves.  If it says, “needs moist soil”, it is definitely not something I’ll pick to grow where I live.
What kind of garden do you want? Flower? Vegetable? Herb?
Knowing what you'd like to plant ahead of time narrows down the research needed to find the best mix for your area or zone.  It will also determine the size of your garden and amount of sun needed. 
My suggestion is to start as simply as possible. It is so easy to go overboard, especially your first year. Pick a few vegetables you’d like to plant in a small plot outside your kitchen window, or a few flowers to put into a large container on your porch or in a bed under a shade tree.
Stay tuned to my next blog for more information on starting your own garden, in particular the many types of flowers.
Your turn: Do you have any questions so far? 

Monday, March 24, 2014

So you want to Start a Garden (Part one)

Let me guess  . . spring is here and you have the gardening bug.

Am I right?

You’ve stepped out into the spring air and you’re eager to test out your green thumb.  Or you saw someone's garden and thought you'd like to recreate something similar in your own  back yard. Or maybe you just want to have something growing in a container on your patio.  

All valid reasons to start thinking ahead. So I’m going to give you a few things I want you to think about before my next post where I will address why these questions are so important.  Gardening is all about planning, at least to start.  It saves frustration and money.
Here are some questions to get you thinking:

·       What zone do you live in?  You can find a gardening zone map almost anywhere on the internet. Here’s the link for the Farmer’s Almanac zone map.

·       What kind of garden do you want to grow? Flower? Vegetable? Herb?

·       If you want to grow flowers, do you want the ones that die out at the end of the season (annuals), or do you want flowers that come up year after year (perennials)?

·       How much space do you have for a garden?

·       And, do you have an area that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day?

·       How much time do you want to spend?

Your turn: Do you want to start a garden but don’t know where to start? If so, post your questions here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The View from my Window - My Garden


 
 
 
For the gardener in all of us, spring can't come soon enough.  If you are anything like me, you'll be chomping at the bit to see what lasted the winter and what didn't. A true gardener rejoices when they spot a small nubbin of green pushing its way through the cold spring soil.
 
This is especially true for me this year.  Last year I started my first Nevadan perennial garden.  When I lived in Ohio, my perennial gardens were prolific, as you can see in the picture to the right.

However, Nevada has been a challenge on several levels.

The soil.  I often say I live on a beach with no water—my yard is nothing but sand. Last year, knowing my passion for gardening, my wonderful, I'll-keep-him-forever hubby built raised garden beds and we trucked in tons of soil.  Then I went to work planting perennials, vegetables, lilac bushes, and trees. 

The wildlife. My garden soon became the local smorgasbord to the indigenous wildlife—rabbits, chipmunks, and voles wanted dinner and wanted it now!  Close your eyes and picture a sea of sage: dry, woody, and barely green.  In the middle of that non-editable landscape that stretches for hundreds of miles, a lush garden filled with colorful flowers and moist, juicy foliage.  It had the populace of small animals salivating!  Needless to say, we built a fence around the garden.

The climate. Add to the previous two obstacles the harsh climate of hot, non-stop sunshine, fierce windstorms, and little rain, and I seriously questioned if my garden would survive to bloom another year. 

But much to my surprise, most of the perennials I planted have returned!   Day lilies are poking their leaves through the soil.  The Monarda quadrupled in size.  My roses look healthy and will do better once I prune them.  Black-eyed Susan, Dianthus, Iris and Sedum all look like they'll make a decent showing this year.  But, the one that surprised me the most and sent me into a happy-gardeners dance was the Peony.  Despite the fact that it wilted to nothing last summer, small spikes poking up through the soil showed the plant’s determination to survive.

Spring has come to my garden in spite of the battles I faced last year.  I am thrilled and can't wait for my order of more and new perennials to arrive.  So stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it goes this year!

Your turn:  What battle have you faced while trying to garden?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life Began in a Garden


Happy first day of Spring!  It’s the time of year when all around us plant life is waking up from its winter slumber and putting out new growth.  It’s a time of fresh starts and new ideas. 
And not just in your garden, but here at my blog as well.   

I’ve changed around the content and schedule of what you see here at JennieKAtkins.blogspot.com to spotlight my passion for gardening.
Passion?  Some of my friends would go so far as to call it an obsession.  I guess I would have to agree. For me, there is no place as alive as in the center of a garden where colors from the pale yellow of Coreopsis to the deep purple of Lilac blooms sparkle in the sunlight. Or the smells that you inhale are as delicate as the scent of roses, as musky as the smell of damp loam, or as spicy as the fragrance of Monarda. 

It's really no wonder that God chose to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden or that Jesus chose the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
As a result, I decided to update my blog and website to include helpful information for the beginning gardener. I am keeping with my blog’s roots by continuing a weekly post called A Little Bit of Everything on Fridays, but Monday and Thursday will be devoted to my passion for gardening called Life Began in a Garden.

Starting Monday I'll talk about the things you need to consider when wanting to start a garden. 

I don’t claim to know everything there is about gardening, but I love to share what I have learned.  Hopefully, it will help beginning gardeners avoid the mistakes I've already made and teach little known facts to those that have been gardening for years.
I hope you enjoy how my blog is growing, and if you have any questions on gardening you can email them to Jennie_K_Atkins@yahoo.com. I’ll do my best to answer them.

Your turn: Do you garden?