Confessions of a Garden “Gone Wild”

True story: I let our gardens go a little wild this summer.

We were really lucky at the beginning of this summer. It rained every few days, and other than pulling out the occasional weeds, I didn’t spend much time in our gardens after Mother’s Day. As the summer went on, it rained less and less until we entered a drought. Even in a drought, the weeds kept growing and I didn’t stay on top of pulling them.

Last year’s drought was brutal. I spent every day hand watering our potted plants and flower beds just to keep them alive. By late summer, we lost the battle to keep our grass green, our potted plants were dying and I was exhausted. This year, I wasn’t in to spending that much time in the gardens.

Along with the drought and the weeds this year, our hibiscus plants decided they were going to take over. They not only looked overgrown, they covered up one of our sprinklers and it could no longer water the garden and yard effectively.

Instead of ripping the plants out, I wanted to transplant at least one hibiscus in the garden on the other side of the garage. However, I abandoned that idea when the plants put up one heck of a fight.

The hibiscus eventually lost the battle when I cut their roots in several pieces.IMG_7406

After I removed the hibiscus plants and the weeds, our gardens looked dramatically different.

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I also trimmed our cherry blossom bushes and dead-headed a few of the plants that were finished blooming for the summer.

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Lastly, I needed to split the bulbs for our gladiolus. Since I failed at transplanting the hibiscus, I planted the split gladiolus bulbs in the garden on the other side of our garage. Next, I’m going to plant a few spring bulbs in this garden and put down some fresh mulch.

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After I finished the gardens, the pots on our front porch needed some TLC, so I replanted them with mums and aster.

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The outside of our house is ready for fall!

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Until next time! Enjoy your home improvement projects.

Summer Gardening, Part 2

In our last post, I updated you on our front flower beds. Out in the back yard, our vegetable garden is really taking off. So far this summer, we’ve harvested our first zucchini and fresh parsley.

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Our basil plant is getting really big. We need to start incorporating fresh basil and parsley into our meals so we can use more of our fresh herbs.

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One thing I’ve noticed about our vegetable garden is that it does not need much as maintenance as I originally thought. Other than continual weeding, watering and harvesting, I haven’t spent much time maintaining the garden. I bought plant food when I first planted the seedlings, but haven’t used it yet. The vegetables look like they are holding their own without the extra food.

Our corn is doing really well. I did have to stabilize the stalks a few weeks ago. They were leaning after a heavy rain storm so I put a big clump of dirt next to each stalk and although I was doubtful of my “temporary” solution, the dirt clump did the trick and the corn stalks have stood straight ever since.

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We are starting to see a few ears growing on each of our corn stalks. I can’t wait for fresh sweet corn. Out of all the vegetables we planted, I think I’m most excited to enjoy our fresh sweet corn. Hope it is delicious! fbfs_corn_2

The green beans I replanted are up and hopefully we will have fresh green beans to harvest.
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Our yellow pepper is still going strong. I’m not sure when we will see peppers growing, but I’m still hopeful.

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We have a zucchini and a spaghetti squash that may be ready to harvest in the near future.

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How are your summer gardens?

Summer Gardening, Part 1

This summer has been successful for our gardens. Our efforts started out a little rocky, especially for the vegetable garden, but now we are enjoying the fruits of our labor.

In our front flower beds, the day lilies, hibiscus, gladiolus, petunias and black-eyed susans are looking beautiful this year. Early in the summer, we experienced moderate temperatures and rain which helped keep our flowers happy. They are in better shape than they were during last year’s heat wave.

Here is a peek at our blooming flowers:

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Up next: an update on our vegetable garden.

Lilies!

Our lilies are blooming! Our lilies are blooming!

Can you tell that I’m excited? 🙂

I love spring/summer garden posts. It’s hard work maintaining a garden (as most of you know) so it’s always nice to share the fruits of our labor with those who enjoy/appreciate gardening.

I planted the lilies pictured below right after we moved into our house three years ago. Each year, the lilies keep getting bigger and more beautiful. The first to bloom this year is our stargazer lily.

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I think the lilies below are called “razzle dazzles.” They are a deep rich red color, which I really like.

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One of our tropical lilies is also blooming. Our red lily was the first to bloom this year. We also have a bright orange tropical lily.
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We are still waiting for our orange tiger lily, day lily and orange tropical lily to bloom. More updates to come!

Getting our garden on

Our vegetable garden is officially planted! But before I show you the finished product, let’s go back a week so I can tell you all about our crazy veggie garden adventures…

Two years ago, our backyard looked like this:

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It was pretty empty.
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Last year, we added a gazebo to our patio to help spruce up the backyard and to make it a little more functional.

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This year, we decided to add a vegetable garden to our backyard. But the big question was, where should we put the garden? In order to plant our veggie garden, we first needed to decide on a place in our backyard and then measure out the appropriate space. In my last post I mentioned our plans for the patio. In order to know where we wanted to put our garden, we decided to map out patio design. From the design, we were able to take a few rough measurements and place the garden in a location that would be incorporated into the patio design down the road.

After taking the measurements for the patio design and marking off the garden using spray paint, we then used a tiller to dig up the soil.Thankfully, one of our good friends let us borrow his tiller for this project. Using a tiller was a huge time saver despite our very damp and muddy soil.

Since our yard is mostly clay, we bought top soil to lay over top of the clay. We calculated that it would take 27 40lb bags of top soil to fill our space. That’s 9080 lbs of top soil! Much to my surprise (BJ wasn’t skeptical, of course) were able to fit all the bags in my car but it was definitely riding low. Good thing we only live a few miles from Lowes!

On the evening that we chose to till the current soil and lay the new top soil, a scattered thunderstorm came through and it rained for about 30 minutes. This of course, didn’t help because we’ve had so much rain that the backyard was already damp and soupy.Once it stopped raining, BJ started tilling while I made our dinner. Gotta eat sometime, right?

After dinner and tilling, we added the top soil and laid our organic garden mat.

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It was pretty late by the time we finished laying the mat so we decided to wait until the next day to plant. In the meantime, our seedlings were growing like crazy in their starter kit.

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Then, the next over the three days it rained and was cold… so fast forward a few days to Mother’s Day.

I spent several hours on Sunday, cutting holes in the garden mat and planting our seedlings. By Sunday afternoon, all the seedlings were planted. We planted red and yellow tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans, zucchini, green and yellow peppers and a few herbs such as oregano, parsley and basil.

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I found these copper herb garden stakes at Target.IMG_5048

Once the plants were in the ground, we covered the mat with peat moss and watered the entire garden.

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That night, BJ and I covered the entire garden to protect the seedlings from the potential frost.

After several days of planning, tilling and planting, our garden is complete. Now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping our little seedlings make it! After this year, we’ll see what crops produced vegetables and which didn’t. Next year we will adjust our game plan based on our results. Since we’ve never planted a vegetable garden before, this year will be our baseline to determine what will grow and what will not.

Do you have a vegetable garden? What vegetables and herbs do you have the most luck with each year?

Hello, Hyacinths. Hello, Spring.

Spring has finally arrived! It may be nearly a month since the official start of spring, but with the trees blooming, flowers blossoming and warmer weather, it finally feels like spring.

And with spring weather, comes spring flowers! Our hyacinths are back and in full bloom.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our hyacinths were starting to peek out of the ground. I was really worried they wouldn’t survive the late winter snow storm we had in March, but they persevered. Last week, the hyacinths’ buds were starting to pop open for the first time.

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Now they are in full bloom!
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This is the third season for our hyacinths. Two years ago, I planted them as full-grown flowers and each year they’ve come back. This fall, I might add a few more bulbs so next year we have a full row of hyacinths and tulips. I planted a few tulips when I planted the hyacinths, but I’ve only had luck with one tulip coming back each year. Time to add a few more bulbs and see if they make it through winter.
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It’s almost time to plant annuals for the summer. Here is my late spring/early summer gardening to do list:

1. Plant more petunias.

I had great success with the petunias I planted last year. Despite the severe drought, they spread across the garden and were really beautiful.

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2. Mulch

Last year we added a layer of mulch to our garden, but after several rain storms, it’s time to mulch again.

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3. Plant a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.

I’ve got big plans for a vegetable and herb garden this year.

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I picked up these seeds at Target and it’s almost time to start planting them! BJ and I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and we’re hoping that if all goes well, we will have many homegrown veggies and herbs to choose from!

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There are a few more items that BJ and I thinking about adding to our garden list for the year, such as edging the gardens with stone, but for now, we are going to focus on our first three items and add more as we go. Do you have any big plans for your garden(s) this year?

Signs of Spring

It may not look or feel like spring outside, but inside our home, signs of spring are all around.

Even with the snow falling outside our window, these daffodils on our kitchen island make it feel like spring is finally here. Daffodils are often signs of new beginnings and that Easter is right around the corner.

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It will be a few more days before we see spring-like temperatures outside, but in the meantime we’ll keep celebrating the start of spring inside.
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Welcome spring!

Chrysanthe-mums the word

Happy first official day of Autumn! The weather is beautiful here today. I hope it’s as beautiful where you are!

In preparation for the start of Autumn, I decorated our front porch with new pots full of beautiful chrysanthemums.

=-] <;— Quick side note: As Zoey walked across my keyboard she somehow entered that smiley face. So I guess she likes the new mums!

Ok, back to the task at hand. I decided to go with taller pots for our porch mums this year. And these were on clearance at Home Depot. Winning!

Last year, I had several small pots and two pumpkin pots for Halloween. Here is what our porch looked like last year:

This year, instead of planting the same color mums in the same pots, I decided that wasn’t exciting enough so I planted two colors in the larger pots and planted one color in the smaller pots. And after I finished throwing potting soil everywhere, the finished product of our pots looked like this:

Our porch is looking very festive for the first day of Autumn. I really like the larger pots. They are more visible on our porch.

That’s all for this post! I think I will celebrate Autumn with some hot apple cider on this chilly windy day. Have a great weekend!

Making it Rain Up In Here

So this crazy thing happened in August: it started raining again! In the past two weeks, we’ve seen more rain than we saw in the past two months combined. The watering bans starting lifting, the burn bans started lifting, and we finally have green grass again.

We are so blessed to have rain again. It’s been a rough summer for most of the United States.

Our grass might be a little patchy after baking in the sun for two months, but we’ll take it. It’s been a long drought and I’m so glad to see green grass and bright colorful flowers again. I was starting to wonder if we were going to stay brown until Autumn. I finally heard the sound of lawn mowers the other day. It was great. It was also wonderful to smell fresh-cut grass again.

Although I was diligent about watering my plants throughout the drought, I started to tire out in the end and fell a little behind once it started raining. Unfortunately, it didn’t rain enough in the first week to keep our potted plants really moist. I’m afraid they might not last much longer. I think it’s almost time to change the petunias for mums.

Despite our pitiful potted plants, the petunias in our garden are still growing strong. With a little mulch and some rain, they are getting just what they need.

It’s been a very hot and dry summer, but now that things are turning around, I’m looking forward to the start of Autumn and some crisp air and cooler temperatures.

How are your gardens doing this summer? Did you have to contend with drought conditions and  hand water your plants every day or every other day? Or did you let them go in hopes that it would rain again soon?

Giving the gladiolus a little lift

Do you remember the V8 commercials with the people walking around leaning to the side? Then everyone would drink a V8 and stand up straight again. Our gladiolus reminded me of that last night when I saw it leaning in our garden. It looked like it needed a V8. I also discovered that we had two gladiolus growing this year. However, after we came home from running errands this morning, one leaned over so much that it snapped and it is now in a vase in our kitchen.

But the other gladiolus got a little lift after we ran to Home Depot to get a stake to tie it to. We decided to get a shepherd’s crook and hang a plant basket to add something more to that area of the garden.

We couldn’t find any string, so we used a small piece of wire to tie the long stem to the shepherd’s crook.

Meanwhile, the other flower that snapped is hanging out in our kitchen. I love the way it looks in the bright green vase! BJ got me flowers for our two-year anniversary and they came in this vase. It looks perfect with the bright green we have in our kitchen.

While we were at Home Depot today, we also bought two new Adirondack chairs so we could move the teal chairs to the back patio. And we bought some fun contrasting pillows to make the chairs pop.

So no mulching yet, but I better get to it soon! I spotted some weeds trying to take over our garden. Not cool!

Dear weeds, I’m coming for you. Love, Jessica.

Have  a great weekend everyone! Stay cool!