Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Going Native: Swamp Rose

I planted a Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, last spring of 2010 along the bed that parallels my potager. It is planted in an area that receives full sun. The soil is clay but is very wet in spring and after heavy rains. It is considered a shrub rose and should grow to be about 6-8' tall. It's habit is upright with bushy-branched, thorny stems. In just one year it has bloomed!

I have never grown roses before and figured it would be good to begin with wild roses, although I don't do anything for this rose. I am amazed at its growth in spite of my neglect. I have some suckering shoots that I may try to transplant in other areas of my garden to see how it does. I prefer the open blooms of wild roses and I felt that my garden would not be complete without a rose, or two, or maybe three ... They smell good, really good.

There's lots of insect activity. In the evening the petals close up. This morning I witnessed an impatient bumble bee force open the closed petals to get inside. This rose should also produce hips which I will leave to overwinter for the birds, and because their bright red color will be pretty dusted with snow. Oh, did I mention the leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall? I am very happy with this native addition to my garden – you might be, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Project: Rustic Oblisk

I like to grow my cucumbers vertically, and this year I'm trying squash as well. I became really frustrated trying to grow up tripods made from bamboo. They always seemed to collapse with a full load or during a storm – we have some pretty strong winds here. So, I decided to make some rustic oblisks or cages.

I keep a store of branches in and behind my shed for making such things – trellises, too. I collect the branches from neighbors' curb sides after storms or clean ups, and from our local dump.

For the oblisk shapes I started by making two separate "ladders" using two power drills (one for drilling and one for securing), and varying lengths of decking screws.

 I then connected the ladders by adding a cross piece so that I had a square shape to work with.

Then I began adding more cross sections horizontally and diagonally for sturdiness. The branches naturally dictate where they should go and how they should connect. This one is ready to go out in the potager. It is fairly heavy but I sink the legs into the ground a few inches anyway.

I found some biodegradable netting that I can put in my compost after the season which I will drape over this to help the vines climb.

The oblisk on the left, for squash and peas, I completed (smartly) last fall. You can see the netting draped over it. The one on the right, for cucumbers, I just finished and still need to add my netting. I planted my cucumbers late but they are already sprouting and should be climbing in no time.

I am really happy with these. They stand up to the wind and (hopefully) a heavy load of veggies. I can leave them in place for the winter and their shadows look pretty against the snow. I could also use these for tomato cages as I like to rotate my crops from year to year. I also like the rustic feel of the branches. We are fairly close to the Adirondacks here, and only ten minutes from Canada, and this style seems to create a more natural sense of place than bamboo.

I suggest you try creating your own vegetable supports with materials in your area. You will be satisfied with the results and the price.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's Growing

Let's see what's growing in the potager this month ...

Most of the lettuce mixes can be clipped. Mustard greens, too. I am so ready for fresh greens from the garden!

Rainbow swiss chard, one of my favorites.
Sunflowers reaching for the sun.
Something new this year, chinese cabbage and horseradish.
Garlic scapes!
I have been enjoying these sauteed over pasta and rice, and in eggs.
I also enjoyed my first rhubarb harvest.
I found a wonderful Heidi Swanson recipe for strawberry rhubarb crumble that incorporates toasted pine nuts. Truly delicious.

Basil seedlings. I planted a generous patch with high hopes for another big batch of pesto like last year.

Another new addition, broccoli rabe. The taller ones I started early indoors.
I have a huge wave of calendula that came up from last year. Into the salads they go!
Royal burgundy bush beans and soy beans. I can't wait to try fresh edamame.
Scarlet runner beans so short and already flowering. They are not climbing the trellis as I had hoped.

The brandywine tomatoes are beginning to flower.
My peppers are actually growing! These are hot – cayenne, jalepeno and red chile.
Cauliflower veronica.
Brussel sprouts.
Scallop, or patty pan squash.
Snap peas (planted in late March).
I think I will have a crop of blueberries from the Bluecrop blueberry bush!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's Blooming

I didn't realize how much is actually blooming right now in my garden. I guess I just see "what needs to be done." It was good to get away from that. Starting with the bird and butterfly garden ...

Husker's Red against Baptisia 'Prairie Blues'
Lady's Mantle against Cranesbill
Wild Daisies in the potager
Bulb, Camassia esculenta along the nice driveway
Achilla 'Coronation Gold' against Meadow Sage 'May Night' (nice driveway)
Pixie Cheddar Pinks Dianthus out front
Common Thyme against Lamb Ears out front
Thymus Alba just beginning to bud (out front)
Iris (unknown, from neighbor) out front
Coral Honeysuckle along the south side of house
Clematis, unknown, along the north side of house
Clematis 'Clair de Lune' along the north side of house
Columbines along the north side of house
Jacob's Ladder peeking through Hosta leaves (north side)
Lamium 'Orchid Frost' blooming beneath Blue Spruce in woodland edge
Cornus 'Cardinal' in woodland edge
Sweet Woodruff in woodland edge
Goat's Beard in woodland edge
Amsonia tabernaemontana 'Blue Ice' in woodland edge
Native Slender Blue Iris, Iris prismatica in woodland edge
Cinnamon Fern in woodland edge
Jack-n-the-Pulpit in woodland edge
So, there's the tour of what's blooming around my garden. Garden bloggers' bloom day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month. Add your blog to the list so we can see what's blooming near you.


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