Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winter Sowing has begun!!

Today I got my first batch of winter sowing done. I did 23 containers! I am excited to get started on some gardening (sort of).

Here is a list of what I started:

4 containers of Candy Lily
3 containers of Baptisia
2 containers of Stoke's Blue Aster
2 containers of Texas Star Hibiscus
2 containers of Prarie Night Monarda
1 container of Purple Spiderwort
1 container of Agastache Anise Hyssop
2 containers of Liatrus
2 containers of Tulip Poplar
2 containers of Sweet Bay Magnolia
2 containers of Frasier Fir

I would have done many more, but have temporarily run out of containers that are prepared. In another week or so I will be ready for a second batch.

The weather was mild today, in the mid 50's. I was able to get outside and also direct sow some seeds also. This list includes:

Purple Coneflower
Blue Flax
New England Aster
Red Yucca
Rocky Mountain Penstamon
Balloon Flower

Because the weather has been above freezing for awhile, I decided to also sow some spinach, lettuce and some Sweet Basil. It would be awesome to have a fresh salad in the middle of winter, or even late winter!

Another gardening project today was planting 14 Blue Delft Hyacinth bulbs. These are one of my favorites. A beautiful color, very fragrant, and deer resistant too. I planted these near my bedroom windows. This bed also has several young Red Bud trees planted in it. In a few years there is going to be spectacular color out those windows.

As gardeners always say, "Just wait til next year!"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Amaryllis bulb planting

Today I took my Amarylis bulb out of storage and got it planted. It has been sitting in the nice cold garage in a paper bag since October 15. That is right around the 8-10 weeks of required dormancy for it to rebloom. I have my fingers crossed.

I imagine most people would want their's to bloom at Christmas, but not me! I look forward to some nice bright blooms in January or February, when the outdoors is at its dreariest and there are few events happening.

It has 4 babies still attached. I debated on whether or not to remove them and pot them up separately, but ultimately decided not to. I do not expect them to bloom this year, but being still attached, they can get more nutrients from the mother bulb this way.

Here it is last year blooming and then this summer while in the ground. It is the strappy green leaves in front of the purple ribbon. The bulb grew a lot over the summer and if I did it correctly, there should be even more blooms this time.

I will keep you posted on its progress, with my fingers crossed!

Monday, December 04, 2006

How to make Garden Balls, a tutorial

Materials needed-a ball, flat marbles, GE Silicone II exterior version, grout or mortar mix with sand, water, plastic bag, rubber gloves, a paper plate or old lid, a spreader; such as a popcicle stick

Step one- Gather materials. I am using a tennis ball attached to a pole, which used to hold flags, until it broke (Reduce, reuse, recycle). Using the larger size of flat marbles, it will take approximately 40 to cover an entire tennis ball. I am using two shades of blue this time, and I figured out a pattern that I want to use.

Step two-Squirt some silicone onto the old lid. Make sure you use the right kind.

Step three- Using the popcicle stick, spread a liberal amount of silicone on a section of the ball.

Step four-Begin placing the flat marbles onto the ball in the silicone. Push firmly, but do not push so hard as to squish all of the silicone out from under the marbles.

Step five-Add another section of silicone and another round of marbles.

Step six-Continue adding silicone and marbles all the way to the bottom of the ball. You may have to carefully hold the ball in the palm of your hand to place the marbles on the bottom half of the ball. Once completed, carefully set it down and let it dry over night.

Step seven-Put your mortar/sand mix into a bowl, about 2 cups full.

Step eight-Add some water and stir it up using another popcicle stick.

Mix should be very thick. If it is runny, sprinkle some mix in it and stir. Continue to add mix or water until a paste like consistency.

Step nine-With gloves on, scoop up some of the mix and start applying to the ball. You will want to push it down firmily inbetween the marbles. It is okay if it gets on the marbles.

Step ten-Once completed mortared, wrap in plastic and let sit for a couple of hours to semi-set. Do not worry at this time if there is mortar on the marbles.
Step eleven-Unwrap ball from the plastic. Run it under slow moving water. If a hard running water is used, it could wash the mortar out from between the marbles. Using a rag, carefully wipe the ball, getting the excess mortar off of the marbles.

Rewrap the ball in the plastic and let sit for another few hours. Once again, remove it from the plastic and gently wet and wipe. By now, you should have the mortar / grout cleaned off enough to make the ball look nice. Rewrap in plastic.

The garden ball is done now, except for curing. Curing will take a week or so. For the first 5 days, keep the ball wrapped in plastic, removing it once per day and gently wetting, either using the faucet or a spray bottle. This prevents it from drying too quickly and causing it to crack.
After five days, remove it from the plastic and continue to wet it down, several times a day. You will want to do this for at least 3 more days. Then you can let it start to dry more, with maybe only wetting it once a day or so. After another week it will be cured enough to place outside.