Just want you to know that I’m taking a short vacation, where I’m not sure I’ll have computers available. I’ll try and get a few entries in while I’m gone, but can’t promise anything. I’ll be back in early October. See you then!
Well, I’m about to go on vacation, back home for a sisters reunion. Lucky for me my husband isn’t going, because then I would have to find someone to take care of the yard and houseplants.
We’ve been gone twice for longer periods, with unfortunate dire results. The first time we were in India for three months for a yoga and meditation intensive. I put my trust in the next-door neighbor teens to water things. When I got home things looked pretty good, considering I’d left it in the care of two young people who don’t know anything about plants. However, my Japanese maple worth about $125 had bit the dust, and as I started cleaning up for the fall I realized that many of the perennials that were along the front of the border were gone. They didn’t notice that they weren’t getting enough water from the drip system and they had just died. I’d lost probably a couple hundred in plants total.
The next year we had the opportunity to attend another 50 day intensive in India. This time I left it in the care of the older of the two teens, thinking that, since she’s older, she’d be more responsible. This time I came home to catastrophe. Although my perennials had made it through in better shape, mainly because I had reworked the drip irrigation, the entire herb and vegetable garden were a total loss. To top it all off our screened gazebo had broken one of its tethers and instead of fixing it they just kept putting it back up only to get toppled in the next high wind. This means that we have a gazebo that may never be usable again. So not only did we lose all our food crops, but also a $200 gazebo.
After that I decided that, unless it is an absolute must, I’ll not be away from the yard during the summer. Lucky for me my husband is staying behind this time. He knows how important my plant friends are to me and he’ll do his best to take good care of them. Not only that I know that if there is a problem he won’t be afraid to contact me and ask me what to do.
So, when you are looking at taking a trip, you must consider your yard if it’s during the growing season. In most areas of the country our gardens need supplemental watering at least once in awhile or we’ll come back to a dead garden. Even if you have drip irrigation, you need someone to check on it and make sure it’s working properly. Hopefully you have a gardening friend, or a neighbor who is as enthusiastic about gardening as you are.
Now’s a great time to put in an order for bare root fruit trees. If you live someplace where the soil doesn’t freeze until late November or December that’s even better. Putting in fruit trees in the fall can really give them a great start. Instead of having to take off and make leaves and fruit right after planting, they get a whole winter to put down roots.
One thing you need to do with fruit trees planted in the fall, and really any time, is protect the trunk from the sun. In the winter the dark bark can warm up substantially. This can cause the sap to start flowing and the plant to take up more water than necessary. When the temperatures dip down below freezing at night this can cause the trees trunk to crack from the sap and water. You can purchase a white trunk protector or paint them with white paint. This will reflect the sun and keep them from breaking dormancy early, as well. Watch the trunks though, as they may get too big for trunk protectors in one season (mine did).
When buying fruit trees, look for varieties that do well in your area. Also, look for when the fruit ripens and try to get varieties that ripen at different times. There is usually an early, mid, and late time period. Having one of each will ensure a longer period of fruit harvest and not having to deal with hundreds of pounds of fruit ready all at once.
Be aware of fruit diseases and pests before you plant, too. I didn’t know that peaches are nearly impossible to grow in the southeast without chemicals, there are so many diseases and pests that attack them. I might not have planted them, since I only grow organically. We’ll see how they do. I’m going to try the clay sprays next spring. The plants will look weird, but maybe we’ll get a few peaches…
To plant the tree dig a whole that is twice the size of the root ball and deep enough to accommodate the roots. Plant the tree deep enough that the root that is going to be closest to the surface will end up 1” underground. Planting too shallow causes root suckers. Refill the hole with just regular soil. They’ve found that trees that get special soil around the roots will often try to keep their roots just in that area and will girdle themselves and die. Don’t fertilize them now, do that in the spring, as you don’t want to encourage them to break dormancy. Water them in well and don’t let them get overly dry throughout the winter. You’ll be rewarded with a healthy tree that is much larger than one planted the previous spring, most of the time.
Here I sit, all ready to start work on the new garden and we’re predicted to get rain through Wednesday, and possible showers on Thursday. Argh! I need to get this garden in place before I leave for my sister reunion, so that all my little plants will still be alive when I get home.
I’ve given up on getting the greenhouse up before I leave, because the first thing I have to do is paint all the lumber and I won’t be able to do that until the weekend, because of the rain. That’s also when I can work on the garden and that is more important, at the moment, than the greenhouse.
One thing you never want to do is work with your soil when it is too wet or too dry. It can destroy it. So, I’ll wait until it is at the proper moisture level before I do anything on it. Don’t want to destroy the soil before I’ve even planted anything.
That is how life is when you are working with nature. Sometimes you just don’t have the same timing for things. So, what do I do. I get as much done as I can and make the best of my four days inside. I’ll do some much needed sewing and preparations for the trip, get some items up on eBay, and read my gardening magazines until the soil drys out enough to work with it again.
Oh, just so you’ll know I’ll be taking the plastic off the new garden space tomorrow. It needs to get rained on some, so that the tiller can work the soil more easily. I’ll put a picture up here once I do that.
I’m hoping to be able to talk my husband into helping with the rototilling, as it is quite a job for me and this garden is REALLY big.
So, when at first you can’t do what you planned, be creative and find a good way to use time you had planned to use differently!
As the summer comes to an end your yard may be looking a little tired. The green of the trees has lost its vibrancy, annuals are looking bedraggled from heat stress, and perennials are finished with their bloom.
For most people the flowers of fall are pansies and chrysanthemums, however, there are a lot of other plants you can add to your garden to spark things up.
Of course all annuals will perform depending on your zone, so check out and see if there are any that will continue to perform for you throughout the fall season. In my yard I have dianthus, which is supposed to be an annual, but has become a near perennial; snapdragons, the tall old fashioned variety; Victoria salvia, that is the common name here, but it is the salvia that has blue or white spikes of flowers on them, they too are near perennials for me; flowering kale; and gazanias, these hold up to quite heavy frosts and keep blooming. Of course I have pansies, violas, and chrysanthemums, as well.
For perennials I have asters, Japanese anemone, and goldenrod. There’s also a wonderfully fragrant, fall clematis. Autumn olive, considered a nuisance plant in some areas, so check, has tiny fragrant flowers on it that you can smell from half a block away if the breeze is right.
So, there’s no reason to not have color right up until the first hard frost, and sometimes beyond.