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plants

the makings of a vegetable garden

Even for those of us with a more relaxed attitude towards garden design, a vegetable garden demands discipline. For one, you don’t want to question whether the contents of your herb wheel are edible, and vegetable crops are energy intensive enough without unproductive demands on their resources.
The most important task in a kitchen garden is keeping it tidy: weed religiously and trim excessive foliage to encourage produce yield. Avoid diseases promoted by poor air circulation by respecting the plants’ spacing requirements. Read more…

working with herbs

Working with herbs is an art and small details in the practice of harvesting and preserving them make the difference between success and failure.

Harvesting:
Always harvest herbs in the morning, right after the dew has dried up but before the heat makes the plants release their volatile oils. Harvest fresh young leaves free of blemishes from areas away from roads and traffic. If you grow herbs for their flowers, always pick the flowers before they fully open. Never harvest plants on rainy days.

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leda the damask

On 15, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants, roses, scents | By All Year Garden

First of all, this is why the Leda rose is not red. It magically dilutes its ruby stain and pushes it further and further out towards the edges until it is no more. These roses spend most of their bloom time simply white.

Second, I was wrong, it is a little fragrant, if you really really want it to be.
I’m not sure if this rose was supposed to be trained on a trellis or a pole or something, it’s plopped all over the flower bed, kind of shapeless and crushing everything under its hefty weight. I managed to pull it out of the delphiniums and found a full grown perennial I had forgotten about agonizing underneath.

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purple queen

On 08, May 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

An image for those dreary days in February or November when you can’t see the end of grueling chores, when your back hurts, your feet freeze and your hands bleed from all the raking and cleaning and when you have to fight your way out of a mound of yard debris. Today the garden turned on the love in drones.
This photo is probably going to find its way into winter articles again and again, it takes some ingenuity to come up with garden writing material when you don’t even want to get out of the house. Read more…

peonies

On 24, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, scents | By All Year Garden

The peonies would have bloomed by now, the buds have been ready to burst for more than a week, but it is so unseasonably cold, weird May weather! Temperatures in the fifties, I almost have to question the wisdom of moving the basil outside, it looks miserable.
Peonies are the object lesson for why gardeners benefit from being patient. You don’t get this cascade of blooms from a plant that doesn’t ask anything of you until you put a few years into it. Three, to be specific. Read more…

seedlings

On 10, Apr 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, propagation | By All Year Garden

This year spared us the usual unpleasantness: no hard freezes, no long stretches of unholy temperatures, no weird weather swings. As a result the spring planting is unfolding right on schedule to my great delight.

Usually after a seedling grown in a seed pod is transplanted into the garden, one of two things happen, and I had my fair share of both: it either doubles its growth speed when exposed to the sunshine and the rich garden soil or collapses dramatically under your very eyes, making you feel like a horrible person. Who would do something like this to a little plant, you quietly ask yourself, as your heart sinks into a puddle of misery and self loathing. Read more…

sweethearts

Since they went above and beyond this spring, let’s talk about sweet violets.
These beautiful early spring bloomers love moist, rich soil and are quite sensitive to slug attacks in summer, when the bigger plants’ foliage gives those pests a place to hide.
Some gardeners suggest feeding them in spring and fall, but in my experience the last thing you want to do for those prolific seeders is to give them additional reasons to spread out. Read more…

flowering onions

On 28, Mar 2017 | No Comments | In plants | By All Year Garden

If the spirit moves you towards a romanticized view of these lovely spring bulbs let me be the one to shatter your fairy tale: they are called flowering onions. You are growing onions. In the flower border. Onions.
I don’t say that to be obnoxious, I’m sure onions are wonderful plants in their own intensely aromatic way, but just because their more refined relatives spring up giant flower balls, that doesn’t mean their needs and growth habits are much different. Read more…

plant catalogs

If you are a dedicated green thumb, all you do after winter begins is sit around and wait for it to be over. Two long months of dreary weather later, the sight of spring catalogs gracing your mailbox is a hopeful sign of better days to come. Everybody has some signs they swear by that spring is drawing near. Some people go by the buds on the trees, others by the first crocuses, I go by the arrival of spring catalogs. Read more…

little miracles

On 20, Feb 2017 | No Comments | In advice, plants, propagation | By All Year Garden

The amount of time I spend contemplating the fresh seedlings in the starting tray would probably irritate an action oriented person. I would likely have some difficulty explaining to that person the wonderment of seeing the first set of leaves emerge, or the excitement of watching the tiny shoots develop from delicate strands barely hanging on to life to healthy plants ready to withstand whatever circumstances bring. Read more…