A Switchgrass Followup

In yesterday's post on propagating switchgrasses I left out the picture of the 'Northwind' Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Also I didn't post any details about the two switchgrasses that I mentioned. So here's a little more about switchgrasses! Switchgrasses are native to the United States and flourish during the warm season. In my observations they are later to emerge from winter dormancy than other grasses like miscanthus. 'Shenandoah' Switchgrass grows between 3 and 4 feet tall and is one of the shorter varieties of panicum available for ornamental use. The two 'Shenandoah' switchgrasses I have in our backyard gardens are different sizes even though the plants started out the same. The taller of the two fits in the between 3 and 4 foot range but the other one is much shorter and also has a smaller width. I believe this is due to the sun conditions which favor the larger 'Shenandoah'.…

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Seven (More) Switchgrasses

Today I potted up seven rooted sections of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Four of them were 'Shenandoah' which gains a reddish coloring in the leaves in late summer and fall and three were 'Northwind' which has a taller and more upright shape. Switchgrasses are definitely "where it's at" when it comes to ornamental grasses today. They are native plants and aren't invasive. To make things even more perfect ethanol producers have been using switchgrass as a substitute for corn to produce biofuels. Not a bad plant by any means! Because it's a native it is well adapted to our weather and should be able to survive random periods of drought like we've been having lately. (Only .3 of an inch in the last two weeks - not fun for the gardener or the garden!) Since these are such great plants to have in the garden I decided to increase my stock…

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Fun With Plant Propagation in August!

As always plant propagation is a major event around my garden. Ever since I started playing with rooting plant material several years ago (with the dappled willows) I haven't been able to help myself. Even when I'm not able to propagate new plants I still like to add to the number of plants in the garden by propagating more of what we already have. Repetition of plants is a good design technique! (at least that's my excuse for my addiction) What have I propagated recently? I'm glad you asked! (Maybe you didn't but I'll tell you anyway.) This weekend I potted up 14 Purple Homestead Verbenas, 5 Beautyberry Bushes, 2 Caryopteris plants, 7 Salvia coccineas, 5 'Walker's Low' Catmint, and 10 'Powis Castle' Artemisias. Down below I'll tell you a little about each but every single one of these plants is very easy to propagate. If you have a question…

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Mother Nature and Me

The last several days Mother Nature and I have had an interesting relationship. There were times when we've gotten along but other times are far from a friendly! Take for instance Thursday morning when I was laying bricks in the shed.  I had just finished with the second wheelbarrow load of bricks and returned to the brick pile to get load number three for the morning. The first couple bricks went in fine but something went horribly wrong as I was attacked by swarm of kamikaze wasps intent on defending their brick castle. I'll admit that "swarm" is somewhat of an exaggeration as it was a relatively small nest and only 5-6 wasps chased me as a ran screaming across the yard. And yes a few choice words came out as the wasps hit their target. Fortunately only two of the wasps got me and only once a piece -…

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Heirloom Tomato Seed Giveaway!

Alright you tomato crazed vegetable gardeners! It's time to give away some tomato seeds to start your heirloom tomato collection for next year. The seeds I'm talking about are from a tomato called 'Woodle Orange'.  Which is perhaps a lesser known variety but definitely not because it under performs. In fact it's a delicious alternative to the standard reds and pinks in the tomato. It's good enough for me to save the seeds for next year and to encourage you to plant this heirloom in your vegetable garden. Who wouldn't want to grow these! If you would like to enter to win the 'Woodle Orange' tomato seeds all you have to do is comment in this post and tell me what your favorite garden tomato is and why you like it (or how you like to eat it). Additionally if you want a second entry tell me about that favorite…

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The Garden Shed – Brick Floor Laying

Finally I braved the harsh August summer elements and trekked out to the garden shed to lay the brick floor down. I didn't get finished but I did manage to get some important work done like leveling the crushed gravel underneath where the bricks will go. I took a board and a level and made sure that the gravel was nice and even underneath. The bricks are going in the garden shed in three sections:  a back area, a step/landing, and the front area. The step/landing is a transitional spot that helped bridge two different levels in the greenhouse grading.I went with a basket weave pattern that didn't require any cutting of bricks. I installed a patio a couple years ago and had to cut a few of the paving stones - it's not fun without the right equipment! On the right side of the picture are two layers of…

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Woodle Orange Heirloom Tomato

Summer is the peak time for tomatoes which makes it the perfect time for tantalizing tomato talk! I'm pretty excited about this particular tomato that my wife selected from the Baker's Creek Catalog last winter. I'm talking about 'Woodle Orange'! It's a funny name and prior to reading it in the catalog I had never heard of it before. Because it was an orange tomato and outside of our normal palette of red and pink tomatoes we decided to give it a try. (We're trying a couple new varieties each year.) The tomatoes ripen up when they are about the size of a baseball (75 days to harvest) with the bright orange yellow color you can see in the pictures. The skin consistently has very few blemishes and very little damage from the rigors of the garden. More importantly the flavor is impressive. 'Woodle Orange' has a flavor that is…

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The Do’s and Don’ts of August Gardening

As I'm writing this post I'm hearing the buzz of riding lawnmowers from various neighbors in our community and I thought why in the world are they mowing? It hasn't rained and dust clouds are flying up everywhere which leads me to a second question why are they mowing the dirt? Things like this drive me nuts so I thought I'd put together a post with the do's an dont's of gardening in August! DO: Get up early in the morning to water plants and do garden chores like weeding and pruning. DON'T: Water in the afternoon where the heat of the sun mixed with the moisture will encourage fungal diseases! DO: Water plants deeply. DON'T: Water plants just a little everyday. That encourages a shallow root system. Unless you have plants in pots, then you may need to water every day. DO: Wait until after a rain to mow…

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GROW Project: Nasturtiums and an Arbor

OK I'll have to admit it the arbor part of this post is an attempt to offset some of the misery that my nasturtiums are suffering. The heat of this summer has been way too intense for any of my nasturtium plantings to thrive so I guess I should just be happy that they continue to survive. Before I show you the current state of my nasturtiums I'll sow you want the arbor garden looks like at the beginning of August. The arbor and the nasturtiums do have a small connection - they are planted near each other! If you were following me way back in the April of 2009 you probably remember the arbor I built for a Better Homes and Gardens contest. I didn't win but I did get to build my arbor while someone else picked up the tab. On the other side of the arbor is…

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