Saturday, July 25, 2009


That's what the Weather Channel said this morning for this month's rain. Seriously, Mother Nature? What the hell?? That is almost 1/4 of the entire average rainfall for the YEAR in one month (41" of preciptation.) We're also eyeing the second coolest July on record, which actually is okay in my book. I hate the heat and the humidity. Everyone who has been in the landscaping business forever say they have never seen anything like this before in all of years of being in business. We're supposed to get more rain tomorrow and off and on the rest of the week which will push us well over 10" of rain for July.

The edible side of Garden Consultant HQ has been teetering on successful and not so much this year with no thanks to the cool damp weather. There's actually been a huge boom in Late Blight in both tomatoes and potatoes this year because of all of the rain. Yeah, that's the same type of blight that caused the Irish Potato Famine of 1845. I haven't seen it here in my garden, thank goodness. That would probably be the straw that broke the camel's back this year. Below are my Grape Tomatoes on crack....they are huge, loaded full of flowers as you can see - tons of GREEN tomatoes. That insanely sad looking tomato over on the left of the photo is an heirloom. I really, really wanted to have them do well because I love heirloom tomatoes. But good grief, it's withered, yellowed and just pathetic. Maybe I will give the heirlooms one more chance but in my upside down tomato grower (which has a decent plant with fruit coming)

Here are the sole three ripe tomatoes I've had all season! I picked a couple today but they are totally ripe. We need some heat that lasts for more than a day for these guys to ripen. I have so many romas, cherries, and yellow tomatoes coming...I just need them to ripen and not all at once!

I have to ask....lettuce in July?!?!?!?! Yes, if you have May weather in July.

I have finally given in to lesser organic methods to get the veggies to grow this summer. With all of this rain, nutrients are just being washed away from the soil. I broke out the water soluble 20-20-20 blue fertilizer. It's pretty much a plant steroid and it's doing just that....pumping up the veggies quickly, very quickly. I really felt I didn't have a choice with this season. I started to use the fertilizer about 3 weeks ago when I noticed my veggies hadn't grown, at all - nothing - since I planted them in May. I finally got a pickler cuke off of one of the plants. I planted them to eat fresh because Eric and I never can finish off a cuke before it turns to slimy, mush. Normally I would apologize for the weeds in the photo....but there isn't a garden in New England that isn't loaded full of weeds this summer. I have to go out and feed the veggies again tomorrow morning if it isn't pouring out.

I took this photo of my herbs in their containers late last month and like the veggies, the annual ones like parsley and basil where just like they were back in May. The rains of June started to rot out my basil which there wasn't much I could do about that. The rains of this month has started to take it's toll on the perennial herbs now....they are showing bad signs of overwatering AND nutrient deficiency. Ugh. This was not the year to do herbs in containers. The basil has seemed to stop rotting and has recovered. I'm going to make some pesto pasta sauce with it this week and that will feel like summer eventhough Mother Nature has other seasons in mind.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Reds, reds, and more (unconventional) reds

Personally, I'm more of a cool colored person....pinks, purples, blues and the such. But in my full sun side garden, I placed a lot of plants I had inherited from others that would clash with my color scheme. I have some golds and funky oranges lilies and daylilies. So I introduced a bunch of warmer colors like the reds, deep violets and the blues to blend with them. Today I'm focusing on the reds.

Eric has been known to bring me home things that had made their way to the trash from where he works. It's actually earned him the nickname "the Larsonist" with his co-workers. LOL This rose below is one of his "treasures." It's a hybrid tea rose and I'm suspecting it could be Mr. Lincoln which is a timeless classic for fragrant, red roses. There were two of them that made their way to my house and this one is the sole survivor which was amazing because neither of them had much in the way of roots when I planted them. It's been here for about four years and it's taken it all of that time to finally look good this year. The past several years, blackspot had plagued it and it usually lost most of it's foliage by this time of year. If you know me, I don't tolerate crappy plants in my garden and can be pretty ruthless about it. I normally give a plant three years to prove to me they deserve to be here. The fourth year - you're gone. I told Eric this was it and I was digging it out. He begged me to leave it. He hates killing plants (what a great pair we make.) So, I agreed and secretly threatened the rose's life if it didn't do something this year. I think it heard me, or it finally developed a sustaining root system, or the regular feedings of Rose Tone this year made a big difference. It's grown some substantial canes and the foliage has stayed fairly clean despite the rains and cold of June. It's had some nice roses on it which I have cut and brought inside. I'll keep feeding it monthly until August and we'll see if it is as successful next year as it was this one.

My 'Knock Out' Roses have had a wonderful year this season...they have bloomed really nicely and were covered with flowers. Right now, they are taking a little breather and forming more buds for another riot of color in a couple of weeks. I love this family of shrub rose and use them and their different colored cousins in my designs all of the time. They are very low maintenance and take just monthly feedings of rose food and deadheading. These roses never have fungal problems ever which is so great. The 'Knock Out' Roses now come in double reds, pink, double pink, yellow, pink/yellow, and white. They have a color that will suit any color scheme. I think they would reach 5 - 6' tall easily and I have been pruning my back in the spring for the past couple of seasons. Mine usually get 4 - 4.5' tall by the end of the season.

And here's my little "red" visitor who has been becoming a regular feature in my yard. I took this photo from my front stairs one morning as I was getting ready to take Lars outside. Luckily, Lars didn't see him/her and I shoved him back inside before Lars did notice. The fox was sitting in my neighbor's front yard about 50' away from me and wasn't at all bothered by my being there. I was talking with another neighbor on the street and she said they have about 4- 5 foxes that gather in their backyard at dusk. So, I think I'm seeing multiple foxes. Just yesterday, I was on the deck talking on the phone and one of them just trotted by and glanced at me. Later last night I saw one crossing the street as I took Lars outside. They are also having a little bit of a "marking the territory" war with Lars which is starting to bug him. LOL I just hope one them doesn't trot through my yard when I'm practicing obedience/agility with Lars or playing with him. I don't want to even think what would happen.

These guys don't really bother me other than if Lars meets one face to face. I have noticed the squirrel population is down which isn't a bad thing considering they had been horrid with my containers and vegatable garden. They are kind of cool to watch trot by as I'm hanging out on the deck.