I’ve got to start reading my own stuff more carefully! The mysterious yellow tulips that I forced recently have been identified: They are called Daydream, and if you are looking for a tulip to brighten up your yard or house, this variety would be great. The identity of the tulip was listed in the blog in a post I wrote last fall when we first planted them outdoors. The purple tulips are still unidentified, but they are starting to bloom. They seem to be a smaller, later-blooming variety, but still very pretty.
Archive for March, 2009
Last week’s warm weather seems to have jump started some plants. On Saturday, I noticed that the first of the Scilla siberica, a.k.a., squill in my front yard had emerged. This one not only has a few leaves, but tiny buds. For reference, I posted on this same topic last spring — on April 4 — a full two weeks later than I noticed the squill this year. After our frigid, now-this-is-a-real-Minnesota-winter winter, an early spring might be nice. The weather forecast for the next week or so: 30s, cloudy, windy and a few snow flurries. Ah, well.
Arghh! I am just kicking myself for not making a note of what kind of tulips these yellow/apricot ones are. I bought them out of the bins at the Farmers Seed and Nursery store in Faribault last fall. (Farmers Seed has a huge bank of bins of bulbs to choose from.) I bought a bag of what the photo near the bin showed as yellow tulips and one of purple tulips. I forgot to write down the variety name of either of them. Both kinds of bulbs are in this huge pot in my kitchen window area, but so far only the yellow ones are blooming. And, they are not really yellow. They start out yellow and then slide from the tips of the petals down into a gorgeous orange-apricot shade.
Are there any tulip experts out there who can identify the variety?
Yesterday I received word that one of my blog posts had earned a Silver Award in the Garden Writers Association’s annual media awards. The post is self-described as “A rambling discourse written over several days about dried beans, home gardens, and the creative impulse.”
The post was entered in a relatively new category for electronic writing. The great thing about the GWA awards is that the association announces all the silvers in spring (the number of silvers in each category varies) and the big winner in each category is not announced until the GWA’s conference, which this year is in beautiful Raleigh, N.C., in September. In other words: Road Trip!
I’m feeling grateful toward this pot of forced tulip bulbs that has started to bloom despite being terribly mistreated this winter.
Forcing bulbs or branches is a fun way to bring spring color into your home while it’s still cold outside. I wasn’t planning to force bulbs this year, but while planting bulbs this fall, I put a bag of them on the shelf in the garage and promptly forgot about them. Round about January, I discovered the bag. Not wanting to pitch them, I decided to try forcing. So, I planted them in some soil and put the pot in a box back in the garage where I once again forgot about it. I remembered that there were bulbs in that box about three weeks ago and brought them into the house, first in the cool part of the basement, and then the sunny ledge in the kitchen, watered them a bit, and am being rewarded (most undeservedly) with pretty yellow blooms.
Generally, forced bulbs are planted in fall and put in a place cool (recommended temperatures are 35 to 50 F) for 10 to 14 weeks, then brought into a warmer place to bloom. Well, my garage was a whole lot colder than 35 F during much of this long, harsh winter and those bulbs sat out there with and without soil about five months, so it’s a testament to the hardiness of bulbs that they bloomed at all. I can hardly wait until the outside bulbs start blooming!
Here’s the problem with going to garden events, such as those I attended this weekend: You get so many ideas that you have to think about adding more space. Maybe I’ll expand my front gardens and add one of the hardy shrub roses Kathy Zuzek recommended, such as ‘Lillian Gibson’ or ‘Harrison Yellow‘. No, wait, how about ‘Candy Oh! Vivid Red,’ a variety hybridized by David Zlesak, a young U of M educator who has written for Northern Gardener.
Wait, maybe, instead I’ll add an herb garden, filled with the three kinds of basil and Lavendula ‘Hidcote‘ in a pot and a bunch of other herbs recommended by Theresa Mieseler of Shady Acres Herb Farm. No, wait, I’m going to plant that great big annual salvia, Yvonne’s Giant, which Donald Mitchell recommends for attracting hummingbirds. And, that doesn’t take into account the enthusiastic peony and dahlia gardeners I talked with Sunday at the MSHS Plant Society Day at Gertens.
So many ideas, so little space.
The signs of spring are mounting. I’ve noticed several types of birds have returned to our yard — robins and a funny blue jay who was trying to pull seeds from a sunflower I left standing over the winter. The flower’s head is nodded over, and the jay perched on the top of it, bending over, over, over, trying to get seed. Sometimes he would grab some — other times, he tumbled off the flower empty handed (or rather, empty beaked), but was in flight before he hit ground.
Saturday, perusing my front flower bed, I saw the little nubs in the photo. I believe that is an early tulip, testing the air for warmth.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the bean plants that started growing in two very small pots on my kitchen counter. They flowered not long ago and today I noticed the bean to your left. There are about four of them on the plant, which is wandering all over the small space behind my sink.
While I’m not expecting a big crop, it just goes to show that no space is too small for a little gardening. In fact, I’ve seen a couple of pole bean varieties that are marketed for container gardens. (Apparently, beans have a shallow root system.) On a balcony with pots, you could grow tomatoes, herbs, beans, cukes — the possibilities are endless. The Texas Extension service suggests several varieties that work well in containers, or check out my friend Penny’s earlier container gardens.
As parts of Minnesota recover from a March blizzard and the rest of us wonder why the temperatures are more like January than March, it’s good to have something to look forward to — such as a weekend packed with garden activities. March is the month of classes and hort days in Minnesota.
Saturday I’ll be attending the Rice County Horticulture Day at Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf College. The program includes talks on Shrub Roses for Minnesota by Kathy Zuzek, Herb Gardening and Cooking with Theresa Mieseler, How to Attract Hummingbirds presented by Donald Mitchell, and Garden Photography with John Maciejny, whose photographs have appeared in Northern Gardener many times. There will also be a book signing by How to Shrink Your Lawn author Evelyn Hadden. Sounds like a great event.
Saturday night, I’ll take a break from garden events and head over to the Northfield High School‘s production of Rock ‘N Roll Revival, featuring my daughter (in cat glasses!) and 100-plus other high school singers, dancers and musicians. This is the third RRR in which my daughters have participated and I’m always impressed by the quality of the performance — and the hard work that goes into it.
Sunday, I’ll be heading to the Plant Society Day at Gertens in Inver Grove Heights. If you have a special interest in daffodils, bonsai, mushrooms, roses or any of nearly a dozen specialties, this is the place to learn about them. From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be displays and mini-demonstrations. Here are the groups scheduled to be presenting:
- North American Rock Garden Society
- Minnesota Water Garden Society
- Orchid Society of Minnesota
- North Star Lily Society
- African Violet Society of Minnesota
- Minnesota Aquarium Society
- Minnesota Bonsai Society
- Minnesota Mycological Society
- Daffodil Society of Minnesota
- Twin Cities Rose Club
An impressive list! Many of these groups have classes, shows and other events. They all have informative web sites as well. If you are interested, check them out…or stop by Gertens on Sunday.
Last week, a newbie vegetable gardener e-mailed me for some information about the Vegetable Gardening 101 class I took at Just Food Co-op a few weeks ago. She was looking for a similar class in the Twin Cities and also asked if I had a reading list for new vegetable gardeners. I don’t, but it sounds like a great idea — so here goes.
I haven’t done any kind of comprehensive review of vegetable gardening books, but if I were just starting here are a two types of book that might be worth buying or taking out from the library.
Your Basic Guide
Beginners have basic questions and need a guide book that is like a friendly, knowledgeable neighbor.
A few months ago, I came across the Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden, revised edition (10 Speed Press, 2005, $19.95) and have been really impressed by it. In addition to listing the vegetables you might want to grow, when to start them, how to maintain them, and how and when to harvest them, author David Hirsch offers recipes and a dandy 30-page section in the back with basic information on placing your garden, soil, compost, mulching, and other techniques gardeners need. The book has enough information about everything but not so much you are overwhelmed.
Other good overview books would include The New Victory Garden, a sort of 1980s vegetable classic; Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew (great for small-space gardeners), or if you are interested in a specific type of garden, any of Rosalind Creasy’s books. (Be warned, though, she lives in California and doesn’t exactly get the concept of dead winter for six months.) I’d avoid books that are just too complete, such as Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer, unless you plan to use it strictly as an encyclopedia.
A When-to-Do-What Book
When should you plant tomatoes in Minnesota? (Later than you think!) When should cover your crops in the fall and how do you “put the garden to bed?” A book that tells you when to do what is useful, especially for new gardeners.
Melinda Myers, Wisconsin’s gardening guru, has a great book for this called Month-by-Month Gardening in Minnesota. It’s divided by months, of course, but also by what kind of gardening you’re doing. So, you can check in March and find out that now is a good time to start seeds. She also tells you how. Another calendar book I like is The Time-Saving Gardener, by Carolyn Hutchinson. It not only tells you when to do things, but Hutchinson has lots of step-by-step diagrams to follow. She also divides tasks by season rather than month, which makes the book more applicable in northern climates.
Experienced gardeners, help me out. What books would you recommend to a new vegetable gardener?