Our Grand Potato Harvest of 2010

Well, here’s our potato harvest for this year.  Only a few of the plants had turned brown, but once Jeff got the pitch fork in hand and started digging, he got a little excited about his little potato harvesting adventure and just kept harvesting.

It might look small in the picture, but actually this little potato harvest filled up one of those small plastic shopping bags – so we’re very happy since we only had about six plants, and they were all in a small space garden.

Only Jeff could get a potato harvest like this from potatoes planted under a tree, in the shade, in Seattle Washington!  He’s really got a green thumb! We’re going to boil up the baby reds for dinner – I can’t wait!

If you don’t like to eat potatoes, perhaps you would like to learn How to make a Potato Gun?

The Perfect Time to Harvest Potatoes

Jeff's First Potato - 9/20/2010

Jeff and I were taking a look at what still needed to be done in the garden for Fall when we had a discussion on when to harvest potatoes.  He has about six plants of various varieties growing in the back yard, and they still look lush and green.  I reached under one and to our surprise, pulled out a beautiful medium red potato

As a kid, I remember my Mom harvesting potatoes when the plants were brown and almost dead looking, so I called her, and indeed, this is when you should do your potato harvest.  It usually happens in late August or early September; some people even wait until after the first frost. The plants will get yellow, then brown, and then look practically dead; THIS is the perfect time to harvest potatoes.

I was afraid that if we left them in too long, they would start to rot, but actually, if there is still green on the plants, the potatoes are still growing.  If you harvest potatoes too soon, you will only get small potatoes, so it’s worth waiting. You can dig around at the top of the plant and pull a few out to see how big they are getting if you’re curious, then at least you’ll get a taste of what’s to come.

Since potatoes are tubers (not roots) they CAN withstand light frosts in the spring and will grow nicely in the cooler part of the growing season. So for now, we will continue to keep an eye on the plants and will probably harvest potatoes at the end of September.  One of the plants is already starting to get brown, so I’m sure it won’t be long before we are eating our organic harvested potatoes. I can’t wait!

Tricks to Growing a Square Watermelon

It’s that time of season again when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and it’s time to eat a lot of them before they become scarce again. But would you want to cut into a prized square watermelon?

Just like the earth is not square, it really doesn’t seem like a watermelon should be square. But in Japan, farmers have been growing square watermelon for some time and the reason is that they’re different, and being different can bring you money! In fact, a nice square watermelon can sell for more than $80!

But why can farmers in Japan grow square watermelons and not those in the U.S. Well, I guess they just never thought about it – because it IS possible! Now, instead of just square foot gardening, you can be square watermelon gardening!

Imagine doing it in your own garden. Your friends will be amazed and confused. You could carve all kinds of things into a square watermelon. The main things you’ll want to know before you try growing your square watermelon next year are:

  • Can you do it in your Region?
  • What type of watermelon is best for “squareness?”
  • What tools are needed?
  • How old should the watermelon be before you shape it?

There are a lot of questions and a lot of things to consider if you really want a square watermelon – and not one that just looks deformed. If you’re interested, there is one person who has grown a square watermelon, and has documented it all!

Read more about the square watermelon here!

Avalanche Clematis and Azalea Golden Lights Pictures

Clematis_AzaleaThis time of year I always have to brag about what’s in our garden, specifically our Avalanche Clematis and the Golden Lights Azalea. 

We picked the Azalea up at a nursery about three years ago and it has never disappointed us!  Right now, it’s the perfect plant for our medium container garden setting. The larger container gets to hold another favorite of ours, the Avalanche Clematis.

Both of these plants are doing especially well this year!  They are the perfect plants for late spring color.  And, even though they both lose their flowers after a long blooming period, they both keep beautiful green color on their leaves throughout the summer.

The Golden Lights Azalea seems to last forever.  It blooms slowly, with just a few flowers coming out at first, then it goes into full bloom, as it is in the picture.  Then, the flowers die very slowly, while more flowers continue to bloom.  Overall, I think we get at least two full month of color out of this plant.

The Avalanche Clematis also blooms for a long period of time, but its flowers, for us at least, start out with  just a few, the BURST into a gorgeous plant of white flowers.  They last a long time too – probably as long as the Azalea, if not longer.

I haven’t found the Avalanche Clematis sold on-line lately, but you can find the Golden Lights Azalea at Wayside Gardens, as well as a lot of other types of Clematis – and you should definitely check out plants to get now for your summer garden.

There’s just nothing like having a container garden setting full of color – Good luck with yours!

Wayside Gardens Web Specials


From Container Garden to Lilac Bouquet

Make a Lilac bouquet and learn how to trim your Lilac Bush.

lilacbouq2.jpgI received another nice bouquet from Jeff last week.  It’s a Lilac Bouquet!  It was on the table when I came home and I had to look twice to see if he had actually bought the flowers.

This time he mixed two Red Tulips in with it,and some other greens from various trees and plants around the garden, and some white flowers (I refer to them as “snow”).  We had enjoyed the Tulips in one of our Container gardening pots for some time, so this was an excellent way to get just a little more time out of it.

I always hate to pick the flowers in the garden (which is why I told him he should do it).  And, guess what?  I received another bouquet this week!  More Lilac’s!

According to Jeff, it’s good to prune them down a little as they are growing, so new flowers can come out.  Then, when they all start to die down, remove the dead flower clusters, pruning them just above a node (where the leaf joins the stem). 

You should also remove older branches that might be crowding in, or crossing over others.  Cut these at the base of the shrub, just above the soil (yup, all the way down to the ground!).  Also purne any weak looking branches, and/or broken spindly looking ones.

This way, you’ll have a beautiful Lilac tree next year, and can enjoy that first lilac aroma of the spring.

It’s Almost Time for Tulip Flowers!

TulipsE1.jpgI love this time of year when the Tulips start to appear.  Ours are starting to come out, so I think it’s time for an article on Tulip flowers!

If you are trying to grow tulips in your garden, here’s how to make them last for as long as two months!

You may not know it, maybe because you concentrate on how beautiful tulip flowers are, but “species” tulips bloom the earliest, then there are mid-bloomers, and late-season tulips.

The way to find a species plant is by looking at the labels.  They’ll have fancy Latin names such as kaufmanniana, tarda, and many others.

However, even though they bloom earlier compared to the hybrid tulips, they also are the shortest. Therefore, it is best that you place them in the front row of your garden, so as not be overshadowed by other taller plants. This will give you a nice tiered look if you plant the taller ones in the back.

Also, to keep your garden natural looking, leave the work to species tulips.  They are the most natural looking and effortlessly spread through self-sown seeds, stolons.

It has been speculated that the later tulip flowers bloom, the taller the flower.  The next earliest bloomers are only slightly taller than the earliest species tulips. Those that bloom between 12 to 18 inches are the mid-season bloomers.

Mid-bloomers will have labels such as double early, single early, fosteriana, etc.  Most of these have strong stems that hold the flowers and endure any type of weather, which make them suitable in many areas of your garden.

Then there’s late-season tulip, which flowers towards the end of May. The names associated with late-season tulips are lily flowering, single late, double late, viridiflora, and parrot tulips.

Aside from the names given, you’ll know they’re late-season because of its towering height. Most of the late-season tulip flowers are very tall, measuring about 18 to 24 inches.  They also have the most interesting variety of colors.

The late-season tulips require full sun and almost gravely soils that drain quickly between rains.

Planting tulips on a gentle slope or in a raised bed of your garden guarantees that they will receive the drainage they need.  And, you will soon have beautiful Tulip Flowers to enjoy inside and out.




Climbing Ivy, Good or Bad for Walls?

It’s not uncommon to see Ivy crawling up an outside wall of a house, and/or spreading itself over an entire wall so I decided to find out if this was a good thing. 

Ivy has tiny suction cups for roots that attach themselves to the surface they are crawling on in order help spread out.  If a building is in good shape, and doesn’t have a lot of lose bricks and mortar, this should not be a problem.  In fact, it can actually protect the wall from the elements outside.  However, if there are loose pieces of brick on the wall, the ivy will get into the loose areas and cause more damage.  Also, if there are windows, the ivy can get heavy and the roots could possibly damage any woodwork that is around the window frames.  Ivy can also hold moisture against the house, which will cause damage on an untreated wall.

I guess the answer to my question is not easily found.  If you’re going to use Ivy as a wall covering, be sure the wall is in excellent shape, and not made of material (like wood) that holds moisture.  Also, those little suction cup roots are almost impossible to remove, so if you are going to paint that wall, definitely do it before you start the ivy!

You might be better off with a nice Wall Plaque or Egyptian Statue!


Trimming/Harvesting Roses

Trimming the Roses throughout the year is easy, there are only three things to remember:

  • Prune the flowers that are wilting before they go to hips.  This will ensure continuous blooms
  • ALWAYS prune to a leaf set with 5 leaves, and try to prune to an outward facing branch to keep your roses growing out (and not crossing branches).
  • Stop pruning in late September so that the plant can harden off before Winter

I have done the 5-leaf prunning ever since we moved into a house and inherited a Rose Garden, and I have beautiful flowers all year long.  You can also add  Accents to your garden for more charm and to make it more interesting.


Theres a New Hydrangea in Town

I love our Hydrangeas, mostly because there are not too many plants that are blue!  However, I sometimes envy those who have pink or red Hydrangeas because I have never been able to change the color of mine, until now.

I now know that the color of the flower has to do with the PH of the soil.  I’m in the Northwest, where the soil is acidic, so I get the blue color.  If you have a more alkaline soil, you will get pink hydrangeas. 

So, if you want pink hydrangeas and you live in the wrong area, there is a way to change the color; in the Fall every year, add dolomite lime to the soil to sweeten it up a bit.  To get the bluer color, add aluminate sulfate to make it more acidic.
Now, I know that the Hydrangeas have just bloomed and we are patiently waiting for the summer roses to come out, but it wouldn’t hurt to buy a few of these in advance.  Especially this new one – it’s coming out at a GREAT price and has 4 Colors of Bloom! and is VERY Hardy (even in the North).

You’ll want to make sure you get one today!  They’re available now, but you never know if they will still be available next year, and at this price, they will sell out fast!

A new Hydrangea is so amazing that it might as well be a whole new type of shrub, Hydrangea Limelight! 


What Goes Around Comes Around — The Bearded Iris!

Bearded IrisSometimes I can’t believe what’s growing in our Garden.  I noticed these Bearded Iris’s outside, but suddenly, I had a vase full of them on my table when I came home from shopping.  Jeff thought we couldn’t see them good enough where they were planted, so he surprised me with fresh flowers for the table. 

These plants are just lovely Spring plants and would do better for Container Gardening, than for Square Foot Gardening.  I think they’re called Bearded Iris because they have seeds growing down the inside of the flower that kind of look like a beard, (I think it looks more like a hairy tongue, but that’s not a very nice name for a plant).  Hope I didn’t ruin it for you — they really are nice plants!

Here’s a site I found where you can learn more about this beautiful Plant:  http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8506.html