by Patti Ryan
Boy it's HOT & it's not even August! This and my nice cool house, inspired me to do some research on the best perennial landscape plants for our ever-heating Missouri summers. Here is what I came up with.
1. Blanket Flower - Also called Gaillardia, these are daisy-like red and orange flowers that love full sun & will bloom summer right up until frost. They are drought tolerant (vacation proof) and attract butterflies but the deer don't really like them. Birds love the seed heads in the fall! win-win-win! Zone 3-11
2. Daylilly - Everyone knows these hardy plants for their prolific growth. You can't hardly kill them! These sun-lovers also tolerate some shade & are quite drought tolerant, too. As by their name, each bloom is only open for one day, the blooms continue for weeks. Smaller varieties are really nice in containers (Stella d'Oro - shown here) & some are rebloomers and will give you a lesser show in the fall. Ah, so many varieties and colors, so little space. :)
3. Poppy - These crepe-like flowering plants come in so many varieties, you are sure to fall in love with one. They bloom from spring into summer in heavenly shades of red, pink, orange and cream. Look for Oriental, Alpine, Atlantic and Iceland varieties. Once they are established there is little care. While growing water during the driest of spells to keep them going.
4. Hosta - These are this author's personal favorite shade loving plant. Lots of BANG for the buck too! They will grow under the worst conditions, dry and deep shade. Prolific and rugged there are many varieties to tempt you. From solid green, to blue green, to variegated with cream, white or chartreuse, some of them with huge leaves you could almost live under. Flowers stalks bloom briefly in whites and blues but the bees love them! Watch for some of these at our annual perennial exchange.
5. Peony - A favorite among my mother's generation & I can see why. Plants that last for decades! I have some transplanted from my mother-in-law that were there 40 years & now 20 in my yard! Beautiful glossy mounding habit with showy and fragrant late spring blooms in traditional colors in pink, white and red, but newer hybrids now come in purples, corals, peppermint striped & even a deep burgundy. Full sun and well drained soil is ALL these drought tolerant plants ask for. They are also deer resistant.
I can think of several others to add to this list, Cone-flower, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Yarrow, Sedum & Switchgrass.
By Patti Ryan
Ok, so it's not Rodgers and Hammerstein, but Spring does set one's heart a singing. I have always loved to sing in my garden among the blooms. Growing things that I can EAT is especially rewarding. This week the hubby and I had the first of our spinach from the small greens planting I made in what will eventually be my lily of the valley bed in the front. We made a mixed salad with store-bought (gasp!) lettuce & it was delicious! The experiment with greens in the bag of potting soil is going well in the mini greenhouse. Which by the way was the best $30 I ever spent, allowed me to keep some of my seedlings outdoors and it's the perfect spot for my lettuce garden & will be great for starting out seedlings of cold weather crops in the fall & maybe even keeping greens going most of the winter. Here's the link. (although the price has gone up for the season). Make sure you put a cinder block or other heavy item in the bottom. I large garden flat will fit on each of the 4 shelves.
The bales are really going gang busters! I made the decision to lay some potting soil on top of the bales as the fertilizer I put on in the quantities mentioned in the book did not dissolve properly. That & watering the bales for days with warm water really got things going! Next year I will simply add some well rotted manure and plant. I have mushrooms growing in them like crazy, and that's a good thing. They are not eatable, but they show good soil health & will add to the bale-soil when they compost back in. Jim added the soaker hose & that will eventually be fed by our rain barrel on a timer. The hubby and I added a light plastic frost covering, but we have not had to use it yet. But it's really handy for early crops, I think I will plant much earlier next year!!!
I have just a few more things to add, I will add some carrots and green onions that I will grow from seed, but I am going to wait until 1st of May for that. I also need to plant some basil, I've been growing it in pots, but I think I will put it into the backside of the snowpea bale. All in all I think things are starting off really well & if every plant I planted produces I will have more than enough to eat and freeze or give away. I will write another blog when things get going really well.
by Patti Ryan Well things are a-happinin' around here! I got a lot of my seeds planted after my last blog entry in those little expandable peat pellets. I really like planting in them, they are cheap, easy to expand & neat - as in no potting soil spilled all over filling pots and no trying to push delicate seedlings out of those plastic things. You just water until they expand, plant your seeds, take care of the seedlings & plant the whole thing when you are ready!
Setting up the HAY bale garden was just a bit more of an adventure. Getting the straw bales was the fun part, got to ride around in my friend Stephanie's truck with a trailer full delivering to my house and to another friend's house.
We decided on 6 bales, mainly because that is what would fit on the concrete pad that looked so lonesome after our hot tub was sold. (STILL miss it, especially on days when I have "over-gardened or over-computered" ouch!) One reason we think this will work well for us is that it's right outside our walkout, where we would like to spend more time anyway. Another is despite having two rat hounds we are burdened with lots of voles & other diggers, they can't get up through concrete - bwah ha ha! I see carrots in my future, YUM!
So after setting up the bales, and settling on a plan of what to plant where, we decided that we would set up one large trellis & two smaller ones. We had two fence posts and drove those in, my hubby Jim found a pretty straight branch from a tree that worked just fine instead of buying a 2 x4. For the shorter ones, we decided on 3/4 in pvc because we were not sure if we would need a higher trellis, with what we were placing in there & we had no place to pound in more poles. Besides, Jim (we call him McGiver around here) showed me we could make them to where we could take them apart each year for storage AND make them taller later if need be. SOLD! I know to you seasoned gardeners this does not look like much, but we will grow plenty of great fresh food for us and enough to share with this small garden & we are hoping to expand it next year if this year works out as well as I think it will.
Seedlings that are coming up in addition to what I mentioned in my last blog entry are some peppers, and some heirloom tomatoes. Everything is coming up nicely & I will have way more seedlings than I need, but I like that. I can always give some of them away or trade for the broccoli, strawberry, comfrey plant & hostas I want to add this year.
I have about a dozen pots that I plant each year & place on our back (full blazing sun) rock garden & I am redoing some front landscaping (shade) with new pots and planters. I started some unusual varieties of zinnia, one of my favorite flowers. A whirlygig zinnia, which I found at Creekside Nursery in Hermann, with different color tips on each flower & a peppermint zinnia, with streaks of a second color. Zinnias never disappoint & are very hearty. I have been searching for something I can grow from seed to place at the bottom of the pots that might flow over nicely, since the zinnias are rather tall (I never have luck with alyssum. Please give suggestions in the comments section below. In my next post I will show you how the bales are planted.
by Patti Ryan - It's been a while since my last post & honestly, my attempt at gardening last year didn't do much for me, so I'm not even going to go into it.
I am however excited by a choice we made this year to start a straw bale garden. My friend Pat, sold me on it at the last Food Circle Meeting. I recently had time to read, Straw Bale Gardens, by Joel Karsten. It was easy to understand & I started planning a 6 bale garden very quickly.
An order was placed with Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. It was a very small order compared to most, but I got:
Rocky Top Lettuce Mix Salad Blend, Golden Honeymoon Melon, Chantenay Red Core Carrot, De Grace Snow Pea, Gigante d' Inverno Spinach, Butter King Lettuce, Sugar Baby Watermelon, Tom Thumb Lettuce
Today I also started two varieties of tomatoes, green peppers & some lettuce to cut early, from seed I had. They are in a sunny window in my walkout video studio.
Also we ordered one of those roll around little greenhouses for growing greens hopefully all year inside and outside + a watering timer for the straw bale garden. I'll be letting you know what I bought and how it worked for ME.
I will post photos when there is something to take photos of.
by Patti Ryan - My dear friends Joey Los & Stephanie Hibdon have convinced me that I need to eat more locally grown food. Of course my cancer diagnosis almost a year ago didn't hurt either. It seems that cancer survivors like me have better results when they eat better food & exercise - kind of a no brainer. I started exercising a few years back with a Tai Chi class at our Hermann Fitness Source, another thing I hope to do more of come spring, exercising. Since I am a pretty busy work at home elder lady, I am pretty chained to my computer doing things like....this and other media creation jobs through our company Grinning Bear Studios. I run a Film Festival for the area, another thing I mostly do at my desk. So you would think that exercise would be the hardest thing. Nope! I make time for that, gets me out of the house. That local foods thing, that's harder. I had no idea who to contact, who might sell me the little bits we can eat before it spoils.
Then I found out about the food circle at McKittrick. Thanks to our Dairy provider Tammy, I now have access to raw whole milk & butter at a price I can afford - it's very convenient for me to pick up at the Merck every two weeks. It's wonderful! NO hormones, no antibiotics. I can get some really super Elderberry products from River Hills. I am looking forward to getting to know more of the producers at the food circle and purchasing as much as I can afford on a pretty fixed income.
River rat, student of life, nature-centric, anarchist.
Entrepreneurial artist, gardener, fermentation enthusiast. B&B hostess and aspiring freegan locavore
Mom, Grandma & Media Expert. Relatively new gardener & striving to be more sustainable.