Welcome to Spring!!!
Well... I have gotten into the planting fever. Normally I get this way every year, but this year it has been worse!!! I've decided to create a plant journal to document my forays into planting. We shall see what happens.....
1.) Butterfly/Hummingbird garden.
So.... at my old job, we did a LOT of talking about ways children can get involved in nature and help the environment. One thing we pushed was making gardens, especially butterfly gardens. A kid would tell me their favorite animal was a butterfly so I would tell them to go to the library, get a book about butterfly gardens, and plant one. Well, I told these kids all this advice, so I decided to do it myself!!!
Big mistake. Do you realize just how much work a butterfly garden is??? I've confused thousands and thousands of kids who are at home crying right now because I sent them on an impossible quest of building a butterfly garden. There are these flowers, and those flowers, and you have to plant these for larval food, and these for regular food, they also need these trees, and these places to hide. Gaaaaah!!!
The majority of plants that butterflies like are either a.) 6-12 feet tall b.) Trees or c.) look like weeds. Well, I did my research and finally found some plants that I thought were pretty and weren't huge. So, armed with knowledge, I went shopping.
And failed. I either couldn't find the plants I wanted, or I found them and didn't like them anymore. What can I say, I'm indecisive. Plus, those things are expensive! However, I did come home with some plants. After hours of looking, I finally just got flowers that had pretty pictures and mentioned "Attracts butterflies!!!" on the label. I might not get any butterflies, but they look pretty!!
So in this garden, I have 3 Frosty Flame Dianthus, 2 Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemums), and 1 Mrs. Bradshaw Geum. They're in a sunny spot, though because of the shadow of the shed, I'm a little nervous about Mrs. Bradshaw getting enough sun. But, we'll see how it goes.
Anyway... If you know me, then you know it's time for..... PICTURES!!!!
Frosty Flame Dianthus
2.) Kirsten's Garden
Well.... I kept talking about my garden, and what I wanted to plant and such, and Kirsten felt left out. Especially when I told her that this was my baby and she was not going to be involved in it. So, mom gave her the section by my window. Of course, by doing this, Kirsten ripped out all the chives I planted last year.... but oh well. She has 3 bleeding hearts (2 white and 1 pink) and 2 pink dianthus.
She planted the white bleeding heart on the left, and the pink bleeding heart in the middle. However Kirsten is... not an outdoor person..... She got afraid of the wasps and left. So I planted the bleeding heart on the right and the dianthus on the left. I got busy with the veggie garden though, so mom planted the dianthus on the right once she got home.
Bleeding Hearts- Look at that cute little guy that decided to hang out on the left heart!
3.) Vegetable Garden
This garden has its own issues. In the first place, Ed said "no, we are not planting a garden this year." However, anyone that knows Ed knows that this means yes, we are planting one. I mean, come on, he says that every single year, and yet every year there he is tilling it up and planting more seeds. It's a tradition. We normally have "Ed's Super Secret Supreme Dirt Fertilizer (tm)" buried, but we don't this year so I'm not sure how the crops are going to turn out. They chose what to plant- I just planted. I'm not picky, I just like gardening :) They chose strawberries (25), Green Bell Peppers (2), Tomatoes (2), and Peaches & Cream Corn (2 scoops...ended up being around 7 rows, 13 in each... more on this later). Then, since Kirsten doesn't like being left out, she chose Cucumbers, which came in packs of three, so we also have 3 cucumbers.
So here's the thing.... Despite how much I love it, I'm new to this whole "gardening" thing. In other words.... I don't know what the hell I'm doing. So, before I planted the crops, I looked online and figured out things as best as possible. Strawberries supposedly spread, so they need room. And they mentioned something about mounding, or hills... I dunno. When we got them, they came in packs of 25, and they're basically just sticks with roots coming out of them. I tried to make 5 rows of 5... but the space we had wouldn't allow it. So now I have 3 rows of 6 and 1 row of 7. I may have screwed up the entire thing though. Cuz, it took a long time to plant because Kirsten left me after planting 5 of the 25. And it was hot and sunny. And stupid me didn't think to cover up the unplanted "sticks" So now I'm afraid the roots dried out and killed them before they got into the ground. So now we'll have to see if they come up later :)
Strawberry Fields Forever
The cucumbers, green peppers, and tomatoes were pretty standard. Just dug holes and stuck them in. We normally have more tomatoes than what we know what to do with. So hopefully this year with only 2, it will be a bit more manageable.
Cucumber, Pepper, Tomato Field
Corn. Oh Corn. Out of everything, the most drama. So let me say- I have no clue how to plant corn. At all. And the corn comes in a bag with no directions, just the kernels. So.... yeah. I did a search online and everything I found contradicted each other. I finally settled on a page that mentioned Peaches & Cream by name. They said to plant them in rows 2-3 feet apart and each one to be spaced 4-6 inches apart. So, I got out my yardstick and measured out 30 inches exactly and made 7 rows. Then, when planting each row, I measured out 5 inches. Finally, I would dig a little hole with my hands, drop in 2 seeds, then place the yardstick right in next to the seeds. I would then place soil over the seeds until they reached 1 inch, to 1.5 inches on the yardstick, then pull the yardstick out and slightly covered the seeds. So, overall, I ended up with 7 rows, with 13 plants in each row. HOWEVER, when my mom came home, she was not pleased. She said the corn rows needed to be 15 inches apart. We have agreed to disagree.... For now.
However, I will admit my mistake for the next portion. Like I said, I do not know how to plant corn. So, stupid me, decided that in order for me to be able to see the rows, I would mound them. And the mounds got a little bigger than I thought they would. PLUS, I mean, I live right next to a corn field, I should know the corn's not mounded! But, I had a stupid moment. So.... now our corn is on mounds, which it's not supposed to be. So we may, or may not get corn this year. Only time will tell.
At least the rows are pretty.....
You can't see it now, but there's corn here, I promise!
4.) House Border Garden
So this is mom's. Sort of. We have flowers that border our house. We started with rose bushes. And despite the many, many....MANY times that Ed has stepped on them, dropped things on them, chopped them off.... they still survived. Then, one year, we made the awful mistake of buying one of those wildflower mixes (Just spread over the ground and they will grow!) Big mistake They grew alright. Sadly, the majority of them weren't flowering types, just ferny weedy stuff. Especially the second year- by that point there were barely any flowers just green stuff. We till up the soil every year, pick the weeds, put down new potting soil..... and still, even this year, 5 years after we first planted the stuff, we still have these weedy ferny stuff popping up. They're prairie wildflowers, which means they have an extensive root system (fun fact-- native IL plants... and really, any native flowers from the prairie states have a really deep and extensive root system. The reason? Back before human civilization, lightning would strike in the prairie and cause massive fires. So the plants would burn up. However, since they're based on a root system, the roots would be safe in the cool soil. So they plants would be able to just re-grow, even after the tops were burned down. In fact, the fires were healthy for them because the ashes contained nutrients to help them grow stronger than before. When humans came along, we stopped these burnings, and now, whenever a wild fire comes along, we quickly put it out. This is actually very bad for the eco-system because it allows invasive species-- species that don't belong in a certain area-- to thrive and take over our native plants. So now that we know better, we prescribe controlled burns- foreign plant species do not have the deep root system that our native plants do, so they cannot regrow after being burned. Bye bye invasive species, hello native prairie plants :) ) Anyway, back to the side garden. Now, instead of the wildflowers, we have lilies. And we also somehow have tulips though nobody remembers planting them. We believe they may have been planted along with the rose bushes when we first started this area. The lilies have done great- we planted them a 3 years ago, and they've been coming back and spreading rapidly. Which is what mom wanted- a plant that she can plant once and then never have to touch it again. Mom has a problem- any plant she touches dies. We were picking out flowers for this year's garden and an old lady told mom it's because she's mean to the flowers and needs to talk nice to them. I think they die because they are committing suicide before mom can get it in her head to "help" them. She once killed one of those air fern things- you know, those plants that need no watering or help because they soak up moisture from the air? Yeah, it died. Finally, we also have some bushes at the front of the house. These have been here for as long as I can remember- at least from the time we turned our house from poop color to a pretty blue. I'm not sure what type they are- mom says some of them are azaleas. Perhaps some of you fine readers can look at them and let me know :)
This rose bush EXPLODED once my mom got rid of the rattlesnake master, chives, and basil that were planted there. That long branch on the right was actually already trimmed before I took this photo.
Front garden. The two closest to the stairs are the azaleas (so mom says) but the one on the corner of the house is the unknown.
Back garden... needs weeding.... desperately.
5.) Misc. Gardening
Finally, last, but not least, we have miscellaneous gardening. These are just random other plants that are growing nearby. I probably won't give updates on these quite as much, but I might pop in every once in awhile to showcase some of them.
First up is my neighbor's vegetable garden. My neighbor is an avid gardener. As in, he gets rare and exotic plants and grows them. And he's good at it. He puts my measly flowers to shame. As of right now, I don't know what he's growing, so it'll be a guessing game for us as the season goes on.
Master Veggie Garden
Next, we have these beautiful yellow flowers.
Have no clue what they are They're called Tansy Ragwort- a noxious weed considered poisonous to livestock, but they pop up around out yard. I suspect it's from that wildflower mix I mentioned earlier. My mom and step-dad have a tendency to pull these out when they see them, so for this flower's challenge, we are going to see just how long these will continue growing. Also, a secondary challenge is to find out what kind of flowers these are!!
Don't they just make you so happy?
So, that's it. We shall see how this experiment goes!! Happy Gardening to all of you!!! Would love to hear some of your feedback in the comments!