Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seed collecting and plant dividing

I beat the rain with most of my gardening chores yesterday. I deadheaded and cleaned up some of the dead plants. My Mallows seam to have developed rust ~ it's a fungus, probably due to the amount of rain we've had. Luckily, it showed up at the end of the season instead of earlier. I started collecting seeds from the two plants in the photos. The Black-eyes Susans and the Coral Nymph Salvia. They both produce a ton of seeds. I wanted to give some tips on dividing perennials. Dividing perennials gives you a chance to add plants to other areas of your garden or to share w/ friends. It also keeps the original plant from becoming overgrown and ragged. It's best to divide on a calm day. The wind or sun can dry out the roots. If you don't have a choice: soak the roots and cover w/ moist newspaper until you are ready to plant. Dispose of any woody centers. You'll want to work up your soil w/ compost before planting also. I have a "toss and forget" type of composter ~ it takes longer than the tumbler kind but I only use it in the spring and in the fall so it works for me. If you don't compost, you can purchase a bag of compost (leaf compost is really good) from one of the home/garden stores. When you are actually doing the dividing, you can either dig up the entire plant and either cut or pull apart in sections. The other is to split the plant, leaving half of it in and removing the other half. That half can be divide also. The latter is what I normally do with my Shasta Daisies, Coral Bells, Hostas, but for my Astilbes and Goats beard I usually dig up the entire plant and divide it.

I also read up a little on digging up Dahlias. In Maryland, Dahlias don't make it through the winter so if you want to have them again for the next year, you have to dig them up. The best time to dig them up is after the first frost when the leaves turn brown. Dahlias have tubers which you need to wash off and let air dry for several days. If you want to keep track of what color each one is, you can write directly on the tubers w/ a Sharpie marker. You'll want to store the dry tubers in a box lined w/ a trash bag. Leave the bag open for air circulation and place in a cool dry area that doesn't freeze. (40 - 50 degrees is the best) Occasionally mist w/ water to keep moist. Divide the tubers in the spring. Cut w/ sharp knife. Each section should include the root, part of the crown and at least one growth bud. Let cuts heal for 2 days before planting to avoid root rot. Wait until the ground is warm before planting or start indoors. I'm going to give this a try this year. I'll let you know how it works out!

Have a nice day!


Friday, September 25, 2009

What gorgeous weather we’ve been having in Maryland lately. Fall has already set in; cool mornings, warm days and cool evenings! I dread the winter coming. I hate when everything turns brown and my yard looks like a mess. I guess that just makes me appreciate the spring even more. I'll also miss the creatures of the gardens. I have quite a few types of butterflies that enjoy my flowers and butterfly bushes and amazing hummingbirds. This photo is of an Eastern Black Swallowtail and a Tiger Swallowtale.
I take many pictures ~ check out my slide show! I guess I'll spend the winter reading up on gardening! I ordered a couple books on seeds on the internet ~ big mistake, from now on, I think I’ll check out the books in person before buying. One of the books I ordered was called “Seeds”, sounded like something educational ~ it was, but maybe for a child. I guess I’ll give it to my 2.5 year old niece for Christmas. She’s used to getting gardening gifts from me! The other book seems to be geared for vegetable gardening more so than flowers. It’s not that I don’t do any vegetable gardening, but my passion is w/ flower gardening. I also ordered a book on Pollinating. It has a lot of information and beautiful photos. It's a pretty large book so it should keep me busy most of the winter! If anyone has knows of a good book on seed collecting, please let me know. I’m just kind of winging it with what I’ve done so far. Some flowers are easy to collect seeds from but others are a little more difficult. It’s just trial and error for me this year.
I’m enjoying all the new blooms in my gardens; mums, asters, golden rod and snakeroot. I planted 6 giant alliums today! Sure hope the squirrels don’t find them. I bought the “Awesome auger” last year at Target. What a great tool that is. It hooks up to the power drill and w/in minutes, all the holes are dug and ready to be filled! I’m learning that bulb flowers look better when planted in groups instead of individually. Get out there and get those bulbs planted soon!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Autumn has arrived!

I am starting this blog mainly as an outlet for my love of gardening and to hear stories from other gardeners who "garden ~ just for fun"! There are many gardening websites out there to get information and tips from. I would like to be able to give tips to the average part-time gardener and get tips from them. Simple tips such as: if you dig up your geraniums, shake of the excess soil, cut them back to about 6", place them in a paper lunch bag and them store them in your basement or a cool dry place... you can use them again next spring! In these financial times, who wouldn't want to save a little money and recycle your plants? I have been collecting a lot of seeds from my "self-seeding" plants and annuals to share w/ friends and family and to use in other areas of my gardens. The biggest key to collecting the seeds is to let them dry out before storing them away. This has been a trial & error project for me. I've learned that if you don't dry them out... they become moldy and smell and won't produce anything if planted. I do have a multitude of seeds, so if anyone is really interested and willing try them, I could mail them to you. I have; Cosmos, Zinnias, Zebrinia Mallow, Larkspur, Coral Nymph Salvia, and Balsam Impatiens (which is a unique, old fashioned impatiens). No guarantees but I've had success w/ them. Maybe we could start a seed swap~ Hope to hear from you all soon!

Start a smile chain: give one away today! Thanks for stopping in! Jeni