29 September 2011

September Rainfall

0.00 inches on September 4th - a few drops and it threatened, but real rain.
0.00 inches on September 5th/6th - rain overnight but nothing in the gauge.
0.50 inches on September 6th
0.00 inches on September 11th/12th - it rained overnight, but nothing in the gauge.
0.60 inches on September 13th
0.70 inches on September 16th
0.25 inches on September 21st
0.70 inches on September 22nd
0.30 inches on September 23rd
1.10 inches on September 24th
0.50 inches on September 25th
0.00 inches on September 28th

4.65 inches total rainfall for September

Master Gardener - Weeds

One of the activities for the chapter on weed ecology was the following:

"Visit your lawn. Choose three weeds and identify. After you've identified them, discuss the implications of these weeds in your lawn. Now visit the edges of your lawn, perhaps in the food garden bed or your ornamental plant beds. Find three weeds there and identify. Are they the same as the lawn weeds you saw? How do you manage these weeds in both situations (lawn and other)?"

I would say the main problem weed in my back yard is Florida betony (cool-season perennial).  When we first bought our house, I didn't know what it was.  In the summer, digging in the ground, I would find these white tubers - I didn't put the two together at the time.  For some reason they are almost exclusively in my back yard, so I don't do too much with them.  Since I know they are perennials and grow from those white tubers, pre-emergent herbicides will not work.  After doing some research on control methods, it appears there are a couple of post-emergent herbicides that will work, depending upon your grass type.  I have a good bit of bahiagrass in the back yard - which, to me, is a weed in itself - so I mostly leave it alone.  It take a different approach when it comes up in my garden.  When I see the tubers I get rid of them, and I tend to hand-pull the shoots when I see them, hoping that, if I pull them enough times, it will exhaust the plant.
I have a problem weed in the front yard, but, for the life of me, I don't know what it's called.  I should know this - it is a cool-season perennial, tap-rooted plant with a yellow flower.  I guess it could be dandelion, but the leaves are a lot different.  It has started coming up recently.  I have a tool with tines at the end - it's called a Garden Weasel Weed Popper.  It's hinged and spring-loaded.  You stick the tines in the ground near the weed and step on it, then catapult the weed across the lawn.  It proved effective against these tap-rooted weeds more than half the time, but it's labor-intensive.  Usually I'll take some time and spray Roundup on all of them, but I don't realize how many I have until I start doing it.

I used to have dollar weed (warm-season perennial) around my vegetable garden, but I was very vigilant about pulling it up overtime I saw it.  It's not a problem anymore.  It became a problem in one of our landscaped beds out front, but it was easy to get rid of.  The stolons were growing in the top layer - mulch/compost, and it was easy to hand-pull.  Long strings of it came up out of the loose mulch.  I notice from the photo that it's in the turf as well, but I can tolerate that.

I've been pulling up spurge around our vegetable garden all summer.  It's a warm-season annual that I've begun to notice a lot this year.  It grow outward from a taproot, hugging the ground.  It looks like it covers a large area, but all you have to do is pull it up from the single root and it's all gone.

The past year or so, I've gotten a little purslane in our vegetable garden.  I was curious about it, because it have very succulent stems and leaves.  It's a warm-season annual related to Portaluca.  Like other weeds in my garden, I try to hand pull weed now - since I Roundup-ed my pole beans last summer!

There is another plant that resembles dollar weed, that I believe I have in my yard as well.  It's called dichondra and it must get confused with the other because it's mentioned in the dollar weed article on the HGIC website.   From what I've seen, it is more of a clumping type of plant.  I could be wrong.


There were other weeds I could mention, but these were the ones I knew the most about.  I'm sure a lot of people know what this weed is in the photo - I'm am just drawing the biggest blank.  I'll post the answer when someone tells me on the message board, but until then, I'll be in the dark.  Comment, if you think you know!

24 September 2011

Fourth Annual Fall Park Circle Plant Swap

It was that time of year again - time for the fall plant swap.  We had a lot of stuff going on this weekend and the thought crossed my mind that I might not have time to go this year.  Can you believe that?  It was only a passing thought - I came to my senses pretty quickly.  We have had a lot going on, and I procrastinated until this morning as far as pulling plants together for the swap goes.  I got up at 5am and was outside at 5:30 trying to get plants together, realizing that I couldn't see a thing!  I promptly went back inside and read the paper, ate breakfast and watched tv until 7am, when I resumed my activities.

I came up with a large pile of plants - more than I expected on such short notice.  Earlier in the week, I had dug up all the pups from our century plant.  This morning I dug up some irises and some phlox and potted them up.  I thinned out the water irises growing in the waterfall of our pond - it needed it.  It needs a good cleaning out and repotting, but that will have to wait.  And hostas - I have to explain the hostas.

While at the previous plant swap in April, I was in the middle of planting a shade garden and was looking for enough hostas for a mass planting.  I didn't find many at the swap, but I met a woman there that offered me some from her yard.  A week or so later, I went to her house and we walked around and dug up parts of almost every clump she had in her yard.  When I got them home, I broke them into smaller plants and had them in a couple of buckets of water.  I planted as many as I could and put the leftover bucket of hostas, dirt and water in the driveway, intending to plant them in the next couple of days.  Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, and so I ended up bringing them to the next plant swap.  I wanted to tell her the story, but she wasn't there.  I did save a clump for myself - I still have plans to plant some in the near future, along with what I got at the swap.

I mention this every time now, but I don't find as many plants that I have to have as I used to, and it was trued this time.  Inevitably I end up doing more socializing in the beginning, rather than scoping out plants.  I see people who I don't see all the time and I end up talking to them.  I eventually find my first selection - there's usually one must-have plant - but I didn't see one today.  Just like last time, I found my groove - I changed my first selection from a Euphorbia trigona to a citrus I found after Darren mentioned that there were some mixed in with the rest of the plants.

Before I go any further, let me mention the plants I didn't get.  These were high-ranking choices, that got picked by other people while I was picking other plants:  Euphorbia trigona, night-blooming cactus, corpse-flower cactus, giant papyrus, canna and ginger lilies.  I think that's about it for the plants I didn't get.

I had a little trouble prioritizing this time.  Every other time Robin was there and, for the first few rounds, she would help me get the plants I wanted.  So I started out with the citrus and then I found some daylilies.  I saw someone with one of my friend Joan's Yuccas and I decided to get one of those.  I would have preferred Echinacea, but I got some of Joan's Black-eyed Susans instead.  I found some more daylilies - I wasn't sure what they were at first.  They were in a plastic bag and extremely leggy, like they didn't get a lot of sun, or they were over-fertilized with Nitrogen.  They reminded me of the Narcissus bulbs I brought previously - in their case, it was not enough light.  I got some Persian shield and a couple of beautyberrys to add some native plants to our landscape.  As always, I feel satisfied by what I brought home from the swap, and the fewer plants mean that they won't be neglected because I don't know what to do with them.  I've already planted the Yucca and I know what I'm doing with most of the others - nothing should be neglected this year.  I would say that I'm happy about this swap and look forward to more in the future.

01 September 2011

Colorful Hydrangeas

I read a "Garden Q&A" item in the New York Times earlier this summer. It was about what affects the colors of hydrangea blooms.  I've always heard about blooms changing colors from red to blue, or the other way a round.  the article referred to the availability of aluminum in the soil.  I thought it was interesting, but not very relevant to me.

Fast forward a few weeks and I started noticing our hydrangea about to bloom again - and the blooms are pink.  It's been a while, but I could have sworn they blue earlier in the year.    We transplanted from the back yard just before it bloomed this spring.  I found the first photo of the hydrangea when it was still in the back yard.  It's definitely blue, but there is a hint of pink in there.

Now look at the plant - the flowers are definitely pink.  I have heard about people changing the pH of the soil, just to change the color of the flowers, but I have never seen it before.  Very interesting!