Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bring the Animals Two by Two

We've had a wetter than normal spring, so much so that we have yet to get the vegetable garden planted. Two thirds of the garden has been- quite literally- underwater, a state which normally isn't true, at least after, say, mid-April. When Tim rototilled it two weeks ago, the tiller got stuck and couldn't be pulled out by hand or by ATV - it took the tractor. Not a lawnmower type garden tractor, either. A bulldozer type tractor, albeit a fairly small one, was necessary. I have this bad feeling that once it stops raining, the ruts from that will harden instantly into concrete and stay that way until next winter's freeze/thaw cycles loosens it up again.

We did get the peas in today (they are transplants, not seeds) and some of the brocolli and cabbage. It's very late to be planting those things. The normal mode here is to go from rainy and cold to 90 F within a few days, and the cool weather crops will start suffering. It's even been too muddy to get much weeding done in the flower garden, while the well-watered interlopers have grown like, well, weeds. I don't want to fertilize until the weeds are pulled.

As you can figure out, all these means that when the weather clears, we will be weeding, planting and fertilizing on fast forward, not just in our yard but in the yards of customers whose jobs keep getting put off because of rain. Stay tuned to see if we survive!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gardening Book

Bloom’s Best Perennials and Grasses: Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens, by Adrian Bloom. Timber Press, 2010

Adrian Bloom is the son of Alan Bloom, the plantsman who started Blooms of Bressingham, the noted plant breeders and nursery. Plants are in his blood.

The book is many things: it’s a basic manual on perennial care; it tells you how to choose plants that will do well in your area (hint: choose one’s that originated in a similar climate & soil); it gives you design ideas; it lists his 12 best plants; it’s a grass/perennial encyclopedia, and it lists plants for special conditions-wet, dry, shady, etc. If you’re just beginning with perennial gardening, this might be a good book to start with, right up there with Cox’s “Perennial Garden”. If you’ve been gardening with perennials for a number of years, you might not find any surprises- I only found one new plant that I must have. But that’s not surprising: he lists only plants that have been around long enough to prove their worth. The latest salvia might be beautiful, but it might be floppsy, spew seedlings everywhere, or be a weak grower. The plants that Bloom lists are proven winners, provided you give them the soil and exposure he recommends. And that’s another thing- all the plants he lists are low maintenance.

While I like most of his plant selections (I already have most of the ones that will grow in zone 4), I’m not overly fond of his designs. They are good designs, but he uses grasses with a heavier hand than I care for, and he uses much more yellow and orange than I would. On the other hand, his gardens are designed to give multi-season interest, rather than be gorgeous for one week in June and then be spent.