Welcome To Heather's Gardening Blog!

Everyone that knows me well knows that I just can't stop talking about my plants and gardens! I'm so enthusiastic about them that I will be completing the Master Gardener course this winter and opening my own gardening business in the Spring.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let the Countdown Begin!

According to the Farmer's Almanac for 2011, we are only 75 days from our average last frost for the season. Seventy-five days may sound like a lot, in fact it sounds like a lifetime when you look out your window to a white blanket of snow. But when you think about it, seventy-five days ago we were getting ready for the great Halloween Haunt. So, we're half way there, if not a bit more.

In 30 days it will be Valentine's Day (plug Panache Floral!!!!). We will all have had our fill of winter and get terribly grumpy because it is inevitable that we will get another crazy Minnesota Blizzard.

In 60 days it will be the middle of March and most of the snow will start to create mud pits in our yards and puddles in our roads. The first signs of life will emerge in our garden beds and the grass will think about turning green again. From there we're only a couple of weeks to every Minnesotan's version of freedom. Spring! A little bit of hope will soar from all of our hearts. We will smile at eachother sincerely and put our cranky winter selves into storage.

March, inevitably will feel like the longest month of our lives (at least since last year). But we won't fret too much. We're kind of a crazy bunch, us Minnesotans. Our first above freezing day we will all be out in T-shirts and shorts. Flip flops will replace our Sorel's and we will no longer let our cars run for thirty minutes before we even think about going anywhere. Our fire pits will be lit and our cabins opened up for the season.

It really is the best time of year in Minnesota. Dads everywhere are airing up bike tires. Joggers hit the streets instead of the treadmills. Boats get polished and Fishing Licenses bought. Everywhere you go, people are trading in their grumpy winter attitude for their happy spring attitude. Life just doesn't get any better than Spring Thaw in Minnesota!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dirt Therapy for Me!

So, I've been a little cranky the last couple days. It's snowy, cold and we still have a good 70 days to go before we really hit a good "meltage" possibility. Not only that, but I've already screwed up my garden resolution. Sorry, just wasn't in the mood to blog yesterday. But I'm making up for it today.

If you don't already know, our 1914 home has a HUGE dungeon basement. there are four rooms, basically in the dungeon. But it has a concrete floor, old rock walls and a lot of spider webs. Every fall I clean out all the spiderwebs, sweep up all the rubble and flip on the grow lights! It's my way of surviving Minnesota winter!

I've got some little seeds germinating down there. I've got some tropicals. I've got some annuals that I saved from last summer. I've got it all. Including about 10 jars of water with clippings of different plants rooting. I love plants that root in water!

I've spent so much time on line marketing Heather's Garden and doing research on everything entrepreneur, that I just needed a break. So I set into my dungeon and started splitting and repotting and watering and reorganizing!  After two hours I've emerged, a whole new person. The dirt under my nails alone makes it feel like summer (as long as I don't look outside)!

I realize that most normal people don't thrive covered in dirt like I do. My friend Angel challenges herself to a Wii dance off. I have a friend that knits and crotchets, a friend that paints and a friend that simply organizes pictures of her daughter. My son makes a life size creation or invention out of stuff around the house. My other son finds some way to be smarter than the computer geniuses out there. There's always something that can turn your mood from down-in-the-dumps to party-mode.

What's yours???

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Blues Therapy

As I continue to market Heather's Garden I get antsier and antsier. And for those of you who know me well, you know that that is not necessarily a good thing. My basement is full of seedlings, cuttings and little peat pods with germinating seeds. I decided that if I'm struggling with the winter blues, I must not be alone. So how about a little dream time for all of us.....simply pictures of beautiful gardens.

Happy Dreaming!

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Landscape designs - landscape designing plans - garden path, picture by Temari 09

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It seems like we will never get to summer, but we always do! Hang in there you tough Minnesotans!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Tidbits

I love tidbit posts. It gives me an excuse to page through my hundreds of gardening books and pull out the best of the best. Or at least the most interesting! Most of these are from Jerry Baker's Old-Time Gardening Wisdom.

You can make wine from dandelions! For FIVE GALLONS you only need 12 pounds of sugar, four diced oranges, four diced lemons, four gallons of water, 4 gallons of dandelion flowers and one ounce of bakers yeast. ~ Dandelion wine doesn't sound terribly appealing to me, personally, but apparently it's an old time recipe of Jerry Baker's Grandma Putt. If you want to try it feel free to come over and gather dandelions in the spring before the lawn care man shows up!!!

Milkweed saves lives! During World War II they stuffed milkweed into Navy life preservers and Army/Air Force flight jackets. Who knew??

Lightning greens up your garden! During a thunderstorm the electrical charges in the atmosphere turn oxygen into nitrogen feeding the plants. Use metal objects in and around your gardens to super charge your plants during a storm!

A bar of Irish Spring Soap keeps slugs off your hostas! This one is not Grandma Putts remedy, but one I learned from Mary Butler. Chop bars of Irish Spring soap into cubes and place the cubes under your hostas. Slugs hate the smell. I know a lot of people that drown slugs in beer in their gardens, but I like the smell of Irish Spring better!

Yarrow, Chamomile and Dill could help save your garden from pests! These three common garden plants attract lacewings, lady beetles, and parasitic wasps into your garden to feed on the destructive bugs.

Do you have any tricks to share??

Monday, January 3, 2011

Forcing Spring Bulbs

If you have bulbs that should have been planted in the fall, but never got around to it you can still enjoy tulips, daffodils, crocus, muscari and many other spring bulbs. The best part is you can enjoy them before they would have bloomed in your garden!

Tricking spring blooming bulbs is fairly simple. Store them in a cool, dark place. The temperature should average about 35 - 40 degrees, which should be the temperature of your refrigerator. You certainly can chill them in your refrigerator, just make sure that you do not place the bulbs near your fruits and vegetables. A seperate drawer is best.

Your spring bulbs should be chilled from 8-15 weeks depending on type. Better Homes and Gardens suggests the following chilling periods:

  • Daffodils: 12-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Tulips: 10-16 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Crocus: 8-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari): 8-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Iris reticulata: 13-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Snowdrop (Galanthus): 15 weeks of chilling; 2 weeks to bloom after chilling.
  • Hyacinth: 12-15 weeks of chilling; 2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Make sure the pot or container you choose has adequate drainage so that the roots and bulbs don't rot before you get to enjoy your blooms. Fill your container about three-quarters full with potting soil and moisten. If you have bone meal or bulb fertilizer to add, the transition of your bulbs to the garden may go better than without.
Place bulbs "tip" up into potting soil and press firmly. Make sure that the bulbs are not touching eachother or the edge of the pot. Add enough potting soil on top of the bulbs so that the tip just barely pokes out.

Once your bulbs start to sprout you can move them into a sunnier and warmer location. The ideal temperature should be about 65 degrees at this point. Once your flowers start to bud, you can put them in more indirect sunlight to make them last longer.

Enjoy your early spring!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miscellaneous Tidbits

Have you been frustrated trying to keep kitchen scraps for compost and ending up with either a wretched stink or fruit flies? Try using a freezer bag (or a few....) and keeping your veggie and fruit scraps for your compost pile in the freezer until you're ready to dump them. No stink. No fruit flies!

Earthworms are the kings of compost piles. They turn all the "trimmings" into the ultimate plant food. If you're finding that you don't have quite enough big fat earthworms in your pile, just add shredded cardboard to your compost. They love to rest in the shredded cardboard after a filling meal. 

Shred leaves for compost with your basic yard tools. Shredders are expensive. But if you have a garbage can that you use for cleaning up leaves and other garden waste, simply stick your weed wacker in it to shred it. Googles or sunglasses are a good idea while doing this. It will either decompose more quickly in your compost pile or you can spread it on your garden after fall clean up to decompose over the winter.

Mulch on the cheap! Check with your city to see what the heck they do with all the fallen branches and trees that they clean up on city properties. Many times you can get it for free. Some cities may even deliver it!

Use native plants for a thriving, easy to grow garden! I recently posted on both Minnesota Wild Flowers in Danger and Easy to Grow Plants for Northern Gardeners. While it will be difficult to find the threatened plant species, the more prominant native species will make gardening a breeze. Here in Minnesota, choose Cone Flowers, Coreospis, Daisies, Black Eyed Susans, Bee Balm, Lilacs and Day Lillies. If you need more suggestions for an easily maintained northern garden, I have plenty!!

Better, bushier annuals grown at home! If you start your own annuals from seed at home, snip the first bud before it blooms (I know it's hard). They will go into panic mode and produce more shoots with more buds than they would have. Annuals live to propegate (produce seed), so they will work very hard to do so~!

More to come!

Credit: Gardener to Gardner: The Best Hints and Techinques from the Pages of Organic Gardening Magazine

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I Love My Yard Because.....

I'm looking for a little info!  Tell me why you love your yard. Or what you don't love.Or tell me about the yard you wish you had! Imagine we don't have 20 below windchills and a shit ton of snow on the ground! Dream summer with me!
I hate that this garden is gone!
But I love that I get to redo it!