It was just a couple of days ago that I posted the details (and photos) of my mid-Summer emptying, turning, re-layering, amending and re-building of our compost bins . I stuck my compost thermometer in the pile about 2/3rds of the way down and after just about 24 hours, we're already up to temperature. See below for a look at the current temp showing the pile in the 'active' zone at about 110°. And climbing. That gray-shaded "hot" zone is where you want your pile, so I'll be watching to see if I was able to mix the material to the proper ratio and if I supplied enough moisture to get it really cooking. From what I've read, if you can get your compost pile up to that 160° area, you can have compost as quickly as just five-or-six weeks.
Showing posts from July, 2023
Adding evergreens was #1 on my 2023 list and I've put in a series of Boxwoods in the front and back. And those were added to the existing stands of Boxwoods around the garden. Most of them are small, but a few of them have grown in size and have a number of seasons growing. I also had a run with Hicks Yews the past few seasons, where I added quite a few of them around the backyard - starting all the way back in 2019 . I've TOTALLY left them unpruned to date. Why? Pruning evergreen shrubs and boxwoods in particular is an art. Something that I have little experience with as a gardener. I've *mostly* left my Boxwoods grow wild and shaggy - allowing them to put on some size. But... pruning shrubs as a 'seasonal project' on my 2023 to-do list . So, it was time to take a look at some of the evergreen shrubs. #22 on my 2022 to-do list was to 'upgrade my garden tools '. I did that a little bit by adding a Dutch push/pull hoe . I also did that by gett
I had a little bit of time off earlier this week and I opted to do some annual compost program maintenance. I've done this the past few years and #11 on my list this year was to 'continue on my compost journey'. Here's what I wrote: 11. Continue on our composting journey. That starts with using our kitchen bin , turning the mixed bin, amending with alfalfa and/or biosolids. It also means that I need to keep moving through the two bins and tumbler set-up with the goal of a tumbler-full-of-finished compost to be used in the garden every season. Fall leaves stored in Fall , full, properly mixed bin by end-of-season. Up until now, I felt pretty good about composting this year. Between the use of Starbucks grounds as an additive to adding kitchen scraps , I've been good about putting more waste in the bins. I've also made a pretty big mound/pile of material from various projects and all the leaves from my Spring cleanup. My two bins were pretty full a
The multi-trunk Saucer Magnolia Tree that we have planted in our Northern Illinois, Zone 5B suburban front yard put on a spectacular pink show this Spring with the most productive flower bloom we've had since the tree went in back in Summer of 2017. As I've done in previous years, I've treated this with a systemic insecticide to help protect it against scale that seems to creep in/on in most growing seasons. The tree has a nice dark color to the foliage and seems to have handled the early Summer drought just fine in our area. See below for a current view of the tree and the full, dark foliage in mid-Summer 2023: On a recent morning when I was setting up the sprinkler to handle the lawn in front, I noticed some spots of pink high up in the canopy of the Magnolia tree. See below for a look at those pink tufts near the tips of the tallest limbs: A closer look (below) shows one of the blooms: What do we have going on here? Seems like a small, second bloom. This has
Late last Fall, I went on a Home Depot end-of-season-plant-sale binge and bought a number of very small Autumn Ferns and planted them in a few spots in the backyard. I planted twelve of them in three different spots including a number of them in the far back, right in front of the Hicks Yew hedge. How many are left back there? Certainly not all of them. Based on this layout, I'm thinking that I planted ten-to-twelve in a staggered layout. Today, there are six that have survived Winter, Spring and thus far into Summer. One is decent sized, the rest are BABIES. In the photo below, you can see the six survivors in the orange circles. One of the things that I learned this Spring is that I have to be more careful with late season watering. I fear that I disrupted the roots and exposed them to the winter elements. I'm thinking that if I nurse these six to the end of the year, they'll turn into something more signficant next growing season. I do want to keep replacing m
Planted in late October 2021, we have a set of three Exclamation London Planetrees that are planted pretty close to our fence in the backyard. I tucked them in behind the row of Oakleaf Hydrangeas along the south bed. When I planted them, I talked about drawing some inspiration from Disneyland and wanted to try to train these into being 'cube-shaped' or pleached in some way . They were BARELY more than whips when they went in - something on the order of say .5" caliper. They were barely peeking over the hydrangeas and not much taller than the fence that sat behind them. I have not touched them with a pruner since they arrived. I've watered them - along with the shrubs - when I can. And...in the photo below, you can see their current state. All three have survived and are now more than three-feet-above the top of the fence. My plan - at the time - was to get sturdy trunks established about eight-feet-tall. And then begin to make the pleach cage/frame on top
Nobody grows hostas for their flowers. Is that a 'hot take'? I don't think so. Foliage gardeners (I'm a self-proclaimed foliage gardener) grow hostas because of what they do: shade-garden workhorses that add some texture and fill in spaces. But...they also flower. With these tall, odd, scapes of flowers. Are they scapes ? I think so . I remember my mom's garden, filled with hostas. And popping the purple flowers that emerged each Summer. I don't think I've ever tracked the flower emergence in my own garden, so I figured I'd start a little bit right now. Why now? Because I was walking around the garden one morning recently and was struck by one set of flowers in back. On these hostas: The flowers seem VERY dark purple (for hostas). Thanks to the Hosta Library, it appears that these are Venticosa hostas . The Delaware Hosta Association has this description : The Dark Green One with Purple Flowers: H. ventricosa This one also has shiny heart-
At the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale this year, I came across this sign (photo below) describing a Japanese Maple variety that was new (to me): Inaba shidare. It was listed as an Acer palmatum and the photo had red laceleaf foliage. The sign describes it as "The best of the weeping red laceleaf maples for its leaf color retention in Summer, its scorch resistance, vigor and hardiness. The lace-like foliage emerges deep purple in Spring, matures to purple-red by Summer and finally turns bright red in Fall." I mean...what's not to love about that, right? I had previously purchased a Japanese Maple from the Morton Sale - an Emperor 1 in 2021 - and have been REALLY happy with it in our garden. So, when I saw this sign for the Inaba shidare, I wanted one. The only problem? They were gone. Sold out. Or...at least...sold out during *my* visit. Felt a little bit like a 'one that got away' sort-of-deal. So, imagine my delight when I was picking up some
After the mass boxwood planting under the Linden trees earlier this Summer , I ended up with two very small (1#) Green Mountain Boxwoods that were leftover from the project. When I started with that mass planting, I was using a mix of Green Mountain and Green Velvet. After some hemming-and-hawing, I ended up planting only Green Velvet - mostly due to their smaller mature size. So, these two Green Mountain boxwoods have been siting around and I was able to get to planting them in the border around the fire pit in back. See below for their location. A few notes on these - in relation to my task list for the growing season: 1. #1 on my 2023 to-do list was to focus on evergreens . Add two more to the planting list. I planted five new evergreens in front . A columnar Scotch Pine in back . And now 13 more ( 11 + 2) Boxwoods. That's 18 evergreen shrubs and one tree - 19 in total. Pretty good. 2. #15 on my 2023 to-do list was to 'upgrade the fire pit area' . These tw
It isn't the patio container box ( which...is #23 on my 2023 to-do list) , but it *is* something: I applied a coat of Teak Oil to our patio table. The top is, indeed, teak. And, after a few passes with a sander, I was able to get down to some nice, clean teak. And the top soaked the oil right up. Is it a seasonal project? Sort-of? I'm going to count it on my 2023 to-do list check-in, for sure.
I've documented a flush of growth on our Dawn Redwood tree over the year that typically occurs a little later in Summer - August (usually) - where the tips of the tree see some new, light-green (and tender) needles that appear. This year, that flush (or...perhaps a different flush) came in early July. Below is a photo showing one of the limbs of the tree that is showing some new growth. A few things to note: this entire tip is seasonal new growth. It isn't woody (yet) - and is still green - so that means it arrived this growing season. Second....the new growth I'm talking about...is at the very tips. You can see that lighter green set of needles in a few spots. This Dawn Redwood is a tree that I have NOT touched one bit - in terms of pruning. Not an inch of limb has been removed. Why? Because, I really learned quite a bit with my FIRST Dawn Redwood. I don't know where I picked up the idea that limbing up young trees is the right move. Now...limb'ing up