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Showing posts with the label container gardening

Rainbow Blend Carrot Seeds Planted in Greenstalk - June 2024

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Yesterday, I posted a photo of our first broccoli crown that has emerged and talked about our vertical vegetable garden container called a Greenstalk.  I put six Lieutenant Broccoli plants in one of the deeper rows in the middle of the tower.  In this earlier post , I covered a few of the other things in the vertical garden including herbs and a bell pepper plant.  In a few of the rows/levels, I also planted some Zinnia seeds as cut flowers, but that left one deep row (third from the bottom) empty.   Because it is one of the deeper Greenstalk levels, I thought we'd try something new (to us) in container gardening:  carrots.  In our previous, raised-bed garden in Elmhurst, we grew plenty of carrots from seeds.  My problem was NEVER getting the seeds to germinate, my problem was always in thin-ing them out enough to grow good-sized carrots.  Here's a post about the time I used carrot tape (went very well) and here's a series of posts from 2012 that shows the Touchon carrot

First Lieutenant Broccoli Crown Appears - June 2024

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Our kids eat broccoli all the time.  I'm a baby carrot eater.  Somehow, they've become a raw broccoli crown eater.  That's why we're trying to grow our own in the Greenstalk this year.  Last week, I posted an overview of what is in the Greenstalk tower - including six Lieutenant broccoli plants in one of the middle rows of the unit.   This variety is supposed to be suited for warm weather, so we're hoping that they will perform over the Summer.  And, early signs are positive - with an early crown emerging on one of the plants.  See below for a look at one of the broccoli crowns: In our previous garden, I grew some broccoli, so I *somewhat* know how to recognize when a broccoli crown is ready to harvest.  I also know that if it starts to flower and go yellow, it needs to be cut off immediately.   It seems like it might also be time to feed the tower with a food-grade fertilizer like Miracle-Gro.  

3 Amaryllis Bulbs - 3 Different Bloom Times - December 2023

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Back in mid-November, we bought three different Amaryllis bulbs and planted them indoors in three identical terracotta containers .  In some years, we get blooms timed right up with Christmas.  In other years, we end up with blooms that arrive in January or later.  Either is great - having blooms early or having them arrive late.  This year, we *may* end up getting a bit of both.    As I mentioned in the intro post , the La Paz (Spider Amaryllis variety) was off to a fast start.  That has continued with (now) three flower stalks that have shot up and the first of which is already opening.  See below for the La Paz Amaryllis: With a couple of weeks until Christmas, I'm thinking we'll have Spider blooms come December 25th. Next up, and a little behind the La Paz, is the Rilona (Galaxy variety) Amaryllis.  This bulb has shot up one bloom stalk (so far), but it is much more compact that the La Paz.   See below for the current state of the Rilona - which I'm also thinking we cou

Elephant Ears In The Landscape (Tropicals) - August 2023

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I've covered the Elephant Ear bulbs that I planted in some of our patio containers already , but after gifting a few of them, I had two remaining.  What did I do with them?  I stuck them in the ground amongst some 'escaped' strawberry (that I'm using as groundcover) and Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses.  See below for these two tropical annuals that have popped up in our landscape: #25 on my annual to-do list was to use 'annuals beyond the container' .  I'd say that this counts, right?   What have I learned?  First...that these probably aren't a perfect fit in this area.  At least by themselves.  But....that doesn't mean that I can't plant them somewhere else, right?  Or, augment/expand this bed and plant some other colors at their feet?  Something to think about for next year.  The other thing to think about?  Those sexy black-stemmed version that they have at the Arboretum .  Upgrade to those, right? 

Getting To Know Morton Arboretum Fragrance Garden Seasonal Beds - August 2023

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I had to pick up one of the kids at the Morton Arboretum recently had had a little bit of time to get some steps in and decided to go see the Fragrance Garden up by the Thornhill Center on the West side of the Arboretum .  It is a spot where you can park pretty close and get to see some beds and containers on a quick little, easy walk.  A couple of years ago, I was in this same garden and posted some thoughts and photos here .  At that time, I was struck by the bedding plants and combinations they had in what felt like a very shady garden (which...is a lot like our own garden).    It was from that experience that I said (to myself) that I needed to think about using annuals beyond the container - as bedding plants - in the shade.  In fact....that was one of my 2023 to-do items and the push behind all of the annuals that I planted this year including some Lobelia, Begonias, Impatiens, Polka Dot Plants .  The beds at the Morton Arboretum have inspired me prior to that shade garden visit.

Firesticks Succulent - Five Years Now - August 2023

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Earlier this Summer, the small Firesticks succulent (is it a cactus? I think so?) made its annual migration from indoors to outdoors.  First...staying in the shade for a couple of weeks.  Then, moving to a little bit more sun.   This container-grown cactus lived in the basement all Winter and seemed to come out the other side in decent shape.  I barely watered it and it barely grew.  But...When I moved it outside and gave it some water, it started to take-off again. The last time that I captured a photo of this Firesticks succulent was more than a year ago - February 2022 .  It continues to grow and the current state is below: It is easy to see that there is a ton of new, fresh growth.  Those yellow-going-on-red tips are the tell.   It seems happy in this small container and I'm not in a hurry to move it to something bigger since I'm seeing so much growth.  I suppose that's something that I need to start to look at and figure out if it would benefit from a larger home.   It

Elephant Ear Foliage Emerges - July 2023

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Like (almost) every previous growing season, I planted some Elephant Ear bulbs in our containers in an attempt to add a (slightly) tropical vibe to our patio.  These bulbs come from Longfield Gardens and are carried by Costco each Spring.  This year, I put a couple in both the wood box at the corner of the patio and the larger, glazed container.  And, both of them have put up leaves that are getting bigger by the day.  See below for first the wood container followed by the glazed one.  I'll monitor these for size - here's the mark to beat leaf-size-wise (from 2021) .

Living With The Land - At Home - Hydroponic Exploration - February 2023

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It is well established (in our house) that the best (or at least...my favorite) attraction in the entire Vacation Kingdom is in Epcot called Living with the Land .  What's that?   You haven't been on it? Well...let me tell you about it.  Or...actually...let ChatGPT tell you about it.  I asked her this: Can you describe the attraction at Disney's Epcot center that is called Living with the Land? Why would someone call it their favorite ride at disney? Here's what she said: Living with the Land is a slow-moving boat ride attraction located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The ride takes guests on a journey through various indoor and outdoor agricultural environments, showcasing different methods of sustainable farming and food production. During the ride, guests can observe a variety of farming techniques, including hydroponics, aquaculture, and integrated pest management. There are also several dioramas that show different ecos

Why Didn't My Paperwhites Bloom? January 2023

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We're one month past Christmas.  I think that's enough time to pass for me to officially declare that my PaperWhites are a failure.  No blooms at all.  I bought them in early November - a week-plus ahead of when we traditionally buy and start our Amaryllis bulbs.  But...here's the key (I think):  I bought them from the orange big box store .  I planted them as directed:  in gravel.  And watered them in up to the middle of the bulbs.  They responded immediately.  And strongly.  With a thick, dense and vibrant root mat that came off of each of them.  They also shot up new green shoots from the top of the bulbs.   Based on what I've done before (with Amaryllis bulbs) and what was suggested on the Web, I watered them in with a diluted alcohol mixture .  In an attempt to stunt their growth and keep them from 'flopping over' and getting too leggy.   I last checked-in on these in mid-December.  More than a month after the roots emerged.  And they all had multiple green

Flamenco Queen Amaryllis Blooms - January 2023

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We didn't get Christmas blooms out of this Flamenco Queen Amaryllis bulb, but the wait was worth it.  I last posted a photo of this plant at the very end of 2022 and showed the stalk had shot up with a bud at the tip .  Today?  It is wide-open.  And has two of the most-striking flower blooms on opposite sides of the stalk that we've ever grown.  See below for a look at the Flamenco Queen with red and white-striped petals and a lime-green center. Below is a photo showing that 'opposite' set of blooms.  And the two more that are on their way: This is also - by far - the tallest, lanky-est Amaryllis we've ever grown.  Even after we 'poisoned it' with an alcohol mix in December.  How tall? It is showing blooms that are 25.5" above the top of the bulb.  See below for the measurement:  It has started to lean, so I stuck in a plant support that you can see below.  The hard part with these Amaryllis bulbs and plant supports is that the width of the bulb forces

Magic Touch Amaryllis In Bloom - Mid-December - 2022

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A week ago, I posted an update on the three new Amaryllis bulbs that we're growing this year and talked about how they are at different stages of growth .  One of them - the Magic Touch - is what I'd call the furthest along and has two flower stalks.  But, those two are VERY different, too.   One of them is taking a normal shape and form.  Tall and proud.  With a flower bud at the top.  The other one?  Failed to launch.  Didn't grow much up from the bulb at all.  But what did it do?  It flowered.  ALREADY.  A mid-December Amaryllis bloom.  Holy moly.  This is a lovely red, too.  What do I mean by 'failure to launch'?  See the photo below showing the two flower stalks.  The one in bloom is barely out of the bulb: And, here's a look at the backside of the bloom showing that ANOTHER flower is set to open in the same spot: Magic Touch Amaryllis is a fast-mover (for us, this year) and has produced the earliest flowers of any bulb we've grown.  Kinda nice, right? 

Mexican Feather Grass Still Green Post-First Frost - November 2022 - Zone 5b

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I planted an ornamental grass in one of our back patio containers this Summer and seems that I failed to document what the variety was/is when I installed the rest of the flowers.  Here's a link to a Summertime post showing the labels from a bunch of the plants in the containers, but it didn't include the ornamental grass in the center of the large, round ceramic container.  Based on poking around online, I'm *pretty sure* that it is a Mexican Feather Grass - Nassella .   I'm posting about it, not just to document it in the [garden diary], but rather because of the state it is currently in - post frost in late November.  See below for a photo of the container including this Mexican Feather Grass still showing a lot of green blades: Nassella Mexican Feather Grass is hardy down to just Zone 7 , so perhaps I'm wrong with the identification.  Listen...everything else.  Literally EVERYTHING ELSE in my garden (aside from the Autumn Ferns) have shriveled up and reacted to

Mickey Mouse Topiary - August 2022

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 I haven't an update on our standing Mickey Mouse Creeping Fig Vine (stuffed) topiary in a while.  Last September, I showed the (then) current state with the vine doing well and overtaking even more of the frame .  Creeping Fig vine is a tropical, so I had a little trouble navigating Winter with it being inside where it is very dry here in Northern Illinois.   With Summer here, I wanted to show the new growth that has occurred since we moved it outside earlier this year.  This year, it is living (for now) on our front porch.  See below for the current state: There are a number of new shoots that need to be pinned down, but I think it is plain to see that - overall - this topiary is progressing in terms of coverage.   I mean...compare the photo above with the one in THIS POST from less than 13 months ago .  Big change.  My plan is to get out there soon and pin down the new shoots and try to cover even more of the frame before we have to bring it in at the end of the season.

Pink and Green Shade Flower Container - Front Porch - August 2022

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That (above) is our front porch seasonal flower container for Summer 2022.   Earlier this Spring, we planted this long, rectangular container with pansies that were cold-hardy.  Last month, I finally got around to planting this with Summer annuals.    Last year, we went with a more bold and wild container , so this year, I went a little more subdued.   I don't love pink flowers in my garden, but when I was the Big Box nursery, I found a few pink things that I thought might work in our front porch box.  This is a pretty shady spot - it gets a tiny bit of morning sun, but is in the shade for 98% of the day.  What's in here?  First...there are a pair of Fiber Optic grasses.  I dug those out of the back patio container since they were being swallowed up by the Petunias .  They won't be missed.   Then there's a purple Sweet Potato vine, some simple shade Begonias and pink Polka Dot plants.   All the containers are below. The Polka Dot plants are something that I've wante

Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes - July 2022

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Yesterday, I posted some photos of our (very productive) bell pepper plant:  a King Arthur Sweet Bell Pepper variety .   I mentioned that we grew a tomato vine last year and it spilled over/out of our patio raised bed.   This year, at the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale, my Mom showed me a new (to me) idea:  a miniature tomato plant.   This is the Red Robin Cherry Tomato .  And, in the photo below, you can see how has thrown off a ton of small, cherry tomatoes: Here, below, is the tag from the plant: Park Seeds has a nice listing for it here .  This is a bush tomato.  There's no vine.  It grew a small bush and is fruiting all over the place.  It seems that this one is a quick-grower and will put all the tomatoes up at once.   Ever want a true 'container tomato'?  This Red Robin has worked really well for us.  Just like the King Arthur Sweet Bell Pepper , this feels like a re-buy next year.  

King Arthur Bell Peppers - July 2022

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Nat and I often reminisce about what we 'used to have' when it comes to vegetable gardening.  Back in Elmhurst, we had good-sized, enclosed raised bed vegetable garden.  When we moved, we inherited a yard that has A LOT of shade and despite trying both in-ground and a (small) raised bed garden, we've had limited success with vegetables.  I posted much the same story here back in 2018 when I lamented that we grew just ONE tomato .    But, things changed a little last year when we moved our raised bed from out in the garden to our patio - where we DO, indeed, get overhead full sun during the middle of the day.  That meant that last year (2021), we grew tomatoes ( an indeterminate variety ) that produced small fruits that we ate most of the Summer.  It was a little bit of an out-of-control vine and it spilled out of our bed and down into the lawn.   This year, we decided to grow a few things.  I'll post about the tomatoes on another day.  Today, I'm talking about bell

Patio Containers - One Color Each - July 2022

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The past few years, I've used a tricolor combination in the 'corner container' on our back patio that was inspired by beds in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.  Red, Orange and blue/purple.  Last year it was marigolds, salvia and petunia .  Along with an Elephant Ear tucked into the corner for a little tropical flair.   This year, I went a different route - with a monochromatic scheme.  Well... actually since the foliage is green and the flowers are all white, this might *technically* be a complementary scheme.  But, I'm going to call it one-color.  I went this route with both the corner wooden container and the larger clay pot that we've had for 10 years or so. Let's start with the corner container.  I planted this with a combination of white flowering annuals and some foliage plants.  First, the flowers:  16 Catharanthus roseus - annual vinca. Those are the white flowers with red centers.  And 16 Easy Wave White spreading Petunias.   I also tucked in a pair of As

Last of the Lemon Star Amaryllis - February 2022

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I'm calling it:  our Amaryllis season lasted until February 23rd, 2022.  Early February showed this Lemon Star Amaryllis in full bloom and today shows the last flower in decline.   Our 2020/2021 blooms were last documented in late January 2021 .  The Star of Holland Amaryllis from 2019/2020 season was in FULL bloom in mid-February , so I'm thinking that season lasted longer than Feb 23rd.  And, our 2018/2019 season went the longest - with this full-double-bloomed flower all the way late on March 3rd, 2019 .  My plan is to leave this Lemon Star bulb to leaf-out this Winter/Spring indoors and then move it outside to the patio come Spring/Summer and attempt to keep it for next Christmas.  2022 to-do list should include bulb management and reuse, right? 

Lesson Learned on Burro's Tail Propagation: Wait for Calluses - February 2022

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In late January, I tried a succulent propagation experiment with one variable:  cutting vs callus'd-over pieces of Burro's Tail.  I used rooting compound and went about planting two small containers of little pieces of succulent.  In the green, plastic container, I planted segments that I sliced in-to and then applied the rooting compound.  In the clay pot, I left the segments with their calluses and just rubbed rooting compound on the surface.  The little white post-it note says:  "Uncut = Clay".  (I keep an offline garden diary of sorts, too...) Four-or-so-weeks later, here's what those two containers look like: What has happened?  The cuttings on the left - the ones that I sliced into with a knife BEFORE applying the rooting compound have just melted away.  On the right - the ones that I left intact?  Many of them are still there and doing just fine.   Lesson learned:  when propagating succulents, make sure they have completely callused over before attempting