META’S GARDENING IDEAS

Meta is a long-time follower of my blog and we finally met in the sizzling heat of early July 2014. After her visit, I shared her wonderful idea of using clay pots to make a border for a pathway.

Even before meeting her I had shared her garden with a decorative fence built by her son.

More recently, I shared her lion’s tail growing in the compost pile. I now want to show you a few more of her tricks.

You’ve seen gardeners who paint an old wheelbarrow, fill it with showy flowers and roll it out to the front yard. Meta prefers to hide her old wheelbarrows in the back yard as plant nurseries. When two of her wheelbarrows rusted through, she painted one yellow and one green and her son put them on building blocks for height to save her gardener’s back.

For several years now, she has found the rusty holes in the wheelbarrow bed make them perfect for growing seeds, cuttings and seedlings. In the green wheelbarrow, most of those stringy plants are not green beans but future amaryllis bulbs. I gave her the seeds from my plants when she visited in 2014. She had absolutely no faith that those papery black seeds would sprout into anything so she put the seeds in pots and forgot about them. To her surprise, they sprouted and she sent me a photo. I suggested she put them in larger pots where the bulbs could easily grow larger and into the wheelbarrow nursery they went. As you can see, she stuck some flowers in to give the plantings some color for her photo. We gals just need to make things purty.

Meta two wheelbarrows-
Photo credit – Meta

According to Meta, the reddish/orange wheelbarrow in this next photo was given to her when a friend moved away. Look at the tires on it! She was hoping that leaving water in the wheelbarrow would help it rust some drainage holes for a new plant nursery but it hasn’t happened yet. Her son may need to help it along with a drill.

Meta three wheelbarrows-
Photo credit: Meta

Meta’s next idea is up there with the clay pot border for originality. I have never known of a gardener who recycled old metal shelves from the garage into a plant nursery by turning it on its side and filling it with soil. I can’t tell what that is on the front that she’s using to hold the soil in. I’m sure she’ll tell us in the Comments.

Meta shelf one-
Photo credit: Meta

Here’s the other end showing wooden stakes that are holding the shelves in place in the yard.

Meta shelf two-
Photo credit: Meta

Isn’t Meta a genius of a recycler?

POISON IVY

This is news you can use. I’ve been under the care of a chiropractor for the last 16 months because of a car accident in 2011 that messed up my spine. I found, over time, that his treatments allowed me to work in the garden with less pain and grimacing.

At my most recent treatment, I happened to mention that I had poison ivy. Or, at least, that was my best guess. I don’t actually know what I got into, just that it happened about two months ago.

“I’ve got just the thing for you,” he said. “Biofreeze will knock it right out. My wife got into poison ivy last summer and tried the Biofreeze. Our neighbor also got into it and we gave him the Biofreeze. He came back for more!” (paraphrased)

The doc gave me 6 sample packets. According to the information card, Biofreeze is a cooling gel often used for relief from arthritis, sore muscles and joints, and back pain. I can’t believe the doc held out on me all this time! He waits until I have poison ivy to spill the goods!

I was already on oral and cream steroids so there was no point in my trying the Biofreeze but I am sharing this information for others to try. Evie says Biofreeze also stops the itch of mosquito bites.

I found it on Amazon and Ebay but if you wish to ‘buy local’ check their website: biofreeze.com/wheretobuy.

MOMMA’S HEEL PLANTING

I recently emailed my sister, Ms. Priss, to see if she wanted a few garlic chive seeds from my garden. I got the usual “I just don’t have time.” She must not have seen Momma plant seeds. Granted, she didn’t live around Momma for close to Forever so she might have missed this simple planting method. It’s the kind of thing that old women like Momma and Ruth Stout thought of as a time saver to “just get it done” although I’ll admit I have not read Ruth Stout’s books. 

When Momma wanted to plant a few seeds, she stuck the heel of her foot in the flower bed and drug it back towards herself.

Poppie consented to be my foot model
Poppie consented to be my foot model

A small hole appeared and she dropped the seeds into the hole.

heel planting drop seeds in-1965

Then used her foot to nudge the soil back into the hole and tap it with the ball of her foot.

heel planting cover seeds-1966

So the next time you are pressed for time, try Momma’s heel planting method whether you’re an old woman or a young whipper-snapper.

GARDEN TIP: Saving Purple Coneflower Seeds

Echinacea blooms-1769

Have I got a great gardening tip for you Purple Coneflower fans!  First, if you don’t have coneflowers in the garden, you might want to consider them because the butterflies preferred them to all other butterfly nectar in my garden.

All of my coneflowers were grown from seed. I started with seed packets picked up in seed displays.  All of the seeds were Echinacea purpurea (the botanical name for one species of coneflowers) or improved versions under that name. I planted the seeds in the spring/summer of 2012 and this summer they bloomed.

Learn from one of my many mistakes in the garden:  pay attention to the botanical name on your seed packets. The second botanical name such as Echinacea purpurea can be planted with Echinacea atrorubens or Echinacea paradoxa without fear of cross pollination. However, if you plant several varieties of purpurea together, they will cross. Another species, Echinacea tennesseensis may be a subspecies of purpurea and cross pollination with other tennesseensis and purpureas may happen.

I didn’t know any of this when I planted all of my purpureas together so there is no telling what kind of flowers I will get from all the seeds I have saved in 2013. Sigh. Another failure of the “stoopit’ variety. I once took a local gardening class led by Victoria Freeman who suggested that “when you have a failure, rename it.” Can you imagine the trouble that would create for people like me with memory issues? I can’t remember the stuff I need to remember. Adding a multitude of renamed failures would unravel me.

I should mention that I also learned, via research, that the newer, wild colored hybrids should be bought as plants and multiplied via root expansion or division. Their seeds may not produce “true” when grown out as plants. In other words, you may not get that wild color again.

Some gardeners insist that you must leave the seed cone on the stalk, near the end of the growing season, and allow it to turn brown to black before collecting the cone. I didn’t like this idea because (1) I didn’t want the birds to beat me to the seeds, and (2) I wanted to save seeds from the biggest flowers during the entire season. According to Garden Smart and William Cullina, Plant and Garden Curator of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, “the seed is ripe when the cone dries out … and the bristles turn dark brown and rather sharp and spiny.” I’m going to go with that until I am proven wrong by experimentation. In other words, I harvested the cones as they started to dry out on the plant and then left them in a clay pot on the porch to finish drying out.

Okay, the Garden Tip. Tonya Fennig publishes a Facebook page called The Seed Exchange and shared a way to save one’s fingers from getting poked by the spiny head of the cones.

After collecting the seed cones, take a large darning needle to gently pluck away at the cone.

Echinacea w darning needle-165-2
Photo credit: Tonya
Photo credit: Tonya
Photo credit: Tonya

I found that I had to dig a little, at the top of the cone stem, to get things started. First, the needle was digging out a dark brown thing that looks like a seed but is only chaff (bottom right of photo). Later, I was getting a few of those same brown things with the seed attached (upper right of photo). Finally, the yellowish-tan seeds shaped like an arrowhead began spilling from the seed cone (bottom left of photo).

Seeds, seeds with chaff still attached, chaff
Seeds, seeds with chaff still attached, chaff

Make sure to get as many of the seeds as you can (to share with your friends) and then toss the seed cone into your flower garden as winter food for the birds, who will find all the seeds you missed.

Tonya says the darning needle method might not be the correct way to separate the seeds but I’m telling you, it worked for me!

GARDEN TIP – Daylilies

Autumn Minaret Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Autumn Minaret
Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
I wanted at least one spider daylily.
Scapes are very tall – 66 inches
Becky Lynn Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Becky Lynn
Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Cedar Waxwing bonus from Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Cedar Waxwing
bonus from Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Not a rebloomer but prolific, nevertheless
Encomium Valley of the Daylilies
Encomium
Valley of the Daylilies
Light the Fire Again (bonus from Valley of the Daylilies)
Light the Fire Again
(bonus from Valley of the Daylilies)
Color fades as the day wears on
Glad he dug up the wrong bonus daylily
daylily punk-1593
Punk
Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Siloam Baby Talk Smokeys Daylily Gardens
Siloam Baby Talk
Smokeys Daylily Gardens
Siloam June Bug bonus from Smokeys Daylily Gardens
Siloam June Bug
bonus from Smokeys Daylily Gardens
Unique Purple Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Unique Purple
Ryder Daylilies (Facebook)
Victoria's Secret Daylilies of the Valley (Facebook)
Victoria’s Secret
Daylilies of the Valley (Facebook)

Aegean Temple (Valley of the Daylilies) and Strawberry Candy (Ryder) did not bloom this year. Seductor (Smokeys) did but I didn’t happen to photograph it. The daylilies from Smokeys were from their bargain basement so they weren’t full-sized plants and few bloomed.

This was my first foray into purchasing “named” daylilies. In other words, daylilies that have been registered with The American Hemerocallis Society. I ordered ten registered daylilies, received three different bonus daylilies (two registered, which I liked better than my choices, and one unregistered seedling). I spent $78.22 on the daylilies and $45.20 on the shipping. Those babies are heavy!

Garden Tips

I found The American Hemerocallis Society’s daylily database very helpful in giving me facts about the daylilies I wanted – scape (bloom stalk) height, bloom size, blooming season (8 categories), foliage type (evergreen, dormant, etc.) and bloom habit (diurnal, nocturnal, etc.). I was disappointed that they often do not have photographs of the older, more affordable daylilies. I can afford $8 for a double fan but not $150 to $300. Most of the places I shopped sold daylilies as “double fans” which gives you enough of a “clump” to fill a garden spot.

While I paid attention to whether or not the daylily was a rebloomer and to scape height because I didn’t particularly want giants in my garden, I still messed up.  I wanted the Autumn Minaret because it was an affordable “spider” daylily but overlooked the 66″ scape height. With the Punk and Siloam Baby Talk, I overlooked the bloom size – very small at 2.75 and 2.5 inches, respectively. On the bright side, these daylilies with small blooms have shorter scapes and shorter plants which will make them great for stuffing in front of taller perennials. Interestingly, I found that the published bloom size is not always accurate.

I also found color inaccuracies. Sometimes the daylily color on the vendor website did not match the daylily database or what I saw blooming in my garden. I suspect a lot of the inaccuracies have to do with the variations in soil around the country and the need for the daylily to have time to “adjust” to new soil and garden conditions. I would now recommend that you search the web for a photo of the named daylily you are considering. If you see the same color showing up by several different photographers, that is probably the real color. The photos I found on the web matched what I had in my garden. Keep in mind that business photographers have access to photo editing programs that allow them to change the clarity, vibrance and saturation. Any one of those settings can improve upon a daylily from what you would see in the actual garden setting.

I bought some reasonably priced, really permanent, green plastic markers from Valley of the Daylilies. The writing area had a rough, sand-papery feeling with hundreds of little grooves. I used a grease pencil to write “Dune Buggy” on a marker and when I contacted him for the name of the red daylily he sent by mistake, I found that I could not get the grease pencil off the marker. I soaked it in bleach and everything else under my kitchen sink to no avail. All I managed to do was fade the grease pencil.

markers for garden green-1728

I really want more daylilies but shipping puts a hole in my budget. My veggie garden didn’t do well this year because of the weird weather. Maybe I’ll buy the cheap veggie seeds for next year so I can have more daylilies. Sound like a plan?