Wednesday, June 27, 2012

LOOK! Garden advice

 As a master gardener I have often helped people with gardening problems. One of the most common things I see when people are new to gardening is the plant it and forget it attitude. It isn't intentional, but new gardeners tend to stare across the fence at the neighbors lovely yard and think- I would like a garden like that. So they grab a few seeds or plants, water them once and sit back and wait for the magic.  There is a lot of advice an established gardener could share, I decided to give you one and only one thing to do in your garden.
LOOK at your garden EVERY day.
 Walk out and look at it, see a weed? pull it! plants look droopy? water them. What do you see when you look? The plant above is turning yellow, what does that mean? Now if you are new you will have to do a little research. First ask what has been happening with the weather? Look around, are other plants doing the same thing?
We had a lot of rain, this plant looks like it has been overwatered, (plants tend to yellow with too much water). But the other plants are fine.....hmmmm I see it is also not spreading out like the others, it probably is a plant with some root damage and it is dying, see the hole next to it? Same thing happened there, buying plants from greenhouses, you can always run the risk of a few week rooted in your group. If you see these when you transplant, take special care or return the cell pack.

 whoa!! my peas look like they are dying??? yep, they are. why? peas hate hot weather, they have been producing well but now they are dying at the bottom of the stem. Planted early in the Spring because they are tolerant of cold weather, peas are shorter lived, now.....I can plant new seed that will produce later in summer when it begins to cool again.
I see two things here.
One is looking like a funny flower on the chard, should chard bloom?
No, not unless you want it to. Many plants will try to set seed, especially spinach, chard, rhubarb, this is weather related, just pinch it off.
Two, looks like someone is eating my cabbage, is this a problem?
LOOK at the whole row- Seems to be isolated, probably just a hungry Caterpillar that has moved on. Soon I will begin to see a lot of cabbage moths, they get very aggressive with laying eggs in the mid summer. this is your call, you can net, treat with an organic method, or a chemical, or you can feed the young of the moth.

Not all bugs are bad, if you want to be a serious gardener, get a good book and look up your bugs, some are great! Some are not! Remember if you treat for bad bugs you will kill the good bugs too, so be selective, treat only plants showing damage. Remove what bugs you can-(ex caterpillars by hand) be preventative by knowing what your plant is susceptible to. I know the vine squash borer shows up every year and kills my squash plant, this year I have been watching for the adult, as soon as I spotted him I put Sevin on the squash plants. Doing this now will hopefully do away with the young and help me avoid using any product then the plants begin to produce.

 So as I LOOK at the lady bug I notice a different kind of leaf among the ferns. What is that?

 These are the reproductive fronds. They look like this in the late summer early fall.
 As I LOOK at the ferns I notice..
my Hostas are not blooming, why? Everyone else's are. If I step back I can see I large tree that has been giving them too much shade. Successional gardening....this means as your garden do your trees, shrubs, and everything else, effecting your light source, what grew well one year may not do so well in the years to come. LOOK when you plant, consider your light source, your shade source, and think 5 and 10 years down the line.

LOOK! why is there a pansy in the garden?
Plants that self seed- be aware of these. One unavoidable gardener is the bird, little birdy will pick up and drop seeds all over, this is probably why the pansy ended up here, next to the squash.
Other plants that self seed are wonderful, for years I picked out tiny little weed looking things here, where I plant Snapdragons every year...guess what? This year I didn't pick them out, all of those are self seeding Snaps!

And be aware of aggressive self seeders. LOOK! Morning glories out of control! Slow to get started, don't make the mistake of adding more seeds, wow- they definitely come back! Everywhere, to help avoid this, remove the seed pods when they form after the bloom.

LOOK! watch you plants, learn the parts and the life cycle, this holly hock show the bud, bloom, and seed pod all at once. If you want to control your self seeding, remove seed pods of plants. Share them with your friends too.

What happens when you don't control your plants?

I see Hollyhocks, Monarda, and Sedum all in each others way, someone will pay for this, and it will probably be the least aggressive plant- the Monarda, you can barely see it already.

As I LOOK to the most aggressive plant in my garden, Chinese Lantern, I see something odd? what is that?
Things like this need another look, it could be a nest of harmful bugs, turns out this is a web with Ash tree fuzz collecting on it. (no fuzz is not a correct gardening term, but I am so sick of this stuff!)
Plants like this propagate by seed pods and under ground roots, They say after a nuclear explosion there will be only cockroaches and twinkies left....I say Chinese Lantern will survive. The only reasons I keep it around  are 1- I love the red lanterns it produces in the fall and 2- I cannot kill it, really, I have tried.

Another example of overcrowding is here in the herbs. The oregano is overtaking the box and needs to be thinned. Why so much about overcrowding?
I have found two consistent gardening "problems"
1- people plant too sparse in their vegetable gardens. SEE HERE
2- People plant too close in flower gardens
Let's look at number too first, perennials take a while to get going, so...we tend to plant too many, not liking that empty space between them.
Here is a rule on perennials
first year they sleep
second year they creep
third year they leap
To avoid the urge to overplant, place your perennials with enough growth room and fill in with annuals the first two years.

As for under planting gardens. Go up!! Make wide rows, gone are the days of wide dirt rows you could drag a plow through. (Note this is for smaller gardens, not large)  Place lots of things for your plants to climb on, then support large fruit (squash, melons, etc) with nylons or old socks tied like little hammocks to your supports.

So go out every day and LOOK at your garden.
ASK what is going on?
RESEARCH the problem
LEARN about your plants
Take the time to really enjoy your garden.

Outdoor Wednesday
Cottage Garden Party
Bloomin Tuesday

blessings and thanks for visiting


Mary said...

Great advice. Thank you!

Danielle said...

Going to Pin this one to my gardening board. I hope next year to start the Master Gardener program here!! Thanks for the visual also....I need that!

Shelia said...

Hi Shannon! What wonderful advice and thank you for sharing your knowledge! I remember the first time I saw a tomato worm - I almost died! That was the scariest looking creature I had ever seen! :)
You're so wonderful being a Master Gardener and all.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Madge Bloom said...

Love this series of shots, the lady bug especially... you are such an adept gardener!

Sherry said...

Wow, you have quite a garden! I have not been looking each day and keeping up as I should but I hope to do a little better. It is so soothing and restful spending a little time taking care of a garden. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

Crafty Gardener said...

An excellent post with very good information and great images of your garden.

Yael from

Athena at Minervas Garden said...

This was a great post--very helpful. I am a MG in Washington State, and I agree with what you've said--I walk my garden every day that I am able, and just look and check things out. It really gives you a chance to not only enjoy the garden but see how things are doing and stop or prevent problems in the early stages.

Heather said...

Great advice for a gardener of any level! Visiting from Cottage Garden linky.

Fishtail Cottage said...

Thanks so much for sharing all this great advice over here at Fishtail Cottage! i think every gardener can learn from what you shared! xoxo, tracie

Bohemian said...

Thank You for all of this sage advice for the Garden. We live in the fierce Arizona Desert climate and so I'm going to go right out and buy some Chinese Lantern Plants because I need something that won't die even when its in excess of 110 degrees?!? *Winks* What I have found, thru Trial and Error, is that in extreme climates such as ours, most plants are hardier if I do have them grow from seed because they grow up in the environment whereas seedlings and larger plants were probably raised somewhere they were more coddled and didn't have to endure extremes and so they tend to expire rather quickly. My Herb & Veggie Garden is a prime example... the Basil grown from Seed is now in it's 2nd year and thriving like crazy... and the massive amount of Cherry Tomatoes I'm enjoying look rangy but produce a lot to Harvest, they were the product of a mulch experiment where I threw out spoiled produce and saw what would grow from seed and thrive! *LOL*

Blessings from the Arizona Desert... where at the present time it's Hotter than the surface of the Sun! Dawn... The Bohemian

Ms. Redo said...

This is fabulous information which I needed as this is my first year gardening (flowers). I'm using containers because I know if my garden is not on the deck, I won't see it often enough to take care of it. I've already learned so much, but I have so much more to learn. 1) not enough drainage in my containers resulted in flooding followed by yellowing. 2) Too much/too little sun - not able to control that on the deck so next year need to focus on full sun plants. The information you shared here is going into my new garden notebook - thanks so much for taking the time to get this information out to newbie gardeners like me! Mary

Fishtail Cottage said...

coming by to let you know that your post you shared at Fishtail Cottage's garden party has been featured! xoxo


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