Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cheesehead Gardening Video Co-Host Featured in Local Paper

My Cheesehead Gardening co-host, Erin Culligan, was featured in our local newspaper for her caring spirit.
Read Article Here

Friday, November 25, 2011

Gardens of Light

Today I visited the Gardens of Light at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens for the first time.  It was a great night to visit, since it was 50 degrees outside.  I think I need some of the flower lights for my own front yard!

For more information on the Garden of Lights visit this link.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Storing Hosta in Containers for Winter

Did you know that you can grow hostas in containers in Wisconsin?  Well you can.  I have successfully grown hostas in containers for many years.  The key to keeping hostas in containers is how you store them over the winter.  The most important thing is keeping moisture out of the pots.  You want to prevent freezing, thawing, and frozen, wet roots which will result in the roots turning to mush ultimately killing the hosta.  Here are my steps I follow:
  1. I wait until a hard frost has killed off all of the hosta foliage.
  2. Then I move the containers to the north side/ or a protected area outside where they will not receive a lot of light or precipitation.
  3. I then push the containers together as an extra way to prevent moisture from finding it's way inside the container.
  4. If you feel they still need further protection, you can cover the containers with leaves or straw.
  5. Then it's time to wait until spring to move them.  I usually wait to move them until I start to see some sign of life.  

These are on the north side of the house, where the least amount of moisture and sunlight will get to them.  I push them together to help prevent moisture from getting in and freezing.  You can also cover these pots with leaves or straw for additional protection.

This one is not quite ready for storage.  I like to have all of the leaves die off before storing them for the winter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Collecting and Storing Hosta Seeds

Want to win some hosta seeds from the Cheesehead Garden?  Just leave a comment below, and you could win a packet of hosta seeds.  2 Winners will be picked November 27th.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bloom Day - 11-6-2011

This is what was still blooming on Sunday.  Today they are saying 2-4" of snow.  I am so not ready for snow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Digging up and storing four o'clock tubers

This summer I had decided to give Four O'Clocks another try. One of my online gardening friends had sent me tubers a few summers ago.  At first I didn't know what to expect from the box of roots, but they grew quickly and were beautiful.  So I'm not sure why I haven't added them to my garden again until now.   This year I started them from seeds.  The ones I planted in the front yard where they received lots of sun grew like gangbusters.  The ones in the back where my yard is shaded were very slow to grow.  Today I received a message on Facebook from a friend who wanted to know if she could dig up her cannas yet.  That message got me thinking.....could I dig up my Four O'Clock tubers and store them for the winter?  I marched right outside and started digging up my tubers.  Then I thought to message fellow twitter gardener Mr. Brownthumb if he had ever tried to store them, since I know he has grown them in his Chicago garden.  He said he did experiment with storing the tubers in a cool basement last winter, and this year was able to plant the tubers successfully.  So now that I have freshly dug up tubers that I am drying in my garage where it's cool and dry.  Once dry I plan on moving them into a box (with hole in side and top for air circulation) where I will layer them with newspaper and store them in my basement until spring.
My Four O'Clock's this summer.

Freshly dug up Four O'Clocks.

I clipped of the tops, and now just tubers are left.

I put them in a basket in my garage to dry before storing them for the winter.
If you are not already following Mr. BrownThumb blog, I highly recommend it!  Here is Mr. BrownThumb's video on how to collect Four O'Clock Seeds (love the reference to them looking like small grenades):

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Growing Tired of Gardening

OK, don't freak out.  I am not throwing my shovels to the curb!  I love gardening too much to give it up.  In fact, I would love to make it a full time job sometime in the future.  However, I always seem to reach a breaking point in gardening.  I don't know if I am alone in this, but I reach a point when I am just done with gardening for the season.  It always seems to be about the time when the weather starts growing colder and it's just not as enjoyable to be outside.
This hosta represents how I feel about gardening by fall.
By sometime in January or February I start to get the gardening itch again.  I just want to smell hostas, and dig my hand into some fresh dirt.  I visit greenhouses just to remember what a live plant looks and smells like again.

I wonder if it would be different if I lived in a climate where the weather was nice all year round?  Is it the weather change, or the fact that during the summer I just throw everything I have into garden that I burn myself out?  Am I a bad gardener?  Or are the others out there that feel gardening burn out?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snow in parts of Wisconsin

Parts of way northern Wisconsin
have received snow already. Which reminds me that if you have any tender perennials or other plants that can't take a hard frost, it's time to bring them inside at least the garage for now. I like to put them in the garage for a short time before bringing them in the house. I've learned my lesson after bringing many a spider or insects into the house with the plants. So now I put them in the garage and spray them with an organic bug spray, and let them then sit for a week or two before bringing them in the house.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rain barrel clean up

While the weather is still nice out, remember to drain and store your rain barrels for the winter.  Last winter I forgot, but I did at least leave my spigot open so all was good!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall is Great Time to Collect Seeds

Fall is a great time to collect seeds for next year's garden.  Some of the flowers/plants in your yard that are easy to collect seeds from are hosta, morning glories, tiger lilies, annuals such as marigolds, etc.  I usually go around the my yard armed with paper envelopes (you can use cheap dollar store envelopes, or make your own out of recycled magazine pages or paper following a pattern such as this) and pens/markers.  I keep the seeds in paper envelopes to make sure they are fully dried out, if there is some moisture still in them and you place them in plastic bags they will grow mold.  Once the seeds are collected I keep them in my unheated garage (they could also be kept in a refrigerator for a short time) until I am ready to use them again in spring.  Perennials seeds may require a cold stratification, where you store them in the refrigerator in a bag with something like sphagnum moss that has been moistened.  You can also winter sow a lot of perennial seeds.  By winter sow, I mean to plant them in containers and place them outside in winter and allow the natural elements do their thing.  I have winter sowed hosta and coneflowers with success.  I take a plastic bottle or old milk gallon and cut it in half.  I put a slightly moist sterilized soil in the bottom of the container and plant the seed(s), and then use duct tape to join the top and bottom halves of the containers once again.  Make sure the cap is off of the container  so it can collect rain or snow and place outside.  The container acts as a small greenhouse, and in spring when they plants are ready they will start to germinate.
The are the "seeds" (really bulbils) from my double tiger lilies.
Close up of tiger lily bulbil. These can be planted directly in the ground or stored with cold stratification method described above.
Scarlet Runner Bean seeds and Four o'clock seeds
Harvesting Scarlet Runner Bean Seeds.
Seeds inside the pods of my hardy hibiscus.
Blackberry lily seeds.
Four O'Clock seeds
Hosta seeds (sorry for fuzzy picture my husband has my camera hunting with him) they are the papery black seeds found inside the pods.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stealing my Leaves

The leaves really started to fall last week.  I woke up Saturday morning to see my neighbor boy, who is 8, raking all of the leaves out of my yard into his.  I wasn't about to stop him that's for sure.  The next morning he was at it again.  My husband and I went to breakfast, and when we came back he was still raking all of the leaves into his yard.  He spotted me getting out of the car and yelled to his younger sister, "Quick hide, we're stealing their leaves!"  

The neighbor's yard with our leaves.