Category: Gardening

Feb 19, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Winter Garden Update

Mild weather has been the norm in Athens this winter. My garden experiment has turned out better than expected. We’ve had a few cold spells with below-freezing temperatures, but the polar vortex stayed well north of here. The coldest weather is behind us. Lows two or three degrees below freezing won’t hurt anything I planted. Locating the garden between a heat-retaining dry-streambed and the shelter of an eight-foot privacy fence offered aditional protection. I was prepared for colder temps, but never had to cover things up. A winter harvest was unlikely. Cool season crops need to be in the ground in August or September when it’s too hot here for the plants to survive. Planting before late October is a …

Feb 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Accidental Orchids

About this time last year, I decided to reclaim my kitchen table, home to the orchid collection I’ve nurtured since 2012. None of my orchids showed any sign of blooming. Some haven’t bloomed for years. Several didn’t look very healthy, and a couple appeared to have crossed to the other side. I wanted to throw the entire collection in the trash. They’d lived longer and bloomed more than I ever expected. Time to move on. I couldn’t do it. Except for a couple too far gone to rescue, I put them outside under a magnolia tree and more or less forgot about them. Thanks to the wettest summer on record here in Athens and contrary to my expectations, they survived. …

Jan 07, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Winter Garden Update

Last fall, the weather folks forecast a milder-than-average winter for North Georgia. Compared to Kentucky where I grew up, even tbe worst winters here in Athens are mild. I decided to take my chances on a winter garden. The results, so far, have exceeded my expectations. In previous years, I planted pansies and violas in the fall and nothing else until February or later. Emboldened by the forecast, I set out collards, cauliflower, and broccoli plants. I also sewed seed for turnips and peas. I like turnips, and they are easy to grow. Fresh peas are vastly superior to canned or frozen. Snapdragons are another experiment in my winter garden. Snapdragons, petnuias and diantus and other half-hardy annuals can surive …

Oct 29, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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A Winter Garden

Mild winters are one of my favorite things about living in the Deep South. Blizzards and subzero temperatures are extremely rare, and cold spells never last for more than a few days. Clear, sunny skies and highs well above freezing are the norm. In Kentucky, hard freezes in mid-to-late October pretty much put an end to the garden. November, December, and January were dedicated to plotting and scheming for the coming season. With few exceptions, nothing blooms until the early season bulbs come up in late January and early February. The growing season in Athens is much longer. Something is blooming just about all year. Camellias carry much of the load from November to March, with numerous others contributing for a …

Sep 17, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Orchid Redux

Since purchasing the first in 2012, my orchid collection has grown. I’ve bought a few. Friends have given me orchids they gave up on too. The result is a kitchen table overflowing with them. I blogged about my success with orchids late last year. You can see that post here. It even has pictures! Bragging is asking for trouble. Problems appeared almost right away. In addition to the wrinkled leaves I’d seen in the past, leaves on a few plants had turned black in the center. Root rot may have been the cause. Inconsistent watering may also have played a role. On rainy days I’ll sometimes drag all my plants outside. They may not care, but I feel like the fresh …

Jun 04, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Little Garden

My garden is ready for a long, hot Georgia summer. A ton of rain helped. We’re six inches above normal for this time of year — most of that coming in May. Getting all the new arrivals into the ground early helped too. I’ve gardened for more than thirty years. Space constraints limited options with my first two, leading me to buy a house with a ginormous yard for #3. Over the next ten years, I accumulated more than 600 varieties of ornamental plants. Taking care of the sprawling landscape and spacious house by myself was too much, so in 2012 I downsized. The first year or two, I didn’t do much in the yard beyond mowing. Not having to …

May 28, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Savoring Solitude

Ten weeks have passed since the unexpected death of my ex and best friend. Our seventeen-year relationship was complicated — especially the last few years. Adjusting to life without him is an ongoing process. How am I doing? Mom says I’m doing great. Arguing with her is pointless, but in this case, I’m inclined to agree with her assessment. Life goes on. Commitments must be honored and stuff that comes up at home and at work has to be dealt with. Letting things pile up just makes for a bigger mess. After wrapping up several projects last week, I’m caught up at the day job for the first time this year. I’m still crazy busy, but the pressure is off — …

Nov 27, 2017
By Michael Rupured
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Orchid Surprise

I got my first orchids after moving into a freshly remodeled house five years ago. Home renovation shows always include an orchid or two in the “after” footage. I thought it was a rule. Though space for a plant was limited, the master bathroom seemed like an ideal location. My first two selections were miniatures with variegated foliage and mauve-ish flowers on four-inch stems. They were small, in pots that matched my color scheme, and inexpensive. Dormant orchids in net bags rather than pots were so cheap, I decided to try one of them as well. The bathroom wasn’t nearly as well lit as I thought. After a few weeks, I moved my trio of orchids to my kitchen table. It’s …

Oct 05, 2015
By Michael Rupured
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My Backyard

Outdoor spaces where I’ve lived over the years haven’t been very functional. I blame myself. Once the gardening bug bit, I viewed each potential new residence more for garden potential than anything else. Functionality never entered my mind. The garden I abandoned three years ago contained more than 600 varieties. When I bought the place nearly two decades ago, I visualized a garden worthy of a spot on the hoity-toity ladies’ garden tour. Deer, drought, fire ants, and Bermuda grass conspired against me. Throw in heat, humidity, budget constraints, and the size of the yard, and I never stood a chance. A walk through the garden was pleasant enough, but the overall setup wasn’t conducive to lingering. The peculiar lot lacked even a …

Sep 21, 2015
By Michael Rupured
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Home-Grown Tomatoes

The older I get, the more I appreciate the taste of a good, home-grown tomato. Back in Kentucky the plants went in the ground toward the middle of May with hopes the first fruit would ripen by the Fourth of July. Without buying big plants or cherry tomatoes, the first ripe tomato rarely appear before the end of July. Within a week or two everyone I knew had baskets of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers they couldn’t eat. My first summer in Georgia I had a Kentucky-style tomato harvest. Coworkers and neighbors welcomed the surplus. That was almost twenty years ago. Since then, thanks to deer, drought and/or excessive heat,  I’ve had precious little luck growing them. A few years ago, I bought a …