Category: Gardening

Nov 15, 2022
By Michael Rupured

Fall Garden 3.0

My third serious attempt at a fall garden is in. This time, I started all the veggies from seed. Tootsie “helped.” Back in June, I started some Foxgloves and Canterbury bells inside. These beauties are biannual, blooming in the second year and then dying. I’m testing my hypothesis that going through winter triggers bloom — not the age of the plant. Will fall-planted specimens do as well as those planted in spring? I predict shorter stalks with fewer blooms. Two flats of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, cabbage, and spinach went under lights in early August. Once they came up, I moved the flats to a shady spot outside. Keeping Tootsie away was a challenge. She didn’t bother the plants, but …

May 14, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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May Flowers

Hard to believe nearly a month has passed since my last post. Funny how time flies when you’re retired. Just thinking about work is enough to stress me out, and blogging often feels like work. Running was the subject of my last post. Since then, I’ve logged 20-25 miles a week running three to six miles just about every day. My weight has dropped two more pounds. The new goal is 180 pounds. A garden update is long overdue. The seed-starting operation closed for the season weeks ago. Many of the summer annuals are in bloom with lots more to come. The biennials I started from seed last year are blooming. The foxgloves have just peaked and never needed staking. …

Mar 31, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Wishful Thinking Disorder

Confession time. Wishful Thinking Disorder (WTD) has plagued me for as long as I can remember. WTD is essentially optimism on steroids. My glass isn’t just half-full — It’s going to run over any day now. This time of year is particularly difficult for WTD gardeners. Symptoms kick into high gear around Ground Hog’s Day. How soon can I plant stuff? In January, a web site with daily forecasts predicted no frost for the next 90 days. I planned my seed-starting operation accordingly. Silly old man. The forecast on my phone changes every time I check — sometimes dramatically. Accuracy is often laughable. I know this, and yet, WTD made me believe the rosy forecast would be 100% correct. Imagine …

Mar 07, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Pond Tunes

The water feature in my backyard is coming up on a year old. Tending to its residents (five goldfish and a few snails) has been fun and little to no trouble. I especially enjoy the sound of water cascading between levels. When windows are open, the pond tune carries throughout the house. Winter was trouble-free — until one night when the temperature dropped into the low-twenties. A thick layer of ice formed across the top of the nearly empty pond. Instead of recirculating, the water continued to freeze and pile up in the connecting ponds. The fish were swimming in about three inches of water but survived. Lesson learned. Next time it’s supposed to get that cold, unplug the pump. …

Feb 16, 2022
By Michael Rupured

Nursery Update

My little seed-starting operation is going gangbusters. Some of everything I planted germinated — including several varieties that didn’t come up last year. This unprecedented success was a nice surprise that meant running out of room sooner than expected. I hit the max (eight flats) earlier this month and would have been in trouble had all the coleus cuttings survived. Fortunately, warmer weather arrived before I had to expand to the kitchen table. Making the most of the space I had was a challenge. Turning flats (from end-to-end to side-to-side) doubles capacity on the shelves but is less than optimal for lighting. Flats have to be rearranged every day to keep seedlings from leaning. The closer to the light, the …

Jan 27, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Garden 2022: The Nursery

Since downsizing in 2012, I’ve chosen to fill my garden with annuals. They’re colorful, fast-growing, widely available, and easy to grow. Changing things up every year also appeals to me. Browsing garden centers is a related hobby. Impulse purchases are common. Last winter, I bought a timer, LED light and cold frame to grow plants from seed. Despite a late start, home-grown plants filled most of the garden all summer and fall. I learned a lot in the process and am growing even more from seed this year — so much I fear there won’t be room for any impulse purchases. Browsing seed catalogs is almost as fun as hitting garden centers. Catalogs offer pages and pages of different varieties …

Jun 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Wall o’ Maters

My track record for growing tomatoes is decidedly mixed. Back in Kentucky years ago, a handful of plants routinely yielded tomatoes for me, my family, neighbors and coworkers. Since moving to Georgia, ripe tomatoes have been few and far between. The 2021 crop is shaping up to be an exception. This year’s plants are the healthiest and most robust I’ve ever seen. The cause is hard to determine with any certainty. Too many factors have changed since last year to point to any one in particular. Success this year is likely due to a combination of changes. The spot where the tomatoes are growing was home to a big magnolia last year. The “virgin” soil makes a difference. Growing tomatoes …

Jun 06, 2021
By Michael Rupured

My Plant Babies

Growing flowers and vegetables from seed this year has been largely successful. Nearly everything came up and, along with garden center acquisitions, found a home in the garden. I love them all, but my home-grown babies hold a special place in my heart. Sweet alyssum was the first of my plant babies to bloom and perhaps the easiest to start. They sprout within a few days, start to bloom in a matter of weeks, and keep producing masses of honey-scented flowers for months. Volunteer seedlings are likely next year and, unlike some self-seeders, are easily managed. Marigolds were next to bloom. I started two varieties: ‘Strawberry Blonde’ and ‘Elevate’. The latter is extra-tall at maturity (30 to 40 inches) with …

Apr 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Plant Factory Update

The little seed-starting operation I set up in January has been a success. I’ve grown hundreds of flower and vegetable plants from seed and counting. The exact number or even a good estimate is unknown — I’ll keep better records next year. At least a few plants came up of everything I planted. Varieties include black-eyed Susan, Canterbury bells, foxglove, delphinium, calendula (pot marigold), sweet allysum, petunias, marigolds (2 varieties), zinnias (2 varieties), tithonia (Mexican sunflower), love-lies-bleeding, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and a ton of lettuce (3 varieties). ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias were the exception. The microscopic seed are slow to germinate. Algae covered the seed-starting mix before they had time to sprout. I’ve had the same issue with petunias. A …

Apr 14, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Just Add Water

When I was young, Dad built a fountain with brick, ceramic tile, a recirculating pump, and a concrete mermaid. He bored a hole in the bottom of the statue for water to flow into the pond below. Unable to make the turn to reach her mouth, water gushed from the seated mermaid’s crotch. Despite the glitch, the fountain provided years of enjoyment. Several goldfish thrived until the above-ground pool froze solid. After it thawed, we were amazed to find them alive and well instead of floating belly-up. Inspired by friends who’d created a beautiful waterfall for next to nothing, my first water feature was made with rocks picked up from the side of Central Kentucky roads and a waterbed mattress. …