Category: Gardening

Aug 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Zingy Zinnias

My father grew lots of zinnias every year. Vases of the colorful blossoms filled the house all summer. Anyone he visited (or who visited him) received one of his arrangements, often in a coffee can covered with aluminum foil. Cut-and-Come-Again is a common nickname for zinnias. The plants sole purpose in life is to make seed. Cutting the flowers before they go to seed (also known as deadheading) makes the plant produce more flowers — typically two for every one you cut. My vase (above) is overly crowded after deadheading my garden. Because they’re plentiful in garden centers, the shrubby, heavy-blooming Profusion variety are typically the only zinnias in my garden. These (above) are orange. They also come in pink …

Jul 25, 2020
By Michael Rupured

Growing Conditions

Success in the garden involves numerous factors. Some you can control, some you can’t. Rain, wind, and sun exposure are beyond your control. Choosing the right plant for the growing conditions is the difference between failure and success. “Growing conditions” covers a lot of ground. Every plant has different needs related to light, moisture, temperature, and soil. The better the match between conditions and plant needs, the happier the plant will be. Some varieties are very exacting, but most will tolerate some variance. Knowing your USDA Hardiness Zone is the first step, especially for permanent plantings. Tea olives and camellias thrive here in my Georgia (Zone 7b) garden but can’t survive Kentucky (Zone 6) winters. Bluegrass, lilacs, and carnations won’t …

Jul 20, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Watering the Garden

Watering the Garden

It’s hot! Highs consistently into the 90s and triple-digit heat indexes are the new normal. The abundant rain we had earlier this summer has ceased. Watering has become an almost daily task. I’ve tried just about every type of watering device ever invented. By and large, the results have been disappointing. They’re flimsy, hard-to-control, wasteful, and/or otherwise less than satisfactory. A slow, steady rain over several hours is ideal. Short-lived summer showers mostly evaporate or run off. Longer showers enable the water to soak deeper into the root zone. The rule of thumb is an inch of water every week, depending on factors such as humidity, type of plant, and soil type — to name a few. Hand-watering with a …

Jul 09, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Last week was plenty hot with high temperatures into the 90s. As summers go here in the Deep South, this one, so far, has otherwise been relatively mild. I’ve had to water a bit in between nice, soaking rains. Maybe ten percent of the zinnias have bloomed. So far, flowers have mostly been various shades of pink. That should change in the weeks ahead. I planted mixed colors of five different varieties in the same area. I’m harvesting Midnight Snack cherry tomatoes. As you can see, they’re rather eye-catching. The flavor is decent — almost as good as a “real” tomato. In other tomato news, my Cherokee Purple tomato is, in fact, a Beefsteak. I’ll pay more attention next year. …

Jun 24, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Mystery Tomato Identified

Mystery Tomato Identified

The wild and crazy Cherokee Purple tomato plant featured a couple of posts ago continues to grow much faster than my other tomatoes. The vines are twice as tall and extend beyond the top of the cage. The other three tomato plants don’t even come close. The giant plant is covered with clusters of fruit. Each little tomato is purple on top with a green bottom. Looks like I’m in for a bumper crop. I don’t recall ever seeing so many fruit on one plant. A visitor who works with local farmers thought the robust plant was a chocolate grape tomato. The name refers to the size and color of ripe fruit — not the flavor. I despise cherry tomatoes, …

Jun 19, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Today is the last full day of spring. Thanks to mild weather and abundant rain, new arrivals to the garden are well-established and off to a good start. So far, so good. Eye-catching color combos fill the back border this year. Whether “eye-catching” is a good or bad thing depends on your point of view. Grouping varieties together for larger color blocks seems to make vibrant clashes work. Above, magenta Wave petunias, electric-orange sun-patiens, and several varieties of coleus are grouped together. The broad-leaved seedlings in the picture above are zinnias. I planted seed for those between the sun-patiens and coleus. The rest are volunteers from last year’s zinnias. Controlling color is next to impossible with annuals. The bottom-most New …

Jun 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden: Tomatoes

This Week in the Garden: Tomatoes

Real estate is limited in my little garden. Location is everything. Demand is high for a limited supply of desirable spots. It doesn’t happen often, but plants that fail to meet expectations get evicted. Plant selection reduces evictions. Different plants have specific needs and tolerances for temperature, water, light, and soil chemistry. Selecting an appropriate plant for the spot often involves some trial and error. Labels help, but don’t always include everything you need to know. Few things taste better than a vine-ripened home-grown tomato. Growing them has been a challenge for me here in Georgia. My mouth waters and my eyes tear up when I think about the grocery bags of surplus tomatoes I gave away every summer back …

May 31, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on This Week in the Garden

This Week in the Garden

Staying home for the past few months has meant more time in the garden. Compared to previous years, I got off to a late start. Took a while to work up the nerve to hit garden centers. Fortunately, mild temperatures and plenty of rain extended the planting season. Planting in the root zone of a tree is asking for trouble, but the space begs for something. I tried a few things last year, and was stunned when they returned this spring. A mix of dianthus, petunias and impatiens are doing well so far. I cut several struggling boxwoods to the ground to make room for annuals until I make up my mind about permanent replacements. You can barely make out …

May 08, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Impulsive Garden

My Impulsive Garden

I’m an impulse gardener. Browsing catalogs and garden centers for additions that catch my eye makes me happy. Planning doesn’t suit my style and never works for me anyway. Limiting myself to annuals simplifies things and gives me the chance to start over with new plants every year. Skipping fall planting to improve the soil left all my planting beds barren. The surprise reappearance in late January of two varieties (cyclamen and primula) prompted an outing in search of companions. I’d mostly filled up the flower bed they’re in before COVD-19 brought everything to a screeching halt. Undeterred by a little pandemic, I immediately went online in search of tomatoes, peppers, and bedding plants. Shipping veggie plants to Georgia is …

Dec 10, 2019
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on My Green Thumb

My Green Thumb

A knack for growing things is in my blood. The gift comes from Dad’s side of the family. I used to think growing plants successfully was a skill anyone could learn. Experience has taught me that’s not the case. Plant killers are everywhere. Nobody sets out to kill potted plants. Victims tend to be gifts. Plant killers mean well, but know ending up with them is a death sentence for the plant. Eventually, they stop wasting time and money trying. At times, my collection has gotten out of hand. Keeping that from happening has been a priority since I moved seven years ago. All but three reside on my kitchen table. The Christmas Cacti and anthurium (I have two of …