Category: Gardening

Jun 24, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 …

Aug 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Climate Change & My Garden

More than thirty days with little rain and highs above 90 degrees have taken a toll on my little garden. After much deliberation, debate, and a water bill three times the usual amount, I decided to withhold life support. Since pulling the plug, we’ve had some rain — not much, but enough to keep things alive a little longer. How long remains to be seen. Hot, dry conditions will likely persist into October. Keeping my summer garden alive is not a new struggle. Heat, drought, and an abundance of deer have long conspired against me. Though I grow tomatoes every year, ripe fruit are nearly as rare as snow in summer. By comparison, my first winter garden was a nearly …

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 …