Stained Glass Hosta

My Stained Glass Hosta is starting to bloom! I didn't think it would this year, largely because I got the plants (two of them) quite late.

Here's what I've found out about this new addition to my garden:

  • They grow in zones 3 - 9.
  • They are perennial.
  • They bloom in late summer or fall (mine bloomed near the end of September).
  • The blossoms are very fragrant.
  • They are very sun tolerant, although prefer some shade.
  • They prefer rich and moist, but well drained soil.
  • They attract bees, birds and butterflies.
  • They divide easily, and root easily in water.
  • Here's how Wikipedia defines "hosta":

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PH Scale (My Version Of)

This chart is a work in progress, and I'm not a botanist or chemist... I put it together as a guide for myself re: my plants and how they are compatible with the soil in my garden based on some of the types of things I compost. There are a few items on there that I don't compost, such as milk, that I've included just for interest.

(If you double click on the chart you'll be able to see a larger version of it.)

I've noticed an interesting thing: I drink a lot of coffee, which is acidic, and I compost all of the grinds and filters. On the other hand, we eat very few eggs (the shells of which contain lime, which can make your soil more alkaline).

I haven't been able to grow lettuce for the past two years, and you'll notice on my chart that lettuce tends to prefer less acidic soil. My strawberry plants, on the other hand, are thriving (they apparently appreciate my morning cups of java ;)

This adds an interesting element to garden bed planning and composting. I could create two compost piles (one for coffee grinds and one without) but that complicates crop rotation (i.e. potatoes). Instead, I think the easiest thing to do at this point is to not compost all of my coffee grinds...

Oh and look where Geraniums are on the scale - they really don't like coffee!! On an impulse one day (before learning about PH) I dumped some cold coffee over the soil of a couple of geranium cuttings I have on my counter. Now they're not so happy. Oops...

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Can You Root A Rosemary Cutting?

This is my second attempt to root a Rosemary cutting. The first time was successful, only to eventually die after it was planted in soil (not sure why - it might have been too small to survive the winter outside?).

I thought I'd try again, this time indoors. I checked my cutting today and noticed something interesting.

Last time the roots formed at the very bottom of the cutting, but this time the roots are growing out from where the green needles are, with no trace of roots at the bottom.

I'm curious to see how this cutting fares once I plant it (maybe tomorrow?). I'm planning to keep this one indoors over the winter. Wish me luck!

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Saving Garden Peas For Next Year's Seeds

I purposely left my peas planted this year, long after I'd finished picking them, so that the leftover peas could dry out enough to be saved for next year's planting. (This took longer than I thought it would, as interestingly enough the pods were the last part of the plants to stay green - the plants seemed to direct most of the water and nutrients they absorbed to the pods and peas).

Today they were finally dry enough. I managed to find about 20 (see pic) that I can save for next year, and as I was scrounging around I pulled up what I though must have been a weed... nope! A fallen pea had started the next generation of plants already (foreground of pic).

Nature definitely knows how to take good care of things :)

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My Asters And Other Ways To Attract Bees

A quick footnote to my last post about Asters: the bees love my new plant! I've noticed an increase in their numbers since its arrival, and every time I stop to look at the flowers, I see several bees hard at work.

This got me thinking about pollinating my fruit and veggie plants in the back yard (I planted my Asters in the front), and I thought what a shame that Asters are late bloomers. But wait, I could certainly look into other bee-attracting tips, couldn't I?

Here's what I found out:

  • Plant a variety of florals that will bloom in stages all season, that way you always have a place for bees to come.
  • Bees like a wider variety of blooms (as opposed to many of the same kind).
  • There are many herbs that attract bees (check! I have some in my garden already).
  • Provide a water source (like a small pond). Bees need water as well as nectar.
  • Do not use pesticides. I already don't, but it's still an important point (and one that makes sense).
  • Leave a portion of your garden as bare dirt (i.e. mulch and plastic free) to allow for bees that lay eggs in small tunnels under ground.
  • Leaving blooming weeds, such as dandelions, buttercups and white clover, can attract bees as well.
  • Here's a link to an article that lists good bee-attracting plants: Buzzworthy Plants That Attract Bees, by Brian Clark Howard.
The wheels in my head are turning now, generating a to-do list:
  1. Get a bird bath for the veggie garden.
  2. Plant some marigolds all around the perimeter of the veggie garden, and maybe some black eyed susans inside.
  3. Add more herbs, and spread them out throughout the garden instead of having them clumped in one area.
  4. And the list goes on...
Happy bee luring!!

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I have yet another addition to my garden! I bought a small Aster plant recently, and now wish I'd bought two or three. I chose this colour (see picture) because it's my daughter's favourite :) Here is some information about Asters:

  • They are late bloomers, brightening up the garden in late summer and fall, and blooming until frost.
  • They attract butterflies, moths, bees, and even birds if they're left to go to seed.
  • They are perennials :)
  • If you divide your Aster plant every two or three years, it's appearance will benefit. Divide plants in the spring once they have finished blooming: remove older less healthy areas and replant the fresh, newer growth.
  • Watch out for powdery mildew: don't crowd plants, as this will prevent air circulation, and try to keep the leaves dry when watering.
  • Asters can be propagated from seeds or cuttings (at the moment I have a cutting from the plant I bought, in some water :)
  • Asters can grow in zones 4 - 8.
  • They prefer full sun.
  • "Aster" is Greek for "star".

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Can You Grow A Japanese Maple From A Cutting?

I love Japanese Maples! We have one in our back yard, and I'd love to have one in the front as well. I hadn't even considered the option of propagating a new tree from a cutting, until I stumbled upon the idea here. I surfed around again and found more info here.

I think I'm definitely going to try. I'll have to look at our tree to see if there is any new growth I can clip to use - otherwise I might have to wait until spring.

Here's a summary:

  • Use a cutting from new growth, between 6 and 8 inches long.
  • Cut at an angle where a leaf meets the stem.
  • Remove all but the last two or three leaves.
  • Dip in a rooting hormone (such as Rootone).
  • Put cutting in moist perlite.
  • Maintain humidity (seal in plastic, or mist regularly).
  • Place somewhere with good light.
  • Once roots have appeared (about 8 weeks later), you can then move the cutting out doors, if you allow it to gradually adjust to the new temperature.
  • Plant in the ground at least a month before the first frost.

Rooting success is apparently related to the age of the tree - the younger the tree, the more likely your cuttings will be to survive. I'm not sure how old our JM is, other than the fact that it was an established tree when we bought our house, eight years ago. Hmmm. (I'm still going to try ;)

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