Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Petunias On A Hill Part 2

Petunias On A Hill Part 1

Having increased the Petunia plug order another 100 to a total of 400, I had to scout out places for all these trailing Petunias. Consensus says plant each one 18-24 inches apart. Knowing how I like bushy or full color, I'm sure one can guess which number I'm looking at. My math. My math tells me it figures to be 36 plants every 100 square feet.

Hmmn. 400. But how many will not make it? 50? The first area mentioned previously looks to be around 230 square feet or 85 plants. A newly proposed area measuring 51 by ten feet totals 510 square feet or 180 plants. That leaves us with 85 considering 50 may not make it.

What's the new color? Pink. Huh? pink? I thought I didn't want any pink. Problem is the limited selection. But thinking it over those pink waves mother bought three years ago looked okay.

July 20, 2009

Where's The New Location?

Maybe I mentioned it previously but here goes. This is on the north side of the drive, same as the first area but further up. Sure it's rocky but the soil isn't starving with the PH tests I've done. And yes why not that rock wall I've been thinking of for a few years? It will be low as rocks are getting scarce around here. In fact it will be a tough job finding enough, or at least ones that are downhill from the area. I'm not pushing rocks up these hills anymore.

Test Plants

Having a number of petunias that survived the winter I have four test areas, or enough time to see how my soil mix works. It doesn't seem like the warm weather will quit

So Where Are The Other 85 Going?

This may take up 40 (in front of fence) including some in the larger flower pots.

How To Arrange Them In All Locations?

I don't know. Pink, purple one spot? All colors thrown in together?


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Burpee Electronic Soil Tester. Review. Buy Or Pass?

In typical fashion I should have done some research before I bought this twenty dollar gizmo at the local Lowes. But. I wasn't really looking for it. I did run out of the Mosser Lee Soil Master PH tablets for their kit, so the search was for more PH tabs...nope, natta, no way. I didn't think so anyway. You have to buy the whole kit again.

Okay. Soil tester. Has probes. Would you think it could just be jabbed into the ground and get a reading? I did. It's a messy procedure getting readings, if they make any sense. I decided to by both kits and make a comparison.

The Burpee tester requires mixing water with the soil taken (far more soil than the small cap full  required by Mosser). Then it's a fifteen minute wait until the soil gets saturated. Frankly I thought it was soaked the first 20 seconds when I stirred it. But I waited and poured off the excess water as instructed. Fifteen minutes gone and in goes one probe with the first of two samples being tested.

There are two settings. One for PH, and the other for "fertility." The PH setting did not move from above 7.0. Worthless toy I thought. I did wait the required two minutes while the probe was in the soil. Alrightie then let's move on to the second soil sample after cleaning the probes. Almost the same result, but the PH is coming down. Maybe it needs to warm up? Oh no, different soil location. Maybe it is working? Incidentally, no batteries required.

Next step, let's try the fertility setting (below). Now we're getting better results with the PH level. This by comparing the Mosser Lee tablet, water, and soil type test.

In the background we have the final results of the Mosser testing kit. PH readings are very similar, but the Burpee probe shows a finer result, if you want to believe.  The next photo result is the second sample also compared to the Mosser system.

Buy or pass? I'm taking the probe back. Reasons being I'm used to the other kit and find the Burpee procedure too long and messy. Yes, the Mosser kit only provides ten tablets for ten individual PH tests but I did discover the manufacturer of the tablets, LaMotte, sells 50 at a clip for about twelve bucks online.

I haven't done any serious soil testing around here except for the lawn a few years ago. This test was strictly for planting more Moon flowers along the fence line bordering the woods. No way would they grow like the ones last year up near the porch area with these kind of readings.

Solution: Remove existing soil and replace with soil from the successful area that includes gravel dirt and clay. Most would not think they would grow well in that setting, but they went nuts last year. Never fertilized either. Probably would have reduced the flowering had I done so anyway. Three vines, oodles of flowers, continuously for 3-4 weeks.

\Look for monster Moonie vines later this summer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Petunias On A Hill

Over the years hardly anything grew on this hill except for a few wildflowers and other assorted weeds. Surely because of the dryness because daffodils do okay during the rainier months of late winter. Now it's time to see if I can create a cascading flow of trailing Petunias in the area. I'm figuring one every 1 1/2 square feet (two feet?) or something like 100 plants.

The area gets very good sun nearly all year but doesn't begin seeing it until 11AM in the early summer. Soil is a little acidic or 5.0 PH. Consensus says Petunias are forgiving but like it in the 5.5 to 6.0 range. A few tests show the current soil in the 5.0 range. Add in some composted wood chip mulch and manure sitting nearby from the fall I'm thinking I could have success.

By adding a few soaker hose lines the moisture problem is resolved. This should be interesting. That takes care of 100 Petunias, where to place the other 200? Maybe I'll extend it further up the drive and take out the pine trees. I hope I don't run short. Order another 200 or so?

May weather in March...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

No Daffodil Sightings This Year

Oh, okay, a few here and there but the warm winter has many things ahead of schedule around here. One that has me surprised are Morning Glory seedlings, but this spot is an oasis of warmth in the late winter and early spring. Protected from northern winds and heat absorbed by the stone wall keeps it nice and toasty. Even a few Petunias made it through the winter but no flowering.

Others include perennial snapdragons, a few straggling violas or pansies that probably reseeded from the previous year. No mass plantings of violas and pansies this past winter. Below is about the only spot that also shows whitish daffodils. I don't recall the exact name but it appears they bloom 2-4 weeks after most of the common ones.

And loads of Moon flower seeds ready to drop. Three seeds per pod. I probably had 15 flowers (minimum) each day from mid August to late September. Basic math tells me I have about 400 seeds. I wonder if they'll come true this summer. Three original plants...massive. They'll be loads of these around here this year! Here, there, and everywhere.

Lookie here! A freaking healthy perennial from seed last year! Real healthy. Lupines I believe.

And how about those stubborn Columbines? Who knows. Third year for them.

A few yellow daffodils up the driveway, along with those same white ones shown earlier.

Added - About those Moonflower seeds. Most have either been destroyed by mold or became a nice winter meal for some insect critters. I managed to retrieve 50 or 60 while others of question just thrown under the porch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Forget The Seeds. Forget The Overpriced Plants At The Orange & Blue Places

Mentioned previously I want to try flower plugs this year from NCFarms. Having placed the order today for 600 plugs I'll be busy when they arrive. They're not the type that you can just plop in the ground and expect them to grow. At this stage they still need some tender care. Order should arrive the week of April 22, still a bit early as the average last frost hits about that date.

So they all need to be transplanted into something larger. I have oodles of containers piled neatly near the woods. Four inch to one gallon. I'm thinking of using the railroad tie garden along the driveway as a temporary nursery covered/tented with plastic sheathing. It gets plenty of sun each day and is protected from winds. Ideal for the 300 trailing petunias but could be too strong for the 300 coleus.

Coleus Selections: They all grow to knee high height and not those lousy ones that don't go higher than eight inches. Oh, they're all supposed to like full sun, but that orange color I had last year faded too much. No idea what the name was.

Coleus Oxblood
 Coleus Golda
Coleus Rustic Orange

Petunia Selections:

Trailing Purple

Trailing White
Trailing Red

Now that I look at them more, perhaps a different color other than red? Not pink, sorry.

About that irrigation. I think I'm going to abandon the green energy and go with a good gas powered pump. Lot's of great reviews on the Honda WX10. Only problem is climbing up and down that hill near the source.  Rocks, boulders, trees, you name it. A remote kill switch would be beautiful!

Local folks have a water tank (330 gal) or two for sale. Pricey though, off Craigslist. Only eight miles away. Fugly? Yes, but I could tuck it in the woods out of sight, covered with a green tarp.. Maybe I don't need it. The Honda has great numbers. Pressure, head, ease of use, etc. Plenty of tinkering with options before I consider a tank.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Beter Luck This Year

Now I'm finally getting into the mood. Petunias? They've impressed me off and on over the past few years. Problem is I have only a few spots for them and they're in the dry areas mentioned the other day. Hopefully that will be resolved this year with some kind of irrigation or...polymer crystals. But...these things that spread onto the driveway thrive in the dry heat. Must be the alkaline soil, and or the gravel does hold or keep some moisture somehow(Daves Garden contributor mentioned gravel to retain moisture).

Had I not transplanted a couple of dozen in early July to the next area, they would be massive. Both pictures taken August 17 last year. The bank area gets too shady come September so they do fade away.

Here's one problem dry area. Built two years ago it's never done well except for some crazy Celosia that grew kind of funky in 2010. Too ugly for me. Shown are standard Petunias same date. That's probably peak appearance. I think they were discounted by Lowes. Never did do well.

Getting mixed up between wave petunias and trailing Petunias over the years, it looks like the trailing wins around here. I'm almost certain that's what was started near the drive (top photo) in 2008 or 2009 and they've come roaring back each year. My waves (seed) from last year didn't wave too well. More like just stick up and that's it. Cutting back didn't help.

So that leads me to this years option. NC Farms. They offer 105 plug flats for about $40.00 each. At least I'll be a few months ahead of schedule when we consider seeded petunias or reseed don't really start growing until late June. Order? Hold on. About 400 petunia plugs and 300 coleus. Should be interesting. Oodles of color hopefully.

Oh did I mention the dismal failure of growing petunia from seed this year in Florida? 200 plug flat started in mid January...three itty bitty seedlings. I thought mother would have Petunias out her ears this summer. Not so. I probably let them dry out one or two days.