Friends? Gardeners? Anyone out there?

Dear determined gardening friends, Indy and Dee in particular,

If anyone saw my garden this very minute they would be shocked and dismayed. SHOCKED! I tell you.

The new sandstone retaining wall is about half finished. Some of the rudbeckia have escaped the perennial borders and are growing in the middle of the lawn. Yet, in those same perennial borders, you can find big gaping empty places where I finally got fed up with poor performers and ripped them out by their heads. Fair warning to the tomatoes: if they don’t get their act together and start producing, they, too, will meet an untimely death at the hands of the head gardener.

What really got my knickers in a twist today was the chomp, chomp, chomp and clickety click of the G.D. grasshoppers. Some of these nasties are 2 and a half inches long. They are eating huge holes in my plants and shredding the garden. There are over 1000 varieties of grasshoppers in North America. Oh joy. Plus,the voracious black vine weevils have stripped my Otto laurels and left nothing but the midribs of some leaves…and their telltale pinking-shear bite marks around the edge of the other leaves. Seems to be an especially bad year for these bugs. I checked with my other gardening pros, and they are all fighting the fight against these two evil doers.

I live 30 feet from the Boise National Forest and the Foothills with a capital F. Eradicating the pests is akin to putting out a fire with a teaspoon of water. The hoppers are sitting across the street, thinking, whoaaaaaa, look at that oasis of tastiness a few hops away! And the hordes descend. Part of this is my fault and I know it. I have a good layer of mulch on all my perennial beds in an effort to retain moisture and this in turn, makes a perfect hiding/breeding place for the weevils and nice green plants (even though they are quite drought tolerant) look like a smorgasboard to the hoppers.

grasshoppers

I have a couple of plans in place: the first one includes a serious dusting of the patio containers with diatomaceous earth. I will follow that application with a spray of Safer brand Insect Soap & Pyrethrin. Both of these controls are considered organic. If these tricks fail, I’ll know in a day or two and will pull out the big guns. Next up, Neem oil w/the insecticidal soap. My only other options are unacceptable: remove the mulch (not gonna do it, mulch is there to aid in moisture retention and I spent hours and $$ putting down the mulch); and/or soil drench with stuff that is so dang toxic, well, even I won’t use it.

Even the dog has done his part to help with the plague of hoppers. He stalks them for hours, catches them in his mouth, carries them over to the lawn where he spits them out (Good Boy!) and rolls on them. Slow but charming.

Not much else is going on this week in my garden. The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are prolific. I picked an BIG tomato yesterday, I think it was Black Brandywine (tag is lost, of course). It made a fine contribution to a delicious BLT. So much so, I declared this week the Official Week of BLT sandwiches. Oh, and I have some long thin eggplants trying to ripen.

We had one of the coolest days on record for Boise in August. It was all of 60 degrees on Friday with a lot of much loved rain. Here we are, in the desert, and after two days of coolth and a nice rain, people were bitching for summer to return.

And that, friends and gardeners, is life in the Wild West, Week 23, of the 2009 garden at Ranch du Bois. Cowboy up!

Your pal,
Ida

GBBD July 15, 2009

Not to be left out of the big doin’s, here’s my little upload for Bloom Day, July 2009-a small selection of what is blooming in the garden at Ranch du Bois. It is blazing hot and hard to photograph all the lovelies right now. Heck, its hard to even LIKE the lovelies when it is 100 degrees in the shade.

Old fashioned petunias and Profusion series zinnias
Old fashioned petunias and Profusion series zinnias
Globemallow + winecups
Globemallow + winecups
My little golden darlings. Apricots. Sweeter than sweet
My little golden darlings. Apricots. Sweeter than sweet
Echinacea purple and white + rosa chinensis mutabilis
Echinacea purple and white + rosa chinensis mutabilis
Liatris Kobold
Liatris Kobold
Grosso lavender covered with honey bees, rudbeckia, verbena b, and apple espaliers
Grosso lavender covered with honey bees, rudbeckia, verbena b, and apple espaliers

Here and there you will also find: Veronica ‘Royal Candles’, persicaria ‘Firetail’, miscellaneous salvia greggiis, a brown turkey fig, delosperma ‘Table Mountain’, hesperaloe, eryngium, penstemons, agastaches, and tomatoes.

Dear Friends and Gardeners (week 18)

Dear Carol and Dee,

Once again, I am amazed: WEEK 18??? What the heck? July 5th? Where do the days go? Days, where do the weeks go?

Not a great deal to report from Ranch du Bois. Rasberries still producing in spite of high 80’s/90/s heat.

I cannot WAIT till the day I can write to you two and tell you I am in knee deep in tomatoes and getting sick of them. I find myself staring at the tomatoes, saying to them under my breath, “Grow, dammit!” I am one of those people would not be caught dead buying tomatoes from a grocery store. If I buy them, ever, they are locally grown and from a farm stand. We just don’t use sliced tomatoes out of season. So, it is with bated breath I wait for the warm ripe tomatoes from the garden. All I can think of is how good some Insalata Caprese would be right now. That’s the simple salad of sliced tomatoes, torn basil, and sliced fresh mozzerella. I have the fresh basil and some mozzerella on hand. Come ON tomatoes!

I pruned the apple espaliers yesterday. I filled up an entire garbage can with the branches. There aren’t a lot of apples, in fact, I was pretty darn disappointed. There might be a couple of dozen apples, and that’s the extent of it. I do know the dog has made off with the Granny Smiths from the bottom branches. I noticed some of the cottony mildew in the congested, areas – those places really needed to be cleaned up and opened up to the air and sunlight. I sent a boatload of earwigs scurrying. I hate those critters.

The dog has also helped himself to the low hanging fruit on my new fig tree. I’ve raised it up on a double stacked pot until I can figure out a stable, out of reach place for it. Bad dog.

True confessions: I counted yesterday, before I hid them from the prying eyes of my gardening friends, 21 small pots (4 inchers) of plants that need to go in the ground pronto. Let me put it this way, if they don’t get planted this week, I might as well kiss them goodbye. I am not going to do the math on this, but suffice it to say, if I blow it, I might as well light a match to a C note. Will I ever learn not to buy a plant if I don’t have a place for it?. Arrrrrgggggh. Its definitely akin to my fabric habit. I hoard fabric. There. Out in the open. Is there a 12 step program for plantaholics?

I am planning to spend the next few mornings in the garden taking advantage of the cooler temps. The afternoons will be for catching up on my writing about Idaho Gardens. Next weekend, a big treat for me: the Sawtooth Botanical Garden tour in central Idaho. My chance to be a tourist in OPGs. Other Peoples’ Gardens. I am so looking forward to it. I’ve also been on the prowl for gardens for the 2010 garden tour in Boise. Man, you get some strange looks when you start cruising the alleys, the same ones, again and again and again, trying to get a look inside the back fence.

Until next week, be cool.

Your pal,
MA

ps, I forgot to tell you, my Cueball squash bit the dust. Actually, the little darling was yanked out of the bed by its head and left to wither and die in the heat. We are not even gonna talk about who committed such an offense, just know it wasn’t me.

GBBD for June 2009

To all my fellow Idaho gardeners/garden bloggers, I hope you are doing the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Its not too late to run out side, snap some picks and link over to May Dreams Gardens. Come on!

Here’s my offering for June:

Hardy fuschia 'Gartenmeister'
Hardy fuschia 'Gartenmeister'
Good ol' fashioned tiger lilies
Good ol' fashioned tiger lilies
Knautia, delosperma, penstemon and callirhoe
Knautia, delosperma, penstemon and callirhoe
callicarpa 'Profusion' aka Beautyberry
callicarpa 'Profusion' aka Beautyberry
penstemon Prairie Jewel
penstemon Prairie Jewel
Moonglow juniper, geranium Roxanne

Yes, there’s more: penstemon barbatus, penstemon psueudospectabilis, veronica Royal Candles, rosa chinensis mutabilis, calendula, and verbena bonariensis.

And it’s stopped raining for a few minutes~!

Dear Friends and Gardeners, Dee and Carol, week 14

Dear Dee and Carol,

Whoooaaaaa Nelly! Week 14? What’s with that? It means we have been in the garden for more than 3 months. OK, its the first of June, back it up: first of May, first of April, first of March. I guess we have been gardening for a couple of weeks. Time flies when you are having fun. Speaking of which –

It was so good to see you and spend time with you in Chicago last week. Four whole days of running crazy busy in Chicago trying to see as many gardens as we possibly could in such a short amount of time and over such a huge city area. (Long exhausting sentence and weekend to match). Let’s see: we were in the Chicago Botanical Garden(s), the magnificent Lurie at Millenium Park, the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lily Pools,Carolyn Gail’s lovely home and garden, the private-yet-restaurant-related garden of Rick Bayless (Mexico One Plate at a Time/Frontera Grill/Topolambampo), Grandmother’s Garden near the conservatory, and I know I missed some along the way. Whew. I have yet to recover from Chicago but already looking forward to doing Buffalo big time in 2010.

Home again home again. While I was gone, we had a little rain and a lot of sun. This late spring season has been especially kind this year. The garden is lush and green and bursting at the seams. The first crop of greens have all bolted and been pulled to make way for hot summer annuals. I have a long galvanized planter which, in a previous life, was part of a room divider/half wall in my 1959 rancho deluxo house. Flyboy is going to put some holes in the bottom of this funky planter. It measures about 12 inches deep x five feet long x 9 inches wide. The plan is to fill it with potting mix and place it on the side of the house where it will get shade in the hottest part of the day, yet get plenty of morning sun. I am going to plant it with a mix of various salad greens/arugula/basils.

I have to get in an make some room for the Cue Ball, Eight Ball and One Ball zukes. Thanks, Indy, for the seeds. I have just the place for them. I am ripping out a big 4 foot x 4 foot area of orange oriental poppies. They do not belong in this bed and I don’t have to leave them there. The plant was supposed to have been Patty’s Plum and it is so NOT plum. In the same bed, I have another goof up, a huge stand of dirty yellow iris with a brownish purple edge. Now, I love love love tall bearded iris, but this is not a color to behold, so out they come. And don’t even ask me how they got there. It is not a color I would have chosen in a million years. I think they were mislabeled. Off with their heads!

The raspberry patch is on a roll, in a couple of weeks I should be able to start eating them. With any luck at all, they will produce through October. I planted both summer bearing and everbearing in an effort to get a very long fruiting season.

I could hardly find the peas. I knew I planted them, but they have been overcome by the rest of the stuff in that border. YIKES! With almost two inches of rain, just last night,it’s looking green and jungle-y out there. Hell, the Lily pond/reflecting pool was overflowing last night during one especially heavy rainstorm. Things are so wet they are tipping over. And weeds. WEEDS have run amok.

One more thing before I close. You all know my lust for espaliered fruit trees? I have managed to find some more 6 branched/ 6 variety pear espaliers. I have two of the trees tagged at the nursery and hope to pick them up tomorrow or Tuesday. Three of the six pears are: Comice, Anjou, and Bartlett. I am so excited to get them and get them in the ground. For once in my gardening life, I actually know just exactly where they are going to be planted: I have a nice space along my property line/fence where they will be supported yet have great airflow and perfect sun.

So, tah tah for now from the infamous Ranch du Bois. I can’t wait to hear how you are faring in your gardens.

MA