Gryffyn's Garden

a blog about my gardening attempts

   Mar 12

Brown Turkey Fig

Today we planted the Brown Turkey Fig we got at North Haven Gardens. These are supposed to do very well in our region so I am hoping that this tree will do well here. It brings back memories of when as a child I used to get into the fig tree at the neighbors across the street. I loved vines right off the branch.

Brown Turkey Fig

newly transplanted Brown Turkey Fig

   Mar 12

Around the Yard – March 22

Spring is bringing back some vibrant color to the yard. I found some pretty blooms on two things that have been established here before we started attempting an overhaul of the green life around here.

First is the bunch of little grape hyacinth blooms sprouting up along part of the walkway to the front door. They are such delicate looking little things.

grape hyacinth blooms

grape hyacinth blooms along front walkway

Next is the beginning of the redbud’s blooms. I had never really noticed them before – they look like little pink-tipped fuchsia cigars.

the start of redbud blooms

the start of redbud blooms

   Mar 12

“Circle” Update – Blooms!

Blooms are appearing on the Dianthus clumps in the garden and even the Powys Castle Artemesia looks noticeably larger.

Powys Castle Artemesia and Dianthus

Powys Castle Artemesia and Dianthus

red dianthus blooms

red dianthus blooms

red dianthus blooms

   Mar 11

Upgrading the Crape Myrtle Beds and a Berry Bucket

We finally got around to tackling the bed with the single crape myrtle, and a bunch of other mess within it. Here is the “beginning” photo from almost a year ago:

overgrown crape myrtle bed along the driveway

overgrown crape myrtle bed along the driveway

We got all the unwanted fauna removed, added some garden soil and humus and tilled it in. We then planted a “La Marne” variety of Earthkind rose on either side of the crape myrtle. I chose the Earthkind rose since they are supposed to be pretty darned hearty – and it’s going to need to be hearty to survive my current gardening abilities (or lack of them).

crape myrtle bed with Earthkind roses

the crape myrtle bed with Earthkind roses after its overhaul

La Marne Earthkind rose

one of the La Marne Earthkind rose bushes

We had also cleaned up the bed out front with the two crape myrtles and I had found another rose bush for it – a “Rouge Royale” tea rose hybrid. The photo of the blooms on its identifying tag was intriguing so I was hoping that it would do well here as well.

newly transplanted Rouge Royale rose bush

newly transplanted Rouge Royale rose bush

I also set up a large container with a blackberry bush and several strawberry plants. Makes my mouth water just thinking about the possibilities to come in a couple months. Mmmmmm…berries.

blackberries and strawberries in a large container

blackberries and strawberries in a large container

   Mar 07

More planting and some seed starting

This morning before signing in for work I set up the other raspberry canes in the big container; planted the snow pea bushes; added some onion slips to one of the new raised beds; mixed the soil in the 2nd new raised bed; added more dead wood to the burn barrel; potted the sweet basil and set up seeds for bush beans, butternut squash, straightneck yellow squash, acorn squash, and moon and stars melon. Whew!

basil pot

the newly potted Sweet Basil

sweet basil - view from the top

view from the top - Sweet Basil

raspberry shrub

the Red Raspberry in its pot

   Mar 05

Silkies Join the Flock

We had been searching for Silkie chickens to add to our flock and had not been able to find anything very close or affordable. We were a bit worried about bringing in young chicks and trying to get them inserted into our group later, so had hoped to find some adults.

One day I came across a listing on CraigsList for two hen and a rooster with a small coop. Wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of bringing a rooster in, but the fellow advertising them said he could split them.

When we got there we ‘met’ the Silkies along with their other chickens roaming about the yard, including a very interesting bantam Australorp that was about as cute as a chicken can get – especially when she would come running across the yard for an apple tidbit.

The coop wasn’t much but we figured we would make use of it at some point – and we ended up taking the rooster as well. He was such a tiny thing.

GiGi - a black Silkie hen

GiGi, the black bantam Silkie hen

So now we have GiGi (black hen) and Hairy (blue hen) and Scooter, the blue/black rooster. The hens kept their kid-christened names, but there was no way I was going to call the rooster “Oprah” – so named for his pretty blue “earrings” that reminded his children of something the talk show queen had on one day. Scooter seemed appropriate.

bantam Silkie rooster

Scooter, the bantam Silkie rooster

In hindsight, we were grateful for Scooter’s presence as he kept his girls from getting picked on by our current girls and the integration was bloodless with just an occasional chase. Scooter is a pretty good rooster – not too pushy – and it’s almost comforting to hear him in the morning.

   Feb 22

Blackberry Budding

The blackberry bushes are leafing out only a week after being transplanted into their new containers!

blackberry leafing out


   Feb 21

Planting Begins in the Raised Bed Gardens

Planting in the large raised bed begins! Onion slips have been inserted into the holes along the sides, with dill, oregano and thyme placed in the holes to the upper right of the photo. The back row consists of 3 green cabbages and cutting celery; next row has snow peas and “bright lights” swiss chard. Along the sides are jalapenos (left side) and simpson green leaf lettuce (right).  The potato trenches have also been started and are ready for placement of see potatoes.

March 2011 - the large raised bed

March 2011 - planting in the large raised bed begins

I also began transplants into one of the 4X4 raised cedar beds. Yellow and red bell peppers (left) and a black krim tomato and patio tomato plants (right).

the smaller raised cedar beds

4x4 cedar raised beds - planting begins

   Feb 14

Container Blackberries

I wanted to add to my berry plans and put some blackberry bushes in large containers. Once again, Costco gave us a pleasant surprise with some large containers that were at least half the price of comparable ones we had seen, even the ones at Home Depot. We ended up with four of them – 2 for blackberries and 2 for raspberries. I am salivating already thinking of picking fresh berries in my front yard.

I got the blackberry bushes first from our usual gardening haunt (North Haven). At the bottom of the container I put some of the crushed concrete gravel that we had hauled in for Leo’s yard to help with muck.

container bottom with gravel

crushed concrete gravel at bottom of container

The rest of the bucket was filled in with potting soil and Humax, and of course the budding blackberry bush.

one of the blackberry containers

one of the blackberry containers

Here is the information from the tag on the blackberry bush.

Navaho (Rubus x ‘Navaho’) Thornless Blackberry

  • Description: Hardy, high-yielding, erect plants. Firm berries with good color and flavor.
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Size: 5-8′ tall; 4-8′ wide
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Pollinator: Self fertile
  • Planting: Plant in area with at least 8-10 hours of sun a day. Can be grown in almost any soil type if there is good drainage.  They can be placed in a hedge style with spacing of 6′ apart.
  • Watering: Blackberries require large amounts of water during berry growth and ripening season in the spring.
  • Fertilizer: Applications of fertilizers relatively high in phosphorus the first two years after planting are beneficial. Fertilizer should be placed about 10″ to the side of and slightly lower than the plants. Don’t plant fertilizer in the hole where it is planted since fertilizer injury might occur.
  • Harvest: Mid May. Blackberries should be picked only when they are ripe and about to be used. It is best to store in a cool place as quickly as possible. The quality of the berries deteriorates rapidly when held at 75°F or above for more than 24 hours.
  • Pruning: Blackberries require no pruning the year they are planted. Pruning is best done in the late fall, after fruiting. Remaining canes may have the tops snipped off at about 4.5 to 6 feet high depending on variety. Two year old canes are removed entirely. Snip tops of one year old canes slightly. Remove any weak canes and remove any unwanted suckers.
navaho thornless blackberry bush

the Navaho thornless blackberry bush

   Feb 13

Putting in the First Raised Bed Garden

I decided to take gardening a step further and add edible gardening to the landscaping we have attempted. In the visits to North Haven we saw one of their display gardens was constructed from cinder blocks. Along the edges in the block holes, they had planted herbs – I really liked that idea! So we decided to start working on setting up a large raised bed built with cinder blocks behind the storage barn where there is plenty of sun throughout the day.

the chosen location for our veggie garden

behind the barn - soon to be our veggie garden

Obviously our first chore was to get rid of all the brush that had accumulated after various storms and some pruning. Thankfully we did not run into any snakes during that process and got the pile either moved (the super-large pieces went over near the road for future pick-up) or cut into smaller pieces and thrown into the burn barrel and set aflame.

We put down some weedcloth while laying down the initial blocks to help control the bermuda grass and other pesky weeds.

weed cloth base

the weed cloth set down at the bottom of the raised bed

We set the blocks so that the interior measurements of the bed would approximate 4′ by 8′. The bottom half we filled with the topsoil we had hauled in to help raise areas in the backyard. The top half was filled with a mix we got from North Haven consisting of “Humax” and “Vital Earth Compost” and some bagged topsoil. The block holes were filled with the ash from the burn barrels and topsoil left over from the backyard (bottom half) and potting soil (top half).

large raised garden bed

the large raised garden bed - ready for filling!