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Plant Spotlight: Scilla (Siberian Squill)

March 31st, 2009

These lovely little Scillas (Siberian Squill) bloom beautifully each year. They’re actually one of the first things to bloom each spring in my gardens. These were planted 4 years ago and they have comes back each year (unlike some tulips).
siberian-squill-close-up
They have tiny little flowers that appear while the stems are still short and then the stems grow longer. Since these plants look best en masse, plant in groups with around 20 per square foot. These small bulbs can also be planted on top of deeper-planted spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips (although I think I like them by themselves).
scilla-in-bloom
Scillas will grow in a shady spot, as long as the shade is produced by deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Since scillas come up early in the spring they will get sun in a spot that is shaded in the summer. This makes them a very versatile plant for those shady spots that might not be able to have blooms the rest of the summer.
scilla-close-up
Like most bulbs, Scillas do best in soils with good drainage and an lots of organic matter, in wet soils the bulbs can rot. The small bulbs are planted in the fall, 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart. I like these so much, I’m hoping to add some more of these to my gardens this fall, I may try to find some white and pink ones.
siberian-squill
Another plus is that they’re deer resistant, which is a huge plus here at Chiot’s run, since the deer eat most of my tulips each spring. I like to invest in flowers, not deer food.

What are your favorite spring bulbs?

The Daffodils are Here

March 30th, 2009

I’ve been watching the daffodils on my front hillside for the past couple weeks waiting for the blooms to emerge. This is what they looked like on March 9th.
daffodils-emerging
Then on March 18th you could start seeing evidence of the blooms.
daffodils-coming-up
Finally a few days ago they were almost out.
daffodil-buds
It’s always nice to see these sunny flowers peeking out, it’s a sure sign that spring is here. I’m not sure what kind they are, I inherited these daffodils from the previous owners of the house. I suspect that they’re the wild ones that grow here in Ohio, they bloom at the same time and look very similar.
daffodil
This fall I’m hoping to add more daffodils to my gardens. They’re a great bulb because they grow well in my soil and they’re deer & rodent proof. I’ll probably purchase mine from Old House Gardens, they specialize in heirloom bulbs.

Are there daffodils in your gardens? Any other spring bulbs blooming now?

Playing in the Dirt

March 29th, 2009

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up
until your back gets used to it.

~Author Unknown

digging-in-the-garden
This past week I’ve been putting in a new flowerbed in the front yard. I’m liberating about 100 square feet of lawn along with part of the woods on the side of the property. This bed is going to be about 8-10 feet wide by about 30 feet long. It’s going to be a beneficial border of native plants and flowers for the bees and humming birds. I’m also hoping to have a few spots to tuck in some herbs and veggies.
digging-in-the-dirt
It sure is hard work digging up sapplings and tree roots along the edge of the woods. I don’t mind though, one of the things I like most about gardening is the manual labor. I like that I don’t have to worry about going to the gym to get my exercise, I get it in the front yard while doing something constructive. It feels good knowing that all of my hard work will have a beautiful reward later this summer.

Do you like the manual labor of gardening? Or do you prefer the easier tasks?

Garden Decor

March 28th, 2009

While cleaning up earlier this week I found an empty bird nest that had blown into one of the flower beds. Bird’s nest are so amazing, they’re so intricately made; I’m always in awe of them. I could never build something like this and I have finger and thumbs, I don’t know how they do it with their beaks.
empty-bird-nest
I thought it was to pretty too throw into the compost pile so I put it at the base of my oakleaf hydrangea and put a few smooth stones in it; free garden art.
bird-nest-with-smooth-stones
We do have a few other bird nests around the property, there’s the one in the spruce tree that the robin’s used last year. The finches build one up in a sappling as well. Usually I leave them in place for natural decor. We also have a pileated woodpecker that has a nest in an empty tree in the woods beside our house, now that’s an interesting bird!
robins-nest
I’m always eager to have birds in my gardens, they’re very beneficial to have around. We put up bird feeders and bird houses to encourage them to take up residence here at Chiot’s Run.

Do you have all kinds of birds nesting in your gardens? What do you do to encourage them to come to your gardens?

What’s In Your Compost Bowl?

March 27th, 2009

Our conversations about compost last week were fantastic. I really enjoyed reading everyone tips about what and how they compost. I thought we’d continue the conversation today and talk about what you put in your compost piles.
full-compost-bowl
There are things that you shouldn’t put in your compost pile like oily and fatty things, dairy and a few other things. I buy locally pastured chickens and I bury the bones in my garden, I figure it saves me from buying bone meal. I have yet to have trouble with my dog or any other animal getting in to it.

We compost whatever we can, anything that is natural goes into our compost pile including things like:
cotton-ball
My organic cotton balls. I use non-toxic natural products so I don’t have to worry about any chemicals that remain on the cotton ball. I also compost my q-tips and any paper towels I use.
toilet-paper-wrapper-in-compost
We buy recycled toilet paper, so the wrappers and the empty rolls go into the compost pile as well.
brown-paper-bagsnewsprint
You can add brown craft paper and newspaper to your piles as well. It does break down quicker if you shred it first.
compostable-coffee-bag1
We also try to buy things that come without packaging or packaging that can be composted (this helps reduce the amount of garbage we produce). The coffee we buy comes in compostable bags and the sponges we buy can be thrown into the compost pile when it’s worn out.
compostable-sponges
crumbs
All of the crumbs from my bread board go into the pile.
tea-bag-in-compost
As do all of my tea bags and even my dryer lint gets thrown in there (when I’m not drying clothes outside of course). My vacuum cleaner gets emptied into the bin as well and my compostable dryer sheets.
dryer-lint-in-compost
I’m sure there are things I’ve never considered adding to my compost pile that I could. Every now and then it dawns on me that I can compost something I’ve been throwing away all along, like old cotton rags.

So what’s in your compost pile? Do you compost anything we may not have thought of?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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