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A Tough Winter for Herbs

June 17th, 2019

This past winter was a tough one for herbs and plants that don’t like wet feet. While it wasn’t a particularly cold winter, it was a wet winter. The biggest issue was that we has a spring thaw and then a ton of rain, then it got cold. As a result, many of my herbs didn’t survive the winter. About half of my catmint didn’t survive, lots of the oregano and thyme, tarragon, lavender, the list goes on. Only the perennial dry loving herbs were affected. Luckily, most of them are easy to propagate or start from seed once again. The catmint is one I was most dissapointed by, I had a mass planting of it in the foundation garden under the living room windows. About half of the plants didn’t make it through winter.



Other than looking a little sparce this spring, it’s not a huge issue. This is ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint and can be easily propagated by cuttings. In fact, I’ve already started 10 new plants that will be transplanted in a week or to fill in the gaps and expand the patch.

One reason I grow this variety of catmint is that it doesn’t set seed. Catmint can be a prolific seeder in the garden, given the right conditions. Since these root so easily from cuttings, I expand my patch this way. In fact, my entire patch came from one plant that I brought with me from my Ohio garden. In the future, I plan on keeping a few extra plants growing out in the nursery bed to replace any that don’t make it through the winter. It is pretty rare to have any issue with this plant, it’s typically tough as nails and can live through just about anything, too much water in the winter proved to be too much for some of these beauties.

Did you lose any perennials this winter?

Hoping for Repeat Blooming

August 2nd, 2017

This past week I spent time cutting back my mass planting of catmint. (it’s ‘Walker’s Low’, so no self seeding or crazy spreading). It had finished blooming and the bees were no longer lingering among the blooms. I’m hoping with a severe cut it will rebloom this fall, hopefully with a little less vigor. Gardening is always a process, always learning and editing. This mass planting of catmint is AMAZING, something I’m going to expand and do a few other places around the garden.

My planting was a little too close, I’m going to be digging up every other plant, probably next spring. That’s not a big deal because it will give me lots of plants for another mass planting. I have plans to increase this one by about two times and then do the same thing across the patio area by the back door.

After this sever cut back, I watered it will with liquid kelp. This should give it the boost it needs to rebloom nicely. I’ll keep you posted on the late summer blooms. In our short season, sometimes deadheading for a second flush of blooms doesn’t quit work. Meanwhile, I’m adding lots of goodness to the compost pile with all this deadheading. Next year it will feed pumpkins and other squashes.

What are you deadheading in the garden this week?

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkcom

June 18th, 2017

“There will be disappointments (when gardening). The glorious visions that are conjured up when sowing or planting don’t always materialize and the painful memories of failures lurk in my written records: ‘chamomile path engulfed by chickweed; cat scratched up lettuce seedlings; first cabbage lost to pigeons; drought causing slow pumpkin growth; ‘Treviso’ chicory disappeared. There are bound to be highs and lows: no garden can be beautiful all the time.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

For two years I have had a vision of what I wanted to create in the garden area below the living room windows. A mass planting of ‘Walkers Low’ catmint with lovely purple allium globes towering above it. I had seen a photo at one time of this and found it stunning.


Clearly my alliums are not towering above the catmint, in fact one is being smothered by it. The flowers are also the same color, which wasn’t the plan either. Perhaps the photo I saw used a lower catmint, the version that grows only a foot tall or so. Or perhaps the alliums grew to their normal height. My ‘Globemaster’ alliums are definitely not as tall as others I have seen, in fast they’re a full 8-12 inches shorter than the others I have seen. All-in-all, this ended up being a gardening disappointment.

The one on the edge is pretty tall, this is more what I was going for, but the other two aren’t even close to being tall enough. The one closer in is being swallowed up by the catmint (as you can see in the first photo of the post). In my opinion this is a waste of alliums. Alliums should be showstoppers in the garden, they’re so graphic and bold.

I’m certainly glad I didn’t buy a lot of alliums, I purchased only 3 bulbs to give it a try first. I may try a different type of allium in, one that has smaller flowers and one that is a different color of purple. These alliums won’t be lost, I love them, just not here. The bulbs will be fed, dug up, and then moved to a new spot in the garden where they can shine and be the showstopper they should be.

What gardening fails have you had this year? 

It’s Coming Together

April 25th, 2016

If you remember, I posted about moving my boxwood hedge to its final resting place. It’s creating a garden room of sorts, setting apart a section of the garden for something special. Whenever I create a new garden area, I always plant it with annuals the first year, sometimes cover crops and sometimes vegetables. The following year I plant perennials. The main reason I do this is the get ahead of the weeds. I find in doing this I have much less weeding during the second summer, which means I don’t have to worry about disturbing perennials or having invasive weed roots get into my perennials.
boxwood hedge 3
Yesterday, I dug up my ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint that I brought from Ohio. I brought one plant, which I divided two years ago. I divided them again yesterday and ended up with about 20 plants. It’s not quite enough, this summer I’ll take starts and get the rest of them. See my post on starting catmint from cuttings here.
walkers_low_catmint 1 (1)
The plan is to have the entire garden area filled with catmint (a low growing variety) and giant globe alliums. In the fall, I’ll cut back the catmint and plant decorative kale for winter interest. It’s a fairly large garden area, I’m guessing it’s about 300 square feet. I think the mass planting focusing on one color will create a stunning display. More photos to come throughout the summer as things fill in and grow.

Do you have any garden changes in the works this summer?

Happiness

April 18th, 2014

True happiness is when Dexter discovers an emerging catmint plant for the first time in the spring. He found this yesterday when we were working in the back potager and spent about a half hour rolling on it and eating it.
catmint 1
catmint 2
I can completely understand how he feels, it’s a been a long winter here in Maine and Dexter is happy to once again be able to play in the garden and roll in his favorite plant. Back in Ohio I was always most excited to see my peonies, here in Maine I’m not sure if I have a favorite plant yet, I haven’t added any perennials to my gardens. Perhaps it will be asparagus this year, it won’t be long until it starts coming up.

What’s your favorite plant to see after a long winter?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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