A whole new idea!

jclepine(8b)April 30, 2009

So, since I love buying new plants for my garden, I set aside monies just for that purpose.


What if I don't buy anything new? Think of all the extra dough I'd have for fancier organic compost, new step-stones for the parts I tromp along, raising the beds a bit as they look slouchy and for good, organic food and fertilizers.

Last year, I put the second bed in and used only perennials. And, miracle of miracles, they are back!!

So, I really don't need anything new, right?

I know it will probably not happen, but I'm going to try to spend my garden money on perfecting rather than adding.

Crazy, huh?!

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Theyre not only back, Jennifer! TheyÂre back BIGGER! Just you wait!

ButÂyou DO need some new plants! And theyÂre free! ThatÂs what the swap is for! Have you checked out the Picture thread recently? More things have been added!

I donÂt know about the "fancy" organic fertilizer, but I do love the stepping stones I have here and there in my gardens. FYI! I got my pieces of flagstone from Renewable Fiber at 116th and Wadsworth. Their price for flagstone was half of what it is at Pioneer or somewhere like PaulinoÂsÂand I had a 10% off coupon. I just went out to the piles of flagstone and picked out all the little pieces! Wish they had had more (little pieces), and if I ever get a chance, IÂm gonna go back for another load. They have all kinds of landscape type stuffÂlink below!

When I got all the rock off of the top of what is now my main perennial bed, the soil level was so low behind the railroad ties that you couldnÂt see most of the shorter perennials. This was a few years ago now, but I checked out WalMart and found a bagged cow manure (I think it was) for a buck a bag. I found a bag with some holes in it and checked out the contents, and it was surprisingly good so I bought a dozen bags. Went back later and got a dozen or so more. It didnÂt transform my Colorado Clay into Illinois Loam, but it helped someÂand it raised the level up enough to see the plants! When I was at WM last week I checked to see what they had and I found someÂI think it was cow manure again, but IÂm not positiveÂfor a buck and a half a bag. There was a torn open bag, and, again, it was fairly good stuff. IÂm thinking of going back to get a few more bags to use here and there.

Some day I want to drive out there to check out your garden! And I definitely donÂt want to see any "slouchy" beds when I do it!!!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 6:05PM
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J, I like the idea of spending $$ on soil amendments and composted cow manure is a very good choice, it seems to me.

Mel Bartholomew (of square foot gardening fame) had other ideas if I recall correctly. And, I'm not averse to other amendments but they can certain cost some $$. Working 'em into to the garden soil, I don't know . . .

However, I was cultivating a flower bed today and noticing how much peat there was in that ground. It was shoveled out to 8" so this was a considerable depth and volume of soil. There was the peat and there was perlite.

A fair amount of compost has gone in this bed over the years but so has a fair amount of plants. Packed in as closely as they can stand it and then given a horizontal trellis so that they don't fall down. I get 'em tight, I tell ya, most things go in at 1 plant/sqft.

Well, I've been planting that bed with annuals for nearly 15 years. All that peat and perlite adds up. And this isn't my dahlia garden where the roots are stored in peat and then that stuff goes in the compost there and ultimately, into the garden. Now, that soil has a lot of peat in it!

I know that there's some controversy about mining peat. But, it is still doing good service holding moisture and nutrients in my garden - for what - forever? And, I haven't found a good replacement for peat in storing the dahlias. I like perlite too.

I dug a marble out of that flower bed again. I bet I've dug a marble out of every bed in that 1,600 square foot cutting garden. They are the legacy of some child's interest in the game. My marbles were lost long ago . . . along with my marble legacy will be all this perlite and peat I'm leaving in my garden soil.

I left the marble where I found it and will be back soon with some plants.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:38PM
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Thanks, guys! I told Darren and he giggled. I CAN do it!! Then I told him I plan on only buying more bulbs and that they don't count because they are for next year! He giggle more.

I will gladly bring home my swap plants as they are free so they don't count as part of my new deal.

Skybird, why do you not "know about the "fancy" organic fertilizer"? Is that a waste of money?

I usually get mushroom compost, add top soil, canadian sphagnum peat and what ever else strikes my fancy then I top it with mulch. But, I never put any fertilizer in. Well, I do feed the roses, but that is it.

And, yes! you should come out here!! One day, one day...

I checked out that renewable fiber place and they look pretty good. I've never paid for rocks before but I don't feel like taking a bunch of old bricks and tripling them up. I want something nice, like the red flag stone on the pathway.

Digit, are you promoting pumping up my beds with compost? Where does one get cow manure? I'll try wally mart but I've never been a big supporter of their shops.

Oh, so excited!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 10:49PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I dont really know much about the "fancy" organic fertilizers, Jennifer, but Im highly doubtful of their value. When I was working at the garden center before Paulinos (their retail location closed, thats why I left there, they still grow), when they had stuff left over that didnt sell, theyd put it in the lunch room for us to take, and I took a whole bunch of a couple of them home one time and tried it. First I used it like it said on the boxand it did nothing! I think the analysis was only something like 3-3-3! I was kind of thinking, what a waste, and I heaped a whole bunch of it around some of the plantsand I still couldnt tell any difference. I used up the rest of the boxes and wondered why people spent money on the stuff!

Then I went back to what I had been using all my life! Ive talked about it around here before! When I moved out to DEN in 64 I brought a 20 lb. bag along with me that I had gotten from my parents. Its what they used on all the perennials and mums we grew! It was then called Peters and they/I always used the all purpose20-20-20. Its a rapidly dissolving, water soluble fertilizer that feeds thru the foliage or the roots. (It was the first blue water soluble fertilizer ever produced.) If you need a weaker solution for something, you just mix it half strength. Well, needless to say, 20 lbs. lasted me a long time, and when I ran out I started buying it in smaller packagesthe only way it was available retail.

Then, sometime in the early or mid 90's, Jack Peters sold the company to Scotts/Miracle Gro. Well a lot of you know what I think of Miracle Gro productsand thats pretty much what happened to Peters fertilizer! The quality became questionable, and apparently sales dropped and they dropped all the different analyses Peters brand used to makeblossom booster, African violet, etc., not that I ever used those! In 97 Scotts sold the Peters name to Spectrumand sold "the company" back to Jack Peters! He couldnt use the Peters name anymore, but he went back into production and now its called Jacks Classic. I havent been back to help my brother in the greenhouse for several years now, but Im sure thats what hes using in his injector these days (thats what greenhouses use to "inject" fertilizer into the water lines to water/feed their plants!)

Sothats what Im using these daystho its harder to find it than it used to be to find Peters! Its not cheap, but I know its a quality product! I still use the 20-20-20, and it also contains all the trace elements. And if anybodys interested, they make all the formulas that they used to have when it was called Peters! The only place you can get it now is at independent garden centers, and the last time I bought some I got it at Paulinosgot two 5 lb. tubs! Wish I could find it in a 20 lb. bag again, since Im sure it would be cheaper that way! One of these days Im gonna see if my brother will ship me a 20 lb. bagbut hes OLD, and hes not online, and, well, thats a real pain!

Except for my brief excursion into the exotic world of "organic" fertilizers, thats what Ive always used, and what I always will use. You mix a tablespoon in a gallon of water, tho when Im watering outside I mix it in my 2-gallon Dramm watering pot and I definitely mix it stronger than that since it has "all the soil" to go into rather than being "contained" in a small pot. I just put a few spoonfuls in the watering pot and go! I dont pour it over the foliage if the suns out brightly! I dont trust anything but plain water on foliage when the suns out!!! Oh! I did get a bottle of fish emulsion one timelong ago! Wont ever do that again!

Try it, youll like it,

P.S. I was wondering when I posted that if you believed in patronizing WM. If you go there, check out the stuff that's about $1.50 a bag. I THINK it was cow manure!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:10AM
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J, the last few years I've gotten cow manure from a farmer. Think of him as a "middle man."

I've bought cow manure in bags, plenty of times.

Fancy fertilizers? Livestock feed is a great deal LESS expensive than organic fertilizer. That's amazing . . . and, from whatever direction I think about it, it makes me angry.

. . . still buying organic fertilizers

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:42AM
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Right on jclepine! I like your approach - seems to me that you are looking to spend your dough wisely - focusing on what the results are of what you put into your garden.

I like an organic approach to gardening because I think it is in harmony with nature and how things work on there own. I don't like using synthetic fertilizer because of the long term effects it has on my soil and the living things in the soil. I find organic gardening is a great way to grow that is easy on the earth.

BEst wishes, :) Chris/eatsivy

ps to digit - glad you didn't lose your marbles :/

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 10:18AM
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david52 Zone 6

This spring, I'm dividing several perennials and masses of daffodil bulbs - the advantage, of course, is you know they do well in your particular environment. I know I should do the daffodils in the fall, but by then I forget, or I'm busy with something else, and this way I can remember the ones that really, really need dividing, and which ones can be put of for another year.

Speaking of daffodils, four years ago, we splurged by buying 100 "Winston Churchill" bulbs, it's a cream colored, late season double bloom variety. We planted them all in the flower beds by the front door. They double each year, and this spring, they did as I'd hoped - all blooming at once, each bunch now 6 - 8 flowers, so think about 700 daffodils making the whole front yard smells wonderful.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 10:32AM
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Thank you all!! I find it odd how little I know about feeding and fertilizing, which is probably why I don't bother. I'm going to try it! I'm not spending nothin' on any new plants and if I do, it will be on bulbs for next year.

I'm absolutely crazy about the bulbs I planted in fall, the ones that are up. The tulips are double late because, well, they are still under snow. I knew that would happen and I think I made the right choice. But, the bulbs whose name I have forgotten are so tiny and cute and are blooming happily away by the front door.

AND, the daffodils I planted for my neighbors are starting to bloom! The few I put in their empty planters are coming up and I suspect they will bloom soon.

I think I'll get some earlier blooming "somethings" for the parts by the front door as that melts off so quickly.

Well, I'm using organic food for the roses and I'm feeling it will be safe to look up that Jack's classic. I know your worms and birds are happy, Skybird!

What about blood meal? Is that any good? I suspect I'll do well to add good compost and fertilizer and to double up on my mulch.

I'm going in to town today and this weekend so I'm sure I'll find something lovely for my step-stones! I may have to stop at renewable fiber! They don't list their prices but if it is too high, I can just shop around a bit.

I don't know what daffodils I put in for the neighbors but they are coming out a very soft yellow, like banana flesh. so precious! They are not the Winston Churchills but they are sweet. I looked those up and they are gorgeous! They remind me of Darlow's Enigma rose. Do they smell like paper whites? I might stuff some of them by my front door!

Thanks for all of your opinions and suggestions!!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:14PM
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J, if you enjoy pleasant fragrances and dislike bad smells - you may not want that blood meal.

At one time, I used it in a mix along with bonemeal because I had a boat-load of wood ashes. No doubt, there isn't a single fertilizer that smells good but blood meal is very unpleasant.

On the other hand, if you have a boat-load of wood ashes . . . once you get those 3 mixed, it isn't so bad.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 4:55PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

My first year down on the plains I used some liquid fish fertilizer on my flower beds. The raccoons dug holes all over looking for the fish! I'll never do that again.

I do dig organic compost into my veggie beds and then supplement with bone and blood meal around each plant, since my soil tests show me a little short on nitrogen every time I test. Other nutrients are very good, since my silty soil is actually pretty rich (just a bit heavy, so I add the compost). Beyond that I don't worry too much; I have lots more trouble keeping things watered than I do with soil fertility.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 7:27PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

My fancy organic fertilizers,, Alfalfa horse pellets.I toss them all over the beds a couple times a year.I also like to use the molasses from the feed store once or twice a year as well.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:06AM
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That's what I used to fertilize the lawn recently. First time, so we'll see how it does. They do look funny after they get wet. I had to, uhmm, blend them into the lawn a bit with the rake.

I think next time I'll see if I can find a meal or maybe rabbit food?

I can say that the corner of the yard that I put some shredded leaves in the fall appears darker than other areas.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 2:13AM
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I use a mixture of fertilizers mostly organic. I like to use organic and for me a lot of it is either cheap or free. i use alfalfa pellets and also all the loose hay from around the bottom of the stacks. I use cottonseed and soybean meals. Along with bone meal. I add molasses to the water a few times a summer. I have used Jack's in the past with good results. I use Neptune's Harvest on the seedlings started inside and have also used Spray N Grow in the past all with good results. Knew several years ago I used the Peters fertilizers and then they didn't seem to be as good didn't realize they had sold ect. The problem with so many of the good products. I may have to try them again. And I'm not against using a commercial fertilizer for a specific problem. They sell an Ultimate fertilizer formulated for the soil around here that works well. I usually don't need any in the veggie garden but have used it around the trees as it is high in iron which our soil is low on. Jay

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:15PM
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Raccoons?!! That image of them trying to find the fish is just cracking me up! I'm sure I wouldn't be laughing if it was my garden they dug in, but still :) And, we do have a gigantic amount of those guys up here. They show up just to get the dogs started or so it seems.

Thank you for all the tips! I checked around some places yesterday and one shop suggested a small bag of who knows what for $24!! Wow! Needless to say, I haven't bought anything yet.

But, I'll be in Denver tomorrow so I can look at the bigger stores. I hope I don't get lost. In the stores, not the city ;)

Digit, I don't care if something stinks but the dogs do! I have to watch them for about a week after I feed the roses. One got her head stuck in the little garden fence when she tried to get to the feed. One of them is smart enough to walk around to the side that isn't blocked very well. He usually just sits on the pansies but right now is the time to make sure he doesn't get in there or he will try to eat the food!!


    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:42PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

Green bean,

Did you end up with the larger pellets.There are 3 sizes...They do make the horse pellets in a smaller version thats about the same size as the rabbit pellets.I know in my area they run about 4 bucks cheaper then the bunny feed.
I have never used them on grass,, LOl, I just have lots of flowers and big rocks..I have used them in my flower beds for over 15 years..good stuff

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 12:10AM
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They were the bigger pellets (an inch or so long maybe?).
DH applied them probably twice as thick as recommended. I sort of tried to tell him that, but I got him to sling something other than weed-n-feed, so I didn't complain. Maybe the lawn will be extra green. The 2+ inches of moisture we've gotten won't hurt either...

We have a few feed stores I can check with here, I just need a better idea of what I'm looking for next time so I can find more options. I don't think they understood what I was asking for and I didn't explain myself very well, so I bought the horse pellets at Big R b/c they were the cheapest that I knew were kind of what I was looking for. The bags are on the shelf at Big R, they're in the back at the feed stores.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 1:29AM
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I caved in today and bought a plant!!

But, with all the dough I saved by not buying $24 per bag "something like compost" and by receiving free step stones, I figured, why not?!

It is a red Oriental poppy. Oh, I have wanted one of those for quite some time now. I put it about 3 1/2 feet behind and to the left of the orange one. And, I have three orange starts from last fall's play-in-the-dirt time. I only wanted one extra, so that makes two for the fall swap!

That is all, just giddy that I got my red poppy and can't wait for it to bloom.


You can see it in the background, in front of the shed:

This photo is of the bed that I ignore. It has strawberries, bearded irises and a couple of Campanula persicifolias. I have decided to pay some attention to it. I put in the red poppy and, last year, I put in a violet of unknown origin from the last fall swap which is now coming back. I plan to separate the irises later this year. Maybe I'll spread them around to fill in the area? I have also decided that I hate the fireweed that comes up each summer. I've been plucking that out here and there as it starts to emerge. You can't really see it but I have an Icelandic poppy at the left most of the picture, just to the left of and slightly more in the foreground than the Siberian irises which are between the larger boulders. I can hardly wait for those to bloom, too!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 4:54PM
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That must be a Lucy weed shooting up from the right foreground.

We've talked before about your environment, J. It really just amazes me - I nearly get altitude sickness just thinking about the location.

You would be miles above the tree line in northern Idaho.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 5:55PM
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It IS a Lucy weed! And, she loves to run through the strawberries then bound over the rocks!

It took about a week to get my oxygen-readiness! For an avid hiker, that is a surprise! Good thing: we don't get fleas up here! flea beetles, well, a little.

I don't think the tree line is for another four thousand feet or so. We often hike the dogs up to Jasper lake which is about 12k and there are still trees, but, you can see the line not far above!

I love it here!!!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 6:01PM
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Jennifer, to give you an idea of the difference: I'm having some fun thinking about a location not all that far from here. Oh, I'll never get DW out so far in the country but it is in such an unusual location that even a family of natives who live within 15 miles of it have never seen this little lake.

It is just a few more than 100 acres so it IS small and there are certainly folks who know about it since there are boats out there often when I visit or fish there (been years).

Local climates are influenced by more than just elevation but I was startled to learn that it was only about 2,300 feet. I'm thinking, "Well, you know, somebody might be able to live there and have a nice little garden!"

Compare that with another remote area where I was foolishly thinking about buying land. It is 2,700 feet and I decided (this was years ago) to camp overnight there and kind of get the feel for the place.

It was well into July and the coffee in the pot, sitting beside the cold campfire, froze overnight. Nope! No moving onto that "easily accessible yet remote" part of the country for me!

My gardens now are just above 2,000 feet. I used to live at just above 2,400 feet. That was where I couldn't seem to grow anything except Polar V sweet corn and ripen only Sub-Arctic tomatoes. It was okay but a little tuff on yours truly.

(That was where I had a merle stock dog. She liked it there. ;o)


    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 6:42PM
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I decided to take a close look at a Geological Survey map and can correct a few numbers:

It turns out that my old home was at almost exactly 2,500 feet rather than "just above 2,400 feet" and the property I looked at where my coffee froze overnight in mid-July was at 2,900 feet as best as I can tell.

None of this feet "stuff" explains why my problem was soil not growing temperatures when I lived in Moscow Idaho at 2,600 feet. Nor why Missoula Montana calls itself Montana's "Garden City" at nearly the same northern latitude as I am but with an elevation of 3,209 feet!?!


    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 12:04AM
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