Things I cannot grow....

pawsitive_gwJuly 17, 2007

trumpet vine, honeysuckle, strawberries, roses, sweetpeas, marigolds, zinnias, hostas, coral bells, ajuga. Things I can grow: weeds in abundance, especially bindweed, foxtails and cheat grass, tomatoes (which at times can be classified as a weed!!), potatoes, corn, peppers, asperagus, eggplant, moss rose, sunflowers, clematis. I walk every morning and pass a house that has a trumpet vine that I would kill for. They hack it down and up it comes again. I have probably planted 10 trumpet vines over the years, lusious things in the pot, then next year I try and remember where I planted that one because it never came back. Honeysuckle hangs in there all yellow with a pitiful showing of flowers getting smaller and smaller every year til I get mad and yank it out and plant something else. I thought hostas were shade loving plants, so I planted them under the deck....no go. Coral bells, same thing, this year I got 3 leaves on the one remaining plant and even it gave up after a few weeks. Gardening is trial and error, so they tell me, maybe one day I'll hit on the magic! Until then, I'll grow what I can and enjoy other people's success with the plants I would love to grow.

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stevation(z5a Utah)

What is your soil like? It sounds to me like you've succeeded with some plants that aren't all that easy, like Clematis, so I don't know why you haven't had luck with others. Most of us have to deal with poor soil here in Utah, either clay and rocks or sandy. If you live in a typical housing subdivision, they would have scraped off any topsoil that existed when they bulldozed the land, and it's possible they compacted what remained with heavy equipment, and you might have drainage problems. Our western soils also are very alkaline, which will make plants turn yellow with iron chlorosis.

The solution to most of these problems is improving the soil with lots and lots of compost. It feeds the plants with organic matter and holds moisture without being too soggy. Maybe you need to raise your planting beds by adding a lot of compost mixed with sandy loam topsoil on top of your existing grade (but not if you have existing trees or shrubs whose roots would be suffocated by putting a lot of new dirt over them).

When I moved into my place, I had all the shrub and flower beds piled up a little with sandy loam topsoil, and I've been adding compost over the years. It's working out pretty well for me.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 11:20AM
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pawsitive_gw

I guess I was having a private pity party last night. I'm from the south and love honeysuckle (classified as an invasive weed there LOL). I have actually been composting and organic gardening since the mid 70's before it became the rage. I am the queen of composting around here. My family asks "chicken bucket or garbage" before they throw any kitchen waste away. I have friends who bag fall leaves and all grass clippings are put in the garden. Neither house I have lived in has been a tract home, and all I have to do is add water, manure and straw to the "soil" around here, bake it and I'd have adobe! I have raised beds (2x12s scewed to make 4'x8' boxes) and have at the moment 6 compost bins working. I think some of the things I can't grow are just karma. The honeysuckle, strawberries, and trumpet vine I've tried to grow in the 2 different locations. (we just moved a couple of blocks away from our old house 5 years ago) I transplanted my fruit trees from the old house to here and they are doing well with not much amending. That will change this fall as I plan on reworking the "wells". I have only lost one of the trees and that was from peach tree borers, but that tree came from the nursery like that, so I expected it to die. Thanks for the input, I am happy with what I can grow, most have been successful this year, in spite of the drought, things look really good down here. Hope you got some of the rain we got yesterday, more today, I hope.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 1:15PM
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bungalowbees

I've been in the same little spot for 20 yrs now & lately I've noticed I can "grow" things I never could before.... In fact, things I've never planted are flourishing -- eremurus?! I know what it is, I've never grown it, none of my neighbors have grown it (that I've seen, I should say). Yet I've had plants blooming in 2 different colors the last 2 years. This year's newcomer is fabulous so I will keep an eye on it.

Point is, when I find myself alone at a pity party I try to look around at some of the small miracles. This year's perfectly appointed eremurus is no more fair than all the other perfectly planned perennials that failed.

It would be hard to start a new garden -- even a couple blocks away. I have mysteries in my garden just feet apart. My "success" in the garden has more to do with perseverance than finesse. Overall, as the years go by, more works than fails. I just keep doing more of what seems to be (mysteriously) working. Others in this forum are more masterful and I myself once knew more than I do today. But plants still do funny things in spite of our best efforts.

Maybe you were just doing a lot at once, especially since you are birthing a new garden.

The biggest factor I've notice to make or break a plant is sun. We have so much sun here I think it takes very little to push a plant over the edge -- not only in terms of exposure, but in terms of water needs. I'm redesigning an area right now which will have new anemones just a few feet away from some that have been flourishing for years. I mentioned to a gardening neighbor this morning that even though the new plants are close to the longtime bed, I wonder if the difference in sun will still be okay. She and I were both commenting on how the exact same plant flourishes or fails in different spots around our gardens. My soil varies a bit here and there but it's the sun that I sometimes fail to respect in my planning.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 8:34PM
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pawsitive_gw

I lived in my previous house for almost 30 years. Like you say, funny how plants side by side do such different things. I spent so much time in my raised bed garden at the other house and really had it looking great, the new owners leveled it and planted sod. Sighhhhhh. The wife wanted to chop down the apple tree, "too messy". We have been here and gardening almost 5 years and yes the microclimates in this garden are vastly different than my other garden, but that still doesn't account for why I can't get honeysuckle to grow LOL!!! So, I'll go outside and watch the bats, look at the white fluffy clouds and the gorgeous moon, and count my blessings in all that I can get to take root and thrive.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 12:00AM
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tweedbunny

Don't feel too bad. I can't keep a houseplant alive if my life depended on it. I either overwater it and kill it or forget about it and don't water it for a month. Or I give it the wrong light. Or not enough circulated air. I feel horrible everytime I kill a houseplant, like I have no nurturing tendancies. :(
I give up and buy fake plants but they're not as lovely.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:56PM
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