Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

October 2009

One of my friends is getting more and more excited about gardening. She bought her first batch of spring-blooming bulbs this year and was really excited to start 2010 with a show of tulips, daffodils, anemones, and crocus.

All was well until I got a worried call from her. She said she wasn’t sure how to plant the bulbs and how deep to plant them.

If you’ve run into this question, there’s happily a pretty easy answer.  Plant most spring bulbs about three times deeper than the bulb is tall. So if you have a 3-inch-tall tulip, you’ll want to plant it about 9 inches deep.

And as far as which way to plant, the pointy side is generally up. For types that don’t have a point, plant them on their side — they’ll send their roots down and their shoots up.

pup1Finding time to putter in the garden is tougher than I thought with a new puppy. My new Jack Russell, Finch, is a stout and sturdy soul, and at 14 weeks already weighs in at a hefty eleven pounds. He’s sort of long and low, and his fat belly grazes the ground as he scours the front yard garden for crickets and earthworms. We started puppy classes three weeks ago and have not yet mastered the life-saving essentials of stay and come. So fall chores in the garden have taken on an added level of difficulty: Just try raking oak leaves into something resembling a pile with a full-throttle terrier pup on the loose. Sure, my good dog Scout, almost nine years old and steadfast, keeps him in check. But when it came time last weekend to start digging out the Joe Pye weed in my front yard and planting the hundreds of bulbs that were piling up on my front porch, I knew I had to stash the puppy in the house. After all, there’s a fine line between general weekend multitasking and gardening while under the influence of a minor canine.

Earlier this year, for my daughter’s birthday party, I made up a bunch of party favors for the attendees. A paper cup, a little bit of soil, and a couple of sunflower seeds. During the party, the kids all planted and watered their seeds in their cups, then took them home. I’m under no illusions about where most of the cups ended up. But we did get one photo sent to us by one of the kids who actually planted the seedlings in  his yard, and it grew to maturity (meaning it was twice the height of the kid!).

My daughter insisted that we plant hers, of course. So we did, and then I sort of forgot about it. Nevertheless, it thrived. Last week, we harvested the sunflowers. It was a lot of fun—for me as well as her.  We removed the seed, washed it, soaked it in salt water, then roasted it.

It tasted really good. Probably better than the store-bought stuff. For some reason, there is more variety of flavors from one seed to the next. It’s an adventure in seed eating. I should’ve used a little more salt, as it turns out. The amount the recipe said to use seemed like enough to kill an elephant. But I see now that I should’ve followed directions. Still, the  flavor was good, even if a little light on salt.

Here’s a website from the National Sunflower Association (you knew there had to be one, right?), with a simple recipe for roasting your own seeds.  If you haven’t grown and harvested your own sunflowers, I recommend it. It’s easy, fun, and tasty. Yum!

Oakleaf hydrangea is a reliable pick for fall color in the shade.

Oakleaf hydrangea is a reliable pick for fall color in the shade.

I love plants that do double-duty. The oakleaf hydrangea shown here, for instance, is a great example. It has big clusters of white flowers in summer. Now in fall the leaves are turning an amazing shade of ruby-red.

I have it planted next to my driveway so I can enjoy the backlit effect as the setting sun shines through the leaves. Oakleaf hydrangea features peeling bark, too, kind of like birch. The stems add a nice texture rising up out of the snow in the middle of winter.

What do you grow for interest over multiple seasons? Share your comments here!

13444018_largeIt has been raining “cats and dogs” here in the Midwest recently. I’m not sure how this expression came to be, considering the fact that my cat, Max, and dog, Lily, would much rather stay warm and dry in the house on days like these. A lot of people I know are grumbling about the mud, the sloppy fallen leaves, and the difficulty of getting fall garden chores done. Call me crazy, but I view rainy weather as an opportunity to appreciate the finer details that nature offers. Like the way spider webs come into focus when raindrops cling to them. I’ve had a spider residing above my front door all summer. She’s gotten fat on insects invited by the porch light into her orb-shape dining room. Bugs that might otherwise have snacked on me. It would take just a quick whisk of my broom to clear all of the cobwebs from my porch, but I haven’t had the heart to ruin these homespun havens. Besides, it’s almost Halloween. Why should I hang  fake spider webbing when I already have authentic arachnid decor?

The Test Garden still brings a splash of color to the downtown landscape, even on a rainy Friday.


© Copyright , Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved Privacy Policy Data Policy Terms of Service AdChoices