Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dear Bakker-it.com: you just lost a lover

Will the real Salvia Hotlips please stand up?
Lasciate perdere! Bakker e...la mia insoddisfazione. Bakker che delusione! Leggi le opinioni su Ciao.it

As the saying goes... “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Say it ain't so. I usually don't go around blabbing about my gardening love affairs, but this recent fling with Bakker-it.com was, sadly, a very short-lived romance. Well I'm over it now. Consider this an updated opinion of my experience with the catalog/mail order company. Three strikes and you're out!

In the early fall of 2009, I ordered a variety of bulbs which included the more costly Himalayan blue poppies and allium forelocks. We planted them all but neither himalayan or allium came up this spring. Of the rest that did develop (blue alliums and assorted freebies), overall flower quality was very weak.

In April of this year, an order for Salvia Hotlips microphylla rootstock arrived in a nicely packaged container but after flowering, it turns out not to be Hotlips but Hardy Plumbago! (above photo) Do the math. 2 bulbs plus 1 rootstock equals customer dissatisfaction. See ya' later Bakker-it.com, it was sweet while it lasted.

For some good news...the tomato plants grew a LOT in the past 2 weeks.

Today

Tomato patch in June

15 days ago

Tomato box

Today's high: 24°C / 75°F

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The rainy dog days of pre-summer

As much as I appreciate rain to keep things green around here, I'm worried for the lack of sun and heat for everything that depends on its existence. It's been pouring 3 days in a row now, and the temps have been in the low to mid-60's. Mister B is not minding that much (the westie is sulking), but sooner or later he'll get into something that he really shouldn't at all.

da Mistah
Not sure if he's watching the World Cup or...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rural scene in northern Italy

Transporting grass

The falce (FAHL-cheh) or scythe, is a tool that men and women, young and old alike, are often seen using in an overgrown field. Gas-powered weed whackers are used too, and can be heard echoing all across the valley, but it's the falce that makes quite the idyllic farming scene as workers swish the blades through tall grass. The cut grass are usually heaped into mounds and I've never discovered what became of them afterwards, but while driving home one day we saw this person on the side of the road. I don't know how the heck he did it...it wasn't secured in a net or anything...but all you could see was this pile of grass on two legs.

The weatherman predicted thunderstorms yesterday and today but all we're getting are clouds, occasional drizzles and sporadic bursts of sunshine. If it continues like this I'll be one happy gardener. Everything is growing really well in the new terraced box frames and I'm out there pinching suckers off the tomato plants almost daily. I took these photos just this morning.

Tomato box Salad box
Pea planter boxes Edelweiss
Ipomea seedlings
Climbing rose bushes

Today's high: 22°C / 72°F

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hail netting in place

Hail netting

Hail? Not a problem anymore. We breathed a huge sigh of relief after the netting went up and I have to say that my husband did a great job of securing the metal posts and attaching the supporting wire to enable us to protect the garden. My initial thought was that it looked a little bit of an eyesore but if the neighbors have any objections, then that it just too bad. All of the heirloom tomato plants are doing great and I think by the end of June or early July we'll be taking a bite out of our first cherry tomatoes. So far it's too early for the corn, round zucchini, squash, beans or beets, but out on the terrace the lone purple cauliflower has just began to show its head. I've already started seeds for more cauliflower and cabbages for winter harvest.
Purple cauliflower
This year the peach tree is doing 10 x better than last. All that mulch and fertilizer boosted its health and there are dozens of young peaches like these all over. To keep the ants at bay I sprinkled a good dose of baby powder around the base of the tree and it works! No ants, no aphid farming, and what aphids there already were are kept in check with a pyrethrum spray plus a solution of stinging nettle "tea" made from the abundance of nettles in our garden. Now all we need is consistent sunshine and warm temperatures.

Young peaches

Today's high: 22°C / 72°F