The Uninvited

564When I first began growing tomato plants, one of my chief delights was to go and check on them each morning. And then I ran into this.

I’d like to tell you I remained calm and handled it like a pro. But that didn’t happen. What really happened was that I ran off through the yard screaming, which of course, attracted my family.

With everyone around, I was brave enough to take another look. I thought all he needed was a hookah and he’d be in business. He had to go.

So what can you do? I didn’t want to  spray pesticides on my plant. I was planning on eating those tomatoes!

For most bugs, I just add a tablespoon of dish soap to a gallon of water. I put it in a spray bottle and gently mist the plant.

For this guy, my husband hand picked him off of the plant. But just in case, I combined 1 1/2 cups of water, 5531 cup vegetable oil, and 2 teaspoons of dish soap for the tomato plants. That took care of my problem although I still have nightmares about that guy every once in a while.

So, dear readers, what have you used in these situations? what do you think works best?

Happy gardening!

Hyacinth: A Fragrance to Treasure

hyacinths2Of all the spring bulbs, hyacinths are my favorite. I love their shape and wonderful scent!

The hyacinth has been around for quite a while. In fact, you may still purchase varieties from the 1800s. Legend has it that the Greek gods Apollo and Zephyr adored and fought over a young Greek boy. In a jealous rage, Zephyr accidentally killed the boy, and Apollo named the flower that arose from the boy’s blood the hyacinth.

What does it mean?
In the language of flowers, hyacinths have several meanings, but being associated with Apollo, they generally represent games and sports.

  • blue hyacinth: constancy, sincerity
  • red or pink hyacinth: playful nature
  • purple hyacinth: apology or sorrow
  • white hyacinth: beauty and loveliness

Whichever color you choose, the hyacinth is a lovely compliment to any garden.

How to plant hyacinth bulbs

Pick a spot in full sun or partial shade and plant 4 to  6 weeks before the first fall frost.

  • Dig a hole 4 inches deep, or if you are in the north, 6-8 inches deep. Keep the holes spaced about 3 inches apart.
  • Add a little bone meal and mix it with the dirt.
  • Set the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up.
  • Cover with dirt.
  • If the fall is dry, water.

After the hyacinth blooms in the spring, you may cut back the flower stalk but let the leaves wither naturally before removing them.

If you forgot to plant hyacinth bulbs but would really like some, you may purchase forced hyacinth bulbs almost anywhere in the spring. Grocery stores, florists, and nurseries will have forced bulbs for sale. Every year, I buy several more of these. I love the smell in the house, and when they are done blooming, I plant the bulbs in my garden.  Of course, if you have the bulbs, you may force the hyacinth to bloom in the house.

Although rare, hyacinth poisoning can happen if ingested. Keep the bulbs away from young children and animals to be safe.

Hyacinths will return year after year and keep providing an incredible fragrance.

Happy planting!

What to do with a Window Box

 windowbox6Southern Living ‘s Window Box Planters offers some great advice for planting window boxes! If you don’t have any window boxes but would like to have them, you can purchase these at any place like a nursery, online, Menards, Lowes, or Home Depot.

You can also build your own! DIY has explicit directions on How to Build a Window Box Planter. The advantages here, of course, are that the window box would be made to fit your window exactly and you may paint it any color you wish.

The slideshow offers some ideas to help you think about planting your window boxes this spring……

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Happy Planting!

The Primrose

myprimrosesThe primrose is one of the earliest blooming spring perennials–some even bloom in late winter.  Most primroses display greenery close to the ground and clusters of flowers. They do not grow very tall, but they do provide great ground cover and spots of color in the spring garden.

During the spring, primroses like full sun, but as the spring turns to summer, they prefer partial shade.

Primroses spread quickly, and the easiest way to acquire more is to divide and replant. They are available in nurseries, but I would let people know you are looking for some. Gardeners love to share when they start dividing these plants. Let’s face it: no one likes to throw plants away!

Primroses grow well with several other plants, including astilbes, forget-me-nots, ferns, and hostas.

The primrose offers several bonuses for gardeners:

  • they are easy to grow.
  • they offer a much needed  and longed for spot of color in the garden after a long winter.
  • they are not sought out by deer–deer just don’t like them!

Plant primroses and enjoy early spring color for years to come!

The True Harbinger of Spring: The Crocus

crocusCrocus is the true harbinger of spring because it is the first perennial bulb to emerge after a long and brutal winter. For people who live in the upper area of zone 5, the sight of the first crocus is met with overwhelming relief–surely spring is eminent!

For this reason alone, the crocus bulb is worth planting. But there are other reasons, of course! The crocus bulb will spread, and they require very little care. In addition, deer mostly ignore the crocus. You can plant them and forget about them until they lift your spirits in late February or early March.

How to Plant Crocus Bulbs

  • Pick an area that is not too shady–this flower does need some sun!
  • Plant in the fall 6-8 weeks before the first frost.
  • Dig a hole 3-4 inches deep.
  • Work in fertilizer, such as bone meal.
  • Place the bulb pointy end up in the hole.
  • Cover the hole with dirt and water.

Each spring, the crocus flowers will bloom and reward you with a much needed spring boost!