7 Tips for Growing Gladiolus

Gladiolus

7 Tips for Growing Gladiolus

I purchased 130 gladiolus bulbs last week.  Gladiolus are one of my favorite flowers to grow in the garden for cut flower arrangements.  Plus, while 130 seems like a lot, when you spread them throughout the garden, it really isn’t all that much.

Gladiolus

Planting gladiolus bulbs can be as simple as digging an 5″ deep trench/hole,  dropping the bulb in and covering it with dirt.  With a little extra TLC, though, you can make Gladiolus a top showcase in your garden.  Here’s a couple of tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to growing Gladiolus:

Gladiolus bulbs

  1. Plant them 3″ apart, but plant them in clusters.  When you did your trench or hole, dig it long/big enough to get several bulbs in the area {like at least 10}.  That will give you a clustered appearance while still giving the gladiolus plenty of space to thrive.
  2. Continuously sow gladiolus bulbs from now to mid-July.  That way, you will have continuous blooms throughout the summer.
  3. If you want to help your gladiolus along, add a little fertilizer to the bottom of the trench/hole.  Mix the fertilizer in with the soil, so it’s not too strong, and then drop the bulbs in and cover them with soil.
  4. If you live in a windy area, stake your gladiolus so that they don’t break off.  Gladiolus get anywhere from 2′-6′ tall, so the wind can snap them pretty easily.
  5. In most areas, you’ll want to dig up your gladiolus and store them in the winter.  Dig them up, brush off the dirt, trim back the leaves to within an inch of the bulb {technically called corms}, and then let it dry out completely for about a week.  Store the dried bulb in a shoe box of sawdust, peat moss or sand in a cool dark place.  You’ll be able to replant them again in Spring.  {If you live in an area with a mild winter, you may be able to get away with leaving them in the ground and mulching them.}
  6. While gladiolus like well drained soil, make sure to water them regularly {let them dry out completely in between waterings}, and definitely water them in really well after you’ve planted them.
  7. Gladiolus do well in pots too.  Plus, you can just move the entire pot into a shed or garage after the growing season and you’ll have flowers again next year.

Do you grow gladiolus?  What is your favorite variety?

~Mavis

photo credit

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How to Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

How to Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

How to Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

{This post was first published in 2012 but I thought I’d post it again for those of you who missed it}

Have you ever made your own newspaper pots before? If you haven’t, they are are super easy to make. Some people use tin cans, but I prefer to use the Pot MakerI’ve found I can whip out a batch of 50 pots for my seedlings in about 20 minutes or less.

pot makerHere is a quick tutorial on how to use the Pot Maker.

newspaper

Cut newspaper strips 4″ by 9″ each. {20 pots = 20 strips of newspaper}how to make a paper pot

Cover pot maker with newspaper and roll.
make your own paper pot

Make sure your paper is wrapped tight around the pot maker.how to make a paper pot

Fold the bottom of the paper inward.how to make a paper pot

Place the newspaper wrapped pot maker in the stand that’s included with the kit and give it a little twist.how to make a paper pot

And a jiggle.how to make a paper pot seedlings

Then slowly remove the newspaper from the wooden pot maker. how to make a seedling paper pot

It’s that easy.
paper pot for seedlings

Add potting soil, seeds and a little bit of water and you’re good to go. DIY-paper-pot-seedlings

These pots are not only easy to make, but pretty thrifty too. Free newspaper √ Free labor √ {have your kids make them} Life is good! Bontanical Interests has the Pot Maker on sale right now for $12.98.

Do you make your own pots or just buy them at the store instead?

~Mavis

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How to Plant, Grow and Care for Wisteria

wisteria over garden gate

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Wisteria

I don’t know about you, but I could grow Wisteria over just about everything–it’s like outdoor crepe paper, only prettier.  I have it growing over the top of my arbor on my garden gate.  I love it.  It makes me want a porch swing and iced tea.

wisteria growing arbor

Planting  and growing Wisteria is stupid easy.  {In fact, I hear in the south it’s more of an invasive nightmare than a dripping vine.  Here in the Northwest, though, it makes a just right addition to an arbor.}  To plant it, start with a healthy vine.  Most nurseries will have them come early spring.  While it will grow in part shade, it won’t flower, so if you want the purple blooms, make sure to choose a sunny location to plant it.

how to plant a fruit tree in your backyard

Dig a hole 2-3 times the size of the root ball or roots.  Place the vine in the soil, cover with a mixture of soil and compost.  A 2″-4″ layer of mulch will help the vines retain moisture.  Water it in and you are done.  {You don’t need to continue regular watering unless you live in an area that receives less than 1″ of rain a year.}

wisteria over garden gate

To care for Wisteria, pruning is key.  Don’t prune in the winter or early spring, because you will deter flowering.  It is best to prune heavily after the spring blooming.  That will encourage another flowering in late summer/fall.  A heavy pruning in late summer can also help to keep the fast growing vine tame.  Wisteria does not need fertilizer, and once established, past keeping the growth under control, it needs almost no maintenance.

As a side note, last time I planted my Wisteria, several readers advised me not to plant Wisteria close to any trees, as it will choke them out eventually.  So, when you are deciding where to plant your vines, make sure to keep that in mind.

Now get out there and plant something,

Mavis

 

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How to Plant Tulip Bulbs

How to plant tulip bulbs tulips

How to plant tulip bulbs tulips

Every spring when my tulips poke through, I am always super happy that I took the time to plant them. They are like a pretty little reminder that winter can’t last forever.

If you plant on planting tulip bulbs this year, here’s a few tips to get you started:

You want to plant tulips about 6 weeks before the first hard ground freeze {heavy frost}.  You can find that date HERE.  First things first:  picking out bulbs.  Make sure to pick plump healthy bulbs.  Soft, shriveled bulbs are a crap shoot–potentially rotten inside with no promise of flowering.

tulip bulbs

Second, dig a hole that is approximately 2-3 times the height of the bulb.  Put the bulb in the hole pointed side up, root side down and cover it with dirt.

parrot tulips

You do not need to water the bulbs, in fact, you shouldn’t.  If they sit in water, they could rot before they have a chance to bloom.  Over the winter, they will receive all of the water they need naturally from the elements.

Basically, they are a super hardy and forgiving plant.  They require planting and then sheer neglect. Ah, if only all relationships could be so simple!

Will you be planting any tulips this fall?

~Mavis

 

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How to Plant, Feed, and Prune Roses

Roses Love Garlic Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers

How to Plant, Feed and Prune Roses

Do you have roses?  My friend Karen has them and she has always said that with a  little extra effort, there is a huge difference in how they look.  They add a ton of color to her yard, and as an added bonus, they always bring in the bees she needs for her garden.

If you plan on getting roses, or already have them, here’s a few tips on how to plant, feed, and prune them:

First, planting.  If you have soil with lots of clay, make sure to add compost when you plant them.  Also, choose an area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.   If your roses don’t get enough sun, it will totally affect how many flowers you get.  {Do a little research to find the type of roses that do best in your area.}  Finally, add a little mulch to ensure the roses stay cool and moist during the hottest parts of summer.

Next, feeding  and watering your roses.  Roses need to be fed about once a year–usually in spring as soon as the first leaves are out.  Your local nursery should have some organic options for feeding roses.  As far as watering goes, roses typically need about 1″ of water per week.  Try, if possible, not to let sprinklers hit the leaves of your roses, because they are super susceptible to fungal infections.

Finally, pruning.   A standard rule of thumb is to prune your roses when the forsythia blooms in your area.  Pruning helps to make sure you get blooms all summer long.  To prune, always cut the stem at a 45 degree angle.  How often you prune depends on the variety of rose you chose.  You can ask your local nursery for the specifics.

That’s pretty much it when it comes to maintaining your roses, as far as I’m concerned.

Do we have an prize-winning rose gardeners out there with more tips?

~Mavis

Roses Love Garlic Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers

Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers

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How to Plant Raspberry Canes

raspberry canes

raspberry canes

We’ve been growing raspberries in our backyard for 4 years now. 2 years ago we had a bumper crop. Last year, not so much. But after a recent inspection of the canes, things are looking good for this year and we are excited. If you have never grown raspberries before, give them a try. They do take a few years to really get going, but trust me, they are worth the wait.

Brief Description:  Raspberries are a sweet delicate fruit.   An established raspberry patch pays for itself very quickly, as they are typically super expensive to buy.   {If you decide to buy them in bulk as I did, they will look like this.  Basically a bunch of roots.  You can place an order online or simply go to your local feed or hardware store to pick some up.  Individual canes run about $1-4 depending on the variety.  3 years ago I placed an order for 100 Cascade Delight canes I purchased from Spooner Farms in Puyallup, Washington.}

Where to Plant:   Raspberries require 1-2 inches of water per week during the growing season, so plant in an area with adequate access to water.  They need full sun and good air circulation, so avoid planting them next to a building or fence.  

Growing Tips:  Once established, raspberries must be pruned.  Consult with your local nursery on how to prune, as different varieties have different needs.

How to Plant:  I created  7 rows of raised beds each about 8″ high.   I filled the rows with a mixture of old compost and topsoil and covered the roots with about 2″ of dirt.  I then planted the canes about 1′ apart {the experts say plant them 2′ apart, but I’m a rebel}.

raspberry cane how to plant

My raspberry patch  has 7 beds with each bed about 12 feet long.  I left 2 feet between the rows for walking.  I also installed 6′ posts at the end of each row and stung string {you are suppose to use wire} at 3′ and 5′ heights to support the canes.

raspberry patch

How to Harvest:  Pick the berries when they are a deep red color {or whatever color is appropriate for the variety you chose.}  They should be soft, but not squishy.  You should be able to pull them from the cane quite easily, if you need to tug, they are not ready.

My Favorite Raspberry Recipes:  

summer dessert recipes raspberry buckleRaspberry Buckle

how to make raspberry sorbetRaspberry Sorbet

Little Known Fact:  About 90% of all the raspberries sold in the United States come from Washington, Oregon, and California.

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How to Plant Fruit Trees in Your Backyard

how to plant a fruit tree

How to Plant Fruit Trees in Your Backyard

Fruit trees are best planted when they are dormant–in most locations that means somewhere between November and April.  The key to getting a great crop of fruit from your fruit trees is to have more than one tree, because most fruit trees require cross pollination.  If you don’t have enough space in your yard for more than one tree, try drafting off of your neighbors–think beyond the fence, another fruit tree next door will still provide pollination in your backyard.  Keep in mind, too, that most fruit trees take a couple of years to bear fruit.  So, while you might not get a crop this year, they are an investment in the future {shall we all hold hands and sing at that thought?}

After you have decided on a variety that will thrive in your climate, it’s time to put that sucker in the ground.  Most fruit trees prefer a sunny, well drained area.

how to plant a fruit tree in your backyard

First, dig a hole twice the size of the root ball.  It should be deep enough for the bud union to be slightly above the ground and the root ball to be covered completely.  Fruit trees have varying depth requirements, though, so use this as a guideline and check with your nursery for individual depths.  Depending on your area, you may need to amend the  soil.

Next, place your tree in the hole.  You can throw some bark and mulch into the hole around the root ball to deter weeds from invading your precious little tree’s turf, but it is not absolutely necessary.  Remember that the tree will settle a bit with time and water, so plan placement accordingly.

basket of apples

Finally, back fill the hole with dirt.  Break up back fill dirt as you place it around the tree.  Once you have back filled completely, you can compact the dirt back down with the back of your shovel.  Stake your trees for the first year while they are developing a strong root system.  Dwarf trees typically require support permanently, as the heavy fruit on their small frames can be too much.  Water your newly planted tree thoroughly.

Fruit trees {most trees, really} need religious watering as they establish themselves.  Water thoroughly every 7-10 days in the warmer/hot months.

Now, sit back and enjoy the “fruits of your labors”–ha!

~Mavis

 

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Mavis Garden Blog – Planting Strawberry Runners

strawberry runners

Every year around this time our strawberry plants go wild and throw out runners.  Now, I’m not sure what YOU do with your runners… But I try to save each and every one of them.  One summer I had “rescued” enough strawberry runners to supply two of my neighbors with enough strawberry plants to start their own berry patches.

But this fall, I have something else in mind.  After we harvest all the pumpkins from our pumpkin patch, I plan on filling the area with strawberry plants.  Because we live in a pretty mild climate, transplanting strawberry runners in the fall isn’t an issue.  Typically I will transplant runners in both the spring and the fall.  But since I planted 500 new strawberry plants this spring, I have an abundance of runners right now.

If you have never replanted strawberry runners before, it’s simple.

This is what I do –

  • Carefully lift up the strawberry runner,  leaving the roots intact
  • Place the roots in a 3 inch container and cover with moist potting soil
  • Leave potted runners where they are for about 6-8 weeks, watering as needed
  • When the roots are well established, snip the runner about 6″ from the “vine” and move to the desired planting area.  Remove from the pot, plant new strawberry plants and cover lightly with straw or leaf litter until spring, to protect the new strawberry plants.

The following spring your new strawberry plants should emerge and you’ll be able to enjoy strawberry desserts all summer long.  Wahooo… Three cheers for fresh strawberries that actually TASTE like strawberries.

~Mavis

P.S. Do YOU save your runners, or am I the only one?

P.P.S. Did you know you can actually BUY strawberry seeds?  Yep, Amazon has them for sale HERE.  Has anyone ever grown strawberries from seed before?  I haven’t, but I’m curious about it.

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