Looking outside at the gray day it makes one wish for time back in the garden. One good thing about the rain is that it has managed to wash away much of the pollen we would normally experience. Intermittent rain has not stopped us completely; however we have passed the half-way mark and are fulfilling the remainder of the orders taken in the autumn of 2018. The roads with the new gravel are holding up nicely and the various crews are working efficiently to get you your flowers just as soon as possible.
The show garden is coming along nicely. You can see the labels describing each of the plants. The newest plantings are also coming along nicely.
Here at Smokey’s gardens we have a lot of ground to cover (70 acres) so we need large amounts of compost. We have mounds and mounds of organic material that we can then spread over the gardens. Making your own compost is easy and only involves choosing a shady location somewhere with well-drained soil where you will still be reminded to turn it when you can. The recipe calls for organic material like leaves or grass, and a sprinkling of dirt to mix it all together.
The ideal compost pile will heat up fast and as a result kill insect and weed seeds and not smell bad. The real key is to make it easy to access and turn over regularly. Never put meat or oil in with the household scraps you intend to compost since that is often where the foul odors come from. You would not add feces from dogs, cats or humans. Horse, rabbit or chicken manure are all acceptable.
One way to get a head start is to invite tree trimmers in your area to dump their chips next to your garden. That should be more than enough to get you started. They like having some place local to get rid of the chips. The best chips come from the sharpest blades. The nice thing about having your own compost is that you can decide just how much work you want to put into it. More work will result in quicker decomposition, but it will deteriorate without any effort on your part, it just takes longer. Some folks like to add enzymes to make it work quicker but the key is in the proportions. This is often referred to as the Carbon to Nitrogen ratio. The goal is to have 25 to 30 parts Carbon to every part Nitrogen.
Layering brown organic matter like leaves, straw, hay or sawdust with half as much green matter like grass clippings, manure, kitchen scraps, or cottonseed meal, a nitrogen rich fertilizer, is ideal. If you can layer them and water as you go you can put a tarp over it when you have a pile several feet high. Turn the pile after a couple of days and periodically check inside the pile to make sure it is still heating up and damp inside. Sometimes the pile will dry out from the heat being generated internally and stop the process, it is a simple matter to add more water sparingly. A happy pile is one that is turned over regularly and remains “hot”. If the pile is too small it won’t heat up properly and if it is too large it will be difficult to manage. There are many bin designs that can be found on the internet.
The Red Maples have unfolded their leaves and are looking good. The Tulip Magnolias and the Dogwoods are also showing their colors. The Pink Dogwoods are especially striking this year for some reason. The Tulips and Daffodils in the garden add much needed color this early in the season.
Here are some photos of the flowers we are currently growing in the greenhouse.
And this fellow decided to check me out while I was taking pictures so I thought I would share.
The 4th annual Daylily Open House at Smokey’s Gardens has been scheduled for July 13th. We hope you can come by and see us this year, you will find the fields of Daylilies in bloom to be breathtaking. We will be entertaining from 9 am to 3 pm with tours and other surprises. Our address is 351 South Centennial Road in Coldwater, Michigan and our zip code is 49036. We are right off of I-69 and easy to find. Come visit, we would love to meet you!
May is National Military Appreciation month. Thank a current service member or vet for all they have done for all of us.