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Jim Roe's Blog

We are relatively new to Crawford County having moved to a place just outside Bourbon in late 2011.  Yvonne and I  have 4 1/2 acres and are just getting back into gardening and landscaping after a long hiatus with career and a stint as missionaries to Mexico.  Some of the old tricks are re-emerging but there are lots of new ones to learn.

Please read the blog (link below) for updates.

Surprise Lilies

posted Jul 21, 2013, 7:08 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Aug 10, 2013, 4:43 PM ]

Surprise lilies, resurrection lilies, naked ladies, whatever you call them are beautiful additions to the home landscape.  I inherited some when we moved into our new home but didn't recognize it until they came up this spring.  When they emerge after winter, they have large strap-like leaves that don't do anything - they just grow well and eventually they die back.  The magic comes in late July or early August when tall flower spikes topped with gorgeous pink flowers appear, seemingly from nowhere.  Here is a picture I pulled off the Internet.

(The leaves you see here do not belong to the lilies.)

My problem was that the surprise lilies were not in the best place for my newly evolving flower bed scheme.  How, and when, to move them?  A quick Google of "surprise lilies" soon informed me that there are many different flowers by that local name but the scientific name for positive identification is Lycoris squamigera.  There are lots of posts that indicate the bulbs can be dug and transplanted any time there are no leaves present - which is now (July).  

So I excavated the unsuitable site.  I found the bottom of the bulbs was nearly a foot deep and I dug them out with my bare hands to avoid cutting or damaging them with a spade.  They are handsome bulbs (see picture) and the long necks make me think those are the budding flower spikes about to make their appearance.  I replanted them where I am more happy but not quite as deep as they were previously situated - bottoms of the bulbs are about 6 inches.  I poured a dilute mixture of Miracle Grow starting fertilizer (highest in phosphate) over them and can only hope that the flowers will still come out.  I'll add a photo later if they do.  (see below)

Here is the first one to bloom in its new location.

Japanese Beetles

posted Jul 14, 2013, 2:56 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 14, 2013, 2:57 PM ]

As mentioned elsewhere last year was my first year to get back into gardening after a long hiatus.  We had a terrible drought and heatwave, groundhogs, rats and - Japanese Beetles with which I had no previous experience.  They attacked my new Knockout Roses in such numbers that I thought I should spray - which I did.  The beetles that were hit by the spray appeared to die quickly but the next day there were more.  This isn't working too well I decided so I went to town and bought some Japanese Beetle traps.  They use a sex attractant to lure the bugs into a plastic bag.  The instructions said to put the bag at least 30 feet away from where you wouldn't want more beetles.  So I did.

Yvonne and I went to town to run some errands and when we came back two hours later she said, "look, the wind has knocked down your trap and it has broken one of your Elephant Ear leaves."  I went out to check and found the the wind hadn't knocked the trap down, it had fallen of the weight of a bag full of  beetles.  The beetles that couldn't get into the bag had eaten my Elephant Ear leaf. :(  I emptied the bag, replaced it and put another trap out by the garden.  As I was walking out to place the trap the sex-starved Japanese Beetles were dive bombing my head!  I put out another couple of traps with the same heavy usage.  I figure I emptied the better part of a bushel of dead beetles.

I figured this sex attractant was so  powerful that it attracted bugs from the entire county and that beetle traps are NOT a good idea.

Fast forward to this year.  When a few Japanese Beetles started appearing on my Knockout Roses I resolved to pick them off and eschew the traps.  I put about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of an old jelly jar with a drop of dishwashing detergent for good measure.  I then set about knocking the beetles (sometimes three at a time ) into the jar.  It needed to be repeated at least twice a day and I would get dozens each time.  Not the most fun but I relished the thought that none of those beetles would lay eggs that would plague me next year.  Stanley Dillon of the Green Thumber radio show says that each adult beetle lays about 50 eggs for the next generation.

Then it hit me.  The infestation this year (so far) hasn't been really heavy.  Those tens of thousands of beetles I killed last year did not lay any eggs either.  Maybe the traps were a good idea?  Makes sense.  So I installed a trap out on the southern edge of my yard and, so far, it has captured a mere hundred or so beetles.  Maybe I did decimate their numbers last year?  My place has been vacant many years with little or no attention to the landscape or grounds so maybe it was a hot bed of Japanese Beetles that have been dealt a severe blow.  I hope so.

As another defense against the beetles I spread milky spore disease  around my flower and garden beds last summer.  This disease attacks and kills the grubs in the ground.  When the grubs die, more of the milky spore infects the ground to make it even more effective.  I think I am on the right path to controlling these bugs.  I'm still patrolling the rose bushes with my jelly jar but maybe next year I won't see any?

Blackberries and Raspberries

posted Jul 9, 2013, 1:10 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 9, 2013, 1:11 PM ]

Our raspberries are done but blackberries continue.  See photo.  Yvonne has made a blackberry cobbler and pie and today a blackberry compote for her birthday group.  I expect the current crop of blackberries to continue another week or so, but the next one is on its way.

Blackberries and raspberries are essentially biennials, ie, they bear fruit on second-year canes.  But there are varieties that will bear a small crop in late summer on first year canes.  Then a larger crop appears in the Spring time on the second-year canes.  That is the kind of blackberries and raspberries I have.  That means the the second-year canes that bore heavily this year must be pruned out to make room for the new shoots that are emerging.  They must be cut back to the ground.  I finished that chore with the raspberries and the blackberries will get attention once the current crop is finished.  See photo below for how the raspberries look after this operation.  All of these canes came up from the roots this spring/summer.

The new canes on both the blackberries and raspberries are showing flower buds for the late summer crop.

Big Pot

posted May 31, 2013, 6:54 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Aug 10, 2013, 4:45 PM ]

A friend gave us a couple of large plastic tubs that had contained cattle supplement (they still smelled of the molasses).  We thought they could make attractive planters.  I was concerned about the weight should I fill the tubs  with soil so I decided to "pad" it a bit with a used plastic pot that some plant had come in.  See photos below to get the idea.


Here is what it looked like on August 10, 2013.

Front Entry Project - cont'd

posted May 31, 2013, 6:44 AM by Unknown user

In an earlier post (see below) I had described re-doing our front entry.  Here I can report the more-or-less completion of the project.  The idea was to divert the entry to our front door away from a short side entrance to our front porch from the driveway to a curved walkway starting farther down the driveway with an entry garden to the side.  We closed off the short walkway with a vinyl privacy fence that definitely requires visitors to follow the new path but also extends the front porch and makes a more private "breakfast nook."

The entry garden features our big ol' rock (described below) and will utilize low growing junipers and creeping thyme as evergreen ground covers.  In the fall we will plant lots of anemones to provide spring color.  For this first year we have added ornamental sweet potato plants which should cover most of the area to the front of the garden nicely.


posted May 13, 2013, 8:31 PM by Unknown user

I have always liked anemones ("wind flowers") and last fall I came across a sale on anemone bulbs so I planted some.  They are spectacular and I will definitely have lots of them in my spring gardens from now on.

More on raised beds

posted May 4, 2013, 8:05 AM by Unknown user   [ updated May 31, 2013, 6:30 AM ]

What a difference between Spring 2012 and Spring 2013!  During 2012 we had a pretty severe drought.  Now, in 2013, the drought is broken - we are completely soggy.  The wet conditions emphasize the nature of our clay soil  with its underlying heavy clay and frangipane subsoil - it doesn't drain well.  My solution (or attempt at a solution) is to dig drainage ditches and build up raised beds between the ditches.  That's not so complicated, the dirt from the ditches is piled up on the soil between to make the raised bed.  In my case, the topsoil is about 6 inches deep so by digging out ditches 6 inches deep and piling up the soil I get raised beds (of good topsoil) about 8 to 12 inches deep.  I then put liberal coatings of compost (rotted horse manure or aged saw dust) and till it in with my Troy-bilt tiller to prepare beds for intensive plantings.  

The day after putting in the ditches/raised beds shown below we got 2.4 inches of rain - very nice.  Even though the ditches held water for a day or so, the part of the beds above the waterline were draining well so that the root zone would not be flooded for long.


Project of the Week

posted Apr 23, 2013, 7:40 AM by Unknown user

There is so much we want to do on our home and grounds that I tend to break it up into 'projects.'  Work a project and move on to the next.  Maybe it will all get done someday.

I have never liked the usual, typical front yard of American suburbia - the driveways that lead straight into a garage such that the garage door becomes the de facto entrance to the home.  We faced the same situation when we bought our place.  We have a large front yard and I entertained thoughts of a circular drive that would bring visitors more toward our front door but nothing really jelled in my mind.  Our driveway (that leads straight into the garage) is rather wide and I discovered that angle parking was possible such that several visitors could park without blocking anyone in so that early arrivals could depart at will.  This would have visitors parking their car farther down the driveway  which would necessitate a new path to lead visitors to our front door.

To make sure visitors would recognize the new pathway we decided to close off the old pathway which was a short sidewalk from the garage door to the left side of the front porch (typical contractor design).  We have discovered that the left side of our front porch is our favorite spot in good weather and we usually have breakfast and lunch there (dinner if the Sun is not too hot - our house faces West).  We placed a table and chairs there for such uses and, under the old arrangement, we would have to push them back to make a pathway.  By closing off the old entrance we realized we would create a new, more usable space (breakfast nook?) that would really enhance our happy home.  Along the front of the porch we planted some more Knockout Roses as a hedge and sort of knee wall to our new space.  These roses compliment the roses on the other end of the porch which unifies the whole look.  The space between the roof and the rose hedge makes a picture "window" to allow us to enjoy the view to the West (which includes farm fields and woods).

We decided a circular arc would be the most attractive design for the new pathway.  This would mark off a space inside the arc for special treatment and we have already placed our big ol' rock there in anticipation of the new arrangement (see earlier blog about the big ol' rock).  The final design of this area is a work-in-progress so stay tuned for further developments.  The pictures below are worth thousands of words of explanation of what we accomplished.

We first struck off the inner and outer arcs and removed the existing sod.

We laid paving bricks in a bed of sand.  The pattern is soldier courses on each side with a running bond up the middle.

Goji Berry

posted Apr 16, 2013, 2:02 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Apr 16, 2013, 2:03 PM ]

Goji berries seem to be a hot topic in the USofA these days.  They have been grown for centuries in China and are recognized as one of the most (if not THE most) nutritious of berries.  They will also grow well in our mid-Missouri climate (it is reported, we'll see).  You can Google Goji Berry at this link to learn more about them before I can get in a first season with them to report on these pages.

Goji berries are a small shrub that grows about 6 feet tall and they like full sun.  We got potted plants from Stanley's Garden Center in St. James for $12 (see link under Local Resources tab).  I planted them on the SE and SW corner, respectively, of my garden shed where they will get the full sun they require and will beautify my shed in the process.

Planting a Rock

posted Apr 16, 2013, 1:53 PM by Unknown user

A big ol' rock can serve as a focal point or accent in any landscape.  When I saw my neighbor was collecting big ol' rocks for sale I determined to get one for my front yard.  A key to the effectiveness of a big ol' rock in the landscape is that it appear to be firmly rooted in the ground.  The best way to make it appear to be firmly rooted in the ground is to firmly root it in the ground.  Accordingly, I followed that old maxim that it is better to put a 50 cent plant (rock, in this case) into a 5 dollar hole than put a five dollar plant (rock, in this case) into a 50 cent hole and I dug a hole for planting the rock that would bury something between 1/4 and 1/3 of the rock.  See pictures below showing the empty hole and the hole with the rock in place.

After back filling the hole this is the way it looks.  We will develop a planting plan to take advantage of its rugged beauty.

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