Marty's Garden, July 28th, 2018


This year’s gardening journal has a theme; a wet theme. Spring was mostly cool and wet, summer was hot for a short period and wet for the rest. Storms rotate over the same region time and time again and over 12 days this July I have measured nearly 11 inches of rain in the rain gauge. The first rains on Sunday 7/15 measured 2.3 inches and were a welcome relief from the heat. The garden immediately perked up and on Wednesday 7/18 we received another 3.8 inches of rain. No longer was there any need for watering and since then just about every other day we have had more rain. Since my side garden is on a gentle slope, the heavy rain, unfortunately, moved my thin layer of mulch all the way down the slope. I raked it back up the slope and the next heavy rain brought it down again. This got old fast! There was only one solution to the problem: more mulch, lots of it. So, I ordered another truck load and The Spouse and I have been busy spreading it on the side yard. I now have a good three to four inches all over the side yard and the next rain (coming down as I am writing this) will pack it down a little, but no longer move it down the slope.  

As a gardener I recycle all garden “waste” on the compost pile. I had two bins, bought many years ago, but it was hard moving the compost around in it or getting to the bottom of the bins where all those pieces of plants and paper had turned into wonderful soil. For a while I had been thinking about making new bins out of palettes (check out the internet for ideas – there are lots of them out there) but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I dismantled my bins and got a full wheel barrel and two buckets full of soil out of the bottom of my compost bins.

fresh compost from
fresh compost from "waste"

Now I had two heaps of garden waste sitting in the back of the garden and no will to reassemble the two bins. And here comes The Spouse to the rescue! Online he went and found cedar compost bins, to be assembled by the recipient. Just in time for my upcoming birthday! When the FedEx guy came (as we were mulching) I could not have been more excited. The next day I assembled my bins, which was as easy as pie! The corner pieces and slats are all dove-tailed and you slide the slats down the post (occasionally with the help of the rubber mallet). Rather than make three separate bins, you can use the corner post from the first assembled bin to add bin number two. My three boxes of bins thus gave me four compost bins with even a few slats and two more corner posts left over.

Compost bins
My birthday compost bins

Let’s just put it this way, I will be composting to my heart’s content for decades to come. My cedar bins will weather into a nice grey color and soon my neighbors won’t even notice them. 

Since June, July and August are months when lilies strut their stuff, my garden has been a fragrant paradise for weeks now. One of my favorites is the Turk’s cap lily, a four to five-foot giant with many (20+) flowers opening over a week or two. When I bought my first Turk’s cap lily, they were expensive at $5 a bulb and I only bought three of them. They multiply, slowly, but I dug up my bulbs from my original garden and brought a few baby bulbs with them to my PA garden. 

Turk's cap lilies from NJ garden

Each (flowering) stem will bear tiny bulbs, called bulbils, at each leaf axil and you may get as many as fifty of these tiny bulbs from one stem. Usually they will just fall off and start a new plant right next to the mother plant (as it did in my NJ garden). It will take a few years for these bulbils to grow into a larger plant and eventually flower. Two years ago I took all the bulbils from my Turk’s cap lilies and planted them in different parts of my garden. Some did well, others not so well, but one spot suited them greatly and now I have the first few blooming Turk’s cap lilies from these tiny bulbils.While the flowers are not as tall or as floriferous as the parents YET, I consider them a gift. Next year I should have many more Turk’s cap lilies blooming in my garden, both the single as well as the double variety, and it didn’t cost me a penny! Soil for free from composting and flowers from bulbils. Ah, gardening on the cheap, I knew I could do that too!