email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Main Annual Bed

Finally got THAT done!  I was very pleased with the clearance sale orange zinnias I found at Walmart last year that I decided to plant zinnias myself this year.  But I found 2 I liked so I decided to make a pattern with both rather than just 1 big block.  One solid orange, and one mostly white with some slight pink stripes.  I'm calling it the Marley Bed (orange and white, get it?).

Since I came out with 27 each out of 36 seeds planted.  But what pattern of planting?  Well, I could have done "half and half", "alternating rows", or "every other one", but making dots on paper I realized I could make all the outside ones orange and all the inner ones white.  Well, that seemed different, so I went with that.

Now, planting things in a pattern can be tricky, so I made a measuring stick to help.  I found a 1"x2"x6' board and marked one side with 12" measurements and the other side with 9" measurements (actually, it was so useful I am going to mark the other 2 sides in 6" and 10" measurements).

I had eyeballed the general area of the bed.  It's wider at the back than the front.  And my eyeball measurements weren't perfect, so I had to adjust slightly.  With the measuring stick, I realized it was a bit wider at the back than I thought, so instead of perfect 9" spacing between plants, I used 12" spacing along the rows and 9" spacing between the rows.

Here is the before picture.
7' wide at the back, 5' wide at the front, and 6' deep.  Interesting geometric space to lay out.  I dug the soil up with my leverage fork, broke up all the soil clumps bigger (by hand) than a pingpong ball, and lifted out all the weeds.  Then raked as best I could.  Tossed the small rocks to the fence...  You can see a bit of soaker hose in the picture.  I pulled it all loose and set it aside.  I'll put it back in place next year.

And started planting.  The measurement stick really helped!  I use a bulb planterto make the holes for the seedlings. then add some fine topsoil to encourage root expansion and set the seedlings on that after loosening some of the roots.  Then add more fine soil to fill the hole.
But this year, using the measuring stick, I was able to plug out all the holes for a whole row at once.  Much better spacing than eyeballing it!  No matter how many years I go planting, I always learn something new each year.  I'll probably be getting it just about right by the time I die.

I didn't take pictures as I went (when you are "in the zone" you don't want to stop), but here is the completed bed.
Not all the seedlings had flowers, so I had to be careful to leave one flowering plant in each 6-pack as I went along so I could tell the color on the flowers remaining.

I ended up with one each orange and white zinnia at the end.  I'll put them in a container with the other orphans (I have salvia and forget-me-nots too).

I set up my new tripod-waterer after I was done planting.  The soil was dry as dust!  The previous tripod waterer had a shower wand on it, but I discovered last year that a fan waterer was better (wider area with less depth works better than circles for my beds).
I made a temporary try last year, and it was much more effecient at watering.  So I gave the back half 10 full minutes of full power watering, then 10 full minutes at the front half.  A lot easier with the fan spray as opposed to the round shower spray wand.

This may sound odd, but I will be cutting off all the flowers tomorrow.  I needed them to know which seedlings to plant for the pattern, but with the flowers cut off, more energy will go to the rrot development and the plants will send out more stems to become busier and grow MORE flowers in just a few weeks. 

I'll be sending more pictures of THAT!

1 comment:

Megan said...

Gee you put a lot of thought and effort into your gardening Mark. Me? I buy small cheap plants at the hardware store ('cos I'm cheap!) and plonk 'em in the garden. If they make it, well and good and if they don't, 'oh well'! Is it any wonder your garden looks so much better than mine??? LOL

Sydney, Australia