Home of Stella's Gardens

We are now living full time in Northeast Iowa, and working on the new gardens. It will keep us busy for quite a while...

As an avid gardener since I was about 7 years old, that gives me over 45 years of experience gardening in this part of the world. And every year teaches me a bit more.

Also, working on a new website at stellasgardens - dot - com. Feel free to check it out and comment!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Well there is a garden this year after all.

End of August, after a dry month we are back on track with rain and some tomatoes are finally ripening. Picking some of them a bit green to encourage more to ripen - there are a bunch!

First tomato, Amish Paste. Cat and Saltshaker for Scale

Black Brandywine

San Marzanos
The retaining walls below the patio are home for the tomatoes this year, where there will eventually be more bushes and other less utilitarian plants.

The front entry has half the garden started (with lots of placeholder plants, dug up from the old house, which are relieved to finally be in the dirt instead of pots!) Along with a Cornus Kousa (Summer Gold) and a Clethra Alnifolia (Hummingbird.) And so far the strings have kept the deer out - there's enough else to eat. The hostas got cages, though, because it did not take long for the buggers to find them.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Well it really is funny, that the house is all done now, we are trying to move in/move out of the old house.  Most of the move is done but the old house is getting spruced up to go on the market, so we are not spending nearly enough time at the new one!

The yard is a muddy mess, as is the driveway, since the last big thing is to (re-)establish final grade around the house, redo the driveway and add the second one, and then get some seed down.  Probably over half an acre that got dug up and rearranged, so that's a lot of seed.  Planning on some short prairie grasses for the majority, where there aren't garden beds, with plantings and just a little regular lawn for gaming outside.  It will be a work in progress for the rest of my life!  A thought that I find both exhilarating and exhausting.

The "blank canvas" of the patio area with big retaining walls:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shouldn't I be outside instead of blogging?

I did manage to add two pages, one for Starting Seeds, and one with a couple of pictures of the new house.  We finally made it to 60 deg F so I should probably try and get something done outside today before dinner...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It's been a long fall and winter, lots of things to do with the new house on the verge of starting. May be posting more about that....in the meantime, with the discussion of impatiens and their impending doom (hope not) here is a picture of my shady corner many years ago - you can still see too much of the neighbor's icky yard, and this was before the shed was built behind the fence, making it even darker....Impatiens are invaluable to me here, Shady Ladies! And today, amazing number of cardinals mobbing the feeders this evening. A minimum of a dozen in view...light snow falling, quite the colorful sight!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sooo it's been a long summer. I spent more time watering *everything* over and over, so that the gardens here in town have flowers and fruits, and our trees and shrubs up north survive the brutal drought. We got blessed rains last weekend, I can only hope they help that hickory in the woods survive. It's the one behind the oak and cherry that lost big chunks in July, 77mph wind that showed how rotten both are, I am sad to say. It was a narsty summer for some of these woodsy friends... And one of several "Chinese" praying mantises we saw flitting about in September.
While PMs do have local species, this is apparently an import. Such a distinct thing to see - almost like birds! When they fly, the front arms are out front, more than half the apparent length before the wings, really striking. We saw at least three, apparently males, and I am happy to have them. Of course if we ever have chickens, I am pretty sure these bubbas are toast....

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heavens to Murgatroyd, This is a Summer like I remember from my childhood. With the added attraction of Japanese beetles, which are numerous this year once again in Eastern Iowa. Not as many as a few years ago - when I had sooo many I went ahead and posted a couple of traps - it was like Chicago Ohare airport watching them come in ever 20-30 seconds. Now I just hand pick them off the choice plants - the rose, the meadowsweet. A cup of water with a teaspoon of Murphy's Wood Oil Soap. Then some critter comes and dumps that out and eats all the beetles every night. I imagine a wonderfully "regular" 'coon or possum..... So this was a working 4th holiday - a little yard work early in the week, work in the garage to build new shelves in the AM and peeling *really* gnarly wallpaper inside in the afternoon.....
BUT week before last some awesome alliums and tomatoes up north
Garlic gathered (part 2)
Tiger lilies here at home
And a first time visitor (for us) - a praying mantis - s/he appeared to be young and probably a nymph, since there were no wings...I haven't seen her/him since when we got the pix, so I don't know if someone made a snack of it (maybe 2" long) but we were thrilled to have such a bug in our yard....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

So here it is a bit dry, a lot warm. I just wanted to post a nice picture of my friend/coworker who, with his family and the donation of land and seeds (http://rareseeds.com/) and some help from a local church, are working a garden. The goals are to provide produce for themselves, the church members and the local food pantries. It's not easy - if you've ever tilled a grassy area to establish a garden the same year - but it's going pretty well, although the dry conditions make it a challenge. I have a small garden, and when there is more than we can use it goes to my cohorts in crime at work, but this is a bigger effort, about 6000 sqft or so...hopefully will provide for a bunch of folks!