FRIDAY FLOWERS: DAHLIA NEWS

This is a story about my most recent lesson learned in the garden!

I’ve always loved Dahlias. Don’t you? They are available in SO many different, gorgeous colors, so many wonderful sizes and petal configurations and are very easy to grow. Right. Well, it seems they haven’t been that easy for me this year!

These are not my dahlias, but taken at Sissinghurst three years ago! Ah, to be there again. The dahlias in September were truly spectacular.

 

 

I bought some wonderful new varieties from Floret Flower and was really looking forward to this new season of growth. Do you know that dahlias are heavy feeders? They really like a boost of food several times during the growing season….as well as ample water and lots of sun. So I fed mine this year with Black Kow Manure. Good stuff, right? Two feedings.

By mid-August, when other people on social media are showing off their gorgeous dahlias, I have one flower. ONE. Hmmm.  So I began to investigate and well, I am humbled to say, that I used the wrong booster for dahlias.

I am embarrassed to show you…but here it is. My one and only “Terracotta” dahlia. Very pathetic. Not only is it the one and only flower so far in this season, but something began eating away at it as soon as the flower appeared. The next day I saw the culprit: a grasshopper! So, yes, I sprayed and he disappeared. But the damage was done. And now, I will wait to see if I get any more flowers. The Miracle Gro (see below) should start working right away and we do have at least six more weeks of this growing season.

So here’s the scoop on feeding dahlias…correctly!

No no no: they do NOT want nitrogen in order to flower!  Woops. Better late than never, right? So now, as of August 25th, they are on a steady diet of Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster Flower Food with a 10-52-10 ratio. Do you know what those numbers are? The first is the nitrogen, then phosphorus and the final number is potassium.  It’s that second number, the phosphate, that is the trick to produce flowers!  The Black Kow has equal ratios of all three, thus producing lush greenery and overall growth but lacking in flowers.

I tell you this story so you won’t make the same mistake. Be sure to check out just what you are feeding and using as nourishment for your plants. I should have known better…

Due to this “mistake” I am also testing my soil. I’ve never done this and have always meant to. I picked up the soil kits at my local agricultural extension office and will sample four or five different gardens I have. I certainly want to know the soil in the terrace garden where my pink hydrangea (inherited when we moved here) is flourishing. But I want blue! I’m making plans to redo that entire area so the soil test is critical.

Live and learn.
Better late than never.
It’s a holiday weekend here so I’ll be out in the garden feeding those dahlias!

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SUMMER SOUP: SWEET CORN GAZPACHO

This is a good soup.
Very very good!

I’ve always loved cold soups in the summer: I have my old favorite stand-bys but am always looking for something new. Gazpacho has been a favorite in our house for years…so I immediately looked at this one.
Corn gazpacho?
YES YES YES

I just happened to see this in the July issue of House Beautiful. It is a recipe from
Lulu Powers Food to Flowers

She has entertaining and food ideas (for entertaining) in the book and also each month in House Beautiful. This is definitely a keeper so I printed it out and have it in my recipe collection book!

 

 

Here are the vegetables you will need:

Woops….forgot the cucumber in this photo!

 

And here we have a bowl sitting prettily at the dinner table:

 

 

We like gazpacho kind of chunky…but you could definitely give this a longer whirl to make smoother.

Here is the recipe to print out:

SUMMER SOUP: SWEET CORN GAZPACHO
 
 
Author:
Recipe type: cold soup
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. yellow tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed
  • ¼ c sweet white onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ c green seedless grapes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ jalepeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • sea salt
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lime
  • Optional: hot sauce, chive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. sea salt, mix well, and let it sit for an hour.
  2. Put the mixture in a blender with the olive oil.
  3. Stir in the vinegar and lime juice, then season to taste with sea salt.
  4. Add hot sauce or chive oil, if desired, as garnish.

Again, the source for this is Lulu Powers Food to Flowers.

Try it and let us know what you think: it’s easy and oh so good.
Did I mention just how pretty it is???

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TRAVEL TO THE COAST OF MAINE

Time for some travel!

We took a break from the heat here to travel to coastal Maine. And yes, it was lovely. Cool nights, delightful days of sun and lobster rolls (I managed to have one for five days running..) , a sunset cruise and lots of exploring.
I wondered how to show you all that we saw as I have SO many pictures…and realized the best way is through slide shows. So I have made three slide shows here: take your time and enjoy them!

We made certain to reserve two places on a sunset cruise on
The Guildive
This was really special. For two lovely hours we cruised the waters near Castine, learned so many new things about the area, and were free to roam the boat and just sit up forward and watch the water, the fog, the seals and the islands. If you are in the area, I highly recommend this trip. We also chose the “sunset cruise” as we didn’t want to be out in the hot, reflective sun in mid-day, and we were very happy with our decision. As you can see, the fog did roll in a few minutes after we boarded, thus no gorgeous sunset shots…a small price to pay for a wonderful evening.

 

We drove over to Stonington, Maine to the
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts 

They do offer guided tours once a week which we missed, but just the walk down the wooden stairs to the fogged in water front was enough to make the trip worth it. Spectacular. The entire setting, deep in the woods and built on and around huge rock formations, was an experience not to miss.


 

What post would be complete without some flowers? There were gorgeous flowers in so many gardens, along the roads, and in the coves where we would stop and explore. Even the flower boxes were exceptional.


We stayed at
The Castine Inn
right in the center of town. They serve a very nice breakfast, our room overlooked the harbor and had a separate seating area, and the staff could not have been more helpful.

And yes, I really did manage to have a lobster roll each day, trying them at all the stands and restaurants we went to! They DO vary. One of the nicest restaurants we went to actually had the least tasty lobster roll. Lovely presentation and setting, but it lacked much taste. On the other hand, a small “shack” served one of the best. You just never know.

So now we’re back home for a while. And, to all of you receiving this via subscription email, I hope it goes out on time. I am still having problems….but you will get it eventually!

 

 

 

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