October 08, 2008 It's hard to believe another growing season has come and gone. Thankfully, a delayed first frost has extended the flower and vegetable gardens' life to the point that I can still eat cherry tomatoes straight off the vine and arrange some cut zinnias in a vase. But as the farmers markets come to their ends, I'm scurrying to get my hands on the last squash, carrots and broccoli to stash away in the freezer.
It's also that time of year that makes me, a tulip-phile, giddy with excitement over all the planting possibilities and probably overly liberal with my cash at the chance just to 'try' something new.
My truly 'new' move this fall is to plant Species tulips. They're close to the wild type of the flower orginally discovered in the Middle East before being brought to Europe, where they were cultivated into the taller, colorful varieties that are popular today.
Species varieties are stouter and have variegated foliage. They are best suited for rock gardens but in almost any setting, Species are better at perennializing. I'm going to ring my first batch under some trees at the farm.
On these cooler nights, it also behooves me to flip open a notebook and start jotting down what worked in the garden (finally, I got red peppers!) and what didn't (heliotrope).
Speaking of success, I just have to mention the great seeds I got from Renee's Garden. It's not too often we're offered freebies as part of this job and I almost felt guilty selecting as many seed samples from this California company when the offer came this spring.
Scarlet runner beans, Indian Summer hollyhocks and an amazing orange cherry tomato—I'm sold. If you have the patience to deal with seeds, do yourself a favor and spend a little extra to ensure you'll see results.
While on the topic of recommendations, I'd also suggest checking out your local Master Gardener class. I took the Lapeer course last winter and managed to get my 40 volunteer hours in this summer, so soon I'll be certified! Every class was fascinating, I thought, and will whet your appetite to learn more and grow more. Most importantly, the class gives you confidence to tackle any backyard project and just keep going from there.
Look for local classes through the MSU Extension to start in Lapeer and St. Clair counties in January.