Moving Day + Tomatoes with Renee Studebaker

Last Sunday’s misty day had me moving. I ran around like crazy, since now’s the perfect time to move trees, shrubs, hardy perennials, and roses that need a new spot. My garden diary reminds me that it was two years ago in January that I renovated my Iceberg and Mrs. Oakley Fisher roses by hauling them to the sunlight they want.  It’s the side of the house by the air conditioner, where we rarely travel, but it’s the late blasting sun spot that they like. That’s also where I planted the thryallis and the silvery cenizo I  really wanted,  and my Satsuma orange. It’s not a “focal point” destination, but now it does get us out there to take a look.

Iceberg and Mrs. Oakley Fisher roses with thryallis

Right away, they went from straggly wimps to exuberant performers.  Here’s Iceberg cooling down last summer’s heat.

Iceberg rose closeup

Here’s Mrs. Oakley Fisher, who I’d thought was a goner. She’s so tall right now that pruners are all she needs.

Mrs. Oakley Fisher rose

This time, I had my eye on a Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) and a passalong cassia (Senna) that needed more light. I’m pleased about their new location in the back bed that pumps it up. Sometimes a move is good: not just for the plant, but to stretch our ideas! I’m renovating their former spot, and will send pictures once I figure out what in the heck I’m going to do.

Next, I’m moving plants from what’s left of the grass, like this Gulf Coast penstemon.

Gulf Coast penstemon rosette

In my documentary, Wildflowers|Seeds of History, that’s ALMOST finished, Damon Waitt from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center notes Mrs. Johnson’s observation that “Every seed needs to find its home.”

That is so true. Have you ever noticed how seeds that defy your attendance show up where they want? Usually, they have a better handle on design than I do.

That’s my case with some surprises that aren’t native, but dear to me. No telling what this poppy is, but it preferred to plant itself  in the lawn rather than deal with me.

poppy rosette seeded in grass

I don’t always have great luck germinating seeds of my beloved perfumed old-fashioned petunias that I grow in patio pots. Anxious to escape my hovering, they leaped several feet away to the granite mulch of my potted  squid agave (Agave bracteosa). By the time I took this picture, I’d already lifted some to patio pots; they aren’t yelling at me yet.

Petunia seeded in squid agave pot

Onto tasty subjects: It’s time to plan those luscious summer tomatoes.  Since Renee Studebaker of Renee’s Roots is the ultimate homegrown tomato expert (who even sun dries Juliet’s in her truck!) she joins Tom this week on CTG to get you in on harvests like this.

Renee Studebaker tomatoes

Renee notes some of her reliable favorites, how to collect seeds from rare, beloved heirlooms, and how to start early when weather can still be frosty. Get lots more of Renee’s tips on growing tomatoes on Renee’s Roots.

Renee’s nemesis, shared by all tomato growers: the dreaded leaf footed bug. Viewer Patricia Finch asked CTG if we had any new insight. Unless you want to nuke yourself and all your beneficials, you’ve just gotta do what Renee & Patricia do: go out early in the morning while they’re sleepy and dump them into soapy water. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the clusters of red nymphs that show up early. Bag ’em before they grow up!

Still, Patricia got 1600 tomatoes from her 25 Celebrity tomato plants last summer, and made 15 gallons of spaghetti sauce that made her “favorite neighbor of the year!”

Celebrity tomatoes

Her secret is Garden-Ville’s rose soil and Rocket Fuel fertilizer. She also adds diatomaceous earth around each plant.

Daphne answers Joan Wade’s question about her roses that weren’t performing well.

rose with slight iron chlorosis

She also only has a narrow space to grow them.

trellised roses in narrow space

Joan’s  selections are good ones, like David Austin Graham Thomas and Leander, plus Monsieur Tillier, an Antique Rose Emporium favorite.  One problem is an oak tree that shaded them (obviously, I’ve had the same problem!). Joan had it trimmed back, and now they’re getting lots more sun. Her roses (like mine) can also use some iron, organic fertilizer in a few weeks, and amended soil with compost or rose soil right now.

Late-breaking report from Joan: sun, soil amendment, and liquid seaweed with iron have already worked. Her roses are leafing out like champs with healthy growth!

Daphne’s caveat for gardeners starting from scratch: Joan’s design is beautiful, and she’s selected good varieties, but they are large shrub roses. For new rose growers in a narrow space like this, look for tame climbers or miniature climbers that won’t outgrow the space too fast!

What else drives gardeners crazy? Pill bugs! They’re mainly a problem around seedlings. Get Trisha Shirey’s insight and how to make peace with them.

On tour, we revisit the teenaged farm interns at Urban Roots, who are growing lots more than organic tomatoes.

Help here! Can you identify this plant for a viewer who spotted it at an office building?

mystery plant

Until next week, Linda