This column is a collection of topics beginning with T, and the first is tiles.
Regular tiles from the builder's yard or lumber yard make great containers, and they come in so many shapes and sizes, there is one for every spot. And if you cannot find the precise height you need, tiles can be cut with a chisel and hammer.
If, like me, you are less than expert with tools, you may end up with a jagged rim, but then that end can go down into the ground, or you can brazen it out as if you meant it to be that way.
Plants in all containers will dry out fast in hot weather, and you will probably find the potting soil shrinking away from the sides of the tile after a while. Just dig out an inch-wide trench all around the inside edge and replace it with some good potting mix that is high in organic content.
Water it well, and ram the new material down with a stick.
Tarragon is a useful herb to grow, but make sure you grow the French or German variety. Russian is not good. It grows faster and larger than the French, and produces copious amounts of seed, but is lacking in the flavored oils.
Tarragon's flavor is somewhat like anise, and you can use leaves or stem tips in salad. Unlike most herbs, tarragon can be grown in partial shade.
Tilling is a horrible, but necessary, job.
Sometimes I envy the farmers who use no-till methods in their fields. I don't pretend to understand the process, but I would really like to be able to just take one pass over the garden and put seeds and seedlings between last year's leavings.
Tilling the home garden with a tiller produces powdery soil, and digging by hand is very hard on the back. But nothing looks as good as a thoroughly dug and raked patch of ground with nice green plants in the healthy brown dirt.
Of course, then the flooding rain followed by some periods of drought that bakes the soil until it cracks, will follow.
Then there's tulips. I love them while they are in bloom, but I have unreal expectations for them in the garden.
With daffodils flowering profusely year after year, it seems as if tulips should do the same, but they don't. The first thing that happens to mine is those carefully chosen pink and peach blossoms turn to red. They clash violently with everything around them at that stage, and so have to be picked and brought into the house - where they also clash with their surroundings.
And then each year the blooms are smaller and more sparse until one year there is nothing but leaves. And the browning stem and leaves are very ugly in the flower border.
This is not the fault of the tulips; that is the way they are. One year, I was at an area public garden as their display was ending, and they were being pulled and thrown away. I was horrified, but maybe that is the way to go.
A trowel is a tool of great character that soon can become a friend. I have three; a rusty white with a point which is good for digging small holes in hard clay; a rusty green that just appeared one day and is not very useful unless the others are hiding from me; and a larger stainless steel one, which is priceless. It has a comfortable smooth black handle, and the rounded tip is fairly sharp.
This trowel was a gift from either my sister or my daughter many years ago, and is the tool I carry with me when I walk around the garden first thing in the morning. It digs out weeds on the fly, and its only fault is a tendency to disappear.
But so do many of my tools; I think it is a family trait.
And as long as they show up again, I'm not complaining.
Now, what am I going to do about U?
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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