I feel nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.

Yes, this has been said before. That doesn't make it any less applicable. If you think about it, a garden encompasses the whole of life in one patch of dirt. You learn life lessons like frustration, disappointment, and sadness at loss. You learn that hard work usually pays off well, while neglect has unpleasant consequences. If you're really lucky, you're rewarded with beauty or fresh garden produce. See? All of life in one little patch of dirt.

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Well, would you look at that?

well-would-you-look-at-that

I’ve almost got my first ripe tomato! Is that cool or what? Very nice surprise! I haven’t been out in the garden to do more than water for a couple days, cuz I somehow got a stupid virus that was trying to eat my computer. Been busy dealing with that, and imagining all the slow, painful ways I would torture the idiots who think it’s fun to give people misery and aggravation by writing computer viruses. I mean, really, what kind of a moron gets off on creating havoc like that? The world would be a better place if somebody did torture them all to death slowly and painfully!

So when I went out to play today, after finally curing my baby, it made me very happy! Didn’t get as much done as I wanted, as usual, but I did pot up a few pepper seedlings that really did need bigger homes. Also took out my bolting window box lettuce and planted some ageratum and globeflower seedlings in there instead. I put the window boxes in front of the container garden bed, cuz my daughter’s dog keeps knocking it down with his leash. I thought that might help keep the dirt in place.

So, for all you people who still have cold, soggy soil, dream on! You can make fun of me in July when my garden is dead, and I’m waiting for cooler weather to start the fall garden.

Click for bigger pic

The other day, before my computer went berserk, I tried to get started on the lasagna bed for the Sweet Potatoes. When I tried to poke the digging fork in the ground, it pretty much bounced back up into my teeth. It hasn’t rained in ages, so the clay is concrete again. I got my milk jugs and soaked the area real well overnight. So here’s a lovely pic of my milk jug garden! LOL!

Click for bigger pic

Not much else going on in the garden. Stuff is growing, and looking pretty good. Except for the chard! Danged cabbage loopers found it, but I sprayed some bt the other day, and it seems better. Would have sprayed again tonight, but had grandson stuff going on…

Until next time…

Posted By sb158on April 16, 2011

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Whaddaya Gonna Do…

whaddaya-gonna-do

when the wind is blowing so hard you’re afraid to put your small dog out for fear she might fly away? Seriously! Yesterday the wind was blowing 25-30 mph, with gusts to around 40. Bad enough, but today is even worse. Sustained winds 35-40 mph, gusts to above 50! Added to the heat, we’re talking really unpleasant out there.

Lasagna bed

Went out and watered, but that’s all I could really do. Much too windy for planting any seedlings, building a new bed, or pretty much anything else on my To Do List.

Speaking of watering, have any of you ever tried those Aquaglobe things for your containers? My eldest grandson got me some for Christmas, and I use them in a few of my smaller pots. Surprisingly, they actually work quite well. Two of them are in pots of thyme; they really do keep the moisture level just right.

Lasagna bed

On Tuesday (I think) when it was comparatively cooler, I built a new lasagna bed. This one came about because there is a “volunteer” vine of some sort in my big lantana container. Could be a cuke or a watermelon, still can’t tell. Anyway, I decided to let it grow just to see what it is, but had to trellis it somehow. Wind already broke one of the vines, and that’s before it got really windy. I decided to loosely wrap some green-painted weed-eater string around the tree and let it grow up the tree. Then I said…yeah, you guessed it. Why not put a 5 gallon bucket with a couple cukes I plant on the other side of the tree, and let them grow up it, too? However, last year I realized that things in containers don’t do well, because the heat bakes the poor roots and dirt. I figured, if I put a little lasagna bed around the container, then plant it with bushy stuff, maybe it’ll mitigate the heat somewhat, and the poor things will have a chance. So I did!

Lasagna bed

I planted 3 of the bright yellow Swiss Chard, in between which I put a couple dill babies. I thought the bright yellow chard would look good with the yellow lantana, as well as the yellow cuke blossoms. On the sides of the bed, I put a couple divisions of Greek Oregano. The container really needs repotting, so I cut out a couple chunks and planted them. Will do one more piece after the oregano recovers from the first butchery. Between that, I planted several cilantro seedlings. I doubt very much that the cilantro or dill will do much more than bolt to flower, but that’s okay, too. Beneficial bugs love dill and cilantro flowers! I’ll stick some bush bean seeds in there, too, once it’s just normally windy out there again. Still thinking about what to start to fill the space once the heat kills the cilantro and dill completely.

Speaking of containers, here’s a look at the container garden from street-side. Pardon the skewers; as I’ve mentioned before, I use them to keep the horde of feral cats out of the beds. Works pretty good! Still need to plant a few things on the right side of the bed to replace the Lilac Beauty pepper that expired. I think my daughter’s dog lifted his leg on the poor thing one too many times…

Lasagna bed

Did you notice the Red Sage blooming? Hummingbirds and bees are supposed to really like this plant, so I put some all over the place!

Lasagna bed

In the Blue Moon rose bed, I have the lavender rose planted with some Red Rubin and Dark Opal purple basil, so naturally, the first green beans I planted were some purple bush beans. They are beginning to bloom, and the colors do look nice together…

Lasagna bed

Be nice if I actually get some beans out of the deal, too. I’ve tried these beans several times, with no luck at all. Something eats them, or they die!

Well, that’s enough for now. Time to go start dinner…

Posted By sb158on April 8, 2011

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Fried Brain…

fried-brain

and body, truth be told. Monday was 100 degrees, even “officially.” Tuesday was a bit cooler, but today it’s hot and humid again. Not quite THAT hot, but still hot! By the time I’m done for the day, I’m thoroughly done. Every night I tell myself to post…

I guess I finally listened. LOL!

Things are settling in and starting to really grow now. This is the Blue Moon rose bed as of March 29.


Lasagna bed

Since then, the rose has bloomed again. They smell soooo good.

Lasagna bed

The alyssum, winecup, and blue salvia make a pretty combination, I think. You can also see a few of the Contender bush beans and one of the Swiss Chards I planted in there. No reason edible can’t be pretty, and vice versa.

Lasagna bed

This is the Tomato Lasagna bed as of April 2. It’s grown noticeably in just the past few days. The Roma tomato (in the tripod cage) has at least 4 baby tomatoes. Hubby is already tasting every one of them, too. Told him it’d be a while yet, but he still keeps drooling! The TripLCrop tomato by the trellis has shot up significantly in the past few days. Looks like it is getting ready to bloom soon.
In the mid-far-right of the pic, you can barely make out another small tomato plant. This is a Sungold cherry; it’s grown in the past few days, too. It already has one baby tomato, and more blooms.

Lasagna bed

In the pic above, you can see some of the other plants in that bed. There are some peppers, basil, and some peanuts in there. I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of raw peanuts. Shelled a few of them and planted the seeds, just to see if they would actually grow. Much to my surprise, they actually did! Peanuts are a good nitrogen fixer, like beans, and supposed to be pretty plants, too. So far, I like them! They are pretty.

Lasagna bed

Since I took these pics, I’ve planted pink Bright Lights Swiss chard around the sides of the bed, then planted some pink Laura bush petunias between the chard. Above that, and to the left of the Sungold tomato, I put a borage seedling. Borage attracts bees and beneficials; you can use the leaves as mulch material or compost fodder; its roots are very good at breaking up compacted clay soil like mine. And it’ll look pretty with the pink chard and petunias!

In the last little bit of space, I’m going to plant a tithonia in the bed, and some Carpet Cosmos in the sides of the bed below the tithonia. The bell peppers in the bed ripen to gold, crimson, and orange, so the tithonia will pick up those colors, attract beneficials, and look pretty! Hummingbirds love tithonia, too. Carpet Cosmos are like the yellow and orange shorter cosmos, but they are only supposed to get about a foot tall.

I’m hoping I picked the right plants to both help the tomatoes and peppers grow, and look pretty. Like I said, no reason edible can’t be pretty!

More to talk about, but now I’m closer to over – done! That heat just wears me right out, and makes me smell bad. I hate the icky sticky feeling it leaves on my skin, too. Have I mentioned I hate hot and humid? Anyway, it’s time for a shower and bed…
G’nite, y’all!!!

Posted By sb158on April 6, 2011

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Lasagna’s Almost Done…

lasagnas-almost-done

So we have been house-hunting, and even put an offer on a place. Don’t think we got it, though…there was a previous offer, and we really didn’t want to get into a bidding war and pay a price we’d regret down the line. Liked the house and yard, but there’ll be another down the road. We just have to keep looking.

We really are looking, though, because the grandsons keep getting weird symptoms and nobody really feels well. We’ve been doing some research; it seems like formaldehyde could be causing all of the weird stuff. I still don’t know what to do about the garden, because I have no idea how long it will take to find a house.

Meanwhile, between all the real-life distractions, I’ve been planting the lasagna bed in bits and pieces. So far I’ve got 3 tomato plants, some Genovese Basil, parsley, chamomile, marjoram, and 2 bell peppers. I’ve planted black-eyed pea, lima bean, and peanut seeds. They are partly for eating, but also for nitrogen fixing. Why not let some plants fertilize other plants? And I’ve always wondered how peanuts grow. Still have more to plant in there, and I’m getting to it as I can.

Took a couple pics today; pardon the paper sticking out from under the mulch. After the seeds sprout and grow a bit, I’ll cover it all over with more bark mulch so it’s pretty again. Pine mulch has the unfortunate habit of falling down and covering the spots where the seeds are planted.


Lasagna bed


Lasagna bed

My sister-in-law wanted some details, so…
I started by marking a 5′ diameter circle where I wanted the bed. That’s enough room for a bunch of plants, but not too big to reach the middle. After I wet the ground, I stuck a digging fork every few inches to crack the concrete. Then I put down a bit of organic fertilizer and covered the circle with cardboard. Soaked the cardboard real well, then put on a thin layer of dirt to hold it down. After that, I started layering. First layer was some of my unfinished compost, about 1.5″, topped by another 1.5″ of composted manure. Covered that with a layer of shredded paper and soil conditioner, then a 2″ layer of topsoil. Sprinkled some fertilizer on that and soaked all the layers thoroughly. Then I repeated the layers until the whole mess was about a foot deep. After that I made sure to soak it all thoroughly using the milk jugs to be sure it moistened all the way through. Waited a few days to let it all settle, then started planting. To plant in it, I mix up a good potting-type mix with some fertilizer, then dig a hole bigger than I need. Fill that around the plant and water in well, and you’re good to go. To plant seeds, I basically stick the trowel in and rock it back and forth to make a hole, fill that with the potting mix, and plant the seeds in that. So far it’s working.

Posted By sb158on March 24, 2011

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Tomato Lasagna…and more indecision…

tomato-lasagna-and-more-indecision

Tired, really need to go to bed, so briefly…

got the tomato lasagna bed done a few days ago, but am letting it sit and settle a few days before I actually pull the tomatoes out of their pots and plant them. The milk jugs have pinholes in the side, and I keep filling them with water and letting it soak in. These beds take alot of water to get moist enough at first, but hold the water quite well once they do. The slow drip from the milk jugs gives the water time to soak in, instead of running off and getting wasted…
May plant tomorrow, we’ll see.


Lasagna bed

As for the indecision, Hubby has decided to go house-hunting again, so, again, I don’t know whether to proceed with the garden plans or hold off in case he actually does decide to buy a house. Sigh…getting tired of this. Need him to make up his mind once an for all!

Posted By sb158on March 18, 2011

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Garden Blog Bloom Day…and lasagna beds

garden-blog-bloom-day-and-lasagna-beds

Over at May Dreams Gardens, the 15th of the month is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Here’s what’s blooming in my garden today…

Don’t you just love the pretty blue color of this ageratum? I know the beneficial insects do. Planted this way last summer in a container, but it didn’t do much in the heat. Come fall, I cut it back real hard and fed it real well. Saved it from a few freezes, too; I had no idea if it would work or not. Apparently it did, as it’s been blooming for a long time already.


Ageratum

Love nasturtiums; unfortunately, they don’t love it down here too much once it really warms up. They usually fry and die in a month or so. This one is an Alaska nasturtium.


Alaska Nasturtium

The gazania I divided from a container and planted in this bed is already blooming again. Love these guys; they take pretty much whatever you throw at them and just keep blooming.


Gazania

Repotted pink jasmine vine I bought a week or so ago. Looks like it’s doing fine; has a few new buds on it. This smells so yummy when it’s blooming!


Jasmine Vine

Another nasturtium. This one is “Moonlight,” I think.


Nasturtium 'Moonlight'

Of course the Laura Bush petunias are blooming. Once they start, they really don’t stop for a very long time. Even in mid-summer, all you have to do is cut them back, feed them, then wait a few days for more blooms. And they smell wonderful!


Laura Bush Petunias

Mums bloom twice a year down here; in spring and then again in the fall. These two are planted in the whiskey barrel with the night-blooming jasmine. It started getting windy again as I was taking pics; sorry about the blurriness.


Burgundy mum


Yellow mum

Don’t know if the next few pictures exactly qualify, but here they are anyway. The night-blooming jasmine isn’t blooming yet, but is does have buds and will bloom soon. Ditto the zinnia.


Night-blooming Jasmine


Zinnia

And this is, of course, a tomato plant. This one volunteered in my compost pile way back in late January; I’ve babied it along all this time. It even has a baby tomato – looks like a Roma.


Tomato sBlossom


Tomato Blossom

Phew! I think that’s finally it. I was going to post a pic of my new “lasagna” tomato bed, but that can wait till next time. I think enough is enough, already…

Posted By sb158on March 15, 2011

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Not Getting It Done…

not-getting-it-done

as quickly as I would like. The monstrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan has had me glued to the TV when I should be outside working. I’ve never seen anything like that, and can’t imagine experiencing such a thing. My prayers go out for those people; it isn’t going to be easy recovering from something like that.

On the garden front, between 35 mph winds, migraines, and life in general, I’m still not even done with my first tomato lasagna bed. Got more tomatoes to plant, as well as lots of peppers, so I really have to get my butt in gear.

I did pot up all my tomato seedlings into gallon pots today, as well as repotting a bunch of other stuff. I guess I am accomplishing something, just not enough and definitely not fast enough!!! Got my sweet potato slips pulled off the potato and planted in seed mix to grow some roots while I build the bed for them…took them long enough to grow, but they did grow.

I hope things go better tomorrow…

Posted By sb158on March 14, 2011

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Something To Cheer You Up

The high temperature here today was 88! Way too hot to be outside doing garden stuff, but better than still be buried in snow, I guess. I watered and took some pictures of blooming things, instead. I know, should’ve been working on my tomato lasagna bed, but it was just too hot…

Mouseover the thumb to see the big picture.
Click for the really big pic.

Here are a few pics of what’s growing and blooming in my garden right now.


Yellow “Gleam” nasturtium, I think, and the variegated “Alaska” leaves next to it.


Orange Nasturtium and some Alyssum

Yesterday, I started the lasagna bed for the volunteer tomato, and made a “tomato teepee” from PVC pipe painted green. Here’s a pic of the bed and teepee:

I had no idea how to tie the poles together, but I found a handy link about lashing poles to make your own trellises and teepees. Very helpful, with good illustrations. Maybe it’ll help you, too.

And that’s all she wrote for tonight…

Posted By sb158on March 8, 2011

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It Actually Rained!!!

it-actually-rained

Isn’t that amazing? Seriously, we haven’t had any significant rain in months, but a cool front came through Saturday morning. We got a good downpour, and things are looking much better for it. With this clay muck, it was too muddy after the rain to do anything garden – related.

Sunday I went to the local big blue box store, and bought some more “dirt” and stuff. Also bought a pink jasmine vine, but that was my daughter’s fault. She said it smelled really good and was really pretty. Then she said, and I quote, “You need this plant!” Who was I to argue with that? LOL…

I needed the dirt and stuff to start building a new bed. The “volunteer” tomato that sprouted ages ago in the compost is blossoming already; it’s ready for a permanent home! I looked at tomato stakes, but couldn’t believe the price they were charging! Why in the world do they think I’d be willing to pay $32.00 just to hold up a tomato plant? Was going to build a 4-sided cage, but changed my mind real fast! I have the PVC pipe from my arbor thingy, so I spray-painted 3 pieces green, and made a “tomato teepee” instead. Forgot to take pics today, but will try to remember tomorrow.

After I made the teepee, I marked out a 5′ circle, then dug a nice big 2′ wide and deep hole where I want to put the tomato. To fill it, I used the same 3″ alternating layers of greens, browns, and soil with which I make the lasagna beds. I’ll plant the tomato in the lasagna bed; the good stuff in the hole should give the tomato plenty to grow on!

I poked a bunch of holes in the circle with my digging fork, sprinkled on some organic amendments, then covered the circle with cardboard. I soaked it real well; tomorrow I can start building the “lasagna bed” around the tomato plant. I’m thinking the best way to go is to leave the tomato in its pot right where I’m going to plant it, then build the bed around it. Once the bed is done and settled a day or two, I’ll unpot the tomato and plop it right in it’s custom-fitted hole!

In keeping with the permaculture concept of diversifying plantings, and supplying a plant with what it needs, I’ll plant some flowers to attract beneficial insects, some nutrient accumulators and nitrogen-fixers to feed it, and something to act as a windbreak to keep that south wind from sucking the life out of the poor thing. Not entirely sure what will be the final bed configuration, but I hope I plant the right stuff to help the tomatoes grow!

For right now, tired from a long day in the garden, and planning another one tomorrow, so….

Gnite, y’all!

Posted By sb158on March 8, 2011

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Hard to Garden Without Water…

I started transplanting things into the little bed I made yesterday, but before I was done, the water in the park went off. This happens with disturbing frequency; I have no idea why. In the interim, I decided to take a few pics to show the “Before and After” so far.

Mouseover the thumb to see the big picture.
Click for the really big pic.

This is the view from the north side of the yard, looking south, from whence come the moisture-sucking, leaf-tattering, plant-murdering winds.


This is the “before” looking toward the little ash tree. Not much of a yard, is it?

The pic below is of the little bed I built between the end of the sidewalk in the previous pic and the container garden. My original idea was to plant a bunch of gazania self-seeded babies, just as a pretty ground cover. When I realized there was enough room, I decided to plant one of my pepper seedlings and some companion plants to help it grow. I thought the Lilac Beauty peppers would look pretty with the purplish stems and flowers of cinnamon basil.


Lilac Beauty Pepper Bed

The cinnamon basil smells yummy and attracts beneficial insects and pollinators that will help the pepper stay healthy. I added a few Summer Berries yarrow; the flower colors will go well with the pepper and basil. The yarrow roots will help stabilize the bed; yarrow is also an excellent nectar source for ladybugs and other beneficial insects. It’ll keep them around and fed until the bad bugs start attacking, at which time they’ll go to work eating them all. Yarrow also accumulates nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and copper from the soil, so you can use the leaves as mulch to return those nutrients to your soil. On top of that, it has several medicinal uses. How can you lose with a deal like that?
I’m also going to stick some bush green beans in between the other plants, which will fix nitrogen and help all the other plants grow.
As for the gazania, most of them will be planted in the sides of the bed, again, to help stabilize the edges. They do attract beneficials, but, mostly, I just like the cheerful flowers and appreciate how easily they grow, even in this miserable climate.
The green mini-crates make excellent transplant-protectors; these are sheltering Ten-Week Stock until they get established.

I did the Tipsy Pot thing this year with a chile pequin in a 5 gallon bucket on the bottom. The second container has sage, with some nasturtium that will most likely die when it gets really hot. The next container up has marjoram and more nasturtiums. The top container has thyme. Other containers hold cleome, rosemary, ageratum, and other things.

Container Garden

My hanging baskets this year have Laura Bush Petunias (love the fragrance), more nasturtiums with some sweet alyssum and thunbergia to take over when the nasturtium fries in the heat, and one with Blue Daze evolvulus and a few left-over strawberry plants that didn’t fit in the other bed.

Hanging Baskets

In this area, I built a bed between the two windows, mostly for the Blue Moon Rose I found at Lowe’s while shopping for potting soil and stuff. I had a Blue Moon Rose years ago, and one bloom would scent the entire yard with the most delicious spicy fragrance…

Blue Moon Rose Bed “Before”

In this bed, I also put parsley, Swiss Chard, chamomile, blue salvia, red sage(the native perennial, not the bright red annual), strawberries around the edge, and some salad crops. I tried Ten Week Stock for the first time this year; they are a cool-weather annual that are supposed to have a lovely fragrance. Hope they actually manage to bloom! And, no, I’m not trying to grow bamboo skewers; they’re my attempt to keep the herd of feral cats in the park from using my beds as a litter box. So far, it seems to be working.


Blue Moon Rose Bed

Oh yeah, I also repotted my night-blooming jasmine into the bigger barrel, along with some mums that have managed to survive thus far.

This is my “Baby Nursery.” All my seedlings are hanging out here, where they get afternoon shade, until I have their new homes ready for occupancy. I really do need to hurry up and do that…

Baby Nursery

This is as far as I’ve gotten so far; got to keep on keepin’ on to get the rest done in a timely fashion. Especially in this climate, it’s best to take advantage of the “cooler” weather before the heat kills the garden – and the gardener!

Posted By sb158on March 4, 2011

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