Saturday, May 31, 2008
Anybody else have an interesting edible centerpiece?
Can you think of any other spooky flowers? Or does anybody have a witch garden?
Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I don't expect smaller companies to be able to offer competitive pricing but I do expect them to have the best quality plants and buffing up their return policies so that they match the big box bullies seems like the least they could do. And if they are not willing to do that, then I'm not sure I'm willing to make the sacrifice.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
One of my 2007 gardening magazines featured the organic garden of Master Gardener Martha MacBurnie. The best part of the article was that Martha shared her 3 favorite natural plant remedies. Her main remedy is aspirin water, which I used sporadically last year. Martha describes her plants looking like they were "on steroids" from using the aspirin water. Well, this year I'm committed to at least try to use this on a regular schedule. If I can find all the other crap that goes into her concoctions I'll try those too. Martha says that the combination of these 3 remedies keeps her garden looking great.
Dissolve 325 mg aspirin in 1 teaspoon vinegar, then mix with 1 gallon water. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons yucca extract for better dispersion. Spray on plants regularly to boost their natural immune systems (treat entire garden every three weeks.)
Dissolve 325 mg aspirin in 1 teaspoon vinegar. Combine it with 2 to 4 tablespoons neem oil, hot pepper wax, garlic and yucca extract plus 1 gallon water.
To 1 gallon water, add 2 tablespoons baking soda and 2 tablespoons of one or more of the following: Eco E-Rase (blend of jojoba and jojoba seed oil), yucca extract and mild dish detergent. Hose off leaves first to dislodge spores, then spray with the fungicide brew (weekly, or after extended rainy periods). It's also effective against soft-bodied insects and white fly.
So this sounds awesome, right? But the trouble is that I can't find a place to buy yucca extract, neem oil, hot pepper wax and E-rase (jojoba oil) besides way over in California at Peaceful Valley.
I'll also be using my compost tea that has been collecting in the container below my Enviorcycle composter as soon as I can get up the nerve to pour it out. I'm afraid its gonna smell really bad and activate my gag reflex. I was reminded of compost tea over at Colleens About.com Organic Gardening. She's got tons of great information over there so check it out if you haven't already.
So, if you are the blue water type, why not try the aspirin water? It'll be fun - we can compare notes!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Hope everyone had a safe and delicious Memorial Day. We sure did!
These Iris were one of the few plantings that were here when we bought this house but they had become so crowded that they didn't look so great. So, following David's detailed instructions, I divided them last year and they look much happier! Thanks again, David!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
(1.) Some of the containers sat for a couple of days with the lids on them before everybody commented to get the lids off ASAP. So, maybe they suffocated?
(2.) I planted the containers for some things too early before I knew any better. For example, the strawflower that I planted in Jan should have been planted much later, like March or April. And by the way, Poppies get on my nerves! They are all half dead and if I can get one flower out of 3-4 milk jugs I'll be jumping for joy. I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
I'm hoping to get the Cosmos and the Lupine in the ground later today but the rest need to grow a little more.
Want to see more about my winter sowing adventures? Here you go.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
So, I planted Hierloom Brandywine, Black Krim and Sausage Tomato plants today along with hybrid Sweet 100's, Husky Red Cherry, Grape, Early Girl and Roma. I also planted my bush bean seeds and golden zucchini and I'm just praying that the squirrels don't dig them up. It looks like the raised veggie beds are a favorite spot for them as proven by all the peanut hulls I found in there while I was planting today. Question: does anybody know what the plant below is? I thought it was a weed but when I started to pull it out I realized that it was growing from one of the coconut fiber pellets which means I planted this from seed. It is planted in the same square that I thought was either Rappini or Romanesco broccoli but there is no way. See next photo.
I was fairly disturbed about the Stepables fight while reading it and although I did check back a few times (I don't usually do that), I had forgotten about it by the next day. But then yesterday as I strolled through my neighborhood garden center, I saw the familiar Stepables display and instead of thinking I should eventually buy something to go in the cracks of the concrete by the porch like I usually do, I was reminded of the slanderous attack that the Stepables (OK maybe that's harsh but I'm trying to be interesting here) guy made on the sweet innocent Garden Rant girls (GR's, please send the check to my paypal account. ha ha). And that got me thinking about e-reputations and whether or not us e-gardeners need to be concerned with them or not.
Now, I fully admit that I did not pay really close attention to the sequence of events in the Stepables versus Garden Rant fight but maybe I'm the typical reader who we should watch out for.
I read something recently that said people normally won't read past the first 10-20 comments on a blog post and depending on what was covered in the GR's first comments, the reader could be left with 1 of 2 bad impressions. (1.) The Stepables guy is mean therefore Stepables are bad and we should not buy them or (2.) the Garden Ranters are swindlers who will say good things about a product only if you pay them to do so. I hope it's neither but I'm just trying to illustrate a point.
For the most part, garden bloggers seem to be pretty protected from the types of conversations that can leave the reader feeling negative. In general, blogging about gardens isn't really an emotionally charged topic and about the most heated debates you'll find are "daylilies, love em or hate em" and the old heirloom versus hybrid debates.
If I remember correctly, the Stepables guy is not the Stepables founder - he's just marketing the product which I find even sadder. I wonder if the Stepables founder even knows that some dude she thinks is helping her company has made me identify the Stepables product with this mean guy. Then again, maybe I'm the only person who over-analyzes things like this. But think about it. Now I've typed that brand name a million times in this post and it's possible that somebody will google Stepables, find my post and decide not to buy the product. I'm not trying to say that my blog could ruin a brand but I am trying to say that garden bloggers do influence product sales. To what extent? Who knows. And not only do we influence product sales but the way we write influences the success of our blog.
Like it or not, we've got e-reps to protect. There are some blogs that are, by design, more edgy and controversial compared to the average garden blog. In fact, I'm picturing the Garden Rant girls wearing the pink lady satin jackets from Grease with Garden Rant written on the back looking extremely cool. But for the most part, we're all just trying not to piss off our readers, which I for one find a challenge sometimes.
Here are my questions for you:
- What impression were you left with after reading the Garden Rant post in question?
- Will that post influence your decision to buy or not buy Stepables or to read or not read Garden Rant?
- Do you consider your blog a "brand" whose reputation you are concerned with? Or are you just in it for fun and could care less what anybody thinks or if they ever come back to read your blog again?
Friday, May 23, 2008
What the heck did I do to cause this? Anybody?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I complain all the time about being from the south but when it comes right down to it, I sorta miss some things about it. And even though I'm not from Georgia, I am well versed in the deliciousness of the Georgia Peach. So, when Mr. Wonderful said he'd like me to grow some peaches, I picked this variety hoping to plant a little of my southern heritage in my yard. Check out the "flower bed" in the picture below. Boy that brings back memories of sod and weed removal last year. I dug a hole and plopped it in and watered it when I remembered.
Here it is this morning. It's kinda wild looking and I suppose I should prune it some day but I don't know how to do that either. It's done really well in this spot but I'm worried that it's going to outgrow this space fast.
After I planted this tree, a guy I work with who lived on a farm with an actual orchard told me that I may as well dig this up and throw it in the trash because I'd never get a peach tree to bear fruit in Chicago. He says it's too cold. Well, that's OK too. I still think it's pretty.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
- I've established new friendships that I think will last a lifetime with people who share a love for gardening. shout out to GB!
- I've crossed e-paths with some really great gardeners across the world who have been so helpful to me for reasons I still don't understand and even met one in person. Thank you all!
- I've found a great way to de-stress that does not involve drug abuse. HA
- I've learned more about the environment than I ever thought possible just from paying attention to my dirt.
- I've gone way outside my previous comfort zone building all sorts of crap and even though I've made tons of mistakes I've had so much fun doing it! Plus, my confidence about DIY stuff is out the roof and I'm pretty sure I could build a house or something. (OK maybe not a house)
- I've been inspired to explore some other creative outlets that I hope to tell you about soon.
- My yard is prettier and I know how to grow food!
I think my blog (and my life) will be changing in some very big ways over the next year and I can't wait. I don't have some big master plan other than to keep on gardening but I believe we should all be moving forward so that's what my garden and my blog will be doing.
Next up I'll be showing you how my Dwarf Bell of Georgia Peach Tree went from shabby to chic.
Happy Birthday to me!
Monday, May 19, 2008
I'm not sure what this is supposed to be but its going to be a table for my 2 new Adirondack chairs to be purchased in the near future. It's heavy and other than needing a good cleaning, there's nothing wrong with it.
My new patio space is filling up already. Stay tuned for the completion of this DIY project.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
- Professional Pergola makers usually use way bigger wood than I did. For example, my corner posts were 4x4's and a professional would have used at least 6x6 which cost 3 times as much in Cedar. Similarly, my 2x6 would have been 2x10 with a professional and my 2x4 would have been 2x6 or 2x8. I simply could not afford that lumber but if you can, buy it! Your pergola will be bad ass! Trust me!
- The estimate I got was for pressure treated pine which is much less expensive than Cedar. If you are not picky about that sort of thing then you can really save the big bucks by using treated wood. Personally, I hate that stuff because of the required maintenance. Wanna get fancy and you've got the cash? Try composite wood. It lasts forever! And its a green product.
I feel pretty good about the pergola project. It was very hard work but I had a great time doing it and I would totally do it again. I think it turned out really nice, don't you?
I don't know if you've ever seen a Vanhoutte Spirea in bloom but it's breath taking. Every branch is stuffed with beautiful white flowers and that is the one time where I'd agree, the bigger and more out of control the better. But after the blooms are finished, an out of control Spirea is an eye sore in a bare garden like I had at that time.
Here it is after it started growing back (below). Isn't that adorable? And much more the size of a shrub I needed for this bed. It turns out that, for multi-stemmed shrubs, you can cut them all the way to the ground and it "rejuvenates" them. Now don't run out and do this to all your out of control shrubs because it won't work on the single stemmed ones. If you kill your shrubs, don't blame me! Mutilating shrubs is risky business.
So then the landscaper made it in to a ball. Bad Landscaper! I had no idea that I needed to specifically tell a landscaper not to make things into balls. Why are they so obsessed with that? Is there anybody who actually asks their landscaper to make their shrubs into balls?
And since Vanhoutte Spirea blooms on old wood, I assumed that it wouldn't bloom this year which kinda pissed me off.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So, here's to my first Bloom Day of 2008. Thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of every month. Drum roll please!
Karen Azalea planted in my front yard garden. This was one of Carolyn's recommendations.
Dwarf Korean Lilac also planted in my front yard garden. Another suggestion from Carolyn.
Magnolia Ann planted in the front yard garden and still holding on. You go girl!
Another Big Box Tulip. This one looks like wax to me. It's so beautiful! Mr. Wonderful picked it out last year. Nice job, honey!
Wow! That's a good showing for May if I do say so myself.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
When I walk past ornamental grass I cannot not touch it. I stood there fondling a pot of Toffee Twist Sedge to the point that it got sorta creepy. "I can't stop touching it" I was thinking.
I finally walked to the cashier with my plant but I couldn't stop thinking about that sedge - I had to go back and get it. I also bought a few small fiber optic grasses because I thought they looked fabulous with the Toffee Twist Sedge.
No other plant seduces me like the ornamental grasses do. There is something about the way they feel in my hand, like the long hair of a beautiful doll that you can't walk by without touching. And there is something about the way they move with the wind, like the seemingly effortless moves of a beautiful ballerina. And there is something about the way every blade of grass is perfectly juxtaposed to every other blade of grass, like a great hair cut.
When I planted the bronze sedge with the fiber optic grass, I added 2 pretty yellow/orange Dahlia's and they actually detracted from the beauty of the arrangement. They seem to dilute that softness that is so attractive with the grasses.
I think I'd love to have a sitting area where I am surrounded by all kinds of ornamental grasses. They would be so close to me that, no matter where I sit, I could always reach out and touch at least one of them. And every time the wind blows, I could hear that soft rustling of grass in my ear.
Do you have a plant that seduces you? I'm not talking about a plant that you like or just think is pretty. I'm talking about a plant that, when you walk by it you feel that chemical attraction that feels different from any other plant.
Monday, May 12, 2008
You thought I was joking about never cutting the grass again after the traumatic lawnmower rabbit massacre, didnt you? Well I wasnt! If there are anymore baby rabbits chopped up in my yard, it'll be done by a professional, thank you very much!
The (unnamed landscaping company) is a local landscaping company owned by a delightful young dude named Blank. Blank came to see me (my yard) today and I really felt like I was taking a friend for a walk in my garden. This guy was so interested in my plants that it was just down right inspiring. Did I mention that it was raining outside while we were touring? So, yeah, it was raining and I had on plastic sandles like a dork. Even though I had told Blank that I just needed somebody to mow (and weed, shhhh) this summer, he walked right over the grass, not even mentioning it, and straight to the flower bed where he started naming off all the shrubs.
"Viburnum! That's in my top five of plants ever" (holy crap the guy has a top 5 list?)
"Ohhhhhh it's a peach tree!" he said after looking at the plant tag
I was so impressed by his passion for plants. It was very clear to me that Patrick loves gardens and that's the kind of dude I want my plants exposed to. I was also really impressed that this very young guy is running a successful business. Plus, he felt really bad for me when I told him about the poodles, too.
But the problem was that they came one time and did a crappy job of edging around my flower beds and didn't pull a single weed. So I had rushed home to look at my awesome flower beds only to find a half assed job done. I called them a couple of times before I ever reached anybody and never was able to speak to the nice young man who I met. He was supposed to call me back but never did. At some point I just left a message to send me a bill and never come back.
Now some other company is here. I can tell his is a much smaller operation. They are a little cheaper but the truth is in the mowing. Stay tuned!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
It doesn't look like it from the picture below but Pie Guy was the foreman. Him, GB and I have worked together on enough projects that we all sort of just fall into our natural role. I can't tell you exactly what any of our roles are but Pie Guy is usually anticipating and avoiding potential problems, I'm running around telling us all to hurry up because I'm impatient and GB is always right there with the exact tool you need for the job you are doing. I don't know how she does it! On this day she was very busy trying to keep people from injuring themselves, especially Pie Guy.