Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding it hard to contain myself

I attended a Master Gardener talk on container gardening a while back.  Not that I don't have plenty of room to stick plants in the ground, but initially, I wasn't sure where I wanted to put things.  I have this vision of growing garden 'rooms'.  There's the vegetable patch, the native garden at the front, but I also want a butterfly garden, a spring bulb garden, a small 'needs watered' flower garden (for pretty pretty!) and underneath the bedroom window, I dream of planting a night scented garden.  So until I get all that in place, container gardening sounded like a plan.  Also, it's a good way to grow those plants that are inclined to invade the garden, like a lot of herbs.

The front of my house has a bench all along it that I thought could be used to display plants in containers.  Inspired by the aforementioned talk, I decided to get creative and went to a Goodwill store.  That's a charity store for us Europeans.  For under $30 I picked up four baskets, one decorative wooden box, a blue wire frame thing, another wire basket with beads on it, two cute miniature metal pails and a miniature milk urn.  I am well aware that putting moistened soil in many of these vessels will spoil them but at an average of $3 each I thought it would be worth it.

We-ll, kind of...  I just could not condenm this gorgeous basket to rotting.  I now use it to gather in my harvest.  It sits on the back door step (the sun will take its toll on it over time). I keep my trowel and secateurs in it - I regulary lost these items by setting them somewhere random - now they have a home.

And this lovely basket was great for a table display at a BBQ I had, and I just couldn't pull it apart - I'm thinking with some added foliage it might make an attractive Thanksgiving centerpiece.

So, this was the first of the baskets that I actually potted up.  A trip to the garden centre and another $30 later I arrived home with way too many chrysanthemums and annuals, such as snapdragons, dianthus, dahlias, moss rose and alyssum.  I lined the basket with a plastic bag that I'd put holes in the bottom of to slow down the rate at which it will fall apart.

Then I chose an autumnal color scheme of mums.

The fourth basket I just planted with a Native Australian Grass that Rosella gave me.  I think I've over watered it though - it seems to be struggling.

I had slipped an interesting couple of vines that Laurie and I had come across on one of our walks.  In both cases they had grown over onto the street and I didn't think that anyone would mind if we took a couple of tiny wee cuttings.  Of course I got them mixed up.  But three out of four of them took, so I wanted to put them in the big wooden box.  My husband drilled a few holes in the bottom - not that I can't drill a few holes myself, but he likes  to play with his toys!  I put  an old weathered plank in there that I'd found in the front garden for the vines to grow up.
One vine in particular was very happy.  It blossomed.  I don't know the name of it, and if you do know please  drop me a comment.  The other vine is jasmine.   It hasn't blossomed yet and has lost a couple of leaves.  Fingers crossed it lives.

I planned on lining the blue wire frame thing with moss but I'd so many mums left over that I just plonked one in to it in a pot.  I think my report card on this one should say "could do better"!

The wire basket with beads is a similar story - I have it in the bathroom but the clear plastic drip tray, showing the dirty water, takes away from it... "must try harder"

The cute pails are good plant pot covers.  They have no hole in them.  They are also handy for scooping seeding and potting soil out of the bags they come in.  They spill less than the trowel.

This snapdragon looks cosy in the little milk urn!

I had a metal box left over from flowers that were sent to us when my mother-in-law died. I punched holes in the bottom of it and planted it up with dianthus.

The rest of the plants I used to spruce up the Sam Maguire - seeing as how the real one is on its way to Cork - Maith thu, Cork.
I set all my containers on the shelf at the front of the house and 'oohed and aahed' at them for a day, until I realized that these flowers need 6+ hours of sun, and this was too shaded.

So I reorganized..

They seem more happy here...

And I get to start the whole process again and pot up some begonias and fuchsias.  Please leave me a comment if you can think of any more showy flowers that love the shade...

Byddi Lee

Friday, September 17, 2010

What season is it?

I get confused by the seasons in California.  Right now, I'm looking forward to the rain coming, in much the same way I used to anticipate spring time in Ireland.  That's because in many ways summer here is like the winter in terms of the native plants.  Many go dormant, waiting for the fall rains to spring everything back to life.  Rain has been forecast for Sunday - if it comes - and if this is the start of the rainy season, I'll be rejoicing.  I can't wait to plant my natives in the front garden.

In the meantime, I'm harvesting from the back garden.  To say it was a bumper harvest would be exaggerating. But we get enough from the garden to feed ourselves five nights out of seven.  It lightens the grocery bill a lot - though the least said about the garden center bills, the better!

However, it seems that even the plants are confused - so many of them are blossoming and fruiting at the same time.  It makes for an interesting Blooms Day post to link in with May Dreams Gardens.
Aubergines (Eggplants) have beautiful flowers, and the fruits are delicious looking too...

Okra flowers come just before the fruit - it's hard to keep up with these guys as they ripen in a matter of days.

The flower is beautiful.  Next year I'm going to plant them in the beds nearest the house - in a row - as they are very ornamental too.

The pumpkin and the melon (small yellow flower on the left-hand-side) is still flowering too.

As is  the zuchinni (courgette).  I don't even know if this is normal because I haven't grown either before.

And here are some flowers I have at the moment.



Crepe Myrtle...


Back to the harvest though ... I thought the beans were over, but I hadn't pulled them out.  It's good to leave the roots as they fix nitrogen in the soil when alive, and I consider them 'green' fertilizer.  This little guy surprised me the other day.  One bean pod.  We ate it!

Also, I just had to enter for the Gardening Gone Wild Picture this competition this month - the theme is harvest and this is a photo of one of the three seed heads I collected from my very poor sunflower crop!

And to finish I'll leave you with a photo of the farm... not my farm - the ants farming aphids on my okra flowers!  Prime real-estate...

Byddi Lee

Friday, September 10, 2010

Too mulch of a good thing!

Wow! Friday again - last week simply flew in.  That's what happens when you become engrossed in a  project.  My week was a whirl of sleeping, shoveling, eating and more shoveling.  My aim was to have the wood chip pile completely dispersed before my husband came back from his ten-day long overseas business trip.  Of course, he stumbled through the door dazed with jet lag and lack of sleep and didn't even notice!  Que protrusion of bottom lip...  However next day, after a nights sleep, and with daylight now on his side, he did the required oh-ing and ah-ing and told me how wonderful I was!

On Wednesday, I was on the telephone with my Godmother in Ireland. (As a little girl I was convinced that she was THE Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, because she is beautiful, and back then, had waist length straight blond hair - which I wanted also.) Next thing, it started to RAIN - in September - in California!  I was shocked and she couldn't quite grasp my amazement - well, she was in Ireland - where rain is no rarity.  It didn't rain much but it was enough to soak the ground and have cars put on their windshield wipers.  Everywhere I went for the rest of the day, it was all anyone could talk about!

So now we have the lawn out of the front yard, the raccoons seem to think it's time to start working on the back lawn.

One half is dead, all dried up.  Of course, the raccoons left that part alone and began the back lawn conversion with the good healthy side!  Not that I'm going to let it bother me - after all - We didn't come here for the grass...!

But that work can wait - I'm all shoveled out for now and need a break.  I also need to pay attention to the vegetables which need harvested and cleared out.

So, I think I'll leave you with some before-and-after front garden shots - of course, I still have to add the plants - I'll do that in October when the rains come - if they haven't already started!

March 2010
September 2010

March 2010
September 2010
March 2010
September 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Toe-may-toe, Ta-ma-toe!

I've got piles!  Piles of cherry tomatoes in the back garden...

And STILL piles of wood chips in the driveway.

Both piles are getting smaller, and I noticed that the wood chips are getting a lot of attention from new wildlife.  I spotted a few of these giant green bugs; hard to miss since their buzz is as loud as that of a Boeing 747!

I don't know what it is, and I really hope it's not some wood-boring beetle that will eat my house.  (They have fierce scary bugs here in California.!)  If you know what it is please leave a comment.

I've still been searching craigslist and freecycle for free stuff for the garden.  This week, I procured ten Nile Lilies, which I shared with Laurie, and three white plastic garden trellises, approximately 2'X3'.  These I didn't share.  I think I'll use them for sweet pea along the back fence next year, but I'll give Laurie flowers from them!

The old British English vs US English thing raised its ugly head again as I was scouring these websites.  So often I'd see adverts for free rocks and enthusiastically I'd note click on the link, imagining lovely big massive rocks that would look wonderful in my garden, only to find a  a pile of pebbles!  So, Americans please take note, rocks are anything bigger than a football (either kind of football - funny shaped or not!), stones (you guys do know this word, but you tend to turn it into a verb!) are anything smaller than a football and bigger than a tennis ball base ball.  Pebbles are anything smaller.

While we're at it, I noticed a thing with furniture description.  Excited that there were free dressers on the go, I was disappointed not to find something that looks like this...

Anything with out the shelves is simply a a chest of drawers, a set of cupboards or a combination of both.  A mirror instead of the shelves makes it is a dressing table!

Anyways, now that I have that off my chest, it's time for another session in the gym.  I've been doing an hour a day, minimum, and I have to say I think it's paying off.  My barrow pushing skills are much better. I think it should be an Olympic sport.  On top of that, I'm feeling more toned, and I think I've got much better muscle definition - what do you think?