Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Blue Bargain

 A few days ago I went to our neighborhood dollar store hoping to find some planters on sale for 50% off or more. As I rounded the corner to enter the aisle containing the gardening and outdoor products, there in the middle of the floor was this blue beauty. It was bruised beyond use for its original purpose of storage, but I instantly recognized that it would make an excellent plant container. The price for this 30 gallon gardening treasure? Eighty-nine cents!

My bargain hunting doesn't pay off nearly this well most of the time, but on the occasions when it does it makes all the misses worth the time and effort. As you can see I have placed two tomato plants in it and they are thriving. I hope they will both have a bountiful yield.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Standing Guard

This year, I'm trying to grow Cherokee purple tomatoes, and I guess Mother Nature heard about it, because she sent a plant that has been used for years by the Cherokees to give my tomato plants company. This is yucca filamentosa. And Adam's needle, Spanish bayonet and the sentry plant are just a few of its common names.

The Cherokees used the sharp, spiky leaves at the base of this plant to stun fish. And the Spanish settlers in the New World traditionally planted it under the windows of their daughter's bedroom to keep away males. By all reports it was quite effective.

I'm not sure how this one ended up in our yard, but it sprouted up through one of the shrubs near our back fence. Seeds travel by many means and I guess some of them manged to find their way to the fertile soil of our residence. I'm told the blossoms attract hummingbirds as well as bees and other pollinators. So it is an unexpected but welcome visitor that should help with my gardening efforts.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two Years In The Making

Early last year I saw an ad in the Sunday paper about blueberry bushes that had been developed specifically for growing in containers. The price of the plants seemed reasonable, so I ordered two. The ad said that the plants would be sent out at the proper time based on the zone from which they were ordered. In fact, the plants were sent far too early to be planted outside. And they appeared to be somewhat starved for water to boot. So I potted them in small containers and kept them indoors for quite a while waiting for the weather to warm up.

When outside temperatures finally reached a comfortable level, I hardened off the plants and eventually transplanted them into five gallon containers. It took so long for them to become accustomed to their new environment that they hardly grew at all during the summer. As fall approached I began to wonder whether they could survive our Mid-western winters. I emailed the company that sold the plants for some advice regarding this matter. There was zero response. I looked on the web site to see if there was any information there which would be helpful. There was none. Finally I decided to take the risk and see if they would make it through the winter outdoors. Fortunately, they did.

So now, after two years of waiting, I'll be able to find out if these blueberries were all they were touted to be. If they're not, I'll be the one that's really blue!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sole Survivor

As the leaves were beginning to fall last year, I decided to see if I could overwinter rosemary. I cut several tender branches and placed them in water to see if they would root. In time, some did. And when the roots were sufficiently developed, I planted each sprig in it's own small pot. Only one plant made it through the winter. Mind you, I probably could have increased the chances of all of the cuttings if I had used grow lights on some of the dark cloudy days of winter, but I was trying to see if I could manage to be successful using a minimum of resources.

I'm glad that the plant that did survive is growing so robustly. I guess my experiment proves you don't need a great deal of green if you want to keep some green in your life.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Petal Procession

As the sun rises ever higher in the sky each day, the blooms of various plants mark its ascendance with a very pleasing petal parade.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gardening On The Cheap

If you'd like to grow herbs or other small plants on your window sill, but don't want to visit the store to purchase plant pots, you can make your own from something you probably have in your house or apartment right now, a two liter plastic bottle.

The illustration is very straightforward, but here are a couple of things I did that you won't see on the diagram. First of all, after thoroughly rinsing the plastic bottle, I filled it with water, screwed on the cap and put it upright in the freezer overnight. Don't fill the bottle all the way to the top. Water expands as it turns to ice so leave room for that expansion. If you don't, the bottle may burst and be of no use as a container.

It is much easier to cut the bottle with a craft knife and drill holes in it with a power tool or screwdriver when it is full of a substance that keeps the plastic from flexing and stretching. You may have to wait a bit for the ice to melt in order to separate the bottle after cutting it, but it shouldn't be too long. Just leave it in a sink for a while.

And I obtained my wicking fabric for FREE through a sample offer I found on the Internet. You may not be as fortunate, but it's worth a try. Local garden stores and hobby shops would also be good places to look for this kind of fabric.

I have grown basil, chives and cilantro using this arrangement. It is one of the thriftiest and best ways of keeping a small indoor garden that I've ever found.

Friday, June 3, 2016

La Vie En Rose

Every year the garden brings a new season of discovery. This rose bush wasn't nearly as large last year as it is now. I'm not sure why, but it's busting out all over! I have no complaints whatsoever. A rose explosion is something I can deal with anytime.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lettuce Begin

Baby lettuce leaves straight from the garden are a welcome addition to any sandwich. And in case you were wondering, these were taken from a lettuce plant that is being grown in a modest sized container.