Wednesday, January 30

Note to Caroline: 2013 Garden Plans

Hi Caroline as you know late fall I had to move my business to another location and moved into another apartment only a few weeks apart. I gave up my community garden plot late fall because I was having trouble going back and forth with my busy schedule. I am excited though because finally I have an apartment with a small yard. I just got word back from my landlords that I can add a border which I plan to use to plant the vegetable garden.

I also have a large patio that I plan to use for container gardening. What do you think about those gallon plastic containers? My budget is limited so I might have to use them. I found a blog where they painted the containers and they look very pretty. The photo and information for the blog are below.

Here is a side view of my apartment steps. I am thinking of adding pots here too on the retainer wall. Any suggestions? I was thinking of window boxes of low growing herbs.

As you can see I have a area of grass.If it were my yard I would get rid of the grass and perhaps put in raised beds.

Here is RC and another view of the other side of the patio. I am also thinking about a theme garden for the patio. Themes I have in mind are a Caribbean or Spanish garden. I would like to purchase a set of patio furniture perhaps from Goodwill so I can spray paint it bright colors. I have a wall fountain that I had at my business that I will be setting up late spring.

Here is a photo of the painted buckets from the California Pixie Blog
Didn't she do a great job? Not sure I have the patience to complete a project like this. I know we have to get our 2013 Seed list soon.

Monday, January 28

Note to Michele: Deer in the Garden

Look at the visitor we had in our backyard today! Seems this White-tailed Deer found something tasty in my perennial border. She pawed at the snow and nibbled at the dry stalks I neglected to cut back in the fall. I think she was eating the vinca minor, also known as periwinkles or creeping myrtle, which is a ground cover that stays green all winter. She stayed for a good 25 minutes nibbling at my garden. This photo isn't the best because it was taken through a window.

The photo above shows one plant she nibbled at. I think it's the remains of my phlox. We all enjoyed watching her, including Chloe the cat. Chloe sat outside on a window sill watching the deer. Chloe likes to play games with our backyard squirrels. By the look on Chloe's face, we think she was contemplating this beautiful creature as a new playmate.

When the doe decided to leave our garden, she headed this way, through the snow covered trees.

Hours later, when my son took the dog outside, he said the deer was back. Perhaps we have a new friend? She can eat all the vinca she wants as I have loads of it and it grows like crazy around here.

 On another note, my daughter decided to put a splash of color on our otherwise white and gray winter garden. I thought you'd like seeing our bright snow friend. The snow won't last long. The forecast says we'll be getting up to 50 degrees on Wednesday. After some bitter cold this past week, a warm day will be very nice.

And while waiting for the nice warm weather, I'll browse through my seed catalogs and ponder all the amazing possibilities!

Saturday, January 19

Note to Michele: Dad's Do It Yourself Amaryllis Support

Dear Michele,

Last night, I took photos of my mother's amaryllis in full bloom for you to see. 

I love the color and pattern on this variety. It looks so pretty this time of year when we really need a splash of color in the dead of winter. She grows it in her bay window. The snow gives a lovely backdrop to the coral color of the flowers.

 I also took photos of the clever DIY support my Dad designed to prevent the stem from breaking off from the weight of the blooms.
Using wire cutters, he cut a coated wire coat hanger to size. Then, he heated it over the burner on his stovetop, being careful not to get it too hot, as that might melt the coating. Using pliers, he bent it to the desired size and shape. In the photo above you can see how perfectly is supports the tall stem.

Next year I definitely want to grow an amaryllis myself.


Monday, January 14

Note To Michele: Happy New Year 2013

Happy New Year!

How is the weather in your area? We're having unseasonably warm weather this week. Most of the snow we has almost melted and it feels like April outside.

Just before Christmas I found seed catalogs in my mailbox, mixed in with the Christmas cards. Now that the holidays are over, I hope to have some time to look through and start dreaming about spring.

In the photograph above, you see our new Bonsai. The man at the nursery convinced me that buying a plant to shape would be more fun that one already formed into the traditional look of a Bonsai. It is also much more affordable to do-it-yourself! This variety is a Ficus Green Island (compacta) which is an indoor tropical Bonsai. It is in the family Moraceae. It needs sun to light shade and watering 2 or 3 times per week. Also it must stay above 35  degrees, but prefers much warmer temps than that. I debated between this type and a juniper but learned the junipers require cold winter temperatures indoors, yet still need sunlight- a tricky combination to provide. I was advised to start with the ficus. We are currently reading a book on the subject before beginning to shape it.

I love your new Amaryllis! I have never tried one, but my mom grows them every year. This year, hers has grown incredibly tall. I took a photo of it to show you. Have you ever seen one so tall? She said last year she had some that grew so tall, the stems broke. Mom says this one has bloomed recently.
Below you see a bouquet made of Mom's broken amaryllis from last year.
I'm trying to winter over some geraniums my mother gave me in the fall. She didn't want them and they would be killed by frost. I've heard it's possible to winter geraniums over in a dormant stage, so I am giving it a try this year. First, I knocked off all the dirt from the roots, then let them dry. Then I put three plants each in paper bags and hung them from the rafters in my attic. I left a few in pots and put them in the basement to compare which method works best. From my research, I think the basement is actually too warm but we will see. They all look quite dead but others say this works great. If so, I should have lovely geraniums next summer.

In other gardening news, I have been searching Youtube for some new gardening shows to watch. I don't have cable, and our PBS station has very few satisfying garden programs now. I grew up watching Crockett's Victory Garden but the new Victory Garden is so different from the original. Do you remember Jim Crockett host of Crockett's Victory Garden? I do wish PBS would bring back vintage Victory Garden episodes.

 Anyway, I have discovered the BBC has produced some wonderful shows over the years and many are available on Youtube. I feel like I've found buried treasure! I'm enjoying Around the World in 80 Gardens, Gardeners' World,  Grow With Joe, The Victorian Kitchen Garden, Alys Fowler and The Edible Garden. All these programs should keep me happy until spring. If you, or any of our readers, are looking for some garden inspiration, try these programs. Around the World in 80 Gardens will take you on a world tour of some of the most fascinating gardens in the world.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...