Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aquacone helping sad plant
Time to Catch Up

We had a nice quiet Memorial Day weekend.  I had lots of time to garden and sew.  However I did find it kinda weird when people wished 'Happy Memorial Day' - maybe they've forgotten what it represents.

Here's a product that I use every year when planting in warmer weather.  It's 
called the 'Aquacone' and I get them from
Gardener's Supply Company (not a paid endorsement).  I have 6 and have used them for years now.  Just cut off the end of a 2 liter soda bottle and attach the cone where the lid was.  It comes with holes that can be punched out to  regulate the amount of water.  Then push it in the ground near the roots of the new plant.  It really helps get plants settled and promotes deeper rooting.    
Just push it down near the roots
My lavender harvest is off to a fantastic start this year.  Right now I hang the bunches to dry on spring tension rods in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room.  Hubbie had me order a different type of rack which should be here some time this week.  That way we can use the doorway instead of going around the 'long' way. 

This is just half of what's hanging now
 Gardening Tip:
          Use rubber bands to tie the bunches together - as the herbs dry
          the bands stay tight and you don't have them falling all over the 
          floor.  I just loop the rubber band over the rod and back around
          the stems.

 I finally finished a wall quilt that I've been working on.  We've had lots of wind and smoke from a huge wild fire in New Mexico.  That made it difficult to work outside so I made an indoor garden quilt.  The pattern is "Wonky Wildflowers" from Pine Mountain Designs.  It was a lot of fun learning some new blocks and I love incorporating embroidery in designs.  The button centers on the flowers were my own touch.  I used scraps from my stash and just had fun with the colors.  Notice that I also made a scrappy binding.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Those little green blobs are volunteer portulaca
Budget Gardening Tip

Volunteer plants can be quite a help in the garden.  Last year I had two hanging planters of portulaca.  Throughout the summer they would go to seed from time to time and I was glad to see that seedlings were showing up this spring.  I pull out the ones that I don't want and let others go.  They'll be happy and reseed themselves again.  Freebies are great.  My friends and I also share seeds that we save from our own plants. 

Volunteer prickly pear cactus

Volunteers can be unexpected too.  This cactus appeared about 4 years ago at the bottom of a rain spout.  I'm guessing that some bird enjoyed the fruit and deposited the seeds via poo on our roof.  Then a rare rain storm washed it down the gutter where it took root.  After it was about 2 inches high I scooped it up with a trowel and moved it to its present location.  I totally ignore it and as you can see it is very happy.

Mums March 25
Mums May 26

Dividing perennials can also be great.  I often have lots of chrysanthemums that need to be divided.  I spread them around my own garden and share them with others.  It makes my plants happier because they aren't so crowded and makes me happy to share.

Some of the plants that I divide and share from my garden are:  chrysanthemums, asters, coral bells (heuchera), and various sedums.  Bulbs also multiply and I share when they finish blooming.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baby Turtle 'J'

The other day I found the first of this year's crop of turtles in the garden.  They're really hard to find since they are only slightly larger than a quarter.  Following up
on our alphabet naming system this one is 'J' until our granddaughters name her.  I brought her inside to take the pictures.  She's trying very hard to escape from saucer.  It's so much fun to find turtles and lizards in my garden.  And yes, eventually I'll have to share some of our herd with friends and neighbors.  But not yet!  Then it will have to be a joint decision between me and our girlies about who gets to move on to other pastures.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Saving Money

These days all of us are looking for ways to save our pennies.  One idea is to ask at local nurseries about 'distressed' plants.  Many of them have an area where they put plants that are nearly dead.  One of my favorite places to check is Lowes.  They have plants on clearance for 50% or more off the previous retail price.  I've gotten some real deals with plants that just need a little TLC.  Yesterday I saw a woman buying roses in 2 gallon containers for $5 each - and they looked fantastic!

Half flat of alyssum for $3

Today's Tip:
To rescue these sad things here's what I do: 
                Water thoroughly
                 Trim off spent blooms (this helps the plant put energy into                        roots instead of seeds)
                 Use some root stimulator to give it a boost
              Plant and water regularly for a few days
              Be patient and enjoy your thriftiness

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Before and Disaster?

Well I wish that I had paid more attention to pruning these shrubs six years ago.  This year it was time to face the beasts.  They looked great if you didn't go too close - then all the dead leaves and branches were really apparent.  Hard to believe that this monster was only 3 photinia shrubs.
So I got the clippers and the loppers and a saw and went to work. I filled up 2 large trash cans and about 5 large trash bags.  Hubbie came out to see what I was doing and asked if we were getting rid of the bushes.  'Of course not', was my indignant reply.  Our neighbor later asked me the same thing and doubt was planted in my overconfident brain.  Surely they will recover - I hope.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This is Max - our alpha male

That's not a rock.
My garden is in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Mornings here are amazing - cool and sunny.  Perfect for our outdoor pets - desert box turtles.  Yes, I write their names or initials on with nail polish (Sally Hansen hard as nails seems to work best).  We have quite a tribe now:  Max, Tiny, and Tiny Too are the males - identifiable by red eyes.
Our females are Apple, Betsy, and Cat.  After the boys we went with the abc's and its easier to just paint a letter on their shells.  We also have babies:  E, D, F, G, H.  Haven't seen 'I' this year yet.  The granddaughters get to do the naming and we'll be having a naming activity in June.  They (the turtles not the granddaughters) love to eat bugs (even cockroaches), cat food, watermelon rinds, and strawberry tops. We've all learned to pick them up carefully and hold them at arm's length for a minute:  peeing seems to be a defensive mechanism and it's no fun being peed  on by a turtle (pretty stinky).

Today's Garden Tip is about growing cilantro.  Here in our warm climate cilantro bolts (grows too fast and flowers) quickly.  So I bought a couple of small plants and started seeds.  I'll harvest continually if I keep planting seeds every week or two.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

OK here goes!

Well, enough talking and delaying.  My first blog entry . I'm still working out details but here goes!

I love gardening, didn't always, but now it keeps me sane so I thought that I'd use this forum to share ideas and thoughts with you.  Especially since I can't do anything today.  Sunday is a day of rest although pulling the occasional weed and watering are allowed right?  Also, today is cloudy and windy so won't do any good to go outside.

Tomorrow morning, rain or shine, wind or still, I'll be doing my first lavender harvest of the year!  My house will smell wonderful.

My goal is to share tips and ideas about gardening and other stuff (sewing, crafting) when I can. If you have handy tips let me know and
they'll be posted, crediting you of course.  

 This is from last year - my first year lavender bed where a lawn used to be.  My hubbie realized that money could be made selling lavender and suggested that I take out a lawn and turn it into a lavender garden.  A few weeks later there was!  I now have about 90 lavender plants with a dozen or more different varieties.  Lots of wonderful scents.