Archive for January, 2012
Earthworms, just doing what they do, are a great asset in the garden. They take our kitchen and garden scraps and turn them into beautiful, rich fertilizer/dirt. This process is known as “vermicomposting”. The castings from the worms are rich in micro-organisms and it enriches the soil and makes nutrients available to the plants. The castings also improve the texture and structure of the soil, and increases the soil’s ability to hold moisture.
As they burrow through the soil, they aerate it, improving the drainage and making room for oxygen. This aeration also makes it easier for root growth in plants.
Earthworms can be grown in their own bed. This way they are contained and concentrated and it’s possible to harvest the castings and use them in the garden as fertilizer. If you need to use the worms for something other than vermicomposting, such as for fishing or for pet food, then this method might work better for you as you wouldn’t need to disturb garden plants to get the worms. Growing worms in beds or containers can be a little more difficult because of problems with climate. They like a mild, moist environment, not too cold, not too hot. If you live where temperatures are extreme, then your worm bed should be indoors for protection.
So far, we have grown composting worms directly in the garden, where they burrow and multiply and make lots and lots of castings. The earthworm’s needs are simple. They need food and they need moisture and they need to be able to go deep enough into the soil to avoid cold and heat. We live in Zone 6, where it gets cold in the winter, yet we have lots and lots of earthworms. Our soil is frozen right now and we would have to wait till it thawed in the spring to add worms to it.
Saving the scraps while preparing food in the kitchen will usually be enough to feed a pretty good size garden bed. Also, the scraps in the vegetable garden can be used. I do a lot of trimming of vegetables before bringing them inside. These can be added back into the soil, to feed the worms living there. If you don’t feel you have enough scraps to feed them, sprinkle some raw oatmeal, peat moss, corn meal or coffee grounds on top of the soil. They’ll find it. Don’t add more food than they will use in a couple of days though, it will make the soil sour smelling.
Worms have to have moisture to live. If you live in a very dry climate like we do, then keeping the soil moist (not wet) is important. If the soil dries out a little on top, the worms can go deeper for moisture. Be sure to not over-water though.
Red worms and night crawler are good composting worms. These are usually sold as fishing worms and can be bought in the sporting department of WalMart and other places. If you have a large garden though, it is much cheaper to order them online. When you get your worms, just dump them out and they’ll find their way into the soil. (If there are a lot of fat Robins sitting around though, you might want to toss a little soil on them for protection.)
Here are a few sites to check out:
There aren’t many sights prettier than the sun filtering down through grape leaves, with all the shades of green showing so clearly. The only thing to improve that sight, would be great clusters of grapes hanging down.
When we moved into our house 3 years ago, we planned how we would arrange the garden so that we could squeeze everything (well, almost everything) into it that we wanted. We decided to have a grape arbor across the back of the yard and we wanted it large enough to provide eating and seating areas underneath it.
Before we had the arbor built, we planted the 11 grape vines. We didn’t want to waste any time because we knew they would take time to mature and reach the top, and start producing big fat, delicious grapes. We did get a few grapes last year, and they were really good. The two posts at the north end of the arbor have kiwi vines growing up them instead of grape vines.
This year will be the fourth summer in the ground and the grape vines will be a lot more mature. It will be exciting to finally have a nice, green canopy for shade under the arbor.
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Finally home from our relaxing vacation in Las Vegas. We made a quick dash to get there but coming home we took our time and made a few stops along the way.
Coming across the Nevada desert we took a little detour and went over to see the Valley of Fire. Amazing views of screaming red rock cliffs and mountain formations were everywhere. The red sandstone mountains looked like Swiss cheese with all the caves, large and small. The wind was blowing so hard the whole time we were there that it was easy to see how it had carved so many shapes into the sandstone.
There are some really nice petroglyphs (Indian art carved into the mountainside). The area had been used by prehistoric groups from 300 B.C. to 1150 A.D., including the Basket Maker people and the Anasazi Pueblo Indians.
The beautiful red formations reminded me of the mountains of Southern Utah around St. George and the beautiful formations in the national parks all over central and southern Utah.
Ahh, even with all that beauty, it sure was nice to see the mountains of northern Utah on our horizon. It meant home was near.
The Fairy is a small rose that puts on a big show. Once it gets established, it will bloom its little heart out. It can have blooms summer and fall. Even though the rose blossoms are only about 1 inch across, they are borne in clusters and usually cover the whole plant.
The Fairy is a miniature rose (polyanthus) that is great for the front of the flower bed or planted in groupings make a good ground cover. They grow to be about 2 feet high and wide.
To thrive they need full sunlight, moderate moisture and room to grow. They grow in Hardiness Zones 5 – 9. Find out which Zone you’re in by going to the Zone Map at: http://wp.me/P1OXDF-oK
I have them in my garden at the front of the perennial border, but this year I’m going to put some in beautiful pots to grow in on the deck.
They’ve earned their fabulous reputation.
For more rose information, check out these pages
I just love beautiful colored glass. I would love to be able to create forms out of glass and to be able to have complete control of the colors. I’m in awe of what some people can create.
Here in Las Vegas we have seen some gorgeous things, and the creations in glass are a part of that.
There was an art gallery in the Bellagio Hotel with some awesome glass pieces in it. (I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get the artist’s name.)
Then there was the ceiling in the lobby of the Mirage with its colored glass. It looked like a glass flower garden. I still have a crick in my neck from spending so much time studying and admiring that sight.
I just thought I’d share some of this with you glass lovers.
Some of the easiest plants to grow in containers are evergreens. Most of them are slow growing and maintain their shape. Unlike some other shrubs that can grow in containers, most evergreens don’t need a lot of pruning and pampering. They are pretty much care-free.
Consider placing one on each side of your front door. The deck and patio are also good places for potted shrubs, and they mix well with potted flowering plants. Since they do grow slower, the bigger the better…unless you don’t mind waiting on them to grow. They do need to be planted in containers that are plenty big enough, to prevent having to re-pot any time soon.
I wish I’d thought of planting some evergreens in my larger containers last summer. Instead I planted rose bushes (Brandy Rose roses) and even though they were beautiful and bloomed all summer, I realized that they would need a lot of pruning to maintain their “deck size”. Now, if I’d used miniature roses I wouldn’t have had that problem. Miniature roses can get to a pretty good size if they’re happy, but not nearly so big as a shrub rose. So I planted the Brandy Rose roses in the yard in the fall and hopefully, this spring they will come out and grow to be the big, robust rose bushes they were intended to be.
This spring though, I’m going to plant some evergreens (and there a lot to choose from) in pots for the deck. Guess I’ll be looking through my plant catalogs for ideas and information. Then I’ll go to my local nurseries to see what’s available. It’s so much more fun and productive to go to the plant nurseries when you have a little understanding of what you’re looking for.
Because I needed shade on part of our deck, I also potted up some fruit trees. I planted a cherry tree and 2 plum trees. They are semi-dwarf trees and I reason that in the pots they won’t grow to their full potential, and also I will be able to keep them pruned small enough to be on the deck. If they bear fruit, fine, if not, that’s okay too. They’ll be beautiful trees and they’ll provide shade in the summer. When they’re mature they should provide a nice canopy for us. At least that’s the plan.
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Gardeners need a crystal ball to know what plants will be able to survive in their areas. The USDA Hardiness Zone map is as close to that crystal ball as we’re going to get. As weather patterns change, so do the lines dividing the zones.
Click on the “Zone” tab at the top of the page to check out the new, interactive map and see if your zone has changed.
When you’re buying new plants for your yard, it’s important to know what zones they can survive and thrive in. By knowing what zone you live in, you’ll know if you’ll be able to grow that exotic beautiful plant you want so much.
We visited an amazing place this week, and I’m not talking about the hotels, fabulous shows and restaurants. There is just so much to see and do in Las Vegas, that I doubt very many of the visitors who come here get to see the acres of pottery and garden decor we walked through. I’ll bet the locals know about it though. It’s a place called Little Baja Garden & Design and it’s located at 3033 W. Ford Ave. in Las Vegas. You can find them online at http://www.littlebaja.com
The selection of pottery was astounding. We’ve shopped for beautiful pottery in Mexico, Arizona and Florida, but I’ve never seen a place with so many choices. It’s fun to have beautiful colored pots on the deck or patio. If we had room in our garden for even one more large pot, I would have had to spend the day selecting just the right one. We decided to buy a couple of beautiful, colored plant saucers. We’ll put these on pedestals around the yard to use as bird baths.
We also like to collect sun faces and other yard art. Again…what an amazing selection to choose from.
I loved the columns. I would have loved for our grape arbor to be on columns. Let’s see…they are on sale right now for $500 apiece, and we would need 12 of them. Hmmm….$6,000 for the columns alone, not counting the treated lumber and the cost of the grape vines. Guess that’s why we didn’t do it. Even if I had been able to afford using columns, I wouldn’t have known where to get them. Now I know.
Nothing beats the sound of rushing water, it’s so relaxing and soothing. This place had about a half acre of fountains of every size and shape, from rustic to ultra modern, from tiny ones all the way to gigantic.
What a fun time we had, just strolling around and wishing we had more room in our garden… and more $ to buy some of the gorgeous things we saw.
Oh, and a big truck to get it all home in.
I know…how could our lives get any busier. Right? It’s hard to remember every single thing we need to, or want to do.
Besides, who pays that much attention to what’s going on in the yard in the dead of winter, when it’s cold and miserable out there. It can be a nuisance to trudge outside, into the cold weather to check to see if the bird feeders need filling.
(Actually, if you can’t see them from your window, then it is more of a bother, and what’s more, you’re missing out on watching the birds at your feeders.)
So…this is just one of those little reminders.
Need more information on feeding the birds?
I had seen dates growing in Arizona but I hadn’t realized that they would grow in Las Vegas. It seems like the nights might get a little too cool. I doubt that they are grown commercially here, but there are many Date Palm trees (Phoenix dactylifera) here that are loaded with dates. Since the dates are a bright yellow, I’m told they are unripe. As they ripen, the large bundles of fruit will be wrapped to protect it from the weather and birds.
I would love to be able to grow one of these beautiful trees in our garden, but unless we move to a much warmer zone than zone 6, that will never happen. I guess I’ll have to keep buying my dates from Costco.
After seeing the gorgeous bamboo growing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I’m getting so excited for spring to get here to see if the bamboo we planted in our garden is going to survive our winters (we live in zone 6) and come up like it’s supposed to.
We planted 4 large clumps (3 different kind) and they are the hardiest of the non-clumping bamboo, so we have our fingers crossed that one day the bamboo growing in our yard will look as magnificent as what we’re seeing here in Las Vegas.They look like they could be the same species as the ones we’ve planted. (See post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-pC)
I talked before about the 4 large clumps we brought back (in our SUV) all the way from Alabama. The nursery we bought from is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/ I don’t think we’ll give up though, if it happens to not come up. We did get it planted a little late in the season and we would try again, maybe planting it earlier to give the roots more time to become established before the winter cold set in.
You see, we love bamboo, and we’re determined to have some in our garden. I’m sure these photos explain the allure.
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I know I’ve talked a lot recently about house plants. I guess it’s because I’m surrounded by them because we have to bring so many of our plants in for the winter.
I know you’ve seen the house plants for sale at the home improvement stores. Some of them can get pretty pricey, but if you’re getting a really nice, large, healthy plant, then it might be worth it. If you care for it really well and it grows and adds beauty to your home (as well as oxygen – see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Bo) for years to come, then it might well be worth the price.
Besides the home improvement stores, check out your local nurseries. The selection might be better and the prices might be comparable.
Pay attention to the needs of the plant to see if you will be able to care for it. If it only lives for a short time then it definitely won’t be worth the price.
For information to help you make the right selection check out this post: http://wp.me/P1OXDF-13F
If you like to spend at least part of the winter planning what you’re going to do in your garden next spring and summer, then having a little information can be helpful.
Have you checked out the “Tabs” at the top of the page? Under the “Flowers” tab there are list of annuals, and perennials with their growing habits and needs.
The “Birds” tab will give some information about feeding the birds to keep them coming to your yard to gobble up all those “bad bugs’ eating your garden.
The more information you have, the more successful your garden will be.
We accidentally scheduled our vacation at just the right time of year to be able to enjoy the celebration of the Chinese New Year (the year of the dragon). The Bellagio in Las Vegas is always a spectacular place to see and be, but with the celebration of the New Year, it has been kicked up a notch.
Dominating the display were the 4 enormous dragons, moving and blowing smoke. Chinese figures all made of flowers were amazing and beautiful.
Pagoda roofs with tipped up corners, and arched red bridges were tucked among the giant bamboo that already grows there. Piles of giant Chinese money were nestled here and there, while hundreds of beautiful red lanterns hung overhead throughout the display.
The many mandarin orange and kumquat trees that grow there already were decorated with bright red bows for the occasion.
It was wonderful and I’m so glad we were able to visit this amazing garden during this special time.
A great garden design will have permanent pathways, and stepping stones…for walking and stepping. If garden beds, flower and vegetable, are kept narrow enough, then there is less temptation to walk on the soil of the bed. If the area is too wide, it’s best to place stepping stones.
Most plants like well drained soil. Walking on the soil compacts it and has an effect on the drainage. Compacted soil also has less oxygen and makes it more difficult for plants to grow.
For more garden design ideas, check out http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Z9
Well, I can’t garden so I might as well head south and enjoy some warm sunny weather. Right?
We’ve been out in the snowy and freezing weather today and that will make us appreciate the warmer climate even more.
I’ll be taking, and sharing, pictures of any gardens I can find. Since we are headed for Las Vegas I’m not sure how many will be at their peak. There is a gorgeous, gigantic atrium at one of the casinos though, and I will be taking pictures in there.
Ah… the sunshine, pool and the hot tub are calling my name. Besides, I’ll enjoy the snow so much more after having been away from it for a week.
Centranthus ruber, or Jupiter’s Beard, is one of the beautiful plants I discovered about 3 years ago, after moving west. I’d never heard of it before, but I began to see it in gardens all around.
It is a beautiful plant and easy to grow. The plant only grows about 2 feet high but the flowers growing on tall, straight stems can reach 3 feet.
The flowers are made up of clusters of tiny, little flowers and can be very fragrant. The flowers can be white, red, pink or lavender, and last a long time. They are good as cut flowers in arrangements.
Jupiter’s Beard grows well in full sun or partial shade. It is drought tolerant. The plants spread and also self sows freely. Removing the finished blossoms will help to prevent this and to encourage more blooms. The plants can be divided and used around the garden or share the divisions with friends and neighbors.
It’s a really good plant to grow in difficult spots where other plants won’t grow. (See the Favorite Perennials List at: http://wp.me/P1OXDF-Ps
I love them and think they’re wonderful. They seem to stay in bloom forever. I’m hoping they will spread a little so I can divide them up and spread them around my garden.
When it’s freezing cold outside and the snow is blowing and I know there is still 4 long months until I can really “garden” again, I start looking through pictures of last years garden. It’s really fun to compare them with the pictures of our garden the year before, to see how things have progressed. The grape vines had made it to the top of the arbor the previous year, and this past summer they had began to fill in the top. This coming summer I’m hoping the arbor will be shaded, at least for part of the summer.
It’s also fun to compare the early spring pictures with the late summer pictures. The transformation is amazing.
My “above all the other” pictures I love to look at are the ones of my roses. It is so wonderful to live in a climate that roses thrive in (hot and dry on summer days with cool nights). I’ve used all different kinds of roses around the garden. The tall, shrub roses will help to divide the “garden rooms” and the climbing roses will cover the arbor at the south gate of the picket fence and also grow along the fence along the driveway. The miniature roses are being used as a sort of ground cover out on the corner, outside the picket fence, and the hybrid teas are mixed and mingled among all the flower beds throughout the garden, back yard and front.
Share some of my Winter Cheer and dream of the spring and summer to come.
The following pictures are from an amazing rose garden near us. I wouldn’t mind my garden looking like it one day.
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Garden Cress (or Pepper grass) taste like Watercress, with a peppery bite to it. It’s a very easy to grow annual herb. It can be grown in the garden or in containers on the deck or patio or even in the kitchen window.
To grow cress in the garden, plant the seeds as early as possible in the spring, planting again every 2 weeks for a longer harvest. Cress matures very fast and grows best in cool weather. If you live in a mild climate, cress can be planted all through the fall and winter.
Cress does well in containers. It sprouts in a few days and can be harvested in a couple of weeks. Whether in the garden or in a container, cress likes moist, well drained soil.
Cress is so easy to grow it can even be grown by sprinkling seeds on wet cheesecloth or paper towels. Just keep them damp and you can began harvesting in about 2 weeks.
The peppery flavor of cress spices up any dish. Try using it in tossed salads, egg, potato or chicken salad. Try it in scrambled eggs or in sandwiches instead of lettuce.
Get creative. Garden cress is a beautiful plant and versatile in the kitchen.
Okay, I’m hooked on Clematis. They have such beautiful flowers and they bloom for such a long time. I have them all over the yard and I look forward to them maturing and adding so much color to my garden.
There are so many different vines that have beautiful blossoms though, like Wisteria, Trumpet Vine, Bougainvillea, Star Jasmine, Morning Glory, Climbing Hydrangea, and Honeysuckle, just to name a few. No matter what climate you live in, you can have beautiful, flowering vines.Vines can grow on fences, on porch posts and railings, on arbors, against the side of the house or garage, over a pergola or even up into the trees and tall shrubs. Since vines use different methods of climbing, it’s important to know how they grow, to know what they can grow on.
- Twiners – As they grow, their stems wrap around whatever they are climbing on. Good examples of twiners are Wisteria, Clematis and Morning Glory. Twiners can grow on fences, lattices, post and in trees.
- Tendrils – These vines have little threadlike tendrils that curl around the support. Sweet Peas climb by tendrils. They can grow on chain link fencing, netting and into trees and tall shrubs.
- Rootlets– To hold fast to their support, these vines have little pads of roots that attach to whatever it is climbing. They can climb on bricks, masonry, tree trunks, rocks and wooden post. Climbing Hydrangea is a vine that uses rootlets to support it’s great weight as it climbs.
Some flowering vines are delicate and light (such as Clematis) while others can get very heavy (Climbing Hydrangea for instance), and grow to be very large. By doing a little research, it will be easy to put just the right bloomers in just the right place in your garden. Just between you and me…you can’t go wrong with Clematis though. Some stay small while others can grow 20′ or more. Once you have one blooming in your garden, you’ll be trying to make room for more…and more.
Get out those catalogs (you did order yours, didn’t you?) and have a look at the variety of beautiful, flowering vines for your garden. Check out post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-Ub for info on ordering gardening/plant catalogs.
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