What a project!
You might remember a couple of days ago when I posted “Heart of Gold”, that I was just beginning our shade garden on the NW side of the house. Today my little partner in crime played hooky from school (its preschool, relax) and joined me at the nursery for our second round of planting.
I filled a whole red wagon with 5 gallon Peter Pan Agapanthis (no small feat with a 3 year old in tow!), taking it all up to the register and ultimately putting it all back. I’ve lived in Las Vegas for 14 years and thought that the gambling bug must have escaped me… but when I saw those big, giant Peony plants out of the corner of my eye I realized I truly was a gambler after all.
Like any young lady, coming of age in the 1990’s I LOVE Peonies… its no wonder they were the most popular wedding flower of the mid 2000’s (along with the ultimate desert-hating plant; Hydrangea). Something about those solid stems, humongous double blossoms, rich colors and sturdy construction just speaks to me in a way that roses never could.
Only I never thought I could grow them in Vegas. $200 later I decided to take a gamble… I ended up filling TWO red wagons with Peonies, Vinca Major and my favorite ground cover “baby tears”.
These are the varieties I chose:
Now I’m crossing my fingers. Because as we know… Just because the guy at the nursery said they’d grow well, doesn’t always mean its so. Also, if you’ve had any success growing these flowers in the desert, please, please, please send me your tips and tricks. My Mom suggested depositing left over ice from summer bbq’s on them to help them stay cool. Which works well for us because, well, we party A LOT!
For before photos visit my first post here.
Below are the after shots.
This time of year at Bob Baskin Park is especially fun. The weather is perfect, the water features are off so Gadzuki stays dry and the roses are all in full bloom!
Like Neil Young himself, I too was searching for a heart of gold. Well… I knew where to find one, it was the financier I was looking for. Found it!
I was rewarded for all of my hard work at the shop with a nice little budget to start re-planting the shade gardens on the NW side of our house. You might remember last year as I tried all kinds of things that ultimately failed (radishes, carrots, spinach) all from seed, all failures. Turned out all we needed was some reliable irrigation and that came in the form of my new gardener Hermino. He’s terrific. Like the little baby jesus delivered me an Angel of Horticulture… but more on Hermino later.
Today, Gadzuki & I went to Plant World to get some things that would be suitable for a partially shady area, wouldn’t mind the encroaching oleanders and could stair step down in 3 tiers. Oh yeah, and it would have to be considerate of the last thing my husband said to me before he left for work… “Don’t cover up the lights.”
Two toddler sized shoes in the turtle pond later, we had what we had come for. The same kid that helped us out to the car with our vegetables yesterday loaded us up and as I was fastening my kid in the carseat I heard him say “Have a great day, Beautiful”. WHAT? I’m almost positive I looked around for another person in the parking lot that he might have been talking to. Now normally I would just take this as a compliment, say if it came from the 60 year old man that had just run my debit card… but for some reason, out of the mouth of a twenty something kid, I’m inclined to roll my eyes and laugh. I know I should just be gracious and go on my merry way… but for what ever reason I can’t. Twenty year old boys are silly, and the idea that this one thought he could flirt with me is some how offensive… I mean, doesn’t he know who my husband is? Ha! (I JOKE!!) Really, they should be used to dealing with celebrities… Nick Cage was there yesterday when we arrived. (Still Joking!! Not about the Nick Cage thing, he was really there… I’m joking about my poor husbands celebrity status.)
Here’s what we got:
1. A Hearts of Gold Redbud tree. (I’ve been pining over this tree for over a year)
2. 2 Blushing Susie Black-Eyed Susan Vines (because they remind me of my mothers garden)
3. 6 Vinca Major (periwinkle)
4. 1 flat of “baby tears” (ground cover)
And here are some before and afters:
As you can see… this section of the yard needs a lot of work still, but its nice to know one small chunk is done.
And with that I’m back home, in the place I love the most. My garden. 1 month (almost to the day) later… Our guitar shop http://www.cowtownguitars.com has successfully relocated to the Arts District, we’ve hired an employee and my days are free again to play in the dirt. Our grand opening party was last First Friday (you can check out photos here, courtesy of http://www.onethirtyeight.org) and other than a few more indoor plants to re-pot and some raised beds to assemble in the back yard… my work there is done. Mostly…
I’ll just leave you with some photos of my gardens over the last month and pick up where I left off last month, in the next few days.
Some days I garden to spend time with my family, and some days I garden because my husband still hasn’t built the “Roxie sized sound proof box” that I asked for. I’m sure its coming… He has a way of getting me everything my heart desires. Until then, I’ll consider our yard my sound proof zone. And truth be told, he did buy the yard for me. It was a consolation prize that came with our dream house 2 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. Like, borderline obsessive love them. But sometimes and I’m sure all of you parents can relate… something inside me catches fire and I swear to the little 8 lb baby jesus that if I hear one more “doooooooooon’t!!!!!!!!!!” in a high pitched voice, the rage will consume me and I’ll burst into flame. Literally. I now know how spontaneous combustion happens now. And when I feel the burn I’m lucky enough to have my garden. I quickly exit stage left and grab the first spade I see. The funny thing about it is even on days like this, when I’ve survived the day and after I’ve gotten them all showered, bathed, fed and put to bed… I find my self downstairs on the computer in silence looking at childhood photos of them. Or staring at the little one while he sleeps.
Science is a strange and magical thing. The same mother that brings the bee’s to the blossoms each year is also the mother that designed us so that we can handle so very much and still want to pollinate and carry on our own species… crazy, man. Just crazy.
Thats it for today… I’m going to pick up some free pavers from the neighborhood next to mine for a raised garden!
This morning I stumbled to the door bleary eyed and still searching for my lost cup of coffee, to find a gift on my doorstep! My gardening guru and dear friend Stephanie Henderson had left for me, 6 tomato seedlings and a container of her tried and true secret weapon. Butter? No, that was merely the vessel by which the magic traveled.
You dear reader, chose the right day to read my blog. I’m about to share with you the secret for planting your tomatoes early and helping them develop a strong root system (even when the weather is still hovering dangerously close to freezing at night.) Tomatoes Alive! From the website http://www.gardensalive.com is the stuff. According to their web site: “For more than 20 years, gardeners across the country have raved about Tomatoes Alive! Our all-natural fertilizer is a backyard celebrity, famous for producing vigorous plants, big crops and luscious flavor. For Tomatoes Alive! Plus, we’ve added theimportant minerals calcium and magnesium. Tomatoes Alive! Plus is recommended not just for tomatoes but also for peppers and eggplants, which require similar nutrients. Its blend of fast- and slow-release ingredients provides the nourishment your plants need for steady, healthy growth and bountiful crops. With just two feedings a season, your plants will produce more blossoms and set more and larger fruit.”
Stephanie suggests sprinkling Tomatoes Alive in the bottom of the hole before you place the plant. I’ve always just used a little bone meal in the past, so I’m excited to see the difference. If my friend’s Tomatoes are any indication of the success this magic dust can bring to the garden then I’M A BELIEVER!!!!
GOOD LUCK, Gardeners!!
So its almost been a year since my brilliant kid helped me turn an old desk on its side and we announced to the family that we would begin collecting their trash for the garden. All in all its been an easy adjustment and well worth the added effort. It helps a lot that we were broke as a joke in the beginning and my gardening habit (see: need for good soil) was costing my husband a small fortune. Its pretty easy to get someone on board with something, even if it goes against their inner most constitution when it saves them money. My husband is not a hippy. Not now, not ever. To him, collecting ones trash and growing your own food in it later, quickly gets thrown in the “Hippy” category and left there for all of eternity. But like I said, we were poor… and composted mulch I was buying at the store was about 3 bucks a bag. And I was buying ten at a time. Our house sits on a large lot and having been a foreclosure when we bought it, well… there was a lot of soil to amend.
From the beginning every member of the family was on board. It was Juniors great idea, Tony always delivered the scraps from the kitchen to the bin after dinner and Gadzuki eats his weight in apples each month… so the cores really did add up. Here was the first post about our compost.
Soon after we got started, Gadzuki’s pre-school The Kids Co-op got a compost bin. Again, Jesse… tolerating my “Hippy” tendencies and being the all around great Dad that he is, volunteered to take the morning off work and put it together. Big Fun! 3.5 hours later the Co-op started its composting program and I’m happy to report that I just recently mulched the gardens with their 2nd round of complete compost! (I am the one lady Kids Co-op Gardening committee).
With Spring rearing its head a little early this year, our family has spent the last couple weekends gardening. While it feels so good to get back into the swing of things mentally (my body would have to disagree), I was a little disappointed with my compost. While the one I started mid summer #9 (and damn near forgot about) was completely magical and ready to go, the one that was started just going into fall (#10) was a little lackluster. I’m resisting the urge to put chemicals in it to fire it back up, so here’s what we did:
HOW TO FIRE BACK UP YOUR COMPOST AFTER WINTER!
We started by completely cleaning out the finished (and might I add, beautiful) compost – bin number #9. I added it all around the garden and any I had left we put in a planter I know will have veggies soon enough.
After that we split the contents of the left side of the bin (compost #10), I think my mistake was adding a large portion of the Christmas Tree to it back in December… Live and Learn, right?
I raked up some leaves (brown)…
And Junior mowed the lawn (greens)…
We combined them with a little soil and made a delicious compost “Lasagna” as the experts call it.
Water was added and then it was covered. From here on out we will only add to the Right side of the bin, thus turning it into compost #11!
Its hard to believe that in less than a year (only by a few days) we have successfully completed and used 10 rounds of compost in the garden. This is really exciting stuff. I’ve learned a few things along the way I thought I might share… #1. Avocado seeds and skin are not worth the wait. #2. You really can keep the smell down considerably by omitting Dairy, Oil and Meat, #3. Kids love worms and #4. Composting your own rubbish really will save you time, energy and money.
Have I told you before? I LOVE Dirt!!!
THIS WEEK – The weather has dipped back down into the low 60’s and high 30’s at night around here… I’m not sure how much gardening I’ll be doing, but check back for some exciting posts on motherhood in the garden and some other personal anacdotes!