So what if you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to read it… they OBVIOUSLY saved the best for last!
“Although no longer with Las Vegas Country Saloon, music promoter and Pigasus bassist Roxie Amoroso is now doing the unthinkable—garden-blogging! Don’t worry, she’s still putting on shows at several venues in the coming months. But now she’s also finding time to rediscover her green thumb. Ever wondered how to propagate ivy, do DIY floral design or water by osmosis? Visit RoxieGarden.com to figure it all out courtesy of Vegas’ punk-metal queen (as well as a wife and mother). When Roxie lands the cover of Fine Gardening magazine, you’ll hear it here first!”
First SEVEN, then the world!
Like I mentioned before, I’ve grown plants in some very odd circumstances. Windowless warehouses, eastside caliche, rehearsal studios… but by far the strangest was the time I adopted a giant pothos in Death Valley, California.
I arrived in Hell (as I affectionately remember it) the day after my 18 birthday. Having checked out the resort during El Nino (1998 being one of the wettest winters on record for Death Valley) there were flowers blooming and lovely 70-somthing degree weather. I dare say there was even a little bit of spring humidity in the air.
When I returned 2 days before May 1998 it was already 110+ and I thought I was going to die. Surely this was karma for every bad thing I had ever done and believe me, even at 18 years old… that list was long.
But being an optimist, I settled in to my job at the Borax museum and even started learning some interesting facts about Death Valley. I figured it would make my one sided conversations with the European tourists (the only ones Ambitious/Crazy enough to visit in the summer) a little more fun. Yes, there was a language barrier. But somehow it helped keep my days short, so my nights could stay long.
I spent most evenings drinking beers stolen by the wait staff of various on property restaurants with the rest of the lifers at Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort and causing all sorts of harmless trouble. Most people that worked in Death Valley ended up staying a while… and it wasn’t for the great wages or wonderful working conditions.
But every once in awhile some kid from Southern California or Pharump would get a taste of those big city lights calling from Las Vegas and move on. That was when things got fun… Most residents had no tranpartation (part of the limitations that would keep a poor soul working in such a hopeless enviroment) so when they got the urge to move, most of their belongings would go to the highest bidder.
Not lacking money or negotiation skills I quickly moved up from employee housing to a ramshackle 5th wheel trailer (virtually unheard of for anyone outside of management and under forty.) Upper Echelon all the way! I was hob nobbin with the Snow Birds that moved resort to resort enjoying their retirement and the occasional glass from their stash of boxed wine.
One day tromping back through employee housing on my way to the museum I came across a boy I barely knew who was giving away the last of his worldly belongings. “Got a job lined up in Vegas” he said. Which translated to: I found an exoctic dancer willing to support me while I begin my life of crime – All the same to me, “How much do you want for that Plant?” I asked him, pointing. “$20 Bucks! Its 12 years old. Its the only thing my mother gave me when I moved out of her trailer in Pharump” he said. Sure thing. I had $14 dollars in ones and change in my pocket. “I’ll give you $5 bucks, you can buy a quart of beer for the drive. And I promise I wont kill it.” Deal!
I lugged the plant back to my sweet sweet trailer… literally. The plant itself was in an 18″ pot, but the 15 – 20 vines drug behind me a good 4 ft as I walked on the scortching hot asphalt. This thing was in bad shape. Some of the vines only had 1 or 2 leaves left. It felt lighter than it should have been because it was so dried out and the roots had gotten so big they cracked one side of the plastic pot. The leaves were all a sad shade of yellowish green.
It slowly came back from the edge of death.
I promptly left Death Valley. Turns out those big city lights called to me too. When I got to town and moved into my first apartment I immedialty repotted the poor thing. After it recovered a little I started propagating it with little cuttings all over that apartment and every house, building and business I’ve lived in for the last 12 years. Most of my friends and relatives ended up with a version of that plant.
When I was preganant I gave the original plant a good pruning, halving the orginal size and put it in the nursery. I am pleased to report that the plant grew as fast as my precious little Gadzuki! And as we speak I have a glass of its cuttings in my kitchen window.
Here’s how to grow & propagate one for yourself:
Step #1: Pick a strong Bright/Dark Green plant. I like them best with few long vines and lots of thick stems and short distances between leaves. Or even better! Find a friend with one and cut a few stems for yourself (more on that later…)
Step #2: If you buy it at a nursery or grocery store it will almost always need to be repotted. Choose a pot a few inches larger, with good drainage or if there is no drainage fill the bottom few inches with rocks.
Step #3: I roll mine on the ground a few times in the original pot to loosen the soil before I transfer it to its new home. Fill with dirt and water.
Step #4: Pothos aren’t very needy. They almost like abuse. They need very little light to live (but will do much better in a bright spot out of direct sunlight , I’ve heard North West light is the best direction). So find a spot and keep a spray bottle near by. Your plant will thrive if you give it the gift of a little humidity every few days.
Step #5: Find a vase or glass and fill it with water.
Step #6: Cut off a few 6-8 inch sections of stems. Remove the lower leaves so they don’t muck up the water and submerge them as quickly as possible.
Step #7: Put the vase anywhere really. I have mine in windowsills, bathrooms… you name it. And when the roots on your new cuttings reach 3-4 inches long replant them in moist soil and start all over again : )
Next: We get up to our elbows in some FANTASTIC compost!!
Its a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I’m going to spend it collecting seeds to dry and save from my flowers. Some of my earliest memories involve collecting marigold seeds from my Grandmothers house with my Mom.
Every spring my Mom sends me seeds that she has collected from her garden the previous summer. My parents live in Idaho and have a BEAUTIFUL home and garden. (hopefully she sends me some photos that I can share here. hint, hint!) Obviously a lot of what she sends me doesn’t grow as well in our climate, but I always give it a whirl.
Saving seeds is as easy as collecting the dead heads from the flowers you like. I dry them in the garage and put them in plastic bags. This year I scored some cute little containers from Savers for their hibernation, photos coming soon!
There are two types of Seeds – Hybrid & Heirloom
The good news is BOTH work for re-seeding. I know this is a hot topic in the gardening world, and frankly I’m not trying to start any heated debates, so here’s some basic information:
Hybrid – These seeds are produced by companies through careful pollination of two specific varieties. Normally, this highly selective plant breeding is done to bring together two traits in each of the chosen varieties so that the resulting seed has both of the traits. Plants grown from hybrid seeds typically do not produce seeds that can be used to grow the same type of plants. From what I understand these seeds will revert back to the basic characteristics of one of its parent plants.
Heirloom – These non hybrid seeds come from plants that are naturally pollinated. Some of these varieties have been around for centuries and will produce plants whose seeds will produce more plants that look the same as the parent plant.
If anyone has any additional info on Heirloom vs. Hybrid seeds I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I think in the future I’ll try to buy heirloom when possible… but also look forward to seeing the results I get from the hybrid seeds as they revert back to their “parent” state. It could be fun!
NEXT: I PROMISE the house plants are coming soon…
Here’s WHY my garden grows…
I like to be dirty (truly dirty, real dirt on my hands, knees and feet.) I’ve always been this way, any member of my family will tell you. And my husband can even attest to the fact that when I couldn’t get my hands filthy with soil, I’d settle for the next best thing… cigarette ash and the filth that only comes from living in a van or warehouse with 5 of the grodiest dudes around.
In every apartment, punk house, warehouse (and there’s been a few) or quaint suburban home I’ve ever lived in, I’ve attempted a garden. Sometimes they’ve produced… sometimes they didn’t. But I’ve always had the same overwhelming sense of delight when I see the first Tomato on the vine or sprout poking through the caliche that I’m hoping will pass for soil one day.
When I was 18 I had a house on Eastwood Drive in Vegas… Not a nice place to call home. But I was hell bent on growing something… anything. So when I wasn’t riding my scooter back and forth to the rehearsal studio, I spent my days tearing out a Cypress tree and planting herbs under the front window. My lesson: When ALL ELSE FAILS – Arugula will survive.
At 19 I lived in a huge warehouse off of Presido & Highland. Another rehearsal space. After making friends with a guy down the street with a burgeoning Hydroponic shop and crossing paths daily with my would be husband (YES! Jesse). I gave a grow room a whirl. Woah. Fears of helicopters with infrared capabilities finding me out ended that potential career pretty quick. But not before I spent months with my nose in a book learning all that I could about propagation and light/dark phases.
The punk house off Eastern I rented at 20, had little more than a pathetic little cherry tomato plant in a plastic pot to garden… with a fake ID and a house full of gear, my attention was elsewhere. That poor plant lived on little more than sheer will and bi-monthly waterings… but at the end of it all. The day I moved out… I noticed one bright shiny cherry tomato!
Later that year I rented a room from my friend Rick… and after I put a pothos or spider plant in every room and windowsill available, I ventured outside. Straight to the front yard of course! As not to disturb Perry the burrowing hound in the backyard. One trip to Lowes and a full blazer later my lover arrived home from work to find me sporting a homemade bikini, on a lounge chair, in the dirt lot we called the lawn. Surrounded by plants not even out of the six packs and plastic yet… all carefully placed around a blue kiddie pool. I’m sure this was the moment he fell in Love.
Our first little Love Nest together as a couple was across from UMC in what we referred to as the “Servants Quarters” of the Scotch Eighties. We moved everything we had formerly in 1500 sq ft into 900. There were house plants everywhere and little glasses with cuttings on every available surface. On my 22nd birthday that year we told everyone we left town, went to Home Depot with $100 and planted our first garden together. Ugly and rudimentary, yes… but produce it DID! We had tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and more. Each piece of produce had tiny little wiener dog bites taken out of them.
From there I found myself at “The Club House” for the next three years… and while you might think being the only semi-responsible member of a band full of maniacs would keep me pretty busy… I did find time to care for my plants. An especially funny story was when the guy next door came over to tell us the place was haunted, we left and returned a couple hours later to find one of my pothos in a terra-cotta pot burnt to a crisp and smoldering where it stood! No smoke, No company, No lighters, matches or candles around. Freaky right? Well Jesse let me think it was “the Ghost” for about a year and a half before he finally cop’d to sticking a freshly lit Nag Champa in the soil right before we left the building. Mystery Solved! And not a minute too soon.
When I was 25 we moved into a suburban neighborhood with a yard, started planning our wedding and all of a sudden found ourselves full time parenting a couple of kids. THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREES. Well working the soil has a way of helping ease frustrations… by spring I had removed rocks, brush and turned an 11’x 5′ area by hand. I did the same thing each spring for the next 3 years… including the year I did it 6 months pregnant. Refusing help and an offer to rent a rototiller. The fruits of my labor never tasted so good.
And in 2010 we bought our first home. After 10 years together with all these rag tag plants and gardens we find ourselves in the house of our dreams starting fresh.
And that’s why I do it… because I’m still trying to get it right.
Today I got schooled… and loved every minute of it.
We hit the ground running, picking up Lopez and heading out to Broad Acres swap meet. Where I scored a sweet pitch fork ($4.00)… and heard a fantastic story about an urban youth holding another fellow up by the neck with the afore mentioned implement of death. Plus, a lovely gift for Gilby. Lopez picked up a Muno shirt, SCORE!
I was pleased when we were heading back to the Hotel Amoroso with enough time to spare for me to finally catch one of the weekly workshops that Plant World offers on gardening. Todays theme: Leslie Doyle – The Tomato Lady. The hour I spent listening was awfully educational and embarrassingly humbling. The experience was free and I’ll go over all of the notes I took in tomorrows blog. Until then, you can visit her website the Sweet Tomato Test Garden.
After a quick trip to the dollar store where I picked up some fertilizer, flower seeds & peat cups for seedlings cheap ($4.00)! Oh, and Tamales I bought out of a ladies trunk in the parking lot for tonight’s dinner, we reconvened a the house.
With the usual suspects just happening by, we had an impromptu Mexican Fiesta and everybody stuck around until I announced I was finally putting on the documentary DIRT!
I’ve been talking so much about. Please watch this movie. Even if you’re not a gardener, even if you’re not an environmentalist and most of all it you’ve lived your whole life in a city.
Its a simple reminder that if we’re all doing the best we can, we can accomplish a lot.
Thats it for tonight. Its the weekend, and I love my family too much to stare at this screen much longer. Hope you’ve planted well this weekend. I ironically do LESS gardening on the weekend than I do during the normal week.
Tomorrow: we’ll go over some of the tricks that Leslie Doyle has up her sleeve when it comes to planting in Las Vegas.