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!!
With Spring having sprung a little early here (in Las Vegas) we still have quite a few pots of flowers around our house from forced bulbs (i.e bulbs tricked into thinking its spring so that they will flower in winter.) The following is a post that began back in January and is being finished now with a spectacular “AFTER” photo. Enjoy!
January 5th, 2012 – Being the lazy animal that I was all of Fall, we’re only now getting our onion bulbs in the ground. I think they’ll be okay as we line the outside of the garden that we used last season for tomatoes. I had some green onions last year that grew well out of the direct sunlight, shield by our mountain of egg plants.
HOW TO PLANT BULBS FOR SPRING!
Step one – Clear the bed.
This happened the other day when Gadzuki and I tore through a bush of dried and died tomato plants. You can see that we’ve left the basil behind because (as its not perennial) we let it go to flower last year so that it would drop seeds and come back in spring.
Step two – Dig a hole.
The typical distance that the bulb should be planted is 6 inches. Im not much for “exacts” (which is why if you find me in the kitchen baking ANYTHING not out of a box, its usually against my will.) So we just use the distance of the spade on a typical hand held garden trowel.
Step three – Place the bulb
Now this is important… especially when your helpers are of the “under 15 set”. Place the bulb POINTY side up, i know no better way to describe this. Its pointy… like a little gnome hat.
Step four – Cover
Fill the hole up with dirt. Only instead of using the same dirt we dug out, I like to replace it with some of our premium composted mulch!
Step five – Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Step six – Water the ground and kiss your kids (it also helps to take them somewhere fun.)
You’re going to want to keep the troops happy, so that they keep helping with the manual labor.
Now wait and wait and wait and wait. Oh and try to remember where you’ve planted the bulbs so that you don’t dig them up later when adding to the garden. Some people like to plant a small annual flower on top to mark its spot… but I’m just going to remember that they are lining our bed and plant the tomatoes dead center when the time comes.
UPDATE – February 25th 2012
Here are some bulbs growing up out of the soil.
NEXT UP! A Year in the Sh*T! An updated blog about the trials and tribulations of my first year composting. Look for that tomorrow February 27, 2012.
The fact is, it is an excuse. If I were a different kind of person I might have kept gardening after a car drove through my flower garden, and into the living room… but the fact is I gave up. On June 4th, 2011 a couple of drunk teenagers with a BB guns, joy riding in their parents Chevy Malibu were chased by the cops into our neighborhood… it ended in our living room. The driver was arrested, but we were left with a massive hole in the side of our home and I guess now that I’m actually taking time to write about it… our hearts too.
We were very lucky that no one was hurt. The big boys were at their Grandma’s house and none of the neighborhood kids happened to be playing on the corner (a RARE day!) Our incredible friends and neighbors came over immediately and spent hours helping us clean. We weren’t the only ones amazed when the house was livable at the end of the night. Here is a clip from the news if you want to see it.
After the former wall was removed and our house was successfully boarded up I did spend a couple days transferring the plants from my demolished garden into the backyard. Here’s a photo:
The new spot in the backyard is now called “the salvage garden”, it made it through the summer heat and is now thriving. But after seeing my little flower garden, my first attempt at gardening in our new home, my baby really… completely demolished and subsequently stomped on day after day by “constructors” (as Gadzuki called them). I really did lose my steam. I quit.
I continued doing the bare minimum and managed to keep the gardens in the backyard alive through the long summer, but didn’t touch the front. After 3 months of construction, buying a new business with my husband and the kids back in school I was finally able to look at that little space again without feeling sad. I’m no psychologist but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the superficial loss of my flower garden that was the problem. Maybe it was what all of those dead flowers represented. The truth is It could have been me, more easily could have been my husband (who was sitting in the living room when the car hit) and the worst thing of all… The most horrible thing a mother could ever think of; it could have been my baby. Gadzuki. Who was sleeping on the couch, under that window, just minutes before THOSE kids, drove THAT car across my lawn, through my garden and into my living room.
In the end I guess it helped me put things in perspective… I was spending 8 hours a day gardening and blogging before the accident. Afterwards my priorities shifted and all I wanted to do was spend time with my family. I needed to keep Jesse & Gadzuki where I could see them, and as luck would have it I was able to all summer!
2 weeks after construction started we bought a guitar shop, http://www.cowtownguitars.com for those interested. In a funny twist of fate I was able to keep them by my side and in my line of sight all summer long as we worked together in our new shop.
So as we get ready to welcome 2012, I’d just like to say that I’m back (and I’ve got the leaves and dirt in my hair to prove it). Today I turned composts #’s 7 & 8, tore out tomatoes/eggplants and added some brown matter to the old beds. The next couple weeks we’ll be busy getting three new raised beds installed before spring and before long we’ll be starting seeds in the garage! Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to share with you all of my trails and tribulations of the next growing season here at the Hotel Amoroso!
Happy New Year!
Next time: we’ll revisit the old compost pile and hopefully teach (and document) a friend as she starts her own!!
This is Vegas… Right?
I feel like I’m entitled… and don’t worry, I’ve heard the whole “you’ve got an overwhelming sense of entitlement” thing before. Usually it was from my Dad when I’d ask for something “crazy” like summer camp. More recently when I ask my husband for something “crazy”… like a cabana in the backyard.
This time though… Jesse decided to endorse my craziness and gave me a green light on the project. He helped with the grass (as you saw in Part #2) and gave me the money to buy the succulents for the little garden behind the diving board (as you saw in Part #1). But the gazebo… that was all me! I made enough money at the Gears show I threw at Boomers a couple weeks ago, combined with some money I had to buy it cash. Just had to talk the guy with one on craigslist.com down to $175 from $250.
48 hours after negotiations began (I think I mentioned before that its one of my skills) he said I could pick it up. After an exhausting trip to North Town with Gadzuki, complete with bad GPS directions and a potty training “close call”… The sweet Albertsons brand gazebo was MINE!!
The hard part was waiting for Jesse squared to install it (Jess & Jesse Junior). But it was well worth the wait. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Its been a very long wait…
Almost 5 years ago when we got married, we wanted to honeymoon in Acapulco (and visit the real Copa!) Kids and money got in the way… and stayed in the way. We never did take our honeymoon… but a long summer in my own Copa Cabana, with the love of my life, in our dream house makes Acapulco sound as important as summer camp does to me now… 20 years later.
Gazebo – $175.00
Succulents – $29.28
Sod – $38.00
GRAND TOTAL = $242.28
Next we’ll take a walk back through the garden… Update on all things veggie & compost!
A couple more photos:
My yard is large. I’m not sure what the square footage is, but after looking at many a suburban home in our quest for the perfect house, I know its not average. On top of its size, its dead. Or it was, rather.
One year into the search, we found the house of our dreams. The good news? It was it was in our price range. The bad news? The only reason: It was a foreclosure and over a year of vacancy had turned a once beautiful landscape into a pitiful Vegas wasteland.
Even though we’ve been steady fixing, cleaning and planting since we moved in last August, this was the first area we decided to focus on entirely. The “Cabana” I call it! I wanted it for my birthday (April 24th), and my husband being the tolerant man he is, agreed to get involved.
First things first, the empty planter (yesterdays post “Part #1 – Geophytes for fun!) and the miserable little chuck of dead lawn had to be dealt with. So here’s how we finally got grass, man…
Star Nursery has the Sod for $0.45/sq ft. One time when Jess and I were young and dumb we snagged roughly the same amount from a place by our rehearsal space… we brought it home and laid it in the backyard in the middle of the night. We really felt like we scored, surely it was worth a lot of money. Only rich people SOD their yards… the rest of us struggle with seed and and manure and birds and disappointment.
Well we were 9 years later we learned we were WRONG. After a grand total investment of $38 the jeep was filled with green lush grass… even if it was only enough for a 9 x 9 area. Oh and consequently, that sod we planted in the dead of night died. Kharmas a bitch.
And this is how you can plant sod too:
Step #1: Make your kids help. Give them shovels, rakes, hoes (ha! we’re a little close to the strip for that!) and turn them loose. They broke up and removed all of the dead grass. Being careful of the sprinkler (its worth its weight in gold in this remote section of the yard) and added some of it to my new compost pile.
Step #2: Fertilize the soil
Step #3: Lay it down like your laying out quilting squares… or at least thats what it looked like to me.
Step #4: Gently cut the sections of grass to fit in your area with a steak knife. Yep, I saw it with my own eyes. That was the fanciest tool they used in the whole process.
Step #5: Water, drench, drown, submerge, soak, shower, douse, bathe, ect… basically any word that describes keeping it as wet as possible for as long as possible. Or at least two weeks.
Oh, and lastly… TRY to keep your two year old from riding his “motorcycle” on it.
Tomorrow: we take a look at what finally became my own little piece of paradise in our backyard.
Also check out the updated photo on Part #1
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!!