Is that a bulb in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

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.

20111228-150846.jpg

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.

Kids digging

STEP TWO

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.

Planting Bulbs

STEP THREE

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!

Compost

STEP FOUR

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.

Kids Watering

STEP SIX

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.

Growing Bulbs

Growing from Bulbs

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. 


Saturdays spent schlepping…

This morning I asked my husband to leave me his Jeep so that I could go to the store.  He knew I wasn’t after groceries and simply said “don’t spend $200 on flowers!” before leaving the house.  I smiled and knew I would find his keys waiting for me downstairs with what I interpreted as his blessing to spend as much as $199.99 on flowers.  Lucky for him I’m thrifty and didn’t take advantage of his good will.

Kids Nursery

Kids shopping

So I slammed a cup of coffee and called out cheerfully… “Come on guys!  We’re gonna do some gardening today”.  Knowing full well that what they actually heard was more like “Turn the video games off and do some yard work”.  But whatever, Tomato, Tomato!   The kids and I laced up our gardening shoes and got to work.  You see, on top of our dreadfully neglected winterized backyard we also have a 3 month old Yellow Lab puppy named Duane.  He’s a little on the destructive side, so before we could get to the good stuff, I.E clearing beds and planting flowers… we needed to undo some of the damage that only a bored, teething canine can do.

Duane

THE CANINE

Tony swept the patio, JR threw away any chewed up plastic plant six packs, frisbees & Gadzuki toys he could find, and I set out to “Dog Proof” my veggie garden.  The little varmint has been trampling the lettuce and eggplants that I put in last week so we installed a new fence.  Hopefully that does the trick.  When the chores were done I went up to the nursery.

The Veggie Garden

I didn’t plant anything spectacular today… Just some Daisies, Asparagus fern, Lavender and Jasmine.  As you probably guessed I’m trying to attract bee’s.  Here are some photos.

The Planter

 TOMMORROW We’ll talk Bulbs!  Mine are already starting to come up!


One time… a car drove through my flower garden and parked in my living room.


I’ll preface this by saying I’m trying to make this sound more like a story than an excuse… but its kind of hard.

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.

inside view

The car parked in my living room.

outside view

The car parked on my garden.

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:

Gardenia

the Salvage Garden.

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.

construction

The Contractors.

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.

Gib

veggies

We had veggies all summer.

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.

Gib & Me

Gadzuki & I at Cowtown over the summer.

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!

House

The House: AFTER

Next time: we’ll revisit the old compost pile and hopefully teach (and document) a friend as she starts her own!!


Compost – Then & Now

I love to talk about it, read about it, work on it, add to it, take pictures of it, smell it and play with it.

Typing that a few months ago, I could have only been talking about one thing… Gadzuki.  My 2 year old son, the light of my life.  And then I started composting…

The only thing I love more than my compost is people.  Its a bold statement… but true.  Its my most coveted material possession and I look forward to checking in on it every day.  Its complex texture, odor and usefulness mystify me like nothing else does.  If anything, I probably fiddle with it too much.

I’m not sure what it is about the black gold that gets such a hold on people, but its not only me.  Talk to anyone with a passion for gardening and I’m certain you’ll notice a little twinkle in their eye when you mention compost.

compost box

Our re-purposed compost box.

Here’s what mine looked like when we started the compost “pile” back in March.  Click here to read about how my genius kid came up with the idea.  I’m happy to report that in just 2 months we are already using the compost that you see above as beautiful mulch for the tomato plants!

Dueling composts!

We started the 2nd bin about 2 weeks ago.  You can see the difference in color alone, but if this wasn’t the internet you could smell the amazing earthy scent and feel the fine crumbly goodness that only comes with 60 days of turning, adding and watering a pile of what some might just look at as trash!

Spent Coffee.

We started the 2nd bin in much the same way we did the first.  With the exception of the enormous amount of spent coffee that Hank brought me from the Beat Coffee shop (Thanks!!).  Combined with the “Browns” I’ve been saving up from all over the yard in this handy garbage can I keep out by the compost bin.  It makes it especially convenient for when I’m trying to balance the levels.

Brown Matter.

Since we planted sod and reseeded another area of the backyard we had a lot of fresh grass clippings too.  The only other thing that was added besides water were the usual kitchen scraps… although with the yard looking so amazing, we have been partying quite a bit! (so there may have been a bit more than usual).

And so… after a couple weeks, we were really excited to take the new composts temperature and I couldn’t believe my eyes when it skyrocketed to 120 degrees!!

http://www.facebook.com/v/1866376393111

Click here to see the video! 


My flower garden gets a little attention!

One of my flower gardens from the front yard is featured in this weeks SEVEN Magazine.

my flower garden, my husband & me!

Click here to read the article and see a larger version of the photo.

On another note, I finally found a way to go outside without my allergies going crazy. Jesse and I went to Lowes and bought some of those painting masks. They look weird, but work!  The guys and I  (& Gadzuki) spent a couple hours cleaning up the yard from the party last weekend and planting.

Australian Fern

I put two Australian Ferns in some borrowed pots (thanks Dickie!) that the family got me for my birthday.  I’ve never seen them before and as much as I LOVE fern, I’m hoping its the solution for growing fern in our desert climate.  Putting them in pots is all part of my “find the perfect location” strategy.  My yard has a few different climates, full sun, part sun, part shade, total shade, humid/full sun…ect.  So I figure we’ll drag them around until we see what they like best.  I put them in part sun to start.

Ferns in pots

Also, I got a Plant World gift card for my birthday and its its BURNING a hole in my pocket.  Maybe I’ll take Gadzooks tomorrow after play school and post some photos of our favorite spots at the BEST nursery in Vegas. 


UPDATE – Veggies

Ugh!  Its been a long couple days here at the Hotel Amoroso.  The Olive trees have been in overdrive, producing all of that sweet gold (pollen) that makes the circle of life continue and me want to end my own (life).  Okay maybe I’m not THAT dramatic, but when the choice is between gardening with my eyes swelled shut or living the life of a shut in… only seeing my plants from the window, it feels like I could be.

My Birthday on Sunday was awesome.  We partied, bbq’d, drank and enjoyed life in the backyard.

As promised… here is an update on all things veggie!

TOMATOES:  They’re growing fast and most plants have small tomatoes on them.  Even the Roma, which was broken in half by the hound dog the week it was planted.  As you can tell from the photo below, the cherry tomatoes are taller than the great Gadzuki (and he’s only 2 years old).

4/26/11

3/6/11

Peppers, Zucchini & Cucumbers:  A lot has changed in just 17 days since I planted.  The Zucchini are already really big, the Cucumbers are climbing up and out of the planter and the Yellow Bell even has a small bell pepper!!

4/26/11

4/9/11

Small Bell

Eggplant, Onion & Garlic:  Not a lot has changed… I’m almost wondering if the area might be too shady?

4/26/11

4/3/11

Carrots:  They’re getting bigger everyday, but still not large enough to even get a baby carrot.

4/26/11

4/3/11

Radishes:  The foliage is getting very large on these… unfortunately almost half our crop was wiped out by the birds.  I can’t wait to harvest these and plant another round before it gets too hot.  This time I think I’ll try a bird net over the top.

4/26/11

4/3/11

Next:  I’m excited to show you how good the compost looks after just a month and a half!  


This is where I go in my dreams…

the offensive tree

The trees are making us sick.  I’ve been told by a friend that it should pass in a couple weeks.  I hope so.  The culprits are the Oleander & Olive trees and they are all over our property.  Next year we’ll get the injections that stop the Olives from producing… until then, we suffer.

So from the luxury of my air conditioned bedroom, While Gib & I watch cartoons… here is a site we like to go to.  He likes pointing out all that he sees (like a web version of an I spy book) and something about the “Wee Gardens” takes me back to when I was little and played with my Maple Town figures in the wild & crazy backyard we had in Paradise, California.

Here’s the link: http://www.weegarden.com

Hopefully we’ll be back in the garden tomorrow for the holiday, but then again… everyday is Earth Day around here.