“I’m not really a career person. I’m a gardener, basically.”

Roses

Roses

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.

Hollyhocks, Iceplant, Daisies and Gnomeo

The Gnomeo Garden

Bougainvillea and Lettuce

Bougainvillea and Lettuce

Herbs, Lettuce, Zucchini, Squash, Eggplants, Artichoke, Onion

Herbs, Lettuce, Zucchini, Squash, Eggplants, Artichoke, Onion

Lettuce, Tomatoes and Basil

Lettuce, Tomatoes and Basil

Zinnias, Iris, Iceplant and Tybalt

Zinnias, Iris, Iceplant and Tybalt

Front flower garden

Front flower garden

Another front flower garden

Another front flower garden


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!!


The trailer park planter – remodel.

In the beginning...

This monstrosity used to live on my patio. We’ve lived here almost a year and just managed to move it a few weeks ago.  I planted peppers, cucumbers & zucchini last weekend and it was truly starting to grow on me.  But for our relationship to continue to mature, I had to do SOMETHING/ANYTHING about that hidious trailer park patio lattice.

So here’s how we spruced it up and what we used.

TOOLS: Drill, Screw driver, left over brown enamel paint, paint brush and two cans of spray paint for plastic.

Step #1: After originally trying to use the enamel paint to change the color of the lattice (and finding out the hard way that it washes right off with water).  We went to Lowes and picked up some spray paint.

Step #2: I unscrewed the lattice and set it aside, then I painted a quick coat of the brown enamel paint I had found in the garage on the unpainted plywood underneath since I now had access to it.

Step #3: My always helpful husband came out and spray painted the lattice for me.  He’s a pro with a rattle can… I’ve always suspected he’s got some graffiti boy skills he just wont cop to.

Step #4: We decided to let the paint dry over night… so we took the kids to see HOP (great movie!)

Step #5: This afternoon we drilled the lattice back into place (leaving off the side panels because they were bowed out) and here is the final product:

I dont’ know… I kind of think it looked better back at Step #4.  What do you think faithful readers?  Should I leave it off?  I can probably find another spot in the garden for the lattice.  And I feel pretty good about fixing the planter up and re-using it vs. recycling or trashing it all together.  Tell me your thoughts…

Next time: we move inside the house and tackle pothos!


How does your garden grow?

Always growing something...

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.



Update on all things Vegetable…

Your faithful blogger!

Hi Readers,
Here’s an update on all of the veggies.  I’m also happy to report that with my last show (for a while) over and out of the way, I’ll be gardening and blogging a lot more.  With temperatures on the rise & sales at the nursery on the horizon I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about too!!

RADISHES

The Radishes: The good news is that they adjusted to the “thinning” just fine and even the rows I planted in the trenches recovered well and are growing just fine.  The bad news is the birds ran out of olives after we raked last weekend and took out the first row of seedlings.  I think we’re about 10 days away from our first harvest!!

CARROTS

The Carrots: As it turns out, the carrots seeds I thought I killed with my watering by osmosis experiment, came up!  Just as the package would have suggested too, If you know me its not a surprise… patience is not something I excel at.  We still have a while to go, I haven’t even thinned them yet…  But I was pleasantly surprised to see that this method of watering worked even with seeds.

EGGPLANT & ONION

NEW!!  Eggplant & Onions: Just this weekend my sweet nice husband surprised me with $60 to do what I wanted with in the garden!  I took (his) hard earned money to STAR Nursery this time, to see if the prices were any cheaper (they were).  I picked up a bunch of veggies… ‘Black Beauty’ Eggplant and some Green Onions are what I planted here.

TOMATOES, LETTUCE & CORN

Tomatoes, Lettuce & NEW!! Corn: Well you can see that planting the tomatoes the 2nd weekend in March didn’t do them any harm… even though we did get a little freeze after they were in the ground.  All varieties are thriving, the only one that seems to be struggling is the Roma (my hound dog got at it), but even it’s still doing well.

Also, I added some ‘Yellow Pear’ Tomatoes this weekend and ‘White’ Corn stalks against the wall… more for Gadzuki’s amusement than anything.

PEPPERS, CUCUMBERS & ZUCCHINI

NEW!!  Squash, Zucchini & Peppers: Last weekend we removed a HUGE planter from the patio and moved it over by the tomatoes.  This weekend I cleaned it out and planted. Thats why the majority of my budget at STAR Nursery went to mulch & soil.  But I did manage to pick up some ‘Yellow’ Squash, ‘Italian’ Zucchini, ‘Japanese’ Cucumbers, and ‘Armenian’ Cucumbers for the bottom level.  My idea is that they can climb over the edge and down to the ground.  And on top we have ‘Yellow’ Bells, ‘Anaheim’ Chiles, ‘Green’ Bells and Jalapenos.

Some exciting news!! One of my gardens is going to be photographed for a local magazine this week AND one of the students from Mrs Henderson’s Science class got so excited about my compost that she’s started her very own!!

Next:  We’ll check in on the seedlings I started in the garage and later in the week we’ll get an official temperature on the compost!