Saturday Gardening Thread: Winter Is Making Me "Potty" Edition [Y-not, Weirddave & KT]

Good afternoon, gardeners!

Today's post is brought to you by funky garden containers:

MonsteraPot.jpeg

It's still January, so a lot of us are stuck indoors either dreaming about gardening or perhaps preparing for Spring. 'Seemed like a good time to talk about innovative planters. We're lucky this week to have two guest contributors, @sasso333 and Melissa Clouthier. (Because of that, your usual co-hosts will keep their sections on the short side.)

First, courtesy of @sasso333 on Twitter:


It's a storage bin with a PVC pipe cage and garden netting set on a moving dolly. Jokingly asked hubby to build me one and voila!

He added a watering tube. The bottom has a reservoir above which the plants sit. Water wicks up

And last but not least, a door.

If a squirrel gets thru this I'm adopting it as a pet b/c that has to be one determined rodent!

B7qP1K0CIAAuN1R.jpg


Y-not: And now, from Melissa Clouthier (you may know her on Twitter as @MelissaTweets), here's another great idea:

The Lazy Gardener

My mom hails from a long line of farmers who took very seriously the serious business of gardening. To say I'm an unserious gardener would be too kind. I'm a lazy gardener that manages to grow stuff anyway.

How I can be so lazy and have fresh vegetables is a capitalist miracle: The Garden Tower. The Garden Tower is big plastic trash can with a metal tube down the middle for composting and holes all around the edge where you plant seeds and they grow. At the end, with a full Garden Tower, it looks like you have a monstrously huge Chia Pet except the hair is lettuce and tomatoes and herbs.

Behold the Garden Tower: Garden Tower on the left is empty. The Garden Tower on the right is full grown.

BFoodsEastTwoTowersSpring2013Store-1000x800

Here's a cross section of the Garden Tower with some blurbs on the right:

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A couple years ago at the local farmer's market, I saw the above gizmo. My son was transfixed. He wanted to start a garden and see things grow. I knew, as these projects tend to go, that I'd end up doing the work for this thing so thought a while before starting it. I shouldn't have worried. It's easy: Big bag of organic dirt, a pound of Red Wiggler worms, and the Garden Tower. The Garden Tower sales lady suggested I put it up on cinder blocks (I used edging blocks, but same idea) as it would make it easier to access underneath. I took her advice and promptly forgot everything else she told me to do.

The dirt is to go outside the center cylinder. That much was obvious. But where do those worms go? In the middle or in the dirt? And can I put compost stuff in the middle right away or do I have to wait? Crap! I couldn't remember. So I looked up "compost" on the internet. I put kitchen scraps in the middle, put the dirt around the edge of the thing, and plopped the worms, clumps of them, into the compost. I layered it like a wormy Trifle! Anyway, that was wrong. After I had done all this and like lord of the garden said to myself, "It is good", I panicked. I called the garden lady and she told me, "Why, Melissa, no one has ever done it that way. The worms will probably die. Give it a few days and see what happens." And so I did.

The worms did not die.

In fact, the worms thrived even though they were supposed to go in the dirt. I put some starter plants in about half of the 50 openings--it was late in the season and technically, I shouldn't be planting anything at all because it was hot and around June 1st in Houston which is in Zone Hahahahaha. I don't even know my Zone. Let me go look it up. Okay. So I'm in Zone 8-B. Whatever that means.

(Y-not: As a reminder, here's where you can find your zone if you are in the USA.)

For those who are "Preppers", you will love this thing. My prepper friend has this complicated (and huge) hydroponic growing system. This garden tower produces amazing amounts of food in a small footprint. You just need dirt, water, and seeds.

Here is a picture at about four weeks on July 1:

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We were already getting lettuce from seed. That's with watering it for about five minutes every morning and dumping the water that had leaked through the tower back onto the plants. The water is called "tea" and is full of nutrients aka worm poop.

That picture was taken July 1st. This picture was taken July 7th:

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Here's a close-up of the tomatoes:

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And here's the broccoli that decided to grow, finally, a year later after planting it the second year (from seed):

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This last picture gives you a good idea of the bucket system. The bottom of the garden tower has some holes in it to all the moisture to escape. The compost cylinder in the middle has a trap door on the bottom where you can occasionally extract the solid composted material. I have yet to do this because....ta da! I'm lazy. This is my third growing year and I'll probably pull it out to make more room for compost.

A couple of caveats about the Tower:

1. These things do better in full sun, but I didn't want mine in full sun because that would plop it in the middle of the yard. So, the part of it shaded doesn't grow as quickly. The new Garden Towers fix this by making it able to rotate. I love that feature and can't wait to get a new one. They are due February of this year.

2. Don't plant tomatoes with strawberries. Tomatoes win. Put strawberries in their own tower.

3. Don't plant any obnoxious herbs. You know, the kind that have huge root systems and take over everything. I did this with Mint. Now, my mom is convinced I'm going to have to get new dirt and do the whole thing over. But I am lazy, remember, so I just keep yanking it out and things keep growing so whatever.

4. It's vertical. You don't have to bend. You don't have to weed. You don't have to really do much of anything but water it.

5. I did have to deal with nasty horned caterpillars that munch through tomatoes. They were at eye-level, fat and getting really healthy eating my tomato leaves. I went Rambo on their azzes.

6. I planted tomatoes that looked interesting. I've done vine and bushes, Cherry tomatoes, Romas, beefy ones. Don't ask me the variety name. I plant a bunch and see what grows. A weird thing happened this year in that I had tomato plants come back from the dead nine months later after getting a hard frost last March. I thought they were hopeless, left them there, and do you know those boogers started producing tomatoes this month? I have proof. Here they are:

unnamed

Tomatoes are next to an apple for scale reference. I've let them sit for a bit. I wish I had kept track of this tomato variety because I think they're my favorite. They hang like a vine which is good because huge bushes on top of the tower can block the sun down the sides.

7. Vines like squash and watermelon should be planted near the bottom. They'll just craw along the ground if you have room for them. It's quite amazing. Possums ate mine, though. I hate possums.

8. I don't get weird or fancy with my compost.The idea of using human hair (as I read on one composting site) makes me want to barf, so I keep it straight forward and use kitchen scraps.

9. I've planted everything from carrots to beans to peppers to tomatoes to squash to every herb to marigolds to roses and yes, even hydrangeas. Everything grew...eventually. The broccoli was weird and came when it was darn well ready. Ditto the carrots. I planted every kind of lettuce and got sick of it I had so much.

10. I figured that with the money I saved not building raised beds (a necessity in Houston for drainage) and time, I broke even by year two. Maybe after year one. The Garden Tower produced so much (it's producing peppers and tomatoes in the winter right now, for heaven's sake, and yes we've had a bunch of freezes and no, I haven't covered them) that I give away veggies during the summer. We simply can't keep up once it's going strong.

I whole heartedly recommend the Garden Tower to everyone. The lazy will love the results. The industrious will probably be able to efficiently grow more of what they love than they thought possible.

Here's the re-designed and improved tower:

2bf09eae12f09a984e690d8d9254f5ea_large-1

And here are some cool videos:

What to plant:

Bonus: KT asked me if I ever saw cockroaches. Answer: Never.


Y-not: Thanks, Melissa!

Now let's see what KT has in store for us this week:

Is your winter interest outdoors or indoors?

Not long ago, Y-not posted photos of trees noted for their winter features. She also linked some knock-you-socks-off landscapes from Western Russia featuring trees in snow. I thought about the photographer waiting in the wilderness to capture just the right light for each photo. I was glad it wasn't me.

I once read that most people who love winter actually love the prospect of feeling safe from the effects of winter. People like to have a ski lodge around after a few runs down the slopes. And what is an ice skating party at the old pond without a big kettle of resin-baked potatoes to warm your hands? Like we say here on the Saturday Gardening Thread, "Many parts of a pine tree are edible."

Anyway, the photos from Western Russia reminded me of Napoleon retreating from Moscow. He came back from this experience to fight another day, but thousands of his soldiers did not. Sometimes, it is much more appealing to be indoors than in the cold winter weather.

Over at the Garden Rant group blog, they have been arguing about whether there is even such a thing as "Winter Interest" in the garden. Three basic propositions have been presented:

Proposition #1: It is depressing to walk around in the garden during winter. Go inside and force some bulbs.

Some bulb require pre-chilling. If you're all out of pre-chilled bulbs, buy some that are almost ready to bloom at the nursery or supermarket and re-pot them.

forcingbulbs.jpg

Proposition #2: The beauty of winter is mostly evident in sweeping landscapes. Get out of your yard.

coldsnowywinter.jpg

Proposition #3: Of course you can have "Winter Interest" in your yard. Plan for lighting, hardscaping and bird-attracting features to enhance the view through your favorite window, while you are drinking hot cocoa.

cardinal-at-feeder.jpg

Are you actually going out into your garden this time of year? Admiring it through a window? Avoiding the garden altogether?


Y-not: Thanks, KT! And now, here's our co-host, Weirddave:

The squirrel proof starter garden is practical and pretty damn clever, but anything can be a container garden, all you need is something to hold the dirt. Of course, you'll have to use your head,
RMS-Gardens_Planter-Heads-KatG_s4x3_lg.jpg

and make sure you have the tools you need.
gby1905_1a-succulent-toolbox_s4x3_lg.jpg

Be warned, container gardens can be a boatload of work,
RX-DK-CFP00903Rep_flower-boat_s4x3_lg.jpg

and at the end of the day you'll just want to slip into bed.
RMS-Faeryhollow_fairy-container-garden-recycled_s3x4_lg.jpg

Just remember, the whole point of home gardening is to enjoy yourself and have pun!

Images source


Y-not: Thanks, WD. Well, I have a lot of material left in my Inbox -- and we will be addressing the garden planning question that came up last week in future posts -- but let's wrap things up for now with amazing photos of ancient trees. Here's a sample:

"Elegant in shape and form, these strange and magnificent baobabs seem to rise effortlessly to heights of 98 feet, found only on the island of Madagascar."

Avenue-of-the-Baobabs_02.jpg

Pretty sure these trees do NOT fit into planters, no matter how innovative!


What's happening in your neck of the woods this week?

**Updated the title b/c I forgot to add KT and Weirddave! Sorry!**

Posted by: Open Blogger at 02:30 PM




Comments

(Jump to bottom of page)

1 Shit just got real.

http://tinyurl.com/k4p6j4o

Posted by: The Great White Snark at January 24, 2015 02:23 PM (LImiJ)

2 Shit just got real.

http://tinyurl.com/k4p6j4o

Posted by: The Great White Snark at January 24, 2015 02:23 PM (LImiJ)

3 Before we get into garden stuff, I wanted to suggest bookmarking WeirdDave's fantastic Fundamental Concepts post. Peruse it later and/or pass it on to some young people who are old enough to understand . . . .
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/354435.php

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 02:38 PM (qahv/)

4 That tower intrigues me. I may have to look into it. Right now the "winter interest" in my back yard is a bunch of dormant sod and the foundation of the house being built behind us. When's the best time of year to start this whole tower thing?

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 02:39 PM (MYCIw)

5 Great post--a lot of content to go through. I'm moving to Dallas from Chicago in a couple months, and the ability to garden in winter will certainly be a welcome change.

Posted by: In Exile at January 24, 2015 02:40 PM (/3yYD)

6 Melissa, the reason I asked about cockroaches is that I have a little compost-making gizmo that someone gave me, and the cockroaches love it if the kitchen scraps aren't covered.

I've read that the Red Wiggler worms work well for composting kitchen scraps. Not sure about nightcrawlers.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 02:40 PM (qahv/)

7
The only thing that tower makes me think of is a height appropriate offering to the deer.

Dang it, you make me want to plant another garden when I've sworn only to bother growing onions.

Posted by: Justamom at January 24, 2015 02:42 PM (Sptt8)

8 Lauren, I expect the best time to start the tower thing would be when you normally plant in spring, or a little earlier, because containers tend to heat up sooner than the ground.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 02:46 PM (qahv/)

9 Where do you get the Red Wiggler worms? I am also a desperately lazy gardener and the tower sounds fantastic.

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 02:46 PM (GDulk)

10 In other news, the ginger I planted from a bulb has *not* like the recent wet, cold weather. I hope it survives but, at the very least, it's good to know it will at least sprout.

Surprisingly, I guess, the pineapple tops I've put out over the course of the last year are doing pretty well (except for the one the dog constantly ran over). Just three more years to go before getting fruit .

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 02:49 PM (GDulk)

11 @sasso333
That squirrel-proof container is a couple of steps superior to the self-watering containers made out of storage bins for which you can find directions on the web.

What kind of wicking system does yours use?

Note: Not all potting mixes wick water well. Follow recommendations for buying a good mix or mixing your own. Most people recommend that you don't use a "moisture control" mix in a self-watering container.

You are lucky to have a husband that will build something like that for you.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 02:54 PM (qahv/)

12 Shit just got real.

That smirk...it's clear we have found the Horde's cetacian contingent.

Posted by: Brother Cavil, by the Pale Moon light at January 24, 2015 02:57 PM (m9V0o)

13 The squirrel-proof container is about the size recommended for one big tomato plant or two smaller, determinate ones (or maybe two cherry tomatoes) by the serious "tomato nuts"

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 02:58 PM (qahv/)

14 The seeds are ordered and mostly received. We've done the advanced math to determine when to start which seeds indoors and when to direct sow outside. We found the fold-up greenhouse to use for hardening off as needed and have all the materials we'll need to get the seeds started. I'm exhausted and haven't even touched a shovel yet.

The plant tower looks like a variation of the Earth Boxes we've used very successfully for a couple of years. If it works as well, it should do a great job in a small space.

Posted by: JTB at January 24, 2015 03:01 PM (FvdPb)

15 That cardinal is counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report.

Posted by: Donna &&&&&& V. (brandishing ampersands) at January 24, 2015 03:06 PM (+XMAD)

16 JTB & Justamom: the squirrel-proof container is very close to the design of the Earth Boxes.

If you have squirrels, or deer, you might want to put a barrier around those, too.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:11 PM (qahv/)

17 Y-not:

"The Monstera Pots Feature a Sleek yet Organic Design"

What does "organic" mean in that sentence?
Heh.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:14 PM (qahv/)

18 GreatWhiteSnark,

You're really takiing that "Potty" theme seriously. Heh.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:15 PM (qahv/)

19 That wouldn't even slow down the bushy tailed bastards in my yard, they only respect the 22.

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:17 PM (TETYm)

20 KT, carbon doped ceramic?

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:18 PM (TETYm)

21 For some reason we've had almost no problems with squirrel or bird depredation except for the strawberries. I like to think it is due to moral superiority but suspect we have just been lucky.

If our baby fig tree survives and eventually gives us fruit, I will do whatever is needed to protect it: netting, heavy artillery, etc. I REALLY like fresh figs.

Posted by: JTB at January 24, 2015 03:18 PM (FvdPb)

22 Reminds me of my last root canal

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:20 PM (TETYm)

23 How did the pictures from the comet not win photo of the year?

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:20 PM (TETYm)

24 Squirrels are supposed to be tasty.Bait them in, process, fire up the stove. Problem solved.

Posted by: fairweatherbill gatekeeper of pestilence at January 24, 2015 03:21 PM (hcW+E)

25 JTB - jack Russell Terrier, tied to the base and no overhanging branches even close

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:22 PM (TETYm)

26 1. No cockroaches because there's a lid on the compost.
2. I think you can get red wigglers at a bait shop.
3. My growing season time is still programmed to Michigan. In Houston, though, there's two. The first around Valentines. The second around Memorial Day.
4. If you have deer, you'll have to put something around the garden, because the height is deer perfect.
5. Also, birds finally got wise this year and ate some of my pumpkin seeds.

Posted by: Melissa at January 24, 2015 03:23 PM (P1kBH)

27 Some of my less ambitious kin use rat traps screwed to a tree limb

Posted by: Jean at January 24, 2015 03:24 PM (TETYm)

28 I never really thought about it before, but yeah, as much as I hate winter, there are plenty of winter associated things I love - but they're ALL indoor things.

Hot cocoa, hearty stews and soups, root veggies, fireplaces, flannel sheets and pjs, curling up with a good book and some hot tea when there's a blizzard outside...

Posted by: Donna &&&&&& V. (brandishing ampersands) at January 24, 2015 03:28 PM (+XMAD)

29
#27: We are NOT kin.

Posted by: Ed Anger at January 24, 2015 03:29 PM (RcpcZ)

30 I said I wasn't going to plant winter veggies, but yesterday I went to a nursery to buy a Mexican lime tree, and they didn't have any yet. Out of frustration I bought a 6-pack of kale and planted them in a big container. That container also has a San Marzano tomato plant that's still squeezing out the occasional little tomato, even though like Melissa in Houston, we've had some freezes. The Hell Patio of Death stays warmer than the surrounding area though.

I'm going to use the Mexican lime to replace the container lemon tree that produces one (1) fruit per year.

Posted by: stace at January 24, 2015 03:34 PM (ImzkZ)

31 "Reminds me of my last root canal".
Heh.
Are teeth organic?

Jean at January 24, 2015 03:20 PM

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:37 PM (qahv/)

32 I love Weirddave's garden art. I think we would have to go with desert plants in our climate. Maybe some more delicate succulents in part shade.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:39 PM (qahv/)

33 Welcome, Ms Clouthier! How cool is it to have you here?!

And thank you Ynot, Weirddave and KT as always...I haven't been able to participate lately, but I always go back and read the posts.

From the perspective of a flower gardener:

Proposition 4: Things planted for Winter Interest take up valuable space that would otherwise be filled with Spring, Summer and Fall Interest. I do not care if my flowers beds look dull come winter. Winter is for dreaming over catalogs and taking a break. We are assured that even God rested.

Having said all that, I have planted our property overall with an eye towards 4 seasons of interest. (Well, the 3 acres around the house, at least) There are several shrubs and a tree or two that bloom or at least look decent in other ways in the winter. Still and all, Proposition 4a tells us that, as a general rule, things touted as being Winter Bloomers are in fact Quite Early in the Spring Bloomers.

I haven't used this specific system, but have been very happy with similar ones. If any of y'all are in a position to help an elderly gardener ( or anyone else with limited mobility) set one up, you will be giving them an incredible gift.


Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 03:39 PM (Pauop)

34 Well, this is just ducky. The Spousal Unit has convinced me we need a backyard greenhouse. Not so simple. On a hillside; we thus need to make this a major civil engineering project. Grading, a small retaining wall, then some sort of redwood or cedar greenhouse maybe 8X12. Added to the 2015 list. Crap.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 03:41 PM (9tzvc)

35 "At the end, with a full Garden Tower, it looks like you have a monstrously huge Chia Pet except the hair is lettuce and tomatoes and herbs."

Heh.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:41 PM (qahv/)

36 Stace, have you been able to get Kaffir lime trees in Texas? Someone told me they banned them a while ago, and I am sad because I neeeeeeeeed them for Thai food.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 03:41 PM (MYCIw)

37 Oh and that sage growing in the boat is a fabulous filler for perennial beds and really perk up a non-formal herb garden, as well. One of my favorite annuals and not as easy to find as it should be, unfortunately.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 03:43 PM (Pauop)

38 I'm a longtime follower of Melissatweets, and that's a really cool tower. Might have to get one, and I love the anti-squirell rig too.

We walk through the neighborhood community garden most days, and the other day someone had put out a bunch of containers of neat succulents free for the taking, but we were on foot. Later my sweet husband took the car and fetched me a couple of the more bizarre ones that I had shown interest in. You really can't have too many succulents is my motto

They're growing broccoli, onions, swiss chard, etc. over there right now.

Posted by: stace at January 24, 2015 03:43 PM (ImzkZ)

39 Skookumchuk, maybe we can discuss greenhouses in a future Garden Thread. Sounds like a lot of work.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:44 PM (qahv/)

40 36 Stace, have you been able to get Kaffir lime trees in Texas? Someone told me they banned them a while ago, and I am sad because I neeeeeeeeed them for Thai food.
Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 03:41 PM (MYCIw)

Hi Lauren, I haven't seen any, but I'll keep an eye out. I'll be checking some other nurseries for limes since I failed yesterday.

The nursery guy I asked mentioned another one they'll be getting besides the Mexican, but it wasn't Kaffir. Mmmmm, thai food...

Posted by: stace at January 24, 2015 03:47 PM (ImzkZ)

41 Donna, You have the right idea on winter gardening activities: warmth, comfort, good hearty food and fine books. I can also spend hours with seed catalogs and dreams of future seasons.

I'm starting some minor efforts to propagate house plants from cuttings. Not trying to be productive, just see what works and have some fun. As long as I have a sunny window, I can play with it.

Posted by: JTB at January 24, 2015 03:48 PM (FvdPb)

42 #1-God Almighty what a thread.

#2-The pics of the winter mountain stream and those Madagascar trees are awesome.


Damn, Y.

Posted by: Ricardo Kill at January 24, 2015 03:49 PM (g0iKS)

43 Tammy, you are so hard-core. Love it.

Glad you get to take a break once in a while.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 03:49 PM (qahv/)

44 Tell Ace and whiny Cadre of bitch ass sore loses that he just got served.

Bill Belichick just schooled the whole world. That team did nothing wrong and was victimized by a bunch of sore losers.

It's okay though because Belichick just bitch slapped you into kingdom come.

Posted by: Ragnar at January 24, 2015 03:50 PM (gDdDs)

45 39, KT - Good idea. I would like that.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 03:50 PM (9tzvc)

46 I'm jealous of you folks in warmer climates. I'll be frozen solid here until I can start seeds at the end of March. Until then it's nice to read about others. Thanks Y-not.

Posted by: dartist at January 24, 2015 03:54 PM (ahBY0)

47
No garden this year, all done providing a salad bar for local wildlife.

Worst part is, can't shoot them.

Posted by: irongrampa at January 24, 2015 03:54 PM (jeCnD)

48 irongrampa, can't you claim pestilence?

Not sure what the threshold is, but if they get too bad here, we can shoot them.

Can't eat them, I don't think, which is terrible, but we can kill them if they get too thick.

And hello!

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 03:56 PM (Pauop)

49 Worst part is, can't shoot them.

I can get away with a pellet rifle and traps here. Good thing is something is grabbing the dead squirrels at night but possums and raccoons are harder to get rid of.

Posted by: dartist at January 24, 2015 03:59 PM (ahBY0)

50 Hi, KT!


When I lived in SoCal, I enjoyed gardening all year but I enjoy it here with a full season of rest even more!

I appreciate the flowers and vegetables more when I get a chance to miss them! (the same is true in marriage! )

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:00 PM (Pauop)

51 Wife and I looking over seed catalogs today, mostly arguing
over potatoes. Spent yesterday tinkering around in greenhouse ( which is empty and cold).
Played around with a prototype propagation chamber last spring, thinking of applying what I've learned to build something a little more permanent.

Posted by: NativeNH at January 24, 2015 04:01 PM (rxTBE)

52 OT:Belichick: "I've handled dozens of balls over the last week."

Posted by: The Great White Snark at January 24, 2015 04:01 PM (LImiJ)

53 And Madagascar, as suggested in the picture above, is in fact a very strange place. Despite being off the coast of Africa, it is not at all African. More like Polynesia. I guess one group left Indonesia and went east - Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, etc. - while another went west - to Madagascar. So you see things kind of reminiscent of Hawaiian woodcarving and sculpture and flat stone tombs and the like. Plus French architecture.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:01 PM (9tzvc)

54 Here's a tragic gardening story, although I have to admit I laughed a little when my friend told me last week. She has a beautiful Hill Country ranch, and they spent years putting in a lovely native plant landscape around the house, which is fenced off from the livestock--a small herd of pretty Longhorns.

Teenage son left the gate to the yard open, and while the family was in town, the Longhorns got in there and had a party.
The recent rains made it worse--the gravel paths and part of the lawn are mudholes. It looked like the cattle tromped on the ornamental plants for entertainment, and of course they pooped everywhere.

Posted by: stace at January 24, 2015 04:02 PM (ImzkZ)

55 Earthworms are the key to good compost. If we dig up a worm anywhere in our yard we put it in our compost bins. Even if we have to walk a hundred yards. Uphill. Nekkid. (just kidding about that last one)

Posted by: Eromero at January 24, 2015 04:05 PM (go5uR)

56 What we have here in the Pee Enn Dubyoo (and on my hillside) are mountain beavers:

http://tinyurl.com/kuz7xyq

Strange critters. They burrow in the hillside that is our back yard. I've only seen one once, being chased across the yard by our cat. Though they do dig up the hillside. Or rather, they did. I chopped down the six apple trees that were their snack bar and collapsed the burrows. Still, eternal vigilance is the price, etc...

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:06 PM (9tzvc)

57 Tammy, are you talking about the blue sage growing in the boat? Might be two species there.

Salvia farinacea is sometimes treated as an annual around here. One of the few flowers that thrives over a long season in hot shade. Or at least part shade.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:07 PM (qahv/)

58 The garden tower sounds interesting. I went to the website to check on price. It's a little pricey at $350. Then I checked on worms. Appears you can buy them on Amazon.

Posted by: Ronster at January 24, 2015 04:07 PM (ymjdW)

59 Build the dang squirrel fence!

Posted by: Juan McCain at January 24, 2015 04:07 PM (ZWRoJ)

60
I've been battling tree rats (aka "squirrels") for decades. One year, I tried a contraption much like what's pictured here. It didn't work. The problem is that unless that netting is metal, the rats can gnaw through it - and they will.

What works is either metal (chicken wire, in particular) or monofilament mesh of the kind that is sold under the brand name "Bird-X". The monofilament is strong enough to keep the critters out, but is too fine for them to gnaw or bite. I've built a wooden enclosure over my entire vegetable garden, and draped it with Bird-X, and that works well.

One key to keeping the tree rats away from your garden is to put up your barrier early, before the plants start bearing - and before the rats have a chance to discover that there's food there. Once they know that a place has food, they'll keep probing the barrier until they find a way in. However, if the barrier is put up before they've discovered that it encloses food, they skip the spot and scout out some place easier to access.

Posted by: Brown Line at January 24, 2015 04:08 PM (a5bF3)

61 I'm wondering if the Winter temps here would kill the worms in the garden tower.

Posted by: Ronster at January 24, 2015 04:11 PM (ymjdW)

62 Those baobabs are some really impressive wood.

(oh, come on, tell me you weren't thinking it!)

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:13 PM (t//F+)

63 Skookumchuk,
Those Mountain Beavers sound like strange critters. And host to the largest known flea, too!

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:17 PM (qahv/)

64 If you have deep snow in your garden, it's really cool to plant an M-80 or a pipe bomb under the snow and blow a big crater. You can try this on a lawn also. In someone else's yard. Or just do a mailbox in the usual way, if you're out of ideas.

Posted by: That Rotten Kid Who Lives Up The Street at January 24, 2015 04:17 PM (OLFrt)

65 Thanks for the tip, Brown Line. We're adding pepper spray to the netting. If they want to chew on that, at least there will be some measure of revenge involved.

The wicking system is large PVC pipe with multiple holes drilled in the sides.

All in hubby spent under $50 bucks for the contraption. Even if it doesn't work, he had fun building it. But with him being an engineer, modifications will be made until squirrel free success is achieved.

Posted by: Sasso333 at January 24, 2015 04:18 PM (pyYXJ)

66 Not much on the gardening front for me since there's five inches of snow on the ground. But I've started planning next year's gardens- I have to keep reining myself in b/c I tend to plant huge gardens and they get away from me. Oh, well, its fun to look through seed catalogs and dream.

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:18 PM (ThxKk)

67 I've wondered that too, Ronster. I have friends who might be interested to know, too.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:18 PM (qahv/)

68 the tower gardens are pretty neat. We used to plant potatoes in a trashcan and kept layering on the mulch to make many layers of potatoes, but that one is more impressive.

There is a raised bed technique called a "keyhole garden" that is basically a round raised bed with a hole in the middle to dump your compost and a cut-out in it so you can reach the hole without walking over the raised bed, but there are issues with it being hard work to build, impossible to move, and you have to disassemble it to get compost out of it.


Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:20 PM (t//F+)

69 KT, 63 - Yup. Very odd. And of course they are protected, even though very destructive. So you need to encourage them to leave. As in chopping down my perfectly good, mature apple trees. Then after about a year, when their food source has disappeared, collapsing the empty burrows that were undermining our hillside. A pain.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:21 PM (9tzvc)

70 Has anyone ever tried growing tomatoes or peppers as a houseplant? I think it would be awesome to have fresh, home-grown veggies in the winter, but I'm not sure if the whole pollinating thing would work out. (I live in CT, so putting the plants outside for pollination isn't an option.)

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:22 PM (ThxKk)

71
I MIGHT be persuaded to garden IF I can score some Claymores, or even a few toe-poppers.

Maybe.

Posted by: irongrampa at January 24, 2015 04:24 PM (jeCnD)

72 Sasso333 at January 24, 2015 04:18 PM

"The wicking system is large PVC pipe with multiple holes drilled in the sides."

Is it filled with your potting mix?

There are also fabric wicking systems that don't rely on a tube of potting mix extending into the water.

I've thought about making some of the containers (with plant supports instead of netting) for use in the dog's yard. The only squirrels we have are ground squirrels, and so far they have given us less trouble than gophers. One got in the garage once, prompting one of our doggies to bite out part of a cabinet trying to get to it, though.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:24 PM (qahv/)

73 Skookumchuck, we call those Boomers around here. It is the mascot of Toledo high-school, if I remember correctly.

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:24 PM (t//F+)

74 Or

Oh my. Cruz says we need to padlock the IRS and put them on the border. And he is funny. Says if you are suing nuns you are doing something wrong.

Posted by: ThunderB, Sharia Compliance Officer at January 24, 2015 04:25 PM (zOTsN)

75 Where are you, Kindletot?

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:25 PM (9tzvc)

76 Militarized tomato planters.

In our part of the country, we use electric fences to protect fruit, because bears.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 04:26 PM (eeTCA)

77 Hi there, first time in the gardening thread. Where's the snark??? JK

I am in San Diego and harvested my first radishes today. I asked my pregnant daughter to eat one, my theory was if the baby wanted fresh radish, she would like it. It was like, meh. I hang my produce on the neighbors' doors when they're not looking.

Posted by: JohnnyBoy at January 24, 2015 04:27 PM (KG0mU)

78 right wing whippersnapper,

There are a few varieties of little tomatoes which can be grown in a south-facing windowsill in winter. Determinates, so you toss them when the tomatoes have borne fruit. You would want to keep a fan going in the room, probably.

I don't know how good the fruit quality is. Don't know about peppers, either. But the plants are pretty.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:29 PM (qahv/)

79 In our part of the country, we use electric fences to protect fruit, because bears.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 04:26 PM (eeTCA)
You guys must really love your tomatoes. Whereabouts are you, if I may ask? Mostly so I know not to pilfer tomatoes if I'm ever passing through.

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:29 PM (ThxKk)

80 Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:29 PM (qahv/)

Do you know any variety names off-hand?

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:31 PM (ThxKk)

81 You can build a makeshift greenhouse out of PEX tubing, rebar, plastic and some duct tape. You drive the rebar into the ground so that 4-6" stick out and put the ends of the PEX over them. Repeat. You end up with hoops like a Conestoga wagon. Duct tape a ridge pole on and cover with the milky white plastic (visqueen). No grading needed. But if you have the $$$ to build a greenhouse out of redwood or cedar, go ahead and waste it.

During the hotter months you have to remove both ends of the greenhouse and then can only grow really heat loving plants in it. It really does get quite warm inside.

About worm castings -- does the food you eat or poop out have more nutrients? The same applies to worms. You get a better compost letting the micro-flora and fauna do the decomposition. And they'll heat up the soil enough to kill weed seeds, etc. -- as well as worms. The best place for worms is in your plant beds where they provide great aeration. The worm castings left in your garden are good fertilizer but not as good as before digestion. But the trade-off is worth it for the aeration the worms provide.

Posted by: Ed Anger at January 24, 2015 04:31 PM (RcpcZ)

82 In the depths of the Willamette Valley. It is sunny and warm today, and I was out pruning an apple tree.

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:32 PM (t//F+)

83 Cruz is bringing it. He is running

Posted by: ThunderB, Sharia Compliance Officer at January 24, 2015 04:32 PM (zOTsN)

84 Cruz is bringing it. He is running

Yes, but does he garden?

Posted by: Blanco Basura at January 24, 2015 04:33 PM (UVfht)

85 Sorry.

Posted by: ThunderB, Sharia Compliance Officer at January 24, 2015 04:34 PM (zOTsN)

86 Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:07 PM (qahv/)

KT... the pink and purple flowers. It's not farinacea. They have changed the name several times. It was salvia viridis or some such thing for awhile, lord knows what they're calling it now.

They change the mum family around so much I have given up trying to keep track.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:36 PM (Pauop)

87 Can you grow fennel indoors?

Asking for a friend

g'afternoon, 'rons

Posted by: AltonJackson at January 24, 2015 04:37 PM (4gN5w)

88 Posted by: AltonJackson at January 24, 2015 04:37 PM (4gN5w)

It gets several feet tall I believe. You'd need a pretty large area.

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 04:38 PM (GDulk)

89 Sorry.

We need to know what he grows to know how he'll govern.

Posted by: Blanco Basura at January 24, 2015 04:38 PM (UVfht)

90 83, Kindletot - I wish I could grow them again, but to these bastards, they are just an attractive nuisance. I have thought about a plum or pear tree on top of my hill. Though we have raccoons, too. Guy next door had a koi pond in the front of his house. Had a twee little Japanese bridge over the pond. So one morning before dawn this big bruiser of a raccoon comes up from the gully. I went out to get the paper about 6AM or so. Koi parts all over the guy's lawn and in the street....

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:39 PM (9tzvc)

91 Have I mentioned this before? When I put my compost heap under the trees I wind up with a lot of black soldier fly maggots as the principal composter in my heaps, but when the heap is out in the middle of the yard it is mostly worms.
The maggots eat faster and reduce the compost better, but the worms eat the maple leaves. Also the maggots that die in the winter leave their carapaces behind and in un-disturbed compost they last a whole year. I find it kind of spooky, like finding the lost dying-place of the elephants.

If you don't want a giant heap in your yard you can do what my mom used to do and take your colander of veggie scraps and just bury them a shovel or two at the time in the fallow winter garden. They break down faster, and it helps you break up compacted soil.

I did that the first year in my house when I wanted to prep an area for a garden that had had a shed on it.

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:39 PM (t//F+)

92 good point, Polliwog

Posted by: AltonJackson at January 24, 2015 04:39 PM (4gN5w)

93 Can you grow fennel indoors?

I start seeds indoors but the plants get pretty big, so I don't know. I'm going to try a variety bred strictly for seeds that is much smaller but it won't produce bulbs.

Posted by: dartist at January 24, 2015 04:41 PM (ahBY0)

94 JohnnyBoy, there is less snark in the gardening thread, but if you look, you'll find some. Radishes seem very mild right now around here, too.

What other produce are you growing?

I'm harvesting broccoli and turnips. May leave the kale to bolt and eat the buds. I've planted some tomato and kohlrabi seeds indoors and some greens are WinterSown. Thinking about infecting the yard of a neighbor with arugula. She loves the stuff.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:42 PM (qahv/)

95 Kindletot - Willamette Valley is nice. Warmer than here.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 04:42 PM (9tzvc)

96 Can you do bonsai fennel?

I just picked up some fresh fennel, & it has a bulb the size of a racquetball. i was thinking of putting it in a planter & see what happens.

Posted by: AltonJackson at January 24, 2015 04:45 PM (4gN5w)

97 You could just play around with the fennel and see what happens.... is it one of those things like celery you can just plop the bottom in water and root?

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:47 PM (Pauop)

98 Oh, and you can pollinate tomatoes yourself with a brush... I have had to do that on plants outdoors often.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:49 PM (Pauop)

99 Oh, and you can pollinate tomatoes yourself with a brush... I have had to do that on plants outdoors often.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:49 PM (Pauop)
I've never had to do that. Do you have to pollinate from one plant to the next, or can you take pollen from one flower and brush it on a flower from the same plant?

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:51 PM (ThxKk)

100 rightwingwhippersnapper,

The oldest ones are "Tiny Tim" and "Pixie". "Tiny Tim" only needs a small container.

There's an "Orange Pixie" that's supposed to have good flavor. SF Gate has an article on growing tomatoes on a windowsill, if you can find a 3 to 5 gallon container that fits on your windowsill. Look over the compact container varieties at Park Seed for ideas.

The Sample Seed Shop offers a sweet, determinate cherry tomato from France, "Remy Rouge".

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:51 PM (qahv/)

101 Skookumchuck, I have long neglected apples and table-grapes that I am trying to get back into shape. The racoons can eat all the apples they can hold, but they don't like apples, they want cat food.

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:51 PM (t//F+)

102 In keeping with my glass-half-full outlook on life, I would like to mention that in only 2 weeks, winter will be half over.

Posted by: bergerbilder at January 24, 2015 04:52 PM (8MjqI)

103 Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 04:39 PM (t//F+)

I did that at our first house (digging the scraps in under a thin layer of dirt). When my in-laws roto-tilled that area later they said it made a really big difference. Around here I think I'd be afraid of rats getting at it. I do use "worm bait" tubes (2' long perforated plastic pipe buried on their ends about 18" and filled with scraps) though

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 04:53 PM (GDulk)

104 Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:51 PM (qahv/)

Thanks. And I'd be growing them in a south-facing bay window, so I think they'd get enough sun without actually perching on the windowsill.

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:55 PM (ThxKk)

105 Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 04:55 PM (ThxKk)

Watch for white flies a stuff like that though. My M-I-L is a *great* gardener but when she tried to over-winter some of her peppers inside she had a lot of problems.

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 04:57 PM (GDulk)

106 rightwing, I just do it all on the same plant. Hell, you can just give 'em a little shake, probably, but I use a little paint brush, just to be safe.

The flowers have, er, both sets of plumbing so to speak, so they are technically self pollinating, and don't really even need bees or anything, but it never hurts to lend a hand.

Tomatoes need heat to ripen well, I"d say that will be your biggest challenge...getting enough heat without scorching them in too hot of a window.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:58 PM (Pauop)

107 You don't have to cross-pollinate tomatoes unless you're breeding new kinds. If the temperature and humidity are right, you just have to shake the blossoms. Some people use the back of an electric toothbrush handle.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 04:58 PM (qahv/)

108 Luckily our gardening doldrums will not be offset by an asteroid impact. Asteroid 2004 BL86 is supposed to zoom by the Earth at the distance of 745,000 miles on Monday.

Posted by: Anna Puma (+SmuD) at January 24, 2015 04:59 PM (rNQTc)

109 I don't know where you live, but a south facing window is awfully hot.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 04:59 PM (Pauop)

110 Would it be possible to cut slots in a large plastic garbage can and do the same thing as the tower? Seems like if a perforated pipe was put in the middle and filled with compost and then the rest of the interior was filled with soil , it should do the same general thing without the high cost. are there any obvious flaws I'm missing?

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 05:00 PM (GDulk)

111 Tammy, I live in the Northeast, so even a south facing window doesn't get terribly hot this time of year. I've started seeds in that window the last few years, and they seem to do all right. Wouldn't want to try it in August, though.

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 05:04 PM (ThxKk)

112 Polliwog,

The little outcroppings where you add plants seem like a good idea to me. You would have to figure out drainage details. And figure out a way to make a "trap door" in the compost cylinder.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:04 PM (qahv/)

113 Polli, I'd say as long as you were careful that you got a trash can that was made from something that wouldn't over heat, it would work fine. It's basically a fancy strawberry pot, right?

I imagine they have got the proportions of everything maximized, though, in terms of things like how the water flows and what not.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:08 PM (Pauop)

114 Melissa,

I think it's remarkable that you grew broccoli from seed in Houston.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:09 PM (qahv/)

115 Any shrubbery recommendations for the little patch of grass I have in front of my porch? I've got to do something there. The sod is just sad. As you probably see by now, my vast expanse of sod is making me twitchy.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:14 PM (MYCIw)

116 The Garden Tower folks made one good point in a video: some building reflect enough light for plant growth. If you are low on light in a garden, paint plant backdrops in light colors. Like white.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:15 PM (qahv/)

117 Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 05:04 PM (ThxKk)

Oh, okay, you're probably fine this time of year up north.

We can't even do that in winter in the South!

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:19 PM (Pauop)

118 Lauren, 115 - sun, shade? We have shade mainly in our front yard. Pieris, daphne, Japanese maple, hostas.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:19 PM (9tzvc)

119 My first thought was Texas Sage.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:19 PM (MYCIw)

120 ...and rhodies and azaleas. Heather.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:20 PM (9tzvc)

121 Lauren, what direction, does it face and does it get full sun? How large is the area you want it to cover? I assume you want something evergreen?

Does grass grow there okay during the year?

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:21 PM (Pauop)

122 Lauren, we would need to know what your climate is like, what the soil is like, etc. If your soil is the problem, could you amend it or build a raised bed of some sort?

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:23 PM (qahv/)

123 Also, Lauren, which side of the house is it on?

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:24 PM (qahv/)

124 Skookumchuk, I would say the front 2 feet are full sun and the back 2 feet are partial. The roof overhang casts a shadow over about half the plot during parts of the day. The full plot is maybe 4 X 8 or so.

Also, what do I need to do to prep the area? This is my first time working with a new construction with sod so I have not a clue what I'm doing.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:24 PM (MYCIw)

125 Lauren - does the front of the house face north? Which direction? Climate?

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:27 PM (9tzvc)

126 To grow fennel in the house for leaves, just remember the "baby leaf" concept. Let it grow for a while, plant some more a few weeks later and compost the first pot of fennel. Or plant it outdoors. Attract some butterflies (if the species attracted live in your area.).

Incidentally, fennel roots inhibit the growth of many other plants.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:27 PM (qahv/)

127 It's the north facing side of the house. As for grass, I have no idea since we just moved in and the grass was already dormant by then. I'll go grab a picture of it to show you what I'm working with. It's Central Texas.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:28 PM (MYCIw)

128 Lauren, we're going to be addressing long-term yard planning over the next little while, so your question fits right in.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:29 PM (qahv/)

129 http://i57.tinypic.com/2r5d9hx.jpg

Here's a picture of my sad little island of grass.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:30 PM (43pAZ)

130 North side of the house, Central Texas: a challenge. We'll work on it.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 05:31 PM (qahv/)

131 Also, what do I need to do to prep the area? This
is my first time working with a new construction with sod so I have not a
clue what I'm doing.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:24 PM (MYCIw)
Pulling up the sod is usually the place to start. Depending on the type of grass, that stuff can be many inches deep and very hard to remove, so don't get discouraged. Then add some compost, the amount varies with what you're planning to grow. Then, planting, the best part!

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 05:31 PM (ThxKk)

132 KT, I can' wait! The builder did very little landscaping (we got a couple of trees in the front, and that's it) so I have lots to do!

I guess the good news is that I can make it glorious. The bad news is it's going to be a LOT of work.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:32 PM (MYCIw)

133 Lauren, OK, more like where I grew up and not here in the Pacific Northwest. Haven't a clue, actually. But check this out:

http://tinyurl.com/pwncvml

I'll keep looking.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:35 PM (9tzvc)

134 That is going to be a cast-iron beeyotch to deal with. I had a similar situation on SoCal.

Is it near the front door?

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:36 PM (Pauop)

135 Thanks, Skookumchuk. That definitely looks like a great resource.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:37 PM (MYCIw)

136 Lauren, and this:

http://tinyurl.com/o5zntr8

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:37 PM (9tzvc)

137 As for what to plant, hostas are dead simple to grow; and some varieties will spread to fill the area. Butterfly bushes are a little taller, but they're more colorful. I'm not sure what grows well in your area, but those are some suggestions to get you started. Or, get an agave plant, so you can mix your own drinks!

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 05:38 PM (ThxKk)

138 Tammy, yep. It's off the sidewalk to the right leading up to the doorway. You can see the door's position in the picture I posted. It's basically an island of grass surrounded by concrete.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:41 PM (MYCIw)

139 *Flips through seed catalogs*
Oo, oo! Lauren, you could put some herbs in there. Lavender, sage, mint-this one will spread like wildfire. Then, every time you walk out the door, the area will smell good. And I bet the kids would like it, too.

Posted by: right wing whippersnapper at January 24, 2015 05:45 PM (ThxKk)

140 Myself, I'd dig up the sod (which won't be hard to do now) put down 4 little pavers to hold a bench, put a pretty bench there, then underplant it with those lil groundcover-y strawberries whose name escapes me at the moment.

But I'll keep thinking!

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:46 PM (Pauop)

141 I love the idea of having lavender out there. Lavender is basically like crack to me.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:47 PM (MYCIw)

142 Tammy,

Chilean strawberries (Fragonaria Chiloensis)? They are great ground cover, but you've got to control them or they take over everything.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:48 PM (9tzvc)

143 Lauren, Yup. Our lavender bush is about three feet high, but being overtaken by the rosemary. That's another fast grower that tolerates dry climates. Also rock roses.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 05:50 PM (9tzvc)

144 I planted wild strawberries by the foundation. I like local wildflowers. Blue bonnets?

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 05:50 PM (t//F+)

145 Where's the barbed and electrified wire?

Squirrels can get into anything, on anything, under anything, through anything.

You should buy some mean outdoor cats.

Posted by: Bitter Clinger and All That at January 24, 2015 05:52 PM (RZzX3)

146 Oh yeah, blue bonnets would be great, and those grow quite literally, like weeds.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 05:55 PM (MYCIw)

147 rightwing - Sorry, had to go walk the dog. You asked where I live. Western NC.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 05:57 PM (eeTCA)

148 Squirrels are also stupid & utterly without sense. They'll happily sit down & eat right next to 3 or 4 fresh squirrel corpses. Makes 'em kinda easy to pick off, though.

Posted by: Anderson Cooper's Smoked Sausages at January 24, 2015 05:57 PM (MbqmP)

149 NOOD

Posted by: Y-not, stone cold sober at January 24, 2015 05:59 PM (9BRsg)

150 Let me explain why I feel this is a problematic area...

Aesthetically, since it's the front of the house and a brick house at that, it has to be something that stays tidy. Brick is formal and the plantings should reflect that within reason. Also needs to stay compact, and in my opinion anyway, stay fairly low.

It's either gonna stay dry as heck or be soggy all the time, I promise you there will be no in-between. Might be best to wait awhile to see which way it'll go before you try and plant.


Anything low maintenance enough to not need much looking after will probably need to be thinned out or trimmed all the time.

I think gardenias would be lovely, but not sure about how many bees it might draw, which is never a good idea by a front door. Also, gardenias are tricky. This kind of spot is usually pretty good for them, though. The fragrance would build up heavily in an enclosed area and might be too much, or it night be awesome. Hard to say. And they might not stay evergreen in TX?

Mini azaleas might also be okay, but flower color would be tricky to pick up a-gin that brick, and the white ones always look raggedy as they die off.


I will stop now!

So much fun, I could go on and on, but lemme get back to you later!














Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 05:59 PM (Pauop)

151 one of my yard-scaping projects is to inter-plant camas and lamb's tongue in sections of my yard. They can't handle mowing early in the spring, but after they set flowers they are pretty hardy.
I think it would be precious to have sections under the apple and pear trees to have the blue and yellow wild flowers.

And I would have a reason to not mow sections, so win/win!

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 06:00 PM (t//F+)

152 You are a wealth of information, Tammy! I am definitely enjoying picking your brain!

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 06:02 PM (MYCIw)

153 I'm half tempted to buy whatever wildflower seed blanket they lay out on the side of new highways and call it a day. Haha. I won't, but the thought has crossed my mind.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 06:03 PM (MYCIw)

154 Blue bonnets will be fine for like two weeks? She will need something to go along with them. Would there be enough sun for lavender? It's Texas sun, so maybe so! I do think it would look rather insipid on its own right there, but perhaps it could surround a little statue or something?

This area is really quite a focal point, situated as it is by the front door.

Skook, I think being surrounded by concrete would keep the strawberries contained, but it might clump up. And there might be a slug problem?



Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 06:08 PM (Pauop)

155 Wait..., our brick house is formal?
Bwahahahaha. It is painfully early 60's ranch.

The front is dominated by Holly's, Rhododendron, and Mountain Laurel. Most of it above windowsill height.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 06:09 PM (028dR)

156 I'm half tempted to buy whatever wildflower seed blanket they lay out on the side of new highways and call it a day. Haha. I won't, but the thought has crossed my mind.
Posted by: Lauren
-----------------------

I find it highly annoying when I find that the median in the highway looks better than our yard.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 06:10 PM (028dR)

157 KT, if you do plant camas and decide to cook them, let me know how they taste. They did however, give Lewis and Clark the runs....

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:12 PM (9tzvc)

158 Tammy - Are you on the Yahoo group?

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 06:12 PM (028dR)

159 Thanks for all the advice, guys!

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 06:12 PM (MYCIw)

160 They did however, give Lewis and Clark the runs....
Posted by: Skookumchuk
-------

So did the bears...., "RUN!"

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 06:13 PM (028dR)

161 Tammy, those Chilean strawberry tendrils get in to every little crack and can run a surprisingly long ways. You do have to keep at it.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:14 PM (9tzvc)

162 Tammy, yeah the fact that it is basically the first thing you see when you pull up to our house definitely puts pressure on making it look very good. Honestly, I find the way they laid out the front porch area confusing. The area behind that grass island is pretty narrow. Maybe 2ft deep? Not quite deep enough to put a swing or anything. Maybe a bench? It's sort of a conundrum of an area for me. This elevation wasn't what we would have picked if we built, but we bought the spec house so ya get whatcha get.

I'd like to take emphasis away from the pillars that are around the sidewalk. To me they're just really big and not really my style. I've thought about having ivy or something scale them, but that may be too much.

I feel like there's potential to make it have a lot of curb appeal, but right now it's basically an odd blank slate.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 06:18 PM (MYCIw)

163 Ha! Thrush has Kafkatrap backfire.

"I didn't know there were death threats, so let me off the hook."

The above was provably false..., he *did* know that there had been death threats.

So, his second line of defense, after he gets throat punched, is, "Stop bullying me".

Pygmy of a man.

Posted by: Mike Hammer, etc., etc. at January 24, 2015 06:22 PM (028dR)

164 KT, if you do plant camas and decide to cook them,
let me know how they taste. They did however, give Lewis and Clark the
runs....
Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:12 PM (9tzvc)


Gas. Camas has complex sugars or startches that are not broken down easily and ferment in the lower gut. Similar to beans. The local indians would steam them as long as they could to break those down, but that is not always possible.
I am told Camas in hard to sprout from seeds, but I have a suspicion that the reason you have to basically keep them over winter in cold, wet sphagum moss is because the seeds need to be macerated a bit by acid to germinate. Some plant seeds need to be soaked in tea for a bit to sprout so my next science project is to try that with Camas.

(the runs may have been from dog and wapato, a combination I think I will avoid)

Posted by: Kindltot at January 24, 2015 06:25 PM (t//F+)

165 KT, yeah, it well could be wapato. My wife bought me their journals - all 13 volumes plus the maps - one year for Christmas. I read them all over about six months... However, there is stuff you forget....

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:30 PM (9tzvc)

166 Skookumchuk,

Thought you were talking to me. Heh.

Are you talking "Camas" or "Death Camas"?

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 06:42 PM (qahv/)

167 Lauren, I honestly feel like these areas are meant to be seasonal.... like switch flowers out, if that makes sense?

I mentioned a bench upthread, and I am sticking by that! ) Or a little statue or whatever. Then you can either put down a groundcover....maybe some mosses?babytears?...that is fairly sturdy. Pop some lilies and jonquils under that.

Or you could do that and drop in some empty (quart sized?) containers to plant seasonally.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 06:42 PM (Pauop)

168 No, just camas. Plain old camas.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:44 PM (9tzvc)

169 Alrighty then, I am on a regular computer and can see the pic much better! How big is the area? I was thinking about 6 feet, but is it larger than that?


What is it about the pillars you don't like?

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 06:47 PM (Pauop)

170 Large pots work well, if they don't stand out and instead can blend in to the garden. Tall grasses work well in such a setting. Easy-peasy.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:49 PM (9tzvc)

171 I'd say it's 4 feet by 8 feet ish? It's 4 sod squares deep and like 8 or 10 across (not looking at it right now).

The thing that bothers me about the pillars is that they just don't seem to match the rest of the neighborhood to me. All the other houses are brick and stone, maybe with a small pillar thrown in. Ours are just so big that (to me) they stick out. I would have rather they wrapped them in brick or stone.

I think that's what really bothers me. The material just doesn't fit with the house or the neighborhood style.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 06:52 PM (MYCIw)

172 Lauren - what are the pillars made of? Is it brick?

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 06:58 PM (9tzvc)

173 I'm not really sure. They're the style of round concrete pillars, but I'm not sure what the actual composition is.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 07:07 PM (MYCIw)

174 Lauren. Hmm. You may be able to camouflage them a bit with pots at the bottom and hanging baskets at the top, suspended from hooks under the eaves. That's what we did at our first house, where we had a similar problem. We tried for as much color as we could, which worked OK.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 07:11 PM (9tzvc)

175 Lauren, You want trailing plants up top, with color, and pots at the bottom.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 07:13 PM (9tzvc)

176 That's a good idea Skookumchuk.

I think that would help to minimize them.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 07:15 PM (MYCIw)

177 Hah, if your hubs is anything like mine, he will have an actual nervous breakdown at the thought of ivy or any kind of climbing thing near the house.

Worry not your pretty head about the pillars. You may well grow to like them. (And I can't think of a solution right now! ) Not being just like everyone else is not necessarily a bad thing!


How much sun would you say you get there and does it cover the entire patch? Of course, it's winter, and that will change later on. But I'm wondering if you could have some low-growing day lilies there? The teeny ones? They are uniform enough to work with a formal-ish house, very low maintenance ( although they will need dividing at some point)


I"d still want some sort of focal piece and a few other plants to go with them, but they're little workhorses.






Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 07:23 PM (Pauop)

178 Actually, hanging plants in such a situation have nothing to grab onto. It's not like they are growing out of the ground and upwards on a trellis or a fence. They are basically hanging in mid-air and thus easy to control.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 07:28 PM (9tzvc)

179 The half closest to the house gets shaded by the house throughout the day, but it seems like the front half stays pretty sunny.

Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 07:29 PM (MYCIw)

180 Chica, email me if you want to keep talking!
iansgirltammy AT the googlemail dawt com.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 07:30 PM (Pauop)

181 Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 07:28 PM (9tzvc)


Oh, I'm sorry, Skook, I was meaning her reference to ivy upthread! I am stepping all over everything here, my apologies!

Trying to do pay attention the Thor and be online at the same time seldom works well for me!

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 07:32 PM (Pauop)

182 Baobabs are found on the African continent too. I remember seeing some in Kenya when I was a boy.

Posted by: Tom at January 24, 2015 07:33 PM (2xq3v)

183 The half closest to the house gets shaded by the house throughout the day, but it seems like the front half stays pretty sunny.
Posted by: Lauren at January 24, 2015 07:29 PM (MYCIw)


Problematic, fo sho. Might all be shaded when the sun sits higher in the sky come summer, though. Which is also problematic.

Posted by: Tammy al-Thor at January 24, 2015 07:36 PM (Pauop)

184 JTB,
What area of the country are you in? Could help for next week.

Thanks.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 07:37 PM (qahv/)

185 Ha, no problem Tammy.

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 07:40 PM (9tzvc)

186 Watch for white flies a stuff like that though. My M-I-L is a *great* gardener but when she tried to over-winter some of her peppers inside she had a lot of problems.
Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 04:57 PM

I'm in N IL and overwintered one gr pepper plant for several years, I think maybe lasted 4-5 yrs.

Alas w/ aging neither of us can really handle gr peppers anymore.

Posted by: Farmer at January 24, 2015 07:44 PM (o/90i)

187 KT... I'm in Zone 7A in Virginia. In theory Y-not and I can grow the same stuff.

Posted by: JTB at January 24, 2015 07:54 PM (FvdPb)

188 Hah, if your hubs is anything like mine, he will have an actual nervous breakdown at the thought of ivy or any kind of climbing thing near the house.
--

Brings back memories of the first house we ever had. It was an interesting ranch (sort of Frank Lloyd Wright-esque) with traditional cedar siding. And ivy. Tons of ivy, that was starting to damage the siding. We ripped it all out within a month of moving there.

Sadly, that was not the yard's only ivy. My husband, who's quite allergic to the stuff, stumbled into a huge patch of poison ivy in the back yard. Poor guy looked like he had leprosy for several weeks!

Posted by: Y-not, stone cold sober at January 24, 2015 08:07 PM (9BRsg)

189 Ivy eradication is like a military campaign. When we moved into this place, there was ivy all over the hillside in our backyard. This is where the Condor machete comes in handy. Three weeks, plus digging out the roots. One day I was out in flip-flops, which led to me impaling a foot on a cut root when the flip-flop slid out of the way. Emergency room trip. The ER doc said "gardening in flip-flops, huh? I did a paper on the dangers of flip-flops... " Not in a receptive mood, was I....

Posted by: Skookumchuk at January 24, 2015 08:16 PM (9tzvc)

190 Posted by: Farmer at January 24, 2015 07:44 PM (o/90i)

Good to know it is at least possible. Although she's a great gardener she doesn't have much luck with houseplants and I guess it could have just been that.

Posted by: Polliwog the 'Ette at January 24, 2015 08:36 PM (GDulk)

191 Updated the title b/c I forgot to add KT and Weirddave! Sorry!

Posted by: Y-not, stone cold sober at January 24, 2015 08:41 PM (9BRsg)

192 Wow.

Posted by: butternut at January 24, 2015 09:22 PM (F6ceQ)

193 Being a professional nuisance trapper.....using a plastic container with plastic netting.......he will be disappointed since a squirrel can chew through plastic like a hot knife through butter.

Posted by: Trapperguy at January 24, 2015 09:34 PM (cfC9U)

194 Sounds like it might be a good idea to plant something away from the veggies to attract the attention of squirrels away from the stuff you want to save. Make the veggies too much work to get to (for a non-desperate critter.)

Have you ever had a squirrel scold you from a tree for coming into his territory? Bold little critters.

Posted by: KT at January 24, 2015 10:43 PM (qahv/)

195 Farmer brings up a great point about white flies on veggies grown indoors.

If you're trying to grow veggies inside, you will have less chance of white flies, wooly aphids, etc. if you don't have other house plants, and if you wait until after cold weather sets in before starting seeds.

Over-wintered plants from outdoors are likely to show insect infestation eventually, because outdoor predators are missing from the indoor environment.

Posted by: KT at January 25, 2015 12:15 AM (qahv/)

196 For squirrel control, I prefer claymore mines... effective at least 50% of the time!

Posted by: DaveK at January 25, 2015 01:01 AM (qmNBK)

197 Sorry I'm so slow today. The Garden Tower is a good way to avoid soil diseases, since there is no contact with garden soil. Especially if the over-flow drainage container is on a stepping stone.

The Squirrel-Proof Container also has a barrier between the soil and the container, because there's a water reservoir in the bottom. If you are planning to make a similar container, it's really nice if you can use UV-resistant plastic - a light color in hot climates, a dark color in cool climates.

Posted by: KT at January 25, 2015 01:39 AM (qahv/)

198 Escort girls http://REGMODELS.RU

Posted by: Tina at January 26, 2015 07:19 PM (95udX)

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