Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hitching Post

It's not quite gardening but I built and installed a bike rack at the top of the driveway. Now my wife has a secure place to chain her scooter and I can leave the bike trailer outside, which makes my more likely to use it. It's not a feature I see on a lot of houses but I'm enjoying having it on mine.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cats are Terrible Gardeners

I have never been able to keep houseplants. My house is plagued by cats who devour any leafy material that passes through my door.
Despite this, I've been possessed, for a couple of years now, by a fascination with fairy gardens. I really really want to keep one of those cute miniature landscapes. I figured that if I made one planted with cactus the cats wouldn't chew it.
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They don't. Instead they pull the cacti out of the soil. I think they're jealously defending their sunny window sill from vegetal squatters. These cacti are proving pretty hardy but I can only replant them so many times before they suffer. I just can't win.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn Changes

Today was a very busy day in my little garden. Three new apple trees arrived from One Green World, a Golden Sentinel, another North Pole, and a dwarf Hidden Rose. The timing is perfect because the Rose is supposed to be a special birthday apple for my daughter, who turns 2 tomorrow. In later years it should ripen around her birthday and the fruit should have red flesh.
But we had to make room for the new trees, which meant pulling up most of the vegetables. As much corn was harvested saved as possible, though the yield was pretty sad looking. The dry stalks were thrown into my very green-waste heavy composter. The tomatoes were pulled up and all the ripe ones consumed on the spot by my daughter. The basil was turned into 21 oz of pesto and frozen. The only vegetables remaining are the two pumpkin vines (which have one ripe gourd for Halloween and two that might be pie in November).
While digging the tree holes I uncovered a dozen white grubs, mostly by the onions that never produced. I'm guessing they're Japanese beetle grubs because I saw the adults all summer. They're probably causing the dry spots in my lawn too. I'll have to look into treatment for that.

Friday, August 1, 2014

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

My dog is now leaving the planters alone, thanks to the plants filling in and the lawn being a nicer place to lay, but now I have a new problem.
Shortly after we got our dog, our neighbor supplemented his pack of small happy canines with a larger puppy. This dog has been significant trouble, jumping over the wall, escaping his yard, etc.
Through the strategic application of dog treats, I've convinced this new dog that he doesn't need to snap at me but that doesn't mean he's become friends with my dog. The two snap at each other over the wall constantly. The fights have become aggressive enough that they're knocking bricks out of the 60 year old wall that separates our yards.
14wall01 photo IMG_20140801_123103558_HDR_zpsc2zvcig5.jpg Gotta do something about that while I still have a wall.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Desolation of the Wyrm

One garden pest that I can't stand is the tomato worm.  They're big and squishy and in my garden.
I found one chilling on the underside of a leaf last week. I realized that had to be an accomplice this morning when one of my plants was practically denuded.
14tomato03 photo IMG_20140725_095701428_zpscuyu8ksn.jpg A few minutes of searching revealed the vile worm taking a rest after a busy night of plant pillaging. For most gardeners, this would be the end of the problem. Having found it, they'd just grab it and smash it. I can't do that. I just can't bring myself to touch their gooshy little bodies. They're SO GROSS!
14tomatoworm01 photo IMG_20140725_095719445_zpsp8mtiodb.jpg Fortunately for me, this guy decided to camp out on a sucker that I needed to prune anyway. I snipped his perch off the plant and scooped him up with my daughter's sand shovel. Then I deposited him in the middle of the street where a hungry bird might find him. Or he'd get run over. Of get fried like a green egg on the hot asphalt. I don't really care as long as he's not my problem anymore.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Midsummer's Update

While I struggled away with the lawn and the garden covers, the rest of the yard hadn't been in suspended animation. Obviously. Gardens never stop growing.

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The pumpkin bed is doing well. The pumpkin further from the wall has a much thicker and longer vine but they both look healthy. Not that you can see that in the photo since the bed is pretty well dominated by lush Hopi blue corn. It got planted in all the vegetable beds on a whim when I remembered I had seed saved from a few years ago.

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The tomato bed is doing all right. There's been one ripe tomato so far, which was fed with all appropriate pomp to my daughter. Two of the tomatoes are much greener and larger. The basil are doing great with the exception of the sweet basil on the end, which is being eaten by something. I've decided that I don't care for the Greek tower basil. It looks too neat and formal. Some of the onions are doing alright. They've been taking the worst of the beating from the dog.

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The apples are doing great! I really need to start planting around them. I want comfrey, clover, walking onions, day lilies, and asparagus.

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The watermelon beds are hanging on. The melons have healthy leaves but haven't really grown or spread much. I doubt we'll be getting any melons this year. The corn in these beds isn't as green as in the pumpkin beds but it's still doing fine. I think these beds dry out much quicker than the ones against the wall.

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I showed off the grass last post, so I won't waste more space on it but I will add a photo of the play area I'm adding on the side. A patio rug under a sandbox, wading pool, and slide. It needs another rug. And maybe a swing hanging from the porch.

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While working on the grass I did uncover some more archeological artifacts of people who used to live here. There's more evidence of young boys but also the first things that I could call girl toys.

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In the front yard, the white carnations are doing well and the mint is happier looking than any I've ever seen. The globe basil, on the other hand, has had a rough time. It had large chunks die off and it was an unhealthy looking pale green. I think it was too wet. Looks better now though.

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The cucumbers are doing very well. They're starting to produce flowers, which my wife is pollinating so cukes shouldn't be far off! The purple carnations are pretty dead though. Time to replace them.

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Lastly, this little yucca is doing well. It was a tony little plant when we first moved in.  Shortly after, when I had some plumbing dine, it was trampled and buried under rock.  Slowly it's bounced back though.  A Google street view of our house suggests that before we moved in it was a rather tall plant that got chopped down so I'm pretty happy to have this legacy volunteer around.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Field of Daydreams

I greatly dislike grass. It's everywhere, produces nothing of use, and, especially in the desert, consumes a lot of resources.
However, my dad is a major advocate of the all american lawn. He's been trying to convince me that my yard isn't complete without a patch of green for my daughter to run around on. He finally won me over by offering to pay for sprinklers and sod, as a present to his granddaughter.
So, for the past month, I've been hard at work digging trenches, laying pipes, amending the soil, and finally putting down grass.
Now, at very least, I guess I have a use for the lawn mower dad gave me for my birthday two years ago.