- Author: JoEllen P Myslik
On my daily walk with my dog, I always notice that most of my neighbors' lawns are brown. Not so long ago, this would have been appalling. I would have been embarrassed to live in a neighborhood where people did not take care of their lawns. But as we all know, “taking care of our lawns” now means taking care of our water supply, which of course results in brown grass everywhere.
We opted to remove our lawn and replace it with a flagstone walkway surrounded by bark and a few native plants. So for us, the water shortage has not made a huge impact on our landscaping. Unfortunately most of our neighbors are not so lucky, so we all have to suffer through boring brown everywhere.
However, there are a few bright spots and because they are rare, I think I appreciate them even more. The ones I happened upon the other day are near a park, right along a main roadway through the neighborhood. I would like to think these pretty little flowers make everyone passing by smile & appreciate this colorful spot on their way home after a long day.
- Author: Mollie Jarrett
One cool early morning, a week ago, I was thinning and transplanting beet seedlings. It dawned on me that later in the day the temperature would be in the high 90's. A few minutes in that intense head and my beets would become toast!
I had to think fast if I wanted to enjoy beets in a few months. I racked my brain trying to think of ways to shade my seedlings from the forthcoming heat. I didn't have any row cover, cardboard or plywood to make a lean-to. Then I remembered, I still had sheers (lacy curtains) that I brought back from England years ago. They had just enough opaqueness to block the scorching sun and enough transparency to let in air and light.
I attached the sheers to the frame (with Velcro® strips), where the beets and cucumber seedlings were planted.
As I stood back and looked at the finished product, I thought the sheers gave my garden an elegant “royal look” while protecting my crops.
- Author: Susan P Croissant
Parrot's beak (Lotus maculatus), aka Coral Gem/Pelican's Beak. Totally unrelated to the aquatic water lily (Lotus) Nelumbo lutea, N. nucifera. L. maculatus resembles L. berthelotti, both native to the Canary and Cape Verde Islands, with similar growing requirements. Though severely endangered on their native islands, they survive in cultivation.
This herbaceous, tender perennial (or warm weather annual vine) grows 8-12" high and is covered with silvery gray leaves and long, trailing stems up to 2-3 feet. 'Gold Flash' has bright yellow flowers with striking orange-red markings. 'Amazon Sunset' has bright orange red flowers. The pea-like flowers bloom in spring and early summer. L. berthelotti has 1" scarlet blooms in summer.
Can be effective as a ground cover cascading over walls and rocks (space 2-feet apart). But is BEST in a hanging container/basket as it might become an invasive, noxious weed. As a hanging plant, it is a striking addition to the garden. I noted this specimen immediately when I entered Gabriel's garden (Vallejo Garden Tour 2015) where he incorporates tropical and Mediterranean species.
In Gabriel's garden, Parrot's Beak hangs off the western fence in a corridor with other tropicals, while the eastern corridor holds Mediterranean plants. As it dislikes hot summer temperatures and may stop blooming, placement is important. Not only temperature-wise but also water-wise. This plant is best with even moisture. Too much or too little water causes foliage to drop. Further, where drainage is poor, it suffers root rot--hates soggy roots. Thus, a hanging basket (say, moss or coco-fiber) works well. As does fertile soil. It can also be grown indoors, offering year-round greenery and seasonal color. Try a south-facing window and move if it proves too hot.
Blooms better when nights remain warm. Dies back in cold weather. Pinching stem ends will promote branching. Prune dead, diseased, dying or damaged branches with sharp pruning shears and dispose of the removed branches. Feed every 2 weeks during spring and summer with water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer or apply slow-release fertilizer once a year at the beginning of spring.
Propagation from stem cuttings or seeds indoors about 8-10 weeks prior to last front (usually will not produce flowers the first year). Examine regularly for spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs. If found, coat foliage and branches with horticulture oil or insecticide soap on a calm day when temperatures stay below 90°.
- Author: Maria X. Isip-Bautista
Growing up, I was lucky to spend many of my waking hours in our family garden. As an adult, I treasure these memories and credit this experience for giving me a respect for the natural environment, an understanding of where food comes from, and a love for gardening. My husband and I are now raising our two young kids, ages four and nineteen months, “in the garden.” This blog series will share our attempts, sometimes successful and other times not so much, at projects, crafts, and activities that we endeavor while simultaneously growing a garden and a couple of curious young humans.
This first project, Glass Jar Succulent Terrariums, is one that we undertook in preparation for our daughter's fourth Frozen/Dinosaur party. (She's an imaginative kid, as you can tell.) We thought they'd be nice giveaways for friends and family who joined us in celebrating. We also made one large one to use as a centerpiece for the table on the big day. Our kids loved helping with just about every step of this process!
For this project we used:
- Repurposed pint-sized canning jars (we'd received several boxes from a generous community member who wasn't using them any longer)
- Glass stones/marbles (bought at local dollar store)
- Small size pebbles/river rocks (local garden store)
- Cactus Mix (local garden store)
- Succulents (we used three varieties of Sedum)
- Plastic Dinosaurs
To prep, lay down some newspaper and layout/put into buckets with small scoops each of your materials. This makes it easier and slightly less chaotic when the kids start helping.
First, we put a layer or two of the flat glass rocks (we used all blue, in tribute to Frozen) at the bottom of each jar. Could also use regular rocks. This helps to ensure good drainage of your soil, which succulents appreciate.
Then, we added a thin layer of the small pebbles to fill in some of the gaps between the large rocks (to prevent all the soil from falling in the big gaps between larger rocks).
Next, we added a good couple inches of Cactus Mix, another thin layer of the small pebbles, and planted cuttings from the succulents. The Cactus Mix is a potting soil specially formulated for cacti/succulents, but you can also use plain potting soil. Be sure to plant a large enough cutting for the plant to be able to root and grow again fairly easily, and be sure to plant it deeply enough that it'll stand upright.
Lastly, we added decorative items. In our case, since we were having a Frozen/dinosaur party, this included blue colored glass marbles and assorted plastic dinosaurs. You could also add ribbon or raffia at the tops of the jars, or even paint the jars, if you're so inclined. That's part of what's so cool about these: you could use just about anything to decorate them depending on the theme you're working with- fairies, jungle animals, etc.
Be sure to lightly water your new terrarium. You'll want to keep the soil damp but not wet for the next couple of weeks while your succulents take root. In just a week or so you'll see roots sprouting and coiling through the soil. (This is also super cool for kids to watch!) We were sure to assemble these terrariums a couple of weeks in advance of the party so that they'd be well-rooted by the time we sent them home as favors.
Your plants can outgrow their jars fairly quickly, depending on the size plants/jars you use. You can replant them into bigger containers as soon as they look like they could use the space. Just remember to not overwater! Enjoy!
- Author: Lorraine Remer
Hands pulling weeds and feeling the varied textures Of tomato,kale and chard leaves
Eyes alight to the many shades of green, the yellow blossoms Of tomato, the white flowers of strawberry and lemon
Breathing in the fertile scent of damp soil, the fragrances Of arugula, rosemary, onion and roses
Listening to the buzzing bees and birds calling in the trees As the breeze sifts softly through the leaves
Tasting the first ripe strawberry, the pungent flavors of parsley And basil
While the sun warms my bare arms and my bare feet to root the earth I come alive with the garden!