Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seed Trading at Dave's

Good morning.

I recently joined Dave's Garden (freealthough they have subscription services also). This site pulled me in because it carries a wealth of free information from plant profiles, to discussion forums and all kinds of articles.

What finally did it for me was their Plant & Seed Trading forum. This is something I've been wanting to try for the last few months but didn't quite know how to test the waters. One this site it's free to set up a Trade List, the process is slightly tedious but not overly complicated. You can start a Trade List from links in your profile, My Tools tab, or you click the Communities Tab and then scroll down to Plant and Seed Trading. There is a link on those pages to manage your own list by adding what you have to trade and what you want.

When adding a new plant first you must select whether you Have or Want it from a drop-down list. Then there are boxes to check what you have/want of that specific plant, the choices are Seeds, Plants, Roots Tubers and Bulbs, and Cuttings.  To start adding plants you will need the scientific name, both the Genus and the specie which will be entered into different boxes. You may also add the variety name (the italisized one ex. Bright Lights variety of Cosmo) if you have a specific one in mind, the sytem will pickup the common name of the plant on it's own from the latin one. And finally there is the Special Notes box. If it's a plant you want you might repeat that you want seeds/cuttings and how many, perhaps also mention what you'd like in exchange. The same for things you have to trade.

After adding a plant it takes you to the list it's under (Have or Want). Under Plant Name it will usually have some options to check such as a choice of varieties/cultivars if it some are already listed on their site, and always the choice of "No Cultivar" (if you choose that only the typical common name will be used in the listing for searches). Be prepared to see variety names slightly different from the one you are looking for (happened to me for Lemon Basil) or to not see the specific one you're looking for at all. If your variety is not a choice, just add that to the Special Notes by editing the listing. A picture may automatically be added to the listing after you've chosen a cultivar from an existing one in their plant catalog, if you don't like it or they don't have one you may upload your own.

As I said before the system is not perfect and you will need to play with it a bit to get familiar, but it's worth a shot :)

If anyone's interested in trading with me here's my Trade Lists.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Once 3 Sisters, now only 2...

I was so disappointed to come home yesterday afternoon and find one of my sunflowers knocked over by the severe winds :( I knew as soon as I saw it that it was done for. The huge sturdy stem never gave but the roots did, broken just below the grade.

I couldn't even bear to take a picture of it or the two remaining ones after John helped me take it down.

The other two are still fine, but with the winds not dying down that evening I didn't take any chances either. I tied both to the fence behind them to keep them from swaying to far and breaking from their roots. Three ties for each - one directly back to the fence and one about 12-18 inches to either side of the first. I thought that would minimize the sway in most directions and it the was the best I could do. Those monsters are already 8 feet tall and haven't fully developed the main heads yet. I don't have any staking material strong enough to handle them.

Hope that works.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Morning

This morning in my world...

The Sweet Peas are a-bloomin'

The Mums are quite confused as to the season o.O

Alaska Nasturtium #1 is putting on foliage and getting decked out :)

Despite never going into proper container the Quinoa will soon be ready for harvest!
(currently growing in soymilk and ice cream cartons)

Allowing some Broccoli and Radishes to go to bolt and go to seed has proven highly effective at attracting pollinators, it looks as if most (if not all) the tomato blossoms have been pollinated!

This Brandywine's tomatos should contrast nicely with its yellow cage :)
(aluminum cage painted with Rust-o-leum's Painter's Touch hint hint)

And this corral/orange cage should look nice with the Yellow Pear tomatos as well <3

...that's it for today!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just Some Tidbits

Ok, I'm still behind on a general status of my Green Children...working on it... but until then -

Recently in my world:

cleverly disguised caterpillars threw a wrench into my broccoli seed harvesting plan...
ok, they weren't solely responsible-the aphids helped
incidently I also discoverd cute fuzzy caterpillars freak out my momma >:)

Luckily I still like the fuzzy terrors so they went to the Sacrificial Cabbages.

Yes, I now have Sacrificial Cabbages, 4 of them. I keep finding caterpillars and the Sunflower leaves were already looking a bit frumpy so I had to expand. Can't get the darned cabbages to grow proper heads anyways...

I have given several gifts of Green Childrens to a friend and every visit I am astounded by how much bigger they are growing than ones I kept for myself! I mean seriously, my mint at home is struggling and his is overflowing. o.O

Believe it or not there is a strawberry pot within this Mint Monster.

I told ya!

Other Green Children that have gone steroids crazy with my friend include another mint (Lemon Balm), dill, and...I can't remember - it's almost lunch, I need food...

And lastly, a rare sight. So rare that many people believe the adults of the specie spontaneous spring from pools of standing gutter water. I present to you my encounter with a baby pigeon:

That's one of the parents behind it.

That's one thing I kind of like about Lowe's so far. The one I go to has a decent sized pigeon population in it's garden center and they seem to live and let live. Just hope no one wants to move this pallet soon.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For Mother's Day

I made two bouquets for Mother's Day this year, one living and one traditional. Oddly neither went as planned but both turned out very nice O.o

This was the living arrangement. It was meant to go into a wicker Goodwill basket I had but darn it they wouldn't all fit. Luckily I found an empty pot forgotten at the recipient's place :) One of the little ones I babysit helped me put it together for her mom, it was fun. I didn't have enough of the right seedlings in my stash so I picked the big yellow gerbera up from a garden center, the alyssums I grew.

And this bouquet was for my momma, cut from our own garden :) Calendula, amini rose, ranunculus, zinnias, cosmos and a couple of California poppies. Oh and a sprig of parsnip, I just love their leaves....

And that's it for now, hope you had a nice Mother's Day too.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Landscaping Finished!

Well it took about a month and half for the major work and another 2 weeks for the lawn and other plantings - but my parent's new yard is all done! Pretty much - there will always be more tweaking to do....mwuahahahaha... I realize I don't have an overall pic yet to compare with the last picture taken before work started, but I'll get one this weekend.

First the new flower beds (that aren't roses that is):


You might recognize these two from a previous entry. I am so pleased with how well the sunflowers, statice and calendulas are doing! I even squeezed some zinnias in at a later date. Dad complained they would all die or look terrible because they were too closely planted. Jaja Da :) I do agree that I put the statice too close together but since they're annuals I can fix that later. That's another thing I realized a couple days after planting - this entire bed is annuals. Oops. Well, that actually works out since I started some butterfly guara from seed and that will need to go somewhere eventually :)

The bed with the blue butterfly runt is doing very well also. You can see that it is happily recovering from my almost killing it by fact I had to prune some of the new shoots so it doesn't grow too densely. Dad's old shasta's are in there and about ready to bloom, the Sea Shell cosmos are already there (and mom really likes). The cupids darts seem to be doing fine, they should bloom next year.  


I had a lot of help from John on this bed, he helped me to till and amend the soil and to sort out a bunch of clay clods. This time I tried letting the tilled soil sit for a week before planting so the fertilizer and stuff could settle. I don't think that really helped though :/ This bed has had a had a lot of trouble so far and mostly my fault I think. The top pic is when I figuring out where things should go and the second is about a month or so later. There were originally larkspurs, delphiniums, Isaac House scabiosas, white candytufts and bluebells. Later I tucked in some zinnias and catnip to replace some cancytufts and a bluebell that didn't make it. The scabiosa and candytufts had a real hard time in here, transplanted too soon or getting too much sun.

And the last one. In the rear right are hollyhocks; a couple of Carnival ones that I started last year and hope to see lots of blooms out of this summer, and a couple of Indian Summer that can mature next year. Most of the rest of dad's shasta's (keeping a backup in a container for that accidental annual bed), a celosia (there were 3 but two of them didn't make is *sigh* I replaced them with Bright Lights cosmos) and lots of ranunculus along the front. You can just see in the corners in front of the bed where I was able to clear out a space for my foliage leaves (that's what I'm calling them - lost the name tags for them and can't figure out what the heezy they are). The above pic is about a week after planting.

The flowers tucked between the planters and the fence are doing okay. The longer stretch has portulaca, ranunculus and calendulas. The ports are pretty insignificant so far but I have high hopes for them. The calendulas are really making up for them for now! My sister's abandoned geraniums are doing nicely in another area.


My dad decided after all the planters had been set in place that the front portion of the driveway should be replaced because of a couple of long cracks in it. When he told my mom she said if he was doing the front he should do the back because there were even more cracks and portions had settled to drain towards the house (nevermind I told him that last year and he shrugged me off). So that added another week of loud noise and inconvenience...but was worth it. After that was done my dad asked me to use the 20 cans of leftover paint from the last 10 years or so and do the fence. Then he said "you paint one board one color and the next another and another" - this is something very out of character for my dad (I checked him fo alien implants). It is the kind of wonderful idea they normally tell me I'm crazy for. It was great fun! John helped me out with the painting also. You can also see my container garden has been relocated from the grassy sideyard to the backyard...I have new big plans for it >:) 

And just this past weekend it was pretty much wrapped up with a little retaining border around the avocado tree to hold the deep watering in and finding a spot for the big blue butterfly bush which has also recovered. It's doing well with creeping jenny and purple allysum.

I am momentarily bummed, there was an awesome shot of the lawn a couple of days after they rolled it in and now I can't find it to show you! Oh well. Lastly, the Felis silvestris "White Panther" approves:

now if it would just stop "fertilizing" the roses...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

Last Saturday I went to a composting workshop at the nearby Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden in Polliwog Park. It's been there for I think 10-15 years and beautiful. It features many California native plants and other non-invasives that grow well in our climate. If you don't know what you're looking for it can be a bit elusive, I knew it was somewhere there for years but never went in because I didn't know where to look. It also doesn't have it's own true street address and the street side entrance is not the most promising:

To find it go down Manhattan Beach Blvd, turn north onto Peck avenue and it's just past the intersection with 12th Street on the right (and before the ramp down to the pool). If there's curbside parking by the entrance go for it, if not just keep going down and park in the adult school lot on weekends. Walk through the gate in the pic above and then hang a quick right into the garden. The first time I stepped into it I was like "whoa".

It's a big change from the cruddy street outside!

The above pic is one of my fav spots there, it's so serene and I love watching the birds come to their feeding area. They've really tried to create a wildlife habitat and done a great job with only about 200 square feet. There are all sorts of flowering plants with good seed, running water, a bat box, and many trees and bushes.

(this wildflower paring reminds me of Fern's recent color combo idea)

The garden is divided into different theme areas - Beach Bluffs, Bird & Butterly Habitat, Meadow, etc. and each plant type is well labelled in at least one location so you know what you're falling for (except the desert plantings, it's newer so they havent gotten to it yet):

And the information boards they have are well laid out:

Oh and the compost workshop was worth waking up for :) There were at least 40 attendees, it was sponsored by Waste Management the company that collects trash in Manhattan Beach. The ladies leading it really made composting easy to understand and not intimidating at all! Traditional and worm composting bins (including a pound of worms to be mailed to you!) were for sale at bargain prices subsidized by the city (but only for MB residents O.o ). A nearly 3 foot cubed yard bin for $35, and a 3-tiered worm bin including 1 pound of worms for $45. They gave non-residents info on other nearby cities subsidizing compost bins and LA County subsidized bins (not as great a price but still good). You might want to check with your local trash collector and see if they offer something similar. I think I'm going to get a friend in Redondo to order me a discounted worm bin through his city's service...

Okay, that's it for today. In the next few days I will finally have a landscaping update and general status of my containers :) Perhaps even an instructible....

Mary's Gardening Calendar