Friday, July 16, 2010

How to Make a Personalized Garden Card

A few months back I had a post about the Postcarden that had just come out. A pretty nifty gift there, perfect for a girlfriend of mine, but discovered too late for her birthday.

So I just had to start constructing one from scratch. Inspired the by the above version of the Postcarden I decided to make one that looked like her home. Yeah, I'm sort of new to planning an organized post, and it didn't occur to me to document the process until halfway though...sorry.

So here is the practice mock-up. Knowing I was bound to screw up since I just jumped right in without a plan :D I started with scratch paper. First I took measurements of the Priority Mail box it was gonna have to fit into, I think it came out to 8"Lx4"Wx1.5"H. I wrote down the dimensions of each piece directly on it so I wouldn't lose anything in translation.

The base is a large piece, about 8"x7", that make the floor and the two longest fences by folding up 1.5" on each of the long sides. The two short end fences I made with flaps to glue to the base and adjoining fences (5"x2"), the flaps were 1/2" on 3 sides. The walls of the house I cut the full height of the house (4.5") so they could be glued the full depth of the fence to be very strong since they had to be folded down to fit the box. The two walls making the front and back of the house (4.5"x5", 4.5"x4" for the edge wall) I added 1/2" flaps to the upper portion to eventually be glued to the other two walls (by the recipient after opening). I lightly scored the walls where they needed to fold at the top of the fence so it would be clean. The wall down the center of the garden card - I made with a 1/2" flap to glue to the base and it just fit laying flat on the base when folded (5"x4"). The roof was one piece (5"x4.5") folded along the center lengthwise, I did not make any attachment flaps for the roof since it is optional (if you grow sprouts inside the house portion they will need light). For the growing trays I cut the bottoms off of two 1 quart sized milk jugs to a height of 1.25", they happened to fit perfectly!

base, fences and walls taped during testing, milk trays in place

full test mock-up

mock-up in folded position for the box

mock-up folded and inside gift box :)

now that I know the dimensions of each piece I carefully marked up the final pieces on tinted cardstock paper

by now Felis silvetris catus "Gojira" has decided I have been paying too much attention to something 'not-me'

I used two colors of cardstock - one for the base, fences and roof; another for the walls

Here you can compare the final garden card to the mock-up. I only screwed up on the final garden card once so the hour spent on the mock-up was well worth it. In the back are the reference photos of my friend's house and "Gojira" now that she's finally interested in what I'm doing.

I pencilled on fence slats, wall boards, doors, posts, windows, etc. I also cut out the windows for fun. The mini-clothes pins are from Michael's, they are extremely cute and useful for gluing small things. Here they are holding the fence pieces in place as their glue dries. The ones on the walls are just so I can see the progress, they are not glued since the walls need to fold down later. I'm using the trays from the mock-up for the final.

the final Garden Card with roof before being folded and packed into the box
1 hr mock-up, 30 min cutting & assembling final, 15 min appeasing "Gojira", 1 hr decorating final & gift box = 2.75 hrs total

the opened Garden Card

I also ended up creating a 8"x4" backdrop piece with sky and trees for everyone who chipped in on the recipient's other gift to sign. Included with the garden card are two snack size zip baggies with seed starting soil and a packet of baby greens seeds to grow. I wanted to have lemon or wheatgrass seed since I think that would work better, but I couldn't find any in time.

Anyway, the Gin Master loved her card and immediately recognized it as her own home. Big smiles for both of us :)

Now go make your own!

Cloning Your Tomato Plant

Inspired by the Urban Organic Gardener, and continuing in the mad gardenist vein, I'm cloning a tomato plant! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'd forgotten you can root tomato suckers, preferably the strong ones that you've missed pruning for a few weeks. This is also a way to get a FREE tomato plant and extend your harvest :) Here I'm rooting a Yellow Pear sucker... I think.... I'm pretty sure... I should've labelled the darn thing :/

To root suckers: pick a good one :9 One that looks fairly thick and strong, growing good looking leaves. Cut it from the parent plant as long as possible, removed the lower 2 or 3 leaf branches (NOT all of them, it will still need to photosynthesize). If it's already got flower/fruit clusters on it, snip them off so they don't divert energy from growing a root system. Place the sucker in water as deep as you can, without getting any leaves underwater. The stem will begin sprouting roots within a few days, it's cool to look at. make sure to keep the water as fresh as you can, change it every couple of days at least so it doesn't stagnate. After it's grown several new roots a couple inches long it can be transplanted. Put it as deep as you can into it's new soil, removing more leaf branches if they're going to be below the soil level. Any extra stem that is buried will also grow roots and create a stronger root system. Keep the soil moist of course, be prepared to baby the plant a few days until it's acclimated to its new home.

I've been told you can also dip suckers in rooting serum which is a hormone to super-stimulate new root growth and often used for woody cuttings like herbs, it will give the plant an extra boost to sprout roots more quickly. Never tried it myself, tomato suckers root well enough on their own that I don't feel like spending the $$ on it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Bloom Day 2010

This Bloom Day I decided to focus just on the flowers growing in my person container garden in the backyard. I'm quite surprised to see how many there despite the orignal plans to keep it purely edibles.

Sweet alyssum "Oriental Nights"

Lemon cucumber

Poppy "Iceland Nudicaule Blend" - did taunt me :9

Parlsey "Italian Flat Leaf" - loving how this and dill and fennel look like mini fireworks!

Heliotrope - kept well away from my Felis silvestris catus "Nomsalot"

Lobelia "Cambridge Blue" and alyssum "Oriental Nights"

A miniature rose (from the 99 Cent Store!) ravages by caterpillars but still blooming :)

Another shot of the parsley

Nasturtium "Alaska"

Summer squash "Early White Scallop"

Sweet pepper "Canary Bell" - the foliage on these are so lush dark green, I'm anxious to see how the yellow peppers will look on it!

And finally, hopefully, the future Bloom Days of my garden...

On another note, at last I've been able to order a camera to replace my lost one! I expect to be taking purty pics again within two weeks - the next Bloom Day should be an excellent one!

(sorry cell cam, you've served well, but you were only a temp)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dividing my Thyme

Dividing herbs is a task I've had in the back of my mind for a few weeks. It's typically supposed to be done in late fall or early spring so I hear, but my green children are in a healthy condition and I'd like to clone some of them. Actually I'd like to clone anything that doesn't require a lab, purchasing new equipment or cause protestors to hang out in front of my house :)

So there's my first vic.... *ehem* specimen, Lemon Thyme. As you can see its branches were already pretty well separated into two nearly equal portions - less work for me!

So here it is out of its original pot, and the two pots it's going to be divided and planted into.

The dividing was also easy since I did it when the roots had just started to reach the pot walls and wrap around. If it had been root-bound already I probably would have had to dig all over for a proper pruning saw. In this case I used the purty coping saw.

And there ya go, my fresh clones, two plants for the price of one! Thyme seems to have been a good choice, this was done about a week ago and both are doing great, no visible shock. I'll be giving one as a gift in the near future.

If anyones interested in which herbs are good for dividing or rooting cuttings from here's a good post on the topic by The Cheap Vegetable Gardener

Monday, July 12, 2010

Want to Adopt My Mums?

Last year I bought several mums for fall color in the yard. When we did the landscaping this year they were displaced. I'm going to get a couple of them back into the yard after some of the summer annuals die down. But there a couple that my mom and I have discovered we don't really care for. Nothing wrong with them, the colors just aren't doing it for us.

But alas I cannot kill these healthy little plants, so if there's anyone near the Southbay, CA area interested here they are:

This one is an odd sort of orangey color.

And this one is a rather nice dusty/mauve pink color. When the flower buds are first forming the color looks like it will be the same as the orange, but it changes to this as they open.

The plant tag didn't give the exact variety/cross that these are. The plants are about 12" now in the milk and ice cream cartons I've got them in. The other two I'm keeping are in larger containers and more like 16". They are very healthy plants and only need regular watering to be happ. The foliage is very attractive and evergreen here in southern California. This is a perennial plant that blooms twice a year - in late spring/early summer and fall.

Please contact me if you'd like to have them! FREE! I would love them to have a home where they are properly appreciated! Email me at sketchkat06 at gmail dot com (oh the need to avoid spam bots *sigh*)

I Grew Onion - And So Can You!

Ok, for everyone out there who is afraid to start growing anything edible because you feel you don't know what to do or don't have enough space or whatever - this is for you!

Perfect example. Back in February (I think) when I was starting a large batch of seeds for the spring they included this Yellow Granex onion. Knowing it would need a good amount of space eventually I started the seed in a grande Starbucks cup (16 oz.), intending to transplant it to a proper container at some point.

Well, I had so many seedlings going and so much craziness, that several green children were...well neglected. I didn't have a place to put all of them, gave some away, put off transplanting, etc. A few others are still growing in larger temporary containers, a couple are still struggling in their original paper cups because just I never got around to making a place for them.

Flash forward to yesterday when I finally got aroung to cleaning up my back door 'patio' area where I store my seed starting stuff, intermediate transplant containers, empty pots, and young seedlings. While tossing out those who could no longer be saved and those who'd already passed on to make a place for starting my fall plants next month when I found the above onion. I'd completely forgotten about it. It only got water because it was below something else I was watering that drained down onto it. It was getting a minimum, if any, direct light. It was still in the original seed starting cup. And this darned onion still grew into something I can eat!

No, it is not the big 'ol yellow onion I was intending to grow, but neither is it something to sneer at. This baby is gonna make a pretty good addition to one of my meals. It also cements my desire to continue growing this variety of onion.

That's it. You don't have an excuse to not try growing an edible now.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mutant Tomato Plant?

I have discovered a second mutant in my garden. The first was a sunflower that was all leaves. Seriously, the stem terminated with a weird orangey smooth spot and no flower bud ever formed while it's sibling next to it was covered in blooms. o.O I removed that one last weekend.

So the other day I was tending to green children when I noticed a few very long suckers on my Yellow Pear tomatos and was very confused. I check them all for suckers regularly and couldn't believe I'd missed them for so long when I realized...these were no ordinary suckers.

These freakazoids were growing from the end of a flower/fruit branch instead of in the joint of a leaf branch and the main stem! O.O?! I was actually a bit dumbfounded for a few minutes while I looked them over closely. Yes, they were suckers, growing more stem with new flower and leaf branches and a growing tip. Some of the new flower branches (like the one I'm holding in the pic) were starting to set fruit. Whoa.

After considering a while I finally nipped the growing tips of 2 of these suckers. I'm allowing the third to continue growing - I just have to see what the it does. I've checked  few forums and articles on this variety of tomato and haven't found any mention of this happening. So have I a true mutant here? That would actually be pretty cool...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Seed Collecting

Now that summer's firmly moved into my garden I've been harvesting seeds from most of my spring plants. I'm actually very surprised at how much I'm coming up with.

One I didn't plan on was this radish, it bolted while I was away for a weekend and I thought "hmmm, we have never seen radish flowers, this might be interesting". Well, it turns out bolting radish looks like a weed o.O but the flowers are rather pretty and attract tons of bees so it was worth it.

And here are some of the seed pods I finally harvested. This fall's free crop of radish in the palm of my hand...mwuahahahahaha.

My current list of home collected seeds includes:

  • green onion
  • chives
  • sweet peas
  • bluebells
  • oriental poppies
  • cosmos sea shells

I'm hoping to also get seeds from the zinnias, parsley and cucs eventually.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cut and Come Again Harvesting

It's more than just a variety of zinnia :9 Turns out I've been doing this for awhile, just didn't know there was a term for it. Basically several species of leaf/head vegetable can be harvested by cutting 3/4" to 1" above the soil, and allowing new leaves/heads to grow out from the stump. You'll have to continue to water the roots and put up with a stump, but in a few weeks you have more edibles without going through seed starting.

Above is a shot of my lettuce pot about a month ago. I harvested the lettuce from it about three weeks ago, and being the lazy butt that I am I just left the stumps there rather than re-potting it with new yummies.

Fast track to this last weekend and you can see that one lettuce stump is now producing three new heads for my dinner salad. The only drawbacks to this method are putting up with a less than purty stump for a few weeks, and the new leaves/head that grow back do not grow as large as the original.

This method will also work for kale. One stump is regenerating one...uh...clump of kale, and the other is sprouting two. These are growing very quickly and the leaves look more tender than the original plant...

Spinach, broccoli and cauliflower are supposed to regrow like this also although I haven't tried it yet.

Mary's Gardening Calendar