Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's Easy Being Green: When you can't recycle...

My last "It's Easy Being Green" post was about when you have the option to recycle or reuse. Of course, not everything can be recycled! Here are some creative reuses we've found for items that can't.
Most plastic bottles can be recycled, but most plastic bottle tops can't. Here is an orange juice top reused as a slug trap (with beer).
The handle on our lawn mower broke (bent) around the time the wood handle broke off a cultivator, so Scott attached the broken handle of the cultivator to the lawn mower handle and it's now good and stiff as new. Kept us from having to buy a new lawn mower handle and throw out the cultivator handle.
This isn't garden related, but rubber wine corks can be reused for a wreath commemorating a special occasion:
My mother-in-law made this one for me with rubber corks from our wedding, and had wedding guests sign them. Is that cute or what?!
How do you creatively reuse things that can't be recycled?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Coming Soon (Part 1)

I hope y'all had a nice Memorial Day holiday and remembered our veterans and soldiers today. It rained a lot this weekend, so I didn't get to do much gardening, but I snapped some great pictures of blooms on the verge of opening. Enjoy!
Above: shasta daisy (transplant from mom). Below: dahlia.
Below: purple coneflower Below: black-eyed susan Below: agapanthus

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seeds and Your Personality

It seems obvious that when planning one's garden, one should consider how much time and effort she is willing and able to devote to it, as some plants will require much more pruning, watering, etc. than others. The same goes for seed-starting, which ranges from quick and easy to painfully slow depending on what you're growing. Here are all the things I've grown from seed this year:
Cucurbits like these squash and cucumbers (which, yes, I'm growing on a chain-link fence) grow super fast and easily. My cucumbers got wilt and my squash got borers last year, but the good news is that these suckers grow so fast you can just start over (in a different spot of course).
Tomatoes are also pretty easy to grow, though not nearly as fast as cucurbits. Look how healthy my tomatoes look! I'm growing beefsteak, yellow pear, and black krim.
Annual flowers are great for the impatient gardener. These zinnias and marigolds were quick to germinate and grow, and will be pretty much problem-free.
(The marigolds are planted between the squash in hopes that the borers won't like the smell.)
In my limited experience, perennial flowers grow much more slowly. Here are seedlings from some black-eyed susan seeds I had laying around and decided to plant. I'm going to keep them in pots this summer and plant them in the garden in the fall. It's too hot and dry for these babies to get established in the perennial beds right now, at least with the amount of care I have time to give (not much).
Of course, there's nothing like the payoff of perennials if you're patient. Here are some black eyed susan plants started from the same seeds just a year ago. They are HUGE now.
Clockwise: Eggplant (INSANELY SLOW), basil (moderate growth rate), bell pepper (VERY SLOW), beans (INSANELY FAST)

Growing from seed is very gratifying, but if you're not the most patient gardener out there, grow beans and zinnias from seed and buy eggplant and bell peppers at Home Depot! There is no shame!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's Easy Being Green: Reuse or Recycle?

Sometimes you have options for your recyclables. For example, you can shred and compost paper egg cartons, or you can recycle them. Some people think it's better to reuse than recycle if you can, since recycling takes energy (transporting recyclables, actually recycling them, making them into something new, transporting the new item).

Glass is supposedly one of the most expensive things to recycle, I think because you would have to get it so hot to break it down. Above, I decided to reuse rather than recycle some beer bottles as a flower bed border. It was actually remarkably easy to do with a rubber mallet after a hard rain. The only cinch in my plans was the proliferation of tree roots, but they just forced me to put cool curves in the border. I planted hostas and coral bells in this semi-shady new bed, and I love how it looks!

Of course, you can also reuse glass bottles for your bottle tree, but I don't really want all brown Abita bottles on my bottle tree!

What do you reuse rather than recycle?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - May 2009

Clockwise from top left: Endless Summer Hydrangea, Lambs Ears, Rose, Hardy Mums, Coreopsis, French Marigold (started from seed!).
Shasta Daisy, Mexican Bush Sage/Ornamental Sage, More Hardy Mums, Marigolds, Another French Marigold, Strawberry, Pansy, Another French Marigold, Gerbera.

Recognize anything from the pictures above in the picture below?
The white hardy mums in the top picture are from our wedding brunch two years ago. I planted them in the garden and they are spreading and thriving! (FYI: I don't pinch mine back, because I'd rather have a couple of great shows than one slightly greater show, but I do dead-head them between blooms.) Sweet, huh?

Check out more May blooms at the hub of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Strawberry SOS: Update

A mere 24 hours after putting out the beer traps, I'm catching slugs! Hopefully between the nets and the beer traps, I have my bases covered now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strawberry SOS

I'm starting to think we're not getting any strawberries this year.
Ripe/ripening berries #1-3 were eaten by the birds. I put netting up to deter more birds.
I couldn't eat ripe berry #4 after finding a slug on it.
I came home today intending to eat ripe berry #5...
Argh!!! Who did this?! And how can I stop them from doing it again?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Groovy green beans

This is the first year I have grown green beans, and they are SO easy! I have them growing in one of our raised beds (the one Bilbo visited). Check out my first little harvest!
They have literally required no care, not even watering - thanks to the wet spring we've had! I did take care to not harvest them while the plants were wet, since that is supposed to spread disease.Exhibit B: cooked into a stir-fry with mushrooms and garlic, served with rice noodles and peanuts. (From Heidi Swanson's Cook 1.0 - my favorite vegetarian cookbook). YUM!

What are you harvesting these days?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blame it on the rain

Dirt Princess has a very nice post about the good things that come with rain. I guess I'm not quite as positive of a person as Dirt Princess, because while I enjoy the resulting green-up, my first thoughts about torrential rains aren't usually pleasant!

One thing rain brought my way this week was a SLUG on MY VERY FIRST RIPE STRAWBERRY! We never have slugs except after torrential rains. I actually said out loud to the slug, "Hey! That's not BERRY nice!"

Torrential rains also bring a lot of down limbs in my old neighborhood with its beautiful old trees, so here's the low-down on how we handle them:
We don't own and wouldn't really know what to do with a chainsaw. Scott's first plan of action for large limbs was a handsaw like this one (I love the Fat Max because you can leave it out in the rain and it won't rust! ...not that we would do that...). Even with a rigid and sharp handsaw, it was pretty tough work.

Behold Plan B: the "pocket chainsaw"OMG, this thing is sweet. Much easier for Scott to use than the handsaw, and portable!
I can use the pocket chain saw (unlike the total lost cause that is me trying to use a handsaw), but I usually go for Option C: the alligator! It has jaws that open and close with a mini chainsaw inside them. I think it's supposed to cut up to 4" limbs, but I've done bigger ones. It is awesome. And safe - the chainsaw jaws don't work unless you have both hands on the triggers, so you can't have one hand on a trigger and another in the saw part.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Katherine's garden in May

Since y'all enjoyed my last post about Katherine's garden in her absence so much, here is an update for y'all (and her!) for May: The hosta in the middle is so huge and lush. Can I divide that?? The rest, clockwise from the top left corner: confederate star jasmine is blooming and smells divine. Lantana is just starting to bloom. The first balloon flower is about to bust open. Pale pink and white shrub roses are blooming as if they have been lavished with care! The yard is dotted with pinky-purple clover blossoms.
Just about all she has to do to this yard when she returns next month is dead-head! Lucky girl to have inherited a gardener's yard!

It's Easy Being Green: Avoiding the Landfill

I hope this doesn't gross y'all out... It is amazing how little trash we put out. So much of what used to go in the trash is now recycled or composted. Here are snapshots of one of my recycling bins and the compost pail today:
Some of the things in the recycling bin: cereal box, junk mail, coffee lid, magazines, plastic bag our newspaper comes in, pizza box. Comments about a couple of these items: of course it's preferable to use a reusable mug for transporting coffee, and we do so 99% of the time, but when we don't, we make sure to recycle both the paper cup and the plastic lid. Our city takes pizza boxes even with the grease on them; some cities won't - if yours won't, you can at least recycle the top of the box. Just rip it off.
In our compost pail: egg shells, flowers cut from the yard for arrangements, used coffee filters and grounds, veggie scraps.
This stuff would really add up in a landfill over time! It's so easy to recycle, and nearly as easy to compost. If you're not doing both already, I urge you to give it a try. I'm oddly proud of how little actual "trash" we produce at our house.

Friday, May 1, 2009

More garden mysteries!

There has been a lot of weird stuff going on in my yard recently, from fertilizer fiascoes to creepy growths to mysterious holes. Since y'all have been so helpful in identifying the culprits, here are two more mysteries for you!
1. I'm not sure these pictures do justice to how weird this tree looks, but it is FULL of tiny holes, thousands of them. So many that the holes merge to become indented lines. All I could think of is that woodpeckers must have done this over the course of years. What do you think? 2. Here is yet another ugly old shrub from my yard. What appear to be some old flowers on it have a really creepy disease going on. The picture to the right shows one in the sort of gelatinous phase. The picture below shows one in the later (I think) white fuzzy stage.
Could this possibly be the same ailment the azalea had, just manifested slightly differently on a different shrub?