Monday, March 31, 2008

Took some cutting of my Clematis today

Today I decided to take some cuttings of my Clematis, I do no know what type it is. I took 2 nice and healthy links about 8 inches each. I then removed all the buds and new growth that was starting. I then soaked the freshly cut ends in a seaweed solution of 2 to 1 and left it there for about an hour. Once I completed my other choirs for the day, I grabbed the cuttings and got some seed and cutting mix from Miracle grow. I soaked the mix for about 15 minutes. I then cut each section into smaller ends. I dipped the lower end into a rooting hormone and planted them in a newspaper pot. I then set the pots under a grow light setup on my enclosed porch and watered them again. Hopefully in a few weeks, we should have 6 new plants. If this works, I will post a walk through on this.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This is What Happens When You Do NOT Have Enough Pots Part 2

Today I had to replant my Tiny Tim Tomatoes and Sweet Peppers. Of course I still have not recovered from my transplanted Beef Steak Tomatoes that I re-potted last week. I sat down and started making small transplant pots from the jobs section of the Dallas Newspaper. I finally found something I could use that section for! I then used the seedling pot to plant my Sweet Banna Peppers and jalapeno Peppers I picked up from Roach Feed and Seed a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Free Mulch, Everyone Should Get Some!

Today I went out to my local recycling center and picked up 4 18 gallon containers of wood bark mulch. The mulch was free for local residents of our town. In about 10 minutes I had picked up enough mulch to get most of my beds mulched for the season. Of course I will have to sort through and remove wood to big or other contaminants before using the mulch. Tomorrow I will find a nice spot for my new mulch to cook a little longer while I prep my beds.

Free mulch gotta love it. Not only is free, I get to reuse a product that was destined for the landfill.

Friday, March 28, 2008

GIMP - What A Great Program!

Created my first banner using the program GIMP. GIMP is a great photo editing software package as strong if not, stronger than photopshop like programs. The best part is this program is free and can be used on the Linux platform. I will be using the program in the future to create and edit my pictures.

If you are wondering, the banner picture is not mine. That is not my yard and I can not remember where I found the picture.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't you love surprises!

When we moved in to our place our garden was run down and brown. I went around and inventoried the yard to see what plants were dead and what could be salvaged. After several weeks I savde some of the flowers and plants in the yard.

But next to my Oleander there was a welted brown plant that was about to die. At first I thought I would pull it because I did not know what it was and wanted the brown out of the yard. At the last moment I decided to leave it and try and bring it back to life. If I did not save it, I would have time to figure out what to put there.

In a few weeks the plant started to get better. By late September the plant had doubled in size and I still did not have a clue what is but I thought I could wait till next summer to pull it if it did not do anything.

Just a few weeks ago I got my first yellow bloom! It turns out its a Native Yellow Columbine! Its a keeper.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This is What Happens When You Do NOT Have Enough Pots

This weekend I found it was time to move my tomato Beef Steaks from the seedling pot to a bigger home. When I looked closer I did not have 6 plants but I had 12 plants and I only had 4 pots for the transplant.

If it was a month from now I would just plant them outside in the yard and get a head start. But here in Dallas we could still have another freeze before the end of April. In fact, tonight we will have a low of 37 degrees. That is just a tad to cold for my tomatoes that are used to 75 to 85 degrees in my seed closest.

So I went to my recycle bin and grabbed six Sunny D 1 gallon jugs. I cut the tops off just as the pot turns inward. I then took a screw driver and a rubber mallet and punch a bunch of holes in the bottom for drainage. I then mixed my own personal seed starting/cutting mix and transplantted my tomatoes into any container big enough to hold them for another month.

Here are the results. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So Happy, Park Seed is Sending Part of My Order

After eying Park Seed's Online catalog for what seemed like years, we ordered some new plants! We ordered a Blueberry Sunshine Blue (Vaccinium corymbosum Sunshine Blue Dwarf) and Dwarf Pomegranate Nana (Punica granatum Nana). Today I received word that my Vaccinium corymbosum Sunshine Blue Dwarf was shipped out this morning! We should be receiving our new blue berry bush shortly. They have not shipped my Punica granatum Nana yet, but it may not be the right time a year for them to ship it.

I will post again about this once my new plants arrive.

Container Soil

Since last summer I have been experimenting with different mixes of soil for containers. I have tried Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix. This works well, but the price was a little more than I wanted to spend for the amount of soil we need in our garden. Toward the end of the summer I found Sta-Green's Potting Soil with Mositur Control.

Using this potting mix is great. The soil has a lot dark and rich organic material. The soil will stay moist longer and there is a small amount of fertilizer to kick start the plants. The price is great. I can usually find a 40lb bag for about 7 bucks.

As the months went on I started mixing different types of mixes to save money and see if I can make a better mix. I started mixing cheap $2 potting mixes with the Sta-Green mix. I added extra perlite for my coco hanging basket and humus to add extra organic matter. This mix works great, the roses that I potting in just Sta-Green do not have a lot of growth on them. But my new potted roses with my mix has a lot of new growth and are doing great.

In the next few weeks I will be changing my potting mix recipe to a mix I found on the fourms of Garden Forums. Under the container garden forum do a search for Al's Mix. Everyone says this one of the best mixes around. Below you can see Al's Mix.

My Basic Soil

I'll give two recipes. I usually make big batches. I also frequently add agricultural sulfur to some soils for acid-lovers or to soils I use dolomitic lime in.

5 parts pine bark fines
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime or gypsum
controlled release fertilizer
micronutrient powder (or other continued source of micronutrients)

Big batch:

3 cu ft pine bark fines (1 big bag)
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups lime or gypsum (you can add more to small portion if needed)
2 cups CRF
1/2 cup micronutrient powder (or other)

Small batch:

3 gallons pine bark 1/2 gallon peat 1/2 gallon perlite small handful lime or gypsum 1/4 cup CRF 1 tbsp micro-nutrient powder

I will be modifying this recipe just a little. I will be adding several large handfuls of humus.

Please leave a commit about this. I await your ideas.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

So Happy! My Camellia is Blooming!

I bought a camellia about two years ago. It was in a 1 gallon container and very small. I put it into a small pot and set it on my wife's (girlfriend at the time) porch. The first winter and spring nothing came up. I then re-potted last fall into a 16 inch pot with a lot of high quality potting soil and a seaweed drink almost every week.

I know most of people would say my pot size is to small, but we live in a rental house and do not wish to leave my plants behind when we move. But because I love Camellias so much I had to get several and pot them. Once we are settled I will build a proper bed for them where they will be happy.

About November, I noticed a bud that started to form. I got really excited but nothing ever came of it. Only about 2 weeks ago it opened for me. Now it has a ton of buds and more blooms are opening daily.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Compost Bin

Late last summer we started composting our our garden and kitchen waste. We started with a basic 35 gallon black Rubbermade trash can. We spent about 12 dollars and in about 15 minutes we were up and running. Once we got the trashcan home, I took a drill and drilled out 100 small holes all over the can including the bottom of it for drainage.

Within a couple of months we filled the first one up. We then bought another one and started the same process all over again. Of course we filled this one up as well. After several months of research, we decided to go bigger!

We went out and bought a 55 gallon food grade barrel for $22. From the local feed and seed store. Originally I was going to build a tumbler composter out of 2x4s and a food drum. After getting the Drum home I changed my mind to use that money toward some other garden project in the next few weeks.

I used a heavier duty drill and drilled over 150 holes to provide for air circulation and drainage. The more air the compost bin gets the faster the material inside will compost. Because the drum has an air tight lid I will fill the barrel up about halfway and tip it over and roll the drum up and down the driveway several times, once a week. Once the barrel gets to heavy I will remove some of the composted materials in one barrel to cure. The other barrel will be used for new materials waiting for its turn in the tumbler.

Quick Directions for building a "rolling compost bin"

Materials Needed:
1. 55 gallon food grade barrel .
2. Drill and drill bit
3. 20% bleach water mix
4. Black spray paint for plastic. (optional)
5. Bricks to make a stand.

1. First thing you need to do is clean the barrel out. You may need a 20% bleach and water mix to clean the barrels. With my barrel it was easy. I Only needed dish soap to clean the barrel
2. Let the barrel dry out.
3. Once dried, start drilling holes. You will need to drill holes every 5 inches all the way around. At least three rows will be needed. Once finished add rainage holes into the bottom of the barrels.
4. Once completed you can paint the barrle black. By painting the barrel black this will help heat the barrel.
5. Fill the barrel with garden waste and kitchen waste.
6. Once a week tip the barrel on its side. Check and make sure the lid is on and secure.
7. Start rolling the barrel around the yard.
8. Once finished put in a sunny spot out of the way and let the composting begin!

- All I have left to do is paint the the bin. I will update this post once that has been completed.

Please post your opinion on this homemade garden project.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Favorite Gardening Product

Since last fall I start using seaweed emulsion, and I love it. I use this product as a 2 to 1 solution for soaking bulbs, Cuttings, soaking roots, and a weekly misting on my house plants and weekly waterings for all my plants on a 1 to 1 ratio. So far the best organic product I have found is Maxicrop. The only place local I have found the product at a reasonable price is Lowe's. They carry the 1 quart and the 1 gallon concentrate.

I bought the 1 quart to test and use during the winter months. I have about 20 indoor plants and several more plants I am over wintering on my screened in plastic covered porch. I used the solution every other week when watering. I would mist the plants every week with a spray bottle.

All my plants that were summer bloomers that should have stopped flowering kept flowering and are still flowering even though I stopped adding seaweed to my weekly routine.

I just bought the 1 gallon bottle last week and I hope this will last me through the summer. In about a month I will try Maxicrop's fish emulsion productions for my roses and the rest of my garden.

Its Snowing in Dallas!

As some people may knowduring the day yesterday we had mostly rain and mist. As the day went on the temperature slowly fell. By the time I got off work around 5:30 PM it was raining and the weather was very cold. The Radio said the temperature was falling very quickly. By the time I got to work, It was sleeting.

After several hours of class, several people came into the lab and said it was snowing! I did not think much of it. We generally do not get that much and if it does snow it only lasts a few minutes.

When I left class, I found that it was still snowing, not just a little but it was hard and my car had almost an inch covering the hood, windshield, and the roof. I drove home and there was not much as to accumulation.

About midnight I went out in the backyard and yard was white! All my plants were covered. My Oleander was flattened and my camellia that is about to bloom was covered in snow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

What I did this weekend...

This weekend I spent most of the weekend running around getting supplies and researching what I was going to need to plant 4 peony roots I got for my wife for Valentine's day last week. We went to Wal-mart to get some nice looking pots for a great price. After pricing out four 15 inch pots at 20 bucks we realized that they were just to small and we really did not going to need anymore 15 inch pots. We started looking at what large pots we could recycle and repot plants that needed to be re potted. I then remembered I had at least four roses that needed to be re potted. We looked around for a little while and we came across the prefect pot. We found 21 inch slate colored pots for $10.52 each. We bought 4 of them! Of course we lost $40 now instead of the $20 in pots we had planned to spend on them and still have to spend another $40 in a few weeks.

During that same trip we bought 15 strawberry roots, one small Pineapple Sage, and a small pot of sweet basil to replace one of our basils that is dieing out.

Sunday afternoon before the rains started I went out to buy potting soil. I spent about $18 on potting soil and hummus for the roses. In total I bought about 300+ lbs of soil. My poor little Kia was riding low today!

This is what my roses look like now. They did not handle last summer very well, I lost 3 roses and 1 was almost killed by bag worms, that kept coming back for seconds and thirds. Most of these roses I have had since college days and never re potted them. So today came the day I had to re pot them in large 21 inch pots!

After mixing up my soil and prepping the plants I moved them to their new home. As you can tell, the pots I move them to is a lot larger than their previous home. In the future I would not put a rose in anything smaller than a 16 inch wide with a deep base. The roots were so tight I almost could not get them out of the pot. I then removed some suckers from some small trees that started growing in there that I did not notice until I started working on them. Once I got all the plants in the pots and they were seated firmly I then trimmed about half an inch of old growth and removed any black spot I could find.

As I was finishing up it started to rain. I then moved all four plants back to their spot. I could not find my dolley and had to move all that weight by hand. I now hurt in places I have never hurt before. By the time I got them all moved into place and my supplies and cuttings removed to their proper places.

Below is the completed re potting of my roses.