Incredible Dwarves, Bugs, Et Al.

In this slideshow: Incredible Dwarf sunflower blooming in a container; interesting bugs, more beautiful flowers, and a really cool spider.

Sunflower City

So much beauty, so little time.  I find it phenomenal that seeds I planted the first week of April have grown to be sunflowers over eight feet tall!

Balsam Impatiens & Porches

For the week of July 1 – 6, 2014.  A rainbow of morning glories and balsam impatiens brighten the front porch.

Fun With Bad Clay

Bad Clay Doing Its Thing.
Bad clay doing its thing: here’s a section of unamended, unplanted clay during a long dry spell.

I live on a hill covered with bad clay, and have read that a whole lot of work must be put into soil amendment to grow anything in it.  That’s not necessarily true; field peas and wildflowers will grow in anything, even if mixed in with a lot of weeds and grass.  As for growing anything else, I like to think I’ve been given an endless supply of in-ground clay planters.  I dig out sections of clay about eight inches deep, a foot wide, and three or four feet long; add several inches of water, then fill with a mixture of potting mix and peat moss, as well as adding a buried fertilizer strip (reminiscent of planting an EarthBox).  I add my plants, keep them watered, and they grow like crazy. I also use my bad clay as a sculpting medium; with it, I shape “pseudo-terraces” shored up with paving stones set in a clay channel. The stones dry in place, giving me terraces that help with the conservation and channeling of water.  Here’s the slideshow showing how I do it:

The next slideshow shows steps involved in setting up an extension between terrace one-east and terrace one-west.

  • Doing the layout for linking terrace one east and terrace one west
    I'm linking the east and west sections of terrace one. I have placed paving stones flat on the ground to mark off where the terrace border will be.




Welcome to the Jungle

The Wilderness
The wilderness: even after the modest beginnings of a cleanup, the wildflower garden is a formidable thicket.

How does a garden get out of control?  The easy answer is: it just keeps growing.  I become so attached to all of my little plants that I am loathe to pull any of them up, or even prune them.  And I spend so much time a few inches from the ground that I don’t see The Big Picture.  Fortunately, I have neighbors to help me with my tunnel vision.  There’s a man who comes by every day, walking his dog; and he asked me several days ago, “When are you going to do something about this jungle?”  I felt immediately defensive, but I decided it was time to step back and take a few  pictures from across the street.  I discovered that he is right:  it is a jungle, and the time has come to prune and pull up plants. Ouch, ouch, ouch.  But before I start whacking away, here is a slideshow of the untamed wilderness:

  • Terrace one central has bush beans, cream peas, and sunflowers, blocking our house from view.
    The front of our house has disappeared behind a wall of sunflowers, bush beans, and pole beans.

July 4th Sunflower Liberation

Wild Sunflower
Wild sunflower, completely recovered one week after transplant.

I rescued several wild sunflowers on the fourth of July from their death camp: a construction site that had been bulldozed for the building of yet another strip mall.  I had pulled up several more of them the previous week for transplant, but there was a huge hill of fill dirt covered with hundreds of sunflowers that I couldn’t save.  When I came back ten days after my initial rescue, the hill had been flattened and all the sunflowers destroyed.  There were a few survivors around a storm drain that the bulldozer could not reach, and I pulled up four of them. That’s the good thing about wild sunflowers; they are exceptionally tough.  I simply yanked them out of the ground.  The roots are so strong that they retained a lot of their native soil for a root ball.  When I transplanted them to row five of my wildflower garden, I just dug holes slightly larger than the plants’ root balls, filled the holes halfway with water, set the plant in the ground, and filled the dirt back in.  In less than a week, it was impossible to tell the plants had ever been moved, and some of them were blooming!  That’s about as close to an instant wildflower garden as you can get; the plants were three to four feet tall already, did not have to be cut back, and the existing buds remained viable and bloomed as they normally would. Absolutely awesome!

Armenian Invasion

Yesterday I discovered a two-foot-long Armenian Cucumber growing next to trellis four.  How I failed to see it until it got that size, I have no idea.  At any rate, it was delicious!

  • Armenian cucumber that I didn't see until it was almost 2 feet long!
    Armenian cucumber growing by trellis four, much to my surprise.

July First Gratitude Tour

There’s been a delay in gratitude-list postings while I learned how to use a slideshow plugin for WordPress.  I’ve still been going out to the garden every morning with my camera, however, and as usual the garden has more to give than I know what to do with.  So here goes with the slideshow gratitude tour: