Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's GO TIME!!!

I have been away for a while.  I went on a Facebook hiatus, and so I have been spending a lot less time on the computer.  On the upside, I've been spending a lot more time doing other stuff!  Reading, gardening, housework (say it isn't so!), and spending some really great time with my kids. 
As the mother of a soldier, I value any time I get with my son.  He's 19 years old, and completely grown, but I still feel his absence daily.  Being 2,000+ miles away from my children is not my favorite thing.
Here he is coming down the stairs at the airport for his Christmas visit.  Made his Momma happy for sure.

But last week, I was getting baptized, and guess who showed up, and surprised me at the Pipsqueak's school the day before my baptism? 

Yep, the one and only!  You know those videos where the Moms scream and cry and run to their son, and throw their arms around them?  They are SO NOT FAKING IT!

It was so awesome to have him home for a while.

Anyway, all that to say that I have been busy, and that's why I haven't been blogging.  That, and the fact that I didn't want to blog about nothing...I was waiting until the "new" garden was ready for public viewing. 
So last year, if you haven't been following, I had the garden set up on the side of the house, and everything was in pots.  This had it's benefits, and it's drawbacks. 

It looked like this.  This is in the beginning stages, but later in the season it was so overgrown that you couldn't see from end to end.  Crazy.  The benefits were that it was compact, and out of sight, although I'm not sure that out of sight is really a benefit.  I, personally, think that a garden is a beautiful thing.  The biggest drawback that I found was the pots themselves.  The plants in pots dried out much faster than plants in the ground would.  Another drawback was the air flow.  I think that air flow was reduced in such a small area. 
So, the Guy and I knew that we needed a better plan if we wanted a bigger garden.  We decided that taking out about 1/4 of the grass in the back yard was a good idea.  Wow, that was a lot of work.  Thankfully, The Guy purchased a rototilling attachment for his weed-whacker and it made quick work of the grass.  Then we just had to flatten everything out and get the ground ready to place the raised beds atop it.  So here it is....  the official unveiling!
The Guy has promised me two more beds, and I'm still planning to line the fence with Lavender and Faux Heather to attract the bees I so desperately crave.  See the little bird bath looking thingy?  It's a bee bath!  They love water, so I put in a little water feature for them.  Off to the side, I have the container garden.  If we add the two additional beds, then I'll have to find another home for them.  The fuzzy digger puts her face in the pots and eats the dirt, since it smells like chicken manure, so I have to make sure that the pots are protected.  Yes, both of my dogs can get over that fence with absolutely no problem, but they don't.  They do not like fences.  The fencing is only about two feet high, and The Trampler could step over without even touching it, but he won't.  Every time I step in, he plants himself next to the fencing and waits for me to come out.  Good dog.  :)
In the four beds, from right to left we have:
Beans and Garlic
Onions and Bush Beans
Hot Peppers
Tomatoes and Tomatillos
I want to start some peas too, but if I don't get them in within a week or two, it will be too hot for them. 
While writing the first draft of this post,  I called this the Pot Garden, and then decided to rephrase that. (I fixed it)  This is the CONTAINER garden.  Yeah.  Didn't want anyone questioning THAT.  This is California, not Colorado.  (chuckle)

Remember the pathetic little herb garden I had going on in this big pot last year?  The rosemary, chives and oregano from last year are still going.  There are two different kinds of oregano growing here.  Greek and Mexican, I believe.  One bushes and one creeps.  All I know is I LOVE IT ALL!!!

These are four of the Indeterminate tomatoes I have going this year.  I'm going to have to space the pots out before too long, but for now, everyone is friendly and hanging out close together.  Pictured here are: Early Girl, Sun Gold and TWO (count em, TWO) Mortgage Lifter Tomato plants.  I also have one in the back bed.  Oh yeah.  Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes are my absolute fave.  I'm going to break last year's record of 14 1/2 oz last year, I just know it. 
So that's where we stand as we move into spring.  Happy Gardening!  As my favorite gardening blogger, Mavis, from says:  Growing your own food is cool!!!
If you haven't started gardening yet this year, get started!!!
Green Thumb Out.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Orange Apron Does Not an Expert Make

Photo from
The Guy and I went to the local hardware store the other day, and as I do, I broke off and headed to the garden section, while he stayed inside looking at something manly.  I was on a fact-finding mission..  Last year, I had a serious lack of bees.  I think that might be what plagued my berries...  Beautiful flowers grew, but they never turned into fruit.  Lack of pollination, methinks. 

Bees.  I need bees.  I need those little pollenators to come and visit my berries, the squash, and the cukes.  I need them to work their magic so I have a beautiful garden, brimming with flowers and fruit, so much that I have to give it away or donate it to the local food pantry.  Without the bees, it's onsy-twosies, and that's not going to work again this year. 

So off I go.  I wander through the garden section, looking at flowers, thinking that if I add some flowers to my garden, I'll get the bees.  Now, in the new location that the garden sits in, there are fences on two sides.  On one side are these huge hedge-like plants that are drought tolerant and bust out with TONS of yellow flowers.  Yellow is good right?  Bees like yellow.  But on the other side, it's just fence. 

I have it mind to plant more flowers interspersed with my veggies this year, for beauty, as well as pest control, and of course BEES.  Nasturtiums and Marigolds will work nicely, but I want some REAL BEE ATTRACTORS...  so I thought, "Hey, let's go talk to the experts."  (rolls eyes)

The first orange apron I stopped looked annoyed to be stopped.  Fortunately for me, I'm the customer, and I don't really care what she thinks.  So I say, "Hi, can I just ask you a question?  I want to attract bees to my garden this year, and I was hoping for some plant recommendations."

(blank stare)

And then she says:  "You WANT bees?"

Oh man.  I really should have walked away at that point.  Just turned on my heel and walked away. She leads me over to iceplant.  Iceplant.  She tells me that iceplant attracts bees.  She's right about that.  Who hasn't walked past a hill covered in iceplant, and noticed all the little bees busily working on the flowers?  But iceplant is ground cover, and as effective as it might be, ground cover will not work in the garden.  I must have looked less than impressed by her recommendation, because she extends that pointer finger and points at a guy in a green shirt.  (She clearly has never worked in guest service at a company that actually values the way people are related to, like Disney or Marriott, because seriously, the pointer finger????) 

"See that guy?"  she says.  "The one in the green shirt?  He's the vendor.  You should go talk to him."

BINGO!!!!  I was not going to let him get away.  And I didn't.

He knew exactly why I wanted bees, and he was soooo helpful.  He said that when the spring plants come out, I should look for faux heather, but in the meantime, he pointed out a lovely flowering Jasmine and also suggested lavender...  both of which I picked up.  I decided to line the divider fence with the lavender and faux heather, and add a Jasmine or two against the fence to the neighbors.  Hopefully these things will help with the bees. 

My advice:  Don't go with the garden center at all...  head to your local nursery, like I should have and talk to someone who walks the walk and talks the talk of a local gardener.  My favorite is Louie's Nursery in Riverside.  But I can't always get there, and when I do, I tend to get myself in trouble financially....  lol 

In this case, I was very lucky that the vendor happened to be working at the time.  He was very knowledgeable and helpful... 


The Guy and I were standing in the checkout, and I was telling him about the experience I'd just had in the garden section.

"I told her I wanted to attract bees, and she looked at me like I'd grown another head...  it's a garden center...  don't you know about the birds and the bees?  Seriously?"

The Guy just laughs, as I rant...  we've been over this.  He's certainly not going to ask me why I need bees...  he remembers me out there with a paintbrush trying to hand pollenate those darn berries. 

So I take a deep breath, and I'm done with the rant.  We're done checking out, and we start to pull the cart (with the lavender and the jasmine) away.  The girl from the checkout catches my eye and says,

"Seriously, though.  Why do you need bees?"


Green Thumb Out