Garden Diary 2008

This page was last updated on 11-16-08.

6-24-08  Went to Home Depot & got 2 bags Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix w/poultry litter and 1 bag Miracle Gro Organic Fertilizer, also with poultry litter.

6-25-08  Bought plants with L & R & S at Living Color Nursery for the Depot butterfly garden – also picked up some for mine: a Mulberry tree (the kind with big leaves & fruit), a native Lantana (small round leaves & white 1” button flowers w/a nice honey scent), and a purple dwarf Buddleia. Took 2 potted Chaya cuttings & a potted Guanabana seed & gave to James (who helped us today) & Orlando (who helped me last time I went looking there). Dropped everything off & placed it around the new garden area. After that, L & I went to Flamingo Road Nursery & got 4 bags Miracle Gro Soil Booster Organic soil amendment with poultry litter, and then to Searle Brothers & got 4 Buddleia or Aloysia (probably the latter - delicate white flowers w/honey-lemon scent), one for me and 3 for the Depot garden.

6-27-08  Planted the Mulberry tree where the old orange tree used to be in the NW part of the TVA. The native Lantana went by the copperleaf in the R/P Ct, and the Buddleia on the S side of the R/P Ct, on the inside of the circle – not sure this last will survive, as others haven’t for me. Spread Miracle Gro Organic Fertilizer in R/P Ct & around Mulberry & Jackfruit trees.

7-7-08  Bought plants at Living Color Nursery w/L: 3 Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, pink Jatropha, 6 magenta Pentas, 6 purple Verbenas (similar to V. bonariensis), Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’, 6 light blue prostrate Porterweeds, 3 purple dwarf Buddleias, 3 pink-fl Mimosas (groundcover)

7-8-08  Went to Searle Brothers & got 2 more dwarf Aloysias and a blue Plumbago. Then to Flamingo Road Nursery for 6 blue Apostle’s Iris and 3 dwarf Buddleias (1 maroon-fl, 2 pink-fl w/variegated foliage). On way home, went to Home Depot & got 3 bags eucalyptus mulch, 2 bags Black Kow manure and 1 bag Organic Compost from cow manure.

7-9 to 20-08  Took out ‘Tricolor’ Sweet Potatoes (which had reverted to all green but were still pretty plants) from the bed under the front windows – harvested around 30 potatoes to eat.  Then enriched the bed with Black Kow & Organic Compost and planted new plants there: 3 dwarf Aloysia, 6 dwarf Buddleias, 6 Apostle’s Iris, 6 prostrate Porterweeds, 3 Mimosas, 6 Pentas, 6 Verbenas, 1 Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’. Returned the Sweet Potato vines to the bed once they had wilted for a day & mulched the entire bed with eucalyptus mulch.  Left a little pink Portulaca near the front door. Planted the Plumbago in an empty spot left by the same in the planter on the N front side of the house. Took out one of the Copper Leaf plants in the R/P Ct myself & replaced it with the pink Jatropha.  Planted the ‘Indigo Spires’ Salvias along the sidewalk side of the R/P Ct. Some Milkweeds and a red Ruellia planted several months ago on that side are looking very nice. Also pruned the whole R.P Ct severely myself.

August 08  Changed lawn services. New lawn service came in and did major clearing of the entire garden, front & back, and it looks great, though I do not share the same sensibilities as the owner of this new crew. They will handle much of the work, including pruning, but will not touch the fruit trees or weed in the back.  They also refuse to trim trees.  Whatever.  So A went out and pruned the Jackfruit and really butchered it, as the branches tend to split when cut halfway through.  But it’s done, and the tree is topped off, and the lawn crew did cut everything in the back to 1’ above the fence, as requested, and took out a lot of stuff I asked them to.  Actually they only forgot one plant – the climbing ‘Old Blush’ rose that has for so many years been a nuisance because is was planted in the wrong spot.  But the next time I came they took it out for me, even though it was hard to communicate, since they all speak Spanish and almost no English.  But I did get one of them to understand me and they seemed to get the idea that I really was very happy with the job they have done.  And I am.  Hope they continue to do as well.  The Mound looks really good, but a little empty, and now there is space in various places for new plants.  I think it would be good to put some stepping stones on the Mound before it gets overgrown again so I can walk up onto it and harvest Pomegranates and generally get to the plants for maintenance. The retaining wall of railroad ties is rotting, but I think it will be alright when it falls, as it is already leaning and should just make a gradual rise in the end when we finally remove the ties.


8-27-08  Gearing up to grow a real vegetable garden this year again – so excited! So today I ordered a bunch of seeds from: Baker Creek, Kitazawa, ECHO, Pinetree & Southern Exposure.


9-3-08  Met DC’s friend from the Portuguese congregation (DM) at Home Depot this morning and bought: 40 bags eucalyptus mulch, 20 bags Black Kow manure, 20 bags Organic Compost from cow manure, 2 flats ‘Margarita’ & 2 flats ‘Blackie’ Sweet Potatoes, a Thryalis, 2 flats magenta Periwinkles, and Triazicide & lawn fertilizer (requested by A). Rented the truck and took all home.  Helped unload the mulch & showed him what to do. He did a wonderful job and I am so pleased! Only got as far as the front, but that’s the most important part.  He’ll come back another week to finish the back and we’ll do the same deal of renting the truck, etc.  Will need a little less this time – about 30 bags mulch, 20 bags each Black Kow & 20 bags Organic Compost.  Didn’t have him do behind the wall or around the Magnolia or the mailbox garden – will have him do it next time, mulching behind the wall with 2 bags of pine bark.  Have decided the pine needle mulch is not a great idea, as it seems a bit allelopathic.


9-19-08  B came over & we traded some seeds. Inventoried seeds & small pots. Will give away most older seeds.


9-21-08  Cleaned Potager – left some Water leaves in one box.  Harvested 5 nice Sweet Potatoes – the last for the year. Moved Blackberry plants to succulent beds.

9-24-08  Planted new plants: ‘Blackie’ Sweet Potatoes along front of Mound to hang over the retaining wall (noticed there are a few coming back nicely on the S side), ‘Margarita’ Sweet Potatoes along the back of the bed between the front windows (very dry there, but also put some in empty spots in the middle so they will peek out here & there and I hope, fill in any empty space eventually), most magenta Periwinkles along the front of the bed between the front windows, and maybe 6 in an empty spot along the sidewalk side of the R/P Ct in front of the Milkweeds.

9-25-08  Watered the new plants, then went to Home Depot & got 12 medium sized bags of Lambert Potting Mix, 3 bags Miracle Gro Seed Starting Mix & a nice red watering wand with a shutoff switch. Decided I don’t like the Miracle Gro Organic Potting Mix, not a good texture, but need a seed starting mix and that was the only brand they had.  Bleh.  Then on to Target for 2 Rubbermaid 18 gallon gray storage bins to make a self-watering container, plus 2 gallon jugs of Organic Fertilizer with worm castings.  Very hard to find organic fertilizers without blood meal – most in HD had it, and they carry no more organics like kelp meal, fish emulsion or worm castings, so good to find the last at Target.  Came home & spread 2 bags potting mix in each Potager box & watered them all very well with my new wand.  Now I have mix for planting seeds of tomatoes & other things that can be seeded now in pots and the Potager is ready to plant seeds in as well. Yay! Guanabana seedling is waiting on the porch until Bro. M. comes back. I am afraid it would get lost and buried when he does the enriching of the beds.  Will plant it with a little fence-like guard around it after he goes.  Spoke to his father this morning and D is supposed to call me back.

9-26-08  Planted the entire Potager (except for things that must wait until the weather breaks in mid-October), plus 4” pots on the Patio (59 of them).  Repeated the melons and squash from the Potager on the Patio so as to have backups if necessary.  Otherwise, they will go in large containers.  See Crop Chart 2008-9 for details.  Watered Potager with my new watering wand & placed the 4” pots on a watering mat.  Set Chuffa tubers to soak for planting tomorrow.  Prepared Alpine Strawberry seeds for chilling & presprouting and put them in freezer.  Will take them out to sprout in the third week of November.

9-27-08  Spread bird netting over Potager beds.  Had enough to properly cover two of them and used short stakes topped with small plastic pots to hold it up at the corners.  Placed stakes and pots, then took about 6’ lengths of netting (it’s about 6’ wide, so this made two squares), folded in four to determine middles, and cut slits in a plus pattern in the center of each piece.  Then spread out each piece, slipped it over the teepee of stakes in the center of the bed, stretched it over the pots, and anchored the netting to the stakes under the pots with twist ties.  This leaves the center of the teepee exposed.  Hope the birds don’t figure that out!  Used scraps of netting and some chicken wire to cover the other two beds.  Doesn’t look half bad, as the netting is black and essentially disappears.  Need another package of this so I can properly cover the other two beds and then use the scraps to cover the middles.  Will order some next month, along with the last of the seeds I want.

9-29 to 10-1-08  Seeds are germinating!  Nearly everything in the Potager is up, and many of the Patio pots as well.  Still waiting on Peppers, Fennels, Eggplants, some Cucumbers and tomatoes, and Longissima Gourd.  Don’t think the Crimson Forest Onions will do, as the seed was old, but it was worth a try.  Will wait and sow more of the Japanese ones in mid-October, when I do the next major sowing.  Fed the Potager with worm casting fertilizer found at Target.  One gallon jug will do the entire Potager & all my eventual pots, and the feeding will last 3 months. Have turned the sprinkler system off and not needed to water since that first day because it has rained every day.  Was worried the seeds in 4” pots might rot on the mat, but they seem fine, so will wait and see.  Peppers and Eggplants can take a couple of weeks – patience!  D will come back to finish the enriching of the beds in a few days – can’t wait!  Tied Mulberry to one of the two papayas it sits between – didn’t have a tall enough stake.


10-3-08  Need only a couple of Rattlesnake Pole Bean seeds and a couple of Luffa Gourd seeds to round out the Potager.  Didn’t rain yesterday or today – turned the sprinklers back on automatic so they will go off tomorrow. Cucumbers are getting big – need to pot them up in the next few days.  Wish I could get a self-watering container or two made that fast!  D will not come until next Saturday rather than this one, but I should have time to get the truck rented and turned back in, with him here and the stuff unloaded so he can get started before I go to the service group.  One of the Peppers, another Tomato and the Wonderberry came up. Need to plant more Bulbing Fennel seeds as well – not enough are coming up in the single 4” pot.  Maybe a flat with several 2” or 3” cells would be best.  One of the Collards is not coming up, and everything else in that family is, so best plant more of that as well.  Should have 4 plants going altogether, I guess.

10-5-08  Cucumbers had to be transplanted and trellised immediately, so found a new package of trellis netting from years ago.  But it’s white, so very noticeable.  Looked for options on Lee Valley’s site but no time to order anything before the meeting.  By the time I got there, the thought had occurred to use copper pipes and wire, but figured out it would take around 600’ of wire to trellis everything, not to mention the time it would take to construct it all by hand.  Probably will make wire compost bins that way, though.  Was planning to go to Home Depot and get copper pipes and wire, but decided I might have everything needed at home.  Also worried that all that metal would get my plants fried in case of lightning, a la S and his giant grapevine.  Was about to put the white netting up in the TVA at least, but figured out that the bird netting should work just fine and would practically disappear.  Didn’t need it in the Potager anymore anyway – at least I hope not, because I took it all down today.  Used one of the complete pieces to trellis three large pots of Cucumbers in the TVA – threaded it through a stake (twist-tied at ends) and pushed that over the fence into the groove at the top so it comes up and over and down, used twist ties to close the opening in the center, and made wire “staples” out of coat hangers to anchor the netting to the soil in the pots at the bottom.  On the porch, I used the largest scrap to trellis three pots of non-pollinated Cucumbers – threaded the netting through three stakes and anchored one into each pot.  Twist-tied the netting to the stakes at the top ends.  We are very happy with the result –  much more attractive than the white stuff!  I just hope the netting won’t cut the plants when they get heavy with fruit.  Transplanted some Squashes to the Potager in empty spots left by Cucuzzi Longissima that didn’t germinate.  Also used the rest of the scrap netting to surround the teepee in that one box, since there are squashes there instead of beans.   See Crop Chart for the details of what was transplanted.   Used up most of the Miracle Gro potting mix and the rest of a bag of the Miracle Gro seed starting mix.  Hope it doesn’t affect the plants’ performance too much!  Mixed these in with the Lambert potting mix in most of the pots.  May put rest over the compost bucket contents when I empty them, or something like that – need to dilute it as much as possible.  Still have maybe half a bag of the potting mix to get rid of, and two little bags of seed starting mix.  What a waste!  Won’t be buying that again.  The seed starting mix was very wet inside and had a strong methane smell.  Bleh.  Need to transplant the Pumpkins and Melons in 4” pots ASAP.  Wish I had some self-watering containers made already – gotta get on it this week!  The pumpkins will go in the TVA but it’s best to wait until D comes and enriches the beds on Saturday.  Found a tomato netting tower in the garage – wonder if it would work for little melons?

10-8-08  Thinned seedlings in Potager.  Raccoons had dug up the perimeter of box I-J-K-L, but not much damage done – they were looking for worms, not plants. Got materials for self-watering containers at Target and Urdl’s.

10-9-08  Cleared the Herb Circle in preparation for enriching and planting.

10-11-08  D came back and continued enriching the beds. This project ended up bigger than either of us had thought, so he will be back Monday to finish.  I’m very pleased with the job he did – looks great! Got more self-watering container materials and some herbs. Planted herbs and most of the seedlings from the patio in the Herb Circle, Potager & TVA – see Crop Chart for details.  Watered all in – have had to turn on sprinklers. Figured out all my young Papaya trees are females – finally! We have six of them and they are beginning to flower. Still have a large male by the back fence – glad we didn’t take it out!

10-12-08  Planted Guanabana seedling in TVA and gave it a zinc label.  Surrounded all new seedlings there with bricks to protect them from lawn crew.  Emptied pots with no plants in them into the last spot in TVA with no soil (we ran out yesterday – used the last of the Miracle Gro organic potting mix & seed starting mix and still had a little patch left blank). Brought pots onto patio. New watering wand leaks badly, so must take back to home Depot & exchange for a new one.  Didn’t keep receipt – bleh.  Will take credit card bill or printout of account activity, which will also show how much I’ve spent there in the past month – should be enough. Everything planted yesterday has perked up fine – some things had wilted a little by the time they sat in the sun a while & got plunked into the ground, but they all look happy now.  Now have a good idea of what’s needed in terms of a soil enrichment program for the year.  Decided it’s too expensive to do the manure twice a year, so will settle for doing that part once, and the mulching twice.  So the figures run to around fifty bags each Black Kow & Organic Compost derived from cow manure once a year, two bags of Pine Bark Nuggets once a year, and mulching twice a year with seventy bags of Eucalyptus Mulch. This takes about four days of labor, at a rate of around two hundred dollars each of those days.  The cost of materials and labor works out to around sixteen hundred dollars per year, rounded to one hundred thirty-five dollars a month spread out over twelve months.  Seeds and tools may take up to three hundred dollars in a year, and plants another four hundred.  So my gardening budget should average two hundred dollars a month. Of course, the lawn crew charges a hundred and fifty a month, so that works out to forty-two hundred dollars a year for our landscaping, all things taken into consideration.  If we fertilize the lawn or lay sod, I need to cut back on my spending to cover it.  At least it should go down to four thousand for the year, so I must cut two hundred from my yearly figure – that means one hundred eighty-three dollars a month.  More than reasonable.


10-14-08  Went to Alexander Nursery yesterday and today at lunchtime and got a carload of plants each time.  The owner, Brian Alexander, is really nice and a plant person at heart.  They have so many unusual things that no one else has. Turns out his wife was raised a Witness, but her parents were too fanatical so she basically ran away as soon as she was able and won’t talk about it now.  But he was ok.  He gave me a free plant in exchange for bringing him cuttings (in about a month) of a Bog Sage he sold me – it was his last one and he needs to propagate it.  Took Lola along today and we also stopped at Flamingo Road Nursery.  She got a few things at each place and I bought some more Dwarf Chenille for the Depot garden.  See details in garden expenses section.  Made detailed notes and took pictures of the Potager and the bed between the front windows for Lola.  May add these to my website later on, along with pictures of further growth.  Took pictures to document the entire garden as it is now for reference when planning without having to be home or to go outside.

10-15-08  Decided on a new staging area for unplanted plants after two sprinklers turned up broken this morning, one right by the old spot.  It was too hot and sunny there anyway, and things tended to dry out.  So now I will put things on the North side, near the compost pile and inside the fence so no one can walk away with stuff and I have privacy to work with them.  There’s a faucet right there, as well.  Planted the new herbs in the Herb Circle and Potager – see Crop Chart for details.  Planted a ‘Black Magic’ Alocasia, a variegated Alocasia, and a portion of the Bog Sage from Alexander in the low, wetter area by the back fence in the SW corner of the TVA. Potted a big Donkey Ears (Faye’s Kalanchoe) and put it next to the old one.  Also got one for Barney, who admired mine.  Was going to pot him a baby, but the price was good, so I got him one instead.  Extended bed by Lemon tree to add a Holmskioldia sanguinea (red-flowered Chinese Hat).  Want a purple one (H. tettensis) for on the other side of the fence – Top Tropicals has them, according to their website.  Will go there with Lola one day next month. Revised garden plan sketch to place all desired fruit and spice plants, as well as the plants bought this week and others I want to get this year.  Will entail a few trips to Excalibur, maybe alone.  It’s really not that far, and I could go to the rose nursery in Loxahatchee on one of these trips to see if they have any old-fashioned roses before ordering from Seminole in November or December.  Also will take another trip to Flamingo Road nursery for some things, esp. for the area behind the front wall.  I am looking at a Congo Rex Philodendron – big ones are expensive, but one that size would have an immediate impact in that spot.  Want to move the Lea and put it and an Angelwing Begonia in the back of the space, with the Philodendron in front of them.  If the Lea doesn’t transplant well, they have them at FR. Planted a regular and a ‘Berggarten’ culinary Sage in a pot set  in the center of the Herb Circle – hope to find a Tricolor to put with them.  Also potted a culinary creeping Thyme and set is next to the other pot.  They make a nice grouping with the big strawberry pot, which has no plants in it, but is too big to move back and forth.  It is waiting for strawberry plants to become available.  There are actually a couple of plants in there that have survived, but barely, and they are very small.  I have a Catnip, but forgot to plant it.  It must go on the patio, and the pot will be the one the Guanabana seedling was grown in – a blue-rimmed one from Denise with a dragonfly painted on it.  In the front, I think I may have found ‘Belinda’s Dream’ after all – thought she may have disappeared, but found a pink flower a few days ago, too old to have any scent, and smaller than usual, but likely it is she, so that makes me very happy!

10-16-08  Planted the rest of the plants today, except still forgot to pot the Catnip.  Got a major migraine for my trouble yesterday afternoon, and am expecting another today, but the garden looks awesome!  In the bed between the front windows, planted three groundcover Peanuts.  On the S side of the Mound, Citronella Grass, Jamaican Pea Bush, Lemongrass (removed three large Bromeliads to make room for these first three and potted them up), two thornless Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia geroldii), a big white Cat’s Whiskers, and a groundcover Russelia with little orange tube flowers.  In the front part of the R/P Court, by the sidewalk: Blue Flag Iris, Bog Sage, Beach Sunflower and Goldenrod. Between the Acalypha and the Rondelitia, a pubescent Necklace Pod.  On the inside of the E side: Goldenrod, three Milkweeds, and a red Ruellia.  On the inside of the S side: Thryalis, Goldenrod, red Ruellia, and a pubescent Necklace Pod.  On the inside of the W side: five Bulbine caulescens with yellow and orange flowers, a pubescent Necklace Pod, two groundcover Peanuts, and a Jacquemontia vine as a groundcover.  Between the red Jatropha and the Rondeletia, a blue Spiderwort. The E side of the R/P Court by the sidewalk is full now – lots of color, lots of butterfly plants, and no gaps.  The W side by the walk to the front door has four small gaps, the inside three, the deep inside part of the E side has two, and the S side by the driveway has three.  Moved hoses around so I can water all efficiently in the back and front every day now except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when the sprinklers go off.  Would sure like to see a good, soaking rain about now.  They are coming less frequently in the past two weeks.  Tomorrow we go with B to Homestead Fruit and Spice Park and a couple of fruit nurseries.  Hope I’m up for it because I’m pretty excited about it!  Have my list, which is pretty much the same for Excalibur except for the Katuk and Eleagnus.  Need to find another fruit nursery near me to go to for filling in the gaps without making a major trip, alone or with company.  Gave B a watering mat – just found the instructions, so will give that to him along with the Donkey Ears tomorrow.

10-17-08  Went to Homestead with A and B.  First stop was Richard Lyons Nursery, where B and I each got a Cherry of the Rio Grande and a small Cuphea with red and purple flowers – quite lovely.  I also got a Barbados Cherry and a Mysore Raspberry.  Then we went to the Homestead Fruit and Spice Park and took a tour.  Rose, who tends the herb and vegetable gardens, gave us cuttings and seeds of several things.  B and I both got some Chicory seeds, native Mint and Turmeric, the latter being extremely exciting – B had been looking for it for years to no avail. I also got seeds of a Plantain, which is something I’ve been looking for.  Rose gave B seeds of Stevia and Tithonia, a Culantro plant, and cuttings of several types of sweet potato and Mint, all of which I already had.  Once home, I gave him the Donkey Ears and a Bromeliad that I had taken off the Mound.  There are two more Bromeliads, which I intend to give to the lawn man.  We tried Hog Plums, which we liked and would have saved seeds of, but B knows of one with very good-tasting fruits which he can take cuttings of for us, so we will not waste space on seeds of one that isn’t as good.  We have to be picky because we don’t have a lot of space.  Wonder if Dad would let me plant some fruit trees at his place?  But they might not stay in that house long enough for it to be worth the money and work. Planted the Cherry Of the Rio Grande and the Barbados Cherry on the Mound near the Grumichama and labeled all three.  Must show the lawn man, as they have limbed up the Grumichama, obviously not knowing it is a fruit tree, and the Malabar Chestnut had its only pod removed a while back and now there is a flower on it – I do not want the new pod going the way of the old one!  Planted the turmeric on the other side of the bricked spot along the S fence across from the Herb Circle and opposite the Cardamom – they will match each other, as they look alike, only they don’t smell alike, as I found at the park today.  Put bricks around it and a zinc label so the lawn people will leave it alone.  Also potted a small piece of Turmeric tuber and put it on the porch to grow bigger before planting it in the ground.  Uprooted and potted some Cardamom for B.  The Mysore Raspberry went in a spot I cleared for it in the N Succulent bed – since there was only sand, and the bed had not been enriched, I dumped some Organic Soil Amendment from Flamingo Road Nursery and some Lambert potting mix into the surrounding soil to get some organic matter in there.  There wasn’t any mulch either, so I made a soil dam around the plant, then shored it up with mulch, and mulched inside and around the dam so water will not make a canyon to run off too quickly.  Some of the things I planted yesterday are making these, so some soil/mulch dams are in order.  Did this with the two fruit shrubs on the Mound as well. The Cat’s Whiskers is showing a tendency to wilt, needing more water.  It is really too big, and maybe should not be on the mound because it is a little dryer there.  Will take cuttings in the next few days and put them in the R/P Court and at the edge of the Mound where the ground is level. The Cuphea filled an empty spot in the SE corner of the R/P Court by the driveway, where it will look nice against the Beach Sunflower that will wrap around in back of it and the Blue Flag Iris.  Maybe I’ll get another Beach Sunflower to speed the process. Moved a lonely-looking yellow Walking Iris from the front of the Mound, where it did not seem to belong, to an empty spot on the inside E arm of the R/P Ct, where it repeats others close by.  Picked two good-sized Pomegranates.  Potted the Catnip this morning when I watered the plants. What a great day!


10-18-08  Made my first self-watering container!  Discovered I cannot hacksaw the 4” pvc pipe myself, but the angled cuts on the 1-1/2” pipe went fine.  Used a 10 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck, which sits well in the 18 gallon Sterlite bin with no need for more support (I hope).  Found a deep enough black nursery container to use as a soil wick (about 8-1/2” high – cut off the rim to the needed 7-1/2” with scissors) and cut extra holes in it with a knife.  This is a tough folding knife we keep in the tool box, and it was also good for cutting the bigger holes in the Roughneck’s bottom for the wick and fill tube.  Drilled holes in the bottom of the Roughneck and four in the sides of the wick to attach it to the Roughneck  with cable ties.  Cut the hole for the wick too large, but used duct tape to fill the gaps, and cut the hole for the fill tube at the correct size.  Drilled a 1/2" spillover hole in the Sterlite and set the Roughneck in it and the fill tube, and can’t wait to plant!  This will give a soil depth of 8” and a very large water reservoir.  Perfect for all but the deepest things (tomatoes, beets, carrots, pumpkins, squashes & melons).  Greens of all types, eggplant, peppers, kohlrabi, radishes, onions, shallots, leeks, mints & edible flowers (centaurea, calendula, dianthus, nasturtiums & violas) will do well in a container this size, and some herbs will do ok in dryer corners (basil, parsley, savory, sage & shiso).  The deeper containers will need the support of pvc or maybe bricks or concrete blocks.  Discovered that the containers I am growing cucumbers in will fit over the Home Depot 5 gallon buckets with enough room to spare – they just need a fill tube, spillover hole, and lots of holes drilled in the bottoms.  Cloth wicks will probably be better than soil wicks for these.  Eggplants and peppers would likely do well in these, too.  Some of my ornamental containers have a ledge in them a few inches above the bottom – maybe these could hold water reservoirs, with screen over hardware cloth (1/2” metal mesh) supported on the ledges?  Just need to plug the holes at the bottoms.  These would probably do better with cloth wicks, too.  In the evening, got seeds ready to plant and made markers for them – planted only a few things because it got dark, but hope to finish tomorrow.

10-19-08  Manually ran sprinklers this morning 20 minutes per zone because we were going to the Special Assembly Day and I couldn’t do the watering myself (they go on automatically on Wednesdays and Saturdays).  Everything seemed alright this afternoon – A says they normally run 30 minutes per zone.  This evening went out and planted seeds to fill gaps in the Potager, as well as to plant things that could not be planted last month for the heat (radishes, beets, carrots).  Transplanted tomatoes and wonderberries to 1 gallon pots on the Patio, then planted seeds there in 4” pots (40 of them).  There are still several 4” pots from before (peppers, chichiquelite, collards) with tiny plants that are not large enough to pot on yet, and melons that do not yet have self-watering containers to go into. Altogether, there were 11 types of seed sown in the Potager and 21 types on the patio, and 6 plants were potted on to 1 gallon pots. The Crop Chart has details.  Three more types of seed need to be planted to fill gaps in the Potager, and there are lettuces and mustards to plant in the first self-watering container. I hope to get to these tomorrow.  Will have to water by hand tomorrow morning – everything hurts!  At this point, there are in the garden: 43 varieties of herbs, 2 of edible flowers and 52 of vegetables.  In pots only on the patio, there are 4 varieties of herbs, 2 of edible flowers, and 31 of vegetables.  When the lettuces and mustards are planted, the total vegetable varieties in the garden will be 58, bringing the overall total to 140.  Wow!  This includes perennial herbs, but not vegetable shrubs or fruits.

10-20 to 21-08  Bought more supplies for self-watering containers, seeds and a few plants at Home Depot in Weston.  See Garden Expenses for details.  Took seeds to Lola and Jane to share and gave them some pots with instructions on making them self-watering.  Will pick seeds up in a week or two. 

10-22-08  Planted herbs & vegetables from Home Depot, labeled all herbs in Herb Circle, planted edible flowers in flats on patio, pre-sprouted parsley seeds and sowed some seeds to fill gaps in the Potager. Planted 7 varieties of vegetables altogether today, 3 of edible flowers, and 4 of herbs, bringing the new total to 154. Tested the porosity of a concrete block in a large storage bin – this will work just fine as a 4” pvc pipe replacement.  We have enough to do 5 self-watering containers with these (two double and three single blocks). Put washers in watering wands – new red one still leaks, but old one from Lee Valley is good.  May take new one back after all and exchange it. Some Amaranths are about 1’ tall and many Cucumbers are around 18”.  A wants to re-sod the back with a shade-tolerant grass because most of ours is gone now, replaced by weeds and with gaps.  That will look better for company at least.  One day I would love to lay crazy-paving in all the back garden paths, leaving maybe a small amount of grass between the Patio and TVA across from it.  Hope to start some day soon with the center of the Potager, then expand out…


10-23-08  Made two large and one medium self-watering container, from 21- and 18-gallon storage bins, using their lids for the false bottoms.  Used concrete blocks (double, to get rid of them) as the supports in the large ones, and only a pond basket and duct tape in the medium one.  Not sure if this will be enough, but will probably use the same formula in the other three 18-gallon bins I have right now.  That will leave two pond baskets, which are not tall enough for the shallower containers or for the large ones.  Transplanted the ‘Roma’ Tomato into the medium, and placed an Ultomato tower in it, then found out it is a determinate variety.  Mr. Stripey is indeterminate, so I’m thinking of moving the ‘Roma’ to one side and combining it with Mr. Stripey in the next day or so, as the latter is also good-sized now and ready to transplant – I have time before it’s necessary for the seed-grown ones.  This container went directly across from the Patio door so it will get maximum sun.  Transplanted a “hill” of Melon ‘Sakata’s Sweet’ into one of the large self-watering containers, and two of Melon ‘Tigger’ into the other.  Not sure what to use as support – placed these at the N end of the TVA on the brick pad that will someday host a bench with an arbor over it.  This is where the shallower one with the salad greens is sitting.  It was very hard to drill holes in the large bins and their lids – will probably not make more of these.  Can use the three single concrete blocks I have left as supports for three more medium  self-watering containers to house the other tomatoes we will have by the end of the season.  There are materials to make three more shallow ones as well for more salad greens to be sown every two weeks.  Figured out the cost for each large  self-watering containers is $12.00 (not including the concrete blocks, since we already had them 10.50 for the bin, 1.50 for the fill pipe), a medium $8.50-$10.50 (7.00 for the bin, 1.50 for the fill pipe, 2.00 for the pond basket, if used), a shallow $14.50 (6.00 + 7.00 for the bins, 1.50 for the fill pipe – using an old nursery pot for the wick, so this is free), and a bucket-type for Cucumbers $5.00 (5.00 for the bucket, already had pots, wicking material is old cloth and the fill tube is old garden hose, so these are free).  Haven’t made any of these last yet – gotta adapt the ones already being used, and it may be too tricky now that the plants are growing up their support – will probably wait for the next round of patio cucumbers to do this.  The ones outside are in pots too large for the buckets, but again, I may use the other size for the next round and modify them to be self-watering.  Some of the seeds just planted are already up!  Car insurance adjuster came today and I showed her around the garden, pointing out all the edibles.  She enjoyed smelling and tasting everything I handed her!

10-24 to 26-08  Ordered some more seeds from Park Seed, as well as bird netting, seaweed, and a copper markers and engraving set. Labeled fruit trees and shrubs for the lawn men to see.  Used the last of the zinc labels and rehabbed the previously used ones by prying off the letter strip, turning it over, and bending it the opposite way back around the support wire.  I’m pleased with the quality – they did not seem to weaken much at the bending point and none offered to break when bent backwards.  Will get some more of these.  Mulched the self-watering containers with melons and tomato in them.  The seeds in the salad one have germinated, but the plants are too tiny to mulch, and I may not do it with them anyway, since the rows are only about 2” apart.  Many of the seeds planted last have germinated on the patio already.  Toured Maria around the garden this morning.  Had our first Squash flower on the 25th and our first Cucumber flowers in the TVA on the 26th!

10-29 to 11-2-08  Moved all 4” and 1 gallon pots from patio to center of Herb Circle – only left the pot with Turmeric root, which hasn’t yet sprouted, and may not until the weather warms up again.  Having company in a week, so the patio looks much better now.  The old onion, shallot and naranjilla seeds are aparent duds.  The Leeks surprised me, though – they came up nicely and will be transplanted to the Potager in a few more days.  Emptied the used potting mix into the space in front of the papyrus plant and mulched it.  There is still just a little bit of area here and there that needs enriching and mulching.  Will buy a few bags of Block Kow, organic compost, and mulch to have on hand for doing this.  Poured about a cup of Terracycle worm casting fertilizer down the fill pipes of each of the self-watering containers – will see how that works out.  Ordered more seeds from Pinetree and Baker Creek.  Should be done for the season now, except I wish I had some Verbena bonariensis…

11-9 to 13-08  Toured K & D through the garden, tasting and smelling everything possible, and giving them botanical lessons on identifying male and female flowers on curcurbits and papayas. Also picked first summer squash! A ‘Coosa’. Took it to the Depot next day, then ate it a few days later, raw, with B & A.  We also ate the first couple of baby Luffa gourds, which were different, less crunchy inside, but still quite good.  Gave B a Wonderberry plant. Broke down & ordered the Verbena, along with some Cosmos, from Park Seed.

11-14-08  Took garden produce to M & M at the physical therapy appointment.  For each, I packed: a pint of Myer lemon juice, freshly squeezed today, one kale plant and two pak choi plants, a Rattlesnake pole bean flower and two stems of Flowring Pak Choi flowers, plus herbs: basils sweet & Purple Ruffles, fennel, lemon balm, stevia & parsley. Checked the self-watering containers yesterday and found that the worm castings I poured down the watering tube in the tomato container (not the melon or salad green containers though) had solidified and would block water poured in, so I had to take out the tube, poke out the castings, and add lots more water. Seemed to work ok, but I’ve taken out the tube for now because it still clogeed when I put it back in.  Seems to be fine just adding water through the hole now.

11-16-08  Planted most of the seedlings sitting in the center of the Herb Circle, leaving only the Tomatoes and peppers and Johnny Jump-Ups.  In the Tropical Vegetable Area, six Hollyhocks and six Sunflowers (two varieties of each) went in the SW corner, three Rattail Radishes and two Collard plants (one each of two varieties) by the Cucumbers and Sugarcane and the Jackfruit, a Wonderberry and the Chichiquelite to the N of the the Jackfruit, as well as the Thai Watermelon Rom Doa, which replaced the Chatchai that died.  In the Herb Circle, all the Bachelor’s Buttons went in the NE & NW sections, all the Sweet Alyssum in the SE & SW sections, two Bronze Fennel plants in the SE near the Dill, and three bunches of Plantain in the SW quadrant by the center aisle.  The Pandora leeks went by the bunching onions near the Bulbing Fennel in the Potager.  Happy with how the Hollyhocks are doing – the ones that survived (only a couple died) are getting bigger and look healthy.  So prospects for the ones planted today are good.  The sunflower seedlings were quite large, maybe a foot high, but should do ok.  The contrasts of shapes and colors should be good with the Hollyhocks.  Can’t wait to see the flowers on everything planted today!

Continue to Garden Diary 2009


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