Transplaning the Blog


I’m in the process of moving the blog. The new URL will be gardeningintheyard.com which makes so much more sense than colleenbrowning.wordpress.com. It’s a minor ordeal. Please bear with me. It could take a few days to complete this chore. But better now than later. The old name will redirect you to the new site for a while so you don’t have to think about it. I’ll see you on the other side.

Goodby, Colleen

See you soon, my gardening friends.

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FIRST FLOWER IN THE TWO TREE BED


Rose of Sharon in the Two Tree Bed

I know it’s awfully late in the season to be talking about first blooms, but the two tree bed is a new bed (I don’t even have everything planted in it yet) and the Rose of Sharon that Danny the Geologist from across the street gave me happens to be the first flower to bloom in it. This poor plant was completely neglected last year and then just left out in a pot. I thought it was dead at one point. Then, well into Spring, I noticed that it was making little buds. I put it in the ground but really did not expect much from it. And now, it has given me a beautiful flower. It must have been the apology I gave it when I was planting it—or maybe the water and compost.

Rose of Sharon

If you ever have the opportunity to get a plant from Danny the Geologist, jump at it. He propagates plants with character.


FLOWER BEDS, POST-HURRICANE


Since I wrote last, Hurricane Lee slapped us hard. The rain was torrential.

A River Ran Through it

The Two Tree bed did amazingly well thanks to some well placed sod that served to divert most of the runoff from the road. The rain ran down the middle of the yard—river like, but better there than through the new Two Tree bed.

Underwater

The Lakshmi bed, on the other hand, became a pond.
The Lakshmi bed is named for the Hindu Goddess who brings prosperity. You want Lakshmi to find your home clean, beautiful and excellent so she’ll be attracted to it. That’s why the Lakshmi bed is by the front door. Happily, Lakshmi isn’t expected for a few weeks because Hurricane Lee, left the Lakshmi bed in pretty bad shape. There’s even moss growing in there—and the bed does get sunlight.

So once the water level went down, I cleaned it up and put down a nice layer of compost. I hope everyone in the bed appreciates the attention and fine fine nutrients.

Lovely

Notice the coffee filter around the primrose. Something was eating it—either those roly-poly bugs or slugs. Slugs don’t like to cross coffee grounds so I try to surround the little plants with grounds. But when I run short, I use the filter itself.

No Slugs Here

That’s why I always buy the brown kind. They look better than the white ones splayed out in your flower beds.

I hope it doesn’t turn out to be those roly-poly bugs because I don’t know what to do about them. I like to garden organically, but I confess, I often resort to something poisonous when pressed. These primroses have been having a rough time of it.

What I have to wonder is how these rotten little creatures are able to survive these hurricanes.


HOW TO REPOT AN ORCHID


The last time I talked about the magical orchid, I mentioned that I intended to repot it.

Repot me

The time came and, because I knew I would blog about it, I documented the whole thing. I laid everything out so neatly and took pictures at every step. In my mind it was exactly as if I were a professional horticulturist teaching amateur orchid growers how to properly repot an orchid.

Styrofoam Packing Peanuts?

My imaginary students were amazed when I informed them that it was quite proper and good to put white Styrofoam packing peanuts at the bottom of the pot rather than terra-cotta pot shards as some would do. I showed them the handsome media containing brick marbles, sphagnum moss, and fir bark soaking in water.

I carefully cleaned the roots, cutting away the few rotten pieces. I made a pyramid of media in the center of the pot, over the Styrofoam peanuts, and gently lowered the plant into its new home. I took a few more shots and finally had to admit that I had created a colossal mess. Botched it completely.

The plant looked more in need of repotting than it did before. I had put so much media into the pot, and possibly too many Styrofoam peanuts, that there was room for little else—certainly not a lot of roots. You can see the poor roots coming out the top. I pushed down on them, but it was useless. I told myself that orchids are epiphytes and their roots like air (which is true but they don’t like to be partially smashed in medium so dense it would probably never completely dry thereby rotting the buried roots while the partially left out sections dry up.).

The Good Side

The Good Side

I photographed it from the least bad side. That did nothing for the orchid and made me notice how hard I was trying to pretend that the whole thing was okay when it wasn’t.

The next day I re-repotted the thing. It seems much happier now.

Final Repotting

The re-Repotting of an Orchid

I decided it’s only fair to include a few links to sites where you can learn to repot an orchid for real, because I am not a professional horticulturist.

How they repot orchids at Apartment Therapy
How they repot orchids at Orchids.com
How they repot orchids at Beautifulorchids.com

After looking around at these other sites, I don’t think I really did so badly. I got the basics right, I just put too much medium in the pot. So my advice, when repoting your orchid, is to not over-do the media. Did you see that big pile of media I took out?


WHAT IS THIS THING?


What is this thing?

This massive thing is growing on the hill that is our backyard. I don’t know what it is. Whatever it is, I’m not eating it.


WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN


Happy September 1st, everybody. Summer is wrapping up and it’s time to start setting the foundations for a great Spring. Yesterday I laid some really lousy looking sod at the top of the slope where the cars park in an effort to curb the erosion causing rain water run-off. I hope it helps. I thought that if I finish my homework in time (I’m learning Oracle 11g) I would get out there and do a little liming of the grass. I’ve never done that before. I bought a few bags of lime yesterday and I noticed that the bag said it would cover 5,000 square feet. I thought, “How can a small bag like that cover an area as large as that?” Then I accidentally found out.

I sometimes feel the need to advise President Obama on how to handle certain matters, or just offer my opinion on things. This morning was one of those times. So I called the comments line (202)456-1111 and the line was busy. I called it five more times and decided it was out-of-order. So I called the switchboard and asked if I could leave a message for the President with them. They turned me over the comment line but this time I was on hold. While on hold, I clicked around the White House website, and I came across a little video about the White House Kitchen Garden. I noticed they were putting more than one thing in their lime spreader. So that’s the answer. Spread lime
and something else at the same time and that makes it go further. All I need to know now is what else to put in there. If anyone reading this knows what to augment the lime with, please leave a comment. I need all the help I can get.

The White House gardener was spreading potash and crab meal but I don’t know what time of year that was and also, this was for a vegetable garden rather than a lawn. It’s a pretty cool little video though and I’m sharing it with you now.

I don’t know about you, but I feel inspired to grow a vegetable garden now. I have to look into this further. I’m very patriotic.

In case you’re wondering, I ended up sending the President my message electronically.


HURRICANE IRENE, YOU MAKE ME SO MAD


Not to complain, but it’s really been over-the-top around here lately with the natural disasters and calamities. Earthquake, hail, snakes, hurricane—give me a ding dang break. And while none of these in itself is so awful, when you start stacking them up like that, it’s very disruptive. Plus two of those things are bad news for anyone battling an erosion problem, as I am.

I was very unhappy about Hurricane Irene as I knew all the water was going to run through the Two Tree Bed and wash out all the nice compost. But then Bob, that genius of a man, came up with the idea of sandbagging on the hill above the bed using bags of compost and dirt. So we did, and I’m happy to report it worked beautifully. There was very little damage to the bed.

Compost Sand-Bags

Still, there is undeniably a problem with rain runoff from the road above the bed. I think the problem is that the grass, weeds really, has grown thin by the area where we park. I’m going to have to install sod by the parking area.

One really great thing about Hurricane Irene was that she made the soil so soft that I was able to pull up my gladioli bulbs over by the stairs to the driveway by their tops. I didn’t have to dig at all. Then I cut off their tops and laid them out on the table on the deck to dry before I put them away for the winter. So easy.

Aside from the bulb pulling up, I spent today untying things that were tied down, picking up downed branches, and humming There’s Got to Be a Morning After from the 1972 blockbuster The Poseidon Adventure, starring Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, and Shelly Winters. The day after a hurricane truly is beautiful.