Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Garden Gnomes

Garden gnomes originated in Germany and were brought to England in the mid-nineteenth century. Gnomes are supposed to guard against evil spirits and help in the garden at night.  Obviously I need a few more because the one garden gnome I have seems to sit around reading all of the time instead of working in the garden.  Naturally garden gnomes are a huge controversial subject among gardeners, whimsical art or tacky kitch?  You decide. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Messy Chaotic Gardens or Picture perfect?

On the Garden Rant blog they discuss their manifesto which states that they like chaotic messy gardens instead of picture perfect garden magazine photos.  A former contributor to their blog, the Renegade Gardener begs to differ.  He thinks aspiring to the perfection of most garden photos is a good thing.  I do too.  I get great ideas from magazine photos.  To be honest, the articles don't interest me unless there are great photos or it is a well written piece on a subject that interests me. 

Now, true confession. My deep dark secret is that I probably write as much (or more ) than I actually garden.  I have health issues (lupus), resulting in fatigue and I cant be exposed to the sun for too long and I don't take heat very well.  So you may ask how do I garden, Answer:  very carefully. (ha!)  I get help from a neighbor to mow the grass (I mean weeds) every 2 weeks and do mulching and pruning. I also get help from friends and family.  Having a chronic illness for most of my life I decided a long time ago that since I feel like crap most of the time anyway, I might as well feel like crap while I am doing something I enjoy.  Now in my 50's that is gardening. Parts of the garden are looking pretty good right now (if you don't look to close) and other parts are a mess. As a writer I can identify the bugs that are eating my hibiscus, I can tell you how to prevent the black spot which is defoliating my roses as we speak, and I can give you turf alternative such as the clover and weeds in my lawn.  But when I sit out in a shady spot and doze off near the Zepherine Drouhin rose, while sipping iced herb tea made with my own herbs, I don't care about these imperfections. This is heaven and why I garden.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another FCNP article

Check out my new article in the Falls Church News-Press, "Shoveling the Brown to Get the Green", on page 32.  It's about healthy soil and using organic fertilizers.  We should cultivate our soil since plants are able to absorb nutrients through their roots courtesy of organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, in the soil.  If you only use inorganic chemicals for fertilizer that do not have organisms in it or don't feed the organisms, the soil will die.  Compost is one of the best things to add to soil as a conditioner, making it a better consistency for the plant roots and as fertilizer because it has nutrients to feed the organisms.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Monthly article in the Washington Beacon Newspaper

Hi everyone, I am now writing another monthly column on gardening, this one is for the Beacon Newspapers, a monthly newspaper for people over 50.  June's column is in the print edition on page 12.  It is available at some doctor's offices and the library among other places, as well as on line.  Hope you enjoy June's article which is about the health benefits of gardening.  Who knew?  Playing in the dirt is actually healthy for you! (It's scientific and everything). look on page 12 of the print edition.


It is early June, but the heat has arrived.  I just had my rain barrel system upgraded to two, so of course it hasn't rained since then.  On the other hand this evening I put out a soaker hose in a far away part of the garden that gets neglected and watered it.  It is now raining.  Oh well, that how it goes.  I still think the soaker hose idea is a good one.

I have learned that I need to plant things about two weeks earlier than I have been.  It gets hot faster than it used to or perhaps the advice I read is for another part of the country, but several things were not quite ready when the heat struck.  Lettuce, peas and kale do not go for this kind of heat and dry conditions.  I am assuming the carrots will not be as tasty either but they are not quite ready yet.  I will try all of these again in the fall. 

Now it is time to get the squash, cucumbers and melons ready for the squash bugs to eat! 

Update on the potato bags.  The plants look very tall and vigorous,  but not sure what if anything is going on down in the dirt.  They also have signs of some white stuff, which I think is a bug related thing not fungus. I shall spray them tomorrow.  Going to try neem oil and or insecticidal soap (if it stops raining).