Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pollen + Rain = Yellow Puddles

This past week has been nothing but pollen and rain.  It rained non-stop for three straight days and now the pollen picked right back up covering everything.

A positive from all the rain is that lots of my vegetable seeds have sprouted.  In this picture I have sugar snap peas, onions, and carrots.  I also have three varieties of tomatoes sprouting as well as the red potatoes and yellow squash growing strong in the gardens.

A couple weeks ago my neighbor "crape murdered" her crape myrtle tree and cut it back to the trunk.  I grabbed one large branch and made 20+ cuttings with 10 or more already sprouting.  I'm really impressed how quickly they started growing.  I hope they root well.  Google 'crape murder' if you want some entertainment.

My larger Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia) cuttings are growing real well.  Tonight I trimmed off the dead parts of the cuttings so that they have room to grow tall.  It's amazing how easy these things grow.

Here are more Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia) cuttings.  The softwood cuttings from last fall are in the middle and growing well.  All the bare sticks are hardwood cuttings from the winter.  Some are rooting but no leaves yet.

Seven Sisters Roses

The gutter is supplying plenty of water to the rose cuttings.

Two new cuttings starting to grow leaves.

The previous three pictures are from our front walkway garden.  Originally we had ratty looking boxwood bushes but I removed those by pulling them out with my truck and now I've been planting Seven Sister Roses.

The original rosebush came as a cutting started by my Grandmother.  I started a 2nd bush at my old house and then when I moved last summer, I dug up these two bushes to take with me to my new house.  The rosebushes went through an initial shock and dropped all their leaves, but have rebounded very well.  Since then I've made four more bushes from cuttings branches off the two bigger bushes.

I've learned that when trying to grow these roses from cuttings, all you need to do it remove the leaves, stick them in the ground, and keep them watered.  Mulching around them keeps the soil moist and once the roots grow you have a new rosebush.  The cuttings I ignore seem to grow the best.

Until next time....

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Railroad Tie Raised Garden Bed

Just when I thought we were in full blown spring, the temperature drops to 35 degrees.  It looks like everything survived and we don't have any more cold weather on the forecast, so I believe I can officially say that it's finally spring!

The last couple weeks I've been working on building, filling, and planting a raised garden bed out of railroad ties.  As stated in a previous post, I received these railroad ties free from someone offering them on Craiglist.  The previous owner used them for a playground border.  Now I'd like to share my experiences with setting up this garden.

I picked up eight foot long railroad ties and cut two down to use on the ends with a circular saw.  I had to cut all 4 sides of the wood and then use a hand saw to finish the edge so that it was smooth.

The next step was deciding what to do with the grass.  Since this area of grass was so thick, I found some large boards to lay on the grass to kill it before putting in the soil.

I picked up a cubic yard of garden soil and shoveled about 20 cubic feet of soil into the garden.  The grass wasn't entirely dead but I did cover half of it with a fabric to see if it prevents weed and/or grass growth better than no barrier at all.

The filled garden was looking good!

My next step was planting some squash plants that my little girl and I started by seed in the seed-starting tray on the right.  We also planted some carrot seeds in rows by the popsicle stick.  I'm waiting on some bush beans to get bigger to transplant them in the open area of the garden.

Luckily I put pine straw around the seedlings before the cold front came through.  I really hope this protected the squash plants!  So what do you think of the railroad tie raised garden?

Here are some other things going on around the backyard garden:

Red potatoes, herb seed planted, and tomato seedlings.

Cleaned out the butterfly garden planted our lemon tree, and mulched around the citrus trees

Spiderworts blooming in our flower garden.

Mother bluebird leaving her house!  We are excited for our first spring in the new house!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Finding things you need on Craigslist

I've discovered that Craigslist has become a great tool for getting things I need for my yard.  Sometimes I get lucky and someone posts a free ad near me.  There are times I can negotiate a price down so that I get a great deal and other times I just post an ad in the wanted section for whatever I need.  I've received many items free or a lot cheaper than retail prices.  If there's an expensive item I need, I'll sell other items and save the cash to buy the needed item.  Right now I've saving for a reliable weed eater/trimmer.

Another online resource that I've found very beneficial is freecycling.  Freecycle.org has a network of cities around the US that people offer items they believe others could use.  You are also able to post wanted ads and I've received many items this way.

I bought this garden cart last week from someone off Craigslist for $20.  It's in great shape and will be extremely helpful moving things around my yard.  I've seen retail prices for these carts anywhere from $70-$150.  I think I got a great deal!  The bricks were posted on the free section and I loaded up the back of my truck.

So far I've used the bricks for a fire pit and as a border for my flower garden.

This flat-free wheelbarrow retails at Lowes for $64 plus tax.  I got it off Craigslist for around $30 in excellent condition.

Big box stores love to jack up prices on seasonal items like rain barrels.  I found this one on Craigslist for around $40.  I've begun using the water from this rain barrel daily when watering my vegetables and seedlings.

I heard about this potting bench from an ad the building had on Craigslist selling benches of different sizes.  I've also found a guy that fixes lawn mowers and yard equipment motors.  A mower I sold recently I originally got for free, he fixed it for $30, and I sold the working mower for $100.  Easy $70 profit!

Trash cans, railroad ties, lumber, pallets, a table, and lots of pots are examples of items that I've got for free on either Craigslist or Freecycle.  There's a lot out there that people don't want and it's great that I can put these things to use instead of them going to a landfill.

What have you bought on Craigslist or received from freecycling?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pollen is in the air... and my nose.

It's Spring!  Well not officially, Spring starts March 20th, but plants started blooming and birds are making nests.  Our bluebirds are back checking out where I moved their house.

My Eastern Redbud tree is starting to show life again and my maple tree looks very cool with all the red seeds hanging.  Does anyone know if maple tree leaves make good mulch for around the base of trees?  I usually just use pine needles.

I added some amaryllis and spiderworts (I think) to my flower garden.  I still need to mulch around them to keep the weeds from growing.  I've decided that this area is where I'll plant things that people give me.  There is an odd collection already in the garden including aloe, milkweed, ivy, Ox Eye Sunflower, and more that I haven't identified yet.  

This was a spur of the moment project.  I was working in the yard and got an alert on my phone that someone was giving away railroad ties.  I heard about how people make gardens out of them so I thought I'd give it a try.  These are pretty old railroad ties that have rotted some, but the garden frame ended up looking good.

Now I need to find around 20 cubic feet of garden soil to fill my new railroad tie garden.  So far I have a quote of $35 dollars for 1 cubic yard (27 cubic feet) but the soil is in Wakulla.  Does anyone know of a place in or around Tallahassee that has good quality garden soil at a decent price?

This is an area of my yard that I'm trying to plant all natives.  So far under the pine trees I've planted 3 Arrow-wood, 1 Spicebush, and 1 Crabapple that were purchased as bareroot trees at Native Nurseries.  Do you say "bareroot", bare-root", or "bare root"???  I also planted 3 'Little Gem' Southern Magnolia toward the back of my property line.

Here is a closeup of the Crabapple. None of these trees are very big but my goal is for them to fill out the area covered in pine needles and give birds, insects, and wildlife food and shelter.

Sun setting over my future native filled landscape...

The time springs forward this weekend so that means more time in the yard!!!  (if my wife lets me...)