Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Rain

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watchin' the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
and speak my point of view, but it's not sane, It's not sane.
That song always seems to play in my head at this time of year.  (Ok, all year.  I was a huge Blind Melon fan back in the day . . .)  While the rest of the country has more weather than they can handle, central Florida has been execessively dry.   We have distinct rainy seasons, the most significant lasting from the end of May to the end of September.  During that time we have daily rain showers and you can set your clock by their 4:30pm arrival.  Usually it takes a big storm to kick-start the cycle, but so far that storm hasn't come.  So it is very dry right now.  Due to wildfires over the weekend, there is a burn ban.  Fireside chats with the hubs will have to wait.  Worse for wear are my wilting plants.  They look so sad and miserable.  We have irrigation, but it is manual, and we try to only turn it on when it is desperately needed.  It was installed by the previous owners and mainly gets the grass, so some of the corners are still parched.  Today I dragged the bucket out and hand watered many of the plants.  A few needed more intensive care:

These vinca were totally shriveled up this morning when I first put them in the sink for water.  After a little time in the ICU, they perked back up. They'd only been left outside for a day and a half!  There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that there will be lots of rain and minimal lightening!

**The rainy season in Florida also brings the start of the hurricane season.  Every year I hear "Why would people live in hurricane prone areas?? It is so scary!"  At least with hurricanes you've got a few days notice.  I can't begin to image what folks in Alabama and the mid-west have had to deal with from recent tornadoes.  That seems like such a nightmare that you can't plan for and my heart goes out to them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

How to Recycle a Driveway

Have you priced landscaping stones lately?  I wanted to make a raised bed for the circle of the corner garden and liked the look of natural stone.  I priced limestone rocks at the local big box store and they were $5 - $10 a piece!  That didn't even include the delivery charge.  So this is what I lived with for the last year:
Black plastic edging that was only marginally better than nothing at all.  (And you wonder why I haven't wanted to share lately.)  Recently I was visiting my parents who were replacing their driveway.  I noticed some rocks stacked in neat piles and I swear I thought "Hmmm, I thought they were pouring a new driveway, not replacing it with rock. . . "  Ok, so I can be dense sometimes.  My Dad informed me that no, this was the cracked up parts of the driveway that they were getting ready to haul off to the dump in the morning.  One big guy and a sledge hammer broke up the entire driveway, a fact that impressed my nerdy little family to no end.  Well, I wasn't going to let this go to waste.  I immediately filled up the back of my station wagon and went home to build this: 
This is the prototype that took about 10 minutes to dry stack.  I kept what I was doing from my husband.  If I had told him what I was bringing home a bunch of broken up concrete for the garden, he would have been on the phone with the local mental health facility.  But in the end, he liked the look and ok'd me going back to get more for the circle:
Not too bad, huh?  Certainly an improvement.  In the prototype picture the flat side of the stone, the top when it was a driveway, was on top.  I later decided I like the bottom better because it looked more like real stone, and was more stable with the flat part on the bottom. 

This project was complete and I was very happy with myself when my Husband came up with an idea.  We had another problem we were trying to solve. The sand pit adjacent to the pool garden:
When we first moved into this house with a one-year-old, this was a great thing.  Our daughter could play in the sand while we watched from the house or pool.  But she eventually outgrew it and since it was difficult to put chairs in the sand, it was a huge waste of space.  Add to it that the neighborhood cats had made it a community litter box and the wall surrounding it was starting to rot, it all had to go.  Of course the same old problem came up.  We wanted to use white pavers to make it a patio area, but at $2 to $3 a piece it would have cost us several hundred dollars we didn't have, and I really wanted something more natural looking.  Fortunately the cement guys were still breaking up another part of the driveway and had pieces left.  This time the guys took pity on me and my little car and dropped off the load at my house:  
I sorted them into piles based on size, which I highly recommend for this project.
The cement has its own character.  Most of it looks like rock, but in certain spots you see the tire tracks and footprints left from the mud when they first poured the driveway 20 plus years ago.
First there was demolition.  This is always the part were you freak out and think "What have we done??"  That wheelbarrow in the foreground took a major beating.
Halfway done.
Three-quarters done.
Finished product!  I took the sand from the pit and swept it into the cracks.  Finally, the space is usable again and we've enjoyed several nights watching the fire in the pool.  (Yes, it is already very hot here, but the fire keeps the mosquitoes away . . .)  Not too bad considering it was all free.  Which is a good thing because I clearly need to save up for new lawn furniture!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Cheap and Dirty

Wow!  January 31 was my last post?? (And a kinda lame one at that.)  Time flies.  I can't say I didn't post because I haven't been in the garden.  Due to being laid-off, I've had the chance to spend a LOT of time in the garden, although the budget is a bit more restricted.  Since I've been able give it more attention, the garden is flourishing.  It is also the third year I've gardened organically, and it seems like the system has finally caught up with itself.  Thought I'd do a quick post on some of the blooms and a quick teaser for some upcoming posts I'm working on.

The irises in the front garden have gone gang-busters this year.  One day my daughter counted 27 blooms.  This may well be my favorite.  (If you are interested in how I "acquired" these irises, click here and here.)

I've been loving the daylilies this year, and a few days ago my favorite purple one came out.  I think it might be called Purple Grape but I don't know for sure, and, ( forgive me, Hemerocallis Society) I don't really care.  It is pretty.

My rainlily would not be out done.

As I've mentioned, money is tight, and since propogation is probably my favorite part of gardening, I've bought nothing that I couldn't make twenty more of in a week a or two.  The coleous above is included.  Yummm, those colors make me drool a little.

I have an abundance of some plants that for whatever reason I've not been able to reproduce, and this year I cracked the code on two, including the Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' above.  I tried everything on this one.  I rooted some in water, some in soil with root hormone, and some I dug up.  Turns out this plant spreads via an underground tuber, and I dug up and planted some of them tuber and all.  I had about a 50% success rate, which was much better than previous years.  There's a ton of small plants in pots now and have been giving them away.  Digging the tuber up and potting it worked best of all (go figure.)

The other plant I've tried to propagate without success is the confederate jasmine.  It grows wildly on my daughter's playhouse, but up until now, I haven't been able to get it to to grow any where else.  The cuttings even have tiny dry roots at the base when I cut them, making it all the more frusterating. In early January I trimmed the plant back and tried to get some of the cuttings to take in soil, which didn't work.  I left the rest in a bucket that I forgot about until just a few weeks ago.  Rain had filled the bucket and new green leaves were coming out of it.  Duh!  Why hadn't I thought of rooting them in water?  Maybe the woody stems through me off.  Now that I know, I'll be doing more!

Finally, a peek at one of the projects I 've been working on:
You: Oh my!  Is that the Corner Garden?  With a stone border? 
Me: Why, yes it is!
You: But what happened to the tacky plastic border?
Me: I adiosed it. See-ya!
You: Wait a minute, didn't you say you were on a budget??
Me: Well, that is another post, my friend.

Happy gardening!!

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