Saturday, March 9, 2013

Viola seedlings

I love the neat mounding habit of these violas that I grew from a seed packet. Though these will self sow, its always a pleasant surprise. Neat, well behaved plants are always welcome in my garden.

Passionflower "incarnata"

Does that mean "reborn"? Because that's exactly what this plant does every year. And it gets ten times as large as it was the previous year. See it growing by my window? I didn't plant it there, I planted it ten yards away. It sends out these half inch thick rope like runners that can travel at least ten to 30 feet away, depending on how strong the top growth was the year before. The top dies in the winter. Thankfully the runners grow shallow and are easy to pull.

Swallowtail larva

Found this guy (and one other sibling) munching on my parsley until there was nothing left. So I ran to the grocery store to buy organic parsley, planning to create an indoor habitat. But I came home to find them both gone :(

Blue bee, can't tell from photo

I found this iridescent blue bee sleeping in that yellow tulip. I must have woken it. It crawled onto my hands and chilled for a minute before flying off.

New year flowering peach

My mom grew this peach from seed years ago. The special thing about it is that it blooms every year exactly on the day of the lunar new year, whether it falls on January or February. So what happened to the concept of chilling hours?

The fruits are so numerous that they don't reach full size, about an inch across. if grown from seed, it flowers as early as the second or third year.  the color variation from one seedling to the next is baby pink to almost red. I know this because we have given seeds to many interested neighbors and have seen the resulting offspring.

Owari satsuma

This was taken exactly one year ago. This tree has been in the ground for six years and has not been bothered by the Houston frosts, even when temps were down in the twenties for ten days straight ( 2009). I visited this tree yesterday, lots of vegetative growth, but not a single bloom! What happened? Heavy crop last year perhaps. Still, couldn't it muster a few dozen blooms at least?

Sedum Angelina

My four yo daughter snapped this photo using my phone. Don't those look like bright green chrysanthemums?

This is how I organize my seed packets

Sometimes in the middle of winter, an image of a pretty flower on the front of a seed packet would catch my eye and I impulsively pick up the packet (and about a dozen more) and go straight to the check out line. Upon returning home, the instructions say to sow the seeds once the ground is warm. Sadly, i'm an impatient gardener, and most of the seeds I've collected over the years still sit collecting dust. Once the ground is warm, I've long forgotten about the seeds that I was so excited about.

So I decided to solve this dilemma and started organizing my seeds based on when they should be sown. I use an index card labeled for every season, and one labeled "sow anytime". I dug around for a suitable container and came up with these acrylic boxes that were used previously to contain frozen durian (yumm..). I now have an excuse to pay $6 for 6oz of durian (yikes!) because a new acrylic container would cost just as much.

I then file the packets behind the appropriate planting season. During each season, I can just look up what's ready for sowing at that time.

Foxtail fern seedlings, asparagus meyerii

Look what I found while weeding my front yard. These baby foxtails were found about four feet away from the mother plants which are now full of red berries. The tiny bulbs are adorable miniatures of the fat translucent bulbs I see everywhere when I weed around

They will stay inside with me for now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Orchid centerpiece

I got the big magenta orchid from my mom. I bought it six months ago and she got it to rebloom. Lets see how long the blooms last this time.

She did give me an interesting piece of advice that I want to share. When a bud is almost ready to bloom, squeeze it gently to help it open. Being indoors in low humidity, sometimes the orchids have a tough time opening and may turn yellow and fall off before opening.


Peonies do not bloom in Houston, so they say.. nor do they do well in pots. It didn't stop me from trying. I will update with results as the year goes by.

Crazy citrus blooms!

Have you ever seen so many blossoms on an orange tree? about a thousand blossoms and the tree is only a little over two feet tall!  It doesn't have a name, just labeled "naval orange" but I have a feeling it is a Hamilton.

Epsom salt bath, for me and my plants!

i call this Gardener's Tea:

1 cup Epsom salt in bathwater, some green clay. steep yourself for at least one hour.

Epsom salt is an excellent source of magnesium and sulfur, which is great for your skin, and it makes your plants lush and green as well. I used a flexible bucket to carry the water to my plants after I was done. Use a light weight pitcher or other container to fill it up halfway. Otherwise its heavy!

Ready to Garden!

my hands haven't been so dehydrated as they are now. I've been pulling weeds four times a week!

1. apply lotion, any
2. on top, apply an oil, like Shea butter to seal it in. olive oil is great for skin too.
3. wear gloves! you can pull many more weeds with gloves than without. these are 1.99 at Lowes. one side grips, while the back is made of cloth for breathability. buy several pairs so you always have clean ones every day. plus you don't have to wash your hands, getting them further. throw them all in the machine when you're done.
4. ladies, don't forget sunscreen! for my face i use shiseido ultimate protection lotion, Spf 60! it feels like you have nothing on your skin, and i feel my face can withstand more heat with it on.

** for ant bites, and other skin irritations, have tea tree oil on hand. it stops the itch on contact and heals your skin.

Friday, February 15, 2013

close up of orchid bowl

you can see the orchid still in its pot. i wasn't too careful about concealing the rim. I also dug up moss growing outside and placed them on empty areas of soil. i mist them every three days, but because they grew in full sun previously, we'll see if they will last indoors.

Monday, February 11, 2013

peace lily

Here is another arrangement that i planted at the same time as the orchid in glass bowl. the peace lily I used was too big so i divided it and placed half of it into this smaller 8" glass bowl (dollar store). that was a year ago, the plant has quadrupled in size. one thing to remember about these arrangements is not to fertilize since there is no water runoff. the plants seen to get everything they need from the unfertilized soil/peat moss.

the Angelina sedum was added just a couple days ago. these were dug up from outside in full sun.

Potted Amazon lily

the Amazon lily flowers look like daffodils, the leaves look like those of the peace lily.  I planted it two weeks ago in an indoor pot (no drainage holes). i have a two inch layer of pebbles on the bottom, but i have to be very careful with watering. the lady that sold it to me says this plant prefers being outside in the shade. so i do have to carry this (heavy) pot outdoors every once in awhile, on the covered patio. The browned leaf was a victim of too much afternoon sun while it was outdoors. A couple of droopy flower stalks were propped up by weaving them around the leaves.

living centerpiece with orchid, peace lily, prayer plant, and moss

ive had this arrangement on my breakfast table for the last year. It hasn't changed much except for the orchids, which i replace every two to three months.

you need:

1. 10 -12" glass bowl, mine is from Target, ~$6. I like glass so i can see the moisture level.

2. the bottom is a one inch layer of hydroton, for drainage. expanded shale can also be used. these keep the soil from sitting in water and have an absorbent outer layer that wicks water upward.

3. next is a layer of potting soil, i used Pro-mix. any professional peat based soil mix is fine, but it needs to wick well so there are no dry spots after watering. I like miracle gro potting mix also.

4. Add plants!

your orchid stays in its pot, so place that in first. i used two mini phalaenopsis in three inch pots.

add a layer of soil to anchor the position of the orchids.

add other plants directly into the glass bowl and top off with soil.

the soil should not reach more than 1/2" below the rim of the bowl. you don't want water running off onto your nice table.

5. i water the orchids, until the Hydroton layer is full of water. in a couple of hours the entire bowl of soil is evenly moist and there is no more water standing at the bottom.

* I once had a 4" regular sized phalaenopsis in the bowl. the pot was too high, so i cut off the bottom and stuck the pot in the soil, concealing the rim with moss

*orchids grown in bark lasts much longer than ones grown in sphagnum moss.

*for the first month i added dilute organic fertilizer but the plants did not like it. since the water doesn't run off, i don't think the plants even need it. I've used no fertilizer whatsoever for the past year, yet the plants have grown and filled in well.

*these are growing near a north and west facing window. the bright afternoon sun is too much, so the blinds stay closed. yet the north window doors not provide enough light to get the orchids to rebloom. i just take them out once they are faded and give then to my mom. she gets bright indirect light which allows them to rebloom within a few months.