Within the Leaves

Yay plants.

May 25th, 2011

9:26am, 74°F, Sunny

I ended up with a bunch of bulbs that were 75% off at Lowe’s the other day. Haven’t gotten around to planting them yet. Also have a “Blueberries n’ Cream” hydrangea sitting around that was rescued from a dumpster fate… check your nearest Lowes for the discount plants, people.

I’m kind of trying to get myself back on track with a lot of things (horse stuff, exercise, cleaning, balcony maintenance, etc) and the balcony has gone mostly untouched. Still, the plants I’ve got up there are looking decent. Morning Glories have begun their climbs on their trellises, tomato plants are pretty big and with blooms, squash is growing… it’s all coming along.

I often feel like life is a giant game of catch-up, and the balcony definitely fits the bill for that at the moment. Ah, well, hopefully I’ll get everything sorted out soon!

And on a random unrelated note… does anyone else love the smell of tomato plants like I do?

Thyme for a Post…

May 23rd, 2011

8:56am,  62°F, Overcast

Oh jeez. I get busy and then I neglect this blog (and my plants, to a degree). Forgive me, people that read this and plants on my balcony and stuff! Thankfully the plants are none the worse for wear.

When I did my initial put-plants-outside-again cleanup and stuff, I trimmed back the thyme I had quite a bit. I remember my mother telling me it does better when you do that, and it was looking pretty meh. Well, it has rewarded me by going nuts and also flowering. I know some herbs you shouldn’t let to go to flower, and I can’t recall if thyme was one of those (and haven’t bothered looking that up yet) but at this point I’m pretty content to just let it do its thing.

I’ll be trying really hard to get back into the swing of daily or near-daily posting, so stay tuned! (Granted, I probably only have a small handful of readers anyway, but whatever.)

Strawberries GO

May 10th, 2011
8:17am, 57°F, Sunny
Life has been so busy, especially with trying to prepare for vending my candles at the West Windsor Renaissance Faire this upcoming weekend. I hope I do real well, but to do that I need to have enough stock, so there’s a mad candle-making scramble.

But anyway! Plants!
My mom had told me that my strawberry plant could probably handle staying outside over the winter. In the past, I’d brought it in and it had sort of kept producing a bit here and there and stayed a pretty average size. I was informed, though, it might be good to let it die back with the cold and get a heartier plant this year when it came back.
Well, that seems to have been correct, as my strawberry plant(s) are going nuts!

I never intended to have the second one, but a seed must have taken root in another pot. (My kind is “Alexandria”, and I don’t think it sends out runners, but I could be wrong.

Go, strawberries, go! Now, as long as the squirrels don’t eat the fruit before I can…

Pardon me as we have a slight departure from my normal posts. I’m cross-posting a Gather article I wrote, listing some ideas for garden-themed Mother’s Day gifts. Enjoy!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and working retail in the plant business, it’s on the mind of many of the people in my department. I’ve compiled a list of gardeny gift ideas. Maybe this list will be of help to some of you!

Flowers seem kind of typical, but instead of ordering a cut arrangement, perhaps think about getting the moms in your life a living plant. Even for people without a green thumb, there are a lot of really easy-to-care-for plants that can stand some abuse and neglect. And some are even helpful!

An aloe plant, for instance, is easy, and useful. The goo inside the leaves can be used on burns and dry skin and the like. Many other houseplants are equally as undemanding– for most, some water and a bit of sunlight on a windowsill will be enough. I keep a small begonia in a pot on my desk, near the window but not right up against it, and it does great as they are shade loving plants. I’ve had it for years!

If you’re going for a larger plant, there are also a lot of choices. Roses tend to come to mind, and there are so many varieties– besides the typical pinks and reds, there are yellows, oranges, and mixes of many colors. (And hot tip– Lowe’s is having a sale; 1.5 gallon roses in many varieties for $5! We got a shipment today and they were flying off the carts.)

Other plant ideas might include hydrangea, of which there are quite a few varieties, or something neat like a foxglove or fuchsia. Depending on where you live and the weather you get, different plants will do well.

If you live far and were just planning to order flowers, maybe think of something a little different instead to mix it up. I once sent someone a cookie basket from Cookies By Design, and they loved it. Or send a tasty fruit arrangement from Edible Arrangements. Flowers aren’t the only thing you can get delivered, nowadays!

Avid gardeners and non-gardening flower lovers alike may love a nice garden book. Here are two of my personal recommendations:

The Bountiful Container- This one is perfect for anyone who grows anything edible in pots– or anyone who wants to. The lighthearted tone of the book makes it a joy to read, as well.

Magic Lanterns- For a crafty mom, this book has a lot of fantastic ideas of how to light up dark spaces. A lot of the crafts would look particularly great out in the garden on a balmy night.

If you’re feeling creative, maybe a handpicked gift basket is the way to go. You can arrange everything in a flowerpot, too, so that everything about the gift is functional. (Maybe skip on packing the items in dirt, though… but I guess if you really want, that could work too!) Other items that might be nice to include are seed packetstrowels/small shovels, or maybe a nice pair of gardening gloves, and perhaps a little ornament of some sort for the pot. There are even functional ornaments like Aqua Globes that will water the plants gradually.

Garden decor can be a good choice, too, and there are a ton of options, from the tacky-tasticlawn gnomes and pink flamingos to ornate statuarybird houses and feedersglow-in-the-dark stakes and solar lights. I love checking out the Decor section of Gardener’s Supply to find neat things.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Mother’s Day. Even if your mom is not near you or with you any longer, take some time to think of the good memories :)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tomato Times

May 2nd, 2011

8:18pm, 69°F, Fair

Last week, an exciting discovery was made at work. Of course, the Lowe’s garden department gets tomatoes– for one, the Bonnie plants have a lot of tomato choices– but we also get some non-Bonnie. I was planning to pick some small plants up at some point, since my attempt at growing them from seed last year resulted in plants but no tomatoes. (Though that might have been because of poor soil quality.) Well, before I figured out which tomatoes I wanted to get, way up on the top shelf of one of the  racks, one of the others at work found something.

“Did you know we have Heirloom Tomatoes?!”

I had not known. But I promptly bought myself two of the “Cherokee Purple” tomato plants.

At my old farmstand job, people made quite a huge fuss over the heirloom tomatoes. I hadn’t really known much about why they were different prior to that, but I quickly learned. I liked seeing all the neat types we’d get, as they were definitely more colorful and varied than the regular greenhouse tomatoes.

I do think they taste better– there was more flavor to the ones I tried, in any case. So I’m really eager to see how my plants do and how they end up tasting– and also just how “purple” they are.

The soil was partially replaced and fertilized, so hopefully this year my tomato endeavor will be a success!

Hooray, squashes!

April 29th, 2011

5:17pm, 64°F, overcast

I started today off (well, sort of, I guess it was already 11am) by planting carrots at my boyfriend’s place. They aren’t really great for containers since they need room to grow downwards, but he had a patch o’ dirt that seemed to be free of most things. He’s out towards the coast, so the soil is sandier. I was reading that carrots like that, because it’s easier for them to grow downwards through and stuff. So, fingers crossed that we have some tasty carrots at some point!

Yesterday, I made a discovery in the pot where I’d planted seeds for green zucchini and yellow squash. Of course, I don’t know which this lone seedling is, but hey!

Today, the little seedling was even bigger, hooray!

I have some tomatoes I got the other day that need to get planted, and still a lot of my other pots to sort out/plant stuff in, but at least the weather is cooperating now!

Morning Glory Time

April 28th, 2011

8:25am, 73°F, overcast

I haven’t posted any morning glory photos yet! Last year, my blog pretty much became nothing but them. Of course, I don’t yet have any flowering, which is part of it. So far, only small seedlings… but I have doubt that they’ll be in bloom in no time!

I really love morning glories most out of any flower. For one thing, they grow quickly and tend to produce a lot of blooms with minimal effort. And they come in so many lovely varieties and colors. I also like that they’re so tenacious– they’ll climb just about anything (even other flowers…) and will reseed themselves for next year. Some people consider those qualities faults, or deem morning glories to be “invasive weeds”, but I much prefer that sort of hardy survival over more delicate flowers that need a lot of special care.

Won’t bother watering this morning, as it looks like rain is 90% probably. I do still have a fairly large balcony garden To Do list, but I’ll probably do more on that tomorrow than today… gearing up for a bit of a busy weekend, but my hours were temporarily cut at work so at least I have a little more time to get things done in!

New Houseplant

April 27th, 2011

Last year at work, I’d been eying these neat houseplants. They had the neatest leaves– dark, dark green, with a coating of purple fuzz. They’re called Purple Passion Plants or Purple Velvet plants. Officially, it’s Gynura aurantiaca.

Unfortunately, a lot of the indoor plants at work don’t get the best watering and these tend to suffer for it, so I rescued two of them. One was in better shape than the other, and that one I nursed to good health and gave to a friend of mine for her birthday. The other is certainly doing better than it was, but it was a bit of a ways to go…

I think this plant is just so neat! No flowers, but who needs ‘em when you got leaves like that?

C’mon, seedlings

April 26th, 2011

7:59am, 70°F, Sunny

Lettuce and Komatsuna seedlings are coming along. I’ve also seed a lot of other seedlings– more lemon balm, I think, for one, and also morning glories, hooray! Sometimes they can be slow to sprout since I don’t bother to soak & nick the seeds, but I think that as long as squirrels keep away for now, they’ll come on up just fine.

Speaking of pesky squirrels, knock on wood, but I haven’t seen one on my balcony in a while. They trimmed the nearest tree back again, though, so while they can still jump it, it’s a lot of effort… we’ll see if they stay off for long.

Warm weather seems to have arrived… happy spring, everyone!

Hello there, Lily!

April 21st, 2011

8:39pm, 53°F, Fair

I don’t know how, but somehow, yesterday, I totally missed the fact that the pot containing some gladiolus bulbs (which bloomed two years ago but not last year) and rain lilies had buds off of some of the lily stems. Truth be told, I’d forgotten about the lilies completely and just figured my gladiolus would continue to send out looooong leaves but no flowers since, hey, they were dollar store bulbs, after all.

So I was quite surprised when, after getting home from work, I glanced out of my window and saw a happy pink flower, with another bud behind it!

What a great surprise, and after a kind of crazy day at work! Love those lilies. And I love surprises, so surprise plants are extra-fun! (Even if I should have remembered they were were…)

I got some other balcony-work done, too. All of the pots and stuff, for the most part, are outside. Only things inside are some stuff that shouldn’t be out at night just yet (or stuff I always keep in). I repotted the rosemary I got from work the other day, though, as well as a houseplant I’d picked up on clearance. Also planted some yellow squash and zucchini seeds. Hopefully I’ll actually get zucchini this year, unlike last when I got all male flowers and no female… and then the squirrels chewed it apart.

Watered everything, though I think it will rain tomorrow.

Happy gardening, all!

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