May 9, 2018

Yesterday, LaVille was digging up bulbs using what is called a transplanting spade.  When I showed this shovel to you, I said it was perfect for digging holes for transplanting from gallon pots.  I probably should have described it instead as a short, light-weight shovel that is the right tool for a woman to use.  Now I realize that sounds sexist.  Does it help if I tell you that I have used this spade a lot.  In fact is probably the reason that I got a herniated disc in my neck because I used it in a jabbing motion to dig an irrigation line through tough soil.  Anyway . . . let’s simply say that it is an easy digging tool because the blade is narrow and therefore finds less resistance when penetrating the soil.  Then too, the blade is long so it penetrates to a depth where bulbs are abiding.  The grip at the end of the 4 foot handle allows you increased torque leverage (The shovel doesn’t twist in your hands easily).  If I piqued your interest,  google “transplanting spade.” 

 

While LaVille was digging, I was working with the circle hoe.  The neighbor has many huge privet trees.  The birdies love the fruit and kindly deposit the seeds when they perch in our pine and hackberry.  Privet seedlings sprout up through the pine needles covering the ground.  The circle hoe allows me to sever the weeds without disturbing the pine needle ground cover too much.  Every now and then I come across an oak seedling that a scrub jay has planted.  The circle hoe is strong enough to penetrate the soil to uproot the acorn.  You know, if you have some interest in this hoe, I would let you practice using it around my yard . . . for free! The circle hoe is available from gardensnob.com.

 

My impaler didn’t work well today.  (The impaler is a stick with a nail at the end.)  You see, our neighbor (the same one with the multiple privet trees) has a huge magnolia tree in his front yard.  His house is on our west side.  Needless to say, a good number of magnolia leaves end up on our front landscaping.  For the last two weeks I haven’t been able to clean up the front yard.  When I finally was able to get to the task today, the “poker” as I call it did not pick up the leaves very well.  The leaves were so dried up that the leaves did not cling to the galvanized nail.  The nail’s penetration created too large of a hole, or the leaf shattered.  So if you are going to use an impaler to gather up large leaves in your landscaping, get to it before the leaves have a chance to become brittle.

Stan, the Blog Man

May 8, 2016

It’s not very often that I follow my own advice.  I recently purchased the Sunjoe model SPX3000 power washer and it seems to work perfectly.  Yesterday I burned out (literally) my leaf blower.  If you place a plugged in leaf blower on a flat surface, lubricate the power switch with silicone, and let it sit while you do some weeding, chances are that the machine will turn on by itself when the switch short circuits.  Since no air can be sucked in from below, the motor cannot be cooled, and it will catch fire.  I was really attached to that tool, too.  So today I went down to the Davis Ace and purchased a new Toro 51618 model.  Its first test was to “detail” the back end of the Yukon.  You know, whenever you transport a potted plant that has to be placed on its side, there is going to be a mess no matter how carefully you drive.  So the new leaf blower passed with flying colors . . or flying debris.  Oh yes, I did follow my own advice and actually handled the tool in the store before making my selection.  I tried the gas powered models, but they were too heavy for me to use in a vertical position, which I often have to do.

 

Oh no!  Flowers!  This was my thought when I spotted a patch of oxalis in the lawn.  So I lay on the lawn for 45 minutes teasing the oxalis from among the grass blades.  Did you ever do a biology dissection where you teased the different tissues apart?  I still remember finding the tiny brain of an earthworm and the five pairs of aortic arches.  Anyway . . . I find that I have to weed almost every day.  One would think if I torch every weed I find so that the plant and its seeds are destroyed, that there would be no more weeds.  I have this rule in the garden:  No weeds allowed.  Mother Nature apparently didn’t get the word because the battle wages on daily.  I have a suggestion:  Weed at different times of the day.  I think the angle of the sun may be one of the reasons that some weeds go undetected one day only to easily appear on the next.  One thing I forgot to tell you about weeding with a torch– If there is no breeze, smoke will rise from the conflagration and engulf you.  Yesterday I smelled of both burned weeds and burned plastic (leaf blower cremation).

 

Stan, The Blog Man

May 6, 2018

I hope you are in the mood to add labels to your plants.  Do I have labels for you!  While laid up with a bum knee, I cut around 500 mini-blind labels.  I was surprised by the groans of disgust when I mentioned that the labels I was providing were perhaps coated with grease from hanging in a house for years.  So . . . I washed every label with soap and water.  You will find these labels will readily accept pencil, china marking pencil, or acrylic pen.  Once again, do not use Sharpie pens.  They will fade in 6 months.  Now if you have a special need for labels with a different length, let me know.  For example, I cut labels 2 ½ inches long with a hole in one end for LaVille.  She attaches them below an iris flower into which she has introduced pollen from another flower.  The label indicates the pollen donator variety on the top and the ovary variety recipient on the bottom.  Perhaps one day years from now there will be a new iris hybrid registered that will be named after one of our grandchildren.

Today, LaVille, a neighbor, and I traveled the Pence Gallery Garden Tour.  The primped gardens reminded me of the fact that our garden was on the tour last year.  That experience had a significant effect on our lives.  All of the work we did to prepare for that tour increased our love for our garden and gardening in general.  Months of effort created what we think is a beautiful place to visit.  Too insure that the garden is maintained, we have altered our travel schedule so that we are home during the hot summer months when plants can take a severe beating and weeds can take over.  The front yard has received more attention because we had allowed it to become too naturalized.

Now, believe it or not, I am going to suggest that you consider being on a garden tour of the perennial club.  It is a lot of work and can involve a financial investment, and investment is a good word to describe how the result is going to affect your lives for years.  You might say that it is too late to change your yard—that you have no time to make any changes in your landscape.  And that is exactly my point:  creating an enriched environment that you will enjoy the rest of your years is more than enough reason to make that decision for action now.  Besides . . . I would like to visit.

Stan, The Blog Man

April 4, 2018

This should be no secret:  Last week LaVille and I were on the way to the Green Acres Nursery in Elk Grove when we saw the Secret Garden Nursery off to the west side of the freeway.  On a whim we exited at Sheldon and drove back on the frontage road to check it out.  We were absolutely astounded at how neatly displayed everything was and that every plant was in perfect condition.  Plants are organized by the conditions they need.  The nursery specializes in succulents and has a tremendous variety of pottery and garden art.  The gift store is just full of items that appeal to the home gardener.  I told Jennifer that we missed her booth at the SGAC sales.  She said that she regretted missing the event too, but that weekends were so busy at the nursery that she couldn’t spare the manpower and inventory at those times.  We found Jennifer to be very personable and helpful and find it no wonder that the business has received so many awards.  Check out her website—just google Secret Garden Nursery in Elk Grove.

Tools and Treasures Table: 
. . . I hope you have taken a strip of the yellow fiberglass webbing that can be used to screen the drainage holes in pots.  You will find that this material lasts forever.  When you do your repotting, you will find the mesh attached to the soil when you lift the plant.  Reuse it over and over again.  
. . . Some of you have picked up the small bundles of mini blind labels.  Don’t use Sharpie pens to write on them.  Use either an acrylic pen or a wax pencil.  (I recently bought a box of wax pencils so you can get one from me.)  If you have difficulty using these two, it is probably because there is a layer of grease on the blind.  Drop the labels in a bowl of soapy water.  Slosh them around a bit.  Rinse and wipe each label off with a rag.  Please keep your eye out for anyone getting rid of aluminum mini blinds.  We use them constantly to label irises and Emma is using them for her plants.
. . . No one seems interested the yellow white fly strips we’ve put out on the table.  I guess that’s understandable since it is not white fly season.  You see we bought a package of 60 sheets on Amazon because it was a great price.  LaVille cuts the sheets into thirds and punches a hole at the tops for hanging.  We have lots of strips to give away, so we hope you will pick these up from the table come white fly season.  They really work great!

Stan, The Blog Man