Welcome to my Gardening Blog.

In October of 2012 I moved from Anaheim CA to the Mojave Desert. So the older posts will reflect my gardening before the move, and my newer ones are after the move. Now that I have a huge yard and sandy soil (the opposite of what I had in Anaheim), I have to learn how to adapt.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Got Rocks?

Today I kept putting birdseed out on the porch table, and every time I looked a chubby cheeked chipmunk was hoarding the seeds. I even saw one climb vertically up a wooden post to get to the seeds on the railing. Enough! I went and found the old gourd bird feeder that had blown down in a storm last spring and ended up under a creosote bush and fixed it up and hung it from a branch. Yes, the chipmunks can still get to it, but they'll have to work a lot harder to get up there. No more of this 'hop on the chair, then hop on the table'.

 The garlic we planted has sprouted. I'm relieved because nothing has grown well in that tub.

 I decided to dig a hole by the fence and plant the other mulberry tree our neighbor gave us. I was about done, when I hit a rock. Now the two of us have been trying to dig that rock out for three days. Only it's not just one rock...it's two big ones and a myriad of small ones. If we can't get it out soon, it's going to end up being a hole for a rosebush. And speaking of roses, I saw two cool ones at Home Depot. One is called "Cocoa' and one was striped. I thought it was called 'Henry Miller' but I'm not sure now. The plants weren't blooming though, so all I had to go by was the photo on the label. I'll save the names and when I can afford to put in a rose garden, I'll buy them somewhere.

The light area on the left is also a rock.
Rock Garden?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Snake Gourds in the Garden

Cleaned gourds look like this but cost more, so why not clean your own?
This morning I fought the urge to go on Facebook and went straight out to the yard instead, so  I could do things before the sun got brutal. I cleaned all my jewelry gourds and some of my mini gourds that I got from the Welburn Gourd Farm. I just soak them in a bucket of water for a few minutes, then scrub the dirt, mold and skin off with a pot scrubber. I have more to do but my hands needed a rest.

Then I went to water my snake gourds, which are spectacular this year. Only the aphids are suddenly a huge threat. I cut off a dozen leaves that were beyond repair. Then I sprayed the rest with a mixture of peppermint oil and water to make the leaves less appealing. I'm not entirely sure that will work but I know ants hate it, and ants farm aphids. So yeah. Aphids. Sad face.

I'd about given up on the peppers, but I guess the fertilizer kicked in because they are covered in flowers again. I may get some more before frost. And I have a few tomatoes coming on as well, in spite of tomato worms that went crazy on them. My boyfriend was removing gypsum weed from my neighbor's yard and found those were covered in tomato worms as well, so if you have some of that in your yard, you might want to get rid of it.

Someone gave us more pallets so my dream of raised beds should come true for next spring's garden.

Jewelry Gourds look like this before cleaning.

Welburn Gourd Farm 2013
Big kettle gourd waiting for a new home.
I'll have a bumper crop of snake gourds this year. You can see where the rabbits nibbled on the leaves.

Snake gourds will turn brown in the fall.

This could be a quiver.

My only surviving Mammoth Sunflower.

This sunflower grew 3 feet while was on vacation!
A covey of quail just arrived to eat up the seed I put out when I watered this morning. There must be 20 of them. No rabbits lately though. I wonder where they all went?

Monday, August 05, 2013

You Are My Sunshine

I love the little sunflowers that volunteered to grow by my porch. As my mother used to says,"You have the same clothes to get glad in."

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Fertilizing Day

The garden was looking a little sad, so I fertilized everything this morning. I've never fertilized before, preferring to see what this new and different soil would do on its own. The gourds look great but everything else was showing yellowing leaves. The tomato worms did a lot of damage too. And the little yellow pear shaped tomatoes were getting smaller and smaller. So I hope the fertilizer helps.

Curved Snake Gourd

I held up my hand so you could see how big this gourd is.

I'm hoping to use the straight snake gourds for quivers.

Oh dear, our water storage tank overflowed. We found out the float was stuck.

Mammoth Sunflower

My most successful sunflower.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Garden

Now that the sunflowers are blooming in the backyard, I'm not at home to see them. Luckily someone took a photo of them so I can at least see that.  I won't be home for another 2 weeks.

The big successes of the awful garden this year were the yellow tomatoes which just got ripe (also while I was gone) and the portulaca (moss rose) that is blooming like crazy, and the snake gourds that are now setting fruit. The volunteer sunflower bloomed like crazy and grew to about 6' tall.

Sadly the 2 gourd plants in the Zen garden totally got chomped by something.  We don't know what because they were surrounded by chicken wire. Their growth was so stunted I doubt they would have grown fruit anyway. Next year we'll  do better I hope.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hummingbird Feeder Made From a Bottle

Today I finished the hummingbird feeder I was making from a green bottle that my friend Rebecca gave me. I used copper wire to make a sling for it. I ordered the feeding tube off of Ebay, and I decorated the tube with a flower from the dollar store. I wasn't sure if the wind was going to drain all the nectar out of it.  So I had to stabilize  it with another piece of twine. I was thrilled when a tiny hummingbird drank from it for the first time. I thought hitting a moving target might prove too challenging, but the bird seemed to be drinking four or fives times from it, then off it flew. So far so good.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June Gardening Update

June has been a rough gardening month. A week of temps in the 100's and I just can't water 3 times a day. The only sunflower that has done really well was a volunteer wild sunflower with multiple buds on it right now.

The gourds are finally making progress. My garden would be fine if I had big bucks to throw into it, but I don't. I could do a lot with about 20 extra large bags of potting mix and about a mile of new hoses including soak hoses and enough wood to make raised beds like I wanted to do in the first place. I about cried when the local farmer's market guy suggested putting all my plants in containers. I was finally glad to have a huge yard and get out of the city so I could grow things in the ground! I had enough container gardening in Anaheim.  And I'm sure I sounded exasperated when I told him I was trying to get away from container gardening.

On the good side, my portulaca just bloomed. The first flower was yellow, and came and went before I got a photo of it. But there are more buds. The pepper has one fruit on it. The best growing tomato bush has new yellow flowers. I think it's the small yellow pear tomatoes on that one. But I moved them so many times to protect them from the rabbits that I've lost track.

So, I made some ant posters. At least the insects, which come in great varieties, have been entertaining.

Guy putting up an awning before we melt.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Morning Glories

Yesterday I finally got the morning glory seedlings planted along with some bush beans.  The wind was blowing and sand kept getting in my eyes, but I had to get it done as I had soaked the seeds over night and I didn't want them to rot. I still have lots to plant but I'm running out of season and the hot weather is starting to be oppressive.

Last week I also planted coleus and snapdragons around the pepper plant containers. 

Here are some recent sunset photos. The view from my yard is stunning.

Creasote Puff Balls

Joshua Trees are native to the Lucerne Valley

Mojave layers

Pink Sun

Gorgeous Sunset

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Update

Gardening has been a challenge. My friend had mercy on me and bought me some chicken wire, so now I've protected the sunflowers and the pole beans from the rabbits.

Some plants will always remind me of my mother, and such is the case with portulaca aka moss rose. In the past I've always bought the seedlings at the nursery but since money is tight this year after our big move, I went with seeds instead. I'm happy to report they have sprouted in the container I put them in. The beets in the same container haven't made an appearance yet, but I'm thrilled to see the teeny tiny moss rose plants coming up. The package said 'easy to grow' but I had my doubts.

I have about six gourd plants now. The baby bottle gourds still haven't germinated. It is hard to keep everything wet enough in this sandy soil. We have well water, so I'm not worried about the water bill, but whenever the water runs so does the electric pump, so I'm worried about the impact on my electric bill if I water too much. We've barely had any rain this year. And I think the rainy season is already over.

My big treat this week was getting a red yucca plant after I saw them growing outside of a fast food restaurant.  They have long stems with red orange tubular flowers right now and the hummingbirds were feeding from them. So I thought it would be a good addition to my Zen garden. The best part is the tag says it is a native, so once I get it established I won't have to baby it.
Pole Bean Seedling

Gourd Seedling

Portulaca or Beet Seedlings?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mulberries Are Awesome

When I was a teenager, my parents had a yard with a fruitless mulberry tree in the backyard.  My boyfriend's parents had one in the front yard. I assume people buy fruitless trees because they don't want rotten fruit dropping off and ruining their nice cars or whatever.

But I think of all the years I missed out on the wonderful taste of real mulberries. My neighbor has both red and white mulberries ripening right now and they are amazing. The white ones are not so pretty but really yummy. They taste like honeysuckles. The red ones turn black when they are ripe. They are a bit more tart but also yummy. My neighbor said the birds get most of them, and it keeps the birds away from her other fruit trees.  If we had a ladder we could pick enough to make jam. But I'm perfectly happy just eating them one by one.

Orchestrating a Garden

While planting seeds today I suddenly realized that it's like an orchestra. Even if I plant a bunch of different things all on the same morning, they will each play their individual notes when it is their turn to join in; whether its a month or a year.

I also figured out a way to make free durable plant tags. I had a pile of empty potting soil bags. By cutting the white bags into strips I was able to write the names and dates planted on each tag with a permanent marker and tie them to the fence or a stake.

Today I planted dill, more sunflowers and big max pumpkins on the west fence behind the bathroom window, so I have something beautiful to look at. I planted the pumpkins far far from the gourds so they won't cross pollinate. Which reminds me; I think the cucumbers will also cross pollinate, so I guess I can't put them where I'd originally planned to, since there are already gourds there. This is the first time in 20 years that I've had a big enough yard to grow pumpkins.  I grew gourds one time in Anaheim and the little suckers buried my patio with their sprawling vines.

In the front yard I planted Kentucky Pole Beans, rudebekia, and statice. I saved a spot for morning glories, but I keep forgetting to soak them overnight. The other beans are also supposed to be soaked, so I'll do that tonight too.

Yesterday I replaced the pepper plant that got eaten, bringing the total back up to two pepper plants. This morning the first one I planted had been eaten in half! ACK! So now the new one and what is left of the original one have soda bottles over them to protect them. My best guess is grasshoppers. They are suddenly everywhere. And since this is an organic garden, there is only so much I can do. Thankfully they don't seem to like tomato plants.

I have a volunteer in the front yard that looks like a sunflower. I'll leave it be and see how that goes. When we moved here there was a devil's claw plant by the back fence. So I started watering that spot hoping more will grow as they have interesting seed pods that are useful to artists.

The native plant by the mailbox is covered in dainty yellow flowers as well. And the creosote bushes are covered in yellow flowers and bees galore. The air is buzzing so loud I can hear it indoors.

I have more to plant, but its getting hot and I need breakfast and it's already 10 AM. 

Creosote in bloom.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Better Boy Tomatoes Planted

Today I took the big tub we repurposed from the old washing machine and used it to plant Better Boy tomatoes in. I filled it with about 6” of gravel for drainage, and then mixed 2 bags of potting soil and sand together leaving plenty of space at the top to hold water for the tomatoes. I made sure I placed it where I wanted it first because it is going to be way too heavy to move. Previous tenants had horses, so the whole yard is pretty much full of decomposed manure which should help the garden immensely.
I can hear the baby birds that have hatched over the light fixture on my porch. 

The lizards have also come out to play. These are bigger lizards than the ones I’ve seen here so far. But they are so fast I’ve yet to get a photo.

In front of the porch, I pulled out a bedding plant that was killed by the frost and replaced it with a yellow pear tomato. I visualize sitting on the porch in late summer munching on tiny yellow tomatoes.
I refilled the hummingbird feeder. And I ordered the hummingbird feeding tubes from Ebay yesterday so I can make my own feeders from soda bottles. I got some red silk flowers at the Dollar Tree to put on the end of the glass tubes to make them prettier and to attract hummingbirds. I need to finish the hummingbird feeder so it is ready for the tubes when they get here.

When I was watering the pepper plants, one looked funny. Its been in the ground one day and something ate the top half of it off. Meh. 

Gardening requires a lot of faith. Sometimes I succeed beyond my wildest dreams. Other times it is a fail, but almost always I come out way ahead overall. 

First successful seedlings at my new home.

Sunflower Seedlings

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seeds and More

My boyfriend got the gardening bug (for now anyway) and bought us some more seeds and 2 Anaheim pepper plants. So I planted the two plants in the pot in the front where the ranunculus bulbs failed to sprout. I was sure tired of watering them, and when I dug around in there I couldn't even find any bulbs. So they either disintegrated or something ate them. In the other pot I planted beet seeds and moss rose seeds, which are teeny tiny.

I've given up on raised beds this year. We just don't have the money and everything needs to be planted NOW. The seasons don't wait for procrastinators. That also means if it freezes again in May, we'll lose it all. But I waited as long as I dared to get a full growing season. I see I need a greenhouse, even if I just jerry rig one together. All my succulents died over the winter. Even the ones I brought up from Anaheim. And I love succulents, so something must be done. The swap meet in Huntington Beach has a great inexpensive collection of succulents, so next time we are down there I'll stock up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Planting Time In Lucerne Valley

Its time to plant and the only thing keeping me from going overboard is a lack of money. It's not that I can't afford plants, because plants and seeds are relatively cheap. What's holding me back is I'd need a truckload of potting mix and garden amendments to counteract the sandy soil. And I need lots and lots of wood to make raised beds. So I'm putting a lid on my frustrations and appeasing my spirit by doing what I can on a shoestring budget.

Meaning today I planted 3 different kinds of gourds, and I used a bag of potting mix I got at the dollar store to top dress them so they can at least hold enough moisture to sprout.  I also got  four tomato plants, but I'll need more potting mix to make those happy.

And so I don't forget what I put where, I'm making notes.

I put snake gourds in the zen garden behind the sunflowers and to the right of the sunflowers on the fence. The dark potting soil helps me to keep track of where they are. I put bottle gourds in the back corner of the Zen garden.

Then in the front yard I put baby bottle gourds to the left of the mailbox fence, and snake gourds on the fence by the front yard gate.

The sunflowers I planted last week in 2 patches have all sprouted. I was closely studying the patch in the front yard when I realized the dead branch next to the last seedling was a juvenile gopher snake. He was maybe two feet long.

I'm dying to get some roses after my neighbor showed me hers. She said they are hardy and don't need frost protection in the winter, so put me down for that. I totally miss my Anaheim roses.

So the sunflowers are my first official sprouted seeds that I planted at my new home. 

I also got some morning glory seeds, but the package said to nick the seeds and soak them for 24 hours, so they didn't get planted today.

My front yard came with a joshua tree I dubbed Zerlina.

A visit by Reggie the Roadrunner

The view from my front yard