Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Backyard Cleanup: Progress

Happy Earth Day Y'all! Lynn's right, this is 100% a gardening blog now. Oh well - I ain't mad. Anyway, Dan & I started making some progress with the herb garden yesterday. We also started landscaping the grass a bit - it was taking over the walk way and it had to go. We still need a lawnmower though lol. I think we'll get one this weekend. Here are some before & afters, but keep in mind this section is nowhere near being done.

These rocks made up the "perimeter" before. I might put them back. I might paint them. Idk? Any suggestions?

The strawberries are coming!

Evil squirrel planning to attack my bird feeder. GTFO

The compost arrived! Things are about to get real.

And the plants I transferred out of the raised bed and brought into the kitchen. They look healthy and happy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Smog Bushes: Week 3 - APHIDS!!! Blossoms!

Wazzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  Lol never gets old.  Well, here it is, the week 3 update on the old Smog Bushes I've got goin' on at the balcony off my bosses office at work.  Here is a side by side comparison of week two growth with week three growth:

At first I was like.... aw HELL to the YEAHHhhhhhh these mofos are getting big AF.  It's kinda hard to track their growth without a side by side comparison, but I've been making mental notes of what tier of the cages the tomatoes are up to, and I knew for sure the pear tomato (third from left) wasn't even up to the 2nd tier last week, so that one is still growing too fast too furious.

I started looking closer and was like *pats self on back* when I saw a ton of blossoms on all of the plants - especially the bell pepper (all the way on the right)

anddddd the pear tomato: (which, for the record, I have tried to do some minimal pruning on - pinching off the "suckers" that grow at the intersection of the main stem and the offshoots but.... obvs I'm not pruning that much...)

However my excitement waned when I start to look a little closer.  I was examining the Anaheim pepper (second from left in the top pics) and was like .... wait why is that leaf like moving.....oh hell nah....oh FUCK NAH MOTHERFUCKER NOOOOOOOO!!!!  The youngest leaves, that were still curled up, were FULL of these little green monsters which google has confirmed are aphids.  I thought that growing in this particularly urban environment (read: 500 feet from an 18 lane freeway) would eliminate the possibility for insect pests.  I thought, at worst, maybe I'd have to deal with birds.  But DEF not these little mofos.

Soooo these are hard to capture because they blend in with the leaves but just trust where that red circle is, they were chillin.  So now my plan is to buy some kind of organic insecticide spray and blast all of the plants with it, because even though I only saw them on the Anaheim, they very well may be on all the plants and I just didn't see them.  I'm thinking about sticking with my pal Dr. Earth, and getting this organic insecticide spray.

One more potentially worrisome area - some of the bell pepper leaves look kinda scorched like this.  IDK if it's sunburn, or maybe just it's like scabbing over from where I think it was chewed on while I had it at our apartment.  Other than that this plant is looking good so hopefully its NBD.

Alright alright alright, see ya next week y'all ~peace~

Friday, April 18, 2014

Backyard Cleanup: Planning

Where to begin? I guess the beginning. So I mentioned before that we'll be doing a square foot garden for our raised bed. Basically what that means is you mark the bed into square foot sections and there are  a certain amount of seeds, depending on the plant, that will fit into a square foot section. For example, one square foot could fit 16 carrot plants, or 9 beets, or 1 pepper, etc etc. Do you like how I used an old record? Yeah, I couldn't find a measuring tape, whatev. The size came out to be 10 feet x 12 feet, but we're going to have some cross beams to walk on so I'm saying 10 x 10 is our estimated working size.
Animals love our raised bed! This cat thinks it's his own personal litter box.
We're not ready to plant yet because we haven't reached the final frost date for our USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. I thought we were 8b, but apparently we're 9a - which is like 5-10ยบ warmer, but that's a good thing right? Anyway, I've set April 26 as the safe day to start planting. We also have 16 cubic feet of local compost being delivered (because we are so green & don't have a car aka we only drive communal smart cars - wow) on Tuesday. YAY. My life is a Yolo Wonder.
The area directly behind the house, which is mostly covered in wild strawberries and bluebells will be the herb garden section. I'd like to do something fancy here with rocks and flowers mixed in. Need Pinspiration! (Lol I suck.)
Also one of the trees I had misidentified - is really a vibrant lilac! OMG it smells so good. Here's a crappy floppy flower display I made out of the lilac and bluebells. My bouquet skills are lacking.
What else? Well...here is a terrible picture of a Japanese knotweed that is more than a foot taller than me. That red in the corner is my hat, and I'm like 5'6" or something. WTF WEEDS GET OUT. Also there's a birdfeeder I set out for Bat's ornithological studies. 
Here's Bat taking notes.

Oh yeah, and because I'm a dweeb and thrive on logic and organization, I bought a planner specifically for all things garden related. My handwriting and doodles are terrible, but whatever, DWI!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Balcony Gardening: The Smog Bushes


What up y'all, here I am with another gardening related post.  The blog has basically become a garden blog and that is fiiiiiine with me B)  Plus Spring etc, right??

Last week, I brought in the nursery plants I talked about in an earlier post to a sunny balcony we have at my work.  I dragged up two heavy ass bags of Gardner and Bloome "Blue Ribbon Potting Soil" (1.5 cu. ft. per bag so 3 cu. ft. total), plus four 7 gallon containers, and a package of Dr. Earth "Home Grown" Fertilizer.

I put one plant per pot, watered them in good with the fertilizer, and the picture above is what they looked like on Day 1.  Kinda scrawny but that's okay.

On Day 2, I put in the cages for the tomatoes (this is sounding pretty biblical lol happy easter)

From left to right we have: Cherokee Purple tomato; Anaheim pepper; Yellow Pear tomato; Mini Red Bell Pepper.

I used my Sun Calc just too make sure they were going to get enough sun and yup, it's "Full Sun" up here.

Now, on Day 7, they look like this:

Sicknessssssssss.  They're all starting to fill in nicely, and the Yellow Pear tomato is really taking off.  I'm actually kind of scared at how fast it's growing like the smog from the 405 (which happens to be like 500 feet away from this balcony, lol woops) is making it mutate into a super-plant and like next week it's going to start computing algorithms and then the following week we're all going to be dead and it's going to be drinking a Mai Tai in Cabo next to all the dead remains of human society.  But anyway, I love my Smog Tomatoes (and Peppers).  Mmmmmm.  Smoggy.  (BTW the yellow/brown water at the bottom of the containers is I THINK a result of the fertilizer / potting soil I used.  It looks kinda sus but I think it's NBD??)

Left: Anaheim Pepper; Right: Yellow Pear Mutant Tomato

Left: Cherokee Purple Tomato; Right: Mini Red Bell Pepper

Okay bye I'll keep updating as growth progresses *v*

Backyard Cleanup: Garden of Weedin'


Yoo so this is a terrible before/after pic, but Dan & I spent all day yesterday weeding the raised bed and doing some general clean up to get ready to plant! I think, per Lynn's suggestion, we're going to go with a square foot garden, but more on that later.

Workin' it. Dan is the ♛ฺ master of his hoe ♛ฺ.

Hey we found some potatoes! "I hoed a potato." - Dan, on the most Irish thing he's ever done.
We also found some succulents and lemon balm which we're savings for container gardening.
Some of the weeds, wood, and debris we removed.
Frig yeah! So much nicer, but still so much to do.

Then our friend Carli and her awesome Border Collie, Claudia, came over!

Potatoes washed, yeah! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Backyard Cleanup: Plant Identification

I'm very eager to start working on our backyard. There's no time to waste! We're already two weeks into April, and if you didn't see in my last post, there's a lot of work to be done. I mean, the yard is definitely set up to be an outdoor delight, but it looks as though it hasn't been loved/maintained in a season or three.

Letting no time waste, I was up at 7AM taking pictures of every plant I wasn't familiar with. Then I came online and tried to identify* them and determine what stays or goes. I also took pictures of the trees and other fixtures just to get more acquainted with what we've got goin' on.

*Prob not be 100% accurate. Read at your own risk.

Plants around the perimeter

A good lookin fern - needs a lil cleanup 

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Showy Stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile)
Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Kerria (Kerria japonica "Pleniflora") & Ivy - Lots of Ivy

Plants chillin' in the raised bed

Some onion bros

Brambles - Could be blackberry, raspberry, salmonberry, marionberry, idk.

Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Trees and bushes

Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica "Kishu-tsukasa")

Lilac "Ludwig Spaeth" (Syringa vulgaris)

Chinese Fringetree (Chionanthus retusus)

Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Other things existing

I think this was/is a compost pile. It's sad. Also a knotweed? Get it outta here!

String trellis for beans/peas/hops...as long as it doesn't disintegrate. 

Firewood storage