Friday, September 30, 2011

Location, Location, Location

You may have heard the most important thing in selectimg
a place for your business is Location, Location, Location.

The lavender and garlic chives thrive - a great example of
raised bed planting success - both Daisy and Herbie agree.

 Drainage, Drainage, Drainage
Well I learned quickly from Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay
that the most important thing n selecting a place for your garden
is "Drainage, Drainage, Drainage."
Good Drainage is even more important than the
dirt herbs grow in as herbs don't have to have rich soil to grow and thrive.
A cat's eye view of the Mary's Garden at Round Top Texas, Festival Hill.

I remember Michael Bettler pointing out a picture of his and
Lucia's garden in author's Madelene and Gwen's Southern Herb Growing
book saying it was actually an example of how NOT to garden since he
had since learned the value of raised bed
gardening. I don't have a copy of that picture to
post but found quite a few different examples of some
other raised bed gardens. 

Concrete block surround raised beds planted in assorted pepper plants.
The blocks are high enough and wide enough to also double as a
seating areas at the Fort Worth botanical gardens

We have a lot of clay in our soils so that when it rains (not so much lately)
it doesn't always drain well, stressing plant roots depriving them
of oxygen. Raised bed gardening helps prevent that.

Raised garden bed with drip irrigation ready to be planted for an EarthKind Rose
trial at the Confederate Airforce Museum (CAF) in Ector Midland Counties.
Examples of raised garden beds that take advantage
of vertical gardening and support.

Planted raised bed garden at the Master Gardener
CAF Gardens adjacent to garden bed above.

My husband built this wooden box frame filled with
soil to include a fence panel trellis and two end posts for our
malaar spinach - a hot weather spinach that loves to climb. This
is actually a raised bed within a larger raised bed. Fairly simple to make,
at least for me since my husband made it.

I love this example. Always creative in utilizing what nature provides,
Marylyn Ponder includes wooden branches  on top of existing soil with
more soil and compost on top to add drainage to her salad vegetable garden.

Raised beds made in preparation for butterfly
hummingbird plants at Sabal Palms Sanctuary.
Wooden posts garden beds with drip irrigation,
ready for planting vegetables at the Cameron
County Master Gardener Arboretum in San Benito, TX.

You may not want to get too ambitious when you first begin -
Don't make it hard on yourself.
Gardening and being outdoors is
all about having fun.
Twelve Oaks B&B, Bulverde, TX mounded raised beds planted in
their front landscape with rosemary and lavender.
Start small and you can add. The soil in our first year raised
bed garden was pretty tough but now after several years of adding to it
and tilling it each year, it's really gotten so much easier to work.
This didn't happen overnight. It just gets better and better.

Community Garden example at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
Two proud young gardeners show off their veggies harvest.
I liked this bed as it is very easy to reach from either side of the raised bed
and also includes drip irrigation.
Horticulturist and Gestalt Gardener, Felder Rushing proves that anyone
can garden anywhere, any time and any place. Check out his truck garden bed.
Remember to have fun! Anyone can garden, anywhere, anytime
any place. Good Gardening!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

There's Always Room for Basil

It's a pond, it's a chair. It's another great place for basil.
This unique Basil Chair Planter quacks me up!
I like it.

Basil is never boring.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Welcome Friends

A garden is a welcome, all in itself - inviting, intriguing and interesting. Please come visit, stay a while - enjoy outdoor hugs, skip, jump, hide and seek, laze around, throw your arms up in the air, can you dig it? What can you discover, see, hear, feel, smell, taste, wonder? I wonder, wonder, wonder....

Welcome to my gardens.

Nothing beats a warm welcome like
BIENVENIDOS with a basket of HOT Chili Peppers - so says Dilly our cat!

A gardening welcome in Seattle.

Herbal Welcome in Round Top Texas Festival Hill's Herbal Forum.

Welcome entry steps in Rockport Master Gardener gardens.

Welcome to my backyard gardens.

Welcome to beautiful Historic Brownsville, Texas!
Thank you. You're welcome!
Comments 1 - via Email
from long-time friend and gardener extraordinaire:
These signs are the visual entrance to a multi-sensory journey into the garden...

#1) Gertrude JEKYLL (English garden writer) - "The main purpose of a garden is to give its owner the best and highest kind of earthly pleasure."

#2) Jim HOLLOMAN (American garden writer) - "People often turn to gardening to re-create a bit of paradise within an imperfect world."

These are two things I try to keep in mind when I am watering and weeding. ~Michael Bettler.

Thank you Michael
P.S. to Michael - I'm working to find out why the blog's comment section isn't working and try to make it easier to comment - Debbie

Friday, September 2, 2011


It's that time of year again - time to plant tomato plants - for family and my featherless friends. I am all for feeding the birds, only NOT my nice red ripe tomatoes!
Patio tomato plants - ready to go in pots or the garden.
I resorted to bird netting with my last tomato crop. I did learn picking tomatoes when they're pink rather than waiting till they were red helped save many from what I call "THE BIRDS" (from Alfred Hitchcock's famous movie) well, it's not that scary, I'll admit - more frustrating.

Are birds color blind? Well I'm no scientist but apparently they can see red as in tomato red, at least I think they are going by their sight when they fly in to peck the ripe tomatoes the minute before you go out to harvest.

Aluminum pie plates scare birds away for a short time.
Before you know it, they'll be admiring their reflection.
I had a couple caged tomato plants that had a tendency to grow their tomatoes in the inner part of the plant with green foliage covering the outside. This is ideal as the birds didn't seem to get to these when they were covered up by their leaves but went to the easier picking tomatoes.


Planning Ahead
Vegetable Specialist Dr. Sam Cotner listed a couple of interesting tips to prevent birds pecking your tomatoes in "The Vegetable Book" you might want to try this year for an early Christmas present of red ripe tomatoes.

1)  Fruit Stockings - Cut panty hose in 15-20 inch lengths, tye off one end, slip them over a cluster of tomatoes and twist tye the other end. When ripe, just untye the closed end and take out your tomatoes. The panythose will stretch as the fruit does. The trick is doing this WAY before the tomatoes start turning red or it will be too late.

He didn't say but I expect it's best not to use sheer pantyhose but some opaque or solid color that would camouflage the red color.

2)  Christmas in the Fall - If you don't have any nice red Christmas tree ball ornaments - you can probably find some in the stores - after all it's almost Labor Day (he-he). Seven to 10 days before tomatoes start developing any color, hang some bright red Christmas tree ball ornamens in your tomatoe plants. The birds will get frustrated trying to peck these and give up so that when your tomatoes do turn red, the birds will remember the red balls didn't taste good.

Hmmm, my only concern on this one is if we have any visiting migrating birds coming through unexpectantly which brings us to the third tip.

3)  Think Pink - Dr. Cotner suggests picking your tomatoes when they are pink instead of when they are fully red. He explained that a tomato picked at this stage and ripened at room temperature will have the same taste and flavor as one ripened on the vine.

Well I'll agree it will have a lot better taste than the ones left red on the vine that "The Birds" might have got to first. This is one tip I did learn on my own.

Well worth it!
We had lots of good fresh home grown tomatoes though, even though we shared some with "The Birds" and I plan on having more again this year. Have to plan ahead but it's well worth the results.

Got a handy tip you want to share? Please let me know your experience.