Sunday, April 24, 2016

Pitcher Plants

I got these from my sister last year and grew them in a pot on the edge of my pond.  They are pitcher plants she got from an old beau who works with the Department of Natural Resources.  In December, I lifted them from their ceramic pot in the pond, for fear it would burst, and moved them into an old cracked recycling bin and filled it with peat moss.  This is how they look now--at the end of April (April 24).  I plan to dig a hole, line it with leftover strips of pond liner and transplant them there.  They love sun and wet feet.
This is actually March 19

Also March 19

A few days later

This one is in April after the flowers opened, April 21.

The pitcher still closed.

The Fish in The Pond Go Round and Round

The fish are doing well.  They're getting a little too tame and rush to the edge to be fed anytime someone walks near. I'm scared they'll be a snack for a raccoon or cat or bird with that mindset!  I made a little lotus pond next to the bigger pond, a place where the toads can lay their eggs and they won't be gobbled up by the fish.
This fish swimming among the water lily leaves.
 We have 4 shubunkin and 10 comets--two with fantails and one with bug eyes.

 This is the frog pond, taken a few weeks ago.  Today there was a toad sitting among the plants.  There area about 8 lotus leaves shooting up out of the water.  I hope they bloom this year.

Fig Cuttings Finally Send Out Roots! Well, Root Buttons!

Let me confess up front, this is my second go round with trying to root fig cuttings.  The first go was a bust as I had no patience or time for it and neglected them terribly! I also may have pitched them out to early as patience is not my strong suit.

That was probably about 5 years ago.  So this time, I carefully researched how to do it and watched a number of youtube videos and read some articles.  I bought some off ebay.  They seemed expensive to me--a few sticks (5 to be exact) for just around $18 including shipping.  Actually, I ordered 3 sticks of Italian Honey variety for around $13 including shipping. I decided to try a lasagna method following the guidelines of a youtuber's guidelines.  I cut them into 3 inch pieces and buried them loosely in peatmoss and kept them damp.  Nothing happened.

 A week or two later, after more researching about good varieties for my area, I ordered some more:  Violette de Bordeaux, Conadria, Alma, and Italian Black.  I got them in the mail around March 18.  I stuck them in a glass of water as things had gotten busy at work.  I put them in a sunny window and changed the water every day or so.  I kept th e peat moss damp in the clear shoe box where I had put the cut pieces of Italian Honey.  So one month later they plants in water have finally put out some little root buttons.  They all unfurled little leaves not long after I got them, but so far only the ones in water have gotten the little root bumps.
highly sophisticated rooting system!

non-working rooting system--at least so far

Root buttoms

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Break Pond Remodel!!!!

I love Spring Break!  A week of wonderfully warm weather in which to work in the yard.  When we lived in CT, it was a week of chilly, muddy weather in which to wish we could go somewhere warm and sunny.  Here, though, it is full blown spring.  So we decided to enlarge our 11 x 3 pond to 11 x 6 and then add some fish and a fountain/waterfall thingy.

What we had:
a mucky 11 x 3.5 foot rectangular hole with uneven paver edges full of dead leaves and water and algae and our pond plants

What we wanted:
a 11 x 6 foot pond with two levels
     one level for fish (2 ft deep)
     second level for marginals (1 ft deep) and water lilies
a flowing water feature--no rocks for a waterfall so something that was simple and keeping in line with the modern style of the pond
a separate area to grow lotus
a separate area to grow pitcher plants
a flat patio area around one side to walk on

Free or already had:
Pond liner--13 x 10/bought from online pond supply company last year
Comet Goldfish and Fantail--10 free from my sister's pond
Plants--iris, arrow plant, pitcher plant free from sister's pond
Hornwort--free from local ditch
Horsetail rush--bought 3 years ago at a local gardening club's plant sale
Creeping Jenny--bought last year and still growing
Charlene Strawn and Pink Beauty water lilies from last year (last year bought online at 1/2 price sale for $22 total including shipping)
4 lotus (waiting to see if they survived) that I grew from seed last year (ordered 6 years ago in CT and never tried to grow until last year)

Budget for this year is  $200 max (a work bonus)

pump/filter/hose from  Amazon  $118
A concrete bowl  (with hole for fountain) from Smith Concrete  $45

Even though we got fish, we're going to Pet Warehouse on Thursday morning to see new shipment of Shubunkin. That's what I had in my pond in CT and I did so love them!

I would also like to get a few more pond plants.

What the pond looked like a month ago during the rain.  When we dug the first hole, I actually planned it for the roof runoff to go in the pond so it would stay filled.  It's a cascading effect in rainstorms that I like.

So the weekend before Spring Break started, Sam began the tedious job of draining the water out bucketful by bucketful and dumping it on the plants to fertilize them.  I helped him out some, but not too much--as he will be quick to tell you.

A different photographic angle of the pond as we begin to drain it.

Many small metal bucketfuls later, he finally reaches the bottom!

Next step, remove pond liner and clean it off as it is covered in slime and pollen rings.
At this point, it started raining like crazy and we were forced inside.  The dirt pond filled up with water and we had to wait for it to drain and dry out a little.

Then checking for level to make sure the edges are about the same height.  A step we had trouble with last time and it  continues to plague us!

Looks level enough!
 Liner back in place.  Still need to pull out some wrinkles and adjust a little at the corners.

We stacked the pavers to the side when we drained the pond and took out the liner.
Sam laid them back in, attempting to make them flatter and neater than the first go round.  We didn't have any sand to lay a bed for them to lie in, but the soil is pretty sandy already so they aren't too wobbly.  After the soil settles some, we may go get some sand to re-lay them so they are very flat and even.  Or we may not.  Depends on what else comes up that we have to do.  We'll look at it awhile and see if we like it.  

So all the pavers are laid out in place.

And then the sun came out.  We still have some landscape work to do, but it is a start and we were able to put fish in.
 These are four fish we got from my sister's pond.  They did so well, the next day we went back and got another six.  That's pollen floating on the surface of the pond.  I think it is from the nearby pecan trees. In a day or two we'll install the pump and filter.  The bowl waterfall will have to cure for awhile before it will be safe to use, I think, as it is fresh concrete.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pond Plants in December

It has been eerily warm and humid here.  Christmas Day was close to 80 degrees and the humidity was so thick it was like a presence (not a present!).  So my son and I pulled out the waterlilies to repot them.  When they arrived last spring, I didn't have time to do much with them and they looked so tiny and improbable that I just tossed them into separate black plastic pots and called it a day, meaning to repot them when I found my water plant pots (although I was pretty sure I'd tossed them out when I left CT).  About a month ago I was at Home Depot and saw they had two water plant baskets for sale for about $2 each and I bought them.  I thought I would use them to repot the lilies in the spring, but it was so warm and the mood came upon us.  So we quickly transplanted them into the bigger, hole--ier pots--after oohing and aahing!

This one  had tiny new growth at the base.  I added some ordinary garden soil to fill up the basket (I didn't want to use anything too rich and cause it to start growing like gangbusters and then keel over and die!).
 I forget which is which so will have to wait until they bloom.  There are two of the same variety in this basket (either Charlotte Strawn--yellow--or Pink Beauty--pink and smaller).
Repotted in their new baskets and ready to go back in the pond.
 This is a few days later after being put back on their cinder blocks at the bottom of the pond.  They seem to have survived my attentions.
I then decided I needed to repot the pitcher plants.  They've been growing in a ceramic pot on a shelf in the pond.  I wanted to use that seafoam green/turquoise pot to plant a dwarf lemon tree in come spring.  I couldn't get it out of my head how glorious that would look.  So I'd been thinking what toI  transplant the pitcher plant into.  A year or two ago I  found a cracked recycling bin on the side of the road.  I asked the guy at the dump if I should turn it into the county, and he looked at it and said, " Nahhh.  With that crack, they won't use it.  It's no good anymore," and he started to throw it in the dumpster.  I asked if I could have it, and he let me take it.  It's been sitting in my garage holding junk all this time.  I took some old peat moss and filled it up and then transplanted the pitcher plant into it.  I'm thinking about sinking it into the ground up to the rim, but haven't decided the best spot yet.

This is a camellia bush I planted a year or two a go.
 It's got beautiful flowers.  I have a tea olive planted next to it and it smells heavenly, which makes up for the lack of scent from the camellia.

 I planted green onions today, too.  This is my new layout for my kitchen garden.   My son did most of the backbreaking work.  The paths are covered in leaves to keep the weeds down.  Once they rot down, we'll use them as compost in the beds and add more to the paths.  One thing I have plenty of is leaves!  We put a fence up to keep the dogs out.  They love to run all over the garden and dig like crazy. A week ago I planted Elephant Garlic that I bought from the produce section of the grocery store. It was three big cloves.  We'll see how it does.  It's next to the onions.
The vegetable garden is just 3 long rows with a 3' wide path (where the leaves are) on each side.  Each bed is 36" wide and 20 feet long.  I plan to use three soaker hoses to irrigate it. I can't stand to stand there with the garden hose in my hand every night watering.  I decided the only way I was going to do another vegetable garden was if I didn't have to hand water it.  So I  bought three soaker hoses (25 feet long each) that were on sale at Home Depot at they end of the season for $7 each.  We'll see how this works out. 
 Meanwhile, inside....
Close up of some of my succulents and a grafted cacti.

A long shot of all my houseplants crowded up near the southwest window.  I can't put them straight up against the wall because the dogs would knock it all over in an effort to get to the window to bark at squirrels and birds, or the occasional crazy cat that wanders onto the patio, taking his life into his paws!  While we're on the subject, about two months ago, the neighbor's kitten wandered into my fenced backyard and my 3 rat terrier mixes got hold of her.  I ran outside when I heard the screams and growls and got bit seven times in the process of trying to extract the kitten from their mouths.  Most of the bites were from the kitten, but one of the dogs got a good nip in on my bicep.  The cat survived.  The only blood shed was mine.  I was sure they had ripped her to shreds and I would be pulling tissue paper pieces of her  from their jaws, but amazingly, she only had a hurt leg.  It might have been broken or a ligament torn, but she limped for a couple of weeks and  has since made a complete recovery.  It was a bad experience and I'm lucky none of my wounds got infected.  Now, every time I let the dogs out, I check first to make sure there are no little black patches moving in the yard.
And my HOME sign in front of some bedraggled thyme out back by my patio.