Thursday, August 29, 2013

Garden Update for August 29, 2013

Despite the loss of the avocado tree after transplant, I hadn't given up on my plans to create an espaliered fruit tree and recently acquired a Hollywood Apple tree for that purpose, while also adding to my collection of apples.  Today we finally had a day with cool enough weather in the forecast for me to transplant the tree, which I'd already begun shaping.  Next I need to stall the espalier framework, which is being made from old chain link fence poles I've had laying around for some time.  I'll string wire between the poles to train the branches on in whatever design I settle on, although I'm leaning towards a chevron pattern.

Hollywood apple waiting to be espaliered.

Yesterday I found an ad on Craigslist for free pallets and headed over to pick some up.  The ad said they were smaller than the usual pallets, but what it didn't say was that they weren't slatted, but had a solid plywood top.  I put as many as I could into my SUV, which turned out to be a dozen and decided that they would become the floor for the greenhouse I'm going to build.  I now have enough to build a greenhouse that will be roughly 8' x 9', but am thinking about going back to see if they have any more, since just eight more would give me a 9.5' x 13.5' greenhouse. I'll have to remove the strips of wood from the tops, but other than that, they're as close to perfect as I could hope for.

These pallets were an expected find.

On the 13th, I wrote about transplanting the sage into the ladder planter and thought I'd give an update; all of the plants have survived, and the top one is thriving, so I'm confident that these wonderful 3 year old plants will be providing leaves for cooking for years to come.

Just a little over 2 weeks after transplant.

I found out from one of my gardening buddies on Facebook that Dollar General was having a 90% off clearance sale on seeds and seed starting kits, so I went to one over the weekend and bought 15 seed packets for $0.55, then went to another one on Tuesday and it had a much better selection.  $3.76 later, I left the store with 23 seed starter kits, 2 5-packs of fiber seed trays and another 3 dozen seed packets. Wednesday I went to a third one and it was really picked over, although I did find a pair of Harvest Gnomes for $10.  I bought so many seeds I had to buy another organizer to hold them all. I've already used some of them including moss rose Portulaca grandiflora, African Daisy, Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, and Zinna 'Dwarf Pumila Sprite' in assorted colors.

Here's the cute couple.

All the seeds safely stored and mounted on the wall of my air conditioned shed.

The Stapelia gigantea is blooming again; this one bloomed on Monday and the unopened one in the top of the photo bloomed yesterday, with one more bloom yet to go.

This plant has bloomed every year for the past 10 years.

I found a few gardening related treasures lately including a bulb box I'd been eyeing for some time at Target; once it went on clearance I snapped one up.  I also found three antique seed boxes from the 1920's at an antique store for $3 each; two of them are in shadow boxes I already had lying around and the third needs one, so a trip to Michael's is in my future.  I also picked up a great vintage planter at Goodwill for $4 and now need to find something to plant in it. With all the seeds I bought, I should be able to find something.

Great vintage looking bulb box.

With Labor Day fast approaching, my next post will definitely include an update on Larry's latest look.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Succulent Follow-up and A Few New Things

As promised, here are photos of the new succulents all potted up and placed in their new home.  Both of the E. obesa went into the wheelbarrow with the existing one I bought last year; it was about the same size as the new ones back then.

The Stapelias all went on the front porch which is all succulents except for the Amaryllis, and they will have to move eventually to make room for more Stapelias, since I found out there are about forty species of of them.

S. cedrimontana & S. flavopurpurea

Back row: S. variegata & unkn S. species
Front row: S. rufa & S. asterias

S. erectiflora & S. shinzii

The front porch succulent garden.

Notice in the next picture how the flower buds are twisted at the end; they slowly unwind as the bud gets bigger and bigger and then finally opens.

S. gigantea buds preparing to open.

I planted the peppers in the bed with the sunflowers, as it was originally built for peppers.

My neighbor gave me a topiary that died and I removed the dead plant (rosemary) and bought a new rosemary plant, potted it an empty pot I had lying around, then placed the topiary frame over the rosemary. In a few months it should fill out enought to start looking like a real topiary.

Rosemary elephant topiary.

The lone surviving strawberry is sending out runners; the yellow banana squash, a type of yellow zucchini, looks like it set its' first fruit, and the Climbing Don Juan put out some nice blooms.

Once the S. gigantea buds open, I'll post some pictures, otherwise the next post should come this weekend.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Adding To My Stapelia Collection And Starting A Pepper Collection

About ten years ago, a good friend gave me a large pot full of Stapelia gigantea, then last year at the Spring Swap I received a cutting from Orbeopsis malanantha, thus starting my obsession with Stapeliads.  At this year's Swap I received two cutting of Stapelia variegata, then a couple of weeks ago I bought another Stapelia, that wasn't marked as to species and I'll have to wait for it to bloom in order to identify it. Desiring to add even more Stapeliads, I visited several local nurseries, to no avail.  I then took to the Internet where I found Miles2Go, located south of me in Cortaro, AZ.  On Saturday night, I e-mailed an ordered for six species of Stapelia and male and female basketball plants, Euphorbia obesa to go with the one I bought at last year's Desert Botanical Garden Spring Sale.  I received an e-mail on Sunday confirming receipt of my order and noting it would be shipped on Monday, then when I got home this afternoon, the package was waiting for me; now that's what I call fast service.  I eagerly opened the box and found that the plants were shipped bare-rooted, which isn't a problem for the basketball plants, as they already have a spot waiting for them in the wheelbarrow succulent garden, but I needed to buy pots for the rest of them.  A trip to the 99 Cents Only Store took care of that problem and all of the plants will get potted in the morning.  Here are the two Euphorbia obesa, followed by Stapelia asterias, Stapelia cedrimontana, Stapelia erectiflora, Stapelia flavopurpurea, Stapelia rufa and Stapelia schinzii.

Even though they all look somewhat similar, their flowers are each distinctive and I can't wait for them to bloom.  A section of my Stapelia gigantea died at the base, so I took thirteen cuttings from it and potted them. In about a month they should be well rooted, at which time I'm going to see if I can sell them to some of the local nurseries.

I visited one of those nurseries at lunch today and wound up buying four pepper plants, some of which already have fruit on them.

Dulce Italiano, a sweet pepper.

Fushimi, a Japanese sweet pepper.

Shishito, a Japanese sweet pepper.

Padron, a mild Spanish pepper.

From what I've read, if harvested when no more than 2" long, 95% of the Padron peppers will be mildly hot and the other 5% will be hot, but if you let them get 2" - 3", they'll all be hot.  Can't wait to find out if that's true, which would present interesting possibilities.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of all the new succulents potted up, as well as updated pictures of the older ones already in my collection.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blooms, Transplants and Acquisitions

Despite above average temps, the roses are still valiantly blooming, although sparsely, and the poor Anna apple is confused, as it's reblooming, which it's done before, but never in August.

Clmbing America
Climbing Don Juan, looking a little crispy around the edges.
Can't remember the name of this rose.

Iceberg rose

Mini roses; these were dark red in Spring.
Apple blossoms in August!!

The surviving Cel's agave Agave celsii that was planted in the wheelbarrow succulent garden on 7/25/12 has tripled in size and gotten so big it was crowding out it's neighbors, so it got transplanted into a pot and now resides on a hanging shelf along with the cactus I got from my neighbor last year and some aloe I found for free on Craigslist.

Cel's Agave, Agave celsii
My succulent shelf

I also transplanted three 3-year old clumps of sage into the ladder planted, as they were planted where I plan on adding more raised beds for veggies.  I gave them a severe pruning, as they were getting leggy, and fully expect them to thrive in their new location.

One of three clumps of sage transplanted to the ladder planter.

I also was finally able to transplant the tiny unknown Kalanchoes I got at the Spring Swap, as they finally got big enough to be confident that they'll survive.  I potted them up in a vintage frog planter, which looks great on the plant bench on the front porch.

Unknown Kalanchoe in a frog planter.

I recently spent some time on my lunch hour visiting two local nurseries near the office and found an unknown Stapelia, which I added to my collection.  I also went to WalMart and found some canna 'Tropicana' on clearance for $3, so it came home and got repotted today.  Eventually, I'll transplant them to a new bed I'll dig when the weather cools.

When I bought this it was marked "Stapelia sp.".

Canna 'Trpoicana'
Lastly, while searching for new Stapelias, I also checked out the bonsai section at each nursery and at one I found an Elephant Food, Portulacaria afra, that had been made into a bonsai and was priced well over $100.  Since I already have a nice specimen on my front porch, I decided to take a cutting to create my own bonsai at no cost, making sure to get a cutting with some girth to get the desired effect without having to wait years for the trunk to fill out.  Once it roots, I'll pot it into a bonsai pot and then decide what style of bonsai to create.

Future bonsai

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Happy birthday, Larry

Hard to believe, but Larry is two years old today and throughout that time Larry's sported a lot of different looks and celebrated many major holidays in his own inimitable style.  The collage below captures many of those looks.

He's starred in his own calendar (the 2014 calendar is in the planning stages right now), given the neighborhood kids something to look forward to on their way to and from school, caused a lot of doubletakes by people driving and walking by and hopefully brought some joy into people's lives.  Keep checking back to see what he'll be up to and what he's celebrating next.