Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Color

A little seasonal color for you...these are the chiles that we picked up off of the ground yesterday that had fallen off of the plants. Hope you all have a good Christmas and New Year and may your garden be productive.


JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in gerdening information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Taking Our Garden to the Edge

Seventeen years ago, upon buying our fixer-upper house, one of my early projects was carving out a bulb garden in the front yard. I dug up a wedge of grass and installed that wooden berm you see above.  Over the years, the bulb garden evolved into a rose garden (much less work for much more beauty).  Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Well, upon closer inspection, you can see that seventeen years has not been so kind to my little wooden berm. It's rotting away and falling apart.  I need to replace it.

I don't want to just put wood back in. I'm looking for something a little more durable, easy to work with, provides a better barrier against the grass, and...since I am who I

My son and I went to our local Lowe's and perused the garden section for solutions.  It seemed like this pound-in plastic barrier was our best shot.

If you're going to tackle this project, I also recommend these two tools. 

A rubber mallet...

...and a medium pry bar. I really like the Stanley Wonderbar and use on just about every project I have, gardening or home repair.

To start, you want to have damp ground that's soft. Water ahead of time...I'm doing this after three days of rain so I don't have to water in.

I used the pry bar to remove the wood.  Some of it was pretty deep, deeper than I remember putting it but the pry bar pulled it all right up.

Next, get my barrier together. It comes in three-foot sections and they connect via a tongue and groove at the end of each piece.

Put a piece in place, hammer it in with the mallet. Connect the next piece and hammer it in. Continue until done.

In about 45 minutes, I'm done and the new barrier is in place.  I think another project will be to get some small river rock and cover up the barrier.

Now, what to do with all that left over wood?

I think I have a use for it. Cheers!

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Changing of the Guard in Southern California

The last two plants to bloom for 2012... an orange begonia and our Christmas cactus which, of course, blooms at this time each year.

While Mrs. Cheapskate inspects the chile peppers, let's see what the garden has for us this weekend.

These chiles are almost black but should soon turn red.

The lavender makes an end-of-the-year stand.

And, finally, our phaleanopsis is showing signs of cold shock so we'll move it inside for the winter.

After our super short Southern California winter, we'll put it back outside, probably sometime in February.  Not much to do in the garden right now...I have a repair to make on our wooden berm that protects the front yard rose garden, then in about a month, it'll be time to prune the roses.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Dog Days of Winter

Winter? In Southern California? I know, what an oxymoron, but we did have 6 days straight of rain last weekend. It kept me out of the garden, for the most part.

Looking forward to better weather this weekend but gardening duties are light.  I do have to mow my semi-dormant lawn...the bane of my gardening existence. I'd get rid of it if my local city's codes would let me but they don't.

At least at this time of the year, it barely grows so I only have to mow it about every 5 weeks.  Gotta work on the dandelions and morning glory that keep popping up though.

In the meantime, enjoy the last flowering plant to bloom for the season.  It's always last but not least, that nice begonia you see at the top of this post.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thinking of Gardening on a Rainy Day

It never rains in Southern California, a big 70's rock song says, so I don't know what this wet stuff is falling on my head.  I kid...but we've got a 6-day stretch of rain this weekend that's keeping me from the garden.

In between squalls, I was able to go out and take a picture of our fabulous fall rose bloom in the front yard garden against the Christmas decorations at the top. Below is another, more rose centric, picture of the same spot.

In other news, I was able to start harvesting our winter fruit from our tiny little citrus grove (three trees).

Across the top of the bowl, from left to right, a cara cara navel orange, a tangelo, and a Meyer lemon. Cut open in front is another cara cara, displaying the very tasty red flesh it's famous for.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Shopping with the Cheapskate

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in gerdening information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Got a gardener on your Christmas list? Here are some goodies that I know they will appreciate. Easy on the budget, too, because they're Cheapskate Approved!

They don't come much better than Fiskars and these comfy grip garden tools really come in handy for repotting, turning that soil, and digging out those annoying weeds.

I'm not one of those who enjoys the therapeutic effects of standing out in the garden, watering the plants for hours on end. I also don't enjoy the expense of sprinkler systems or wasting water.  I do really love my drip irrigation system, though. It's cheap, realiable, and does a fantastic job. As a bonus, if you live in a frequently droughted area like I do, drip systems save so much water that they're usually exempt from rationing laws.  This one is very easy to set up, too.

Taking the ease of watering to the next step, this timer...that sits between your tap and irrigation hose...makes it completely automatic. I use this 2 zone timer so I can set different watering schedules for my shade plants and those that sit in the full sun.  Can't imagine life without it now.

Not long after the holidays, gardeners are going to want to start their vegetable seeds. We use this tray, that can sit on a window sill in cold climates, to give our plants a greenhouse-quality start. Plant in the beginning of the year. When the last frost is past, you'll have some nice root balls that you can just pop out and stick in the ground.  When done, save for next year or turn in the completely recyclable components to your local recycler.

Again, thanks for supporting the Cheapskate Urban Gardener by doing your shopping through our links. Have a great holiday season.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Road With The Cheapskate...Fall Color in Northern California

While Southern California has little fall color, there is quite a bit more up in the cooler north. No, it's not Maine or the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it sure is pretty. Above is a Zinfandel grape vine at Villa Toscano Winery in the Shenandoah Valley of the Sierra Foothills.

How to you know when you've reached Northern California? Well, this planting in the center divider of highway 99 near Fresno will tell you. The palm to the south, the pine to the north...this is the boundary between Southern and Northern California (look for it at exit 150).

We're visiting the wine country of the Sierra Foothill, specifically Amador County about 50 miles east of Lodi.  This is California's oldest continuously operating winery (since 1856), the Sobon Estate.

They still use this original wine cave, dug into the hill, to age wines 156 years later.

At the top of a nearby hill, the Shenandoah Vineyard has this nice, arbor shaded picnic area.

This is also the Motherlode, California's Gold Country. John Marshall discovered gold here just up the road at Sutter's Mill. Dozens of historic gold mining towns dot the landscape. This is Amador City.


Now, back to home and tilling my own garden.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Version of Fall Color

The Cheapskate's been on the road so posting has been light but I'm back...let's start with our late rose bloom in the front yard rose garden.  This unnamed pink rose is having a stunning final bloom with the neighbor's liquidambars showing their seasonal colors.

Next to that one is this gorgeous Julie Newmar which almost has more color than my camera can handle.

Out back, the roses are pretty much done. This is Mr. Lincoln, all done and just waiting to store energy in its rose hips.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Citrus

Fall weather has finally arrived here in Southern California which means there's just a hint of cool in the very dry air. The leaves are turning brown (no color here) and they'll soon drop.

Winter's arrival means that citrus season is here. At the top of this post is a little bit of our harvest from last year, cara cara navel oranges and Meyer lemons.

This is our "citrus grove," consisting of three dwarf citrus trees...

...the Meyer lemon...

...the cara cara navel...

...and this rescue of a tangelo that was near death when I got it last year and nursed it back to health.

I get a few fruit each year but nothing like friends and family that have old trees in their yards that they don't even pay attention to and, yet, get hundreds of fruit that end up rotting on the ground.


I try to ignore mine and get even less fruit. The leaves shrivel and get mottled, so I treat 'em well, they look better, and I get a few fruit but not much.

Still trying to figure this citrus thing out. I fertilize every two weeks, water regularly, and treat with ironite once a year and the harvest doesn't change much. of these days.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Visitors to the Cheapskate's Garden

One of the joys of a good garden is attracting nature's visitors.  We've had around 50 different species of birds come through the yard over the years. Here are a few we've been lucky enough to catch on camera. Above is one of the western bluebirds that we see sometimes in the spring.

We also have a whole lot of birds of prey. The most common is the buzzard or turkey vulture.

Here, a house finch hangs out with a couple of white capped sparrows on our back gate.

The titmouse is a fun and welcome visitor anytime he comes.

...and, lastly, this Allen's hummingbird guards the feeders viciously.

Copyright 2012-Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Abusive Parent Tries to Make Amends...

One of my horticulture professors used to tell us that we should know all the plants in our garden like they were our children.

Didn't really catch on to what he said at the time but now I understand. I know each plant intimately, although I have to admit, I like some more than others and tend to play favorites sometimes.


Such is the case with my zygopetalum orchid. Not that I don't like it...I do. It's got spectacular flowers with an amazing scent but a few years ago we had the worst freeze in my memory. Two weeks of sub-30 nighttime temperatures with most nights getting to 27-28 degrees. These guys don't like that.

I had two plants, one didn't make it and I didn't think the other one did either but it eventually came back.  I left it alone to see what would happen.

Nothing.  It grew but went from being a consistent "bloom every Halloween" to never even thinking about throwing a spike.  

I neglected it and moved on to other things.

This year, after another year of no blooms, I decided to return and show it a little more love by repotting it.

Pulling it out of the pot, it came like soil whatsoever. I'm surprised that it still grew.

The plant naturally fell into two pieces when I took it out so now I have two plants to repot.

Since it's an epiphyte, the process is exactly the same as when I repotted our phalaenopsis orchid.

Now to just water in, put back on the bench, and see what happens.

Copyright 2012- Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indian Summer Puttering in the Garden

November 3...80 degrees. 

The plants are loving this late season heat. Julie Newmar even put out one, last small bloom.

I removed all of our tomatoes but something made me leave this plant in and just cut it back. Glad I did. It's coming back and I'm hoping for another crop of tomatoes by Christmas.

While the season is ending for a big part of our garden, other parts are just coming into season. I needed to put a stake of the buds of this cymbidium that will be blooming soon so it won't break off.

You can't see them all in this picture but my wife and I counted five spikes on this cymbidium. Hoping they all survive.

Here's some more cymbidium buds clinging tight to the sprinkler.

The hot chiles are ripening. They go from green, to dark purple, to red.

Here's one that's already to go.

Our citrus "grove" is also doing well. Here, the Cara Cara navels are slowing going from green to orange.

The Meyer lemons are almost there.


Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.