Archive for the ‘Plant Care’ Category

There are about 200 different species of Adiantum ferns. Mine is the species capillus veneris, or Venus-Hair Fern. They are tropical natives and like to live in the misty shade near waterfalls, so I keep mine indoors by the living room window and spray it with a spray bottle a lot. My spray bottle always has just a tiny bit of Miracle Grow in it, which I only use on house or potted patio plants. I have read that you should never spritz the leaves of your Maidenhair Ferns, but I only do it near the base of the plant and it’s thriving so I’m not going to question my decision to break that rule. It seems to like what I do and my orchids seem to like being near it so I keep them all together.

Maidenhair Fern - just getting started

Every once in a while I give it an aggressive haircut. There is always a moment of panic that it will not grow back, but it always does. In between the more aggressive cut, I keep the older, leggy and browned parts cut back which stimulates brand new little green furls of ferny happiness.

The Magic Unfurls

They can be propagated by diving the plant. Mine should probably be divided since it’s been in this pot for several years. I imagine it may be claustrophobic so maybe I’ll do it next Spring. They tend to go a bit dormant from September to March, so don’t get discouraged if it looks a little ‘off’ during those months. Propagation can also be done using the spores, the little tiny brown button things on the underside of fern leaves. The spores and the part of the leaf that they’re on turn brown when ripe. Since I always cut off the brown parts, I never have spores. No problem though, because I have never really wished for two ferns, always being happy with just the one to take care of.

like a miniature tropical rainforest

They definitely do not like to dry out and don’t really like direct Sunshine, just lots of light. The profile they make against the window is charming and always cheers me up for some reason. It’s one of my ‘happy plants’ I suppose.

Fluffy and Cheerful

This is the picture I took of mine this morning. As you can see towards the center there are some larger brownish leaves. This is where the spores will be. It has been a while since I trimmed it and it looks healthy and lush. I’ll probably leave it alone until next Spring except for a little trim here and there. The pot that it lives in has no drainage and, although it seems fine and is thriving, I should give it some room and proper drainage eventually. For now, it’s pretty.

Adiantum capillus-veneris

A bit of folklore…Adiantum is a Greek word and basically means ‘unwetted’ since the plant can be immersed in water and come out with completely dry leaves. This is how it came to be called Venus Hair representing how tidy her hair was when she arose from the foamy depths of the sea. As a plant of Venus it is said to grant grace, love, beauty, and fabulous hair to anyone who wears it, or so it was believed.

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When we were little, our mothers sent us outside to play when we were getting on her nerves. We thought she was being sweet and encouraging us to have fun when all she really wanted was a moment alone with her thoughts and perhaps a Highball or two. Well, I’m on my own nerves lately, so the moment I get free from work, rain or no rain, I’m going outside to play and I’m dragging Tom with me.

Carrots get curly if the soil isn't loose enough - be sure to prepare your soil!

In gardening news, it’s an excellent time to plant anything with an underground harvest such as root vegetables, like carrots before it gets too warm, or bulbs. Today I’m planting the garlic that was leftover from an olive oil roasting I did on Monday. When the garlic you use in the kitchen has little green centers, it means the garlic is growing again in your pantry and it will most likely be bitter tasting and it’s past its prime. Bury it and you’ll have fresh garlic later. I know I’ve said it before, but I really really want you to plant garlic! It helps keeps aphids off your roses and vampires will think twice before messing with your garden.

red Dragon Carrot - sweet and adds color to salads or cake - did someone say cake? 🙂

It’s also a good time to plant radishes if you live somewhere with a cool spring. I just harvested mine, so I won’t be planting more, but it’s not too late if you want to get another batch through before summer. I had the “Easter Egg” blend and they were delicious!

Spring Radishes - Easter Egg Blend - April 2011

The Moon is waning so it’s also a good time to prune where needed. My pruning is done for now, so I can take a break on that front. In fact, the garden seems to be doing her own thing quite effectively right now, so I can take a little breather. I have some extremely feral patches around the property, but I’ve put those off until summer when school is over. Thanks to the budget cuts, summer classes have been canceled so I have no opportunity to change my mind about taking the summer off. Tom and I are going to plan a little trip someplace we’ve never been. It’s very exciting.

I didn't really like carrots until I grew my own

This is also a good time to think about feeding your garden. Spring is a time when nature has a voracious appetite and plants need food and mulch and compost-y nourishment to reach their full potential fruit and bloom-wise. I like the pellet kind of food because I can walk around the garden with a bucket of it and toss toss toss. I’ve tried the Miracle Grow liquid with the hose attachment and, although the food itself works well, it’s not a great way to apply it and I think it wastes a lot of water while being inconsistent with the delivered amounts. I did see an ad in Sunday’s paper that they have a fairly new device with premixed solution, but I have not tried it yet. The bucket/toss method seems to work for me, for now. That’s the key with this gardening thing – do whatever works for you and you alone. Gardening is a much easier task than it was even a decade or so ago. When I started gardening seriously about 10-15 years ago, there wasn’t a huge online community of plant enthusiasts, garden blogs were rare, websites that explained how to care for plants were terribly incomplete, tools and products were still old fashioned and not much of it was geared toward those of us who choose the organic way. Now, the world is your oyster, or pea, if you want anything from a tiny pot of herbs on your urban balcony, to a farm in the backyard, and anything and everything in between. Information is instant online and there’s a huge community of people just like me writing about gardens just like mine and sharing information. It’s awesome, easy, rewarding and healthy, and will improve your mood considerably. Even if it’s just one Strawberry plant – the fresh and pristine pesticide-free fruit will have you hooked in no time. So, what are you waiting for? Go outside and play!

Inside a sea of Nasturtiums - March 2011

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'Martha Washington' Geraniums - the most reliable plants in the garden!

The first Saturday of April and a New Moon to go with it! This is the most auspicious day to prune those plants in the garden that are still carrying winter or early spring damage/dead stuff, or that seem to be a bit stunted or are growing in directions contrary to your sense of order. My garden is full of those so I’m going to have a busy morning. I haven’t been able to do any pruning during this entire waning moon, so today is my last chance in so many different ways, and I need to water.

Spring Rose Leaf - March 30, 2011

What I really love about this time of year is that I start seeing ‘revival’ in the garden. Last month I stood out on my patio and felt sadness because things looked dead and scraggly and I couldn’t do anything about it. Not having time to do Spring things in the Spring garden is really frustrating for me. Yes, I know I chose to take on three classes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to have to let things go. Then, about a week ago, I noticed things coming alive again, popping up out of the ground and bursting open in shiny green-aliciousness and saying ‘hey lady, we’re still here so get over it!’ So, okay I lost some plants while I was busy, but the bones of my garden are still alive and are beginning to thrive and I’m going to reward them with some special attention today – maybe even some fertilizer. They always reward me in turn by making me feel a little more alive and thriving, and I really need that today.

edible Nasturtium bloom - March 30, 2011

So, before I get distracted with cleaning my room, which looks like I need to call the staff from one of those ‘hoarders’ shows, doing homework or the laundry or cleaning the house….AAACK! – run! RUN outside before you get distracted and change your priorities and the clouds come out to rain on you and the G-Damned doorbell rings or the…..

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Royal Burgundy Bush Beans is wine box

The Moon moved into Virgo early this morning, which means I absolutely must garden this evening after work! My almanac, “Guided By The Moon” by Johanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe, says Virgo days “are the best days for almost every type of work in garden, field, and forest that is connected with setting, transplants and new planting.” (the only exception is lettuce, which will run to leaf too quickly) The seeds I planted on the last full moon are ready for permanent homes and some plants are not doing well in their spots, so transplanting and new planting is exactly what I’ll be doing. I don’t have a lot, but having Moon where it is was the perfect excuse to plan my evening for that. And, lo and behold, Sun is actually shining today. We have had so much coastal cloud cover this year that I’m planning a separate post just to list the plants that I lost due to lack of Sun, in San Diego!

I hope she doesn't eat much!

Yesterday, I harvested my Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. We only got a small bushel but it was enough for Tom and I to have a good side dish at dinner. They are beautiful and delicious and a little Gothic looking. I will be growing them again next year for sure. Not the same feelings for the Yellow Pencil Pod beans I grew at the same time. They didn’t do as well and the color was kind of anemic and not terribly enticing, except to our snails – ok by me because they stayed away from the purples.

Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

The camera, trooper that it is, didn’t really capture the luxuriously deep purple of these beans. When you break them open, they’re bright green inside and they cook to a regular ‘green bean’ color. We roasted them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Wicked looking beans ready for roasting. Bwahahaha!

Next year I will plant more of these and I know now they grow best in the meditation circle. Most things do, to the point of leaving me no room to sit on my bench, which is presently covered with grape vines. Oh well, I don’t have time to meditate much these days anyway!

Hydrangea with droplets

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“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

It was 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful today, making it really difficult to focus on work. Tom and I always work half a day on Saturdays, but today I had to cut it back to a couple hours. The paperwork will still be there Monday, the New Moon will not! Instead, I pruned the roses in the front yard along the driveway. There are five bushes, all a little different, and they’ve been there since shortly after we moved in six winters ago.

Our landscaper picked them out and put them in. There was no landscaping at the time so I was ok with letting him do it. Now that I am a much more passionate gardener, I would never dream of not picking out and planting my own roses. In fact, shortly after he put them in, I told him never to touch them again.

Before I went out there, I looked up what info I had on properly pruning roses to refresh my brain, figuring I would post the rules here when I was finished. Funny thing about pruning rules in books or online: so much of it is crap and contradictory, or simply over-strict. Yes, there are some basic guidelines that give great results. What they forget to tell you is this: if you’re so busy worrying about getting all the rules perfect, you’ll forget to relax and enjoy it which is the damned point of tending roses in the first place.

So here’s what I know about pruning roses:

* use very sharp tools and clean them between plants if one has a disease.

* cut at angles which keeps moisture from settling on the cut edge and making things rot

* remove all dead or diseased stuff

* Cut one inch above the bud that’s pointing in the direction you want the thing to grow

* roses get rusty moldy and claustrophobic – keep the center empty and don’t let canes touch each other, they need their space. much like people.

* If you break a rule your roses will probably survive

* Know your rose! listen to it and it’ll tell you exactly what it wants. Get down there at eye level and see what’s going on. There are different rules about pruning depending on what type of rose you have, but I have discovered that even each individual bush within a type likes something different. Also shaping its personality; age, placement, what you’ve done to it before, surrounding plants…you get the picture – each rose is it’s own person, and most of them are very forgiving.

Timing in the garden is important to me, so I always prune my roses on the New Moon. Every single month during their growing season, I give them a little haircut. Last winter, Tom and I pruned them gently and left quite a bit of old wood. (we had so much fun that day and it was our best rose year ever) This year was time to prune drastically. This may sound more than mildly insane, but my roses have actually let me know they’d like some time off and I always give it to them.

I really discovered the giddiness of rose-pride one day when Tom and I were at the taco shop down the street. One of our neighbors recognized me and said Hi. I had no idea who she was but she said knew me as the “Rose Lady On Cork Place.” I think that’s pretty awesome, and I’m not going to tell her I sometimes break all the rules.

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So, I finally finished up in the office and headed outdoors to prune the living hell out of everything. For my own uses later, here’s the list:

1) sage – both
2) lavender – Spanish only
3) roses – backyard only
4) passion-fruit vine
5) euryops (daisy bush)
6) Japanese eggplant…will it live?
7) whirling butterfly plant (guara)
9) rosemary – both
10) grape vine
11) Chinese wisteria (vines widdershins – of course)
12) lilac – both (look up info…they’re sad)

The pictures I promised of all the springiness:

The hyacinth I planted a few years ago:

pink hyacinth

The green onions I planted for one of my first blog posts:

Green Onions - update

Lilac bud. I will have to do some research on these little plants. They haven’t done well and it’s time I do something about it.

Lilac buds

grabby little pea shoots

Widdershins Wisteria - Chinese



This spectacular bloom is the most exotic looking flower in the garden right now. Can you guess what it is? The common clover: most people pull it out as weeds…people are sooooo silly!

can you guess?

In honor of the season of fertility, I’m sharing a picture of my penis cactus. Six months of the year it does not receive adequate sun. The other six months it does not receive adequate water. I believe both are appropriate and those of you with penises know exactly what I mean. Reality is what it is and I leave these cacti where they stand in honor of that:

I wish you could have smelled this jasmine. In fact, I trimmed the rosemary, lavender and jasmine all at once. The backyard smelled so amazing. Screw the rapture, I made paradise my own damned self!


And now we celebrate a day that is more complete:

Peanut with book

I have much to celebrate this evening..my list, for my own purposes later:

Spider Orchids
Bat guano
Seed Starting Mix
Old Sheets with Clouds
Blue Slippers
Wings and Nests

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