Friday, December 28, 2007

Easy Way to Get Rid of Black Gnats On Your Houseplants

Lately, since I've overwintered some of my plants which include coleus, hydrangeas, and geraniums, and also some of my African Violet leaves I'm trying to propagate, tangerine plants, Christmas Cactus, spider plants, etc. I've noticed a lot of black gnats around my plants. I've tried a lot of remedies to get rid of these things including cutting little yellow rectangles with petroleum jelly to trap these little suckers.

The only remedy that works with these pests is a dish of soapy water. All you need is a saucer (I got some at the dollar store in a pack of 4 for a $1.00), water and a couple drops of dish soap (I use lemon dish soap: it attracts these bugs). I add dish soap to the saucer and fill the saucer with a cup of water. I allow the soil in my houseplants to dry out to kill the baby fungus gnat eggs. I then put the saucer near the inflicted plants and the gnats eventually seek water and go to my "trap" saucers. The soap prevents them from flying away and they eventually drown. In a couple of days, you'll notice that there are dozens of gnats in the water! Success proven! I hope this helps anyone who are burdened with these pests.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Groco Seeds Order

This is what I ordered from Grocoseeds The prices are very reasonable and you get so much for your buck.

  • flax, blue (perennial)

  • Chicory, blue beauty (pretty flowers and you can use the roots as a coffee substitute)

  • Chinese houses

  • Oregano

  • Shoo fly, nicandra

  • Poppy, oriental scarlet

  • Sunflower, maximilian

  • Sunflower, regular

  • Nicotiana

  • Chives

  • Maltese cross, lychnis chalcedonica

This week, I transplanted my coleus seedlings into individual containers. I got these little plastic containers from Wal-mart. I believe they are used for making "jello-shots" or rinsing with listerine. They came in a package of 50 for $1.50. That's a pretty good deal to me! I put holes in them with a heated nail. It only took a couple of minutes to make drainage holes. I can't wait to get my seeds in the mail. I hope they come this weekend. It would be a wonderful Christmas present. We'll see...

Next week, I'll start some broccoli and parsley seeds. I can't believe I'm already starting seeds. I would probably go stir-crazy if I didn't do something in the garden! I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Garden Update 12-12-07

I know it's been awhile but I have been super busy with Christmas shopping and decorating our place for our first Christmas. I still have been tending to my plants inside. My coleus seedlings are still doing well. I'll put them into individual peat pellets or little pots soon. By spring, I'll have tons of coleus to enjoy and share.

The ornamental pepper I got on clearance is starting to die. I purposely let it commit suicide since I just wanted it for its seeds. I took some seeds from it earlier this month and I germinated them and success!

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be planting my early spring crops: broccoli, parsley, and cabbage. I'm using the square foot gardening as a guide. It's a wonderful way to garden in a small space. I would recommend it to anyone. Well, that's it for this week. Next week, my order from grocoseeds and maybe valueseeds! We'll see...Happy gardening everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Garden Update 11-17-07

Last week, I forgot to mention that I planted some garlic and sweet peas for the spring. This is my first year planting garlic from real garlic stock from the gardening store. I went to my local Orchard Supply Hardware store and got 3 bulbs for $1.96. There was no tax since garlic is food. It takes about 9 months for a clove of garlic to mature and become a bulb. A garlic expert on the Martha Stewart Show compared growing garlic to a baby. It takes nine months for garlic to mature and 9 months for a baby to come out. It was an interesting analogy nonetheless. I potted them in a container since we might be moving by the time the bulbs are ready to pick. I expect some yummy garlic next summer.

Last year, I tried to grow garlic from the grocery store but they didn’t work. They would produce lots of shoots but once they died out, I could never find any bulbs. I believe there is a growth inhibitor in grocery store garlic that prevents them from growing. Urgh....well I hope I got it right this time around.

I also planted some sweet peas I got from Home Depot from a company called Stover seeds. They sell bulk packets of seeds. I got around 300 sweet peas and thousands of California Poppies for around $3.97 a piece. They also have vegetable seeds in bulk too. They're around $2.97 a piece. I plan to get some bok choi and other veggie seeds in the spring. I’ve only had one sweet pea bloom last year. It was mainly because I started them in the spring. My coworker who grows a plethora of sweet peas every year suggested that I plant my sweet peas right now for blooms in the spring. I listened to her and I hope next year we’ll have pretty sweet peas.

Currently, I am pre-germinating some seeds I collected this year. I like to test seeds before I put them up for trade just to make sure they work. This week, I’m germinating some coriander, broccoli-De Cicco, and two types of eggplants (purple and white). I hope they work. It just gives me more validation that what I’m doing-gardening wise-is right. When I was in the grocery store the other day, I saw a huge bag of coriander seeds on sale for $2.69. This was a very large bag. I’m going to get them and try germinating them this year.

I also picked up two taro roots when I was at the grocery store too. Taro root plants look similar to “Elephant Ears” or Alocasias. They were relatively cheap; $.50 a piece compared to $5.99 per root at the garden center. I placed them in a deep pot and placed them in the sun. I hope they root and produce cool little plants for me. I’m a little weary because it is winter and it’s probably not the best time to pot these up since they’re tropical plants. Well, I’ll try them anyway and protect them from frost or bring them in. If they don’t work, I’ll only have wasted $1.00 instead of $10-$12. That’s all for now!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Garden Update November 10, 2007

I just wanted to provide an update on the various garden projects I'm currently in this winter.

The cuttings I took from the ivy have rooted. The boxwood cuttings will take a little longer to root. I haven't seen any growth on those.

Yesterday, I started some coriander (aka cilantro) seeds I got from the grocery store. I got a big canister for $1.50. We'll see if they work. If not, at least I have them for cooking. The coleus seeds I started have started to get some of it's true leaves. Once they do, I'll transplant them into individual cells. Hopefully, by the beginning of spring, I'll have a ton of coleus to give as gifts or plant in my garden.

I also started some more African Violet leaves from the AV I got from my husband last Valentine's Day also the AV from Walmart that blooms these variegated white and purple flowers, and the AV I got from the .99 cent store and also this white AV I got on clearance at Lowes. I started 3 leaves per plant. In a couple of months I'll get babies that are this size:

This week, I also transplanted my radish seedlings to the garden. I placed them in front of the peas and beans I started several weeks ago. They're just poking their little heads out this week. We haven't seen a frost yet. The meterologists expect a frost at the end of November. Lucky us.

Seed Collecting:

I collected some of my peppers for its seeds this week. I'll start some this spring and give out some as trades. They have tons of seeds in each pepper. I got this plant on clearance at Wal-mart two weeks ago. It was only $1.40 and had these gorgeous yellow peppers.

I also collected some daisy seeds from this huge daisy bush at my apartment complex. It had a ton of seedpods on it and the maintenance men probably didn't mind since I was picking the dead seed pods for them. No trimming for them! Hehe.

Well, that's all for me this week. Check back next week for more of my gardening ventures.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Coleus Seedlings and Cuttings

Last Thursday, I was at Lowes looking at all the pretty plants and I happened across a seed rack of fall vegetables. I stopped and perused the different types of lettuces, peas, beans, spinach, radishes, and lettuce seeds. As I was leaving, something caught my eye: a packet of coleus seeds. Two weeks ago, I had ordered some coleus seeds from and they hadn’t come in yet so, on an impulse, I bought it (since then, I’ve received them). On Friday, I potted these tiny little seeds in a leftover salsa container with holes punched in the bottom for drainage. I covered the container with plastic to keep the humidity high and placed them underneath my grow lights. Today, I noticed I had some growth! They are very minute and tiny but nonetheless some action!

Some advice I would suggest in planting coleus seeds is

  1. Mix the seeds with sand and sprinkle the mixture lightly over dry potting soil (I
    use regular potting soil rather than the seed starting mix b/c it’s a lot

  2. Cover the seed/sand mixture with a light dusting of more potting soil

  3. Sprinkle enough water to moisten the mix

  4. Cover the container with plastic wrap (I use a rubber band to secure the plastic
    wrap to the container) to maintain humidity

  5. Once the seeds have germinated, slowly take off the plastic and

Coleus Seedlings (very tiny) For a bigger picture, click on the picture.

It took 7 days for the seeds to germinate so all in all, I believe it was quite successful. Now I patiently wait for it to grow bushy so I can take cuttings and propagate them and give them away as gifts!

Speaking of cuttings, I recently went around my work and got some cuttings and seeds. I work at a university and I know the facilities employees very well and they know me as the plant girl. I am always asking them for cuttings from wisteria vines and left over seed trays. The university is well known for its landscape and abundance of ponds (we have 6-8 ponds sprinkled across the campus). The plants vary from rose bushes (the president’s donor rose bushes that go for $200.00 a plant, needless to say I didn’t “sponsor” one) to geraniums, wisteria, ginkgo biloba trees, Japanese maples, pines, daylilies, agapanthus, etc. etc. etc.

Daylily Plant I collected seeds from...

So, about two weeks ago, I went on a break and noticed that the daylilies were producing a lot of seed. I asked the gardening department if I could collect these and they of course said go for it (they’re super nice). So I went around and collected a ton of daylily seeds. I probably have ½ a pound of daylily seeds from all around the campus. Anybody want some? Check out my trade list for trades. I also collected agapanthus seeds as well.

I also took some geranium cuttings (red and bright pink colors), semi- wood cuttings from different bushes and plants and some pine cones. I put the cuttings in a pot with a freezer-size zip lock bag over them. I put them under my grow lights and will let them stay there for a couple of months. They have good company with my ivy and boxwood cuttings. Well that’s all for now. Happy gardening everyone.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Plants on Sale!

I was out running errands today and I found some stellar garden steals. I got a Mexican Heather for a $1.00 at Lowes. I also found some coleus’ on sale at Walmart for only 2.00. The plants were huge, probably around 2 feet tall. I got a pretty chartreuse green one, a bright purple/green one, and a dark purple one. I’m going to set them out on my patio and collect cuttings from it to propagate and grow them in the spring. I suspect that Walmart is trying to clear all their summer annuals for more of the fall perennials and annuals. Lucky me!

I also found a large Christmas cactus with white flowers. There were three plants in the pot and I’m contemplating separating them into individual pots after they bloom. I’ll, of course, propagate these during the winter months for fun, but I’ll wait until after it blooms to do that. I also got an ornamental pepper plant on sale too. It was I think $1.40 and it had the cutest little yellow peppers on them. I might just let one of them mature to collect the seeds and see if I can start them under my lights.

I also got some coleus seeds at Lowes to see if I can start some this winter. I’ll use them as houseplants to brighten up our little place.

I got my seeds that I ordered from Groco Seeds. They are the best place to get seeds that are at a reasonable price. This time I ordered some celery seeds, lamb’s ear, lemon balm, coleus, and lemon basil. I’ve ordered from them before and the quantity you get for the price is great! They come in plastic bags so you can see how many seeds you have. Groco actually tells you how many seeds you’ll get and they definitely give you that number plus more! I can’t say enough nice things about them!

This morning, I was busy cleaning up my new garden. We moved into a one bedroom apartment with a decent size backyard when we got married but the only problem is: it is full of weeds! It has a ton of grass weeds all over the place. It was too much to hand pick the weeds so I tilled the ground and started throwing clumps of grass into the corner of the backyard. I’ll use that side as my compost pile. I want to plant some peas, beans and radishes before it gets too cold here. Those are frost-tolerant veggies so they’ll be fine with some cover. The last frost is expected to be in the middle of November but it’s been so warm I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come at the end of November or beginning of December.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Plant Shopping Spree...Yippee!

These are the grape hyacinth bulbs I'm forcing. I've never tried forcing before so I thought I'd give it a try. Most of the websites I've looked at say it is pretty simple. I got the glass jars at a dollar store (2 for a dollar) and also the pebbles. I placed the pebbles in the bottom and poured tap water until it reached the top of the pebbles. I put the bulbs on top of the rocks and waited. This picture is at 6 days and it looks great. After it gets a little bigger, I'll put them under my grow lights until they bloom. Wish me luck!

Anywho, to make-up for lost time, I went on a shopping spree and got some more houseplants! It all began with my wish to do two things: 1. Get more coleus to grow as a houseplant and 2. Get a plant for my living room. First, I went to Osh to find another houseplant that would complement and balance my spider plant that I have next to my tv. To no avail, there was none that fit the bill. I then went to Lowes and found that they were putting most of their houseplants on clearance to clear up room in the store for all the Christmas decorations. So, I picked up an African Violet with white flowers for only $1.00, some potting soil, compost, and two hanging baskets.

I then went to Target and I found some 6-packs of coleus so I bought two of those. I got the wizard mix pack. I potted several of them in a hanging basket and they look gorgeous! (click on the image for a larger pic)

I then went to Wal-mart and found a plant that was perfect for my living room: a dark green pepperoma, but as I was leaving the garden center, a big pot of vincas (aka periwinkle) caught my eye and it was on clearance for $4.00 so I, of course, bought it along with the pepperoma! All in all, I had a great day of plant shopping. The first is the pepperoma and the second is the vincas.

Pepperoma Plant


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ivy and Boxwood Cutting Experiment

Since I have more time on my hands, I've been hopelessly devoted to cleaning up my garden and adding new plants to our apartment. This includes propagating some plants I've been wanting to try like ivy and boxwood. My apartment complex has the best landscaping. We have geraniums flourishing at every parking entrance, tulips and bearded irises sprinkled across the apartments, hydrangeas popping up everywhere, rose bushes, ivy, boxwoods, and even an Olive tree which is oddly placed over the garbage place. The gardeners don't mind if we take cuttings from the plants since it kind of helps them out with trimming! I've actually gotten a lot of nursery pots and seedling trays from them too. After they plant the plants in the ground, they have no use for them so I asked them if I could have them and they are more than happy to give it to me! Plus they know who I am since I'm the only one with 9 feet tomatoes peaking over the fence and a very busy garden in the back.

The other day, I decided to try to root some boxwood and ivy cuttings. i think the boxwoods will take a bit longer since they were all semi-hardwood cuttings that I took. All the websites suggested that it would take 5-6 months for them to root. I'll just wait and see. For the boxwoods, I basically dipped them in water and them in rooting hormone (I use "rootone") and stuck them in some potting soil. I covered them with a plastic bag to retain constant moisture content for the cuttings and now I wait patiently!

For the ivy, I basically went out and cut some very long vines from the bushes we have in front of my apartment. The stems were fairly thick and some of them actually had started producing little roots so that's always a good sign when you want to propagate something. I cut 4 inch pieces below the leaf nodes and stuck them in the soil. This time around, I decided to try two different methods: rooting in water and rooting in soil. The majority of the cuttings went into the potting soil and covered with plastic but I took a handful of them and put them in a jar of water. Some websites I've read say to change the water every 2 days. I'll stick to that and see how long it takes. Here's hoping we get a lot of ivy plants to give away!

On another note, I received a couple of garden catalogs the other day and I have been drooling over the different types of veggies and plants out there. I recently got two kalanchoes and an african violet from the 99 cent store the other day so hopefully the kalanchoes will bloom and last for awhile. I'll try to propagate them but we'll see. They were only 99 cents so it might be worth it to just go get some more.

The african violet I got needs some tlc but the flowers are these little bright pink flowers that I love. I'll try and propagate a leaf from it to ensure I have more of those to come. I am absolutely in love with african violets. They are so easy to care for and they bloom for most of the year. I've propagated several leaves from my african violets and they are doing really well. To propagate some of your own, click on this link for directions.

I'll keep my ivy and boxwood cutting experimented updated in the next couple of months. I'll of course post pictures of the progress...Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Been So Busy...

I'm back from a 2-3 month hiatus.

I recently got married in September and we've been super busy setting up our little place so I haven't had time to post.

To catch up, I moved from my little studio apartment with a wonderful garden to a one-bedroom apartment with a big space for a garden but no time for gardening right now since it's only 1 month away from frost. I think I'm still going to give it a good try though and try some onions and radishes.

The wedding and honeymoon was wonderful! I'll post pics when I get them off my camera.

Gardening right now consists of caring for my overabundance of houseplants which include coleus, african violets, spider plant babies, aloe, hydrangeas, palms and tangerines. I can't wait to start getting garden catalogs and plan for the next year! I'm itching to start seeds and grow yummy vegetables. I might try starting some peppers inside just for the heck of it. The weather isn't so bad, it's around the mid 70's. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My Houseplants

Instead of writing a post about my outside garden, I thought I would post my pics of my small but growing number of houseplants. Like many beginning gardeners, I started my interest in gardening with houseplants. I remember seeing something online about growing houseplants and I kept reading and researching what type of houseplants were best for beginners. I settled for the elusive yet hardy jade plant. However, the jade plant did not survive a season. I knew jade plants were desert plants so when summer came around, I exposed the plant to full 100 degree sun and it subsequently went into shock and died. In memory of my beloved jade plant, I dedicate this post to first ever houseplant!

Here are my indoor plants: click on the pictures for a close up.


African-violet babies. These are so simple to root. For directions, click here

Tangerine seedlings

Spider Plant. It's currently rooting 5-6 baby spider plants. I'll root them and grow them to be the size of the pic below and give them away to friends and family. Want one?

Spider plant baby

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

End of the Month Stuff

I can't believe it's the end of June! All my annuals are still doing well. The annual flowers I planted from seed (stocks, hollyhocks, geraniums, calendula, poppies, etc.) are still up and thriving. I thought I was going to lose these by now but lo and behold, they're still going strong and flowering. I hope my flowers last until September. I'm using some (i.e. geraniums and petunia plants) as decor in my wedding. If not, I can always go buy some plants at the local garden center. In September, there are chrysanthemums and pr

My zucchini or maybe squash plant that I put in the ground is finally growing bigger. For awhile, it was doing nothing! Literally, doing nothing, nada, zero, zilch! Now, it's flowering male flowers and soon I hope female flowers. Everything is doing well. No issues with the garden.

However, I am having some issues with my neighbor upstairs. I have a new neighbor and he's a smoker! Urgh. It's not the smoking that bothers me, it's the ashes. He'll smoke on his balcony and his ashes will fall down on my patio and scorch the plants it hits. I don't know how to approach him to tell him to quit doing that or maybe strategically place an ash tray on his front door as a gesture.

Smoking is not just a bad habit but it is also endangers my plants. They get burned terribly from the ashes. How would he feel if I just started sprinkling ashes on his head! I don't know what to do with this one! My other neighbor was the best. She was a college student so she had to go to school during the day and work at night so I hardly ever had a problem with her. Plus, she was a light walker and so it didn't bother me much but this one is a doozie. He sounds like he's a heavy kangaroo bouncing around! Urgh...I'm so glad I'll be moving out at the end of this month. Hopefully, I'll have nicer, quieter neighbors. Only four more weeks to go...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Garden Pics

Here are some pictures of my garden adventures. This year has definitely been more prosperous than last year (my first year gardening). I'm still learning so hopefully with a couple more years under my belt, I'll know what I'm talking about when I speak to other gardeners! Enjoy.

My concrete garden with pots of various flowers and vegetables.


Jalapeno Pepper

Kung Pao Pepper

Allium flower

Flower bowl

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Garden Update 06-14-07

My little cucumber!

I have a growing little cucumber on my hands. Lately, with the hot weather I’ve been getting more female flowers on my cucumbers than male flowers. Oddly, there are no male flowers for my female flowers to mate with. I’ve been hunting down my other cucumber plants for male flowers and I’ve successfully pollinated one cucumber. The other female flowers (the ones that look like a miniature cucumber with a flower), I have not been so successful. They just shrivel up and die it seems. The cucumber is so tiny and cute and growing gradually everyday. I can’t wait for cucumbers to come. I have so many plans for them. I love them in salads, raw, with ranch dressing and most of all, I love it with a special Vietnamese dish called “Bun Thit Nuong” which is an Asian barbecued meat. I put the meat on top of rice which is covered with peanuts and cucumbers on the side. I also want to try a cucumber salad and a cucumber sandwich on pumpernickel bread and mayonnaise. My mouth is watering thinking about all the possibilities for cucumbers!

I officially have a flowering Shirley red poppy. I bought the seeds from Groco Seeds and Nursery and I started them in peat pellets in February and I’ve heard they’re hard to transplant but I thought if I kept them in peat pellets of their own, they should be fine. They sprouted pretty quickly and grew like weeds! I was so proud of them. I planted them in a shady spot that gets morning sun and they did well there. It took them a couple of months (approximately 3 months) for them to form buds and a week after I noticed buds, they were blooming. Poppy flowers are delicate flowers and are about 3 inches in diameter. They look so fragile and the petals are paper thin. I hope they get pollinated so I can keep the seeds for next year. Although, I do have a ton of seeds still so I should be fine with poppy seeds. Like I said, I have a ton of seeds, so if anyone wants to trade, please look at my trade list and leave a comment if you’re interested.

In the garden, I’ve been able to pick 6-8 supersweet 100 tomatoes daily. My fiancee loves these. He can eat a bowl of them for a snack. I like the fact that I grew them and I know what went into developing these yummy little red poppers. Plus, it’s a healthy snack!

This morning, I fertilized the vegetable and flower garden with seaweed emulsion. I also pollinated the female squashes. Hopefully, I was successful with pollinating two female squashes. We’ll be up to our ears with squash by the end of the summer! Luckily, I have some of my vegetables and most of my flowers in pots because I’m moving to a new apartment in August. The plants I have in the ground will be taken down in August . I’m sacrificing my strawberry plants and leaving them there because I know they hate being moved. Hopefully the new person moving into my apartment will take care of them and be rewarded with strawberries in the beginning of next spring. I’ll miss my garden. We put a lot of hard work into it including amending the soil, adding soil additives, digging and pulling up weeds, etc. I hope the next occupant is a gardener because the backyard is in prime condition for growing!

Tonight, I’m going to cook the squash I picked a couple of days ago. I’m thinking about sauteing it in olive oil with onions and garlic (both from my garden). It’ll be a healthy side dish to chicken and a salad with my cherry tomatoes or what’s left after my fiancee gets to them. It’ll be dinner from the garden tonight! Everything except for the chicken and olive oil are from my little garden.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This week, we're expecting temperatures in the high 90's and low 100's. Eek! It wasn't too long ago that I was complaining about the weather being abnormal. In fact, it was just last week that I was complaining about the weather. I'm kind of wishing temps were still abnormal. My hot-weather veggies are happily basking in the change of temperatures though and if they're happy, I'm happy. I hope my peppers eventually start growing. Right now, they're only 5" tall and I expected them to be a little taller. Last year at this time, my bell peppers were already a foot tall. Anywho, the odd weather is probably the answer to the slow growth.

On Sunday, I crushed some eggshells and sprinkled them around my tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. Eggshells provide the plants with extra calcium and prevents blossom-end rot on tomatoes. The eggshells are also a barrier for slugs and snails since the crushed eggshells are so sharp, they cut the slug's and snail's underbelly and they eventually die (too graphic uhh).

Other than watering my garden on a daily basis, I've been letting things grow on their own pace. I've been fertilizing every two weeks with seaweed emulsion but that's about it. Today, I picked some supersweet tomatoes for a salad I'll be having later tonight. Yumm-o. I can't wait until my romas are ripe so I can make fresh salsa!!!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Garden Update

The weather has been oddly unfamiliar for June. Typically, June entails mid 90 degree weather with dry hot days. However, lately it feels like spring weather with temps in the upper 70s and low 80s. I actually needed a sweater last week! It was really weird. The meteorologist says temps will gradually rise to normalcy this weekend and get into the 90s, like we're all used to.

Although the weather has been kind of weird, my plants don't seem affected. In fact, today I have red cherry tomatoes! I only have two but nonetheless I still have two! I was going to let them ripen a little further before i try them though. This year, I'm trying to grow without any chemicals or artificial fertilizers like miracle gro and it seems like everything is growing well. I am using an organic fertilizer I picked up from a gardening store though. It's seaweed fertilizer and my plants seem to love it. Last year, I used tomato fertilizer from miracle gro and my tomatoes weren't that great so this year I'm going to try things differently.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Nasturtium Flower

I was walking in my garden this morning perusing all the lovely tomato blossoms, cucumber seedlings, and little tiny buds on my pepper plants when something caught my eye: a brilliant orange nasturtium flower! I've never grown nasturtiums before and I hear they're edible but I have yet to try them out. They are relatively easy to grow since you just plop them in the ground and water occasionally. The leaves make this plant distinct.

For pictures of my nasturtiums from conception to now click here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Flower arrangement

Just wanted to show yal a pretty flower arrangement I made with the flowers I grew! It's an assortment of zinnia thumbelinas, purple stocks, black-eyed susans, and geraniums.

Garden Update

A garden update: 05-23-07

Everything in this picture is so green. If I had taken a picture of the backside of the garden, you’d see purple and pink petunias, pinkish white and red geraniums, purple hydrangeas, yellow calendulas and pink impatiens. This part of my garden is mainly for vegetables and herbs. On the right hand corner, I have an abundance of tomatoes ranging from roma, marglobe, supersweets, and large chery red tomatoes. I also have Straight 8 and Marketmore cucumbers, peppers (kung pao peppers, jalapeno, California Wonders, Peruvian peppers), peas, Sequoia strawberries, Black Beauty Eggplant, garlic, pearl onions, green onions, catmint, basil, chamomile, and so much more I can't remember.

I also have a squash (early prolific variety) in a self-watering pot that is so huge. The leaves are the size of both my hands. I already have two fruits on them. Due to a lack of pollinators (bees, insects, etc), I’ve had to hand pollinate the flowers. This is a relatively simple process and only requires two things: your hands. The squash flower does not contain both female and male parts but instead the plant produces two types of flowers: female flower, which looks like a flower attached to a mini squash and a male flower that looks like an ordinary flower. You simply remove the male flower from the plant, peel away the petals which will reveal a yellow-like q-tip and then you proceed to dab the female flowers with the male flower q-tip. That’s all there is to it! Simple! Here’s a picture of my result of hand pollinating.

And with any gardening endeavor, any gardener can tell you that there are bugs to deal with. Right now, I'm battling the dreaded white flies. I've been battling them with some insecticidal soap but I think my petunias are doing a fine job of killing them. The white flies seem to enjoy my petunia plants a lot. The thing with petunias is that they have tiny, sticky hairs on their stems which acts like a sticky traps and the white flies don't have a chance when they land on my petunias because they're essentially stuck and die as a result! I knew my love of petunias would pay off eventually!

My flowers are doing well in this heat too. We've been having 90 degree temps and the shade loving plants don't even mind. My impatiens are still blooming and the other flowers are forming buds. The avocado plant I planted a couple of months ago has doubled in size. Well, that's all folks for now...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pleasant Surprise

Copy of Flower basket 05-23-07

Flower Basket

On Saturday, I treated my student assistants to lunch that consisted of In-N-Out burgers and fries and Baskin Robbins ice cream because it was the last Saturday of the semester. My SAs are the best and we have so much fun on Saturdays. And, when I came into work this morning, my students, who know about my gardening hobby, brought in a flower basket (consists of daisies, carnations, stocks, and pretty fern leaves) for me. They also gave me a card with kind words. Whoever says being nice does not pay off. This is an example of it paying off. Aren't they so sweet?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Update on African Violet Suckers

African Violet Sucker at 107 days.
In February, I had written a post about African Violet suckers and I thought it was time to update yal on the progress.

The before picture shows the tiny suckers not looking like much. I must admit, I was not hopeful to see these little things survive but this experiment is just a testament to show that anything is worth trying. They were very easy to root. I mean simply easy.

Follow these steps to root African Violet suckers:

What you'll need:
-Small pot
-Moist potting soil or seed starting mix
-African Violet suckers
-A large zipper bag
-1 Straw

1. Gently pry the suckers off the mother plant. You can use anything from a pencil eraser, popsicle stick, or an exacto knife (that's what I used). If you don't know what a sucker looks like, click here for a picture.

2. Put the moistened soil in a small pot. Insert the sucker into the dirt. Make sure there's ample contact between the base of the sucker and the dirt.

3. Put the pot inside the bag and if you need to, insert the straw in the dirt to prevent the bag from resting on top of the suckers. This is important since if the bag touches the suckers, the condensation from the bag will cause the suckers to rot. Put the pot under some bright lights and...

4. The hardest part of this process is: patience. It'll take a couple of weeks for it to take root and a couple more to show signs of leaf growth.


At two months and a couple of days, here's what the suckers should look like. At this time, you can take the bag off and keep them underneath some strong, indirect light.

After several more months, they should like like a new plant. The picture is of 75 days.

Lavendar African Violet

Newest Addition: Lavender African Violet

When I was out running errands and buying stuff for our upcoming camping trip, I couldn't resist picking up this beauty. I love the variegation of the flowers. This one compliments my other African Violet well.

My garden has exploded and soon, it'll take over every inch of dirt I have in my small garden . The squash and zucchini I planted are already blooming. The one I have in a self-watering container has won hands down. It's the largest of all the ones I planted this spring. I think it's due to it's full-sun exposure during the day. Compared to the one I put in the dirt, it looks gigantic.

The one I put in the dirt hasn't grown much. It's just sitting there and not doing much of anything. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Petunias Flowering

It seems like everything is blooming and fruiting already. Last year, nothing happened until July. I planted petunias at the same time this year and they're already blooming. I hope they last and continue to bloom until September. I wanted to use them for my wedding in September.

The tomatoes are flowering and fruiting already. I hope to have some ripe tomatoes by July! The flowers I planted in the ground are also flowering too! Spring is definitely here. The temperatures here have been in the mid 80s and it's just perfect for my plants.

Yesterday, I bought another African Violet at Walmart. The flowers are light purple with white stripes. I'm putting it under my grow light. The African Violet I got in February looked so scraggly when I got it. I put it under my grow lights, it started growing like crazy and blooming constantly. I hope my new AV will play good with my other AVs.

Friday, May 4, 2007

April Showers Bring...May Showers?!? What...

Tangerine seedlings from some store-bought tangerines (at 30, 52, 70 days respectively)

The beginning of May has seen days of hot sun, wind, clouds AND rain. The rain is like an unwanted visitor. It shows up whenever it wants! But, the weirdest thing is the heat. We had two days where it felt like summer, the temps were in the mid 90s which is odd for the beginning of May. My garden, on the other hand, appears not to notice the weird weather fluctuations we’ve been experiencing. The tomatoes are growing like crazy. I have a Super sweet tomato in a white five gallon bucket and it’s about 4 feet tall and blooming. Once it reaches 6 feet, I think I’ll trim the top to keep it from growing more. Strangely, I have another super sweet tomato in a 3 gallon bucket and it’s only 3 feet tall. My advice: the bigger the container the better.

My stocks are blooming and the snap dragons have bloom clusters but no blooms yet. The petunias are blooming steadily. Every other day, I have to dead head the flowers to encourage more flowers or else, they’ll go to seed and die, which is what I don’t want.

I finally cleaned off my garden bench that was inundated with seedlings. I planted four additional tomato plants in the ground (jelly bean, tiny tim, cherry, and an unknown variety). So as of today, I have 11 tomato plants in the ground! I’ll have tons of tomatoes by summer. I have super sweets, romas, cherry, patio, tiny tim, and jelly bean. I also planted some more jalapeno and bell pepper seedlings into the ground too. Instead of committing plant genocide, I decided to give away a lot of seedlings to the other people in my complex. I took a box of seedlings and put them in the laundry room with a “Free” sign and by the end of the day, not a speck of dirt was found.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nice Present

Hydrangea Present from my fiancee

I am a lucky gal. Last night, my fiancee surprised me with a pot of purple hydrangeas. Isn't he the best! He was at the store and thought I would like them. Awww. These aren't the florist hydrangeas. They're the ones you find at the nursery so they're a hardy variety.

Of lately, I've been marveled with the growth in my garden. It seems like my tomatoes have doubled in size and have been flowering. The supersweet 100s are flowering like crazy. My patio hybrid has started to get a thick stem and have flowered large flowers. I'll let that produce to see how big they fruit. They're suppose to be great container tomato plants and supposed to look like this. I've been pinching back some of the flowers on my other tomato plants (Roma, Marglobe, & Supersweets)to encourage top and side growth and to ensure a bigger crop in the summer.

My cucumbers, on the other hand, aren't doing too well. Some of the one's I planted on the side of my fence have shriveled up and died. Luckily, I have extra transplants but nonetheless it makes me sad :( The cucumbers on the other side of the fence are doing much better producing new leaves. Ergh...nature is so unpredictable.

A couple of days ago, I was able to harvest a handful of strawberries for dessert. A light dusting of sugar is all is needed for a good snack. The ones in the ground are doing much better than the ones in the hanging basket.

I soaked some sweet pea seeds last night. I'll pot them up tomorrow morning in a 1-gallon container and see if I can grow pretty sweet pea blooms. Last year, I only got one silly sweet pea flower (boo). My coworker told me that sweet peas reseed themselves at the end of the season. She said the peas, after they mature, will twist and twist until they pop and reappear next year. We'll see if this theory pans out.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try and clean up and pot up the seedlings I have on my gardening table. I was an overachiever this season with my endeavors at seed starting. I have way too many pepper and tomato seeds.

Let's move on to my flowers:

  • My calendulas, in the past couple of months were blooming like crazy but recently have been puttering out. I'll let them go to seed and start new ones for the summer. They have given me a lot of flowers for the various flower arrangements I have in my home. They are very easy to grow and I highly recommend them.

  • The hollyhocks, asters, more calendulas, zinnias, poppies are steadily growing next to my fence. They don't like a lot of sun so I've placed pots next to them to shield them from the hot sun.

  • The geraniums are producing flowers like crazy. I love geraniums. They were the first plant I have successfully propagated from a stem cutting. They're easy to produce from a thick branch. I hope they can last til my wedding. I would love to showcase them in September

  • The petunias are gradually getting their footing and blooming.

  • The stocks and snapdragons are slowly blooming. Anyday now, I'll have a blooming garden!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nice Potting Soil

Stocks Dwarf 10 Weeks
I finally found a really good potting soil for a decent price. At Orchard Supply Hardware, they are selling their own potting soil for $3.99 for 25 quarts. When buying soil, especially potting soil, you should take a peak of what it is before buying it. Luckily, some other fellow gardeners took that hint and had poked a hole in one of the potting soil bags. The soil was magnificent. It was light and airy and it looks like there were some perlite in it too. If you can't make your own potting soil (equal parts of peat moss or alternative to peat moss, perlite and vermiculite), I would definitely recommend this variety. The soil bags that are opened are normally discounted at the end of the season, so watch out for those too! You'll get a great deal on those.

This morning, I put some petunias and stocks into a green container I had bought at the $.99 store. They look so pretty together and they had enough room! When the stocks die in the summer, I'll replace it with some other flowers. I'm thinking "Chinese Lanterns". I absolutely fell in love with Chinese Lanterns when I was following the grow along post on chinese lanterns on ygg

I also noticed that I had some squares that weren't being used. I think I'll put edamame or soy beans in one of the squares but for the other one, I'm not sure...maybe some garden beans or green beans. I also want to add some more flowers to my vegetable beds. Right now, I have some marigolds, nasturtiums, and cosmos.

I'm also going to start some more geranium cuttings. I want to see if I can get them big enough and to get them to bloom before my wedding in September. I want tons of plants and flowers in the reception area. It's going to be a garden themed wedding so the more plants, the better!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April is Gardening Month

My avocado sprout
The above picture is of my avocado sprout. It took it awhile but here it is!!!

I've been preparing for the rain these past couple of days. I transplanted my eggplant seedlings into a pot I had and I also put one in the ground. I made sure that I didn't put it in the same spot as I did last year b/c diseases can be transferred year to year. It's always a good idea to move crops around every 3 years to ensure no transfers of diseases or fungi.

I put my nasturtium into the same square I have my Marglobe tomato to deter aphids and other bugs. This is my first year growing nasturtium, and probably most of the other seedlings I have, and they are so pretty. They're pretty fast growers and bloom early in the season. Nasturtiums are also edible, although I haven't eaten one myself. The flowers are gourgeous!

This year, I'm attempting to companion plant to deter bugs and pests and also to enhance flavor. I have onions next to my tomatoes. As mentioned above, nasturtiums next to my tomatoes, marigolds next to the tomatoes also, basil (Thai and Italian) with tomatoes, and so much more I can't think of at the moment.

I also moved my zucchini outside into the ground and in a large pot. I'm experimenting with containers this year b/c I might be moving to a second floor apartment where there is no dirt to get "diiirty" but instead a big balcony. This year, I'm growing tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, strawberries, and eggplant in containers. I hope they do well this season. I just went outside and it was very warm so my seedlings will be super happy!

Well, I'm off to Orchard Supply Hardware to get some potting soil and some plant tags and maybe other items that I see... They're having a special this weekend where they pay for the sales tax. They're celebrating the end of "tax season". Good for me!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Petunia Growing Tips

I potted my petunia seedlings into individual pots of their own. Two of them were already blooming! Some people hate petunias because they are annuals and you have to buy seeds every year but I absolutely love them and if you can make the petunias produce seeds, you won't have to fork out money to get new seeds every year. Petunias have a soft spot in my heart. They were the first flowers I've ever grown from seed. Mind you, these grow very slowly from seed. It takes probably a month before they are ready to transplant, but when they get full sun and warmth they really take off. I'll pinch the flowers when they fade. Petunias typically bloom twice in a season and if you pinch them, you'll get more flowers.

Last year, I actually collected petunia seeds from my flowers. Here's how to collect the seeds:

1. After the second bloom appears, take a paint brush and hand pollinate the flowers.

2. In a couple of weeks, you'll have a large seed pod. The seed pods will burst if you're not watching so I put a tulle bag underneath the pods to capture all the tiny seeds. The seeds are tiny like specks of pepper so store them carefully.

The picture above shows my petunias early in the season last year. With some pinching, they are blooming like crazy. The other pictures are of a petunia seed pod and the subsequent seeds that followed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beginning of Spring!

I’ve been busily transplanting seedlings in the ground since the weather has been so nice. I transplanted the cucumbers (Marketmore variety) in the ground. I transplanted my peppers in the ground too. Peppers, eggplant, and especially tomatoes need warmth from the beginning of their life cycle. It took my pepper seeds 10 days to sprout but once I put them in the sun, they thrived and grew exponentially. We've been getting steady temps of 70's and above so I thought it would be okay to put the peppers in the ground. Just make sure you cover them with some cloth or a cloche (I use an old washed out 1-gallon milk jugs with the bottoms cut off) if you're expecting a cold spell.

I have been pulling the cold-weather veggies out of the ground and enjoying them in dishes or salads. I made my first ever Swiss chard dish that included garlic, oil, butter, lemon juice, and onion. It was good but I think I put too much lemon juice and it was a little sour. I was amazed at how much it shrunk. No wonder it's a close relative to spinach. I've been having a salad daily since my lettuce plants are growing so well. The only thing I've added are some store-bought cucumbers and salad dressing. Hopefully, during the summer, I'll have some home-grown cucumbers to add to my salad.

I've also been unloading the extra tomato and jalapeno seedlings to coworkers and family. My backyard garden looks so green with all the healthy seedlings but I definitely don't have enough space for them all so they've slowly found homes elsewhere. A perk with this is that I get the extra fruits from the people who are growing my seeds. In other words, I'm enjoying the "fruits of their labor"!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cucumbers and Squash are Sprouting

Goldenbush Zucchini Seedling (10 days)

The cucumbers I planted last Sunday are finally sprouting. It took them around a week to pop their cute little heads out of the soil. This spring, I am going to try my hand at Square Foot Gardening and am going to vertically train the cucumbers up along my fence. I love cucumbers so I'm growing a lot to ensure ample production (12 seeds). I'm also growing early prolific squash in a self-watering container as well as in the ground. We'll see how well each does this season!

Yesterday, I brought in some tomato and jalapeno seedlings in for my coworkers. The funny thing was when I was walking to work with my box full of seedlings, everyone stopped me and asked me if I was selling them. Um...another entrepreneurial opportunity? Nah, maybe next year! It was such a compliment though b/c it said something about my seedlings: they looked good enough to buy!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Garden Chores

Impatiens seedlings

Today, I spent most of the afternoon in my garden soaking up the rays and transplanting seedlings to individual containers. I transplanted tiny tim tomatoes and roma tomatoes out of their jiffy pellets to pots. I also potted some carrots and lettuce (tipburn variety). I transplanted the hollyhocks, asters, and calendulas on a 1' x 5' piece of dirt by my fence door. On the right of it, I transplanted some morning glories. Hopefully, in a couple of months, I'll have pretty blooms from all corners of my porch!

Last night, I started some more cilantro, cucumber (straight 8s and marketmore), squash (early prolific) in jiffy pellets. I also started some sweet williams and nasturtiums.

The weather for the rest of the week is predicted to be in the 70's so my plants will have a great little vacation outside on the porch.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last Frost Day

I harvested some radishes and lettuce the other day and I made a yummy salad for dinner. I've noticed that radishes grow really well in the sun rather than the shade. They grow much faster and bigger!

Today is the last frost date for my area. Yeah!!! After I get off from work today, I want to plant the various variety of tomato plants (Supersweet 100, Large Cherry, Marglobe and Roma) in the ground or in their own individual pots. I'm going to put plastic around the tomatoes in the ground for added insurance. The seedlings have been doing well in their pots but I think it's time they get some time in the dirt. The sooner they get in the ground, the sooner we get tomatoes!

I'm going to leave my cool weather (swiss chard, radish, lettuce and onions) plants in the ground so that means the tomatoes will have to share the ground with the other plants until the c-w plants mature.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Flower Arrangements

I decided to bring some flowers inside to bring "spring" indoors. I've decided that I like flowers of one color in an arrangement or the same flowers bundled together in a vase. The yellow calendulas are in a vase that my fiancee made me. The purple flowers are bearded irises and they're just so pretty by themselves! I love how spring just creeps up on you and then springs in when you're least expecting it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tomato Transplanting and Cucumber Seed Starting

I also transplanted one of my patio tomatoes into one of my self-watering containers and one of my supersweet 100s tomato in a 5-gallon bucket. I also rearranged my white garden shelves to the other side of the patio. Before, the shelves were in direct sunlight during the day and hogging up the sun from my containers so I simply moved them and now I extended my garden by 4 feet! In its place, I put the self-watering pots and tomatoes in its place. Now, the tomatoes will have 6-8 hours of sunlight instead of 3-4 hours when it was next to the fence. I decided to move it today because there’s a chance of rain tomorrow and Tuesday.

It's amazing how over a span of one year, your garden can be transformed from a barren canvas to a live and yieldy garden. Last year was my first true attempt at gardening and I haphazardly placed plants in empty spots due to my lack of gardening knowledge. For example, I wanted honeydew melons so I thought I could grow it in my little 6' x 7' garden. However, I didn't know that melons required a lot of space and by the end of summer, it had not only taken over half of my garden but also half of my concrete patio! This year, I'm more organized and have a new approach to gardening called "Square Foot Gardening" and it's the best. I can grow so much more in such a little amount of space! It's just wonderful! Right now, I'm growing an assortment of onions, lettuce, swiss chard, radishes, and turnips, all in one half of my garden. Compared that to the honeydew melon plants that took up half of my garden and only yielded me with 2 melons! Yes, you got it right, 2 melons!

Here's a picture of last year's garden:

This spring and summer, I'll be growing tomatoes (4-5 different kinds that include patio, supersweet 100s, marglobe, roma, and jelly bean), peppers (bell, peruvian, kung pao, and jalapeno), squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peas, cilantro, and so much more!

This year's garden using Square Foot Gardening Techniques

I have peas along the fence (Oregon Giant, Dwarf Grew and another one), strawberries (Sequioa), geraniums are in pots on the shelves (I propagated this from stem cuttings last winter and they've grown like weeds!), there are also some seeds I started here in the salmon-colored flats (mostly flower seeds), and you can see my tomatoes on the table.

I also planted some cucumbers and squash this morning. I planted Straight 8 cucumbers, Marketmore cucumbers, and a bush type cucumber. For squash, I planted early prolific straightneck. Hopefully, we will get a lot of squash and cucumbers this year.