Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Ready, Keeping Wet

Our Master Gardener has been busy preparing her raised beds for the fall planting season.  Your Helper #1 did his part by adding another level of boards around the top and hauling in 36 bags of soil. (After a lot of trial and regret..we have settled on the "Black Velvet" top soil in the yellow bags at Lowe's)

 The rough 1x6 boards are sold by The Home Depot and are called “Corral Boards.”  They have worked well for the raised beds and the compost bins.

  I just nailed them to 4x4 posts set into the ground.  This is an 8x16 foot bed. The small one is 4x4.  Careful measuring means being able to use full 8 and 4 foot lengths. 

The "fresh" vertical 2x4s support the new level of corral board.

Keeping the long bed watered was an issue last year so I have added the simple sprinkling system along its length.  It connects to a short hose which then connects to a simple timer that can be programmed (About $30 from Lowes).

This system is easy to just pick up and move when the bed needs to be tilled and it works fine by itself when we are out of town for a few days.

 Right now you see the butterfly weed, but last fall and winter we had exceptional poppies, alyssum, milkweed, and larkspur all from seed in the big bed. Thank you Mamie!  This time we hope to recreate the same beautiful blooms with added dill and thyme.  In the shorter bed will go bush beans, broccoli and kale?  But like others, we are waiting for a bit of cooler weather.

 We have two compost bins at the end of the long bed; one that is “ready for use” and one that is “working” and takes the weekly grass cuttings.

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Interesting Plant

This is hanging over my kitchen sink.  These two are Tillandsias; a type of Bromeliad. These are quite small as this is a 4 inch diameter globe which helps to hold the humidity.

Tillandsias grow differently than most house plants. They are also called “Air Plants”  and require no soil because water and nutrients (dust) are absorbed through the leaves.  The roots are used only as anchors. Although not normally cultivated for their flowers, some will bloom on a regular basis.

They are really very hardy, and require much less attention than other house plants   Mercer Arboretum Gift Shop has some in the shop. Give them bright, filtered light. Mist your plant every 4-5 days with ONE Spray for tiny globes, 2-3 sprays for globes 3-5 inches, more if the plant is in a large open globe. The key is to judge the drying time, the smaller the globe, the less circulation, the longer the plant will hold the moisture. If you over water the plant it will die.