Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Green Gardener's Great Gizmo

Troy-Bilt Trimmer Product Review

Creative Uses for Troy-Bilt's 'Green' Trimmer:
√ Skip the lawn mowing and just trim the edges of the lawn.
I mow every 2 weeks vs. every week and nobody notices I'm lazy!

I’ve heard tell that we’re all born with a unique set of skills. Some people hire gurus and go to the great lengths of hypnotherapy to discover their own special gifts.

Mine was apparent from the moment I set up shop as an adult, with a mortgage and a lawn to mow.

My special skill? Well, I’m all about cutting corners. In fact, it’s kind of a full-time job for me. I begin each morning with a list of too many things to do. Then I whittle that list down to a manageable size.

And, that’s where my new Troy-Bilt Toy comes in. Technically referred to as the TB57 Lithium Ion String Trimmer, it's a multifunctional time saver that gets me out of mowing the lawn quite often.

I've discovered if I simply trim the grass around the garden beds all neat and tidy no one seems to notice how tall the grass is in the middle of the lawn.

Now, you could jump to conclusions and say that I’m lazy. I would argue I’m greener than you. If I skip a lawn mowing, or two, and nobody notices... who cares?

In addition to not polluting, I'm giving my grass a supreme advantage over the weeds since I rarely, if ever, water that stuff. When the grass is allowed to grow it becomes thick and lush with long, strong roots (sans all those chemical fertilizers!)

PS: Heartless gardeners (such as myself) have been known to wack (as in deadhead) fields of Salvia and rampant weeds with this trimmer, too.

The Green Gardener's Great Gizmo:
Troy-Bilt gave me the TB57 Lithium Ion String Trimmer to test so I've tried really hard to break it. Normal gardeners, especially women, will probably love this thing because it doesn't stink of gas and it's not a big monster of a tool.

It uses a lithium battery, like your digital camera, only this one’s the size of a brick. Charge up the battery and this little weed wacker is good to go. Bonus: The charge lasts a nice, long time.

Pros: Lightweight, easy to assemble, easy to use, and environmentally friendly. Be sure to point that out to all your gas-guzzling, weed-wacking neighbors.

Cons: Silly name. Why can’t they just call it the Green Gardener’s Great Gizmo? You see, I think women would buy a lot more power-type tools if they didn't have such goofy macho names...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Magic Potions for Clematis Climbing Vines

Clematis flowers more profusely with a dose of phosphorous and potassium.

By noon, temps had climbed to 100 degrees and, with that, the goals of the Friday Afternoon [Hiking] Club rapidly shifted gears. The cool dark of an air-conditioned theater beckoned. Why go hiking when the Harry Potter movie is in town?

For those of you who have not seen the movie, no worries... Harry seems to be holding up just fine.

Which, in and of itself, is a miracle if you ask me.

Nurseries say 'part sun/shade' but every Clematis I've ever met has admitted she prefers more sun.

After all, he's just a dorky high school kid. Yet, every September, when he heads back to school, he encounters another wannabe dark lord.

That pressure would have had me scurrying to the school counselor lickety split. Harry just takes it all in stride ~ though, sooner or later, all that extra curricular activity would have to start messing with his grade point average.

And, what about that poor kid's future? As a meddling Mom I just have to ask.... Will he ever find time to prep for his SATs?

Hot sun on her flowers and cool, damp roots. Place flat rocks over her root area or plant her next to shrubs that shade the ground. She'll quickly weave her way up through the shrub in search of more sun.

A 5-10-10 organic fertilizer should have your little Clematis jumping for joy. 5 = nitrogen, 10 = phosphorous and 10 = potassium:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Watering The Big Rock Garden

Perky Primrose gets a long overdue drink of water. Cruel amounts of sprinkler neglect never seem to phase her...

Sit a spell. The finishing touch for the Big Rock Garden was a comfy little rocking chair placed amongst the flowers. If I force folks to sit out there they feel obligated to compliment me on my hard work! :)

What is the Big Rock Garden? Well, it's the backbreaking project I have been working on for three summers. Photo below is how it looked BEFORE I launched into my perennial planting frenzy. That boulder is the size of my Jeep Wrangler. Too big to be hauled anywhere. My only choice was to cover it up.

Big Rock Garden (Before)

This photo [below] is how The Big Rock Garden looks today. You can barely see my eyesore rock!

Big Rock Garden (After!)

Laden with perky Primrose and all sorts of fun flower combinations, like Red Hot Pokers, Penstamons, and Feverfew (graciously donated by Wunx.)

As I was moving the sprinklers around today it occurred to me that perhaps this is why I've been a bit of a slacker with blogging this summer. The Big Rock Garden is all grown up and there's nothing left to say. Other than... I'm so very, very glad.... to be done!

PS: I did it all by myself. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Freebie Fiery Flowers

Mrs. Bradshaw (Geum) flowers all summer with deadheading. I thank Stacey for these.

I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to work with the horses, battle the weeds and water my thirsty flowers. The cool, blue mood of my June garden has given way to the bright, hot colors of summer.

Lychnis Chalcedonica is a brief bloomer but quite breathtaking. I thank Lesley for these.

The sweetest aspect of these bold, orange blossoms is that I stole each and every one of them!

Check out the tiny little 'daisy' inside this pretty Poppy. I thank Kris for these.

If you're gardening on a budget you really should become a thief like me. Buddy up to your gardening friends. First, try begging. If that doesn't work you could always resort to stealing.

Lilies - You only need one. They'll take over a garden bed in less time than it takes to sip your iced tea. These were snitched from Mom when she wasn't looking.
* Tip: When resorting to thievery, be sure to cover your tracks i.e. fill in the hole you just dug in her garden, so you can make a clean getaway.

But, you probably won't have to commit any crimes. Most gardeners have too much of this or that and they will gladly give some away.

Since most perennials expand like crazy over time, you can grow yourself a brand new garden with time, sunshine and a little bit of patience. Three simple ingredients that all happen to be FREE!

Blanket Flowers: 1 = 100 in no time at all. I thank Mother Nature for these.

I brazenly beg cuttings from just about anyone who looks too nice to turn me down. :)

Red Hot Pokers. I thank Lori for these. I conned her out of 2 and now I have about 40.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

My This & That Garden

"The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses." ~ Hanna Rion

Jupiter's Beard & Catmint

A hot wind turns the dry ground into swirling dust devils. I water by hand, inspecting the flowers. For me, watering by hand is very therapeutic.

More Jupiter's Beard. This time with Salvia.

John Cabot Roses bloom all summer:
Goofing around outside is a good excuse not to answer the phone. Because.... I'm gonna lose it if I have one more conversation with little Ms. Annoying:

"We need some super compelling headlines! This is some of the most crucial copy as it is the first impression and can make or break their desire to read the ad!"

Oh, Good Lord, do I look like a blithering idiot?

I've been doing this job for 10 years. Little Ms. Annoying has been doing it for 3 whole months. Yet, she feels I need to be educated. I think I should cut the new girl some slack though I gotta tell ya...

That's getting harder with each passing day.

Salvia & Peonies

So, I did what I always do when I have to come up with a 'super compelling headline!' I went outside to water the flowers. I always get my best ideas in the garden. When I'm hiding amongst the blossoms in a quiet place where I can think.

Pink Evening Primrose & Johnson's Blue Geraniums

"That one is a weed." So states my most annoying neighbor as she walks past with her horrid, little dog. I glared at her for a moment wondering who gave her permission to talk. She kept pointing at the weedy culprit getting a big drink of water from my hose.

Yeah, yeah, I replied and moved the hose. This one's a weed, too.

"Well aren't you gonna...?"

Pull 'em? I interrupted, snarling a bit. No. I like 'em. Besides I'm done with this garden. I want the weeds to fill in all the blank spots.

Climbing Clematis graces me with flowers all summer long.

Just 'tween you and me: I'm not really done with that garden. I just say those things to torment her. And, I've been in an ornery mood, lately, so I was kind of glad she walked by.

* It generally takes me 2 summers to figure out a garden. I simply don't have the brainpower to plan it perfectly then sit back and relax ~ the way you normal people do things.

* The first year I plant This & That, the half dozen or so long-blooming perennials I know will grow and get beastly large as time goes on. The following summer I squeeze the special stuff into the mix.

(Now promise me you won't spill those beans to my most annoying neighbor.)

Dense Pack: Squish 'em close together and weeds don't have much of a chance.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Gingersnap and Tater Salad Tips

We celebrated 4th of July on the 2nd. This town did fireworks on the 3rd. By last night when most parties were in full swing, I was so weary of the festivities I got on my bike and took a peddle down the old ranch road.

Past one of the last 'real' farm houses left around here. One that somehow resisted the temptation to sell off, to be torn down and re-built as ~ yet another ~ big, fancy mansion. (If that ever does happen I doubt it would occur to the contractor to save this magnificent rose bush ~ much less the cool, old fence.)

Straw Flowers (aka Bachelor Buttons) are a great quick fix for wild areas. This is their second summer.

Holiday highlights were few. I managed to screw up the potato salad. Which is kind of the shock of the world. An embarrassing moment for self AND country seeing as how I'm [allegedly] 100% Irish.

Meet Gingersnap. I don't know his real name. But I bike over to see him every evening. It's the highlight of my day.

If you're not Irish then perhaps you're not a tater aficionado. So, let me help you out here. Red potatoes have lots of moisture in them. Russet potatoes do not. Russets roast up crisp, golden brown and dry...

I think he's starting to recognize me but he keeps his distance.

What does all that have to do with great potato salad? If you want to make a name for yourself, with respect to potato salad... you don't boil those taters, you bake 'em! Dice 'em, olive oil 'em, sprinkle liberally with crushed rosemary and roast them 'til they're crisp and delicious.

Then go about the rest of your potato salad recipe however you want.

Just don't forget the pickles.

* Roasting red potatoes doesn't work as well because they contain too much moisture.