Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Time to Start Thinking About Roses!

Hard to believe that it’s already time to start thinking about your roses. January is the perfect time for pruning back your roses to ensure a nice bloom come spring time.

There is so much information on the internet about what to do, how to prune them, how to care for them, etc that I’m not even going to go there. What I am going to do is tell you what I do and I get some gorgeous roses with not much care every year.

There is one exception however; I have a couple of rose bushes that are in the shade most of the fall and winter due to the direction of the sun. I have found that over time, that definitely makes a difference in the amount of blooms I get in spring and summer and the overall health of the plant. Aphids and a variety of leaf-eating bugs seem to absolutely LOVE the roses that are in the shade as they get munched on the worst. So if you’re planning on putting new rose bushes in, look out for the shade because roses love the sun!

When I get ready to prune my roses, I use a pair of leather gloves so the thorn sticks into my hands are minimal. I definitely have fewer scratches on me when I’m done when I use leather vs. cloth gloves! I use a good pruner, one that is nice and sharp, and of course a trash bag or compost bin.

When I prune, I REALLY prune! I cut the stems way back, usually to about 6 inches above the bottom of the plant, or the top of the woody bump on the bottom of the plant (if there is one). A lot of folks would gasp at the horror of that much pruning, but hey, it works for me! I throw the stems away and any other material I usually put in the composter (old buds, etc). The stems don’t break down very well in the composter, so they go in the “green” garbage for recycle day.

There are many different ways to prune your roses and many different beliefs on the best way to do it (which way to cut the branch, at what point in the stem do you cut, etc). When I prune, I always try to cut the stem just above where there is a 5 leaf stem growing out of the branch. I’ve always read that is the “proper” place to trim and it seems to work to help ensure more blooms. The direction of the cut depends on how I want the bush to look. If I want it kind of leggy and woody, with the blooms growing out away from the plant, I will cut at a slant facing away from the plant. If I want the plant to appear fuller and less leggy, I cut in the opposite direction, facing into the plant.

Why would I want it to grow leggy and woody you ask? I have one particular rose bush that gets so many blooms on one branch, that I want them to spread out as far as possible to fill the space with flowers. I have a yellow rose bush that I cut inward; different kind of rose so it requires a different way to grow and these yellow roses look best when they are more compact.

It’s also important when you prune that you clear away any old leaves, etc that could be surrounding the base of your plant. I know, some of you probably like to leave the old leaves there thinking its good mulch. Unfortunately it’s also a great area to start growing some powdery mildew on your roses or a little rust or hide pests that love your roses as much as you do! You don’t want any of that around your roses! So keep the ground around the base of the bush clear.

Once your rose starts to sprout new leaves around March or April, it’s time to start feeding it. You don’t HAVE to feed your roses, but they will not be as beautiful as they could be and may not even be very pretty! Feeding your roses helps keep them strong to fight disease and pests. So feed and water well when the time comes! This season I will be using Happy Gardener products exclusively on my roses. I love the fact that the products are certified organic, so no harsh chemicals or poisons will be in my garden this year. If you’d like information about The Happy Gardener organic products for your garden, drop me an email and I’ll be happy to answer all of your questions!

Now…head out to the nursery, pick your rose bushes and get ready to plant, prune and grow!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Friday, December 5, 2008

Caring For Your Poinsettia

Caring for your poinsettia during the holiday season is as important as caring for your Christmas tree. No, your poinsettia won’t dry up and explode on you, but it will dry up, lose it’s leaves and die if not properly cared for. Here are some helpful tips to keep your poinsettia plant healthy and beautiful through the holiday season.

· Place your plant in indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Don’t let it get direct sunlight as this will dry out the leaves and they will drop from your plant.

· Poinsettias thrive in temperatures between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

· Water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. When watering, remove it from the decorative plastic or foil wrap that it’s in to allow for drainage. Poinsettias don’t like being in standing water.

· Do NOT fertilize your plant during the blooming season (which is now). Fertilize after the season, once the flowers have fallen off and none grow back.

· Keep your plant away from cold drafts and high heat. Don’t place near fireplaces or heating vents.

· If outside, keep in mind they don’t like temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are sensitive to cold, so consider bringing them indoors at night if the temperatures are going to be too low.

If you are going to keep your plant year ‘round, the best poinsettias to buy are those that are not crunched up in plastic wrapping. Poinsettias like to spread out and being crowded in that plastic wrap can affect their future growth. When planting in the ground, make sure it’s in a roomy spot. Poinsettias can get rather large (I once planted one that grew to about 10’ high and was quite bushy).

Most of you are probably under the impression poinsettias are toxic. They really aren’t, but as with any plant it’s best not to let your pet, or your children, ingest them.
Most importantly, enjoy your poinsettia and it’s beautiful red flowers!

Happy Gardening!
Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Keeping Your Christmas Tree Green

A few days ago, someone asked me what they could do to keep their Christmas tree fresh and green this holiday season. Here is what I told her:

Picking the right Christmas tree depends alot on what type of tree you want. But what's most important in choosing a tree to last through the season is picking one that is healthy, green and doesn't have any brown or dry needles.

Once you've figured out the type of tree you want (douglas fir, noble fir, etc), look for a tree that is full and has a nice straight top branch (to put your tree topper on). You don't need to worry too much if the tree leans a little bit; the folks at the tree lot can cut an inch or so off the bottom to level it out. Look for one that doesn't have any "holes" in the branch volume. Make sure that when you touch the needles, they are soft. You don't want a tree with dry needles or needles that fall off when you touch them. Take a small branch between your thumb and forefinger and lightly pull; if brown needles are the result, or alot of needles fall off, look for a fresher tree.

Once you find your tree, have a lot worker take off at least an inch off the bottom. Doing this will expose fresh wood and will allow the tree to drink up water, helping it to stay fresh. Keep in mind however, that you need to get the tree in water as soon as possible after it's cut!

When you get your tree home, always put it in a container of some sort so you can keep it watered. A tree that has no water will dry out in about a week to 10 days and there you'll have a real fire hazard on your hands. A Christmas tree stand with a bowl is ideal. Put your tree in the stand, making sure it's steady. Now get ready to decorate!

Once you've decorated your tree, place it where it's going to stay for the season and fill the bowl with water. Do this AFTER you decorate so there is no danger when stringing the lights (remember, water and electricity don't get along together!) Keep it filled with water throughout the season. NEVER let the bowl dry out! It only takes about 6 hours of not having any water before the tree will form a thin layer of sap at the trunk bottom that will keep water from being absorbed. If that does happen, drill a few holes (at water level) into the trunk side to allow water absorbtion again. The first day or two your tree will drink aLOT of water, so check it frequently.

Here are a few other tips for keeping your tree fresh throughout the season;

Before putting the tree in the bowl, drill a few holes in the bottom of the tree trunk, about an inch or so deep. This will help the tree to continue to absorb water.

Keep the tree away from direct sunlight, and away from south and west facing windows and heat vents. These places will tend to try the tree out faster than if it is placed in other areas.

Use SeaResults Micronutrient Solution from The Happy Gardener in your tree water. This will help the tree receive nutrition during the season, thus helping to ensure it stays green and fresh.

There are many potions and gimmicks that people use to help keep their trees green, and some of them may actually work. But the bottom line is, if your tree is not watered or is allowed to dry out, it's a goner sooner rather than later.I hope these tips help. Happy gardening and Happy Holidays!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weather Confusion

Well here we are again in November. For alot of folks, the 1st snow of the season has already fallen, there is a chill in the air all day, cool breezes blow the leaves and they are getting ready for winter.

Here in Southern California, it's a whole different story. Our weather changes day by day. For the past week, we've had some nice days, running in the upper 60's (at least in my area), a little cloudy and we even had a spat of rain one day. It kind of made me believe fall was really here. However, by tomorrow our weather will get back up into the 80's and 90's, with the Santa Ana winds a blowin'. That will last for a week or so, then we will be back to cooler and chilly at night. And so it goes throughout fall.

It seems like in fall, ol' mom nature can never make up her mind when it comes to weather in Southern California. "Expect the unexpected" is becoming the theme for fall because we never know what we're going to get. The rapid changes play havoc on allergies and as you walk down the street you constantly hear folks sneezing, wheezing and sniffling. They have a cold, you say? I doubt it. More like allergies due to with all the weather changes. And the poor migraine sufferers here have an awful time this time of year. The constant changes in the air pressure play havoc with their heads and it's a miserable time for most of them.

How strange it seems to have the weather changing like it does. Through most of the year we know what to expect...sunny and mild. Seriously! That's the normal weather forecast! Truthfully it does get a bit boring, but I'm not complaining! But when fall comes around, it just confuses us Californians and we walk around carrying umbrellas, wearing jeans over shorts and tying our coats around our waists over our tank tops just so that we are prepared for anything. Since we wear flip flops most of the time, shoes are never a problem unless it snows.

So today I am enjoying the last of the mild weather. Tomorrow the Santa Ana's will start to settle back in and the allergies will run for cover as the dust blows everywhere. Let's hope the fires stay away this time because we simply can't go through that again!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What To Do In Your Garden In November

November is time for your plants to wind down and take a rest for the winter months. Many plants are going dormant for the season. There are, however, plants that do well in the winter months in the warmer areas of the country. Here in Southern California, pansies and sweet peas are wonderful additions to any winter garden and grow well in our climate.

There are a few things you should do this month:

1. Finish cleaning up your garden. Take out the annuals that have died and put them in your compost bin. They’ll return to your garden in a few months as nutritious mulch and your garden will thank you for it.
2. Keep your container gardens watered. Although the weather has cooled, that does not mean they don’t get very thirsty. Remember, being in containers means they dry out quicker. And just because it’s rained, don’t think you can ignore it for a week or so!
3. Keep your yard looking sharp by raking the leaves that are strewn across it. Put them in the compost bin..
4. If you haven’t already done so, fertilize your lawn and do it now! October is the perfect time to fertilize, so while in November it’s a bit late, it’s not too late. Wait much longer though and you won’t get the full benefit of fertilizing.
5. Identify any plants that a frost could harm and make a plan of action so that when the first frost comes, you’re ready. Be sure to cover them for warmth if need be.

Doing just a few things like this in your November garden will help you to have a healthy, beautiful garden come March and April.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weed Control in Your Flower Beds

I think that "pre emergent" weed control is the best type of weed control. What is pre emergent weed control? A pre emergent is a substance that is used to control weeds before they can germinate or grow. The Happy Gardener carries an awesome pre emergent weed control that is made exclusively of corn gluten and sea vegetables. While initially developed for use on lawns, (called Lawn Weed N Feed) it can also be used in flower beds to control weeds before they can get started. The NPK is approx 3-3-3.

Using the weed control is easy; you simply sprinkle it into the dirt in the flower bed, mix it in a bit in the dirt, water it down and plant your flowers and plants. If you are going to use a weed abatement fabric or other type of weed control along with the pre emergent, put the pre emergent on first, mix it in, water it into the soil, then cover with the fabric before planting. Watering it into the soil allows it to sink deep and catch any weeds that might be hiding down there.

The Lawn Weed N Feed pre emergent weed control from The Happy Gardener protects against crabgrass, dandelions, clover, foxtail, purslane, creeping bentgrass, smartweed, redroot pigweed, barnyard grass, Bermuda grass. So if you want to keep any of those, don’t use this product! Not sure why you would want to keep it, but there ya go. Also keep in mind that this product will not kill already established weeds, but will keep new ones from germinating and growing. So you'll have to pull up whatever weeds may currently be thriving in your plantings.

Also be careful and make sure you know what you are planting. Some plants that have beautiful flowers can actually be considered weeds, especially if you are planting native plants. So know your plants before using this product!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why Organic Lawn Products Are Important

Organic Lawn Feed N Weed
from The Happy Gardener

Did you know that seventy million pounds of pesticides are applied each year to lawns that are also home to beneficial species such as earthworms, which actually harms lawn health? And once you use pesticides, what happens to those beneficial species? Well of course they die off and chances are slim they will be back for some time once you’ve used chemicals. In order for your lawn to be healthy, some pests are necessary to create a happy balance in the soil. If you kill them all off, you essentially kill off your lawn too because eventually it will grow weak and die. Earthworms, as an example, do two great things for your lawn; they help to aerate the soil and their “castings” (their poop) are a healthy fertilizer for the soil.

The use of Happy Gardener organic lawn fertilizers can avoid the destruction of those beneficial species. Our Lawn Weed N Feed is made from 100% certified organic sea vegetables and corn gluten. That’s all. It is safe for all plants, wildlife, humans and the environment. You won’t find any other ingredient, and especially no chemicals, in our products. Best of all, used twice a year it will help the roots of your lawn grow strong, the color will be greener and the overall health will be so much better. It will also help your lawn to be a little more drought tolerant and will help to eliminate weeds before they can even begin to grow.

Did you know…

• Many common lawn pesticides are toxic to fish, frogs, and other aquatic organisms.
• Species that live or feed on turf, such as robins, raccoons, squirrels, and bees are highly exposed to lawn chemicals.
• An estimated 67 million birds are lost each year to pesticides on farmland alone.
• Chemical lawn and garden pesticides are a leading cause of bird mortality in New York.
• Domestic pesticide use now accounts for the majority of wildlife poisonings reported to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Why would you want to use anything other than organic? Go to and check out our lawn products. Remember when you order, use my name, Lauri Brow, as your Garden Consultant. You’ll be glad you did.

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Monday, October 20, 2008

Horned Tomato Worms!

Yesterday I took out my spent tomato plant. It had withered and dried up and it was past time to let it go. I decided to use the pot to grow Sweet Peas in. They were my mom’s favorite and I wanted to grow them for her.

After I took the old tomato plant out, I started digging into the dirt with my trowel to loosen it up and get it ready for seeds. I had been germinating the seeds for 12 hours in water with SeaResults Micronutrient Solution from the Happy Gardener. I dug and dug into that dirt, picking up clumps and breaking them up to be sure the soil was nice and soft for the new seeds. As I got to the bottom, an interesting little item came up with the dirt. It was a cocoon of some sort that had been buried at the bottom of the dirt. “What in the heck is this?” I thought to myself. I had no idea what could have cocooned itself in the dirt as I always thought butterflies, moths and the like were above ground cocoon creatures.

Since I had no idea what it was, I decided to get rid of it. I threw it out and went back to my dirt and planting my Sweet Pea seeds.

Today I did a little investigating via our friends at Google. It turns out this nasty creature was the larvae of a horned tomato worm! EWW! I remember these nasty things from when I was a kid. My dad grew tomatoes all the time and he was constantly on the watch for these things. When he found them, he’d go out to the garden with a pair of scissors and cut the darned things in half to be sure they died. Gross!! I still remember that to this day it grossed me out so much! Anyway, once I discovered what this was, I was all grossed out once again. These things can do big time damage to your tomato plants!

Tomato Hornworms feed on leaves and stems of tomato plants. Sometimes they will also eat the fruits in the late summer months. They also feed on peppers, eggplant and potatoes and can defoliate a plant in just a few days. There can be two generations of tomato hornworms every year. A bunch of them can spell disaster in your garden! Once these little buggers have grown up, they become a huge moth called the five-spotted hawkmoth. These guys can get as big as hummingbirds!

It’s important that if you find these guys on your tomato plants or the larvae in the dirt, you get rid of it immediately! They will absolutely eat your plants up.

I can say that while I was grossed out, I’m SO glad I found that thing before I planted my Sweet Peas! Not sure if it would have damaged them or not, but I don’t want to find out.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Monday, October 13, 2008

Trees - A Breath of Fresh Air!

The ideal time to plant trees and shrubs is during the dormant season in the fall after leaf drop or early spring before budbreak. Weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in the new location before spring rains and summer heat stimulate new top growth.

Did you know:
  • Trees keep our air supply fresh by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
    In one year, an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles.
  • Trees provide shade and shelter, reducing yearly heating and cooling costs by 2.1 billion dollars.
  • Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
  • The average tree in metropolitan area survives only about 8 years!
  • A tree does not reach its most productive stage of carbon storage for about 10 years.
  • Trees cut down noise pollution by acting as sound barriers.
  • Tree roots stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
  • Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds.
  • Trees provide protection from downward fall of rain, sleet, and hail as well as reduce storm run-off and the possibility of flooding.
  • Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Trees located along streets act as a glare and reflection control.
  • The death of one 70-year old tree would return over three tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. The amount of oxygen produced by an acre of trees per year equals the amount consumed by 18 people annually. One tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year and one acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer and trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.

Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds. The cottonwood tree seed is the seed that stays in flight the longest. The tiny seed is surrounded by ultra-light, white fluff hairs that can carry it on the air for several days.

Trees are the largest living organisms on earth. The record-setters are:

  • The General Sherman, one of the tallest soft wood trees , is a giant redwood sequoia of California. General Sherman is about 275 ft or 84 m high with a girth of 25 ft or 8 m.
  • The 236 ft or 72 m high Ada Tree of Australia has a 50 ft or 15.4 m girth and a root system that takes up more than an acre.
  • The world's tallest tree is a coast redwood in California, measuring more than 360 ft or 110 m.
  • The world's oldest trees are 4,600 year old Bristlecone pines in the USA.

No matter where you are, there can never be enough trees. So the next time you go to your local state fair and you see the display that gives away trees, pick one up, take it home and plant it! The more trees we have, the easier we can breathe!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Now is the Time to Start Your Compost Pile

Spring is a wonderful time of year for gardeners. All of the hard work done in the late summer and early fall begins to pay off and flowers bloom, trees grow leaves, grass grows and all things beautiful are in the garden. But one of the most important things you can do for your spring garden now is to start a compost pile. Since it takes a few months for waste to become compost, now is the time to start your compost pile so it has time to breakdown and become some of the most nutritious additions to your soil.

Compost is made up of a variety of items, both from your kitchen as well as your yard. Kitchen scraps such as vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags (remove the staples), egg shells, coffee grounds, etc make excellent compost waste, along with grass cuttings, tree trimmings, leaves and other organic materials from your yard. Be careful not to put tree branches in your compost pile unless you’ve really chopped or ground them up. Otherwise, they’ll stay tree branches. You can also put scrunched up newspaper or brown paper bags and cardboard egg boxes, but know that these things take a little longer to rot so it could delay the “readiness” of your compost a bit.

You DO NOT want to put the following in your compost pile; meat of any kind, oil of any kind, dairy products, animal (or human) waste (including cat litter), weeds (such as dandelions and thistle), and of course any type of plastic, metal, glass, etc.

Normally compost can take 6 to 9 months for before it is ready for the soil, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process a bit.

. Put your compost pile in a sunny spot. This will help the waste break down more quickly.
. Keep paper and fallen leaves out of the compost pile. While good for compost, these take longer to break down; it will take your pile longer to be soil-ready.
. Turn the pile once a week or more. Turning allows the compost to “cook” faster by aerating it.
. Add a little misting of water once a week or more. Water will help the breakdown process. Water is also important to help cool off the pile. As the waste breaks down, it heats up. You don’t want it getting above about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
. Add a little dirt once in a while, but not too much; just a shovel full will do.

The Happy Gardener has an excellent compost bin (shown above) that you can use instead of putting a pile in your yard unprotected (generally not a great idea if you have mice or small animals around). Our backyard compost bin is high quality and made from recycled plastic. Its 11.4 cubic foot capacity can serve a household of up to five people and it has a locking lid that helps keep animals out and the compost in. It also has dual slide up doors that allow for even compost removal and custom placement including into a corner. It measures 11.4 cubic feet, 28” x 28” x 32" high and assembles quite easily with no tools needed.

We also have an odorless kitchen compost caddy. Made from recycled plastic, it has a strong, molded handle and includes a carbon filter in the lit that reduces odors. The snap-lock lid opens with one hand and it has a wide opening for easy access and cleaning. Dishwasher safe, it also has holes in the back for mounting on a wall or cabinet if you prefer. It measures 8 ½” x 9” x 11” and holds 2.4 gallons of kitchen waste. I love this product for two reasons; the filter keeps the nasty odor in instead of stinking up the kitchen and I don’t have to go out to the compost pile every day to take waste out. The caddy can hold enough that I only have to take it out every few days, even once a week.

I can’t stress enough how beneficial compost can be for your garden, whether you plant all over your yard or in containers. Adding some of the rich, luscious (for your plants) compost to your soil, along with some SeaResults once a month, will do a world of good for your garden and help keep it healthy all season.

We also have a variety of items to help you with your compost once you’ve got it going. Take a look at and click on “Shop with us”. There you will find a section of composting and rain barrel kits, along with accessories.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to place an order, use my name (Lauri Brow) as the Garden Consultant so your order is processed appropriately.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Street Fair

The street fair went pretty well I think. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun and it was great meeting so many fellow gardeners, all with stories to share. I had a lot of questions on how to treat trouble spots in the garden and most of the time, the answer was one of our Happy Naturals™ Products from The Happy Gardener.

I had several compliments on the booth itself and how nice it looked. That made me feel really good. A few days before, my husband and I had spent the day setting up, making sure everything went where we thought was best and then taking it all down. Kind of a “trial run” so it was great to know the work paid off.

The next project is the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market. I have every Saturday scheduled there for the next 6 weeks. I’m going to take a few of the things that I learned from the street fair and use them at the Farmers Market. I think they will definitely improve things. The first Saturday at the Market is their grand opening at their new location. There will be a lot of people and a lot of publicity there, which should be good for business. The 2nd Saturday will be fun; it’s their Halloween costume day and the kids can come in costume, get candy, play games, etc. From what I understand there will be Star Wars characters there too which should be fun.

So it’s going to be a busy several weeks. My husband has graciously offered to help me because it’s all too much for one person (especially my age! Lol). He’s a huge help and I’m so glad he’s there!

On another note, this is true fall weather. Last week we had wonderful 75 degrees with cool ocean breezes coming in. This week, it’s 95 degrees with no breeze and hot hot hot! By Saturday, it could be drizzly and will definitely be cool. So with all these weather changes, I have to keep a close eye on my garden so my plants don’t get weak and confused as to which season it is. That could bring on disease and I sure don’t want that!
I am off now to do a little watering.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's Garlic Planting Time!

In Southern California, this is the perfect time of year to get your garlic started. And growing it is just as easy as starting it! Here are a few simple steps to wonderful, home grown, organic (hopefully) garlic!
Seeds – where do you get them?
You don’t use seeds. Get a head of garlic at the store, separate the cloves and you are ready to plant!

Planting – Take the cloves that you separated and plant them in the ground about 2 to 3” deep, with the hard side down. This is where the roots will sprout from. The pointed side should be up. Cover the clove back up with soil and water it well. Note – Garlic likes well drained soil and lots of organic material (mulch). The mulch will help keep it warm during the winter months.

Growing – your garlic will begin growing once the soil hits a temperature of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Water regularly, depending on your weather, but be careful not to drown it. They don’t like too much water during the winter months. I usually let mine dry out in between watering in the winter and they grow just fine.

Watering - Around May, you’ll want to water a little more frequently and a little deeper, especially as it gets hotter in your area. Water to about a 1” depth, maybe a little more depending on the type and size of garlic you are planting.

Harvesting – I usually harvest my garlic around August if I get it planted by November 1. You can usually tell when to harvest it because the lower leaves on the bulb will turn brown. Once that happens, dig one up, slice it in half and if the cloves are filling out the skins, they should be done. Notice I said DIG your garlic up. NEVER pull it out of the ground by it’s leaves. You’ll wind up with garlic still in the ground and a handful of useless leaves. Digging ensures you get your garlic.

Drying – Garlic must be dried some before consumption. That helps them to really taste good! You can put them outside in a bright shady spot or inside in a well ventilated room (unless you REALLY love the smell of garlic!). Let them dry for several days. You can tell they are ready when the top leaves are no longer green and the roots have dried out. This could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your weather. While you need warmth to dry them out, garlic really prefers the temperature to be a little on the cooler side for storage.

Once you’ve harvested your garlic, take a couple of your best heads and put them aside for next years’ crop!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Street Fair

I'm pretty excited. This Saturday I will be taking The Happy Gardener to the Mira Mesa Street Fair here in San Diego. The Town Council puts this on every year and this will be my first year as a participant/vendor! While I'm a bit nervous since I've never done something like this before, I'm excited too knowing that I'm finally going to get some visibility and be able to show off my products and company to the town of Mira Mesa. I do hope the weather improves though. Remember when I said September was supposed to be the hottest month of the year? Well, I spoke too soon because it's been pretty warm these last few days. It's expected to cool off by Saturday, which I certainly hope it does because I do not function well when it's really hot. Regardless thought, I will be at the street fair will bells on my toes! Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Fall seems to be arriving a bit early for my garden this year. My purple plum tree in the front has already lost about half its leaves. That usually doesn’t happen until about October. I know, October is only a couple of weeks away, but believe me…this is early in the season for that tree to lose its leaves.

My other plants, mostly in containers, seem to have given up on flowering with the exception of my Egyptian star cluster and my Bird of paradise. The Star Cluster still has gorgeous red star shaped flowers on it and my Bird of paradise actually had 3 blooms on it! (I’m still excited about that!)

So my garden is winding down a bit, although here in San Diego, you can pretty much garden all year long.

I was watching Paul James’ “Gardening by the Yard” a week or so ago (at 5am mind you!), and I saw this great product that I’ve asked my husband to build for me. It’s a "Knox Garden Box" ( and I’d never seen anything like it before. It essentially is a raised garden container, big enough to grow veggies in and high enough to avoid stooping over to care for it. Since I have perennial back trouble, this was very attractive to me! So we are going to try to build something similar and I already have plans for what I will put in it. Food! Yep, I’m going to try growing food items other than tomatoes. I’ve grown carrots and green onions in the past along with garlic. The garlic and green onion did great, but the carrots not so great. And of course you know I’ll be using my products from The Happy Gardener! With the great quality of Happy Gardener products, I know I’ll have happy veggies that will make me very happy!

Today I am off to the Farmer’s Market to check out their fresh produce. Bye!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall Bulbs from The Happy Gardener!

Our website has been updated with all of the fall bulbs available. These beauties come straight from a grower in the Netherlands, from a family that has been providing these to The Happy Gardener for a few years now. The bulbs will only be available for a short time, so order them now! Go the and click on "shop with us". Remember, when you place your order, you must specify Lauri Brow as your Garden Consultant. Below is the list of available bulbs this year:

  • Anemone

  • Carlon Double Tulips

  • Double Narcissi

  • Dwarf Iris

  • Paperwhite Narcissi

  • Amaryllis

  • Hamilton Fringed

  • Hyacinthoide

  • Mambo Amaryllis

  • Monsella Tulips

  • Paperwhite Inhal

  • Paperwhite Ziva

  • Peacock Kaufmanniana Tulip

  • Purple and White Tulip Mix

  • Quebec Greigii Tulips

  • Red Riding Hood Greigii Tulips

  • Rembrandt Tulip Mix

  • Silverstream Tulips

  • Swan Wings Fringed Tulips

  • Other Tulip Mixes
We also are offering a bulb planter tool, bulb fertilizer, and a dibber (pictured here). The dibber is used to make your bulb planting easy!

So order soon before time runs out!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Marvelous Mums

Ahhh fall. What a wonderful time of year. The weather cools off, the leaves on the trees turn gorgeous colors before their timely demise, fall plantings are being done around the country and the marvelous Mum is one of the main focuses of the garden.

For those that don’t know, “mum” is short for Chrysanthemum. They come in many wonderful colors including a couple of my favorites, orange mums and purple mums. Yellow mums are fine and are beautiful in the garden, but the orange and purple shout out “it’s fall!” and have that comfy, homey feel.

Every year, I spend my hard earned dollars buying mums for my container garden. I’ve never planted them in the ground. That could explain why my mum’s always bite the dust before their time. This year however is going to be a little different. I’ll still have a few in containers, but I think I am going to plant a few in the ground and see how they do. And after some reading up on the subject, I’ve got a clue as to what I was doing wrong before. Here’s how to grow mums, unlike what I had done previously!

Mums prefer full sun and a well drained soil. So plant them somewhere that you get the most sun in the months of waning sunlight. They love good compost. If you don’t make your own, get some from the local nursery or home improvement store. You’ll definitely be rewarded for it! Spread the compost around the mums after you’ve planted them in the ground. But be careful…mum’s aren’t crazy about crowds so limit somewhat how many you plant together. The less crowded they are, the better circulation they get for disease prevention.

Did you know that mums bloom according to the length of sunlight they get? So as the days get shorter, mums adjust and bloom accordingly. So be sure not to plant them under a street light or your porch light. Seriously! It’ll just mess ‘em up and confuse them!

Don’t let them dry out between watering, but don’t overwater them either. They like to stay moist, not soaked.

If you want lots of blooms, be sure to pinch them back. This means you want to literally pinch off the head of the flower once it’s been spent. This encourages growth and you’ll be rewarded with more blooms each time!

Feeding is important to mums, especially considering what they go through. Let’s face it…it’s tough to go through months of cold weather without any food! Of course, I recommend Foliar Feed and SeaResults from the Happy Gardener. Foliar Feed will feed the plants, giving them the nutrients they need to get through the cooler months ahead and you only need use it monthly. The same with SeaResults. SeaResults give it a fertilizer “boost” to help overall plant growth and bloom . It will also increase your mum’s resistance to frost damage in the winter. Again, once a month is all that is needed. And SeaResults will get you 50 gallons of scrumptious (for your plants anyway) fertilizer!

So there you have it. I will heed my own advice this year and take better care of my mums. Maybe I can get them to bloom in spring this time.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Newspaper in my Garden

A few years ago I decided to do a planting on a side of the house that was a bit neglected. The planter was full of weeds and I had done nothing with it since we purchased the house a few years before that. (This was about the time my gardening bug really hit) So I got down on hands and knees and worked my butt off to clear out the weeds and all the unwanted “stuff” I found in the weed bed. It was hard work and when I was done, my first thought was “I don’t want to have to do this again and again. Maybe I shouldn’t plant anything nice.” I didn’t want to have to weed every week in this area because I knew I wouldn’t do it and it would all grow over all the nice plants I was planning on planting. So I did a little research. Internet, here I come!

After searching and searching and reading and reading thanks to our friends at Google, I found what I was looking for and made a plan. But I had to hurry before the darn weeds started showing again! So one morning before it got too hot, I went out there with a bunch of newspaper in hand. I tilled the soil a bit by hand to level the ground some so it would look better. Then I planted some Star Jasmine and Azalea. I already had a blue potato tree out there that had such pretty purplish, bluish blossoms on it, I decided to keep it.

Once I had planted everything, I again smoothed the dirt out to level it out. Then I took the newspaper, a few pages at a time, and spread it out all over the dirt areas, keeping a small space open at the base of my plants and tree for watering purposes. After I had covered the area with newspaper, I gave it a mist of water just to weight it down a bit while I continued to work. I had purchased several bags of mulch and spread it all out over the top of the newspapers, a couple of inches thick, leveled it out, made it look pretty, watered my new plants and voila! A beautiful garden in under 2 hours! Believe it or not, it was 3 years before I ever had to worry about weeds in that area! So now, whenever I plant a large area, I first cover it with newspaper to help keep the weeds down. I no longer need to spend a bunch of money on weed control material from the local Home Depot. Newspaper accomplishes the same thing for much less money!

Sadly, while I wanted to post a picture of the area, I cannot. We had a big freeze last winter and I lost everything but the tree. The Star Jasmine is still struggling to come back and I think in the spring I will probably just replant.

There are 2 morals to this story: 1. Use newspaper under your mulch to help control weeds for quite some time. 2. If you want to keep your plants, cover them during a frost! (We Californians don’t know any better!)
Happy Gardening!
Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Awesome Plant Food!

Today I’d like to talk about SeaResults Micronutrient Solution from The Happy Gardener. The ingredients in this amazing liquid come straight from the sea and is made from sea vegetables. What are “sea vegetables” you ask? Kelp, seaweed, algae, and a variety of other plants from the sea.

The benefits of sea vegetables include:
· Increased crop yields
· Provides higher chlorophyll levels
· Improved and faster seed germination
· Significant reduction in fungal, insect and nematode damage
· Resistance to frost damage
· Reduced plant stress due to drought and transplanting

SeaResults contains over 70 trace elements, 17 key amino acids and root growth hormones for healthy root development and lush plant growth. Your plants will love this stuff! I use it on my indoor and outdoor container plants. They are very healthy and quite resistant to drought (yes, my poor watering habits!).

Use SeaResults monthly as a fertilizer supplement on your houseplants, roses, vegetables, herbs, seedlings, flowers, shrubs and trees. And remember, its completely organic and won’t harm your kids, your pets or the environment!

One 8 oz bottle of concentrated solution makes 50 gallons of nutritious plant food! Used once a month and this bottle packs a powerhouse of plant nutrition and savings to you!

As an Independent Garden Consultant for The Happy Gardener, I will be happy to place your order for SeaResults Micronutrient Solution right away. Send me an email with your return email address and I will be happy to assist you!

Happy Gardening!


Independent Garden Consultant

The Happy Gardener

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Happy Gardener at the Mira Mesa Street Fair!

The Mira Mesa Street Fair (in the Mira Mesa neighborhood of San Diego) will be held on Saturday, September 27 from 10am to 4:30 pm. I will be there representing the Happy Gardener with lots of information to read and products to view!

The fair runs along Camino Ruiz at Mira Mesa Bl. There will be many vendors and booths along with music, lots of food and tons of fun. Please stop by my booth and let me know you saw us on Blogspot!

See you there!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Many Uses of Vinegar in Your Garden

Believe it or not, vinegar is great to use in the garden and has many uses. Did you know what if you put vinegar on unwanted weeds or grasses; the vinegar will essentially burn up the root structure and kill the plant? That’s great for things such as grass growing in cracks in your driveway, hard to get at weeds coming up at the border of your garden and those big old dandelions that get in the way. But be careful! Whatever you spray will burn up and die. Be careful not to overspray on plants that you want to keep! Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and set the spray to “stream). That will give a steady stream to just the plant that you don’t want.

Vinegar is also great for azaleas believe it or not. If you put a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and use it to water your azaleas occasionally, the azaleas will LOVE the acidic soil and will have gorgeous and prolific flowers. This also works with any acid loving plant; gardenias, rhododendrons, etc.

How many times have you gone into your garden, cut your beautiful blooms from the plant, taken them inside and put them in a vase, only to have them wilt away and die within days? Vinegar to the rescue! When you put them in the vase, make sure the water contains 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar and your flowers will last much longer! Be sure to change the water every so often and add the sugar and vinegar each time. This will ensure you can enjoy your blooms for some time. The length of time will depend on the type of flower.

These are just a few things you can do with plain old white vinegar. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a gallon or two and use it to help kill weeds, keep your azaleas blooming and growing and keep your cut flowers fresher longer.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Monday, September 1, 2008

What To Do In Your Garden In September

In Southern California, September can be just as busy as any other month in the garden (ok, except for spring!). It’s time to start getting orders in for spring bulbs; time to figure out where you’re going to grow your garlic; time to start removing blooms from some of your perennials and many other jobs. Heres just a few things to do so you can still get your hands dirty. Be careful though! September is known in Southern California as the hottest month of the year. When you garden, garden early before it gets too hot!

1. Order your spring bulbs. You’ll want to start putting them in the ground towards the end of September and into October, so you have between now and October to get them in the ground.
2. Water!
3. Also by the end of September, you can start planting your garlic and onion. Nothing like garlic from your own garden to add wonderful flavoring to your cooking!
4. Water!
5. Get some coleus and plant it in containers. It makes for wonderful fall colors!
6. Now’s the time to divide your perennials. Replant the divisions right away, or give away to a friend as an exchange for something they have that you really want.
7. Feed your roses one last time before fall hits.
8. Water!
9. Replenish your mulch to help protect from the heat as well as the cold once winter settles in.
10. Did I say water? Your plants can’t get enough of it in hot, hot September.
11. Enjoy your garden!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Garden

Yesterday, while I was in my backyard, I took a good look around at my garden. I was so disappointed. My grass is all but dead…a casualty of trying to conserve water. My potted plants were just a tad droopy and some had weeds in them. My tree, normally full of beautiful purple blooms, was also droopy and had few blooms on it. My poor garden. It makes me sad.

This has been a tough year for me and my garden has suffered for it. During the first part of the year when my mom was sick, I spent most weekends either with her, or on the phone with her, or worrying about her. This was during a time when I would have normally been cutting my roses back, getting rid of (more) weeds, and getting my garden prepped for spring. My dirt never saw a trowel, my plants had no trims, my dirt remained only partially covered with mulch. As spring came on and mom became more ill, it was all I could do to water my potted plants. When she died, I withdrew and spent no time in my garden. I spent most of my time thinking over the last year; losing dad; the “dark summer”; my brother’s injury; my mom. Especially my mom. Depression got the best of me and my garden suffered for it. Then came my husband’s cancer, one month after mom passed. I went back to barely wanting to water my container plants again, but I did the best I could. Occasionally, I would ask my husband to water them only because it was hot, and they just really couldn’t go without water so he helped out while I was working.

I was worried that the neglect my garden went thru during the first half of the year, would show itself as poorly grown plants, smaller plants, less healthy stems and just blah in general. But I should have known better. Even in neglect, my garden has continued to delight me in beautiful canna blooms, daisies, roses and a myriad of other flowers. My hibiscus did well, my hotbiscus not so well. As we all know, my Bird of Paradise did very well, getting its first flower. My garden held itself together while I fell apart and I think it was so I could find some comfort in my pretty little blossoms as I gazed out my windows or took a quick stroll around the yard.

My garden came through for me. And now that summer is wrapping up and the temperatures are going to go up even further for a bit, I will come through for it. I still have my bad days, but even in the worst times my garden never let me down. I didn’t lose a single plant despite little water sometimes and little food most of the time. I know now that my garden is where I should be when things are not going well and I should take solace in the knowledge that even as things die, there is always life.

I think next year I will have a gorgeous, well fed, well watered garden. That’s the least I can do for it.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lawn Care from The Happy Gardener

Did you know that fall is the most important time of the year to feed your lawn in preparation of the upcoming winter season? The Happy Gardener offers an exclusive line of eco-friendly Lawn Feed n' Weed that is made from 100% certified organic ingredients. Our non-toxic and natural products are safe to use around children and pets and won't harm the environment.

Our Labor Day Lawn Care Special (available August 26- September 8th ) allows you to stock up on your fall lawn care and receive FREE organic, Top-Selling plant foods Drop n' Feed Packets and SeaResults Micronutrient Solution.

What sets our Lawn Care apart from what you can find currently on the market?

  • Conventional and manure-based products contain higher percentages of nitrogen which result in water contamination and marine/plant life oxygen deprivation.

  • THG's lawn care includes beneficial micronutrients for strong root growth establishment. This is essential for a healthy lawn with resistance to pest, disease and drought.

Visit us at to learn more about Organic Lawn Care and our Labor Day Lawn Care Special. If you're interested in ordering, email me and I'll be happy to help you!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Monday, August 25, 2008

O Christmas Tree

A couple of years ago I bought one of those potted pine trees that get all dressed up for Christmas. It was, after all, “the holidays” and I wanted to deck the outside with lots of things to help it look more Christmasy. This little tree was one of those things.

As most of us know, once Christmas is done, we tend to forget about our holiday plants. I am certainly one of those people. I put this little guy out front in front of the brick where my fireplace was. Every once in a while I gave it a drink, but it was awful thirsty most of the time.

This past weekend I was doing a little yard work in the front and this little guy was calling my name once again “Lauri…..I’m thirsty…..please give me water!” But instead of giving him water, I decided it was time to call it quits! I was pretty certain the tree was dead from neglect, and I tried to pick it up to throw it away. But when I lifted it, it was attached to something. A root! Yes, there was a long root growing into the ground and it certainly was not dead! So I took it into the backyard and lovingly replanted it. Any tree that can grow a root in those conditions deserves a second chance. Once I replanted it, I watered it well and sprayed the needles and trunk with “Foliar Feed” from The Happy Gardener ( I took a picture and have posted it here for you to see just how pathetic this poor little tree was. In a week or two, I will take another picture and if this little guy isn't too far gone, what you will see will amaze you. If the tree is still alive, you will see a much healthier version of what this picture shows.

Yes, I am an Independent Garden Consultant for The Happy Gardener, but what better way to advertise our product than to post a test here for all the world to see? I have used Foliar Feed on a few of my other plants and have gotten truly amazing results. I have seen plants grow and look healthy literally overnight! So if this tree has any life left in it and I can keep it properly watered, we should see some green in a week or so.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Bird of Paradise

I bought this Bird of Paradise plant at Costco about 3 years ago. Every summer I’d wait and wait for it to flower and it never did….until now! Isn’t it beautiful? I fed it with "Happy Naturals Foliar Feed" and within 1 week I got my first bud. I wish I had a better camera so you could all appreciate the beauty of this lovely flower. When I was younger, I never cared for the plant itself and every time I saw the flowers, they were old and wilted (kinda like me!). But now that I have learned to appreciate the beauty of plants, I can say that this Bird of Paradise plant is a beauty and I’m so happy to finally have a bloom!

A few facts on the Bird of Paradise:

  • The plant was named Bird of Paradise because of the resemblance of the flower to the head of a beautiful bird in flight.

  • The foliage resembles small banana leaves, a favorite in San Diego among landscapers and gardeners alike.

  • Pollination occurs when a bird lands on the flower, looking for a little nectar. The pollen from the “anther” comes off on the breast of the bird as it brushes up against it. The bird will eventually fly away and land on another Bird of Paradise and the pollen will fall off or get rubbed onto the new plant and pollinate the plant. Weird, huh?

  • The plant is a sun lover, but deep watering is in order when grown in a landscape.

  • The Bird of Paradise flower is also known as the Crane Flower (due to it’s resemblance to the head of a crane).

  • The plant is a native of South Africa and is closely related to the banana plant.

  • It could take up to 7 years for the first flower to appear on a Bird of Paradise (which is why I waited 3 years to get my first one!)

Anyway, I wanted to share my first flower with all of you so you could enjoy its beauty too! If you'd like to try Happy Naturals Foliar Feed from The Happy Gardener, send me an email and I can help you out!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Torrey Pines Finale

This was pretty interesting. Do you see those black things hanging down from the dead tree? Those are beetle traps for the pine beetle. Those nasty creatures have been decimating pine trees in forests all throughout California, including our precious California Redwoods. They've even gone outside California to chew their way through other parts of the Pacific Northwest. These traps have some type of nectar in them that attracts the beetles to them. The beetles crawl inside the traps and they can't get out. These traps were put up because the beetles were destroying many of these rare Torrey Pine trees and the traps seem to be effective. You can see them in a few places throughout the park.

This tree could very well have been the victim of the pine beetle at some point. I thought it looked like a "halloween tree". You know; spooky and scarey.

California buckwheat.
Look closely and you will see a vine going across the picture with dried leaves on it running from the plant on the right to the cactus on the left. This vine is from a wild cucumber plant (aka the "manroot"). The wild cucumber plant has an enormous tuber root (a root that is tube shaped). From what I understand, the root is why it is called a "manroot"; simply because it is so large such as the size of a small person. I saw a couple of the roots (wish I'd taken pictures!) and they were huge and weighed more than I could move!

The beginnings of a Torrey Pine cone.

This grove of Torrey Pines stand on a bluff above the ocean. They get constant breezes and wind blowing in off the water which makes the tree grow towards the east, the way the wind is blowing.

This band of pines is barren on the west facing side where the wind is constantly hitting them. The east facing side is usually green and looks no worse for wear.

Our guide called this pretty little flower "three spots" because it has 3 purple spots on it's white leaves, one on each of 3 petals.

Sand Verbena

Wild aster. My favorite on this trip.

No, this isn't a felled tree. This is what the power of the wind over the years does to a healthy Torrey Pine. The wind has pushed it so that it now grows horizontally.

And finally, the view from Torrey Pines going past La Jolla.

Thank you for spending some time with me and sharing my trip to Torrey Pines State Reserve in Torrey Pines, CA.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More from Torrey Pines Reserve

As we continued on down the trail, we passed the bluff shown in this picture. The top, and darker, layer that you see is “Linda Vista” stone. This is the more “recent” dust and stone that has developed over the last million years. The layers below (lighter colored) are made of Torrey Pine Sandstone. Well over a million years old (and perhaps billions of years old), this sandstone is similar to the sandstone you find today in drink coasters, etc. It’s quite beautiful in person. I hope I was able to capture some of it’s beauty in this picture.

I love the plant in these next two pictures. First, the plant is quite pretty with it’s reddish/pink berries on it. These berries actually become little white flowers in the spring. Notice how the leaves are somewhat folded? This is why they call this a “Taco Plant”. That’s right…the leaves look like taco shells so it’s called the Taco Plant. Seriously! The “taco” leaves actually have a purpose; when it rains, the leaves guide rainwater down to the ground close to the base of the plant. It helps to keep it nice and watered even in drought conditions. Moisture from the fog in San Diego helps to keep this one watered as well, all by dripping down from the “taco” leaves. And the leaves are quite pretty as well!

This next picture is just a pretty view of the Pacific Ocean from the coast at Torrey Pines. Notice the dead tree in the middle of the picture? All the branches are gone and it’s just the dead trunk rising up from the ground. Pretty in it’s own way.

The following two pictures are of the oldest Torrey Pine in the Reserve. It is thought to be well over one hundred years old.

This is a picture of the sandstone that a lot of the bluffs along the San Diego coastline are made up of. Very fragile, the indents you see are the result of hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of rain and wind, especially wind, blowing up against the sandstone. At some point, the stone becomes so fragile it can withstand no more, and crumbles to the ground. In San Diego it’s not rare to hear of a bluff collapse since the bluffs are made of this fragile sandstone. You dare not sand too close to the edge of a cliff made up of this for fear it will crumble unexpectedly under your feet!

This is a lovely picture of our guide, Peggy. She was very nice and quite knowledgeable. We really enjoyed listening to her talk of the park.

Need I say anything besides “beautiful”?

Check back again for more beautiful pictures from Torrey Pines State Reserve in San Diego, CA.
Happy Gardening!
Independent Garden Consultant