Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

Well spring has definately sprung here in Southern California. The hillsides are literally covered in the most beautiful assortment of wildflowers! Everwhere you look, you see orange, yellow, purple, gold and a plethora (yes, I said plethora!) of colors! It's absolutely beautiful and so uplifting from the winter we had. For some reason this year winter really got to me; brought me down. It usually doesn't do that, but I am getting older and so much about me has changed as the years have flown by. Maybe winter is just one more thing.

So I have much to do in my garden (still) and apparantly alot more time now to do it in. Last Friday I received one of those phone calls that no employed person wants to get; "your position has been eliminated". That's right. Laid off. I'm lucky though; this is only my 2nd layoff in a 30 year career. Alot of folks have had many layoff's. Unfortunately (here we go with the age thing again), because I am older it is going to be much more difficult to find someone that will hire me. AND with the lousy economy and job losses that are still occuring daily, it may take a while to find something. So...I gaze into my backyard and see where I can spend most of my free time.

So why haven't I gone out there and gotten started? Maybe it's because I feel like I'm just on a short little vacation and will be going back to work soon so I don't want to get any large project going just yet. Hm. Maybe. Or, maybe it's because I'm lazy. Well, we know that but I doubt that's the problem this time. Maybe it's a little overwhelming. I can somewhat believe that. With all the rain we had this past winter, the weeds grew like....well....WEEDS! They are everywhere! And I can't really do any planting until I get rid of them. Of course, weeding really irks my allergies....and I can just find all kinds of excuses not to do it! But I know I have to so this week (sometime) I will get back there and get the project going. Weeding and planting and feeding (which I've already started). The weeding shouldn't be too bad because the ground is still soft with traces of moisture so most of the weeds should come right up. Thank goodness. Alot of my container plants have already come back and have had their first bloom. So pretty. I think most of those will be going in the ground this year.

So I have my work cut out for this week. Between that and job hunting I should be plenty busy.

Wherever you are, enjoy the waking of spring! (if it ever stops snowing and/or raining where you are!)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Corn Gluten in your Garden

Corn gluten can be an excellent way to surpress weeds in your lawn and garden at the start of the season. What is corn gluten you ask? It is a by-product of the corn milling process. It's a yellow, grainy powder that looks alot like corn meal. There are no additives and no chemicals; it's pure corn product. It makes a great weed pre-emergent and stops the roots in the weeds from growing. The good part is that it focuses on the weeds and not your yard plantings. You can put a pre-emergent such as corn gluten in your lawn and it won't hurt the lawn but it will help get rid of the weeds. If you use the gluten at just the right time, weeds such as crabgrass and dandelions can be stopped before they take root.

There are a couple of downsides to using corn gluten. One is that timing is everything. If you are using it as a pre-emergent weed control, you've got to use it BEFORE weeds appear in your lawn or garden. Once the weeds come up, the corn gluten won't do much for you. The key is to stop the weed growth before it starts, which is what the gluten will do for you. You can also use it if you have weeded the yard well, then put down the gluten. It worked for me last year doing it that way.

The other downside is...well....let me share a story with you. I had a couple of bags of corn gluten in my shed in the backyard. One bag was on the floor, the other on a shelf. I hadn't been in the shed for quite a while being that we had just gone thru winter. Now that it was spring (last year), it was time to get in the shed, get the tools and get busy. And guess what I found when I opened the shed door? There was corn gluten everywhere! All over the floor, in a pile in the corner and all over the shelf. Seems the little mice that frequent our yard found a way into the shed and discovered the corn gluten. That's right....they feasted for apparently the whole winter! Little piglets munched quite a bit after tearing open the bags and believe me when I say they left a nasty, stinky mess in my shed! Moral if the story....if you're going to use corn gluten, store it in something the mice can't get into! I now have mine in a closed plastic bucket, safe and sound.

Anyway...corn gluten is a good product to use before your weeds start to sprout. It will really help to keep those nasty buggers at bay! (the weeds, not the mice!)

I'm looking forward to a beautiful sunshiney weekend so that after I get my taxes done Saturday I can spend the day playing in the dirt. Ok, it's still mud, but I can still play in it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Time Flies....

Well, here we are in 2010. When I was young I thought that by now we would have Jetson style cars and robots that work around the house. Boy was I fooled!

Spring is on it's way in San Diego and it is beginning to show. Little buds are appearing on the trees, bulbs have grown into leafy spikes, just waiting to burst open with color and fragrance and the bunnies across the street now have little bunnies. It's been a long winter for some. We've had alot more rain than we usually get (it is an El Nino year after all) and I have loved every minute of it. Truth be told, I would like more! But...I will be glad when the sun finally comes out for a while. I think my moods need it. My husband, I'm sure, would agree.

I did let my backyard lawn go. Right now, because of all the rain, it's a weedpatch. Not sure what it's going to be once it dries out enough for me to do something with it.

I look around my backyard and I see all of my container plants in various stages. Some are long dead, never to return to their once glorious blooms. Some are dormant, waiting for that sunshine to warm them and help them grow once again. But all are waiting to be fed. Yep, time to feed everything! Looks like we will have a dry weekend this weekend (first one in a while) so I will be spending some time out in the garden taking care of my container plants and feeding the ones that need it.

I'm considering a raised food garden this year. Still haven't decided if I want to do that or not and if I do, where in the world I would plant it. Because I have a pool, the plantable area of my backyard isn't as big as it could be. We'll see if I get around to that or not.

I would love to grow some heirloom tomatos. They have to be the best tasting tomatos on the planet! I've looked a little bit into how they are grown and not sure I want to go that far (seeds, temperatures, all kinds of stuff).

So there are alot of "unsures" in my garden right now. Since this will be the first nice weekend in some time, I'm not going to stress about it. I'm just going to continue to look and think about what I want to do out there. Like a painter looking at a blank canvas, I will plan my beautiful garden for 2010 from the ugly, overgrown yard that it is today.