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Thread: A general gardening thread

  1. #931
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    As I'm in the process of enduring one now, allow me to tell you all about The Secrets Of The Ficus.

    I learned this as a greenhouseman. The ficus benjamina or, as it's more commonly called in the trade, ficus defoliata suffers from the same "fault" as the California coast oak.

    It grows very specific leaves for very specific areas and/or conditions. In the case of the coast oak there are very distinct morphological differences that, starting in the 70's through both observations of captive specimens and the beginning of sequencing techniques, led to the genus losing *110* distinct species! Nope, just coast oak being maximally efficient with leave production.

    Now ficus don't do the leaf shape change, as their differences are mainly internal. And they haven't evolved a really good tolerance for traipsing about the landscape yet. So when you move one, they often respond by dropping all their existing leaves in order to produce new ones maximally efficient for the new local conditions. Depending on how big the change is. That's why our greenhouses kept different groups of them under differing light conditions combined with a knowledgeable sales force.

    Anywho, my brother went and adopted an abandoned ficus from work. Worse, it's a variegated variety. I dislike those as being unattractive. But, I did have to care for them as a greenhouseman and I knew how to make them more attractive, at least to me.

    So I'm giving it bright light and regular feedings until the white parts on the variegated leaves turn lime green. The lime green contrasts much more appealingly to me with the dark green, than the normal green and white.

    And it's finally pushing out new leaves. It looked dead for almost a month but I held patience. Even after littering my livingroom with dead leaves. It will be a fine little strangler fig once in gets a little size on it. And its leaves grow back.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  2. #932
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    Heartening story. Like the robinia looking dead but sprouting leaves again after a month. Though the tall branches remained dead for a year so I lopped them off. Maybe the polyanthus will be a similar tale? But I think that one definitely doesn't like the heat.

  3. #933
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    Picked the first butter beans and watermelons yesterday, hopefully the WMs ripe, will test one our today. Eating cantaloupe daily now. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant coming in nicely. Neighbors are getting all the extra cukes as we're done pickling. Sweet potatoes vining out, burying the vines to get more later on by Oct. Still need to dig up some white potatoes. Got 1" of rain overnight, a perfect amount so as not to split open near ripe tomatoes or crack open the melons. Corn has also been really sweet despite being knocked over twice in recent hard storms (propping up corn is no fun). Had to thin out more pears as the branches are bending over. Planted some late cukes to go with the autumn tomatoes. Temps here are more seasonal now and with the good rain the garden should keep pumping along until the fall crops are planted in late August.

  4. #934
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    The donor geranium was in a twenty-four inch pot and about 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

    (The large flower pot covers a stash of buried treasure. But don't tell anybody.)

    The geranium was a condolence gift from a friend after I accidently baked my pet African bullfrog to death. Had Frogzilla for almost twenty three years and discovered to my amazement she was extremely ticklish.

    Completely outlandish if you knew her history. It would be like discovering the rancor from Star Wars was ticklish! The darn frog ate chicken wings when the mood struck her! You could hear the bones break like snapping pencils.

    So I was going to make my first foray into the interwebs with a video of a monster frog getting tickled. First the back leg starts kicking like when you rub a dog's back really fast, then if you kept it up, she would flop over on her back and kick all of her legs.

    Done with two foot long retrievers mind you. In this context retrievers are Great Big Tweezers. With blunted, padded tips as she tends to lunge at things moving in her peripheral vision. (Or rather, she did.) Hence the great big tweezers. Found out she was ticklish while trying to goose her out of a corner so I could clean that part of her enclosure. Then I had to see if it was consistent, it was. AND she didn't mind it!

    Trust me, you know when an African bullfrog is getting angry. And as one website warns, they are capable of generating a savage bite. I most heartily concur. Here's why.

    To round out her diet I periodically gave her "fattened" goldfish approximately 8 inches, (about 20cm) which she had no problem handling. Often in two bites.

    Which caused me to notice something I thought out of place, as I do when I'm keeping small animals and see something out of place. I've seen a lot of things get eaten over 35 years of keeping aquaria and terrariums. Still, it took until the second time I saw her bite a large goldfish in half before I placed what it was. She bit an eight inch long goldfish in half at the thickest part of its body...without squeezing any of its guts out of its vent!

    You need a very sharp knife to do that and I *thought* frogs didn't have teeth worth a...darn. Boy was I wrong.

    First off, one of our fellow posters was there and he described something to a tee. I had him there too listen to Frogzilla eat, as she made a noise when she bit down, even if it was only crickets nabbed by her tongue. There was a slight ringing sound I couldn't place.

    Then he said it, "It sounds like scissors closing!"

    He was right! It did!

    So we had to investigate. This involved throwing a net over her and pushing her lips up with a pencil. Woof!

    I almost dropped the pencil!

    When she opens her mouth to yawn or whatever, you see little tooth points in her gums. When you press *down* on the gums, or in this case, she bit down on the pencil when it was in the horse-bit position and five 5/8 inch long "saber fangs" appeared!

    Though they were more like daggers than sabers. Two in the upper jaw and three in the lower jaw. The two upper teeth and the middle lower tooth interlock neatly, BUT, and it's a big but, the two lower outside fangs had tips that curved outward!

    So, the three middle fangs were all long triangles, with a ridge from tip to base and razor sharp edges. The two outside lower fangs are the same design but bent outwards to the left and right another 1/4 inch or so. Since the bent ones are the same height as the straight ones, they would technically be longer.

    I finally fathomed out why this would be so. It increases the cutting area without increasing the number of teeth.

    And makes it sound like scissors when it closes its mouth.

    Anyway after I had set up the lights to video her, I got a knock on the door...and got distracted for about two and a half hours. One of the lights on a mount lowered on its own weight, and capped the tall, narrow tank I put her in to film. Baked poor Frogzilla down to skin and bones in a puddle of fat.

    My friend felt bad about it and bought me the geranium. (His wife insisted after he told her how upset I was.)

    The point of all this?

    Two years ago my geranium was in a four inch pot. Now I'm making hedges with it.

    So normally I'm pretty good at keeping things alive.

    And before anybody else says it let me say it for you;

    "Good thing you're not a baby photographer!"

    Okay, I think I'm done for the day. See everybody tomorrow.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  5. #935
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    Yikes

  6. #936
    Wasn't all that great earlier, went out and watered some of the garden and pulled some weeds for a few minutes and picked a few raspberries.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  7. #937
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    So here's my dilemma. At the edge of the patio, the grass does not grow well. This is due no doubt to have only a couple of centimetres depth before hitting concrete. So I'm considering edging the patio with something like whitespar or even Scottish pebbles to bridge the gap.

    Does that sound like it would work?

  8. #938
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    So here's my dilemma. At the edge of the patio, the grass does not grow well. This is due no doubt to have only a couple of centimetres depth before hitting concrete. So I'm considering edging the patio with something like whitespar or even Scottish pebbles to bridge the gap.

    Does that sound like it would work?
    Allow me once again to step up and give an explanation.

    In my first few years as a greenhouseman I worked with an old timer who had forgotten more about plant keeping than I'll ever know. Since he realized early on that I listened, he didn't mind explaining, most often through example, when he saw me doing something "not quite right".

    Lawn grass bordering concrete need special attention. Concrete absorbs water AND gets hot in the sun, so it loses water as well. So when you water your lawn you have to intentionally "quench" the neighboring concrete in at least a three to four inch border around the grass. If you do that everytime you water, the grass will grow all the way to the edge. The concrete sucks the water out of the nearby soil if you don't.

    This was proven to me when we each had side by side areas of lawn separated by a concrete path. I thought he was just sloppy with the water and that I was being conservative with the water.

    Nope. We set up an experiment and I soaked all the way to the edge without quenching and it still didn't help nearly as well as simply wetting the bordering concrete. His patch looked good, mine looked like yours. So *I* was the one that was technically wasting water as the purpose of using the water was to keep the grass alive and good looking.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  9. #939
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    Imbibition. As they say in the reservoir biz.

    But the shallow depth isn't an issue? Not much room for root growth.

    Either way, it's settled. I live on chalk. Why do I always live on chalk. Doesn't geology respect county boundaries? I had to dig a deeper hole than usual to plant a buxus out front and hit bedrock. Pulled out the dianella, which was killed by the snow a few months ago.

    The geranium is at last planted. Much easier since it's only wee at this point. Hope it's okay in its new home in the bed with the heuchera and the lavender. So much flowering going on.

  10. #940
    Just picked the first swiss chard, I guess that will part of supper tonight.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  11. #941
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    Third month of heat, constant sun and absolutely zero rain here. Sandy soil so basically it's a desert now. No rain predicted until at least end of the month. we should have UK weather here, not Nevada weather. The garden is suffering terribly.

  12. #942
    Went out and picked some raspberries about 3/4 of a quart and watered a few things the weeds never give up a couple of days and they are higher then ever. Mom wants Lupins in front of the house, We have lupins just at the back of one the fields.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  13. #943
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    Thanks for the new word Glom.
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  14. #944
    Went out did some weeding and picked some more raspberries today.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  15. #945
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Went out did some weeding and picked some more raspberries today.
    I somehow read that as "Pickled some more raspberries today."

    Had I not spotted my error this post would have been a little outré...
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

  16. #946
    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    I somehow read that as "Pickled some more raspberries today."

    Had I not spotted my error this post would have been a little outré...
    We do have some raspberries in vinegar in the fridge, it is meant to make a raspberry flavored vinegar has not been used. I have plenty of mint, oregano, sage and couple of over herbs but we don't use them that much.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  17. #947
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    The raspberries of the last weeks are as small as raspberry candy, and taste like them as well. They get continuous sun and no water, so they are tiny and overly tasty.

    Speaking of water: the country is happy, because "we" got the first rain in "5 weeks". Well, "we" is "they" as we missed the significant rains by 10 kilometers and got next to zero. And last time it was the same, so rather than "first rain in 5 weeks" it's still "3 months and still no rain" here. I'm not sure the lawn will recover from this. it's no longer yellow, it's looking really, really dead now.

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