August 30, 2013

Pyracantha coccinea by surprise!

Want to see surprising way of growing pyracantha? Just have a look at the photos. Pyracantha trained against the wall as espalier – don’t you think it looks really pretty?

Recommended further reading The Flower Recipe Book

This photos are taken in Netherlands, but I've seen many examples of pyracantha trained against the wall also in UK. 

If you would like to see great examples of fruit trees espaliers click here.

Recommended further reading The Flower Recipe Book

August 29, 2013

Accidental survival food storing – meet my 12 months old organic zucchini…

Believe me or not, the zucchini you see on the photo is 12 months old. I grew it last summer organically means no killer spraying, no artificial fertilizers. All natural.
I don’t want to say that if you follow this path you will be able to store your zucchinis for 12 months. I rather see it as kind of surprise, because I never had such case with any courgette or pumpkin I have grown before.

This zucchini was too big to eat at once, so I placed it in the basement. And forgot about it, as it was the only fresh food I stored for winter.
Then I saw it many times late spring and later, but I was thinking it is already gone and I was scared it will fall apart if I touch it and it will make big mess.

Late spring came the moment of truth and decided to move it to compost heap, but after touching it seemed to be perfectly fine. After close inspection there was no sign this courgette is gone bad. So you see it before and after cutting. 

It is somewhat dryish inside, but there is no trace of rot, mold or any other kind of passing away…

Believe me I have placed it in the cellar 12 months ago and here it is. Even I almost can’t believe it.

I don’t know why, but after I placed it for photograph, Aslan immediately came and  top lay down next to it. Any idea why?

PS. I am sorry to turn back the verification code for commenting, but if I remove it there is a flood of spam comments. Do you have any idea what to do instead? I would be very happy to make commenting for you as easy as possible.

August 26, 2013

My heirloom tomatoes grow in containers this year

This year all my heirloom tomatoes grow in containers. As it turns out it doesn’t need justification, because they are doing pretty well, but just one word justifies it. Slugs. Cohorts. True plague this year. I was afraid my tomatoes seedlings will disappear in the deep throats like all other veggies I have tried to grow this year.

Maybe slugs don’t like tomatoes, but I didn’t want to check - these were my last seeds of Silver Fir Tree heirloom tomatoes, so taking a risk to get out of the variety was not an option.
Considering very late sowing, I am surprised with amount of tomatoes that are on the way. As they say ‘it’s never too late’! I sow the seeds in May – one month later than the latest recommended date in our zone (6B). “It’s going to be miracle if I get any tomatoes this year” – I was thinking while transplanting the seedlings to the containers in the garden, angry on myself for this stupid oversight.

There is one crucial element for success if you ask yourself:

How to grow tomatoes in containers?

Potting mix – is the key to success. Tomatoes are great gluttons, they need to be fed properly. I usually mix compost with manure and this makes yummy potting mix for tomatoes – it looks they are happy, I haven’t get them additional fertilizer, thou. By the way - I never use artificial for my veggies, they always are organic.

Second key to success in growing tomatoes in containers is water. Soil in the pots has the tendency to dry much faster than the ground soil – water it every day and in hotter days even twice a day.

This year I grow two heirloom varieties “Silver Fir Tree” and “Black Seaman”.

Silver Fir Tree – mid size plants, determinate, tomatoes fist-sized, red. This variety despite of being utterly delicious is particularly stunning, because of the ferny, delicate, sometimes silver-toned  foliage. The color of the tomatoes is between red and orange, very tasty, bit sour, with pretty strong skin. I will eat them all fresh, no drying.

Black Seaman – is still on its way, as the size of the fruit is bigger, it takes longer time to grow ripe.

August 21, 2013

Police hits organic farm in search of pot... - what do you think about it?

The great macho police seized "17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants ... native grasses and sunflowers," after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.
Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including "grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises," Smith's statement said. She said the police didn't produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn't be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested -- for outstanding traffic violations.

Read more here.

August 19, 2013

How to grow water soldier...

There is not so many people like friend of mine who constantly has to do something and keep her hands busy. Others prefer to enjoy quietly created surrounding instead of constantly weeding, cleaning, watering, changing places of plants. 

If you want a water garden or pond that will need minimum maintenance, you need lots of aquatic plants. Artificial ponds need lots of plantings in order to establish balance in the eco-system, so water can be filtered by plants and kept clean.

Water soldier grows very fast and will be very useful for forming dense mat of floating vegetation that will fill the pond. This interesting plant resembling aloe plant is floating in the water and sinking to the bottom for the winter. Sometimes it gets attached to the bottom with the long roots – which are reported growing even 5 m long.

It origins from Europe and Asia, but in some countries like Canada it’s on the list of invasive plant, as it spreads very fast in natural waters.

You can recognize water soldier by sharp edges similar to aloe plant. Plant  submerged in water or sinks below the surface as the leaves growing up to 40 cm  mature. It flowers with 3 white petal flowers, then developing around 20 seeds.

Water soldier is easy to grow and doesn’t have special requirements, when you bring it home, you just ‘toss’ it to the pond. Bigger plants will need some help, as they will be out of balance probably until next season. Water soldiers propagate by offsets which look like smaller version of the adult plants.    


August 14, 2013

10 photos against curved beds in the garden

A friend called me and asked to consult design of her garden delivered by designer. I was happy to do that and expected something really nice. It seems  - like always – to not expect anything, because life is writing own scenarios. Seeing “the design” made me again restless. There was patch of green in the center and curved beds around.

Restless? - you ask. Yes, after she said “she made what I have asked for – I like it. I wanted lawn in the middle and beds around”. Remember old rule “our client, our master” – it should be forgotten, burned in hell, whatever. I see  more and more clients hurting themselves by service providers doing what clients want them to.  

That makes me remember my friend, well-known Polish photographer, who during photo shooting session while hearing somebody saying "our client, our master" replied with serious face (his natural state) “sorry, but on my photo-shooting sessions, I AM the master”. Everyone got little confused, but he was damn right. He knows his job. He is responsible for final effect. He is pro, client is amateur, thou with money. At the end he is known and famous for his job, client not.

Maybe the times of “our client, our master” are gone? Maybe it’s time to choose your client carefully and only if they have good recommendation, like it was with courtesans in the past ages? 

So, beware what wish from the designer, because when I look at the garden where predominantly are curved beds, I can’t resist of a feeling that it’s an amateur design and I believe you want to spend your money better way and - secondly - not everyone will do it for you.

On the photos you can see examples of great ideas excluding curved beds and there are thousands more of them. Good, good examples.


August 13, 2013

15 photos of rusted metal design examples

Rusted metal design is a new trend that appeared recently in the garden shows. I like it. I saw it not only on the shows, but in a modern city garden located in Warsaw, presented to you in June. You can see my previous posts on this topics here and here.

I am curious about YOUR opinion on this – do you like it? Could you share it in comments?  

I found 4 pros of having rusted metal elements in the garden:

-        Garden looks little bit more mature than its real age. Rust needs some time to  cover metal. A decorative element with rusted patina texture suggests the garden more aged. This phenomenon is known in marketing – you can change the perceived value of an item if you place it accordingly. You may add value or rip it off.
-        No need for cleaning – the more weathered, more rusted, the better it looks.
-        Goes well with any style of garden.
-          Stands out and adds smashing style as a new garden decoration trend.
Do you find more ‘pros’? Do you see any ‘cons’? 

August 9, 2013

Sustainable cottage spotted in Netherlands

Why not to get outside the box thinking about place where we live? You could free yourself from bank mogul’s slavery of mortgage by choosing to build a sustainable home. A house that building cost can range between $300 to $40,000 and maintenance costs are also much lower than with standard house.I don't mean recycled greenhouses, I mean the house we can live in.

In my perception low-cost, eco-friendly home is not only an economical choice, but it’s a lifestyle choice. Whether you choose earthen house or off-grid cabin or a house made of recycled shipping containers – it’s a statement of choice and non-conventional thinking.
Have a look at this proposal – this is a house that teaches what can be done in the house to make it more sustainable. You can apply those ideas in your own house or search for different solutions that will better suit your lifestyle.