HOW TO DO A BIG GARDEN ALL BY YOUR LONESOME for FREE!

by Anita Sands Hernandez astrology at earthlink dot net

My front and back yards used to have big lawns. Now they have nothing but raised beds full of guava bushes, grape vines, fruit trees, flowers and greens and these beds are edged in  calf or ankle sized LOGS from pruning trees (or wind tossed broken trees,) and I also use 'found' lumber. (Alleys are where the good wood junk is found also cement chunks great for drystacking!) Winding Paths divide raised beds and one walks down paths that are turning, bending, beds are ellipses, semi circular, round and surprising.  Wobbly roads lead around corners, go straight, then bend again. The yard is maze-like. And the feral cats like it that way. Sinuous, serpentine walkabouts with some plants leaning over their edging and brushing their whiskers, or our knees. Not one ounce of grass or lawn anywhere. Tore it out the day I arrived, 8 yrs ago. (A lawn is a very easy thing for an old woman to lift. You do it in divots which you stack upside down calling it your compost pile.) It rots down into one.

When Spring hits and the raised beds full of my collected plants, annuals, perennials lurch into bloom, it's a glorious picture, especially at first light.  PLANTS show their beauty as day breaks. The hot afternoon leaves everybody out there wilted & shaky but at dawn this place is so gorgeous no one can believe a geriatric did it. But I did and guess what. I did it all without spending money or effort. Everything growing there was 'found', plants, seeds, cuttings. I have no hubby with wallet, left him in Mexico. Have no brawny sons around. They all left L.A. No Pedro or Juan worker for me, no smelly homeless guys with windbreakers dirty from sleeping in trash bins who (soon as your back is turned,) move precious woodland ferns from shade to sun without asking, devastating root systems ...no bozos who uproot shrubs and toss them in the sun for me to find dead a week later. No witless wonders who lurch around in heavy boots, stepping on, crunching, snapping rose bushes off at the ground. No jerks to leave my ghetto blaster/ fam am radio out on the rain or who'd leave me with a string of  long distance phone bills. Been there, done that.

No,-- my life is geriatric bliss. Just me digging, building edges with hammer and stakes, just little old moi, thorns in my fingers, burrs in my hair, making more deep compost beds and erecting edging, pruning occasionally with the greatest pruners which were 99c at the DOLLAR SHOP.(Prices went up there, so no longer available.).

But I'm not toally alone. Chickens, cats, Bunnies, baby kitties, possums and squirrels of all sizes run around in my garden rescued by me. And I myself am a rescue, saved from the stony heart of typical old age by two things. Some sweat efforts digging with shovel, good for body and sending love and food to all my babies good for the heart. I feed them all, boiled chicken pieces and leftovers, bones skin are still useful, they're fridged til midnight when they are placed near the exit under the house where Possums have their feeding station.

The downside of solo acts is that with no males in the family working, earning money, there is also no money for fawncy plants. So I'm forced to root cuttings and wait til small plants get tall. I use seed send me by on-line pen pals who get same from me so I get a thousand plants for free instead of 50 in a 3$ packet or 6 spindly plants in a 2$ sixpack. That's why both yards (total 7,000 square feet), are so full I have a hard time finding space for the many plants my neighbor BjornStadt gives away. He's a teacher at Pierce College, an agricultural University. He's a drip emitter teacher and plant replication expert and offers everything to strangers.

Before I met Bjornstadt, I used to pluck cuttings at Home Depot. I call it getting plants the caveman way: sniff and clip. I sniff  the blooms on the big plants at HOME DEPOT and as I lean and caress the stem, I somehow come away with a little short, side cutting in my fingers. Not big enough to be missed. Yup. I get 15 cuttings when I go buy 3 bags manure. They tax me, I tax them.

I'm planting the seedlings and cuttings in beds right now cuz in APRIL, winter is definitely over here in California. I had three baby tomato plants miraculously lived over, this cold winter when temps got down to 45 degrees, here in this interior valley in southern California. These babies are 18 inches high now. I  took them out of pots put them in a  new bed, with some baby perennials ( I no longer know what variety any of them  are as seed pckgs melted away in rain this winter). These inch high perennial seedings are now six  inches and many many branches, have no idea what they are.

Trees grow from cuttings, I found this online: "Cuttings, which are taken from roots, suckers and sometimes branches of fruit trees, are often used to produce more of the same type of tree. Apple trees grow well from cuttings. Cutting Preparation - Choosing a good cutting makes growing a successful tree simpler; healthy cuttings should be several inches long. A leaf at one end of the cutting indicates healthy growth from the sucker or branch, and the cutting may be more likely to succeed. No visible damage to the bark should be present.
Planting Cuttings- Cuttings root well in planters, where they grow successfully for the first full growing season. Dipping the cut end of the shoot in root hormone helps stimulate the growth of roots and keeps the cutting healthy.
Growing a Cutting - Apple tree cuttings need partial to full sunlight and regular watering to grow successfully. Keep cuttings indoors or in a greenhouse over the winter to protect them from frost and ice damage before transplanting them outside in the spring." Guava trees grow that way also. You can bend a branch down to ground and pin it there, or bag an almost-wbroken stem, with soil in the bag.

I get a few seeds and plants at  Home Depot. Their prices are high, $1.89 per packet. Nothing I ever bought there, plant or seed, lived. Only a few bareroot roses and fruit trees worked.. I remember getting some seed called 'Snowdrift' which I didn't recognize having seen before. Didn't see it long. It died. The good things about seed packets at stores is the sumptuous choice. The problem is it's costly and it mostly doesn't work in our hot climate. But at least the seeds don't offer the standard six pack baby plants forced into early bloom. I wasted money on phlox which doesn't work in california. Lavender burned up, costly bush, too. Their baby tomato plants were costly and barely matched the ones I squoze out of some really tasty tomatos in a sandwich and grew. TOMATO SEED is in every tomato at the store. Find a good one, squeeze it, plant it. Free! AND you can still eat the tomato!

The source of my black soil is a curbside compost pile. You should see me in the driveway  strip, six feet wide by 30 long, far side of driveway, filled with everybody's green trash can --which on TRASH NITE, I wheel over and dump. It's now rotted down into soil...I'm in there on my knees filling 5 gall barrels. But down in the excavated hole so from street only my upper body and head is visible, digging away, finding little grubs calling in crow language CAW CAW as I let the crows know that I've found more of their fave snacks.

Neighbors walking by and  this lady in the hole cawing, digging in the pile, excavating compost  throwing huge ugly grubs, size of your finger over her shoulder past their noses to the street. All these crows assemble when they hear the 'feeding' signal, swoop into street where grubs are, and strut up to the grubs and eat them. Clients phone for tarot readings I don't hear the ringing. I'm  carrying barrel after barrel of this nice black  compost to the beds in the front yard. You cannot garden in the clay of this valley. Then busy making wood edging for the beds so the beds are a good l0" higher than paths. With lumber I find thrown away in alleys. staking it ever few feet so the soil holds it up on one side, stake on the other. Wish we could sketch on these things. Here's how to do cuttings for free.

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USING WILLOW WATER TO ROOT ROSE CUTTINGS

 Pamela Ashworth Puryear
 1986

 WHAT IS A CUTTING?

 As the illustration shows, a cutting is a piece of rose stem  about the size and length of a pencil. As it will not be able to  support rooting and all its leaves, the leaves should be stripped from the bottom. Dip the bottom in rooting hormone after having soaked the re-cut cutting overnight in willow water.

 ABOUT WILLOW WATER

 As willows root easiest of all flora, there must be some substance in the  sap of the willows which promotes this. Still not isolated, "rhizocaline"  is actually three or four different unknown elements or compounds.

 This was discovered by Dr. M. Kawase, who reported on it, as have others  since. One cuts branches of current growth from any willow species, that  are very green and supple. Then, cut them into one inch pieces and smash  them with a hammer, or cut them lengthwise. Drop them in a pot of boiling  water, remove from the heat and allow them to steep, stirring occasionally.

 DO NOT BOIL THE WILLOW ITSELF. After the mixture cools it is ready to use.  HOW TO USE WILLOW WATER  Soak rose cuttings overnight in the willow water, having re-cut the stem  ends on the bottom in the water by holding them under the willow water and dropping them in. DO NOT LIFT THE CUTS TO EXPOSE TO AIR as the air will "plug up" the sieve cells that take water up into the plant.

 Cuttings should be taken about the size and length of a pencil from new-ish  wood, and with a minimum of 5 leaf joints. Old barky twigs will not root  well. If possible, include the heel - the hump on the main cane from which  the stem emerges to serve as the cutting. These heel cells are very active and are prone to produce roots even better than the leaf joint nodes. Mrs. Bollye Fridaye, of Anderson, once told us on a Rustle that the old timers  said to tear off the laterals, which is correct, for then one will get the  heel section - and lacerated hands! Strip off all the lower leaves from the cutting stem, leaving only one set at the top if desired.

 The rooting bed should be WELL DRAINED, about half sand and half good rooting soil, and located in a shady spot that is well protected from  strong winds and other disturbing features, like heat from a car exhaust or air conditioning compressor, etc. I then take rooting hormone, clippers (that have been dipped in a solution of 1 quart of water + 1 tablespoon of  bleach to disinfect), name tags & pencil, and the cuttings in their  container of willow water and plant the cuttings in the cutting bed. First, dip the wet ends in rooting hormone, gently knocking off any excess hormone powder before inserting them in the ground. (Rooting hormone is primarily a disinfectant and it is vital that cuttings be kept free from harmful bacteria if they are to root. This is also the reason we disinfect our clippers, as mentioned above. This is to try to prevent canker, which is the rose stem turning brown and dying. Canker spreads by entering the stem when it is cut. Being out-of-doors in the sterilizing action of the sun also helps prevent other scourges. Discard any used hormone as it is contaminated.

Firm the soil well around the cuttings. Old timers used to tell us to step on the soil around the slip with your heel to pack the soil, that "air is death to rose roots", and that roses should be grown in lots of clay. We have since tempered this advice and just firm the soil, allowing the moisture to settle it evenly. If planted in the winter, the slips may leaf out in the spring. They may be covered with a fruit jar and allowed to grow a second set of leaves before gradually removing the jar daily.

 THE WILLOW WATER STORY

 For the old rose fanciers who order grafted bushes, advances in the rooting of hardwood cuttings may not seem so earth-shaking but to rosarians who prefer own-root plants, and more especially to collectors, this is good news indeed!   Dr. Makota Kawase first began his research into the rooting problem in  Manitoba, Canada, in the 1960ís. Previous experiments in the 1930ís had  shown him that natural plant hormones, indole-3-acetic acid (IAA),  naphtalene acetic acid (NAA), and indolebutyric acid (IBA), promote  rooting. Yet another substance, tentatively named "rhizocaline", and NOT a  plant hormone, he also assumed to be present in root formation. The  separation of a cutting-from a plant causes IAA to move polarly and  accumulate at the base of the cutting stem. This "auxin gradient" then  causes the hypothetical rhizocaline to follow suit. Rhizocaline then  assists the IAA to form roots. This substance has been suggested by  researchers to be either vitamin B, vitamin H, Boron, sugar, various Nitrogen compounds, or something else. Further chemical research is  continuing to identify rhizocaline with certainty.

 In this early experiment, Dr. Kawase proposed to use a centrifuge to  physically push the two substances to the tips of cuttings to determine if  this would promote root formation. Then an "accident" occurred: He had  placed some water in the centrifuge to prevent his cuttings of Salix alba  L. from wilting. When the water was tested as a control the root-promoting  substance was discovered! Willow is perhaps the easiest to root of all  woods, and thus contains more rhizocaline than hard-to-root plants. As  rhizocaline is perfectly water soluble, it is very available to plants, and as it is natural in all vegetable matter, it is non-polluting in large concentrations.  Various strengths of "willow water" were tested by Dr. Kawase (who is currently with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, at  Wooster) who concluded that it had "the ability to stimulate rooting  unmatched by any previously known rooting substance, including plant  hormones." All plants contain rhizocaline and other factors in greater or  lesser amounts, and it is also seasonally variable, with the highest  concentrations observed in the early spring.

 To manufacture willow water in the home, Dr. Kawase recommends cutting  current yearís growth from any Salix species. Then, remove the leaves and  cut into one inch pieces. Place these right side up in a glass, add ½"
 of hot water, cover with a plastic bag and let sit 24 hours. Steep your  cuttings in this for 24 hours, and then place in the rooting medium with or  without rooting hormone, as needed. The willow water may be stored in the  refrigerator, covered to prevent contamination, but is best used up within  three days.  Other Kawase discoveries include the use of etoilation in promoting  rooting. Total darkness, he found, increased rooting "sharply" up to four  days. The basal tips MUST be in darkness for rooting to occur. (The writer  discovered this principle by rooting a rose in willow water alone, but in  an opaque container which excluded the light from the basal tip.)  Another help in rooting is the presence of ethylene gas. Shall we include  ripening apple in our covered containers of rose slips? These new rooting techniques, especially after the identification and synthesizing of rhizocaline, are predicted to totally revolutionize the nursery industry. And how easy it will be when all us amateurs have "green fingers" as well!
 

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Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist and Astrologer. Catch up with her websites  TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The  FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! & HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also HOW TO LIVE on A NICKLE, The FRUGAL PAGE.* Anita is at astrology@earthlink.net ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic!

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