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, edged in 'found' lumber. (alleys are where the good wood unk is found!) Winding Paths divide raised beds with edging arranged to paths are bending, beds circular, round, surprising. Wobbly roads lead around corners, go straight, then bend again. The yard is maze like. Sinuous, serpentine walks with some plants leaning over their edging and brushing your knees. Not one ounce of grass or lawn anywhere. Tore it out the day I arrived. (A lawn is a very easy thing for an old woman to lift.)Flat shovel lifts a divot,you place it upside down on your composting area pile. At 70 I could do fifty divots before needing a soda.
When Spring hits and the raised beds full of my collected plants, annuals, perennials lurch into bloom, it's a picture, especially at dawn. 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. Everything growing there was 'found', plants, seeds, cuttings. I have no hubby, 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 radio out on the rain and leave me with big 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 beds and erecting edging, pruning occasionally with the greatest pruners which were 99c at the DOLLAR SHOP. Bunnies, kitties, possums and squirrels in my garden and me rescued from the stony heart of typical old age by sending love and food to all my babies. (Leftover catfood kibble that had flies on it is still useful, fridged til midnight when it is placed in the woodpile 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 in a 2$ sixpack. That's why both yards (total 8,000 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 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.
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 live 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 they 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. (THIS JUST IN. They are LAVENDER and now are l8" wide and waaay too close together. Have to move them!
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, those 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!
SOme of my soil came from my 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 fav snacks. Then WEST NILE VIRUS hit, dead crows all over the VALLEY, I made friends with a MOCKINGBIRD who learned to hear me call, and see the grub thrown and would swoop down and gullet the thing.
Neighbors walking by and this lady in the hole cawing, whistling 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 I don't hear the ringing outside. I'm carrying barrel after barrel of this nice black compost to the beds in the front yard. You cannot garden in the alkaline, hard, desert clay of this valley. Also was making wood edging for the beds so that they were a good l0" higher than paths. With lumber I find thrown away i alleys. staking it every few feet so the soil holds it up on one side, stake on the other. Wish we could sketch these things. Here's how to do cuttings for free.
USING WILLOW WATER TO ROOT ROSE CUTTINGS
Pamela Ashworth Puryear
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 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 bottom 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.so CUT UNDER WATER! Just as U do with rose FLOWERS for a vase.
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. Twenty should do. Then, remove the leaves and cut into one inch pieces. Place these right side up in a glass, add 1/2 INCH 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 an 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. Means HOME DEPOT had better recalibrate their prices.
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Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Gardener, Writer, Researcher, mother of 4 and career Astrologer. Catch up with her websites TRUTHS GOV WILL HIDE & NEVER TELL YOU, also The FUTURE, WHAT'S COMIN' AT YA! FRUGAL LIFE STYLE TIPS, HOW TO SURVIVE the COMING GREAT DEPRESSION, and Secrets of Nature, HOLISTIC, AFFORDABLE HEALING. Also ARTISANRY FOR EXPORT, EARN EUROS....* Anita is at firstname.lastname@example.org ). Get a 35$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic! No smarter, more accurate career reading out there! PS. Anita sez, 'get a website for 5$ a month and post articles that YOU LIKE, TOO! Be someone who forwards the action, the evolution. IT IS getting better you know and by getting WORSE FIRST, it gets better!
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