How to Give yourself a 10,000 dollar garden in two months, for two dollars

By Anita Sands Hernandez

 The California night wind is so warm in Autumn and Winter that from September to FEBRUARY, all the house's doors are wide open at dinner time. Spring is almost a year round condition here in L.A's sister city to the North, the Valley. Autumn and winter are the time for this Valley Girl to start her  garden and maybe you'd do so yourself or re-read this next Spring. I'd love this article to be a brief inspiration to do UN FREEBIE GARDEN!

Let me share a method to do your yard inexpensively. I'm an Aquarius (inventive) with five TAURUS planets squaring the SUN and Venus both...(for excessively cheap!) in Aquarius a sign known to be super lazy, phlegmatic (in fact I've ten fixed sign elements in my chart,) and one who will only devise methods that are new age, non-toxic, easy and effort-free and cheap.

A four Taurus element lady requires the building of a garden end up being as close to free as possible. The reason these two signs are square is because it's a troublesome combination. Most free things are illegal, and when one is too  inventive about getting free stuff, it could land someone in jail. The only way to resolve these two antagonistic star signs is to be what all poor people are. Communist! Count on your friends to lend/sell/ give cuttings, trade, etc. Money can't be the issue. God didn't born you here to make corporations rich. Communists use a cadre of comrades with whom they can share seeds and cuttings and even the work. And if you have no friends, walk the dogs and pick cuttings at neighbor's homes, or wait for them to prune. I once got a thousand impatient cuttings when I saw my neighbor had sheared his plot!

The Commie frequently must be a GUERRILLA ---handy at doing forays into the bush. The Commie Guerrilla school of yard work involves searching alleys for junk, using your wits, friends and hunting down freebies cuz fawncy plants, EXPERTISE and dollar bills are two hard to get and maybe even highly over-rated.

The good part is that nature supports you. You will not need will power to have EDEN in your backyard, only a desire to have flowers and vegetables and fruits growing everywhere, right up to the edges of your house. It has to look like Paradise four seasons a year so that you can hang xmas tree lights and lanterns there in your lanai (four sticks and some bamboo rugs) and party with your pals year round.

I will admit, I do this, know the ropes and can inspire you. I do not grow 6$ plants from Home Depot. No, I grow mongrels, cuttings and "squeeze the seed out of super market mutts" and now, 99c store seed packets, at 15C each. . There are no pedigreed 2$ a packet seeds in my flats. I attain cuttings off gorgeous plants at pals' homes, get free seeds off any neighbor's plant putting them out, visit friends' yards, correspond with internet gardeners who send me pckgs of their exotic plants and flowers. I take the ripest oranges, grapefruits lemons off tree when they're three years hanging in the sun and find little, sprouting seeds with tap roots INSIDE them, transfer them carefully to soil and get potted up trees, 9$ size in a year! I  do seed trades and I graft good fruiting branches from pals' delicious fruit trees on to mutt root systems that grow chez moi, doing so with razor blade and electric tape. And you know what? People and Nature are both so blessed friendly and cooperative, it all works!

What I've learned is, to do all the above takes very little TIME. Just the time that it takes to
a.) collect every green trash can on trash nite and compost the clippings and leaves down to humus. A few months time and it's done.

b.) get flats planted with every kind of seed and cutting get them up and of size to stick in earth. A few months for baby seeds to seedlings grow.

c.) get all your seed-grown fruit trees and trashy roses TOPPED OFF with grafts from the neighbors' fine fruits and roses (Think electrical tape, single edged razor blade and 30 seconds per graft time). A few days for the graft to take and a year to wait for fruit.

My Aquarius side trusts in my wits. It figures that if someone has the head trip pretty much straight,  he can do something without ever having done it before (even grafting) and do it fairly close to how an expert does it. Anyway there are only two gears in the plant world. It blooms. It dies. Some die on me but guess what? Most bloom!

The Aquarius part of me wants to pass on my secrets to the whole internet and the Taurus part of me wants to admonish you to not spend more than the national budget of a third world country to do it! Don't buy anything except a used shovel and trowel at a garage sale. I use my son's electrical tape and his used razor blade! My seeds are from internet pals or 15c a packet at the 99c store. My trees are pit-grown, and topped off with branches from pals who bought really great fruit trees for megabucks.

So, letís SHORT-CUT THE WHOLE GARDENING THING. Cut to the chase!

1.) REMOVE THE LAWN. All that flat, wet Green stuff lying around GULPS up water, costs ya beaucoup bucks, double what vegies take, and gets in the way of flowers! There's good reason that 'LAWN' rhymes with 'YAWN', hmmm? LAWNS are BORRRRRRINNNNG!

Even if you fill your garden with vegetables, fruits, trees, berries, grapes the water bill will be half of what it is when you have lawn. I have kids showering, laundry going and water two huge yards, front and back and my water bill is only 1$ a day, and that's in California where water is costly. So never think that gardening is going to automatically be a big water bill. Besides, when your plants are started, you MULCH EVERYTHING so you water every other day in summer. Once a week in other seasons.

LAWN has to go. The way to get the yawn lawn gone quick is bite the bullet. Go out there with a flat shovel. REACH IN, razor blade your way in sideways, then lift this flat, square divot and toss backwards over your shoulder. The pile of lawn divots upside down should be in a shady corner. A mountain of divots, Two hours and it's sayonara salad, lawn divot-ed! Carry it to a pile in the shade, and layer it with cow manure between divots like frosting in a fudge cake. Take you a few hours to do the whole lawn and create this new compost pile.

Now, Water this divot pile daily. In addition, get everybody's trash can with their lawn clippings, leaves. I brake for bagged leaves in the street! In two months time, this 10 feet by 30 hillside of trash will rot into the best humus, worth about l00$ for 10 bags! But guess what? You're going to get several hundred bags out of that lawn and the neighbors' clippings, and do it every year!!

2.) SHAPE THE YARD ON THE ASTRAL PLANE FIRST- You're going to create a Victorian parterre garden in your imagination. Every bed will be raised so that no human, no dog will ever be tempted to walk up on a bed and kill baby plants. Cats can be deterred, the cat trick involves taking your rose bush prunings and laying these branches all over the seedling bed. You can also stick them in the ground, upright like a dangerous little palisade of thorns. Keeping beds wet means dainty cats won't enter them. Water daily, your seedlings will thank you, your cats won't!

At this stage, PLAN the garden in your mindís eye. Wandering paths, various 'rooms' with new views every ten steps. 'Course it's not there now. Now you have a big brown blank but walk the newly discovered basic bones of your lunar landscape with a can of white fertilizer powder like wonderful clod-breaking gypsum which can take a clay yard and turn it into humus all on its own, well worth two bucks a bag. Or use gardening lime if you have acid soil. Or cheap flour left over from Xmas baking.

Delineate your new paths and beds with this white powder. Go wild. Maze, ellipses, ovals, rectangles, bridges. Gazebos. Here is the salad bed. Here are the herbs in this round, sunny spot. Here is the shade beneath this tall tree. Here goes a bench. A Trellis out of tree branches to be built here.

3.) CREATE THE BEDS- Beds are square things, soft, fluffy where baby seeds get planted. Garden beds are too. This refers to 9" to one foot of soft, fluffy soil laid on top of what you've got in your neighborhood as SOIL. That means you need wood to hold it up fluffy on the sides. GET some wood edging for those beds. I suggest Fire wood, 6-10" diameter logs.  FENCING PLANKS, which lay in alleys, free. Doesn't have to be 6" wide, two 3" boards do the job. I cannot drive an alley without finding good lumber. Old redwood fences are the caviar but there is pine around. Any discarded lumber that is lying around is useful. NAILS: Flatten or pull out the nails. Lay the lumber out as edging on the thin white line. Round lines get smaller pieces, curving. Now, stakes get hammered in.

I use my malia tree limbs which are pruned every January, snap them, use them as stakes. Now this can be lethal. If toddlers walk in your garden and fall down, or geriatrics slip, stakes can go thru the body. So best is flat topped stakes with pointed bottoms.

(The tree I recommend for stake making is MELIA but I spell it MALIA. The hindu pronunciation as it's a Himalayana tree. Want Malia seed? Alt name is Chinaberry? Delightful tree, shrouds of lavendar, fragrant blossoms, then little grape sized berries with an octagonal stone you can drill, make into jewelry. Hindus use it for rosaries, ergo MALA which means bracelet or rosary in their language. Ask me for a bag of the seed.)

3.A.) FILL THE BEDS- It will take you two months to get your COMPOST PILE ready but that doesnít mean you have to sit around twiddling your thumbs doing nothing. Oh no! You are going to do your HARD-scaping, i.e. creating the structures that make the garden picturesque. This can involve a Fairy English tool cottage, a patio, a gazebo type lanai for pals to sit in, just outside the home's main rooms.

Start searching the streets for gardeners working on trees. Beg their old tree limbs, and search down antique weathered wood to go with it, turn into gazebos. You have several months to do the hardscaping as you are going to save SOO much time as you're NOT out shopping at Home Depot and you're not earning the shopping MONEY that you require when you buy plants from HOME DEPOT! No! Youíre going to plant baby plants from seed, in flats.

Conveniently this all times out. It also takes two months to get the plant seed babies big enough to put out in your beds. So the compost and the babies, the hardscaping, the edging of the beds, all of it times out perfectly. I tell you, only a woman who has cooked an intricate recipe and seen that the chopping and par-boiling and the sauce prep and the breading and frying for a complicated dish along with salad and dessert, can all be accomplished ensemble, a braiding of the if there were five of you at work at the same time.

Gardens are the same thing. You do it all at once. While the baby plants are growing, you're driving around looking for lumber! Creating the edging and trellises. That kind of thing. So, here is a situation. You are going to need about forty gallons of soil for your FLATS. And you need it the first day of this two month time out.

LUCKILY, rich humus  can be had on your property right now! The stuff HIDES. It hides under trees where leaves fell for years, under old bushes, and especially under pines which are acidic and make the best humus. Search out the spots where you find available humus in your garden. Old houses where old people never cleaned under bushes have the best 'accidental humus' soil. Pine trees make acid mulch, worth GOLD.

Your flats will be any orange box from the market, with drainage holes. Grape boxes. Or real flats made of black plastic. Plant those seeds from neighbors and online seed exchanges, or found for l5c a package at the local 99c store. Meanwhile you're 'braiding' in the other chores.

4.) HARD SCAPING- Take fairly straight tree branches, 1/2 inch to (*for big plants, up to an Inch in diameter, ) & build trellises to put on the sides of lanais. Sink the verticals in a coffee can of cement, with sloping cement in can so water runs away from wood pole, put in a hole, with some cement also outside to hold the can. Get gravel-free cement or mortar. Now, crawl up on a ladder and TIE on the horizontals with jute string or fine wire. Build gazebos where you have some climbing roses or grapes, or wisteria or Mandevilla vines if temperate, non-freeze area.

5.) BUILDING THE FLOWER BEDS. When you have two hundred square feet of compost from your pile, put that soil inside the planks. Beds are no more than 5 feet wide. You have to be able to kneel on the path to reach in and trowel around, weed or plant from both sides. Unless youíre Arnold Schwarzeneggar, you probably have no more than a 2 feet reach from either side, so 5 feet is absolute maximum width of any bed.

Leaning over beds screws up the small of the back. I would like to gerry rig an 'old girl's' back protector. It would be a two foot long body support with a padded CHEST REST. Put its foot into soil, you then can lean over the flower bed and not strain lower back. Of course if you fell off it you could probably twist something so best would be a belt that would go around the body under armpits and TIE firmly. A soft padded thing would sustain the chest, and its foot would have to be  wide enough to sit on the soil of the flowerbed without PENETRATING it. Wide enough also to stay steady. That way you can be on your knees and LEAN WAY WAY FORWARD. I can imagine what the neighbors are going to think when they find you impaled on the flower bed stake edging, nose in the dirt, stone cold dead.

So Another way to til ground and trowel around is to crouch. GET USED TO crouching or KNEELING! ALL GARDENERS do it which is salubrious as knees that bend stay YOUNG FOREVER. Is it any wonder that when mankind does spiritual activities, he kneels? Don't be afraid to use knees or bend those knees or to MUDDY those knees. My second invention would be big round pads that bolt onto the knee of our blue jeans. (The secret, holistic way to fix any knee damage is l00 deep knee bends a day so do them this way, via yard work! Get those bends by Planting,digging, weeding.) CAVEAT: Always use a soft padded surface under knee. A baseball 'base' an old flat pillow. A burlap bag filled with straw as a single pebble is a scream when 150 lbs of meat are behind it.

Knees carry your weight and are not made of foot material. They bruise bigtime! So OK, we've got you on your knees, what you're doing is you TROWEL the foot deep soil you dumped inside that wood edging. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE your SOIL READY and are just using your garden's 'whatever soil,' then you must amend with peat, sand, gypsum, humus that hid under bushes. The Home Depot has a bag of Peat big as a horse's torso for l0$ get that one. Wet it in bucket before you add to soil.

The TROWEL is your first and bestest tool, found at garage sales for a buck max, often less. Fluff with trowel in right hand, dragging your ripped and spewing bag of peat or manure, to amend. You could  maybe stand and use a shovel. An Oval pointed shovel, not square. The idea is to loosen and fluff your bed's soil, amend it with peat, manure and coarse sand.

A cheap freebie way to get sand, if there are no pregnancy aged women working YOUR yard, is to use cat litter with turds removed. (No preg women can ever work your yard aftewards though!) I've  had cats for 30 of my most spinster non breeding years, had a virus panel scan and never found toxiplasmosis in my blood. So that whole scare may be a little bogus! But when infants are the product, take precautions.

CHEAPER STILL, collect those burlap wrapped anti-flood, rain-dyke bags of sand from local cafes, shops, after the last spring rain when they store owners are looking to dump those bags and will be glad to have you haul them away!  Although once a Chinese waitress chased my car for that. Mix peat, sand, gypsum and manure in order to keep clay soil from turning to baked clay in summer.

6 .) GETTING SOIL UP TO SPEED- As you work your soil, youíre digging in amendments like peat, manure, sand, gyspum, and as you work, pick out/ dig out, the last roots of your old lawn, the crab grass especially. If you left a root in, it would grow into crab grass, so pick those white spaghetti looking things out.

As you work, simultaneously youíre discarding these roots and weeds into a box or bag to place later on compost pile. Love your weeds. Tell them they'll do better work in the compost pile when they rot and reincarnate.

7.) PLANT THE GARDEN. When you have some wooden edging materials hunted down, youíre going to create raised beds filled with good amended soil, you can plant right in the bed. But itís going to take several months to get that LAWN converted into soil and ready to stick inside the wood edgings. No problem as meanwhile you build the hardscaping and MEANWHILE, your plants are starting from seed in flats. That will take two months.

SUPER Cheap seeds are available at the 99c store where we pay 15c a package! Six for a dollar! Totally Free seeds are available from any internet or local pal you know who gardens. When I spend a day gardening outdoors, I always come into the house pockets laden with seeds. I bag Ďem up and send them to internet folks, article readers, stargazing clients, by mail. Free. Or, if I want new seeds, different types, I make new pen pals Ėfolks like me, and say, any zinnias? How to make such pals? At all garden chat rooms, or lists. You announce you have seeds to trade. Pay them with their stamps or send them a SASE. And they do the same to you.

8.) FOOL PROOF SEEDS AND FRUITS AND TREES and FLOWERS- The truth is, everything grows but not always in your neighborhood. I'm in California's interior valley, zone 9, but no moist, marine layer, so delphiniums hate our summers. Fuschias do too. Gardenias rhodies and azaleas need acid soil which we don't have. Hate us. I cannot invite one in. Sigh.

Californians can plant pretty much anything else. Biennials that are cold tolerant as OUR worst cold is around 40 degrees, rarely ever a breath of 35 degrees at 4 a.m. dead of winter, so things like pansy, columbine, stocks and sweet peas or edible peas don't even shiver in So Cal. SUCCULENTS love California but freeze dead at 46 degrees. I have to remember to keep them in pots and move into southern lee of house Dec 1st.  So what you need to do is study books at library and make a list of what grows in your climate.

As I write this, it's nearly Halloween and the sun is pouring down, nights are warm and balmy and I'm planting sweet peas, snaps, calendulas and doing loads of cuttings from trees, bushes, flowers. I'm sure not planting zinnias though. Not even in Springtime. I remember last spring, around April, I asked my 90 year old neighbor if a freeze was coming back. She said tersely "It can snow as easy at Easter as Xmas day. This is just tourist weather." Old Curmudgeon. The day I asked her, I'd already planted marigolds and zinnias and it did get damn cold after that. You can plant in winter if youíre in warm zones that don't freeze. I'm in zone 10 where we do get some nites at 40...but it seemed so warm then, in April  that I was already taking a risk with zinnias, planting corn, squash and pumpkin. One could get lucky. As I recall though, I didn't. Late freezes do happen. MARIGOLDS are allergic to that. In L.A> with that marine layer, Marigolds bloom from April to DECEMBER!

The trick for timing is to learn to read seed packets so you can see the month of planting that they recommend in your zone. Itís usually on the seed packet. Even those six for a dollar ones at the 99c store have some fine print that recommends planting dates.

Home Depot has fabulous seeds but at two bucks a package, I say no. GO TO A 99c store,  they are a new corporation just went public (NDN at the NYSE,) so buy stock in them, it's 29$ a share and divides regularly. Not fragrant night blooming stock. No. STOCK STOCK. They are traded publicly already. 120 stores and growing by 33% increments annually, not too shabby. ( For a great article on how to learn about stocks, go to ) At 99c stores, you can get those 6 seed pckgs for a dollar! Get columbine, delphinium, PANSY and shasta daisy seeds, carnations, snapdragons. These are the easy grow flowers. Snaps are truly dragons. They grow big so fast and live two years not one.

Plant in old egg tray boxes, adding holes, or in actual black plastic nursery flats if you can get them! I love those things, keep them away from snails up on old  tables on south side of house.  When I plant in the GROUND, I load fresh humus in to the flat, then shake it and the clods run around in the tray and stay in but the fine frizz soil drops thru bottom to cover my delicate seeds.

I usually plant in flats on tables or bricks as some space under the flat keep snails off. I put seedling boxes on tables as California is SNAILOFORNIA! No freeze means the suckers live forever. We get grandpa snails that can understand basic ENGLISH words. That's from my old joke that the roaches in L.A. cafes have been there so long they can cook Chinese!

Try old cut-in-half ping pong tables for gardening You can get FOUR large, garden tables out of an old warped ping pong table, by adding some boards as legs.

Set these flats IN DAPPLED SUN/SHADE if you're doing this mid summer as weather or sun might kill them. In winter, south side of house. I live in an interior valley that is quite hot by day, SEPT THRU FEBRUARY and I have to wear a parasol hat to work in yard in WINTER! But in cold seasons, we just place seedlings on the south side of house where some heat is retained, all night.

Cover the flatís soil with a piece of plastic, maybe an old manure bag to keep moisture in until sprouts are seen. If you planet in SEPT, BY LATE AUTUMN THEY'LL BE BIG ENOUGH TO move into garden. If you plant in SPRING,  FEBRUARY to APRIL you keep them on south side of house, where warmth collects at night, stick them in the ground in APRIL.

I've had baby artichoke and tomato plants on south side of house all winter and those nights it dipped to 38 and 40 didn't even hurt them! South side of a tall stone wall is really magic. Snails know that, too. Dig in the soil on south wall you'll see where they SLEEP all winter long. Snails hibernate! I lift my board edgings and find them sleeping there, too. So when I know where they are, it's easy to collect bundles of them and dispose of them.

For those who cannot grow Sweet peas, those new knee-highs bloom like crazy, filling beds with flowers, filling house with Victorian bouquets. They require no care, and should be planted in Late summer, Early Fall. Ditto Calendulas, Snaps.

Set in your 'hardy' perennials, (which live for decades) and your biennials, plants that live two years like snaps, broccoli in early Autumn. Those 'hardy' baby plants will 'winter overí in California. Ask a nursery man what will winter over in your zone.

ANNUALS like zinnias and marigolds and coleus do not winter over. You plant them in late Spring, they flower in warm weather, die with first freeze. If you live in a place that has a really deep long, hard snow and has a serious freeze in winter, and a few hundred MORE in SPRING, be careful.

Your nurseryman will tell you which plants can weather the March/ April period, those killer, late frosts of spring. IF there's doubt, plant which plans absolutely will not tolerate a freeze. Plant that customer aFTER the last spring freeze.

Plant your seeds RIGHT there in the new bed if you know there are no snails in your yard. That's one in a thousand of us. The rest must use flats raised on bricks. Because once you plant greens in a yard, snails migrate from West TEXAS!

PERENNIALS: Sure, we can buy spiffy perennials like ASTILBE, at 5$ each potted single plant but don't you prefer not to? Simply get clippings by caressing, seemingly sniffing, the branches at the HOME DEPOT STORE. "Click" goes a little piece into the palm of my hand. Or my neighbors pick all the clippings I need from their plants and drive them over and get cake and coffee from me. Snapdragons, carnations, calendula, Stocks all duplicate by clippings. So will broccoli! Anyone with raspberries or strawberries has runners giving them many clones or duplicates. Rasberries send shoots out where you don't want them so you HAVE to dig them out and either replant or give away. Heliotrope at nurseries will grow from cuttings, live forever with its lavendar blooms.

WHEN TO PLANT-You have four seasons where you are but in California, we have a short winter, surrounded on both sides by Spring and a blazing hot summer. Here we use the late summer/ early autumn thru Feb as a second Spring and plant all cold tolerant flowers and vegies. In FEBRUARY we have an early REAL SPRING where we can do the same over again, plant things that live through our mildly cold weather that rarely drops below 40. That would be broccoli, greens, pansies, stocks, calendulas, herbs, snaps, carnations, Sweet William and many other biennials that require more time than just a summer annual requires.  Salad, carrots, cabbage, sweet peas, greens, food peas do well in cool weather. Gardening books give you a  list of cold tolerant plants.

In Southern California, by APRIL you know the nights will be warm, so we set out WARMTH loving plants: chokes, tomatos, basil, zinnias, squash, cukes. These mediterrenean fellows need warm weather. No hint of chilly nights or mucky soil or the seed will mold. Here we can greenhouse grow them any time if we want but I don't want. I like seasons.

Again, if you want to be super cautious, and not lose any babies, plant your flats on a table, on the south side of your home.. That side of the house stays warm all night. And you can plastic tarp the table!

HOW TO PLANT- Plant in plastic FLATS, not in the ground as slugs and snails appear from nowhere, they can smell you from blocks away. They eat baby plants overnight. As do sow bugs. Crush all your egg shells into shards and encircle snail/slug favorite plants. These bugs must be deterred or eliminated. Either capture snails (use the beer in a pie tin method) or put snarol around.  My best method ever was to go out at night and pick the culprits up. Capture them with a plastic glove on your right hand, a super market bag. Bagged snails go in trash can if you don't mind their dying at the dump. I Bag them at night with a flashlight, SEAL BAG with greens in it, so they have a free last meal. Next day, drive to the local park. Rip bag open, discreetly toss into a bed of greens in the park. Thatís if youíre pro-life.

DAYLIGHT, I dig in my humus pile and find grubs. When you find those coiled white catapillar like critters in the soil, really huge grubs, collect in a bag. Airmail to Puck Puck my chicken in a box with soil and ice. (only kidding. I wouldn't eat her eggs if she ate THEM!) Some grubs become fiends in warm weather, destroying root crops. I throw the grubs onto the sidewalk or street and call 'caw caw', loudly. The crows know me, they get bread in broth twice a day from me, (stale dumpster bread by the TON, bakery throws it away still wrapped) so crows come from blocks away. They repeat my feeding cry, a double 'caw' so I know I'm using the right word for 'feeding frenzy going on here.' You have to feed crows daily for that trick to work. So get the grubs out of your humus pile where the heat from the decomposition makes it like Acapulco for them.

So, you're out digging/shoveling and you hit a hard area? Use a pick. Add peat and gypsum to this area. That softens the soil. If you have a compost pile, carry buckets of compost to that area and work it in. Alternative: Don't dig it. Ride this pony the way it's going. Set your huge boulders there.

Many of my beds were started without compost. Just the soil of the valley. We used to have chicken farms here, it's not HORRID soil. It's black clay. I grew things without compost first year. Now, the soil is better as it's had compost added on top for several years.

It's a myth you have to dig manure and compost in. I cannot dig any longer as there are so many bulbs beneath ground. Here we leave gladiolas, hyacinth, tulips, daffodils in the soil year round.. NOW that presents one problem. NO GARDENER should INSERT a trowel in the ground when the BULBS ARE NOT IN FULL BLOOM. You'd amputate the bulbs! I do digging in late spring when Narcissus /Daffodils/hyacinths are clearly visible and even the gladiola points are starting to emerge so that I can see everything that is below the soil. I can then do a little "digging in". But why bother? Once plants are started, just add compost on top. It finds its way down and in. Whatdya think, Nature's DUMB? Plants got here a million years after the comet by learning to grab dead leaves and compost them, and surviving any nitrogen loss  by reaching up for that half composed crap falling on their heads.  They know how to do the work of getting the humus to the roots. We give them a cushy enviorn, remove the bugs, nothing like what they've had to endure for the last million years. They are grateful and will bloom like beggars on streetcorners, fragrantly and colorfully for you and make you feel like royalty. So compost on top saying 'dinner's served, reach for it kiddies!'

You say youíre too old and too sick to garden? Hey, thatís when you HAVE to bite the bullet and garden like your life counted on it. And chum, it does. I'm a sixty year old lady with a dinky heart. Doctors say I shouldn't dig like a peon with a shovel until I have to fall down but I do. Last I heard, muscles love to be used and the heart is a muscle. I just keep an old futon in the front and the back yard I collapse on top of an old pool chaise lounge, to rest on an incline, head DOWN, feet up, between bouts of digging. The heart is a muscle; use it or lose it.

In the last five years I've done everything on this page to four houses! I tear out the lawn, create beds, adding beauty and drama and functionality to rented homes which had a front and a back yard. Every time landlord caught me removing lawns and even sprinkler heads once (saved carefully for her in a box), I got chastised, banished, evicted, and in spite of fighting them in court, I got moved! In revenge, I took all the soil I'd created, all the plants and trees that I could move using a 15$ a day rented truck, keeping it for a 7 day week. Each day we took every plant, and every trash barrel filled with soil. Ask me for file. "MOVE THE SOIL, Move the Landlord!" It's at

Then, God sent me the Dick the landlord from heaven. He loves what I'm doing. Gives me a box of hand dipped chocolates for Easter, Valentines and Xmas. Brings me manure when I ask. I'm trying to teach him to eat broccoli so he doesn't move on and leave me with his CPA son. Dick is old. Pray everybody. DICK DELANEY LIVE FOREVER!

SO, now that we covered LANDLORDS, let's cover the real problem in gardening. SNAILS and bugs. In third world countries, gardeners crush them in their fingers. I pick them off into bags. Rocky Mountain beetles get dropped into a glass of liquid with soap in it. The way to get snails is approach it like a proctologist. A Flash light, rubber glove. A bag and at midnight I soon have a few pounds of slimers. For aphis, I use pyrethrum poisons. You can make your own from chrysthanthemums which is what a pyrethrum is. Take Your mum clippings, soak, decant. Do the same with willow branch clippings and you have rooting hormone.

Promise yourself to pursue No-Cash Gardening. My ritzy star client pays 75c a bulb for pedigreed daffodils. I got 3 dozen for $2.50 at Home Depot. They werenít huge like hers, this year, but next year they will be! And every year daffodils quadruple or something. Everything does, heliotrope bushes, clivia, hyacinths. The crocosimia bulbs I send you, big boxes of 'em. Nature is such a giver! Moi aussi! So are your other pals. Get seeds, bulbs, berries and cuttings free from friends. Right now, have a ton of artichoke seed. Send your address.

The art of cuttings is in every gardening book. Read up on the subject for free, as well. Library has books w. gardening secrets, propagating from cuttings, seeds found in fruit. You can plant an entire cherry orchard from a small bowl of bing cherries! You need quite a few hours of temps beneath 45 degrees to have them fruit though, so ldon't know see what Southern california can do in the way of cherries. Today I had to take back (prune) a rose, a buddleia and a heliotrope. Every piece went directly into the softest semi-shady ground. Plus cuttings from neighbor's fejioa guava tree!

Learn the types of soil in library gardening books. Ask neighbors what they think youíre living on, acid or alkaline. My Southern California neighbors all said Ďitís alkaline clayí and it sure burns my hands like lime in cement so I believe them. I learned to turn clay to Neutral PH humus with the addition of amendments like gypsum, manure and peat as well as coarse gardening sand, (not the kind for mortaring) and the old cat litter works fine though I haven't done it in a lettuce bed. Just under an orange tree. I hear pregnant women can never garden here. I wonder what the halflife of toxiplasmosis is? But it sure helps to make my soil acid!

I hear the east coast has acidic soil on the natch. To me thatís amazing. You can grow gardenias and blueberries, rhodies and azaleas in that! I cannot go near those plants, our soil's too alkaline. Now, If I had pine trees, I could get acid mulch but I don't have any of those handy, either. Although one street here is LINED with pines and I noticed that in NOVEMBER, December, the streets were one foot deep in rotten needles. I might go back with a shovel and a bag next winter. Who'd know I wasn't from one of those houses. NOBODY until I slung the trash bags into my car and drove off! I can imagine them going, HUH?

Go to the library where for free you can read Esoteric books like FINDHORN, the RUDOLPH STEINER work, the magic gardeners. Also mags from RODALE press are good. Rodale publishes ORGANIC GARDENING magazine. Get used issues at Salvation Army or online at Supermarket's magazine stand has gorgeous, sumptuous garden mags. Get in the longest check out line, read and memorize. Leave mag on stand. Don't waste money on mags or on soil, chemicals, poisons of fawncy nursery catalogues. A commie guerilla garden figures the cheap way. He feeds his family for free and takes his savings and buys his children fixer upper cottages so they can get started in real estate and to the same.

Now, if you want to spend a little money, be selective. I buy those cheap Dutch bulbs on sale at HOME DEPOT in Spring! 3 bucks for 36 daffodils! Bare root Rose bushes there are 2$ each. Bare root fruit trees 9$ Your local 99c store has exotic bulbs five Dutch bulbs, more if African,  in a small bag for 99c. Not bad either.

You are going to love the bushels of fruit that grow in your yard. It will be totally organic and healthful. VEGETABLES grown with chemical fertilizers (on soils depleted of every mineral) will cause infertility, ill health, cancer, the invasion of disease.

Feed your family these high mineral vegetables, raw greens, broccoli and fruit and your dear ones will never get disease! Nor will they age or get wrinkled. Everything should be grown on humus, rotten leaves, manure piled up and loads of worms dropped in pile until the pile becomes sweet, black earth. Worms can turn anything into humus. After one year of gardening this way you will have to find a used pitchfork at a garage sale and dig only with a pitchfork not a shovel, so as never to cut a worm in two. They are your friends and I'm not so sure the two chopped halves eventually grow into whole worms. Sounds fishy to me!

But you do want worms, so feed your worm friends. Collect all the green trash cans on the street, trash night. Wheel them to your front yard compost pile at 2 am. Dump them on your front pile. In my case, that's a long long driveway strip, 6 x 30. Next day, by light, I spade up the bottom land under my pile, mixing it in with the new cut grass, leaves. I cover the raw compost with the compost pileís own, rich soil and half broken down leaves, so that the bacteria and worms from the old batch enter the new leaves and lawn clippings. I always use a pitchfork in a ripe pile so as not to kill worms. Shovels slice them in half. Fork passes them by. And I water it daily.

When neighbors use a wood chipper, I can pick up a trashcan of sawdust. It has to be composted well to go on soil. Add nitrogen fertilizer if you have any doubts as the sawdust sucks nitrogen out of the soil in the rotting process.

So go out there and garden. ANY DAY when the MOON is in a water sign or earth sign, it's a GOOD seed planting day but EVERY day is a good gardening day. There are other chores. Drving alleys looking for lumber, for edging the beds. Spading, adding manure.

When you want to sow seeds, find the moonsign that's best in next few days by asking me via "" (email). Or use DELL HOROSCOPE MAG. Last five pages is a daily star aspecterian, your power hours, your dead zones. ASTRO COM has a daily chart, Use them
Oh, by the way, if the MOON is in Capricorn, square a malefic, watch those knees! Throw old towels, old pillows under you, bath mats, fat cats, anything that has some thickness. Why? Cuz if the KNEES go, you'll stop gardening! Serious knee downside for gardeners there, but Life balances out. Those who squat every few minutes, and come up and squat again will save their knees, keep them perpetually young.
But bruising those bones and tendons can HURT THEM FOREVER. 


Our POSTER is ANITA SANDS HERNANDEZ, Los Angeles Writer, Futurist, 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! & 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 ). Get a 15$ natal horoscope "my money/future life" reading now + copy horoscope as a Gif file graphic!