Gardening in February

February 1, 2016

Already we’re a month into the new year!   February is the month I start seeing the possibility of my summer garden.  We’ve had good rain so plants have gotten a good soaking.  As days are getting longer and the sun is shifting higher in the sky, plants are getting ready to start growing for the warmer months.   Pruning, weeding and fertilizing are going to be a major focus for gardening in February .   Get out there and garden!!!


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Succulent Industrial Design

January 29, 2016

As a member of Coronado’s Crown Garden Club, I signed up to do Library Flowers for the Coronado Public Library foyer.

I always use succulents for my designs since that’s what I have growing around my yard, and because it inspires me. I used a “container” that is a metal frame wrapped with recycled inner tubes.  I was able to wedge succulent cuttings underneath the strips of inner tubes and it all held in place nicely.  Another bonus of using succulents is that there is no water required!

The combination of  the succulents and the industrial frame worked together really nicely.  I love how it all turned out!

Succulent Industrial Design



January 26, 2016

With bare-root season in full swing, it’s time to talk blueberries.  I have been growing blueberries for a number of years pretty successfully.   Most of my plants have been in containers but some have been in the ground.

First, make sure you are buying a low-chill variety for our Southern California climate.  Basically, low chill means fewer days needed of weather below 40 degrees.  In the spring, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer that is NOT nitrate based.  I feed my with azalea/camellia food because they like the higher acid, and worm castings on a regular basis, too.  

At our new house, I planted half in the ground, and half in pots, with mixed success.   I bought eight plants total and after a year I realize that I’m not doing such a great job with my blueberries plants.  The ones in the ground just never thrived, I think because they are competing for root space, and lately they have been a chewing tool for Lassie as she goes through her teething stage.

I had two plants in pots upstairs on my roof deck and although they got plenty of water, they have struggled with the intense heat that occurs up there.  (My plumerias LOVE it up there!)  The last two plants are in pots in my yard and are doing beautifully.   So, last weekend I did some major reorganization in the yard and cleared out 6 of the eight plants.  The two upstairs were a loss so they got pitched, but the four I took out of the ground were moved to my friends’ house where they are in a bed all by themselves.   I dug them up and wrapped the root balls in newspaper for transport.  Aren’t they cute?

Blueberry transport


GMO – Pros and Cons

January 25, 2016

I’m a gardener so, by default, I consider myself a bit more thoughtful about what I eat.  Don’t get me wrong, I can stuff French fries down with the best of them, but I do like to know what I’m eating so I can at least make the choice – right or wrong!  I’m not 100 percent on one side or the other but I do like to have as much information to make an intelligent assessment of the issues, so I present GMO – Pros and Cons.

I find that it’s a huge issue, and complicated to follow.  I’ve been collecting articles for a couple of years with the intent to present an organized pros and cons, but there is so much info on both sides, and in the middle, that I gave up on that goal.  What I present is a mish-mash of articles and a few videos for you to sort through, in no particular order of importance or opinion.  I’ll be the first to acknowledge that some of the sources don’t have a lot of basis to them, but I’m just throwing it all on the table for discussion.

I’d love feedback when you are done reading.  Please, no trolls!    Ready, begin!

What is the difference?  GMO, Heirloom or Hybrid

Plant Hybridization

Consumer Reports – FAQs about GMOs

What is a GMO?

NPR – Natural GMO? Sweet Potatoes Genetically Modified 8000 Years Ago – Digging for seeds of truth in GMO debate

Why Are We So Afraid of GMOS?

Whole Foods Magazine – Glimpse the Complex World of GMOs – 7 Foods You Didn’t Know Have GMOs

Artificial vs Natural Watermelon & Sweetcorn – an infographic

Chipotle’s ban on GMOs

The Guardian: GMO 2.0: genetically modified foods with added health benefits

Hawaii is genetically engineered crop flashpoint

From the point of view of some Hawaiians: Facing Future

This article didn’t end quite the way I thought it would: On Hawaii, A Lonely Quest for Fact

Fox News Opinion: Serve Up Science and Eat Without Fear

GMOs confuse the consumer

What would the world look like without GMO crops?

From Monsanto – GMO Foods and the Tooth Fairy

Lists of Seed Companies – Organic and otherwise

A bit dated, but still interesting – Here’s a guide to how your public officials are voting on the issues

Oxford Journals – Engineering with Precision: Tools for the New Generation of Transgenic Crops

Q&A with Pam Ronald, UC Plant Geneticist

How I Got Converted To GMO Food

Here’s a list of Heirloom Seed Suppliers

400 Companies that Don’t use GMO’s in their products

What does the looming citrus apocalypse tell us about GMOs?

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

Genetically Modified Food – It Might Be the Only Way To Feed The World

The American Association for the Advancement of Science

Institute for Responsible Technology

A study about the effect of GM soy and maize diets for pigs

The National Academy of Sciences

Mark Bittman of the New York Times

Keith Kloor of DISCOVER magazine doesn’t agree with Mark Bittman

Pointed talk: Michael Pollan and Amy Harmon dissect a GM controversy

What I learned about GMOs from 9 farmers, a Monsanto employee, and a whole bunch of reading. 

A comparison chart from a GMO initiative in WA State

This group answers questions about GMOs

California Prop 37 (from a couple of years ago) Fact Sheet

Counter to Prop 37

Donors to NoOn37

Here’s how the Voting Went on Prop 37

Grocery Manufacturers Association

U.S. GMO crops show mix of benefits, concerns – USDA report

GMO Compass

Helping Farmers See Advantages of Going Non-GMO

An infographic of GMO you’re eating

GMO – It Might Be the Only Way to Feed the World


On my morning walks with the new puppy, I walk past this yard that has been redesigned very nicely to reduce water usage.  The colors and textures are great.  My personal favorite is this Kalanchoe luciae aka Flapjacks or Paddle Plant.  The more stressed this plant gets, the better the colors.  What a beauty!

Kalanchoe luciae - Flapjacks, Paddle Plant


Happy Monday!  All the rain is making me wistful for flowers and getting my hands in the dirt.

Surprise!  – Four Gardening Myths Busted.

So beautiful! A beautiful forest of blue

I love the idea of this – Flower Clock

The meaning of flowers: the United States

My two boys didn’t think this was cool when I service flowers in the salad, but I did!  Edible Flowers

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” –Henri Matisse

Language of Flowers postcard


Wow, here we are at the beginning of another year!

I’m still hoping the promised rain comes, but in the meantime I’ve got some work to do out in my yard.  Worm castings and mulch are the priorities at the moment.

Here’s a more detailed list of things to do in the garden in January. Happy 2016!!!



Dragon’s Blood Tree

December 29, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, during some big winds, our town lost a beautiful historic tree.  Sitting in the front yard of an equally historic house, this Dragon’s Blood tree had been planted at least 125 years ago by the original owner of the house. The Dragon’s Blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari) is not the same […]

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December 14, 2015

This is the time of year I get questions about hydrangeas. I don’t grow them, so I’m no expert, but I pulled together some sites for you to ponder. If you want to buy hydrangeas to plant, it’s better to buy them in bloom so you can see what you are getting, since they aren’t […]

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Erythrina Terastia Meticulosalis Moth

December 5, 2015

Check out this interesting moth I found on a car.  I’m not sure what caught my eye, but I did a double-take, prodded it a little to see if it moved (it did!) and realized that it was a very odd variety than anything I’d ever seen. I passed the picture around to my Master […]

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Beloved Star Pine – TBT

December 3, 2015

When we bought our new little house a couple of years ago, one of the great things for me was that I could see a Star Pine in a neighbor’s yard from different angles on our property.  It was a perfect Star Pine, especially so, because it used to be mine. It was my family’s […]

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