Sweet Detachment

On growing, creating, and capturing the moment.

The Blog

Hanging Basket Woes - HELP!

Posted by Tricia Drover on August 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I had a beautiful hanging basket outside my house this year, filled with petunia, geraium, and lobelia. For the month of July it was my pride and joy!

Now, however, after a couple months of hot weather, it looks rather dismal. most of the flowers are dried out and dead. My geranium has stopped producing new blossoms. My petunia are leggy. Apparently I dropped the ball on maintainence and because of that my beautiful basket is now being regulated to the back yard.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions on what I can do to prevent this from happening again? I would like to have a nice ornamental basket or two again next year, but they are a lot of money for something that isn't going to last the entire season!

Lessons Learned

Posted by Tricia Drover on July 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

My garden this year has not been my most successful.

Trying to grow in the shade of maple and cedar trees is challenging. The slugs are hungry and the sun is sparing. 

And this mornig I fear I killed my beautiful impatiens plant from lack of water...

To look at it from a more positive perspective: What is working?

Surprisingly, my cucumbers are doing well in the back. I planted them as fairly established plants (the cuke seeds I planted directly into the shade bed didn't do anything at all) and they have little baby cucumbers all over them. The slugs don't seem to care much for the taste of the cucumber plant leaves so they are pretty much untouched by the invaders.

Bok choy has also been successful in my shade bed. Although it is growing slightly better in the containers on my fence rail, the plants in my garden bed are thriving, despite some nibbles from the aforementioned evil slugs.

Once moved to the front, my spinach and lettuce are thriving as well. The spinach has been moved back to the shade (it was starting to bolt) but the lettuce seems much happier in the sunny front.

My flowers were doing great - until I forgot to water them, sigh.

And overall my container garden on my balcony is thriving. I haven't gotten a lot of flowers (and thus, not a lot of fruit) on most of my tomato and pepper plants, however. My cherry tomatoes are the exception to this. I should have dozens of sweet little red tomatoes to enjoy soon *happydance*.

My strawberries continue to be a battle.

I've had a bit of nice fruit off the plants I am growing but I am still having issues with tasteless berries, rot, and poor fruit development. I'm not sure why, but I think next year my strawberries will go in a big container out front and I will save my deck for tomatoes and peppers. And basil. And flowers. And maybe something else that likes to grow in a pot in sunny conditions. Any suggestions??

My experimental garden in what will soon be my main garden bed is doing well, also. My cucumbers there are growing like weeds, although I seem to be having some issues getting the flowers to fertilize. My little baby cukes are turning yellow and dying although I seem to see butterflies and bees buzzing around there all the time. I am going to try self pollinating to see if that helps. My sweet peas are (slowly) growing, my radishes have just sprouted, my carrots are starting to poke their heads up above the dirt, and I am still going to see if I can throw one more container into the mix. I'm just not sure if I want to try herbs or more seeds...perhaps more spinach? Lettuce? I am still undecided. And I need more dirt.

The garden this summer has ended up being not much more than trial and error. I have learned much, however, and I am hoping that this means next year I will be able to have a bountiful harvest in my challenging little space.

Key lessons learned:

1. Always ensure that you have soil with good drainage in pots! Use peat or similar (and more eco-friendly, if possible) substance to ensure that the soil in pots does not become waterlogged and stagnant.

2. Seedlings do not grow without sun. However, established plants can survive (and even thrive) in much dimmer conditions. Next year I will be staring seedlings inside hydroponically and planting them into my garden bed, rather than trying to start seedlings in those dark, moist conditions. 

3. Most vegetables need a lot of sun to grow. Radishes, carrots, and beets probably won't work in my shade bed. However, the following veggies should be able to work, if planted as established plants and not seeds: bok choy, onions, kale, and squash. Beans will work from seed, if I can keep the nasty slugs away from them.

4. Slugs are evil and hard to kill. Time to try egg shells!!

I'm sure more lessons will be learned before the season is over. 

Now time to head home and see if my impatiens will rise from the dead, or if I truly am a murderer.

Picking up the Pieces

Posted by Tricia Drover on August 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I have just arrived home from a two week vacation to northern BC and, sadly, my balcony garden was not here to greet me in the condition I was hoping for. A combination of extremely hot weather and my husband working overtime all week resulted in the majority of my plants not surviving my absence.

My nasturtiums, hollyhocks, chocolate mint, basil, cilantro, dill, rosemary, sweet peas, and scented evening stalk have all passed on. I am left with most of my tomatoes, a few marigolds, chives, a fuschia, and my chestnut and hibiscus. Not entirely a waste of a season, but definitely not what I was hoping for.

Below are pictures of what is left in my garden. Lesson learned? Next year, pay someone to look after my plants if I plan on going away!!! I dearly love my husband, but obviously he isn't the best choice for plant sitting!



Patience is a Virtue

Posted by Tricia Drover on April 1, 2011 at 3:58 PM Comments comments (1)

I made a mistake this morning, and it cost the lives of three dwarf sunflowers.

I have been growing seedlings in old egg cartons (the cardboard kind). It's kind on the environment, cheap, and easy to do. However, the egg cartons suck up quite a bit of moisture, meanging that missing a watering or two can be a lot harder on the seedlings in the cartons than the ones in my plastic seed tray.

When I went to turn on my grow light this morning I saw that my dwarf sunflowers were all collapsed and sad looking. I watered them immediately, knowing that they wre unbelievably parched and sad, and that is why they had fallen over.

However, for some reason I couldn't just walk away and let them perk up on their own.

I started trying to build up the dirt around them in an effort to get them to stand tall. No luck. I watered them a second time but of course not enough time had passed to allow the plants to recover.

So, what did I do? Did I walk away and give my poor little plants time to heal themselves?

Nope, I picked them and threw them away. Not all of them, just the most pathetic three of the five, but it's been bugging me all day. Why couldn't I have waited? Why didn't I give them time to recover?

They might not have lived. Seedlings are very delicate and getting so dry that they cannot stand upright is definitely hard on them. It might have been the end of their lives anyway, but now I will never know.

I was impatient. I wanted them to be healthy, or I wanted them gone. I have no idea why I struggled so much with this today (perhaps it is because I am over tired) but I wanted this entry to be a warning to others out there who might end up in a similar position. I think all gardeners face this at one point or another.

If your plant is unhappy because you have neglected it, give it love and time to heal. It may not come back but at least you will know that you did all you could. You won't be stuck brooding like I am today. ;)

And now I know...if you are going to grow in an absorbant container, be prepared to water every day!

In Memoriam

Posted by Tricia Drover on September 21, 2010 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye.

Today, I want to talk about plants I have had that, for various reasons, I couldn't keep alive.

A few years back there was my first jade plant. I had heard they were easy to take care of, so I bought one and diligently took care of it. I made sure that sucker never dried out.
If you know anything about jade plants, you won't be surprised to hear that it rotted and died in just a couple short months. That was when I learned what "succulent" meant.

These are my current jade plants - they have been more fortunate than my first, although this particular variety is awfully droopy.

Then my poor fig... I moved when it was extremely cold outside (-20 degrees celcius) so all the leaves falling off wasn't really MY fault, persay, but I never did get that tree to recover fully. My sister did - damn her greener thumb! - but I still consider that tree in my list of casualties.

It wasn't until I moved in with my husband that I started accumulating a lot of plants. For me, along with more plants came more plant losses, despite my desperate and often obsessive attempts to save them.

My african violet got spidermites, so I thought it would be a good idea to wash it. If you know anything about African Violets, they do NOT like getting their leaves wet, nor do they like copious amounts of water. It died shortly thereafter. I have since received two more African Violets from my mother and they are still alive (a whole year later) but I can't get them to bloom...however, that's a whole other story...

Then there was my primera, and the 'mum my mom got me for Thanksgiving. Two more to add to the list of plants I have loved and lost.

My Primera, a birthday gift from my husband. It's actually no longer alive in this picture, but it still looks, um, fake?

Then there was my cyclamen. My mom had one and it was so beautiful, so I decided I would buy one too. But it did not like it's roomy new pot or my bright, sunny condo. Nope, rootbound and out of direct sunlight is what makes a cyclamen happy - so my attempts at giving it a good life eventually killed it. Oh, and I over watered too. Sigh.

Example of a healthy Cyclamen

I am currently fighting a losing battle with my azalea. It was the centrepiece at our wedding reception and it was so beautiful I actually thought it was fake at first! Then, I repotted it while it was flowering (apparently a HUGE mistake) and all of a sudden all of the blossoms started turning brown and half of the leaves fell off. Apparently they don't like drying out, they need acidic soil, and transplanting is VERY hard on them. And they don't like to be warm. And so on, and so on... 

They are just super fussy plants! It's still alive - barely - but I think it's only a matter of time before I have to take it off life support.

I don't know if you are noticing a theme here, but I don't do so well with indoor flowering plants...

What have I learned from these losses?
Do your research first! Every time I have gone to see why my plants are dying I have learned that did something wrong - over watered, too much sunlight, transplanted when I shouldn't have, etc. If I just did my research first and took care of my plants second, I probably would have better luck.

Google before you buy!!!

Also, indoor flowering plants are a lot more challenging (at least for me) than trees, succulents, ivies, or herbs. This of course just makes me more determined to be successful at growing them, so I'll take my own advice and next time do my research first so that I will be more successful. Otherwise, I guess I'll just be adding to this list, le sigh.


I'd love to hear some advice that might make my attempts more successful, or about losses others have had!




Seedling Fail

Posted by Tricia Drover on August 31, 2010 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

In early spring of 2010 I decided it would be a good idea to grow seedlings for my garden. In theory, it is a much cheaper way of getting your garden going.

In theory.

But only if if works!

I bought the tray, the special soil, the seeds, and the spray bottle. I was ready to go.

I planted broccoli, cabbage, marigolds, sweet peas, peppers, zucchini, and a myriad of others things in the hopes that I would be able to have a diverse garden plot later in the year.

And, at first, things grew. Everything started to grow, in fact. Within a couple weeks I was sure that my seedlings would be a success.

And then reality set in.

My seedlings were leggy, scrawny, and, in some cases, didn't survive past their initial growth spurt. The main reason for this was simply a lack of sunlight. Unless you are lucky enough to have full sun for most of the day somewhere in you living space (and a sunny spring, which we most definitely did NOT have), your seedlings will probably need a grow light to help them on their way.

Peppers grown from seed.

Next year I will be investing in a $50 grow light set up which will, hopefully, save me more than that in purchasing seedlings from garden stores, which can be as expensive as $5 a plant. Grow lights appropriate for seedlings can be purchased at stores like GardenWorks, Lee Valley, Art Knapp, and any other gardening or hardware/tool store.

Another reason for the failure, though, was excessive seeding. When seeding in the ground putting the seeds a bit thick can be a way to ensure success, especially when growing carrots or lettuce. However, when using a seedling tray, over seeding can cause crowding and can actually cause your seedlings to die from lack of space and nourishment. Thinning is very difficult when the plants are so young and delicate and often instead of pulling out one or two, you end up pulling out the tender roots of all the seedlings and having to start from scratch.

I think out of the two batches of seedlings (approximately 100 little seedlings attempted) I got maybe a dozen plants. Two zucchini, three pepper plants, and about  half a dozen sweet peas starters. It wasn't a complete failure, but the expense of the seeds, soil, and the time involved - not to mention having to buy seedlings after all from a gardening store - made my garden this year a lot more expensive than I had hoped.
I believe that a little more care taken when seedings and a grow light to give the seedlings all the sunshine they need will make my 2011 seedlings far more successful.

The picture below is of one of the few seedlings that did perservere...and that one zucchini plant produced seven or eight giant zucchinis, enough to keep us fully stocked with zucchini for three months.

I'm sure I'll let you know ;)