Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Friday, September 08, 2006

My garden...

Okay, let's be honest, here: my garden consists of four self-watering planter boxes and assorted pots of house plants that are allowed out for the summer.

[Note: self-watering means that they flood the plants after a rain hereablouts, because rains are short but intense. Probably a better idea out there in semi-desert California.]

The houseplants LOVE being outside on my northfacing deck, three stories up. So much so, that they really seem to dislike having to come back indoors to fight for space in the northfacing window, or my west facing bedroom window that is blocked by the neighboring building. Just not enough light for the size those plants have attained living happily all summer outside.

For a few days right after I bring them in, I'll wake up each morning to one or more pots on the floor, obviously elbowed off the shelf by stronger ones...

Last year I discovered another spot that some of them really like: the top of the fire stairs on the south side of the building. Nobody much uses these stairs, which are fronted with a glass wall that looks out over the courtyard, because the north side stairs and doors face the parking lot. They get some light all day long because the stairwell lights come on at night, and the stairs have some heat to prevent freezing, and there are no bugs or critters. Houseplant heaven.

The fire marshall didn't like it, however, nor the chairs we put on the landings so that some of us old folks (not mentioning any names, but when we moved in here, we were the youngest people by 30 years) would have a rest stop when needed.

I don't know if I will be allowed to put plants there this winter, but I'm gonna go with the adage that it's easier to appologize if needed, than to risk an automatic "NO" that might not be necessary.

One thing I have learned is that there is just not enough to do in tending a garden this small. By that I mean: if one uses gardening to work off steam (and thus prevent even well-deserved homocide) one needs more than a total of 15 minutes of weed pulling or bug stomping. At least, I do, LOL.

But I'm not sure I could keep up with a whole yard right now, anyway, so I'm happy with my space. Being up three floors does cut down on the varmints...except for the occasional tree squirrel (but I trimmed the magnolia to make things more difficult for him).

The real annoyance is the chipmonk, who is very cute, but really a pain because he keeps trying to dig tunnels in the pots. This exposes the roots and spills potting soil. Even that would be tolerable, since it isn't every day. But the last straw was stealing my cherry tomatoes, just as they were ripening...and I had been waiting so eagerly for so long, too!

To add salt to my wounds, he often gets interrupted and leaves half eaten ones lying around, wasted. Plus, he PEELS them first, and leaves the skins!

One year I did try that snazzy sounding upside-down hanging basket, which did keep the varmints at bay. Alas, the tomatoes weren't all that happy about it either.

Really, it can be unwise to peruse garden catalogues in March... This year I ordered the varmint deterent sprays and bird mesh. I sprayed the tomato vines and the edges of the deck and the soil around my bulbs. The mesh went around the railing.

Right. They were just about as successful as the upside down tomato planter.

I have some hanging baskets each year, too. Begonias and some other flowering annuals, and the small vining petunias. Very pretty, once I get used to the idea that one buys in Spring and throws away in Fall.

You'd think such a basket would be entirely free of Nature's invaders (because I don't mind sharing with humming birds) but, no. House finches (what we called linnets in California) prize hanging baskets to build nests in, out of the rain and away from hawks and squirrels. Nothing deters crows or starlings, but that's another issue.

Want a heart stopping experience? Look up from the computer just as a huge black bird flaps onto the porch looking for eggs to steal. Crows up close are BIG!

Birdie heart attacks occur when a hawk hits the sliding glass door by accident when dive bombing one of the dove fledgelings... (My parakeets have their cage up against the glass doors to the deck, so they have a view. We're not spoiled, nosiree!)

The problem with choosing a nesting spot in a hanging basket is that the finches really don't like getting wet, and I won't let the plants die. They usually leave before any eggs get laid.

Not so the mourning doves. They didn't believe me when I told them there just wasn't enough space for two doves in the same pot with vigorous begonias. They kept coming back and breaking the plants.

So I went to the craft store and bought them a basket and decorated it with fake plants.

This basket is plenty big, and I even put in some shredded paper. They moved right in and raised two nests of babies this summer!

Although, going back over the cost, it probably would have been cheaper just to keep replacing the pots of begonias...


Post a Comment

<< Home