Monday, May 26, 2014

Propagating Herbs - get more for less!

If you have a mature herb plant, multiply the joy and get more plants from the one you already have.  One way is with seeds - but I find collecting seeds challenging so I use cuttings, division, and layering to get more for less.   also included below some photos of very inspirational herb gardens!

Here are the recommended techniques for some common herbs. 
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – stems will sprout roots in water. See the photo of sprouting basil. Check out this post for easy steps. 
  • Bay  - take semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or early autumn. Divide suckers in spring. 
  • Chives  - Divide bulb clumps in spring or autumn.
  • Lavender - take softwood cuttings.
  • Marjoram  - Take softwood cuttings in summer or divide in spring.
  • Mint - Take softwood cuttings in summer. Rhizome cuttings in spring. Divide in spring.
  • Oregano - Take softwood cuttings.
  • Rosemary  - Take semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or heel cuttings in spring. Can be layered or mound-layered in summer.
  • Sage  - Take heel cuttings or softwood cuttings in early summer. Layer after flowering. Mound layering in spring.
  • French tarragon - Underground runners for root cuttings taken in spring. Divide mature plants every two to three years in spring
  • Thyme  - Take softwood cuttings in late spring or summer. Simple layering in early autumn. Mound layering in spring.

Below is more of description of each of the techniques mentioned above. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Maximizing Your Herb Garden - Maintenance

Formal Herb Garden (Photo from St Louis Mag, by JJ Lane)
If you've put in an Herb garden or started them up in containers - a little maintenance can really improve your harvest.  While I envy a large formal herb garden like the one shown on the right - I need to maximize a much smaller place. That means some work year round. Good news is that herb plants, general have low maintenance requirements. All one needs to do during the growing season is remove weeds, provide water, perhaps mulch or fertilize, and prune/harvest.  Below see more details on these steps and other considerations.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Selecting and hiring a Landscape Designer

What front entryway design will complement my home
and add curb appeal? What will the design cost?
I like to do yard work and gardening, but over the years I sometimes need an experienced, trained landscape designer,  a strong set of hands, or just large equipment I don't have. I needed help with a major redesign of my home’s landscape, working with large overgrown plants, and working with hard-scaping.  Then there is taking down and maintaining trees which needs a professional too. What with the cost of landscape design, minimum fees, and more - this was not a decision I took lightly. That said, I know that curb appeal can add value to my home, so I didn't want to be disappointed either.
So what do I look for in a landscape designer / landscaper? What's a good selection process and decision criteria for landscaping help?

The above picture is one and example of a project where professional help can save you. Here there is hard scaping removal and installation, the need to manage water flow away from the house, curb appeal, buried power lines, and building aesthetics to consider. This could be a DIY project from hell. So if you've got anything like this that has many facets and gives you pause as a DIY - start the process to find the right help.

Here’s my list of must haves:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wildflowers and Native Plants - Southern California Desert; A Tourist View

Native Plant: Joshua Tree - Spring 2014
I celebrated National Park day hiking around Joshua Tree which is about 2.5 hours west of LosAngeles, California. The trip and these photos were taken April  19-20, 2014.
Blooming Yucca - Joshua Tree, Spring 2014

I've wanted to visit Joshua Tree National Park after seeing photos - very Suessical landscape! I wanted to also see the desert in springtime bloom. The flowers, the Joshua Trees, large cactus, and the rock structures - without any one, it wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable. Check out the Wildflower bloom report provided by the Park.  The Joshua Tree was named by Mormons after the prophet Joshua because it reminded them of Joshua waving his people toward the promised land. These trees are native only to Southwest USA in the higher and cooler Mojave Desert, at above 3000 ft. It's Yucca Brevifolia, very tall (40 ft) and it can live for 1000 years.   Visiting the desert in April meant the weather was warm enough to wear less layers - but it didn't mean don't bring water, wear hats or sunscreen!  We did several hikes including 49 Palms Oasis, Cholla Cactus Garden, Octilla Patch, Ryan Ranch, Wall Street.