Lowes…

I just deleted a comment written for this blog directing folks to go to Lowes to purchase stuff.  I have no real beef with Lowes, per se, but the gall to use my blog to bring in customers really yanked my chain.

A Cooper's Hawk resides in our Sequoia. Poisoning the mice and rats
here as the LAUSD has suggested, might kill him too.  We don't
encourage a fight with Nature, but try to work with Her and
we both win.
Those who have had classes from me, know that I ask everyone to buy their plants and gardening supplies ONLY from local establishments, avoiding the big chains just like Lowes as much as possible. I would recommend hitting yourself in the head with a hammer twice as often as going into big box stores.  Any profit they make is pulled from your community and sent away to company headquarters wherever that may be and for that your community is poorer.  If enough folks shop there, local community resources are left to whither and die leaving your community poorer yet.  

If price is your only criteria for purchasing an item, you have a pretty well messed up value system. 

"I can't afford organic food...."  is driveling nonsense.  How can you afford the doctor bills?The time lost from work?  "Unable" to buy organic (i.e. non-GMO and organic pesticides only) is a false paradigm and so is shopping at chain stores, unless they are local chain stores.  I try as much as I can to buy locally, from local hardware and local nursery establishments. 

I believe Lowes bought Orchard Supply Hardware.  I liked my local OSH, as far as a chain store could go, it was convenient to me and had longer hours.  I only traded there when I couldn't get what I needed elsewhere or the hour was late (if you need to repair a PVC pipe to stop an irrigation leak sprung after 8 PM, with our drought, I'd buy the hunk of PVC from North Korea if I had to). 

Suddenly, OSH underwent a huge transformation!  New this and that, more parking, more merchandise and way cleaner.  I got sucked in for a bit.  I traded there more often - then one day I needed some sort of fertilizer and that's when I realized how profound the change had been.

There were organic fertilizers and pest controls on the shelves it's true, but all were manufactured by the chemical companies I'm trying to avoid. If I am opposed to Miracle Grow, and think it's deadly to our soil along with a million other reasons, why in God's name would I buy a Miracle Grow product simply stamped with an "organic" label?  I won't.  There were no other products being displayed on the shelves but the ones from these huge chemical corporations.  

All of the plants for sale are suspect as well with the addition of neonicotinoids to every growing thing.  This insecticide is horrific in its indiscriminate killing capacity - gardeners choosing plants as support for our local insect population - including honey bees! - are in fact, killing them.  It is exactly what an intelligent gardener wishes to avoid!  At The Learning Garden, we have not used ANY insecticides in over 14 years and have LOTS of insects, meaning we have very little insect damage, proving year after year the folly of the insect killing paradigm.

I'd like to say I've never been back, but I bought some batteries late the other night. There is no organic line of batteries yet.  And I bought a paint brush.  But I stay the hell out of the garden section.  We do not need more poison in the world.  Even if they are only ornamental plants - in fact because they are ONLY ornamental plants, what kind of stupidity has one putting poison on an ornamental plant? What benefit will be gained?  You will kill this insect, who was food for that insect, which causes that insect to die so when this insect comes back again that insect will not be around any more setting you up to have to indulge in more poison and more poison.  It is a stupid cycle of death and destruction of waste and a warped sense of priorities.  Why kill living things just to have some plant look 'perfect' for a couple of weeks?  

But having a systemic insecticide is much more stupid because they kill off bees and beneficial insects indiscriminately and set you up to use more poison many times over or purchase ONLY plants that have a systemic insecticide in them.  And soon then you have no honey, no bees, you have no birds because they ate the poisoned insects and you have perfect flowers but an entire space (I cannot bring myself to call it a garden) bereft of life and you, poorer for buying all this crap, have nothing of real worth to show for it.

Our value system has become so skewed by commercials that we now have a warped view of beauty and 'good.'  Any gardener worth his seed catalogs knows that the sweetest fruit of the garden is the fruit that has already been sampled by a critter.  The blemished, the bitten, the imperfect are the fruits of the land and are not less nutritious or inferior. That is our modern construct! And it is an excellent way to relieve you of your money (so you could buy organic vegetables instead!) (By the way, the more expensive 'organic' food is only more expensive because our government puts the onus on them to comply with 'organic labeling laws' - they should make the producers who use poison list the poisons on your food that keep it from being called 'organic.' - If our own government would stop pushing the poison food on us, 'organic' would be less expensive than it is today.  Ask yourself, why is a Big Mac less expensive than a salad?)

In my garden, bring on the weeds!  More insects PLEASE! We will get by and be healthier and happier for it. And so will the earth.  

Lowes, stay the hell off my blog.  We have compassion for life around here - all of it.

david  

The Three Remaining Meetings of the Summer’s Container Gardening Class Are:

as follows, 

08-22 4 1:30 to 4:30 PM Field Trip Pottery Manufacturing and Distributing, 18881 S. Hoover Street, Gardena, CA 90248 Phone: 310.323.7772

08-25 5 Lecture: California Natives in Pots; demonstration


09-01 6 Container maintenance, renovation, pests and problems, year round interest; Credit project is due


This Tuesday, there is no meeting (18 August) but we will gather at Pottery and Manufacturing and Distributing.

Here is a map for your convenience:  

I drive south on the 405 to Artesia Blvd and exit for eastbound.  The last light before it turns into the Artesia Freeway is Normandy where I make a right.  Make a left at the traffic light at 182nd Street, the Home Depot is there and I drive by it, turning right at the stop sign just past the Home Depot. Now I head south on Hoover and it looks for all the world like I'm getting back on the freeway, but, after the school buses on the right, I'm there.  

Keep my number handy if you get lost.  It's a little obscure to find, but not difficult.

david


David’s Number One Fig Jam

Some of our ingredients. 

2 teaspoons baking soda 5 cups fresh figs, stems removed

1 cup water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom*
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt, or to taste (optional)
8 half-pint canning jars with lids and rings

Directions:

Dissolve the baking soda in about 2 quarts of cool water, and immerse the figs in the treated water in a large bowl. Gently stir to wash the figs, then drain off the water and rinse the figs thoroughly with fresh cool water.

Place the figs into a large pot. Add 1 cup water, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, lemon, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Very gently stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar, keeping the figs intact as much as possible.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the figs are golden brown and coated in syrup, about 1 hour. Stir gently a couple of times to keep the figs from burning onto the bottom of the pot. Add a pinch of salt, if desired, to tame the sweetness.

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the figs into the hot, sterilized jars and top off with syrup, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars from the stockpot and place onto a cloth-covered surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool,store in a cool, dark area, and wait at least 2 days before opening.

Notes:
Place the whole figs in the pot, and let them break apart naturally, do not cut them in half.

If you do not seal jars in boiling water, the mixture must be eaten in 30 day. 

Today we started with frozen figs and, because they were going into very small jelly jars we cut them in half.  We did not use the baking soda treatment because they were far too soft for that kind of treatment.  

The resulting jam was spectacular and we haven't even let it mellow for two days as suggested.  Check with me later and see if I haven't eaten the entire supply by myself.

david

* I added cardamom, it was not in the original recipe.  I'll tell you in a later post if it's a good idea - from the samples we had today, it was a hit!  

Lecture 1: Container Gardening

Lecture 1:

Container gardening is more popular than ever. According to a recent study, the average household today has 4.2 garden planters. And why not?

Ideal for urban or rural lifestyles, container gardening offers more mobility and flexibility than traditional gardening. It can provide year-round satisfaction as well as the opportunity to bring your garden inside.

Once relegated as only an alternative for apartment dwellers and people with small yards, container gardening is today enjoyed by people of all ages, lifestyles and gardening abilities even those with gardens.

Advantages of Container Gardening:

Add color, fragrance and style to balconies, decks, patios, entrance way or home landscape
Hide eyesores around your home with planted pots and hanging baskets
Garden planters can be moved or replanted when displays fade or plants outgrow space
Less chance of pest damage
You can take your container garden with you when you move
Plants not suited to your yard soil conditions can be grown in containers and planter boxes

Garden planters, outdoor flower pots and window boxes come in a large variety of materials, styles and sizes:
wood
ceramic
terracotta
fiberglass or resin
clay
concrete
and metal
The characteristics of each type will make some better-suited than others. We will discuss this shortly.

Mobility : Plants in pots are easy to move. Brighten a dark corner with pots of white, pink, or yellow flowering shade lovers such as impatiens and Helichrysum. Some plants with a short blooming period, such as lilies or foxglove, look magnificent in containers and grow well in those temporary quarters. Transplant them to the garden when they're finished blooming. As the seasons change, you can easily repot and replant containers to freshen your garden displays. Of course, if you are about to move to a new home—your container garden can come right along with you.

Focus : Potted plants and garden planters create interest. Grouped in strategic places, they break the monotony of a terrace or a patio and create an ambient scene. Build a simple theme garden around a color, texture or an idea. A collection of yellow and blue bloomers, such as pansies, Calendula, and heliotrope, makes a cheerful display. Pots of Sedum and Sempervivum bring a desert theme to your patio, balcony or garden.

Pizzazz : Nestle garden planters of bright annuals among duller plants in the garden for added color. As plants mature and flower, you can re-postion them to show-off blooms. To keep plants looking good water when soil dries; pinch off spent blooms and fertilize weekly.

Flexibility : Rearrange plantings to suit the season, your mood or blossoms as they mature and change color. Enjoy planters full of violets and narcissus in spring; petunias and dusty-miller in summer; and Coleus and Kale in fall. Create new planters to dress up your patio or deck for a party or special event. Container gardening doesn't need to stop in the winter—plant winter-hardy heathers for colorful displays in cold weather.

Contain Invaders : Contain rampant growers that are too invasive to let loose in the garden—bamboo and mints are great examples of plants that do well in containers, but will take over an in-ground garden. Plant these and other vigorous growers in garden planters, then plant the pot in the ground with the lip of the pot even with the soil surface.

Ambience : Garden planters set the stage in outdoor rooms and may even steal the show. Group sun-loving plants around a large houseplant that's summering outdoors. A jumble of various pots stacked on stands and clustered loosely lends a pleasantly casual look. Containers aligned with precision and planted with trim specimens, such as rosemary standards or ivy topiaries, create instant formality. A trio of large pots makes a garden appear more settled; they suggest the accumulation of years' of growth.

Scope : Plants that require a longer growing season than you have in your region can be started indoors to bloom outside in summer. Many frost-sensitive plants make wonderful houseplants in winter and can spend the summer on your patio or deck.

  1. Tools (20)
    Machete, trowels, pruners, scissors (to cut screen), watering can or hose (unless you use drip), measuring spoons,
  2. Different materials from which containers can be made – advantages and disadvantages (20)

Choose the Right Garden Planters for Container Gardening

Use garden planters with capacities between fifteen and 120 quarts, remembering that small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly. Deep rooted vegetables and larger plants require deeper pots to sustain growth.
Make sure your planter has adequate drainage. Holes should be one-half inch in diameter. Containers set on bricks or blocks will also drain better.
Most important in choosing the right garden planters is consideration of the material. If you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous, which means water can be lost through the sides. Plants in clay pots should be monitored closely for moisture loss. Additionally, clay pots are more likely to crack in extreme temperatures and are heavy to maneuver should you change your mind regarding location or need to bring the planter indoors during the winter months.

Wooden planters are attractive and blend nicely with most outdoor environments but are susceptible to rot. Redwood and cedar are relatively rot-resistant, but remember to avoid wood treated with creosote, penta, or other toxic compounds with vapors that can damage plants.

Cheap plastic pots may deteriorate in UV sunlight, and terra cotta pots have a tendency to dry out quickly. Glazed ceramic pots are extremely popular, but they are fragile and prone to cracking if not handled delicately.

A newer alternative on the market that eliminates many of these concerns are lightweight polyurethane, fiberglass and resins. These garden planters are easier to lift and maneuver because they are much lighter than clay and wood pots. Lightweight planters are more durable than ceramic or clay, too, and able to withstand year-round extreme temperatures and exposure to sunlight without cracking or fading. Innovative technology allows the foam to closely resemble the looks of many natural materials, such as ceramic, wood, and rattan. That means you can get the same great finishes, colors, and designs as heavier planters but at a significantly lower cost.

COLOR
men have five, women are at a distinct advantage in this area...

Don't need me to reinvent the color wheel... BUT...

Yellow ~


Yellow and blue create an exciting combination that makes you think of spring and new beginnings.

Yellow and purple can combine to create two different effects. If a bright yellow is used with a deep purple, the effect will be dramatic. If you choose a pale yellow with a lavender color,you will create a classic, subdued, somewhat romantic look in the garden.

Red and yellow together create a bold, attention-grabbing color mix.

Pink ~


Pink and orange - a beautiful combination to enhance terracotta planters.

Pink and blue combinations are one of the easiest color schemes to work with because of the abundance of flowers to select from. This romantic color grouping creates a garden flower pot that is very easy on the eye.

Purple ~


Blue and purple are cool colors that look wonderful in shade or partial shade. To make this color combination pop, use in front of a light background.

Orange and purple produce an energetic contrast that may clash. If you want to be bold and different, this combination may work for you in flower pots on your patio or deck. Add burgundy for a rich, vibrant look, or lilac to soften the contrast.

White ~


White and green lend a feeling of lightness and a restful look to your garden flower pots. These colors are also very effective when placed into a grouping of boldly-colored plants. They will prevent the strong colors from overpowering the your container garden.

White and blue is another easy-to-create combination. There is a wide variety of plants to choose from that will make your garden light and cheerful.

When working with color combinations in your flower pots, don't forget green. Green is restful to the eyes and does not compete for attention or dominate in the garden. Green creates a void that allows our eyes to travel from one part of the garden to the other.

Don't forget that foliage has color. Color comes not only from flowers ~ but also the plant foliage and the color of your garden planters.

Brighten a shady area: use light-colored plants. Try these flower colors in
light pink
light yellow
lavender
pale blue
white flowers

Surround dark plants in the shade with lighter-colored plants so they don't disappear into the background.


Bring new life to your container garden display by exploring different color combinations in your flower pots. You will be surprised at the very different effects you can create.

Yellow ~


Yellow and blue create an exciting combination that makes you think of spring and new beginnings.

Yellow and purple can combine to create two different effects. If a bright yellow is used with a deep purple, the effect will be dramatic. If you choose a pale yellow with a lavender color, you will create a classic, subdued, somewhat romantic look in the garden.

Red and yellow together create a bold, attention-grabbing color mix.

Pink ~


Pink and orange create a southwestern look in your container garden - a beautiful combination to enhance terracotta planters.

Pink and blue combinations are one of the easiest color schemes to work with because of the abundance of flowers to select from. This romantic color grouping creates a garden flower pot that is very easy on the eye.

Purple ~


Blue and purple are cool colors that look wonderful in shade or partial shade. To make this color combination pop, use in front of a light background.

Orange and purple produce an energetic contrast that may clash. If you want to be bold and different, this combination may work for you in flower pots on your patio or deck. Add burgundy for a rich, vibrant look, or lilac to soften the contrast.

White ~


White and green lend a feeling of lightness and a restful look to your garden flower pots. These colors are also very effective when placed into a grouping of boldly-colored plants. They will prevent the strong colors from overpowering the your container garden.

White and blue is another easy-to-create combination. There is a wide variety of plants to choose from that will make your garden light and cheerful.

When working with color combinations in your flower pots, don't forget green. Green is restful to the eyes and does not compete for attention or dominate in the garden. Green creates a void that allows our eyes to travel from one part of the garden to the other.

One of the first decisions you need to make when planning your container garden, is what colors you want to display in your outdoor planters. Color comes not only from flowers ~ but also the plant foliage and the color of your garden planters.

Consider the amount of sunlight on your garden in the morning, at mid-day and early evening.

You will also want to consider the growing conditions of the location of your planters, as well as the surrounding features such as walls, deck railings, furniture and other plantings.

Shaded areas can appear brighter by using light-colored plants. Try these flower colors in garden planters in the shade:
light pink
light yellow
lavender
pale blue
white flowers

Surround dark plants in the shade with lighter-colored plants so they don't disappear into the background.

Garden planters in the full sun can handle brightly colored flowers.Pastels will appear faded and washed out in bright sunlight. Try these bold colors in a sunny garden:
reds
oranges
bright yellows
deep blues
purples

To create a unified look throughout your container garden, try to stick to two or three colors.

Consider not only the flower color, but also the color of the plant foliage and even the planter.

Color preferences are purely personal and unique ~ express yourself with the colors you choose for your garden.

Explore the color wheel


Monocromatic

A monochromatic color scheme is composed of plants of the same color. You may have an all-white garden or a garden that is "in the pink." Create extra interest in a monochromatic garden by using a mix of tones or shades of the same color in addition to various textures, shapes and sizes.

Warm colors include red, orange and yellow. They tend to make flowers appear closer than they really are. Cool colors such as blue, violet, silver and white lend a calming effect and make plants appear farther away in the garden.

Remember to consider foliage color in any of these container garden color schemes.


WHITE IS A SPECIAL COLOR IN THE GARDEN

White flowers are in a class by themselves. They blend well with most colors and can provide a transition between colors that do not normally work well together. White flowers can create a beautiful display in garden planters in the evening when combined with well-placed, soft lighting. Moon gardens....

Purple Flowers for Garden Planters

Purple is an ideal color for accent plants in groupings of garden planters planted with other colors such as pinks, reds, yellows and oranges. You'll find an excellent selection of purple flowering annuals, perennials and herbs for most growing conditions.

Many herbs have purple flowers

Borage is a full sun to partial shade plant that will produce purple and lavender flowers for your planters. This plant also produces a variety of other colored flowers as well. If you live in zones six through ten this plant is a great outdoor plant for your garden. Borage blooms throughout the cooler months...

Hyssop is a plant for full sun that grows well in planters in grow zones six through nine, although experienced gardeners will have success in other areas. This is a violet, violet- blue colored flower that adds color to your garden.

(ALL) Mints are a common herb that produce flowers, pink or purple. Mint is easily grown in zones five through nine and is found blooming from early July through the end of August. Mint can be grown in full sun or in partial shade, only requiring a few hours of sun a day for a healthy plant. Planted in the garden, mint can become invasive, so it is an ideal plant to keep under control in beautiful terracotta planters.

Sage is another purple-flowered herb that blooms in the early spring months as the weather starts to warm. Sage is easily grown outdoors in zones four through eight and in other areas where gardeners bring in their plants during the very high and low temperature swings. This is a full sun plant that does well in all types of planters, including window planters, in the garden or on a balcony in the full sun.




Try these bold colors in a sunny garden:
reds
oranges
bright yellows
deep blues
purples

To create a unified look throughout your container garden, try to stick to two or three colors. Consider not only the flower color, but also the color of the plant foliage and even the planter. Color preferences are purely personal and unique ~ express yourself with the colors you choose for your garden.

Qualities to look for in containers:

  1. Will hold enough soil and water
  2. Will last long enough
  3. Has adequate drainage
  4. Will insulate from the heat of the sun
  5. Blends with the existing theme  
david