Category Archives: Gardening

Gardening Projects 2014 July Update

I figure that it’s about time to admit my mistakes, and also what I’ve learned from the projects I’ve attempted this season. While they were small undertakings, I still didn’t do very well! But this is how we learn, right?

Fuchsias in Hanging Baskets

Winston Churchill fuchsia
Winston Churchill fuchsia

The Winston Churchill fuchsia variety is hanging in the back yard, and getting the perfect sunlight. The Dollar Princess variety I had put out front and just wouldn’t admit that it was getting too much sun. After a few scorching days where even the ones out back were injured, I finally admitted defeat and moved the Dollar Princesses to the back yard, and what’s left of them are doing much better than they ever did out front – the color is much deeper and prettier than I thought!

Fuchsias are very touchy. When it rains, it might not have rained enough, which is usually the case in the Pacific Northwest. When it’s hot, you might need to water an extra time or two. You definitely cannot leave them for a day without watering, particularly when it’s warm out. I feed them fairly regularly and I believe the spray mixture I’m using is correctly measured.

Dollar Princess fuchsia
Dollar Princess fuchsia

Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden

Basil and parsley - hanging in there!
Basil and parsley – hanging in there!

This hanging herb garden project was a big whoopsie from the get-go, with the poor instructions I was following being the first part of the problem. The second issue was my placement. They weren’t getting proper sunlight where I mounted them.

Another issue was drainage. A good tip to add to the original plans might be to put rocks in the jars first, below the soil, to help with drainage, and also so you can see if you’ve overwatered!!! Whoops. I have since taken them off of their wood mounts and placed the jars straight in another window sill where they get full morning sunlight. 😉

Brussels Sprouts vs. Cabbage Moths

What's left of my Brussels sprouts...
What’s left of my Brussels sprouts…

Oh, the Brussels sprouts…I have lost that war so badly it’s not even funny. I QUIT! And to make matters worse, the cabbage moths also got my dwarf kale and broccoli, too, and those were in cages to protect them from critters (obviously not tiny butterflies!). I am going to have to research and see if I can plant something that is a natural deterrent for cabbage moths if I want to grow any produce they enjoy next year. 🙁

I have let the grass and weeds go in the kale and broccoli box since they are ruined by larvae!
I have let the grass and weeds go in the kale and broccoli box since they are ruined by cabbage moth larvae!

Pink Dahlia Murder Recovery!

Hoping this dahlia will make a comeback with tree gone!
Hoping this dahlia will make a comeback with the walnut tree gone!

I’m still caring for my dahlias, which DID spring back from the slug massacre, I am happy to say! I had a black walnut tree trying to grow and drown out one of the dahlia bushes (thanks, squirrel!!) so I pulled that out the other day and am hoping that dahlia survives. I am not 100% on knowing my dahlia leaves yet, so I had let the tree grow far too large, unfortunately, before asking for help identifying the thing.

Dahlias making a comeback; Crocosmias are the orange bushel tied up
Dahlias making a comeback; Crocosmias are the orange bushel tied up

I also had one dahlia plant not grow at all this year. I discovered from a friend that the tubers actually need to be dug up yearly, so who knows how long it has been since these have been dug since I did not do it last year. I dug them up anyway, pulled out the icky looking tubers and am hoping that maybe next year the ones I replanted will spring back. *Fingers crossed!*

Another dahlia bush was being drowned out by my over abundance of crocosmias. I tied the crocosmias out of the way since they are blooming and the bees are loving them, and will dig them out completely post-bloom. It seems like the affected dahlias are starting to stand up straight again and I am hopeful for a few flowers before summer is over!

My largest dahlia bush
My largest dahlia bush


That is probably the end of my gardening “projects” for 2014. I will be armed with Sluggo and better produce planting information next year since we hope to have built at least one raised bed and do this gardening thing for real!! This year was just a test with the produce I did attempt to grow, and I’m glad it wasn’t full-fledged or I would have been sorely disappointed. It would have been my own fault for not researching more, however!


I will be digging up as many bulbs as I can as things die out at summer’s end (these crocosmias are never-ending, I tell ya!), and I definitely plan to get at ALL of the dahlia tubers to try and ensure their livelihood next year! I am smart enough to know that my yard will never be done, but am happy with the progress I have made this year. It’s fun to look back and see what it used to look like when we first moved in and how much I’ve already accomplished!


Cabbage Moth Larvae Tried to Kill My Brussels Sprouts!

It never ends, the garden war. Just countless battles making me think that I’m winning! Hahaha! I noticed holes in some of my Brussels sprouts leaves. Ugh. I’m honestly not sure how well any of my vegetables will do, as I just kind of planted seeds and hoped for the best. Test run year! (I should definitely research a LOT more.) But I am hopeful they might produce something, so I want to protect them.
My poor Brussels sprouts!!

I Googled “what’s eating my Brussels sprout leaves?” and found this link, which prompted me to check the back side of the leaves in question, near the middle vein. Sure enough, I found tiny inch-long or less green larvae. Cabbage moth larvae! (Read that link…they are butterflies, we Americans just call them moths because they look like moths.)

An example of a cabbage moth larvae decimating a leaf!

This article goes a little more in depth about what exactly I’m dealing with. She recommends a few different natural enemies and two biological pesticides, Bt and spinosad. Spinosad was also in the Sluggo I purchased so I knew about that already. A little more Googling of Bt and I finally stumbled across something I can find at Home DepotCaptain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. There was a Bonide product specifically for caterpillars but I couldn’t find it locally, don’t have time to wait, and like the idea of this spray covering a few more critters than one!

Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew

I did try murdering the worms by hand, but they are SO TINY. I was dropping them and not sure if I had squished them first or not, meaning they’d probably find their way back to my Brussels sprouts again. And I have a lot of plants, so that’s a lot of leaves to pick through, as well as ensure you got every single one. In the fine words of the interwebs these days, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” 😉

Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew ingredients label

I applied the first round on June 13. I had to wait a day after purchasing the spray because it was windy, so I told the worms to eat up because it was their last meal!! I checked back the next day and most of them seemed to be gone or dead. A few larger ones remained, so I picked them off if I saw them, and assured myself if there were any more, they’d be gone soon enough. A few days later, and I don’t see anything on them at all! I did spray a second round on June 19, as the bottle said it can be reapplied every 6 days, up to 6 times a season for Brussels sprouts. [Check the label for other produce, there were specific instructions for each!] I probably won’t spray them again unless I see the worms again…I actually did the second spray because I saw a damn cabbage moth flying around the area again! Stop it! To think I assumed they were just pretty little white butterflies, pollinating the lands.

Cabbage moth

Oh yeah, I sprayed my pumpkin plant, too. There was one tiny creature (not sure what it was) and a little hole starting on one leaf. Not taking any chances!!

Pumpkin leaf – tiny hole upper right!

What did you plant this year? What are your favorite produce gardening tips you think I should know about???

DIY Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden

I got this idea from Pinterest (evil black hole!) which eventually led me back to this link. It didn’t have a ton of instructions or photos, so I followed it as best as I could imagine, but we had to make some adjustments. (I can’t take credit for much of this, I made my brother do most of the work. I’m more managerial than mechanical. The idea person! Hahaha!) I’m hoping our pains help you to make some better choices and improve on the idea even more!
I’m not going to list the materials and instructions separately because there were so many issues to think about when purchasing, I want to make sure you are fully prepared for the obstacles this project can present!
What You’ll Need to Think About:

Of course you want them to be somewhere that gets good sunlight. My kitchen window gets decent light, so I did two pieces of wood with two jars each on either side of it, with their bases angled towards the window. Consider the placement you’ll need before picking any supplies out!
Hard to get a good shot with the sunlight in the daytime,
so here’s an evening shot, which I clearly am no good at!
Pieces of Wood
Wood. Stained.
To hang the jars on. I recommend them being thicker since the jars will be a tad heavy and full of dirt. Also, the things you need to hammer or screw into the wood…think about how thick you need it to be. I had thinner pieces of wood, so the screws on my hooks stick out of the back side a little bit. It’s not enough to bother anything, however.
Wood Stain or Paint
If you need to decorate the wood at all. I bought mine new and decided to stain it. The site I got the idea from used a little chalkboard paint in order to label her jars that way, but I just stuck some herb markers in my jars.
Look in picture frame area of hardware store; I picked small D-ring hangers. You might have a good spot or better wood than I did and be able to attach it directly to the wall with no hangers, but I do like the option of being able to move them around in order to water them!
D-Ring Hangers
D-Ring Hanger – attached!
Pipe Clamps
This was the trickiest part, and if you can find something else to use, do it! Haha! We had trouble getting a drill bit to go through the little squares on the metal clamps, even though it was small enough. We were going to use screws to attach them to the wood, but ended up using a hammer and nails, which was a pain in the rear since the wood was so thin!
Jars with clamps tightened to measure before attaching
Measure and mark the clamps to show yourself how tight they need to be. You’re going to attach the clamps first, then add the jar and tighten. We had a rough time tightening the clamps from the angle underneath the jars, so consider that!! If you can find something better than a pipe clamp or a better way to attach yours, do it.
The screw piece was on the underside of this…
awkward to tighten the clamp!
Make sure you remove the (obnoxious) stickers from the pipe clamps if that’s what you use and you are buying them brand new. I am so thankful that I noticed them or I would’ve been really, really mad after we were all finished.
Mason Jars
You’re going to want a wide-mouth mason jar. I grabbed some of the Ball Heritage Collection jars in blue, which are 1 quart.
All done!
Nails or Screws
…to attach things as mentioned above; choose accordingly!
We didn’t intend to use nails, but it worked. We hope!
Potting Soil & Seeds…to plant in the jars when you are done.

And there you have it! I hope you have an easier time than we did. It all turned out OK in the end, and magically my basil has already started to sprout in less than a week! (What are these, super seeds?? Haha!) I guess they are getting enough sunlight. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out, but I can’t wait to have fresh herbs, hopefully year-round, right in my kitchen! No more waste, just cut what I need!

I think they look good!

Slugs – The Pink Dahlia Murder

Last year, all of these GORGEOUS dahlias bloomed in my yard all summer long and even into the fall. I guess I was spoiled. I think when I was identifying all my plants someone did make mention of potential ear wigs, but I was so busy chopping things back in the jungle yard I had inherited that I didn’t have time to deal with tiny holes in leaves. Everything was still growing and blooming, wasn’t it?
So many varieties of dahlias!
This year, I felt on top of my game in the yard since everything had been mostly pruned back and it’s not as much of a jungle out there! I got a really good start on things. I had the beds all weeded and pruned, ready for new dahlias. The daffodils that were so strategically planted between the dahlias were finishing their blooming, and I was lazy and didn’t cut back their stems right away. If I had, I may have noticed that the dahlias were indeed sprouting.
ALREADY?!?! Isn’t it too early? It’s only the beginning of May! And by the time I realized this, they already looked like this:
I mean, I thought this was gonna be it!
And now they look like this because I wasn’t sure what was decimating my crop, and figured the above pictures was the worst that would happen.
Poor dahlias!!!

I figured out what the issue was. Slugs. Probably earwigs, too, since I’m seeing evidence of those on my rhubarb, as well. So the first thing I did was start cleaning out my eggshells and saving all of our coffee grounds. I crushed the eggshells up (so that’s probably what you’re seeing in some of these photos on the ground) and sprinkled coffee grounds in a ring around all of the dahlia clumps. But then I realized there were signs of tunneling, and with the amount of crop decimation, I think I even have these extra-awesome black-keeled slugs, which destroy tuber crops pretty much entirely.

So I laid out one dish of beer to see what would happen:

Mmm…dead, drunk slugs!
[I also found this big old snail hiding on top of one rhubarb leaf, but under another. Scared me when I pulled that top leaf back!!]
Since that seemed to work, the second night I laid out several dishes of beer in various locations of destruction. It seemed by the third night the slugs were getting larger. (What I thought was “normal” sized; the first ones seemed ridiculously small and I wondered how they did all that damage so fast before I realized it.) I went out later than normal to put beer in the dishes and was frightened when my flashlight shone on some of those “normal” sized ones already trying to taste yesterday’s beer residue. However, they were gone the next morning!
I don’t think I used deep enough dishes. This site with tips did recommend using jars, but other people and sites just said “ a dish”. I don’t have space where this is happening to put jars out, plus I honestly don’t want to dump out dead giant slugs in the morning! (Keepin’ it real – I’m already having slug nightmares!) There are several interesting tips on that link, most of which do involve killing the slugs, so if you are opposed to that, there is one tip involving fruit and moving the slugs to a different location. Personally, I want to protect my crops and have no qualms killing creepy crawlies that are killing crops. Especially because next year I will be growing crops I want to be able to eat – not growing them for slug food!! 😛
Therefore, I am taking the fast and easy way out and purchased some Sluggo, which has iron phosphate as the active ingredient. It was recommended to buy Sluggo Plus, which is the same thing, only with Spinosad added, which kills the pill bugs and earwigs. The Lowe’s by my home didn’t have Sluggo Plus, and I really just want to deal with this ASAP in hopes that my dahlias make a comeback this year! I will make sure to order some Sluggo Plus online or something early next year and have my arsenal prepared! The earwigs don’t do quite as much damage (just tiny unattractive holes in leaves) so I’m not as concerned with them as I am with the slugs.
The instructions on the Sluggo say to lay it down in the evening and it should last through wind and rain for 4 weeks. You can reapply as often as you see the pellets disappear or at least every 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the infestation. The ground needs to be moist but no standing water.
Sluggo pellets surrounding my lily sprout
Sluggo will not affect any other critters, and is also safe for your pets and kids to be around, as well as vegetation you are planning on eating from your garden – right up to harvest day. The slugs and snails will immediately stop eating, no matter how tiny an amount of Sluggo they ingest. They will lose their appetite and eventually die from starvation. You probably will not see them since they go off to secluded places to die, so you’ll only know it’s working by your plant damage decreasing. I am still going to keep collecting and putting out the eggshells and coffee grounds. (**Coffee grounds also deter ants!!**) I will let you all know how it goes and if the dahlias survive and bloom for me again this year!
The slugs already had their way with
this lily before it bloomed.   🙁

Fuchsia Saturday

Alright, confession time. I want to upgrade my blog site because I want the ability to have a little more organization and tabs so that I may also share recipes I have tweaked as well as gardening information! I have learned SO MUCH about gardening in just the last year and continue to learn more every day, and have found that a lot of my friends want that knowledge, too. So why not share! Plus, another confession, it’s SPRING and all I have is yard work on the brain, so it’s REALLY hard to focus on researching appliance information. I’m sorry! I really am working on a juicer blog!
So here is a peek at what happened in my garden this weekend!

Fred Meyer’s Fuchsia Saturday Ad


For one thing, I think I will finally remember how to spell fuchsia. YES! We moved into our house a little over a year ago and the previous owners left us a lot of trash, but also a lot of helpful items, too. Two nice black metal hanging baskets were left behind and I saw an ad for Fred Meyer (in the Kroger family of grocery stores) advertising for Fuchsia Saturday last year. Bring your own planters (up to 8), buy some flowers, and they will give you free Black Gold dirt. I took my baskets in and was smart enough (I thought) to arrive fairly early. They were already sold out of the fiber planter inserts you need for the baskets. Grrr. Home I went. Probably best that I save money for other projects anyway, right?
Fiber planter insert

This year, I am prepared! I bought the inserts at Lowe’s in February! Ha! I also got an ad that directed me to this video link they provide on how to plant and care for fuchsias, which totally helped me pick out the proper number of starts to purchase for my baskets. You want to have about an inch around the perimeter of the basket or pot, and you can just kind of set the starts on top of a little dirt and fill in around them until they are lightly packed in.

I probably could have stretched it to six, but I did five per basket. I did “Winston Churchill” in one and “Dollar Princess” in the other. And of course, I still arrived early and it was buzzing with action already, so I think that was a wise choice!

They need morning light and evening shade, so I ended up buying a new hook to install on the front porch. Which might get too much light. We’ll see! Hopefully by next year I will learn more about annuals and hanging basket arrangements, haha!
Miracle Gro Liquafeed system

You’re supposed to feed them often, so now I’m trying to figure out how to use all of the Miracle Gro Liquafeed refills the previous owners left behind for us in a normal spray bottle, versus the hose attachment you’re supposed to use. (My preference would be to spray them with a bottle versus changing the hose head just for two silly planters! I live in the Pacific Northwest – I rarely require Miracle Gro!)

I am going to trust this information I found on a gardening forum: “The Liquafeed refills are the same product as the 12-4-8 Liquid All Purpose Plant Food, which says to apply at 1/3 capful per 2 gallons. A capful is about 4 tbsp or 12 teaspoons, so 1/3 of that is 4 tsp/2 gallons or 2 tsp per gallon.” Hopefully that works!

I will definitely make this an annual event to take advantage of the free dirt and free labor to plant my stuff for me! I will also be sure to bring other planters if I have any more to fill next year. I am hoping to fill two with succulents (this year? Maybe…), so I may not need to.

Winston Churchill in my back yard

I will definitely share pictures if and when these babies bloom! Oh, and another tip from the video is to squeeze above the flower when they die so another flower will grow. Hopefully I make it to that point!! 🙂

Other than that, I got new gardening gloves while I was at Freddy’s! They are lovely! I divvied up two different varieties of daffodil bulbs that were getting overcrowded and had stopped blooming for this year. I planted some of the extra bulbs in other places in my yard and set the rest aside for a friend who is filling her new yard with goodies! I’m so glad I have someone to give all of my extras to – goodness knows I have plenty more to share when I get around to digging everything up!
Weed B Gon

My brother spread more weed and feed on the lawn in trouble spots. It worked really well last year on our front lawn/dandelion garden so this year we only have random spots to deal with. We had dug up a ridiculously large pile the two weeks previous to this, so it was high time for chemical warfare. I got a spray bottle to put my Ortho Weed B Gon weed killer into (because I didn’t store it properly and the hose must’ve clogged up over the winter. Whoops! Read the instructions, kids!) I did all the silly dandelions growing out of the cracks you can’t possibly dig them out of. Die, weeds, die!

My biggest weekend project was pressure washing our deck, which we inherited in pretty terrible shape! (Ah, the things you don’t pay attention to when buying your first home, hahaha!) Surprise – there’s wood under there! Next will be weather-sealing it. I’m so glad we’re finally getting around to doing this because we have to ice skate across it anytime it rains (which c’mon, we’re in Oregon, people, it’s always raining!) and I don’t want someone getting injured out there.

Pacific Northwest problems…

Phew – I am exhausted! I hope you all had a productive or else relaxing weekend! 🙂

Dollar Princess on the front porch