Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gardening like a cheap-ass

I really don't want to spend a fortune on the garden. Hardscape items and some tools cost enough (oh, for a chipper/shredder!!) so plants I want for cheap. Plus, many of the plants I want can not be purchased as an actual plant...for a) decent money, b) anywhere around here. One of the things I especially hate is to buy annuals. Please do not think I dislike annuals or am not allured by the variety and beauty. I just hate to pay cash money for them. On the other hand I will gladly fork over cash money for seeds (although free or traded is equally valued!) Even though I do not like to pay for annuals, I still like annual container plants and baskets on the deck. A few years ago I learned that some houseplants make perfect annuals. And even better yet, they root and survive in water all winter long!! Tradescantia Zebrina or "Wandering Jew" is a great trailing houseplant to use as an annual in baskets or containers. I like it mixed with green peperomia for foliage contrast. The tradescantia has sort of clear 'fuzz' or hairs on the leaf and the leaves are longer and thinner. The peperomia scandens has light green, roundish, glossy leaves. Also great for rooting in water are types of coleus & small philodendrons. I just keep everything in old jars on the windowsill. A month or so before planting out I might pot them up to assist with "Soil root" growth. It depends.

I also put brugmansia cuttings in water to root. Some people like to use water pumps, aquariums and other methods for rooting the brugs, but I find a very cool room with clear glass jars and lots of light does the trick just fine. When well rooted I pot them up and then I try and seperate groups of plants if I can. They need air circulation when brought inside as they tend to get whitefly very badly. They often drop all leaves but the stems will remain green. No biggie. The whitefly will have nothing to eat and the leaves grow back lickity split! This year I got smart, and instead of labeling the jars of cuttings, I actually wrapped tape around the cuttings as a flag and marked the tape flag with the cutting color. THIS year I should finally be 100% sure of what is what!

The best cheap-ass gardening trick I have up my sleeve is the driveway plant sale. I hold these several times in the spring, and they are very popular. Divisions, seeded plants and things like rooted brugmansia cuttings are placed on the driveway for the mad rush. This year I had people waiting an hour before I opened (thankfully, I'd set up the night before!!). Everything is sold dirt cheap. Some of the money goes towards seed purchases, part of it gets donated to the Seedtime & Harvest gardeners (they in turn decide where they would like to make a donation), and last year the money helped buy a lot of mulch for the vegetable garden. I think the best thing though is to meet other avid gardeners and also to help neighbours with less experience make great choices for their own gardens.

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