Thursday, May 22, 2014

tango-mango:

Purple flowers in our garden this morning.

Since Garden Science is admittedly a little slow right now, check out these incredible photos of plants taken by my mom, the esteemed tango-mango. This is all photographed at the house where experiment 8 took place 2 years ago.

Look at that bee!

weedandpatchouli said: that geranium was meant to be saved by you<3 it's a beautiful action, even if it doesn't work out in the end^.^ on a side note, I apologize for asking a question that is unrelated to this, but do you live in portland,oregon? I might be moving there and would like to get some insight on the city(:

Thank you for the kind note, and apologies for answering so late.

I’m afraid to say that despite my best efforts, the Geranium did not last more than a few weeks after I took it in…. I watered pretty diligently, so either the season was over or it just didn’t have enough energy to survive a transplant.  Alas, it was fun while it lasted, and I’ve always got one eye on the dumpster in case any other plants land there.

I live near Portland, yes. It is an awesome place to live, but a little on the chilly side if you have any interest in growing tropical fruit trees!  City is great, people are great. Greenery everywhere!

wsudiscovery said: Hello! This is a great blog. We love hearing what science people are doing at home. We are new to Tumblr, and will occasionally be posting some information related to gardening, plants and ag. Please feel free to check us out! Also, a question: What has been your favorite experiment so far?

Thank you very much. I’m browsing your page right now!

All of my experiments are dear to my heart for different reasons, but there are a few that I do consider to be part of the Garden Science “highlight reel”. The lemon trees of experiment 1 and 2 are my oldest specimens, and with every day that passes they are writing their own success story (even if I am not actively posting about them). I remember when they were just tiny seeds… it almost makes me misty-eyed every time they grow a new crown of leaves. I have similar feelings toward my avocado tree from experiment 7.

At the core of it, there is something extremely fulfilling about growing trees from seed. I recommend the experience to anyone. Watching a tiny, dormant thing transform into something robust, green, and full of life is something that treads a strange path between scientific and spiritual. 

Thanks for the question!

shredthegnarwhal said: I just saw your old trapper post on google, so hows it doing? I bought one earlier this week from the exact same kit you did and due to hours of studying and brainstorming how to care for it mine seems to be quickly improving and im curious

My goodness, I’m so sorry to say that Trapper (the Venus Fly Trap) took an unfortunate turn for the worst and perished a few months back. I did not document it very well, I’m afraid, because I do not take any joy in writing about the death of my plants… especially ones that have names and 
"personalities". 

I have seen Trapper’s brethren for sale on and off recently, and I would really like to try again with a new plant. Since I ultimately failed, what tips do you have on keeping your Trapper alive? If I had to guess, I think maybe my failing was in not keeping Trapper’s environment humid enough.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Experiment 2

We’re having some warmer than expected weather right now and apparently the lemon trees are enjoying it as much as I am. The two middle-sized trees are exploding with new greenery to an extent I’ve never seen before. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dollar Tree stuff - A review! (Part 2)

Today, Garden Science becomes Garden Economics for a day as I let you know whether or not I think the stuff I bought at Dollar Tree was worth the George Washington. I’ll be grading each item on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 meaning it greatly exceeded my expectations. For the sake of continuity, a rating of 5 will mean it exactly meets my expectations of an item with a $1 price tag. Note:  The plant bulbs I bought are not included because they all recommend planting around summer time.

Here we go, in no particular order:

Twist Tie Dispenser

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Review:  This thing gets props right off the bat for general usefulness. I could have really used a twist tie dispenser last year but had never noticed them for sale anywhere before. One feature I did not expect because it was hidden by the packaging is the hole for hanging it - it’s easier to operate while hanging on a wall, so that’s a nice feature. The cutting mechanism isn’t exactly razor sharp, but it’s still plenty effective. The only dings against this might be that the actual twist ties are somewhat thin and the overall length of the spool seems pretty small. Nonetheless, two of these for a buck was still a great deal. 
Score:  8/10

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Butterfly patio swag

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Review:  This is easily the “riskiest” item I bought because it is not intended to be functional. I believe it takes a courageous individual to buy something at Dollar Tree and put it on display purely for aesthetic purposes, so I guess that makes me the bravest in all the land because now the whole neighborhood can see this. I think I may have been drawn to it because it subconsciously reminded me of all those butterfly hair clips from the 90’s. In any case, it contains real glass which is sometimes a hallmark of better-than-average Dollar Tree quality. I had a choice between yellow butterfly/fake crystal or green butterfly/fake crystal, and i went with green because I thought it might look cooler when the sun hits it just right. This, however, remains to be seen (possibly forever, because it just occurred to me that my balcony does not receive any direct sunlight). 

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Say what you will, but even after hanging this up I still think it looks kind of nice. I think the key to garden decoration is moderation, and right now this is one of the only decorative things adorning my balcony so it sort of works. In fact, I think it looks downright cheerful. There’s a little bit of a tacky factor going on but it’s nothing I’m not prepared to live with. Overall, not incredible but not half bad either.
Score: 7/10

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Twine

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Review:  It may not be the most exciting thing I bought, but… never mind, it’s definitely the most boring thing on the list. Poor twine. One cheesy discount store hack that I’ve seen before is to bulk up the packaging on something and then include very little product within. Kudos to Dollar Tree for NOT doing this, as the twine ball is pretty well filled out. At 180 feet, this isn’t a bad buy but it’s not an incredible buy either. Twine is pretty cheap, and I’m not convinced there isn’t a better deal out there somewhere. Still, it will suit my needs just fine and I am pleased with this purchase.
Score:  6/10

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Garden Shears

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Review:  If all Dollar Tree products were competing against each other in a tournament to see who is the best, these shears might just win the whole thing. Seriously, in all my years I’m tempted to say this is one of the highest quality things I’ve ever bought at the Tree.

These pretty much got everything right. The mechanism is smooth, the handles are ergonomically comfortable, they’re sharp, and the plastic doesn’t feel super cheap. On top of that, they have a locking mechanism that actually works. Dollar Tree actually had several types of shears, and I like these enough that I may go back and buy the rest. I can see paying at least 5x the money for something like this. Well done!
Score: 10/10

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Daisy Thermometer

Review:  I had a lot of fun with this one. I did not realize it at time of purchase, but the thermometer actually had suction cups on the back. I was surprised by this and actually thought it seemed like a huge bonus, since this meant I could adhere it to the back of my sliding glass door. Alas, no matter how many times I tried I could not get the suction cups to stick. It would hold for a moment and then crash to the ground. My patio is concrete and it didn’t break, so high marks for that, I guess.

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Curiously, the suction cups are attached to the plastic backing with Phillips head screws. Since the suction wasn’t working, I thought I’d do a little DIY magic and see if I could get the thermometer to hang up another way. I unscrewed the suction cups, then attached the whole thing to the corner of an external wall using the same screws.

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Voila!  There are some sloppy globs of glue around the actual glass thermometer and the plastic is not particularly high quality, but it gets high marks for accuracy. I also cannot ignore that this device’s intended mechanism for display did not work at all. Still, I appreciate the inclusion of real screws versus irremovable plastic rivets and I’m sure this will see some use. Overall, I think this was exactly worth the dollar I paid for it.
Score:  5/10

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Little Solar Powered Lamp Thing

Review:  Review is pending on this, as I want to bring it into the house first and test it indoors. This wasn’t in the gardening section which leads me to believe it may function better inside near artificial light.

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Overall, this was a very successful Dollar Tree mission. I should mention that all items reviewed were part of a “Gardening Essentials” line, which I think may be a Dollar Tree exclusive brand. I was impressed enough that I may make a second trip!  At very least I’d say if you’re looking for cheap gardening shears, this is not a bad place to start.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dollar Tree stuff - A review! (Part 1)

Today was a Dollar Tree day, and that is the best kind of day.

My favorite part of shopping at the Dollar Tree is searching for those legendary items that seem to be of significant value for the money spent. This is no easy task. Despite my fondness for the place and despite the alleged “deals” everywhere, only a scant few items at Dollar Tree earn the distinction of feeling like they were really worth the money once you get them home and put them to use.

Still, every once in a while I strike gold. Today was one of those days.

One of the sure-fire places to find great stuff at Dollar Tree is in the “seasonal” area of the store. After swimming through buckets of Easter grass and plastic eggs, I reached a row of shelves entirely devoted to gardening stuff.

I’ve found gardening stuff at Dollar Tree before, but the store appears to have gone above and beyond this year. Behold, my haul:

  1. Top left:  Daisy graphic novelty thermometer
  2. Top center:  Twine
  3. Top right:  Twist tie dispensers
  4. Bottom left: 6 “Yellowstone” gladiolus bulbs
  5. Bottom left of center:  3 Rain Lily bulbs
  6. Bottom center:  6 “Blue Lagoon Mixture” gladiolus bulbs
  7. Bottom right of center:  1 Daylily bulb
  8. Bottom left:  Garden shears
  9. Not pictured:  Little solar powered lamp thing
  10. Not pictured:  Sweet patio swag 

Look at all that awesome stuff!  But, as with so many Dollar Tree items, I really need to put this stuff to the test before I can determine just how great a deal I got. Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out how everything stacked up, and whether or not I thought it was all worth more than a dollar!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

tango-mango:

Recycling newspapers for a gardening project

Gardening is a really big deal in our family and it’s my favorite subject to photograph and write about. If you have been a follower over the years you have seen all of our plants grow and produce – from seedlings through harvest. My husband has the green thumb, but I work my magic in the kitchen. It’s a perfect, win-win arrangement.

After the peas are planted in early March, we always wait until the fear of frost has passed to plant seeds for summer-loving vegetables.

This year we are trying something different. A cold frame was built using an old, glass storm door and last weekend seeds were planted for almost everything we’ll grow this season. The advantage will be that by the time May comes around we will be ahead of the game, transplanting our little plants to the garden beds.

We knew we needed lots of little containers for our seeds but didn’t want to spend the money for tens of pots pressed out of peat. We also disliked the idea of buying plastic pots or trays. After a little searching online we made a wonderful discovery. We found a nifty tool that could help us create pots out of recycled newspaper. 

It’s raining this week, but last weekend it was glorious outdoors. I set up a card table in the sunshine and got to work. With a long, metal ruler I tore strips of newspaper into 12 x 4-inch pieces. After I had a nice stack of them I began assembling the little pots. I would roll a piece of newspaper around the wooden dowel, crimp the bottom, repeat with another strip of paper, and then press the little pot into the base of the pot maker. We were amazed by how well it worked.

Some unused plastic containers in the garage worked perfectly to arrange our little, homemade containers. Like children, we check every morning and night to see if any seedlings have poked through the soil.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back at the house…

The former site of Garden Science’s Experiment 8 is playing host to some new experiments of its own this year. I had the pleasure of rolling one of the first of these newspaper seedling starters, and after doing so I must say this is one of my new favorite gardening money-savers.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My primrose planters in more detail!  The primroses in the bottom one languished for weeks without being planted, until finally yesterday I got my act together and finished up the effort. They may not look great yet, but they have already perked up considerably since their transfer to the railing pot.

A beautiful morning

I am finally finding solace this weekend from having a blisteringly busy schedule, and one thing I made an effort to do was to finally put the finishing touches on my balcony cleaning effort. This morning, I was greeted by the reward of an awesome new spring day.

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It is just AWESOME outside right now. 

One of the best things about my balcony/patio is the view. I don’t even see the parking lot anymore; I just see the hills in the distance.

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Both of my railing baskets are now hosting primrose plants left over from some planting my mom did recently.

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Even though it may be a little early, I also moved my plant shelves outside. 

I think I will be having some gardening adventures today, so expect (hopefully) a bunch more posts in the near future!

Edit:  Here’s one more picture, for the road: