Joel’s Garden–planting onions Jan. 31

Joel is the most dedicated vegetable gardener I ever met.  He is in the garden working almost every morning.  I am going to make him a periodic feature of this site by keeping a log of what I see him doing as the year progresses.

I’ve been having some medical concerns that have taken up quite a bit of time and have not been able to give this site my usual dynamic endeavors.
The garden is rather large, I would guess at least a hundred feet square, and it is surrounded by a 9 foot high wire fence to keep out the deer.  The last week in January, Joel asked me if I could build him a two part gate in the side of the wire fence.  He wanted something more convenient to the house and he wanted to be able to either walk in or to drive his tractor in. So I built side by side gates.  I took enough pictures for a gate tutorial and I will publish that later.  Here’s the gate:
A two part gate, one part to walk through, the other part to drive through.

A two part gate, one part to walk through, the other part to drive through.

Joel has been working on his dirt for years. He is a great lover of organic matter and he believes in adding it as often as he can. He also grows green manure cover crops in portions of the garden that he is not using at one time or another and then tilling these crops in.
To give an indication of the effectiveness of this organic addition process, We had torrential rains on Jan. 30 and I visited Joel on the 31st only to find him planting onions. I think a normal garden would have been way too muddy.
Joel had been waiting for days on his onion set shipment. He finally got the granex onions which he explained were the variety used to grow the popular Vidalia onions.  Joel is in his 70s but gardening keeps him young.  He started out working, laid out the sets, and had them planted in no time.  He mentioned something about needing to build him a root cellar one day.
Planting onions on a cold blustery day in North Georgia, Jan. 31

Planting onions on a cold blustery day in North Georgia, Jan. 31

Joel said that he had red onions and some other kinds coming.  I’ll let you know what he does next.
The next thing I will be working on at the garden site will be to develop a six foot weed free border on the fence line that will make the transition from grass to garden a lot nicer, to lessen mowing maintenance, and to make room for flowers and collectibles.  I will also do an entrance planting for the new gate. I love ongoing projects.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net
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Planting Pansies and Bulbs the Easy Way.

Well, it’s time to plant pansies in Georgia but my operation in September involved cutting a muscle in my right shoulder and has limited my strength and use in the attached arm. Last week I wanted to plant some pansies in my own yard and my pride would not allow me to ask for help.  Fortunately, though, I had found a new tool in the form of an auger designed to fit on my electric hand drill. I can remember having one of these years ago and was delighted when I found a new one at Lowe’s. (read on for a scam alert)

My new bedding plant digging tool. The drill is for scale.

My new bedding plant digging tool. The drill is for scale.

I don’t remember what I paid for this auger. I probably wouldn’t have spent any more than $12.99 for it knowing me, but when I looked the item up on the web to find a link for my readers, I found it listed at astounding prices—Amazon had it at around triple the $12.99—so be careful if you look for this on line. Anyway, I went to Lowe’s this morning to look again and I wasn’t able to find the item at all so if you want one, you will have to look around.

I had some beautiful pansies that were left over from a couple of jobs and I didn’t mind hiring a little help with leaf removal. I’ll bet you can imagine what the leaves look like on Oakwood Street. There are piles and piles.

leaves on Oakwood Street

leaves on Oakwood Street

I cleaned out the begonias, zinnias, and angelonia that we had enjoyed all summer and then checked out the plants that I wanted to use

available pansies on the pick up truck tailgate.

available pansies on the pick up truck tailgate.

The big problem with planting the flowers is that with a bum right arm, I have trouble getting up and down. I was tickled with myself when I started drilling holes with my new tool (Oookay, ladies, “toy”). The more I think about it, too, the auger seems to also make a better hole for the plants and the excavated dirt is piled up right beside the hole ready to go back in around the roots. So I drilled holes everywhere I thought a plant should be. The auger seemed to help with spacing.

using an auger to dig holes for pansies.

using an auger to dig holes for pansies.

With the holes dug, it was very easy to dump just the right amount of time release fertilizer in each one.

Time release fertilizer in every hole.

Time release fertilizer in every hole.

I had fun liberating the well-rooted plants from the six packs and dropping them in the holes. This job was getting easier and easier.

dropping the plants in the holes.

dropping the plants in the holes.

The next part of the job that I had to figure out how to do without getting down on my knees was to get the plants actually planted with the soil firmed in around the roots. I mustered up a smile and then asked my sweet wife to help with this job. Bless her heart, she got down there and did a beautiful job. I decided not to charge her for allowing her to help.

finishing the planting with a loving touch

finishing the planting with a loving touchGiving the roots a loving touch

When Dekie finished the planting, she looked at me and said, “Don’t put that thing away, I’ll be right back.” She headed for the front porch to get some tulip bulbs that had been sitting there waiting.

tulip bulbs to go among the pansies.

tulip bulbs to go among the pansies.

That’s when I found out what this here auger was made for. It digs absolutely perfect holes for planting bulbs. We dug holes like prepositions—over under around and through the pansy plants (well, leave out the over and under part) and then we dropped the bulb fertilizer and the bulbs right in there.

the plant auger makes perfect holes for bulbs

the plant auger makes perfect holes for bulbs

I don’t happen to possess a stout battery operated drill at the moment, so I used my plug in model which performed very well with the auger. A battery powered drill would be very nice, but I think it would have to be a strong one.  Anyway, I intend to get a lot of use out of this auger as time goes by. If you plant a lot of bedding plants and/or bulbs, I would recommend purchasing one. Here’s a picture of the hanger label that came with it.

auger label

auger label

 

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

How to Cover Ugly Concrete With Brick Pavers

In my landscaping adventures I love it when one idea leads to another. The renovation of a country yard keeps developing. One of the first things we did, back in August, was to install a garden that I called “Country Formal.” The garden came out very nice and then we noticed that the porch landing floor was ugly concrete. We decided to build a small deck over it and extended it out for an intimate sitting area. The next problem, which had to be addressed before building the steps to the deck, was a walkway made of ugly concrete.

ugly concrete walkway to be covered with brick pavers

ugly concrete walkway to be covered with brick pavers

There are a lot of ways to deal with ugly concrete, but considering the use of brick in the house and the garden, we decided that brick pavers would be the best material for this particular situation. I made my measurements and headed to the other side of Floyd County to visit Plainville Brick. I like going Plainville  because I get to see the old kilns where they used to make the brick. It takes me back in time. Now they just freight the bricks in on the same railroad line that runs through the fictional town of Durwin. Here’s a picture of the old kilns:

The old brick kilns in Plainville, Ga.

The old brick kilns in Plainville, Ga.

There are two different sizes of pavers, depending on whether you want to leave a mortar joint or not. I decided on the 4”x8” pavers because my level of expertise is not high enough to do a good job with the mortar joints. Here is what the pavers look like.

brick pavers for covering ugly sidewalk

brick pavers for covering ugly sidewalk

I had measured carefully, and we decided to lay a test pattern without mortar to make sure everything would work properly. A 2×4 was staked to the outer edge of the project to give us a square edge to follow. We used water and scrub brushes to clean the concrete so that the mortar would make a good bond.

Start the brick work by establishing a square pattern

Start the brick work by establishing a square pattern

We use a “type S” cement mix. For a small project, I use the mix with the sand already included. It’s much easier and cheaper in the long run

mortar for installing brick pavers

mortar for installing brick pavers

A bonding agent will be added to the mortar mix to make it stick better and to increase the weather resistance.

Bonding agent makes the mortar work better.

Bonding agent makes the mortar work better.

And the technique is to mix the bonding agent with the water that is used to wet the mortar.  The mortar needs to be mixed to the consistency of cake icing because we’re going to spread it in the same manner.

add bonding agent while mixing mortar

add bonding agent while mixing mortar

The proper trowel for the job is a notched trowel that is made to use for tile installation. It leaves little lines in the mortar which help to form a “suction cup” type adhesion and also make leveling easier. Here’s what the mortar should look like when spread:

A notched trowel leaves little ridges in the mortar.

A notched trowel leaves little ridges in the mortar.

A rubber mallet is used to gently tap the pavers into place. If we take our time, use care and good sense, and get lucky, the job will turn out well.

Tapping pavers into place with a rubber mallet

Tapping pavers into place with a rubber mallet

Here’s the almost finished picture of the project. The brick are laid and the steps to the deck built. No more ugly comcrete.

Walkway of brick pavers from deck to garden. Nice

Walkway of brick pavers from deck to garden. Nice

If you would like to see my article on the building of the garden I called “Country Formal,” Click Here

 

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Cotton in Alabama, a Flagpole, and a Fall VegetableGarden

I have been rather proud of my article writing discipline for the last couple of years. The main consistency in my life has usually been inconsistency. I have missed several weeks in the past couple of months but it has been unavoidable. I am recovering well now from the operation. My throat is still inflated and I will have to wait another month for my store bought voice box.

I can, however, still speak as Johntheplantman. Yay for that. I have gone back to work on a limited basis and I just thought I would report on some of the things I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks.

I went for a ride to the greenhouse in Centre Alabama where I get my pansies. They had almost sold out but I was able to book enough for my needs. As soon as the frost hits I will be changing out color for a number of clients. I like my trips to Alabama because the minute I cross the Georgia/ Alabama line I feel like I have entered another era. The fields of cotton looked like snow. I had to stop for this photo:

cotton in Alabama

cotton in Alabama

A day or two later, I got to admiring a flag pole. The rope that holds the flag had broken and needed replacing. I looked up at the pole and determined that it had been made by using bell adaptors to put pieces of galvanized pipe of different sizes together. Three sections of pipe graduating from 2 inch to inch and a quarter with a cap and a pully on top make a heavy situation but someone had thought it out well with a simple swivel base made of angle iron. All we had to do to get the pole down was take out the top bolt

swivel base for an easy to service hand made flagpole.

swivel base for an easy to service hand made flagpole.

It was a heavy job for two men but the pole was lowered so that I could get to the pully and replace the rope.

Lowering the flagpole for servicing

Lowering the flagpole for servicing

We raised the pole, put the flag up and there she flew in all her old glory

Old Glory in her space

Old Glory in her space

A couple of weeks ago I took my wife, Dekie out to  Joel and Lynn’s house to see their new flower garden that I called “country formal.” You may see the article about this garden here. We got to drinking coffee and talking and I suggested that Dekie might like to look at their wonderful vegetable garden, also. I didn’t have to twist Joel’s hand very hard. He loves his garden. We stopped on the way into the garden to get some tasty raspberries that were still available in October.

Raspberries in Georgia in October

Raspberries in Georgia in October

The minute I saw the garden I knew I had to go get my camera from the truck. By the time I got back, the tour had begun.

Lynn and Dekie check out the garden

Lynn and Dekie check out the garden

Lynn harvested some lettuce for our dinner. I was interested to see that she was not only cutting lettuce leaves, but thinning the row at the same time.

Good salad for dinner tonight

Good salad for dinner tonight

I was interested in the leguminous cover crops that Joel was growing. He sows seeds of nitrogen fixing plants on fallow ground and later plows it under to loosen and enrich the soil. He is quite a gardener.

cover crop to be plowed in for soil enrichment

cover crop to be plowed in for soil enrichment

I will probably take a more in depth look at the details of the garden next week. I need to visit it again and update my pictures.

Fall vegetable garden in North Georgia

Fall vegetable garden in North Georgia

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Recognizing and treating fungus problems on your plants.

She asked, “What’s wrong with my plants? Should I spray them with liquid Sevin?”  We walked out to look at the leaves on the viburnum Davidii that lined one of the planting beds.

fungus damage on viburnum leaf

fungus damage on viburnum leaf

I said, “Liquid Sevin won’t help you here because it is an insecticide. The problem with these plants is not insect related but is fungus related instead.” I pointed to the holes in the leaves. “These are a sign of a fungus disease that is called ‘shot holes.’ The problem starts as a spot on the leaf and then grows outward in concentric circles. As the spot on the leaf kills the plant cells, it ends up looking like a hole that has been eaten by a worm or an insect. The dark brown end of the other leaf in the picture is a sign of another kind of fungus.”

We started walking around and looking at other plants. Some of the leaves on the dragon wing begonias were looking funny. The spots are fungus related as are the curly leaves. You will also notice a browning on the margins of the leaves.

fungus problem on dragon wing begonia leaf

fungus problem on dragon wing begonia leaf

The hosta plants are showing a lot of fungal damage. Some of this damage may be from getting too much sun, or the abundance of sun and the fungus are working together. The fungus attacks any weak spot in the leaf.

fungus damage on hosta leaf

fungus damage on hosta leaf

I frequently see the damage pictured below in acuba. Again, I think some of it is light related, but it seems to be mostly a fungus infection.

Fungus on acuba will eventually spread and kill the plant

Fungus on acuba will eventually spread and kill the plant

Here is fungus damage on a Knockout rose. Note the holes in the leaves and the damage on the leaf margins.

fungus damage on knockout rose leaf

fungus damage on knockout rose leaf

Paige and I discussed the fact that when something goes wrong with a plant, our first reaction is to water it more. Since fungus problems are moisture related diseases, this is the totally wrong thing to do. The begonia pictured below is a prime example of a plant that has been over watered. The leaves drop off or become spotted. The leaf margins die back, and there may be some kind or other of a powdery mildew that will attack the flowers.

indications of fungus disease on a begonia plant

indications of fungus disease on a begonia plant

Below is a plant that is probably beyond repair. One of the types of fungus is called ‘stem rot’ and is soil borne. This picture shows over- watering in its extremity.

advanced damage on plants from fungus

advanced damage on plants from fungus

I don’t know enough about the different names or kinds of fungi to be able to go into the subject and I don’t really think it is necessary. The main point is to be able to recognize a problem as fungus related instead of insect or otherwise related. The concept is the important thing.

Paige asked, “So how do I tell fungus damage from insect damage?” I replied, “If you just start looking at the problems you will see the difference. I have given you the concept and I define a concept as a collection of questions that I have never asked before.”

You can treat fungus problems on your plants. There are a number of fungicides on the market that will work. I am currently using Daconyl which gives me very good results. I think that one should have two different fungicides and alternate them. Sometimes one fungicide will kill a type of predatory fungus that works against another kind of fungus.

Daconyl, a very effective fungicide purchased at Home Depot

Daconyl, a very effective fungicide purchased at Home Depot

Your favorite nurseryman should have several kinds of fungicides to choose from. One of the best fungicides that I have found is Cleary’s 3336. This fungicide is systemic and helps control all sorts of fungus diseases, even going through the plant to reach the roots. You may find it at BT Grower’s supply online.

One of the things I like about Paige is that she asks well thought out questions—lots of them. When I told her that the fungus treatment would not get rid of the damage that had already occurred, but would prevent the damage from becoming worse, she asked, “Should one wait until the damage shows up, or should one spray to prevent the damage?”

I replied, “It is best to be proactive, but later is better than not at all.”

occasional treatment of plants with fungicide will enhance their growth and beauty

occasional treatment of plants with fungicide will enhance their growth and beauty

In the nurseries and greenhouses that produce our ornamental plants, the grower will maintain a strict fungicide program. I think that in your yard, it is satisfactory to be able to recognize the problem when it shows up. I also believe that if one were to spray the ornamentals about once a month with a fungicide, the quality of growth would improve greatly.

Remember:

Insecticide kills insects

Fungicide kills fungus.

You can decrease plant fungus problems by watering in the morning instead of at night.

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

Thanks for visiting Johntheplantman. These articles are sponsored by my book

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Repairing a leaky water feature—Part two, putting it back together

The liner in the fountain had gotten old and needed changing so we took the whole thing apart and put in a new one. I started telling about the job of repairing a leaky waterfall in a previous post which showed the process of taking the water feature apart.  The main thing about putting it back together is to be careful.

We started by laying out the larger part of the liner in the bottom pool, fitting it just right, and smoothing out as many of the wrinkles as possible. When working with the liner we remove out shoes and work in socks to keep from poking any holes in it.

Take off your shoes when working with waterfall liner

Take off your shoes when working with waterfall liner

We fitted the liner and smoothed it out. One of the more difficult parts of this project was getting the liner to fit just right in the riverbed going under the bridge. The original project had been installed before the bridge was put in place.

Pool liner installation for a waterfall feature

Pool liner installation for a waterfall feature

Next, on the other side of the bridge, we needed to re-set and level the concrete blocks that formed the upper pool that is essential for the water feature to sound good. The blocks must be perfectly level and above the level of the stone that the water falls over. I call this the “fall stone.”

When dealing with water, level is important

When dealing with water, level is important

We pay particular attention to getting the liner from the bottom pool under the bridge and formed just right to the “river bed that flows into the bottom pool. The upper piece of liner will have to be placed over this so that there will be no leaks around the edges. Everything is built with the principle that “water goes downhill” in mind.

Taking care to prevent leaks.

Taking care to prevent leaks.

The liner is laid over the form for the upper pool and carefully tucked under the bridge. I allowed a lot of extra liner for this to be sure that there won’t be a possibility for a leak.

Laying out the liner for the top pool of the water feature

Laying out the liner for the top pool of the water feature

When we took the upper pool apart, I was particularly careful with the fall rock. I had built this with care for the original project and I didn’t want to do it over again. I like it as it is. We set it on the liner to get the placement just right. The water will fall over this rock and down into another small pool.

This is the rock that the water will flow over

This is the rock that the water will flow over

We tilt the fall rock assembly up and pack mortar under it. If this step is not done well, the water will go under instead of over and things will not be as they should be. Getting the cement under this rock and getting the rock leveled just exactly as it should be are very important. The funny thing is that the rock must be set correctly and you can’t try it out until the cement dries.

Cement keeps the water from flowing under the rock

Cement keeps the water from flowing under the rock

We use a trowel to pack the mortar around the entire fall rock assembly so that the water will only have one place to go when it leaves the upper pond.

cement keeps water from flowing around the rock

cement keeps water from flowing around the rock

Now we can finish off the decorative rock work for the pond. We use mortar to fasten the first rocks on top of the liner. Later rocks will be laid in without mortar. Note the small “torpedo level” sitting on the rock where the pump will be placed. It’s hard to get a rock completely level and you kind of have to average it out.

Border rocks set in concrete for the water feature

Border rocks set in concrete for the water feature

We build a secondary dam below the fall rock so that the water will fall into a pool and enhance the sound of the project.

A secondary dam to enhance the sound of the water feature

A secondary dam to enhance the sound of the water feature

We continue cementing rocks on the perimeter of the upper pond for a natural looking appearance.

adding rocks for appearance

adding rocks for appearance

The pump is exactly what it looks like. I think I got it from Lowe’s. It was a nice, red, functional hand pump. I took the working parts out of it and converted the hook up assembly so that I could fasten a hose from the pump to it.

The project calls for a bit of creative plumbing.

The project calls for a bit of creative plumbing.

Here is a picture that shows the tubing going from the pump in the lower pool to the non functional hand pump where the water comes out.

Not the hookup of the tubing from the submerged pump in the lower pool

Not the hookup of the tubing from the submerged pump in the lower pool

Looking down on the upper pool you will see that the bottom of the pool, where the water falls, has been covered with small river rocks. The water from the pump will go from there over the fall rock and into the smaller pool below. From there the water will flow gently down under the bridge and into the larger pool on the other side.

Finishing the upper pools of the water feature

Finishing the upper pools of the water feature

We give the cement a day or two to cure and then add water and turn it on. Everything works well. Yay.

all is well

all is well

 

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Repairing a Leaky Water Feature—part one, Taking it Apart

A very nice fountain--but it leaks

A very nice fountain–but it leaks

I built this water feature for a client quite a number of years ago. I don’t remember if the fountain or the bridge came first but it ended up being a waterfall with a creek under the bridge pouring into a small pond on the other side. The plastic liner in the system started leaking a bit here and there a couple of years ago and I have patched it over and over. This year, we decided that we just needed to change the liner. This article and part two which will follow next week should serve to show you not only how a pond liner is replaced, but also give you a good idea of how it is built in the first place.

To begin with, I drained the fountain and let it dry out. This picture is of the top pool where the water pours in and then cascades to the “creek bed.”

The upper side of the fountain ready to take apart

The upper side of the fountain ready to take apart

After entering the top of the fountain, the water pours over a flat rock, down into a creek bed and then goes under the bridge to a pool on the other side.

The bottom pool holds the pump for recirculation

The bottom pool holds the pump for recirculation

We begin by cleaning out the lower pool. We look for any rocks, sticks, or other high points that will possibly poke a hole in the new liner. I will leave the old liner in the pool to serve as a buffer pad for the new one.

Cleaning out the lower pool of the fountain

Cleaning out the lower pool of the fountain

The rocks are stacked neatly to the side, out of the way of the work area.

fountain rocks set to the side

fountain rocks set to the side

The product was not available when I first built the pool, but this time I will use a Firestone rubber material that is rather thick (40 mil) and very resilient. It is guaranteed for 20 years and if it does, indeed, last that long, I shouldn’t have to fool with it again unless I feel like working on a waterfall when I am 87. We have to measure carefully for the needed dimensions of the liner. It is expensive and I don’t mind having a bit too much, but if I buy too little, it will be totally wasted. We first measure across the pond in two directions.

Measure carefully to determine liner size for water feature

Measure carefully to determine liner size for water feature

After measuring for width and length of the liner, we measure the sides and add them into the calculations. This will give us an overall dimension. I will use two pieces of rubber for the project—one to cover the bottom and sides and another to go from the top of the feature, down through the creek, and then to lap over the bottom piece. One must be very careful with a lap to insure that the water doesn’t escape around it so we will extend the lap into the bottom of the pool making sure that the sides of the lap are higher than the water level.

Measure the sides and add to the overall dimensions for the fountain liner

Measure the sides and add to the overall dimensions for the fountain liner

This is a float valve that was installed to keep the water level to the desired limits. To install the float valve I have modified the hook up of a horse trough filler that I purchased at the local Tractor Supply.

float valve installed to maintain water level in the fountain

float valve installed to maintain water level in the fountain

We have carefully taken the top part of the fountain apart. I will have to adjust and level the concrete blocks which hold the liner above the water line and also give a base for decorative rocks to cover the liner.

Under structure of the fountain

Under structure of the fountain

Now it is time to go shopping. Even though there are modern alternatives, I eschew them and use cement instead. When we put the fall rocks back together, we will mortar the joints to insure that water will only go over the desired rocks and not under or beside them. I have tried pre mixed mortar formulations but I have found that they don’t hold up as well as I would like. Over many years of building projects like this, I have found that I get much better results using Portland cement and adding sand. It is more trouble but worth it in the long run. Here it is on the rack at Lowe’s. Brand name doesn’t matter, just make sure that you are purchasing Portland cement and not a mix.

Portland cement mixed with sand is more durable than ready mixes

Portland cement mixed with sand is more durable than ready mixes

The project is not big enough to order a load of sand, so I will purchase a bagged all purpose sand. The formula for mixing thePortlandis 9 large shovels of sand to a half a bag of cement. We worked on it and figured that we would use two-50 lb bags of sand to a half a bag ofPortland.

all purpose sand to mix with Portland cement. Two bags sand to 1/2 bag of cement

all purpose sand to mix with Portland cement. Two bags sand to 1/2 bag of cement

My next shopping stop was at Willow Creek Nursery which is way on the other side of town. Willow Creek carries large rolls of pond liner in several widths. They will cut the liner to my specifications. This is where I must be careful. The guys at the nursery will only make one cut, and once it’s cut, it’s bought. If I make a mistake it will be costly—and I never have been good at numbers. I checked all of the widths, 10’, 15’, 20’ and 24’. I had to think about it a bit, but then I sketched out a diagram and decided that a piece of the 24 foot liner would be my most cost effective choice.

Figuring out the best size for the liner for your water feature

Figuring out the best size for the liner for your water feature

The guys at the nursery measured carefully and then measured both sides to make sure they were getting a square cut. The liner was mine.

purchasing water feature liner at the nursery

purchasing water feature liner at the nursery

We took the large piece of liner to the jobsite and laid it out in the parking area, measured carefully, and cut off an 8X12 piece for the top fall, leaving just the right amount to cover the bottom pool.

carefully cutting the pond liner

carefully cutting the pond liner–One piece for the pond and one for the waterfall

Next week I will have an account of the re-building of the water feature. In the meantime I will be working on pictures and ideas to continue my series on shade gardens

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Mixed container plantings for summer color-part 3 of a series.

I was telling Russ and Shala Head about the blog series and they offered to send me pictures or their plantings. Russ and Shala own and operate Willow Creek Nursery here in Rome, Georgia. I have another friend, Bobby Mixon, who does very nice mixed planters for our mutual friend, Diane Harbin. I will start the pictures with those from Russ and Shala and then move on to those created by Bobby Mixon.

Russ decided that we can not only include pots, but that we may also add a container built from rocks or other soil raising borders. Here is one from the front of his house which contains a braided Bloodgood Japanese maple, tiramisu herchera, and purple veronica. He maintains that this garden is deer proof.

I think a raised, rock bordered bed qualifies as a container.

I think a raised, rock bordered bed qualifies as a container.

The container is hidden as this combination of elephant ear and trailing sedum grow out of bounds—as planned.

container growing out of bounds with elephant ear and sedum

container growing out of bounds with elephant ear and sedum

A large planting of red pennisetum (upright grass) and sweet potato vine is striking

There are a number of annual ornamental grasses that will work in containers

There are a number of annual ornamental grasses that will work in containers

Russ told me that this is his favorite combination. He wrote the varieties down on a piece of scrap paper for me. Fireworks pennisetum, mozelle lantana, golden pearls bacopa, and Neon purple wave petunia. The variety of bacopa is new to me and I will have to check it out. I dearly love white bacopa.

ornamental grass, petunia, and a trailing plant give a good Ikebana effect.

ornamental grass, petunia, and a trailing plant give a good Ikebana effect.

The picture below looks to me like it is made up of Cleome with a base of one kind of sedum and sitting in a base planting of a lower growing sedum.

Sedums make excellent trailers and ground covers in and under pots.

Sedums make excellent trailers and ground covers in and under pots.

I really like this grouping of geranium containers.

a grouping of containerized geraniums

a grouping of containerized geraniums

That’s all of Russ for now. I stopped to look at one of my own planters that I have had around for years. I enjoy cactus because of the ease of growing. I can keep this planter in the house and neglect it over the winter and then put it out in the sun for the summer and it will bloom over and over.

Cacti make interesting container gardens and may be kept through the winter in a bright location and treated with neglect. They will bloom year after year.

Cacti make interesting container gardens and may be kept through the winter in a bright location and treated with neglect. They will bloom year after year.

Bobby Mixon is a retired public school teacher and he looks at container planting as a religion. He also breaks a lot of the rules, but he seems to get away with it. For instance, I have told him over and over again not to plant impatiens in the sun but every year he gets away with this combo of insence cedar and impatiens right out there in full sun. If I tried it, it would bake and die.

I keep telling Bobby that his impatiens won'd do well in the sun and he always makes a liar out of me. I don't know how he does it.

I keep telling Bobby that his impatiens won’d do well in the sun and he always makes a liar out of me. I don’t know how he does it. note the irrigation tubing.

An asparagus fern does well with geraniums on a retaining wall. Diane keeps the asparagus fern over in her basement all winter and brings it out after the last frost.

Geraniums and Asparagus fern do well together in a container with lots of light.

Geraniums and Asparagus fern do well together in a container with lots of light.

Here’s a tree formed rose with impatiens. I need to tell Bobby it needs pruning for shape maintenance

a tree formed rose with impatiens. The rose needs a bit if pruning, but nice, nevertheless.

a tree formed rose with impatiens. The rose needs a bit if pruning, but nice, nevertheless.

For a shady location we have a hydrangea, impatiens, and variegated ivy. The hydrangea may be planted later in the yard to go through the winter and get big.

hydrangeas, impatiens, and variegated ivy in a mixed container for shade.

hydrangeas, impatiens, and variegated ivy in a mixed container for shade.

Finally, a petunia and verbena combination coupled with a designer pink flamenco. I like the touch of whimsy.

That is one curious looking pink flamenco.

That is one curious looking pink flamenco.

These pictures may be a bit late in the year for now, but I’m going to store them and we’ll look at them again in early spring, next year. There’s always next year, right?

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Plants in containers for summer color

 A couple of weeks ago Lovely Christine asked me to write about mixed plantings in containers. She wanted to do something outside the front door. At the time I was only prepared to do an article about window boxes. She liked that one, but I kept looking at container gardens wherever I went and got some good pictures. I will add to these as I visit more gardens.

The most important thing to remember in planting container gardens is plant compatibility. This means that the plants you use all require similar light and water conditions. A good dose of liquid fertilizer every week during the summer will ensure outstanding success.

Here is a combination of red begonia and yellow lantana. It should be magnificent in a month or two.

container color 1, begonia and lantana

container color 1, begonia and lantana

Sometimes a single plant is all that is needed. This is a specimen variety of angel wing begonia in a shady location.

container color -Angel wing begonia in urn

container color -Angel wing begonia in urn

A well pruned Knockout rose in a barrel will last for years.

container color 3 knockout rose in a whisky barrel

container color 3 knockout rose in a whisky barrel

.Here is a dragon wing begonia set so that it gives scale to a magnificent view.

Dragon wing begonia adds scale to a wonderful view.

Dragon wing begonia adds scale to a wonderful view.

For a shady location, begonias and impatiens work very well

container color 5-begonias and impatiens for shade

container color 5-begonias and impatiens for shade

Instead of planting several plants in one container, I have used three containers with single plant varieties. The triangle and plant sizes cast an ikebana illusion of Heaven, Man, and Earth-The three levels of existence. Ikebana always works.

container color 6-A grouping of container gardens for an ikebana effect.

container color 6-A grouping of container gardens for an ikebana effect.

Impatiens and begonias mixed in a hand made concrete planter.

container color 7-begonias and impatiens for shade

container color 7-begonias and impatiens for shade

Bonsai and other trimmed evergreen plantings can stay outside all year. Topiaries would also fit into this category. If well maintained, they last for years and grow in beauty and interest.

Container color 8-evergreen bonsais on the patio

Container color 8-evergreen bonsais on the patio

Herbs do well in containers and you can cut from the plants for culinary purposes. Here is a mix of rosemary, sage, and thyme.

container color 9-A compact herb garden

container color 9-A compact herb garden

I revisited a window box from a few weeks ago. It is growing in well. This is a mixture of verbena, bacopa, begonia, and angelonia.

container color 10--A multi color window box

container color 10–A multi color window box

In this planter for part sun, we used ivy, begonia and coleus. The ivy will, of course, remain through out the year.

container color 11--coleus, begonia, and ivy

container color 11–coleus, begonia, and ivy

And last week Kroger had white phaleonopsis orchids on sale for $9.99. Here are a couple of them in an urn with fresh moss around the base. They will bloom for a long time.

container color--phaleonopsis in container

container color–phaleonopsis in container

I plan to take more pictures of container gardens throughout the season. I think they will be of great interest earlier in the season next year. Stay in touch.

My book, Redemption for a Redneck has been nominated for a prestigious award. Read about it HERE

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

How to plant a mixed color window box for summer color.

 Christine  (my wonderful daughter-in-law to be) asked if I would do some articles on planters for summer color. I view a request from that source as very important, so here goes. I will start a series with this article on mixed color window boxes.

window box two weeks after planting

window box two weeks after planting

When choosing plants for a mixed planter I like to follow the principles of Ikebana. One of the rules involves the three levels of creation, Heaven (tall), Man,(medium height) and Earth (low). The other consideration is compatibility. The plants need to be chosen with similar light and moisture needs (usually plants that like shade or those that tolerate full sun). For the planters in this article, I have chosen plants that will tolerate full sun—Angelonia (purple and white for “Heaven”), fibrous begonias (pink and white, for “Man”) and a mixture of bacopa and annual verbena for “Earth.” The verbena will fill in below the begonias and the bacopa is a beautiful white blooming trailer.

These planters are for the lovely Dot Fletcher who just really loves having nice window boxes year ‘round. She uses wire frames with cocoa liners. The cocoa liner allows the plants to drain well and allows a good transfer of air. Plants love this combination. We begin the project by securing the cocoa liner to the frame with small zip ties. This keeps it from sagging as the season progresses.

 

 securing cocoa mat with zip ties

securing cocoa mat with zip ties

Use a high quality potting soil such as Miracle Grow or Pro Mix. Be sure to moisten the soil before starting the project. I usually fill the container to about 3 inches from the top. Be sure to add a time release fertilizer such as Osmocote.

 add high quality potting soil to the planter

add high quality potting soil to the planter

I like to start the planting by placing the background plants and trailers. I have placed the bacopa and verbena just where I want them. I like to use plants from four inch pots because I can set them in the partly filled container and arrange them easily. When I finish, I will add soil to the spaces between the root balls.

 start planting the mixed container with low trailing plants

start planting the mixed container with low trailing plants

I add the bacopa and verbena for trailers and fillers

5add bacopa and verbena for trailers and fillers

5add bacopa and verbena for trailers and fillers

I like to trim the tips of trailing plants to encourage branching from the outset. This keeps them from becoming leggy and stringy.

trim tips of verbena and bacopa to encourage branching

trim tips of verbena and bacopa to encourage branching

I add the angelonia for a tall background and fill with begonias. It doesn’t hurt to squeeze the root balls to make the plants fit just where you want them.

 

add angelonia for tall background and fill with begonias

add angelonia for tall background and fill with begonias

Here is the finished planter on the day of planting. I like to water them in with a water soluble plant food to get them off to a good start.

 

finished window box day of planting

finished window box day of planting

And, here again is the planter after two weeks growth. Can you see the black tubes that get them watered automatically? I’ll have to tell you about that, some time.

 

window box two weeks after planting

window box two weeks after planting

There’s a little news today. My book, Redemption for a Redneck has been nominated for a prestigious award. Read about it HERE

Thanks for visiting Johntheplantman. These articles are sponsored by my book

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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