Friday, January 6, 2012

Automatic Bucket Waterer

I moved the automatic waterer into the chicken coop yesterday thinking that they might get used to it in a few days and start using it. The Turkeys never got the hang of it.

This morning when I went to feed them they were all using it, even the older hens and the Polish which I thought might be handicapped by poor visibility.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pink Eye Sabbatical 3-Seeds

I mentioned in my Scavenger's Garden post that most of the plants I've collected are succulents like agaves and aloes. One reason that I have so many is that I get a lot of them for free. The reason that I get them for free is that they are so easy to propagate. Many succulents will root if a piece breaks off and falls to the ground. Others form large clumps of offsets that can be harvested. Still others form bulbils when they bloom that can also be used to propagate a new plant.

But there is a whole host of other plants that I would like to learn about and grow, but because they cost money I have been slow to collect them.

I decided to start at the beginning and bought seeds of a few native plants at T. Payne. I got a couple different kinds of Ceanothus, arboreus and leucodermis. They both require a stratification period, which I had never heard of but it turns out it is a period of time spent in the cold after a wet spell. That sounds a lot like our winters so it makes sense that native plants would need those conditions to germinate.

I read online that one way to speed up the process is to pour boiling water on the seed to crack their hard coating. This allows the plant inside to break out and start growing.

I decided to try that with a few seeds and plant them directly in a starter mix but the rest went in baggies to rest in the fridge for a couple months. If my experimental seeds don't germinate maybe the ones in the fridge will have more luck.

Ceanothus arboeus grows quickly and once established can become quite tree-like. Mature plants should require no supplement water and can fail if they get watered during the Summer. This is good news for me since I rarely water anything but my potted plants and new fruit trees.

Ceanothus leucodermis should stay smaller but still put on a good show of deep blue flowers in the Spring. I also love the shiny dark green leaves on these, which should look nice even in Summer.

Hopefully a few of mine will sprout and will be ready to go in the ground next Fall in time for the rainy season.

Pink Eye Sabbatical-1-Planting and Potting

I had a few days off in between Christmas and New Years and there were a few things that I was hoping to get done before going to Palm Springs for New Years Eve.  The list was pretty long so I figured I'd get a couple things done and then try again next weekend. Then I got conjunctivitis. I don't know where it came from since I don't know anyone else who has it. I was worried about passing it on to someone else so I stayed home and played in the garden for a week.

Aside from the itchiness and redness it was a perfect opportunity to get stuff done that I'd been postponing forever. I started in the front yard. This area has been the staging ground and work shop for most of my projects over the past couple years. This is where I put plants when I don't know where else to put them and also where my table and chop saws are.

One of the first things I did was transfer the growing mystery agave bulbils into pots. These were pretty small when I put them in and they've done a good job of getting bigger and sending out roots.

I started putting the biggest ones in individual pots but by the end I was grouping them 3 or 4 to a 4" pot. There are about 200 of these and I don't have space for that many plants. I'm hoping that once these get a little more established I can give a bunch to my neighbor. She has a big empty hill in front of her house and I think these would look nice in a big clump. I'm still trying to track down what these are.

I also separated the young Furcarea macdougalii that I just got. There were 4 plants in this pot and I would like each of them to grow individually. I really only wanted one but I'm happy to have 4. It will take years for these to get big so maybe I can trade a couple down the line.

I couldn't find any information on if these offset but San Marcos Growers mentions that bulbils form at the base of inflorescenses so maybe that's what these are.

They look pretty diminutive now that they are separated but in ten years they'll be magnificent.:)

As I started to tear into the group of potted plants there were a few that needed some simple maintenance.

This one just needed the new branches at the bottom to be clipped off to make it look more like a tree. Ah, so much better.

This is the ocotillo that that came from the aquarium along with the A shawii. I finally put it in the ground.

I'm hoping that it's hillside location will give it enough drainage to keep it happy.

It looks lush now because of the rain but it will have all the long dry summer to bask in the sun.