Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Composting Progress

Back in November 2011, I made my first attempt at creating a small compost pile.  By early January, it was full of gathered grass clippings and mulched winter leaf litter.

Six months later, the pile has settled significantly.  Thus I decided to see if the final product was available and ready for use!

I read that it was best to sift out the good stuff, throw away any sticks or rocks that had managed to get in, and return the larger leaf material back to the pile.  So I created a sieve that would fit on my wheelbarrow.  Using scrap 2x4s & some smaller trim, I created the basic structure.  I then added three additional small trim pieces that would wedge into the wheelbarrow and prevent the screen from sliding about.

I pulled back one side of my compost pile chicken wire and started shoveling out from the bottom.  I quickly learned that a garden fork worked best to loosen up the material, and then used a shovel to transfer it to my screen.  Other than nature and my sprinkler system, I haven't really been watering the pile, nor have I been turning it.  It was easy to see that the composting occurred at a faster pace on the edges where it was receiving water.

After placing several spadefuls onto the screen, I would give the material a vigorous rubbing with gloved hands to help separate out the compost from the larger components.

After doing this a few times, I lifted off the screen to discover a nice, fine compost composed of broken down material and small pieces of leaves.

I had heard that some compost piles become a haven for ants, but so far the most abundant critters I found in mine were pillbugs and earwigs (perhaps because I never add water).

I'll be digging out more and then looking for plants that need a little boost here in the latter part of summer.  I'm already thinking of ways to expand my simple structure and make it look nicer while increasing its functionality.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Flower Power: GBBD July 2012

Sponsored by May Dream Gardens

Established Plants

Liriope (Liriope spicata)

 Variegated Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon jaburan 'Vitattus')

Dwarf Mexican Firebush (Hamelia patens 'Compacta')

Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala)

Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera)

Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis)

Chinese Indigo (Indigofera kirilowii)

Pink Rain Lily (Zephyranthes rosea)

New Plants in the Garden


Potted Plants

Red Yucca's (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata)

Flower Wannabes

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Possumhaw (Ilex decidua

 Black Swallowtail larvae (Papilio polyxenes)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Know You've Had Rain...

...when a mushroom appears...

...in the pot for a Variegated Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens 'Variegata').

Planted in Pots:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cause & Effect

Over the weekend, my garden received a small shower (about .3 inches).  Even though completely devoid of foliage for quite some time, it only took the Zephyr Lilies (Zephyranthes 'Labuffarosea') until Monday morning to start sending up blooms.

By the afternoon, a nice little clump of light pink flowers brightened the garden path.

Because I allowed my parsley to go to seed, it attracted several Black Swallowtail caterpillars which seemed to enjoy eating the taller, blooming stalks.  Various sizes of the brightly-colored larvae could be spotted up & down the plant.  Monday night, I found one that had crawled across the path and up a nearby Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) where it had suspended itself from one of the branches.

By Tuesday morning, the caterpillar had transformed into a light green chrysalis.  At some point down the line, the transformation will be complete as an adult swallowtail will emerge.