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Container Gardening (9 of 11)Due to the recent rains, my transformation of the container garden, on my balcony is taking longer than I had wanted, however you cannot circumvent mother nature. I have been successful in changing out the old soil in 2/3rds of the containers. Now that nicer weather is here, I sould be able to get the rest done on Tuesday.

You could not ask for better weather to not stress out the plants, all of which look great.  The only one that does not will be the Gerbera Daisies. Which has a built in defense mechanism, which protects it from excessive moisture loss. If you have ever had these you will know despite how much water you give them (over watering can kill them). They will wilt in the sun, it looks like they are dying, they are NOT!, as soon as the sun moves away from them they will stand straight up.

Container Gardening (7 of 11)  Container Gardening (10 of 11)

There are 3 different Geraniums in each contain, along with Crystal Palace Blue Lobelia, and Carpet of Snow White Sweet Alysum. The corner containter, which as the terra cotta Olla in th center of it, has a bright Red/Orange and a bright yellow Gerbera Daisy in it, along with a pink Lantana, and Black and Blue Salvia Gargantua, in front is Sweet Alysum and Blue Lobelia.

The Olla I cannot say enough for over the past 4 years. It has been amazing in the container, all plants are kept well and steadly watered even thought the hottest weater. When I went to remove the soil around the Olla, The root system was a solid mass from the past 2 years of growth, I had to remove ALL the dirt and roots from the container to the bottom. One day I would love to try an Olla in the open ground of a garden.

You can read more about the Olla in this blog post from April 2015


Learn even more from the site:

Dripping Spring Ollas

Container Gardening (1 of 11)

Container Gardening (3 of 11)  Container Gardening (2 of 11)

Here is the soil & soiless mix I am using the containers this year. It looks like it will require a second bale of greenhouse mix. I mixed the soil mix.

2 parts greenhouse mix –to- 2 parts Miracle Gro & 1 part Organic Planting Soil, so far the plant seemed to love the mixture.



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Gladiolus-Sensuality (1 of 29)I have to thank Kieth Sprouse of Charlottesville, Virginia as well as many other photographers from around the world, for brow beating me until I fianally set my DSLR to RAW, it indeed changes your photography world! Doing so enables you to take some images that you want to toss in the delete pile and turn them into something wonderful, or atleast more useable than they otherwise would have been.

I have amazed myself, when I go to my Lightroom Catalog, and see just how many pictures I have taken, some I thought months back that I should mark them and just get rid of them, well that day has not come yet. It is a good thing, as today instead of working out in the beautiful sunshine like yesterday was, I did work on the balcony garden while getting rained on early this morning. Today is a dark and bleak rainy day. What to do, what to do, then I thought I would go through my Lightroom catalog and see what to pitch, well instead I started playing with images that I had forgotten all about and what flower could brighten up a dreary day more than Gladiolus can?

Gladiolus-Sensuality (29 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (8 of 29)

Gladiolus-Sensuality (7 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (9 of 29)

Gladiolus-Sensuality (16 of 29)When we look at flowers along the roadside, in the field, or in formal gardens, we see flowers, bright and beautiful, they cheer you up if you are down, of course it means a little more if you were or are and avid gardener, botanist, or horticulturalist. Though when you are into photography it can open up a whole new world to you, through the use of Macro lenses, or extension tubes to be able to get closer than ever before. The inner working of the flower comes to life. I like close up and macro photography, it lets you into a world that the normal human eye cannot percieve. Colors, textures, veining, anthers, stamens, pistols, pollen (oh my even flowers have sex)!

Gladiolus-Sensuality (13 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (14 of 29)

Gladiolus-Sensuality (22 of 29)When viewing flowers up close through the lense, at the time, you do not always percieve what you have just taken, it is not until you get it into Lightroom, on the computer, that you actually visually see the subtle nuances of the soft light back lighting petals, highlighting area you did not conceive at the time you clicked the shutter button. It depends on the flower and its texture, type of petal, as to what you get, with Gladiolus petals, the way the swirl out from the center and unfurl, often gives you an almost sensual feel, soft, yet some sharp in focus points acentuated by light and petals behind. You could refer to it as almost dreamy, etherial, sensual. Well a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

Gladiolus-Sensuality (24 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (25 of 29)

Gladiolus-Sensuality (27 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (28 of 29)

Gladiolus-Sensuality (23 of 29)There are some pictures I have found that i did not like in color, delete! NOT so fast, you have the picture, try it in black and white, some photgraphs simply do not look like you remember the scene no matter what you do. Yet, some in black and white reveal an entirely new level of mystique and intrique to the imagination.



Gladiolus-Sensuality (21 of 29)  Gladiolus-Sensuality (4 of 29)



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Container Gardeing  (4 of 6)One of the hardest things to do in the container garden is transitioniong from Winter/Spring to the Summer garden. The pansies and violas, with their beaming radiant, smiling faces, looking at you in such a loving manner, that brings you peace and joy to look at them. Knowing this, seeing this and feeling this, makes what you have to do the hardest thing! Lifting the robust blooming plants out of the soil and into the trash bags! Sad smile However, you must constantly remind yourselves that they will succumb to early summer heat and humidity. Pansies and Violas are cold and cool weather plants that reach their peak and die back during the heat of the summer. They do not fair as well trying to keep the alive in containers as you can do in the open ground. In the garden, where the soil is kept cooler by mulching, the shade of summer plants, where there is not as high of an evaporation rate of moisture from garden soil. Yes the garden dries out, but in the flower beds, you tend to water more. Containers by their very nature of being elevated and the sun hits and heats up the containers much more quickly the demand for watering is much higher in the container garden and plant stresses are much more demanding than in the open ground.

Container Gardeing  (1 of 6)  Container Gardeing  (3 of 6)

When I moved here to the apartment, I was self concious of weight of soil in the containers. The one problem with most people is that they choose containers that are too small, for the luxious blooming plant and the equally large root system that grows to match the top growth, as with hanging baskets, which during summer heat should in most cases be watered twice a day, alas a lot of people do not water until the plants are drooping over the sides of the container. This is why I chose the size containers I chose. I went to Dollar Tree and picked up styrofoam coolers (holds one six pack of cans) for $1.00 each, this takes up some space with in the container, which lightens the load, allows for better drainage, and the roots have a cooler interior space to grow around. The soil mixture I use in my containers, is the greenhouse mix that most all commercial greenhouse operations use, it is “soiless” in that it is based on spaghnum moss, vermiculite and perlite, as well as some added moisture retentive ingredients, it by nature is a sterile mix, to inhibit soil diseases etc. I use it for these properties in the containers, but I also add Miracle Gro potting soil which too is spaghmum peat moss, with other composted materials, so it would not be considered soiless, I have also included this year a new organic soil, that I found at Costco, it is organic and contains Kelp and Alfafa meal. which I always used Alfalfa pellets in the garden to enhance and build up the soil.

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The depth of the totes I bought for the containers are key, as it allows ample depth for root growth to move downward, as well as moisture retention deeper down. This system seems to have worked well even with the styrofoam containers inside. I was not sure, when I did this experiement if it would work or not, however I think 4 years of good growth and blooms is proof enough that it has worked.

Container Gardeing  (6 of 6)My plans were to rework the metal balcony rail baskets, to reline them with the cocofiber liners and new potting mix in them as well. I find while these are aestetically pleasing to the eye, they are NOT practical. They are neither wide or deep enough to encourage a good root system. In addition during exceedingly hot days they may require water more than twice per day. I have tried many types of flowers designed for heat and drought. I have found the best, least suffering flowers to be Portulacca (a member of the Purslane family) as you know purslane in the hot, hard, and at time drought ridden vegetable garden, will thrive! This year I looked and last years Portulacca reseeded and there are babies everywhere, alas, I will do nothing to the wire baskets (this year) I had bought Portulacca to put there anyway.




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Summer Foods (1 of 2)I am not trying to repeat a post from years gone by, however I think looking back over the search topics and views of this very simple staple in our salads and on the summer table, considering that as of today the recipe has been viewed 20,495 times, that is almost 3,416 views per year averaged for the past 6 years.

The orgininal post was done on June 22, 2011. I wanted to update the post, with better photography, and give a bit more pizzaz. I also wanted to adress the single most often question searched for. The ratio of vinegar to water, and amount of sugar.

Really, this recipe is one for which there is NO written recipe, you make it, you taste it, and taste it, and adjust to your personal preferences. The only reason the sugar is there is not to make it into a sweet dish, but to mellow the sharpness of the vinegar in the recipe. This recipe is all about the way YOU, like it.

For the bowl I made up and photographed, I used 1 larger cucumber, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, about 2 tsp. sugar, pinch of black pepper.

I used a red onion, I had here to add some color, however generally we always used a strong yellow or white onion.

Summer Foods (2 of 2)

Another question frequently searched for is “How long does it keep?” Cucumbers do not last forever, as everyone knows. This recipe is in the fridge for those times you want something but do not know what you want, it is also good served with meals, where you have greasier meat, or with green beans cooked with a ham hock. It is just a little refreshing easy to make dish. I would say they will keep for about a week in the fridge, it is just a good way to use up cucumbers. We always just kept adding another cucumber and onion as needed. Eventually you can tell when you need to make additional vinegar water, or even add a bit of vinegar and sugar.

Since I am diabetic, now anyway, I have started using Whey Low type D for diabetics, it is an all natural low glycemic index combination of sugars, Crystalline Fructose, Lactose Monohydrate (Milk) Made in the USA by Vivalac,  Brookeville, MD 20833