This new garden book offers helpful money-saving tips – the Orange County Register

“Garden Update: How to Make a Big Impact on Your Yard on a Small Budget” from Timber Press contains money-saving garden tips to be sure. However, the abundance of useful information provided by author Kier Holmes goes beyond pocket considerations.

For example, using gray water (water from the wash, shower, bathtub, and bathroom sink, but not from the kitchen sink, dishwasher, or toilet) — something we should all consider as dehydration intensifies — comes with some caveats. “Avoid direct contact with gray water as it often contains small amounts of bacteria” and “Do not use gray water in sprinklers due to the risk of inhaling unhealthy organisms.” Ideally, you will create a system that collects and distributes gray water via drip irrigation and thus completely eliminates the possibility of contact with recycled water.

“Never store gray water for more than 24 hours or it will grow bacteria,” Holmes instructs. “Use water on edible plants and vines like corn, grapes or kiwis where the edible part is off the ground and not in contact with water. Don’t use gray water on root vegetables like carrots, potatoes or beets, and keep it away from low-growing strawberries, because if If it is not washed properly, serious health problems may arise.”

Furthermore, because gray water is on the alkaline side of the pH scale, “acid-loving plants like blueberries and azaleas, which are sensitive to salt, struggle with it. Potted plants don’t appreciate it either, because restricted root areas make them susceptible to damage.” .

A helpful water-saving tip for gardening before it turns gray is to put a bucket in the shower or under the bathtub spout and use it to collect the running water while you wait for it to warm up.

Some add-ons that you may not be familiar with can make a big difference. “Rock dust, which consists of any type of rock mined into a powder, is a great way to add traces of minerals and micronutrients and feed the beneficial microbes in your soil. Add a small handful to the planting hole for a small plant and a large handful for a large plant.” Indoor plants also benefit from regular applications of rock dust. Azomite is the leading brand for premium quality rock dust.

Alfalfa meal is another additive, available at agricultural supply stores, that Holmes praises, especially when added to the soil before planting herbs. “Alfalfa is commonly grown as livestock feed, adds nitrogen and micronutrients to the soil and contains a natural fatty acid growth stimulant that speeds up healthy roots and stems (roses and tomatoes love this meal too). If grasses seem jaundiced and anemic mid-season, despite your feeding, At first, give them a cocktail of fish emulsion. Simply mix a few drops of liquid fish emulsion into a watering can to feed them.”

Regular sharpening of pruning shears or shears is often overlooked, the gardener’s most important tool. “Every few weeks I bring a custom file to sharpen my hand shears and give regional tools a few shots on the stone,” the author writes. “I also clean my pruning tools with a scrub pad and some warm soapy water to remove any potential sap, dirt or pathogens, then wipe the blade to dry. At the joints, I apply a lubricant to stop the rust.” Altuna Sharpener for Sharpening Shears is sold for less than 20 dollars.

Holmes has some short but valuable lists, such as “best architectural plants” which include silver blue honeysuckle (Milianthus major), foxtail cactus (Agave attenuata), cold-hardy Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia Antarctica), and papyrus-worthy pond water (Cyperus). papyrus), and the forefoot of bears (Acanthus mollis), whose leaves were carved on Corinthian columns in ancient Greece.

Edible plants for partial sun include blueberries, calamondins, chard, cilantro, collard greens, turnips, conquats, lettuce, and berries.

One of the plants on this list, calamondin (Citrus aurantium), deserves some discussion. When ripe, it produces hundreds of orange or red-orange fruits, ranging in size from one to two inches, over the course of a year. You might mistake calamondins for kumquats, which are another citrus with small fruits that are very cold-tolerant.

The difference between them is that kumquats are oblong capsules compared to the more spherical calamondins. The kumquat trees are also weaker than the calamondin. Kumquat trees (Fortunella spp.) seldom live more than five or six years while calamondins may tolerate twice or more years. Aside from the case of a premium container specimen, you can also keep calamondin trees trimmed in a gorgeous six- to nine-foot ornamental fence.

Similar to lemon and lime trees, calamondin trees differ from oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, in bearing flowers and fruit year-round. Like lemons and limes, calamondine is pungent and is not usually eaten fresh, but is used in cooking and flavoring salads, desserts, and drinks. Both calamondin fruit and flowers are highly aromatic and the plants tolerate somewhat heavy soils unlike citrus in general, which are notorious for their demand for fast-draining soil. Speaking about this, the author draws our attention to the fact that citrus fruits grown in containers use the same soil mixture recommended for cacti.

Holmes mentions begonia as a candidate for clonal reproduction. Large-leaved begonias such as the dragon wing species can be propagated by separating individual leaves, dipping them in root hormone, and introducing them into a quick-drying breeding mix. The author additionally tells us that honey can replace the root hormone in stimulating cuttings on the roots. “Boil two cups of water in a saucepan. Add a tablespoon of honey to the water and stir them together until the honey dissolves. Turn off the heat and cool the solution to room temperature.” Place the solution in a container and it is ready to dip stem cuttings prepared for rooting.

I picked some California poppies from my garden and put them in a bud vase. I’ve never noticed that its petals close as the afternoon sunlight dwindles. While researching this topic, I learned that they belong to a select group of species that have the same nyctinastic tendency. Nycninasty refers to the movement of plant parts at nightfall or as night approaches. I’ve seen this same behavior in some daisies, including the white African chrysanthemum (Osteospermum) and gazania, which is available in white, yellow, pink and coppery orange. This nyctinastic property is found in many other daisies as well, which may explain why daisies are part of the largest plant family on Earth with 24,000 species. In fact, the word “daisy” comes from “eye of the day” because the petals around the central disks or the eyes of tulips close over them at night.