You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.
March 28, 2008 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Blooming is booming. Whether you prefer DIY or professionals, knowing what to plant and when can be daunting...unless you've got some really excellent websites on your side. And you do! Plantwire will help you find plants through conventional search, tags, or even by colour. Fine Gardening Magazine's site has much to offer: how-to section with videos, design ideas, and a fabulous plant guide. Garden Simply can help you achieve sustainable, organic gardening. Garden and Flower has several convenient guides on how to achieve gardening nirvana - including butterfly garden essentials!

Plantwire is in beta and looking for input; plant pics are Creative Commons licensed from Flickr. The Fine Gardening Plant Guide is siftable by 12 categories which support multi-option selection - e.g., you can list all plants for Zone 8 then narrow down by drought-tolerant annuals and grasses, if you like.
posted by batmonkey (20 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this post. It's very timely, the trees are just reaching the 10000-different-shades-of-misty-green stage here and the force that through the green fuse drives the flower is creeping up fuller's spine also. (Wanders off to sharpen trowel.)
posted by jfuller at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2008

Seems the right thread to ask readers : do you have any experience with cultivating plants with hydroponic method? I'd like to try the geek way, with salvaged material (rockwool that may need sanitization) and mostly DIY as a brief visit on HP sale sites suggest that they generally overprice a little too much.
posted by elpapacito at 8:12 AM on March 28, 2008

I was going to try DIY hydroponic tomatoes this year (after a disappointing "natural" last year). But I just don't have the space to do it indoors and hydroponics outside seems kind of pointless.

Something I do want to try is seed-bombing. But I'm not sure where to get the clay.

As for locations: I'm eyeing the enormous medians on the highway. They only mow one a year or so, so if I bomb with something fast growing, maybe we could see some trees or something in there.
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on March 28, 2008

Nice post.

Just FYI, Mother Earth News rolled out with a Google CSE that searches seed company catalogs. They also have a few articles on hydroponic gardening; this one is probably the best. (Full disclosure: my wife works for MEN.)

Long ago, I was in the checkout line of my public library. A nervous-looking young woman was in front of me in line, holding four books: two about poppy plants and two on hydroponics. The circulation librarian didn't bat an eye as she checked out the books, wished the patron good luck and said "Next". Goddammit I love librarians.
posted by cog_nate at 8:36 AM on March 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

Nice post, fellow flowerhead! Now, do you mind if I pimp two of my very favorite mail order places to buy unusual flowers and plants? I was actually perusing these both this morning before heading over to MeFi, thinking dreamily about how to best fill some holes in my backyard garden.

The first is Annie's Annuals, in the Bay Area: huge variety of gorgeous annuals (and some perennials) that you rarely or never see at the local garden store. Her seasonal garden slideshows are to die for, pure plant porn.

The second is High Country Gardens, which sells xeric (low water) plants and plants adapted for rocky, desert, or high altitude locations. They also sell pre-designed plant packs like the "The Inferno Strip Garden" meant for hot, dry, skinny places like the parking strip between the sidewalk and the street.

Go forth and drool.
posted by Asparagirl at 8:41 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Blooming, now? I hate all you warm weather folks (actually, I'm just insanely jealous as blooms are far away here in NW Vermont).

These are fine, but I'd love to seem sites like this have better visibility into which plants are invasive where. That is often missing in national websites, and folks don't think or know to look into that.
posted by evening at 8:43 AM on March 28, 2008

Man, I'd love that inferno strip. Everyone needs to do more of that sort of thing. I mean, whose grass looks good there?? (other than the lawn perfectionists)
posted by evening at 8:46 AM on March 28, 2008

MyFolia: "a new website designed to help you track, share and discuss your gardens and plants."
posted by pracowity at 8:58 AM on March 28, 2008

Curse you, batmonkey! I've been collecting links for a gardening FPP! I'll just share them here:

Dave's Garden. Pay site, and a little hard to navigate, but unbelievably comprehensive. It's Meta for amateur gardeners.
North Carolina State University
-- find a plant by your garden needs, or by the plant's characteristics.
You Grow Girl: annoyingly cutesy title, but great practical advice, especially on building garden systems and structures
GardenWeb: another really comprehensive site like Dave's (a little better graphics, if that's important to you) I mostly use the Herbs forum here.

This site is one that was recommended here (or maybe in the green, can't remember) that seems to be an on-line gardening journal. Haven't really checked closely, but thought I might as well pass it on.

Now if only it would stop snowing...
posted by nax at 9:19 AM on March 28, 2008

on preview I see that pracowity also found MyFolio.
posted by nax at 9:20 AM on March 28, 2008

Ooh, I love all of these extra resources you guys are posting! I'm checking them all out right now.

So glad those links could be useful/inspirational for folks...I had been enjoying them for a while, and realised others might not have seen them yet.

I don't want to over-insert myself in the thread, but here are some other hydroponic articles that can be scraped for supply lists and best practices:
Treehugger's 11-plant PVC set-up
Gardening Camp's 4-plant set-up - using emptied cat litter pails
Instructables article with a lot of side-research potential
The Glass is Too Big's storage tub set-up

*Love* the seedball, inferno strip, and, dag, I wish I'd found MyFolia before making this post!

Sorry for scooping you, nax - thank you for chipping your discoveries into the mix :)

evening: completely agree on the invasiveness issue. Too many folks think that as long as they can get it to grow, it's fine to plant it. I'd love to see anything anyone has on resources for making this simpler to determine.
posted by batmonkey at 9:27 AM on March 28, 2008

I was going to try DIY hydroponic tomatoes this year (after a disappointing "natural" last year). But I just don't have the space to do it indoors and hydroponics outside seems kind of pointless.

My neighbors are doing outdoor hydro this year, and yeah, I don't really see the point. In my mind there are really only a few reasons to do hydro: 1. Not enough light/warmth were you live/in the season you wish to grow or 2. You really like to keep your gardening private. I can be extremely productive, but it takes a lot of space not to mention power to run the lamps/co2/etc (if indoor). You can make a pretty sweet setup if you have a spare bathroom with a bathtub though.

I hate all you warm weather folks

If it's of any consolation here in Northern California it seems to be taking it's sweet time warming up, after one of the driest Marchs on record.

I was recently introduced to OneGreenWorld for unique plants. The male kiwi I ordered to keep my two females company arrived a few days ago.
posted by Big_B at 9:31 AM on March 28, 2008

Nice post. I started working on my garden just last week.

I grow hydroponic tomatoes, basil, chives, lettuce and a number of flowers outdoors, on my roof deck. I've built lots of different DIY systems, and have settled on two favorites.

One is essentially a home-made GH Waterfarm, or dutch pot system. (See plans here). I've got a strawberry bucket that's been blooming more or less continually for 5+ years, outside in San Francisco, and I've had great success building larger rectangular planters that follow similar principals (I fill them with things that bloom in colors).

The other is a simple bubbler system, made from a rubbermaid tote, like this one. Cut holes in the lid, insert net pots or rockwool, such that the bottom of the pots hangs a few inches into the enclosed area. Put an airstone at the bottom, fill with nutrients, and plug in your air pump. I use skewers that support 4" rockwool cubes, rather than the net pots. This is great for basil and lettuce and other herbs and greens.

Either one of these setups can be left alone for a week or two at a time, and produces huge crops in a relatively small space. But most importantly, I don't have to haul hundreds of pounds of dirt up 6 flights of stairs. Geek-factor notwithstanding, hydroponics is the lazy gardner's friend.
posted by toxic at 9:36 AM on March 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

3) You want to keep the bugs and birds away.

To be fair, now that I think about it, you can get higher yield by using hydro too. So maybe doing it outside isn't so pointless.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on March 28, 2008

For any of the West Coast Mefites who may be interested in landscaping with native plants Las Pilitas Nursery has a great online catalog and ships quality plants promptly. Native Sons Nursery also has a very good catalog of drough tolerant natives and others for Xeriscaping as a replacement for water demanding lawns. We've got a front yard with sages, California poppies, buckwheat and others blooming now, in a residential neighborhood of standard "mow & go" front yards. Gardening is both physical and mental therapy.
posted by X4ster at 10:06 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

As far as putting in only that which will thrive, I'd love tips as well. My extremely callous approach to gardening is the Darwinian model-- survival of the fittest. My garden is lush, not because I am a genius gardener, but because the plants that can survive me are extremely hardy. I approach the issue with an artist's eye--what is the proper color, texture, and form for this space--I make sure I'm not putting in something that is *known* not to thrive in my area, and then I see what lives.

Harsh, but effective.

Some winners in my Chicago urban garden:
Pineapple sage (wow)
Painters' palette
Never had an herb that didn't thrive
Sweet potato vine

Some surprising losers:
dusty miller (I love this stuff-anyone have advice for getting it to grow?)
Lambs ear, despite the fact that it is a native prairie plant around here
(As you may have guessed I'm trying to get a silver garden going, without much success.)
posted by nax at 10:30 AM on March 28, 2008

Something I do want to try is seed-bombing.

As per that askme, how about bloom booming?
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:46 PM on March 28, 2008

nax, all those plants are pretty tough. In the case of the first two, it's possible you're overdoing it with water, fertilizer, or soil that is too rich. If the "dusty miller" you're talking about is Senecio cineraria, it's a mediterranean plant that absolutely hates warm, wet conditions. Try planting it in pots or on mounds of well draining soil so it's not sitting in wet all the time. The lamb's ear I know Stachys byzantia, comes from Turkey and also succumbs to disease in warm, wet conditions. Not sure if yours is the same. Ageratums are tropical, and prefer wetter, shadier conditions than Senecio and most Stachys.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:13 PM on March 28, 2008

Lambs ear
Dusty miller

Yes-- wet, rich soil, although it drains pretty well. I'm death on potted plants (see above. I forget to water them. don't tell anyone)

posted by nax at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2008

I'm even more anxious to get started planting after all this horti-talk and with so many great new links posted.

After reading over the thread, saintcynr reminded me about the Aggie Horticulture site. It's a delightfully well-stocked fount of information (IMO, particularly the urban landscape guide). That got us talking about the invasives thing again, and I quickly discovered that there's an amazing Texas Invasives Plant Database. Handy!

I'm tempted to hunt down the other states to see what they have available.
posted by batmonkey at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2008

« Older Blinking lights!   |   Giving a sour surprise to your trusting dependent Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments