Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book For the Gardening-Challenged

I have never met an outdoor plant (tree, shrub) that I couldn't kill. It's true...I'm among the gardening-challenged. For my money, the tag on the plant must say "hardy" or "heat resistant" (although, these are the ones that I kill with water torture). I know gardening involves some trial and error, but how many years and plants must it take?! I'd love to have the money I've spent in all those optimistic Spring plantings that withered and slumped over by June.

At least, I have a little good news. I have found a couple of weapons in my "Battle of Defensive Landscaping" and I'm willing to share them. First, if you are guilty of over watering or under watering, especially the potted victims eh...plants on your porch get some Scotts Moisture Control Potting Soil.

Next, if you plant tomato plants, drop a whole egg into the planting hole before you insert the plant. This provides extra calcium and other nutrients (and gives the plant a fighting chance, in my case). This tip came from an expert tomato grower that was featured in our newspaper a while back. Surely, you didn't think that I came up with that!

Finally, I'm sharing the best gardening book that I've ever read for bone-head gardeners. I have searched several plant and gardening books over the years, and own many of them. My problem is that they are talking over my head. I needed a book that was so basic that it explained which side of the house to plant on for different types of plants.

One tip that this book offered was how to re-mulch landscaping that's been neglected without having to till it or pull up all the weeds and grass. You simply lay several sheets of newspaper down, overlapping it by three inches and put the new mulch on top. The newspaper will block out all sunlight and kill everything under it. The paper will eventually biodegrade, unlike that black landscaping plastic. You are supposed to use three or four layers of newspaper, and eight to ten layers if you have especially tough weeds. When we did this procedure, we also showered it with water at the end to soak the mulch and paper down so it wouldn't blow away in the Oklahoma wind. Once we started this, I did recall an older couple that were good friends of ours who laid newspapers under their drip hoses in between the rows of their garden. Mickey and Lee had a beautiful garden every year; I really admire people who know what they're doing.

The book that made me feel less stressed this year about the whole landscaping battle is written by Cassandra Danz and is called Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead: Five Steps to the Drop Dead Gorgeous Garden of Your Dreams (so much better than my version which would be called "The Drop Dead Garden: How to kill Your Plants in Two Months or Less"). It is published by Crown Publishers and it's ISBN is 0-517-70554-0. Hope these tips come in handy as we all venture out into the battlefield that I call the lawn. Be careful out there!

For more great tips of every kind go to Rocksinmydryer who hosts Works for Me Wednesday.


  1. Thanks for the tips. We just got our first house. I'm excited to plant my own flowers and everything, but I know absolutely nothing about gardening, so we'll see it how it goes!

  2. Thanks for the tips! I'm going to have to check out the book because I am a definite "Black Thumb" gardener. I only have a small apartment patio, so I'm limited to container gardening, but last year I managed to kill all my indoor plants as well as most of my outdoor plants. I definitely need some help!