Archive for May, 2010


Not much happened this week to the garden (besides natural growth).  There were a lot of vacations going around and lots of people out of the office.  As a result we didn’t finish up with the bark mulch paths (hopefully that happens next week).  We were however able to finish the last remaining planting bed surrounding the pot, running the irrigation and planting it with our second patch of strawberries.

In new sightings, we’ve seen our first asparagus shoots (see picture below left).  We’re really not sure how this will work as you’re supposed to give them a year to establish themselves and form a root mass before harvesting young shoots…we may not wait that long.  All of our tomato plants with the exception of the heirlooms (the only ones planted from seed and thus a bit behind developmentally) are also fruiting.  We’ve already begun pruning and training the tomato bushes to try and keep them more under control than we did last year.

Some unexpected news also arrived this week as we seem to be reaping the fruits of nature’s labor.  We have quite a few unexpected guests in the form of about 6 melon plants, 3 tomato plants, and a chili pepper plant (see picture above right) appearing in places around the garden that we did not plant.  Most seem to be coming up within about 30 feet of the composting area so it’s possible some seed were dropped at some point.  We probably won’t leave all of them where they are and will either remove them or replant them elsewhere.  The decision hasn’t been made yet.

What you see in the planter with the corn is a pumpkin (which will grow around the bases of the corn stalks) and a sunflower (just cause we can).  We still have no idea why the corn in the center patch in the font of the picture has taken so much longer than everything else.

All in all lots of progress.  If you compare last week’s to this week’s post I’m sure you’ll notice this.  Still large bare areas while we wait for the melons, pumpkins, zucchini, celery, and peppers to take off.  In time though it should all fill in and be quite a sight.  Looking forward to it.  Hopefully I’ll have a little more to update you with next week.

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Leptospermum scoparium

New Zealand Tea Tree

There are many varieties you’re likely to come across for this plant depending on size, growth habit, and flower color.  Obviously a native of New Zealand this plant’s leaves can in fact be brewed into tea…although I’m told…not great tea.  Tea Trees have become more popular in recent years and can sometimes now be found in the Home Depots and Lowe’s of the world in addition to the more specialized nurseries.  Valued for their very showy flowers they make great plants for numerous uses.  Blooming profusely for long periods of the year the plant will become completely covered in small single or double flowers in bright reds, pinks, and white.  They can be used as accents to add a punch of color to the garden, as background plants, and they can also be trimmed and shaped as hedges or topiary to provide an interesting alternative to normal hedge plants with their flower color.  Anywhere from 3 feet to 8 feet tall they feature tiny, needle-like leaves that almost give them an evergreen look and a very fine texture.  As with all the other plants so far they are water conservative plants and are very hardy, able to take most soils, coastal conditions, and container planting easily.

Another eventful week in the BMLA Victory Garden.  Everything has remained healthy and has grown (as you can see from the pictures).  The obvious additions were nametags (See image below) that we created to identify the plants, the additional bark mulch we added to the pathways (still plenty of dirt left to cover though), and the delineated planter around the pot that will soon feature strawberries once the irrigation has been set up.

Some minor changes include the addition of two new hose bibs and hoses.  Now we have three hose connections and hoses at different corners of the garden (by the back wall, the raised patio, and the parking lot) so that we can easily get additional water anywhere we need it without having to drag hoses up and down the rows.  This was planned when we ran all the irrigation pipes though so it wasn’t a sudden addition.  We simply hooked up the nozzles this week.

Additionally we have officially begun to try our hand at growing potatoes…red potatoes to be exact.  We had sprouting chunks drying out all week and today they were planted in the ditch (see picture).  You bury the potatoes two inches deep at the bottom of the ditch but leave the ditch uncovered.  When leaves appear you fill in another two inches of soil and repeat until the ditch is filled in.  This is done to get the potatoes down to a depth where they have the room to grow.

The last of the trellis’ and supports were added as well so the actual growing conditions for anything that will climb is ready.  The only thing other than the strawberry planter and remaining paths left to do is weed, maintain, and watch everything grow.

Click pictures for a larger image.

Ladies and Gentlemen I present you…

Adobe Lightroom

For those of you who don’t know Adobe Photoshop is one of the top image editing and digital painting programs.  There’s basically nothing it can’t do…or at least I haven’t found it yet.  I have grown so accustomed to it that I use it for even the most minute touch-ups on my personal photos.  The kicker…I probably know only about 60% of it’s full capabilities.  All these wonderful abilities come at a price though.  With a pricetag of around $1,300 it’s not a purchase the average person is going to throw money at.  For most people photo editing is all they’ll ever need…cropping, resizing, small touch-ups, color adjustment, and getting rid of red-eye is all they’ll ever need.  Well, for $300 instead of $1,300 you can get a brand new copy of Adobe Lightroom and have a professional quality image editing program at your disposal.

Fortunately there’s even a beta test version available for free download in preparation for them to release Lightroom 3.  However, it’s only available for a limited time until the full version is released.  My advice…go download it now and fool around with it until the full version is released.  By then you’ll know whether something like this is right for you.  You can find the Lightroom beta at…

Adobe Lightroom 3 Public Beta

I only really fooled around with the program for a couple of hours but came away impressed.  There’s a lot I haven’t messed with, but as far as basic image correction it’s a winner.  It can really improve your photos to a professional level quickly and is very intuitive to use.  Simply import a group a pictures and begin editing them with easy to use sliders and toggles.  When you’re finished you can just export them to another folder and you have a finished project.  Take a look below at some before and after images of some very quick adjustments I made to a couple of my photos.  I really only played with the white and black points and the vividness and clarity.  Not a ton considering what this program looks like it can do.  I really love the color that it brings out and the vividness the whole picture gets.

Click for a larger image.

Westringia fruticosa

Coast Rosemary

Other than both belonging in the Lamiaceae (Labiatae) family, a family made up of upwards of 7,200 species this plant is not related to the common rosemary.  The herb is found in the Mediteranean while this evergreen shrub is native to Australia.  Departing from showy, accent plants for the plant of the week this week Coast Rosemary is a plant that can fill many roles.  Left alone it can grow 3-6 feet tall and 5-10 feet wide with an attractive fine texture and fairly wispy appearance.  Extremely tough and resilient it is great as a background and barrier plant in addition to being used to contrast with other plants for it’s texture and gray-green foliage color or simply as an attractive filler.  It can also be clipped and can form attractive formal hedges.  While the flowers are not overly showy neither are they inconsequential.  Always light in color they will run the gamut from white, to sky blue, and even a very, very light violet.  Perhaps not as noticeable as other plants in the industry, evergreen shrubs like Coast Rosemary are incredibly important and add a lot to any yard or garden.