june 5, 2014 Sow There! Peace and quite to grow the easiest of plants

Sow There! Peace and quite to grow the easiest of plants
Chico Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA) – Thursday, June 5, 2014
Author: Heather Hacking hhacking@chicoer.com @HeatherHacking on Twitter
Nature has a way of moving into empty spaces — weeds, lichen, wildflowers, toenail fungus.

Recently my neighbors moved away, and gone are the two loud pitbulls that greeted every visitor within a half-block radius.

I made friends with the animals, who did not intend to sound ferocious; That’s just the way pitbulls talk.

A new quiet has entered my back yard, making room for the more subtle sounds of creatures overlooked during the dog days.

The squirrels began to take over the loquat tree. If I look out my front window, I spot them dancing in the now-vacant parking space, rejoicing they can scamper without loud, doggie-comment.

It’s more fun now to eat outside at the picnic table. For about 10 minutes I was thoroughly entertained by a long-tailed rodent, eating loquats like ears of corn. But soon the enchantment ended, and I realized the tree rat was dropping the loquat skin onto the hood of my car.

Also, one morning I was washing dishes and felt a bug on my shoulder. I tried to flick it away, but it became attached to my finger.

I have no way of knowing whether pitbulls scare away tiny preying mantids.

Covet not your friend’s raised bed

This week a friend asked me to care for her pets, so I made a visit for instructions and to be entrusted with her key.

Envy is a terrible thing.

I spent a few minutes in her beautiful back yard, gazing with admiration, soon coming to the cold, uncomfortable realization I’ll never be asked to host the local home and garden tour.

Her husband has built a raised bed made with cinder blocks, and placed drip irrigation that neatly tends to each plant.

My “raised bed” is a series of enormous pots on a picnic table, to prevent gophers from killing yet another year of hard work.

My friend already had several three-inch, green-striped squash, with vines languishing across the rich soil.

The squash on my outdoor torture-chamber have had numerous blossoms, each which wilts without any hint of actual food production.

Now I remember why I sometimes vow to stick to growing flowers.

Or better yet, perhaps cactus.

Stick with easy and fun summer flowers

It’s June, which means we have a green light for planting zinnias, one of the easiest flowers for this hot climate.

In years past, I planted these flowers too early, and waited impatiently while seeds rotted in the soil.

My coworker Laurie told me one day “oh no. Never plant zinnia before June.”

She said it so matter-of-factly, I knew she probably knew something about cursing at empty soil during March and April.

Because we are in a drought, I will plant zinnia seeds in containers.

The plants produce flowers you’ll see in Mexican tableware — bold orange, solid pink and orange-yellow.

The organicgardening.com website warns that one zinnia foe is powdery mildew.

For prevention, don’t plant them so close that you cut off air circulation, and water at the base as opposed to overhead.

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