Search My Garden Blog with Google Custom Search


Where to find exotic garden bulbs for cheap

When you live in a big city you may find that you live closer to a number of big box stores. Sometimes they are conveniently located to you in comparison to a quality garden center. This is the case for me here in Chicago, where big box stores are closer to me than an independent garden center.



I Love Crocus

There isn't a hardy bulb that I appreciate more than the humble Crocus. In the early spring when the ground is an ugly combination of gray and brown the first Crocus flowers are a welcomed sight. On Monday when I looked over my garden there wasn't much to make note of, then when I looked again on Tuesday there were pockets of color along the front of my garden.

Amaryllis 'Apple Blossom'

Amaryllis Apple BlossomThis Amaryllis 'Apple Blossom' is currently in bloom in my indoor garden. It's another one of my Amaryllis bulbs that I purchased from a big box store after the Holidays about a year ago. I believe I used the pollen from this bulb in a crossing with an Amaryllis 'Red Lion' last year but I didn't label the seed pods. The metallic sheen on the flowers of this bulb really make it one of my favorite Amaryllis bulbs.


Amaryllis Seed Pod And Seeds

This is an update to my previous garden blog entry on pollinating an Amaryllis. The image above is of a seed pod that split this weekend and the image below it is what the seeds actually look like.

   Amaryllis Seed And Seed Pod


Seed-Starting Pots From Newspaper

One easy and frugal way to get lots of pots for seed starting is to make them from things you may find around your house. Making seed starting pots from newspaper is not only very cheap but you're keeping trash out of landfills. To make your own seed starting pot is very simple. First, take a sheet of newspaper and fold it in half so that it is about the length of a can of soda (or "pop" as we say in Chicago) and then just roll the soda can until it wraps around the can. After that just fold in one end of the newspaper to make the bottom and you have a quick and cheap pot for starting seeds that you made from newspapers that you were just going to throw away.

Newspaper seed starting pots


Gardening Forums

One of the best gardening tools that is at a gardener's disposal is the internet. Just about everything you ever wanted or needed to know about gardening can be found on the internet. From plant growing information, to images to help you identify your houseplants it can be found on the internet. For a first time gardener it can be a little overwhelming to come across so much information and have nobody to bounce ideas or questions off of.


Harry Potter Goes Green

Look out Ed Begley, Jr. Harry Potter not content with being the world's most beloved sorcerer is gunning for your title of most beloved environmentalist by going Green. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , the seventh and final book in the series by J. K Rowling with be printed on 30% recycled paper.

"Moreover, 65% of the 16,700 tons of paper used in the U.S. first printing will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the global standard-setter for responsible forest management. This historic commitment is the largest purchase of FSC certified paper to be used in the printing of a single book title." A press release issued by Scholastic Inc., states.

Lisa Holton, President of Scholastic Trade Publishing and Book Fairs, added, “Scholastic worked hard with our suppliers and the Rainforest Alliance to secure this extraordinary amount of recycled and FSC certified paper for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As a company with an ongoing commitment to protecting the environment for this generation and generations to come, we believe producing this book and our future reprints of Harry Potter books with a minimum of 30% pcw recycled paper is an important publishing decision.”

This is very good news considering how many of these books may go unread after they are purchased by parents who haven't realized their kids have outgrown Harry Potter. Ed Begley, Jr I'm sure will welcome the news because he will be able to reuse the books that end up in book drives, two months after the release, as insulation in mansions owned by the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio.

Those less jaded can purchase the book at 12:01 a.m. on July 21, 2007. I'll wait until they release the biodegradable DVD.

Blogger Buzz

If like me you haven't scrolled down past your blog list on the Blogger dashboard you may be surprised to learn that all of the photos you've uploaded to your blog(s) since December are available as albums on Picassa web albums. Eventually Google plans to make all of the photos you've uploaded to your blog available in your Picassa web album. The good news is that you can integrate a mini-album into your blog similar to the flickr badge. The bad news is that there are settings you may want to adjust and if you're obsessive about tags and descriptions you'll have to add them all by hand.

If you've downloaded the Google Toolbar and you've updated it recently there is now a blog search button built in. Just like the Google search button the Blogger search button allows you to search the web the difference is that your searching for content on blogs. I've been playing around with it and really like the ability to search and see what fellow garden bloggers are blogging about. The bad news is that I don't see the Blog This button that was there previously that allowed you to blog about any page on the internet you came across. I use FireFox (with the Google Toolbar installed) as my default browser. If you'd like to download it and browse the web faster and use the Blogger search button you can download it by clicking the FireFox button found on my blog.

House Plants Get Sunburn

Just like people and pets house plants can get sunburned too. This is something that many house plant owners and enthusiasts may not realize or think about often. Most of the time we find ourself finding ways to expose our plants to more sun in order to have healthy house plants. I've been known to move a plant around a room as the sun moves across the sky to keep as much light as possible shining on it. So the idea of a plant getting too much light is not something that is always on my mind especially during the winter.

But I was reminded of the fact that there is such a thing as too much light yesterday when I was watering a cactus a friend had given me. I went to remove the plant from the shelf and when I turned it around the side of the plant facing the window was a whitish yellow. In the course of two sunny days this sun loving cacti received enough light to cause a small amount of damage.

If you've been growing your plants indoors or under lights make sure to get them acclimated to the sun. If your indoor garden sits in a window consider using sheer blinds or matchstick blinds during the first few weeks of spring to filter the sun that will be more intense than it was during the winter, until they become accustomed. Don't forget to acclimate them to the outdoor sun too if you let your house plants spend the summer outdoors.


My Adenium Obesum/Propagation

In a previous garden blog entry on how I care for the Adenium Obesum plants in my collection I wanted to include a current photo of the plants in my cacti & succulent collection. I just took a photo of mine to show what they're looking like now as they break dormancy and I start to give them water.

Adenium Obesum Propagation

Brugmansia In Chicago

Last year I received various Brugmansia seeds in trades from other gardeners. The seeds were very easy to germinate once you soaked them and removed the cork like covering of the outside. I germinated the seeds using the sandwich bag method and I also germinated these seeds inside of seed starters I made out of used plastic soda bottles. You can search my blog and read entries on both of them if you're looking for information on germinating seeds for your garden.
  Brugmansia, Chicago, Gardening


Spring Flower Show On State Street

As a Chicago resident (and former Field's employee) I was upset at losing Marshall Field's department stores when they were purchased by Macy's and renamed. I believe I made a promise that I would never step foot inside the store and that I would never purchase anything there. I rolled my eyes at every public relations move they made to make the transition as painless as possible for us. But I don't think I can hold out much longer, as a matter of fact I may have to break my boycott of Macy's soon.

Macy's is bringing back the Spring Flower Show to the legendary State Street store. The last time this event was held there was back in 2002, this years theme centers around Africa.


Tips For The Garden Blogger Pt 9

One of the things that I like so much about Blogger is it's ease of use and that it's owned by Google. Yes you read right, I like it because it's owned by Google and they own or provide a lot of other services for people like you or I who have an interest in publishing but don't have the coding skills or resources to build real websites. If you're garden blogging on Blogger you probably already have a Google account and maybe you haven't taken advantage of the different add-ons to your account.


I Love Weeds

"There are no weeds in nature, just as there are no peasants. Civilization and cultivation have created both."
-Lawrence J. Crockett

With the days getting longer and warmer I decided to look through a book I picked up at a thrift store this winter. I like haunting the bookshelves at thrift stores because you can find all kinds of books but my favorites to come across are gardening books. Sometimes they're new but mostly they're older books. This book for example was once in the collection of a J. M Janoski and was printed the year I was born. It's in really good condition and I bought it for forty cents.


Choosing Healthy Houseplants

I got a recent e-mail from a reader asking me what to look for when shopping for healthy houseplants. I've decided to post the response here in the hopes that what I do can be of use to someone else.

Houseplants can be bought in a variety of places now and I'm not above picking one up in a retail setting outside of a greenhouse. I've purchased houseplants from drug stores (oddly enough Cacti & Succulents), garden centers, greenhouses and even from a street peddler. Houseplants are the same the difference is in the care that they are receiving and the conditions they are being housed in.

Cheap Containers For Your First Garden

Now that the weather is getting nicer here in Chicago I'm taking on the task of preparing the garden for this growing season. The task I assigned myself for this week is cleaning my pots in which I will be planting my tender bulbs. While cleaning my pots I started thinking of the various stores where I bought containers last year and how much money I saved buying containers for my garden in places other than garden centers.



Amaryllis Hippeastrum Seed Pods

In the last entry on Amaryllis pollination I promised an update on the developing seed pods of the Minerva I had started to propagate. I hope this photo of the Amaryllis/Hippeastrum seed pods will give you a good idea of what your seed pods should look like if your propagation attempts were successful.

Amaryllis Seed Pods


Ornamental Pepper As A Houseplant

A year ago I was given seeds for this ornamental pepper called 'Black Pearl' and got around to sowing them pretty late in the season. When fall arrived the seeds had just barely begun to sprout but by the them the days started to grow shorter and I thought about just letting the plant die in the garden. But since the seeds were given to me by a gardener I decided to bring it indoors a long with my cacti and succulents and see what would happen.

Ornamental Pepper 'Black Pearl'


Dear Mayor Daley:

Let me begin my admitting I didn't vote for you this last election. Not that I voted against you either, it's just that I didn't think you had any competition and figured you'd win even without my vote. I should also inform you that aside from this one brief encounter when I was in High School you and I have never met. I guess I should also let you know that I come from humble origins so you wouldn't recognize my last name even if I spray-painted it on the Picasso in Daley Plaza. Even though you're Da Mayor and I'm just a blogger you and I have a couple of things in common.


Bring Back The Snow!

With the warm weather we're experiencing in Chicago many people are thinking of those first wonderful days of pleasant weather ahead. As I write this the signs of spring are already popping up all over the city; kids are riding their bikes, heavy winter coats are not being used, the neighbors are working on their cars (treating me to their favorite music at full blast) and the snow is melting.

Urban Gardening

Chicago Tribune Joins Garden Blogging

The Chicago Tribune has launched a gardening blog on their website authored by Beth Botts. I've known it was coming for a little while because she e-mailed me and fellow garden blogger Carolyn Choi (who guest blogged an entry on this blog) and asked us a few questions about garden blogging. In the Home & Garden section of today's Chicago Tribune Beth wrote a sidebar on Carolyn and listed other garden bloggers. One of those listed at the end of the sidebar was me. I'd like to congratulate Carolyn on the mention and welcome Beth to the garden-blogosphere and thank her for printing my blog's url.

MrBrownThumb, Chicago Tribune, Home & Garden


Chicagoland Flower And Garden Show

The Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show started today and I didn't even realize it. Since I last blogged about the show moving to Rosemont, IL I hadn't really given it much thought. I don't think I even saw a single advertisement for it or heard anyone talk about it. The reason that the show even crossed my mind today was because I saw visits to my blog's previous entry on the subject.


Craigslist Finally Listens To It's Fans!

I'm a big fan of Craigslist and use it for a variety of things, from buying/selling to just as a place to go and shoot the breeze in the various forums. For about a year many of people have been campaigning for an area on Craigslist where people could buy/sell garden specific items. And we asked so many times but never really heard anything. I believe the last thing I'd heard was that Jim Buckmaster (president & CEO) thought it would be a good idea but that Craig Newmark (founder) didn't think enough people would actually use a section that is specifically for gardening.


Urban Gardening: The Dangers

Earlier today I had planned to go out and buy a few packs of seeds from Walgreens and a couple of the spring bulb packs I mentioned in the posts below. For some reason I kept procrastinating and I didn't leave the house until much later than I had been planning. It's probably a good thing because when I reached Walgreens right outside their door a few moments earlier there had been some kind of altercation. The people who were at the scene weren't very clear about what had just happened. Some people reported that the car in the photo above was shot at while some other people said a Molotov cocktail had been thrown into the vehicle.

Amaryllis Without A Name

Here's my latest Amaryllis to bloom unfortunately I haven't been able to find a name for it yet. It's a smaller bloom than the others that I have. The scape was about 18 inches tall and the flowers were six inches wide. I tried to cross it with my Amaryllis Minerva but only one pod formed with the pollen that the Minerva donated. I got better results on my Minerva, the pollen from this plant formed two seed pods.
You can see how I crossed them by reading my entry on Amaryllis/Hippeastrum Pollination. I'll update soon with a current photo of the seed pods for these Amaryllis bulbs. They're much larger than they were the last time I posted about them.


Cheap Bulbs For Your First Garden

There are many options to choose from when you're starting a garden but if you're a frugal gardener or gardening on a budget you learn to keep your eyes open for discounted plants, bulbs and gardening seeds. This week in the paper I came across this ad for a discount grocery store called ALDI. I'm not sure just how widespread they are across the country but they have a site you can visit and see if you're in their market. Here in Chicago these stores are not always in a very nice area and sometimes the neighborhoods they are in can be a little rough.


Bad Garden Product Marketing

The past couple of days have been pretty interesting for me and my gardening blog. I've been e-mailed in the hopes that I would blog about some gardening related products. One company was pushing an organic plant fertilizer, the rep for that company did a pretty good job in the e-mail. He gave me all the information I would need on the product and offered to give me a link on their website in return for my blogging about it.


Advice And Tips For The First Time Gardener

A collection of gardening advice/tips for the person who would like to start their first garden.

Find out what your gardening zone is on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Figure out what type of soil you have and buy a soil testing kit and make amendments.

Decide on the type of garden you'd like to start. Maybe a cut flower garden, an herb garden, a vegetable garden? If you can't plant in the ground because you rent- consider container gardening. Just about anything you can grow in the ground you can grow in a container of some kind or another. Maybe some of the recent trends in green living has got you interested in organic gardening and you would like to grow your own food.

Start your garden from seeds using plastic containers like soda bottle to make seed starting greenhouses. If you're interested in hydroponic gardening you can start your garden seeds using plastic baggies, since no soil is involved in the seed germination.

Sit down and plan out your garden taking into consideration plant sizes and the amount of light they need and make a plan of what seeds to plant in what location. If you can't draw you can still design your own garden using something like the Virtual Garden designer from the BBC. It allows you to make a plan of your garden and view it in 3-D. What could be better than a garden design you created yourself?

Going gardening forums like GardenWeb and search the forums for information that you're looking for. Not only are they a great place to learn but you can meet other gardeners who share their tips and gardening ideas and gardening ideas. You can find forums for just about any topic including but not limited to; lasagna gardening, square foot gardening, gardening tools and supplies. Forums like GardenWeb are a great resource for the first time gardener even if you're limited to indoor gardening.

Soon you'll be growing your own food or collecting your own seeds for next year and making gardening gifts for your friends and family.

Brown Tips On Houseplants

If you're finding that the tips of the leaves on your houseplants are turning brown it could be that you're not watering well or the air is too dry. Here's how to check to make sure it's not a watering problem: pick up your plant (where possible) and place your hand on the top of the pot, now turn the plant over so that the soil (and top of the pot) are now resting on your palm. With your free hand lift the pot off and examine the soil. Is it bone dry? Or is it still moist? What do the roots look like?