Liv Fruitful with Livi Lou! She is currently breeding strawberries, developing a garden product, trialing plants and researching the history of heirloom fruit varieties. She writes about unique perennials and fruit plants, so that you can grow an ornamental fruit garden. www.livilougarden.com facebook.com/livilougarden
 

 

Garden Lessons from my 21 Year Old Cat
by Livi Lou - posted 03/11/16

Every pet parent would agree that you definitely learn a lot from your pets.  My cat is 21 years old today and I look forward to another summer with her following me around the garden.  Here are three garden (and life) lessons inspired by my 21 year old cat.

 

 

Be Forgiving

Whether you disrupt her pleasant slumber or you accidentally step on her tail her love is unwavering and she’s back to sleep on your lap immediately.

 

Garden: Try something new in your garden.  If you fail, forgive yourself, learn from it and try again.

 

 

Enjoy Life

My cat was born with small kidneys, she had oral surgery as a 20 year old cat and she recently recovered from temporary blindness. What motivates such longevity? She loves life and all that it offers!

 

Garden: A garden is the embodiment of life. From winter it is reborn and through each cycle of the seasons it returns stronger than before.  When you smell the aroma of the flowers on the breeze, feel the soft touch of a rose petal or taste the complex flavors only home-grown fruit can give you, it is an act of appreciating life.  Garden for your well-being.

 

 

Understand the Power of Persistence

There are too many examples to illustrate my cat’s determination. The purest example is when we first got our dog.  My cat does not let anything keep her from her family, not even a strange furry creature that tries to chase her.  She figured out that if she doesn’t run, the dog won’t chase. She happily resumed her position at the top of the pet hierarchy in our household.

 

Garden: If there is something you want to do.  Figure it out and go do it. If there’s something you want to grow.  Go grow it.  When you realize that there is truly nothing that can hold you back, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

 

I hope you find gardens (and my cat) as inspiring as I do.  What inspires you about your pets?

 

 

  ~ Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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The Best Container: Earthbox or Smart Pots?
by Livi Lou - posted 03/04/16

Why is container growing so great?

·        You can better control the soil

·        You can move the plant to the sun, shade or garage

·        It’s not permanent and you can try growing something new

·        They’re best for nursery grown plants since any diseased plantings will be restricted to the pot instead of contaminating your in-ground garden soil

 

What is a downside to it?

·        Your garden can look junky and overcrowded if there are too many pots

 

Which containers are best?

That depends on your purpose for the container. Is it going to be for decorative plantings such as annual or perennial flowers or for growing herbs, fruit or vegetables?

 

o    

Here is my experience with two brands: Eathbox and Smart Pots.

As you may recall, I am growing the Double Gold raspberry in an Earthbox.

 

  

  

 

Earthbox—I’ve grown tomatoes, strawberries, loose leaf lettuce and raspberries in these.  I find the strawberries do not survive the winter in them.  I prefer to use them for raspberries and loose leaf lettuce because of their length and water containment. 

·        Earthbox has a water containing compartment in the bottom of the container.  Unlike other ‘self-watering’ containers, I like that Earthbox has an overflow hole in case of over-watering.

·        An Earthbox is heavy to move. But the Earthbox set comes with wheels, which is great if you plan to use it on a hard surface. 

·        Earthbox is a growing system, but I find that you easily lose the nice plastic covering you’re supposed to poke your plants through.

 

    

 

Smart Pots—Fabric pots that air-prune the roots.  When the roots reach the fabric and the air on the other side, they stop growing and form fibrous roots.

 

 

Fibrous roots are the ones that gather the most nutrients from the soil. Your plants never become root-bound and develop a fuller root system. They were originally designed for use in tree nurseries. 

 

    

 

I’ve grown flowers, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and fruit trees in them. Above are photos of tomatoes and mint growing in Smart Pots.

·        A Smart Pot forms a capillary action with the dirt ground beneath it which helps to keep the pot from drying out. Eventually, the roots may grow through the bottom to the dirt below. No problem, just rotate your pot and break that minor growth.

·        They are lightweight and easy to move. You can move your pot to follow the sunny spots in your garden or to bring it into the garage in the winter.   

·        Many sizes. I’ve used 3 gal, 5 gal and 7 gal pots. Please note that as the size increases they tend to get wider rather than taller.  

·        Temperature regulation. The fabric keeps the pot from overheating.

·        You can put them inside decorative pots.

 

o    

 

I have a decorative urn in my garden.  It gets too warm in the sun and hardly anything will thrive in it.  I’ve put a Smart Pot inside the urn and planted flowers that will flow over the edge of the urn—masking the edges of the Smart Pot—and the plants now survive better.

 

 

 

I would recommend trying a Smart Pot.  You can purchase them from Amazon. Here is a link to an Amazon seller who sells them in a pack of 5.

 

The only disadvantage to a Smart Pot is what I refer to as becoming ‘root-full.’  Instead of being root-bound, it grows so many fibrous roots that all the untapped soil becomes occupied and then the soil becomes compacted.

 

Think of it like this:  the roots now outweigh the soil.

 

This may be a problem with my Jelly Bean blueberry bush.  When watering Jelly Bean, the water would run down the side of the fabric pot instead of being absorbed into the soil.

 

I think this can be avoided by planting a bush in which the root ball is NOT nearly the same size as the container. Therefore, the roots have more room to grow.

 

And it can be solved by re-potting to a larger container or by root-pruning.  I’ll write more about this later this month.

 

 

Check back next Friday for a tip on protecting your container crop…and for an additional surprise post!

 

   

~ Thanks for reading!

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Theme Announcement: contain your enthusiasm
by Livi Lou - posted 02/29/16

I’m excited for spring and I can’t contain it any longer!

March Starts the Container Campaign. All about container growing, all month long!

 

Do you ask yourself…

 

What containers should I use?

How can I protect my container crop from critters?

What size container is best?

 

…then this March follow Friday posts!

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