Thursday, April 7, 2011
If the Weekly specialized in house and garden porn – that fabulous subset of the magazine world where all surfaces gleam, all furniture is perfectly arranged and all of the flowers and vegetables are in neat rows, their brilliant colors turned toward the sun – then we could write an article that talked about how gardening could be accomplished quickly, easily and for not a lot of money.
But realists know that gardening the way those publications portray it can be expensive and time-consuming. For real-world tips on how to make things other than weeds grow, the online world and a new generation of young and hip gardeners provide some of the best advice out there:
1. Start from seeds whenever you can. One packet of tomato seeds, writes Arzeena Hamir of www.gardenguides.com, can be the equivalent of one tomato start, but produce 40 plants out of a single packet. Weekly tip: Join the California Horticulture Society (www.calhortsociety.org), where members share tips and seeds as well.
2. Think vertical, like the hipster gardeners of New York and San Francisco do. Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens: The Growing Grounds in Castroville was an early propoent of going vertical with succulents. Weekly tip: Plugging in the term “vertical garden” into Flickr (www.flickr.com) brings up nearly 10,000 results, some of which use materials salvageable from the dump.
3. Compost on the cheap. At www.instructables.com, search out instructions for how to make your own compost bin from the wooden pallets. Buy some worms, save your scraps and get ready for the rich soil of your dreams. Weekly tip: Need pallets? Ask nicely at your local grocery store. While most recycle them, they may be willing to give you a few. The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (www.mrwmd.org) landfill can supply you with inexpensive wood chips and soil – composting classes are available too.
4. Don’t buy new containers. At www.apartmenttherapy.com, Chicago-based gardener Merill Smith shows how to build a container garden out of burlap and wood scraps. The rustic look is charming, and more so because it’s cheap. Weekly tip: Check out the garage sale ads in the Weekly, or make a fast road trip to the Last Chance Mercantile of the waste management district (www.mrwmd.org/last-chance-mercantile.htm). Among the items Weekly employees have scored: an antique drafting table turned garden art that needed only a good scrubbing. Clever garden hackers can stuff succulents into teacups or vintage canning jars purchased on the extra-cheap there, and wire the containers to tree branches.
5. A little more money than time? Try getting help from the professionals, most of whom are willing to do a little hand-holding to get the results their clients want. Weekly tip: McShane’s Nursery and Landscape Supply in Salinas has a personal shopping service – the one-hour appointment is free, but you must buy $250 in goods or gift cards at the end. InsideOut Landscape Design’s Eliza DeCiantis also willingly marches clients through the decision-making process. “People know what they like. It’s about helping them figure out what they want to see,” she says. “Their yards are extensions of their homes, it’s just a matter of how to make their internal vision their reality.”