This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

October 11, 2017

Keeping birds from digging up your garden by using plastic snakes

I like birds, don't get me wrong. I love their songs, I love to see them in flight. But, unfortunately, they have tendency to dig holes in my garden, excavating for worms, I guess. And I wish they wouldn't do that. They dig around plants, sometimes exposing roots, and sometimes they just make my garden look as if someone had been tossing hand-grenades into it. Not a good look!

I've been trying different things for years to no avail, until a Facebook friend posted a photo of some plastic snakes in his garden which he called "scarecrows". So I wandered over to the dollar store, bought two bags of them, and put them in places in the garden. It worked! No digging, even though it's the time of the year when the digging is usually at its worst.

So today I went back and invested another two dollars, doing the front garden, and the courtyard. You're actually looking at the back of the front garden, as the goal is to make them visible to birds, but not show as much to us humans.

Looking at them from a bird's eye view I'm beginning to understand. Birds see them, and keep on going. I guess birds stay away from snakes. Hopefully this will mean the end of constantly filling excavation holes! I'll let you know how it goes.

October 9, 2017

How to plant petunias in October in Phoenix, Arizona

It's October 9th, and really it's still a couple of weeks too early to start planting petunias - but I'm cheating.

I bought four large petunia plants today and am planting them in areas that are a little shady. You don't ever want to plant blooming annuals in full shade, but since it's still kinda hot in Phoenix, I'm not planting any out in full sun, yet. In a week or so I will.

Petunias don't mind the cold here. That is, it never gets too cold in Phoenix for petunias. If you're from back east, you're used to planting them in spring, but here in Phoenix the summers are waaaayyy too hot, and they do their best planted in the fall. And you can plant them all winter.

Hole for a petunia plant

I dig a generous hole, just the right depth, but a little wider than the pot. I take the soil that I dig out of Arizona and use it elsewhere, as fill. The plants that I plant are planted with potting soil. I also add some moisture crystals and slow-release fertilizer.

After planting I water in with a water-soluble plant food and some Super Thrive (I just like the label). You can be as generous as you want with petunias - they love water. I plant them along the edge where I can get to them, and since I turn off my automatic watering system in the winter, it makes them easy to hand-water from the flagstone path.

What I'm looking for again this year is a LOT of growth from the petunias. They're annuals, after all, so they'll die when their lifespan is finished, and there's nothing you can do about that. Here in Phoenix they begin looking kinda sad in April. But from October all through winter and early spring they grow and bloom like crazy. It's going to be beautiful this winter!