Christmas Shopping with the Cheapskate

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in gerdening information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Got a gardener on your Christmas list? Here are some goodies that I know they will appreciate. Easy on the budget, too, because they're Cheapskate Approved!

They don't come much better than Fiskars and these comfy grip garden tools really come in handy for repotting, turning that soil, and digging out those annoying weeds.

I'm not one of those who enjoys the therapeutic effects of standing out in the garden, watering the plants for hours on end. I also don't enjoy the expense of sprinkler systems or wasting water.  I do really love my drip irrigation system, though. It's cheap, realiable, and does a fantastic job. As a bonus, if you live in a frequently droughted area like I do, drip systems save so much water that they're usually exempt from rationing laws.  This one is very easy to set up, too.

Taking the ease of watering to the next step, this timer...that sits between your tap and irrigation hose...makes it completely automatic. I use this 2 zone timer so I can set different watering schedules for my shade plants and those that sit in the full sun.  Can't imagine life without it now.

Not long after the holidays, gardeners are going to want to start their vegetable seeds. We use this tray, that can sit on a window sill in cold climates, to give our plants a greenhouse-quality start. Plant in the beginning of the year. When the last frost is past, you'll have some nice root balls that you can just pop out and stick in the ground.  When done, save for next year or turn in the completely recyclable components to your local recycler.

Again, thanks for supporting the Cheapskate Urban Gardener by doing your shopping through our links. Have a great holiday season.


On the Road With The Cheapskate...Fall Color in Northern California

While Southern California has little fall color, there is quite a bit more up in the cooler north. No, it's not Maine or the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it sure is pretty. Above is a Zinfandel grape vine at Villa Toscano Winery in the Shenandoah Valley of the Sierra Foothills.

How to you know when you've reached Northern California? Well, this planting in the center divider of highway 99 near Fresno will tell you. The palm to the south, the pine to the north...this is the boundary between Southern and Northern California (look for it at exit 150).

We're visiting the wine country of the Sierra Foothill, specifically Amador County about 50 miles east of Lodi.  This is California's oldest continuously operating winery (since 1856), the Sobon Estate.

They still use this original wine cave, dug into the hill, to age wines 156 years later.

At the top of a nearby hill, the Shenandoah Vineyard has this nice, arbor shaded picnic area.

This is also the Motherlode, California's Gold Country. John Marshall discovered gold here just up the road at Sutter's Mill. Dozens of historic gold mining towns dot the landscape. This is Amador City.


Now, back to home and tilling my own garden.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Our Version of Fall Color

The Cheapskate's been on the road so posting has been light but I'm back...let's start with our late rose bloom in the front yard rose garden.  This unnamed pink rose is having a stunning final bloom with the neighbor's liquidambars showing their seasonal colors.

Next to that one is this gorgeous Julie Newmar which almost has more color than my camera can handle.

Out back, the roses are pretty much done. This is Mr. Lincoln, all done and just waiting to store energy in its rose hips.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Citrus

Fall weather has finally arrived here in Southern California which means there's just a hint of cool in the very dry air. The leaves are turning brown (no color here) and they'll soon drop.

Winter's arrival means that citrus season is here. At the top of this post is a little bit of our harvest from last year, cara cara navel oranges and Meyer lemons.

This is our "citrus grove," consisting of three dwarf citrus trees...

...the Meyer lemon...

...the cara cara navel...

...and this rescue of a tangelo that was near death when I got it last year and nursed it back to health.

I get a few fruit each year but nothing like friends and family that have old trees in their yards that they don't even pay attention to and, yet, get hundreds of fruit that end up rotting on the ground.


I try to ignore mine and get even less fruit. The leaves shrivel and get mottled, so I treat 'em well, they look better, and I get a few fruit but not much.

Still trying to figure this citrus thing out. I fertilize every two weeks, water regularly, and treat with ironite once a year and the harvest doesn't change much. of these days.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

More Visitors to the Cheapskate's Garden

One of the joys of a good garden is attracting nature's visitors.  We've had around 50 different species of birds come through the yard over the years. Here are a few we've been lucky enough to catch on camera. Above is one of the western bluebirds that we see sometimes in the spring.

We also have a whole lot of birds of prey. The most common is the buzzard or turkey vulture.

Here, a house finch hangs out with a couple of white capped sparrows on our back gate.

The titmouse is a fun and welcome visitor anytime he comes.

...and, lastly, this Allen's hummingbird guards the feeders viciously.

Copyright 2012-Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

An Abusive Parent Tries to Make Amends...

One of my horticulture professors used to tell us that we should know all the plants in our garden like they were our children.

Didn't really catch on to what he said at the time but now I understand. I know each plant intimately, although I have to admit, I like some more than others and tend to play favorites sometimes.


Such is the case with my zygopetalum orchid. Not that I don't like it...I do. It's got spectacular flowers with an amazing scent but a few years ago we had the worst freeze in my memory. Two weeks of sub-30 nighttime temperatures with most nights getting to 27-28 degrees. These guys don't like that.

I had two plants, one didn't make it and I didn't think the other one did either but it eventually came back.  I left it alone to see what would happen.

Nothing.  It grew but went from being a consistent "bloom every Halloween" to never even thinking about throwing a spike.  

I neglected it and moved on to other things.

This year, after another year of no blooms, I decided to return and show it a little more love by repotting it.

Pulling it out of the pot, it came like soil whatsoever. I'm surprised that it still grew.

The plant naturally fell into two pieces when I took it out so now I have two plants to repot.

Since it's an epiphyte, the process is exactly the same as when I repotted our phalaenopsis orchid.

Now to just water in, put back on the bench, and see what happens.

Copyright 2012- Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Indian Summer Puttering in the Garden

November 3...80 degrees. 

The plants are loving this late season heat. Julie Newmar even put out one, last small bloom.

I removed all of our tomatoes but something made me leave this plant in and just cut it back. Glad I did. It's coming back and I'm hoping for another crop of tomatoes by Christmas.

While the season is ending for a big part of our garden, other parts are just coming into season. I needed to put a stake of the buds of this cymbidium that will be blooming soon so it won't break off.

You can't see them all in this picture but my wife and I counted five spikes on this cymbidium. Hoping they all survive.

Here's some more cymbidium buds clinging tight to the sprinkler.

The hot chiles are ripening. They go from green, to dark purple, to red.

Here's one that's already to go.

Our citrus "grove" is also doing well. Here, the Cara Cara navels are slowing going from green to orange.

The Meyer lemons are almost there.


Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Recipes for a Cheapskate..Cream of Bell Pepper Soup

My favorite soup. I always look forward to cooler weather and my wife making this soup.  It's so good.

Let's start by harvesting some fresh, bell peppers off of the vine. Our little plot of bell peppers have been very productive this year.

Along with the bell peppers, we'll add a couple of serranos for taste. They come from the garden too.

Chop up the peppers and throw into the blender.

Saute some chopped peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil.

In a 5 quart pot, put some flour and water in as a thickener. Follow with some chicken broth.

Blend the peppers.

Add the peppers, temper in some heavy cream, and cook on low flame for 10-20 minutes. Serve with some tortilla chips and jack cheese.

For a more complete recipe, try this one at  the CD Kitchen

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...