Weekend Warriors Я Us

In a typical week, I spend Monday through Friday chained to my desktop computer. Garden interactions are brief and limited to looking or taking quick snapshots. But on Saturday morning, I spring into action. 

Throughout the summer and fall, the first order of business is handwatering the pots in the back and front yard that aren't on drip irrigation. That takes a solid two hours. Then I move on to the chores on my list, whatever they might be that particular weekend. 

By the end of the day, my back—and muscles that go unused during the week—often ache. Even if I don't complain much, my wife somehow can tell: “Overdid the weekend warrior things again, didn't you?,” is a typical response. To which I offer my grumbling assent.

Weekend warrioring may not be the must efficient way to get things done, but for many of us, it's the only way, sore muscles and all. Here's what I got done this past weekend.


Project 1: Move out agave, move in cycad

The agave you see in the photo below, Agave 'Bluebell Giants', had simply gotten too big for its location. 

Agave 'Bluebell Giants' prior to removal

In addition, this Plant Delights hybrid between Agave × protamericana and Agave × pseudoferox 'Bellville' (itself a three-way cross between Agave americanaAgave asperrima, and Agave gentryi) wasn't super special, and I had a hard time justifying it taking up valuable real estate. The time had come for it to go.

Agave 'Bluebell Giants' prior to removal

Removal was straightforward and easier than anticipated. I tipped over the pot and pulled it backward away from the root ball. The root mass, surprisingly, was quite small. Lots of individual roots, thin and wiry, but not the impenetrable tangle I had expected. As a result, I was able to salvage and reuse most of the old soil. Revitalized with some extended-release fertilizer, it's good to go.

I removed one fairly large 'Bluebell Giants' pup to save and dumped the carcass in the yard waste bin:

Agave 'Bluebell Giants' in the yard waste bin

The rest of project 1 was the fun part: moving the large and heavy glazed pot to a slightly different spot next to the in-ground Agave chiapensis and planting the Lepidozamia peroffskyana I'd bought the weekend before at Peacock Horticultural Nursery.

Lepidozamia peroffskyana is a very user-friendly (i.e. prickle-free) Australian cycad with palm-like leaves

So much better now!

Project 2: Give the Yucca queretaroensis a trim

Like people, many plants look better with a regular haircut. Yucca queretaroensis is a good example. Its leaves are stiff and armed with a lethally sharp tip, and removing the ones sticking straight is a best practice to avoid painful injuries, not to mention nasty eyeball punctures. The result (of the trim, not the eyeball puncture) is a clean trunk—the look I prefer over the shaggy skirt of old leaves.

Yucca queretaroensis beginning to tower over the smaller succculent mound in the front yard. Other residents include (clockwise from bottom left) Aloe hoffmanii × A. ericetorum, Agave titanota, Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi, Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass', Agave xylonacantha, and Agave 'Blue Glow'.

After I'd trimmed all the leaves that were bothering me, I proceeded to remove three offsets coming up from the ground:


I first tried with a garden trowel, but that got me nowhere. Eventually, I resorted to my trusty Root Slayer, which made quick work of it. As you can see below, the suckers emerged from the woody underground base. They don't have roots, and I have no idea how readily they will root. For now, I stuck them in 100% pumice, and I'll keep them warm and moist.



Project 3: Take out an Echinopsis to make room for a prettier one

Seeing how our garden is so small, I'm constantly refining the plant palette. I've gotten fairly ruthless in recent years, and only a few plants—perennial favorites, you might say—are safe from the metaphorical chopping block. The rest are at risk of being replaced if and when something with more bling comes along. 

Case in point: the Echinopsis clump in the photo below, to the left of the tree. It's an old Johnson's hybrid with red flowers; a nice plant, but not a real contender in a field dominated by the likes of 'First Light' and 'Flying Saucer'. I decided to take it out and replace it with an Echinopsis hybrid called 'June Noon' I brought home from my May 2021 Arizona trip. I love the striking yellow-white flowers!

Echinopsis 'Johnson's Hybrid' before removal...

As soon as I started to dig around the clump, it fell apart like a handful of Mikado sticks. Not much of a root system to hold the stems together!

...and after

Echinopsis 'June Noon' waiting to be planted. It's currently in a #5 pot, so it's a larger plant already

I'm eyeing some other changes to this area so I'll wait a little while longer before I plant Echinopsis 'June Noon'.

Project 4: Plant some mesembs

Earlier in the summer, I ordered some mesembs from Arid Lands Greenhouses in Tucson and Ethical Desert in Colorado Springs. They spent the last few months rerooting in small plastic pots, and I decided it was now time for them to go into a larger community pot:

Clockwise from bottom left: Frithia pulchra, Gibbaeum petrense, Aloinopsis rosulata, Aloinopsis rubrolineata, Aloinopsis 'Opera Mauve', Ebracteola wilmaniae, Nananthus margaritifer. Middle: Fenestraria rhopalophylla, Aloinopsis schooneesii.

This was definitely the quickest and easiest task I did all weekend. Looking forward to spectacular flowers next year.

Project 5: Fix drip irrigation damage

Keeping drip irrigation running—or rather keeping leaks plugged up—is a neverending chore worthy of Sisyphus. Even tough plastic breaks down with prolonged exposure to UV radiation and our high heat summer heat. I have a box of spare parts, and I find myself constantly replacing the adjustable staked sprayers I prefer (they rarely last more than two or three years, but they're well suited for the task).

To exacerbate things, random punctures and bite marks have been showing up this year on the drip tubing:


Could these be caused by Little Miss Innocent here?


Nah, Stella would never do anything like that. 

Except look at what she has pinned under her right front paw: a rectangle of window screen I used to protect a newly purchased Zamia furfuracea from the afternoon sun. Or, rather, what's left of it. Now it's several irregular pieces, good for covering 3- or 4-inch pots at best. Stella definitely knows how to use her sparkly-white chompers. 

But who could be mad at her for long. Just look at that face!


© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.

Comments

  1. Stella is just trying to help. You had a busy weekend but nice to see the jobs coming off the list. Planting trees and mulching the last few days. Muscles are definitely complaining.

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    1. I hear you :-)

      I have some mulch waiting to be spread. Seeing how we're supposed to have yet another dry winter, keeping what little moisture there is _in_ the ground will be even more important.

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  2. I am happy to know I am not alone in aching muscles after gardening. I've been doing it for 40 years but the older I get the more achy I get. But I would never stop gardening!

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    1. I'm with you there. Gardening is a great way to maintain your mental health.

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  3. It is exciting to get 3 Yucca queretaroensis off shoots. I do hope they root (in time for the plant sale pop-up...).
    You did say where the "Mikado sticks" ended up.

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    1. For now, the Echinopsis stems are in a box. I need to pot them up individually. Chore for next weekend :-)

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  4. In addition to testing your back and muscles, you also performed hazardous duty in removing both the Agave and the Echinopsis. Stella probably doesn't look - or feel - guilty as she's sure you put all that stuff in the garden solely for her use and enjoyment. Unlike raccoons, which know darn well they're villainous intruders ;)

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    1. We definitely have raccoons in the neighborhood, but they've left us alone. Knock on wood!

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  5. I love when things start to cool down a bit-and I have lot's of manual labor in the queue for this fall . Your Stella is so elegant !

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    1. I'm itching to get a head start on the fall chores. I want to remove a few larger shrubs....

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  6. I was looking forward to learning how you rustled that large Echinopsis 'June Noon' in to such a cramscaped space!

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    1. I'll be sure to document it. It may happen this coming weekend!

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