New Apartment; New Porch

So in November we moved. It has taken me this long to get myself together enough to show how the deck/porch/front door looks. This apartment did not come with a separate patio or deck. The only space I have for plants is at the front door. Now this isn’t an issue as it is larger then the space we had at the last apartment.

I am still using the Olla from Clayola that I reviewed previously. I love this product. It works very well with my containers. The great thing about this new apartment is there is a hose bib in the porch closet.

Here is the basic set up.

I have 2 China Doll plants. They are a tree, but frequently are sold as a house plant. These were about a foot tall in 2011. One of them at have not survived the move, and subsequent frosts we got this year. It has yet to put any leaves out. The second one is defiantly doing ok. Before I repotted them in these pretty pots they sat in pots that had no drains, so for a few weeks they sat in water.  As the sad one dries out a bit I am hoping he puts out leaves.


Base of first china doll tree


2 Ollas in the bottom of one China Doll tree


Second china doll tree, Olla’s slightly covered


Leafs of the second china doll

My sequoia tree is really liking its new pot and new location. This is a pot that has no drain. It is a “self watering” pot. Which just means it has a space on the bottom for water to sit, and not be in the roots. Because I do not water this tree with anything other then the Ollas it seemed like a good option. I put 2 Ollas in the pot with him to make sure he gets the water he needs. And as you can see by the new growth here at the bottom, he seems very happy. I have to trim this all, I was going to look and see if any of them could be rooted.


base of the sequoia tree with 2 olla and a small put with one olla and catnip.

I call the 2 catnip plants I have, Cat Traps. I have a doorbell with a camera, and I am waiting to see if the local cats come examine the catnip. They may destroy it, but it was cheap and may be entertaining. Catnip is also a Mosquito repellant.


Close up of the catnip pot, with olla hiding under the birds


Monstera deliciosa pot. one olla and some begonias

The Sago Palm was a gift a few years ago. It has done well in a small pot, but I think it will do better in this larger one. Again this is one of the “self watering” pots. because this is drought tolerant I thought it would do well in this kind of pot. I will have to water it now and then.


Sago Palm next to the door. no olla

I have a total of 3 of the “self watering” pots. My last one is holding a jade and another succulent that flowers. I think it is a hen and chicken type succulent. I am not sure. I have had a problem with over watering jades in the past, but didn’t have any other pots with drains. I did put the jade in a cactus soil, with a bit of regular potting mix on the bottom because of the depth of the pot.


right side of patio as you approach


right side of patio, covered.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my current container garden. I will hopefully be adding another vine to the left side of the patio. If the one china doll plant does not make it I may add another tree, or a patio rose tree.



Traditional Irrigation in a Small Space

I may never end this journey but I think I am much closer. At least in regards to my container garden, on my small deck.

I found a company called Clayola. They make an Olla that can be connected to a reservoir, similar to a drip system. I have been looking for something that will be able to keep my plants watered for a length of time.

The olla used for irrigation is an unglazed ceramic pot. This gradually lets water seep into the surrounding soil as the plant pulls the moisture from the soil. This process minimizes water lost to evaporation or run off. This type of irrigation has been said to have been used by Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. I can not find anything that will actually date how far back humans have irrigated in this manner.

Here  is a website that discusses the use of the olla in gardens in modern times.

Finding pictures of how these are used; that I can use here is a bit difficult.

I have chosen to go with the Clayola company’s product because of the size. I have been using a similar product that I put a water bottle in. I also have 2 that use a cute little glass ball to hold the water. While this works it does not last more than a few days. So any vacations of any length are going to have dry periods.

I have taken some pictures from the amazon page and Facebook page for these. They do not seem to have a website other than these. I have found them reviewed on a number of gardening sites, even Martha Stewart.  Facebook page    Amazon page


I am approaching the use of these a little bit differently. The siphon method works very well, but I like to have it more gravity fed like my drip system was.

I purchased 12 of the ollas. So 2 boxes of 6 each. One of the boxes did not come with the siphon but starting a siphon without the little pump is easy to do. The piping is much more flexible than any of the drip pipes I have dealt with. It has a soft wall, verses the hard wall, or hard plastic of the drip lines from Rain Bird.

I have added a bit more soil to the pots so the ollas are completely covered. With no need to get at them to refill because of the lines I don’t see any reason to not have a light covering of soil over the top.

The only proposed change to this set up is going to be taking the bucket and putting it in the closet I have on the deck, and running the hose out to the plants. This will keep the water from being in the sun, and having some of it evaporate off. It will also keep the water cooler. I don’t think the temperature of the water is a big deal, but it can almost get warm enough for a bath out in the strong summer sun in California.

** Update : I went on a 7 day vacation and this system worked AWESOME. The plants used about 3 gallons of water during that time. Now The plants I have on this are water hungry plants. I have one Giant Redwood who is 6 feet tall. I have 2 China Doll plants that are both over 7 feet tall, and will need new homes if I don’t move by next year. And I have 2 post with multiple monstera deliciosa in them. I had another pot with a mystery plant in it, but for some reason that pot was pulling water to such a degree it was pooling under the pot. So I removed that one from the chain before going on vacation.







Micro Hybrid Hydroponic Apartment Gorilla Gardening

The name that has been coined by my boyfriend for this set up is “Micro Hybrid Hydroponic Apartment Gorilla Gardening”.

We have taken a fish tank and a pump and attached drip heads to the piping for containers. Any of the “run off” from 2 of the pots goes right back into the tank, and when I fill my fountain the water above a certain point will go in as well.

This is basically Phase one.

This is the before:


Here is the right now:


The pots are on some black wire shelving to get them up high enough for the fish tank.


You can just see the tank. The water is clear so it basically disappears. Of course as I use this the water is not likely to stay clear. At some point I will put fish in the tank as well. The fish poop will be good for the plants.


The small black spot is actually a drain. It is small because we wanted to do something that could be easily plugged while we tested the concept.


These are sprinkler heads. There is not really enough pressure for them to so the spray they can do. The pump we are using is not very powerful.

The deck and the attached closet needed some cleaning and an overall overhaul. I have things that should be thrown away, and things I am not using that I should give away.

At this point in the design of this system we have spent $50. That includes some items that have not been delivered to be used for soil sensors, and some pumps that we are going to make solar-powered.

Stay tune. More as we go.

If you have any questions about the plants on the deck, or anything about this project please feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for dropping by.


Summer Gardening in a Drought

California is still in a drought. This spring has brought some much-needed rain, but still not even a “normal” amount.

This changes the way I will be approaching my deck garden. All of my plants are in containers which traditionally need more water than if you plant them in the ground. With that in mind I have changed some of the planters to more hardy and less water needy plants.

Mixed pot in flower.

Mixed pot in flower.

This I only one of the pots that have a mix of succulent and cactus that seem to need minimal water. At least they do not need to be watered every day.

Another way I have addressed the water need is to use bath water. I have a roommate that love to soak in the tub. There was a level of guilt happening because of the drought. So now, as long as no soap is used, I take buckets of water from the tub when the roommate is done, and use it to water the plants.

Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa

So far none of the plants seem to be showing signs of being upset with this watering schema. I would like to set up a drip line for my large plants. This would allow me to put a bucket of water out, and then they would get water for a longer then the moment I water them. I am still looking into this.

I have used drip line before. It works great for me, but I have to create a new water reservoir. The last one I was using was a solar shower water bag, and this is just difficult to fill, and it needs to be hung up. I am considering converting a 5 gallon bucket int o a reservoir, this would mean I could set it on a stool or raised item, instead of having to hang something.

April growth of the Scarlet Trumpet Vine.

April growth of the Scarlet Trumpet Vine.

That is the current state of the deck. I have my new camera, so I will be continuing to take pictures of the deck and other things.

I have started a photography site. This will be where I post most of my photos. Especially the ones that have nothing to do with my gardening. You are all welcome to join me there as well.

Rugosa Rose Photography

Thanks for dropping by.