dishin' the DIRT on hit and myth landscaping

Archive for the category “transplant”


Yes, I’m a gypsy. No sooner than I’ve completed the last project on my to-do list (and hubby’s done with his honey-do list),  and I develop an acute itch only cured by priming the ZILLOW app on my iPhone. Hubby recognizes that dazed look on my face. He’s come to hate that look.

Last spring, hubby retired. We decided we’d live at our farm during the week (a 2 1/2-hour drive away) heading back to an apartment on The Waterway for weekends so we don’t miss grandkids or church. Sounds like a perfect retirement plan, right: no-maintenance living on one end, never-ending on the other. After all, I can write from anywhere with an internet connection. Lots of people do that. It’s called tele-pathetic work, I think.

But, God…He not only has a big BUT, He’s got an impeccable sense of comedic timing. The second day out on our retirement road trip to Yosemite, we got a call that could not have come from anywhere except above. So my hubby took the job and I took to ZILLOW. Again. The farm will continue as a weekend hobby for now.

Apparently, my plants have a touch of gypsy, too. Neighbors (of numerous houses) swear they’ve witnessed shrubs and perennials in my yard lift their skirts…uh…er…ROOTS when they see me coming with a shovel. The home we bought THIS time was a rental property for several years. It had good bones; however, a few were brittle, the rest broken. So here I come with my shovel.


Want a happy face on your shrubs? Transplant at the right time!

We straddle the Texas Gulf Coast and the Pineywoods here. Our weather is somewhat temperate. Also somewhat temperamental, but that’s for another post. The best time to re-do a landscape is our version of winter, which actually translates as less-hot-than-other-seasons. People who hate cold come live here in the winter, probably in this house till we rescued it. Heat’s the nemesis rather than cold when it comes to gardening here. And snowbirding, too, come to think of it. I guess plants and people are a lot alike when it comes to weather – we both hate both ends of the spectrum.


So if you’re like me, always itching to move, my hubby recommends a shovel rather than a U-Haul. He also recommends keeping an auxiliary honey-do list in emergencies. Got your shovel and ready to move? Here are some to-dos for the gypsy plants on your list. Also, check out my friend Skip Richter’s YouTube on digging up the root ball.


Root prune plants before moving. I love my sharp shooter shovel because of the no-slip spot for my foot. It’s made by Fiskars. (I received no $ for saying this, or even a discount, by golly!)








Don't let taters-gone-native go to waste!

I can be lazy.

While that statement sounds very much like I AM lazy, the distinction is an important one.  For most of my life, it’s been difficult for me to even sit still, much less completely veg out.  Those days are over. Has my personality morphed, choleric gone phlegmatic?  Probably not.  When it comes to continuous, never-ending chores – such as house or yard work – my conscience has simply relaxed at the expense of years.  It seems my friend Brenda Beust Smith, the self-proclaimed LAZY GARDENER, must have arrived at the prescribed age of ease-allowance before I did, robbing me of the title.

Combine my newfound laissez-faire chore blinders, an obnoxious obsession for recycling (stemming more from being cheap AND creative than any environmental crusade), and a desire to buck time-tested gardening rules and what do you get?

The sum is often disaster. Last week’s discovery, however, will be dinner tomorrow night: plenty of yummy new potatoes.

Suppertime spuds? DIG IT!

HIT: sprouted potatoes beg to be planted!

Seed potatoes should be bought and then planted early in spring, according to the rules here in my part of Texas. My version?  Smelled something funny in the pantry after returning from vacation in October, my nose leading me to a bag of organic new potatoes pushed behind a cereal box. They weren’t so new anymore.  Already sprouted, I tucked them – untreated and uncut – into my garden after yanking my frost-bitten tomatoes out.  So here it is, 1st week of March, and my potatoes are faster food than a crowded drive-through at dinner-time.  Just pop them into a few cups of boiling water in my pressure cooker, top with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and rosemary sprigs and serve.  Sounds even lazier than a trip under the golden arches, huh?  Just sit and wait for the timer to go off!

Best Time to (TRANS)Plant Trees…AND KIDS!

When should trees be transplanted? Leslie in Texas

When our girls were young, we found traveling at night while they were asleep was a great way to avoid the not-so-fun ordeal of toddlers/teens (is there a difference other than SIZE?) on road trips.

HIT: trees (and kids) transplant whine-free while dormant!

What does that have to do with TREES?  Our precious little ones seemed in a constant state of need when strapped in and unoccupied, just as baby or even grown plants can be when we mess with their roots.  Plants like change even less than people do.  So moving them when they are asleep, or in botanical terms DORMANT, makes it easier on everyone.  That being said, let’s talk about how you know if a plant is dormant and an exception to the rule.  (Don’t our kids always make liars out us?)

"Root prune" mature trees a few months before transplanting, if possible and trim large plants if needed to handle them easier. (illustration from City of Vancouver, eh?)

Trees and shrubs, called “woody plants,” can be lumped into two categories: evergreen and deciduous.  While this may seem self-explanatory, even THAT can be confusing because evergreen plants lose and gain leaves, too.  They just don’t normally lose their leaves all at one time; they slough continuously, often with a big turnover in spring.  Think of it like our skin cells, dropping with little fanfare.  Deciduous plants suddenly look completely bare – or even dead – sometime in autumn.  (I get lots of “all my plants died when the freeze hit” e-mails every year.  Nope.  That’s just how they hibernate.) THIS is when they should be moved. Like our kids, a road trip while they’re sleeping means you shouldn’t hear a peep out of ’em.

Okay, so what’s the exception?  Tropicals.  They often ARE dead, or at least the branches are; some will come back from the roots.  DO NOT trim tropicals during cold weather!  The mushy or brittle stuff adds protection from the next cold front moving through town.  And transplanting a tropical in winter is the kiss of death, period.  Spring – or after any chance of frosty temps – keeps tropicals from feeling the cold shoulder.

MYTH: plants don’t have iCal….

Need to see how it should be done? This is a great video on transplanting trees from Growing‘s Dave Epstein.  Follow these steps and your plants will be less likely to whine about their trip.  Sorry, though.  Couldn’t find a how-to on transplanting the kids to grandma’s for Christmas, but did find THIS one that makes me thankful my own children drive themselves there now!

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