Archive for the ‘August’ Category

August Guerilla Gardener

Things to do with Kids

School will be starting soon, and the way this economy is going you’re going to need to start stocking money away for school supplies. This is not only going to cut into your gardening budget but also the entertainment budget for the children. Let’s face it, if they’re not entertained they’re going to be bugging you that they’re bored. I don’t have children, but as a guerilla gardener (who has had previous nanny experience) I know that it is no way to enjoy the last of the summer! So here are a few inexpensive guerilla garden ideas I found on the internet to keep them entertained and your budget intact.

Soda Bottle Terrarium
A great recycling project that can even be done on rainy days. If you want to keep it really simple you can always go with the “instant” pop bottle terrarium. Either way, make sure to search the dollar store for some inhabitants.

Coffee Ground “Fossils”
This is a great idea for using up old coffee grounds and justification for yet another coffee break while the children are busy. If you don’t drink coffee you can apparently go to Starbucks and they will give you some coffee grounds for free. Remember as a guerilla garden you’re not cheap, (especially if your seen at Starbucks), you’re environmentally conscious.
Stick Vase
This is a brilliant idea for getting the sticks picked up around your yard. Just tell the children when they have enough sticks they will be able to make a vase to keep or give away as a gift.

Garden Treasure Hunt
This makes a great play date/birthday adventure. It takes a little time to set up, but the map is reusable and the “treasure” can be almost anything. Be sure to occasionally include having to “do” a gardening task (deadheading, watering, pick beans, etc,) before finding the next treasure. It’s not slave labor Mr. Social Worker, it’s creative fun!

Sea Shell Critters and Pet Rocks
So your kid’s have collected some seashells at the beach or some rocks when they were camping and they’re always bugging you that they want a pet. Get some googly eyes, paint and permanent markers at the dollar store and let them make their own seashell critters and pet rocks to live in the garden.

The best case scenario of using this guerilla gardening tactic is that not only will your budget be intact, but you will involve your children in gardening by sparking their imaginations and creativity and create memories.
Worst case scenario is that they think your gardening ideas are lame, but if you force them to participate every time they tell you how bored they are, they will be sure not to say it again while in your presence.

It’s another guerilla garden win/win situation!
Brenda Dyck AKA a Guerrilla Gardener


August Guerilla Gardener

Most Wanted List!


The question of the month is how do you get rid of something that:

  • Survived the climatic changes that wiped dinosaurs off the map
  • Can regenerate itself if cut into very short pieces
  • Can tunnel 3 feet or more below the ground’s surface
  • Was documented among the first organisms to reestablish itself after the volcanic explosion on the slopes of Mt.St. Helens!

What is it?
You might have guessed.


Guerilla Garden Horsetail Most Wanted Poster

Of all the weeding ordeals that a Guerilla Gardener has to face, horsetail is the one weed that is going to make you feel like weeding is an exercise in futility. Herbicides aren’t much of a solution either. They are ineffective partially due to the fact that horsetail is a perennial with a deep root system emanating from rhizomes and the herbicide uptake is minimal because of the lack of leaf area.As a matter of fact, trying to get rid of horsetail is scientifically proven to be a waste of time. Weed scientists (yes this is a real occupation!) in Quebec, Canada did a study on removing horsetail 16 times from a garden plot and it did not have any impact on re-growth. The following year the plot looked identical to the check plot! *
(Cloutier and Watson, 1985).

My experience with horsetail has not been any different!
If you pull it out, it grows back even faster and trying to dig it out is even worse, because every broken bit of root (rhizome) generates a new plant. Smothering them with bark mulch seems to work temporarily but it also creates a moist, airless, acidic environment with no nutritional value which eventually makes horsetails act like they’re on steroids and they come back with a vengeance.
The same goes for black plastic and landscape fabric – horsetails thrive in warm, dank, oxygen-starved conditions and they will soon be cutting through your so called “weed barrier” like a hot knife through butter. As for weed killers – no matter what you use the top growth will die letting you think you have killed it, but the part that is underground lurks waiting to spring out when you least expect it.

Master Gardeners will tell you that the only permanent way to get rid of horsetail is to improve the drainage, raise the pH (add lime), and increase the soil’s fertility (add compost). Then in the spring you will also have to chop off any pinkish-yellow pointed domes on top of the spikes of horsetail because these insignificant heads contain millions of spores that will become a gazillion new horsetail plants. Repeat all of the above steps again the following year and gradually you will see an improvement. Apparently this method can take up to five years, and will work only if your neighbor’s horsetails aren’t leaving their spores in your yard. And since the neighbors dog is already leaving his spores in your yard, the horsetails will obviously think it’s OK to do so as well. As a Guerilla Gardener this method of irradiation seems to be tiring, overwhelming and unnecessary.

So how do you get rid of horsetail?
Alan Titchmarsh, English gardener, broadcaster and novelist once said something like: “If you find horsetail in your garden, and you want a garden without horsetail, you will need to move your house!” Since this is not always practical, you might want to take the GuerillaGarden “live and let live” approach……

Non-Rule #4 -Don’t fight with Mother Nature!

Here are a few ideas that will help you embrace and live with the fact that there is going to be horsetail in your garden.

1)     Use them in a planter or arrangement

Fill your vases! Top floral designers use horsetail to make contemporary flower arrangements and here in the Fraser Valley they are growing wild and free for the taking. On the other hand if you’re looking for creative options for your deck or patio planters try incorporating horsetail into a planter. It looks designer, makes a nice statement and doesn’t cost a thing!

2)     Create a Jurassic Garden

It’s a fact-horsetail has been around since the time of dinosaurs. Add a few ferns, some fossils, and a dinosaur statue (or toy) and there you have it…..your new dinosaur theme garden! Small children, especially of the boy persuasion seem to really get on board with this project and will want to be involved.

3)     Convince a Master Gardener that you planted horsetail as a cash crop.

 Horsetail is apparently used as a supplement to treat and prevent osteoporosis. I checked it out at our local health food store and sure enough they sell horsetail supplements. I’m thinking someone has to grow this stuff, so if you have really large patches of horsetail, it is very plausible that it’s not a garden of weeds, it’s a crop!

4)     Make a pot scrubber

Apparently, you can make environmentally friendly pot scrubbers by taking handfuls of five inch pieces and binding them in the middle with rubber bands. “Someone” at work “Somewhere” mentioned that this would make an excellent Christmas gift for the pencil pusher who decided that everyone at work is supposed to go without a raise for another year. After all, we’re all on a budget and nothing is nicer than a homemade gift.

And finally…..

If you absolutely must try to get rid of the horsetail in your garden, make sure to have some fun with it! Arm some of the local neighborhood kids with shovels, then educate them on the fact that horsetail can accumulate gold in its tissues.
Horsetail is really more of an indicator plant rather than as a commercial source of gold, but there’s no need to tell them that. Let them think you are sitting on a potential gold mine! To keep them coming back and clearing the horsetail I suggest getting some rocks and spray painting them gold and leaving them as evidence that the more horsetail they pull the more gold comes to the surface.

Don’t think of it as free labor, it’s imaginative Guerilla Gardener fun!