Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Like all gardeners, nothing chaps my hide more than garden pests. And tiny nibbling bugs are one thing but large fur-covered mammals that eat, dig around or poop near my tropical plants really boil my blood. I was therefore quite delighted when the nice folks at Dog Fence DIY sent me a sample of Liquid Fence Deer & Rabbit Repellent to try. Granted, in Pasadena, California we don't really have a problem with deers or free-range bunnies (I'd probably pass out in shock if I found either of these in my garden). But I do have a real problem with squirrels who love to dig around the base of my plants in search of grubs and neighborhood cats who've declared my garden a 'potty zone'.

Although I don't know how effective a deer and rabbit repellent would be against these other critters, I'm more than happy to give it a try. You basically spray Liquid Fence around your plants and garden perimeter and again a week later and once per month after that. It works by training pest animals to avoid your garden. The key ingredients in this concoction are putrescent whole egg solids and garlic. And, OOOH DOGGY, it smells as horrible as it sounds! One whiff nearly knocked me out. But I'll do anything to deter pests so I bravely sprayed the entire perimeter of my garden. The smell was quite overpowering but according to the directions, once it dries, the smell isn't noticeable to humans. I would recommend that if you are in close proximity to neighbors you might want to be courteous and do the spraying when they aren't home. Otherwise you may no longer have neighbors (Wait, maybe that's a good thing!). I actually had an amusing experience with this. My apartment garden faces a pre-school playground, which was packed with dozens of kids when I did the spraying. As if the power of the smell wasn't evident enough, the air was suddenly filled with many kids screaming "Oh, my God, what is that smell!?" and "Oooh, it's horrible!!" while their teachers quickly rounded them up and brought them back into the classrooms. Oops, my bad! I honestly didn't realize how strong the smell would be but I have to admit, I got a good diabolical chuckle out of this.

The following day, just as promised, the smell was almost completely unnoticeable, to my human nose, anyway. Although I can't testify to how well this will work at repelling squirrels and cats, I'm sure it's quite effective against deers and rabbits as well as any other mammal with a strong sense of smell. 

The generous folks at Dog Fence DIY provided me with this product to facilitate my review and compensated me with a gift card but the opinion is my own. Liquid Fence is available at the Wireless Fencing DIY Store.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Wow, it's been a year and two months since I last posted here! I got sidetracked by work but now I'm back with a new post finally. Better late than never eh? Anyway, here's a video tour of my little tropical garden as it looks today. Below it is an earlier video I shot when I moved into my apartment four years ago. A bit of an improvement, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Over the past few months, I've been quite busy in the garden. Since moving into my apartment, up until April of this year, I've kept most of my tropical plants in pots because I figured my family would soon be buying a house and we'd move out of our apartment and I wanted to be able to move the plants quickly and easily. But after three years, we've come to the conclusion that we'll be staying put for the time being so I decided that it's time to finally put the plants in the ground. Here are some before/after photos of the garden work I did between April and June, along with a few extra recent photos. You'll notice that there are still a handful of plants still in pots - it's a never-ending work in process! By the way, pretty much all of these new plants will get gigantic so it will be interesting to see how this all looks in a few months.









Here is another recent view of the garden now. (no "before" photo)

Another recent view of the garden. (no "before" photo)

Here's my favorite recent view of the garden. (no "before" photo)

Monday, June 4, 2012


If there's one thing that always succeeds in taking the fun out of tropical gardening for me, it's pests, tiny, formidable, plant-sucking, diabolical pests and lots of them! I'm generally a amicable, peace-loving individual but I truly wish that all garden pests would die a bloodcurdlingly slow and painful death. And I'm OK with this. Because, as people close to me can testify, I am obsessed with my tropical plants and I spend pretty much every spare moment tending to their every need, like a a crazy cat person. But, of course, pest insects have to come along and spoil all the fun. Therefore, war has been declared. The spoils go to the last man (or insect) standing. Here are some of the devious techniques I've employed to rid my plants of as many beasts as possible. These are all non-toxic, natural pest controls but they are darn good at killing pest. (insert evil laugh)

This is an incredibly simple, yet effective method of catching fruit flies that employs a funnel-shaped piece of paper over a glass with a bit of apple cider vinegar. Within a few minutes of setting up this trap I already caught a few and within 3 days I had probably over 50! This incredible tip comes courtesy of Jonathan B. via

My kitchen windowsill is home not only to about a dozen tropical plants but also an entire menagerie of gnats. The best control for these little bleeders is sticky aphid whitefly traps. Gnats are hypnotically drawn to the yellow sticky paper - and to their doom. You can get these on eBay or Amazon for a buck or two each. I cut them into smaller squares for better mileage.

Neem oil is a magical, natural elixer that is healthy for plants, is considered safe for humans, pets and most beneficial insects but deadly for leaf-munching insects. I mix four teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of dish soap and a gallon of water and spray all my plant and the surrounding dirt.

Here's the most bad-ass foe I've got in my garden, the mighty mantis. I ordered 10 egg cases on eBay, placed them throughout the garden and am starting to see baby mantises everywhere. Although I haven't actually caught one in the act of devouring a pest, judging from the massive size of some of the mantises I've seen in my garden in the past, I'd say they are having a bug smorgasbord.