Archive for January 10th, 2011

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My Cactus Garden

January 10, 2011

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By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

I’ve never had a green thumb with houseplants. They invariably droop, shrivel, turn brown and die. My small outdoor garden hosting palms and ferns has fared somewhat better. However, the shining star of my gardening efforts is my cactus and succulent garden, hosting over 75 in-ground and potted plants.

In the beginning, I thought cacti needed sandy soil and lots of sun and water to prosper. Enthusiastic in my new venture, I faithfully watered my cacti every day during the heat of summer, only cutting back in winter. I watered my cacti just like God intended, with rain falling from the heavens. Following this template, I poised my hose directly above each cactus plant, letting a mini-rainstorm pour down on top of my cacti until the ground was saturated. But soon, my cactus plants were going the way of my house plants – beginning to die off.

One day, in the gardening section of a local home improvement store while looking for replacements for my cactus casualties, another shopper approached. I watched as she quickly made her selections from the display of healthy plants, a sharp contrast to what my cactus garden had become.

“What are you going to get?” she asked.

“I’m not sure,” I replied.  “I really don’t know anything about cactus. Some of my plants are dying, so I need to get some new ones.”

“Have you ever been to Poots House of Cactus?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

“That’s where you need to go, because they know all about cactus, have a large selection to choose from and even have a cactus club.”

A few days later, I decided to check out Poots House of Cactus on Highway 120 in Ripon. When I pulled into the parking lot, the grounds were alive with cactus of every shape and size. There were big cacti, small cacti, tall cacti and short round spiky cacti on every inch of ground.  There were also several long tables laden with potted cacti and succulents, each sporting a yellow price tag with plant identification.

First, I browsed the tables, then ventured into the hot house where I met owners, Bill and Roelyn Poot. A delightful couple, the Poots’ expertise in cacti and succulents is unequaled, having been in business for 20 years. They freely shared their knowledge and invited me to join the Stockton Cactus & Succulent Club.

With a friendly wave, I left with a bevy of plants, some cactus potting soil, and invaluable information on watering my cacti. My dying cacti were afflicted with overwatering. I had been drowning my plants, which only needed deep ground watering twice a month in the summer, and no water after October.

Today, some six months later, my cactus garden is thriving. I followed the Poots’ advice on watering,  moved my potted plants to a sheltered area and covered my in-ground plants to protect them from frost – a cactus and succulent killer.

Thanks to Poots House of Cactus and the Stockton Cactus & Succulent Club, my cactus garden has survived and is thriving. Copyright © 2011 Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

For more information on cacti and succulents and cactus club membership contact Poots House of Cactus, 17229 E. Highway 120, Ripon, CA  Open Monday – Saturday 9-5 Closed Sunday or call (209) 599-7241 or email  pootscactus@yahoo.com and say Bernadine sent you.

About our Guest Writer:  Bernadine Chapman-Cruz lives in Northern California with her husband George, where she writes and grows cacti. She has been a professional freelance writer with over 600 articles appearing in a variety of local and national publications over the past 20 years.  Bernadine’s current assignment is writing the Biz Buzz section for Lodi Monthly Magazine.

Writing is my passion,” Bernadine says. “I will write about anything, anywhere, anytime.”

In addition to writing fiction and non-fiction material, Bernadine has reviewed books on Amazon.com as well as reviewed movies. Bernadine also edits for other writers. “Editing is a new aspect in my wonderful world of writing,” she says, “and something I find very fulfilling helping other writers improve their work.”

In and Around the Garden is Bernadine’s first guest blog assignment.

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