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0 comments | Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hypertufa | An Idea for Winter

I've always been meaning to get around to trying my hand at hypertufa. I found this great webpage a long time ago and kept telling myself to just get what I needed to do it, but of course, something always came up. Well, since the gardens need less attention now I'm going to make a sincere effort to make a hypertufa trough this winter. I know they need quite awhile to dry, so if I get on it pretty soon, it should have plenty of time to cure before Spring. Has anyone else made a hypertufa trough? I just wonder what type of project I'm really getting into.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Putting Away the Hammock

Among other fall chores that were finished today, I found the time to get my lonely hammock ready for winter storage. I really didn't have much time to be lazy and use my hammock this year. Seems everything that could break did, so I was busy fixing many things over the summer. I do remember a few days when I got to lounge in the hammock though. If the cats would have left me alone I probably might have sneaked a few naps in. I've always wanted to learn how to build a hammock. I believe I have a book hidden away somewhere that teaches you how. Maybe this winter I'll try to tackle that project. A few more chores left to do before dark. Guess I'll scoot for today.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Drying Hydrangea Blooms

We love our hydrangeas, especially when they are in bloom. I'm beginning to think that if I don't quit collecting new cultivars, I'll soon run out of room for the rest of our plants. Since hydrangea blooms don't last forever, we like to bring some of the blooms indoors and use the dried hydrangea blooms in arrangements throughout the house. In the winter they remind us of how beautiful they were during the summer season. Technically, you can just bring the blooms in after they have already dried on the plant, but what you usually end up with is a big mess with petals that shrivel up to nothing worth viewing. Or you can cut and pick the blooms when they are just beginning to dry on the plant and bring them indoors to dry in a vase filled with a few inches of water. They will usually hold their color better this way. To get the best colors from your blooms, pick when they are just starting to dry and use a silica gel to dry them the rest of the way. Make sure that the blooms don't sit in the sunlight. Your hydrangea blooms will do just fine drying in a corner somewhere.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Friday, October 20, 2006

Organic Powdery Mildew Control

Ah, the dreaded powdery mildew. Variations of this disease distress a wide range of plants; including squash, grapes, and even our native dogwood tree. Milk has been found to halt progression and provide control of powdery mildew on many plants and trees. I have used it in the garden on our squash and gourds with success. And I even got the chance to experiment with using the organic milk treatment on a dogwood tree that we transplanted into the woods that became infected with powdery mildew. Within just a few days of treatment the dogwood recovered totally from the powdery mildew. It still amazes me that we can find so many organic controls right under our noses, or in this case our lips. I have a few magnolias that I planted out into the woods, close to the same dogwood tree, that have developed powdery mildew. I plan to treat them next year with the organic milk solution as another experiment. Okay, so you're getting antsy and want to know what the milk and water mixture ratio is... It is 9 parts water to 1 part milk. For those that are math challenged, just use 9 cups of water and 1 cup of milk. Mix well and pour into a sprayer bottle. It is best to use skim milk as there will be less odors from continued spraying and the skim milk will keep your sprayer from clogging up. Spray leaves thoroughly three times a week, early in the morning. Keep any unused portion of this organic mixture stored in your fridge for up to 1 week. I hope this organic tip helps keep your garden powdery mildew free.

Gardening Tips

1 comments | Thursday, October 19, 2006

When to Plant Strawberries - Strawberry Plants

Wondering when to plant strawberries? Strawberry plants are usually planted in the Spring in most gardens, but you can get away with planting them in the Fall season and have no problems. Trouble is, strawberries are not huge sellers in the Fall season so most nurseries don't carry them this late in the year. But if you already have your own bed of strawberries and are wanting to start a new strawberry bed, you can transplant strawberry plants safely in either Spring or Fall. Actually, we move strawberry plants throughout the year without problems. If you move the plants in Summer, you just have to make sure that the strawberries are kept watered until they become somewhat established. A couple of weeks of supplemental watering usually does the trick. It also helps to transplant the strawberries early in the morning. Remember to plant strawberries where they will get full sunlight as it is all-important for optimal strawberry production.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Monday, October 16, 2006

A Healthy Soil

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics of healthy soil. Healthy soil is essential to building beautiful gardens. With healthy soil, your plants are better equipped to fight off diseases. Your plants have more organic nutrients available to them. If you're growing vegetables, you can expect better yields. If you're growing flowering plants, you can expect more blooms and lush foliage. You can make a huge positive impact on the soil in your garden by doing one simple thing. Add organic amendments. Return to the soil what came from the soil. This doesn't have to make you an "organic gardener". You can still use your Miracle-Gro or other synthetic fertilizers. What you will realize is you don't need quite as much and as often. And you'll see the results growing before your very eyes. One thing to always keep in mind, the overall health of your garden starts with the soil.

Related posts: Soil Water Retention

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Worm Snakes

If it looks like a worm, then it must be a worm... snake that is. I'm not sure whether they're called worm snakes because they look like worms or because they eat worms. Either way, don't go digging through loose, sandy garden soil with bare hands and take for granted the only squiggly creature you'll come up with between your fingers is a worm. I was transplanting plants into a recently tilled nursery bed and brought up a handful of garden soil with one of these worm snakes dangling through my fingers. I was a bit shocked as I couldn't immediately identify this snake. If you've never come upon one in the garden, you can read more about them here. They really seem to like sandy soil, like ours, so if you have clay soil I wouldn't be worrying about digging these snakes up in your garden. The worm snake is not poisonous.

Related posts: Kentucky Snakes - Red Worms

Gardening Tips


Gathering Tree Seeds

One of my favorite things to do at this time of year is gathering tree seeds. I love to find seeds from native trees that we don't have growing on our property and add them to "our collection". The easiest way to go about gathering tree seeds is to study up on the specific tree you are wanting to collect seeds from. Find out their good and bad points. And most importantly, for the sake of this post, find out when the seeds are mature for harvesting and what the seeds need to get them growing and established. Most tree seeds simply require you to remove the seeds from a pod or shell of some sort. But there are a few tree seeds that will need to go through different treatments so that the seeds will germinate. Be forewarned, saving seeds from some trees can be a little messy, especially if you let the seeds go past the ripe stage. For example, if you want to save seeds from the black walnut tree, just put them out in the driveway and drive over them for a few months. You won't harm the seed inside and it won't be such a messy job as opposed to trying to remove the shell covering by hand. After the shell covering has decomposed, you can plant the black walnut, shell and all, into a pot or directly where you plan to grow the tree. Just remember to mark where you planted the tree seed so you don't forget what you planted and so you won't accidentally run over it. Some tree seeds may not germinate for two years or more, so patience can indeed be a virtue in gathering tree seeds.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Feeding Wild Birds in Winter

If you plan on feeding wild birds this winter, here's a few tips you'll want to keep in mind. The main one being, if you do start feeding wild birds in your backyard this winter, don't stop until Spring arrives. It wouldn't be nice if we traveled many hungry miles for a good meal at our favorite restaurant only to find out that there was no food available to eat when we got there. Always have plenty of seed and water available for the birds. Birds will burn many calories over the winter months and need high fat foods to help them sustain their high body temperatures. Wild birds can be fed suet and peanut butter to supplement their fat intake that they don't receive from seeds. Black sunflower seed is higher in fat content than striped sunflower seed and should always be available for the many varieties of birds passing through your backyard. If you had a plot of wildflowers growing this year, cut back the seed heads and store these in a dry place for offering to the birds in the dead of winter. Other common seeds, besides sunflower seed, for feeding wild birds in the winter include millet, niger, thistle, safflower and cracked corn. Save youself some money and buy only seeds and grain that you know your birds will eat. Most mixed feeds contain filler seed that the majority of birds will not eat. If you wish to keep the squirrels away from your bird feeders, keep a squirrel feeder filled with corn and unsalted peanuts for these little guys. Make sure the squirrel feeder is located well away from the bird feeders, but still in view so you can watch them play in the snow this winter.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Sunday, October 08, 2006

Chigger Bites

I'm not used to chigger bites this late in the year. I never thought the chiggers would be active after the cool days we've been having lately. Although I'm not aware of any safe home remedies to keep chiggers off your clothing, there are several home remedies for chigger bites. Using lye soap is one of the best remedies for chigger bites. Washing with lye soap will relieve the itch. I don't know if it has been proven to actually kill the chiggers, but I haven't noticed any more bites after washing thoroughly with it. Some people use a bleach bath to relieve the itch of chigger bites. I'm guessing that this would probably take care of the chiggers themselves, but again I can find no studies to support it. Another home remedy for relieving the itch of chiggers is an oatmeal bath. Some other common household items used in the relief of itchy chigger bites are vaseline, VapoRub, calamine lotion, hydrocortisone and baby oil.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Saturday, October 07, 2006

Mulching Trees and Shrubs in Fall

Fall is an opportune time for mulching trees and shrubs. The weather is nice and for many of us, mulching materials are at their greatest availability. Fall mulching protects the soil in your garden beds from erosion and keeps the soil temperature more even during the cold winter months ahead. The mulch will also further accentuate any grasses and ornamentals that are kept standing throughout winter. If you use an organic mulch, you can also expect a more nutrient rich garden when Spring has arrived. So if you get the chance, spend some time outdoors mulching your trees and shrubs this Fall.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Friday, October 06, 2006

Blood Meal

So what is blood meal? And why should I have any interest in using it in my garden? For one, it's an excellent source of nitrogen. Second, blood meal is an organic nutrient. Need more reasons? How about having a bag of blood meal around to deter deer? Most deer will walk a mile around the stuff. Well maybe not a mile, but you get the picture. Blood meal and deer just don't go together very well. Unless you have some deer that are messed up in the head, but that's entirely another problem. Just sprinkle blood meal around the garden, preferably around your plants, and see what happens. Not only will your plants be happier from the additional nitrogen, but the deer will keep their distance from your garden beds.

Blood meal is basically made by dehydrating blood that is collected from animal processing plants. If you're worried about getting BSE from blood meal, just see what the experts had to say about it.

Gardening Tips

1 comments | Thursday, October 05, 2006

Peeling Potatoes and Potato Peels

Ever have a big old pile of potato peels after peeling potatoes? Alot of people just throw the potato peels into the trash. Hey you! Stop doing that! Instead of adding more "valuable trash" to our landfills, compost those potato peels. And here's a tip to make it even easier to get those potato peels out to the compost pile. Just lay out several sheets of newspaper onto the counter before peeling your potatoes. Then peel your potatoes over the newspaper where the peelings fall onto the newspaper. When your done with the task, simple wrap up the newspaper and bury the whole thing in the compost pile. Not only are you composting the potato peels, but the newspaper also. You can also rest assured that you've fed a family of worms for several days. And God knows I like keeping my garden worms good and fed. Happy Gardening!

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Flu Prevention Tips

Though we like to think of ourselves as a special group of people, gardeners still suffer from common ailments such as food poisoning, common colds and the dreaded Flu. The Flu is making its way through our local region and I am sure it's probably gearing up for a trip to your hometown. There are a few Flu prevention tips you can keep in mind this Flu season to protect your loved ones, and yourself, from coming into contact with the ill effects of the Flu. The Flu prevention tips below come from the CDC.

  • Avoid close contact with people that are sick with the flu or that you suspect may already have the flu.
  • If you believe you may have the flu yourself, try to stay home, away from others, as much as possible. It will help in preventing the flu from spreading.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. And try to "aim" away from people when you do sneeze or cough.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent spreading the flu. The flu can be found waiting on doorknobs, keyboards, water fountains, telephones and many more places where our hands may touch.
  • Especially during the flu season, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. The flu can be spread when touching an infected object and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Other References:

For parents: Should my child get a flu shot?

And others who may need a flu shot.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Monday, October 02, 2006

More Fall Chores

As the days and nights get colder we are reminded of the gardening chores we have left to take care of before winter sets in. This is just to remind you of a few more Fall chores you may have forgotten before old man winter visits your garden.

  • When freezing temperatures set in, be sure to double check any outside faucets. Remove and drain all of your garden hoses.

  • If you won't be making leaf mold or using your fallen tree leaves in a compost pile, shred the leaf piles with a mower and use them as a mulch this winter.

  • When frost threatens, remember to bring any plants that are not winter hardy into the house or heated garage. This includes house plants sitting out on the porch.

  • Fall is the best time to transplant trees, shrubs and perennials. Get those plants moved now for a fresh healthy start next Spring.

  • Divide your favorite perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, this Fall. Division is a great way to make new plants and you can trade these divisions in Spring for new plants that you've been wanting.

Gardening Tips

0 comments | Sunday, October 01, 2006

When to Transplant Peonies

So when is the best time to transplant peonies? Early Fall is the perfect time for transplanting peonies and it's a pretty straight-forward process. The first thing you'll want to do is cut the stems back to about 6 inches. Then dig up the root ball of your peonies. You may want to have a few sheets of newspaper spread out if you're going to divide the peonies while transplanting. Division of peonies requires that you remove the soil from around the root ball and divide the plant into clumps with at least 3 buds per division. If you won't be dividing your peonies and are only transplanting them from one spot to another then you can go ahead and plant the peonies in their new spot. Remember, when planting your peonies, to leave adequate room for the roots to spread out. Back fill your hole with soil and be sure to mulch around the peonies for their protection the first winter in their new spot. Water in well. *Remember also that peonies like full sun. Try to locate your peonies in an area that will at least get 6 hours of sunlight per day. Happy Gardening!

Gardening Tips