Growing herbs indoors lets you enjoy the delights of herbs year-round. As summer ends, transplant herbs from the garden to pots and move them indoors. Select plants, including immature annuals or tender perennials, and dig carefully around their roots to avoid damaging them. Annuals, such as this basil, will continue growing into winter. Return perennials to the garden in spring.
Select a container large enough to accommodate a plant's root ball, allowing room for growth. Leave some garden soil on the plant's root ball. Partially fill the pot with potting soil. Set the root ball on top of the soil; fill in around it with more soil. Water thoroughly. Leave your newly potted plants outdoors in a lightly shaded location for about a week to help them begin acclimating to their new home. Before you bring plants indoors, inspect them thoroughly for hitchhiking insects. Flush the soil with water and rinse off the foliage, using a blast of water from the garden hose to chase away any pests and avoid later problems.
When bringing your herb plants indoors, expect them to adjust during the first few weeks. Plants typically drop a few leaves and grow more slowly. Help plants acclimate to life indoors and thrive during winter by placing them in a window that receives at least six hours of sun daily. Pinch off the tips of stems periodically to stimulate lush growth. Water when the soil feels dry to a depth of 1 inch. Mist the air around plants once a week to boost the humidity level.
If you live in a frost zone, keep tender perennial herbs going from year to year by bringing them indoors over winter. Lemongrass, ginger, bay, rosemary, scented geranium, and lemon verbena, for example, require protection from cold weather to survive. Also bring in lavender, tricolor sage, pineapple sage, and heliotrope.
Rosemary, a tender perennial, can grow year-round in a container. To raise it successfully indoors, be sure to circumvent the dry air that develops in heated homes during winter. Watering often is not the answer: Constantly wet soil damages rosemary's roots. Instead, mist frequently around the plant to help raise the humidity level and also help deter red spider mites, which are the bane of rosemary grown indoors.
From: Better Homes and Gardens.
Fall is in full swing at my house. The spiraling descent of oak leaves and the bong of acorns on the roof marks the beginning of another gardening season. After the leaves are taken care of, it will be time to sit back and dream and scheme of projects to make my little corner of paradise even that much better. But first, the leaves.
The 'natural' solution
The hillside where I live produces lots of leaves and each neighbor has developed a routine for dealing with the season's abundance. Some choose to deal with them by not dealing with them. This natural approach allows the forces of nature -- wind, water and time -- to do with them what they will.
I use this approach on the non-lawn portions of my landscape. The decaying leaves form a nice beige carpet that protects little plants and gives a pleasant, uniform look during winter. But, of course, leaves tend to blow around, so therein lies a problem.
One fall, having way too much time on my hands, I undertook a research project to solve the blowing leaf problem. I went to the lumber yard and came home with giant aerosol cans of spray adhesive. Figuring that a light application of adhesive would stick the leaves together, I set to work spraying. All went well until my wife let the dog out. It was not a pretty sight.
Then there are the baggers. Baggers like to keep us posted on their bagging tally. But, at least in my neighborhood, few bags ever seem to make it to the city compost yard. Every fall you see old pickups or Lincoln Navigators prowling the streets looking for bags to claim. As the bags are loaded, these leaf pirates cast furtive glances over their shoulder to make sure the boys in blue aren’t going to suddenly appear and haul them off to the slammer.
But, of course, the best way to deal with leaves is to compost them. I find composting a rewarding experience, probably because it satisfies my tendencies towards cheapness. The idea of getting something useful from nothing is very appealing; plus it doesn’t take a lot of work.
Before launching a career in composting, you must first decide if you will be an active or passive composter.
Active composters have things like long- stemmed thermometers and all the latest gadgets. Many apparently suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder for they are always turning their pile, checking its temperature or otherwise assisting in the process of decay.
The rest of us have compost piles. Nothing fancy, just a pile. My average size city lot produces about 15 cubic yards of leaves every fall. The leaves are raked onto a tarp and hauled Santa Claus-style up the hill to my dog pin-size compost pile. With each dump of leaves, I throw on a couple handfuls of fertilizer to speed the process of decay. I could reduce the volume and speed the rate of decay by running the leaves through a shredder, but I have neither a shredder nor the patience to force the leaves through the machine. Time is my ally.
Just before leaf raking time, I fork the composted leaves from last season into a new, and much smaller pile where they await use the following spring. The volume will have shrunk to about a tenth of its original size.
I use the compost as a mulch in my woodland garden, applying a generous 3- to 4-inch topdressing to the beds.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - October 17, 2003
Dividing perennials - Photo Credit: msue.anr.msu.edu
Prepared by Karen Russ, HGIC Information Specialist & Bob Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University. (New 06/99.)
Printer Friendly Version (PDF)
The three main reasons for dividing perennials are to control the size of the plants, to help rejuvenate them, and to increase their number. Dividing and replanting keeps rapidly spreading perennials under control. Dividing will rejuvenate old plants, keeping them vigorous and blooming freely. Dividing perennials is an easy and inexpensive way to gain additional plants for your garden or to share.
When to Divide:
In general, it is best to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, and fall bloomers in spring. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go to root and leaf growth.
Fall division should take place between early September in the uppermost Piedmont and mid-to late October on the coast. Allow at least four to six weeks before the ground freezes for the plants to become established.
If you divide in the spring, allow enough time for roots to settle in before hot weather. Spring division is ideally done in the early spring as soon as the growing tips of the plant have emerged. Spring divided perennials often bloom a little later than usual.
Never divide perennials on hot, sunny days. Wait until a cloudy day, ideally with several days of light rain in the forecast.
Most perennials should be divided every three to five years. Some perennials such as chrysanthemums and asters may need to be divided every one or two years or they will crowd themselves into non-flowering clumps of leaves and roots. Bleeding hearts and peonies may never need to be divided unless you want to increase your stock.
Signs that perennials need dividing are flowers that are smaller than normal, centers of the clumps that are hollow and dead, or when the bottom foliage is sparse and poor. Plants that are growing and blooming well should be left alone unless more plants are wanted.
Prepare to Divide Ahead of Time:
Water plants to be divided thoroughly a day or two before you plan to divide them. Prepare the area that you plan to put your new divisions in before you lift the parent plant.
Prune the stems and foliage to 6 inches from the ground in order to ease division and to cut down on moisture loss.
Lift the Parent Plant. Use a sharp pointed shovel or spading fork to dig down deep on all four sides of the plant, about 4 to 6 inches away from the plant. Pry underneath with your tool and lift the whole clump to be divided. If the plant is very large and heavy, you may need to cut it into several pieces in place with your shovel before lifting it.
Separate the Plant. Shake or hose off loose soil and remove dead leaves and stems. This will help loosen tangled root balls and make it easier to see what you are doing.
Perennials have several different types of root systems. Each of these needs to be treated a bit differently.
Spreading Root Systems:
Spreading root systems have many slender matted roots that originate from many locations with no distinct pattern. Plants with spreading root systems include asters, bee balm, lamb’s ear, purple cornflowers and many other common perennials. These can crowd out their own centers. Some can be invasive unless divided frequently. They can usually can be pulled apart by hand, or cut apart with shears or knife.
Large, vigorous plants with thickly intertwined roots may need forceful separation with digging forks. Put two forks back to back in the center of the plant and use them to pry the pieces apart.
Divide the plants into clumps of three to five vigorous shoots each. Small or weak and woody divisions should be discarded. Discard the center of the clump if it is weaker than the outside edges.
Clumping Root Systems:
The clumping root systems originate from a central clump with multiple growing points. Many have thick fleshy roots or crowns. Use of a heavy, sharp knife to pry apart thick fleshy crowns or roots. This group includes astilbes, hostas, daylilies and many ornamental grasses.
It is often necessary to cut through the thick fleshy crowns (the central growing area between the roots and the leaves and stems of the plant) with a heavy, sharp knife. You can also pry apart these roots with back to back digging forks.
Keep at least one developing eye or bud with each division. If larger plants are wanted, keep several eyes.
Rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally at or above the soil level. Bearded irises are the most common perennial with this. Image depicts where to cut rhizomes during division.type of root system. Divide irises any time between a month after flowering until early fall.
Cut and discard the rhizome sections that are one year or older. Also, inspect rhizomes for disease and insect damage. Damaged rhizomes should be trimmed and treated, or discarded if too badly damaged.
Iris divisions should retain a few inches of rhizome and one fan of leaves, trimmed back halfway. Replant with the top of the rhizome just showing above soil level.
Dahlias are an example of perennials with tuberous roots. The tubers should be cut apart with a sharp knife. Every division must have a piece of the original stem and a growth bud attached. After division they can either be replanted or stored for spring planting.
Dividing Large, Tough Roots:
If the root mass is very large, or tight and tangled, you can raise the clump 1 to 2 feet off the ground and drop it. This should loosen the root mass, and you can pull the individual plants apart. This is not a good method for plants with brittle roots such as peonies.
Plants that have very tough, vigorous root systems (agapanthus, red-hot pokers and ornamental grasses) may have to be divided with a shovel, saw or ax. You can also vigorously hose off soil to make the root system easier to work with.
Don't Divide These Perennials:
Some plants resent being divided and it should be avoided if possible. These include butterfly weed (Asclepias), euphorbias, oriental poppies, baby’s breath (Gypsophila), gas plant (Dictamnus albus), Japanese anemones, false indigo (Baptisia) and columbines (Aquilegia).
Lenten and Christmas roses (Helleborus) are very difficult to move when more than a few years old. Usually you can find tiny seedlings around the base. These are easy to move.
Lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparrus) and several other perennials are actually small woody shrubs and should not be divided. These include perennial candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), lavender, rosemary, southernwood (Artemesia abrotanum), and several other artemesias. These plants often have rooted layers (branches that have developed roots while touching the soil). The layers can be cut off the parent plant, dug up and replanted as though they were divisions.
Plant the Divisions:
Never allow divisions to dry out. Keep a pail of water nearby to moisten divisions until they are planted. Trim all broken roots with a sharp knife or pruners before replanting.
Plant the divided sections immediately in the garden or in containers. Replant divisions at the same depth they were originally. Firm soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Water well after planting.
Fall-divided perennials should be mulched in the upstate the first winter to prevent heaving caused by alternating shallow freezing and thawing of the soil. The best winter mulch is loose and open such as pine straw, Christmas tree limbs or leaves.
When and How to Divide Some Common Perennials
Every year or two to control spread and maintain vigor.
Spring Spreading root division. Replant outer growth and discard the centers of older plants.
Every 2 to 3 years as plants become crowded. Early Spring or fall.Spreading root division. Needs division for best bloom.
Every year or two to control spread and maintain vigor.
Spring Rhizome root division.
(Monarda) Every 3 years to control rampant growth. Spring or fall.Spreading root division.
(Campanula) Every 2 to 3 years or as the plant becomes crowded. Spring or early fall.Spreading root division.
(Belamcanda)Every 3 to 4 years after bloom is finished.Rhizomes should be treated as iris.
Every 3 to 4 years. Early spring or fall.Spreading root division.
(Gaillardia grandiflora) Every 1 or 2 years to maintain vigor. Early spring.Spreading root division.
(Dicentra) Rarely needs division. Early spring.Fleshy root division. Be gentle with brittle roots.
Every 3 or 4 years, or as desired to increase stock. Spring.Fleshy root system.
Every year or two. Spring.Spreading root division.
(Geranium)Every 2 to 4 years. Spring or fall.Spreading root division.
(Hemerocallis)Every 3 to 6 years or as desired to increase stock. Spring, summer or fall. Ideal time is after bloom is finished.Divide fleshy roots into segments with roots. Divisions with three or more shoots will bloom sooner.
(Paeonia) For plant increase, rarely needs division. Divisions may wait up to 3 years before blooming. September or October.Divisions should have three to five well-developed eyes (buds for next year’s growth). Plant peonies with the eyes no deeper than 1 inch below the surface.
(Phlox paniculata)Every 3 to 4 years. Early spring or fall.Spreading root division.
(Hosta) Rarely need division and will reach their best form if not divided too often. They can be divided as needed for plant increase. Early spring or early fall.Fleshy root division. Divide into clumps with one to three eyes. A wedge can be taken from an established plant, which will soon fill back in.
(Stachys byzantina)Every 2 to 3 years. Spring or early fall.Spreading divisions. Discard weak centers.
Lily of the Nile
(Agapanthus) When flowering slows due to crowding.
Spring, summer or fall Fleshy clumping roots are large and brittle. Do not divide unless needed to improve bloom.
Lily of the Valley
(Convallaria majalis) Divide for plant increase as desired. Early spring.Can be divided as clumps or single "pips".
Every 3 to 4 years. Spring for most grasses. Many grasses do not tolerate fall division.Very dense fibrous root system may require the use of an ax or saw to divide.
(Echinacea)Every 4 years. Spring or fall.Spreading root division.
(Kniphofia) Divide only for plant increase. Spring or fall.Fleshy clumping root system. Divisions may take 2-3 years to bloom.
(Sedum 'Autumn Joy')For plant increase. Spring.Clump divisions.
(Coreopsis)Every 1 or 2 years to maintain vigor. Spring or fall.Spreading root division. Discard weak center.
(Artemisia) Every year or two for spreading wormwoods like ‘Silver King’ and ‘Valerie Finnis.’ Spring.Spreading root division, or remove excess and dead center. Do not divide woody artemesias.
(Achillea) Every 2 or 3 years or when center dies out. Spring or fall.Spreading root division.
Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center
WHAT IS A BIRD AND BUTTERFLY GARDEN?
Bird and butterfly gardens preserve natural communities by providing homes for some of the most beautiful, winged members of our ecosystem. The native wildflowers chosen for your garden will provide hours of enjoyment for you while they support all life stages of butterflies (from egg to caterpillar. to pupa, to adult) and furnish food and shelter for birds. Some of these perennial plants will bloom all season and into the fall. They grow here naturally so, in addition to being beautiful, they are hardy and low maintenance.
HOW DO I MAKE A BIRD AND BUTTERFLY GARDEN?
It's easy! Just follow these simple steps:
1. Choose a sunny site out of the wind. Butterflies prefer feeding in areas where they don't have to fight air currents.
Well-drained soils are preferred, but native plants are so adaptable that almost any soil type will do. If your soil
is heavy clay, you may wish to add organic matter like peat or composted manure, available at any home or
2. Form the basic shape of your Bird and Butterfly garden by outlining it with a garden hose or some rope. The size and
shape of your garden is up to you.
3. Remove the grass and sod with a shovel and place it in your compost bin or reuse it in bare spots in your yard.
in bare spots in your yard.
4. The garden can be raised a couple of inches with soil or planted directly
into the existing grade. If you add soil, be sure to work it in with the
with the existing materials,
5. Plant native plants that hold a strong attraction for birds and butterflies.
Plants should be spaced about one foot apart in a grid pattern.
Insert plant tags next to each group of species for quick identification
6. Mulch the area (2" to 3" thick) to help keep weeds down and hold in
moisture. Make sure to keep the mulch away from the base of each
7. Water every other day (unless it rains) until the plants show new growth and are well established, which
usually takes about two weeks.
8. Once your native Bird and Butterfly Garden plants are established, they'll thrive without additional watering or
fertilizers. In addition, only minimal weeding will be needed. Short weekly stints of about 15 minutes will make
A Few Tips:
To attract even more birds, place a purple martin, bluebird or wren house near by.
Place natural rocks or other garden ornaments in and around your Bird and Butterfly Garden.
Be creative! You'll learn and have fun while designing your own backyard landscape.
Excerpt from Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries
Rusted, cracked and otherwise broken wheelbarrows no longer prove useless for transporting gardening
materials, but that doesn't mean you should discard them. The wheelbarrow vessel works well as a garden
planter fot annual and perennial flowers and even soke fruit and vegetable crops. The wheelbarrow must
have wholes to allow excess water to drain from the soil before you can plant in the wheelbarrow planter.
This project benefits outdoor spaces with limited sunlight if thr wheels function. Instead of cutting down trees
to add sunlight, you can move the wheelbarrow into sunnier locations throughout the day.
1. Flip the wheelbarrow over with the wheels facing up and drill 3/4 inch drainage holes in the bottom of the
wheelbarrow spacing each whole 3 to 6 inches apart. These drainage wholes are essential even if the
bottom of the of the wheelbarrow shows signs of rust.
2. Cut a piece of wire mesh screen, such as a window screen, to fit the bottom of the wheelbarrow. Line
the battom of the wheelbarrow with the screen so soil does'nt fall out through the drain holes. The wire mesh
you choose must have wholes small enough that the soil cannot pass through.
3. Set the wheelbarrow in place in the desired location in your garden. You can use a wheelbarrow planter as a
point on the center of a flower bed, as an eye- catching dish garden for a patio or to decorate the end of a
4. Fill the wheelbarrow to about 1 inch from the top with well drained potting soil, using a bagged mix or your
blend, such as equal parts peat moss, compost and sand or a similar blend of organic ingredients. Soil-less
potting mixes weigh considerably less than garden soil, making it easier to transport a full wheelbarrow around
5. Plant your choice of flowers or crops in the wheelbarrow planter, following the spacing guidelines for different
plant types and planting each plant as deep as they were planted in the seeding trays or cell packs. The range
of plants you can add are limitless.
6. Add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around the plants to aide in weed surppression and help retain moisture in the
soil. You can use organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, or inorganic mulch, such as pea gravel
or lava rock. Organic mulches decompose over time to benefit the soil structure.
Things You Will Need
3/4 inch drill bit
Wire mesh screen
You can use metal, plastic or wooden wheelbarrows for this project. If you don't like the look of the wheelbarrow,
paint the outside of the wheelbarrow to coordinate with your other garden features.
If your wheelbarrow has an open side at the back, which is common in wooden wheelbarrows, nail a board in
place to help keep the soil in place. Alternatively, you can plant groundcover or cascading plants to help hold
the soil in place.
By Amelia Allonsey
Designing a garden – a few suggestions and reminders to get started:
Before you dig: To locate buried cable, call Arkansas One Call: 1-800-482-8998 or dial 811
They suggest you call 72 hours before you plan to dig.
Various utilities will be notified and will spray paint the path of the buried cables.
(I used yellow tent pegs to mark the path where I knew I would be digging in future years)
Before you plant: Take random soil samples 6 to 12 inches deep from representative areas you plan to garden Mix the samples in a clean container and take about a pint from each area to the Extension Office, located on the corner of 9th and Hwy 62. Phone 425-2335. Hours are M-F, 8 to 4.
The soil test will tell you what nutrients you will need for your intended use of the gardens.
Before you plant: Plan on graph paper. Determine area available. Leave space for maintenance of buildings, growth and back side of plants; at least six feet for shrubs and depending on height of tree, farther than drip line of mature tree. Plan for adequate pathways and points of access for room to work in the garden
Plan a drought-resistant landscape with drought tolerant plants, a water-saving irrigation system and mulch. Water your plants well the first year until they become established. After that, watering should be necessary only during dry spells.
Mulching around your plants will reduce the need for water in your landscape. This reduces weeds that compete for moisture and lowers the temperature of the soil. Inorganic mulches include plastic and gravel. Organic mulches include compost, chipped bark and pine needles. Organic mulches decompose over time and enrich the soil.
Many drought resistant plants can be considered deer resistant, probably because of tougher cell structure necessary to withstand desiccation. Spiny and fuzzy plants, as well as plants with intense odors are usually turned down by deer also.
Drought tolerance is a quality of established plants. New plantings need sufficient watering to grow and send down their roots. During this period of tender growth they may still tempt deer. Fencing may be needed for young trees and shrubs. Once established, most deer and drought resistant plants require little care.
Every time rose blooms are removed, plants are partially pruned. If plants are new or weak, cut the flower stems to leave as much foliage on the plant as possible. It is usually best not to cut flowers from a new planting until fall of the first season.
Even after plants are well established, never cut stems longer than needed. Leave at least two leaves on each stem (Figure 2). Weak stems may be cut shorter to force out lower, stronger growth. Thick vigorous stems may be cut higher.
Climate often determines the best pruning time. Roses normally need a light fall pruning and a more thorough spring pruning.
Keep these factors in mind when pruning any roses:
Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras
Where winter temperatures may be damaging, it is best not to prune severely in fall. Take off only tops of canes with branching growth that tends to catch winds. Pruning in spring means a more thorough reduction in size. Normally, prune stems to about half the length they grew the previous season (Figure 3). However, do not cut back hybrid teas, floribundas and related types to less than 18 inches unless winter cold has killed them lower.
Pruning climbers differs slightly from pruning hybrid teas. Very vigorous types, known as ramblers, should be pruned in late spring immediately after flowering (Figure 4). All old canes that have flowered should be removed close to the base of the plant. This practice will force out young vigorous canes for bloom next year.
Climbing Hybrid Teas and Other Large-flowered, Everblooming Climbers
These roses don't need severe pruning. Many should have little or no pruning the first two to three years. Prune only to shape the plants and remove dead canes. Prune climbers late in the dormant period just as buds are breaking (Figure 5). Maintain two or three major canes. As new, vigorous canes develop from the base, allow them to remain and grow. After they develop, remove any old canes close to ground level to maintain the basic two or three vigorous basal canes. The best blooms of climbing hybrid teas are produced on short branches coming from 2- to 3-year-old wood. Allow these branches to remain, and cut them back to two or three vigorous buds per shoot. In summer, remove blooms as soon as they have faded.
"Old Garden" and Shrub Roses
Old garden rose species, such as the Damask rose, and shrub roses represent many different growth habits. Proper pruning results from becoming familiar with the growth habit of a particular type. In general, pruning of these types is little more than cutting back canes to shape the plants, removing dead flowers, or removing old poor-growing canes as new vigorous ones develop.
University of Missouri Extension Service
David H. Trinklein, Horticulture State Specialist, Division of Plant Sciences
Original Author, Ray R. Rothenberger, Department of Horticulture
Cure the Winter Gardening Blues with Paperwhites
While we wait for the return of gardening weather, garden indoors with paperwhites. Fill your home with fragrance with easy to force, quick to bloom, Paperwhite narcissus.
Here is how -
Choose paperwhite narcissus bulbs from a garden center or order online. There are different varieties, Ziva is what is often sold. Now there are even yellow varieties if you look hard.
Cornell University found that letting the paperwhites grow in a 5% alcohol solution will stunt the growth of the leaves and not harm the blooms. To make this solution check your alcohol (vodka, gin, even rubbing alcohol) look at the “proof", and divide that number in half, that is your alcohol content.
Use this chart to make your watering solution:
Alcohol Content (%) Parts Water – Parts Alcohol :
10% 1 1
15% 2 1
20% 3 1
25% 4 1
30% 5 1
35% 6 1
40% 7 1
Submitted by Jo Strickland
You will chuckle as you read this .....Because as stupid as it may sound, this is exactly what we do!
GOD to ST. FRANCIS :
Frank , You know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in what they call the lawn.
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
And where do they get this mulch
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight
'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.
I was reading an article in Arkansas Gardener by Victoria Ligenza, on what really is happening in the soil under our plants. Scientists have found that plants communicate with each other by sharing information using a type of fungus called mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizal fungi assist plants with the absorption of minerals and water from the soil and protect the roots from other harmful fungi and nematodes. The plants in return provide carbohydrates to the mycorrhizal fungi. As much as 80% of the carbohydrates made by plants may be used for below ground processes, some of this energy goes into the root system but a high proportion is used to feed the mycorrhizal fungi.
The plant and the fungi have a symbiotic relationship, the fungi receives the carbohydrates to live and the plant receives nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients it needs to grow. The fungi colonize the soil around the roots of the plants and send out fine filaments called hyphae that extend out into the soil acting like an extension of the plants roots. These hyphae pick up nutrients and water far from the plants roots, thereby greatly increasing the plants ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.
This relationship between plants and fungi goes beyond nutritional exchange. They actually allow the plants to communicate with each other. If a neighboring plant, is being attacked by aphids, the plant will begin to produce a chemical that attracts wasps which are a natural predator. This chemical change will alert the neighboring plants to begin to produce the same chemical.
More than 90 percent of plants species have these symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi. In order for the relationship to continue the soil must not be disturbed. Tilling the soil destroys the fungi and they are slow to recolonize. Before you start tilling your gardens in the spring or fall think twice, there are better options. Planting a cover crop in the fall or early spring over your gardens will keep weeds at bay.. Don't till the cover crop into the soil, just cut it down and let it decompose on the surface. Mulching is another great alternative to controlling weeds and improving your soil.
There is much more happening under the soil than we ever thought, and we are just beginning to understand the relationships.
Submitted by Tamara Carl
Sources Arkansas Gardener, Feb. 2015
How to Condition and Plant a Straw Bale Garden from bonnieplants.com
#1. Choose a spot in a sunny area. If the area is grassy, put newspaper or cardboard beneath to keep grass and weeds from growing. You could also put the bale on cement or on a frame to hold it. The Bonnie Plant site has plans for a frame.
#2. Place bale where you want to grow the plants because once you start to condition the bale it will be too heavy to move it.
#3. Place bale narrow side up so string is on the side. You will have less chance of cutting the string that way while planting.
#4. Turn the bale so the cut straw side is up. Cut/hollow straw will allow moisture to penetrate better into the bale.
Conditioning the bale.....10-14 days before planting. Bale will begin to decompose with moisture.
Days 1-3 Water bale so it stays damp.
Days 4-9 Use a liquid fertilizer in addition to watering to add nitrogen to speed decomposition.
Days 10-14 Start watering only, again, until bales inner temperature is similar to the outside temperature.
Use a meat thermometer to check the inner temp.
Choosing plants: Avoid tall plants like corn or indeterminate tomatoes (which may need support) and running plants like sweet potatoes which require large areas to grow.
To plant bale: Space plants as you would in soil
Fertilizers: Bonnie Plants has suggested a liquid fertilizer of their brand, you can also use Miracle Gro, an organic fertilizer or numerous others. Use at strength recommended.
Happy Straw Bale Gardening, Barrie Hazelton
Papercrete is a great alternative to Hypertufa. I have made pots both ways, and I find the papercrete to be easier to handle and the finished product to be superior. Now that is just my novice opinion, but here are the instructions so you can create a project and see for yourself.
Stack of Newspaper ...nothing with a shiny finish
Bucket 3-5 gallon
Mold for your project
Vegetable oil & an old paint brush
Gloves, latex or vinyl
Paint Mixer that you can attach to your electric drill (optional)
Molds are easy to find. You probably have something around the house that will work great. Remember you can mold to the inside or the outside of a container. Plastic dish pans, or assorted plastic planters make great molds. Be sure to oil your mold by applying a thin coat of vegetable oil with an old paint brush so the mold will release once your pot is dry. Now that you have all your supplies you can begin your project.
Begin by tearing newsprint into strips about 1 inch in width or you can use a shredder. Shredding by hand is easy and will take no time at all. Start shredding at least 24 to 48 hours before you want to put your project together. Into a 3 to 5 gallon bucket add your shredded strips, pack them tightly and add water. Add as much water as the paper will absorb. Leave the paper in the bucket for a minimum of 24 hours, but 48 hours or longer will make it easier to turn your strips into pulp. After the paper is well soaked, use a paint mixer inserted into an electric drill to pulp the saturated paper. This is a messy job, and it is best done outside.
To the freshly pulped paper the following formula works well.
3 parts paper
2 parts portland cement
1 part vermiculite
To the freshly pulped paper add (2) 34 oz. coffee cans full of portland cement and (1) 34 oz. coffee can of vermiculite. The ingredients are not set in stone, but this formula holds up well and is easy to mold and finish.
Use your mixer again and add water a little at a time as necessary. You will know you have added enough water to the final mixed product when you take a handful (gloved!) and squeeze it tightly; a little water will be released between your fingers. This mix will remain workable for a couple of hours, giving you plenty of time to get everything completed.
After your mix is ready you will be applying it to your well oiled mold of choice. Before you start building make sure you have your hands protected with latex or vinyl gloves because the portland cement is hard on your hands.
To mold on the inside:
Spread a layer on the bottom and then use a finger to make drainage holes and to check the thickness of your layer. On a span of 18 inches or less a thickness of the mix should be 3/4 of an inch thick.
Once you have established a thickness on the inside bottom of the mold you will begin building up the sides of the mold. The best way to get the mixture to adhere is to take a handful and press firmly to the side of the mold. Continue adding and pressing until you have build up the desired thickness along the walls. The mixture is easy to work with and will allow you to shape and smooth for an extended period of time until you are satisfied with the end product.
To mold on the outside:
There will be times that it may be easier to use the outside of the mold to shape your project. The principals are pretty much the same. Turn your mold upside down so the bottom is facing up, and place it on a piece of wood so you can move the entire project if you need to.
You will start covering the bottom of the mold until you get the desired thickness, about 3/4 to 1 inch. Make sure you put your drainage holes into the bottom. Instead of working your way up the walls of the mold you will be working your way down the mold. Working on the outside of the mold allows you to be creative because you have access to the outside of your pot. You may add stones, imprint a pattern or whatever you want.
Once complete, your project will need to dry. Most projects can be turned out of their molds after sitting at room temperature for 24 hours, but it will be fragile for another 24 hours. Don't remove the mold too early. Once the mold has been removed, you should give the project a week to completely dry and harden. Once dry you can use a utility knife or 100 grit sandpaper to smooth the rough edges. Allow the finished item about 3 weeks to cure before moving outside in the weather.
Allowing the project to weather will help leach out the excess lime in the portland cement. The lime is very alkaline and may affect any plants your might want to place in your new pot.
Recipes for a mix can be adjusted as long as the 3-2-1 mixture is maintained. While nothing is set in stone, this recipe will result in a superior finished product. You may experiment with the fillers. In place of vermiculite you might try sand, perlite, or similar ingredients. Have fun and experiment!
Instructions based on Papercrete By Lee Coates
This is the time of year when the garden is winding down and you start thinking about what has worked well this year and what hasn't. Saving seeds is a great way to have more of what did well in your garden. Echinacea is one of my all-time favorite perennials because it's beautiful, easy to grow and an all-around tough plant.
Starting in mid-August, coneflowers like the purple coneflower (Echinacea) will move into seed production. The flower petals will turn black and fall off. Stems will also turn black and become brittle. The color of the cone portion of the plant changes from burnt orange to black. When all three of these events occur, it’s time to harvest coneflower seeds.
Snip the blackened stem about 8 to 12 inches down from the cone. Pull off any leaves or petals that remain. The cones need time to dry and drop seeds. You can help this process by placing the stem and cones in a paper bag or wrap the cone end loosely with a paper towel or newspaper. Hang the bagged cones and stems upside-down in a warm (room temperature) dry place. When using a paper bag, you can periodically shake the bag to help the seeds loosen and fall into the bag. What you will have left is seed with chaff (seed covering). For most of us, telling the difference between the seeds and chaff is difficult. The first year I saved the seeds of my plants and planted them in the spring and nothing germinated. Come to find out I had saved the chaff and not the seeds. Every day is a learning experience when you garden. The seeds are about 1/4 inch long and are cream or white in color; they are shown in a close-up in the picture below. Once the seeds are dry and sorted, store them in a paper envelope (nothing that is air-tight) in a cool, dark place.
If desired, you can leave the cones on the Echinacea plant to dry outdoors. The main drawback to drying the seeds outdoors on the flower stem are the Goldfinches. They love Echinacea seeds and will get to them before you have time to harvest, leaving you nothing to plant in the spring. I mention this because I know from experience. Enjoy your gardens, and save the seeds of plants you love to share and enjoy next year.
Submitted by: Tamara Carl
Beginning a garden journal is a good way to review your garden throughout this season. Journaling is a tool we often fail to utilize. But it is something that not only will make your gardening more successful, it will also bring a sense of accomplishment and hours of enjoyment.
If you have gardened for some time, you probably already do some informal journaling, without calling it a journal. It may be notations on last year’s calendar, a container of plant tags, or photographs of your garden in different seasons and years. Why not take this information a few steps farther and begin a journal that suits your needs?
Journaling need not be a tedious chore. It should be what you want it to be. Think about what you want to remember or know about you outdoor space and create a system that works for you. Here are several of the many approaches to garden journals:
Whatever form your journaling takes, there is no time like now to start. If you have expansive gardens and the task seems overwhelming, start small with one bed, a new bed you are creating, or a new method you are experimenting with this year. Plan to use our hot summer days or cold winter months to build on your efforts. Happy journaling!
On line resources:
makeitfromscratchblogspot.com/…/create-garden-journal-guest-post (Has links to Keeping a Garden Journal, How to Keep a Garden Journal, Free Garden Pages to Print, Garden Journal Software, and Books to Purchase.)
Submited by: Joanne Ragsdale
One of my biggest issues in the winter is that once my perennials die back for the winter, I can't tell where everything is. This becomes a problem if I want to plant something in the early spring. Now I know labels are the simple answer, but I don't like the looks of them -- and the really nice ones that last for years are expensive. So I have found a simple answer to my problem: I make my own, using rocks. The Master Gardener Project Manager for Memorial Gardens used this idea for that project, and it's brilliant.
Flat rocks (2 rocks per label), Gorilla Glue, Label Gun using plastic labels, and clear polyurethane paint (spray or can)
1. The first step is to find 2 flat rocks,
3. With your label gun print the label for your plant
4. Dampen the top rock (smaller rock) with water where you are putting the plant label on. I found the Gorilla glue to be difficult to work with. What worked for me was to use a tooth pick to apply the glue to the back of the label before applying it to the flat surface of the rock. Then I let the label dry before continuing.
6. Using the polyurethane paint, spray or brush the surface of the smaller rock (with the label) to protect it from the elements while in the garden. Let it dry before continuing.
7. To place in the flower bed, bury the larger rock so it's below the soil or mulch and only the smaller labeled rock is showing. The larger rock on the bottom will give the labeled rock stability and make it more visible since it sits above the soil level. These are really cute and will last for years. Best of all, they are not only free; they also fit nicely into the natural landscape.
Submitted by Tamara Carl
Edited by Joan Burr
Projects to improve your garden, landscape, or just for the fun of it.