Category Archives: Heirloom

Winter Arrives On The 22nd Of Decembar 2011 – Think Spring Garden – Seed Catalogs

4X4 foot Square Garden


Spring Planting and Summers garden – Think Small, Think Vertical Space. Unless your are feeding a small army, 2 or 3 plants of each vegetable is all that you will need to plant for ‘most’ vegetables. I say at least 2 of each type of vegetable simply because, plants labeled as ‘No Pollinator needed still produce more fruits when you have a companion pollinator plant. This also gives you a backup plant in the event one plant develops a disease or is destroyed by insects.

It may be cheaper and better to buy started plants from your local garden nursery. In many cases you can buy well established plants in starter pots and grow packs for the cost of buying a package vegetable seed.
Garden seed packages generally cost $1.95 to $3.50 a package. They contain 10 to 30 seeds and you must pay postage to get them sent to your front door. If you only need 2 or 3 seeds why buy a package containing 30 seeds?
When buying started plants you have no need to buy expensive potting soils and starter pots. No need to invest a lot of time and resources to get these plants to planting size.

The exception to this seed buying rule is when you want to plant things like radishes, carrots, beet root, leaf greens like leaf lettuce and the like.

4X4 Foot Garden with a Trellis

A 4 by 4 foot bed or better yet a 4 by 8 foot bed will most likely produce all the fresh vegetables your family can eat. You can raise as many as 16 zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, cabbage and head lettuce, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Broccoli and such in a 4 by 4 raised bed using the:
Square Foot Garden method.
How To Build A Square Foot Garden \
Jason (Frugal Dad)On Square Foot Gardening

Here is an easy DIY Dimple Board DIY – Build A Dimple Board to maintain proper square foot garden planting space and patterns. Not a must have item but it is a really handy planting layout and spacing gadget.

Soulsby Farm Seed Catalog Time The Soulsby Farm blog has compiled a nice list of Garden Seed / Catalog merchants.
This listing is not in any order.
As with any online purchase, check out the business ‘Before’ sending your money for any of their products. It’s Your Money!

I am not affiliated with any of the these companies and I Am Not, recommending one business over another! These links are provided Only for your convenience.

Direct Links to Vegetable & Herb Seed Catalogs
Main Street Seed
Burpee
Jonny’s Seeds
Gurneys
Park Seed
Jung Seed
Territorial Seeds
Park Seed
Baker Creek
Harris Seeds
Redwood City seeds
Richter’s
Seeds of Change
Cook’s Garden
Bountiful Gardens
Seed Savers
Stokes
Harry Field’s
RH Shumway

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Gardening Jail Inmates Save Country $15,000.00 In Food Cost – 2011

Inmate-Grown Vegetable Garden Trims $15G From Food Budget
You don’t need a jail full of inmates to grow a garden that will save your family hundreds of dollars every year.

Even a small garden spot can provide you with enough fresh vegetables to reduce you market vegetable cost by $15 or $20 dollars a week during the growing season. That can easily add up to 4 to 6 hundred dollars a year.

Unless your rich and simply want to grow funny looking vegetables with strange names Plant what your family will eat.

Don’t over plant anyone vegetable. Two or three squash, zucchini, tomato, sweet {Bell} and hot peppers plants and cucumber vines will keep your family well supplied every week. Plant a second crop three or four weeks after the first planting. A second planting will keep your family well supplied with fresh vegetables well into late fall or early winter.

Make it a family garden, encourage them (by force and threats if necessary) to go to your garden to help harvest vegetables and to control garden pest. Remove insects by hand or use an approved insecticide as needed. Check your garden daily, keep picking size vegetables harvested, store them in your refrigerator until needed or give them to some of your friends and neighbors.

Don’t skimp on buying quality garden seed. One package of seed will plant a very large garden! Don’t buy plants from your local nursery that are in bloom, or simply do not look healthy.

Limited on space? There’s no reason not to grow your family garden in containers. Successful container gardening demands that you pay extra attention to your containers. Containers dry out quickly in summers hot dry weather and may require that you water then early morning as well as late late afternoon. Containers also require that you fertilize them with a water soluble fertilizer about every two or three weeks.

Madisonville, Kentucky – A vegetable garden tended by inmates at the Hopkins County Jail helped trim the food budget at the facility by $15,000 this year. Hopkins County Jailer Joe Blue tells The Messenger of Madisonville that he started the program in 2006 with little planning. He said 2011 was a very good year.

The jail started a master gardener training program this year, graduating 10 inmates. Blue says the program helps give different kinds of job skills to inmates, many who are from the cities of Louisville or Lexington and don’t know anything about agriculture.

The Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday cited the savings as one of several reasons the jail received special recognition at the annual Farm-City Breakfast.

One local business donates fertilizer for the garden, and another provides seeds at reduced prices.

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Plant The Best Fruit / Nut Trees Suited To Your Temperature / Chilling Hours Zone

Fruit Varieties for Milder Climates

No matter where you live, now is a good time to plant your fruit and nut trees, whether they be bagged in burlap, potted or bare root. Follow planting guides for planting your fruit and nut trees. Dig a hole 2 times as wide and deep as your trees root ball. Take a little extra care and be sure your new tree is setting straight up and not leaning off to one side. Caution: Do Not Plant your new tree too deep! Plant it at the same depth as it was in the field (if bare root) or if potted or bagged, no deeper than the bag or pot it is currently in.

Home gardeners have killed many more trees and shrubs planting them to deep than have ever been killed planting them to shallow. If planted to deep, they may look fine for the first year or so, but, then suddenly with out apparent cause die. In this case you have wasted your money, time and effort on an avoidable problem. Keep the trees crown at or above the soil line when planting!

Winter watering is every bit as important as summer watering. To the eye that new tree is totally dormant needing little care through winter months. That is a very wrong assumption, trees continue to grow and develop their root systems all winter to support all that new growth appearing in spring and summer.

Winter Chilling hour requirements for fruit and nut trees. Fruit tree chilling hours requirements, A Crash Course
In the simplest terms 1 chilling hour is when the temperature is warmer than 32 degrees and cooler than 45 degrees. There are other factors that you should also consider. {see: Fruit tree chilling hours requirements, A Crash Course} link above. Fruit trees chilling hour requirements vary greatly between fruit type and even between species of the same fruit / nut tree species.

Some fruit and nut trees may require few (low) chilling hour needs 150-200 hours to very long chilling hour requirements as much as 1700 or more hours.

If a fruit tree does not get the chilling hours they need, you may have trees that ‘Never’ produce fruit or trees that always bloom too early in spring time and have buds, flowers and fruit severely damaged or killed every year by late season frost and freezing weather. A safe bet is to plant the same type and variety trees you see in your area that reliably produce good fruit crops every year. Don’t be Shy, ask other growers what species and variety does well for them.

Don’t be foolish and plant Orange trees in Montana. You will only be disappointed when they fail to produce fruit and are killed by your harsh winter cold temperatures.

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Fall Planting – Springs Flowering Bulbs

September gales bannerCircle Games and More Elizabeth Gallacher an acclaimed fiction writer.
Yea, got my copy of September Gales, in the post today. Can’t wait to make my school boyish book report after reading September Gales.

Spring flowering blubs, need to ordered, beds dug and amended with compost and fertilizer. It’s nearing the optimum planting time in our northern cool/cold weather states.

Flowering bulb Planting Chart

Garlic while not a flowering spring bulb, needs to be planted when you plant your flowering bulbs. Plant individual cloves 5 or 6 inches deep 4 to 6 inches apart.

Bulb beds ‘Must’ be well drained. Bulbs like damp not wet soil. Bulbs exposed to prolonged periods of wet soil will soon rot in the ground resulting in a waste of both time and money and a failed spring flower garden.

For a longer blooming season, mix your garden with early, middle and late season bloomers. Tulips and other bulbs have very well defined bloom times. A bit of research and planning can keep color in your garden for many weeks. Keep your bulbs cool. If you’ve purchased bulbs early, when you get the best selections, store them in a cool, dark place. A basement or an unheated closet is good choice. Don’t store bulbs in plastic containers. You’ll shorten the life of your bulbs if they aren’t exposed to fresh air. use brown paper bags or boxes. Handle your bulbs gently they are easily bruised and this may cause them to rot in the soil after planting them.

Till your bulb bed soil deep as possible, amending it with peat moss or decomposed compost. Bulbs will grow better in well drained and aerated soil. Grouped, but random. Scatter bulbs randomly in groups of 6 to 18 for the best combination of color and natural appearance. Be sure to maintain the minimum spacing specified on the packaging your bulbs came in.
Proper planting is important. Dig your planting hole to a depth 2 to 2-1/2 times the size of the bulb. When you place your bulb in its hole, remember: roots {large} end down, pointy side up. If you have any doubt, ask for help, plant your bulb sideways it’ll work itself right side up as it grows. LOL… or maybe you should be considering a different hobby!

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Tomato's Just The Facts Please

Tomato Facts, and Nothing But the Facts

It seems that 90% percent of gardeners questions involve Tomato’s.
Here is a collection of information that may answer many of your Tomato Growing questions.

Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die. They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container (minimum size of 5-6 gallon). Examples are: Rutgers, Roma, Celebrity (called a semi-determinate by some), and Marglobe.

Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vine” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all at the time throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants. Examples are: Big Boy, Beef Master, most “cherry” types, Early Girl, most heirloom varieties.

Hybrid seed in agriculture and gardening is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Today, hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century. In the US, the commercial market was launched in the 1920s, with the first hybrid maize. Hybrid seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed is usually purchased for each planting.

Heirloom plant variety is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination, while fruit varieties such as apples have been propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

Heirloom growers have different motivations. Some people grow heirlooms for historical interest, while others want to increase the available gene pool for a particular plant for future generations. Some select heirloom plants due to an interest in traditional organic gardening. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables, or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant.

Most authorities agree that heirlooms, by definition, must be open-pollinated. They may also be open pollinated varieties that were bred and stabilized using classic breeding practices. While there are no genetically modified tomatoes available for commercial or home use, it is generally agreed that no genetically modified organisms can be considered heirloom cultivars.

In this modern age with almost all garden plants being hybrids a Heirloom gardener is at a real disadvantage. Unless you live several miles from your nearest gardening neighbor, at least some of your heirloom plants are going to be hybridized by cross pollination by wind blown pollen or by your neighborhood bees feeding on hybrids then cross pollinating you heirloom when they visit and feed on your heirloom plants.

Don’t panic, you may like your new plant(s) better than your original heirloom planting. This accidental hybridizing (cross pollination) is how nature has handled plant evolution for billions of years. I never concern myself about this cross pollination problem. I select fruit from the plants I like most and save their seeds. How they got to be what they are is beyond my control and I simply don’t worry about how they got that way.

There is nothing wrong with saving hybrid plant seed. True it will not come back true to form. It will revert back to one of its parents genetics. That is not always a bad thing and the worst thing that can happen is you won’t like this plant for what ever reason.

When this cross pollination occurs, heirloom seed you save maybe a hybrid cross pollinated from your neighbors garden. To my knowledge there are only 2 things you can do now. Live with the possibility of planting hybridized seeds or buy new fresh heirloom seed every year.

No matter how you handle this heirloom / hybrid situation, the main thing is to enjoy your garden and the fruits of your labor. Good eating, and have a little fun while your at it.

DIY Composting for healthy Tomato gardens
University of Missouri Extension has a very useful publication fact sheet covering:
Selecting a compost method
# Wire-mesh holding unit
# Snow-fence holding unit
# Wood and wire three-bin turning unit
# Worm composting bin
# Heap composting
As well as information on constructing your composting unit.

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Beginners Garden 101 – My First Garden

A Beginner’s First Vegetable Garden
If you’re a beginner vegetable gardener, remember this: It’s better to be happy and proud of a small garden than to be mad and frustrated by a big one!

One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Think small. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, or hoe. If you’re new to gardening, start off with a garden no larger than about a 8 foot by 10 foot plot. You can always expand later if you can’t get enough of those fresh, crispy vegetables.

Next, examine the soil. Is it predominantly clay, sand or a sandy loam? The latter is the best. You can distinguish a sandy loam from the other two by giving it the squeeze test. If you can take a handful of dirt and squeeze it in a ball then watch it crumble when you let go, you’ve got a sandy loam soil type. Adding a quality compost is always a good thing to do for your garden.

The Very Basics
Here are some very basic concepts on topics you’ll want to explore further as you become a vegetable gardener extraordinaire.

* Vegetables love the sun. They require six hours (continuous, if possible) of sunlight each day, at least. Choose a location that receives as much sun as possible throughout the day. Northern gardeners should insist on full sun.
* Vegetables must have good, loamy, well-drained soil. Most backyard soil is not perfect and needs a helping hand. It is best to check with your local nursery or county extension office about soil testing, soil types, and soil enrichment. Remember adding a small amount of quality compost is always helful.
* Placement is everything. Like humans, vegetables need proper nutrition. A vegetable garden too near a tree will lose its nutrients to the tree’s greedy root system. On the other hand, a garden close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.
* Vegetables need lots of water, at least one inch of water a week. In the early spring, walk around your property to see where the snow melts first, when the sun catches in warm pockets. This will make a difference in how well your vegetables grow.
* Here’s the fun part. Study those seed catalogs and order early. You can purchase seeds from the store or order them through the many catalogs on the market. Whatever you do, buy quality seeds. Don’t spend hours preparing your garden and then skimp and purchase 10 packets for a $1.00 seeds.

Deciding How Big
One or two Tomato’s, Cucumbers or Squash in a container or unused flower bed is better than no garden!

A good beginner-size vegetable garden is 8 foot by 10 foot. If you have some to help you in your new garden a 10 foot by 16 foot garden may better fit your needs. For you first garden, grow crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, planted as suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).

Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips. If you plan to double crop your garden, plan and plant your fall garden crops by the 15th of July to allow them to reach maturity before falls first frost. If you can, it is best if your rows run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Allow enough space between rows to allow you to walk between rows for weeding and harvesting.

Easy to grow, Beginners garden plant selection list.
* Tomatoes
* Zucchini squash
* Peppers, Sweet and Hot types
* Cabbage
* Bush beans
* Lettuce, leaf and/or head
* Beetroot
* Carrots
* Chard
* Radish
* Onions
* Okra
* Bush Cucumbers
* Bush Yellow Summer Squash
* Turnip
* Marigolds to discourage rabbits!

READ and follow the planting and spacing recommendations on the seed package. They do this for a living and will not give you bad or incorrect planting / growing instructions.

(Note: If this garden is too large for your needs, you do not have to plant the entire garden plot, you can also make the rows shorter. You should choose the vegetables that you’d like to eat!)

Things to consider:
*Corn only produces 2 ears per stalk, takes up a great deal of a small garden for what you get in return.
*Watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers are large vine plants that require a lot of water and a large space for growing.
*Cucumbers can be trained to climb a trellis saving space and making them easy to harvest.
*If you’re interested in planting potatoes, just remember that tomatoes and potatoes are not ideal companions and need to be planted some distance apart. Plant tomato’s on one side of the garden and your potato’s on the other side of your garden.

DIY composting for your Gardens Health.
University of Missouri Extension has a very useful publication fact sheet covering:
Selecting a compost method
# Wire-mesh holding unit
# Snow-fence holding unit
# Wood and wire three-bin turning unit
# Worm composting bin
# Heap composting
As well as information on constructing your composting unit.

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Pepper Plants from Seed.. Slow Process.. Can Be Difficult To Do

sweet-pepperUsually planted about the same time as tomatoes, pepper is usually started in pots indoors in early spring, then transplanted outdoors when all danger of frost is past. Pepper needs 80 or more frost free days to produce fully mature peppers. CAUTION: When filling your starter Pepper pots DO NOT use potting soil that contains peat moss. Pepper seeds for some reason don’t like peat moss and many time will totally fail to germinate.

As a rule pepper takes a bit more patience, since it is usually smaller and slower growing. The payoff, however, is an abundant crop of deep green or bright red or yellow prize specimens that are the pride of any home gardener.

As an added advantage, the more you harvest, the more peppers the plant will produce. Many pepper varieties can be picked at any time while still maintaining their flavor and crunch. To get the full and rich amount of vitamins A & C, however, leave peppers to ripen to full maturity. Peppers can be eaten raw, pickled, cooked and stuffed, or used in relishes, sauces and stews.

Just remember to keep plants supplied with well drained soil, plenty of sun and uniformly moist but not water-logged soil to keep your peppers healthy and growing.

Feed once when setting out, then again with a low nitrogen fertilizer as fruit begins to set. Regularly inspect for sticky “dew” on the underside of leaves caused by aphids. They be easily eliminated by spraying the underside of leaves with a mild soapy solution.

STARTING AND POTTING PEPPER SEED
Plant pepper seeds, spacing them 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart in each direction and no more than 1/4 inch deep. Keep containers 80-85°F during the day and 60-70°F at night. Make a hole in the clear plastic top for the thermometer to go through. For a few hours each day, take the cover off the container in the afternoon to let air in. This will help control “damping off” fungus, which is a disease which attacks the seedlings.

Water without disturbing the seedlings, with the holes punched in the bottom of the container, you can water by letting the container sit in a bowl of water and soak up the water through the bottom holes. Make sure that the soil level is above the level of the water when the container is soaking up water. Otherwise, watering should be done overhead with a gentle sprinkling can, and water thoroughly every time, but let the surface dry out a little bit between watering.

AIR CIRCULATION Pepper seedlings need air circulation, at least until they develop their second set of leaves, and a small fan can help circulate the air, to control any damping off.

KEEPING the SEEDS WARM There are at least three inexpensive methods to provide the 80-85°F soil temperatures that pepper seeds need to germinate.

HEATING PAD method from the pharmacy. Purchase one that can get wet and put it under the flats or pots that your pepper seeds have been sown in. I caution you when using commercial seedling heating mats, make sure and check the soil temperature, that they are warming the soil enough. Also, I do not recommend soil heating cables, because you have to put them into sand beds, and can’t just put them directly underneath pots.

LIGHT BULB in the cardboard box method. You need a cardboard box approximately 2 x3 x3 feet, a ceramic light socket, lamp cord long enough to go from a wall socket and where you will have your germination box set up, an electrical plug, a 40 watt utility light. Place box on its side and bolt ceramic socket to the inside of the box about half-way up on either the left or right side. Keep light on during the day, but turn off at night to allow seedlings to return to room temperature. A 40 watt light will keep the inside of the box at 80-85°F.

HIGH SHELF in a heated room. The 80-85°F daytime soil temps for peppers only have to be maintained until the leaves break the soil surface, and then seedlings can be moved to a cooler place with abundant light. If you check high shelves near the ceiling, you might find one where the heat in the room keeps the temp. at the right level during the day. You just need to make sure and keep the seed pots adequately moist, and never allowed to dry out, which may require watering once or twice a day.
hot-red-pepper
GERMINATION Regular sweet peppers are very quick to germinate, usually 7-10 days.
HOT PEPPERS always take a lot longer, a minimum of 15 days, but up to 125 days! So don’t give up and be sure to allow for their long germination times when starting them indoors.
Peppers like Pequin and Tepin can take 100 or more days to germinate. Daytime soil temperature of 80-85°F is critical and will in many cases cut the total germination time down to as little as 30-45 days.

Here’s a great little container grown ornamental pepper. Chilly Chili This ornamental pepper seems to explode in a riot of color, bringing bright orange and red to landscapes or containers. Chilly Chili is child safe because the peppers are not pungent. Two to 2-1/2 inch long fruit are borne above the foliage and start out greenish-yellow, then turn to orange, and finally to dark red. Plants grow about 1 foot tall and spread up to 14 inches wide. Extremely heat tolerant, Chilly Chili provides garden color even during the hottest summers.

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Fall Planting Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and Other Spring Flowering Bulbs

Properly preparing the soil for bulb planting is important. Good soil drainage is essential in raising bulbs. If you have a soil with a high clay content, it can be improved by adding compost, peat moss or some other source of organic material. The organic material should be worked in the top twelve inches of soil (eighteen inches is even better).
Fertilization

Both spring and summer bulbs need phosphorous to encourage root development. Keep in mind that phosphorous moves very little once applied to the soil. Some bulbs are planted 6 to 8 inches deep. The phosphorus needs to be mixed in the soil below where the bulbs will be located so it can be utilized by the bulb roots. Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil in the lower part of the planting bed as it is being prepared.

If bulbs are going to be maintained in a planting bed more than one year, it is important to supply additional fertilizer. Spring flowering bulbs should have mixed into the soil in the fall five tablespoons of 10-10-10 soluble fertilizer (or equivalent bulb fertilizer) plus two cups of bonemeal per ten square foot area. As soon as the shoots break through the ground in the spring, repeat the above soluble fertilizer application. Do not fertilize spring flowering bulbs after they have started flowering. This tends to encourage the development of bulb rot and sometimes shortens the life of the flowers.

Summer and fall flowering bulbs should be fertilized monthly from shoot emergence until the plants reach full flower. Apply seven tablespoons of 10-10-10 soluble fertilizer (or equivalent bulb fertilizer) split over two or three applications over a ten square foot area.

The optimum pH range for bulbs is 6 to 7. A soil test of the planting area is necessary to determine if lime needs to be applied to adjust the soil pH. If needed, limestone should be worked into the soil. For good bud development, work bonemeal into the soil at planting.
Planting Location

Before selecting the location to plant bulbs in the landscape, consider the light requirements of the plant. Does the plant require full sunshine, partial shade or full shade? Since early spring bulbs bloom before most trees or shrubs leaf out, they can successfully be planted under trees and shrubs. Many summer blooming bulbs require full sun or partial shade.

Spring bulbs planted on a south slope will bloom earlier than the same bulbs planted on a north slope. Spring bulbs planted on a hillside will bloom earlier than bulbs planted in a valley. Cold air is heavier than warm air and behaves like water. It flows down the slope, settling in the low areas.
Planting Depth

The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant two to three times as deep as the bulbs is tall. This means most large bulbs like tulips or daffodils will be planted about 8 inches deep while smaller bulbs will be planted 3-4 inches deep. Planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb. This rule of thumb on planting depth does not apply to summer bulbs which have varied planting requirements. For planting depth of summer bulbs, consult the information supplied with the bulbs.

Tulips, daffodils and hyacinths should be planted with the nose of the bulb upward and the root plate downward. The best method of planting is to dig and loosen the entire bed to the proper depth. Press the bulbs into the soil in the planting area and cover with soil. Because the soil in a spaded bed is better drained and prepared, the planting will last longer. This method of planting is preferred over trying to plant bulbs one by one with a bulb planter. In many soils bulb planters do not work well, if at all.
Watering Bulbs

Water the bulbs following planting. This will help settle the soil in the planting bed plus provide needed moisture for the bulbs to start rooting. Fall planted bulbs must root before cold weather. Avoid over-watering at planting time since this can result in bulb rot.

For both spring and summer bulbs, start watering when the flower buds first appear on the plant if the soil is dry. Shallow watering will not do the job. Remember that the bulbs may have been planted 6 to 8 inches deep and the water needs to soak to that depth. Through the bud, bloom and early foliage stage, add about one inch of water per week if this amount has not been supplied from rainfall. Water with a soaker hose to keep water off the bloom. Bulbs like alliums, or the shallow planted bulbs, will rot quickly if over-watered in the heat of summer.

Mowing Foliage One of the visual problems with spring bulbs is the foliage that remains after bloom. The foliage can become unsightly if the bulbs are planted in a public area of the landscape. Foliage should not be mowed off until it turns yellow and dies back naturally.

The foliage on the smaller bulbs such as snowdrops and squill will die back rapidly and cause little problem. The foliage on the larger bulbs like tulips and daffodils will take several weeks to die back. Keep in mind that after flowering, the plant needs the green leaves to manufacture food (photosynthesis) that is stored in the bulb for next year’s growth. If the homeowner mows off the foliage early, the plant can no longer manufacture nutrient reserves for next year. This results in a small, weak bulb which will gradually decline and die out.

There are several ways to divert attention from the yellowing bulb foliage. Interplant the bulbs in the spring using one or two colors of annuals. Place bulbs behind the plants on the front edge of a border planting. Plant taller flowering bulbs behind lower growing foreground shrubs. Plant bulbs with groundcovers and perennials like hosta or daylilies.
Staking

Some of the summer blooming bulbs like dahlias and gladioli occasionally need extra support to be able to remain erect. A support ring is an easy way to support plants that have weak stems. Stakes will also work for this purpose. Drive stakes in place at planting time to avoid accidental damage to the bulbs or tubers.
Mulching

The bulb bed should be covered with two or three inches of mulch. Mulch will help minimize temperature fluctuation and maintain an optimal moisture level in the planting bed. The small, early booming bulbs should not be mulched.
Digging and Storing Spring Bulbs

Once the foliage dies back or matures in the late spring or early summer, the bulb is dormant. Summer is the dormant period for spring bulbs. As the foliage dies back, the roots that nourish the bulbs also die back. With fall rains, the bulb comes out of summer dormancy and roots begin to grow again to provide the bulb nutrients and moisture.

Once the spring bulbs enter dormancy, the time is right to dig the bulbs if needed. Some bulbs benefit from digging to divide the bulbs and spread them out over the bed.

If the choice is to dig bulbs, they should be stored in a well ventilated place and replanted in the fall. Every five years daffodils and crocus should be dug and replanted to prevent overcrowding. The first sign of overcrowding will be a decrease in the flower size, uneven bloom and uneven plant height. When this occurs, dig, spread bulbs out and replant immediately.
Digging and Storing Summer Bulbs

Most summer flowering bulbs should be dug and stored when the leaves on the plants turn yellow. Use a spading fork to lift the bulbs from the ground. Wash off any soil that clings to the bulbs, except for bulbs that are stored in pots or with the soil around them.

Leave the soil on achimenes, begonia, canna, caladium, dahlia and ismene bulbs. Store these bulbs in clumps on a slightly moistened layer of peat moss or sawdust in a cool place. Wash and separate them just before planting.

Spread the washed bulbs in a shaded place to dry. When dry, store them away from sunlight in a cool, dry basement, cellar, garage or shed at 60 to 65F. Avoid temperatures below 50 or above 70F unless different instructions are given for a particular bulbs.

Inspect your bulbs for signs of disease. Keep only large, healthy bulbs that are firm and free of spots. Discard undersized bulbs.

If you have only a few bulbs, you can keep them in paper bags hung by strings from the ceiling or wall. Store large numbers of bulbs on trays with screen bottoms. Separate your bulbs by species or variety before storing them.

Be sure that air can circulate around your stored bulbs. Never store bulbs more than two or three layers deep. Deep piles of bulbs generate heat and decay.

Most flowering bulbs are best stored over a long period at temperatures between 60F and 68F. Try to keep the humidity in the storage area as low as possible. Never store bulbs in an area where ethylene gas produced by fruit is present. Bulbs can be stored in a container with peat moss, sand, perlite or vermiculite. Another common storage method is to place the bulbs in a very loose knit sack and hang in a sheltered, cool area. Do not divide or separate bulbs before storing them.

Ron Cornwell, University of Illinois

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Rose In My Thorn Garden

lone-roseBush roses are generally upright-growing plants that bear flowers mainly on top of the plant. Needing no support, these roses may grow from 5 or 6 inches to 5 or 6 feet tall, depending on the type and climate. The types of bush roses include hybrid teas, polyanthas, floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures, and heritage, or old roses.

* Hybrid teas are the most widely grown of all roses. The long, narrow buds open into large, many-petaled blooms, one each to a long stem. Blooming throughout the growing season, a wide range of colors are available and many are fragrant. The upright, branching plants grow 3 feet or more tall.

* Floribundas, recognized as a group since the mid-1940’s, are derived and refined from the hybrid teas. The hardy, compact, 2- to 3-foot bushes bear great quantities of flower clusters on medium-length stems all summer long. The foliage, flower form, and color range is similar to hybrid teas, with many varieties being fragrant. They among the easiest roses to grow and are excellent for landscaping.

* Grandifloras exhibit the best attributes of hybrid teas and floribundas, although the upright bushes usually grow much larger than either, sometimes reaching 5 or 6 feet tall. This makes them striking accent plants for the back of the flower border, for example. Beautifully formed flowers are borne in clusters on long stems. They are hardy and continually in bloom.

* Miniatures roses are a tiny version of any of the other types, usually growing less than 2 feet tall. Blooms and foliage are proportionately smaller, too, but still quite perfect in form. They are hardy and excellent for edgings and mass plantings, among herbs, and in raised beds and container plants.

* Heritage, or old, roses are those that were developed by plant breeders prior to 1867, the date established by the American Rose Society in commemoration of the first hybrid tea rose, La France. Basically direct descendants of the species roses, there are many different plant and flower forms among the heritage roses. Some of these antique types include the Albas, Bourbons, Centifolias, Damasks, Gallicas, Mosses, Noisettes, and Rugosas.

Climbing Roses have long, arching canes that don’t actually climb but must be attached to supports such as trellises, arbors, posts, or fences. There are many different colors and types of blooms available. The large-flowered climbers have stiff, thick canes 10 feet or so long and bloom either continuously or at least several times during summer and fall. Ramblers have longer, thinner canes with clusters of small flowers borne once in late spring or early summer.

Shrub and Ground Cover Roses grow broadly upright with gracefully arching canes. Most are very hardy and require little maintenance. Depending on the variety, they may be 4 to 12 feet tall with many canes and thick foliage, making them ideal for hedges as well as background and mass plantings. The flowers may be single (five petals), semi-double, or double and are borne at the ends of canes and on branches along the canes. Some types bloom just once in the spring while others flower continuously during the growing season. Shrub roses frequently produce red, orange, or yellow hips (seed pods) after flowering. These are high in Vitamin C and can be used in cooking; plus, the birds like them for winter food, and they can be used in flower arrangements.

Ground cover roses are prostrate or slightly mounding plants with canes trailing along the ground. Flowers may be produced just in the spring or repeatedly throughout the summer at the ends of canes as well as on branches along the canes.
texas-yellow-rose
Care and feeding: your feeding program, like your spraying, should be done regularly. Roses are heavy feeders. To keep them growing vigorously, an organized program should be followed. Water rose bed thoroughly before and after food has been applied.

* January thru February — As the weather and ground warm up, around mid to late February, organic fertilizers may be applied. Give each large bush. one to two cups of a mixture of alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, fish meal and blood meal, scratch in lightly and water in well.

* March thru May — The initial feeding should be chemical, either liquid or dry. It is applied when spring pruning is completed. Carl Pool, Green Light, Miracle-Gro, Peters or Rapid-Gro are all good soluble fertilizers. Give each Hybrid Tea or other large bush, one tablespoon of fertilizer dissolved in a gallon of water.

For miniatures use one teaspoon of liquid food per gallon of water. Give each plant about a quart. Dry rose fertilizer can be applied in place of liquid. Use according to directions. Liquid feeding in this period should be once a month. Mature climbers should be given double the amount given to Hybrid Teas.

* June thru August — With the introduction of timed release fertilizers, a summer long feeding in one application is possible. These fertilizers are formulated to feed continuously for three to six months in our climate. Feed each average sized bush at least three or four ounces, working it lightly into the soil. Water thoroughly. If you don’t care to use this type of product, continue feeding with a water soluble food (twice a month), or a monthly application of dry food. As the weather becomes hot, you may want to switch to soluble fertilizers as they are more readily available to the plants. Iron
occurs at this time; Sprint 330 can correct this deficiency.

* September thru October — With the advent of cooler weather and rain, your roses will begin their heavy fall blooming season. Once you have done your light fall pruning, you can apply a cup of organic rose food per bush and follow this two weeks later with a liquid feeding. Don’t feed with either liquid or dry foods after the beginning of October.

Spraying, prevention is critical in keeping your roses free of fungus and insect problems. A hit and miss program will get you and your roses into trouble. Basic spraying can be divided into three different phases.

* March thru May — Once bushes have been pruned, a clean up spray consisting of Ortho Funginex and Malathion should be applied to both the bush and the ground area around the bush. This will take care of any over wintering fungus or insect problems. Once your new growth starts, spray every seven days with Funginex, a liquid product. This fungicide has three advantages over others in that it leaves no residue, protects against mildew, blackspot and rust and needs no sticker spreader. Rust is not a big problem in this area, but does appear on occasion. Spray top and bottom of the leaves until the foliage glistens to obtain complete coverage. If your bushes should become infected with either mildew or blackspot, spray every five days until control is obtained. Insecticides such as Diazinon or Orthene can be used about every 14 days to combat most insect problems that occur during this period. Use according to label directions.

* June thru August – By this time of the year, if our weather is normally (hot and dry), you can lengthen your spraying interval for fungus problems to every 10 to 14 days. Insecticides should be used sparingly. The biggest problem that may occur at this time is an infestation of spider mites. A good way to treat this problem is to apply a hard spray of water to the bottom of the foliage every three or four days throughout the summer. This will interrupt the mites’ breeding cycle. (The bushes will also benefit from the washing). A miticide such as Green Light Red Spider Spray may also be used.

* September thru November – Once the weather begins to cool off and the early morning and nights become more humid, follow the same spray program used during the spring for both fungus and insect problems. To prevent spray bum of foliage in all seasons, water rose beds thoroughly before spraying. in hot weather, spray in early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.

Mulch
Using mulch, especially an organic one, is about the closest thing possible to a garden panacea. A mulch keeps weeds to a minimum, the soil moist and loose and adds nutrients.

Apply mulch in the spring just as the soil warms and before weeds start coming up. Mulch can also be applied anytime during the growing season if the weeds are removed and the surface lightly cultivated. Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch over the bed, leaving some space open around the base of each rose. Replace the mulch as it deteriorates during the year.

For organic mulches, you’ll want to use whatever is locally available and cheap. Some options include wood chips and shavings, shredded bark, pine needles, or chopped oak leaves. Extra nitrogen fertilizer may be needed when these mulches are first applied. Mixtures of materials are usually more satisfactory as they have less tendency to pack down and, moreover, permit easy transmission of water and fertilizers. Many compost mixtures are available — also a light layer of manure may be applied under the mulch.

Watering
Adequate soil moisture is indispensable to the vitality of roses. (For more information, see the American Rose Society: Watering) Seldom can you rely on the natural rainfall to be adequate. The rule-of-thumb is 1 inch of water each week, but the actual frequency of watering will depend on your soil and climate as well as the age of the plant.

The goal is to slowly water until the soil is soaked 12 to 18 inches deep. Soaker hoses or a hose with a bubbler attachment are inexpensive solutions and keep water from splashing onto foliage and spreading diseases. Soil-level and drip-irrigation systems are more expensive but make watering a breeze.

Pruning controls the size and shape of roses and keeps the modern varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long, as they flower on new growth. The supplies you’ll need include a good, sharp, curved-edge pruning shears; long-handled lopping shears; a small pruning saw; plus a pair of leather gardening gloves.
loving-white-rose
Well-established varieties of modern rose bushes such as hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras should receive a major pruning each spring after the winter protection has been removed and just as the buds begin to swell (usually about when daffodils bloom). Harsh pruning makes bigger, but fewer blooms. And, there is no report that anyone ever killed a plant with a pair of pruning shears.

All that’s needed otherwise during the growing season is to remove and destroy any diseased foliage or canes and to dead head, or remove the faded flowers, cutting their stems just above the first leaf with five leaflets.

Most old-fashioned and species roses as well as the climbers that bloom only once a year flower on wood from the previous year’s growth. They are pruned right after flowering.

Container Gardening
Container rose plantings are not only a decorative addition to any part of the outdoor living area, they are also a perfect way to change the look of the landscape from month to month or year to year. Roses in pots extend the scope and possibilities of gardening. Wide walkways can be highlighted with tubs of roses spotted here and there. Steps to the front or back door can be graced with the beauty and fragrance of roses. Miniature roses can dress up window boxes in the summer, and then be brought indoors in winter to perk up the house.

Patios, decks, and terraces have become favorite spots for entertaining and relaxing on warm summer days and evenings. Add to the pleasure of these moments with planters teeming with the color and fragrance of the world’s favorite flower. In an area used at night, select a white or pastel rose, such as Cherish, French Lace, or Rose Parade. Bring color right down to the swimming pool with pots of roses set on the paving. If you have a spot to hang a basket, fill it with miniature roses for a continuous display of summer color, then move the basket indoors for the winter. Select a trailing variety and let the flowers cascade from tree limbs, overhangs, and brackets.

Gardening without a garden: Containers make it possible to grow roses on balconies, terraces, and roof tops high above city streets. The limited gardening space that comes with condos, town houses, and brownstones can be multiplied with portable planters. Movable roses should be the shorter-growing varieties of the modern-day hybrid roses as they are more compact with great quantities of flowers all summer.

Good selections are:
* New Year * Showbiz * Impatient * Intrigue * Sun Flare * Mon Cheri * Marina * Charisma * First Edition * Cathedral * Bahia * Electron * Redgold * Gene Boerner * Angel Face * Europeana * Garden Party * Sarabande * Ivory Fashion

Containers can be any shape, round, or hexagonal as long as they are 18 inches across and 14 inches deep for proper root development. Use pots made of plastic, clay, terra cotta, ceramic, metal, or wood. All they need to be effective is drainage at the bottom. If you’re working with a planter that does not have drainage holes, add a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of the container so the roots do not become waterlogged. Pots can be heavy and difficult to move about, so casters are an excellent addition.

Roses need at least six hours of sun a day ideally place movable roses where they receive morning sun and some protection form the midday heat. Also try to keep them out of drying winds. If the plants receive uneven sun and start growing in one direction to reach the light, rotate them often to keep growth straight. Roses in containers will need more water than the same roses in the ground. Not only are all sides of the container subject to drying sun and winds, there is also no ground water to fall back upon. Watch planters carefully and water whenever the growing medium starts to dry out. Water until moisture runs from the bottom of the container. A mulch on top of the planter will help keep the roots of the roses moist and cool.

Planting soil should be rich and well drained. A packaged or homemade mix of half organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and half perlite or vermiculite is ideal. As roses in pots must be watered so often, they must also be fertilized frequently. Feed each week with soluble fertilizer at one-quarter strength for even growth and flowering.

Winter storage, move the pots into an unheated but frost- free area, keep the soil slightly moist, cover with plastic, and return to the outdoors in spring.

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Is Your Melon Ripe – Yet?

when is it ripe
How do you know when a melon is ripe? More information than most of us want to know.

There are several ‘Indicators’ used by gardeners to determine when a melon is ripe. However the only for sure way is to cut your melon and taste it.

Here’s a quick how to About.com Picking Ripe Watermelon’s a crash course.

Video – how to tell if a Watermelon is ripe

Video – how to tell if a Watermelon is ripe

Video Cantaloupe – When is it ripe?

Video Honeydew Melon – When is it ripe?

It’s summertime, It’s hot, It’s time for a cold slice of melon.

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