Friday, April 18, 2014

Let the Gardening Begin!





Finally!! We were able to break ground, till the garden spot and plant ten or twelve rows with plants and seeds. The roller coaster winter weather made us cautious not to plant too early, plus the ground needed to warm to approximately 50 degrees for seed germination.

Many of the seeds planted were early crops, such as, carrots, radish, beets, kale and bok choy. Unfortunately, our seed stash didn't include lettuce or spinach. We'll add them in a few days. And since we felt behind this season we planted pole beans (Rattlesnake because they yielded so good last year), two types of cucumbers and several varieties of squash (yellow, French Ronde and scallop).

The Easter cold snap didn't hurt the plants very much (a few wilted leaves), except for the French Ronde squash. I cut all the wilted leaves off and so all the plants should recover, as the root systems are healthy.

We mixed fertilizer and added to each hole and row. The ingredients included lime, bone meal, green sand (a soil conditioner) and blood meal to give everything a boost (an organic shot in the roots) in their early growing stage.





I like growing types of perennials in the garden and yard (seen above is a type of bunch onion) that will survive winter. These perennials give you a start early in the season without any effort, except for the initial planting. Varieties of the onion family are perfect. Included are bunching green onions, leeks and garlic.

Asparagus is also a good veggie to plant for long term, just remember it takes several years for it to mature and yield the delicious spikes like you buy in the grocery store.





Strawberries are another good choice. As you can see above the cold weather didn't hurt ours and they are already bearing berries. Shortcake in two or three weeks!





And there is nothing like digging fresh garlic in the winter for a big pot of spaghetti or any special comfort dish. Garlic is easy to grow any season.



 
Above is a "Big Bertha" tomato Deberah bought at the Newnan Master Gardener plant sale several weeks ago.
 
 

 
 
She also bought sweet green bells, as seen above, sweet banana and three jalapeno.
 
It was good to stop the roller coaster long enough to get our garden started this season. So, "Let the gardening begin 2014!"
 
 
 
 
** A Special Note: Mr. Basil our garden cat recently used two of his nine lives due to an obstructed urethra. He was at the vets for a week and couldn't go outside for another week to make sure he got his meds twice a day. Tia kept vigil at his crate the whole time only leaving to eat and use the bathroom.
 
She was a better mama than me!
 
 
Until Next Time...........
 
 
Happy Gardening 2014 and I hope everyone has a Blessed Easter!
 
 
 
Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, March 24, 2014

Narcissus - King Alfred

 
 
For several years my mother's and my "King Alfred," jonquils (perennial narcissus bulbs) didn't bloom. This year to our surprise they busted out with amazing blooms! Mother told me she applied fertilizer last year, however, I didn't apply any and haven't for 5 or 6 years. "King Alfred" is a beautiful, cream colored, perennial bulb, with a large corona bloom in the center.




Narcissus, also known as, daffodil and jonquil is a bulbous perennial originating from North Africa and West Asia.  All are members of the Amaryllis family. Blooms come in single, double and triple centers, as well as, colors white, cream, light and dark yellows in the center corona.





Just like most plants we grow in our garden and yard, the myth about these flowers start centuries ago across the ocean in Greece.  Narcissus was obsessed with his own reflection. As he knelt and gazed into a pool seeing his reflection, he fell into the pool and drowned.  After his death, narcissus flowers sprang up in and around the area.





No doubt, as seen above, gotta love ""King Alfred's." If, I remember they are about 25 or 30 years old!  I am trying to figure the why's and how's about the prolific blooms this year.  My only solution to this perplexing is the cold weather, snow and again cold weather!






Since mother felt under the weather last week, took her a bouquet of King Alfred's   Enjoy and love you mother.  Hope you feel better soon!!



Until next time......

Happy Gardening 2014!


Posted by Wilma Smith



Monday, March 10, 2014

Grow Plants for Less Than 12 Cents Each

Here's How!



Several weeks ago my neighbor Dianne Carnicom told me she planned to start her tomato plants indoors using small paper cups for pots. These are sold as oral hygiene cups used for rinsing and growing up I remember dispensers available to mount on a bathroom wall above the sink. She bought a 100 pack for $2.29 plus tax.

I was interested to watch and wondered how cheap her process would be to start her seeds.




She began by using a toothpick to poke holes in the bottom of each cup. This allowed proper drainage and air to flow through and around each seed. As, Dianne and Mike use raised beds for their vegetable garden, she didn't want to plant too many but did plant extra to sell at the garden club plant sale in May.




Seen above she paid $2.49 plus tax for the seeds. Soil was the only other expense used for the 20 pots planted. A bag of organic potting soil was bought at a local garden center for $6.85 plus tax. She probably used less than 1/8 of the bag of soil and less than 1/2 of the seed pack for her 20 pots.




The next two steps were to fill the pots 2/3 full and place one seed in each pot. The organic soil added extra nutrients to start the seed and only using one seed per pot prevented thinning plants later and healthier root growth when transplanting to the garden space or a larger pot when needed.





Last but not least, Dianne watered each pot and placed them inside in a sunny location (morning sun with approximately 5 large windows. Their house temperature also remains constant at 68 to 70 degrees (important for sprouting seeds indoors). I was surprised to see the sprouts so soon (sorry about the photo shown) but obviously, Dianne did all the right things!




You can use the same steps to sprout different vegetables and flowers inside for gardens, pots or yard spaces for 12 cents or less each plant.

Here's how Dianne did it:

Seeds $2.49 + tax - used 1/2 or less         $1.25
Soil $6.85+ tax - used 1/8 or less             $  .85
100 Cups + tax - used 20Xless than .01   $  .20
                                                                 $ 2.30 divided by 20 = 11.5

Total - 20 Plants                                       $  .12 or less

Now don't take my word for it because I'm better at gardening than math but there is no doubt it's cheaper to grow your own plants from seed than buy the plants later in the season, if you have the time.



Until Next Time......

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Time to Plant Flower and Vegetable Seeds


 


I think I'm still on the "Weather Roller Coaster," we've been riding January and February 2014, but it's exciting to start thinking and talking gardening this week.

During the first (below or at zero temps) cold snap some of my pipes burst in the pump house and  I had to visit Lowe's for PVC pipes. Exiting, I found they had moved their seed display to the front of the store and was impressed at the extend of vegetable/flower seeds, bulbs, fruit trees/bushes and small tools available in the display.

I knew then, it was time to plan, organize and buy seeds to start our garden this year!




Depending on your situation in your yard and garden, seeds can be started in little bio-degradable cups like these or straight into prepared soil outside. You can also make your own seed starters in small Dixie cups or even egg cartons.

I usually start my seeds in small leftover plastic pots, outside. If you have florescent or grow lights in the basement or garage you can also jump start your seeds earlier than February. Make sure if sprouts become leggy to alternate with natural sunlight.


 
 
Since we garden organically, I bought several packs of early crop seeds like sugar peas, carrots, spinach, radish and lettuce. We'll buy other early crops like onions and potatoes at Arnall's Seed Store. Deberah, also ordered 2014 seeds on line to plant now to grow plants for the garden when the temperature warms. Plant vegetables and flowers seeds now to be ready for spring and summer seasons.
 
 
 
 
Also, now is the time to plant or transplant fruit trees and bushes.  Make sure you prepare soil by digging a spot large enough for the roots, add good soil/humus (like leaves or fine wood mulch) make sure you have proper drainage (no water standing) and keep the soil moist. When you see new leaves forming, you'll know you've done it right.
 
Nothing better but to pick your first apple, peach, blueberries, figs or strawberries, either just eat or make a pie or jam!
 
  
 
Lowe's has a great variety of flower bulbs and tubers for now. When the fever hits and spring is in the air (warmer week-ends), inventory will dwindle, so plan and buy now for the best selection.
 
  
 
 
I like this bulb/planter tool because it's sturdy and saves the back when small holes are needed, especially for packed dirt. 
 



Buy and plant flower seeds now for your yard and garden. Even if you have container or raised beds used for flowers. All you'll need is a hoe and rake to break up the soil, spread the seeds (depending on seed size) then rake soil over the seeds. Water if there is a dry spell. Initially fertilizer is not required for tender sprouts.

Many summer flower and vegetable seeds need planting early to insure hardy roots and healthy plants for May and June crops and flowers.. Check the back of seed packs or on line for how long it takes to germinate and when you need to plant.

Good luck planting!!!


Until Next Time........

Happy Gardening 2014!


Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Benefits of Snow on Your Yard and Garden


 
 
Since Georgia only gets a good "blanket of snow" two or three times in a decade, I wondered if snow has any benefits in the yard and garden. Surprisingly, after a little research I found there are several reasons why snow helps plants growing everywhere around your house.
 
Snow is a great insulator on bulbs, shrubs and trees, especially if you weren't able to apply a heavy mulch on plants prior to late fall. So, the saying a "blanket of snow" (just like a good cover while sleeping) actually makes plenty of sense.   
 


 
 
Snow like rain deposits nitrogen into the soil, approximately 2 to 12 pounds per acre. When snow melts, it could be one reason why northern states (including Alaska) green up so well after the snow melts in the spring.
 
Jeff Lowenfels, a member of the "Garden Writers Hall of Fame" (www.gardenerjeff.com), calls snow the "Poor Man's Fertilizer." You can also listen to his radio show "Garden Party" Saturdays from 10AM-12PM on station KBYR 700 AM.
 
 
 
 
Although, snow is no sure cure to rid the yard and garden of harmful insects, most harmful pests don't like the cold temperatures. I like to think our roller coaster of warm and cold weather this winter season has fooled them into thinking spring is here and moving into top layers of soil, laying larvae and then both freezing when the temps change abruptly. 
 
Just like bugs, this roller coaster can also fool plants into thinking warm weather is here. That's another good reason a "blanket of snow" is good for plants in your yard and garden. It insulates but also lets plants know it's not time to sprout. So.........



Until Next Time.....

Happy Gardening 2014 and Enjoy the Snow!


Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clover Adds Nitrogen to Any Yard or Garden





My dad always planted white clover in the yard to add nitrogen for a green lawn and knew it was a plus for sunny and shady areas. Growing up, I didn't know or think about the benefits, I was just looking for the four leaf clover for good luck.

But now, I realize his reasons. Clover (Trifolum or trefoil) is kin to the pea (legume) family with a genus of over 300 species. Best known are those that bloom with white, purple and red flowers. Each not only add nitrogen to the soil but help beneficial garden insects too.




Butterflies, moths, honeybees and other beneficial garden insects love clover. All of these pollinators bring an extra boost to flowers and vegetables in the yard and garden.




Cattle and equine ranchers have long known the benefits of growing clover and alfalfa (also a legume) to the grass in their pastures. Besides adding a great fertilizer to the land, both make a terrific forage for their animals when added to grazing grasses.


 
 
Add approximately 25 percent clover or alfalfa seeds to Fescue or Bermuda seeds when planting in your yard, as more might over take the other grass due to the high amount of nitrogen. White clover is a cool weather perennial (especially in our climate) that once established helps hard to grow bare spots encourage other growth and then will grow all year. Plant a mixture in early spring and cover with a bale of straw.
 
Clover or alfalfa (members of the legume family) will add nutrients to the space without adding any other fertilizer.
 
 


Until Next Time........
 
Happy Gardening 2014!
 
 
Posted by Wilma Smith

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When It's Too Cold to Plow

(Photos in this blog were previously taken.)



Growing up, I remember my grandparents and my parents telling us (especially after a soaking rain) "It's too wet to plow." Well, I'll go further and add "It's too cold to plow" this week.

So, if the temperature is too cold for outside chores, what can we do to improve our yard and garden for 2014? Lots! Now is the time to reminisce last year's successes and failures, make note of what worked and plan to correct future mistakes the coming year. And I love to spend more time with my favorite friends, Tia and Todd (seen above).

They stay in the house with me, but if you have pets that need plenty of outside time and you can't walk them two or three times a day (like me), check out invisible fences online like Invisible Fence, 770-924-8459/800-253-6843. This company keeps pets off any and everything inside or out; away from the door, off the couch, out of the kitchen, off the stairs, out of the garden, stay in the yard, off the patio and away from the pool.




One thing that can be added to any landscape, yard or garden is fruit. Most should be planted in February or March, choose plants or trees your family likes the best. Above are strawberries we planted several years ago. They are easy to grow and propagate quickly by growing stems away from the main plant and root in nearby soil. Depending on the variety strawberries can yield fruit once or twice a year. Search online for local fruit growers or companies that ship free.

Whatever your fruit choice, buy a variety grown for our southern locality. Follow planting instructions to include mulching and fertilizing. Before you know it you'll be enjoying the harvest.





Inventory, organize, clean and repair tools, now! How often have you started a project in the yard or garden only to discover you couldn't find a tool or it was broken? (Hey, me!!)

The basic tools are a must; hoe, rake, pitch fork, flatbed shovel and of course gloves! Of, course the amount and size of tools depends on the size of your yard and garden. We have a large tiller and a small Mantis. I suggest the little Mantis for flower beds and tilling around rows to aerate plants.

Regardless, a hoe and rake are the most important.

Don't forget the water cans, I love this one. Keira (new). www.keira-usa.com (found at the 2013 Southeastern Flower Show). You can also check out www.HorizonsLtd.com for new and exciting garden  tools.

And for creative and interesting garden furniture and decor (local), visit the Bone Yard on the web or around the corner at THEBONEYARDANTIQUES.COM (770-683-7313), 195 Raymond Hill Road, Suite F, Newnan, GA   30265.




Now is the time to plan an agenda for your yard and garden for 2014. Design your areas, research online for plants and seeds you'll need throughout the growing season. Below are a few recognized companies to start that have catalogs you can order or check out online:

*Burpee Seed Company
*Gurney Seeds
*Harris Seed
*Heritage (Heirloom) Seeds
*Park Seed Company

There are plenty more to investigate depending on your design, needs and agenda. Locally, I like Arnall's downtown and Lowe's, next to Walmart off Bullsboro in Newnan. Depending, on availability to your location there are many more to choose.

I bought the snapdragons (seen above) at Lowe's on their sale rack.




Several other things to work on in early winter when it's too cold is to find a mulch source and remove trees while there are no leaves. Often the Coweta Fayette Electric Company contracts companies to trim lines along roads and highways. If you ask, they will unload mulch on your property for free (as seen above). Mulch needs to  be seasoned prior to using for several months, however it is a great plus for gardens, flower beds, fruit trees and islands in the yard.

It's been several years since they've trimmed, but another good way to acquire mulch is to make your own by renting a mulcher at most rental sources like Nickel and Coweta Rental.

If you need tree removal I like Clanton's Tree Service (local). Call Mike Clanton at 678-416-5684 or email cla7nton@yahoo.com. He will remove trees, stumps, grind stumps, trimming and leave the chipped debris if you like.

If landscaping is in your agenda try contacting Hamilton, Land Services, Inc., www.hamiltonlandservices.com, Surrounding Landscapes, Inc., www.suroundinglandscapes.com, or Ed Castro Landscape, edcastro.com. I've never used their services, however, each had beautiful displays at the 2013 Southeastern Flower Show.

If your determined to add a rose garden to the landscape ask Ryan Tilly with "Rose Gardens by Ryan" a Master Rosarian at www.rosegardensbyryan.com.

If you plan to garden by raised beds this year get ideas (if you will build) or look what's growing at Eden Easy Beds at grow@edeneasybeds.com or call 404-587-3712.

 



While it's cold think about what you need to do about the critters in the yard and garden. Traps, cages or even a cat. Mr. Basil our garden cat did his job last year. I trained him to like the garden early as a kitten and we were able to keep the critters, such as, rabbits and squirrels out of the garden and harvest.

If you have deer problems install an electric fence. Actually, it's not as expensive as you might think.
We bought our supplies, posts, electric wire, plastic fence insulators, and the electric fence controller on sale for less than $200.00 at Tractor Supply on Highway 34 around the corner. You will need availability to electricity and we use a heavy duty extension cord.

So, when "It's to cold to plow" there IS LOTS to do to prepare for 2014. Happy New Year everyone!!!


Until Next Time........

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith