Friday, March 30, 2012

Finding 4 Leaf Clover Odds Better than Mega Millions Win

Have you ever found a four leaf clover?  I don't think I have but I know I've never won any big lottery! Your odds to find a four leaf clover is 10,000 to 1 and what I understand about tonight's Mega Million drawing is that the odds of winning are about 176 million to 1, so you definitely have better odds to find a four leaf clover.  

I have known people that have been lucky enough to find a clover leaf with four petals, my mother found one and showed me hers pressed in a book for safe keeping. I had a friend that found one. And I saw them encased in paperweights and bubble rings when I took a trip to Ireland. But, I've never been so lucky. Truth is I didn't feel lucky today and even though I had two dollars I could of spent on Mega Millions, I passed.

I think, I'd rather find a four leaf clover for the meaning of the four petals. The first for faith, second for hope, third for love and the fourth for luck. However, I want to wish anyone and everyone who bought a lottery ticket, good luck and hope you win!

If you don't still hope you find a four leaf clover ... and ... if you don't find one of those ...

Happy Gardening 2012

Posted by Wilma Smith 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grow Vegtables and Flowers in Record Time

Last night the Crossroads Garden Club held it's second meeting with one of our own club members (Charlotte Nelson, seen above), as the first guest speaker. Charlotte is quickly becoming the expert in Coweta County for her method of "Straw Bale Gardening." Not only is she beautiful and a great speaker, her method of gardening is beautiful and "speaks for itself" to create, grow, and reap the rewards in record time with less sweat and toil than any traditional garden technique.

Her presentation, explained in detail how anyone without access to a tiller or a simple hoe can create a vegetable, flower, herb or any garden in ten to twelve days with straw bales, fertilizer, water, sun, seeds or plants and a little potting soil and of course a little love. She also beautifully explained, how this method produces more and lasts longer (into November), with fewer insects and disease. This is her fifth year of using the straw bale gardening method and her experience was apparent last night. In ending her presentation, she raffled a prize of two canned treats from her last year's garden to the winner, Janelle Taylor, a first time attendee and new garden club member.

Thanks Charlotte, everyone is buzzing about your presentation!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden Club Meeting Tonight

Just a reminder that Crossroads Garden Club Meeting will be meeting tonight. The time is 7:00 pm and the place is 3072 Hwy 154, Newnan, Ga. We are meeting in an old barn building that was once a craft store.

Our guest speaker will be Charlotte Nelson. She was featured in last year's gardening section of Newnan-Coweta Magazine. I have been to her straw bale garden and have witnessed her many gardening talents. She is also a club member and we are so happy to welcome her as our guest speaker. Even though our garden is a little more traditional, I think the straw bale garden is one I hope to use in the future, perhaps with my squash if I continue to have problems with vine borers!

Charlotte is a delightful speaker and I am really looking forward to this event.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crape Myrtle pruning

We have finally done it and pruned back our crape myrtles to about the size they were when we moved into our house. They may be twelve inches or so taller than they were at first. We still like them and think they are a valuable asset to our landscape, but I have finally stopped listening to the experts who say I am "murdering" my trees by cutting them back so much. Am I committing a pruning "sin?" Maybe, but I am doing what is best for the health of my sod and my hefty investment in my lawn.

These crape myrtles (there are three) are part of my small mailbox garden. They originally were surrounded by some low-growing cedars. Last year we had to take action because the crape myrtles and the cedars, combined with some other towering trees had ruined our small lawn. There was just too much shade and all those roots that had become invasive. Our re-sodded lawn is now looking good and beginning to green up, but we don't want to make the same mistake and create too much shade for our lawn

We also had to cut down some large trees shading our lawn but decided to leave the crape myrtles, realizing that we were going to have to prune them harshly from now on. I think at first I felt a bit guilty but now that I see my grass doing so well, I feel much better about my "crape murder." Since these trees have been here for more than 20 years and are still thriving, I think they will be fine if we prune them back. If I had it to do over again I would never have planted the crape myrtles in this spot but I now have to deal the best I can with what I have.

I am looking for some perennial shrubs or plants to plant around them but I don't want to plant something that will get out of hand so I am taking it slow and I want to invest in something that is native and noninvasive to my sod. Any suggestions?

Posted by Deberah Williams

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mystery Solved -- The Winner Is......

The mystery of the yellow vine at the end of my driveway is solved, thanks to Charlotte from Newnan.  Thanks, Charlotte for your help!  Below you can see the comment she made on our blog, "Two Sisters Gardening". Obviously, she knows plants and/or knows where to look for the right answers.

"I believe you have the state flower of South Carolina growing in your yard. It is the gelsimium sempervirens or commonly known as the "yellow jessamine,"  it is suppose to have a wonderful fragrance."
happy gardening!
charlotte from newnan

Although, Deberah and I had not planned to give a prize, just recognition, we decided Charlotte deserved a prize, a heirloom tomato, "Chianti Rose" and a couple of heirloom basil plants, "Genovese," that Deberah raised from seed and I transplanted into a bigger pot for planting.

Yellow Jessamine is South Carolina's state flower. A member of the gelsemiaceae family, it is native to warm tropical climates and originated from Guatemala, a southern neighbor to the United States (probably brought my way by a large blue heron that stopped over to feed on little fish in my lake either going north or traveling south). Related to the yellow jasmine it reminded me of this plant and has evergreen leaves and attracts pollinators with it's blooms and fragrance. It also has medicinal properties for health problems like measles, tonsillitis and headaches, to name a few.

Tia and Todd are happy the mystery is solved and that the winner is Charlotte from Newnan because now they can stop searching for the answer. Thanks again, Charlotte and hope you enjoy your prize!

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, March 19, 2012


There seems to be more ways to prepare your garden for spring vegetable planting than any other gardening topic. I think everyone does it a little differently. We have a tiller and I don't even know the brand name. It's kind of old but it still does the job.

We usually till in the fall to plant our winter garden and that seems to turn much of the mulch and debris from the year before underground and turns it into a rich clay soil. The soil in our area of Georgia is mostly red clay -- our county has a few places with different kinds of soil, but our garden is red clay that has been heavily amended with compost and it seems to be richer, and darker every year we plant.

There are many things you can do to help "sweeten" soil. Our region has acidic soil and using lime helps to balance the pH. To benefit from lime, you really need to treat the soil for the next season because it is an amendment that is slow to act. We added lime at the end of last year's summer season because we wanted to help our spring garden.

We have found that tilling until the dirt is not clumpy is a big help. My husband is the designated "tiller" and he goes over any area to plant at least three times to make the ground soft. If the soil is too damp, it will clump, but you can till again in a day or so to break up the clumps.

He also believes that if you till in the fall, then early in the spring you will expose some of the weeds to frost, which will kill some of them. I have also read that the more you till, the more you help the weeds. I don't know which way is the correct way. I believe that weeds will be there no matter what you do and the only way to keep them at bay is by mulching heavily, and often. We like to put down newspaper and mulch to block large areas from sun. I believe mulching is very beneficial because you will keep the weeds at bay and also add compost the soil.

However, don't think you can keep weeds away for good by mulching. The wind, birds and insects will bring the weeds back. It is a battle you must fight every season. You can greatly help the weed problem but I haven't met anyone yet that has conquered it without working every year to control their weeds.

Another thing you can do: Till more deeply when planting root crops so that the roots will have more room to develop. This seems particularly good for carrots.

There are so many methods you can use besides tilling, like square foot gardening, raised beds, lasagna gardening, straw bale gardening. I think all these methods are good. I think one of the reasons we like tilling and composting is because we do have the area for it and it is the least expensive method for our needs at this time. We also are healthy enough to do the hard work that comes with tilling the soil. For now it works and after this weekend I have sore muscles, but I feel good about what we have accomplished.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Patience -- and a Fist Full of Dollars

Every time I go to Lowe's, I walk to the back of the garden center to see what flowers they are practically giving away on three or four rolling carts. These plants are "end of season" that most people don't consider buying because the next season is here and they are looking for what's current to plant in their yards and gardens. Above is a Snapdragon, I bought late last spring for a dollar.

Yesterday, I started my annual chore to clean out some of the flower beds around my house and was so excited to see (above) three snapdragon plants, I bought for a dollar each last spring doing so well. This annual is named from the Greek name anti and rhis, nose, referring to the shape of the flower -- like a dragon's mouth. Snapdragons (Scrophulariaceae family) originated from the Mediterranean and colors range from white, yellow, mauve through scarlet. They bloom spring through summer and are used for bedding and border plants

This Verbena, I bought at Lowe's last fall for a dollar. It is an annual that usually blooms late spring through mid-summer, however seen above, probably due to our mild winter 2011 is blooming like crazy this early spring 2012 at my house. The Verbena (Verbenaceae family) originated from tropical South America and was introduced to Britain in 1692 then incorporated into mixed gardens as a favorite annual for bedding plants and borders.

These three verbenas, I bought at Lowe's last fall for a dollar each, too. And as you can see, they are doing well, even though I haven't determined exactly where to plant them. For me purple Verbenas are harder to establish, as in the past I have tried to incorporate three or four in my borders, however, as you can see, I am still trying to get a good stand growing. 

I needed patience -- and a fist full of dollars, seven to be exact to add some great additions to my flower gardens. These annuals will continue to grow and add color and interest every year to my home.

Just a note, be careful when selecting these deals at Lowe's or anywhere....only buy plants that appear healthy and  that don't looked diseased, without mold, spots on the leaves or severely wilted. Only buy those that appear to be healthy but may need trans-planting (check the roots at the bottom of the pot). I just buy a couple at a time that look good, add to my collection and I can handle at the time.

posted by Wilma Smith

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Planting potatoes on St. Patrick's Day

Not long ago, Joanie, one of our treasured blog readers said she once knew a gardener who always planted his potatoes on St. Patrick's Day -- and he always had a good crop. I know in Georgia potato planting time is certainly upon us. Because of the rain, we haven't yet planted ours since the ground has been extra soggy. I think St. Patrick's Day is a very fitting day to plant a vegetable called "Irish" potatoes. (Actually there are SO many varieties!) Can you even be Irish without eating potatoes? Maybe, but it is uncommon.

Here is our Potato planting guide, in words and photos. These potatoes were planted last year.

We bought seed potatoes, cut them into quarters and sprinkled lime over them and allowed them to sit in the lime overnight. We bought our seed potatoes at Arnalls Grocery

The soil must be well-tilled for a good start. All root crops need plenty of growing room underneath the soil line and extra tilling certainly helps.

We dug out the rows 6 to 8 inches. It is certainly not the same all the way down. We dug it out and then following behind, dug it again until it was at least 8 inches deep.

Above, the row is nice and deep, at least 8 inches.

We placed organic fertilizer in the bottom of the row. We mixed our fertilizers to approximately 10-10-10. Since we are using organic fertilizer, it is hard to get the exact mix, but putting different fertilizers together gives us something like an all-purpose mixture. After that, we covered the fertilizer with about an inch of dirt. Adding in seasoned manure is also a good idea.

We then put some bone meal in the spots where we are planning to place the potatoes.

The potatoes are placed along each side so they would have extra room to grow.

The next step is to cover them with dirt.

And now we wait.

After the plants sprout and grow above the soil, it is a good idea to mulch around them to prevent weeds from "stealing" the nutrients from the potatoes.

It is now time to go home and make corned beef and cabbage.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mystery Vine - Can You Name It?

Several times a day, I walk Tia and Todd down the driveway to insure their needs are met and unless we're in a hurry, I look at all the trees, wild flowers, weeds, or any foliage on the way. This morning I was surprised to see this vine blooming that I had never noticed. Immediatley, the blooms and leaves reminded me of a yellow jasmine, as I had tried to grow one around my mailbox without success years ago and also, because my mom's neighbor has a large yellow jasmine vine growing in his yard.

Do you have any idea what this mystery vine might be? I know it wasn't planted intentionally. I know it's a vine. It could be wild or a volunteer.

I love a good mystery and need your help to identify this mystery vine - Can you name it?

We'll just keep searching for the answer until we hear from you.

Although, there's not a big prize to solve the mystery you will be recognized if you can name this mystery vine. Thank you... and...

Happy Gardening 2012!

posted by Wilma Smith

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Save Your Knees

I had a wonderful Christmas, 2011 and one of my favorite gifts was a portable bench and kneeler that Jeremy, Holly and Riley gave me (some of my favorite people). This Yard Butler is a multi-use seat and kneeler for any chore -- gardening, household chores auto, boat and camping -- the list is endless. So far, the knocks, cuts and falls on my knees as a kid and adult have not led to any type of knee surgery but I do have "Arthur" creeping into some of my bones and joints, making this gift ideal for an older gardener like me.

One reason I like this multi-task bench/kneeler so much is because it folds down making it easy to store anywhere in the house, basement or garage, as seen above. Plus the kneeling and sitting platforms are made of soft material not hard metal.

Pulling weeds, as above, and planting bulbs can be easy on your knees with this addition to your garden tools.

Sitting on the bench is easy even though Todd seems a little apprehensive. You can trim, pick vegtables and fruit or spray anything needed while sitting.

Saving your knees is important. Knee pads like these above are relatively cheap and are sold at most garden centers. If your not as lucky as me to have a gift like the garden kneeler pads are the next best thing. Below are pads bought at yard sales. They do the same thing and can be bought for dollars, saving your knees and your pocketbook.

Tia, below, prefers you sit on the bench and pet her.

 I love this gift not just because of my knees but because it has so many uses around the house (although, it's not made to be a step stool). However for me it's a great garden asset and adds the cushion my knees while working out in the yard and garden.

I wanted to shout out and thank my neighbor Dianne for volunteering to be the garden model for this blog. When I called and asked her to come over she didn't hesitate. Good neighbors are hard to find but I am blessed in every way by family, friends, neighbors, and a garden kneeler! 

posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is there an app for that?

I recently discovered a new app for my iPad. It is called GardinateHD. It was started by a gardener in Australia who developed it to help keep records of planting and maintaining a garden. It has a list of plants and the times you should plant them.

You can make notes about all you did to grow a certain plant and here is the thing I like best -- you can put in the date of planting and you can then see when the harvest date should be for your area. I think this is really great and I hope -- really hope it will improve my garden record keeping this year. So far it has been an enjoyable for me. You can even use an online version, but I don't know if it as helpful as the App. There is also an Android version.

If you are wondering if there is an app for almost anything, the answer is probably, yes, at least it is true for gardening.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Crossroads Garden Club Holds First Meeting

The Crossroads Garden Club held its charter meeting last Tuesday night, February 28, 2012. We had eleven garden enthusiasts who joined and we have decided to have an open membership that will meet on the fourth Monday of each month. The next meeting will be at 3072 Highway 154, Newnan, on March 26th at 7:00 pm and we are very excited to announce that Charlotte Nelson, whose topic will be Straw Bale Gardening, is our March 26th speaker.

Officers elected at the first meeting are Sam Merrill, Chairman of the Bylaws Committee; Wilma Smith, Secretary/Treasurer; Deberah Williams, President and Mike Christie, Vice President. Business for the next meeting will include voting on Bylaws and Selecting a Program and Planning Committee.

 We hope to plan some field trips to local gardens and invite speakers on a wide range of gardening topics. Our new members ranged from the experienced to the novice and we all agreed that it was the perfect mix to make for an interesting garden club. Membership in the Georgia and National Garden Clubs is also included with our local Crossroads Garden Membership. We are also accepting online memberships. For information, email this address.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Confessions of a Mulch Hoarder

I have a confession to make. I became a mulch hoarder in 2011 and it wasn't by accident! Every so many years our local electric company (Coweta-Fayette EMC) trims the limbs and new growth away from electric lines to minimize their work in case of high winds, ice storms or any type of bad weather causing outages (thank goodness). In the past, I have taken advantage of their efforts to keep our electricity up and running by requesting a load or two of free mulch. Last spring, I must confess, I did go crazy and had eight or nine loads dumped in my yard. Actually, I have a plan to use this free commodity in the garden, yard and around my house this spring 2012. Like anything free, there are good and bad points, so weighing the benefits and the draw backs, I plan to tell you some of both.

 I find two drawbacks with such a hoard of mulch. First, new debris of limbs, leaves and bushes like any compost pile (seen above), must decompose. As much as, my sister and I would have liked to use this mulch last year everywhere in the garden, we had to use it sparingly because it needed time to "cook," or decompose.

Secondly, this mulch composition is made up of many different types of trees like oak, pine, sweet gum, native bushes and vines. Such a combination does mean more work to clean out smaller limbs, if the EMC's chipper (or their contracted business) didn't chop them into small enough pieces. Don't expect mulching a garden, flower bed or island in the yard to be easy because mulching is hard work but once the initial work is accomplished you and your plants reap the benefits.     

The benefits of mulching in a vegetable garden is tremendous. Like these smaller winter collards seen above, mulch retains moisture in the soil during dry periods, giving below ground root crops (like beets, onions, and carrots) and above ground plants (like peppers, tomatoes and beans) the water they need to produce healthier and larger fruit, especially during Georgia's hot and dry seasons. Mulch also, impedes unwanted weeds from depleting moisture and nutrients from the soil in the garden and saves time and work removing them.

The same idea is true for spring or summer bulbs, annual or perennial flowers, nut or fruit trees, any plant you love and want to grow, plant then mulch, mulch and yes, mulch some more. I suggest never pull the mulch up around the stem of any plant regardless of the size, or texture (including trees)
as this could cause rotting and disease.

Today, mulch is available in almost any color red, green, brown, black and in lots of mediums and forms: bags, bales, truck loads, leaves, straw and plastic but I like the old-fashioned mulch (as seen above) because over time it gives back to the earth what it took away in air, water, dirt and sunshine. My tendency to hoard mulch in 2011 may seem over the top or out of the box to you, but to me it's just what the plant doctor ordered.  

posted by Wilma Smith