Monday, July 30, 2012

Time to Plan a Fall Garden

Believe it or's time to plan and prepare your garden space for fall planting. I always look for signs in the summer garden like sunflowers blooming and their seeds maturing to know it's time to plan and prepare for planting a fall crop. This summer, we had one of the hottest and driest that occurred in years, and regardless of the care given to our summer gardens, we are ready for the fall.

Although, Deberah, Jerry and I prefer the no till method in our garden, we had to resort to tilling a section of the fall garden when the nut grass took over some of the early plants like lettuce, kale and turnips.

As a rule, we don't remove any crop that's producing like this okra that's blooming unless it is shows signs of disease.

We are looking forward to the sweet potato crop still growing. We won't harvest them until later in the season. The vines will wither and die when the time is right, but it's a good idea to check the fruit depending on when they were planted.

This summer we watered vegetables that needed the most water like tomatoes, peppers and green beans first. Even with all the care, it was hard to maintain every variety, but this Roma type, seen above, is still going strong.

Deberah is planting seeds for fall just like she planted, tomatoes (seen above), peppers, onions, leeks, basil and other herbs in the spring. She is planting cabbage, collards, onions, and broccoli for our fall crops in flats. We also plan to plant winter squash, pumpkins, gourds, turnip greens, beets and carrots into the ground for fall and early winter.

"Mexican Hats," can take the heat. I trimmed this wildflower early spring. It will continue to grow and bloom throughout the fall season.

Tia and Todd are looking forwarded to fall weather even though they are both a little miffed at me because I haven't been using them lately on my blog. Tia will tell me, but Todd just ignores me!

Planning and planting a fall garden seems way to soon with the, but it's true...the clock is ticking. It's only thirty days till September. Since we've had some of the hottest weather in years, spring and fall is two of the southeast's best growing seasons. Winter hasn't been too bad either the last few years.

Even if you don"t plant your fall garden until late August or early's always a good time to plan your next garden..........

Until next time............

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Down on the Organic Farm

This past Saturday the Crossroads Garden Club visited "Country Gardens Farm" located off  Highway 154 on our third field trip this year. We had several showers during our visit, most members were prepared with umbrellas, but those that weren't just enjoyed visiting the farm and the light shower on their faces..

Owner and Master Gardener, Mike Cunningham, started our tour by explaining his "no till" method of gardening and the farms' "CSA" or "Community Supported Agriculture" business. Presently he has fifty members that receive fresh vegetables every week throughout the year. Although the farm is not certified, yet, as an organic grower, he, his wife and sons only use organic methods not only for vegetables but includes honey, eggs, milk, grass fed beef, chicken and flowers, as well as, worm castings you can buy for your garden and yard. Of course one of the most valuable staples free of charge is Mike's experience and knowledge shared with anyone who visits.

Their "no till" method to grow organic veggies begins by digging the dirt between rows and making approximately, two foot raised beds in the middle. Azomite (an organic ferilizer) is then added to the raised row and covered with newspaper or some type of landscape fabric. A thick layer of straw is applied over the row prior to planting. Above you can appreciate the cucumber vines and work needed to grow such a large crop.

Mike told me he was experimenting to grow two vine vegtables, beans and cucumbers to grow on each side of the fence. I like that landscape cover is used to keep grass and weeds out of the middle between rows.

The farm utilizes a lake to water like our garden. We don't use a portable pump or have  large CVC pipe like "Country Garden Farms" in our garden.

They use a tape bought on a roll to connect the water source and roll onto the rows before planting their crops connecting to the main water source.

I caught my mom taking a break during the tour under her umbrella.

I was amazed at the eggplants growing without any problems.

Sunflowers are grown to take to the markets. Mike told me they will be ready in two weeks. Besides subscribers to the "CSA," Mike and Judy sell their wares at three markets on week-ends. These sunflowers will be cut, when they flower, tied in two to three foot bunches and sold at Buckhead, Peachtree City and Newnan farmer's markets.

Garden members, Calvin, Mike and Cindy, pictured here with Master Gardener, Mike Cunningham, not only soaked up some of the rain, but a lot of good tips on successful gardening.

Just like Tia and Todd, mascots in Deberah and my garden, Mike and Judy have a mascot at their farm, as seen above.

"Country Garden Farms" are branching out this summer to grow new types of plants like tomatillos, pictured above grown as an ingredient added to salsa or other likewise recipes.

And these groundcherries pictured here have an unusual but tart taste, somewhere between a tomato and a cape gooseberry, often used to make preserves or jellies.

On the way in and out from the garden, I was impressed to see the herbs growing along the fence line planted in pots made of  cut flue pipes, used to line the interior of chimneys. What a great idea! They are cut (no bottom), filled with soil, plant herbs, flowers, anything you like, just water and fertilize as needed for any pot or container.
Hope you enjoyed the garden tour and until next time..................

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ken Gohring of Georgia Native Plant Society is tonight's speaker

Ken Gohring of the Georgia Native Plant Society will be our speaker tonight at our July 23rd meeting of the Crossroads Garden Club. He will be speaking about the Georgia Native Plant Rescue Program The meeting will begin promptly at 7:00 pm and everyone is welcome. The address is 3072 Highway 54, Newnan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Decorate Your Favorite Garden Spot

As you can see above (magnets on the front of my refrigerator), I have a  little fetish about sun, moon and star collectables. This fetish is not new, but this year, I've been searching for items to decorate my favorite garden spot and/or quiet reflection places like my patio and breezeway.

On the last Crossroad Garden Club field trip, I purchased this handcrafted sun ornament at "Casa Montano" located at 81 Dodd Street, Fairburn, GA   30213. The owner Carlos Montano gave us a tour of his shop and explained the process of how he makes his cast stone garden art and gift items.
He not only takes special orders but carries a large amount of pre-made inventory to include pieces that would cater to anyone's fetish.

I've also been to thrift shops and yard sales looking for items to add to my collection. I found these sun plaques at a "Thift With A Twist" located in Newnan and paid two dollars each. Although, I intially planned to spray these terracotta, the silver would also blend with my rock walls.

I bought these mirror moons too for three dollars at the thrift shop.

I purchased this bird bath at "Casa Montano" to put at the back of my house. I can see it from a picture window where daylilies, lantana bushes and a butterfly bush is planted. The trip to Carlos' shop is well worth the time, but you can also visit online at

Deberah bought this frog for the herb bed from "Casa Montano."

I bought this cast iron frog years ago, as an addition to my garden collection.

My mother and I made this large muscadine vine wreath years ago. At Christmas, I often add a festive bow for color.

Painted gourds and old birdhouses add interest to any favorite spot.

I like to mix old baskets and antique tools together on my breezeway.

Old signs also mix well with other mediums like terracotta, tin, basket weave, wood and wrought iron.

Regardless of the spot your decorating, a garden or a quiet reflection place don't be in such a hurry to put it all together at once. You will enjoy it more if you collect this and that over time adding to your collection and fetish. It will also be easier on your pocketbook! This is true whether you prefer rustic or more conventional decor.

So, until next time.............

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rose Moss -- A Rose by Another Name

Rose Moss, formally known as "Portulaca," is an annual succulent that loves a hot dry climate. It is also known as Moss Rose, Purslane and Sun Plant. Landscapers use it's fast growth capability in rock gardens, container plantings on decks and patios, and in hanging planters, as it can easily trail down the pot in that habitat. This easy to grow succulent blooms all summer long in different colors, such as, red, pink, yellow, orange, white and purple.

I bought a six pack (pictured above) at the discount rack at Lowe's for 31 cents several weeks ago and first planted them at the back of my house that doesn't get much sun. After a week, I could tell they didn't like this spot, dug them up and planted them in this antique slop jar then placed it in a sunny place in front of my garage and now these plants are doing great. (If, you don't know what a slop jar is you are probably a lot younger than me and were born with inside plumbing.)

I have grown several patches of Ross Moss in my yard over the years and I love that it continues to bloom throughout the hottest part of our Georgia summers without much maintenance. Amazingly, it abounds with some of the most concentrated sources of omega 3 fatty acids among all green vegetables. Certain varieties are eaten as a vegetable or salad in Turkey, Greece and Mexico. It also contains vitamins B ands C, plus nutritious antitoxins. Rose Moss originates from Argentina and Brazil and was introduced into Europe in 1827. Seeds have even been found in Greek archaeological sites dating back to 700 BC.

This plant likes sun, well drained loamy, sandy soil and doesn't mind if you forget to water now and again, but prefers you to water on a regular schedule during the hottest months of summer. The name of this plant (rose included) is really a rose by "another name" due to it's easy care and festive colors.

Until next time......

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot Weather Tips for Gardens

As a kid, growing up in the south, I'm use to hot weather....lots of hot weather.....drought conditions and plenty of baking sun on my shoulders, but lately the 105, 106 degree weather has pushed me (since I'm older) to judge yard and garden plants to the limits of what can and can't be done to keep the the best and fittest to survive during droughts and brutal.... no rain weather. So, I,m researching for the best "Hot Weather Tips for Gardens." 

Of course the best and most important hot weather tip, I can give anyone is to water your yard or garden. Once you see wilt at least cool the plants down with a shower, prefably, in the morning, but evening will work, if that's your only option due to your schedule.. Watering in the morning, reduces fungal disease or mold forming during the night on roots and plant crowns.  At least, a quick shower either in the morning or afternoon helps to cool vegtables and flowers down, even if, it dosen't benifit the roots to the extent of stimulatulating new growth on the plant.

The second (some say the first) best tip is to mulch....mulch and mulch some more. Mulch prevents water evaperation, evens soil temperature and reduces stress on plants preventing disease and accumulation of pests and weeds. Mulch creates an enviornment and a great habitat for earthworms and other benificial insects that improve soil and decompose wood chips, newspaper and grass clippings used in the mulching process. 

Another great tip for "Hot Weather," never use plants or mulch treated with chemicals or herbicides., especially, if you maintain an organic garden. Pictured above are strawberries that need water but they, also need mulch and loving care to insure they grow bigger and produce fruit.

It's hard to spend the quiet time needed in the garden to mulch and water everyday. If you can't find the time, I hope you take just a few moments to reflect and take a deep breath for the green in your yard or garden.

Until next time.......Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gotta love this poster!

Someone sent me this poster from and I had to share it. I will let it speak for itself.

Posted by Deberah Williams

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Snow Balls in July

Although I would love some snow right now during the hottest June/July in Georgia's weather history, the "snowballs" I'm talking about are growing on the "Japanese Snowball" bush blooming in my front yard this week. Formally known as "Viburmum Opulus," this hardy perennial has been a stable in my front yard since I moved into this house. Don't confuse these blooms with the well know hydrangea, as they are not related (even though I find that hard to believe).

This bush, as seen above, can grow ten to twenty feet high and if let to grow probably that much in width. So make sure you have a spot in sun or partial shade in your landscape that doesn't mind the growth, or be ready to trim the bush back close to the ground every year. Of course the name "Japanese" tells you this deciduous shrub (loses leaves in the winter) originates from Japan and China.

The blooms in the beginning have a green tinge, then change from cream to white, and depending on the soil and location can even turn pink to purple before drying and turning brown, just like the hydrangea (although, plant experts say they are not related, I still believe there is some relation).

Robert Fortune introduced this species in 1844 from plants cultivated in the orient to Europe and within twenty years varieties found their way to America through travelers to the new world. Blooms can be dried and used in arrangements, just like hydrangeas (I still think they are related).

I have found this shrub to be hardy through drought and flood. Plant in early spring or late fall in good garden soil mixed with peat. Although, most experts recommend trimming back in late fall, I've found they will catch up and bloom regardless, but I do like a regular schedule and usually trim my bushes in spring.

I know, "snowballs" in July does seem far fetched, but actually, I have seen it happen years ago when I lived in Colorado.......

until next time..........

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith