Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tips to Keep Your Live Christmas Tree Fresh & Safe

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 25 to 30 million live Christmas Trees are bought and decorated in homes across America every year. Regardless of the type, here are some good tips to keep your live tree greener and your home safer over the holiday season. Most trees, regardless of the type, will last three weeks, or longer, if you follow these simple tips.

1. Select a fresh tree, if possible. Tree farms are the best, as you select and cut them on the same day. Often, time and opportunity means selecting a good tree at a garden store, grocery or other source. The needles should be green and hard to pull away from the limbs. Bounce the tree on the ground and insure lots of needles don't fall off the tree. Check the bottom of the tree trunk, it should be sticky with sap, if it's been cut recently.

2. Prior to placing in the stand cut 1 to 1 1/2 inch off the base. The sap of pre-cut trees block water absorption making this an important step before setting up your tree.

3. Trim the lower branches off the trunk and depending on the size of the tree choose an appropriate stand that will hold enough water. Trimming the lower branches adds to maximum water absorption and the tree skirt hides the trunk and stand.

4.Water is the main key to keep the tree fresh. Keep water above the bottom of the trunk. Other ideas include adding aspirin, corn syrup or sugar dissolved in the water (Neither of these additives are proven, but I know personally, sugar water prolongs the life of cut flowers and packets are often provided when you buy cut flowers). Commercial additives are also available at most garden centers.

I have a few safety tips for you to remember:

    1. Water, water, water and water some more! (Keep the needles pliable and moist)
    2. Keep your tree away from heat sources, like heat vents, fireplaces, TVs, direct sunlight,
        that dry out the needles.
    3. Don't overload electrical outlets.
    4. Don't block exits.
    5. Check lights prior to decorating for frayed wire or lights.
    6. Use miniature lights to decorate.
    7. Turn the temperature down (if possible) in the room where your tree is located.
    8. Use a humidifier in the room where the tree is located.

Until next time.......

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crossroads Garden Club--Meeting Tonight

Tonight is the November meeting of Crossroads Garden Club.

Our speakers will be Mike Christie and Charlotte Nelson.

Mike's topics are "Growing Tropical Plants in Georgia" and "How to Draw More Hummingbirds to Your Garden." He also will give us an update on New Leaf.

Charlotte will talk about "Birdhouses" and will demonstrate "How to Make Suet."

Come with questions because these two have the answers. Meeting time is 7:00 pm at 3072 Highway 152, Newnan in our regular Old Barn building and there will be prizes and refreshments. Everyone is welcome.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Thanksgiving Filled with Garden Love

Every year, I celebrate Thanksgiving at Deberah and Jerry's house with their family, friends and my mother. Above, you see why, "what a spread!" We usually have some dish picked from the garden and this year was no exception. The southern cornmeal dressing includes onions, sage, parsley and thyme fresh from the garden, picked Wednesday morning.

You may notice there are two dishes of dressing, one regular and the smaller oyster. Oyster dressing was a favorite at my Granny Smith's famous feasts and we keep the tradition alive on Thanksgiving. My mother always oversees the ingredients and how the dressing is made.

Also on the menu is smoked turkey, smoked ham, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, creamed yellow corn, carrot salad, tossed salad, rolls and cornbread. Even if your a picky eater or on a diet there was something to suit your appetite.

 "Rattlesnake" green beans was one of our best producers in the garden this year, as you see from the big plate above. Deberah added some crispy dried onions after they cooked for a little twist of the traditional "green bean casserole."

Some gardeners believe collards shouldn't be picked until after the first frost. This is a first for our Thanksgiving meal that I remember, since we've already had several frosts fall on the garden. Fresh and also picked Wednesday, plus because we mulched so well, they were no problem to clean.

And of course, you can't forget the condiments like cranberry sauce and the pickles seen above, Deberah put up from the garden in a big gallon jug.

Last, but certainly not least was the blackberry pie made from wild blackberries grown in my yard. It was hard to choose which dessert to gain that pound I lost over the year, but I did eat a small slice of blackberry pie with a spoonful of whip cream on top, plus a slice of the apple caramel cake. Also seen above are pumpkin and chocolate pies, let's don't forget the carrot cake.

Anything from the garden makes the work worth the toil, but when your able to share it with family and friends, it truly becomes a garden "filled with love." Hope you had a blessed turkey day!

Until next time.....

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Trip to Murphy, North Carolina -- Alot Like Home


Earlier this year during a cousins reunion, Deborah, Jerry and I visited Murphy, North Carolina. It's a small town that reminds me of my Saturday morning's shopping and enjoying downtown Newnan when I was a kid. Often I would spend Friday night with my best friend Cheryl then Saturday morning her Aunt Helen would park on the square, and we would watch people pass by listening to her comments (she was quite the comedian). Never mean just entertaining.

The square in Murphy has been landscaped beautifully with shrubs and flowers, brick walks, fountains and benches, the perfect setting for people watching.

Above is a Methodist Church that is not the only architecture adding to the Murphy's charm.

As we browsed the many antique and specialty shops, we heard music in the back of a coffee shop and enjoyed a harp and guitar concert while drinking our coffee. Talking with the musicians we were enlighten to find the instruments and music is a mountain tradition handed down and kept alive by these musicians. 

At the local farmers market a train museum was open to visitors in an old railroad car.

This is an exact replica of Murphy, North Carolina the train passes on it's trip through the country side and several other small communities.

I snapped a picture of this young musician playing some lively county tunes on her fiddle at the farmer's market.


On our departure I noticed another impressive building on the square. Murphy is not too far off the way to Cherokee, North Carolina and is certainly worth the time and effort.

Small towns may not be your forte, but if your a gardener, the music, atmosphere, gracious hospitality and flora will make you feel right at home.

Until next time.....

Happy Gardening 2012!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November Garden Update

Although, I am still having problems with my website, I was able to download a few pictures of the winter garden, as seen above. I've always heard a picture is worth a thousand words, so I won't say much about the content just name them in order; collards, broccoli, winter squash, bok choy and sweet potatoes. We only have around six more weeks for Happy Gardening in 2012. I hope you had success this year and if not, I hope you (like me) are looking for Happy Gardening in 2013! Until next time...... Happy Gardening throughout the Holidays! Posted by Wilma Smith

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Use Hardy Winter Plants for Color

After the beautiful yellow, red and orange colors are gone from your landscape in fall, try planting hardy ornamentals now to give it color through the winter months. Besides shrubs, fruit trees and spring bulbs these are the main plants you'll find at your local garden suppliers.

If you don't have the time, energy or space to dig or add a spot use containers to brighten your deck, patio and walkway. These hardy plants will survive during middle Georgia's mild winters (even though, I've heard rumors this year we may have colder temperatures than the last two).

Every year growers develop more varieties and more colors for consumers.
Ornamental cabbage (as seen above) centers come in white, violet and purple color varieties, also yellow to orange. If you prefer the variety to eat (and you can find the plants) brussel sprouts and broccoli planted now will produce in late spring, if mulched and weeks of hard freezes don't occur this winter.
Last winter (2011) my pansies bloomed through May of this year. Regardless of what idea you have to enhance your landscape there is still time before freezing temps in our area.
And there is also plenty of time to plant new shrubs, fruit trees, spring bulbs and grass, however, you may need to water, as I am not so confident about the amount of rainfall.
Until Next Time.........
Happy Gardening 2012!
Posted by Wilma Smith