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