Roses – Of Course
How to grow roses
Peaches Ripening on Tree
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Darwin Tulips
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Roses, Corn & Peaches
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Under the Grape Arbor
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My Garden Journal
Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Bird Feeders & Roses
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Heaven on Earth Rose
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Day Lilies
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Archive for November, 2011

Paying Attention To The Foliage In The Garden

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Leaves contrasting in size, shape and color.

Sometimes, we focus so much on the flowers in our garden, we forget to notice the foliage. The variety of shapes, sizes and colors that leaves come in, is amazing. If you plan it right, you can have a very beautiful and colorful garden using plants that have no, or insignificant, blooms.

The foliage has always been important as a backdrop for the flowers. Can you picture a garden with just stems and flowers and no leaves? Leaves have always played an important part in the design of the garden, but I’m just saying that they don’t have to be just in the background.

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Colored leaves of Coleus

By placing plants with contrasting leaves, whether is size, texture or color, near each other, it creates interest. In some shady gardens, it is really hard to get light and color in with blossoms, but some plants, such as coleus, can add color to the shady garden, and by using the light colored coleus, can add light to a darkened area. Coleus do bloom, but the blooms are incidental and usually pinched off to help the plant.

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Strappy, spikey leaves in the garden

Have a look at these pictures and see if you get any ideas of ways to get more texture and interest into your garden.

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Beautiful color and texture

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good contrast in hosta and fern leaves

 

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Beautiful colors and patterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elephant ears

 

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Curly leaf parsley is beautiful in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Delicate leaves in the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can I Compost?

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Compost material - household waste

Composting….who does it and why?

I know who compost. Gardeners do, that’s who. To a gardener, compost is black gold. Compost is used to enrich poor soil, to add organic matter to soil that will continue to break down and become black loam. It will continue to enrich the soil and nourish plants. Compost tea is the best tonic for your plants and about the best liquid fertilizer you can use. Compost is also used to mulch around plants, to keep weeds from growing, to keep the roots of plants cool, to hold in moisture and to, again, nourish the plant. It is possible to buy compost from garden centers, but if you need a lot of compost, like we do, then you’d better have some of the yellow gold to buy that black gold.

On the other hand, making your own compost is relatively inexpensive, even free, and it’s pretty easy to make. Most of what you need to create your own compost is available in great quantities, grass clippings, trimmings from the garden, dead leaves, house hold vegetable and fruit scraps and if you are really lucky, farm animal manure. (Just so you know, cow manure is better than horse manure, because they have more stomachs to break down their food, and there aren’t as many surviving seeds to spread

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Partially composted material

around in your garden. At least that is what I’ve been told)

For those who are into recycling, this is a perfect way to recycle these wasted products, instead of taking up space in our landfills. Actually a word about that…Cities and towns are getting smarter about that as well, and many are composting the plant material picked up by their crews, and either using it in city parks etc. or selling it back to the public to use in their yards and gardens. We are fortunate enough to live where that is being done, and the price isn’t too bad. We hadn’t yet made enough compost for our yard, so last spring we bought quite a bit from the city.

Compost projects don’t have to be huge though, you can start small and still get a lot of compost. Since we took up almost all of our lawn and planted the entire yard (1/4 acre) in fruit trees, perennial and herb beds and raised beds for vegetables, we really needed a lot of compost. We didn’t have enough grass clippings (remember, we took up almost all of our lawn) so when we would see landscape workers, mowers etc. filling up a truck with grass clippings, we would just ask them to dump the load in our yard. This not only got us a great supply of beautiful green clippings, but it also saved them a trip to the dump. Leaves, raked and bagged and left on the curb for the city to pick up, are an important ingredient in compost.

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Finished compost - Black Gold

I’ll write more in depth about composting later, but the important thing to think about is…can you do it? Are you up for gathering the organic materials you need, for turning the heap occasionally and spraying it with water if it dries out?

If you do compost, then you are a gardener, because composters are gardeners.

 

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New Pages on Flowers

Bouquet of dahlia,anemone,liatris,zinnia,

Have you checked out the new pages that are being created? Click on the tabs on the left or on the top to see the “Flowers” , “Annuals”,”Biennials” and “Perennials” pages that are being created. There is a lot more information to be added of course, but I hope you find the pages helpful as you plan your flower garden.

Underwater Garden – Salt Water Reef Tank

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Mushroom anemones with pink coralline algae on rocks

Once, years ago, when we were having dinner in a New Orleans restaurant, I was mesmerized by a very large reef tank that was located near our table. I could barely take my eyes from it, it was so beautiful. With the beautiful rock formations and the colorful corals growing on them, it looked like an underwater garden. There was a variety of colorful fish gliding by, but they seemed insignificant compared to the corals. I was smitten.

A few years passed and then one day we passed a reef tank shop and stopped in. There was a large, used tank set up (80 gal. tank, solid oak stand, sump pump and tank) for sale, and since it seemed so cheap we bought it, with the idea of gradually building up an  reef tank. We later learned that the tank is the cheapest component, and the “live” sand and “live” rocks to be added, more than doubled the cost of the tank set up. This was all before special lighting, super charged filter systems, chemicals and a large complicated chemical testing kit. (I know nothing about chemistry but thankfully, the whole thing was color coded.)

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Green closed brain coral

The reef tank shops mostly sell “frags” which are fragments of living corals that have been broken off during storms etc. These are then attached to the “live” rock (live because it has many organisms and creatures living in it that will eventually reveal themselves) and if the conditions are right, the corals will grow and spread or multiply. In the shops there may be very large corals for sale that they have allowed to grow in their tanks, but of course these will cost much, much more than the frags.

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clown fish and yellow tang in salt water aquarium with purple coralline algae

These are some of the pictures of the corals in our tank. We had very few fish, because we were mainly interested in the corals. We enjoyed this underwater garden for a number of years but because of so many hurricanes (3 in one season) shutting off our power for prolonged periods, we lost most of our corals. We sold the whole setup to someone who was just as happy to get it as we had been.

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Red open brain coral

 

 

I still miss that reef tank.

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Long-nose hawkfish and green open brain coral

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variety of Euphylias with purple coralline algae on rocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salt water aquarium with corals and fish

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Red open brain coral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Turkey Two Cents – How To Bake a Turkey and Make Gravy the Easy Way

Being an old granny does have it’s positive sides, (although they certainly don’t outweigh the negatives).

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and old gobbler

Because of my experience in the kitchen, I can rely on tried and true ways of doing things. I’ve learned many things (in the garden as well as the kitchen) through trial and error, and when I finally get something right, I just hang on to that way until something better comes along.

My recipe (or technique) for baking a turkey has evolved over the years, but the way I’m going to tell about right now is the way I’ve done it for at least 25-30 years. When it’s done, the turkey is a beautiful, deep golden color, the meat is moist and full of flavor and the broth is also delicious (so it makes the best gravy).

These are the things you’ll want to have ready when you are getting the bird ready for the oven.

Vegetables cut into 1″-2″ chunks: 2 onions (more if the turkey is very large), 2-4 ribs of celery and 4-5 cloves of garlic (more of everything for a very large turkey and less for a small one)

Spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder

Mayonnaise

Aluminum foil (if the roasting pan doesn’t have a lid)

Roasting pan

Thaw and thoroughly wash the bird inside and out, being sure to remove the parts from the body cavity, ( including the giblet pack from the neck cavity). If you like giblet gravy, then boil these to use in your gravy. (If there is a plastic bag saying “Gravy” on it, toss it in the garbage, because that’s what it is) The parts in the body cavity, (usually the neck) is simmered till tender and the meat is falling off the bones. The stock from this will be added to the gravy.

* Salt and pepper the inside of the body cavity and the neck cavity, (turning the bird upside down and every which a way  makes this easier)

* Cram the vegetables inside the body cavity and the neck cavity, filling both as full as possible. Lay the bird on it’s back in the pan, tucking the loose skin at the neck tightly behind the bird, and tuck the tips of the wings behind the shoulders. With paper towels, completely dry the outside of the bird. These vegetables will cook down and steam the meat, making it moist as well as flavoring the broth to be used in the gravy.

* Put a large dollop of mayonnaise on the skin and with your fingers, spread evenly over the whole bird. Sprinkle with the garlic powder and onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover with lid (if using aluminum foil then tent it over the bird, trying to keep it from touching the bird as much as possible) and bake according to the directions that came with the turkey. (I bake mine 325′ for 20 minutes per pound)

Remove the lid or aluminum foil the last 30-40 minutes so the bird can brown.When done, remove from oven and allow to rest in the broth for about 15-20 minutes. Pour off the broth to use for gravy and the bird is ready for carving.

Easy gravy:

all purpose flour and cold water – gradually add the water to the flour, stirring well till all lumps are removed (a whisk works well) The amount of flour and water depends on the amount of gravy you’re making, but I start with about 1/2 cup – 1 cup of flour and add enough water to make a thin mixture.

broth from baking the turkey and the broth from simmering the neck (and giblets if you use those)

Heat the broth till just boiling and gradually add the flour mixture, stirring the gravy the whole time. Allow to cook for a minute before adjusting (adding either more of the flour mixture for thicker gravy or a little water for a thinner gravy)

The seasonings are already in this gravy.

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Remembering the Hummers

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4 hummers at feeder

Hummingbirds are a favorite with a lot of people, with their antics at the feeders. Most of the time, many hummers will feed at the same time, but not always. It’s always been amazing to me how a creature that is so tiny, can also be so feisty and aggressive. I’ve watched one little male fend off all other hummers at the feeder, except for what appears to be one female. Since they can look so much alike, it’s hard to know if it’s the same female or not. But it is obvious that it is the same male. He will sit on the arch above the feeder and when hungry, dip down for a sip. Otherwise, he is perched on his holding spot and will only leave it to chase off other hummers. Fearless little bugger.

I had a lot of flowering hanging baskets this year that had plenty of long, cascading stems loaded with flowers. On one particularly hot day, I watched as a hummer would feed at the flowers, then swoop underneath to hover in the shade of the hanging basket. It seems like just the effort of

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7 hummingbirds at feeder

hovering would warm him up.

We enjoyed seeing them this fall, as they were passing through, and look forward to their returning next spring. These are some pictures of hummers visiting our feeders when I lived in the south (zone 8 ).

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hungry hummers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hummers at the feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Treasure Trove Of Gardening Books Which I Refer To Often

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Part of library which includes gardening books

Long before there was an Internet or Super Highway of Information, there were books; gardening books written on any subject you could imagine. Sometimes, even though we can just Google any subject we are curious about, it is nice to be able to refer to a book. Books are not all created equal, of course, and some are chock full of information and get referred to over and over again. Some of my books are interesting and filled with pretty pictures, but I don’t often open them. It’s easy to tell which of the books in my garden library are of most use to me, by the worn look of some of them.

Some of my books have been given to me as gifts, some I’ve bought new, but the majority have come from second hand book stores, thrift stores and garage sales. If I had paid retail for all of my books, my library would be worth a small fortune. I would suggest to start your own garden library, even if you start with only one book. Become familiar with all the information in that book. You’ll be surprised at how little nuggets of knowledge can come to you when you need them.

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Gardening books

Look for books on the topics that interest you the most and you won’t be able to put the book down until you’ve devoured all the  information  in it. I’m partial to roses, herbs and perennials so I look for books on those subjects. My interest has gradually spread, so  I had to look for a wider variety of books. Now I not only have books on gardening (roses, perennials, growing herbs, raised bed gardening, organic gardening, growing fruits and vegetables and annuals) but I also have books on garden design, how to landscape, how to deal with problems in the garden like pests and disease, container

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gardening books

gardening and all about birds and how to attract them to my garden. I even have books about decks and arbors etc. and potting sheds. Since my gardening books are used as reference books, I keep them accessible and always at my fingertips.

 

Thank goodness for smart people who write books and share what they know.

 

 

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garden books as reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You a Yardner?

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Lawn and Garden - Gardener or Yardner

I recently found this article and thought it very insightful. It helps me to realize how differently people view gardening. I find myself hurrying up with household chores and other obligations so that I can have more time in the garden (or yard?). Being in the garden can be such a relaxing part of the day, even though you may be hard at work. To me it is relaxing work and being tired from gardening is the best kind of tired.

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Are You a Gardener or Yardner?

Coast Gardener Newspaper and Web Column – February 23, 2009

I was recently at a conference and listened to Allan Armitage talk about gardening as a four-letter word. For those who do not recognize this name, Allan is a well-known gardening author and entertaining horticulturist. Allan divided gardeners into four categories:

Category 1: Master Gardeners

Master gardeners are highly motivated about their gardening exploits and those of others. These folks have taken the time to attend organized classes, earn their Master Gardener status, and provide volunteer efforts to improve their communities. Master Gardeners are also highly influential and assist the Mississippi State University Extension Service by providing help in the counties and making presentations to interested groups.

Category 2: Enthusiastic Gardeners

As the name suggests, these gardeners are excited by their garden. They are confident being in the garden. Enthusiastic gardeners find the garden to be relaxing because they are successful in gardening pursuits and do not worry about the failures.

Category 3: Enjoyable Gardeners

These gardeners enjoy their garden, but are unsure. They find the garden to be a stressful environment and worry about every planting decision. The garden enjoyment is tempered with the anxiety that planting/growing directions are not exactly followed.

Category 4: Just Because You Have To Gardeners

This group looks at the garden as being work. These people are not gardeners, but yardners. The lawn has to be cut, the garden beds have to weeded, and flowers have to be planted. There is no joy in these gardens, just work.

So under which category do you fall? Which category do you want to be in?

In a perfect world:

We want the gardening public to enjoy their gardens, understanding that there is work involved. Consider this work as sweat equity.

Do not worry following directions perfectly. There are many different paths to follow when planting the garden that end up at the same place.

Do not get discouraged if a planting fails. It happens. Look at this situation as an opportunity to plant something new.

Gardening is not rocket science. Try new plants and designs. Moreover, most importantly, relax and have fun with your garden.

This article was found at:      http://msucares.com/lawn/garden/coast/09/0223.html

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So…..are you a yardner? Do you want to be a gardener?

A Perennial Bed in the Backyard 2010

I really like the last line  “…relax and have fun with your garden.”  I so totally agree with that.

 

Fertilize For Success

Well fed trees, vegetables and flowers

Feeding the plants in your yard, and this includes grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, is crucial for success. Learning how to feed them properly is really just common sense and a little know-how.

Type “Fertilizer” into the search bar on the right for a list of the posts on ways to feed the plants in your yard.

 

Fern Facts – Houseplants or Garden Specimens

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Fern frond - art in nature

Even though ferns seem like such light and delicate plants, they can be pretty tough and grow in some pretty harsh climates. I’ve always loved ferns because I think they add such an airy feel to the garden and for the longest time, they were the only houseplants that I had. There are a few things to understand about ferns that will make growing them much easier and more successful, whether the fern is in our home or garden.

I’ve found that one of the most forgiving ferns, especially in the garden

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Asparagus Fern brought in for the winter

and in hanging baskets outside, is the asparagus fern. It has tiny needles and resembles the asparagus plant. Its fronds will cascade down like a green waterfall and it is perennial in warmer climates, at least it was for me in zone 8. Here in zone 6 I do bring them inside for the winter though. The best qualities of this fern is how drought and sunlight tolerant it is. Most ferns, especially those in hanging baskets, will suffer and shed leaves if even a hint of drought is detected, but the asparagus

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Asparagus ferns under palm trees

fern doesn’t seem to notice. Under our grape arbor, because the grape vines haven’t yet completely covered the top, some of the hanging baskets get quite a bit of sun during the day, but they do just as well as the ones in almost total shade. I’ve also used it (in zone 8 ) as a ground cover under palm trees and it was gorgeous. So if you want to grow ferns, the kind of fern you choose can be important.

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Asparagus fern as houseplant

The following is taken from the Smithsonian Gardens site and is well worth checking out for more information. It is found at: http://gardens.si.edu/horticulture/res_ed/fctsht/fern.html

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT GROWING FERNS

The following is a partial list of likes and dislikes of most ferns (indoor and outdoor).

DISLIKES

Strong Sunlight

High Winds

Dryness at Root-zone

LIKES

Protection from high winds

Enough space to grow to mature size

Undisturbed root environment

Filtered sun/shade

 

FERNS AS CONTAINER PLANTS

Many people are familiar with the use of ferns as indoor houseplants; you can even buy them in the grocery store! Some ferns will thrive as houseplants if their environmental requirements are satisfied.

LIGHT: Indoor ferns need bright light. Direct sun would scorch the leaves; however, a southern exposure, with a light curtain or that is shaded by an outdoor tree should provide sufficient light during the winter months. During the summer months this light would be too harsh for the ferns, so we suggest moving them to a northern or eastern location that receives unfiltered light (free of tree branches or curtains).

WATER & HUMIDITY: Container ferns should be watered when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Allow water to run freely from the bottom of the container but do not allow the pot to sit in standing water.

As one would expect, growing ferns indoors requires extra effort on the part of the grower to provide a humid environment. Home growers often use the following techniques:

Grouping ferns together

Setting containers on gravel-filled trays filled with water

Misting ferns

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Ferns in the landscape or garden

FERNS IN THE LANDSCAPE

Most wild ferns prefer a moist woodland habitat with high humidity. However, there are ferns suited for all environments from rock cliffs to swampy bogs. Through research you can find the right fern for your landscape.

ENVIRONMENT and CULTURE: Ferns thrive in open, shaded areas—in the filtered light found under a canopy of mature trees. The North side of the house works equally as well. In areas that experience cold, wet winters, the best time for planting is in the springtime. Because ferns are sensitive to excess fertilizers, spreading slow-release fertilizer or well-rotted organic matter is recommended. Ferns prefer slightly acidic soils with a high percentage of humus which aids in water retention and proper drainage.

PESTS and CONTROL: Ferns are sensitive to insecticides; therefore, it is better to attack pest problems in non-toxic ways to insure healthy plants. Slugs and snails are a fern’s worst enemy in the garden. To prevent slug and snail damage try some of the following tactics:

· Scatter shallow dishes of beer throughout the garden.

· Use overturned grapefruit shells.

· Remove debris that could harbor pests and diseases.

TIPS FOR FERN CARE IN THE GARDEN

1. Keep the rhizome/crown above or at surface level.

2. Do not damage crowns – this is where the fronds and roots develop.

3. Do not use rakes or hoes around fern plantings.

4. Create a path between ferns so that you do not damage fern crowns by walking on them.

5. Mulch with fine pine bark, pine needles, or compost – apply a new layer every year.

 

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Books About Birds I Use and Recommend

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Books about birds

Even though there is so much information on the internet, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a book. There is a lot of good information about birds in your area, about attracting birds to your yard and feeding them. These are some of the books I use but there are many more available. My most recent purchase was from a bird specialty shop near me, but you can find books about birds at book stores, on the internet, like this site: Triple your savings! BUY NEW BOOKS at 50-90% off! Shop at BookCloseOuts.comThe more you know about the birds in your area and the ones passing through, the more success you’ll have in attracting them to your garden.

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Books about birds in specific areas

Obnoxious Stump Finally Gone – Stump Grinder Was Awsome

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New flower bed left by the stump grinder

Early this morning the doorbell rang and the tree-trimmer, stump-grinder guy was here. A little chilly and a little early, but I was so excited to finally be getting rid of that ugly, stump that I didn’t really mind.

First he went up in a bucket to trim the dead limbs out of our black walnut tree. Thankfully he had come a couple of weeks ago to talk about it, so that I could point out the ones we needed to have trimmed. Now, just 2 weeks later, all of the leaves have come down and all the limbs look dead, so it would have really been hard to tell which ones needed pruning. He had guys on the ground picking up the limbs and debris, but unfortunately, some struck some plants near the front gate. Hopefully though, they were far enough into dormancy that they didn’t even feel the blow. The tree looks so different but will leaf out and look much better next spring and summer. Now the cherry trees will be able to get a lot more light, and will grow faster.

After trimming up the tree, the early morning tree trimmer got out a rather large chain saw and begin to remove most of the stump that was above the ground. He cut it up into large chunks that he and his 2 helpers could barely lift. Then he brought out this impressive, heavy duty stump grinder. The blade on that thing was enormous and the thick teeth all around the edges of the blade looked like they could certainly do some damage to ANYTHING they  came in contact with.

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Piles of wood chips produced by the stump grinder

He erected shields of tarps all around the area, then stretched out a long cord with his remote control on the end and as he stepped back out of harms way, the grinder begin to roar into action. Back and forth it went, as the chipped wood flew through the air. I had planned to be much closer to watch and take pictures and videos, but I had to watch from the front porch, through the branches of one of the apricot trees. Even then wood chunks were falling nearby. So all I have are these “after” pictures.

I am thrilled about the big pile of wood chips. They will come in handy to protect some of the plants from the winter freezes. I’m amazed at how much room I now have to plant something new next spring. That old stump was taking up a lot of prime real estate and I’m so glad that it is finally gone.

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Black walnut tree all trimmed up

 

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I’m Missing The Mockingbirds

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Mockingbird on fence

Even though I love watching the birds from my kitchen window (I’ve moved the feeders in closer so that I can get to them easier to refill and so that I can see them better), I am reminded of the birds I love to watch the most, the mockingbirds. I don’t recall ever seeing them eat from any of my feeders when I lived in the south, but they were fun to watch. They have an attitude and  are so independent, yet seem to love to be near people. They are the top music makers in the bird world, because they mimic the songs of other birds, stringing them all together.  They will sing this string of songs over and over for about three times. I understand that each bird has his own repertoire of songs he has put together, so his song will depend on the kinds of birds living in his vicinity.

I use to walk on a mile track every morning, very early, and there was a mockingbird that would go around the track with me, as he   flitted from tree to tree. He would wait until I was almost to him before flying ahead to the next tree to wait for me there. His song was beautiful, but even though he didn’t always sing, he was good company on my walks.

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mockingbird in grass

There was also one who dominated our deck, which was just off our master bedroom. Every morning we would wake to his song (or string of songs) as he sat in the fig tree over-hanging our deck. Such a pleasant way to start the day.

I’ve been told that mockingbirds have been spotted out here in the west, but it is rare. I do miss them and would surely love to see one from my kitchen window again.

 

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Hot Fresh Bread – EASY Bread Recipe

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Homemade Bread (one cinnamon loaf) Fresh From Oven

Since it’s turned cold outside and I’ve got more time on my hands (lol) I thought I’d venture away from writing about the garden occasionally.

I have a bread recipe that I have made since the mid 70’s and it is not only delicious and very versatile, but it is the easiest bread recipe that I’ve ever found, and I have tried many recipes over the years.

This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread or you can make rolls and 1 loaf, or even all rolls. I like to make cinnamon rolls with it, but the picture is of  cinnamon bread (which I will put a glaze on). I use half white flour and half whole wheat, but you could just use white if you like.

To this recipe you can also add flax seed, wheat berries (wheat grains that have been boiled and drained), bran or anything you like.

I am going to give the ingredients in the order they are added. For those of you not familiar with making a sponge first, that is what the first part of the recipe is. Making a sponge is a way to proof the yeast so that you don’t waste time and ingredients. Also, the sponge lets the yeast develop really  well and gives the bread more flavor.

Easy Bread Recipe

Sponge

2 cups warm (not hot) water (in large bowl)

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons oil

1/4 cup honey (you can use sugar)

2 packages of yeast (or 2 Tablespoons)

Mix this well and cover with cloth. Leave until foamy (about 15-45 min.)

If the sponge hasn’t turned foamy by this time then the bread from it won’t rise.

———————————————————————–

Add 3 cups of flour to the sponge and mix well. Turn out on to floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes.

This kneading develops the gluten in the flour which holds the air bubbles in the dough, causing it to rise.

Put into a greased bowl (I just spray with Pam) to rise till about double in bulk. This can take 30 min. – 2 hours, depending on the altitude where you are, and the temperature in the kitchen.

After it has risen, punch it down and turn out onto a floured surface. Cover it and let it rest for 10 minutes. This is a very important step that is often overlooked, but it determines the texture of the bread.

Divide the dough into 2 portions and either make 2 loaves or use however you like.

To make a loaf, just roll out into a rectangle no wider than the loaf pan. Roll up the dough from one end and be sure to seal the edges and ends by pinching the dough together really well. This prevents the air bubbles from escaping during baking. To make a cinnamon loaf, just add cinnamon and sugar when the bread is rolled out, then roll up as for a regular loaf.

Let rise till about double. During this time I pre-heat the oven to 375′. Brush the tops of the loaves with a little egg white that has been mixed with a small amount of water. This makes the top crust shiny and chewy instead of crumbly. This rising also depends on where you are and how warm your kitchen is. We are at about 4700′ and the dough really rises fast.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out on wire racks to cool.

 

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Garden Under Snow

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Snow in the garden - That's rhubarb and raspberries on the right.

We got a little snow today with more on the way tonight. Believe it or not, it is actually good for the garden because the snow is a good insulator and as it melts it keeps the soil moist. It’s not going to get deep and stay here, that will come later, but for now, it sure is good to see the snow. I love it.

 

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Raspberries and rhubarb in July, now under snow

Gathering Seeds From Your Garden For Abundant Flowers Next Year

Did you remember to collect those seeds from  your annuals for next year? For many of you there is still time to do that. Here, we have a lot of the white stuff and it is a bit chilly out. But if you can, gather those seeds and you’ll have more flowers next year than you’ll know what to do with.

If you missed it, there was an earlier post on this subject.

Check out this video, kind of interesting….

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Rhubarb Relocated…Finally

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Rhubarb plant, trimmed back and transplanted.

Earlier I wrote about some rhubarb growing in the wrong place in the yard. There were two, side by side, and when they were planted, the bed was plenty roomy enough. But as I begin to add more and more roses and herbs, the bed shrunk and the rhubarb just kept on growing….and growing. It was shading everything around it with those beautiful, huge, tropical looking leaves.
I knew I had to move it but I wanted to wait until the weather had cooled off a lot. As the plant begins to go dormant, the transplant won’t be as shocking for it. At least that’s the plan. So on a very cold day last week, I found a new, very sunny, spacious place at the end of one of the raised vegetable beds, and dug two holes deep enough to hold each of the plants. The plants that had loomed so large in the rose/herb bed seemed so small, with all but the new center leaves trimmed off.
I got it planted and mulched and watered. So now I have to wait until spring to see if we’ll still have those 2 pretty rhubarb plants to enjoy. If so, I will mulch them, fertilize them and watch them grow huge.

Two rhubarb plants transplanted Nov.,2011

 

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Rhubarb in early July, before it outgrew its bed.

 

 

 

 

Mulch For Winter Protection With Organic Mulches

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Raised bed with organic mulch, ready for planting

Mulch is material that is spread over the top of the soil. There are many different kinds of mulch and there are a lot of  good reasons to use mulch. In the summer, the mulch holds the moisture in and the plants have a steady supply of moisture instead of drying out and then being heavily watered. It keeps the roots cool, which is really important for some plants. Mulch keeps weeds from growing and can really cut down on the amount of time spent weeding. Mulch makes the garden look a lot better and kind of anchors the garden. As the mulch breaks down it nourishes the soil and begins to create more soil with organic matter.

In the winter, mulching the plants protects the roots from the freezing and thawing that occurs, which heaves the roots up and can expose them to even more cold and drying. It acts as an insulator, keeping the freezing air out and the warmth of the soil in.

As I’ve said, there are many kinds of materials used for mulches, some great for the garden and some not so good.  One of the ones that isn’t so good is shredded rubber, because it doesn’t break down and contributes nothing to the soil.

On the other hand, organic mulches, such as shredded leaves, composted manure, fine wood chips (not sawdust), alfalfa hay, finely shredded bark, shredded newspaper, straw etc., not only  offer all of the benefits, but as it breaks down, it enriches the soil and feeds the roots of the plants.

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Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August

It takes a little time and effort to put down a good thick layer of mulch around the plants, but compared to the time you would have spent weeding, it is well worth it. Your plants will be so much healthier and robust.

If you mulch under you vegetables and fruit, then the fruits and vegetables that come in contact with the ground won’t be as likely to get ruined.

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Update on Asparagus Bed For Winter

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After cutting for 2 weeks, the asparagus is growing. May 2011

Even though the asparagus bed starts out looking so empty with just shoots coming up every where, after cutting the spears for a while, the asparagus is finally allowed to grow. Those scattered spears soon turn into feathery fronds that are so airy that you can see right through them. As the summer progresses, the airy fronds begin to thicken up and grow taller, reaching 5-7 feet. Soon they are so thick that you can’t even get your hand through them. They are a beautiful shade of green and look more like an ornamental plant, than the perennial vegetable plants that they are.
Ours reached 7 feet this year and were so tall that I stuck some bamboo poles in among them to tie them to, to hold them upright. The asparagus bed is a beautiful addition to our garden, and with the food it provides in the spring, it is a very valuable addition. The great thing about asparagus is that it comes back year after year.
As the weather begins to cool down, and the nights get colder, the asparagus gradually starts to collapse down. Some perennials need to be cut back and tidied up for winter, but asparagus is one that needs to be left alone, to just collapse all the way down. Those thick fronds provide good protection agains the winter freezes. Then in the spring, when the fronds have served their purpose, and are all dried up, it’s time to remove them and make way for the tender new shoots that will be coming up.  

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Asparagus Bed mid July, 2011

If you have room in your garden, you might like to think about growing asparagus. It likes the soil a little on the moist (not wet) side, and it can’t compete with weeds, so weeds have to be kept out of the asparagus bed. I’ve noticed though, that if I am vigilant about keeping them out until the fronds are up and growing well, the weeds are choked out and there’s no more weeding needed.
I planted our asparagus in the fall, but it can also be planted in the spring. You won’t be able to cut any of the shoots for a couple of years, because you have to let the plants get established. In the third year you can start to cut the thicker spears, but only for a couple of weeks, then you let the rest of the spears grow and mature. By the fourth season, you should be able to harvest spears for 6 weeks or more, before letting it grow into the beautiful, feathery green stand of asparagus that will look good all summer and into the fall.

6 Easy Tips To Help You Become an Organic Gardener

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Pathway between deck and raised vegetable beds.

Being an organic gardener may take a little more time and effort, but it is well worth the benefits you receive. You can take pleasure in the fact that you are working with nature, and not against it, to grow beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Here a link to an article recently published, with some tips to help you become an organic gardener. It’s not anything difficult and you are probably already doing most of them and have been gardening organically without even realizing it.

Check out this article for more information.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Organic-Gardening—6-Tips-To-Help-You-Succeed-At-Being-An-Organic-Gardener&id=6666242

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Eliza Osborn, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

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