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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘fertilizers’

We Are Growing Bamboo in Our Garden – Are We Crazy?

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Using bamboo in the landscape

My husband and I both love bamboo, it is so tropical looking and beautiful. Last year we started talking about bamboo and the idea of trying to grow it in our climate. I didn’t think that we could because of our harsh winters. With some research though, I was happy to see that there are some kinds of bamboo that will grow here.

I don’t claim to be an expert on bamboo, but I have done some research on it and I’m just sharing with you some of the things that I’ve found out about it. Besides being beautiful, bamboo is really amazing. It is fast growing, yet easy to control if you understand how it grows (more on that later), is an unusual plant that can provide a privacy screen or a focal point in your landscape.

Since bamboo is a grass, it needs high nitrogen fertilizers, just like you lawn. It needs sunshine and a constant supply of moisture. It shouldn’t be allowed to dry out but it can’t grow in standing water either. The soil should be well drained and rich in organic matter. Mulching helps to keep the moisture in and the weeds down so there will be not competition for the roots.

Not all bamboo is alike, it comes in a variety of colors and growth patterns. It can grow 6′ tall, 15′ or 25′. Some can get 70′ feet tall in the right environment, but in the home garden, most will probably be less tall than their maximum height.

There are basically two kinds of bamboo, clumping and running. The beautiful, exotic bamboo shown here, are all running types of bamboo. The clumping bamboo won’t get big and gorgeous like these, it has a shrubby, weedy look to me.

Bamboo has a bad reputation for being very invasive and aggressive. It takes a few years to get established but when it does, it can be very fast growing (up, as well as out). As I understand it, the plant only sends up shoots for a couple of months in the spring. After that time, no more shoots will come up till the next spring. When the shoots come up outside the area you want the bamboo to grow, just let them get a few inches to a foot tall and then just kick them over. They are very tender during this time and easily removed. What’s more, another shoot won’t come up in that spot. Also, all bamboo are edible and so the shoots that are kicked over can be eaten (especially good in oriental cooking).

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Beautiful gray bamboo in bamboo forest in China

You can also keep the area mowed (or use a weed eater) to keep the shoots from growing.

A barrier can be put down around the area as well. Since bamboo roots are pretty shallow, only going to about 12″-15″, a 2′ barrier would prevent the spread of the roots and shoots. Remember, this is a plant, not a monster that can’t be controlled.

We found a great place to get our bamboo, with very reasonable prices and a wide choices of plants. We actually went there ourselves and toured the extensive bamboo gardens. I fell in love with bamboo and I can’t wait to have ours growing tall and magnificent in our garden.

The bamboo nursery we found is called Steve Ray’s Bamboo Garden and is in Alabama.

It is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/

The types of bamboo we picked out for our garden are all hardy in our zone. Click on the “Zone Map” button above to see the temperatures for your zone. We chose Phyllostachys aureosulcata – Yellow Groove Bamboo with is hardy to -10′; P. humilis – which is hardy to 0′ and p. nigra “Henon” – Giant Gray Bamboo, hardy to 0′. This one the stalks can get 4″ thick. Can’t wait to see that.

Just thought you might like to consider something new for your garden and landscape.

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Unusual joints in bamboo stalks.

 

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Bamboo, an unusual and beautiful landscape plant

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by Eliza Osborn

How To Start a Garden

hyssop, sedum, phlox and rhubarb

2011 - Agastache, Sedum, Phlox and Rhubarb

This question comes up a lot and I think the best place to start a garden is not with a shovel and dirt but with pencil and paper.

Gardening is a growing interest and a lot of people, even though they want to garden, just don’t know how to get started. Even a small bed can produce a great amount of flowers or vegetables.
Here is a link to an article I’d written that might be of some help. Check it out.

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Start-a-Garden-In-5-Easy-Steps&id=6559034

before deck was built

2009 - Newly planted Agastache and sedum

 

potted plum tree and flowers by back door

2011 - Deck with potted plum tree and flowers.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

Improving Plant Growth With Less Fertilizer? Great Products For The Garden

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Product Samples To Test In Our Garden

Last fall I wrote a post about a product I’d heard about called “Blend” (see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-BE ) and all it could do to improve the qualities of soil. The company that produces it is located in Arizona and since we were down there for a wedding reception, we took time to tour their facility and learn a little more about them.

It was an amazing place, much larger than I had imagined. I learned that Blend is only one of many products they produce to improve and condition the soil and to feed plants.

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Mixers At The Lizuid Fertilizer Plant In Arizona

There are mixtures that stimulate the root growth (for stronger, healthier plants) and products that improve the uptake of nutrients (macro and micro). There are pesticides made with Thyme oil. Plants need such a variety of nutrients and most soils don’t provide all that plants need. Most fertilizers provide the basic  Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash (the numbers on the fertilizer containers) but not the many other nutrients required by plants.

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Preparing My Samples

They were generous and kind enough to give me some samples to bring home to try on our garden. I am so excited to be able to use them, since I’ve heard such good things about them. At this time they only sell wholesale and their products are used all over the world, even China. (Isn’t it nice to know that China actually buys something from us?)

Hopefully, they can be persuaded to retail some of their magic plant serum to some of us here in the U.S.

I will be posting pictures of plants grown with (and even some grown without) the different additives. It will be interesting to see how it does in our garden.

Bamboo of Las Vegas

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Beautiful Bamboo and Bromeliads in Las Vegas

 

After seeing the gorgeous bamboo growing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I’m getting so excited for spring to get here to see if the bamboo we planted in our garden is going to survive our winters (we live in zone 6) and come up like it’s supposed to.

We planted 4 large clumps (3 different kind) and they are the hardiest of the non-clumping bamboo, so we have our fingers crossed that one day the bamboo growing in our yard will look as magnificent as what we’re seeing here in Las Vegas.They look like they could be the same species as the ones we’ve planted. (See post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-pC)

I talked before about the 4 large clumps we brought back (in our SUV) all the way from Alabama. The nursery we bought from  is found online at: http://www.thebamboogardens.com/  I don’t think we’ll give up though, if it happens to not come up. We did get it planted a little late in the season and we would try again, maybe planting it earlier to give the roots more time to become established before the winter cold set in.

You see, we love bamboo, and we’re determined to have some in our garden. I’m sure these photos explain the allure.

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Bamboo in Las Vegas

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Las Vegas bamboo in the Bellagio Atrium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bamboo and oranges growing in Las Vegas at the Bellagio

 

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Bamboo in the atrium of the Bellagio in Las Vegas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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Growing Bamboo In Your Garden – Winter Protection For Bamboo

Bamboo in our garden.

We had gone to the south last spring to visit family and had visited a bamboo farm. We had liked the idea of growing bamboo in our garden but 2 things made us hesitate. One was the reputation of bamboo to be so invasive and one reason was the climate we live in (zone 6) and the hardiness of the bamboo.
We did find out that some bamboo can be quite hardy and we were able to get 4 clumps of the hardiest. Even so, I’m mulching it really well this winter in hopes of it surviving. We were going to have temps in the mid 20’s so I just piled fall leaves around the roots. Before the real winter chill sets in though, I’ll mulch it with some much better mulch, to give it as much protection as possible.
The spreading problem isn’t one we know about yet, but since the shoots are so easily stopped, we are hoping there won’t be a problem. Besides, the shoots are edible.
Like a lot of perennials, bamboo can take 2-3 years before it really begins to grow. There is a lot of growth in the roots during this time though.
Next spring it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m hoping for at least some shoots coming up.
I’ll post the progress here.

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For A Beautiful Lawn Next Summer – Take Care Of It In The Fall

Have you cleared away the debris from the perennial flower beds and mulched them for next year? Have you removed all the spent annuals and prepared the bed for planting next spring and summer? Have you been raking the leaves and composting them? Have you dug your tender tubers and stored them away? Have you made preparations to bring in all your tender potted plants? Have you mulched the roses and other shrubs that need it? Have you…..on, and on, and on.

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No, this isn't our lawn, but it looks like a good place for an orchard.

In all of this fall activity, it’s easy to overlook putting the lawn to bed. Are you so relieved that you won’t have to mow any more for a few months, that you forgot to fertilize, to feed those roots for the winter dormancy, so that you will have a beautiful, healthy,lush lawn next summer?

What about the thatch build up? If your lawn is very thick and has a build up of thatch choking it, fall is a good time to remove that. If you have weeds growing in the lawn, fall is the best time to remove them because they, too, are putting down  roots for next summers growth. They will be much easier to remove this fall, than next summer, when they’ve gotten bigger, and more established.

When the leaves have finally quit falling, remove all of them from your lawn. The leaves get wet and slimy in the winter and can cause problems for the grass beneath them. Cut your grass to about 2″ for the winter. At that height the roots will have some protection.

If you have snow, like we do, take care not to let the salt (or the salt run-off) from the sidewalks and driveways get on the grass, as it will kill it.

After you’ve done all of this, you can then truly relax, knowing you’ll have a beautiful lawn next year… that you’ll get to mow every week.

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Stump Update – Stump Grinder Coming to Finish the Job

there is great potential in those fallen leaves, and you shouldn’t let them go to waste. Even though

Tree Coming Down

The guy who cut down the tree last spring is coming back to take out the stump. Yeah!!!

He will also be taking some dead limbs out of the black walnut tree that are hanging over the cherry trees.

I will get video and photos of the process, so stay tuned. It’s gonna get messy.

 

Gather Those Fallen Leaves and Turn Them Into Black Gold – Compost

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Autumn leaves can create organic soil

All across the country leaves are coming down. They are so beautiful and create such an atmosphere of Autumn. But there is great potential in those fallen leaves, and you shouldn’t let them go to waste. Even though there is a lot of volume when they are raked up, when they are shredded (as when run over with a lawn mower) the volume is greatly reduced.

If you don’t have a compost pile to add them to, just setting them aside and letting them break down over the winter will give you some rich matter to add to your garden next spring. If they are bagged up, even better, as the moisture trapped in the bag will help them to break down faster.

If your area is like ours, and there are bags of leaves sitting out by the curb waiting for pick-up, then you really are in luck. Gathering up the free gifts of leaves is a smart thing to do, that is, unless you have huge amounts of leaves in your own yard.

Improving the soil is the best way to insure a healthy and productive garden. Whether you’re growing vegetables or growing flowers or whatever you grow, it will grow better with better soil, with organic soil. So the more organic material you can add to your garden, the healthier the plants will be. Healthy plants aren’t as susceptible to disease or insect attacks.

Healthy plants = happy gardener.

 

Picking All My Basil Today For Fresh Basil Pesto

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Potted Basil

With freeze warning out for tonight, I’ve been busy gathering the last of the snap beans, beets, green and ripe tomatoes, grapes and Basil and Tarragon. I’ll make pesto with the Basil and concentrated Tarragon tea to freeze. (See the post on Tarragon)

By the way, I failed to get a picture of the basil in my garden, so I’ve used the photo of potted basil. If you have potted basil, just bring it in to enjoy fresh all winter.

Last year when I had so much basil to use, I heard about making pesto and freezing it. Since I love pesto, this seemed like such a good idea. So I froze it in ice cube trays and when frozen, I put the cubes in a zip lock bag. Then all during the year I could just get out a cube or two and thaw it to use with pasta, or in salad dressing or in soups and best of all, spread on toasted baguette slices. So if you have a lot of Basil to use up, think about the pesto idea. You can follow this simple recipe to make such an easy pesto.

Fresh Basil Pesto

3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

3/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts or almonds

3-4  medium sized garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place nuts in food processor and pulse a few times. in a food processor. Add Basil and pulse a few more times.  Add the garlic, pulse a few more times.

Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add the cheese and pulse a few times till blended. Add salt and pepper.

Makes 1 1/2-2  cups

Use fresh or freeze to use later.

Ways To Use Green Tomatoes – Fried Green Tomatoes and Other Recipes

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Green tomato on the vine waiting to become a Fried Green Tomato

As freezing temperatures approach our area next week, I’ve been trying to decide how to use the green tomatoes still on the vine. There area lot of ways to use these tart, firm vegetables (fruits) and some of these ways might surprise you.

Let me just say right here, that if you haven’t tried Fried Green Tomatoes yet, then you have really been missing out.

 

Fried Green Tomato Recipe

4-5 large green tomatoes

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Trim off ends of green tomatoes. Slice tomatoes 1/2″ thick.

In 1st dish – put 1 cup flour

In 2nd  bowl or dish – Beat egg slightly and add milk, combining well.

In 3rd dish – combine 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. corn meal (not self rising) and seasonings

Dredge green tomato slices in the flour, then dip into the egg mixture. Dredge in the flour/corneal mixture, till completely coated.

In a large, heavy skillet pour enough oil so that there is 3/4 oil in the pan. Heat over medium – medium/high heat.

When the oil is hot place the green tomato slices into the pan, being sure not to crowd them. Brown on both sides then drain on paper towel.

Serve hot and crispy.

 

Green Tomato Raspberry Jam Recipe

5 cups chopped green tomatoes

3 cups white sugar

1 (6 oz.) package of raspberry flavored gelatin powder

Directions

Heat the chopped green tomatoes in a large saucepan and heat thoroughly. Add sugar and bring to boil and cook about 10 minutes. Add the gelatin powder and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal. Can also be cooled and poured into freezer containers and frozen.

 

Green Tomato Pie

Pastry for 9″ two crust pie

3 cups of finely chopped, really green tomatoes (let drain in colander for a couple of hours)

3/4  cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons flour

Zeest of l lemon, grated finely

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Prepare double pie crust. Line pie pan with half. Roll out second half and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Place in pie shell and cover with top crust. Cut vents in top crust. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 40 minutes longer or until golden brown.

 

Green Tomato Salsa

4-5 large green tomatoes, trimmed and quartered

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded if milder salsa is wanted

1 large onion, trimmed and quartered

1-2  cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of sugar to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

 

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A Kiwi That Is Hardy to Zone 3 (That’s Cold, Folks)

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Kiwi vine on north end of grape arbor - hard to see with tree canopy behind it

Yes, there is a Kiwi that will grow in the colder areas and it is a beautiful, hardy vine. It’s not very well known, it is an Arctic Kiwi (Actinidia kolomikta). In the more mature plant the leaves are variegated pink and cream mixed with the rich green. It is a vigorous vine that will grow 40′ or more, so it does best on a tall, sturdy support like a fence or arbor. Ours are about 20′ now as they go 9′ up to the top of the arbor and cross over 10′ and are wondering around up there. It isn’t fussy about the type of soil, rich and fertile or dry clay, and it will grow in sun or shade, but it does like a good, deep drink of water at least once a week.

The more mature vines (4-5 yrs. old) will set fruit, which is smaller than commercial kiwi but sweeter. It has a slick skin and doesn’t need peeling. These Kiwi are dioecious, which means there has to be a male and a female plant planted near each other in order to set fruit.

Our Kiwi is now 2 1/2 years old and in a year or two we will start seeing the pink and cream coloration on the leaves and hopefully, we will begin to get fruit. Can’t wait for that.

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Kiwi vine on north end of grape arbor in early summer.

 

 

 

 

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You Can Grow Spring Blooming Bulbs and Other Flowers In Same Container

Annuals in containers that tulips were blooming in earlier

Last fall, at the end of the season and the spent plants had been removed, I decided not to empty the pots, but to re-use them and the potting mix in them. There were spring bulbs on sale everywhere and perennials were being marked down at the end of the season. Since most of our pots are pretty large, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the plants and bulbs on sale. Not only would I not have to empty those big pots, but I would have something to look forward to next spring and summer.

For more of this article, recently published on Ezine, click on the following link:

http://ezinearticles.com/?Container-Gardening-For-Every-Season&id=6625786

 

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Putting the Garden to Bed

walnut and crabapple

Crabapple and Black Walnut Trees in Front Yard 2009

Soon the leaves will be turning some beautiful colors, and don’t you know, those leaves WILL come down. I’ve always loved the look of the colorful leaves all over the yard but they soon turn brown and they won’t stay dry and crispy. During the winter, whether from snow or rain, they’ll get wet and slimy, and pretty much stay wet. They’ll become a slippery, sludgy mess. So it’s important to remove them from walkways and steps to prevent accidents.The leaves should also be removed from the lawn, as well as flower and vegetable beds. There are plants that need mulching for protection during the winter, but it’s better to use mulch or pine needles. Using straw can cause problems because of the possible grains of wheat etc, it could contain, which could attract mice to your garden. The mice would then began to feed on the stems of plants, such as roses.

The leaves can be shredded and added to the compost pile. We even gather up bags of leaves left at the curbs for the city to pick up, to add to our compost.

Cut down perennials that have finished blooming. Annuals and vegetables should be pulled up when they’re spent. If not diseased, tossed all of these clippings and spent plants into the compost. Some plants can be left, if they add interest to the winter garden or if they have seed heads that can feed the birds.

Autumn is a good time to divide perennials, which can then be planted in other areas of the yard or shared with friends. It’s also time to dig up tender bulbs, like Tuberous Begonias and Dahlias (wait till frost has turned the leaves black), and store in a cool, dark place.

To strengthen roots through the winter, apply bonemeal to perennial beds and around shrubs and trees.

Tidying up the garden not only makes the yard/garden look better through the winter, but spring gardening will be so much easier and more enjoyable. If you’ve planted spring bulbs, with cleaned out flower beds, you’ll have something wonderful to anticipate and look forward to.

 

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by Eliza Osborn

How To Gather and Save Seeds From Your Garden For Use Next Year

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Cosmos in the garden, lasting well into fall.

In the fall, at the end of the season, letting the flowers go to seed, and gathering the seeds, means never having to buy seeds or plants again. There are many beautiful flowers that will produce large amounts of seeds, more than you would ever need. Gather the seeds of the healthiest plants and the colors you prefer.

To save the seeds, leave the…

To read more of this article just check on the link below.

 

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Gather-Seeds-In-Fall-For-Flowers-In-the-Summer-Garden&id=6625608

 

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When To Plant Spring Bulbs

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Tulips growing in the spring garden

After a long, cold winter it is so wonderful to see plants coming up and flowers beginning to bloom, all because you thought to plant bulbs in the fall. Spring flowers from bulbs are so easy to grow and if they are happy ( that is –  getting everything they need) they will just get better and better each year. So it’s important to plant the right bulbs for your climate. Just do a little research before you get started, so that you’ll know what does best in your area. Get creative and have fun as you plan where to plant the bulbs. In designing your garden, you can think about the colors you’re going to use, like the hot colors of red, yellow and orange or maybe you’d like the cool colors of pinks, purples, lavenders, blues and whites.

When you’ve decided what flowers you want to grow and what color scheme you like, then you’ll need to decide where to plant, and how many plants to fill the area you have. After all that has been figured out it will be time to think about when to plant the bulbs.

The when depends on which hardiness zone you live in. If you don’t know that, click on the “Zone Map” button at the top of the page. It will bring up a map, which you just click on your area to enlarge the map. The bulbs need to be planted 3-4 weeks before it gets cold enough to freeze the ground. The trick is to get them into the ground so that they will have time for their roots to begin to grow before the ground

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Tulips which lasted such a long time. It was worth the wait.

freezes.

The problem is that you don’t want to plant them too early because if they have too much time before the ground freezes they’ll have time to send up shoots, which take energy away from the bulb. The bulbs will need all the energy they can get for next spring, when they begin to grow.

So get out the crystal ball and figure out when would be the best time to plant for your area. I think it’s almost that time here in zone 5/6.

 

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Taking Before, During and After Photos of Your Yard and Garden

When we begin landscaping our yard with gardens instead of lawns, I didn’t think to take before pictures. It wasn’t until we had rolled up the sod and removed 3 of our 8 large trees that I even thought about it. So our before pictures aren’t really from the beginning, because in the beginning there were beautiful lawns, mature Viburnum and Forsythia shrubs and huge trees with spreading canopies in our yard.

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Outline of deck 2009

So in the spirit of learning from my mistakes, remember to take photos of your projects in the planning stage, the before stage and all through the work stages. It is so interesting to look back and remember the way it was.

These are some photos of our yard as we planned our deck and designed the gardens around it. By marking where the deck would go, we could go ahead and plant the rose bushes, perennials and herbs around it.

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Deck finally built in Sept.2010

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Old water feature where deck will eventually be.

 

 

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Deck built over old water feature in the back yard.

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by Eliza Osborn

Check Out The New Video on Herbs

This is a video created about growing herbs.

What Is This Mystery Plant Is Growing In Our Garden?

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Mystery Plant in Our Garden

is a plant that was growing in our back yard, around a little water feature that had seen better days. Besides, it was located in the center f where our deck was going to be built and so I had to move it. When we designed our garden, we didn’t know what to do with it so I moved it to the area around the garden spigot, since I assumed it liked the moisture. It has gotten a lot bigger since I moved it and this year it bloomed, but the blooms were insignificant and not too attractive. The foliage is the pretty part of this plant. It has grown to about 18″-24″ tall and the texture of the leaves are sort of like a succulent.

I’ve asked quite a few people if they recognized it and so far no one has. I don’t think anyone has seen one quite like it.I’ve looked online and poured through my gardening books, but so far it remains a mystery plant in our garden.

If you have any information about this plant, will you please let us know about it?

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What is this plant?

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by Eliza Osborn

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