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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

A Buffet of Choices
for Easy, Edible, Accented Arrangements

Last spring I attended a floral arrangement demonstration program at Myriad Botanical Gardens that changed the way I look at creating floral arrangements. The instructor, Dundee Butcher of Russian River Flower School in Healdsburg, California, created arrangements that were simple, yet sophisticated and beautiful, using edibles – from puckered dark green kale to cauliflower to purple carrots to eggplants, these arrangements were unique and lovely. Since that class, when I go to the grocery store or farmers’ market, I see not only what to make for dinner, but also what I could use to make the centerpiece.

>> read “A Buffet of Choices”       #Decorating   #Ornamentals   #Vegetables
Odd Tools for Odd Jobs

By the time we hit the hot months of July and August, most folks would rather be sipping cold tea in their air-conditioned homes rather than working out in their gardens or mowing their lawns. By this time, garden chores such as mowing grass, weeding flowerbeds and tending to our vegetable garden have been a major part of our schedules throughout the spring and early summer months. While most gardeners are usually equipped with the proper tools to accomplish necessary tasks, there are a few oddball tools out there that may be worth taking a look at. Many of these tools are designed to accomplish specific jobs that would otherwise be very time consuming and much more frustrating. The right tools can definitely make the job easier and more enjoyable. Here is a quick look at some of the equipment out there and how to decide what you really need.

>> read “Odd Tools for Odd Jobs”       #Summer   #Tools   #Unusual
Biochar to the Rescue!
A permanent amendment to improve soil and air

Biochar – you may have never heard of it, but in many research circles, and in a few select backyard lots, biochar is the stuff dreams are made of, particularly given our need for better soils, better air, better plants, and better climates. Biochar is a type of charcoal very unlike the grill’s charcoal briquettes, which are a mixture of powdered devolatilized coal, a small portion of raw or carbonized sawdust, and intentional ash additives. Biochar is the result of heating biomass under the exclusion of air – a process known as pyrolysis. Renewable lignin-based resources from nut shells to manures to wood, switchgrass, wheat straw, corn shucks and other green materials, can be the fuel used to create a very stable, very porous carbon rich product that can last hundreds of years. Biochar’s primary use is for soil enrichment, but it can do much more than that.

>> read “Biochar to the Rescue!”       #Environment   #Fertilizing   #Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency
Make it Last
Freezing fruits and vegetables to extend your harvest

There is a fine line in a productive summer garden where the harvest goes from plentiful to growing “out your ears.” Of course, you can give extra produce away or donate it to a local soup kitchen, but another option is to freeze the abundant harvest. I grew up on a rural farm where food preservation was a way of life. From snapping green beans for canning to washing blackberries for freezing, we learned to help from a young age. Here are tips to help you get started with freezing produce at home.

>> read “Make it Last”       #Edibles   #Fruit   #Recipes
Create a Tiny Plant World Under Glass

As the saying goes, “What is old is new again.” This can definitely be said about terrariums. They were popular in Victorian times, all the rage in the ’70s, and are having an amazing resurgence. Garden centers offer classes on making terrariums and little plants being hybridized are endless.

>> read “Create a Tiny Plant World Under Glass”       #Containers   #Crafts   #Terrariums
Crazy Crawlers
Caterpillars you are likely to run across at some time

Where there are plants there are caterpillars. As an avid gardener, you are probably familiar with several species of caterpillars, particularly those that damage some of your favorite plants, such as tobacco hornworms, cabbage loopers, and tomato fruitworms. But our gardens and landscapes are host to hundreds of other caterpillar species.

>> read “Crazy Crawlers”       #Insects   #Pests
Press On
How to bring nature indoors by pressing botanicals

Pressing botanicals is just one more way for plant lovers to get their fix while feeding the artist within. Just pick a basketful of your favorite flowers, herbs, leaves, seedpods, or whatnot to place between papers in a press and forget about it until the process is finished.

>> read “Press On”       #Crafts   #Decorating   #Flowers
Botanical Names
How you can use them

Do botanical names cause you confusion, get you tongue-tied or seem unnecessary? There actually are reasons for the scientific mumble jumble. In addition to gaining an understanding of the scientific names of plants, knowing just a little “Latinese” will place you a step higher in the gardening world.

>> read “Botanical Names”    
Cut and Come Again
Extra food from veggies that are usually harvested once

One of the many joys of growing your own food is the nearly constant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Freshly picked tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, and squash are some of the most delightful summer treasures. Yet many crops, such as lettuce, onions, and Swiss chard, tend to be thought of as single-harvest vegetables, making it necessary to provide enough space for large plantings as well as a keen attention to succession planting in order to receive several weeks worth of these single harvest crops. Many of these vegetables, however, are capable of producing multiple harvests if you provide just a little extra attention to the harvesting methods and give them a bit of time to recover from each picking.

>> read “Cut and Come Again”       #Edibles   #Pruning   #Vegetables
Gardening Questions You Never Really Thought to Ask

Often when pulling weeds or mowing the grass, my mind drifts to some of the challenges in the world. I don’t mean solving world hunger or anything, but just considering some of those gardening questions not discussed on radio shows. This happens in a “stream of consciousness” where one thought or question runs into another and another and so on.

>> read “Gardening Questions You Never Really Thought to Ask”       #Misc   #Pests   #Uncategorized   #Vines
How to Make Potpourri
Gather herbs and flowers now for potpourri all year

The original French term for potpourri meant “rotten pot,” referring to the moist method of pickling flowers and leaves. More common now is the dry method using flowers and leaves that are picked just as they reach maturity full of fragrance and color. It also incorporates seeds, spices, dried leaves and flowers, berries, dried fruit slices, barks, seedheads and cones to add a variety of textures to the mixture. The best potpourris have a subtle, natural scent that comes from the combination of all natural ingredients. Different ingredients contribute aroma, texture, color and bulk. Many herbs contribute fragrance as well as color and texture.

>> read “How to Make Potpourri”       #Fragrant   #How to   #Misc
Planting for the Future

An intimate part of the human race is connected to the existence of trees. We track our lineage with a “Family tree.” We reference our health and well-being with the “Tree of Life” and the very first man and woman on earth ate the forbidden fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge” in the Garden of Eden.

Trees are a mark of history. We look at the number of rings to determine the age of a tree. We look at the characteristics of the rings, such as how thick or thin they are, their color and other attributes to determine the types of years that have affected the growth of the trees and other living organisms. We can see drought, earthquakes, forest fires, fast or slow growth, pressure points from another tree, damage from construction and so forth reflected in the historical replication of the rings. They even clean the air and water for us without as much as a rustle. There are songs written about them, people and treasure buried near them and a cherry tree has even led the juvenile tirades of a President.

>> read “Planting for the Future”    
 
 
 

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