“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Blackberries are producing like crazy this year thanks to all the rain and humidity. I have to be really fast to beat the birds to the day's bounty.
I transplanted a few blackberry bushes to this home in 1997 and I'll never be without them again (both by choice and thanks to birds).
I had planted them under windows as they did in Victorian times. They were used as prowler deterrents. Little did I know they were also house painters, husband weed-eater guy, and running children deterrents. By the time I could admit to my error, they had been seeded throughout the property and I was able let them go close to the house.
Blackberries and raspberries are much easier for me to grow than blueberries because of the walnut trees. Although my blackberries are from some long lost strain (more wild than hybrid) they suit my taste just fine.
Blackberries aren't easy for a small property because of the spreading by birds and every branch that hits the ground roots. They spread quite readily and pruning is a fight with thorns every time. I'm a lackadaisical pruner so mine thrive in spite of my efforts.
Some of the new hybrids have more controlled habits and the size of the berries are much larger. Flavors vary somewhat from tart to sweet and from seedy to meaty.
Here's Paula Deen's recipe for Blackberry Jam. Always good but I must admit I go outside in the morning - pick a cup of berries (what doesn't go directly in my mouth) and have them on my cereal. Good stuff.
by Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine July/August 2010
Paula says the secret to the tastiest canning boils down to one simple rule her Grandmother Paul taught her…use only produce just picked from the field.
Support your local farmers and your pocketbook this summer by buying your produce when it’s at the peak of freshness and coincidentally most affordable. Following Paula’s simple recipes and canning techniques will guarantee you some of your own “Summer in a Jar” come December.
In a large saucepan over high heat add blackberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir frequently while bringing to a rolling boil.
Sterilize jars and lids directly before using for 10 minutes in simmering water or in the dishwasher. Remove one at a time when ready to fill.
Courtesy of Cooking With Paula Deen Magazine July/August 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I've often been asked, "Is the only reason to deadhead daylilies to make the plant look better?" The answer to that is, "Yes, it does make the plant look better." And, "No, there is a more important reason for deadheading."
If a daylily is allowed to set seed heads, the plant will put energy into developing those seeds and preform as if it's the end of the blooming season. At the end of the season, a plant will not concentrate on blooming. For an continuous bloomer like Stella, that will limit the new flowers and the length of the bloom season.
Even the non-continuous bloomers will put more energy into making fully developed flowers over an extended bloom period if they are deadheaded daily.
For the meticulous: carry a sack and slip the spent flowers inside. For the rest of us: simply toss on the ground and know they will go to mush in a few days.
Another reason for deadheading every morning: Photographs will never have a glob of dead flower to spoil the look.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The 4-H pledge says a lot about the members, how they live their lives and the projects they bring to the 4-H Fair each year.
I am privileged to again be a judge in the Horticulture and Floriculture divisions. It's an enriching experience. It brings hope for the future generation and pride in the many young people who want to learn and work.
The above picture was a Floriculture "D" entry. Her theme was the "4th of July" and she not only met the criteria for this category but did it superbly. You're looking at a blue ribbon winner.
I was expecting a poor turnout and poor quality of plants and vegetables this year because of the weather and how early our fair is held. It was the opposite - more kids and a surprisingly high quality of produce.
As might be expected, a good percentage of those participating in horticultural projects are from farm families but we have a good share of members who garden at grandma's house, in a small patch beside a city house, a greenhouse and even in disposable cups on the window ledge of the subsidized housing project. And, they all do it with enthusiasm.
Considering we had a huge storm last night (high winds, over two inches of rain in less than a half hour, hail) it was amazing how clean and neat the vegetables were in displays. They all talked of the "trails" of our wet spring and what they had learned. Bless youth: they all laughed and did their best.
The excess rain has even given some vegetables an earlier maturity: Many varieties of lettuce, radishes, huge broccoli, cauliflower, wonderful onions, rhubarb, peas, small potatoes, beets, horseradish, and others. Flowers were the same way. Green, yellow and wax beans were the only thing I saw that was less than perfect.
Judging at this level is not based on the perfect vegetable or flower. It's not really based on perfect anything. This judging rewards effort and there is verbal and written feedback from the judge that is meant to teach and encourage.
I have done this long enough I get a chuckle out of how garden philosophy is typical with different backgrounds.
Farm boys old enough to help in the field think about gardening in the big picture and not so much the presentation. They raise vegetables much like field crops, IE: they must be good enough to eat and/or sell.
Horticulture students (to be) will know a boat load about how it all works. They enjoy engaging someone who likes to hear "the story" as much as they like to display.
Some youngster's focus will be developing a beautiful display. The variety will be the same size, visually orderly and labeled. Perhaps even a basket lined with a country napkin.
Some kids are totally into taste and can describe in detail the little nuances of flavor in each variety they exhibit.
Can you tell I'm impressed? In total, there was not one entry or it's owner that was a disappointment. They each had their individual strengths and their enthusiasm was contagious.
Their ability to look at the positives of their efforts and laugh off what nature throws at them is a lesson for everyone.
It was a great day! Spend some time this week at the Henry County Fair and visit the 4-H exhibits. Rural American is alive and well! And, I'm thankful!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Taken from their web site: "Take a step back in time at Blossoms at Butterworth! When you enter our gardens, you’ll be transported to a genteel era of the past, where gracious plantings painted a rich backdrop for families spending leisure time together outdoors."
"Held each year on the fourth Sunday in June (June 27, 2010), our one-of-a-kind garden party features vintage delights and family-oriented activities: antique cars, lawn games of the 1800s, live music, guided bus tour through the Overlook Historic Neighborhood, tours of the Butterworth and Deere-Wiman homes and more. Held from noon until 5 p.m."
Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House, 1105-8th Street, Moline, Illinois 61265
Admission Adults: $8.00 - Students: $5:00
Please allow an hour and a half for the visit to the Weber House and Gardens."
The Weber House is located at 1503 Baker St. in Streator, IL.
Had to post a portion of Anthony Peoples "Weather or Not" Blog for the remainder of this week:
"...While there will be a daily chance of showers and thunderstorms for the remainder of this week, into the weekend, and even into early next week, we’ll see several dry hours each day, too.
The unfortunate news is that with all of the tropical moisture in place, any storms that develop could drop copious amounts of rain, which is the last thing we need.
Severe weather is also possible with these storms. Damaging winds will be the biggest threat, but large hail and tornadoes are also possible..."
"Copious" - not a good thing when referring to more rain in this rain-soaked Midwest!
- Some people sink a saucer of beer into the ground near plants being bothered by slugs. They are attracted to the beer and fall in and drown. Since I have two dogs that will slurp up most anything, I'm sure the beer isn't the solution I can use.
- Another method, which requires a strong constitution, is go out early or late with a flashlight and a pair of scissors. Cut them in half and let them fall.
The problem with most all commercial insect applications is they come off when it rains. With our weather, it would cost a fortune with little results.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
After trying to keep a positive attitude about the quantity of rain we've had this month, I've about lost my positive to the sloshing and slogging we've had to do lately.
1.50 inches in about fifteen minutes = flooding. I don't remember the last slow gentle rain; they've all been fast, hard and lots. The proverbial "downpour".
There's not much more a gardener can do about any negative flooding symptoms to plants than the farmer can do about the crops. It's an opportunity to sit around the coffee shop and talk about the weather. Which reminds me:
I've often mentioned I was born and raised in the middle of Indiana farm land. Most all of my friends and relatives (while growing up) were also farm people. To this day, no phone call, no casual meeting, no visit doesn't start with, "How's the weather over there?" Then a good fifteen minutes is spent trading weather data back and forth. And being good farmers, it is usually peppered with the dire consequences upon the fate of farming, how hard it is to stay farming and if the Republicans were just back in office...
I may be joking a bit, but, I also find it comforting to do what I call the "weather bonding" with family and friends. Sooooo, I guess I can just look at this mess of spongy soil and floating flowers as a new topic to share. No use crying over sloshing and slogging I can't prevent.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The program is very intensive, both in material and structure. It is graded and doesn't allow for failure or absence.
Not only does a graduate MG walk away with their Master Gardener certification, they must agree to perform certain tasks for a certain number of hours yearly to keep their active MG status.
- MGs are not free garden labor. Volunteers may choose to do projects that involve physical labor but that isn't necessary to participate in the program. The MG will not be providing services that takes business away from area professionals.
- MGs may choose what projects they wish to volunteer or they may develop ones of their own (with University approval).
- MGs are not contestants from a horticulture game show. They can almost always get an answer but they may not always have that answer on the tip of their tongue.
- MGs may not wish to host a garden walk, allow garden visitors, or showcase their yard simply because they have horticulture knowledge.
- The immediate and expanded resources that are made available through the MG program is a wonderful thing to those involved in a broader gardening effort. Some may be people who have personal gardens on a larger scale, a nursery owner, a plant breeder or others with broader horticultural interests.
- It will be a group of like-minded garden enthusiasts that will open doors to new interests.
- It is often a place where you will make new friends and colleagues.
- The books & supplies will be a home reference for years to come.
- The MG program will help you find outlets to volunteer and give back to your community.
- Resources, faculty, and information will be available to the MG for as long as they carry the MG title.
- MGs are often invited to participate in more high level programs. A few of these could be: 4-H Fair judge, own a test garden for a breeder or nursery, and invitations to private garden tours.
- The program teaches tolerance and appreciation for others' garden efforts and ideas.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Fun in the sun and perhaps some rain but that's why umbrellas were invented!
Please notice some of these are for my Illinois readers and others for my Indiana readers.
The Galva Arts Council (IL) annual Photo Show is July 4, 2010. Whether you enter your photos or come to look and enjoy, it's a good time. This year's theme is "Outdoor skills and creativity of photographers."
Notice of the Summer Garden series of Teleconference classes at the U of Illinois Extension office. Be sure to call the extension office for reservations and to make sure of the location. These are always good series and presented by the experts.
Pack up your umbrella, water bottle and head out for some good summer fun at any of the above events. It's the places to be for things to do.
This is a photo of my Leymus arenarius "Blue Dune" grass. It is an ornamental.
The little tag read: 3 foot strappy dusty blue leaves are really beautiful and have pretty wheat looking seed heads. It's tough and doesn't get beat down by wind or rain. It will grow in most any soil and conditions and light and moisture. Hardy to minus 30. And the clump will be 3 x 3 ft.
Unless you are wanting to cover a large area with nothing but this grass - DO NOT PLANT IT - IT IS INVASIVE. Not just invasive but hard to pull, destroy and kill. Because it is so dense and spreads by rhizomes it will kill most other plants in it's way; including perennials and bushes.
My reasoning for purchasing: I like a few blue flowers because I have a blue porch and accessories. I don't do too many because they aren't very attractive to beneficial birds and insects. When I saw this pretty blue grass (with no warnings attached) I thought I'd found another innocent pretty.
The lesson learned: Research before you buy an unknown. Perhaps in the dessert it would be contained. Perhaps in the sand dunes. But, place it in the good Illinois soil and conditions and "Katie bar the door" it is off and running.
I dug up the original patch that was threatening my entire southern bed and had to continue to pull starts for two years. I put the original patch out by a fence I didn't want to constantly trim around and a bare spot by my husband's shed where nothing would grow. Guess what - it is growing and rapidly.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
As with all weather conditions, this year has its good and bad news. The good news is anything transplanted, large trees and bushes, and the spring growth have benefited greatly. The bad news is flooded basements, crop damage, and some things are not growing in sync.
We’re seeing plants behaving like an eleven year old boy: some things maturing before other things. As with that eleven year old boy, it makes for some visual disparity.
Here are some things that have happened and what you may want to do to help:
Hostas are loving the moist spring. Mine are huge, including the new transplants. It is alright to trim back hosta leaves if they are shadowing summer flowering plants. If you’d like to permanently solve that problem, dig up the entire plant, divide and transplant small portions. I have one hosta blooming which is way early.
Phlox, a fall blooming plant, are growing like crazy and may also be shadowing summer plants. It’s the perfect time to prune them. Not only will it keep them from shading other plants, it will make them less prone to falling over. Most phlox will begin to mildew because they need dry circulated air. Live with it or apply some mildew powder.
Bearded iris rhizomes will rot if they stand in soggy soil for any period of time. Either dig the entire clump, divide, and transplant to a drier area (good luck finding that place) or hope for the best (my plan.)
Remember, most summer flowering plants seldom do their best when shaded. Just yesterday, I had to “uncover” several daylilies from abundant hosta growth.
Weeds and grass (always a bane in my gardens) are growing fast but are much easier to pull right after it rains. Mulching helps deter weeds but also holds the moisture.
Insects are in huge quantities. Make sure you use a repellant when working in the garden. No sense tempting diseases or, at the very least, irritations. We seem to have more insect eating birds, bats, and insect quantities – it’s good when they increase proportionally.
Natural deep watering always trumps hand watering. The good news is plant roots reach downward making them more stable, drought resistant, and healthier. The bad news some plants would just as soon bake in hot dry sun.
Keep on the lookout for plants that need trimmed, moved, pulled or their shade removed (a stitch in time) and you’ll have fewer problems as summer progresses (saves nine.)
- Hornbaker Gardens Open House, Princeton IL (address on web site) June 10-11-12. Typically, they feature discounts on some items for attendees.
- David Davis Home Tour and the 14th Annual Glorious Garden Festival Garden Walk, Bloomington IL (see my 5-2-2010 article) June 18-19. 309-828-1084
- Sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (309-677-2523): Photography Experience II: Luthy Botanical Garden with experts Ray Keithley and Barb Hoffman. June 11-18. Cost is $29 and includes a breakfast buffet, admission to Luthy, transportation and supplies.
- Plant propagation Workshop by Master Gardener and Hoerr Nursery Horticulturist, Ella Maxwell June 21 (free) - 6 p.m. MG Philip Adams will discuss growing hydrangeas at 10 a.m. July 24 and MG Sunita Shastry will discuss growing and using herbs at 10 a.m. Aug. 21. All in the demonstration garden on ICC's East Peoria campus. (309-282-6310 or 309 282 6310).
- Princeville Garden Club garden walk June 19 from 9 to 2 rain or shine. 309-385-4590 or 309 657 3495 for more info.
- Rock island Co. extension will be hosting garden classes from June 9 through Aug. 25. Check site for info. (registration and info www.extension.uiuc.edu/rockisland)
And I've mentioned before, but it is the time of the year for garden walks so a repeat is in order:
- Stay only on the paths marked for foot traffic.
- Do not throw money in ponds; this isn't a movie.
- Don't feed fish or animals without permission.
- Many places won't allow baby strollers.
- Take your own water, a sun hat, fan and comfortable shoes.
- Many walks will still be held in the rain - take an umbrella and boots.
- Never pick anything - plants, flowers, fruits or seeds.
- Do not critique others' efforts while on tour. It's hurtful and rude.
- Thank the host and those working the event - it takes a lot of work.
- Take a notepad and pencil to write down things that you want to remember.
- Ask for permission before you take pictures.
- Do not stay in a garden past the end time.
- Ask polite questions and engage in conversation with the hosts if they indicate they are willing. But, don't ask the hosts or helpers to explain in detail everything in the garden nor ask them to name every plant. You are not their only guest and they are not a paid instructor.
- Being in some one's garden is like being in their home - respect and manners are important.
- Don't ask to go inside their home or use their private bathroom facilities. It's a tour not a party.
Today is beautiful - humid and my thermometer in the sun is reading 105.0 degrees. Yes, there's a reason I'm inside right now. I was weeding and became so hot rivers of sweat were running down my sunglasses. After several weeks being gone on vacation, weeding has been an everyday task (except during storms).
An old Farmers' Almanac quote, "Give some weeds an inch, and they'll take a yard."
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
“Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet. Eating her curds & whey.” Good grief, it’s no wonder there were problems with the Muffet family; do you realize how uncomfortable those tuffets can be?
“Along came a spider. Who sat down beside her. And frightened Miss Muffet away!” Miss Muffet obviously hadn’t been schooled about beneficial insects, including spiders.
Of all insect species, over 97% of those usually seen in the home landscape are either beneficial or are “innocent bystanders.”
- Predators kill and feed on prey. They are generally larger than their prey.
- Parasitoids are typically smaller than their hosts and lay eggs on or within them. When the eggs hatch into larvae, these larvae develop and feed on these host insects, causing their death.
If you’d like to attract “friendly/beneficial” insects, these plant families will usually do the most for you:
1. The Apicaceae - carrot family.
2. The Asteraceae daisy family.
3. The Fabaceae - bean family.
4. The Brassicaceae - mustard family.
About 90% of all flowering plants need help to move pollen from flower to flower for the production of fruits and seeds. Most pollinators, about 200,000 species, are beneficial insects such as bees, flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, and moths.
Insect pollination is critical for the production of alfalfa, almonds, apples, blackberries, blueberries, canola, cherries, cranberries, pears, plums, squash, sunflowers, tomatoes, and watermelons. In the U.S, honey and native bee pollination accounts for approximately $19 billion worth of crop production.
Following are suggestions to attract those beneficial native pollinators:
· Native plants are four times more attractive to native pollinators.
· Avoid horticultural plants bred as “doubles” that provide little or no pollen & nectar.
· Choose several colors & shapes of flowers to accommodate different species.
· Provide a succession of blooming plants throughout the growing season.
· Plant flowers in clumps.
· Plant host plants to feed caterpillars as well as nectar plants for adult butterflies.
· Choose non-chemical solutions to insect and plant problems.
· Provide nesting habitat for bees such as bare ground, wood and dried plant stems.
· Practice peaceful coexistence. Bees sometimes choose to nest in inconvenient places.
With this little bit of insect education, our Miss Muffet poem will say: “Along came a spider and sat down beside her and the spider was invited to stay!”