Picture Snob

November 30, 2010

The Leyland Cypress makes privacy and borders quickly

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I don't think this will do for my purposes but it is used successfully to create a privacy barrier quickly. This plant is a hybrid between the Monterrey Cypress and the Alaskan Cypress. It can be trimmed to be a hedge or let grow tall to shade and protect. It is shallow rooted and so can topple over and does not like hot summers which eliminates it as my choice.

However, it takes windy and salty sea air very nicely so if you're near the ocean this is a good choice. Apparently, it is used in England often for hedges and I find it funny that In 2005 in the United Kingdom, an estimated 17,000 people were at loggerheads over high hedges, which led to violence and in at least one case murder! There is an Anti-Social Behaviour Act which gave a way for people affected by high hedges to have the hedges reduced in height. In May 2008, UK resident Christine Wright won a 24 year legal battle to have her neighbour's Leylandii trees cut down for blocking sunlight to her garden.

This is quite a different mind set than in the USA, but then I guess there is more room here for wind breaks, hedges and gardens. If you're interested in a fast growing hedge or windbreak, the Leyland Cyress is a good choice.

At Naylor's Blue Leyland Cypress Tree/Shrub/Windbreaker

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November 29, 2010

Digging up bulbs for replanting this fall

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The main rule of thumb is to leave the bulbs alone for as long as the foliage is still green. The color means that photosynthesis is still going on and the food manufactured will be stored in the bulbs for next spring's blooming. Once the foliage turns yellow, the plant can no longer produce food for itself. That's when you can begin digging up the bulbs.

Here in Boston where I am visiting my grandchildren, the grape hyacynth have spread over the whole bulb area and are still green, so I am ignoring the rule listed above and digging them up anyway. Hopefully they are so vigorous and adaptable that some will make it through this rough treatment. There are currently hundreds of them.

What I really wanted to get at were the daffodils, which are the most easygoing of all spring flowering bulbs and the tulips which my daughter says have mulitiplied and need separating. It's always such a hard job since all the foliage of these plants have disappeared and I will inevitably slice through some of the bulbs.

Once the bulbs are dug, I will spread the bulbs out and try to separate them. Most of the ones I dug were already sprouting, so I am not waiting to dry them, but getting them back in the ground quickly. That's where I'm relying on the easygoing nature of daffodils.

Daffodil bulbs can be planted in well-drained spots immediately after drying or stored in dry locations until planting in mid-fall. However, it is important that daffodil bulbs be covered with 6 to 7 inches of soil. Since I have dug up the whole area quite deeply, planting will be easy and the soil is so dark and friable that I think it doesn't need additional fertilizer, but some bone meal couldn't hurt! This will be an opportunity to place phosphorus down deeply. Mix in two heaping tablespoons of bone meal per bulb location.

At TotalGreen 72415100 Daffodil Bulbs

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November 26, 2010

The Royal Empress tree is beautiful, fast growing, indestructable

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The Royal Empress has many of the qualities I want in a shade tree. It has beautiful flowers in spring and large green leaves. It grows incredibly fast and is easy to grow and hard to kill. Sounds perfect!!?? The Royal Empress tree originated in China and is now grown all over the states. There are so many wondrous tales told about the tree that you would think everyone would want to have one. You can't sit back and watch it grow, but almost. Its daily growth is measurable! A fully mature tree will be between 30 and 70 feet high, and perhaps 30 feet wide. With leaves that can measure a foot across, the Royal Empress Tree is a first class shade tree.

However, there is a catch. it has become invasive in places and, despite its unquestioned beauty, is called a weed tree. Once established, it tends to spread rapidly and is difficult to eradicate. It cannot be destroyed by cutting it back. It must be dug up, roots and all. It is said it is deer resistant but they sometimes browse on the trees. The leaves are edible and sometimes used for animal fodder.

There are several nurserys that handle Royal Empress, and Amazon has seeds. As fast as it grows, that might be the economical way to grow one of these beauties.

At Royal Empress Tree 50 Seeds - Paulownia - Tropical

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November 26, 2010

Shade trees for the new house

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Now that I have decided I can surround the tree holes with large rocks and fill in an area around the hole with a mixture of potting soil, compost and the heavy clay from the hole, I want to check out various species of trees that will survive and prosper. There are many to choose from. Of course, I want fast growing shade trees.

The Bur Oak was suggested by a nursery as being a lovely shade tree, but it grows slowly about one foot per year. It grows to 20 feet tall and lives sometimes 200 to 300 years, becoming massive in stature. I think this is not for me. I like the idea of oaks as they are native to my place, but I need something that grows faster and I really am not worried about 200 years from now.

The "Autumn Purple" White Ash, Fraxinus americana, 'Autumn Purple', is a seedless male tree and is grown in moist areas. This fast growing White Ash tree grows 2/3 feet per year. It is almost pyramidal with a round top when young, but gradually slows down and develops an oval shape. Autumn Purple Ash trees prefer a sunny location.
This deciduous tree develops a consistantly outstanding deep red, maroon or purple fall color. There are few if any trees with longer lasting fall colors. The Autumn Puple Ash tree makes a great tall shade tree and it is tolerant of soil type and watering. I'm putting this on my list.

At Raywood Ash Tree Five Gallon

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November 24, 2010

The Sawtooth Oak is the fastest growing oak

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White and Black oaks are some of the most familar varieties of oak where I live in California. I've been trying to figure out if planting an oak for shade is a good idea and the Sawtooth Oak seems like a good candidate for such purpose. The Sawtooth is native to Asia but is now planted in North America and Europe.

This deciduous tree is a great source for wildlife food because of the short time it takes for the tree to produce acorns. Sawtooth Oak trees have moderate water requirements and it has a moderate tolerance to salt and alkali soils which is not a problem where I live anyway. The leaves go from yellow to golden brown in the fall, and open to a brilliant golden yellow in the spring. Its growth rate is rapid for an oak tree, and it is a fast growing shade tree.

I think it's worth a try. People who have planted it are enthusiastic about it's growth rate.

At Sawtooth Oak

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November 23, 2010

'Green Vase' Zelkova is Japanese origin but sounds like a good shade tree

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This tree is call Green vase because when mature if forms the shape of a vase. It has upright arching branches and rich, dark green leaves that turn bronzy maroon in fall. The tree grows 60-70 feet high by 40-50 feet wide and prefers full sun to partial shade. The main thing about it for me is that it adapts to a variety of soils. Plus it tolerates wind, pollution, and drought so I'm thinking this is a good selection to try around the house, especially as it is also deer resistant.

There is a thousand year old tree in Japan. Don't think I need to plan that far ahead, but the challange will be finding the tree to plant at a nursery. Amazon has seeds for sale. The Green Vase is also used for bonzai.

At Zelkova serrata: Japanese Zelkova Seeds

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November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving centerpiece from the garden looks fresh and lovely

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Gardening.about.com has a great idea that It makes sense that since nature is so obliging in autumn, with fruits, flowers and foliage in all the appropriate holiday colors, that we take advantage of this bounty and bring it indoors for decorating. Thanksgiving centerpieces can be elaborate creations or as simple as a basket full of colorful leaves and berries.

Forage through your own yard and gardens for the making of a holiday display. What nature doesn't supply can be easily found in grocery stores and nurseries, like roses and carnations in shades of orange and gold, russet sunflowers and spider mums and purple pikes of Liatris.

You can use dried flowers and herbs and grasses for accents Colorful leaves of Maple and Dogwood are great additions and try weaving grapevine or ivy through the decorations. Fruits and vegetables like pumpkins and gourds work well. It's a great creative exercise which brings some joy and liveliness to the table.

If you're stuck in an apartment in the city or just don't have time, this centerpiece would do the job.

At Flowers - Bountiful Cornucopia - Small

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November 18, 2010

Baptisia australis--A wild indigo that's easy to grow

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I have in my garden a plant I've been calling indigo and have felt very proud that I was going a species once considered so valuable in ancient times. Now I have discovered that the plant is not the tropical indigo grown in India but Baptisia australis a native American that was used as a substitute and is called False Indigo.

It's really a lovely plant that grow three or four feet tall and has racemes covered with blue pea like flowers. It is hardly ever bothered by pests or disease. The seed pods are pea shaped and turn black and make a nice background for flower gardens or flower arranging. The plant is hardy to zone 3 which makes it a great selection even in tough winter areas.

You can start these plants from seed and they also do well with cuttings. They tolerate drought well once established. I seldom water the part of the garden where they grow and reseed and propagate year after year. But I think I will spread the seed in the back of the flower beds where the blooms and foliage will grow over the lower plants in front.

At Blue Wild Indigo - Baptisia australis - Packet

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November 17, 2010

Solving the problem of the tree holes

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I am going to plant about six trees at the corners of my new house which has nothing in the way of shade. The holes I dug are about three feet diameter and three feet deep. The soil however is terrible. Solid clay! To test the drainage, I filled the holes with water to see how fast they drained. After three days one hole was still full of water. The reason for this is that when they cleared the area to build the house, they scraped the soil down about four feet, so there is no topsoil!

I've been worrying about how to plant the trees. I thought of building boxes but wood decays and has to be replaced. Today as I was walking past rock walls in Arlington, it occurred to me that I could use the abundant rocks in my very rocky mountain home to make a border around the hole, larger than the hole and fill in the whole area with potting soil and the clay. The one hole that drained so badly I think I will have to dig a drain into the side of the hill where it sits; the other holes should be fine.

I can start now looking at possible trees to transplant.

At Nice October Maple Tree! Bright Color!

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November 16, 2010

A Quick Tip from "The Weekend Gardener"

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If you really dread digging up your tender summer bulbs to store them during the winter, you might try this tip from the "Weekend Gardener";

Many of us love our tender summer bulbs such as dahlia, gladiola, and lilies, but let's be honest, we don't like the bother of digging, packing, and storing them indoors through the winter.

Worry no more.....

Here's the easy way:

Carefully dig up your summer bulbs in the fall before the freezing weather comes.

After digging up the bulbs, spread them on the ground to dry in the shade or, if it's going to rain, spread them indoors in the garage.

Allow them to dry for about one week.

Leave any soil on bulbs - that way you don't have to bother about storing them in vermiculite.

When the bulbs are completely dry, place the bulbs in plastic garbage bags, and leave the bags open.

Now how easy is that?

At Weekend Gardener

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November 15, 2010

Dragon tree is a great house plant

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Are you starting to stay indoors more these days? The inclement weather is a good motivator to start looking around the house and assessing where house plants could brighten a corner or bring life to a bare spot by a window.

We were at IKEA this weekend and I bought a Dragon Tree for just under two dollars. It is a popular houseplant that needs little attention. It originated in Madagascar. It requires a minimum temperature of 15 °C (59 °F), and is more tolerant than most plants of dry soil and irregular watering, which is very good news to those of us who easily neglect indoor plants. Because it requires minimal care it is very popular in offices where the constant heat and light suits their growing requirements.

It is one of the plants used in the NASA Clean Air Study and has shown to help remove formaldehyde. The dragon tree is an effective air-cleaner and is among the best plants for removing xylene and trichloroethylene. D. marginata, which is the species I bought, is very susceptible to fluoride toxicity. It usually cannot tolerate direct sunlight even though the plants like high light situations the best. However, almost any light level will do. This is a real bargain for the home.

At 10 PLUS Dracaena draco DRAGON TREE SEEDS

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November 12, 2010

November gardening chores and a Thanksgiving Flag

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It's starting to get cold, wet and uninviting to be out of doors these days, but on the good days when the sun is out, you can still plant bulbs, even tulips, early in the month. Chrysanthemums can be cut back to about three inches above ground.

You can also start to think about moving perennials and planting trees. Cutting down the dead stems and leaves of asparagus in a good idea and a wintertime feeding of compost and good mulch will help them get a good start in the spring.

I'm very pleased I too my lawnmower into the shop. It's all repaired, oiled and will be ready to start right up in the spring, and now that I have a big garage, I can store the garden tools inside easily without stumbling around them in the tool shed. It's a good feeling to have everything kind of buttoned down for the winter so that I can get started thinking about the coming holidays and how to prepare for them.

Here's a cheery flag to decorate the front porch.

At Turkey Time Thanksgiving Standard House Flag

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November 11, 2010

Superweeds created by the use of Monsanto's Round Up

The Usual Bad News arising from the use of Round up ready crops!

There's been much recent news about Monsanto paying farmers to use its competitors' herbicides, in what many see as a last ditch effort to address the spread of superweeds created by the company's "Roundup Ready" (RR) GMO crops.

Environmental scientists warned even before Monsanto's "herbicide tolerant" GMO crops were approved that they would hasten the evolution of resistant weeds. For these scientists, the issue was obvious: introduction of high doses of a single chemical year after year would result in the exact conditions needed to breed resistance: weeds with resistance genes would be the only weeds that could survive and breed, leading to superweeds that are unaffected even by massive herbicide spraying.

Of course, Monsanto denied these early warnings. In a 1997 paper, Monsanto scientists claimed that weed resistance was such a complex genetic phenomena that RR crops would be unlikely to lead to resistant weeds. What's even more troubling, though, is that Monsanto continued to ignore the spread of superweeds for years, and worked to persuade and threaten farmers against strategies to avoid resistance - since those strategies would have cut into the company's sales of Roundup and RR crops.

In fact, superweeds from Monsanto's RR crops create more pollution while costing farmers time and money. Thanks to resistant weeds from GMOs, farmers have been forced to return to mechanical tillage: a 2006 report noted that resistant weeds on cotton farms had resulted in a 40% drop in the percentage of Tennessee cotton farms that use conservation tillage. Farmers are even back to hand-weeding, adding more time and labor costs. And of course, thanks to Monsanto, we all face the environmental costs from increased use of chemicals on GMO crops.

At Organic Bytes

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November 10, 2010

A great idea from the Helpful Gardener

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Brighten Up Your Winter Garden With Colorful Berries

Just because the trees are bare and there is snow on the ground doesn't mean that your garden has to become a winter wasteland. A well-planned garden will provide year-round interest and visual treats. Many evergreens and hardy ornamental grasses can be quite stunning in the colder months.

But perhaps nothing can compare to the vibrant color of berries during the winter. Berry palates range from bright red to yellow to pale blue and white, so there is something sure to please your eye. Many berries will also attract a variety of birds to your garden. Here are a few suggestions for hardy berry-bearing beauties that can provide a bit of pizzazz to the drab winter landscape.

American Cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum)
Berry: Red
Height: 10 to 12 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of white flowers in the spring. Some cultivars produce yellow berries. The European Cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus) has similar properties.

American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Berry: Red
Height: 20 to 25 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 5
Partial Sun
Notes: This evergreen tree bears small white flowers in the spring. It has many cultivars, such as "Xanthocarpa," which bears golden-yellow berries.

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Berry: Bluish-Black
Height: 6 to10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of dark berries that are very popular with birds and bears clusters of small white flowers in the spring.

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Berry: Dark Purple
Height: 4 to 6 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: The berries of the "Autumn Magic" cultivar last an especially long time into the winter. Although the Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) bears attractive red berries, it is considered invasive in many areas and should be avoided.

Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Berry: White
Height: 3 to 5 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Shade to Full Sun
Notes: This hardy shrub grows well in shade as well as sun and tolerates almost every soil type.

Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus)
Berry: Reddish-Purple
Height: 3 to 5 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Shade to Full Sun
Notes: Like Snowberry, this shrub likes shade as well as sun and is very easy to grow. It is also know as Indian Currant.

Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus)
Berry: Red
Height: 1 to 3 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: Great for ground cover, this shrub bears tiny pink flowers in the spring. Other low-growing cotoneasters include Bearberry Cotoneaster (C. dammeri) and Rockspray Cotoneaster (C. horizontalis).

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Berry: Powdery Periwinkle Blue
Height: 40 to 50 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Full Sun
Notes: The female trees bear these lovely berries (they are actually cones that look like berries) which are very popular with the birds.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Berry: Pale Blue-Gray
Height: 4 to 10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub is extremely hardy and easy to grow in most conditions. It is also salt tolerant.

Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum)
Berry: Bright Red
Height: 8 to10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 5
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This shrub bears clusters of red berries in the fall and clusters of small white flowers in the spring.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Berry: Red or Yellow
Height: 8 to 10 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 3
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: Birds love these berries, so there is a risk that the berries will all be eaten before the winter is over. If you love having birds in your garden, however, this will do the trick.

Winter King Hawthorne (Crataegus viridis)
Berry: Bright Red
Height: 20 to 30 ft. tall
Hardy to Zone 4
Partial to Full Sun
Notes: This tree bears clusters off white flowers in the spring. The Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) has similar properties to the Winter King.

The above list, of course, is just meant to get you started. There are many more varieties of berry and winter fruit bearing plants. Many roses, for example, will develop colorful rose hips if the faded blooms are not pruned back. Likewise, some flowering plants, such as clematis, produce beautiful seed heads that can add interest to your garden through the winter months.

The important thing is to keep in mind that winter does not have to mean dreary for your garden. With just a little bit of planning berries can bring color and vibrancy to the winter garden and give you (and the birds) something to enjoy during the cold weather months.

At Cranberry plants

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November 9, 2010

Edible landscaping is a great idea that has been around thirty years

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In hard economic times, landscaping your yard with edible plants takes on new meaning. Ros Creasy wrote Edible Landscaping thirty years ago and is is finding wider audiences interested in her work. Edible landscaping can be as simple as colorful lettuces and tomatoes beautifully arranged in containers or as elaborate as creating a yard full of beautiful and tasty treats.

You can go into winter with different kale arrangements combined with lettuces and Swiss Chard. Spinach does well as do the mesclun mixes. Arugula and mache are probably the most cold tolerant of the greens. Arugula can take freezing and thawing and still grow, while mache can survive sub-zero temperatures. Mache leaves have a soft and buttery texture and mild flavor. Arugula has deeply cut green leaves and a mild flavor that gets spicier with warm weather.

All of these can be put into containers or into borders where they will not bother the larger taller perennials. For the gardener, there's less weeding, watering and care involved and more comfortable weather to work in. Weeds will germinate, but they will not grow strongly during the short days and are easy to remove. Moisture holds in the soil longer in fall so the garden requires less watering. There's time to harvest plants as needed, knowing they will hold in the garden longer than if growing under high heat conditions.

At Edible Landscaping [Paperback]

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November 5, 2010

A great idea from Southern Exposure Fall Newsletter

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Garlic planting always leaves us with a lot of small bulbs and loose cloves of garlic just as the threat of frost packs the kitchen with too many hot peppers. This Southeast Asian raw garlic chili sauce is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. We think this modern version made using a food processor is mighty tasty.
½ lb hot red chilies, seeds and stems removed (cayenne, serrano, jalapeno, Thai, etc.) chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2-4 Tbsp. vinegar
Chop chilies into 2 inch chunks if using large peppers. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined. Place the sauce in a pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat and continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars. Keeps several weeks in the refrigerator.

At Southern exposure newsletter

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November 4, 2010

Some good news from the Big City

This is the kind of article that gives us for for humanity and for a simple, community friendly life style. It's a great idea that needs to grow and spread over the country.

SEEDS OF DIVERSITY GROW IN BED-STUY GARDEN

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, two women, one black, one white, make preparations for a party in the Greene Acres Community Garden on Franklin Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Musicians from The Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium are performing. A barbeque smokes near an overgrown bush. The women are preparing for the expected 40 guests that will be part the garden's second annual celebration of Buster Bailey, a black jazz clarinetist who moved to the area in the 1950's from Harlem.

According to the 2000 US Census, the zip code in which the garden is located is 68.5 percent black. But the party guests that wonder into the garden throughout the afternoon are of different races, religions, sexual orientations, and eating habits.
"That's what makes it work so well I think, that there is such a diversity, all focused on this serene place in this urban jungle of ours," said Rowe, when she took a break from preparing for the party. "That's what brings the beauty besides the greenery and flowers and veggies and fruits. It's the growing of minds and people and tolerance." Rowe, who describes herself as "a woman in her early sixties," has lived in the neighborhood since she was 7-years-old.

Since last year the Obama administration has promoted community gardens for their environmental and health benefits. In February of 2009, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "broke pavement," turning an impervious surface at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington into a community garden. Vilsack announced that he intended to do the same at each USDA facility worldwide. In a show of support, Michelle Obama gave the USDA a historic magnolia seedling that was an offspring of a tree planted at the White House by Andrew Jackson. In her effort to promote healthy eating, she has also praised community gardens for being sources of fresh fruits and vegetables.
But community gardens, like Green Acres, can also be places that encourage social connections and personal interaction. "It's rich ground for growing community," said Annie Hauck-Lawson, an associate professor of health and nutrition sciences at Brooklyn College. Hauck-Lawson says that community gardens in New York City became important neighborhood symbols in the 1970's when "times were bleak."
"It is one thing to join a community garden because now it's really trendy," she said. "Its another thing when the city's got god-awful conditions...to start from the ground up."
There are over 600 community gardens in New York City, more than 30 of which are in Bedford-Stuyvesant, according to GreenThumb, the community garden program of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Like many gardens in the city, Greene Acres Community Garden has been involved in political turmoil in the past.
In the late 1990's, the administration of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to auction off some community gardens in an effort to create more housing in the city, a plan that was objected to by gardeners and activist groups. Green Acres Community Garden was one of the gardens embroiled in the controversy.

As part of the fallout from Giuliani's attempt to auction some gardens, Greene Acres, along with at least 50 other gardens, were bought by a land trust operated by The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a non-profit organization founded by the actress Bette Midler that is dedicated to beautifying and cleaning New York City.
"Good public spaces [create] a healthier place for people to live, a healthier place for businesses to open," said Amy Gavaris, executive vice president of NYRP. According to Gavaris, when planning how to build and improve community gardens, NYRP considers how the local community is developing and changing.
"There are bigger economic forces out there. We try to make nice places without displacing people," said Gavaris. "We're also recognizing that communities do change, and that's a new constituency."

NYRP works with neighborhood residents when planning gardens. "It's a design process in the end that people who have participated have signed off on," said Gavaris, noting that some communities want farms, while others want pocket gardens or playgrounds.

Gavaris says that in some gardens, like the Target Community Garden, also located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NYRP had to cultivate a membership. In the case of Greene Acres Community Garden, she says a diverse membership was already in place when NYRP took over the garden and began its design process.

"A community idea means that it wasn't my idea or her idea or his idea it was pieces of everyone's wishes, hopes dreams, imaginations - creativity, " said Rowe, a founding member of Greene Acres Community Garden. She says that being part of a garden that has such a diverse membership has allowed her to learn about other religions and cultural practices.
"I'm the run your mouth person," said Rowe. "Some people could tell you about how we're organic here and we don't use chemicals...I'm the person if you're walking by the street and you're looking I'll be like 'Hey, hi, how are you? Come in. Look at our garden.'"

It is through the garden that Rowe met Suzan Frazier, who also prepared the garden before guests arrived for the Buster Bailey celebration. After meeting in the garden, the two discovered that they attend "sister churches," which are in the same dioceses.
Frazier, 55, originally from Ohio, came to New York to attend Barnard College. She says that not all members of the garden join with the sole purpose of harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables. "They enjoy growing," she said. "Its intriguing to people. And then it brings them in and they enjoy other aspects."

According to Hauck-Lawson, who is the author of the book Gastropolis: Food in New York City, community gardens can be places that build bridges between new and old residents in a community. "I see the residents who have always lived there as valuable resources for new arrivals," she said. "They provide a sense of place for newcomers."
The Buster Bailey celebration Greene Acres Community Garden started last year to commemorate the clarinetist who played with Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson. Born in Tennessee, Bailey moved to Chicago, and then Harlem before eventually settling in Brooklyn.

"I've seen the area go, come, go, come, you know. It's just a circle," said Rowe, referring to the cycles of demographic change that she has witnessed in the neighborhood.
The celebration of Rowe's grandfather was in full swing by late afternoon. Hotdogs, burgers, and ears of corn smoked on the grill. Attendees gathered round a picnic table to talk and eat, as Rowe sliced a watermelon. According to Frazier, most of the attendees were new faces, not members of the garden.

"For years you walk by people in your neighborhood and you see neighbors you've seen for years, and you might smile and say, 'Hello. How are you?' But, you don't even know their name," said Rowe. "But here, with a community garden, you get to learn people's names...It makes for a little more conversation and a little more getting to know you."

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November 3, 2010

The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Gardening Know-How for Keeping (Not Killing) More Than 160 Indoor Plants

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Here is a book for those who want to brighten their home with some houseplants but are cursed with a useless thumb rather than a green one. When I visit my grandkids in Boston, I often discover to my dismay that the houseplants I bought for them have disappeared. My daughter and her husband live busy working lives and neither of them can manage to work the care and watering of plants into their schedule.

This book may make a difference for them. It has everything the indoor gardener could ever want to know about how to select, tend, and enjoy houseplants. Pleasant's book is comprehensive and has an easy-to-follow encyclopedia covering more than 160 houseplants. The introduction discusses the history, uses, and benefits of houseplants. The manual is divided into three main sections. The first two are plant directories offering in-depth plant profiles of first flowering, then foliage, houseplants. The third is an extensive compilation of houseplant-care topics, from acclimatization to watering. It has vivid color photographs, precise illustrations, appendixes listing helpful resources, definitions, and a cross-reference chart of botanical and common names. This is a must-have manual for anyone who shares home or office space with potted plants.

At The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual: Essential Gardening Know-How for Keeping (Not Killing) More Than 160 Indoor Plants [Flexibound]

Marilyn Renaker Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 2, 2010

What you don't know about dirt!

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This interesting article is from www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com which has information on both the book and the movie: DIRT!


Ten Facts You Should Know about Dirt:

1. Only one planet that we know of in all the galaxies of the universe has a living, breathing skin called dirt. For 2 million years, humans have used dirt to grow their food for survival. If we don't take care of the soil, our future is condemned. We can't survive on Twinkies alone. (But it sure would be fun...for an hour or so.)

2. A handful of soil contains tens of billions of creepy-crawly microorganisms. These organisms keep plants, animals, and the planet alive.

3. Industrial farming is eroding the soil and disrupting its structure. We've lost a third of our topsoil in the last 100 years.

4. When there are miles and miles of only one species and one variety growing on our farms, as there is in modern-day industrial agriculture, this creates a vulnerable system. Monocultures are dangerous to our future. Diversifying crops on our farms, especially in drought, can keep the system from collapsing.

5. When we grow just one species on our farms, it's an all-you-can-eat restaurant for pests. Once a pest learns to unlock the key to that plant, you have a pest infestation, and then you add pesticides. Exposure to pesticides, especially in children, has been linked to higher birth defect rates, cancer, learning disabilities, and abnormal hormonal changes.

6. Insects and plants are so like us physiologically, cell to cell, protein to protein, gene to gene, that if a pesticide is going to kill plants and insects, it's going to kill humans, too. Ta-da!


7. Chemicals (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides) deplete the life of the soil. They take away the structure and the moisture of the soil. They take away the very organisms that make the soil fertile. When you add a layer of compost to your dirt, instead of a nasty chemical fertilizer, you're adding life to your dirt, and can then call it "soil."

Repeat after me: Compost, compost, compost.

8. When the land is dead and we add synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to feed the crops, only about 20 percent goes to the plant roots. In the Midwest, the rest of the wasted fertilizer flows into the rivers and streams, and then into the Gulf of Mexico. This excess fertilizer feeds algae that grow and suffocate nearly all of the marine life, creating "dead zones" where only jellyfish survive. This mobile nitrogen combines with oxygen, which forms nitrous oxide and rises into the atmosphere accelerating climate change. Twenty-five percent of greenhouse-gas emissions come from agriculture.

9. In India, farmers have been pushed to buy more genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and tractors. Now a farming activity that was zero cost is increasingly expensive. In India, over the last decade an estimated 200,000 farmers have killed themselves, many by drinking the pesticide they can no longer afford.

As farmers around the world go broke and lose their farms, their land is taken over by international agribusinesses that grow genetically modified single crops for a globalized economy.

10. Each year 100 million trees are turned into 20 million mail-order catalogues.


At Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

Marilyn Renaker Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 1, 2010

Putting the Rototiller away marks the end of a season

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There's always a finality about taking the rototiller out of the garden and walking it down to the garage where it can safely stay until next spring. The days have been so lovely, the moon is almost full, the second planting of ground cover has sprouted and I have more grapes than ever before. There is a sense of completion about this end of the year activity and it's good to take time to rest and enjoy what's been accomplished and consider what still needs to be done.

One of the things that needs to be done is to change the oil in the rototiller before storing it away and to clean the tines and oil moving parts so that it's ready to go in the spring. It's so much better to do the work in the fall than have to try to start it in the spring with old oil and let it run to warm it up and then do the work while the garden soil is calling to be worked and the seeds are asking for a moist rich home. I also either drain the gas tank or add a fuel stablilzer to the gas so that it doesn't get stale and form a varnish like material that clogs the carburetor. The fuel stabilizer has saved me a lot of headaches with the power mower, weed trimmer, and rototiller. It's cheap and totally worth it.

At Briggs & Stratton Fresh Start Fuel Stabilizer Plus 4.2 Oz 5041H

Marilyn Renaker Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
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