Picture Snob

January 31, 2011

Leftover broccoli plants put in the ground January 24th

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While I was at the nursery, buying trees, I saw a six pack of broccoli plants which had not been bought and sitting cold and lonely until a bench. Christine the nursery owner said I could have them so I brought them home and today had time to plant them.

I have no idea if they will grow or if they will go immediately to seed. But I think it's worth a try as some critter got into the garden and ate all the winter cover crop and then ate the broccoli and kale. I finally got the fence fixed just after the artichokes had been munched down. It's so upsetting. I felt so much better when the fence was solid again(at least I hope it is). It feels so out of control to be raided at night and have your food eaten by the raider. I think it is a deer, so I"ve put up another wire and hung streamers of cloth from it. I also set the have a heart trap with dog food(ringtail cat, skunk), a carrot(rabbit, gopher), and some cheese. So far no luck with the trap, but there's also been no more damage in the garden.

So the broccoli went in today. The soil was so cold it was hard to put my hands in it to break it up. I sprinkled some compost and manure around and mulched it with straw. Because I felt so sorry for the little plants, I used warm water to soak around the plant hoping it would make them feel like they were planted in a great spot.

At Green Calabrese Broccoli 500 Seeds-GARDEN FRESH!

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January 29, 2011

An online organic gardening course is being offered!

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If you're interested in starting organic gardening or already are an expert, this course might be of interest to you. A friend of mine and a neighbor has started an online service which should be good.

Savor The Taste Of
A Garden Victory...

FREE On-Line Organic Gardening Course


Dave and his family have been growing their own food for 30 years on a remote homestead. He says, "Living on a beautiful river we are growing about 80 % of our food inlarge organic gardens. We raise a milk cow, some goats, a steer and some chickens. Living close to the earth and the seasonal cycles has given us a great appreciation for the food we eat and the need to grow our food in an earth friendly, animal friendly way.

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to raise my children on our homestead farm. They don't wonder where their food comes from and they sure can tell the difference in taste and quality of our home grown food compared to what we buy in the store when we are out visiting friends."

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If you're interested, you can click on the following link: Family Gardens, organic gardening, permaculture, garden supplies and e-books

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January 27, 2011

Pesticide approval challenged in California

I'm quoting below in an article in the Atlantic Monthly online concerning a pesticide that has just been approved in California. You can classify this under the "it never ends" catagory. One pesticide is fased out while another makes its appearance and is even worst in consequences. A person really has to be up to date to avoid pesticides. Strawberries are delicious, yet the only safe kind are organic or homegrown.

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The chemical in question is called methyl iodide (or iodomethane) and is marketed under the trade name MIDAS by Arysta LifeScience, a Tokyo-based firm that is the world's largest privately held agrichemical company. Methyl iodide is a fumigant that is injected into fields before planting to kill insects, microorganisms, fungi, weed seeds--virtually every living organism.

It's worth noting that when scientists want to create experimental cancer cells in the laboratory they use methyl iodide. Claiming that it can also kill the humans who handle it or are unfortunate enough to live in the vicinity of farms (PDF), a group of farm workers and environmental health organizations filed suit late last year to reverse California's Department of Pesticide Regulation's approval of methyl iodide's use.

"We are going to court to challenge the last-minute approval of this cancer-causing pesticide," said Paul Towers, director of Pesticide Watch Education Fund, a public health and environmental organization that is one of the plaintiffs. "The department did this despite the state's own Scientific Review Committee's unanimous warning that it was too toxic to be let out of the laboratory."

When people talk about getting rid of regulations, they forget that the government has the means to protect people from dangerous chemicals and that they should be allowed to do their job.

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January 26, 2011

The Chinese Elm--another shade tree possiblity!

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The Chinese Elm is resistent to Dutch ELm disease and also to the beetles that attack the American Elm. The Forest Service site has an article on it calling it the "Weed of the Week". Any tree that falls in the "weed" catagory gets my interest.

" It is almost evergreen in mild climates. The small leaves are dark green and shiny, alternate, elliptical to ovate, serrated, and 1.5 to 2.4 inches long. Fall foliage is yellow, gold, orange, red, purple, and green, in early- to mid-November. Greenish-yellow flower occur in the leaf axils with inflorescences opening in August and early September. Fruits are lime green, quickly maturing to a deep russet in September and October. The seeds are winged and are dispersed primarily by the wind. This moderate to rapid growth tree can reach a mature trunk diameter of 3 to 4 feet and often forks to produce a vase shape. Young bark is a flaky brown-gray color, but mature bark is an exfoliating, mottled, and flaky combination of gray, green, orange, tan, and red-brown as seen in the photo above. This species develops a rounded crown with very fine branches."

It sounds good to me. I like that it adapts to poor soils which is what it will be experiencing here, and also dry conditions. It escapes in urban areas which gets it the "weed" moniker, but I doubt I have anything to fear considering my heavy clay soild and summer drought conditions.

At 2 Chinese Elm Trees!

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January 26, 2011

The flowering pear is planted!

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I drove to the nursery today and bought three tress--a flowering pear, a hybrid maple and an elm. It's very exciting to have these new trees home and to try to decide where they would go best. Christine, the nursery owner, told me to plant them high so that some of the top feeder roots will be above the soil line enabling the water to run off. At the same time, I have a small berm around the perimeter to make drip watering easier. The water will soak down to the roots.

The holes are so big that it's really hard work to fill in the hole around the plant. I'm using a bag of composted steer manure, adding a sack to each hole. It won't provide many nutrients but it will make it easier for the roots to move out into the hole. I putting a slow release fertilzer which I will bury under the last full shovel full of dirt, careful to put it out to the full diameter of the hole, so the roots will go searching for food farther out from the planted root ball.

These trees need to grow tall fast so plentiful food and water is important.

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January 24, 2011

Red Sunset Maple for shade in the back patio

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I planted this tree yesterday evening. I love maple trees since I grew up with them in Indiana and this Red Sunset Maple is supposed to have bright red leaves in the autumn. It will often grow to between forty and sixty feet tall which will be perfect for shade protection from the western summer sun.

The leaves of a red sunset maple tree are shiny green on top and pale green beneath in the spring and summer seasons. They typically have three to five lobes, and are up to six inches in diameter. The flowers are small and red, appearing in dense clusters during mid spring. Red fruit replaces the flowers in mid summer. Red sunset maple trees also have reddish stems and twigs, which provide a good deal of winter interest once all the foliage has fallen.

Another main reason to buy this tree is that red sunset maple trees are relatively fast growers, and can grow up to two feet per year until maximum height has been reached. I'm happy to have this plant and have put it in the best hole and given it some water. We are expected to have dry and sunny weather here for the next few weeks.

At Red Sunset Maple

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January 21, 2011

Grower's Supply--a catalog for every growing need

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This catalog is put out by an Iowa company and it has a clearance sale on overstocks and closeouts going right now as well as a 10% discount on orders of $75 or more. They cater to large growers, featuring large fabric structures and solar engineered greenhouses. But they also show some excelent weed growth suppessant which allows air, water and nutrients to pass through to the plants. The smallest size is 3' by 100' foot role for $25.95.

They have wathershield canopies for outdoor picnics and bbqing, or for protection for your car. There are ready made clearview panels of PVC vinyl for closing in a porch or extending a living area. Fiberglass mesh netting for keep areas deer and bird free are advertised as well as the usual spaying and watering equipment. They have ventilating systems for greenhouses and solar and energy efficient lights and many options of hand trucks and carts.

If you are looking into setting yourself up with a large indoor growing system this is a great place to look. Call 1 800 476-9715 for a catalog or online at Grower's Supply

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January 20, 2011

Spray-N-Grow: Garden products that are safe

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I got this catalog for the first time this year. I'm always a little sceptical that every garden nurtrient can be supplied by spray products, but some of their offerings are very tempting. They say their Spray-N-Grow product is not a fertilizer or a hormone but a unique organic based micronutrient. An 8 oz. bottle is $11.95,

They advertise Bill's Perfect Fertilizer, 6-11-5. It blends hydrolyzed fish, calcium, sugar can extract, humus and seaweed. You can spray it on the leaves of the plant or pour it on the soil. Of course they also sell power sprayers as well as hand pump ones and they have a whole line of animal repellents. It's quite amazing to see a different repellent for moles, geese, squirrels, snakes rabbits and mice!

There is an interesting plant cage that is spiral and collapses for storage and a tomato round which is plastic circle six inches high to put around plants and fill with water to make sure the water soaks deeply into the soil. It's a little pricey at $8.95. I couldn't afford to buy it for my 20 tomatoe plants although I often have wanted just such a device.
There is a line of plant fungus and disease fighting products and calcium for eliminating blossom end rot on tomatoes. The compost pail looks interesting. It has a filter and is dishwasher safe.

It's an interesting catalog which you can order at 1.800.323.2363 or see online at Spray-n-grow

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January 19, 2011

Transplanting a redwood tree

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I bought a redwood tree from Home Depot. It's about 15 feet tall and has new growth on it. I picked through the lot for a tree that was free from dead grey needles and had a healthy color. They were only $25 so I figured it was worth the chance. The real coastal redwood growing area is about 30 miles to the west, but several locals have had success with growing redwoods, including my neighbors on each side.

Today is a perfect day for transplanting. It's weather Coastal Redwoods should love. It's foggy, cool and drizzling rain. Yesterday I talked with a friend about this project and she suggested to fill the large hole I dug with the same dirt that came out of it instead of putting in potting soild and lots of fertilizer. She said the tree would act more like a container plant if I babied with the good growing medium and it's roots would just grow round and round the hole and never start to push out into a larger growing area. I'm going to compromise and fill the hole around the tree with two shovels of dirt and one shovel of potting soil and manure.

I've picked a place where the tree won't shade the house in winter and is far enough away to not be in danger of falling limbs. I'm very excited about growing a redwood.

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At 3 Fast Growing Baby California Redwood Tree Plugs

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January 18, 2011

American Persimmons

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A friend just brought me some American Persimmons from his father's orchard. They were soft and ripe and there's nothing as delicious as persimmon when fully ripe. The genus name is diospryros which means "fruit of the gods". Native Americans prized the fruit for it's flavor and sweetness and they are a popular food for wild turkey, mockingbirds, deer, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife. They can be made into pudding, preserves, beer, and brandy, and can also be dried for winter eating.

At Thanksgiving we always had a persimmon pudding with whipped cream which was our traditional dessert. Delicious! The fruits I just got I ate fresh, biting off the end skin and sucking the pulpy insides out. So now I'm thinking of trying on in the yard in one of the new holes. In addition to its fruit, the tree can make an attractive mid-size yard tree. The large drooping leaves give it a soft look, and the dark checkered bark of mature trees provides winter interest. The flowers are an appealing creamy-yellow, very fragrant, and an excellent nectar source for honeybees.

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At American Persimmon Tree! 18 to 24 Inches Tall!

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January 17, 2011

Spring in January!

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The meadow glows in the sunshine and today is one of those lovely spring days you get in January sometimes. Probably more now with global warming heating things up than 40 years ago when I came here. It's the kind of day when I would head out into the garden were the ground not totally soaked and mucky, so it's nice to walk around the land and take note of things that need to be done and make plans for the growing season. Hopefully the cold weather will come back in and provide more snow and rain and give the plants that need a real cold spell to produce their necessary freezing.

I'm going to transplant a small lilac bush which has been dwarfed by a grapevine into the sunny location near the new house. I have this whole new area to play with, creating shade, flowers, fruits and herbs that will make living here more palatable. Here is the French drain which seems to be working well, so it's a hole that is ready to use.

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Its a challenge and a joy to have this place to nurture! And today it's a joy to be alive! I'm sorry I can't post the smell of fresh wet earth and warm air! Here is the artisan well very busy with frogs and water striders, reflecting the sky.

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And not to forget Fatcat who refuses to leave the cabin and come down to live at the new house. He sits in the sun, licking his paws, and will not be persuaded.

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But the azaleas need no persuasion to start the swelling of buds, in a few months to be fragrant flowers.

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January 14, 2011

Transplanting the rose bush

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I picked a great day to do the transplanting--a very cloudy day and the day after, rain and snow. Perfect! This red rose has been in the garden for about five or six years and I"ve never paid any attention to it or given it any care. But I decided I could move it to the new house and put it in a corner hole, I'd already dug where I could see it out of the sliding glass doors and where it could brighten the patio area I have planned.

The root ball was about two feet across and I had to break off a large piece and leave it in the original spot.. I put potting soil and composted steer manure in the hole and mixed it around. The root ball was so big it didn't leave much room for filling in around the plant, but I packed in as much dirt as I could and stepped on the filled hole to make sure the roots were touching dirt. It's not a good idea to leave air next to the roots.

I pruned off the branches and the roots before planting. A friend of mine kept reassuring me that you can't kill a rose and I hope that the case, but I'm very excited to have this new plant where I will be able to enjoy it's blossoms all summer long.

At Double Red Knock Out Rose Bush

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January 13, 2011

The Burpee Seed catalog is here!

Burpee Catalog is filled with tons of new items. The King of Color tomato collection is featured on the cover with four varieties each a different color and perfect for slicing. There is a "Green Envy" cherry tomato which is deep green. Most of the new items are hybrids. Brokali is a cross between borccoli and kale and there is a lovely exotic looking petunia called Phantom which has black petals with a yellow star on them.

Burpee has been in business for 135 years and is one of the oldest and most venerable of seed companies. It made itself famous during WWII promoting victory gardens and in 1954 offered $10,000 for a white marigold. This is the company that developed the Big Boy Tomato and has continued to supply seeds and plants, both perennial and annual as well as garden supplies.

Their catalog is a delight to look through. It has a huge flowers section listings from A to Z both perennials and annuals, a total of 40 pages. The sweet pepper collection is really vast, all sizes, colors and shapes--a joy to behold.

You can check it out online or order one at Burpee

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January 12, 2011

Organic Comsumer Association takes on Monsanto

Monsanto & the Merchants of Death

In the 1990s, Monsanto found an ingenious way to sell large quantities of its broad-spectrum toxic herbicide RoundUp to farmers. The company's scientists gene-spliced corn, soy, cotton, and canola with foreign DNA, enabling these "Frankencrops" to survive massive dosIes of RoundUp. Farmers could now repeatedly spray their fields with RoundUp, killing weeds but not the crop. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of heavy RoundUp spraying includes groundwater pollution, toxic residues in crops, and destruction of essential soil microorganisms. The Genetically Modified (GM) crops themselves create herbicide-resistant Superweeds and spread genetic pollution to organic and non-GMO crops as well as plant relatives. Last but certainly not least, Monsanto's GM foods have been linked to serious health damage - not only for animals, but humans as well.

Today, a major portion of cropland in the US is sown with Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. Eighty percent of these GM crops are then sold as animal feed to the nation's 125,000 factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that produce most of the non-organic meat, dairy, or eggs sold in grocery stores or served in restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The other 20% of Monsanto's Genetically Modified Organisms are laced into non-organic processed foods (soy lecithin, corn or sugar beet sweeteners, cooking oils, etc.) that are found in every grocery store aisle.

There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the US spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases. Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, US factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Low fruit and vegetable consumption is directly costing the United States $56 billion a year in diet-related chronic diseases.

Monsanto's GM crops are highly profitable for the food industry, turning cheap, federally subsidized, genetically engineered crops and GE-fed animals into cheap, ubiquitous, junky foods. But from the standpoint of public health and environmental sustainability, Monsanto and their factory farm collaborators are nothing less than merchants of disease and death.

A critical mass of consumers would turn away from GMOs and Factory Farmed meat, dairy, and eggs - if they knew what they were eating. Please join and support OCA in our new Truth-in-Labeling campaign.

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January 10, 2011

Chitalpa tree is fast growing, drought resistant

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The Chitalpa is a cross between Catalpa bignonioides and Chilopsis linearis. The Chilopsis is a desert tree, sometimes called a Desert Willow. From the Chilopsis, the Chitalpa inherits long 3 to 5 inch dark green leaves and the ability to withstand some dry heat. However, unlike its desert parent, the Chitalpa can withstand low temperatures of around minus 15 degrees. This sounds like the perfect tree to in the front of my house. It has lovely flowers and grows quickly, but doesn't get too tall so that it won't block the view from the kitchen window.

Chitalpas start flowering in the spring and continue all summer long. The flowers are large and beautiful.

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The local nursery is carrying these plants and I will talk to them about my concern about winter water being too much for the root system.

At Chitalpa

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January 7, 2011

Southern Exposure Seed donations to community garden

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If you know of some worthy gardening venture, a school, a community coop, Southern Exposure has some seeds they will donate. This is from their monthly newsletter.

"This time of year brings us a happy task here at Southern Exposure. We're chock full of fresh new seeds, and have to go through all of our stock to remove the packets that are officially 'out of date' - just barely too old to sell, but still quite viable and too good to compost! We set aside a section of shelving for these older packets. They are labeled as 'donation seed' and are sent out in response to requests from schools, community gardens, and other projects that seek to offer seeds and gardening support to those in need.

It's the time of year for giving and being thankful, and it warms our hearts to be able to pass on still-viable seed to worthy folks. This picture is from a community garden in Florida that was established with donation seed from our stock. They've done a nice job! If your garden, community, or organization is in sore need of seeds, this is the perfect time to e-mail us and make your request. Of course, this is also our busy season (so don't expect to get your seeds the next day!), but we do our best to send out all of these seeds and answer every request that we can. "

At Southern Exposure

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January 6, 2011

Narcissus Ziva Paperwhites planted now, bring spring blossoms or they can be forced indoors

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If the ground thaws and you can get outside to plant, these narcissus will make you smile in the spring. Sometimes it's hard to get motivated in the winter when it's really cold out, but a little effort is worth the while. Don't forget you can also force the bulbs indoors. And these have a lovely fragrance that will fill the house.

The steps for forcing narcissus are very easy:

Get a shallow pan. One good size is 12 inches wide and 1 to 2 inches deep, but almost any size will do. Then fill the dish with small pebbles or gravel and cover the stones with water. You then put the bulbs in the pan, the pointed side up, and be sure the bottom of the bulbs is sitting right on the pebbles. Put the dish in a warm, well-lighted indoor location, such as a sunny window. Keep the stones constantly wet. Paper-whites will usually bloom in about six weeks. After blooming, if the soil is not frozen, plant the bulbs outdoors and keep them moist.

At Narcissus Ziva Paperwhites, 10 bulbs - 17+cm

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January 5, 2011

The first seed catalog arrives!!!!!

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A perfect day for it! I has rained for a week and is now snowing, just a dusting to cover the ground. I went out to the garden and jury rigged the gap in the fence where the deer seem to be getting in. I found the gate open, but didn't see tracks in or out, so I locked the gate and put chicken wire over the fence gaps and called it good and then came back to the warm house and found the seed catalog.

There's nothing quite as satisfying as sitting warm and cozy indoors, watching it snow and thumbing through pictures of great garden bounty. It's one of those times when anything is possible and the reality of insects, critters, disease, pests or other failures are not in the fantasy of this year's perfect garden!

"Seeds of Change began with a simple mission: to preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable, organic agriculture. By cultivating and disseminating an extensive range of organically grown vegetable, flower, herb and cover crop seeds, we have honored that mission for 20 years." All of their seeds are organic and some are recently developed varieties, like "Blush", a tomato just now released for sale after being lauded for having really remarkable flavor.

Prices in this catalog are high. A 4 ft apple tree bare root sells for $41.50. Seeds are also pricey. There are many garden tools, heating mats, and an interesting roll your own seed pots which makes starter seed pots out of newspaper! There's a lovely Tiger's Eye heirloom bean that looks like it could be strung for a necklace. And there is page after page of the gorgeous fruits and vegetables, enough to make you hungry for spring.

At Seeds of Change

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January 4, 2011

Growing a Redwood tree demands a lot of water and some luck

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I"m ordering this tree in hopes of good results. I planted a redwood tree that was given to me about 10 years ago and although I water it well in summer, it has stood very quietly growing about six inches a year and it still isn't head high. You'd think results like that would give me pause, but I'm hoping with a nice, big hole and fertilizer that I will have better luck near the new house where I desperately need shade and something fresh and green outside the window.

This redwood start might be the one to do it for me. Although they thrive in the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, they can adapt to higher elevations and warmer and dryer climates, as well as colder areas. The secret is lots of water and sunshine. Sounds simple, huh? The product description says you can regulate the speed of growth by varying the light -- the lower the light, the slower the growth. We think these can be grown outdoors successfully from zones 5 through 9 if proper care is given. I live in zone 8.

At Nicely started California redwood tree - 22 inches high

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January 3, 2011

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