Picture Snob

April 29, 2011

Strathwood Recliners mean high end comfort


Hopefully sometime in the hustle of digging, planting, fertilizing and getting your garden ready to produce, you'll find time to sit back and enjoy the spring. We've had a cold spell that shocked the tomatoes and nipped some leaves with frost, but I've watered them and given them manure tea and they will make it, especially now that the weather has warmed up. I had planted the first planting of corn and a row of beans, and they have not shown themselves yet. I'm hoping they still will come up.

All the cold weather vegetables are fine. The peas are growing; carrots, broccoli and beets have germinated. It's been their kind of weather. I have yet to plant the squash family or the cucumbers. So it's in the interim between plantings that the thought of just sitting and enjoying the sun, the lawn and the garden comes to mind.

These Strathwood recliners are truely wonderful. Strathwood is known for it's great line of outdoor furniture and these recliners adjust to an infinite number of leg and back positions so you can find your most comfortable position and change it when you wish without getting up. The recliner has a sturdy steel frame and flexible fabric seating. It is really easy to set up and take down, comes in a wide variety of colors and some models have a canopy cover to protect you from the sun. Sweet! Time to relax and enjoy!

At Strathwood Anti-Gravity Adjustable Recliners

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April 28, 2011

Johnny's Seeds Interactive Tool Kit provides precision planting tips


Johnny's Interactive tool kit gives the gardener a way to plan their garden with some precision. There is a calculator that can give you the amount of seed and the tools you will need for a given amount of space. A harvest date calcuator can determine how many crops you might have by a certain date so you can plan for an event. A calculator for seed starting tells you when it's safe to plant outside and another calculator tells you when to plant for the fall harvest and still another for succession plantings so you will have your favorite crops ripening all summer and fall.

There is a growers library with available downloads of tons of gardening information, growing guides, manuals and charts. If it's flowers your interested in, they have a chart that tells you the best flowers for your situation, planting and growing information. And there is another chart of the same kind for herbs.

If you really would like to be more precise with your gardening, this tool kit will be a great aid in that endeavor.

At Johnny's Interactive tool kit

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April 27, 2011

Bleeding Heart is another nostalia enducing flower


My mother grew a Bleeding Heart plant and I remember her showing me the flowers and telling me about the "drop of blood" coming out of the bottom of the flowers. They were truely lovely and had the magic of myth about them.

I'm creating a shade garden on the northwest side of the house. The soil is terrible, but I'm digging big holes and using the hole as if it were a clay pot. Bleeding Hearts are perinneals and grow 2 to 3 feet tall and as wide is they are in the right conditions. Here in California I"m going to have to water well and hope the shade garden will provide enough protection from the sun. I think I will put some Hostia on each side of the Bleeding Heart to give it some more protection and also to fill in the empty space if the bleeding heart decides to die back after flowing. I'm excited to have this sweet plant and it's memories growing near the back porch.

At Old Fashioned Bleeding Hearts-Dicentra spectabilis

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April 22, 2011

Ranunculus make a great spring holiday bouquet


I give a big spring celebration party every Easter. This year I'm using ranunculus for the centerpiece on tables. I got these from my local nursery. They come in such beautiful colors and are huge. I remember I bought these last year and planted them in the flower bed, but they are, this year, only poking their true leaves up. My nursery friend suggested using them as a living bouquet and I think this is a wonderful idea.

You might check out your local nursery for such eye catching pleasures. I bought 12 plants for $24 which is much much cheaper than buying cut flowers or ordering from a florist. And the bonus is that you have flowers that come back year after year.

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April 21, 2011

Square Foot Gardening for limited space and ease of work


With gas prices the way they are, food shipped in from farms is going to become more and more expensive, and one of the best reasons for gardening, besides the pleasure it gives, is to grow inexpensively, your own vegetables.

The Square Foot Gardening Book tells you how to maximize a small space by dividing your growing area into small sections, enabling the gardener to reach every area without stepping into the soil and compacting it. It is also easy to get the weeds out this way. The boxes can be built right over the ground no matter what kind of soil and filled with organic dirt and nutrients. If you want, a weed barrier can be put down first to ensure weeds won't be poking their heads up in the plantings.

Basically, the advantages of Square foot gardening is that it is much less work, you don't need the heavy tools like shovels, tillers, or hoes or rakes. It also uses much less water since you are hand watering directly on the plant and its roots. Weeds are few or non existent. Another good aspect of this garden is that for those with sore backs, the whole garden could be put on a table or boards over saw horses and no kneeling or back bending is necessary.

At Square Foot Gardening Book

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April 20, 2011

Burpee Seed Starting is an all in one system for a great price


If it's still freezing at night in your area or generally too cold to plant the warm weather vegies, you might try this seed starting kit from Burpee which has everything needed for successs. They say it is guaranteed to grow bigger and better seedlings every time. The all-in-one kit has everything needed to start growing seeds. Everyone says it is easy to set up and doesn't require much maintenance. You only need to water once.

It has a transparent cover retains heat and moisture and the mat underneath draws water from the bottom tray reservoir and feeds it to each cell evenly. Roots don't stick to mat as in other systems. It comes with enough soil and nutrients to grow the seeds into transplanting size. The big 72-cell tray makes it easy to start all your seeds in one unit and it is reusable.

At Burpee Ultimate Seed Starting System

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April 19, 2011

Spring Hill Nursery has unique plants and gives a lifetime guarantee

SpringHill Nursery was founded in 1849 in a small Ohio town. In the 1930's they started becoming a mail order business. I like their unique selection of plants which are useful for the homeowner with a lawn and garden to cultivate. For example, their ground covers include many flowering plants like phlox and thyme as well as Snow on the Mountain which hides problem areas quickly.

They have a eclectic selection of trees, carrying the Dawn Redwood and Gingo. There are several Japanese Tree peonies including this lovely Shimi-Nishiki.

"It is imported directly from Japan by Spring Hill! Shima-Nishiki is Japanese for 'fire flame'. And this uniquely colored tree peony certainly lives up to its name. Large, semi-double white blooms with fiery red streaks measure 7-9" across! Very longlived, it will bloom for a lifetime! Flowers arrive in April to May. Mature tree grows 48-60" tall with a 3' spread."

I particularly like their Pre-planned garden offerings. You can select for many different areas and blooming seasons. If you need some color in a shady spot or you'd really want a lovely three-season garden, they have a design for each . If you want flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your property, or a perennial garden, they have each. They include easy-to-follow instructions and diagrams make to help make your planting a success.

And there is a No Risk Guarantee. They say all of their plants will be true to name and to reach you in perfect and healthy condition."If, for any reason, you aren't pleased with any plant upon receipt, after planting or once it grows, just contact Spring Hill anytime--no time limit--for as long as you garden. No need to return any plant. We will refund every cent you paid for that plant or send a replacement without charge--whichever you prefer."

Sounds like a deal to me. And the selection is unique and well planned for variety and the home owner who wants to make their yard and flower garden lovely.

At Spring Hill Nursery

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April 18, 2011

I'm planting Daphne near the screened in porch


A friend showed me a plant he loves which was planted by his wife several decades ago. It had sweet smelling flowers and shiney green leaves and after some exploration I learned it's name--Daphne. Daphne means laurel and was sacred to Apollo who chased a nymph of that name and to escape him, she turned into a laurel tree. There are many differenty types of Daphnes and they vary as to their flowering times.

Daphne's small clustered flowers are very fragrant and they can easily fill an entire garden with scent. Daphne blooms in mid-February. There is reason to be cautious about where you plant them. Some varieties are also pretty poisonous, and its flowers, leaves and berries should not be planted or kept near children or pets. The danger is similar to shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons.

Daphne cneorum is called the 'Rock Daphne' ' because it is often grown in rockeries. This plant also does well and is very attractive in raised beds or border plantings and as a container plant. I think this is the showiest of all the Daphnes. The April and May rosy-pink flowers absolutely cover the plant, providing a massive flower display, that has a sweet, intense fragrance.

Daphne odora is one of the most popular varieties. It has a bushy growth habit, eventually attaining a height of up to 3 or 4 feet and, if crowded, occasionally taller. In the Pacific Northwest where I am this plant often begins flowering in late February or early March and may continue into April.

Daphne retusa is another nice dwarf variety of evergreen Daphne. The whitish to rosy-purple flowers are fragrant. It's flowers are not as bright as the others, and it may be a little more difficult to find.

Daphnes benefit from an application of lime at planting time. Dolomite lime is especially beneficial because of the sulfate of magnesium it contains. If pruning is needed, the best time is right after they have finished flowering.

I'm hoping by putting Daphne by the screened in porch, the fragrance will waft though the porch and into the house.

At Spirea Daphne

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Spirea makes a lovely landscape plant


I remember spirea from my childhood and although I didn't think anything of it then, I remember it fondly now. We had a whole side of the house lined with spirea and the white flower blossoms cascaded beautifully, drooping almost to the ground. I like the fact that this is an old timey plant and hardy and easy to grow.

The spirea plant is a shrub with about 100 varieities and they are native to the Northern hemisphere. I like the common name which is meadowsweet. What I didn't know that it was used as a medicinal herb by Native Americans and contains some of the same properties as aspirin.

The spirea comes in many different colors and growing patterns. There are spring flowering and summer flowering types. The most nostalgic for me is the bridal wreath type of spirea. Vanhoutte spirea easily grows 6-10 feet tall and just as wide, with an arching shape. There are many that don't grow as tall or spread as much, but all bridal wreath types have white flowers.

The summer blooming spirea are frequently planted along foundations or in mixed borders, They have colorful summer-blooming spireas which are compact plants pale pink, deep pink, or white flowers. Many of the summer-blooming types will produce flowers more than once during the growing season, especially if faded flowers are deadheaded. The foilage of these plants come in gold, chartreuse or red.

Spireas are hardy and fairly easy to grow. The spring-blooming bridal wreath types bloom on old wood and should be pruned only to maintain a natural shape and reasonable size. Summer-blooming spireas generally bloom on new growth. Prune them in late winter or early spring before the leaves emerge.

At Spiraea X Vanhouttei 'Renaissance

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April 15, 2011

National Heirloom Exposition is in Santa Rosa in September

If you're really serious about heirloom plants and saving seed, this exposition is for you.

Farmers, gardeners, chefs, and food organizations will likely see the largest event for heritage agriculture ever. There will be 1000 varieties of heirloom produce on display and 200 exhibitors. You can purchase organic, natural and original food products, art and other items or learn from renowned speakers, writers and famrers.

There will be workshops on the collecting, conserving and sharing heirtage seeds as well as movies, tours, and educational seminars. All profits from the event will be donated to various school gardens and real food education programs

The exposition will also have a poultry and livestock show with dozens of breeds of heritage chickens and small livestock. If you have seed or animals, you can bring them to the exhibit.

At Heirloom Expo

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April 14, 2011

Earthway Hand Operated Spreader/Seeder for seeding and fertilizing


The Earthway spreader/seeder is ideal for broadcasting all types of grass seed; it works equally well for ground cover, as well as for the application of fertilizer. The Earthway features convenient spring-action rate setting control and a high-rpm gearbox, which provides a smooth, feathered-edge broadcast. It comes with a zippered nylon bag and a wide, shoulder strap to make extended use more comfortable. The oscillating shut-off plate prevents clumping and aids in flow control.

At Earthway 2750 Hand Operated Bag Spreader/Seeder

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April 13, 2011

How about a beautiful lawn that is also safe for kids and pets?


This is a book for those of us who are tired of seeing the little yellow flag on lawns advising people to stay off because of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. What is the point of a lawn, anyway? As a kid I loved to run barefoot, playing with the dog or my friends. It felt of freedom from school, from shoes and the restrictions of rules. It saddens me to think that with weed and feed chemicals, the lawn is not safe for kids or pets. It's something to look at but not to touch.

If you are of the same mind but still want a lawn that's lovely too look at as well as play and sit in, or godforbid, lie on your back in and look at the clouds on a warm spring day, then this book may have the way to acheive that. The Organic Lawn Care Manuel was written by a guy who used the weed and feed method until the chemicals he used started affecting his health. Then he began going organic. He has instructions on starting a lawn from scratch and on how to improve soil structure. He discusses grass varieties and how to choose a drought and disease resistant grass. There is also a section on what to do about moles, voles and other burrowing creatures. And best of all, he doesn't forget what a lawn is really for--fun games for the family! Croquet, anyone?

The book comes with a good glossary, a list of ground covers, and lots of photographs for illustrating various problems. He has chapters on making the transition from chemical to organic lawn care without loosing what you already have worked for.

At The Organic Lawn Care Manual: A Natural, Low-Maintenance System for a Beautiful, Safe Lawn (Paperback)

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April 12, 2011

Mountain weather refreshes everything


We just had one of those spring mountain storms. The weather turned cold and last night it rained and poured and this morning I awoke to about an inch of snow covering the ground. The sun was shining and soon I could hear the plop and thunk of melting snow falling off the trees and roof. There is still snow halfway up the mountain.

I went up to the garden to scout around and find greens for a salad. I'm so amazed this year that last years carrots which are ususally rotten by this time are still juicy and sweet and I found a beet that was in perfect shape. There was kale and the tender tops of brussle sprouts going to seed. Some cilantro had geminated and there was self sown endive was about a couple of inches high everywhere. So it was fun to see what the garden itself could provide and glean the new growth for a spring salad.

At Ferry-Morse 3243 Organic Seed Collection, Salad

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April 11, 2011

A peer reviewed study underlines the dangers of Monsanto GMOs and Roundup

An article from Organic Bytes reports that Don M. Huber, Ph.D., emeritus soil scientist of Purdue University, wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about a newly discovered virulent pathogen that proliferates in soil treated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The Monsanto pathogen is taken up by plants, transmitted to animals via their feed, and is passed on to human beings by the plants and meat they consume. The pathogen has yet to be described or named, though that work is almost complete.

At a March 24 seminar sponsored by Knox County Extension and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska, Dr. Huber said that all the research and data would be published in a matter of weeks.

In his presentation, Dr. Huber summarized 117 peer-review scientific studies that show the hazards associated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and the "Roundup Ready" GMO crops that have increased its use:

* Compromised plant defense mechanisms; plants more susceptible to disease.
* Reduced availability and uptake of essential nutrients.
* Increased virulence of pathogens that attack plants.
* Lower yields.

Huber warned that ignoring these emerging realities may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious. He said it could also, and apparently already is, compromising the health and well-being of animals and humans.

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April 8, 2011

Wall O Water works for early warm vegetables


If you are dying to have the first ripe tomato or pepper or eggplant, then you might try the Wall o Water which really works very well. It's a plastic self-standing vinyl, made from l sectioned cylindrical tubes You just fill with water to hold the warmth from the sun to keep plants cozy at night. With this simple device you might be able to start your garden outside, 6-8 weeks early and begin harvest 30-45 days sooner than normal without the fear of freezing. . It works for peppers, squashes, tomatoes and other warm season crops and protects small plants down to 16° F.

The Wall O Water comes in a package of three and is not very expensive so you can experiment with a few vegies before going all out. But these water walls have been used with great success by my local gardeners. They suggest that you fill the wall all the way to the top and fill one cylinder on one side and then fill a cylindar on the other side to keep them balanced. It's also good to fill them and let them sit where you are going to plant for a few days to get the soil warmed up. And as the plants grow, it's good to check for slugs and other cool weather hungry critters to keep the plants safely inside.


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April 7, 2011

Spring is a good time to plant summer bulbs


I'm going to the nursury tomorrow and I have a long list. I'm getting more grass and wildflower seed and some time release fertilizer for the bare patches around the new house. I'm also getting six packs of broccoli, kale and maybe lettuce. And I'll check out what's on sale or looking especially tempting.

Mainly, I think April is the month for planting summer flowering bulbs like dahlias, gladiolas and lilies. I want to put them with the other perinneals I'm transplanting and also space them around the house. I'll get some organic bulb fertilizer and manure and maybe a little peat moss to make a nice bed for them. However, while I was surfing around, I found a sale of summer bulbs online. You might check it out. They have a gladious rainbow mix for $25 for fifty bulbs.

At Summer Bulbs

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April 6, 2011

Transplanting the perennials

With the warm weather the garden activity has begun and although the garden itself is too wet to till, I can dig holes, fill them with compost and plant some of the cool weather vegetables I love. Kale, broccoli, lettuce all go in nicely and thrive in the wet and cool weather. But today I decided to transplat some of the perennial flowers that are being neglected on the fringes of the yard into the area around the new house.


It looks pretty barren even after the planting. This hill was scraped clean of all topsoil and although I planted grass and wildflowers there last year, nothing grew. Nothing. So I have the idea of using the ground here as if it were a flower pot and dig a hole, fill it with good soil and put in a plant. With lots of care and some feeding of compost, I think I can get flowers to grow and since i plan a patio area, it will be a great place to sit and enjoy the color and the fragrance.

I planted Dutch Iris, regular iris, some Lamb's quarters, bergamot and a Dusty Miller. This fall I'll put in some spring flowering bulbs between these plants and keep the compost feedings and my finger's crossed.

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April 5, 2011

Coolaroo Triangle Shade Sail provides shade where you need it.

If you have a spot in the garden or on the deck or patio that needs some shade and cooler temperatures, this sun shade will do the job. It comes in both green and sand and has stainless steel hardware fasteners. It has a 10 year warranty against UV degradation. You can create your own uniquely designed outdoor living space using multiple sizes and colors of sail shades.

I have friends who have a south facing house with no trees for shade. They put up about five Coolaroos at different angles and planted hops and grapes in planters. The area looks lovely now and provides shade for the house and a cool place to sit and see the sunset. I'm getting a couple of these to put over my double doors which face west. The sun heats up the house in the afternoon and the Coolaroos will keep that from happening until I can get wisteria or grapes growing over a trellis.

At Coolaroo Triangle Shade Sail 16 Feet 5 Inches with Hardware Kit, Brunswick Green

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April 4, 2011

Even the Mayo clinic supports home gardening

By Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky
Mayo Clinic, March 23, 2011

Gentle breezes. Sunlight. Bird songs. I can actually see the ground peaking out under the snow. And did I mention -- the return of daylight saving time? Spring is almost here.

All winter I've been thinking about gardening. I want to grow edible things, and I'm not the only one. A survey of over 100 million U.S. households revealed that spending for vegetables and fruits now surpasses spending for lawns, trees, shrubs -- and even flowers. The same survey unearthed the following trends among gardeners:

53 percent grow vegetables in their gardens
90 percent plan to eat the produce fresh
66 percent will share with friends
36 percent will can or preserve produce
24 percent will donate food to others
Another survey, this one by the National Gardening Association, looked at the main reasons people grow gardens:

58 percent desire better tasting food
54 percent want to save money on food bills
51 percent want better quality food
48 percent want to grow food they know is safe
I'm ready to get my hands dirty. I'm going to plant a garden because I want to better understand the labor that goes into producing food, and be more thankful for how plants nourish my body and soul.

I'll start small -- some herbs in pots (cilantro, basil, dill and rosemary), leaf lettuce and spinach, a few spring onions, and some beets. I fondly remember my father's garden -- he grew the best tomatoes. Maybe I'll plant a couple of those too. What about you? What will you be growing and why?

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April 1, 2011

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