Picture Snob

May 31, 2011

Summertime is here!

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At last in Boston the sun has appeared. We have been having 50 degree days and clouds and rain since I got here. Now a week of warm and sunny has been forecast! And it's such a delight to have sunshine! The backyard again becomes a place to hang out and play and it's time to plant all the warm weather loving vegies and they are some of the ones we love the most.

The nurseries are bursting with both flowers and vegetables, and the kids have planted some pumpkin seeds that germinated nicely. The squirrels are a real problem here and there isn't a cat or a dog to deter them, so tomatoes and summer squash will have to be planted on the deck where they are more protected. It's impossible to not to want some zucchini for the summer. It's fast growing, prolific, and a versatile companion to almost any meal.

You should start several plants in sequence of about two or three weeks to get a steady and abundant source of zukes. Zucchini are usually picked when under eight inches in length, while the seeds are soft and immature. Some are picked with the flowers still attached and the zucchini barely formed.

Zucchini can be prepared steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffl├ęs. It also can be baked into a bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

At Black Beauty Zucchini

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May 27, 2011

A set of planters will brighten the porch


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We have six pots of flowers out on the steps to the porch. It really makes for a cheery moment when coming into the house or going out. It's so easy to create a colorful, bright cluster of colors and shapes. These pots come in lush shades of sand and jade and provide a touch of elegance which will show off your plants to stunning effect

The oordinated pots come in three separate each with a drain hole at bottom. They are ceramic and carefully packed for shipping. The large pot is 12 inches diameter x 8 1/2 inches high; the medium is 8 3/4 inches diameter x 6 1/2 inches high; and the small is 6 3/8 inches diameter x 4 3/4 inches high. This set will go well clustered together or arranged separately. All you need is some potting soil and a few six packs of flowers and you have an instant flower garden.

At Jade Planters Set

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May 26, 2011

A lawnmower that always starts!!!

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One of my jobs as a kid was to mow the lawn and I used a mower like this one. It was a simpiler time! I always enjoy lawn mowing as you can really see the difference when it's done and the grass looks so neat and inviting. If you don't have acres to mow or a large yard, consider getting this little gem which has served so well and with so little trouble.

This mower always works when you want it to, and it is quiet and doesn't need any fuel. Today's reel mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. They're always ready when you're ready, and they're almost maintenance free with no spark plugs to foul or engines to clog up. You get a little workout with the mowing and also get the benefit of clean air to breathe while working.

At Great States lawnmower

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May 25, 2011

Planting Boxwood to foil the deer

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There is an interesting article in the New York Times suggesting boxwood which comes in so many varieties is a good plant which the deer don't bother. Many boxwood are tropical but the European varieties are frost tolerant.

If you love green, and the deer are eating everything in your garden, boxwood -- which comes in a range of shades, shapes and sizes -- is a lovely alternative. Unlike English boxwood, which prefers partial shade, most will tolerate sun without turning yellow, but almost all are darker green in the shade.

Many people shape boxwood but it can be grown without shearing and left to it's natural shape. With so many varieties to choose from it's possible to have contrasting and complimentary colors and shapes from this one species. American boxwood is a wide-spreading shrub and sometimes grows to a small tree with very dense evergreen foliage. The leaves are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long and are usually shiny, dark green on the upper surface and pale green on the lower surface.

Flowers come in early spring and are pale green and hardly noticeable. This boxwood grows 5 to 10 ft tall, though old plants may attain a height of 20 ft. in tree form if left unpruned. This species and most of its cultivars are tolerant of cold weather.

At Boxwood

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May 24, 2011

Japanese Hori hori knife for ease in weeding and digging

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High-quality Japanese steel blade makes this hori hori knife very durabie and sturdy. The stainless steel blade is very sharp and concave shaped for scooping soil and other materials. It has a serrated edge to cut through weed roots and the concave shape makes it possible to scoop up soil and a whole small plant for transplanting.

The length of the blade is 7.28" and with the handle the length is 12.5". So it's a good size for the close work of weeding and moving plants. The polymer handle has an easy grip. This is a versatile tool that does the work of several tools currently clunking around in the bottom of your garden bag. The pointed blade and curved shape work like a garden spade while the serrated edge works as a garden knife to cut plantings apart. Also perfect for weeding, transplanting and cutting open fertilizer bags.

At Japanese Hori hori

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May 23, 2011

Rain barrels can save rain until you need it

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Although it seems that it will never stop raining, it will. And having a rain barrel to catch the rain now to use outdoors later is an old idea that is worth considering. A rain barrel is a simple way to harvest runoff water, prevent unwanted erosion, and conserve healthy natural water. By either purchasing or making a rain barrel, water runoff from a gutter system or roof will be collected for use around the yard and can even be hooked up to a homemade irrigation system to keep any garden hydrated and nutrient-rich.

The average American uses around 100 gallons of water per day and more than 50% of that water is for outdoor use. An inch of rain produces 625 gallons of water runoff from a 1,000 square-foot roof. A rain barrel holds approximately 55 gallons of water, keeping a significant portion of that runoff for yard and landscape uses. Water collected in rain barrels is also devoid of chemicals and treatments including fluoride and chlorine and is therefore better for the lawn or garden. Many green gardeners have also taken the opportunity to be creative and decorate their rain barrel using paint and flowers.

So I know it's hard to keep up your spirits in the week long rainy period, but getting a rain barrel or two and installing them will pay off when a summer drought hit. Some varieties of rain barrels are very attractive vase shapes and some are large enough to store 65 to 75 gallons.

At Algreen 81002 Agua 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection

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May 20, 2011

Getting the garden started in Boston

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I've been here a week and we've had mostly rain, cold and dreary weather. Yesterday the sun shone and the grandkids and I got inspired and planted some lettuce and then went to the nursery and bought flowers. Most of the flowers we will put in pots in the front yard but the perinneals will go along the edge of the yard where we hope to build up a flower garden.

The nurseries were full of rainbow colors of flowers and many vegies. It's such a pleasure to walk through the rows upon rows of seedlings and six pacs and choose a variety of colors and shapes. We came home and planted them. It was supposed to be the only nice day for a week and we wanted them in the ground before the rain. We got a mix of seeds to attract butterflies and birds and some perinneals. In the six packs we bought petunias, sweet williams and snapdragons.

Such fun with the whole family out in the yard, mixing potting soil and digging rows. The grandkids were so excited it was hard to get them to slow down. This a great project for the family and it teaches kids where their food comes from and the effort it takes to grow it, and they also participate in the miracle of seeing sunlight, soil and water work their magic on seeds.

At Wildflower Butterfly Mix

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May 19, 2011

Scientists question modern methods of agriculture

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Science Magazine has an interesting article outlining the way in which modern agricultural practices may have increased productivity, but at the exspense of the health of the soil, water, and humans. We all know the horror storiess of factory faming with animals caged and standing in their own excrement and given antibiotics to prevent infection and increase growth. We know that acres and acres of one crop farming with chemical fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides depletes the soil, contanimates the water and reduces the nutrients in the crop.

In an interview, the lead author, Washington State University professor John Reganold said, "If mainstream, conventional farming systems were sustainable, then we would not have overdrawn aquifers, eroded and degraded soils and polluted surface and ground waters." We also have concerns with farm labor working conditions and animal welfare," Reganold added.

With those concerns in mind, some farms have striven to innovate, cultivating practices such as organic farming, conservation agriculture and grass-fed and other alternative livestock production. Some of these practices aren't abstract or new, of course, none are yet widespread.

Yet when we plant our backyard gardens we can do our part to use compost, till in cover crops, vary the planting in rows and use organic fertilizer and pesticides. Our food will be safer and tastier!

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May 18, 2011

A rotary cultivator tills places your rototiller misses

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If you've got your garden tilled and planted with young plants triving, you might find this garden "weasel" very handy. Most likely the weeds are thriving along with the vegies, and although I make my rows far enough apart that I can get the tiller between them, this hand driven tiller gets into places my rototiller can't go without damaging the tender young plants.

The "weasel" is made of steel so it won't break or bend easily should you hit a rock with it. It's handle is 56" long so that you can push it back and forth without bending over. It's width is 5.5" which enables it to get close around growing plants and loosen up the soil and knock down and uproot weeds.

At Weasel cultivator

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May 17, 2011

Strathwood folding Adirondack chair--classic outdoor comfort

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This chair is crafted of high-density Brazilian eucalyptus wood that is harvested in a sustainable fashion. Eucalyptus timber has great strength and is able to withstand moisture and heavy use. Strathwood Adirondack chair features a contoured back support, a slatted seat, and oversized armrests that include a built-in drink holder.

This Adirondack chair requires no assembly other than inserting the included pegs that hold the chair upright, and the chair folds flat for easy storage. It has two finishes, a dark-brown stain or white painted finish. These finishes will weather when if the chair is left outside, but this will not weaken the strength of the wood. If you want a "new" look, then you can repaint or apply coats of hardwood oil.

\ Strathwood furniture is sleekly designed, handsomely finished, and built to last. This classic style and reliable craftsmanship will weather ever-changing trends and regular use for years to come. The chair will available in June and you can preorder it.

At Strathwood Adirondack Chair

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May 16, 2011

It's time to add gypsum to my garden soil again

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My soil is heavy clay and this is the second year I've added gypsum to break up the clay and make it more friable. Gypsum alone has profound beneficial effects on soil because of its chemical effects. Gypsum is used to improve sodic soils, to create more favorable solute concentrations in soil, especially after leaching with heavy rainfall, and even to correct subsoil acidity. The combination of gypsum and organics can result in biological improvement of soil more than can organics alone. This is an extremely important aspect of soil quality.

The need for gypsum and other amendments is urgent in the Intermountain West and other arid and semi-arid areas. If you live in these regions you should know that Gypsum contains both calcium and sulfur; each is an essential plant nutrient; however, calcium does much more than its role as a plant nutrient. Without it in a soluble form, soils would not be tillable. Without it in soluble or exchangeable form, other plant nutrients would not function properly. Soils usually contain considerable calcium in the soluble and exchangeable forms. Some soils also contain large quantities of calcium in the form of lime, but that form is not readily available to plants nor can it improve soil when existing as lime. When soil pH is over 8, the calcium in soil is not soluble enough to be of maximum value for either plants or soil. Large crop responses can be obtained to gypsum when soil pH is high and even under other circumstances.

A word of caution. Gypsum is a mineral and although all minerals are organic, some gypsum is mined in China and sold cheaply here. Better to find local or gypsum mined here because no one knows the quality of gypsum from China.

At Espoma Organic Traditions Garden Gypsum - 5 lb Bag #GG5

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May 13, 2011

Grow Daylillies for ease and beauty

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Daylilies are perennial plants that are beautiful. The flowers themselves last only twenty four hours, opening at sunrise and withering at sunset. Some species are night-blooming. Daylilies they make good cut flowers otherwise as new flowers continue to open on cut stems over several days.

Daylilies grow best in full sun. They will tolerate light shade, but flower best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun. Light shade during the hottest part of the day keeps the flowers fresh. They do well in all soil, but naturally respond to rich and slightly acid loam.

Daylilies can be planted almost any time the soil can be worked. A hole large enough for the roots without bending or crowding them. The best time to transplant or divide plants is early spring or immediately after flowering. . A winter mulch of straw or shredded leaves helps ensure against winter injury for unestablished plants.

Daylilies are vigorous growers and can be divided every three to four years. They are lovely as a border in perinneal gardens and their hardiness makes them desirable for the flower garden.

At Stella de Oro

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May 12, 2011

Shasta Daisy is a chrysanthemum problem free and beautiful

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Shasta Daisy is easy to grow and can be planted now. It will over winter and grow into blossoming flowers in summer. It grows to 24 - 28 Inches and is a hardy perennial, forming dense colonies once established. The plant blooms over a long period, from early summer until fall.

Shasta daisys should be planted in spring and the plants should be spaced 1 to 2 feet apart. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. The hole should be twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly. Once established Shasta Daisys don't need much care. They may need some staking if they are tall to keep them upright. The plants should be divided every three to four years.

The bright flowers contrast nicely with the glossy, dark green foliage, livening up any garden bed. The plant is ideal as a cut flower, lasting up to 10 days in arrangements. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds and, better yet, the plant is resistant to deer. A great addition to any flower garden.

At Alaska Shasta Daisy Perennial

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May 11, 2011

Wildflower perinneal garden in a package

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If you want to try a wildflower perinneal garden, this package is just the thing. It contains echinachea, black eyed Susan, California poppy, Shasta Daisy and Foxglove, fiifteen species in all. These flowers grow two to three feet tall on average and provide a variety of color all the growing season.

If you have a garden bed of perinneals that has some bare space in it, I would just throw these seeds out and cover them with some compost or soil. If you have a whole bed to plant, and can dig up the ground and add some compost so much the better. I'd plant these seeds thickly and not worry about crowding. You want this garden to look overgrown, random and lush.

At Wildflower Perennial Mix Seeds

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May 10, 2011

Sage plants make a good border and have a delightful fragrance

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Sage is a perennial herb which grows as an evergreen subshrub. It has with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. Sage has a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

Many cultivars have been found and developed. They vary in leaf and flower color as well as size. Some leaves are variegated. Sage has been used through the centuries for almost every ailment and today is being investigated for it's help in dealing with Alzeimers Disease. We know it in this country for it's use in cooking pork and seasoning stuffing for turkey.

It's a great garden plant and can easily be place in a corner of the garden or along the border where it will grow for years. This sage has deep blue violet blooms. It is hardy in zones 4-7 and grows to a height of three feet.

At May Night Blue Salvia

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May 9, 2011

Creeping thyme makes a great ground cover

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Creeping thyme is a low growing thyme that gets only five to eight inches high and spreads as much as eighteen inches. It can be used in a variety of places. I first saw it when I was on retreat. There was a patio area covered with large sandstones and the creeping thyme was growing in the spaces between the rocks, making a green border around each stone. I am planning to use it in the patio area in back of the house in the same way.

A creeping thyme ground cover will be completely covered in 1/4-inch bells of carmine-pink for months on end. Butterflies love it. The foliage of creeping thyme is attractive even when not in bloom, too, with dark green, slightly hairy leaves. And because it's a long-lived perennial ground cover is hardy just about everywhere in the U.S., you can expect years of beauty from this trouble-free groundcover!

Creeping thyme can be used in rock gardens, walls, bare spots in sunny beds and borders, and just about anywhere that needs some quick, permanent coverage. Creeping thyme tolerates dry soil and needs little care after it is established. It self-sows readily, dropping it seeds after flowering season is over and then this new seed sprouts the next spring keep a robust stand of creeping thyme ground cover thriving. If you can't find plugs of it in a nursery, you can plant seeds which are easy to grow.

At Creeping Thyme

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May 3, 2011

Oregon Grape is a low maintanance landscape plant

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Oregon Grape has been recommended to me for planting around the house and yard. It has several features that make it a good choice. The Oregon grape is not related to true grapes, but gets its name from the purple clusters of berries whose color and slightly dusted appearance are like concord grapes. It has everygreen leaves which are shiny and similar to holly--that is, they are prickly.

It grows wild in the Pacific Northwest and in spring has clusters of bright yellow flowers which last quite a while. The plant grows to 3 ft 3 in-16 ft 5 in tall, although most of the local plants are shrubs about 3ft high. Oregon-grape is used in gardens and natural landscaping as a plant suited for low-maintenance. Oregon-grape is resistant to summer drought, tolerates poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. Its berries attract birds.

The small purplish-black fruits, which are quite tart and contain large seeds. The Oregan grape was in the traditional diets of Pacific Northwest aboriginal peoples. It was used both as food and as medicine. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots of Oregon-grape yield a yellow dye; the berries give purple dye.

It's quite an attractive plant to look at, but not so inviting to touch because of the prickly leaves. It was a little difficult to find a source for this plant, but finally I was able to find one.

At Oregon Grape

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May 2, 2011

Nature's Touch Catalog is full of decorative touches

Nature's Touch sells live plants and garden tools, but their catalog has a vast array of garden ornaments. They carry solar lights, garden statues, bird houses, feeders and baths. They have a nice selection of landscape accessories and fountains as well as lawn stakes and trellises.

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They have a 4 Piece Wagon Wheel Patio And Yard Border Set which looks authentic. There is a Solar-powered mosquito zapper which attracts insects and stops them dead in their tracks. A solar-powered mosquito zapper attracts insects and stops them dead in their tracks. A two-pc. set of birds in flight includes an animated sculpture base and a perfectly calibrated bar with three birds that balances effortlessly on top as the breezes sends the birds flying, dipping and soaring.

It seems that Natures' touch has everything you might desire to decorate and enliven your lawn and garden. And presently there is a 15% off bargain rate.

At Nature's Touch

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April 2011 Monthly Roundup for Garden Snob

Bulbs

Decorations for Garden and Patio

Fertilizer

Garden Books

Garden Thoughts

Garden Tools

Industry News

Monthly Roundup

Plants

Remedies

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