Picture Snob

September 30, 2011

Fall chores abound in September


If you're awaiting the first frosts, there's a long list of tasks to transition the garden safely. Now is the time to stop pruning and fertilizing and it's a good idea to bring houseplants that have been happily outside back into the house. If there are any tender plants that you want to save through the first freezes, nows the time to cover them. I've saved tomaotes all the way to Thanksgiving this way. And if you're ready to give up the outdoor plants, you can pick the green tomatoes and bring them indoors. If you wrap them in newspaper and pack them carefully, you can then bring them out to ripen as you need them.

If you have tender bulbs that won't take a cold winter, you should dig them up--that includes dahlias, caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias. And spring flowering bulbs can be put out in their place.

It really a great time of year. There is the satisfaction of the harvest and the ease of preparing for winter. Take your time and enjoy sitting in the waning sun, taking in the beauty of the late blooming flowers and be grateful for what you have created.

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September 28, 2011

Now is the time to put in some grass seed


Spread seed of cool-season grasses (rye and fescue) to fill in areas where grass has died in your lawn. Thick grass won't allow weeds a foothold like bare soil would during the spring. To prepare the lawn, cut grass short. Spread seeds and keep moist during dry periods. The cool-season grasses will be strong in the spring, thus not allowing weed seeds a place to germinate.

You can redo a whole lawn or just over seed the lawn grass you have if it's not think enough. It should sprout now and in the spring and surprise you with new growth.

At Quick Lawn Turf

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September 26, 2011

A Basement bin keeps composting active during the winter


After you've cleaned up the garden and lawn of the dead and old debris, and turned the compost pile, you might remember that once cold sets in not much is going to be happening there in the winter. One idea to conteract that lull is to start some compost in your basment. It's easy to do.

You'll need a large wooden box or plastic bin with air holes and a cover. It can be filled at least half way with well-moistened, shredded, plain newspaper or leaves. To this, you add about a pound of red worms, ordered from a worm farm or collected from an old manure or compost pile. Then you're ready to add vegetable scraps from your kitchen, but no more than about half a pound per day. To keep the smell fresh be sure to bury the scraps completely, and avoid really tough materials like corn cobs and nut shells that the worms can't handle.

I've tried this in a primary school classroom for a science project and to explain organic gardening techniques and the kids loved it.

At Composting red worms

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September 23, 2011

Gazpacho for an end of summer treat


If you have given away all the vegetables you can, tossed the imperfect ones in the compost and still have more than you can deal with, try this: Make a gazpacho soup doubling the recipe below and invite friends over for an end of summer evening delight!

6 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 serrano pepper, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemon cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons medium-acid balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsely
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt and black pepper in a mill to taste
1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the juice, lemon juice and vinegar and stir very briefly. Stir in the fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill the soup for at least one hour before serving. Remove from the refrigerator, stir, let rest for 15 minutes and then pour the olive oil over the soup and serve with some homemade bread. Fabulous!

At gazpacho

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September 22, 2011

Another great end of season recipe--Corn Chowder

Just as I was getting all excited about gazpacho, the weather took a turn for the worse and it's 65 degrees today. Just saying--you might try some corn chowder for a change!

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 strip of bacon or 1 teaspoon of bacon fat or another Tbsp of butter(
I large yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 large carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
5 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs but reserve the cobs
1 bay leaf and a sprig sweet basil
3 1/2 cups milk, whole or low fat
3 medium potatos dices
1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the bacon strip and fry until the bacon renders its fat, but doesn't begin to brown, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the onions and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes.

Break the corn cobs in half and add them to the saucepan. Add the milk and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer. Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.

Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Raise the heat, add the potatoes, red pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are almost fork tender.

Raise the heat, add the corn kernels and the thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

This is a great meal for a cool fall evening to celebrate the end of the hot weather garden. The corn can be overripe and still be delicious.


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September 21, 2011

Canners are on sale now!


If you're interested in bargains for preserving your fruits and vegetables, you can find many bargains now like this one. Granite Ware canners are a classic solution to preserve fruits and vegetables. The porcelain surface and steel core absorbs energy and evenly distributes heat to the contents. This is a canner that heats rapidly.

You can preserve tomatoes or fruit, processing 7 quart jars at a time. The canner comes with rack for easy lifting jars in and out and it's smooth, hard finish that won't burn and resists staining and won't trap odors or food particles and cleans up easily. It is corrosion and chemically resistant so it will last a long time. One downside is that it is not recommended for glass stove tops.

At Graniteware Canner

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September 20, 2011

Outdoor Fireplace with Copper Accents is perfect for outdoor fun


If you're not ready to be couped up in the house, and you can feel fall coming on, this outdoor fireplace would get you and everyone else out of the house and prolong the fall season. Then when the weather's very cold and snowy, the snowball fighters, sledders, and hikers can come and get warm while they tell about their adventures. Outdoors, at night, it gives a lovely light and a 360 degree view of the fire. A large, hinged access door makes it easy to throw another log on the fire. A heavy mesh surround ensures optimal warmth and safety--keeping sparks off the deck. A heavy grate is built to last and support plenty of wood for less refueling and a large cooking grate lets you warm up buns and snacks. This could save everyone's sanity during the holidays and bring extra enjoyment all the rest of winter.

At Uniflame Black Outdoor Fireplace with Copper Accents

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September 19, 2011

Monsanto lobbiest appointed to FDA

It's one of those familiar stories in today's politics where the fox is hired to watch the hen house. Michael Taylor has moved back and forth from private industry jobs to government regulatory agencies. Mr. Taylor has worked for Monsanto in several different capacities and for the government where he pushes Monsantos agenda.

Here's the back story.

"When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?" says Jeffery Smith.

Some are saying Mr. Taylor had a change of heart and now is ready to do his job with the FDA. But one of his opinions is that more responsibility should go to local and state governments and in this current recession, none of these agencies has the funds to really do an adequate job.

THe revolving door of industy lobbiest to federal czar is really disturbing. i can't imagine that Obama couldn't find and hire an competent lawyer that doesn't have the taint of Monsanto connection, change of heart or not.

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September 16, 2011

Fall bulbs will bring color and life to the spring garden


Fall is the time to plant the spring flowering bulbs. This includes tulip, hyacinth, daffodil, crocus and iris which will make a profusion of color in the spring. You can group bulbs throughout the landscape and they will accent and highlight the garden. When used in naturalized settings of tall evergreens or among trees and broadleaf evergreens, they are particularly effective. .

At Spring flowering bulbs

Because they come in a variety of growing heights and a wide range of colors, their uses are as varied as their colors. Several types of varied heights and colors will create an array of beauty . You can also use bulbs in plantings of moss, ivy, vinca and low growing ground covers.

Bulbs can be effectively used in containers. They can provide spot color on the patio, in the entry area, near the driveway or in the home. Most varieties do equally well in the ground or in containers.

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September 15, 2011

Mexican primrose roots easily in water


We have a lack of cut flowers so in desparation for a dinner table decoration I cut some Mexican primrose and noticed that the flowers even after a week or two the flowers kept developing and opening. A quick look in the vase showed me long tendrils of roots. I quickly changed the water which I hadn't done and today they looks happier than ever.

I think putting them in soil is going to be a difficult task, but I'm going to try and see if you can develop it into a house plant. A long chance but fun to experiment with these ideas.

At Mexican primrose

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September 14, 2011

A lovely garden flag for autumn


If you like to have a flag flying by your home Toland has some lovely choices. It would go well on the garden gate also and is a reminder that the weather is changing and that fall comes this month.

  • Decorative Art Flag
  • Toland Flags are made from durable 600 denier polyester
  • Heat sublimated process permanently dyes flag fabric for long-lasting color
  • Toland Flags are UV, Mildew, and Fade Resistant
  • All Toland Flags are machine washable

At Garden flat

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September 12, 2011

Rainy day! Time to trim the house plants and feed them


We are housebound out here in the east with rainy drippy and rather deary weather. I'm not able to do anything outside so I decided to trim the houseplant and try to start some cuttings. Pothos is one of the most common houseplants and is a native of East Asia. It has many varieties, leaves with white, yellow, or light green variegation. Pothos will climb easily or it's tendrils will hang down which every you prefer. It can grow quite tall and hardly every flowers because it's flowering depends on it's height.

I cut off three very long straggly vines and put the growing tips with about five nodes and the top leaves in water. The leaves almost immediately perked up and after about a week I expect to see roots form from one or more of the nodes. It's good to change the water every three or four days, but it is really easy to root cuttings in water. The tricky part comes in transferring them to soil. It's best to use potting soil and vermiculite to let the root have an easy time getting used to solids.

At Pothos plant

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September 9, 2011

Digging up the potatoes with the grandchildren


There are some pleasures that gardening supplies that are going to be great memories for those involved. Today I dug up the potatoes that were planted in the spring with my grandchildren. I got them small trowels and gave them instructions about digging gently so they wouldn't hurt the potatoes. They dug and dug and uncovering the potatoes was like finding buried treasure.

Once they had uncovered the ones near the topsoil, I came in with the big shovel and dug a large shovelful and turned it over so they could pull out the big potatoes buried deeply. They were ecstatic and couldn't have been more pleased if we were digging up gold nuggets. After we got all the potatoes out, I let them wash them off with a hose and then we brought them in the house and they insisted on washing them again, trying to use hot water to get them really clean until I told them that was not necessary. In the end it was a job well done and they were very happy with themselves and the crop. A very fun afternoon for the family.

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September 8, 2011

Beautiful and exotic--a Parrot tulip!


Now that I'm thinking about fall bulb planting and this gorgeous tulip seems like a great addition to the red and yellow colors that are common in the tulip world. It has a large bulb and a mature tulip will be quite tall, as much as fourteen inches. You want to plant these beauties where viewers can take in the vivid variety of colors. The fringed petals are orange with streaks of blue, green, yellow & red.

The Blumex tulip flowers in April and May and the price on these 10 bulbs makes it a bargain.
At Blumex Parrot Tulip

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September 7, 2011

Wildflower Tulips??!! A Wild Spring Show!

These are little bulbs that have brilliant colors. These wildflower tuliips are the size of large crocus. They make a great ground-cover, and if you plant them in your wildflower garden, you'll have color a month before you see any other wildflower blooms!

They're also great under shrubs, along walks. Plant them once, and they're there ever spring. If you plant 7-9 bulbs per sq. ft. to make a splash in your garden the first year. These are tiny bulbs but they need to be planted deeply (4") to encourage best flowering as they spread. These tulips are perennials, they come back each spring to form larger and more colorful colonies with each passing year.

At Wildflower Mix Tulip

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September 6, 2011

Purple Fountain Grass makes a great landscape plant


Purple Fountain Grass is a popular annual which is easy to grow and really attractive. It grows three to four feet high. It should be planted in fertile well drained soil in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. "Purple Fountain Grass" is a vigorous grower that will quickly fill in any bed or container. The foxtail like plumes will appear mid summer and last until first frost.

Many people have tried to grow it as a house plant by digging it up and repotting it with mixed success. I am going to try this later in September before the first killing frost. This is a drought-tolerant grass that forms neat clumps of purplish-maroon blades and has rose-red flower spikes summer through fall. It's perennial in warm climates. This item is shipped as a potted one gallon plant in its original soil and container. Hardy to USDA zone 8 and all higher zones.

At Purple Fountain Grass

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September 2, 2011

Saving herbs for year round use

Herbs can be usually used fresh, dry, or fresh-frozen. The rule of thumb is to use twice as much of the fresh or frozen herb as the dried form as the dried from is concentrated. However, dried herbs if not put in sealed containers, soon loose their potency and develop a stale taste.

Harvesting and drying herbs is fairly easy. The volatile oils of the plant are stored mainly in the leaves and this gives the plant its aroma and taste. Air drying is the simplest method. You can hang them in a warm spot upside down after cutting off the root. Food dehydrators create a gentle flow of air which hastens the process.

The idea time of season to harvest most herbs is just when the flower buds are forming, but just before they open. The best time of day is in the morning when the dew has dried off the leaves and there is no moisture clinging to the plant. The volatile oils will be at their best this time of day.

To insure that the plant material is clean, hose them down the evening before you plan to harvest, gently spraying away any dirt which clings to the leaves.

As much as half of the growing leaves from one picking may be harvested from an annual plant. You can snip the stem at least 4 inches up from the ground, yet still above active growth. In time it will grow back and give you a second harvest before summer's end. In some cases, even a third. With perennial plants, no more than one-third should be taken

It's never to late to start herbs indoors where you can harvest all year long!

At Culinary Herbs

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September 1, 2011

Asiatic Lilies for fall planting

Asiatic Lilies are an easy-to-grow colorful addition to any garden. They come in almost every color of the rainbow and bloom June to July. You can plant these bulbs in the fall and you should have flowers year after year. Some mulch in the winter will help the bulbs in sub zero temperatures. They're very hardy, need no staking, and are not particularly fussy about soil, as long as it drains well.

At Asiatic Lily Mix

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