Picture Snob

Container Gardens & Window Boxes

September 6, 2011

Purple Fountain Grass makes a great landscape plant

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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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June 24, 2011

Lobelia is lovely in a hanging planter

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Lobelia is a flowering plant that lives mostly in tropical or warm temperate climates. It was used by Native Americans for respiratory problems and as a relaxant and purgative.

Lobelia erinus, a South African annual plant that includes many cultivated selections in a wide variety of colours. They are grown in beds, large pots, window boxes and in hanging baskets. The plants are most often grown away from sunny hot southern exposures (northern exposures in the southern hemisphere) in soils that are moisture retentive.

This trailing lobelia, perfect for hanging baskets, blooms blue, white, red and lilac. You can pinch back the blooms to get even busier flowers. Lobelia will bloom all sumer until a hard frost. It is easier to start the seed indoors as they are tiny and take a while to germinate, but it is not too late to get several planters going and to enjoy the cascade of color when the lobelia begins to bloom.

At Lobelia

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June 7, 2011

Cherry tomatoes grow well in containers

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Cherry tomatoes were developed fairly recently, in 1973, to be exact. Since that time they have become extremely popular with home gardeners and are used widely in salads, as an appetizer and as a garnish. They are usually round but can be oblong in which case they are used as a paste tomato.

Cherry tomatoes also have a way of thriving on their own and without much care from the gardener. Many of them will grow perfectly fine without staking, although I always use a cage for them as they do grow five feet tall. They are more tolerant of drought and weather fluctuations, and less prone to the cracking and blossom end rot that frequently afflict full sized tomato varieties.

Cherry tomatoes will mature and ripen earlier in the season and continue to bear ripe fruits throughout the summer and into the fall months. Most cherry tomato varieties are incredibly productive, yielding hundreds of ripe fruits from a single plant.

At Cherry Tomatoes

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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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March 30, 2011

String of Pearls is a great indoor plant

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String of Pearls is a flowering plant in the family which includes Dusty Miller and German Ivy. It is native to southwest Africa and is an easy to care for plant. It's lovely in a hanging planter because it grows long, trailing stems of spherical leaves. The flowers are pale and brushlike. . The fleshy leaves are poisonous and should not be consumed.

This family and their delicate, succulent tapestries fill the same horticutual niche. String of Pearls, is a popular and low-maintenance plant to grow in a sunny window. It is a slow-growing variety, but your patience will be rewarded.
Light: Window.

Water: Water when surface is dry. They are forgiving if you forget.

Fertilizer: Use either a balanced or low-nitrogen formula at low levels, but frequently---March through October.

Soil: Should be loose and porous like a cactus soil.

The plant you will receive is growing in a 6" hanging basket and the vines are just beginning to cascade over the edge of the pot. One caveat here. The fleshy leaves are poisonous and should not be consumed.

At String of Pearls

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March 7, 2011

Hydrofarm grow lights jump start seedlings for an early spring

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If you're snowbound and still having hard freezes, then this grow light system may help you start your seedlings early. This product is 2 ft wide and they say it has super efficient T5 lights help you grow faster by providing 15-20% more lumens than traditional grow lights. It features a simple toggle clamp for easy lamp height adjustment, and the fixture has an internal reflective finish that directs more light to plants.

Some of the reviews say the stand which holds the light is not terribly sturdy, but they all agree that the adjustable height works and for the price, it is a good deal.

You can grow African Violets, orchids, flowering bulbs, vegetables, seedlings and cuttings. The assembly is really easty. So you might give it a try and begin the gardening season a couple of months early and have your own seedlings to pop in the ground when the weather warms.

At Hydrofarm JSV2 2-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System

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December 17, 2010

Frosty Fern is a good winter plant

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My granddaughter and i found Frosty Ferns on sale at Whole Foods and on impluse bought them. Frosty Fern is a lovely plant, dark green with the tips light cream which is where the plant gets its name. Its Latin name is Selaginella krausianna variegatus, and it grows to 12". It is a fast-growing, creeping house plant. Its stems quickly reach a foot long or more and the stems root whereever they touch the soil, forming a dense mat. Although not a fern, it does produce spores instead of seeds, like a fern.

This plant likes moist soil and indirect light. The more light it gets, the faster it grows. It is only hardy to about 10 degrees so it can be succesfully grown indoors during the winter and moved to a shady location outdoors during the summer. If you want the plant to get bigger, fertilize regularly with a diluted, balanced fertilizer. The yellowing of the fronds is an indication of lack of nutrients or overwatering and underwatering. Selaginella kraussiana is a native of Africa, the Mediterranean Region and the Azores Islands

At Frosty Fern Club Moss Hanging Basket.

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December 10, 2010

A Greenhouse is a great gift

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This greenhouse is a blowout gift for the gardener in your life(or your own garden). It is easy to assemble, sturdy and durable and will extend the growing season and give healthier veggies, more vibrant flowers, and abundant herbs year-round. It uses solar heat and the glazing resists fogging. The roof is strong enough to hold a snow load and the greenhouse makes a beautiful accent to the garden. Here is a great way to protect seedlings from frost for an early start. So if you want to splurge on a loved one or on yourself, this is the item to choose.

  • Hobby greenhouse with sliding door
  • 100 percent UV protection: protects glazing, plants, and gardener from harmful rays
  • Classic apex roof design for head room; roof vent for proper ventilation
  • Aluminum frame, powder coated galvanized steel base;
  • Measures 6 by 8 feet, manufacturer 12-year warranty

At Rion Greenline 6- By 8-Foot Backyard Hobby Greenhouse

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December 2, 2010

Winter Holiday time is poinsetta time

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For those of you thinking ahead to the holiday season, now might be a good time to get a poinsetta whose bracts and flowers will last several months, perhaps right into February. Poinsettas are native to Mexico and have been cultivated for Christmas flowers since the 16th century. Their bright color comes not from their flowers, but from the bracts around the flowers which are noted for their brilliant red, but can also be green, pink and yellow.

One of the most common questions after Christmas is "How can I care for my poinsettia so that it will bloom again next Christmas?" While this can be done, it's a very fussy, exacting process. When you bring the poinsetta home, you should place it near a sunny window. Poinsettias are tropicals and will appreciate as much direct sunlight as you can provide. Temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees F are good during the day. However, cold drafts or allowing the leaves to touch a cold window ca injure the leaves and cause premature leaf drop. Water the plant whenever the surface feels dry to the touch. Water until it drains out the bottom, but don't let the plant sit in water.

If you follow these simple guidlines, your poinsetta will last and bring you some cheer all winter long.

At Poinsettia Plant - Large

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November 15, 2010

Dragon tree is a great house plant

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

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

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

At 10 PLUS Dracaena draco DRAGON TREE SEEDS

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November 10, 2010

A great idea from the Helpful Gardener

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Brighten Up Your Winter Garden With Colorful Berries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Cranberry plants

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November 9, 2010

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

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

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

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

At Edible Landscaping [Paperback]

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September 27, 2010

The Square Foot Gardener is a great book with new ideas

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This book can help you rethink the way you garden. This book tells you how to garden without tilling and without fertilizer. Here are some of the ideas:

1) New Location - Move your garden closer to your house by eliminating single-row gardening. Square Foot Garden needs just "twenty percent" of the space of a traditional garden.

2) New Direction - Locate your garden "on top" of existing soil. Forget about pH soil tests, double-digging (who enjoys that?), or the never-ending soil improvements.

3) New Soil - The new "Mel's Mix" is the perfect growing mix. Why, we even give you the recipe. Best of all, you can even "buy" the different types of compost needed.

4) New Depth - You only need to prepare a SFG box to a depth of 6 inches! It's true--the majority of plants develop just fine when grown at this depth.

5) No Fertilizer - The all new SFG does not need any fertilizer-ever! If you start with the perfect soil mix, then you don't need to add fertilizer.

6) New Boxes - The new method uses bottomless boxes placed aboveground. We show you how to build your own (with step-by-step photos).

7) New Aisles - The ideal gardening aisle width is about three to four feet. That makes it even easier to kneel, work, and harvest.

8)New Grids - Prominent and permanent grids added to your SFG box help you visualize the planting squares and know how to space for maximum harvest.

9)New Seed Saving Idea - The old-fashioned way advocates planting many seeds and then thinning the extras (that means pulling them up). The new method means planting a pinch- literally two or three seeds--per planting hole.

10) Tabletop Gardens - The new boxes are so much smaller and lighter (only 6 inches of soil, remember?), you can add a plywood bottom to make them portable.

I'm thinking about using this techinque at the new house site where building up the soil would take years of effort. I could just plant in boxes!


At The Square Foot Gardener

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September 16, 2010

Outsmarting the bear by getting the pears first


IMG_1490.jpgIt's not very often I can pat myself on the back about having gotten to the fruit first before the bears hit the tree. Once they're in on it, the tree gets broken and smashed, branches torn and ripped. Bears aren't very delicate about picking fruit. So last year the plum tree took a beating and this year the Bosque pear tree was covered with lovely fruit and I noticed some bear droppings around the vicinity. That was a warning they were checking it out, waiting for the sugar content to make it worth their while.

Bears get very hungry in the fall and they used to be able to fatten up on salmon that came up the river until the logging and floods ruined the fisheries. Now they hang around orchards and trash fruit trees trying to get the calories they need for winter.

This year I decided to pick the pears early. Pears are usually picked before they are dead ripe anyway and allowed to ripen indoors in a cool and dry place. I've got about two or three lugs now, enough to can some pear butter and to eat fresh and give away and I"m very pleased to have managed to save the tree and the pears for myself.

The pear butter is simple to make. Core and pare the pears, cook them to a consistency of applesauce and add spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to taste and some orange juice or orange zest. It's delicious on toast or with a pork entre. Yummy!

At Surecrop Pear Tree Five Gallon

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