Picture Snob

August 6, 2010

The Winter Garden needs some planning

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I've planted late beans and put in a winter planting of beets. I think the broccoli, kale and cabbage will have to be started indoors and transplanted as the weather is too hot right now for good germination. Fall planted vegetables take about two weeks longer to mature because the daylight is getting shorter and all plants respond to that. So it's a good idea to get a jump on fall plantings by prespourting seeds.

To presprout seeds, place them between two layers of damp paper towels. Place the towels in a plastic bag and keep them in a warm place until the seeds germinate. Another method is to soak seeds for 4 hours. Allow the seedlings to reach a length of up to 1 inch. Be careful not to break the roots when planting. You can plant sprouted seeds more deeply than normal to help prevent drying out. Water well until the plants break the soil surface.

If it's hot and sunny when you plant, young plants will need extra care. Water transplants daily at first. You might need to sprinkle seeds and newly germinated seedlings twice a day. To keep the soil moist and protect young plants from the sun, temporarily shade them. Boards and umbrellas make good shade structures and a mulch of straw or hay helps.

At Renee's Greens Crispy Winter Seeds 900 Seeds

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August 5, 2010

Territorial Seed fall catalog reminds me to think about fall

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i got my Territorial Fall Seed catalogue. The good thing about this is it reminds me that fall plantings are due and gives me a chance to sit and ponder what ground cover to use. I need to put in more broccoli as it winters over nicely and provides greens all year long. The Russian red leaf kale also over winters and self sows so I have to check to make sure I have some seedlings and replant them if necessary to a place in the garden easy to get to in the winter.

I'm going to plant fava beans to overwinter also. They usually ripen in very early spring and so provide much needed vegetable while everything else is just been sown. Late Cabbage will overwinter where I am and some cauliflower will be good. The weather right now is really hot and I'm sitting inside, thinking about fall and winter, before I head to the river to cool off. Very sweet counterpoint.

At Territorial Seeds

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August 4, 2010

How to replant a fading flower bed

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Flower beds past their prime and overrun with weeds can be a common sight in late-summer landscape. The intense heat makes me reluctant to do much work outside, it's not reasonable to expect all the plants you carefully tended to hold up from the beginning of the summer growing season in early May until its end several months later. Fortunately, nurseries are still well-stocked with colorful, heat-tolerant bedding plants that will grow vigorously from now through late October. You can still plant seeds of many flowers and expect to see their color before the frost.

To replant your beds, first remove the old plants and put them in your compost pile. But try to avoid putting any weeds that have set seeds in the compost. Just dig those out and throw them away.

Next, spread a 1-inch to 2-inch layer of organic matter, such as compost, bagged or aged manure, landscape soil conditioner, grass clippings or peat moss, over the bed. Sprinkle a light application of high nitrogen fertilizer over the organic matter and then thoroughly incorporate everything into the soil of the bed. Rake it smooth, and the bed is ready to plant.

When planting late in the growing season, choose well-established plants in 4-inch pots or larger. Make sure the plants you purchase are healthy and vigorous and have been properly cared for. Avoid plants that look wilted or leggy, have poor color or show signs of insect or disease problems. This is not the time of year to nurse struggling plants back to health. Start off with the highest quality plants you can find.

If you're planting from seed, this mix below has some lovely old fashioned flowers not often seen in nurserys. They provide surprising variety and beautiful color and often self sow.

At Grandmother's Cut Flower Garden Seed Mix 15 Grams 22 Varieties

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July 22, 2010

Hot, hot, hot, and more mulch, please!

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So now the temperatures are soaring to 106 today and I've got all the drippers and soaker hoses going and some plants are still wilting in the heat. Tonight in the evening, I'll put more mulch on the strawberries and around corn after first feeding them again. All the hot weather vegies are growing fast and keeping them moist is a chore.

The hot weather has made it impossible to plant broccoli out in the garden. I"m getting two flats ready and will keep them indoors until the plants have some roots developed. Then they should transplant into the garden for late fall and winter eating. Broccoli is one of my staple crops. Once the main head is picked, it puts out spouts all winter and again in the spring. This is what is now sold in stores as broccolini ever since the broccoli growers figured out they could market it.

My plan is to do short double rows of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower near the garden gate where I won't have to wade into muck and mud in the winter to harvest a vegie for supper. I have to order seeds and I'm going to try the Fall Broccoli blend.

At Fall Broccoli

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July 20, 2010

Harvesting Basil multiple times is possible with the right cuttings

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The basil is ready to harvest in my garden! I'm looking forward to some fresh pesto on pasta with vegetables, one of the great summer treats. I used to pull up the plants and pick off the leaves to make pesto. It's easy to freeze and it's wonderful to bring it out on a cold winter day for a taste of summer. And I don't use a recipe. I just add olive oil, parmasan and pine nuts to taste. Too sharp, use more pine nuts; too oily, use more basil and add more parmasan. Very easy. Salt to taste.

But recently someone told me that I can harvest the bottom leaves that grow along the stem before they get too large when they loose their potency. The best time to harvest is when the plant is four or five inches tall and you leave the top small leaves so that the plant continues to grow and more harvesting can be done. You have to take care not to damage the stem when you do this so you don't kill the plant. With this method you can harvest basil for seasonings and salads all summer long. I pick off the flowers when they start blooming and add nitrogen to produce more leafy growth.

There are at least 60 varieties of Basil. The most common are the Sweet basils:


  • Sweet, Genovese, Large-leaf, Mammoth

  • Purple foliage basils: Dark Opal, Purple Ruffles

  • Lemon basils: Lemon-Scented, Lemon, Sweet Dani

  • Others: Cinnamon basil, Spicy Bush, Camphor, Anise, Licorice

They vary in color and have amazing nuances of scent. What you buy in the store can't compare to picking basil fresh. It takes only 60 days to havest so you have time to get a planting in before a September frost or buy some seedlings!

At Sweet Large Leaf Italian Basil - 8 Plants - Herb

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July 16, 2010

Now Cucumbers can solve all our problems!!!

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The Amazing Cucumber

This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area. (WOW)

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!! (DOUBLE WOW)

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber sliced rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

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June 30, 2010

Why we should all eat more strawberries

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Of course strawberries are sweet and we love to eat them, but they also have a very important nutritious value. There are a lot of health benefits from eating strawberries.
Strawberries are good for your health because they contains minerals and vitamins that are important to boost the immune system. Some of the vitamins that people can get from this fruit are vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin K. Aside from these, strawberry is also rich in manganese, dietary fiber as well as iodine. If you need potassium and folate, you can get these from eating strawberries.

If you want to eliminate the harmful toxins in your blood, one of the best things to do is to eat strawberries because these have antioxidants, much like blueberries, that are important to combat free radicals. Eliminating free radicals prevents the development of cancer cells. Aside from having anti-aging properties, people can also benefit from strawberries since these have properties that can improve brain health.

If you want to store the berries, you need to keep the fruits in a cool and dry place. You can store the fruits for not more than two days since the nutritional components of strawberries are decreased when stored for a long time. If you have harvested more than you need, you can stem them, sprinkle sugar over them, and pop them in the freezer. Then some cold dreary winter day, you can open the pack and enjoy the taste of spring!

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May 21, 2010

My lilacs are blooming!

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"In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-washed palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle -and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-coloured blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break."

Walt Whitman was mourning the death of Abraham Lincoln in this poem, and he uses the lilac as a metaphor for his love and respect of Lincoln. I'm so happy I have a blooming lilac bush. It's taken several years to nurture it as it was planted in hard rocky soil by the tool shed. My mother had lilacs by the back door and my grandmother had them in her yard. They were a part of my childhood and their color and fragrance bring back memories of past springs.

Lilacs originated in Asia and came to Europe from Turkey and were brought with settlers to the US around 1750. There are many(about 500) varieties of lilacs and some are hybrids with double flowers. I prefer the old fashioned kind. They are the perfect harbinger of the beginning of spring and a joy to the eye and the nose!

At 2 Purple Lilac Trees 15 to 25 Inches Tall

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May 14, 2010

The asparagus is thriving in the new bed! But what kind is it?

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Last year I planted a bed of asparagus. My old bed had petered out producing a stalk now and then and also self seeding itself in various places in the garden, the strawberry patch and under the grapevines. I got tired of trying to weed it. It was planted next to the fence line as I thought that was a good place for perennials since it wouldn't need tilling. However, the grass from the lawn outside the garden kept creeping in. I tried everything to stop it. I put down some old boards, the then put black plastic under the fence and everything eventually failed and the weeds moved in.

So the new bed is in a section of the garden that is going to be used for mostly perennials. I built up a bed with chicken manure and dirt from the garden that is about a foot high. Since this bed was in the midst of some spearmint, I put old roofing tin around the sides of the bed to keep the mint out. This along with some heavy weeding this spring did a good job and I put a strip of black plastic down the middle. Next time I go to town, I'll get some straw to cover the bed.

The asparagus is going strong and it's very tempting to pick some to eat, but I am restraining myself. All the information says, you need to let it go for two years before harvesting and although this asparagus looks vigorous and huge, I going to obey the instructions. This plantation I thought was Jersey Knight, but looking at the stalks, I have decided I got Purple Passion. I'm so pleased with the them whatever their name.

At Territorial seed

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May 11, 2010

The great wildflower experiment results are mixed

In December, I seeded the bare dirt around the new house and also on the flat below with rye seed which usually grows easily anywhere and with some wildflowers around the house to brighten up the area and to save walking in mud in winter and breathing dust in the summer.

We have some of the results below:

The rye woked well. It grows fast and loosens the hardpan. Even in the places where it germinated sparcely, it keeps the soil in place and soaks up water so that you're not walking around in mud.

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These sweet little Baby Blue Eyes were the first wildflower to germinate.

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The rye did well on the flat especially in the wet areas, but where the ground was really packed hard, it hardly germinated. I think I'll have to get someone to disk the upper left bare ground in this picture.

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Part of the problem with the growth is that the area was not fertilized. Still, the clovers and wildflowers and some of the rye will reseed and native plants will move in to take over. All it needs is water this summer which I intend to supply.

Here is as close as it comes to what was advertised.

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