Picture Snob

March 25, 2011

Plum tree in the rain

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Of course the plum tree had been trying to bloom for about 2 weeks and I had been hoping it would hold off longer as here in the mountains it warms up like spring and then suddenly starts snowing. That very senario happened this week. We had heavy rains, the river filled up bank to bank and then snow started pelting down with a cold front coming in. It is very typical and no matter how much I try to warn the plum tree about taking it's time and waiting a while, it does what it must and I'll be very surprised if I get any plums this year. The water will wash away the pollen, the bees won't be around to pollenate, and if isn't enough, the cold will freeze the fruit buds.

Still the tree is beautiful in the rain and a reminder that no matter how rainy, snowy or cold it gets this month, that this is the month that spring officially arrives and nothing can stop the warmth and light's return. However, with six fruits on one tree, you might be able to count on at least one or two of them coming through. It has peach, plum, apricot, and nectarine and it comes bare root and should bare fruit in two or three years.

At Fruit Cocktail Tree 6 Fruits On one Tree

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March 24, 2011

Plant your hops in the spring; make beer in the fall

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Beersmith Home Brewing Blog has an interesting article on growing hops. Even if you're not interested in growing hops for beer, you can still cultivate them for shade.

Whether you live in the Northwest, Northeast, Midwest, South or California does not matter - hops can be grown in any moderate climate with proper care. Hops grow from small root-like cuttings about a foot long called rhizomes.

Rhizomes can be purchased from a variety of places online and mailed to your home - just do a quick search for "hop rhizomes" on google.

Select an area with plenty of sun. Hops need at least 6-8 hours of sun a day, so the South facing side of your home or an exposed site is a good location. Hop vines (called bines) can grow to over 25 feet and weigh over 20 pounds, so vertical space for a trellis is important as well.

Hops prefer well-aerated soil that is rich in nutrients and has good drainage. If you are going to plant several varieties, keep them well separated in your garden. Hop roots will spread quickly and take over the garden unless you separate them and trim the roots each season.

Hops should be planted in the Spring, late enough to avoid a frost. Fertilize liberally before planting. Plant your hops in a mound and aerate the ground by turning it over several times to aid drainage, enhance growth and prevent disease. Place the rhizomes about 4 inches deep, and make your mound of soil about a foot high to aid drainage. Place the root side of the rhizome down. Cover the mound with some straw or light mulch to inhibit the weeds.

The hop bines grow vertically and require some kind of trellis. Your trellis could some heavy rope or twine going from ground level to your roof, or a few poles securely mounted in the ground. If using rope, select rough twine-like rope so the bines can grab onto it. Keep in mind that the hop bines can be 25+ feet long and weigh 20+ pounds. The trellis should be strong and secure.

Hops also enjoy lots of water and sunlight. In the dry climates or the heat of summer, they may need to be watered daily. Once the hops begins to grow, select the best bines and wrap them around your trellis to train them. You will need to train the hops for a few days, but eventually they will begin growing in a clockwise direction from east to west around your trellis. Train the best shoots and trim the rest off.

At Nugget Beer Hops Vine

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March 23, 2011

Sugar Snap Peas are the sweetest treat in early spring

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If you live in a climate where the weather has warmed up and there's a space in the garden that can be dug, now is the time you could plant some snap peas and get an early harvest. I have grandkids coming this summer in June and want to have some garden vegetables for them to try right out of the garden, and snap peas would be perfect.

If, on the other hand, you are one of the ones still snowed in, you can plant these inside and let them get started until the weather warms up. Soil temperature should be 40 degrees for peas, lettuce and endive. And for peas seeds innoculant helps them establish vigor from the start.

At Peas Sugar Snap Certified Organic Seeds 85 Seeds

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March 17, 2011

Phylox plants make great groundcovers and lovely blooms in spring

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Around the new house, where topsoil was scraped off and only subsoil with clay and rocky ground are left, I'm going to try landscaping with phylox. In spring, creeping phlox plants produce small flowers in dense clusters. If massed together as a groundcover, creeping phlox plants make a powerful landscaping statement. The colors available are red, white, blue, pink, rose, lavender, purple or variegated. Creeping phlox plants reach 6" in height and spread out 2'. Some of the needle-like foliage remains green throughout the winter.

After the blooming period, prune back the foliage of creeping phlox plants. This "pinching" will encourage foliage to become denser, thereby making your creeping phlox plants a more attractive groundcover for the summer months. If you wish to propagate creeping phlox plants through division, divide them in spring, immediately after blooming.

I already have a cluster I can divide, but I"m going to need a lot more to make the barren ground bloom with color.

At Emerald Blue Phlox Perennial

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March 15, 2011

The primroses are blooming!

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Primroses are some of the first flowers of spring and so welcome! They have the added benefit of being perinneals and with a little loving care should last for years and years. Primroses love cool weather and lots of rich humus and leaf mold. In spring they will take full sun, but like some protection later on in the summer. Primulas are quite tolerant of being transplanted, even when they are in bloom. Newly purchased plants can be set into the garden in early spring. Older plants can be divided and transplanted right after they are finished blooming.

If you want to plant primroses from seed, you should know that the seeds are very tiny and also need light to germinate. Before planting any primroses in the garden proper the bed should be prepared by mixing the soil so it is at least half peat to a depth of at least eight inches. As with all other planting, fertilizer should be mixed with the soil, preferably one that has 4-12-4 or something similar. Another application can be given in the early fall to stimulate a little fall growth before the ground freezes.

The more common primroses seem to be perfectly hardy and except for a light mulch to prevent heaving they do not require a great deal of winter protection. They certainly brighten any flower garden or window sill with an array of color early in the season.


At Common Primrose Scarlet

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March 14, 2011

Bunching onions continue to grow year after year

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Bunching onions are sometimes called shallots. They have hollow stems and do not form a large bulb, but stay small, like green onions and grow in clusters. These onions are cold resistent and can be grown all year. I used to have several clumps growing along the fence line years ago and am inspired to try this again.

Bunching onions have a milder flavor than regular onions and are often used in Asian dishes. There are many different types, some Asian, some Italian. Plant them thickly where you won't be tilling, such as next door to a perennial planting. You might want to thin them a little when they come up, and then let them grow. Harvest some of them when the stems are as big as a pencil, but leave plenty alone. When you harvest you should gently pull older ones up allowing the young onions remain in the soil to grow. They will develop more shoots and continue to grow throughout the year.

At Ferry-Morse 3083 Organic Onion Seeds, Evergreen Bunching

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March 11, 2011

A spring day when planting peas come to mind

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Today was one of those soft spring days when there is a mist of rain and then sun and then rainbows and then rain again. And the light rain falling on head and shoulders doesn't stopp the yard work or the digging in the garden. One can just keep going through all the changes because the weather is so mild.

I started thinking about planting some pea seeds in hopes of having some ripe peas as early as May. The problem this time of year is whether to soak the seed or not. I like to soak pea seeds because it 's easy to see which ones are not viable and throw them out and not waste energy planting them. If I wait just long enough to see the first small sprout break out of the casing, then I know I've got what I want. However, I have planted such nicely sprouted seeds and waited for them to break ground until impatient, I dig down to find them rotten or disappeared. That's the down side of sprouting them to get an early start.

Just dropping the dry seed, covered with a little innoculant into the ground avoids this problem, but can also lead to rot if the weather decides to turn cold and wet. So basically we gardeners take out chances. If you have a greenhouse, you can let the plants grow tall and then put them out, feeling fairly certain they will survive and produce. It all depends on the weather and a willingness to experiment. However, I think I'm putting in a small row of soaked seeds right now.

At Sugar Snap Peas

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March 10, 2011

Audubon Workshop has a catalog full of ideas for attracting birds

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Audubon Workshop was created in 1930 to provide bird lovers suggestions and items that would attract birds and butterflys. Besides an extended variety of bird houses, bird baths, mason bee houses, and squirrel baffles, the Audubon Workshop catalog has a page after page of plants that would attract birds, hummingbirds and butterflys.

There is a section on red flowers for hummingbirds featuring columbine and honeysuckle. There are evening blooming plants like primroses, lavender, and a Soft Cloud Sedum, which, if you leave the blooms, will feed birds in the spring. What caught my eye was a Coreopsis called Route 66 which is lovely cream and wine colored flowers on a plant that doesn't mind heat, drought, poor soil, and neglect while providing food for butterflies and seeds for songbirds. Sounds perfect!

At Audubon Workshop

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March 9, 2011

A pomegranate tree is good for landscaping and eating

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My neighbor bought a pomegranate tree about twenty years ago and it is still growing and still producing in spite of recent years of neglect. You remember how it figures in the Greek myth about Demeter and Persephone? When Zeus lets Persephone return to her mother, the earth, spring comes back to the world. But Persephone had eaten six pomegrante seeds and so had to return to Hades and the Underworld for six months every year bringing winter to the world.

Powerful fruit! And now it's been tested and we know it is full of antioxidants. This great Pomegranate variety in a smaller one gallon sized tree. Pomegranates are useful as landscape plants as well as for great fruit. They can be trimmed to fountain shaped shrub or a tree depending on your needs. The tree is mediterranean and so must have sun for best flowers and fruit production. But it is drought tolerant and grows well in alkaline soil, or will grow in a container on sunny patio or deck.

Pomegranate is surprisingly cold tolerate and will take freezes down to 0 degrees. You could make your own pomegranate juice from the large ripe fruit! The tree will grow to over 12 to 15' tall if not clipped. It is shipped as a potted one gallon plant, not bare root.


At Wonderful Pomegranate Tree

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March 8, 2011

The first sprouts of spring!

Remember the row I dug in the early spring weather in January and I planted kale and some broccoli? Then winter came back with snow and freezing rain and wiped out all hope. I checked this morning on the row, now soggy and trammeled by weather and discovered the sprouts had come up! Well some of them had.

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The kale has sprouted, but the broccoli still remains unground or maybe rotted. But nonetheless, it was a joy to see seedlings, however pale and tentative coming up in the garden. I covered the edges where weeds were creeping with straw that has overwintered and thus won't sprout it's seeds and be a weed problem itself.

I'm inspired now and it is the first of the month when spring officially arrives. So I'm going to plant some lettuce in the same row and hope for the best.

At Lettuce Romaine Parris Island Cos Certified Organic Heirloom Seeds 275 Seeds

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