Picture Snob


February 18, 2011

Kellog's Gardner and Bloome soil conditioner--a disappointing mix


I bought a 3 cubic foot bag of this product from my nursery and opened it to find exactly what I don't like about so many soil building, fertilizing, or soil amendment products. There was a generous use of wood chips for filler. And this bag had the nerve to call itself also "compost" when real composting of this product would take another year!

I'm using it anyway, mixing it in with the well composted steer manure I bought from the same nursery and I'm sure over time it will decompose and be useful as a soil amendment but as it is it was a huge ten dollar disappointment, I checked out the website for Kellog's organic products, thinking it might be a subsidiary of Kellog's cereals, but this is a family owned business since 1925 and has been organic from the beginning. The website has a utube videa touting the wonderful properties of Organic Gardner and Bloom. This product has according to the information provided composted Red wood, forest humus and bark fines screened to a uniform 1/4" minus size. The compost is further blended with Chicken Manure, Worm Castings, Bat Guano and Kelp Meal. Oyster and Dolomite Limes are added as pH adjusters (pH=6.5).me products. It sounds great! Unfortunately, the screened to a "uniform 1/4" minus size is a pretty big exaggeration.

Here is what I found in my bag:


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January 21, 2011

Grower's Supply--a catalog for every growing need


This catalog is put out by an Iowa company and it has a clearance sale on overstocks and closeouts going right now as well as a 10% discount on orders of $75 or more. They cater to large growers, featuring large fabric structures and solar engineered greenhouses. But they also show some excelent weed growth suppessant which allows air, water and nutrients to pass through to the plants. The smallest size is 3' by 100' foot role for $25.95.

They have wathershield canopies for outdoor picnics and bbqing, or for protection for your car. There are ready made clearview panels of PVC vinyl for closing in a porch or extending a living area. Fiberglass mesh netting for keep areas deer and bird free are advertised as well as the usual spaying and watering equipment. They have ventilating systems for greenhouses and solar and energy efficient lights and many options of hand trucks and carts.

If you are looking into setting yourself up with a large indoor growing system this is a great place to look. Call 1 800 476-9715 for a catalog or online at Grower's Supply

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September 24, 2010

Trying to root the Pearmaine Apple


On impluse I bought a couple of items from Territorial Seed as well as the ground cover. One was a garlic twister that was supposed to take of the skin and then crush and mince the garlic. Perhaps if I worked out or was twenty years younger, it could work, but I put a clove of garlic in, tried twisting and couldn't get it to budge. I think with a vise and a wrench I could get it to work, but they aren't a part of my kitchen equipment, so I consider that buy a loss.

The other impulse buy was some rooting gel that has all the necessary hormones and the right ph for rooting soft wood plants, like flowers or house plants. My experiment with the gel is less likely to work, but I thought it was worth a try. In spring, a friend tried grafting the Pearmaine Apple onto some volunteer stock in the garden. I was so hopeful it would work, but neither one of the grafts took. So I took some of the soft new growth from the Pearmaine and have put it in the gel where it hasn't wilted, which is a good sign, but where no signs of rooting have appeared, which isn't so good. I just tried this week so it's early yet and there's hope.

The idea behind this product is a good one. The containers are sealed and you puncture just a small hole to put the stem in and the gel can be reused.

At Rooting Gel

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September 6, 2010

The Dig Timer quit turning on!


I bought this timer this season in hopes it would work as well as the old Dig timer which was black with a square top and took two 9volt batteries to run. But sadly this timer has stopped turning on, leaving a patch of the garden dry.

I brought it in the house, got out the instructions, put in a new battery, and carefullly followed the programming instructions and got nothing. I have a friend who is a wizard at these kind of mechanical failures, usually saying something like the orifice is plugged, but I am not so good at taking things apart and getting them back together properly. But the main issue is that the timer should work for more than four months and that is a huge disappointment and $40 gone after $5 worth of work.

So beware of this product. It was an analog timer which i like better than digital as it's less confusing and has less electronics to go wrong, but in this case, a bad choice.

However as an addendum, I called their 800 service number and answered the questions and was told to send in the timer for a replacement. So it's not all bad.

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July 2, 2010

Organic Gardening Magazine--a new face on an old standby

200_rasp.jpgA featured article this month on raspberries in Organic Gardening Magazine

I haven't looked at Organic Gardening Magazine for years until a friend recently turned me onto one. Wow! What a transformation! It was one of the few magazines I ordered when I first got my place in the country and I poured over each edition taking to heart all the hints and ideas I could use.

This magazine and it's online edition is filled with great gardening techniques and ideas. Although eatable flowers may not be of interest to you, how to keep a peach tree free of disease is a great aid to a garderner. They have articles on landscaping, compost and soil, organic living and organic solutions. One very interesting article I found was a soil test you can do on you garden soil with includes 10 easy steps. This is something you can do in your own garden to determine how healthy your soil is. The online composting section has about twenty articles to peruse with plenty of tips and problem solving.

I was amazed with the Organic living section. Here you will find delicious recipes to use with your garden produce. What a great addition to any gardening magazine. The landscaping section has a good ariticle on how to keep grass from creeping into your ornamental beds.

Both the online and the magazine itself are a great buy for any organic gardener. It will keep you inspired and filled with new ideas and energy.

At Organic Gardening Magazine

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May 24, 2010

The Search for the Perfect Timer continues


It's time to get the hoses, the sprinklers and the timers out. It hasn't been terribly hot or dry, but nonetheless, summer is coming here in Northern California and with summer comes irrigation. I usually get set up with two timers in the garden plus some soaker hose on the strawberries as they are always thirsty(and hungry, but more about that later). Then I have one timer and a hose and sprinkler with each that I move around the yard to keep it nice and green.

What this means is that I have used many many timers to save myself the trouble of remembering to turn the water on, and more importantly to turn it off. I'm going to do a series on various times that I have tried, some successfully and some not. I got an Orbit Sunmate single port digital timer for review last fall, but waited until we might be using timers to review it. Digital means you can program it and single port means that it is to be used with only one hose and sprinkler.

It's supposed to be simple to program and indeed it is! You put in two AA batteries and turn a dial to clock set to put the current time in. No other buttons to push. That was a little startling. You just turn the dial to start time and set the time to begin watering. It's really simple once you realize that's all you have to do. The next dial setting how long you want the watering to be and you click in the minutes desired. Turn the dial again to say how often you want the watering. There you can choose every six hours up to seven day intervals. Then you turn the dial to Auto. I have to say this is one of the simplist timers I have ever programed. Even better, somehow I misplaced the instruction and was able to access them online and print them for myself without hours of searching and/or phone calls.

This timer has a rain delay so that you can stop the watering for a few days or less, and has a simple manual override so you can get an extra watering in when needed. I have hooked this on to the faucet and so far it has worked perfectly. All in all a smooth and very easy set up. Oh, but hey, if you're digitally challanged like me, you need to know to take the 6:00am plastic sticker off the time window before trying to set the time. I kept thinking it wasn't working, because the 6:00am didn't change as I tried to set the time. Duh! Otherwise for one port timers, this simple machine gets a 9 out of 10 for set up!

At Orbit Sunmate 91213 One-Dial One-Outlet Hose Tap Timer

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January 14, 2010

Southern Exposure Seed Catalog has heirloom and open poliinated seed


The seed catalogs have started coming and there is nothing more cheerful during the third week of snow and cold in January than to sit inside and thumb through the lovely pictures of flowers and vegetables and dream about the garden to come. Southern Exposure is located in Virginia and specializes in organic and mid-Atlantic seed, but serves the whole country and encourages seed saving and heirloom varieties.

What I like about this catalog is that it explains their perference for open polinated and heirloom seed and their rejection of GMO crops even though if people save the seed they buy from Southern Exposure, they have no reason to buy seed the next year. The price of the seed is comparable to other major seed stores and the planting information is extensive and very helpful. For example, with the open pollinated corn seed, they include tips on using mineral oil on the silk to discourage corn ear worms.
They also include a section on gifts for gardeners.

In all, a really informative and helpful gardening catalog well worth having no matter what part of the country you garden in.

At Southern Exposure

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December 18, 2009



I decided to try this lopper on a neighbor's pear tree that the bear wrecked, breaking limbs while it ate all the fruit. Just one look at the tool lets you know it is good quality. The feel of it is heftly and strong. The tight-Lock flips up to extend tool, and flips down lock handles at desired length and there was no wobbliness or give when cutting with the lopper extended. The cuts were clean and easy so that it went right through 1 1/2" limbs and worked even on slightly larger ones. There was n struggle to make the cut. When extended the handles are a wide reach apart but that didn't affect the way it cut. A really sweet tool which I will use for many years. I want to thank Fiskars for the opportunity to review this item.loppers4.jpeg


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November 9, 2009

The Experiment in Aphid Control Continues

41mw5vQT94L._SL500_AA280_.jpgAphids have an unfair advantage. I've just read the life cycle of aphids and discovered that if the food source dwindles, they can grow wings and fly off to find new sources. Furthermore, they can reproduce by parthnogenesis and give live birth to a smaller version of themselves. I think I have to take them more seriously!

So I sprayed one aphid infested plant with Green Light Home and Garden Insect Spray and indeed there are less aphids on the plant. Definitely a partial success. But now I'm thinking I have to do all the kale and the broccoli to keep the aphids from migrating to new plants. Freezing weather does not seem to be a problem for them.

Check it out - it will make you weep.

At Green Light Organic Bioganic Home & Garden Insect Contol Spray - 24 oz Spray #80224

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November 3, 2009

Fiskars Stainless Steel Florist Bypass Pruner makes tedious trimming easy


Fiskars has developed this florist pruner which cuts 1/2 limbs and has twine cutter and a stem stripper. It's three jobs in one easy to handle tool. The pruner works for both right and left handers, and although I cut and trimmed deadheads from the roses and cut the stalks of the hollyhock, my fingers and thumb never got tired or strained. You also get the choice of non stick coated blades or stainless steel. These pruners are able to do very fine cuts to take out small twigs and branches without mistakenly cutting the decorative leaves or flowers. Sweet! Thanks to Fiskars for sending us in some to review.


At Fiskars 9821 1/2-Inch Cutting Capacity Stainless Steel Florist Bypass Pruner

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October 16, 2009

Review: Loop Handle Bypass Pruner with Carabiner Clip From Fiskars


Fiskars was kind enough to send me a set of pruning tools to review. It is always a pleasure to handle a well made tool and Fiskars tools are top of the line. I first tried the Carabiner Clip Bypass Pruner and found that it is light weight and cuts green wood like smoothly and cleanly. They have added the Carabiner clip so that the pruner can hang on your belt while you weed or mulch and then suddenly see the limb that needs clipping. I tried this tool on roses, fir tree, fig tree, apple and pear and discovered that both 1/2" and 3/4" limbs came off with ease. It also has a niftly lock nut that keeps the shears from opening and knicking you while you work.

Cutting with them is a breeze, and the handles are excellent.

At Fiskars and Fiskars Carabiner Clip Bypass Pruner

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