Picture Snob

April 13, 2011

How about a beautiful lawn that is also safe for kids and pets?

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This is a book for those of us who are tired of seeing the little yellow flag on lawns advising people to stay off because of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. What is the point of a lawn, anyway? As a kid I loved to run barefoot, playing with the dog or my friends. It felt of freedom from school, from shoes and the restrictions of rules. It saddens me to think that with weed and feed chemicals, the lawn is not safe for kids or pets. It's something to look at but not to touch.

If you are of the same mind but still want a lawn that's lovely too look at as well as play and sit in, or godforbid, lie on your back in and look at the clouds on a warm spring day, then this book may have the way to acheive that. The Organic Lawn Care Manuel was written by a guy who used the weed and feed method until the chemicals he used started affecting his health. Then he began going organic. He has instructions on starting a lawn from scratch and on how to improve soil structure. He discusses grass varieties and how to choose a drought and disease resistant grass. There is also a section on what to do about moles, voles and other burrowing creatures. And best of all, he doesn't forget what a lawn is really for--fun games for the family! Croquet, anyone?

The book comes with a good glossary, a list of ground covers, and lots of photographs for illustrating various problems. He has chapters on making the transition from chemical to organic lawn care without loosing what you already have worked for.

At The Organic Lawn Care Manual: A Natural, Low-Maintenance System for a Beautiful, Safe Lawn (Paperback)

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April 12, 2011

Mountain weather refreshes everything

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We just had one of those spring mountain storms. The weather turned cold and last night it rained and poured and this morning I awoke to about an inch of snow covering the ground. The sun was shining and soon I could hear the plop and thunk of melting snow falling off the trees and roof. There is still snow halfway up the mountain.

I went up to the garden to scout around and find greens for a salad. I'm so amazed this year that last years carrots which are ususally rotten by this time are still juicy and sweet and I found a beet that was in perfect shape. There was kale and the tender tops of brussle sprouts going to seed. Some cilantro had geminated and there was self sown endive was about a couple of inches high everywhere. So it was fun to see what the garden itself could provide and glean the new growth for a spring salad.

At Ferry-Morse 3243 Organic Seed Collection, Salad

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April 11, 2011

A peer reviewed study underlines the dangers of Monsanto GMOs and Roundup

An article from Organic Bytes reports that Don M. Huber, Ph.D., emeritus soil scientist of Purdue University, wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about a newly discovered virulent pathogen that proliferates in soil treated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The Monsanto pathogen is taken up by plants, transmitted to animals via their feed, and is passed on to human beings by the plants and meat they consume. The pathogen has yet to be described or named, though that work is almost complete.

At a March 24 seminar sponsored by Knox County Extension and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska, Dr. Huber said that all the research and data would be published in a matter of weeks.

In his presentation, Dr. Huber summarized 117 peer-review scientific studies that show the hazards associated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and the "Roundup Ready" GMO crops that have increased its use:

* Compromised plant defense mechanisms; plants more susceptible to disease.
* Reduced availability and uptake of essential nutrients.
* Increased virulence of pathogens that attack plants.
* Lower yields.

Huber warned that ignoring these emerging realities may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious. He said it could also, and apparently already is, compromising the health and well-being of animals and humans.

Read More in: Industry News

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April 8, 2011

Wall O Water works for early warm vegetables

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If you are dying to have the first ripe tomato or pepper or eggplant, then you might try the Wall o Water which really works very well. It's a plastic self-standing vinyl, made from l sectioned cylindrical tubes You just fill with water to hold the warmth from the sun to keep plants cozy at night. With this simple device you might be able to start your garden outside, 6-8 weeks early and begin harvest 30-45 days sooner than normal without the fear of freezing. . It works for peppers, squashes, tomatoes and other warm season crops and protects small plants down to 16° F.

The Wall O Water comes in a package of three and is not very expensive so you can experiment with a few vegies before going all out. But these water walls have been used with great success by my local gardeners. They suggest that you fill the wall all the way to the top and fill one cylinder on one side and then fill a cylindar on the other side to keep them balanced. It's also good to fill them and let them sit where you are going to plant for a few days to get the soil warmed up. And as the plants grow, it's good to check for slugs and other cool weather hungry critters to keep the plants safely inside.

At WALL O WATER

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April 7, 2011

Spring is a good time to plant summer bulbs

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I'm going to the nursury tomorrow and I have a long list. I'm getting more grass and wildflower seed and some time release fertilizer for the bare patches around the new house. I'm also getting six packs of broccoli, kale and maybe lettuce. And I'll check out what's on sale or looking especially tempting.

Mainly, I think April is the month for planting summer flowering bulbs like dahlias, gladiolas and lilies. I want to put them with the other perinneals I'm transplanting and also space them around the house. I'll get some organic bulb fertilizer and manure and maybe a little peat moss to make a nice bed for them. However, while I was surfing around, I found a sale of summer bulbs online. You might check it out. They have a gladious rainbow mix for $25 for fifty bulbs.

At Summer Bulbs

Read More in: Bulbs | Plants

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April 6, 2011

Transplanting the perennials

With the warm weather the garden activity has begun and although the garden itself is too wet to till, I can dig holes, fill them with compost and plant some of the cool weather vegetables I love. Kale, broccoli, lettuce all go in nicely and thrive in the wet and cool weather. But today I decided to transplat some of the perennial flowers that are being neglected on the fringes of the yard into the area around the new house.

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It looks pretty barren even after the planting. This hill was scraped clean of all topsoil and although I planted grass and wildflowers there last year, nothing grew. Nothing. So I have the idea of using the ground here as if it were a flower pot and dig a hole, fill it with good soil and put in a plant. With lots of care and some feeding of compost, I think I can get flowers to grow and since i plan a patio area, it will be a great place to sit and enjoy the color and the fragrance.

I planted Dutch Iris, regular iris, some Lamb's quarters, bergamot and a Dusty Miller. This fall I'll put in some spring flowering bulbs between these plants and keep the compost feedings and my finger's crossed.

Read More in: Bulbs | Plants

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April 5, 2011

Coolaroo Triangle Shade Sail provides shade where you need it.

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If you have a spot in the garden or on the deck or patio that needs some shade and cooler temperatures, this sun shade will do the job. It comes in both green and sand and has stainless steel hardware fasteners. It has a 10 year warranty against UV degradation. You can create your own uniquely designed outdoor living space using multiple sizes and colors of sail shades.

I have friends who have a south facing house with no trees for shade. They put up about five Coolaroos at different angles and planted hops and grapes in planters. The area looks lovely now and provides shade for the house and a cool place to sit and see the sunset. I'm getting a couple of these to put over my double doors which face west. The sun heats up the house in the afternoon and the Coolaroos will keep that from happening until I can get wisteria or grapes growing over a trellis.

At Coolaroo Triangle Shade Sail 16 Feet 5 Inches with Hardware Kit, Brunswick Green

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April 4, 2011

Even the Mayo clinic supports home gardening


By Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky
Mayo Clinic, March 23, 2011

Gentle breezes. Sunlight. Bird songs. I can actually see the ground peaking out under the snow. And did I mention -- the return of daylight saving time? Spring is almost here.

All winter I've been thinking about gardening. I want to grow edible things, and I'm not the only one. A survey of over 100 million U.S. households revealed that spending for vegetables and fruits now surpasses spending for lawns, trees, shrubs -- and even flowers. The same survey unearthed the following trends among gardeners:

53 percent grow vegetables in their gardens
90 percent plan to eat the produce fresh
66 percent will share with friends
36 percent will can or preserve produce
24 percent will donate food to others
Another survey, this one by the National Gardening Association, looked at the main reasons people grow gardens:

58 percent desire better tasting food
54 percent want to save money on food bills
51 percent want better quality food
48 percent want to grow food they know is safe
I'm ready to get my hands dirty. I'm going to plant a garden because I want to better understand the labor that goes into producing food, and be more thankful for how plants nourish my body and soul.

I'll start small -- some herbs in pots (cilantro, basil, dill and rosemary), leaf lettuce and spinach, a few spring onions, and some beets. I fondly remember my father's garden -- he grew the best tomatoes. Maybe I'll plant a couple of those too. What about you? What will you be growing and why?

Read More in: Industry News

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April 1, 2011

March 2011 Monthly Roundup for Garden Snob

Container Gardens & Window Boxes

Fertilizer

Garden Books

Garden Thoughts

Garden Tools

Industry News

Monthly Roundup

Plants

Remedies

Read More in: Monthly Roundup

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March 31, 2011

Look for Spring Garden Markets in your area

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All over the country, spring garden markets are happening on weekends. Take a look in your area. Spring Garden markets are a great place to pick up vegetable, herbs and flowers on sale. Some of these markets also provide information on techniques and varieties of vegetables for growing with talks and demos for gardeners.

The range of tomato and pepper varieties is overwhelming now that heirloom varieties are all the rage. It's good to have some kind of help to sort your way through the seemingly endless choices. Here is a small sample of advice on tomato varieties from Santa Clara Master Gardeners.

There are options and sizes to satisfy virtually every palette and almost all space limitations. According to Mary Collins, our tomato seed queen, great options include:

Early producers (50-60 days): Stupice, Lime Green Salad, Elfin, Sugary and Black Cherry.

Great color: Orange Strawberry, Mary Robinson's German Bi-color, Marvel Striped and Isis Candy.

Sauces and pastes: Speckled Roman, Amish Gold and Jersey Devil.

Prolific producers: Black from Tula, Carbon, Dr. Neal, Ernie's Round, Black Cherry, Chadwick and Principe Borghese.

Latest fruiting (90-110 days): Gold Medal, Marvel Striped, Russian 117 and Big Rainbow.
Great in containers: Lime Green Salad, Kootenai, Orange Blossom and Koralik.

Even if you just picked on out of each catagory, it would give you a chance to taste and try some new varieties and see which you would like to include in your garden every year.

Read More in: Plants

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