Gardener Dicki King tells us that January is time to focus on getting ready for spring and we should take time to plan for the next few weeks. There is really much to be done. The first of February is a good time to select new bushes and trees for planting. (January 28, 2011, Page 2B)
Some homeowners are lucky and have their homes sited in areas where the trees seem to have been naturally placed. But for those of us who live in newer subdivisions, where all the trees were removed prior to development, we are challenged with incorporating trees back into our landscapes. Adding trees back will not only improve the appearance of a property but also increase its value. (January 7, 2011, Page 2B)
The Education Committee of Lafayette County Master Gardeners, under the leadership of Chair Eileen Leonard, surveyed its membership and compiled a few of the member’s “favorite things.” To learn what your favorite gardener might want for Christmas, see Susan Boehm’s column on page 2B. (December 3, 2010, Page 2B)
After a long, dreary winter, fall planted bulbs fill the garden with bursts of floral sunshine in a celebration of spring. What could be a more welcoming sight! Bulbs produce a colorful display with little effort. Once planted, they give years of enjoyment with little care.
For simplicity, the word bulb describes plants that store energy for their seasonal cycle in an underground storage organ. These include “true” bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, corms such as crocus and tubers, rhizomes and tuberous roots. The time to plant spring blooming bulbs is now (November) before the first frost as all bulbs need certain “chilling time” with temperatures below 40 degrees for at least 12-14 weeks in order to bloom. Buy good bulbs with no blemishes, bruises or soft spots — the larger the bulb, the better the bloom. Bulbs need plenty of sunlight and rich, well-drained soil with a PH of 6.0 to 7.0. Work the soil to a depth of about 12 inches and add a half-inch to one-third inch organic material or peat moss, compost or aged bark. The rule of thumb is to plant them twice as deep as they are tall. So if you have a 3-inch bulb such as a daffodil, plant 6 inches deep. You can even plant smaller ones above larger ones. (November 5, 2010, Page 5B)
When I left home at the age of 23 to go to Caracas, Venezuela, I took two large cardboard boxes with me containing school supplies (as I was going to teach fourth grade), linens, a few books and some clothes. I also took my grandmother’s 1950 Betty Crocker cookbook.
My roommate and I ate out most of the time, but when we did decide to stay home we each had our cooking strengths. She could make chili and I could make popcorn and chocolate chip cookies. We lived together for three years and never made a proper meal — and my cookbook was never opened. (October 22, 2010, Page 2B)
The scary feature of invasive plants is their ability to compete above and below the ground and outgrow surrounding plants. The concern, Master Gardener Joe Ann Allen writes, is that invasive plants can over power native species and cause soil erosion, create fire hazards, deprive animal and insect life of food and shelter and have a negative impact on fisheries, recreational areas and public water supplies.
A good example of this negative effect is the spread of the beautifully flowered purple loosestrife. One mature plant can produce more than 2 million seeds, all with a high germination rate. It is estimated that more than 4 million acres are now affected by purple loosestrife’s escape from the garden and it is costing an estimated $45 million dollars annually in control efforts. (October 1, 2010, Page 2B)
Master Gardner Beckett Howorth III makes an argument for making the dandelion a part of your garden. (September 3, 2010, Page 4B)
Over the past 25 years urban sprawl has actually been an invasion of the deer’s habitat and in turn urban sprawl has provided lush landscaping and gardens that provide deer with abundant food. The result has been rapid population growth. Master Garderner Susan Boehm suggests experimenting in your garding with plants that deer tend to avoid and offers websites worth checking out. (August 27, 2010, Page 3B)
Introduced to the United States in 1747, the crape myrle is a favorite in Southern gardens. Layfayette County Master Gardner Dianne Smith Ferguson describes how these tolerant trees survive drought, extreme weather, and excessive pruning. (August 6, 2010, Page 2B)
After the Fourth of July, I usually say to Mother Nature: “Just let ‘er rip.”
This year, however, she started a wee bit too early for me. Granted, we have had nearly enough rain so far, but the next week bodes a really dry one.
So between sipping iced tea in the shade and dragging the snarled hose around, I leave a little time for pondering some of these truisms of nature. (July 23, 2010, Page 2B)