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Gardening

It takes six to 10 years of attention to get it right

     The most common species of conifers used as Christmas trees are white pine, Scots pine, Douglas fir, balsam fir, Frazier fir, concolor fir, Canaan fir, Colorado spruce and white spruce. Norway spruce are not recommended because they shed needles rapidly if allowed to dry out once. In more southern states, Virginia pine, white cedar and red cedar and often used.       Most growers purchase seedlings from nurseries that specialize in growing these species from seed.

Buy fresh evergreens and treat them for longevity 

     Wreaths, roping and swags sold in box and grocery stores may have been made in far-away Oregon and Maine, starting back in September, then stored in large coolers under high humidity. If the greens were harvested before the plants were exposed to freezing temperatures, they may well drop their needles before Christmas.       Purchase local Christmas greens, on the other hand, and they are most likely freshly harvested and have acclimated under our growing conditions.

Compost works for us at construction sites, landfills and wastewater treatment plants

Silt-laden water from construction sites and poorly managed farm fields are notorious for contaminating our streams, rivers, lakes and bays. Silt fences are mandatory at construction sites, but even when properly installed they do not hold back clay. Adding wood chips or straw bales won’t help.

Turn on the blooms with Bloom

To keep plants in hanging baskets growing and flowering for two months or more, dump one-half cup of Bloom in a single lump on an eight-inch diameter hanging basket, or one cup for a 10-inch basket. At each irrigation, pour water onto the mound of Bloom. As the water flows through the Bloom, it absorbs nutrients and makes them available to the roots of the plants. Trying to Make a Better Rain Garden www.bayweekly.com/RainGarden-072017

My model is good enough for the National Botanical Garden

The purpose of rain gardens is to reduce surface runoff by capturing water in ponds where it can infiltrate the soil. Many rain gardens begin with dug ponds lined with sand and gravel. Water-tolerant plants added in and around the ponds absorb more water.     This design can absorb only a limited amount of water based on the soil porosity, a measure of texture and compaction. After a heavy rain, water can stand for days and weeks, so the gardens become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Even tolerant plant species have problems surviving standing water.

Vertical Mulching and Tree Roots Q    I enjoy your articles. Recently you’ve written about trees & Bloom.     I have two chestnut oaks that now have slime flux. Do you think your method would help these trees? I have called forestry schools, and they tell me I can’t do anything. Commercial tree companies want to sell me a fertilizing service for $1,000 with no guarantee.

Unity Gardens grants up for grabs

Plants and flowers aren’t all that grow in gardens. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     So twice each year when Unity Gardens gives away seed money, in the spring and fall, human growth potential is a top giving criteria.

Early-rising yellow-bellied sapsuckers The rings of evenly spaced holes you see in the trunks of smooth-bark trees are the work of yellow-bellied sapsuckers. The birds drill into apple, beech, birch, cherry, linden, peach, plum, red maple and southern magnolia as well as pine and cedar trees. I have received several reports from readers wondering what is causing the holes because they have not seen any woodpeckers on their trees.

Today’s organic methods were the only options for gardeners in the early 19th century

We had a storm and terrible rain this week … my garden almost washed away; a dozen tulips were washed out of the ground and carried outside the garden fence. No one has seen such a flood in 10 years.

Composting and PFRP make them safe for your garden

Readers continue to write with concerns about composted biosolids and Bloom. To calm your concerns, I’ll lead you through the processes that make fully treated biosolids safe to use in your food garden.