Friday, April 23, 2010

Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers

Nothing says "welcome" or "relax" - it's summertime like a pot full of beaming flowers.  In our climate, perennials give color burst for moments each season. 

Sweet Gerber Tropics

Containers are essential for color and style in the garden.  You can design your own amazing looking containers:

- Be creative in your plant choices (think outside the 4 pack)

- Select plants that will thrive in the container and location

- Use a top quality potting keep hearing this,

  but it's MOST important

- Use a design scheme of thrillers, fillers and spillers...

     Thrillers: Plants that bring punch to the containers

        Common choices: green spike, coleus, evergreen shrub

        Unique choices: cordyline, grasses, fuschia plant, or

         tropical plants like this croton.

     Fillers: Plants that bring fullness to the containers

        Common choices: pansies, begonias, verbena, geraniums,

        impatiens, petunias

        Unique choices: coralbells, hostas, herbs, strawberry 

        plants, and even lettuce!

  Spillers: Plants that, well, spill out of your container

        Common choices: vinca vine, asparagus fern, licorice, & ivy

        Unique choices: ferns, sweet potato vine, ivy geranium

tropical container

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A few cool plants

Walking through the garden…I couldn’t help but notice some understated, unassuming plants that I just love!

Nashika Willow:

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Nashika Willow enjoys part sun/part shade…it has an interesting and airy branch structure.  It’s white and green variegated leaves add a pop of color and it has small blooms in spring…

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Lady’s mantle…is a low growing perennial.  It fills in nicely to create a sort of ground cover or border feature.  She’s my kind of lady because she prefers a little sunshine…

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And no shade garden is complete without the stately Solomon’s seal…(on the left) It grows tall and proud and it’s white variegated leaves provide a beacon of light for the dark shade garden.  It’s dainty blooms are just delightful…

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None of these plants are as showy and fragrant as the lilacs about to burst into bloom…but they have a quiet well-deserved place in the garden…beyond May :)

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Lawn Care: 2 methods – 3 steps

Fight, Feed & Seed for Spring

A few tips to keep in mind for your lawn in early spring:

FIGHT weeds now:

-  Early spring is the optimum time to prevent crabgrass! Crabgrass will germinate when the soil temperature reaches  approximately 60 apply your crabgrass preventer now

FEED your lawn:

-  Fertilizing your lawn now will provide lusher, greener grass for bare feet in summer

SEED your lawn:

-  Spring is also a good time to repair patches or overseed your lawn.


GO ORGANIC – here’s how…

FIGHT weeds now:

-  Even organic gardeners dislike weeds!! Applying a natural weed blocker on the lawn now will 'smother' weeds like crabgrass, dandelions and other annaul weeds. Corn gluten meal is a common choice for organic gardeners. Well, that and a spade!!!

FEED your lawn:

-  Fertilizing organically can be done using a number of products and methods also.  The key to a healthy organic lawn is good, healthy soil.  Aeration is hugely beneficial in spring.  Following aeration, try a compost dressing or tea.  You can also purchase bagged fertilizers such as milorganite or Nature Guard's Soil Activator.

SEED your lawn:
-  Seeding is very important in organic lawn care.  The more healthy grass thrives, the less room weeds have to invade.  Plant a mixed crop of grasses, so that if one or two varieties fail, the other varieties can fill in instead of weeds. 

You can combine Fight, Feed, and Seed with other green practices.  Raise your mower blade, let grass clippings compost onto the lawn, water more thoroughly less frequently.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How does your garden grow?

It seems just a few days ago we were asking…

“When will the flowers get here??


Well…we have flowers everywhere now and we wonder…

Do you plant…


The perpetually friendly face of gerbera daisies??


The petite humility of a pansy?Green Thumbers 020


The over joyous osteos?Green Thumbers 032


The lovingly patient ranunculus?

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The politely pleasant petunia?Green Thumbers 036


The quiet, thoughtful fern?

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The timeless geranium?

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I just wonder friends…what do you plant in your garden?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You say Potatoe I say Potato

Potatoes are relatively easy to grow and require little space.  It’s even feasible to grow potatoes in containers!  Potatoes are best planted now in early to mid spring because maximal tuber formation occurs at soil temperatures between 60° and 70°F. The tubers fail to form when the soil temperature reaches 80°F. Potatoes withstand light frosts in the spring.

Consider these varieties:

Green Thumbers 072 Green Thumbers 069 Green Thumbers 070 Green Thumbers 071

Dakota Pearl has a very smooth, uniform, shape.  It has round tubers with bright white skin and flesh. Good for chipping and mashing. Mid season maturity. Disease resistant. Stores well

Kennebec is a large potato, and it looks very pretty with its light tan skin, nice uniform appearance and attractive white fleshy insides. Thin skin peels quickly. Resists blight. High yield. Winters well for a long storage time.

Yukon Gold is the most famous of the new wave of yellow-fleshed varieties now available. Long popular in Europe, these have good flavor and moist flesh, which many people claim requires less of the fattening condiments required by other potatoes. All-purpose. Early to mid-season. Keeps well.

Red Norland is a round tuber type with bright red skin. Medium yield potential. Good for boiling, roasting and salad.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vegetable Gardens

A sight such as this…is beautiful, but rarely seen…

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Most families lack the land, the time, and the knowledge to host a large, traditional garden of vegetables lined up in proud rows ready to fight against sun, wind, and whatever comes there way until harvest.

For the last couple of decades, vegetable gardening has been a quiet sport contended by retirees or the rare few, but it is now ‘en vogue’ to think local, think healthy and of course – think green.

As a result more and more families are thinking outside of the box formerly known as the vegetable garden…


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Would you believe there are 5 tomato plants, 3 pepper plants, 10 onion sets, a handful of herbs and even a blueberry bush growing among this landscape of ornamental grasses and newly planted cutting flowers?

container gardening

Of course container gardening is also a hot topic!!


If you already have decorative planters of flowers, consider mixing lettuce for cutting such as “Black-seeded Simpson” or “Buttercrunch” creating edible greenery in your containers.  For a punch of color consider “kale” or “swiss chard”.


Some gardeners are creating signature touches by including a strawberrystrawberry plant or pepper plant in each container they have…can you imagine…a bright red strawberry!!! What a wonderful surprise!!!



Thoughts to consider when planning your vegetable garden:

- What do you want?

Spend some time at dinner one evening jotting down all that the fruits and vegetables you would like to grow. The next night, highlight your top priorities on the list.

- How much time?

Write down how much time you can dedicate each day and each week to tending…including watering, weeding, and harvest.

- How much space?

Decide how many containers how many sections of your yard or current flower beds you can dedicate.

After you have this information on paper, draw a sketch of the spaces you are considering.

-Highlight or shade orange areas that are full sun or receive sunlight in morning and afternoon

-Highlight or shade yellow areas that are part sun (shaded partially in either afternoon or morning)

- Highlight or shade blue areas that are mostly shady

Now you can match up the types of plants from your priority list that match that spaces you currently have available.  A little pocket here and there can really put to use when you have the right plants in the right place. 

Helpful Hint: For busy gardeners, put your plants near areas that you use…walkways, patios, and near the most common entrance of your home.  This will make it easier to water and not forget your plants when your schedule gets hectic!

family gardening

Success is motivating.

Start small.

Think outside the box.

When you enjoy the fun and taste of harvest…you will want to add more next year!

For more on starting your vegetable garden on a budget…consider Starting Seeds with a little help from Dr. Earth!

Dr. Earth Tea

Fertilizer's easy!

Fill a bucket with water. Use 1 cup of Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer for every gallon of water. (A good method is to use 5 cups in a 5 gallon bucket)

Stir and let the mixture sit for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, stir well. Strain the solids and mulch soilds around the root zone.

Use the liquid tea for foliar feed or deep root feeding.

Use 1-2 cups per plant (2-4 cups for larger plants)

This can be done at planting and repeated monthly if desired.


Compost Tea

You will need a - 5gallon bucket.
Fill the bucket 3/4 full with water and let it sit for 24 hours (to allow chlorine gas to evaporate).

After 24 hours, add approximately 1 gallon of Dr. Earth Pro-biotic soil and 1 ounce of unsulfured molasses (extra food for the microbes!) to the water.

Stir the soil and water well until the soil is completely wet and the water is a rich, dark brown color. Use your tea within 24 hours of ''brewing.''

How to apply-

Soil Drench Application-
Apply directly to the soil around your plants at a rate of 1 cup ''tea'' to your plants monthly.

Foliar Application- Sprayer or Watering can -
Filter resulting tea through folded cheesecloth.

If using a watering can, pour liquid full strength over foliage of plants as you water tea mixture in to the planting area.

Apply the strained tea with a standard pump sprayer both to the top and bottom on leaves.

Do not throw the solid material away; add it to the soil as mulch around any plant in the garden.