Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Images of Christmas Eve Eve

It took me reading Garden Rant to understand how to make a cool collage of my pictures using Picasa 3. Pretty funny how you can learn other useful things besides gardening things on a website that is supposed to be mostly about growing plants.

Anyway, my clipsabove show what's happening at the office today. Monday (yesterday) morning, it was 4 degrees at my house. This morning, a balmy 20. Nevertheless, the crimson clover (upper left) got nipped. The garlic got a little nipped too, but it's only showing some yellow.

Have a Wonderful Holiday! And Happy New Year!
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Green in the Middle of Gray

It has been gray, dreary, and wet over the last couple of days. Just what you expect about this time of the year, although I could have waited til January.

However, I've been thinking and writing a lot about green gardening over the past week. I've been writing my next newsletter and I've devoted it to this green gardening topic. It is full of tips, advice, and preaching.

I truly think we (the American consumer) have come to a point where we have to do something. And we're probably 20 years too late. True, dirt-under-the-fingernails-and-proud-of-it gardeners are mostly sustainable, I believe. They understand all the intricate processes, the delicate balances, the lowly life forms that make it all happen.

It's the pseudo-gardeners I'm worried about who just want things to look good. Weed-free, lush, insect-free (and I mean ALL insects, click here for a scary story)....all those things that we PERCEIVE as being pleasing to the eye. Those are the ' gardeners' who rarely venture out into their gardens to really see what's going on and those who believe that throwing out more synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is the only way to a beautiful landscape.

I'm proud to say I do things as sustainably, as green, as environmentally sound, as I possibly can at home and here at the office. I know I'll get some comments, so go ahead.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Cold December - But Bright Spots in the Garden

We all think that after a good killing frost (or in our case, a half dozen), that's it. Garden's done, no more fun, no more color.

I snapped a few pictures of our garden here at the office just a minute ago and I beg to differ about there being no color -- these photos will prove it!

Red twig dogwood!

American Beautyberry!

Garlic! (among the chickweed)

Ornamental cabbages!

Kale! 'Redbor' and 'Winterbor'

And just for kicks, I found this very large, very weird fungus a-growin' out of one of our crossties. It's obviously done some 'sporulating' as can be seen by the hole in it.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just a Little Late for Halloween

Here's a tomato that would've scared anyone...with or without a costume!

Seeds have sprouted while still inside this tomato. The word botanists use to describe this is vivipary. It isn't that rare, really. However, this is the first time I've actually seen this where the sprouts make their way through the skin.

There are little 'bumps' on the tomato (you can see them in the picture) -- this is where the seeds have sprouted and are trying to find a way out.

Thanks to Sandy for bringing this oddity to my attention!

Plants are so cool.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Greens & clover

Several weeks back, I planted some crimson clover and kale. They're looking good as you can tell by the photo.

Look what else is looking good: Callicarpa americana -- Beautyberry -- wow, this is the best it's looked since it's been here.

And the pineapple sage is looking great as well.

And just earlier this week, garlic cloves were planted. These are from the cultivar 'Music'. I've also planted 'Red Russian', 'Belarus', and 'Killarney Red'. More to come on those in the spring.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Garden Party & Art Show

The Lake Cumberland Master Gardeners teamed up with the Escape Artists, a local artist group in Pulaski County, to sponsor a Garden Party & Art Show. The event was held on September 27. It was a great day, weather was just perfect. Here's a link to some photos of the event.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August Stuff

I have been horribly embarrassed by the state of my garden bed outside the office. The weeds got away from me, I'll be the first to admit.

But now it's cleaned out, not well, but clean enough until I can get in there with a hoe or a small tiller and seed some fall crops.

I'm thinking of kale, just a few radishes, some crimson clover to demo a colorful cover crop, and some spinach. Gardening ain't over quiiiiiiiite yet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Already Summer

Boy, does time fly. We all say that, but it has flown past me this growing season.

The gardens at the Extension House look very good this year. I'm including some images just snapped today:

This is 'Bright Lights' swiss chard that overwintered from last year. It is now producing seedheads. Pretty cool. Think I'll harvest and plant some of the seed next year -- we might find some really interesting colors!

This is American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). It's big show is when these berries (now green) turn fuschia pink in the fall. Can't wait!

'Nikko Blue' hydrangea. Wow! We didn't get any blooms last year due to the April freeze, but look at it now. Covered in blue blooms.

This is a Master Gardener creation -- the herb garden. It features 3 different parsleys, 5 different basils, scented geraniums, borage, nasturtiums, thyme -- you name it, it's here at the office.

Well, the kale I planted earlier had a bit of a problem. A Master Gardener and I had a slight miscommunication and most of the seed I had sowed got a good tilling. So, one poor soul did survive, but outside of the raised bed. Kinda funny. But pretty, nevertheless.
Lastly, this is 'Eight Ball' zucchini. You can see -- it forms round zukes instead of the elongated, normal types. They are different, but are a zucchini, nothing fancy.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's Been 2 Years!

For those of you unfamiliar with Chionanthus virginicus -- or Fringetree -- you are missing out on one sweet tree/shrub.

Last year, the blooms got burned a bit by the freeze we had around Easter, so this year, these blooms, as well as many others, are a welcome sight!

Here's a picture of it taken today in full bloom & a close-up of the flowers:

The blooms are fairly fragrant. I've been out sniffing them this morning already.

This tree will get no more than about 15-20 feet tall and is a wide tree. I've mostly seen them with multiple trunks but you could prune them to a single trunk.

For those of you in Pulaski County, this tree is at the end of our path, near the entrance drive to our office.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

10 Things To Do in the Garden TODAY

1. Plant peas, onions, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, and lettuce.

2. Trim / thin shade trees -- this means using good pruning practices and leaving NO STUBS

3. Uncover strawberries

4. Apply crabgrass control to lawns

5. Plant trees and shrubs -- don't wait until they are leafed out.

6. Sharpen the mower blade

7. Get a soil test if you haven't already

8. Start another round of tomato and pepper seeds

9. Add organic matter (about a 3" layer) to your beds -- till in when the soil dries out

10. Buy some soaker hoses for the upcoming season

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sowed some Greens

The weather was nice today, albeit windy, but I managed to get out at the office and sow some kale and bok choy. I sowed them in the beds by the Extension Office. With tonight's predicted rain, they should germinate fairly soon.

The kale is a variety called Nero Di Toscana -- reading from the seed packet 'also known as Black Palm as it does resemble a palm tree. Dark green leaves are narrow and have a blistered/crumpled texture'. It is 50 days to maturity.

The bok choy is a variety called 'Joi Choi', a fairly popular variety. It is 45 days to maturity.

Greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lettuce, spinach, carrots, and onions should be sown or transplanted this month. Don't wait too late since they will suffer with warm temperatures.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Whether you agree or not with our own Kentucky girl, Barbara Kingsolver, she really communicates to non-farm people about the identity of their food and why they should care in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I just got through reading it -- even though it's been out for more than a year -- and it has made me care about where my food is coming from, though every winter I cannot bring myself to buy fresh produce out of season anyway. Anyone lucky enough to get hold of this book will at least think a bit about their shopping habits.

Kingsolver is a KY girl -- from up near where I was raised as a matter of fact -- and she weaves in stories about her life in KY so that makes it fun. I encourage everyone to read it and perhaps, change some of the ways they approach procuring their food.

This coming spring and summer, you all will have to fight me for all the local strawberries and peaches!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wildlife woes

I've just returned from getting some training -- a dangerous thing. Of course, some of the interesting things I learned, I wanted to pass along.

  • Squirrels may be cute, but they're mean, mean, mean!
  • When dealing with nuisance wildlife, THE most cost effective way to deal with them is exclusion -- that's right, folks. Keep deer out with a fence, keep squirrels out with hardware cloth, keep bats out with some plastic netting. Our wildlife Extension Specialist will back me up since he's the one who told us.
  • If you trap a nuisance animal with the intent to release it somewhere else, it cannot be on public land. That means you can't dump it in the Daniel Boone Forest. If you release it on another person's land, you must have their written permission, otherwise you could be in some trouble.
  • There's a good chance if you release a trapped animal at a different site, the animal will die anyway. Other animals may not like the new guy and beat it up. Or else the animal could wander around for a long time with little fat stores trying to find food and shelter. Not a fun way to die.
Nuisance wildlife is a problem most of us will encounter at some point. Just remember, changing the animal's habitat (to make our yards less appealing) and exclusion are the best tactics against them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Return from Meeting

January is a renewal time for horticulture crop growers. Seems like they all have conferences in early January. I attended the Kentucky Landscape Industries conference and the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Here's a very short list of a few things worth repeating from the conferences:

  • Get beyond geraniums as container plants -- use tropicals, use succulents, and arrange containers in your existing garden to stage those container plants
  • Don't fill a large container full of styrofoam peanuts to make the container less heavy. It may become top heavy. It's better to mix the peanuts throughout the medium. Makes sense, doesn't it?
  • If you're using woody plants in containers that will be left outdoors 12 months out of the year, you must choose plants that are hardy to zone 2 or 3
  • In Kentucky, don't be surprised if home-grown strawberries are available in late April instead of May. This is do-able in some regions in KY. Wow! I love that!
  • KY gardeners should use intermediate-day or 'day neutral' onion varieties to have the best luck in bulb formation and maturation. Soil sulfur content determines how pungent the onion will be.
Just a few tidbits of information to share with you.

Winter may be here, but speaking of onions, I'll be planting onion seed during this upcoming week. See -- it's already time to start gardening!