Monthly Archives: April 2017

Saving annuals for garden

Choose certain annuals.

This propagation technique is not a good choice for ALL annuals. Focus on your smaller, bushy annuals that can grow in partial to full shade. We are looking for plants that can be kept through the winter as smallish potted or water-rooted plant, which will yield some stems in late winter for further cutting and rooting. References I checked cite Coleus (Solenostemon), Wax (fibrous-rooted) Begonias, Impatiens and Pelargoniums (zonal geraniums) as cooperating well with this method. In addition, Hypoestes (Polka dot Plant), Ageratum (Floss Flower), and some Plectranthus may be used as annuals and work well this way. After all, the term “annual” is a subjective designation based on a plant’s lifestyle and sensitivity to cold. Feel free to experiment with your bedding or container plants, keeping the plant’s light requirement and growth habit in mind. These named plants have a reputation for rooting readily, without any added rooting hormone. Giant sunflowers are not an appropriate choice for this method!

Take soft stem cuttings in late summer

Mid to late summer is the right time for stem cuttings. Plants should still be growing well, with plenty of stems. September’s continued warmth and sunlight encourage the cuttings to root. For propagation next spring I’d suggest you plan to make one plant now for every three to five plants you want to produce later. Please note they are called “cuttings” because a clean cut reduces the chance of damaged, rotting stems in your pot or vase

Trim up for pottin

A good cutting will have at least one node below soil for new roots, and one or more above the soil for leaf growth. A cutting should not have many nodes in the dirt (that would neccessitate a windowsill-hogging larger pot, more prone to overwatering.) Well prepared cuttings also shouldn’t bear too much greenery either. Lush, bushy cuttings may struggle as the plant tries to support the leaf metabolism on litttle or no root input. Any flowers or flower buds should be removed. But wait; for every rule there is an exception. If you are taking cuttings for water-rooting, you’ll need enough stem to hold the cutting upright and ensure that the end of the stem stays submerged. Be sure to remove any leaf material that may end up below the water line. It will only rot and endanger the health of the whole specimen.

Lay out your cuttings and trim accordingly. Discard excess stem below the bottom, “rooting”, node. Also consider removing or trimming some of the leaf area. Leaf trimming requires a judgement call on your part. Now pot up your prepared cuttings in small pots of good quality soil. As always, keep the pot proportional to the plant. Enclosing the potted cuttings in loose plastic will help maintain humidity. I used a clear plastic bag supported by disposable chopsticks from our favorite steakhouse. (Cuttings placed in water won’t need a humidity cover.)

The father of American landscape architecture

“An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks and forest covered hills; with mountain sides and ocean views,” wrote Frederick Law Olmsted’s friend and colleague Daniel Burnham in 1893. Olmsted and his firm Fairsted (pictured at right) were also responsible for designing huge open spaces in places like Chicago, Buffalo and Atlanta.

Although the first “public” open space in the New World would technically have to be the Boston Common, from 1634, Olmsted believed that green spaces shouldbe public, and that everyone should have access to them. This may not seem so unusual to some of you, but to those of us who struggle to garden in the highly industrialized Northeast, or the smoggy West coast, having public gardens to enjoy from time to time keeps us all more sane. Having them look wild and natural without actually being totally impenetrable is an added gift Olmsted left us.

While Olmsted hired gardeners to work for him, he did not think of himself as a gardener. He consideredhimself an architect, using the outdoors instead of buildings, and was the first to call himself a professional “landscape architect”. Many, if not most of the areas he worked with in Boston were previously considered unsuitable for human habitation. Marshy areas, called ‘fens’, were unbearably humid and muggy in the summer, as well as filled with mosquitos and the diseases they carried. Sometimes open sewage ran in the streets. [Interestingly, the word FENS is an English or Welsh word, from which we in Boston get our beloved Fenway Park!]

The visionary Olmsted filled in the Boston fens, creating sloping grass-lined boulevards through them. Thinking on a huge scale, Olmsted connected a series of small and large parks, one large pondand Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum with green parkways, most including areas for vehicular traffic as well as pedestrians. The resulting park system spans 1,000 acres – in the middle of a city – starting at the Boston Common and ending at the Franklin Park Zoo.

Controversy exists today. While cleaning up and filling in the brackish unhealthy fens, Olmsted did destroy native wetlands. Still, in the 19th century, Olmsted was progressive even to think of the common person’s need for open space in crowded cities. If he had not replaced boggy unhealthy areas with beautiful public gardens and parks, someone else would surely have stepped in with apartment buildings and shopping centers.

Boston’s Emerald Necklace is truly one of our jewels. People from all walks of life encounter one another on its parks and paths. Every day, I drive past the field where my daughter attempted (unsuccessfully) to learn soccer as a four year old; at seventeen, she still treasures the tiny T-shirt. Nearby, adults practice Tai Chi in slow, graceful movements.

Grow in Northwest Missouri

The deciduous shrub, oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, which is native to the southeastern United States, has long been one of my favorites. But upon moving to my husband’s family farm in Missouri thirteen years ago, I discovered to my dismay that oakleaf hydrangeas did not thrive on the windy hillock we call home. And so each year I missed seeing their brilliant lantern-like panicles growing in the shady corners of my yard. Still I attempted to grow them on several occasions. They all died brutal deaths in the icy winds which buffet our abode each winter. Nevertheless, I was determined…

During our landscaping endeavors we created a microclimate on the southeast side of our yard by designing a garden wall made of privacy fence. It was there that I planted yet another oakleaf hydrangea. I hoped the oakleaf would be protected from old man winter’s ravaging breath beneath the boughs of a tall bald cypress nearby

 Surprisingly enough our enthusiastic hydrangea survived the winter. I cannot express my consummate relief at seeing those verdant green leaves sprout the following spring. But time would prove there were no blooms upon my hydrangea. The leaves were large and vivacious with life, but it would not bloom. Alas I discovered one day whilst gazing upon my long dreamt of hydrangea that the flower buds had been damaged by Missouri’s mulishly cold winter. There was hope, for my oakleaf had been large when I planted it. And I knew in climates akin to northwest Missouri’s where the winter temperatures regularly fall below -10 F if your oakleaf successfully reaches a large size then it is more likely to thrive. Even if one does not bloom annually there is pleasure to be derived by simply admiring its multifarious foliage each season.

Here are a few suggestions for growing the oakleaf hydrangea in northwest Missouri or similar zones. Locate a semi-shady site along the southeast or east side of your home. Considering the fact that oakleafs prefer well-drained soul amend your soil if desired. I did not amend mine. Instead I planted in a slightly raised bed for enhanced drainage. Once your oakleaf is happily planted mulch it to help retain moisture at its base. You may fertilize your hydrangea if you like. Mine has not yet required fertilizer.

In the fall as you enjoy the vibrant hues of your oakleaf hydrangea add a thick layer of mulch for winter protection. Check your oakleaf periodically throughout the cold season and apply additional mulch if you feel it is necessary. In the spring you should notice the first sign of grayish-green leaves as the hydrangea wakes from its winter rest. Do not fret if there are no leaves in March, even April. Oakleaf hydrangeas like to wait until the weather is truly warm before they show you their beauty.

If your oakleaf hydrangea survives the coming winters to reach a mature size, it is much more likely to continue to survive and bloom as well. My oakleaf hydrangea, I am thankful to say, has grown into a happy and well-adjusted shrub upon the windy hillock we call home.

Nutrition & Growing Tips Watermelon

Watermelon is a member of the cucumber (Cucurbits) family. It is a native plant of the Kalahari Desert in Africa and can grow under extreme UV radiation, high heat and drought; it has evolved as a melon full of free radical fighting power. Watermelon is used in cosmetics and toiletries for skin protection; and it is a very healthy fruit to include in your diet.

On a recent stop to a farm stand, owner Chris Chiaccio, of Tony’s Farm & Garden Center in Windsor, NJ commente

 “I feel better when I eat watermelon.”

She may feel better from eating watermelon for 3 reasons:Watermelon is 90% water; it is hydrating and makes us feel refreshed,Watermelon has energy-yielding natural sugars ,Watermelon contains vitamins, minerals and other compounds

Watermelon is low calorie. A one cup serving is only 46 calories.Like most fruit, watermelon is fat-free and has no cholesterol. Watermelon has a lot more than just water and sugars
Watermelon contains health-promoting nutrients, such as vitamin A, potassium, citrulline; and beneficial antioxidants, such as lycopene, beta carotene and vitamin C.
Antioxidants have disease fighting properties that may help prevent cancer and reduce heart risks.

Citrulline is a potential antioxidant that helps maintain blood flow and heart health.
Watermelon per 100 grams (about 8 melon balls)

Varieties of Watermelon

There are many varieties of watermelon grown in the U.S. and they vary by state. California farmers primarily grow ‘Fiesta’, ‘Laurel’, ‘Nova’, ‘Sangria’, and Wonderland. In Florida you might find ‘Dillon’, Ecstasy, ‘Freedom’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Mohican’. In the Texas high plains, farmers primarily grow ‘Allsweet’ and ‘Jubilee’.[5] Dave’s Gardeners have grown varieties that include: ‘Raspa’, ‘Triton’, ‘Matador’, ‘Emperor’, ‘Pinata’ and ‘Schochler’. Visit PlantFiles here on Dave’s Garden to discover even more watermelon varieties.

Growing Watermelons
In General
Watermelons require a long growing season–about 3 months from planting to harvest–and need warm soil temperatures and full sun. The vines are rambling, and in most varieties the fruits are fairly large. The vines can easily spread 6 to 8 feet in their first month. After a few months blossoms appear, then baby melons. When the melons are ripe, they have a light, yellowish area touching the ground and their tendrils are longer and less green. They are then ready to be hand-picked.

Seedless Watermelons
Growing seedless watermelons require an extra step, but it is by no means difficult. Start with fresh seed; the seed is only good for a year. [6] To grow seedless watermelons, a second type of melon with seeds has to be planted in the same area. The second melon is considered the pollinizer and should be something that is noticeably different from your seedless variety, such as a smaller size or a solid color. For example, farmer Ray Hlubik (pronounced Lubik) of Hlubik Farms in Chesterfield, NJ uses 2 different pollinizers in a 1/2-acre patch containing several seedless varieties.His pollinizers, which make up about 25% of his crop, include a solid green ‘Sugar Baby’ type and also a very small watermelon that won’t compete for growing space with his seedless melons.

Seedless watermelons are a result of a crossing traditional, diploid, seeded melons with tetraploidmelons. The result is a hybrid, seedless, triploid species. This simply means that the numbers of chromosomes are different, and genetically the seedless melon will be sterile. The seedless will still get flowers, but will need help in pollination from a nearby diploid pollinizer. Honeybees are the key for a successful watermelon crop, since the pollen in watermelon blossoms is heavy and sticky and requires more than just the wind to transfer it from flower to flower.

Growing watermelon in a small garden
When there is a will, there is a way! Thanks to the many varieties of melons available, selecting a smaller-sized melon may work for your small garden area. Some people have even grown watermelon off their high rise balconies successfully! In small garden situations the melon vines can be trellised and the fruit can be harnessed with expandable netting or pantyhose. This technique can also be done with other climbers that bear heavy fruit or vegetables.