Posted on

Summer’s Coming: Thyme To Start Your Herb Garden

Summer is coming and that means outdoor fun, grilling and delicious salads. All the more reason to get your herb garden started today! Growing herbs is an easy, money-saving hobby that also happens to be good for your health. Whatever you’re cooking up at your cookout can be even tastier with your own fresh, homegrown herbs – so let’s get started!

Flavor Things Up with Your Own Herb Garden
Plant these easy-to-grow herbs in your garden and enjoy some fresh-from-the-earth taste at your dinner table. Some herbs, such as Mint and Thyme, should be purchased as plants and transplanted or propagated by cuttings to ensure proper production.

A Fresh Take On Mint
Not only good for your breath, Mint is good for what ails you – including digestion, headaches, asthma, even pimples and cavities. But be careful! This herb needs its space. Mint grows so fast it will choke out anything else in its path.

The Thyme is Right
Thyme is virtually calorie-free and provides a delicious boost of flavor to soups, salads, and just about any other recipe you can think of.

Don’t Pass On Parsley
So much more than a garnish, Parsley is full of nutrients and Vitamins A, C, and K. And while Parsley grows slower than most herbs, it’s worth the wait. Just make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry; once the plant wilts, it rarely recovers.

Sage is All The Rage
Used as a natural remedy for anxiety and fatigue, Sage is a relatively high-maintenance herb – it needs plenty of sunlight, good soil, and a watering every other day.

Cilantro – Two Spices in One
A staple of Mexican and Asian cuisines, Cilantro supplies fiber and iron and helps clear heavy metals like mercury out of the body. Because of its deep taproot, Cilantro needs deep soil to thrive. If your plant does go to seed, don’t throw the seeds away – they’re the tasty spice known as Coriander.

Chive Talkin’
This tasty herb adds oniony flavor to salads, eggs, cream cheese, mashed potatoes, and more. Even better? It can help boost your immune system. Chives grow easily, and don’t need much light. They grow to be about 18″ tall, but don’t require much space to flourish.

Presto, it’s pesto! Go Basil
Known for its leaves’ warm, spicy flavor, Basil is a good source of fiber, and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. (Out late? Try incorporating basil into your brunch!) Basil is a hardy plant that grows easily. It doesn’t need much care and requires watering only every other day.

Have You Herb These Handy Tips?
Let the sun shine in.
An ideal spot would be a few steps from your kitchen, but choose a site that gets at least six hours of direct sun each day. Avoid ground where water stands or runs during heavy rains.
Loosen up – the soil, that is.
 If you’re using a container, plant herbs in a superior potting media, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. In the garden, till or work the soil and fortify it by mixing in a rich organic plant food such as Espoma Plant-tone®. Plant early in the am or late in the afternoon to prevent transplants from wilting in the midday sun.
Dig a little deeper.
Because you are starting some herbs from bedding plants and not seeds, you will need to create larger planting holes. Dig each hole to about twice the width of the root ball of the new plant.
Give ’em some space.
Space the bedding plants about 18″ apart to give them room to spread out and grow. Place taller herbs, like Sage and Rosemary, toward the back of the garden, and place Parsley and Cilantro at the front.
Can we see some ID?
Add labels to each of your freshly planted herbs to make the easy to identify when cooking.
H2Oh! Water Regularly
Once established, make sure your herbs get an inch of water each week throughout the growing season.

Start your herb garden today and start enjoying the big flavors of summer right from your backyard. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

 

Posted on

Hanging Basket Maintenance

Here we are a couple of months into the spring/summer season and most of you have had your hanging baskets up for a month or possibly more. This means it is time for you to take the baskets down and give them a little mid-season TLC.

Maintaining your hanging baskets come down to 3 things: Watering, fertilizing and finally pruning and dead heading.

 

Water
Proper watering is the most difficult part of taking care of flowers and giving your plants the correct amount of water is vital to your success and overall plant health. If you water too much then you can rot the roots. If you water too little then your plant dies. You need to find just the right amount by checking the soil on a regular basis until you feel you are comfortable with how much your particular basket needs. When you are dealing with baskets it is even more important because we want our baskets to be big and bountiful with huge flowers. The problem with this scenario is the actual basket container is not very large and your flowers only have that little container to get its water and nutrients from. In the early spring when the plants are small they won’t require as much water, possibly every 2-4 days. As it gets warmer and the plants have grown you will need to water once or twice per day. If you live near the water then constant breeze is a huge factor in how much you water. Constant wind over the basket can evaporate moisture quickly.

Fertilizer
The only place hanging baskets can get their nutrients is from you. Not only do your plants use them, constant watering quickly leaches nutrients from the soil in your pots. It is up to you to make sure you consistently replace these nutrients for maximum plant performance. We use water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro often here at Dees to keep our baskets looking perfect. Use this at least once a week. If you feel mixing is too much trouble, consider using a controlled release fertilizer that you would add to the soil. This type of fertilizer breaks down slowly over a period of weeks giving your flowers a consistent source of nutrients. Osmocote or Miracle Gro Shake & Feed are great control release fertilizers.

 

Pruning & Deadheading
You are guaranteed 3 things in life. Death, taxes and yellowing leaves. Even if you are the best gardener in the world, your plants will get yellow leaves occasionally. Once a week take your hanging baskets down and clean them up. Deadheading is removing spent flowers. When you do this it helps promote more blooms. Pick off any leaves that are old and yellowing. Pruning is the technical term for giving your flowering baskets a haircut. I don’t suggest you cut the plants in half, but when you prune weekly by taking a little off here and a little off there, it allows you to keep the baskets in full bloom without wrecking the look of the plant. Nobody likes anything overgrown and bushy. Pruning allows you to keep that thing neat and tidy. This is also a great time for you to inspect for possible insects that may be attacking your flowers.

Hanging baskets are great additions to your landscape. If you just hang them up and forget about them then you will get just what you asked for, overgrown, ugly plants that are destined for the garbage pail. By following my proper maintenance techniques you will give yourself a summer full of enjoyment for you and all who enter your garden!

Posted on

Victory Gardens

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II. They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.

In March 1917, Charles Lathrop Pack organized the US National War Garden Commission and launched the war garden campaign. Food production had fallen dramatically during World War I, especially in Europe, where agricultural labor had been recruited into military service and remaining farms devastated by the conflict. Pack and others conceived the idea that the supply of food could be greatly increased without the use of land and manpower already engaged in agriculture, and without the significant use of transportation facilities needed for the war effort. The campaign promoted the cultivation of available private and public lands, resulting in over five million gardens in the USA[2] and foodstuff production exceeding $1.2 billion by the end of the war.

President Woodrow Wilson said that “Food will win the war.” To support the home garden effort, a United States School Garden Army was launched through the Bureau of Education, and funded by the War Department at Wilson’s direction.

In 1946, with the war over, many British residents did not plant victory gardens, in expectation of greater availability of food. However, shortages remained in the United Kingdom, and rationing remained in place for at least some food items until 1954.

Land at the centre of the Sutton Garden Suburb in Sutton, London was first put to use as a victory garden during World War II; before then it had been used as a recreation ground with tennis courts. The land continued to be used as allotments by local residents for more than 50 years until they were evicted by the then landowner in 1997. The land has since fallen into disuse.[13]

The Fenway Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens of Boston, Massachusetts and the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota remain active as the last surviving public examples from World War II. Most plots in the Fenway Victory Gardens now feature flowers instead of vegetables while the Dowling Community Garden retains its focus on vegetables.

Since the turn of the 21st century, interest in victory gardens has grown. A campaign promoting such gardens has sprung up in the form of new victory gardens in public spaces, victory garden websites and blogs, as well as petitions to renew a national campaign for the victory garden and to encourage the re-establishment of a victory garden on the White House lawn. In March 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted an 1,100-square-foot (100 m2) “Kitchen Garden” on the White House lawn, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s, to raise awareness about healthy food

Posted on

Dees Bulb Planting

As the temperatures are starting to cool down this means it is time to start planting spring flowering bulbs. Flower bulbs are easy to plant and are the very first thing to bloom in the spring.  Bulbs bloom before the trees. Planting flower bulbs is a great fall activity and it is easy!  Even children can also join in the fun. Ensure sure the temperatures in your area are consecutively 65˚F during the day and at night, and plant before the first hard frost. A great tip to know how deep to plant your bulbs is to multiply the height of the bulb by three.   Plant bulbs pointy side up in an area with good drainage. Cover with soil then give them a good drink of water for a head start. It is as easy as Dig Drop Done.  You will have wonderful color in the spring!

Posted on

Planting Garlic

Garlic is a member of the allium family. It is an ancient bulbous vegetable. Garlic is easy to grow and requires very little space in the garden. Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from a whole bulb. Each clove will multiply in the ground, forming a new bulb that consists of 5-10 cloves. Garlic tastes great roasted or used as a flavoring in many recipes.

WHERE TO PLANT GARLIC:
Garlic should be planted in a spot not recently used for garlic or other plants from the onion family. Do not plant garlic in areas where water can collect around the roots, causing them to rot or become diseased.

Fall planting:
Plant cloves in mid-autumn in a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. Set cloves root side down 4-6″ apart in rows 1-1/2 to 2″ apart, and cover with 1-2″ of fine soil. In the North, put down 6″ of mulch for winter protection. Garlic may begin growth late in fall or early in spring.

SOIL PREPARATION:
Garlic should be planted in a fertile, well-drained soil. A raised bed works very well. Remove stones from the top 6 inches of soil. Work several inches of compost or well-rotted manure into the bed, along with 10-10-10 fertilizer.

PLANTING GARLIC:
Separate cloves. Space the cloves 4-6″ apart. Rows should be spaced one foot apart. The cloves should be planted with the pointed end up and the blunt end down. Push each clove 1-2″ into the ground, firm the soil around it, and water the bed if it is dry.

GARLIC HARVESTING AND STORAGE:
You will harvest the garlic when most of the leaves have turned brown. This usually occurs in mid-July to early August, depending on your climate. At this time you may dig the bulbs up, being careful not to bruise them. If the bulbs are left in the ground too long, they may separate and will not store well. Lay the garlic plants out to dry for 2 or 3 weeks in a shady area with good air circulation. Be sure to bring the garlic plants in if rain is forecasted for your area. When the roots feel brittle and dry, rub them off, along with any loose dirt. Do not get the bulbs wet or break them apart, or the plants wont last as long.

Either tie the garlic in bunches, braid the leaves, or cut the stem a few inches above the bulb. Hang the braids and bunches or store the loose bulbs on screens or slatted shelves in a cool, airy location. You may want to set aside some of the largest bulbs for replanting in the fall.

During the winter months you should check your stored garlic bulbs often, and promptly use any that show signs of sprouting.

Each set (bulb) is made up of several sections called cloves, held together by a thin, papery covering. Before planting, break cloves apart.

Fall planting:
Plant cloves in mid-autumn in a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. Set cloves root side down 4-6″ apart in rows 1-1/2 to 2″ apart, and cover with 1-2″ of fine soil. In the North, put down 6″ of mulch for winter protection. Garlic may begin growth late in fall or early in spring.

Posted on

Garden Advice Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Today’s Cyclamen are hybrids of the Cyclamen persicum native to Greece and Syria. They are considered a low growing herb of 12” and are members of the Primrose Family. Their colorful, long lasting flowers and heart shaped leaves attractively veined with silver to varying degrees have made them very popular as centerpiece and gift plants. Well cared for plants will bloom from fall through spring, with the more heat tolerant miniature hybrids even going into the summer. In Europe, Cyclamen blossoms are even used as cut flowers and sold in bunches or as bouquets.

Cyclamen flowers may be single, double, fringed, bicolor, or even candystriped. Colors range from exquisitely pure white through all shades of pink, lavender, purple and red to dark wine. Some of the miniature strains are even delightfully scented. In addition, today’s hybrids can be maintained over a wide temperature range from just above freezing to a normal home temperature of 75 degrees with good performance.

Method Of Propagation

Commercially, Cyclamen are grown from seed which is sown in August through December for the following Christmas season sales, so it’s no overnight crop! The hypocotyls, or basal protion of the seedling, forms a hard, round tuber-like structure known as the corm. From the top of this, the leaves grow in a rosette manner. As the Cyclamen plants are transplanted to larger pots several times during their cropping cycle, the top of the corm is always left about 50% exposed. This planting technique coupled with either sub-irrigation and/or not watering over the crown of the plant help to prevent a disease known as “crown rot”.

Temperature/Light

Individual flowers as well as the blooming season will be extended if the plants can be kept cooler (50s and 60s) rather than warmer. Try to avoid “hot” places altogether. Provide part sun through full sun or the equivalent in artificial light to keep plants compact. Plants grown in insufficient light typically will stretch and become weak and the lower leaves will fade and yellow.

Watering

Cyclamen should be watered thoroughly when the soil looks and feels dry on the surface. Do not water over the crown or allow the plants to stand in water after the irrigation is complete. Plants that are either allowed to wilt for lack of water or kept moist and not allowed to get dry will also get a lot of yellow leaves. Pluck spent blooms from the plant.

Fertilizing

Fertilize Cyclamens regularly with a houseplant food for blooming plants such as Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster.

Spring/Summer Care

As we go into spring, the south facing windows become too sunny and hot. Be sure to move the plant to an area that gets just 1/2 day sun.

Air Movement

Year-round, it is important to maintain good air movement around your Cyclamen plant. Stagnant, humid air promotes a soft stem rot disease known as botrytis. If this should happen, provide better air movement, lower humidity, and remove the diseased tissues. Spray the plant with a fungicide such as Bonide Funginil.

Repotting

If your plant becomes overgrown and difficult to keep watered, you may repot it in a sterile, well-drained potting soil like Espoma Organic Potting Soil. Remember to leave the upper half of the corm exposed.

Pests

Cyclamen are usually relatively free of pests, but occasionally they can be attacked by aphids, spider mites, cyclamen mits, black vine weevil gurbs, or thrips. If this should occur use Bonide Mite-X.