FEATURED QUOTE :
"He who plants a tree loves others besides himself."
~ Thomas Fuller
|All of J&L's Gardening Classes are Free to the Public. Our classes are held in our Indoor Classroom. No
pre-registration is required, but seating is sometimes limited. Please arrive early to get your best seating and to
look through our handout materials. We have special coupons and discounts for those attending these classes, so
bring a friend with you.
All the pruning classes cover the same topics, and last about 2 hours. Most of the rest of the classes are about 1 hour long,
with a question and answer period afterwards. Feel free to come and go as your time permits.
For more information
and a complete schedule of our classes, please click on the handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
|'Dormant Spray' is one of the best and most important sprays of the entire year. Dormant spray means spraying a plant with
'Dormant Oil' (or some other pesticide) when it does not have any active growth. This spray can be applied in the late fall, winter, or
early spring; sometimes it is needed both in the fall and in the spring.
A properly timed dormant spray will prevent, and kill, more insects and diseases, than most other sprays during the year. Dormant
sprays can also help reduce the amount of spraying needed later in the season.
If you only spray your plants once during the year, be sure to 'dormant spray' them. Even if you do not like to use chemicals in
your yard, you can still dormant spray your plants. Just use dormant oil by itself. It is one of the safest insecticides you can use. It
is not usually poisonous to animals, birds, or humans; but it is deadly to insects. Insects can not get resistance to it. You don't have
to worry: "This time they will die, next time they won't" is not true about Dormant Oil.
For more information please click on the
handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
|Peas are a cool-season crop, which means they grow best during cool weather, when the temperatures are below 70° F.
Peas are one of the first vegetables that you can plant and harvest in spring.
There are three different types of peas available. Garden peas (sweet pea with an inedible pod), Snow peas (edible flat
pod with small peas inside), and Snap peas (edible pod with full-size peas inside). They are all easy to grow, and with the
proper timing, you can enjoy fresh peas out of your garden most of the spring and fall.
There are many different varieties of Peas to choose from. Which variety is the best? That is a very hard question because
there is not 'One Best Variety of Pea', there are a lot of 'best varieties'. We have a great selection and they are all ready to
For more information please click on the handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
|'Dig a $100.00 hole for your $10.00 plant'. It's a dirty job, but every gardener needs to do it if they want the best results
they can get. Soil preparation is the most important part of gardening. Without the proper preparation, gardening can be a
chore for you, and your plants will just not respond and grow the way you want them to.
Remember, Garden Soil is not Dirt. Dirt is the stuff you wash out of your clothes after working in the yard. Good Garden
Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, air, water, organic matter, microbes, and other soil organisms. Soil is full of life
and needs your attention. Without good soil you cannot grow plants as easily, or produce food as abundantly, as you can
with good soil. With good garden soil, gardening will be more fun. The soil will be easier to plant in, cultivate, and it will be
easier to grow your plants. The better the soil, the better your gardening results will be.
For more information please click
on the handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
|The topics of good soil health and proper soil conditions are becoming more and more important. As 'new home'
gardeners begin to try to improve their gardens and properly take care of their plants, they need to keep these two topics in
mind. Without good soil health, and without the proper soil conditions, gardening will not be easy, nor will it be enjoyable.
Gardening will become a chore and will produce many undesirable - and often disastrous - results. Whether you are starting
with a brand new house or starting from a brand new addition to your existing home, these topics are important to consider.
Take time to improve these two gardening situations before you start gardening and you will have much better success.
more information please click on the handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
|Raised bed gardening is not something new, it just means that you grow your plants above the level of the ground. This
can be achieved by simply mounding soil up in the garden, or by building a wooden frame and filling it with soil. You can
also use concrete blocks, bricks, plastic boards, metal frames, or many other materials to build frames for your raised beds.
For space efficiency and high yields, it's hard to beat a vegetable garden grown in raised beds. Raised beds can improve
production as well as save space, time, and money. They are also the perfect way to deal with difficult soil conditions, such
as rocks or clay. In addition, they can provide a way to utilize hard-to-use areas such as uneven or steep slopes.
information please click on the handout link in the sidebar of this newsletter.
A great way to shake off the winter blues and get a jump on spring is to start plants from seed indoors. It's not only fun and easy to do but also rewarding, since it allows home gardeners the opportunity to grow plant varieties that may not be available from local plant growers. The opportunities are endless with many unique varieties of flowers, vegetables, and even ornamental vines available in seed form.
To get started, come visit our seed department. Once you have made your selections, look on the back of the packet for basic information such as germination time and an estimate of how long to grow the plant indoors before transplanting into the garden. Find out the average safe date for transplanting your plant in our area, and then count backwards to find out how early you can start your seeds. If you have a greenhouse or cold frame to transplant into, adjust accordingly.
The best containers to use are shallow seed starting trays with covers. Another option is to use peat pots, but plastic or clay pots will do just fine in a pinch. If using containers from a previous growing season, wash them with a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water to sterilize them. This helps prevent the transfer of disease.
For good germination results, fill your containers with a light soil mix that has good drainage and moisture retention properties. Do not use garden soil. Make sure to wet your soil mix and allow it to drain before sowing the seeds into your containers.
Find a warm location in your home with plenty of light, or an area where you can mount a light above the plants. Most plants need only moisture and warmth to germinate, but will need the light to grow once they sprout leaves. Plain fluorescent light bulbs are fine when starting seeds but consider using at least one "grow light" tube if you are going to keep the plants under lights for an extended time (if you are trying to get full-sized plants by transplant time, you'll need a grow light or a very bright window). Remember that seedlings will quickly become weak and leggy plants if they don't receive enough light.
Seeds generally need a soil temperature above 65º to germinate. If you have trouble maintaining that temperature, consider using a heating mat. Covering your containers with plastic will help hold in moisture and create a humid environment that encourages the seed to germinate. That's why covered seed starting trays are the easiest containers to use.
Make sure your plants don't get too hot under the plastic, especially if you have the containers in a sunny area or under a warm light. Remove the plastic as soon as you see any signs of germination. Keep the soil mix evenly moist, and use lukewarm water if possible. Water very gently to avoid disturbing the tender seedlings.
When your seed germinates, it will send up a sprout with two seed leaves called cotyledons. After that, true leaves will follow. Begin feeding your seedlings weekly with a half-strength solution of fertilizer (ask us which is best for what you are growing) when the first true leaves develop. Continue feeding the seedlings until they are ready to be transplanted. The plants will be ready when the entire root ball is held together by the plant roots.
Make sure to harden off your plants before transplanting them into the garden. ("Hardening off" is the process of acclimating plants to the light, humidity, and temperatures found outdoors.) Start by placing your seedling containers outdoors in a shaded, sheltered location for a couple of hours per day. Gradually increase the time spent outside by an hour each day for at least a week before transplanting the seedling. With the exception of tomatoes, plant the seedlings at the same level they were grown in their pot. Tomatoes can be buried deeper than they grew in the pot--they will grow roots from the buried portion of the stem.
After transplanting, if your neighbors ask where you bought all those wonderful plants, just tell them, "They're truly homegrown!"
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All deciduous fruit trees need to be pruned at least once a year for good shape and to bear fruit. The rule of thumb with pruning deciduous fruit trees is to prune while the trees are dormant, after the leaves have fallen to the ground but before new buds have swelled.
Each type of fruit tree needs to be pruned differently, so it's important to know which kind of tree you're pruning and how to prune it properly. For example, apples bear their fruit on spurs (short stubby branches growing off main branches) that bear again and again, sometimes for as long as twenty years. If you whack off all the spurs you'll have no fruit. However, peaches and nectarines bear their fruit on one-year-old wood. By pruning them hard, you encourage new growth to replenish fruiting wood.
The best shape also differs among types. Apple and pear trees, for instance, do best with a central trunk, with shorter branches at the top, longer ones on the bottom. Peaches and plums do best with an open-center shape (kind of like a bowl).
No two trees, even of the same type, can be pruned exactly alike; basic guidelines will apply differently according to the placement of their branches, their age, and their overall vigor. If you're not an expert, follow a pruning manual (one that contains charts) that applies to your climate and type of tree.
When you buy a fruit tree, ask us for the best pruning method to use for that tree. Pruning a young tree properly to start with will save you a lot of time and effort later. Trees that branch lower are easier to spray, cover, and pick the fruit from.
If you are dealing with a large old tree that has been neglected for some time, keep in mind that it may require several years of pruning to bring it back to where it should be. Your primary goal is to open the tree so that sunlight can penetrate inside of the foliage during the fruiting season and to shorten the taller limbs to bring the fruit production down to a more manageable height.
It is safest to call a professional to do the high work and any large branch removal for you. They have the experience and equipment needed.
Remember after pruning deciduous fruit trees to clean up the ground under the tree and follow up immediately with dormant spray.
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House Plants for Cleaner Air!
Need to freshen up your home or office?
Let a plant do the dirty work. For instance, a spider plant gets rid of formaldehyde fumes from your new carpeting, thanks to microorganisms living in potting soil that use airborne toxins as a source of food. Plant roots absorb the waste produced by those microorganisms and release cleaner air in your home.
"Some plants work better because their root systems prefer pollutants and use them as food faster than others," says Bill Wolverton, Ph.D., who runs an environmental research firm in Picayune, MS.
Estimating the number of plants to best do the job isn't easy and he advises that you overestimate the number rather than underestimate it. However, it's easy to figure out the types of plants to use.
Here are 11 of the best — and easiest to maintain — household plants to hold down pollution levels in your home or office for better breathing and energy.
- bamboo or areca palm
- Boston fern (or any fern)
- English ivy (or any ivy)
- gerbera daisy
- golden pothos
- peace lily
- snake plant
- spider plant
A well maintained yard (including lawns) can add 15% to your home's value. Lawns help muffle noise, moderate temperatures, reduce dust and pollen, control erosion, improve soil, improve air quality by reducing CO2 levels, cushion the legs, and, though some may disagree, help keep dirt out of the home.
Maintaining a healthy, vigorously growing lawn is the best way to prevent a severe disease outbreak in a turfgrass. A 5,000 square foot lawn contains about four million turfgrass plants, each requiring optimum amounts of water and fertilizer, the right mowing regime, and an aerated, well-drained soil. About 75 to 85% of common lawn diseases can be avoided altogether just by optimizing these practices to avoid stressed grass, which is much more susceptible to disease outbreaks than healthy grass.
Water as infrequently as possible, but make sure you water enough. Watering infrequently but deeply will encourage the roots of the turf to go deep.
Water for as long as possible to get deep soil penetration (up to 30 minutes). It may be necessary to cycle irrigate if runoff occurs after just a short time. To cycle irrigate, water until runoff occurs, then stop and wait for the water to penetrate (usually 1 to 2 hours), then repeat.
Water as early as possible--first thing in the morning. Do not water between 4 pm and 4 am.
Do not water areas in the shade as frequently as the areas of your lawn that receive full sun.
Fertilization timing, amount, and type depend on the turf you have and your soil type. Unless your soil is very nutrient-poor, fertilize sparingly, as you can actually over-stimulate plant growth, making the lawn more susceptible to dry conditions and disease. Our professionals can help advise you on the best fertilizers to use.
It's very tempting to set the lawn mower very low so that you don't have to mow as often. Don't do it. If your lawn looks like Astroturf, you are mowing it much too short. Lawns mowed at 2-3" tend to have deeper roots, fewer weed problems, and look much better. On any given mowing, you should be removing about 1/3 of the grass blade.
If you are mowing regularly, let grass clippings stay on the lawn; they will readily decompose and return nutrients to the soil. If you have just inherited a meadow, and don't have a mulching mower, you can get the same effect by remowing several times, thus slicing up the long clippings that are lying on top.
If there are brown spots in your lawn and you have ruled out fungus and insects, it could be a simple case of the soil's being too compacted. Try aerating the area and adding some grass seed; if it is very bad (dead turf) remove the turf, turn over the soil and amend with a good soil amendment If you reseed, lightly cover with a good organic topper The seeds must be kept moist continuously for the first two weeks or they will die.
Organic gardening can be a contribution to the quality
of the environment. If you are a vegetable gardener, it is also a contribution
to the quality and safety of your edibles. Suburban gardeners, pick up your garden
hoses! Oh yes, and learn to pinch together your thumb and index fingers. Here
we go - a lesson on organic gardening.
Organic gardening involves the gardener's approach to soil preparation, fertilizing,
pest management, and weed removal. As you might imagine, the organic gardener
will practice the most environmentally safe methods.
Once you have selected your vegetable garden plot location, whether your soil
is clay or sand (or anything in between), you will want to supplement the native
soil with an organic compost soil amendment containing mychorrizae and fortified
with nitrogen and iron. Roto-till or use the good old-fashioned shovel to mix
in these amendments and level out the soil.
Of course, many gardeners like to maintain a compost pile. Composting, done properly,
is an excellent product to enhance the soil and thereby improve the plant heath.
Other gardeners like to use manure as a portion of this soil amending process.
If that is your choice, make sure that you do this a month or so ahead of planting
the garden, and water thoroughly. Manures add a considerable amount of salt and
high nitrogen to the mix, too much for new young seedlings or plants.
Fertilizing can sometimes seem complicated. The three most important nutrients
for healthy plants are N-P-K or nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen
is necessary for healthy, green plant foliage growth. Phosphorus is needed for
the plant's root, flower, and eventual fruit (veggie) growth. Potassium is necessary
for overall healthy plants through good root growth and fruit production.
All of these nutrients are in your soil naturally. Depending upon your soil
type, they may be in balance or they may not. You could have your soil tested
for nitrogen, phosphoros, potassium (NPK) and other minerals to determine whether
you have any deficiencies at all.
If you are a compost gardener, this process adds all of the nutrients that
your soil and plants need. If you do not compost, then you may want to consider
other organic products that will enhance the quality of your soil.
Organic sources of nitrogen (N) are derived from fish meal, cottonseed meal,
alfalfa meal, fish bone meal, and feather meal. Organic phosphorus (P) comes
from fish bone meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, and soft rock phosphate.
And finally, organic potassium (K) comes from kelp meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa
meal and mined potassium sulfate. The nutrients are released quickly as the beneficial
soil microbes called mychorrizae digest the product.
You may have a question as to why organic gardening uses the organic fertilizers
instead of chemical fertilizers. The reason is simple. Organic fertilizers are
more stable in the soil and become available to the plant more gradually. While
they are feeding the plants, they are also improving the soil health. The plants
grow a bit more slowly, but that gives them more strength and resistance to disease
Chemical fertilizers (vs. organic) are designed to make the N-P-K (and minerals
such as iron, magnesium, sulfur, etc.) available “now” to a plant,
and this is like putting a plant “on steroids.” Also, the plant can't
use up all that is applied and unfortunately, through your watering process and/or
rain, those nutrients will be washed away (possibly into the metropolitan water
system). Alternatively, the organic products are designed to slowly decompose
to enhance the soil and also be consumed by the mychorrizae, and then taken up
by the plant root system.
You will discover that all of the products contain varying N-P-K ratios.
Ask one of our staff for assistance in determining which will be the best for
your individual garden.
Are there unwanted visitors in your garden? Time to apply good IPM (Integrated
Pest Management) practices, using organic fertilizers and resistance to applying
herbicides (for weed killing). Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is the approach
to pest control that requires regular monitoring of your garden to determine
if and when treatments are needed. And it employs physical, mechanical, cultural,
and biological methods to keep pest numbers low enough to meet your toleration or
Classic organic gardening pest management employs simple, completely non-toxic
techniques such as hand-picking the tomato horn worm, hand removal of leaves
harboring the leafminers, squishing snails or water-blasting off aphids
or cabbage moths from your plants.
Now you understand the need for your garden hose and pinching fingers!
The next level up is to use the least toxic controls such as insecticidal
soaps, spray oils, and other natural products (pyrethrums from chrysanthemums,
for example) to combat annoying insects, powdery mildew and rust. This category
of products satisfies another large group of gardeners - those willing to spend
time evaluating their plants and treating (and retreating) upon need. This
level is also still safe to apply to edibles.
And the highest level is for those gardeners completely intolerant of garden
pests. However, that level is also toxic for edibles and should not be considered
for a vegetable garden.
Now, what about the weeds? Avoid herbicides in vegetable
gardens. Some gardeners like to use a cover crop such as
clover in between their rows of vegetables. This works great. Or, you can cover
your hands with a great pair of gloves and pull out the weeds (it's good exercise,
too)! And then, to keep the weeds down, MULCH, MULCH, MULCH.
Organic vegetable gardening is especially rewarding. Your vegetables will
be so fresh, so delicious, so much the ultimate of vegetable goodness, that you
will become spoiled and never want to buy from a grocery produce department again.
Every time you step into your garden to harvest tomatoes, beans, broccoli, potatoes,
lettuce, or whatever you have grown, a smile will rise to your lips. Be proud
of yourself. You should be!
What you need:
- 1 ham (The size of your crock pot will determine the size ham to use. Generally nothing larger than a 7 lb. ham for large crock pots, and around a 4 -5 lb. ham for the smaller ones.)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 stick butter or margarine
- Three medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small pieces
- 3 carrots, cut into 1 inch (or so) pieces
- 1 cup water
Step by Step:
- Over low heat, melt butter; slowly add brown sugar, stirring continuously, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Place 1 cup of water in the crock pot, followed by the ham.
- Pour enough glaze over the top of the ham to coat it completely.
- Add sweet potatoes and carrots around the sides and on top of the ham, pour remaining glaze over the top of everything.
- Cover with a lid, place the crock pot on low and cook for 4-5 hours.
- Then enjoy tender, moist ham with sweet potatoes and glazed carrots--all cooked in one pot!