Monthly Archives: February 2011

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I was so excited today to receive a box full of leafless sticks by mail. The exciting thing about those sticks is that each one of them can – will, I hope – grow into a whole new plant from whose branches would eventually hang luscious apples and grapes.

And how do I know the fruits will be luscious? Because last autumn I was at an experimental orchard photographing fruits for a new book I’m writing. Of course, I also tasted them, and that’s why Chestnut Crab, Honeygold, Mollie’s Delicious, and King of the Pippins will be joining the two dozen or so other varieties of apples already here. Cayuga White, Bertille Seyve 2758, Steuben, Lakemont, Wapanuka, Himrod, Romulus, and Venus will be joining my grapes.

It is “totipotence” – of the plants, not me – that allows unlocking the potential treasures within today’s mailed sticks. Within a plant, …

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A day like this, a gray sky and 5 inches of fresh snow laid gently atop the almost foot of snow already blanketing the ground, hardly turns my mind to gardening or plants. Even the greenhouse, usually a cheery, verdant retreat in winter, is dark and cold. Snow on the plastic roof blocks what little light peeks through the gray sky, and the heater doesn’t come alive until the temperature drops to 37° F.
And then I reach into my mailbox, and out comes summer! More seed and nursery catalogs oozing with photos of fresh carrots, heads of lettuce, juicy peaches, and sunny sunflowers. I’ve already ordered all my seeds, or so I thought until I started thumbing through more catalogs. Offerings in vegetable seeds, in particular, seem to get more interesting each year.
Take carrots, for example. Carrots have long been available in all sort of shapes and …

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I wonder why my houseplants look so unattractive, at least compared to some other people’s houseplants. Like those of my friend Sandy. I was recently awed by the lushness and beauty of her orchid cactii, begonias, and ferns. I also grow orchid cactii and ferns, so what’s with mine?

Perhaps the difference is that other’s houseplants have a cozy, overgrown look. Mine don’t. Most of my houseplants get repotted and pruned, as needed, for best growth. Every year, every two years at most, my houseplants get tipped out of their pots, their roots hacked back, then put back into their pots with new potting soil packed around their roots. In anticipation of lush growth, stems also get pruned to keep the plants from growing topheavy.

Rather than being scattered willy-nilly throughout the house or clustered cozily in corners, as in Sandy’s house, my houseplants get carefully sited. …

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