Monthly Archives: February 2012

Longwood Revisited

Witchhazel blossoms on February 5th! Not here, but down in Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, a public botanical and pleasure garden around which I had some time to wander before giving a lecture. One little grove was particularly fragrant and comely, with a few witchhazels shrubs with yellow blossoms, some with bright orange blossoms, and some with brownish orange blossoms.
February 5th is early for witchhazel even down there, reflecting what has been the mildest winter in memory. While many people prefer mild winters, this weather worries a lot of gardeners. Are plants going to become “soft?” Is possible cold weather in the weeks ahead going to do them in?

Call me a pollyanna, but I have a lot of faith in Mother Nature (or, put another way, natural systems) to adapt and protect against calamities. Not that everything will necessarily keep …

Read the complete post…

ADMIRING THE GARDEN, NOW? & COLD PLANS

        See previous post, below, about my new book, just out!! GROW FRUIT NATURALLY: A HANDS-ON GUIDE TO LUSCIOUS, HOMEGROWN FRUIT.
——————————————————-
Every time I walk out the back door on the way to the greenhouse, chicken coop, or compost pile, I take a look at my vegetable gardens. No, I’m not checking out what’s growing. Nothing’ growing, except for a few stalks of kale and some green tufts of mâche.
My real interest is how the vegetable garden looks, now, in midwinter. Too many people plant their vegetables in “vegetable prisons:” undersized gardens with oversized fencing relegated to a distant corner of the yard. 
A vegetable garden needn’t be an eyesore, even in winter when nothing is growing in it. Consider the fence, which endures year ‘round. How about white pickets, rustic cedar or locust, or fanciful arches of rebar filled in with mesh? And no need to segregate plants, …

Read the complete post…

NEW FRUIT BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS!

Hot off the press!!!! My new book, Grow Fruit Naturally: A Hands-On Guide to Luscious, Homegrown Fruit (The Taunton Press). Grow Fruit Naturally is THE book for you if you want to pick luscious fruit right from your own sunny balcony, suburban lot, or farmden. Sure, growing your own fruit will save money but — even better — your home-grown apples, blueberries, peaches, or oranges will be the best you’ve ever tasted and won’t be doused with toxic sprays. 

 

Grow Fruit Naturally shows you the way to successfully harvest fruits that are delicious and healthy, with information on over 30 fruits, from temperate to tropical, and how to reap the most of their bounty. Natural growing begins with creating a healthy soil environment for roots and their microbial friends, and choosing the best kinds and varieties of fruits to plant both for top-notch flavor and for pest and disease resistance. Grow Fruit Naturally will lead you from those …

Read the complete post…

WELCOMING IN SPRING & ODD HOUSEPLANT

The first sign that spring is around the corner — well, perhaps around the block — is the aphids clustering on lettuce leaves in the greenhouse. For organically-grown lettuce, eradication of these pests isn’t reasonably feasible or probably even possible. So I try to strike a balance: As long as aphid populations don’t get too high, plants suffer but little. It’s also a balance between my tolerance for having to wash lettuce leaves to rid them of aphids and the number of aphids  I would tolerate eating. (They’re really not that noticeable or bad to eat; sort of tasty, in fact.)

You know those ladybugs that appear on the insides of south-facing windows this time of year? They used to be my first line of defense against aphids. I would vacuum them up with my Dustbuster, which made the ladybugs dizzy but …

Read the complete post…

BONSAI GOOD, JASMINE BAD

At almost a year old, my bonsai is looking, if not wizened, at least tree-like and a welcome sight in winter. This bonsai began life in a big box store, a weeping fig in a 4 inch pot. Weeping figs are so easy to root from cuttings that the propagators of these plants evidently don’t even bother with individual cuttings, instead just sticking clumps of them together. Or maybe they’re sold in clumps to make the plants look bushier. At any rate, I divided the clump as soon as I got home and then had 4 weeping figs.

In the tropics, I’ve seen weeping figs as large as our sugar maples. In large pots indoors, I’ve seen — and once had — weeping figs 6 feet high. I planned for one of my new weeping figs to call home a rectangular pot …

Read the complete post…