Monthly Archives: April 2012

Propagating Cuttings, Quackgrass


Ten weeks ago I wrote of the “pot in pot” propagator that I was using to root dormant fig and mulberry cuttings. The propagator is nothing more than a small, porous, clay pot filled with water and with its drainage hole plugged that I plunged into the mix of peat moss and perlite that filled the larger pot. Water drawn out of the small pot keeps the peat-perlite rooting mix consistently moist.
The cuttings have sprouted with enthusiasm. And when I lift out the small pot, I see roots running around in the moist rooting mix, so I separated the plants and potted them up individually.
No need to put the propagator away now that plants are no longer dormant. With a simple covering to maintain humidity, the propagator also works well for so-called softwood cuttings, that is, cuttings that …

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Worst Weed, Sugar Maple, and Lithops


Last week’s highlighting of quackgrass as this year’s worst weed was a passion judgement; the quackgrass seemed frighteningly abundant. But now that I’ve gotten the upper hand on it, I realize that quackgrass is lurking in the wings every year, ready to creep into any overlooked edge of the garden. So let’s glance down at two newbies vying for the worst-weed title this year: purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and its cousin, henbit (L. amplexicaule).
Purple deadnettle or henbit, both with creeping stems, rounded leaves, and purplish flowers, could easily be mistaken for creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederaceae), a weed that’s been slinking around my place for years. Purple deadnettle’s upper leaves are purplish and more triangular than its cousin’s. 

Creeping Charlie is enjoyable to rip out of the ground. If you grab …

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Winter cold, Winter chill, & Late frosts

I’ve tended the same plot of ground for about 30 years, and this is the oddest winter and spring yet. 
In almost every year past, the nearby Wallkill River has swelled its banks in early April, then overflowed for a few days to stop traffic on my road. This year, the water level is so low that I’m hoping for some rain. Well, almost hoping for rain. I’m still recovering from last August and September’s record rains that made waterfront property of my home and back gardens.

Apple buds in “tight cluster”

If rainfall hasn’t been whacky enough, just look at temperatures over the past few months and especially over the past few weeks. Here in the Hudson Valley — throughout the Northeast, in fact — winter temperatures have been the warmest in decades. In years past, temperatures plummeted each winter …

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A new book: Grow Fruit Naturally, pear excerpt

Now is a good time to plan and plant for some home-grown fruits — pears, for example. Here’s an excerpt from the pear section of my NEW book, Grow Fruit Naturally (Taunton Press, 2012, signed copies available from my website, listed at right):

My ‘Yoinashi’ Asian pear, now in bloom

Pears come in two “flavors:” European and Asian. European pears, which are most familiar in American markets, are typically buttery, sweet, and richly aromatic — and pear-shaped. Asian pears are typically round with crisp flesh that, when you take a bite, explode in your mouth with juice. Their flavors are sweet with a delicate, floral aroma and sometimes a hint of walnut or butterscotch. Both kinds of pears have been cultivated for thousands of years, and within each type exists thousands of varieties.
Pears of either “flavor” are easy to grow. But …

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