Monthly Archives: February 2013

Excitement in some Seeds

There’s still some space left in the March 10th lecture/workshop in Philadelphia. In the morning, I’ll do a photo presentation about pruning fruit trees, shrubs, and vines and then, after lunch, we’ll go out into the real world, at the Awbury Arboretum’s Agricultural Village. For more information and for registration for FRUIT PRUNING SIMPLIFIED, please visit: http://chestnuthill.patch.com/events/fruit-pruning-simplified-with-lee-reich

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And now, on to what’s happening up here on my farmden in New York’s Hudson Valley . . .


Some inch-long, tapering white sprouts — roots — caused quite a stir today. For me, at least. The first was spotted inside a baggie of moist potting soil that I put in the refrigerator a couple of months ago. That sprout was attached to a marble-sized, brown yellowhorn (Xanthocerus sorbifolia) seed. Giving the bag a shake brought more seeds to the surface, all with emerging sprouts.

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It’s Bulbing Time

UPDATED LECTURE & WORKSHOP SCHEDULEMar 2: Miami Valley (Dayton, OH) Garden Conference: WEEDLESS GARDENING

Mar 9: Philadelphia Flower Show: FRUIT GROWING SIMPLIFIED

Mar 10: Philadelphia Orchard Project: LECTURE AND HANDS-ON WORKSHOP ON PRUNING FRUIT TREES, SHRUBS, AND VINES

Mar 16, Thetford, VT: FEARLESS PRUNING

April 6, Maine Garden Day (Lewiston, ME): FRUIT GROWING SIMPLIFIED, MULTI-DIMENSIONAL VEGETABLE GARDENING

April 10, Rosendale (NY) Library: BACKYARD COMPOSTING

April 20, Berkshire Botanical Garden (Stockbridge, MA), GROW FRUIT NATURALLY, BLUEBERRIES: RELIABLE & EASY TO GROW, HEALTHFUL, & DELICIOUS 

April 28, WV Master Gardener’s Assoc (Flatwoods, WV): MY WEEDLESS GARDEN

May 11, Margaret Roach’s Garden (Copake Falls, NY): BACKYARD FRUIT LECTURE (morning), GRAFTING WORKSHOP (afternoon)

May 16, Brookside Gardens (Wheaton, MD): MY WEEDLESS GARDEN

June 1, The Cloisters (NYC): MEDIEVAL FRUITS YOUCAN GROW TODAY————————————

The official start for this year’s growing season, which I count as the …

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Disease & Smelly Plants

You perhaps missed last summer’s plant plague, which might be back this summer. My garden was spared because last summer I happened not to have planted the particular host plant: impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), that workhorse of the shade garden, one of the few brightly colored flowers that thrive with little sunlight. 

Downy mildew disease was the cause of last summer’s plague, which descended on impatiens throughout much of the northeast and parts of the rest of the country. Leaves of infected plants turn pale green at first, then develop downy, white growth on their undersides, and finally collapse. Stems also can eventually pick up infection. Needless to say, infected plants flower little or not at all.

Impatiens in Puerto Rico rainforest, El Yunque

But let’s look forward rather than wallowing in the past. Downy mildew can be expected this year wherever …

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Pruning Begins

Just because I wrote The Pruning Book doesn’t mean that I always go forth boldly, pruning shears in hand, to prune with speed and with total confidence. This realization hit me right between the eyes as I was staring at and trying to figure out what to do with a row of St. Johnswort shrubs billowing like a wave over the edge of my terrace. Any more billowing and that mass of stems would become a tsunami; the hedge had to be reduced — attractively.

The problem is that the plants are a bit big for the site. I have excuses. There are 400 species of St. Johnswort, varying in stature, and I lost the tag to my original plant from which I propagated all the others in the hedge. The soil in the planting strip used to be weedy and poor. After enclosing the strip in a wall …

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Citrus in New York?

Winters have been warmer here for the past few years and, so far at least, this winter is playing out to be the warmest ever. But even the “global warming” cloud has its silver lining. Snow is great fun and cold is invigorating but one of my regrets in living in a cold winter region has been not being able to harvest fresh citrus fruits from outdoor trees. If things keep progressing in their present direction, as predicted, that situation may change.

The coldest temperature so far this winter has been down around 9° F, and three of my citrus plants still look fine. In the ground, outdoors! Technically, they are a citrus relative, Poncirus trifoliata, also known as trifoliate orange. The leaves resemble citrus leaves, the white flowers resemble and have the fragrance of citrus flowers, and the fruits, orange and an inch-and-a-half across, resemble citrus fruits inside …

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