Monthly Archives: June 2015

HEATHERS & BARBERRIES & TICKS, OH NO!

An Evil Beauty

   Uh oh! I was pulling an odd weed here and there in my heath bed and came upon a seedling of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunburgii). Should I start checking myself for deer ticks? Are all the plants in the bed soon to expire?    Japanese barberry is a commonly planted ornamental that was introduced into this country almost 150 years ago. For decades upon decades, it sedately graced landscapes with its boxwood-like leaves (but not evergreen), yellow flowers, and bright red berries, all set off against a backdrop of dark brown, thorny stems.

Barberry in woods

    For some reason, the plant began to spread about 35 years ago. Perhaps it was the increased planting of barberries around homes, along highways, and outside shopping malls. Those plants spawned yet more plants as birds ate the berries and spread the seeds. Perhaps it was the surge in deer populations, …

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MAKING THE MOST OF WET GROUND

Have Fun, You Silly Ducks

    Wouldn’t you know it: I write about the extended dry spell one week, and the next week, which is now, the rain comes and doesn’t let up. Not that all this rain makes me regret having a drip irrigation system watering my garden. Rainfall could come screeching to a halt and send us into another dry spell.

Ducks, off to work and play

     My five Indian runner ducks offer many advantages here on the farmden, not the least of which is affording me the pleasure of watching creatures that actually enjoy cool, rainy weather. The ducks also are entertaining and decorative, spend much of their days scooping insects and slugs out of the lawn and meadow and into their bills, and, especially when living on that diet of insects, slugs, and greenery, lay very tasty eggs. The downside to ducks is that they are …

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DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, WHERE’S THE AGUA?

 I’m Dripping, So Why Am I Watering?

  Up to a couple of weeks ago, little water had dropped from the sky this spring here in the Hudson Valley. But a drip irrigation system automatically waters many of my plants. So why have I been spending so much time with hose in hand?    Not all my plants drink in the drips. Trees and shrubs are on their own except their first year in the ground when I religiously hand water them every few days initially, and then once a week throughout the season. These plants get 3/4 gallon per week for every square foot spread (estimated) of their root systems. That’s equivalent to an inch of rainfall which, if it does fall, exempts me from a few days of watering.    A couple of inches depth of hay, leaf, or wood chip mulch around the trees and shrubs seals in moisture …

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MONOCOT THREATENED, MONOCOT SUCCESS

DRIP, DRIP . . . A WORKSHOP

Drip irrigation has many benefits: saves water, healthier plants, easily automated, less weeds. I’ll be holding a DRIP IRRIGATION WORKSHOP on June 20, 2015 in Bloomington, NY. Learn why drip is the better way to water and the components and designing of a drip system. And then, hands-on, we’ll design an install a system in an existing vegetable and flower garden. For registration and information, go to www.leereich.com/workshops.

Lily Turds

   The turds on my crown imperial plants were unwelcome, but no surprise. I’d been forewarned that the red lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) was in the area. Finally, it found my garden and my crown imperials.    For a relatively mobile insect, the beetle was surprisingly slow in its arrival. This native of Europe made its North American debut in Montreal in 1945 and its entrance stateside, in 1992, in Massachusetts. Since then, it has …

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