Yearly Archives: 2020

I’M NO MICHELANGELO, BUT . . .

Lawn Nouveau

I’m taking up sculpture. Not in bronze, Carrara marble, or granite, but with plants.

My easiest sculpture is one I’ve been doing for years. I can’t really say “working on for years” because every year it vanishes, to be started anew each spring. It’s “lawn nouveau,” as I call it in my book, The Pruning Book, and then go on to describe the technique as “two tiers of grassy growth . . . the low grass is just like any other lawn, and kept that way with a lawnmower. The taller portions are mowed infrequently – one to three times a year, depending on the desired look (and my need for hay) — with a scythe or tractor.” The sharp, defining line between the high grass and the low grass is integral to the design.

I’m lucky to have a meadow bathed in sunlight bordering the south side of my …

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COMPOSTING WORKSHOP/WEBINAR

COMPOSTING WORKSHOP/WEBINAR

Presentation by Lee Reich (MS, PhD, researcher in soil and plants for the USDA and Cornell University, decades-long composter, and farmdener*):

Learn the why and the how of making a compost that grows healthy and nutritious plants, everything from designing an enclosure to what to add (and what not to add) to what can go wrong (and how to right it). Don’t bother stuffing old tomato stalks, grass clippings, and leaves into plastic bags; just compost them! The same goes for kitchen waste. Learn what free materials are available for composting. “Bring” your questions about this important topic. 

Also covered will be the best ways to use your gourmet compost. Good compost is fundamental to good gardening; it put the “organic” into organic gardening, making healthy soil and healthy plants.

Whether your interest is to produce a material that’s good for your garden or to recycle kitchen and garden waste, this workshop …

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DAILY GRAPES

As The World Turns…

Over the years, gardening has made me more and more aware of our planet’s annual track around the sun. How quaint. It gives me a certain kinship with the peasants at work in the 15th century painting for the month of September of Les Très Riches Heures de Duc de Berry.

Picking grapes, 15th and 21st century

As with those peasants, September is a month when I have abundant fruits for harvest. Like the peasants, I’m harvesting grapes; it’s been a bumper year. Unlike the peasants, my grapes are destined for fresh eating rather than being sullied by fermentation into wine. (Okay, okay, just kidding, although I am not a fan of drinking wine.)

First to ripen here were the varieties Somerset Seedless and Alden. With an abundance of varieties and fruits, I can afford to be picky, so this will be the last season here for Somerset …

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UPCOMING COMPOSTING WEBINAR/WORKSHOP

Presentation by Lee Reich (MS, PhD, researcher in soil and plants for the USDA and Cornell University, decade-long composter, and farmdener*):

Learn the why and the how of making a compost that grows healthy and nutritious plants, everything from designing an enclosure to what to add (and what not to add) to what can go wrong (and how to right it). Don’t bother stuffing old tomato stalks, grass clippings, and leaves into plastic bags; just compost them! The same goes for kitchen waste. Learn what free materials are available for composting. “Bring” your questions about this important topic.

Also covered will be the best ways to use your “gourmet compost.” Good compost is fundamental to good gardening; it put the “organic” into organic gardening, making healthy soil and healthy plants.

Whether your interest is to produce a material that’s good for your garden or to recycle kitchen and garden waste, this workshop will teach …

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SICKNESS, MY CORN NOT ME

An Interesting Puzzle Unfolds

Sudoko and Scrabble and other games and puzzles offer endless hours of entertainment and stimulation. Or so I hear.  I get those challenges and rewards from my garden. Case in point is a bed of sweet corn which has been stunted all season long and then last week, almost suddenly, all the plants’ leaves turn sickly as well. Needless to say, ears are developing poorly or not at all. Why, I asked?

I have to backtrack. Each year I plant 4 beds of corn, each about 20 feet long, which supplies plenty of ears for fresh eating and freezing. I spread out the harvest season by planting a new bed every two weeks after the previous planting. Each bed, like other beds in my vegetable gardens, is spread each year with a one-inch depth of compost to maintain fertility (as well as other benefits).

At first I thought perhaps …

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READY FOR 2021

Why Now?

For the past week or so I’ve been getting parts of the garden ready for next year. Too soon, you say? No, says I.

Pole beans

A bed of corn and a bed of bush beans are finished for the season. Not that that’s the end of either vegetable. I planted four beds of corn, each two weeks after the previous, and the two remaining beds will be providing ears of fresh Golden Bantam — a hundred year old variety with rich, corny flavor — well into September.

The bed of bush beans will be superseded by a bed of pole beans, planted at the same time. Bush beans start bearing early but peter out after a couple of harvests. Pole beans are slower to get going, but once they do, they keep up a quickening pace until slowed, then stopped, by cold weather.

Why, you may ask, ready those beds …

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BLUEBERRY GROWING WEBINAR REDUX

•For anyone who missed my recent 90 minute webinar on Growing Blueberries, the webinar has been recorded and is available soon for a limited time period on-demand for $35. The webinar covers everything from plant selection to planting to maintenance to pests to harvest and preservation. Including, of course, the all important getting the soil right and dealing with birds.

•After this webinar, you will be really good at growing blueberries! 

Contact me before 9 am EST August 20, 2020 if you’d like to view the webinar.

SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT, IN FRUIT

(Adapted from my book Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, now out of print but very soon available as online version. Stay tuned. Information is also available in my books Grow Fruit Naturally and Landscaping with Fruit, available from my website and the usual sources.)

I always know when my hardy kiwifruits are ripe because my dogs and ducks start grubbing around beneath the vines for drops. The fruits, for those unfamiliar with them, are similar to the fuzzy kiwifruits (Actinidia deliciosa) of our markets, only much better for a number of reasons.

Obviously, from the name, hardiness is one reason. Hardy kiwifruits will laugh off cold below even minus twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit, while market kiwis are injured below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Another difference is in the fruit itself. Hardy kiwifruits are grape-size, with smooth, edible skins. Pop them into you mouth just as with grapes. Within the skin, hardy kiwifruits look …

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FINAL REMINDER FOR BLUEBERRY GROWING WORKSHOP WEBINAR ON AUG. 12, 2020, FROM 7-8:30 PM

Final reminder for my zoom Blueberry Growing Workshop/Webinar on August 12, 2020 from 7-8:30 pm EST. I’ll cover everything from planting right through harvest and preservation. If you’re new to growing blueberries, you’ll learn how to grow this fruit successfully. If you already grow blueberries, you’ll be able to grow them better. If you’re an expert on growing blueberries, you don’t need this workshop/webinar. Registration ($35) at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NSTrunuTRkOcRfS-frQuYg. For more information, go to http://www.leereich.com/workshops.

BLUEBERRIES AND ASPARAGUS (SEPARATELY)

All Good

I’ve never met a blueberry I didn’t like. Then again, I have yet to taste a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium asheii), native to southeastern U.S. and highly acclaimed there. I also have yet to taste Cascades blueberry (V. deliciosum), native to the Pacific northwest. With “deliciosum” as its species name, how could it not taste great? And those are just two of the many species of blueberry that I’ve never tasted that are found throughout the world.

The blueberries with which I am most familiar are those that I grow, which are highbush blueberry and lowbush blueberry. I grow blueberries because they are beautiful plants, because they are relatively pest free, because they are delicious, and because they fruit reliably for me year after year. 

I have to admit that highbush blueberries, at least to me, all taste pretty much the same. They have nowhere the broad flavor spectrum of apples. Tasting …

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