Category Archives: Gardening

MY MENAGERIE EXPANDS (and a free webinar)

A Little Bit of the Mediterranean

The UPS guy arrived yesterday with a long, narrow cardboard box containing the latest addition to my menagerie, a menagerie of mostly Mediterranean plants. “Mostly” because not all of them have roots in the Mediterranean. But all of them thrive and are grown in Mediterranean climates of mild winters and sunny summers.

My collection is a “menagerie” because, although all the plants thrive and are grown in Mediterranean climates, the makeup is quite diverse. There’s the evergreen pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana that also goes under the common name feijoa), olive, rosemary, bay laurel, and Meyer lemon.

Pollinating pineapple guava

And a few of the plants — black mulberry (Morus nigra), Pakistani mulberry (Morus macroura), pomegranate, and fig — go dormant and lose their leaves in winter.

Pakistan mulberry fruit

Here at the farmden, winter temperatures can plummet to minus 20°F, so getting these plants to thrive …

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SWEET POSSIBILITIES

It’s time to prune, and to help you, I’ll be holding a PRUNING WEBINAR on March 29, 7-8:30 EST. Learn the tools of the trade, how plants respond to pruning, details for pruning various plants, and enjoy a fun finale on an easy espalier. There’ll be time for questions also. Cost is $35 and you can register with Paypal or credit card here.

Choice Syrups

I’ve given up on maple syrup this year. The tree I tapped was too small to yield anything significant. 

I’d almost given up on river birch syrup. I thought perhaps it was the timing — and, have since learned, that it is! Sap from any one of a number of birch species doesn’t begin to flow until temperatures are consistently 50°F or higher, which arrives near the end of the maple tapping season and continues until about the time the trees leaf out.

River birch, tapped

Black …

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FEARLESS PRUNING

FEARLESS PRUNING WORKSHOP/WEBINAR

A workshop/webinar to take the mystery out of pruning, so that lilac and rose bushes, apple trees,  blueberry shrubs — all trees and shrubs, in fact — can be pruned to look their best and be in vibrant health. Fearlessly.

Topics will include:
•Why prune?
•Tools for pruning.
•How plants respond to various kinds and timing of pruning.
•Details for pruning flowering shrubs, trees, evergreens, and fruit plants.
•And a fun finale on creating an easy fruiting espalier. (Don’t know what espalier is? You’ll learn it at the webinar.)

And, of course, there will be time for your questions.

Date: March 29, 2021 
Time: 7-8:30 pm EST
Cost: $35

Registration Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RfkO-_nJT8S-LximcfG24Q

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

HOW ABOUT THOSE OLD SEED PACKETS?

It’s wasted effort to sprinkle dead seeds into furrows either in the garden or seed flats. Seeds are living, albeit dormant, embryonic plants which do not live forever.

When you buy a packet of seeds, you’re assured of their viability. Government standards set the minimum percentage of seeds that must germinate for each type of seed. The packing date and the germination percentage often are stamped on the packet. (The germination percentage must be indicated only if it is below standard.) I write the year on any seed packets on which the date is not stamped.

Your old, dog-eared seed packets may or may not be worth using this season. It depends on where the packets were kept and the types of seeds they contain. Last year I got tired of trying to decide how well my seeds were stored and which were still worth sowing; I took action.

Anti-Aging Treatments

Conditions that slow …

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WEED-LESSNESS FOR 2021

WEEDLESS GARDENING WORKSHOP/WEBINAR
 with Lee Reich, PhD, writer, scientist, and farmdener*

Introducing a novel way of caring for the soil, a 4-part system that minimizes weed problems and  maintains healthy plants and soil. Learn how to apply this system to establish new plantings as well as to maintain existing plantings. The principles and practices are rooted in the latest agricultural research and are also applicable to sustainable, small farm systems. 

This system works because it emulates, rather than fights, Mother Nature who, as C. D. Warner wrote (My Summer in the Garden, 1887), “is at it early and late, and all night; never tiring, nor showing the least sign of exhaustion.”

Date: February 22, 2021 
Time: 7-8:30 pm EST
Cost: $35

Register for this webinar at:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WqSCBtOGTqqjGgbOHOuxfg 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

*A farmdener is more than a gardener and less than a farmer.

THANKS

I’d like to highlight, today, what makes this blog possible. 

First of all, it’s you, readers. The positive feedback I get is very rewarding. I’ve had great opportunities — academically and “in the field” — to learn about growing plants and caring for the soil, and have put all this into practice for decades. My hope is that in entertaining you with all this, your tomatoes, apples, zinnias, and all the rest grow healthier and tastier or prettier. I appreciate the positive (even the sometimes negative) comments from you all.

Second, if you’ll look at the bottom right corner of my blog posts (or scroll way down near the end on a mobile device), you’ll see some banner ads. Nothing flashy or moving or obnoxious in any other way. Just simple links to a few advertisers.

These seven advertisers are special; these are companies whose products I stand behind. I’ve used them and …

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TELLING SNOW

I Grow Taller

“Make hay while the sun shines” is fine advice in its season. For winter, how about? “Prune while the snow is high and firm.” 

My apple and pear trees are semi-dwarf, presently ranging from seven to eleven feet tall. Even though I have a pole pruner and various long-reach pruning tools, I still carry my three-legged orchard ladder out to the trees with me to work on their upper branches. Sometimes you have to get your eyes and arms and hands right up near where you’re actually cutting.

A few years ago, as I was looking out the window and admiring the foot or of snow on the ground, I realized that all that snow could give me a literal leg up on pruning. If I stayed on top of the snow, that is. While the snow was still soft, I was able to do this by strapping on a …

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GET YOUR DUCKS IN ORDER FOR SPRING

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

Introducing a novel way of caring for the soil, a 4-part system that minimizes weed problems and  maintains healthy plants and soil. Learn how to apply this system to establish new plantings as well as to maintain existing plantings. The principles and practices are rooted in the latest agricultural research and are also applicable to sustainable, small farm systems. 

Success comes from emulating rather than fighting Mother Nature who, as C. D. Warner wrote (My Summer in the Garden, 1887), “is at it early and late, and all night; never tiring, nor showing the least sign of exhaustion.”

Space for this workshop/webinar is limited so registration is necessary. Sign up soon to assure yourself a space.

Date: February 22, 2021 
Time: 7-8:30 pm EST
Cost: $35

Register for this webinar at:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WqSCBtOGTqqjGgbOHOuxfg 

After registering, you will receive …

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MYCO-WHAT?

It’s Greek To Me (and You)

This far north, there’s only a little to do garden-wise this time of year, so let’s sit back and ponder the wonders of plant life. Mycorrhiza, to be specific. Wait! Don’t stop reading! Sure, the word “mycorrhiza” appears intimidating. But mycorrhiza are important in your garden, in the forest, to your trees and shrubs, maybe even to your houseplants.

First, the pronunciation. Say: my-ko-RY-za. It sounds nicer than it looks. 

Now let’s take the word apart to see what it means. “Myco” comes from the Greek word meaning “fungus” and “rhiza” from the word meaning “root.” Mycorrhiza, then, is a “fungus-root,” an association between a plant root and a fungus so intimate that the pair has been given a name as if it was a single organism.

Mycorrhizal blueberry root

Win-Win

The association is symbiotic, beneficial to both parties. One end of the fungus infects a plant root, …

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