As we venture out into the garden, it is time to also grab the old tools. If you need to purchase some tools or replace some old ones what should you look for?
Price, quality, feel, and guarantee are all important. The fiberglass handles are heavier but last well. Look for cushioned hand tools with softer larger handles. Avoid buying cheap tools as they are more apt to break in just a year or two. If you are using old tools consider a lubricating the handles with vegetable oil or linseed oil. Also be sure you start the season with a good pair of gloves.
Garage sales can also be a great source for quality garden tools at a low price.
Now is the perfect time of year to turn your sunny window into a seedling factory. Start with either new small pots or recycled pots that have been cleaned with soap and hot water. Also use brand new potting soil for seeds to prevent disease.
Plant seeds twice as deep as the seeds are wide and maintain moisture until you see germination. Allow for one plant per 1 – 2 square inches. You may need to move them to a larger pot if seedlings start to shade each other.
If your seedlings are stretching or leaning towards the light, then you should be increasing the light by moving the plants to a sunnier spot or placing the plants within a couple of inches of a regular cool white fluorescent light (no need for a grow light for seedlings).
By growing your own seedlings you can save a lot of money over purchasing plants later in spring. Also, you can select to grow seeds from a larger diversity of choices (i.e. early tomatoes, unusual varieties or heirlooms).
Nothing can be more boring than grey concrete.
Are you planning for a new landscape walk, patio or any other new concrete? Try colorizing it.
Concrete can be dyed a variety of tones from terracotta to brown, black and even blue. Dying is best done during the mixing of the concrete. It can be ordered dyed or you can mix dyed concrete in small batches using Quickcrete® in a wheelbarrow. Concrete dyes are available at many hardware stores.
Commercial concrete companies also offer many dyes and specialized finishes that makes the concrete resemble slate, flagstone or even brick. These are best applied by a professional concrete finisher.
Existing concrete can also be dyed to create different effects.
Many people don’t realize that clay pots are porous. As a result salts that naturally occur in our water or in our fertilizer often end up getting deposited in the interior and exterior of clay pots. Over time they can accumulate and may even burn the roots.
To get rid of these salt deposits on the pot, soak it in some vinegar water (1÷3 vinegar to 2⁄3 water) for at least an hour or more, then rinse the pot thoroughly. Also try using a steel brush to scrub off the salts. Then you can re-use the pot with no worries of burning the roots.
Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into the largest and best known military post on the Northern Plains, before its abandonment in 1890. There the U.S. Army planted the very first vegetable garden in Wyoming there in 1880. In fact, the War Department in 1818 specified that soldiers “will annually cultivate a garden equal to supplying hospital and garrisons with the necessary kitchen vegetables throughout the year.”
The War Department stated that every commanding officer “will be held accountable for any deficiencies in the cultivation.” That would have been a tall order for the tough climate at Fort Laramie.
The Fort Laramie Strawberry, is named for Fort Laramie and is still available today for High Plains gardeners. It is one of the hardiest strawberries available for regional gardeners. It was developed in Cheyenne at the former High Plains Horticultural Research Station.
Summer bulbs like dahlias, begonias, gladiolas and cannas provide a beautiful show of blooms. Unfortunately these bulbs do not survive the winter in our climate. So you either need to purchase new bulbs every year or you can overwinter the bulbs inside. Overwintering bulbs can save you a lot of money and provide you with a dazzling array of blooms each summer. If you overwintered your bulbs now is the time to check on them. (more…)
Don’t be confused. “Hybrid” garden seeds and “GMO” (genetically modified organism) seeds are not the same. A hybrid is a controlled cross between two related parent plants. GMO seeds have laboratory modified genes where they have mixed the genetic information of a plant with another organism, such as a bacteria. To be totally sure you are not buying GMO seeds, simply purchase certified organic seeds.
The artichoke is neither a fruit nor a vegetable. It is a flowering bud of a thistle-like plant. Artichoke is native to the Mediterranean area but most US production occurs near Castroville, California. It likes cooler temperatures which triggers the artichokes to produce meatier leaves and larger hearts (the fleshy edible center). The peak of artichoke production is from March through mid-May.
Artichokes can be grown in the High Plains Garden. It is best to start the seedlings indoors in early March and then transplant outside into fertile soil and in full sun around the end of May. Give it some room to grow, as each plant will eventually take up at least 4 square feet. Regular fertilization is helpful.
You don’t have to be a beer maker to enjoy growing your own hop vines. Hops are vining hardy perennials that arise from an underground root “rhizome.”
While most people grow hops to harvest the leaf-like “cones” for making beer, it is also an attractive easy to grow ornamental vine. The cones are actually the female flower of the plant and it resembles a small green pine cone. Hop plants tolerate a variety of soil conditions, but prefer sunny areas and a trellis or wall on which to grow.
Hops are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female plants. The best way to start is to order female hop plants or rhizomes from any number of suppliers and plant companies. Most suppliers only sell female plants as only the female vines produce the iconic hop cones which are ornamental and also used for brewing. Male plants have no commercial value. Good variety selections include: “Redvine” and “Cascade.”