The best time to take photos of your garden is in the early morning or the late afternoon (including right after sunset). It is important to avoid the harsh light that is especially impactful during the middle of the day. Overcast days tend to be better than sunny days. Your garden will shine a bit more if you lightly spray your plants, soil and walkways with water before you start shooting pictures.
Don’t forget to fertilize your houseplants in the summer months. In addition, houseplants need slightly more water when it gets warm outside. This is a great time to take your larger plants outside where you can hose off the accumulated dust from the past year. Of course, only use a nozzle with a gentle spray. This will maintain your plants’ health and keep the bugs down.
Turf experts all agree, if you regularly mow your lawn, you should let your clippings drop back to the ground. Because clippings are 90% water they readily break down into organic matter that feeds the soil and improves soil texture. (more…)
It is cantaloupe season in the markets, and the price is wonderfully low, while the quality is high. To get a ripe one, only select those with a healthy golden or orange color under the netting (not green).
Also look for a nice, rounded, smooth crater where the vine was once attached. If you see any trace of the vine remaining in the crater, don’t buy it as it was harvested before its prime.
Always thoroughly wash the fruit before you slice into it to prevent the growth of bad bugs in the flesh of the fruit.
Basil is a popular herb and easy to grow in the garden. One of the main tricks to getting abundant harvests is to regularly pinch the tips of the plants to both encourage branching and to prevent it from going to flower. Once basil plants initiate flowering, it is difficult to stop the process and when it flowers, the leaves of the basil plants are smaller and less flavorful.
Basil plants, if left to their own desires, grow one main stem. When they reach around 6 inches tall, pinch the stem back by half and leaving ¼ inch above a set of healthy leaves (see illustration). This causes branching and encourages the plant to grow more leaves. As they send out new branching stems, continue to pinch the tips of these stems back. During the heat of summer, basil should be pinched about once a week to encourage a long abundant harvest. Along with pruning, it is also important to provide regular fertilization. Basil grows best in a sunny, warm spot in well-drained, fertile soil.
Tarragon is one of the easiest perennial herbs you can grow. Be sure to start with a plant labeled “French tarragon” and avoid the much lower quality, “Russian tarragon.” Russian tarragon doesn’t have near the wonderful flavors that the French tarragon has.
Grow French tarragon in a mostly sunny spot. It prefers well-drained soil and likes to grow on the dry side but not extremely dry. French tarragon never goes to seed and is only propagated by divisions of a large plant in early spring or by cuttings. One plant usually provides enough herb for a season. Tarragon doesn’t dry well like other herbs so be sure and enjoy it freshly picked. It can also be frozen in small amounts for later use.
Tarragon has a flavor suggestive of anise or licorice and is very sweet. It is used in poultry, fish and meat dishes and in vinegars and omelets. It is also quite tasty when you add a small amount of fresh tarragon to a salad.
Lysimachia nummularia, commonly known as “golden creeping Jenny,” has bright yellow-gold foliage and makes a great low-growing, groundcover.
It is very hardy on the High Plains, can survive limited foot traffic and does best in rich well-drained soil. It can take partial shade, but produces the best leaf color in sun.
If you have a large patch it is easy to divide for easy multiplication of plants for free. Try it as an annual to trail over the edges of pots and tubs. The golden foliage is so bright, it rivals the brightest yellow flower.
Bedding plants can be expensive. Instead, try sowing the seed directly into your garden bed or flower pot. They take just a little longer to come into flower, but it is well worth the effort.
These annual flower seeds can sown between May 10th and June 1st: bachelor’s button, calendula, cosmos, marigolds, larkspur, morning glory, nasturtium, poppies, sweet alyssum and zinnias. Always sow seeds twice as deep as they are wide and keep the area moist until they germinate. Be sure and provide a trellis for most morning glories as they grow as a vine. Mark the location where you plant seeds with plant tags to help you discern weeds from the new flowering plants. Unlike perennial flowers these annual flowers, once they start blooming, they will continue to bloom until frost.
In 1962, an accomplished gardener from New Jersey, Carol Mackie, noticed a shrub with one unique mutated branch having dark green leaves with an unusual white border. She sent cuttings of it to a local nursery who propagated it and made it available to the garden center trade. It is now prized for its pale rose, fragrant blooms and striking leaf color. This Daphne was been named after Carol Mackie who discovered it and it is a perfect hardy, small shrub for the irrigated High Plains. Check out the “Carol Mackie Daphne.”
A great organic based fertilizer can be found at your local feed store. Both alfalfa pellets or meal make a great fertilizer. Alfalfa is high in nitrogen as well as other needed nutrients. (more…)