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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One of the first gardening decisions of the year.

Posted Thursday, January 3, 2013, at 8:20 AM

I was planning some programs for our upcoming season of garden club meetings when I realized there were some key decisions one has to make before the seeds are ever planted and the garden prepared. (if you did not do it this fall)

The first one is pretty simple, are you going to grow a garden this year? That may not be as simple as you might think. The will might be there, but the time, energy and physical ability might not.

If you love working with your plants, but are short on time, energy, space or the physical ability to work a standard garden, consider container gardening. Get creative and you will find that containers can be a wide variety of things.

I am using an old wringer washing machine and a claw foot tub. Old tires can make some good raised beds but they can really get hot and dry if you do not paint them, or shade them in some fashion.

Someone mentioned old watering troughs, bowls, tubs, jugs, blocks, ..... you name it. If it can hold soil, you have yourself a container garden.

Of course, the container will often dictate the plants you grow in it. Unless it will be a water garden, you will probably need drainage and the depth of soil will give you an idea what type of plants will do well in them. Corn won't do well in 4" of soil, but a bonsai plant might or miniature cactus, African violets, some herbs, etc.

So the second question is what type of gardening will you be able to do and that leads you to the third big question. Based on the way I am going to garden, the available sunlight and size of the garden, what am I going to grow?

Well, what do you like? Flowers, herbs, vegetables, greenery, and will they be for one year (annuals, two years (biennial) or many years (perennial)?

If you have been gardening for years, many of these questions will have been answered long ago so you might be deciding what different plants will you grow this year? A new tomato, flowers, heirloom plants that you intend to save seed, ....what?

Seed catalogs are flowing in so now is a great time to dream, plan and order. Anyone care to share what they are thinking about?

I have to restock my edamame (soybeans) and am looking at some new herbs. New wildflower selections are in my future too since I plowed in most of them this past fall.

Some volunteers will hang in there (I'm counting on it) but I want to try some prairie selections that can handle hot and dry summers, 'cause I am planning on that as well.

Blueberries and figs have expanded into one area of garden and I am contemplating trying my hand at raspberries and maybe boysenberries. Anyone have experience with them in this area? What do you suggest?


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This year, will be our 3rd year for a garden, so we are still new at it. We were drawing out our plans of where we are planning to put everything. Normally, we just dig/till - plant - and cross our fingers. Today, we redid the plans since we learned about companion plants. (which we had no idea about before)

We have about 10 jugs sitting on our picnic table from the "winter sowing". We are also going to try and grow some vegetables that we do not eat so we can donate them to others.

We did about 10 cuttings from our holy tree and have them growing in tin cans until they are ready to plant. *crossing our fingers* Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with us this year so we can have a successful garden (unlike last year).

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Fri, Jan 4, 2013, at 1:05 PM

I made an indoor decision this morning while working in the greenhouse getting the furnace re-stocked with wood.

A schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree) that I have had so long that I can no longer remember how I got it, has been bumping the top of our 10' ceiling for over a year. The leaves were not getting good light up that far and I made the executive decision to make a 10' plant into a 6' plant.

It actually looks better and is planted with a

S. arboricola, a smaller version, with eaves that grow in tight clusters. This plant stays smaller but I have cut it back some as well.

I have not had a lot of luck with propagating these cuttings, but I'm trying again. I took the very top 6", left two small leaved and plopped it in water until later today when I will put it in moist potting soil and put a plastic tent over it to hold in humidity.

To live with us over 20 years, and have gone through at least three major moves, it has had to be tough. If you read up on these plants, they are supposed to suffer below 60 degrees and want a high humid environment. You guessed it. It has been in less than ideal conditions, but seems to like it.

I am also rooting (attempting) a pineapple top from my smoothies. My luck with that has not been good either, but I suspect in both cases the failure is from lack of attention. They need to have moist soil but not wet and need to have high humidity.

If I get success with either one, I will give them away at a garden club meeting. I have way too many inside as it is. Just a quick scan from my desk and I see at least 25 and the gardener in me drives me to propagate more, so many of these need to find a new home.

Just like our kittens ;-)

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jan 4, 2013, at 6:49 AM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.