Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Farm Direct: Managing Timberland as an Investment

Standing hardwood timber is a niche market, with traditional up and down cycles, and no one knows that market better than timber buyers, loggers and professional foresters.

There really is a right way and a wrong way to market your timber. Astute forest landowners will treat their standing timber just like their 401K or their IRA. It's simply another long-term investment tool that can be a vital part of their financial portfolio. Therefore, manage it wisely.

Continued on the Tip Sheet: Managing Timberland as an Investment

Farm Direct
Farm Supply
Artwork: Hardwood Forest

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Home Grown: Letting Leaves Lie.

Raking up and disposing of leaves is a time-honored ritual of autumn, but are ways of putting them to better use in a yard.

Ecologically, the best way to deal with leaves in the yard is to mulch them where they fall and let them decompose to release their minerals back to the soil.

In well managed turf, leaf drop from shade trees is not always a nuisance that requires raking. A moderate amount of leaves chopped with a mulching mower can be allowed to decompose into the turf.

Leaves are high in nutrients like iron, zinc and copper. They are also rich in organic matter, a valuable commodity for the turf, existing trees and shrubs.

Continued in... Letting Leaves Lie

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Leaf Scoops

Friday, November 11, 2016

Home Grown: Potted Perennials in Winter

Taking care of your potted perennial plants over the winter will ensure they are around next season to provide another year of enjoyment.

Container gardening is a form of gardening everyone can enjoy no matter how large or small their garden may be. Those with only a balcony or patio can enjoy the pleasures of gardening just as those with areas of space.  Containers can be quite elaborate, and the types of plant material can be quite varied. When it comes to what gardeners are putting into containers, the trend is leaning toward just about anything.

At one time annuals were the majority, if not the only type, of plant material being used in containers.  Now everything from perennials to small trees and shrubs are being grown.

Continued in... Potted Perennials in Winter

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Growing Guides
Artwork: Black Bat Tacca Flower

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Home Grown: Selecting Holiday Plants

When the winter holiday season approaches, it is time to purchase holiday plants.

As with most holiday purchases, shop early to ensure that you get the plant of your choice. Purchase clean, healthy plants that are properly identified.

Plants should have dark green foliage and abundant unopened flower buds or fruit. Wrap them carefully before transporting them to avoid subjecting them to freezing outdoor temperatures.

Continued in... Selecting Holiday Plants

Home Grown
Poinsettia: In Season Guide
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Poinsettia

Monday, November 7, 2016

Home Grown: Protecting Evergreens in Winter.

Evergreen plants can be harmed by the snow and ice of winter.

Inspect your plants for winter damage. Snow can cause
excessive bending down of evergreen branches to the point of breaking. These broken branches will always be weak if you try to bend them back up or tie them back up.

Consider cutting them off and, if possible, train neighboring branches to grow and fill in the gaps.

To avoid breakage or other injury, brush the heavy, wet snow off of the plants as soon as it stops snowing or even while it is snowing. Do not beat on the branches to remove the snow. Use a broom to lightly push or brush the snow off the branches.

Continued in... Protecting Evergreens in Winter

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Burlap Shrub Jackets

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Home Grown: Big Trees Felled By Tiny Fungi.

Urban trees tend to have shortened lives, some living no more than 50 to 80 years. Urban forests in many metro areas have started to mature and decline, and are very susceptible to trunk-rotting and buttress root-rotting organisms.

Wood-rotting organisms can slowly nibble away at trunks and buttress roots. Trees often regenerate new, non-structurally supportive feeder roots that mask the signs of structural root loss. Many trees that topple look perfectly healthy before they fall. Afterward, it becomes clear that there were absolutely no structural roots remaining for support.

The best time to scout for symptoms of a fungal infection is just after a long period of cool, wet weather.

Continued in... Big Trees Felled By Tiny Fungi

Home Grown
Pest Control
Artwork: Conks

Friday, October 21, 2016

Home Grown: Fire Ant Control in the Fall

If you are going to treat fire ants only once a year, do it in the fall. Fire ants are easier to kill in the fall.

The one thing that makes fall the single best time to treat fire ants is that it's followed by winter. Extreme cold is tough on fire ants. That makes baits even more effective in the fall.

Baits take a long time to work. They weaken colonies and make them less able to respond to the challenges of winter weather. The young colonies are especially vulnerable because they don't have many workers. So they can't respond very quickly to the need to escape freezing temperatures.

Continued in... Fire Ant Control in the Fall

Home Grown
Pest Control
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Fire Ant

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Christmas Wreaths from Curtis, Washington

Now available for Holidays:
Christmas Wreaths from Curtis, Washington.

Since 1976, the forest fresh wreaths of this vendor have decorated thousands of homes around the world. Handcrafted in the foothills of the majestic Cascade Mountains, their exquisite wreaths and swags are unequaled in excellence.  They gather the finest aromatic greens and berries from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to create classic adornments, and lovely red velvet bows add the holiday spirit to nature.

These fresh Evergreen Wreaths are shipped worldwide. Free shipping to 48 states via UPS ground.

Christmas Wreaths

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Home Grown: Identifying Emerald Ash Borer

As fall's colors emerge, it's hard to miss the striking gold and purple leaves of ash trees lining streets and roads in many Midwestern U.S. states. However, when emerald ash borer arrives, many ash trees planted in towns, cities and conservation plantings could be lost.
First detected in southeast Michigan in 2002, emerald ash borer, or EAB, is an exotic beetle that attacks and kills all native ash species, including white, green, black and autumn purple ash. To date, the beetle is present in 23 U.S. states as well as two Canadian provinces and has killed about 200 million ash trees.

Continued in... Identifying Emerald Ash Borer

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Emerald Ash Borer

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap direct from Lindon, Utah

Now available with Soaps in Health and Beauty:
Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap direct from the soapmaker at a goat farm in Lindon, Utah

This soapmaker has been raising goats for over 25 years and making soap since 1997.

The sweet creamy goat milk produced by the goats is the main ingredient in the soaps that are available in 35 scents. The most popular are Lavender, Peppermint, Red Clover Tea, Love Spell, Lime Sugar and Unscented soaps.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Infused Olive and Safflower Oils from Vineland, New Jersey

Now available with Dressings, Oils & Marinades in Specialty Foods:
Infused Olive and Safflower Oils direct from Bibs' Passion Oil in Vineland, New Jersey

These infused oils are crafted in a small commercial kitchen in small quanities to afford maximum shelf life. Starting with 100% extra virgin olive oil as a base, the oil is infused with California grown garlic and select dried herbs and spices for a short period of time before being strained through cheese cloth and poured into 5 and 8.5 ounce bottles.

Infused safflower oils are available in Orange (great with all meats and vegetables) Lemon Basil (ideal for seafood and stir frying vegetables), Thai Chili Pepper (hot & spicy) and JalepeƱo Garlic flavors.

Family owned and operated, Bibs' Passion Oil is the creation of culinary artist “Bibs,” who wears Bib overalls all the time because they’re comfortable and fit his lifestyle.

Infused Olive & Safflower Oils
Dressings, Oils & Marinades
Specialty Foods and Beverages

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Home Grown: Composting Yard Waste

While it may seem easy to put those raked leaves and other yard waste in plastic bags and toss them out as garbage, composting can be just as easy and much better for the environment.

"Many landfills no longer even accept leaves or garden wastes," notes Bill Lamont, professor of vegetable crops at Penn State.  "Composting may be the easiest way for homeowners to dispose of them."

Composting decomposes organic matter into a dark, crumbly material similar to humus. Finished compost provides nutrients and helps soil retain water by increasing the valuable organic matter in the lawn and garden. Compost is a valuable soil conditioner that can be used in gardens, around trees and on lawns.

Continued in... Composting Yard Waste

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Composter

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Home Grown: Preparing a Lawn for Winter

When it's time for the last cutting of your lawn, how low should you cut? Your area's winter snowcover should help you decide whether to cut it short or leave it long.

If you live in a heavy snow area, cut the grass to about 1.5 inches in fall to prevent it from matting down beneath the snow and forming a haven for the snow mold fungus.

In areas with little snowcover, grass dries out and the crowns may be injured from a lack of insulation. In those areas, leave the grass long over the winter to help protect the crowns from drying out.

Continued in... Preparing a Lawn for Winter

Home Grown
Lawn Mowers
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Riding Lawn Mower Tractor Cover 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Home Grown: Preserving Flowers

Some flowers are easy to preserve: baby's breath, celosia, yarrow, statice, globe amaranth, strawflower and artemesia.  But every flower responds differently to drying and preserving. Experiment to get the results you want with the flowers you have.

Start with the best quality blooms.  Make sure the blooms chosen for preserving are at the beginning or the peak of their bloom and have not started to age or decline.

Choose fresh, unwilted flowers and foliage.  These can come from your garden or even the florist or local farmers market.

Continued in... Preserving Flowers

Home Grown
Dried Flowers
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Vertical Herb Swag

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Home Grown: The Benefits of Earthworms

1. The constant tunneling of earthworms allows the free passage of air into and out of the soil.

2. Worms' burrowing also breaks up the hard pan and plow sole created by mechanical tillage.

3. By eating organic materials such as manure, leaves, grass and decaying wood, earthworms break them up at a much faster rate than would otherwise occur.

Continued in... The Benefits of Earthworms

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Earth-worms

Monday, July 25, 2016

Home Grown: Time to Order Fall Bulbs

As summer begins to wane, it is time to decide which spring flowering bulbs you want to add to your landscape.

"You need to select good quality bulbs for planting, paying attention to size and firmness. Choose bulbs that are firm and free from soft or rotting spots, and signs of disease," says Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

There are three sources for bulbs: mail order catalog, local nurseries, and discount business.

Continued in... Time to Order Fall Bulbs

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Tulip Bulbs
Artwork: Iris

Friday, July 1, 2016

Home Grown: Sun Protection for Tomato Skins

The sun's rays are tough on our faces and arms, but we can wear sunscreen to reduce the damage to our skin. Tomatoes don't have that option. Exposed to bright sun, the fruit can heat up dramatically, reaching temperatures as much as 18 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.

Sunscald damage to your tomatoes depends on their stage of maturity, and the intensity and duration of the heat. The fruit is most susceptible when it is green or when the first pink color begins to show (called the breaker state).

Continued in... Sun Protection for Tomato Skins

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Tomatoes and Tomato Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Better Boy Tomato

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Home Grown: Lawnmower Bites, Kills Tree

The lawn mower was supposed to circle the newly planted sapling, but instead it struck the base. Oops! Is that a problem?

Yes, it is.

Unlike skin, wounds that reach below the bark don't heal.  At best, the trunk seals off the injury, but there is no repair in the sense that our skin repairs itself.  Bark will form a callus along the edge of the wound, but it rarely can bridge the break.  The trunk typically loses the bark in the injured area, and the wound remains decades later.

Continued in... Lawnmower Bites, Kills Tree

Home Grown
Lawnmowers and Yard Supplies
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Man Mowing Grass

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Home Grown: Spacing Plants in Rows

After choosing a garden site, the next step is to plan the arrangement of crops in the garden.

Proper spacing between rows is important to allow for growth of plants, ease of cultivation, and efficient use of space.

If you have farm equipment and plenty of space, make your rows long and wide enough apart so that you can use your farm tractor and cultivator, thus avoiding much hand-weeding.

Continued in... Spacing Plants in Rows

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: ATV Planter

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Home Grown: Cultivating a Cutting Garden

Cutting gardens, which were a normal part of Victorian gardens, are made up of a variety of annuals and perennials, both flowering and foliage, that can be used in flower arrangements. Today, they can fill the need for fresh-cut flowers, either for the home or to offer as a gift.

Most cutting flowers grow best in a full-sun location. Some gardeners prefer a less conspicuous spot because it may not look its best all season, while others make it a part of the overall garden design.

Continued in... Cultivating a Cutting Garden

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: The Cutting Garden in Wannsee by Max Liebermann

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Starting a Garden from Seed

Growing plants from seed can save gardeners money and vastly increase the varieties that can be grown in a backyard garden. Gardeners can grow several transplants for the price of a few, store-bought plants, and the selection of varieties for sale is often limited.

Seed should be started six to eight weeks prior to transplant time. For example, if the average last frost date in your area is April 15, sow tomato seed inside in late February or early March.

To grow transplants, start with good quality seed from a reliable source. Quality seed is true to a cultivar or variety name and does not contain weed seed, insect casings, soil particles or plant pulp.

Continued in... Starting a Garden from Seed

Home Grown
Garden Tools
Home and Garden Center
How to Grow Your Own Starts
Artwork: Seed Starting Kit

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Home Grown: Organic Production Guides

Free organic production guides are now available for farmers.

The guides provide information on how to produce certified organic apples, blueberries, grapes, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and cole crops, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. There is also a guide on management of dairy cattle  pests using organic integrated pest management (IPM) methods.

The guides are produced by the New York State Integrated Pest  Management Program at Cornell, funded by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Continued in... Organic Production Guides

Home Grown
Farm Supply
Artwork: Organic Strawberry Farm

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Home Grown: Ferns Freshen Flats

Ferns bring life into a room any time of year.

In airtight winter homes, they also can be champions at filtering the air. Of 86 plants tested by researchers, ferns topped the list at formaldehyde removal. In fact, seven of the top nine performers were ferns.

The other great filterers of formaldehyde were (#7) lavender and (#9) geraniums (Pelargonium sp.)  These findings were reported by Kwang Jin Kim and associates in an article published in the October 2010 issue of HortScience.

Other researchers have ranked ferns in the top 15 percent of plants in air purification.

Continued in... Ferns Freshen Flats

Home Grown
Growing Guides
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Boston Fern

Monday, January 25, 2016

Home Grown: Saving Holiday Gift Plants

Ornamental plants like poinsettias, Christmas cacti, Christmas Kalanchoe, amaryllis bulbs and miniature Christmas trees are often given as gifts during the holiday season. Unfortunately, these plants usually don't come with plant care information. And the gift getter may not have a green thumb.

Many people mistakenly leave these plants outside without realizing they aren't very cold hardy. Freezing winter temperatures can quickly turn your new plants to mush. Then your plant-gifts are only suited for the compost bin.

Continued in... Saving Holiday Gift Plants

Home Grown
Christmas Cactus
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Amaryllis