Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Home Grown: The Virtual Greenhouse


Growers can now build and heat a "virtual" greenhouse -- or upgrade existing greenhouses -- on a computer, to find out how much it would cost to heat with different fuels, heating schedules, heaters, building designs and materials.

Developed by Agricultural Research Service researchers with the ARS Greenhouse Production Research Group at Toledo, Ohio, the "Virtual Grower" software is available for download free of charge.

A plant component is being added to the computer program so growers can see the effects of their heating choices and schedules not only on costs, but also on their plants.

Continued in... The Virtual Greenhouse

Home Grown
Greenhouses
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Paradise Under Glass


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rural Delivery: Rare Breeds


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

Farm animals are in decline worldwide. Out of approximately 4,000 breeds of domesticated animals, 1,000 breeds are seriously threatened with extinction. Every week another breed of workhorse, cattle, pig or variety of sheep or poultry follows the passenger pigeon, the blue pike and the wooly mammoth into oblivion.

In hard numbers, there's no shortage of livestock. More domesticated animals are being farmed in less space and with greater returns of meat, milk, eggs and wool than at any time in history. But the number of breeds of domesticated animals is much smaller than it was a century ago. The genetic diversity of farm animals is shrinking, and with it the ability to adapt to new climates, new diseases and new markets.

Continued at... Rare Breeds

Rural Delivery
Animal Husbandry
Husbandry
Farm Supply
Artwork: Dexter Cow.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Rural Delivery: December Exposure


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

Fencelines once lost to syringa and gooseberry have reappeared and the rocky outcrop along the riverbank is visible once more.  Brown ribbons of road wind their way along the edges of the corn field, now reduced to stubble.

There comes a time late in the autumn when all is exposed. After the foliage has fallen from the trees and before the first layer of snow, there's usually a week or two of nakedness.

The spikes of goldenrod and stands of wild geraniums are grayed and flattened by black frosts and pelting rains. In the pasture, the tall fescues and perennial ryegrasses are matted and bending low.

Continued at... December Exposure

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Out of the Past: Thoreau
Artwork: Barren Tree.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rural Delivery: Hitched to History


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved.

It hasn't been all that many years since horses were the primary mode of transportation all across the West. They not only pulled buggies and wagons, and sleighs in the winter, but they also powered the plows and cultivators that tamed an arid land.
   
Les Broadie remembered well those horse-drawn days. They were as near to him as his well-weathered hands, and as much a part of his life when I met him in 1995 as they were when he was youngster in the 1920s.

After his retirement from raising draft horses and cattle, Les operated Blizzard Mountain Carriages -- a one-man outfit specializing in buying and selling horse-drawn wagons, carriages, carts and sleighs. At the time, we was one of but a handful of American horse-drawn carriage dealers still in business.

Continued at... Hitched to History

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Out of the Past blog
Artwork: Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride at Twilight in a Snowy Landscape by Ira Block

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Home Grown: Overwintering Geraniums


You can beat the frost and save your geraniums by taking them inside to overwinter.

In freezing temperatures, unprotected annual geraniums will turn a mushy green and die. They can be preserved, however, by overwintering indoors before they get nipped by a hard frost.

Pot up the plants, take cuttings, or store the plants as bare-root specimens.Whichever method you choose, understand that success isn’t guaranteed.

It is important to make sure the plants you attempt to overwinter are vigorous, healthy, and insect and disease free.

Continued in... Overwintering Geraniums

Home Grown
Geraniums
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Window Box Geraniums Garden Flag


Monday, November 13, 2017

Home Grown: Letting Leaves Lie


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.

The acidity of the leaves is a common concern with many homeowners. Fresh oak leaves may initially lower soil pH but as leaves decompose, the pH will gradually build to a neutral level causing little concern.

Continued in... Letting Leaves Lie

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Grandpa and Me Raking Leaves by Norman Rockwell


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rural Delivery: Cold Hardening


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

The crisp night is giving way to a warm morning glow. It will be an "Indian Summer" sort of day, the kind we missed out on last year when winter dropped in early. Some of our coldest weather came in November rather than January, where it belongs.

Most of nature depends on a steady progression of seasons.

These cool nights encourage the growth of fat and fur on dogs, cats, horses and most other warm-blooded critters.

My beard and waistline, too, seem to grow more readily this time of year. By winter solstice, or late December, we'll be well acclimated to the cold.

Continued at... Cold Hardening

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Second Nature
Artwork: Winter Tree Line I by Ilona Wellman

Monday, November 6, 2017

Plant of the Week: Sneezeweed


Also known as Dogtooth Daisy, Helens Flower and Bittersweet, common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) is a perennial plant in the daisy or aster family (Asteraceae). As its name implies, it typically flowers in late summer or autumn.

Sneezeweed grows erect, clump-forming, in moist soils along streams, ponds and other riparian areas. It produces yellow or orange daisy-like composite flowers. These colors can be used to brighten a border, a meadow, or a wild garden.

continued at the Farmer's Market Online Guide to Sneezeweed

Home Grown
Plants & Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Sneezeweed