Saturday, December 15, 2018

Home Grown: Gifts for Gardeners

If you have gardeners on your shopping list, whatever you do, don’t give them cheap tools. Give them something they’ll remember.

Most serious gardeners would much rather receive one high-quality garden tool than a bunch of cheap ones that won’t last a year. And please don’t give an adult a set of child-size tools.

Master Gardeners in Georgia were recently polled for their opinions on holiday gifts. One of most requested tools was a Hori-Hori multi-use gardening spade. It looks like a broad, serrated knife with a wooden handle. It has about a 7-inch blade marked with millimeters, so gardeners can measure planting depth, and a pointed tip to rip open fertilizer bags.

Continued in Gifts for Gardeners...

Plants and Seeds
Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Hori-Hori

Friday, December 14, 2018

Home Grown: Tabletop Christmas Trees

Not everyone is able to enjoy a full sized Christmas tree in their home. For some, budgets may be stretched or space can be at a premium. Others may not have the time to put up a tree this holiday season.

Whatever the reason, an alternative to full sized Christmas trees are tabletop plants that can be decorated for the holidays, offered as holiday gifts, and in some cases can be used for several years.

Continued in Tabletop Christmas Trees...

Christmas Trees
Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Norfolk Island Pine

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Home Grown: Forcing Bulbs for Winter Blooms

To add a bit of color to the dull days of winter, consider starting a process known as "forcing bulbs."

It is possible to get bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, and crocus to bloom indoors during January, February or March.

"Forced bulbs" are those which are induced to flower at something other than their normal time. The process is relatively simple and involves five basic stages or steps.

Continued in... Forcing Bulbs for Winter Blooms

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Forced Tulips

Monday, December 10, 2018

Home Grown: Alternative Evergreens.

Just a handful of species make up the majority of evergreens planted.  This lack of diversity is starting to be a real problem in areas where diseases are decimating both Scotch pine and Austrian pine, the two most commonly planted pine trees of the last 50 years. Fortunately, there are several less-common types of evergreens to consider, such as...

Concolor Fir (Abies concolor): Graceful, soft, silvery-blue foliage makes it a nice alternative to Colorado spruce. Grows to 70 feet tall by 40 feet wide.

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii): Soft blue-green needles with attractive cones. Grows to 70 by 30.

Continued in... Alternative Evergreens

Christmas Trees
Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Abies concolor

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Home Grown: Brighten Winter With Holly.

How can we brighten up a bleak winter landscape?

One way is by incorporating evergreen and semi-evergreen shrubs into landscape plantings.

For centuries Europeans have been using hollies to dress up their winter landscapes, indoors and out. To brighten up your surroundings, consider these holly and holly-look-a-likes in your landscaping plans for the coming year.

Continued in Brighten Winter With Holly...
Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: English Holly

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Farm and Garden Picks: In Business with Bees

This book takes serious beekeepers past the beginning stages and learning curves and offers practical, useful advice to move your passion into a part-time or full-time career with measurable results.

It includes in-depth advice on determining what facilities are needed and how to acquire them; getting and installing the right equipment; cooperating with other local businesses; stocking inventory and managing warehouse space; finding customers; raising and selling queens, packages, and nucs; expanding pollination, including contracts to protect you; making and selling peripheral products from wax, propolis, and honey.

In Business with Bees by Kim Flottum
How to Expand, Sell, and Market Honeybee Products and Services including Pollination, Bees and Queens, Beeswax, Honey and More

Farm and Garden Books
list your book on Buy Direct Directory

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Home Grown: How to Mulch a Tree

A number of things can be used for mulch. Most commonly used are bark chips, wood chips, composts and pine needles.

The best way to mulch is using a two to four inch layer of mulch. Then be sure to mulch a large area.

When it comes to mulching trees, the larger the better. You might even consider mulching to the drip line of the tree.

Continued in How to Mulch a Tree...

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: The Tree by the Road Side by Jon Macadam

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Home Grown: Moving Houseplants Outdoors.

Nature never created a houseplant. The plants we call houseplants are native to various, generally tropical, areas of the world, and in all cases their natural habitat is outdoors. It’s not surprising, then, that houseplants moved outside during the warm summer months grow better and more vigorously than those kept inside.

Moving houseplants outside can be a little tricky. The plants become accustomed to lower light conditions while indoors. Initially, move houseplants outside to shady locations where they receive no direct sunlight. Plants that like low-light conditions will stay in those locations all summer. Others that prefer more light can gradually be introduced to some direct sun over the next couple of weeks.

Continued in Moving Houseplants Outdoors...

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Plant Stand

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Plant of the Week: Easter Lily.

One of the traditional signs of Easter is the Easter lily with its large white flowers and its sweet aroma that fills the room. If you have one or more lilies from Easter, you can extend the joy of your plants with a little care.

The Easter lily is native to southern Japan. Prior to World War II, the bulbs were imported from there. Today more than 95 percent of all Easter lily bulbs are produced on just 10 farms along the Pacific coast in a half-mile wide and 12-mile-long strip of land on the California and Oregon border.

Most of the bulbs are the 'Nellie White' variety that James White named after his wife. Every few years, each grower selects a few plants to determine if a new variety can be developed with desirable production qualities.

continued at the Farmer's Market Online Guide to Easter Lily

Home Grown
Plants & Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Easter Lily Vine

Friday, March 16, 2018

Home Grown: Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance

Longer days. Birdsong. Growing Grass. These are all indicators that it's time to pull out the lawn mower and get it ready for another season.

It has been sitting in the back of the garage or shed all winter - maybe even under a pile of rags — collecting dust and moisture. There is probably some rust on the metal parts and caked debris underneath.

Of course, all we think we need to do is just top it off with gas and crank it up. We're ready to attack the jungle of grass blades.

Unfortunately, most lawn mowers are not given the adequate attention they need in spring. Little thought is given to the actual mower itself. Most people have probably not thought about the mower since they bought it.

Continued in Spring Lawn Mower Maintenance...

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Lawnmowers and Yard Supplies
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Lawn Mowers

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Rural Delivery: Rural Economics.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

Here it goes again, that compulsion to count and figure and cut and scrimp. Like some actuary, I'm compelled to calculate the costs and consequences of every action and exchange.
Air-drying laundry on a clothesline saves nearly 50 cents a load.
Add two weeks between those monthly haircuts and save at least $60 a year.

Buy heating oil in midsummer and save another $50 or more.

April is a month for adding up; the government makes it so. After laboring over investment tax credits and itemized deductions and capital loss carryforwards a person's perceptions change. I'm consumed with frugality, obsessed with prudence.

Continued at... Rural Economics

Rural Delivery
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Laundry on a Clothesline

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Rural Delivery: Winter Visitors

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.

Among the most common sounds of winter in the country, along with rustling leaves and crackling fires, is the scratching and scurrying that can be heard inside walls and rafters of almost every rural dwelling.

These are the sounds of the house mouse, mus musculus, one of the least welcome of guests and most difficult to dissuade. This uninvited visitor will eat, or chew on, almost anything and defecate everywhere. He contaminates food, causes damage to structures and property, and  carries dangerous diseases.

Introduced by 16th century pilgrims in the holds of their Atlantic-crossing ships, house mice followed the progress of Europeans in the New World, traveling in wagons and rucksacks and saddlebags and trains and trucks and planes across the continent and back, occupying pantries from Maine to Malibu.

Grayish brown with a naked scaly tail, the pointy-snouted house mouse puts down 50 droppings a day, on average, and gives off 300 squirts of urine in between. Messy, ugly, and presumptuous, this uninvited guest inspires desperate measures.

Continued at... Winter Visitors.

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Pest Control
Artwork: House Mouse - Mus Musculus

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Recipe Archive: Kentucky Beef Wellington

from Kentucky's Best: Fifty Years Of Great Recipes

This recipe featuring Maker's Mark bourbon comes from from "That Special Touch" by Sandra Davis.

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Put tenderloin on rack in shallow roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 30 minutes. Mix liverwurst spread, mushrooms, and bourbon. Set aside....

full recipe in The Recipe Archive

Artwork: Beef Wellington
Recipe Archive
Kentucky's Best

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Home Grown: Preventing Herbicide Horrors.

An herbicide designed to kill weeds in turfgrass can also kill neighboring trees and shrubs.

Herbicides in the phenoxy chemical class provide broadleaf weed control in lawns, pastures and hay forages. Some of the more common chemicals in this class include 2,4-D; MCPP; dicamba; clopyralid; and triclopyr.

These chemicals are considered very safe and leave very few toxicity concerns for animals. In fact, many of these herbicides are labeled for pasture use and allow for livestock to continue grazing without any restrictions.

However, pesticide labels should always be read and followed to determine if any special precautions should be taken for specific site uses.

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Tree of Life by David Lozeau

Monday, February 19, 2018

Recipe Archive: Asian Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo

25 Essentials: Techniques for Grilling Fish
by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Adapted from "The Great Big Burger Book" by Jane Murphy and Liz Yeh Singh, this recipe can also be made with salmon or shrimp.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Oil the grill grate or a perforated grill rack.

To make the wasabi mayo, combine...

full recipe in The Recipe Archive

Artwork: Asian Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo
Recipe Archive

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Home Grown: Seed Catalogs.

It won't be long before your mailbox is filled with seed and plant catalogs of every description. These messengers of good things to come arrive at a time when most of us are up to our ankles in snow and ready for the escape these publications offer.

However, as you thumb through the pages you might run across words that are unfamiliar. These words translate to 'horticulture speak' and are put there to help you make decisions in buying the right seed or plant for your garden.

Although words in seed catalogs might seem unfamiliar, it is important to understand their meaning. Knowing what these words means can add a lot to your horticultural knowledge and make you a better informed consumer.

Continued in... Seed Catalog Terminology

Home Grown

Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Vintage and Antique Garden Catalogs 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Growth Spurts: Choosing Cellulosic Biofuel Crops

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply in 2018. Although down slightly from last year, the industry is still growing at a modest pace.

A new multi-institution report backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Sun Grant Initiative provides practical agronomic data for five cellulosic feedstocks - switchgrass, Miscanthus, sorghum, energycane, and prairie mixtures - in long-term trials spanning a wide geographical area.

Crops were grown for five to seven years in multiple locations and with varying levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Although most of the crops are known to tolerate poor soil quality, the researchers found that they all benefited from at least some nitrogen. For example, Miscanthus did best with an application of 53.5 pounds per acre.

Due to shortages in plant materials, Miscanthus and energycane were grown on smaller plots than the other crops, but researchers say the new results are still valuable for producers.

Prairie mixtures, which were grown on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), also benefitted from added nitrogen. Yield kept increasing with the addition of up to 100 pounds per acre. But even though it increased yield, it is economically not profitable to use more than 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

And although most of the crops are somewhat drought-tolerant, precipitation made a difference.

The results showed the greatest yield potentials for lowland switchgrass varieties in the lower Mississippi valley and the Gulf coast states, whereas Miscanthus and prairie mixture yields are likely to be greatest in the upper Midwest.

Prairie mixtures, which are typically grown on CRP land to conserve soil, didn’t live up to their potential in the study.

Energycane could reach very high yields, but in a relatively limited portion of the country.

The crop that shows the highest potential yields in the greatest number of locations is sorghum. The annual crop is highly adaptable to various conditions and might be easier for farmers to work with. In terms of management, it is almost the same as corn. It germinates and grows so quickly, weed control is not a big issue. If you plant by early June, it will be 15-20 feet tall by September. It also has good drought tolerance.

Downsides to sorghum? It’s wet at harvest and can’t be stored. It also requires nitrogen and can lodge, or collapse, prior to harvest in wet or windy conditions.

Biomass production of herbaceous energy crops in the United States: Field trial results and yield potential maps from the multiyear regional feedstock partnership

Growth Spurts
Energy Farming
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Sorghum vulgare

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Home Grown: Seed Catalogs.

It won't be long before your mailbox is filled with seed and plant catalogs of every description. These messengers of good things to come arrive at a time when most of us are up to our ankles in snow and ready for the escape these publications offer.

However, as you thumb through the pages you might run across words that are unfamiliar. These words translate to 'horticulture speak' and are put there to help you make decisions in buying the right seed or plant for your garden.
Although words in seed catalogs might seem unfamiliar, it is important to understand their meaning. Knowing what these words means can add a lot to your horticultural knowledge and make you a better informed consumer.

Continued in... Seed Catalogs

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Vintage and Antique Garden Catalogs 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Home Grown: Frost Seeding

Livestock producers looking to renovate pastures should consider frost seeding, a low-cost method which increases yields and improves quality with little commercial nitrogen.

Frost seeding involves broadcasting a grass or legume seed over a pasture and letting the natural freeze/thaw cycles of late winter and early spring move the seed into good contact with the soil.

The best time to frost seed is usually from mid-February to the end of March.

Continued in... Frost Seeding

Home Grown
Farm Supply
Growth Spurts
Artwork: Spring Seeding

Monday, January 8, 2018

Home Grown: Growing Heirlooms.

Most gardeners have heard of heirloom seeds and probably have a fairly good idea what they are. Gardeners often refer to heirloom seeds as "Grandmother's seed" or something similar.

As the name implies, heirloom seeds are carried down from generation to generation, similar to handing down a desired antique from generation to generation. What is so special about this? Isn't that what a seed company can do? In short, yes. But the full answer to this question is a little more complicated...

Heirloom seed is obtained from open pollination and produces seed that is not a clone of the parent plants but typically looks a lot like the parent. You can usually collect seeds from heirloom plants (plants grown with heirloom seed) and obtain offspring that resemble the parent plants.

Continued in... Growing Heirlooms

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Growing Guides
Artwork: Heirloom Tomatoes

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Rural Delivery: Dark of Winter.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

In the dark days that follow the winter solstice, the last of December through the middle of January, I anxiously track the growth of daylight for reassurance that the tide has indeed turned and that winter will eventually give way to the brightening of early spring.

At this latitude of approximately 45 degrees, daylight grows ever so slowly at first, just a minute more each day until the middle of January, when it starts to grow by twos and then by threes at the month's end.

What I always find curious, and faintly disturbing, is that the day does not grow evenly. The sun sets a minute later each day for the week following the solstice, but it rises the same time day after day.

How could this be?

Continued at... Dark of Winter.

Rural Delivery
Out There
Outrider Books and Travel
Artwork: Dark of Winter.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Home Grown: Creating a Container Herb Garden

Growing plants can be a great deal of fun, especially if the plants are easy to care for. That's why a favorite group of plants for home gardening is culinary herbs.  Not only do these plants add a variety of color to the landscape and are good filler plants in perennial and herb gardens, they add flavor to your favorite food dish.

Growing herbs in containers can add variety, fragrance, and a splash of color to a deck, balcony, patio, or any small space.  Herbs can be used alone in containers or mixed with annual flowers or vegetables.

Continued in... Creating a Container Herb Garden

Home Grown
Herbs and Herb Kits
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Wooden Garden Plant Tray