FEATURED QUOTE :
"When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, There is always the garden."
Valentine's Day is February 14.
Order early to insure delivery for Valentine's Day.
Is your favorite valentine a gardener? This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed personally by Paul, makes a great gift. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a heavy-duty D-ring binder.
- 8 tabbed sections
- 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
- Weather records page
- 6 three-year journal pages
- Insect & diseases page
- 3 project pages
- 3 annual checklist pages
- Plant wish list page
- 2 large pocket pages
- Sheet of garden labels
- 5 garden detail sheets
- 5 graph paper pages for layouts
- 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format
Click here to order online.
The Original ComposTumbler
Makes Compost in 10-14 Days!
Here's the garden composting product that started a revolutionary new way to make compost nearly 40 years ago! It's easy to load. It's easy to turn. It saves time and labor while providing you with a steady supply of your own homemade compost in just two weeks (or less)!
- Holds up to six 30-gallon trash bags
- 68" H x 50" W x 40" D
- Galvanized metal, rust-resistant drum sits 27 inches off the ground
- Made in the USA
- Aerator/Drainage units and Screened Vents
- Easy-to-Turn Gear-Driven Handle
- Beautiful Sage Green Color
Easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Just load it.
2. Give it a few spins, then give it a few spins every day for 2 weeks.
3. In just 14 days, take out your finished compost.
Many years ago, I took a group of radio listeners on a tour of Italy. One garden we all anticipated was the home of Dictator Mussolini, where we were to see the gardens and property. The property was just beautiful, the gardens outstanding, but a single tree caught everyone's attention. The tree was a tricolor purple beech and this sunny day it was magnificent.
The sun was right behind it and the tree seemed to be lit up like at Christmas tree with wonderful purple and pink variegated leaves. The tree was at the back of the property and a good walk but we all walked towards the tree with amazement.
The tree was densely branched and you could see the branching structure like a skeleton holding the leaves. The bark is silvery-gray and as smooth as stone from the trunk to the tip of the branches. The tree grew upright but had many horizontal branches filled with brightly colored leaves on the tips of the branches.
When standing under the tree you have the feeling of being under a tent, because the inside branches have no leaves except on the tips. The young leaves, when first open, are purple-red in the spring and early summer. As they begin to mature, streaks of cream and pink color begin to develop on the leaf margins. The variegation is brighter when planted in an area with bright sunshine. In shaded areas, you see less color and more purple.
This tree is a member of the European Beech family and is found all over Europe and the northern half of the United States. When mature, the branches will touch the ground and have a rounded appearance; when the tree is young, the look is more oval. These elegant trees have leaves that are 2 to 4 inches long, oval with a point on end.
The margins of the leaves are also wavy. Beech trees will hold the leaves late into the fall. With the cold weather, they slowly turn golden brown. When the tree is leafless during the winter the silvery-gray bark stands out in the winter landscape. They will grow 50 feet tall and just as wide in warmer climates; for us in New England they will be a bit smaller.
When we got home from Italy, my wife Christine--who never asked for much in the garden--wanted the tricolor beech for our yard. We searched for the tree in several nurseries and finally found one at a larger nursery in the Portland, Maine area. We planted the tree in the middle of the back yard where the tree could be enjoyed from our back deck during the summer and kitchen window during the winter.
The tricolor beech is not fast-growing, so we placed it in a fishpond garden as a focal plant surrounded with many other variegated and red-leafed plants. It has been growing about six inches a year now and on those sunny days of July and August it reminds of our trip to Italy.
There are many varieties of beech, many growing wild all through New England. The bark color, late ability to hold on the leaves in the fall, and the length of its life in the forest will make this tree family one to plant in your yard. Beeches are strong-growing trees and can live well over 100 years.
Whether the tree is green, purple or tricolor, it will be a show plant in your landscape. If you like unusual, look for the weeping beech at your favorite large nursery or ask if they can get this tree for you.
My favorite climbing vine for outside is the climbing hydrangea; it will grow in the sun or shade. You purchase the plants in large containers, as this plant will grow quickly on woody stems. The climbing hydrangea will attach itself to any surface with a form of clinging roots on its stem.
When planting, place the plant right up against the surface you want it to grow on. Most plants will have multiple stems growing from the base of the plant, so spread them in a fan design on the surface and attach them to the surface with duct tape.
This will hold the stems in place and allow the climbing roots to attach themselves to their new home much faster. Once the roots form on the surface, remove the duct tape and it will climb all by itself.
Climbing hydrangeas are deciduous, so they lose their leaves during the winter months. The stems are brown and have a papery look, almost like a birch tree with peeling bark. In the fall, the green leaves turn bright yellow for four weeks or more before falling.
In the spring, the plant is covered with heart-shaped dark green leaves. The stems attached to the surface will produce branches 12 to 18 inches long, giving the surface a soft look and providing a great place for birds to nest in.
In time, the tip of the branches will make a creamy white flower, during the late spring or early summer. The flowers, lasting 4 to 6 weeks on the plant; form a cluster of lacy flowers. Each cluster is large and has many large four-petal blossoms that are surrounded with a mass of smaller flowers.
This combination of large and small flower together is referred to as a "lace cap" flower. The flowers dry on the plant and turn tan in color--sometimes lasting until the following spring. Nice to see during the winter, when they are covered with snow.
The climbing hydrangea is a plant that requires patience while waiting for its flowers. It may take as long as five years for flowers to form on the plant--but once they start, they will come every year. Believe me, it is worth the wait and once they begin, the flower count will increase each year. When planting, be sure to use plenty of organic matter in the hole.
The soil should be well drained--and be sure to keep plants away from gutter downspouts.
I like to use the new fertilizers that contain mycorrhizae microbes. These microbes will help speed up the root and top growth on the plant. Keep the soil moist until fall to help the plant to get established in your yard.
If you plant in the sun, it will not grow as well as when planted in the shade. Also, climbing hydrangeas growing in the sun may be chewed on by Japanese Beetles, but not when planted in the shade. Prune to control the growth of the plant if it tries to cover windows, or grow it as a clump plant on a stump or along a stone wall. The climbing hydrangea can--and will--grow as high as three stories all by itself, so you may need to prune to control the size.
I like to fertilize with Plant Tone, or the new Dr. Earth All-Purpose Fertilizer that contains mycorrhizae microbes for root and stem growth.
The plant has no real problem with diseases and insects and it is so easy to grow. If you have a blank wall on the north side of the house or garage this plant will do wonders for you, and the green foliage and white flowers will change the look of the building or wall.
If you are looking for an indestructible houseplant that loves the sun, look no further than the yucca plant. This plant at first look resembles a tree type plant with thick heavy stems and long narrow thick leaves with a point on them.
It looks like a plant that is tough enough to live in the desert. Yucca loves the sun indoors or out, so take it outside during the summer and put it on your deck. When the kids go back to school in September, bring it back into the house and put it in a sunny window.
It will tolerate a bright room with light painted walls but if you have a sunny and hot window where everything dries up, this is the plant for you. The yucca is considered an architectural plant because it fits right in with Modern style homes to Ranch style.
Most house plants are grown from seed or cuttings but this plant is unique. Plants grow wild in Mexico and Central America and in large clumps up to ten feet tall.
While in Florida visiting my sister several years ago, we went to visit some local growers of tropical plants; this is what they were doing. The greenhouse grower received these plants in a bundle eight to ten feet long--like a bunch of 2 by 4's in the lumber yard.
The bottom of the stem was marked with paint to insure quick root development. If you try to root the top of the stem, it will not form roots, so top and bottom are marked carefully. Using a chainsaw, the grower cut the tall stems in 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 foot long pieces. The part of the stem to face up was dipped in hot wax to seal the end tight.
The end of the stem that was to go into the soil was dipped into rooting powder and put into a pot filled with soil. Some pots had a 2, 3, 4 and 5 foot tall piece planted in them.
Many combinations of height are used, depending on demand. In a month dormant buds begin to develop new foliage that resembles a rosette of long sword-like, pointed leaves at the top. In three to four months, the plant is ready for your home.
This is how you grow this wonderful tropical plant in your home. First thing, look at the leaves, because they are pointed and stiff. If you have small children running around the house be sure to get a tall plant with foliage high up the plant, so they do not poke themselves in the eye. Place the plant in a corner of the room--it will soften the wall and is less likely to be knocked over.
The pot should have drainage holes and a saucer under it for better drainage to prevent root rot. This plant does not like wet roots and you should keep the plant moist but never wet, or the thick stem will rot in the soil. Fertilize monthly all year long with Miracle-Gro or use Osmocote pellet fertilizer. Osmocote fertilizer will last for 6 months, as it is time release with each watering you do.
As the plant grows, the rosettes will grow many stems covered with leaves. This will give you the look of a thick stem with a ball of foliage at the top.
The staggered height stems in the pot gives the plant a lot of character. Insects are not a problem, and diseases are not a problem unless you keep the soil wet.
Water your plant every two weeks but test the soil first by pushing your index finger into the soil and feel for moisture. If you have problems with overwatering plants, look for the new "Water Stick" at your local Garden Center; it will tell you when to water. Keep the room warmer than 50 degrees during the winter and enjoy this plant.
The Arborvitae is one of the most popular evergreen shrubs/trees used in the landscape today. It is sometimes referred to as the "white cedar," but it is not in the cedar family.
Look around your neighborhood; you might be surprised to see that many of the homes on your street have arborvitaes in their yards. These evergreen plants are used on the end of homes to soften the foundation lines. They are planted in rows to create a natural fence or barrier for privacy between homes.
They are planted along the road for noise barrier from the traffic, on open property as a wind break--and occasionally one is planted all by itself in the yard.
Arborvitae are upright growing, rather stiff-looking and almost pyramidal in shape. These evergreen plants are dark green during the spring to fall; their color fades to brown-green during the winter. When exposed to winter sun and wind, the color change will be more noticeable but when spring arrives the new growth will give the plant a new look. It will grow in most soils from the sandy loam of Cape Cod to the clay of Maine.
When traveling in wooded areas of New England, look for this plant; it is growing wild in stony soil or even marshy areas. It is a native tree as much as the white pine and the Canadian hemlock.
The early explorers called this plant the "tree of life" because the foliage is rich with vitamin C and used to prevent and treat scurvy. Not quite the taste of a fresh Florida orange--but it did the trick.
When planting, make a big hole and backfill with lots of organic matter like compost, peat moss and animal manure. Give it a good start and it will thrive for you.
For hedge planting, place plants six feet apart and keep them six feet away from the neighbor's property line or your neighbors will prune them for you. Water weekly the first year to keep to soil moist for quick root development.
I suggest that you use a product called Soil Moist when planting in the hole. Soil Moist will expand in the soil and hold 200 times more water than peat moss, making it easier for you when watering.
Fertilize spring and fall the first few years to encourage strong-growing plants. When established, feed in the spring--after pruning to control size if needed. Holly-Tone or Plant Growth Activator both have mycorrhizae microbes that will accelerate the plant's growth.
In the spring you will see yellow cones on the plant; when mature in the fall, the cones will turn brown. They will be in clusters on the new growth and stand out against the dark green foliage.
In the summer it is not uncommon to see yellow foliage in the center of the plant. This foliage turns yellow due to lack of sunshine, because the plant is very dense.
Do not worry--just think of this natural event as a cleaning of the older foliage, like the leaves falling from your maple trees in the fall. New growth in the spring will replace it and keep it dense.
When you select the plants, look for plants that have one or two main stems. If you plant arborvitaes with multiple stems in open areas and you get heavy wet snow or ice, the plant will split apart with the weight on the branches. Once they grow together, they will brace themselves together and are less susceptible to damage.
The 'Dark American' will grow to 20 to 30 feet tall, but can be pruned to grow to just about any height. Look for the 'Techny,' which grows 10 to 15 feet tall, and the 'Green Giant,' at 30 to 40 feet tall and deer resistant. Deer are the number one pest problem so if you have deer, be practical and plant something else.
This Week's Question:
In the Victorian era, many people sent 'Vinegar Valentines' - what were they?
This Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Question:
What is the most popular vegetable (eaten--not necessarily grown in our gardens) in the United States?
Last Week's Prize:
One bottle of Vacation.
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, potatoes are America's most popular vegetable. The typical American consumes more than 140 pounds of them every year.
One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!
What You'll Need:
- Beets--(boiled until a fork easily goes in them, about an hour), peeled, sliced into strips
- Fresh arugula--rinsed, patted dry with a paper towel
- Goat cheese--chèvre
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Dry powdered mustard
- Salt and pepper
Step by Step:
- The amount of ingredients depends on how many people you are serving and how much salad you intend to serve them. The important thing is that this is a good blend of flavors. I didn't try tossing this salad; each plate was composed individually.
- The dressing for three individual salads was 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon of powdered mustard, 3/4 teaspoon of sugar, a dash or two of salt and pepper. These are only approximate measurements. It is all to your taste.
- Assemble the salad according to how much you want: a handful of arugula leaves, a few beet juliennes, some crumbled goat cheese; garnish with chopped walnuts. Use a vinaigrette salad dressing or the dressing ingredients above.