FEATURED QUOTE :
"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."
- Lady Bird Johnson, from Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom
Fertilome Over the Top II Grass Killer
- Formulation: Poast herbicide.
- Absorbed by foliage and travels through entire plant.
- Controls annual and perennial grass weeds.
- Will slow or stop growth of weed grasses within 2 days.
Over the Top II Grass Killer is a systemic selective broad spectrum post-emergent herbicide that can be sprayed over desired plants listed to control annual and perennial grasses. It can be used on vegetables, gardens, trees, shrubs, ornamentals and ground covers. Always read and follow label directions.
For more information, visit the Fertilome website.
This wonderful herb is a plant native to the Middle East and Southern Europe.
It was brought all over Northern Europe and the British Isles by the Romans,
who used it as part of a mixture that was rubbed onto meat to help preserve it.
Early European settlers who came to America carried it with them to their new
home--and so did the Spanish explorers as they arrived in Mexico. Coriander has
been cultivated for over 3,000 years in gardens all over the world; seeds from
this wonderful herb were even found in the Egyptian tombs. Coriander is also
mentioned in the Old Testament; it is said that when the children of Israel returned
to their homeland from slavery in Egypt, that they ate "manna" in the
wilderness to survive. Manna was described as being like coriander seeds--and
it is still a custom to eat this bitter-tasting herb during Passover to remember
the great journey the people of Israel went through so many years ago.
Coriander has been used in all types of mixtures for many purposes all over
the world. The ancient Chinese once believed it would bring you immortality if
eaten regularly with your meals, and--if mixed properly--it would make a wonderful "love
potion" as an aphrodisiac. Besides being used for flavoring foods, the best
use of coriander seed is to help aid the digestive system, to help relieve indigestion
and to help stimulate appetite.
Coriander is an annual herb and must be planted every year but if you allow
the plant to dry in the garden, it will self-seed and come up everywhere, making
you believe that it is a perennial plant. If you're going to start seedlings
indoors to transplant into the garden, start the seedling in late March or early
April and transplant to the garden when the threat of frost is over--after mid-May.
Grow several plants together in a 4-inch pot and thin to 3 or 4 seedlings when
you set them out into the garden. Because Cilantro has a "TAP ROOT," it
does not transplant well, so set the entire pot into the garden and do not divide
the seedlings as individual plants. You can also scatter the seeds and let them
come up by themselves as the weather warms up.
Coriander will grow best in a sunny garden, as partial shade will force the
plant to grow taller--and when you receive heavy rain or strong winds, the plant
will topple over. In the sun, the plant will grow up to 2 feet tall if you're
not picking the foliage for salads and cooking with it regularly to control the
height of the plant. You can pick the young leaves any time you want to use in
salads, stews, soup and sauces. The stems are also edible, so chop them up also
and use them when you cook, waste nothing on this plant.
The plant will grow best in a rich soil that has been conditioned before planting
with compost--and if you're growing organically, look for Black Gold Compost,
as it is an OMRI-Listed organic compost available today at your local garden
center, go to www.blackgold.bz for more
information. Your soil should also be light and well drained or you will have
problems with the root system rotting in the soil. If you have a wet summer or
you water the garden often--keeping the soil too moist--the plant production
will be compromised and less productive.
The coriander will flower in late June and most of July, producing a delicate
pinkish-white multi-petaled flower cluster that will grow flat and to a diameter
of 3 to 4 inches wide. The plant will branch out and the entire plant will be
covered with flowers, giving the appearance of lace to the garden; the flowers
look somewhat like the wild-growing Queen Ann's lace plant. While in bloom, the
bees and butterflies will have a field day in your garden. A word of caution
for you to remember: if you are growing fennel in the same garden give them space
and keep them away from each other because fennel has similar properties to this
plant, and your fennel plant will have a hard time producing seed.
The foliage resembles parsley and is sometimes referred to as "Chinese
parsley." The smell of the foliage is not loved by all and is very distinctive,
that is why many people only grow coriander outside during the summer and not
on the windowsill during the winter months. The seed has a very different smell,
and when ripe it is delightful, with an orangey scent to it. It is great when
used as a spice when cooking. Homegrown seeds are much more fragrant and flavorful
than what you purchase in the supermarket, so store them in an airtight container
with a rubber gasket to keep in the flavor.
When the flowers begin to fade and you can smell the orangey scent of the
seeds be careful and pick the flower stems. Place them in a large PAPER bag (never
plastic, or the seeds will develop a mold on them) and in just a few days the
seeds will begin to fall from the flower, dead. Keep the bag in a warm and dry place
like your garage until the seeds fall and are ready for harvest, and then store in
your airtight container in your kitchen until you're ready to use them.
Cilantro is related to caraway, dill and fennel. All require the same growing
conditions but they need their own space in the herb garden to keep their unique
flavors. Plant other types of herbs in-between them, and each year when you plant,
try to rotate their position in your garden to give the soil a chance to rest.
When you grow herbs in your garden it is important to feed the plants regularly
with a good slow-release fertilizer to keep the plant growing properly--or it
will go to seed early and stop producing foliage. I like Vegetable -Tone or Dr.
Earth Vegetable plant food with Pro Biotic as both are organic, and contain microbes
to help make the fertilizer work more effectively and keep the plant productive
and not going to seed early.
Insect and disease problems are minimal. During wet weather--or if you water
the garden late in the day and the foliage stays wet at night--aphids can become
a problem. Water the garden early in the morning so the foliage has a chance
to dry off with the sunshine. If insects do become a problem, use "All Season
Oil" or another natural product designed for the vegetable garden on the
foliage because you are eating the foliage often and you do not want insecticide
residue on the foliage when you eat it.
If you're going to grow herbs in your garden, get yourself a good herb gardening
book and read about them before you decide what you want to grow in your garden.
Learn how to grow them and what they need to thrive in your garden, also how
to harvest and store them properly until you're ready to use them. A few years
ago, I planted an "Italian Seasoning Herb Garden" and selected the
herbs that were listed on the back of the box. That was the year I made my best
homemade fresh spaghetti sauce ever--from scratch. I used all my own tomatoes,
peppers, onions and--of course--the fresh herbs from my garden. Give it a try
this summer--you can do it too, and enjoy flavors you never tasted before in
your cooking. Enjoy!
Click to print this article.
I grew up in Maine, a state recognized for superior potato production. I still
live there today and my favorite vegetable is the potato--no matter how you cook
them. My mother grew up in Bangor, Maine and she often told stories about her
life as a child, and how potatoes affected her life. She told me that every spring
when the season was right to plant, all schools were closed for a few days so
everyone could get out into the fields and prepare for the planting season. My
mother's first job--at age SIX--was to pick the rocks that she claimed grew during
the winter in the potato fields. She also said that often there were more rocks
in the spring than there were potatoes in the fall some years. The children picked
the rocks and placed them in piles so the men could come through the fields with
the tractors and pick them up and discard them, making the planting and maintenance
In the fall, when the potatoes were ready to be harvested, all the schools
were closed again for a week or more for the potato harvest, and she then
picked the potatoes and placed them in barrels for the men to collect. Today,
in many areas of Maine a similar process still exists so the farming families
can harvest the crops while the weather is favorable-- the work is much easier
with the help of new hybrid farming equipment but still a lot of work. Growing
up, the first thing my mother did when she came home from work was fix the potatoes
for supper and she often said that if she did not eat potatoes every day she
would have the shakes. So you had better believe I ate a lot of potatoes growing
Many years ago, my parents' families both came from Canada to Maine because
of the opportunity in textile mills, shoe shops and farming. Both my parents
told stories of friends' families who also came to America because of the big
potato famine in Ireland--and also in search of a better life for their
families. My dad told me that in the mid 1800s, a terrible blight hit the potato
crop in Ireland and over a million people died of starvation in just a year or
two. The problem was that Ireland grew only ONE kind of potato and this blight
destroyed everything in its path, due to a wet spring after the potatoes were
planted, they rotted in the ground. Because the potato was the major source of
food and income for most of the people in Ireland, many families lost everything
to the great famine. Then social, political and economic problems hit
the nation and entire families left Ireland to go to America and other parts
of the world. Just a few years after the famine, the population of Ireland dropped
by one half due to emigration in an attempt to escape the Great Famine in Ireland.
In America, botanists worked very hard on this problem--trying to stop the
disease on the potato and end the starvation for the Irish people. Luther Burbank,
a well-known horticulturist and farmer, developed a new potato he called the
'Russet Burbank' potato; his efforts are credited to introducing a blight resistant
potato for the people of Ireland. Because the soil in Ireland was so rich and
the climate was perfect for the production of potatoes, its people grew most
of its land in potatoes. The average family had one acre of land and they were
able to feed and generate income enough for a family as large as 10--but the
potato blight destroyed everything and entire families died. Now you know a little
bit of history about the potato, so let me tell you how to grow them in your
Today's gardener has many varieties of potatoes to choose from: early, mid-season
and late harvesting types. Potatoes now come in white, yellow, red or purple
flesh or skin color and are used for baking, boiling or frying. With proper care,
you should be able to produce one to two pounds of potatoes per each foot of
row in your garden. So let's begin with your soil. It should be fertile and well-drained,
as a heavy soil that is not well drained will produce fewer potatoes and those
potatoes will be misshapen and of poor quality. If your soil is rich, well-drained
and lighter, you can plant earlier in the season with increased crop production,
and those potatoes will store longer after harvest without spoiling.
Potatoes prefer a soil that is on the acidic side with a pH, of 5.3 to 6.
If your pH is higher than 7, your potatoes are more likely to develop "scab," a
potato disease that will destroy the crop. A quick soil test in the spring will
tell you how to adjust the soil pH to better grow potatoes before you plant.
If you cannot lower the pH below 7 and you want to grow potatoes, look for the
famous 'Russet Burbank' seed potatoes, as they are scab-resistant.
What is a seed potato and why should you use them? A seed potato is a specially
raised potato that will produce a better crop for you. Never use potatoes from
the supermarket, as they are treated with a product to help prevent sprouting
while in storage. They will eventually germinate but because of the treatment,
the production will be less. Look for certified seed potatoes at your local garden
center or feed and grain store. When you choose your seed potatoes, select small to
medium sized potatoes with at least 1 to 2 eyes or sprouts on them, and plant them whole.
If you use large potatoes and cut them into pieces for planting it will take energy to heal
the cut surface and produce a protective scab, resulting in less energy for growth of your crop.
Dip the cut side of the seed in garden sulfur to help with the healing process to prevent rotting once planted.
Plant your seed potatoes when your soil reaches 50 degrees for the best germination.
Dig your trench 6 to 8 inches deep and just as wide and then add a slow release
organic fertilizer such as Vegetable-Tone or Dr. Earth Vegetable Fertilizer with
Pro Biotic at the rate of one pound per 10 feet of row to your trench; add it
as you would add rock salt on ice. Now work the fertilizer into the soil in the
trench about 2 inches deep with a cultivator. Keep the seed potatoes away from
the fertilizer you have applied. Plant your seed potatoes 8 to 12 inches apart
in the trench, with 3 feet between rows of potatoes.
Now fill the trench with the remaining soil and be sure to mark the planting
bed with stakes to prevent walking on them. You want to prevent damage to the
tender sprouting shoots and compaction of the soil--remember, loose soil
means more potatoes! Once the shoots develop and grow to about 6 inches tall,
add soil around the shoots and create a mound of soil down the entire row of
plants. Now sprinkle the same amount of fertilizer on the ground in two bands
on each side of the row and work it into the soil again keep fertilized away
from the plant and mix well in the soil. You should pull some of the soil from
the walkway 3 times during the year as the plants continue to grow taller and
create a mound of soil 18 inches tall and just as wide to help encourage additional
potatoes to form in this mound of soil. New potatoes will develop on the stems
of the plant that grow in the mound of soil. NEVER use any form of animal manure
around your potatoes, as it can encourage scab disease to develop in your garden.
Water weekly as the weather gets hot and keep the soil moist. If you see potatoes
forming above the ground, be sure to cover them with soil as green skin on the
potatoes will contain a toxic alkaloid called solanine and it will make you sick
if you eat the skin, so cover the potatoes or be sure to remove the green skin
when peeling your potatoes.
Potatoes are usually harvested at the end of the growing season when you have
had a frost or if the foliage has dried up due to a hot dry summer and lack of
watering by you. Dig carefully, so as not to damage the skin of the potato so
it will keep better and longer for you. Once dug, place them in a cool dark area
like your basement once you shake off the excess soil--do not wash the potato
The only major pest is the Colorado potato beetle and it is easily controlled
with the new Natural insecticide called Spinosad from Fertilome
or Captain Jack from Bonide. The beetle is bright orange-red
with spots. It will lay a row of yellow eggs under the leaf that will in time
hatch and produce a slug-like creature that will also eat the foliage. Spray
whenever you see a problem, as these products are all natural and not toxic.
If you have been growing potatoes for a long time, there is a chance of an
insect called the wire worm. It is copper in color and looks like a piece of
wire about 1 inch long and 1/8 inch thick. It will drill holes into the potato
and destroy the crop, often found in the potato but not very common. Last year
Bonide did develop a new pesticide that will control the problem,
called Garden Eight granules, and it must be added to the soil at the time of
planting. So, now we have a product for a serious but rare problem with this
crop--but most of us won't need this product unless we
had the problem last year!
Good varieties to try are:
'Superior' a large potato and early-season.
'Kennebec' a medium potato, mid-season and good winter keeper.
'Russet Burbank' medium to large potato late-season and good
Also 'Red Pontiac' a red skinned potato, late-season and stores
'Yukon Gold' a yellow flesh potato, late-season, buttery tasting
and a good winter keeper
And for the fun of gardening—the 'All Blue' with blue
flesh—a late-season, small, finger-shaped potato.
Click to print this article.
It's May, so keep your eyes open; enjoy the garden but watch out for possible
problems. Think prevention this spring; ask questions--NOW--about the problems you
had last year before they possibly return. If you're planting something
new--and you should--ask about the plant you selected and how to care for it.
Things happen fast in your garden, some good and some not so good. Stay on top
of things, enjoy the ride, and don't be scared to ask for help. Remember NO gardening
question is DUMB!
This week, I want you to get out the peony cages and get them in place
to prevent possible damage, as the flowers develop they will be large and heavy.
A good rain and wind could destroy all your hard work and shorten your enjoyment.
If you're purchasing your first peony plants, invest in the inexpensive wire hoops
to help hold up the flowers; it will be money well spent. When the peonies finish
flowering, move the cages to the delphiniums and when the delphiniums are finished,
use them on your fall mums or asters.
Always plant peonies shallow, because they will not flower if you do not. Dig
in the soil near the stem of the plant with your finger. You should be able to
feel the crown of the plant in the ground at a depth of one knuckle of your finger--anything
deeper means no flower. Next, if your flower buds form and turn black and dry
up there are two possibilities for this problem. If just the buds dry up, you
need the common ant in your garden to eat the soft waxy film that grows on the
bud to protect it against the dry wind and sun. As the ants eat the waxy film,
the bud expands and grows larger--eventually flowering. To get ants on the flower
bud, take a tablespoon of grape jelly, cover the buds with it, and then dump
the rest on the ground around the plant. The smell of the grape jelly will draw
them to your plant; they will clean the buds for you and flowers will form. Keep
all insecticides away from the plant during this process so as not to hurt the ants.
If the bud and the first leaf turn black, you have a disease that has hit the
plant. Use a good fungicide like copper or Serenade Organic Fungicide as soon
as you notice the buds forming on the plant.
Sunday, I started to notices small tents of webbing in the trees, a sure
sign that the tent caterpillars are arriving now. If you are able to break the
netting with your garden hose water pressure or a long pole, the caterpillars
will have nowhere to hide during wet weather and will all die when they get wet
and cold. If that does not work, use the new natural insecticide called Spinosad
from Fertilome or Captain Jack from Bonide. It will do the trick and will quickly
kill them without hurting beneficial insects or the birds; it's also great for
all caterpillar insects--even in the vegetable garden. Again. It's all natural
and a disease of caterpillar type insects like the old B.T. product--but much
more effective, especially on the larger and more mature caterpillars.
Daylilies and hostas are beginning to grow now, and this is a great time
to dig them up and divide the large clumps into smaller clumps. If you do it
now, it will not affect the flower production of the plant for the summer months,
and the new clumps will double their size by the end of the summer. Be sure to
plant them at the same depth they were before you dug them and condition the
soil with compost or animal manure before planting them in their new home. When
you divide perennials or move plants around the garden in the spring, use a new fertilizer
called "Thrive." I have been talking about this product with Mycorrhizae in it for
the past couple of years. Your root system will double
in size in just a month, transplant shock will be little to none and the new
roots the plant develops will be incredible, helping your plants quickly get
established before the heat of summer arrives. This is new technology at its
best, and you will have more flowers on young plants when it's used at the time of
planting because of the faster growing root system.
If you have ornamental grasses it is now time to cut them back to 12 inches
from the ground. By removing the old dead growth from last season now, you will
encourage the new foliage to develop faster and the new growth will look much
nicer with the old growth removed. If the clump of ornamental grass has grown
large, this is also the best time of the year to dig it up and divide it into
smaller clumps. Dig up the entire clump and get as many roots as possible, shake
off as much soil as possible so you can see the roots and then split the clump
with a garden spade or hatchet. What you want is a clump about 4 to 6 inches
in diameter; the splitting is best done when the clump is laid on its side so
you can divide easily with lots of roots. Condition the soil with compost and
manure before planting and keep the new plans moist until you start to see the
new grass develop.
Hydrangeas can be pruned at this time if the plant has begun to make new
growth. If your plant grew tall and fell over last summer, you can cut back the
individual stems back by as much as 1/3 to 1/2, as long as there are new buds
below the cut you will be making. I always leave 3 to 4 sets of buds on each
stem to insure flowers for the summer months. All dead stems should be removed
and the plant should also be fertilized with Plant-Tone fertilizer for a wonderful
3 to 4 month slow feeding. Your blue hydrangea should also be fertilized with
the new Blue Hydrangeas soil conditioner that will improve the color of the flowers
and keep them nice and blue during the summer. For pink hydrangeas, be sure to
add limestone, wood ash or Magic-Cal to keep the color pink or the acidity in
the soil will change the plant color to blue. Add 3 inches of mulch around the
plant to hold moisture during summer heat.
Broadleaf weeds are in their glory right now--and no matter how well-kept
your lawn the dandelions (these are the king of lawn weeds) will pop up. If you're
using a combination fertilizer and broadleaf weed killer, be sure the grass is
wet before applying it to the lawn so the product can stick to the foliage and
do a better job. Also, be sure that your lawn sprinkler is off and no rain is
predicted for at least 24 hours after you apply the product to give the week
killer time to move into the plant and destroy it. If you just planted grass
seed, this cannot be done until the fall or the weed killer will hurt the new
sprouting grass plants. Liquid broadleaf weed killers like Weed Beater Ultra
from Bonide can also be applied at this time, but be careful
when applying near ground covers. Only apply when the weather is calm and--like
the powder type-- when there will be no rain for 24 plus hours. Tough weeds like
violets, creeping Charlie and ajuga will need a second application of Weed Beater
Ultra in 7 days to destroy these strong weeds completely.
Bring out the birdbath and give it a good wash before you fill it up with
water. As the birds arrive to your yard, they will appreciate a good drink and
wash in their summer home--your yard. Keep the feeders filled with fresh seed
and the suet feeder also. If you have a birdhouse, be sure to clean it out to
keep the new tenants healthy and problem free. If you have young children, have
them cut up some old yarn into 12-inch long pieces and scatter them on the ground
near the feeders and birdbath to help the birds make a better nest. Also, bring
out the patio furniture so you can enjoy your yard, sit back, and relax for a
moment as the yard begins to take shape. It's never too early to start the grill
and enjoy a hot dog or burger after a hard day's work in the yard and garden.
The winter is over, so enjoy your yard and garden.
Click to print this article.
A Customized Gardening Tour of England and the 2012 Chelsea Flower Show
Paul Parent hosts a tour that includes the Wisley Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show, Tower of London,
Roman Baths & Pump Room, Riverford Organic Farm, Garden House, Rosemoor Gardens,
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Village of Mevagissey, Stonehenge, the Wilton House
Garden Centre and more.
Click here for details.
This Week's Question
Which number would indicate pH neutral soil (neither acidic nor alkaline)?
This Week's Prize:
Espoma Bio-tone® Starter Plus
All Natural Plant Food Enhanced with Bacteria and Mycorrhizae
For more information, see the Espoma website.
- Microbe-enhanced all natural plant food
- Includes both endo and ecto mycorrhizae
- Grows larger root mass to help plants establish fast
- Promotes bigger blooms
- Reduces transplant loss
Last Week's Question:
Only one type of bee dies after it stings. Which bee is it?
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
The honey bee (specifically the female worker honey bee).
Last Week's Prize:
Espoma Bio-tone® Starter Plus
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!
Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden
journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed
personally by Paul,
makes a perfect gift for gardeners. 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.
What You'll Need:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. culinary-grade dried lavender flowers (They have to be natural, not sprayed)
- 1/2 pound of butter (Use margarine if on a low cholesterol diet)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup ground rice (or rice flour)
- Pinch of salt
- Extra sugar and culinary-grade dried lavender flowers for final touch
- Put the lavender and sugar in a blender, mix until thoroughly combined--approximately 10-12 minutes.
- Cream butter and the sugar with a mixer until fluffy (do not overbeat).
- Sift together the flour and ground rice (or rice flour) and salt. Put that with the combined butter and stir until small lumps form.
- Put the dough on a board and knead it until it forms a smooth ball. Roll into a log shape and wrap in plastic then chill for approximately 1 hour.
- Preheat the over to 350 degrees and line two baking pans with parchment paper.
- Cut the chilled log into 1/4" slices and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack, sprinkle with extra sugar and lavender flowers, then enjoy!