Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why does Santa like to work in his garden?

Because he likes to hoe, hoe, hoe...

The Origin of Santa Claus 

follow link

It's hard to think of anything
But Christmas in December.
There's so much to look forward to
And so much to remember.

Outside there's a pine tree standing straight and tall.
It need no decorations--nature's done it all.
Pinecones on its branches with icicles glistening bright,
Snow upon its needles and birds at rest from flight.
I see it from my window, and take the time to say,
Thank you for your beauty, tree, on this Christmas day.

Hang this on your
Christmas tree,
To remember how
I used to be.
To remind you of me
Now and then,
And bring fond memories
Back again.

*author unknown

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Winter Solstice and the start of Winter Sowing!

December 21, also known as the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere),  and the start of the winter season.  It is also the start of the winter sowing season.  This is a nifty method of outdoor seed germination, using milk cartoons or other containers.  In January, start with the hardier seeds first, saving the more tender seeds for later on, around March or April.  These mini-greenhouses will be placed outdoors, in a safe and sunny locations.  In the spring, as the days warm, and nights are still cold, seedlings will start to emerge.  This is the time to check for water and to expose the seedlings to the fresh air on nicer days.  Winter-sown seedlings are also naturally harden off, allowing direct transplant into the garden, when ready.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This a Squirrelly....

 Q.  How do you catch a squirrel?
  A.  Climb a tree and act like a nut!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Concern for the Bumble Bee

Everyday, it seems that we hear something about the honeybee and colony collapse.  However, wild  "native bees", aka the bumble bee is a vital pollinator responsible for pollinating wild flowers and many crops (even in places where the European honey bee is present).  It seems that like the honey bee, these wild bees seem to be in peril as well.  In Vermont, of the 15 different species of bumble bees, 3 have gone extinct (with 1 or 2 more in decline).  The culprit, most likely a harmful parasite imported from Europe and, you guessed it....PESTICIDES!

 “Neonicotinoid pesticides are particularly dangerous to bees because plants absorb them through the roots, rendering all plant parts toxic to insects,” said Leif Richardson, an entomologist at Dartmouth College and co-author of the upcoming Guide to Bumble Bees of North America. ”This includes pollen and nectar, essential components of the bee diet.”

So what are the consequences?  Most obviously, the loss to agriculture.  About 1/3 of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.  The feeding of livestock with alfalfa, legumes, and clover.  There is the loss of wild plants,  which effects the wildlife dependent on them for food.  Many plants could become endangered due to the decline of their native pollinators.  And let's not forget the economic cost.  

Encourage native bees to your backyard by providing an inviting habitat.  Leave hedgerows and do not clear cut hardwood tress for pine plantings.  Provide ongoing food source of native, pollen and nectar producing plants.  Opt not to use pesticides.  Understand the importance of bees in pollination. If you do have a bee problem, search for  someone who will remove/relocate if possible vs destroying



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Putting Garlic to Bed!

I shoot to plant garlic between Halloween and Thanksgiving, 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost to 2-3  weeks after, but about a month before the ground freezes solid.  The goal is to get the garlic in the ground long enough to grow roots (about 1 month), but not so early that warm weather causes the tops to grow. (Raised beds are typically 8 to 13 degrees warmer then the ground).  At 4" deep you wont the soil temperature at about 50F. To reach full maturity, garlic needs to be in the ground for about 9 months. That puts harvest time around the end of June into July.

I have three raised beds (4x4) at the bottom of the hill near the creek.  They happen to be spaced 4 feet apart.  (I am not sure why I put them in that way!)  It dawned on me to construct 2 more raised beds, in between the existing beds, which was very easy to do!  I dug up the ground and amended it with compost, manure, shredded leaves and kitchen scraps.

Take your seed garlic and divide it into cloves.  Plant the individual cloves about 2' deep and 6-8 inches apart. Remember, the bigger the clove, the bigger the garlic bulb next year.  Cover with a blanket of mulch (leaves, grass clippings, newspaper etc), about 6" deep for the winter.  Come spring, if all goes well, shoots will start to pop up through the mulch!