Weekend Gardener

Blog based on my best-selling ebook "The Weekend Gardener"- The Busy Persons' Guide To A Beautiful Backyard Garden by Victor K. Pryles

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Repunzel Effect

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.-- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)________________________________________________________________

Some time ago in one of your garden tips I spoke about the beauty of window boxes. Today I'm going to introduce you to the "Repunzel Effect".Window boxes almost always look better if there is something draping over the edge, and for sheer drama, you can't beat drapery that hangs in long streamers well below the box.

Unfortunately, the longest trail you should look for is about 12 or 18 inches. Most plants can't support much more than that.Plants to use?

ivy ( Hedera helix)

ivy geraniums (Pelargonium peltatum)

nastrurtiums (Trapeolum majus)

vica ( Vinca spp.)

It's a short list, I know. That's because most lax-stemmed plants are vines, and most vines would rather hang on than hang down.

If they can't climb straight up, they'll climb any which way--on themselves, on the other plants in the box, on the brackets that hold the box up. The end result is a tangled mass instead of graceful tresses.

That said, if you have a situation where vines can't get a grip on anything, these are also worth a try:

canary bird vine ( Trapaelum peregrinum)

climbing snap-dragon (Asarina spp.)

grape ivy (Cissus incisa)

passionflower (Passiflora spp.)

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Small Light Garden

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.-- Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)_________________________________________________________________

Did you know it is so easy to set up a small light garden in your home for house plants? All you need are two flourescent tubes and the reflector unit that holds them. Although special bulbs have been touted as the last word in light-garden technology, they are relatively costly.

Instead, many weekend gardeners have found that the light spectrum that most plants need can be produced inexpensively by using a cool light or daylight flourescent tube, together with a warm light tube, either 20 or 40 watts each.

Economical two-tube units and bulbs can be found at hardware stores, but be sure to measure your window space so you know what size to buy.Position the light unit so that the plants are no closer to the tube than about two inches, and no further away than about 10 inches. A typical "day" for plants growing under lights is 14 to 16 hours, and many weekenders use a timer to automate sunrise and sunset.

Why not give this a try this week, especially since it's winter and you'd like a project to fill your gardening 'down' time!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

My Blueberry Hill

You know by now how much I love blueberries as my fruit of choice for busy weekenders like us.

But did you know that many mail order nurseries ship plants that can be two or three years old?

Yet it takes some plants 4 to 6 years before the plants are mature enough to flower.That's why a neighbor of mine was dissapointed when he didn't get his blueberry bush to thrive right away even though it got a good 5 hours of sunlight a day.

Highbush blueberries need company to bear fruit too. Even after your bush starts blooming, it won't start fruiting in earnest until you plant a differentvariety, one that blooms at about the same time, within bee-flying distance.

Intersting huh?

These varieties bear flowers in more or less overlapping order, from earliest tolatest:

* "Bluetta"

* "Earliblue"

* "Northland"

* "Patriot"

* "Blueray"

* "Ivanhoe"

* "Bluecrop"

* "Berkeley"

* "Jersey"

* "Herbert"

* "Corville"

So check for how mature your plants are from mail-order nurseries before ordering and plant these varieties in groups of at least two which will assure growth!

"Being world-weary just means your heart is dying by degree. To awaken joy just pretend your 10 years old again." - Victor K. Pryles

I love words and I love to write. Here's an open invitation to join me at The Authors Den.It's where readers and authors meet-up. My site is http://www.authorsden.com/victorkpryles And please visit all of the very fine authors/readers that make this their home!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Your Kitchen Herb Garden

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardenerswho make our souls blossom. -- Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

Have you ever considered having your own kitchen herb garden?

Of course, culinary herbs grown this way do need lots of sunshine but there are some that work well with just morning light, assuming the soil is well drained.I wish I could tell you basil and oregano (two of my personal favorites) were among them---however, parsley does fine.

You can also grow good chervil, fennel,tarragon, lemon balm, sweet cicely, sweet woodruff, and any of the mints.Now if you have a brightly lit kitchen (or other room) that gives good light most of the day you can grow my two favorites too!Try this wonderful way to have fresh home-grown herbs that you can use to spice up your cooking in an amazing way that is truly delightful to the palate.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Old Wives Tales

Have a really neat tip today for your vegetable garden. Even though there hasn't been a lot of extensive research on which species can best be planted together to help each other prosper, gardeners observations have been around for centuries.

This folklore is pretty good stuff! Some gadeners swear by the following:

* Plant parsley near asparagus to improve vigor.
* Radishes grown near lettuce are more tender.
* Petunias help repel bean beatles.
* Beets interplanted with onions will stifle weeds.
* Dill or caraway will help repel cabbage moths.
* Tomatoes hate fennel; keep them apart.
* Beans don't do well near alliums (garlic, onions, chives).
* Nastrurtmiums attract aphids and deter cucumber and bean beatles.

Of course, lots depends on climactic conditions, the nature of the soil and the overall health of the plants in your garden. But these are more than 'old-wives tales' --they really are true. So, keep them in mind when designing your vegetable garden!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Three Trees To Bring Us Together

Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes. -Clare Ansberry, The Women of Troy Hill

Today I'll give you three trees that will flower after the big springtime show is past.

1. Autumn flowering (Higan) cherry (Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis) A double delight, this small tree (to 25 feet) flowers both in spring and fall. There are several varieties, and you can have any flower color you like!

2. Ben Franklin tree (Franklinia alamaha) A good choice for smaller yards, this medium-slow grower seldom gets more than 15 to 20 feet high. Carmelia-like whiteflowers bloom toward the end of summer even as the leaves turn a lovely red-orange for fall. Zones 5 to warmer parts of Zone 9.

3. Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) With these quick growing, widespreaders, you get a big tree (to 50 feet) in a big hurry. The grand looking leaves are usually deep green; there are also yellow-leaved forms. A bell-shapedwhite flower in mid-summer then later dark seapods. Zones 5-8

Hope you can look this trio of lovelies up in a catalogue today to learn more!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

MIlkweed Over All

One Weekend Gardener wrote to tell me that using milkweed to attract butterflies might have been a good idea, but now it has overwhelmed her vegetable plot.

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), when well established runs deep, eagerly spreading roots and many seeds make it a takeover baron, and since it is so hardy even to 50 degrees below zero, don't count on them being killed off in a freeze.

About all you can do is mow the perimeter of the garden so the nearest milkweed is at least 10 feet away. In the garden itself, pull all shoots as soon as they appear. Wind-sown seedlings won't have a chance to put down strong roots, and although the roots that are already there will keep sending in new plants, depriving them of top growth will eventually starve out the network.

Photo: Milkweed Exploding