GARDEN GROOMING

A must in my landscape is garden grooming. Today I tried something new. I used the string trimmer to ‘cut back’ my Snow in the Summer, ground cover sedums and Meadow Sage. All of these perennials are on the edges of my gardens. It worked really nice. Saved my hands from a lot of labor & pain. Of course by mistake, I cut a few other plants that were close. But ‘oh well’ they will grow back and bloom.

I cut back by hand my Spring Daisies before they ‘go crazy’ dropping their seeds all over the gardens. But I do take a couple of flower heads that have dried and spread the seed where needed. Fleabane is an herb that I let reseed in my gardens. It adds a TALL white in the border and blooms after the Daisies. Yes, Fleabane is one of those ‘go crazy’ herbs/flowers that I control before it goes to seed. http://www.ediblewildfood.com/daisy-fleabane.aspx I love the height and the ‘airy branching’ it has.

Deadheading is now in full swing. Rose Campion and Knautia are in full bloom. Deadheading is a must in my gardens to insure that the plant continues blooming throughout the Summer. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1059/ and http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/80/ All of these plants are what I call COME AGAINS. Year after year they give me wonderful color.

BEFORE the 4th of July, I make sure I ‘cut back’ SOME of my Phlox, Great Blue Lobelia and Goldenrod by 1/3. I have large clumps of these perennials I only cut back part of the clump. This method will give me color over 2 months, maybe 3 months. The ‘cut back’ plants will bloom later and shorter. After the ‘uncut’ plant blooms, I will ‘deadhead’ the plant, which will bloom again later in the season.

A great book and the only garden book I have on gardening is The Well Tended Perennial Garden http://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-well-tended-perennial-garden-planting-and-pruning-techniques_tracy-disabato-aust/263296/?gclid=CLe94aqczc0CFQ8vaQodhdQAtQ#isbn=0881924148&pcrid=70112893512&pkw=&pmt=&plc=

HAPPY GARDENING my friends. I hope you found this interesting and helpful.

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CHOP & DROP

CHOP & DROP

I have been using the chop and drop method of feeding my soil for two years. Easy and very effective. No hauling away debris to the compost pile. All it consists of is when I ‘dead head’ or ‘cut back’ in the perennial flower beds, I let the foliage lay on the ground around the plant. When using this method on the edges of the garden I tuck the foliage under the plant, out of sight. In the center of the garden I just let it lay.

In the vegetable gardens I pull or cut back the old lettuces, radishes, sorrel and let it lay. Comfrey is an EXCELLENT mulch for the veggie garden. I get about four cutting a season. It is so full of minerals that feed your soil, which feed your plants, which feeds YOU. :0) I have Comfrey planted by each of my vegetable beds. Makes it easy to chop it down and lay it on top of the beds.

It took me 18 years to learn this method. Better late than never.

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PREPPING PLANTING AREA FOR POTATOES

PREPPING PLANTING AREA FOR POTATOES

Rotating where you plant your vegetables is very important to ward off disease. I am lucky enough to have the area to do a 3 year rotation. I plant my potatoes where I had my compost pile the year before. Last year was the first time I tried this method and it was the best harvest I had ever had.

Last year I planted my potatoes the first week in June. After the last frost date. This year I am starting my potatoes in April. Way too cold and wet for potato planting in Wisconsin, zone 5. BUT this year I put up a little hoop house and black plastic on the soil to warm this area before planting. I will be planting about 12 ‘pieces’ of potatoes, which have at least 2 ‘eyes’ on each piece. I will allow them to ‘callus over’ before planting. I will write another article on how I ‘chit’ potatoes. I will cover the newly planted area with a ‘row cover’ and the hoop house over that. This double protection should keep the potatoes warm enough to grow. If the sun ever comes out, I will have to vent the hoop house. I do this by opening both ends, allowing air flow. A hoop house temperature can rise very quickly into the 90’s -100F if the sun is shining. How do I know this? I have FRIED many plants forgetting to vent the hoop house. Live & learn.

I will write updates to keep you posted on how this experiment of planting potatoes early is going. Don’t forget to sign up for my forum. The blog (here) and the forum have separate ‘to join’ areas. You might like to check out my video on this potato hoop house.

HAPPY GARDENING!

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FERMENTED SALSA

FERMENTED SALSA

This time of the year I have a lot of tomatoes ripening fast. Salsa is a favorite of mine. Since I am trying to eat more fermented food, I decided to give this recipe a try. YUMMY! I thought the taste would be sour, but it isn’t. A little tangy.

FERMENTED SALSA RECIPE

3 pounds ripe tomatoes chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped onion
½ Jalapeno Pepper (with seeds) chopped or more if you like it spicier
1 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
2 tsps. minced garlic
2-3 tsps. sea salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano or 3 tsp. chopped FRESH oregano
1 lime (juice from 1 lime)
½ cup WHEY

I use a food processor for ½ of the ingredients, this will make a finer and juicer blend. Then I mix in by hand, the other ½ of the chopped mixture. It gives the salsa a CHUNKIER texture. Fill jars with salsa, leaving an inch of space at the top. Push down the veggies. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the veggies. Put cover on. This is important for the fermentation. Leave jars on the counter and cover the jar with a towel (darkness) for two days. You will notice little bubbles forming. This is normal. After the two days refrigerate. This salsa fermentation will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

NOTE: All seasonings are to your taste.

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CUCUMBER BEETLES

My Cucumber plants have barely been in my gardens for 10 days and I already spotted the dreaded Cucumber Beetle.

cucumber-beetle-crop1

A couple of the leaves had holes in them and I saw rust colored spots on the leaves. Sure signs of the dreaded Cucumber Beetle. I smushed several of them and several more flew away. I decided to try a different technique. I will take an empty sour cream container and add an inch or so of water and a squirt of dish soap. Hold the container under the leaf & tap the leaf. Hopefully the cucumber beetle will fall in and won’t be able to get out. I use this technique on the Japanese Beetles and it works great. Just time consuming. I DO NOT WANT TO USE CHEMICALS.

I think the mornings would be good for hunting the Cucumber Beetle because they should be quite sluggish and won’t fly off so easily. Except for one thing. My Mom always told me not to touch the plants when they are moist with dew or rain. It causes fungal diseases. Have any of you heard this? I better play it safe and do the BEETLE PATROL when the leaves are dry.

I already started some new cucumber seeds, just in case these plants start going downhill fast. There are a couple of cucumbers forming on the vine. Maybe in a couple of weeks I will be eating my organic cucumbers. Wish me luck.

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