Thursday November 28, 2013
I don't know about you, but I am in full holiday shopping mode. We're just about finished shopping for the kids, and now my attention is turning to the gardeners on my shopping list.
Books are always a good choice, especially if you're buying for a gardeners who is just starting out. When I started gardening, Barbara Damrsoch's Garden Primer was my constant companion, as were the Lone Pine books dedicated to growing in my region. Other favorites came along: McGee and Stuckey's The Bountiful Container; Gayla Trail's You Grow Girl and (more recently) Grow Great Grub; and Stu Campbell's Let it Rot!
Here are some great gardening book reviews from the gurus here on the About.com Home and Garden channel. Happy shopping!
What are your favorite books about gardening?
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Thursday November 14, 2013
Ah, holiday plants. You know the ones I mean: the paperwhite and amaryllis kits that show up in just about every type of store this time of year. Christmas (or Thanksgiving) Cactus. Poinsettia! We could (and some of us do) grow these plants all year long, but for many of us, they are tied strongly with the traditions of the holiday season.
The good news is that it's also quite easy to care for these plants organically. The biggest key to success with any plant is giving it the conditions it needs to grow its best. All of the plants listed above need bright light. The bulbs (paperwhites and amaryllis) can be moved into less-bright areas of your home once they start blooming; this will often prolong the bloom time, actually. But once they're finished blooming, they should be put back in bright light if you plan to keep the bulb and have them bloom again the following year.
As far as fertilization, I like to give my holiday plants bi-weekly feedings of vermicompost tea, which is quite easy to make and great for your plants. Here is more information about growing these traditional holiday plants, courtesy of my fellow About.com Experts:
Gardening expert Marie Iannotti has some great tips for caring for your poinsettia, as well as how to get it to bloom again next year.
Our Flowers expert, Jamie McIntosh, has plenty of advice for growing a holiday cactus.
If you want to grow beautiful paperwhite narcissus, check out container gardening expert Kerry Michaels' tips for forcing paperwhites.
Flowers expert Jamie McIntosh provides a wealth of information about choosing and growing amaryllis.
I hope these links are helpful! Which holiday plants do you grow in your home?
Thursday October 31, 2013
Well, the jack-o-lanterns are carved, the pumpkin seeds have been roasted, and the Halloween cookies have been baked and decorated. I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! Below are some of the most recent articles here on About.com Organic Gardening:
Monday September 30, 2013
I recently received this email from one of my readers:
"I have a weed on my BE Susans, was wondering if you could help me. It started about a month ago, a thin vine that latched on to the stems. Strangely, this weedy vine did not have roots. It just hooked around the stem and made it's way up to the BES flowers, choking them off. The weed ended up flowering, tiny white flowers, a few weeks ago. Those flowers are now green balls. Any idea what this is and what I could do about it? I've been picking it off by hand, but I had it in the same place last year too so I would like to figure out how to rid it for good.Thanks!"
Without having seen the weed, I'd venture that you're dealing with bindweed. Bindweed has roots, but the vines are able to spread so far, so fast, that it can sometimes seem that there are no roots. My guess is that you'll find roots somewhere nearby, possibly several feet away, and that the end of the bindweed vine is what you're seeing tangled up in your black eyed Susans.
Bindweed can be a real pain to get rid of for good. The seeds stay viable in the soil for thirty years or more, and the roots can extend into the soil to a depth of three feet. The only surefire way to get rid of them immediately is to dig out the entire plant, being sure to get all of the root -- as you've noticed, this can be a challenge because sometimes tracking down the spot where the vine meets the soil is pretty difficult! Less instantaneous, but much easier, is to simply keep pulling it out whenever you see it. Bindweed, like every other plant, needs its leaves for photosynthesis. If you keep pulling off the leaves and vines whenever you see it, eventually the plant will starve to death and stop coming back.
When we moved into our current house, there was a terrible patch of bindweed behind the garage. It took us a couple of years of dutifully pulling it out, but it finally stopped appearing.
One more thing: don't compost the bindweed vines. It will form roots and start growing in your compost. Throw it in the trash instead. Best of luck to you!
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