Friday, August 17, 2018

Best Way to Harvest Apples

Where I reside we harvest Johnathan Apples in early September to October. These apples are by far the best for eating fresh from the tree to baking your favorite apple pie. 

Picking apples is a fun activity for families here is a video that you may like.

The apples to ripen will be located on the outside on the southern side of the tree, then they will ripen inward to the center. So your first harvest or early harvest will be the apples that are exposed to the southern sun.

Apple trees naturally drop their apples when they are ripe in order to self-seed and reproduce. Watch for an apple or two to drop from the tree to determine if they are ready to pick

My Dad taught me how to determine if an apple was ripe. The best way is to pick one from the tree and bite into it. A mature apple will be firm to the touch, crisp and juicy and the seeds will be brown. The most obvious sign to watch for is color. Golden delicious apples will change from green to yellow when they are ready to be harvested and red delicious will turn entirely red

As a kid, I used to harvest apples with my dad so that my mother could put up apples for jam, applesauce and for pie. Harvesting apples is a fun thing to do on a sunny afternoon as long as you have the right supplies.

You will need:

Sturdy ladder
Burlap sack that you wear around your shoulder to hold the apples.
Durable gloves to protect your hands.

Set the ladder up close to the trunk of the tree and make sure that it is on level ground so you will not fall. Climb to the top of the ladder or as high as you need to be to harvest apples from the branches.

When your apples are ripe, they should be fairly easy to pick from the tree with a simple upward twist of the apple. If the tree is heavy with apples you may be able to stand on the ground and reach up to harvest the apples.

As a rule, we will pick almost ripe and almost ripe apples from the tree because you can put them in cardboard boxed or large paper brown bags to store in a cool place (60 to 70 degrees) and the apples will ripen.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Recycled Water is Best During a Drought

The weather here in the mid-west section of USA has been brutal this summer. We are an average of 20 degrees hotter for this time of the year and it makes gardening difficult because many of the seedlings were are not established before the heat wave. I had planted annual flowers, herbs, and vegetables during the spring seasons. But that season was about two weeks prior to the intense heat.

The average temperature from June through July was in the high 90’s with the heat index at 105+. When the weather is this hot too soon in the season the only thing that you can do is try your best to keep your new plants and seedlings hydrated.

I went through my three 50 gallon rain barrels very quickly because there was no rain to replenish them. Along with the high heat, our summer was dry and water was at drought status. We were on a water restriction which means I could not water my plants including vegetable daily, instead, I had odd days that I could water the morning only.

On the days that I could water, I did set a slow-drip soaking hose on a timer and this hose runs from 5 to 9 AM. I never watered the gardens in the heat of the day because the water would evaporate. I watered my container plants including peppers and tomatoes with recycled water from our home. Collecting the water from the bathtub to put in the water barrel is a tiresome and time-consuming job. On average I worked a good hour on this task each and every morning. Sometimes in the afternoon if there was a water source that I could use.

All bath water was collected to water the container plants and by doing this I was able to keep these gardens hydrated during the summer drought.

In spring I planted 5000 zinnias and cosmos flowers and only a few survived the drought. It is safe to say that it has been a long hot summer and that I am looking forward to the cooler days in fall when I can plant chrysanthemums and other fall season flowers.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hibiscus a Late Season Bloomer

A few years ago my brother gave me a Hibiscus rose of Sharon When he gave me the plant it had a few blooms and many buds. I was delighted to have the pretty pink flowering shrub but was worried because he had given to me on the first day of July. It was past the time that I plant, the days were long and hot and certainly not a time to be planting a hibiscus, or so I thought.

I thought chose a sunny garden area that had six hours of morning sun, partial shade in the heat of the day and three hours of late afternoon sun. I was hoping this would agree to the hibiscus because my yard is primarily shaded. I planted with amended soil and a root stimulator. Then I set up a soaking hose on a timer to water the hibiscus in the morning and mid-afternoon. The soil did not dry out and the sun did not burn the leaves. On the first year, the This rose of Sharon bloomed all summer and well into the fall. On the second year, my hibiscus bloomed mid-July through the warm months in fall.
Hibiscus is a wonderful addition to any garden because the large exotic flowers will continue to bloom when other flowers have ceased. the hibiscus will be put on a flower show for you to enjoy.

A mature hibiscus will grow upright to six feet with a similar spread. You can grow the hibiscus as a feature plant or plant a few to create a flowering privacy hedge. Shop for the hibiscus rose of Sharon in a variety of flower colors, you can choose from white, pink, lavender, and a gorgeous red. There are also hybrid colors which are a mixture of two colors.

Known pets: armadillos will dig up your newly planted hibiscus and groundhogs will eat the entire plant. Deer will eat the flowers. Other pests include whiteflies, aphid, spider mite, mealybugs, inchworms and grasshopper

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter Greenhouse Gardening

You can grow a garden during the winter months indoors or at your greenhouse. This year I bought a freestanding 5-shelf greenhouse from and set it up on my enclosed front porch. The porch was an excellent area for the greenhouse because it has windows that face south and a grow light above.

The perfect location of this portable greenhouse will allow the new seedlings to grow in the sun and in a room that has an average temperature of 70 degrees. 

This location is beneficial to the plants and it saves on energy because if I had left it on my outdoor patio I would have had to heat it due to the bitter cold weather.

Presently I am not growing many plants. I have a container of chocolate mint and spearmint, rosemary, a palm tree and Christmas cactus. All are doing well.

If you enjoy gardening you may want to shop for a portable greenhouse that you can set up in your home next to a southern window or under a grow light.  I find my plants are growing well in a cooler room with the heat from the sun and a grow light above for use when on days when the sun is not out.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Planning Summer Wildflower Gardens

Keeping busy during the winter months is easy as long as I am planning my summer gardens. This winter is colder than normal, with snow on the ground and temperatures so cold that we have alerts that tell us to stay indoors. I have plenty of time now to plan my summer wildflower gardens, paths and raised gardens.
Attract wildlife with flower garden

A few months back my husband and I bought more land and we plan to build a deck on the side of our house that would have a view of this land. Presently the land is not eye appealing because it is a cut-down pasture with a few cedar and oak trees. There is a rock boulder to the far west that is interesting because the jagged edge looks like steps. The dirt in this area is shallow and I am thinking of planting a creeping sedum in the cracks and crevices.

Attract hummingbirds with bee palm, this is a photo of my wildflower garden

The liriope / lilyturf needs to be transplanted this spring and I have it in my plans to encircle the oak and cypress trees in this patch of land. The liriope is a good choice for this area because deer tend to leave it alone. Plus there is room for it to grow.

Since the deck is intended for relaxation I thought I would turn over the soil as soon as the soils thaws, work the soil so it is ready for planting 1000 square feet of perennial and annual wildflower seed. I like the blend of seed that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

on the sunny side of the land and plant 1000 square feet of wildflower seed that will attract birds and butterflies. I bought some seed at Amazon last year and it grew well. The directions said to plant in the fall but I planted it in early spring and had a good crop of wildflowers.

Planning your summer garden is a fun activity for the winter season. You have time to research the perennials and annual plants and to choose a color scheme.

Winter is a good time to write down your ideas in a notebook and to create a priority list for early spring gardening. I find when I start planning my summer gardens in the winter that my planting season is more organized.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Late Fall Gardening in Missouri

Here in Missouri, the weather is 20 degrees above normal which means the days are in the mid 70’s and the nights are in the low 50’s. The weather now compares to the spring season and I find that I am spending time working in the garden.

This week my husband and I are working on removing the leaves by hand that is embedded in the flowering shrubs and evergreens. The oak leaves are notorious for carrying mites which are harmful to plants. I have also noted that leaves that are left on gardens over the winter do damage the gardens especially irises because the leaves attract insects that eat the rhizome.

Another garden project that must be done in the late fall would be cutting back any remaining annual or perennial plant. Then remove any weeds, grasses from the bed before applying mulch. The vegetable and tomato gardens are nearly spent but there are still crops that I will harvest for the composter

When the leaf removal, cutting back of perennials and harvesting is completed
I will cover all garden beds with two to three inches of cedar bark mulch. In addition, I will also encircle the flowering shrubs and add a layer of mulch under the evergreens. If there is a hard winter then the mulch will protect the plants with roots close to the soil surface from shifting or becoming damaged. Mulch also makes your cold season gardens look more eye appealing and deters weed growth in the early spring.

Note: irises will get a thin layer of mulch, but that mulch will be removed in early spring.

The weather has been warmer than normal during the fall season and gardening in late fall has been enjoyable. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fall Flowers Add Color to Landscape

Many people will put away their gardening tools mid-September because the growing season has come to an end. But if you love flowers then you can extend your gardening season by growing plants that bloom through the fall season. This year I have added color to my landscape by growing annuals with my Chrysanthemums.

My neighbors, have asked me if chrysanthemums will come back the following spring and should they plant them in the ground. The answer is yes. Last fall my neighbor was throwing out her chrysanthemums in nursery grown pot after blooms were spent. I took them and planted in a container. After a hard frost, I did cut the mum stems back and topped the container with 3-inches of mulch. The following year the chrysanthemum grew in and this fall we have enjoyed the flowers as they have added fabulous color to our landscape.

Know that you can grow Chrysanthemums in the ground or in containers and they will return the following year as long as you plant in well-drained soil, full sun and leave 6 to 12 inches in-between the plants. Water your chrysanthemums well when you first plant them, then water daily in the morning especially if grown in containers because they do dry out faster than planted in the ground. Plant mums in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. You can also plant mums in the fall 6 weeks before a hard frost is best. Add 2-3 inches of mulch to containers or garden bed. Fertilize in the spring to encourage new growth and flower blooms. I recommend that you remove the mulch from the containers and garden bed in the spring, fertilize and replace the mulch around the mum stems in the early summer.

Growing tips:

Create eye appealing chrysanthemum container gardens by growing ivy close to the rim of the plant, If you decide that you like the ivy cascading down the sides then plant only 1-2 ivy plants like winter hardy Baltic. *Watch the runners so they do not take over the container.

Learn more and view photographs of Baltic Ivy here

Here is a list of fall season companion plants to grow with chrysanthemums pansies, violas, ornamental cabbage, kale are a few of my favorites.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pruning Wild Climbing Roses

Normally I will walk past the wild climbing roses that grow in the woods by my home and I am careful where I step, but this summer I found that there are many canes that have blocked the nature trail, so I intend on pruning the rose canes before they get out of control. 

It is uncommon for wild climbing roses to bloom in the woods because they do not get enough sunlight but the ones by my home are covered with pink blooms.  The roses that grow wild have taken over an acre of land.  It is a big job to prune the entire area so I am concentrating on the roses close to my home.  

Before pruning the climbing roses you will need to buy special gloves that were made for taking care of roses. They are protective cowhide gloves that protect your hands and arms from the thorns.  I also recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants, and rubber garden boots.
The climbing roses will be pruned to remove the dead branches. Then I will cut the remaining canes two-thirds, and the ones growing close to the garden path I will prune at the soil surface. This pruning should provide us with a more uniform climbing rosebush. 

My husband said he would put up a trellis to train roses how to climb.  Next growing season we hope to have manicured climbing roses that cover the trellis.
Learn more about climbing roses by viewing this video.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Stella de Oro Daylilies Add Beauty to Garden

A few years ago my neighbor had put two containers of Stella de Oro daylilies at the curb, they were near death and I did not think they would survive but took them anyway. I submerged the container of extremely dry dirt in tepid sink water. This allowed the container to take in the water and the soil became evenly moist. I removed the container plant, drained the sink before setting the container in the sink to drain.

When all the water had drained I set two lilies close to a plant grow light, since they had been in a dark garage for several days. I knew that they needed light.  Well, I rescued the Stella de Oro's in time because both survived.  They were transplanted to my garden and today they bloomed. The repeat large gold star flower blooms are beautiful.

Here is a canvas print that I created from one of my photographs of Stella de Oro in full bloom.

Stella d'oro Yellow Lilly Flower Wrapped Canvas

Plant taxonomy classifies Stella de Oro daylilies under the daylily genus, Hemerocallis, which derives from the Greek, hemera, "day," plus kallos, "beauty”

Grow Catnip and Felines will Come

Growing catnip in your yard is not difficult but finding the required growing location is a must. You do not want to grow catnip close to your outdoor space because neighborhood felines will come to your yard and you would want them in the back section away from human traffic, especially if they are stray or feral cats.

I have 10 catnip plants growing in my back wildflower garden. I grew these plants from seeds that I planted in ¼ inch soil then covered with a light layer of mulch so the rain would not wash them away. The seeds grew into seedlings then plants and as soon as the stem was 4 inches in height the cats started to arrive.

I did have to protect the young plants so I covered them with a metal hanging basket.  The basket came with a coconut fiber liner that I removed. What was left was a metal dome with open work. I set the dome-shaped metal container over my catnip plants to protect them from the cats.
The metal dome protects the catnip roots, leaves grown through the openwork.

The metal dome (bottom part of the hanging basket) is a great way to protect seedlings from foot traffic because the roots are protected.

So if you love cats, enjoy watching them then grow catnip in your garden and felines will come.

The photographs that you view on this blog post are my original photographs of neighborhood cats visiting my catnip garden.

Learn more about gardening here