Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sage Container Gardening

Grow a sage container garden for your culinary kitchen or outdoor garden.  This easy container garden will add color and interest your living space.  The foliage of the sage is attractive as the leaves vary in color. Some sage leaves are green with touches of yellow, others are purple with touches of gray, and some are a rich shade of green that compliments both purple and yellow.  The sage herb is easy to grow provided it has direct light and dry heat.  

This year I am growing Honeydew Melon sage.  It has dark green leaves with red flowers in the summer.  The flowers have a fruity fragrance that attracts butterflies to my garden.   We use sprigs of the honey melon sage to garnish our summer beverages; lemonade and sweet tea. The honey melon sage is a delicious herb and would be a good choice for butterfly garden or sensory garden.

Instructions for growing a sage container herb garden.

Step 1:      Gather what you need to grow a sage container garden.  Various sizes in containers, potting soil, compost, bag of rocks, fertilizer, assortment of nursery grown sage plants, grass clippings, garden gloves, garden tools and hose.
Step 2:     Plan your sage arrangement for your containers.  You may want to display the various container sizes in groups on a sunny section of your patio, or in your garden.  Decide which sage plants work with your color scheme..
Step 3:       Prepare containers for planting.   Turn the container over and look for adequate drainage.  Add a layer of small rocks to the bottom of the container.  These rocks will aid in water drainage.  Fill the containers with moist all purpose potting soil mixed with compost.
Step 4:        Dig a hole in the center of the container that is the same depth and width as the nursery container.  Remove the sage from the nursery container.  Use your hands to untangle the roots.  Gently pull the roots away from the root ball.  Set the sage in the center of center of hole.  Place the roots on the soil to encourage them to grow outward.  Fill the hole with soil and water well.

View video on herb container gardens for apartments:

Plant sage herb outside after the danger of spring frost has past. Water as needed, sage requires evenly moist soil until the plants are established. In late spring when the ground has warmed to 70 degrees, apply a mulch of grass clippings around the sage plants.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Redbud Tree – Accent Tree for Landscape

The deciduous leaves of the redbud tree are reddish purple in the spring and then turn dark green in summer followed by yellow in the fall.  The striking leaves and showy spring flowers that bloom in April to May make the this tree a accent for your landscape.  
I do not grow the red redbud tree in my yard, however I have planted a few for my clients and I view the  redbuds growing wild in the woods by my home.  I find it best to grow the tree in morning sun and part shade in the afternoon.   Grow these trees in zones 4 to 9.  

The eastern redbud is renowned for its upright growing habits as well as the dark trunk, and spreading branches and lovely spring flowers. The growth rate is slow. I planted a two foot tree for one of my clients 10 years ago.  The tree at 10 years old was 6 feet in height with a similar spread.

Where to Plant Redbud Tree

Before you plant a tree determine the growing site. Consider planting the redbud tree in front of a picture window or close to your home entrance.  Choose a planting site which allow the tree to accent your landscape.

Buying tips

Buy a tree that has some height.  If you can buy a four foot tree then do so as it will produce flowers the following season. Purchase a redbud trees in a natural burlap root ball covering or container.  

How to transplant a tree 

Transplant the redbud in early spring as soon as the soil is workable.  Gently remove the tree from the nursery container. The best way to loosen the tree in the container is to set the container on its side and roll it gently back and forth. This will loosen the soil on the sides of the container and will enable you to pull the tree out.  If the tree is wrapped in burlap; ask if burlap is 100% natural. A natural burlap wrapping can be planted with the tree, however a wax coated burlap casing must be removed as the roots cannot grow through the wax.  If the burlap is natural casings then cut the burlap away from the tree trunk and fold the burlap back. 

Transplant the redbud tree into a hole that is twice the size of the container.  Remove the dirt from the hole and put in a wheelbarrow.  Break up the clumps of dirt so that it is a fine texture.  Mix compost with the dirt and then add enough dirt to the hole to form a small mound in the center.  Set the root ball in the center of the dirt mound and back fill the soil to 10 inches.  Add an organic root simulator. Dilute solution according to the instruction on the package.  Back fill the remaining dirt. 
Firm the dirt around the tree trunk and press on the dirt to remove air pockets.  Water the tree well. 

Care for Tree

Care for your newly transplanted redbud tree by applying 3 inches of mulch around the trunk or wrap the trunk with a mulch ring. Also tape the trunk to protect it from insects and husbands with weed whackers, trimmers or lawn mowers.  Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet throughout the growing season; spring until a hard frost.

Fertilize the redbud tree every other spring. Continue to keep the soil evenly moist for two years after transplant. Deep watering once a week will encourage a deep root.
Consider pruning the tree in late winter to keep a formal shape.

Eastern Redbud is formally known as “Cercis Canadensis” and is a large shrub or small tree that is native to eastern North America to Southern Ontario Canada.
The nectar rich flowers attract honey bees and carpenter bees. Some redbud trees bear fruit in late summer.  The fruit looks like a flat brown pea sized pod. Harvest seeds from the pod or leave the pod on the tree for birds to forage.  The eastern redbud tree is a good choice for a backyard bird habitat.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nanking Cherry Bush Information

Nanking cherries grow on a bush rather than a tree and these fruit bearing bushes produce a tremendous crop of tart berries for jams, wine and some people make pies, but I have never tried. If you prefer to not use the berries for food consumption then leave on the bush and feed the wildlife.

The Nanking cherry (Prunus Tomentosa) is a moderate to fast growing bush that is native to China and to Japan.  The Cherries are edible for human consumption and will attract birds, deer and other wildlife to your yard.   

Two years ago I bought 3 18-24 inch Nanking Cherry bushes from and planted them in full sun with well drained soil.  

I fertilized the bushes with Spray n' Grow and by the end of first growing season my Nanking cherry bush had doubled in size. 

 This year my cherry bush was covered with pale pink spring flowers and by the end of June the bush was covered with berries.  

These berries ripened to a bright red color and I harvested 1 quart of cherries for recipes and left the remaining berries on the bush for the birds.

In the fall the leaves turn a lovely shade of gold which makes the nanking a lovely accent bush. 

Growing Nanking Cherry
 If you reside in growing zones 2-8 you can grow Nanking Cherries.  Plant two or more cherry bushes and you will get a large yield of berries. 

Fully grow bushes are 6-8 feet high and will yield a crop of 2-4 quarts of cherries.  If growing more than one bush; plant 8 feet apart.

Plant in spring after the threat of frost has past. Grow Nanking cherry bushes in a sunny area of your yard.  Cherries do not grow well in wet areas so choose soil that is well drained.  

Dig a hole that is the same depth and width as the nursery pot.  Add time released fertilizer into the hole and mix with soil.  Set the cherry bush in the center of the hole and back fill the soil.  Apply two inches of mulch around the stem.  This mulch will help in deterring weed or grass growth.  Water newly planted bush so that soil is moist but not wet.


 Nanking cherries are self pollinating so if you have a small yard you may grow one bush and harvest an average of 2-4 quarts of cherries.