- Author: Diana Bryggman
- Author: Betsy Buxton
According to all the garden catalogs that come my way, it’s time to “replant, repot, rejunenate “the front yard. According to those same catalogs, it will cost merely a gazillion dollars for the plants, bulbs, corms, and tubers to accomplish this transformation; and don’t forget about the soil amendments, and fertilizers the folks also want to sell you. Yeah right, I have that kind of money to use as walking round cash! Don’t you?
This year, the front yard lost all the glorious shade that came from the late, great green ash tree that stood for 20 plus years. It’s been interesting to watch the various shrubs and bushes getting acclimated to more sun, less shade. The oleanders made the transition beautifully, but of course, have you ever seen an oleander suffer from the sun? They are now rather happy campers in the hot afternoon sun, bowing gracefully in the Suisun City gale that passes for gentle winds.
The buddleia in the ground near the front door went from full leaf to rather skimpy foliage, but made a roaring comeback – full of blossoms and hummingbirds. The buddleia in the pot, however, is still trying to find a way back from “roasted”, but is managing to hold on until cooler weather when it goes into the ground itself by the side yard gate. It gets water and encouraging words for the efforts!
The other succulents in their cozy pots that are placed around are thriving and growing like weeds, which is why some of their offspring will be at the plant exchange next weekend thanks to new Master Gardener Elizabeth! The new Heucheras that were on the front porch in the shade have taken their temporary places in pots at the edge of the early afternoon semi-shade and the afternoon pure sun. They got set there to find out just how well that spot would suit them. Hurray! They are doing very nicely and I think that area will be their “forever” home.
The only plant that is not really happy with the loss of tree shade is my 17 year-old “star” magnolia which is really missing the shade and the wind break the old tree provided. However, when the new “black tulip” magnolia gets larger than the twig it is, I hope it will provide some relief for its cousin.
There are so many plants I would like to get and put out there, but we are still living with the wreckage from the old tree. Concrete walkway parts are tilted and the driveway badly cracked thanks to the invasive roots of that ash tree; that, along with a (? maybe more?) break in the main lawn irrigation are subjects for many grousings and speculation and just plain hard work. I’ve put it all off till later, but yes, I will do it.
Right now, the “new plant” budget is just big enough for some Dutch Iris (both yellow hybrid and deep blue hybrid) and 8 varieties of Muscari or Grape Hyacinths. Originally planted around the ash tree, the bulbs there “took the hit” when the ash stump was ground out. For over 35 years, wherever I have lived, there have been Dutch iris and Muscari planted around the front yard. The only difference between back then and now are the roots left by darn ash tree that have to be hacked at, ripped out, and planted around. But it will be done! (Right, Bruce? Bruce, can you hear me?)
See you on the 12th at the Master Gardener office for the plant exchange. I KNOW that there is a plant or plants with your name on them for you to take home and enjoy!
- Author: Patricia Brantley
Call me the Indiana Jones of gardening, but I wanted some adventure from my summer garden. I wanted to discover something “new” that was old (I hear that line from the movie ringing in my head, “It belongs in a museum!”). Among our adventures were the following:
The Heirloom Sweet Chocolate Pepper. This is a brown-skinned pepper at maturity, which starts out green, and is supposedly red fleshed on the inside (kind of like those glowing stones from the “Temple of Doom”). It is said to taste sweeter than the average bell pepper. Of course, it’ll add color to any salad and one review I read said it freezes well for winter use. You’ll see a picture of my plant below of a mature brown one and a “newbie” green one behind it.
The Psidium 'Lemon Yellow', or Lemon Guava was another adventure. Maybe you’ve heard of the Strawberry Guava Tree, well here is its cousin. Like Indiana in “The Last Crusade” looking for a golden statue, these yellow treasures make their trip from South America too. The little fruits are prolific on it, and I think we were just waiting for a bit more sun and warm weather to ripen them up so we’ll be able to reap our golden reward. We have it in a container and everything I’ve read says it’ll be fine there for quite a while.
Another veggie that I discovered was Black Spanish Radish. I found the seed packet hidden in a huge seed display at a local discount store. As you’ll see by the picture these didn’t get too big. The packet didn’t exactly “map out” any details, so I planted them like any other radish. As I’ve recently found out though, they are a winter variety and that could attribute to them not reaching their potential. They are definitely black though. That isn’t mud you’re seeing, that is the skin color! Well, the only “Jones” reference here is that apparently, they have been used medicinally by other cultures for thousands of years, and we all know Indiana was always eating or drinking some kind of concoction to cure something or protect him from something. I don’t know what they’d cure, but the ones that came from our garden sure have a “bite” to them! They start out with a regular radish flavor, and the heat builds from there.
So join me on an adventure in the garden this summer. It might be a little more relaxed than running from gigantic boulders or dodging poison-tipped arrows, but at least we get to wear cool hats!
- Author: Edward Walbolt
Chicken manure compost is an environmentally friendly and effective organic garden fertilizer. I use chicken manure to amend my soil and add usable nutrients to it at the start of the planting season. As a vegetable gardener, I treat my soil with plenty of chicken manure compost before I plant my crop in order to help provide a good start to the garden. I turn lots of chicken manure into the soil before I place my starters. After I have all the plants in the ground I add a thin layer of chicken manure to top my soil as well. I notice that applying in this fashion allows for extended release of the nutrients. In comparison with chemical fertilizers, manure is more cost effective and can be purchased inexpensively almost everywhere. Chicken manure is most preferred over steer or rabbit manure for its well rounded nutrient spectrum after it has composted and been prepared for garden use. Chicken manure is the richest variety containing the highest N-P-K ratios in comparison with other farm animal manures. Chicken manure subjectively seems to have the least amount of “odor” when compared to the other varieties making it more desirable to work with, if you will. An important tip, gardeners should only use manure that has already been composted for garden use. If the manure is not broken down and composted before use there is a very strong nitrogen content that will “burn” and can potentially damage or destroy your plants. Garden variety chicken manure is sold at all the home improvement retailers and has been composted and is ready for you to use immediately. Chicken manure will be the reason you are almost certain to have someone caught noticing your well-grown garden while asking you, “do you smell that?”
- Author: Patricia Brantley
Who doesn’t love cartoons and educational ones that aren’t boring are even better. So imagine my joy when I happened upon the PBS Kids series Wild Kratts! This show not only teaches about ecology, it is a lot of fun! There are imaginative inventions, good story lines and so far, always happy endings!
The show starts with a brief live action portion with the Kratt Brothers, Chris and Martin, and turns animated as they head out on various adventures. They can be rescuing Polar Bears or saving a shark from a dastardly chef villain who aims to make shark fin soup. It’s fast-paced enough to keep a smaller child’s attention, funny enough to make bigger kids laugh, and educational enough to teach even a Master Gardener a thing or two!
So why am I talking about a cartoon this episode, I mean blog? And seemingly one that has more to do with animals? Well, let me tell you they have an awesome episode about Pollinators.
One of the brothers gets miniaturized in order to get “up-close” film footage of bees at work and inadvertently ends up stuck to the bee and lost in the rainforest moving from plant to plant by different pollinators. I always thought a Pikachu was a type of Pokémon! Turns out they are cute little animals that live in the rainforest and they are also pollinators. I also had never heard of a Fig Bee (or Fig Wasp). Search Fig Wasp at the UCANR.org website.
The Kratt Brothers can also put on creature suits that enable them with a type of creature power that mimics an attribute of the featured creature. There is danger and suspense in many of the episodes, often in the form of the brothers needing to find something that their new animal friend is needing.
For instance, one of the full episodes that is available on the web at www.pbskids.org/wildkratts is the Mystery of the Squirmy Wormy. Why worms come to the surface when it rains. In it there is a short time where “Wormy” is in danger of drying out. It covers the answer to that question and some worm biology. Also, at the end in the live action sequence shows a quick description of worm composting. Can it get any better!?
Yes, yes it can. If you follow the links on their site, which is also filled with games and other educational fun, you’ll find tools for educators and parents that almost make one wish you were back in a classroom. But I think I like watching cartoons too much!