Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Growing Squash

I can grow just about any squash I want in my garden except butternut. I usually start them from seed, once the ground is warm and all danger of frost has past. I always grow a giant pumpkin and the white pumpkins too because they look so cool. Spaghetti squash grows like crazy as does zucchini. I have tried buying the young plants from the greenhouse and transplanting but it seems to stunt the growth...especially zucchini. I always seed 6 to 8 seeds per mound because I've had my entire crop wiped out by wire worms. The disgusting little worms eat the insides of the seeds before they start to grow. I don't like more chemical in my garden than I have to, so I never buy the treated seed. I usually cover the seeds with about an inch and a half of soil and water them well to get them going. The squash plants like being weed free. I sometimes dig a dike around the plants about a foot away all the way around to water them. They get a good soaking this way and it saves water. Squash take up a lot of room so they are often grown beside the corn on the outside of the garden. Squash keep really well and is a wonderful winter vegetable. They store well in a cool dark place.

Keeping a garden journal

It's always important to keep a journal of what species you've planted in your yard and garden. If it's perennials, I keep the whole tag and tape it to my book. My fruit trees are all listed in a diagram in the order they are planted. Tags fade and I forget what plants I've planted where. Keeping track means that one keeps track of the plants successfully growing and plants that have failed in your garden. It's also important to keep track of where the tree or perennial was grown because often times the same plant will flourish somewhere else in your garden. I always keep track of how it was planted, the depth, if it was mulched and when it was last fertilized. There are some plants that are harder to grow in my hardy zone 3. I still have not given up on blueberries! I'm hoping my plants have survived yet another year this year. If not, it's back to research and try again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mulch disadvantages

This is something I learned the hard way and that most books and websites don't mention. There are a couple of pests that I've run into when I mulch plants. Ants and cut worms. Ants love love love to build their nests under mulch. Whether I do anything about it, depends on the location of what is mulched and how bad the situation is. I use to use Original Tide, not the one in the small boxes, but the ones in the large boxes. I haven't seen it in a long time so I had to find an alternative. Just before a rain, I'd put out the Tide just beside the ant hill and the ants would pick up the granules and take it into their home. When it rained, there was supposedly a chemical reaction with the Tide and it killed the ants. I'm not sure if it actually did work, only that I had a lot less ants. Today, I use Diatemaceous Earth. Much easier to work with and you don't have to wait until it rains to put it out. Just place it beside the ant hill and the ants take it into their hills and they eat it and die. The small particles are very sharp and they cut up the insides of the ants. It works really well. I also like to put an old board on top to stop the Diatemaceous Earth to keep it from getting wet or blowing away. It has to be reapplied if it gets wet. Cut Worms only last a small amount of time...enough to kill some of your tender seedlings. Tilling is the best method to get rid of them because they thrive on plants and tilling kills the tender weeds they thrive on. They basically starve to death if the earth is tilled. In a no till garden they love to live beneath the mulch and yes they are more virulent because they are protected from the rototiller. All you have to do is make sure when you transplant your bedding plants is that they have a collar wrapped around the base of the stem to prevent the cut worms from wrapping themselves around the stem. Problem solved! I have used newspaper or tin foil. A toilet paper roll cut in half and pushed into the ground about an inch to an inch and a half works well too. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More benefits of mulching

When we first moved, to our current home, I bought a bunch of mugo pine seedlings to plant around my yard. I lost about 75% of them and was so disappointed in my plantings. Then I bought replacements at the greenhouse that were much bigger and transplanted those. Lost most of those too. Finally, I got smart and I decided to mulch the the new trees. First I laid thick layers of newspapers around all of my trees. I covered the newspaper with landscape fabric and then I covered the fabric with about 2 1/2 inches of bark mulch. The newspaper decomposes but effectively blocks out most of the weeds. Those new mugo pines blossomed. They doubled in size in a couple of years and are low maintenance weed and water wise. In dry spells I still water my trees but not nearly as much as I would have. I've also used rock instead of bark mulch around my fruit trees, both mulches make a huge difference. As for fertilizing my little trees, I buy organic fertilizer for the specific tree. ie fruit trees get organic fertilizer specific for fruit trees. I just love not weeding!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saskatoon Pie

Saskatoon Pie

4 cups Saskatoon berries
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
1/4 cup water
pastry for a double-crust pie
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

In a saucepan, simmer Saskatoon berries in water for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Stir in brown sugar mixed with flour. Pour into prepared pastry. Cover with top crust and seal. Make slits in the pie crust for air vents. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Taken from Food.com; recipe # 20665. Best Saskatoon pie I've ever had!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mmmmmm Saskatoons

My dad, on the eve of his marriage to my mom, went to pick two 5 gallon pails of Saskatoons, to hide from the "boys" who intended to get him drunk before his nuptials. At that time, Saskatoons grew plentiful around the river banks and his buddies never did find him in the thick of the bush. Today, for whatever reason, there are few wild Saskatoon bushes left around the river. The river isn't as full as it was during my father's time and so with all of our droughts, I'm wondering if they just died of thirst. We use to go Saskatooning as kids, dressing to protect ourselves from horse flies mainly, there weren't any ticks back then. We ate just as many as we put into our pails. There is no other taste in the world like a wild Saskatoon berry. Now picking around the riverbeds is a bit more dangerous as we now have cougars living in our area and they follow the river.  My mom has a huge Saskatoon bush in her back yard and we enjoy it very much. On a good year, it can produce upwards of 20 gallons. But it doesn't taste like a wild Saskatoon, close but not quite. Saskatoons have been native to our prairie land forever. They are self fertile and can withstand temperatures of -50C to -60C. They have a 30 to 50 year lifespan and seem to do better when grown in groups. Birds love Saskatoons and can strip  a tree in a very short amount of time. My uncle Laurent built my mom a cage around her tree to keep the birds out. When the fruit are ripe, one can often see birds sitting on top of the cage and squawking that they can't reach the fruit...but the cage saves the fruit for us so we can gorge ourselves on the berries and freeze tons of them for making pies in the winter. My mom has a green thumb too and the secret to her success with this particular Saskatoon tree is to put her eaves-trough directly under the tree. My mom's old Saskatoon tree is just under twelve feet tall and some of the branches surpass the cage, rarely, do you see any berries on those branches.  The main reason for crop loss from an established tree is frost. Sometimes, there are virtually no Saskatoons because the flowers froze or we had gale force Saskatchewan winds at the time of pollination. On our last farm, the deer could wipe out my Saskatoon trees in a matter of days because they love to eat them. Now, we have Moose in the area and they too can make short work of Saskatoon bushes. My Saskatoon bushes are mulched with straw to keep the weeds down and moisture in. After, two years of growth they are about 3 feet high. Since planting the new seedlings, I have had to replace several, as I've lost some over the winter. They are a popular bush/tree and can be found for sale at almost all the garden centres.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Growing Mint in your garden

I first picked up mint at a local greenhouse, just touching the plant sent it's aroma out and about and I loved it! So I followed the planting instructions...basically, dig a hole and plant the little plant and it will provide a lot of mint to use. I've always loved mint tea...how could I go wrong? Oh boy I got a lot of mint for sure. The darn stuff spread like wildfire in my garden! Mint is an invasive plant. Mint sends runners out from it's roots and so if you let it, it can really take over your garden! So how does one live in harmony with the little mint plant? It can be potted in a large planter so that the roots have nowhere to go. Or it can be grown indoors as a houseplant. I've also heard that some gardeners have dug a large hole, placed a large plastic pot and planted the mint in the pot making sure it has drainage holes. The large pot is said to contain the plant and prevent it from spreading. I prefer to put the mint into a large planter and start a new plant every spring. I have tried starting mint plants myself from seed but I haven't been too successful.  Mint plants don't need much care. I would probably fertilize with manure tea or some other organic fertilizer at least once during the growing season. Mint grows well in full sun. To use the mint, you can freeze the leaves just as is, after being washed. Or you can dry them and store them loose to make tea. Mint jelly is another use for mint.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A weed is a weed is a weed

I knew a fellow who use to work his wheat fields at night. Said he'd done his research and the weed seeds needed to be exposed to the sunlight in order to start growing. I was intrigued of course! Turns out weeds need light period in order to sprout, sunlight, moonlight, flashlight, tractor light, any light! Other weeds need to be exposed to air in order to start growing.  Weed seeds can stay dormant in the ground for years! That's why some gardeners like Ruth Stout believed in mulching everything to snuff out the weeds. She has now passed on, but if you come across some of her old books in the library, they are well worth the read. How practical is her method, especially living in an urban area or on an acreage? It takes soooo much weedless mulch to cover the garden that it kinda boggles the mind. She went on and on about salt hay...which we call slough hay and how wonderful it was for her garden. It is the softest mulch I've ever used and my horses love love love it! They like to eat it and lay in it and do their business on it. But this year, because of all the moisture, nobody could bale it because the sloughs were all filled with water! I live on the bald prairie, no trees, no mills and so wood chips and the like are expensive because we have to buy them by the bag and with all the prairie winds, they blow away! My soil is clay based, it needs to be tilled. If I don't till it, the ground becomes rock hard. We had so much rain last spring, that the ground turned hard even after tilling. I seriously had to take the tractor to the potato crop to dig them up. I have never in all my years of gardening had so much trouble digging potatoes. Because we had so much rain, the ground turned hard. My carrots, bless the poor things, never did make it out of the garden. I could not dig them up with the fork or a shovel for that matter. Never done that either!  The weeds of course loved it, they can grow on anything! I have mulched my garden with pea straw and slough hay and dried lawn clippings. When we worked it into the ground that fall, the next spring, the soil was almost granular. It was sooo rich and I had the craziest garden. Now I'm getting older and I don't really want to work that hard. I'm really thinking about building raised beds, thus needing smaller amounts of mulch and snuffing out most of the weeds. The soil should stay soft as nobody will be walking all over it. There will be paths between the beds for that and if the weeds start to get wild, I'm going to mow them down with the mower. I think I'll test drive my new method this year....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fruit Tree shopping!

It's my favorite time of the year! I get to go shopping on catalog sites for garden stuff. Right now, I've just ordered some more fruit trees! For the third year in a row, I'm ordering apricot trees. Last year, I planted them and they were going great and then...it rained and rained and rained some more. Those poor trees just simply drowned. *sigh* so we start again. I ordered two Manchurian apricots because you need cross pollination. I know they grow in this area because people are picking apricots off of their trees! I want some of those too! In my mini orchard, I have Rescue and Dolgo crab apple trees. I have a September Ruby and a Dexter Jackson apple tree also. My pear trees are Early Gold Pear and Golden Spice Pear. I have a hardy cherry tree collection that includes Romeo cherry and Nanking cherry along with others that I'd have to go to the garden to check which ones they are. I also have a lovely Convoy Cherry Plum. Saskatoon trees, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and currents also grow in my garden. The various trees are just starting to flower being in their third year, as they were all very young trees. My raspberries should produce well this year as they are now 3 years old. I don't really know what variety they are, as they came from a girlfriend's father's garden and they had been there a long time. She graciously offered these plants to me and my husband and I went and took several pailfuls of plants. We got them home and planted a row about 30 feet long. Last year after all that rain, the rain stopped  so I did not get very many berries. I did get 4 blackberries from my two new plants, this year I ordered two more plants and we will probably stake them. Along with all my new trees, I ordered two Haskapp berry trees, they taste like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry. When starting new tree plantings, it's imperative to do your homework to see what these trees love, do they like a moist soil? do they not like wet feet? Should you be mulching them? How much sunshine does your new tree need? When shopping, reading all you can about your new tree will go a long ways for a healthy tree and long living tree! I'm a big believer in mulch and I mulch almost all my trees. We've actually done an experiment. My husband and I planted two cedar trees...one was mulched with newspaper and rock. By the end of three years, the mulched tree was double the size of the unmulched tree. It was amazing! Living in the country, we have critters in our yard, especially rabbits and they love love love fruit tree bark. This is easily remedied by putting tree bark protectors around the trunks of your fruit trees. Finally, regular weekly waterings will help your fruit trees survive and flourish!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cala lilies

I saw these beautiful lilies at Wally World and decided that I had to try them! I had bought some fruit trees and kept the large plastic pots, as I always do. I followed the instructions of the package and to my surprise the darn things started to grow! I thoroughly enjoyed these and will definately grow them again! Unfortunately, I did not get them into the garage on time before it got really cold. So I will be buying new tubers in the spring. Just a bit of information, these really aren't lilies. I planted them in this 5 gallon pot and watered them weekly. They were very happy on my deck on the north side of the house in the shade. I doubt very much that these will overwinter, I'll know more this spring when I check. Aparently, calas make wonderful house plants. In my travels on the web, one lady said she had watered her lilies in March with a can of Pepsi and got tons of blooms because of the phosphorus in the pop. Not too sure about that! Anyways, this was last year's successful experiment!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Recipes as promised!

Life got in the way and I'm a couple of days late! Here are the recipes!

Claudette's Rhubarb Pie

2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 large egg
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 prepared pie crust

1. Mix egg, sugar, flour and then add the rhubarb.
2. Put 1 tablespoon of brown sugar at the bottom of the pie crust.
3. Add the filling
4. Cook for 10 minutes at 425F and 35 minutes at 350F. 

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake 
Taken from the magazine Farm Women

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Cream butter and  1 cup sugar, beat; add egg, beat. 
2. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mix on low setting of mixer.
3. In a separate bowl mix together: flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Add to creamed mixture slowly, beating on low.
5. Stir in rhubarb by hand with a spoon. 
6. Grease a 13" X 9" baking pan. Spread batter evenly.
7. Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over batter. 
8. Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until cake tests done.

You can serve with cream or ice cream! Yum! 

This is the link for the recipe I use for rhubarb jelly. Bernardin has wonderful recipes!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rhubarb, the pie plant

My girlfriend, Claudette, is an amazing cook. She is the one who got me hooked on rhubarb. She makes the most amazing pie with it and to this day, it's the only one I make. Rhubarb is the first plant in my garden that grows and produces something in the spring. It is a tough plant and grows really well where I live. When we drive around looking at crops, we often see these plants still flourishing on abandoned farms. One of our old neighbors told me to get a fresh cow pie and put it on top of the plant in the spring. Uh no :-)  My mom tells me that when she was a kid (she's 84 now) that they use to pick up dried cow pies in the summer and fall when the cows were out in the pasture and store them to use for fuel in the winter. Just a tid bit, I thought I'd pass on to you all! Back to rhubarb. Did you know that rhubarb is actually a perennial? Yup, it sure is. Once established, Rhubarb plants need a lot of room, mine are currently about 3 feet across just before I harvest the stalks. If you're starting a new plant, plant the roots with a crown bud about two inches below the surface of the soil. Besides weeding and watering, the only thing I do with rhubarb is fertilize it early in the spring all around the plant with well rotted manure. Don't put any manure on the crown bud as this will rot the plant. I don't even work it in. It grows nice and big stalks. The leaves are apparently poisonous, so be careful if you have children and pets. My dogs and cats have never touched my plants but just a word of caution just in case. I have an older plant that has mainly green stalks with a tinge of pink and then I have a second plant that has red stalks. The one with the red stalks is sweeter. I can't tell you the names of them because they were donations from friends. If the plants become too big, you can dig them up and divide the roots to share, I've never bothered and my plants are still fine. When you see the flower stalks growing, they look like a small cauliflower head, just break off the whole stalk and discard. Never cut the stalks you are picking, just grasp the stalk at the base and pull. My rhubarb plants get well watered around the plant when they are actively growing, but as the summer goes on and they become dormant because of the heat, I water them less. I make Rhubarb pie, cake and jelly. Sometimes my husband and kids just like rhubarb cooked up on the stove with a bit of water and sugar to taste and they eat it with ice cream. I will post the recipes later today as I'm off to work this morning. To freeze, I pick about 2/3 of the stalks at a time, discard the leaves, wash up the stalks, chop them and freeze in 1 cup packages.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I always say, that once January is over winter is almost gone. We've survived another winter. As February slips by, I breathe a sigh of relief...one more month of winter...then we get a few wicked snow storms. Winter is back again. Finally Spring arrives and it's time to be outside and feel the warmth of the sun on your back. We can barbeque again and we do so every night. Gone are the days of the crock pot until the fall rolls around again. We are almost mosquito free until mid June and it feels good to sit on the porch and just watch the perennials come up. The smell of the fresh air and the creak of the porch swing as I lay back and relax and enjoy what God has created... The taste of the first rhubarb and the first strawberries... the first salad of the season and you wonder how one can eat the stuff in the grocery store for 8 long months...but you do. My greenhouse is full of tender plants and it's tempting to put them out, but I wait a bit longer. There's nothing like smelling freshly tilled soil and running it through my fingers. Spring can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New plants and new information

I'm currently researching how to grow gourds. I'm a painter/crafter and would very much like to grow my own gourds successfully, for my own personal use. I bought the seed, had some from before, but found some new ones I want to try. I've read on Purple Martin sites that they are the only birds that will nest in a gourd because the gourds tend to swing in the wind and the other birds don't like that. I'm not sure that is true, but for a busy woman like me, I don't want to be watching when the Martins show up so I can take the stuffing out of my bird house entry holes so that the Starlings don't set up shop. Starlings are a very aggressive bird that will run native birds out of their habitat. They are bullies. Living in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season, I've tried several ways unsuccessfully to grow these gourds. I have managed once, to have three fruit set and have dried the gourds. They were not very big and I had to grow them in a green house, which I did not like. So far, I've learned that even growers from south of me, start the gourd plants indoors...I didn't know that. I've also learned that gourds are heavy feeders and that they prefer to be planted and left alone. On the other hand, I've also learned that they need to be watered...so the previous theory goes out the window. I'm going to use my noggin' and think about where I live and what I think is best to grow these little treasures. First of all, I will start the plant indoors, then, they will be transplanted in well drained soil that is rich in manure and I will protect them with one of my plastic cans until they settle...yeah sounds like a plan. In the fall, I will make sure that I will be able to cover them from frost if I have to....Yup, I'm flying by the seat of my pants! :-) I will update if I change my mind on how I go about this new experiment!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Painting bird houses

Painting bird houses is a fun way to spend an afternoon. You'll need paint that is labelled as an outdoor paint. Why do you want that? Because, otherwise it won't stand up to the elements and it will fade. You'll also need a varnish for use outdoors. I like the Patio Paint brand, they have nice colors and I've had some really good results with them.  You'll also need some descent paint brushes, the cheapies fall apart and they leave brush hairs behind in the paint. A variety pack of brushes runs about $15. If taken care of properly, they last forever!  There are a few areas where you will not be painting, the perch stick and the entry hole (if painted the birds can't get a grip). The inside of the bird house because birds won't go inside and build a nest if it's painted. You'll need three coats of the Patio Paint, let dry between coats. Next you have the option to decorate the bird house any way you want. I get my ideas from painting magazines that I've bought at the grocery store. Once painted, two coats of Patio Paint varnish will protect the bird house from the elements. Let dry between coats. Give the bird house a couple of days of drying time in the house and then you're ready to put it up!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Keeping the bugs down

I love summer but I hate the bugs, especially the mosquitoes. There are non chemical ways of bringing down the bug population. First of all, keeping water puddles down to a minimum and putting covers or netting on open pails of water so that mosquitoes cannot lay their eggs and reproduce greatly helps. We have an electric bug zapper that goes on every night at dusk, it usually fills up by the time we turn it off at bedtime. This summer, we are getting a second one, as we had tons of bugs last summer and the zapper takes care of hundreds of bugs every night.  Attracting birds to your yard, helps to keep the populations down. Before a storm, when you see the birds flying low, they are having a feeding frenzy. Birds eat tons of bugs. Putting out bird houses attracts the birds to move into your yard. Making sure they have food and water also helps. Bats eat just as many bugs at night as birds do during the day. As much as it makes people cringe, there are bat houses you can buy or make to attract them. One night we were sitting in a screened tent enjoying the evening without all the mosquitoes and we saw something swoop down and into our old garage. Turned out that it was several bats coming out to eat. Never knew we even had bats until that night. Bats do live among us, we just don't see them. I'd rather have them living in a bat house than living in my garage. I love painting and whenever I see bird houses that are unfinished, I buy some and paint them up and put them out around our property. Make sure the houses you buy can be opened to be cleaned. You don't have to paint them, they just last longer if you do. I use Patio Paint that comes in small bottles and is made especially to go outside. I also use Patio Paint to paint my rocks and redo lawn ornaments when I find them at garage sales to put out in my garden. I try to stay away from chemical anything because if it's killing the bugs, then I'm breathing it in too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Growing bush beans

I love the taste of bush beans. I use to can 100 quarts of these every year. Now I just don't have the time. So I grow enough to eat. They are easy to grow. Prepare the soil as in the previous post on this blog. I have used innoculant on my beans and then other years I haven't. I really didn't see a huge difference so I've continued with just adding lots of manure to my soil and they are fine. Beans are very susceptible to cold, so plant your seeds just before the last frost and the ground is nice and warm. If you seed them too early, the plants will only freeze or not come up at all, so don't waste your seed. Beans like well drained soil and they need to be watered regularly, so picking a spot where the soil doesn't drain is not a good place for them. Let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. Beans don't mind being sown closely together, I grow them in rows and seed the seed an inch to and inch and a half apart. Always pick a different place in the garden every year to sow your beans, you'll avoid most of the disease problems in this manner, crop rotation is a good idea for most garden crops. Beans are low maintenance once they start to grow and your biggest job is to pick and eat them! Pick them every couple of days to encourage more flowering. If the pods are left too long and they get too fat with seed, the plant will stop flowering. In my garden, since we live in a very rural area, we are susceptible to a little black bug that we call a canola bug. It's not a very technical term, I know, but this is a new pest that moves into the garden later in the season and just eats my produce, especially the flowers. Canola and mustard crops started being grown in our area about fifteen years ago and this little black bug came along for the ride. Out of all the garden bugs, this one is the worst one. Diatamaceous earth seems to work the best on them. You'll need to keep the weeds pulled, mulching is OK for beans, they seem to like it. If you want continuous beans throughout your growing season, start a new row of beans every couple of weeks. I'm not a big fan of yellow beans because I find their taste bland, but my husband loves them so I always grow a few plants for him. For the longest time I grew different varieties of the green beans...that was until I discovered the purple beans. Their taste is far superior and they turn green when cooked. The purple beans do not bear as much as the green beans and way less than the yellow beans. I still grow all three, but mostly the purple beans.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My protective cage for my strawberries

I know it's winter, but this is my strawberry cage. It comes from my mom's and as she is planning on selling her house because she can't take care of it anymore, there are garden things that have moved to my house. This is one of them. It needs some work as it's not new. If you look closely, the sides are all covered in chicken wire. It needs some reinforcing in the middle, as those broke when this was moved. It also needs a new chicken wire covering to keep my Lassie out along with the birds who love my strawberries. We will also be painting it with stain to help preserve the wood, as you can see, it needs it. (If you look closely, one of my hay burners is in the back 40, lounging in the sunshine.) This strawberry bed is three years old and in a permanent spot. Before I had even planted any plants, the ground had been well prepared. Lots of pine needles and mulch and manure. This year, I'll be adding more mulch and some well rotted manure. Some of the original plants no longer produce strawberries but produce lots of runners to start new plants. Those will have to be pulled out and discarded to make room for all the new little producing strawberry plants. The prairie winds blew and carried some of the neighbors weeds into my yard and they got caught in the wire. Can't wait to start cleaning the garden up! :-)

Manure and the garden

These are my three manure makers standing in front of my pile of manure. Manure needs to be well rotted before being added to the garden. Otherwise, you'll have viable seeds and lots of them, that and undesirable things like ecoli. My horse manure is particularly rich because of what we feed our critters. They are fed alfalfa, which is a mineral rich feed. If you go to your garden center, you'll find all kinds of manure. Sheep, cow, chicken, worm manure are examples. My favorite is sheep manure, one of my girlfriends swore that chicken manure was the best, it's a personal choice. Right now my current batch of horse manure is not cooked, so I'll be buying some for my garden needs and for making manure tea. Manure tea is the cheapest form of organic fertilizer for the garden. It's easy to make. I use a small garbage can because a 5 gallon pail isn't quite large enough. Put 1 gallon of manure into the pail, add 5 gallons of water and let sit outside for 3 weeks. To use, I take a cup of tea and a gallon of water and side dress my plants. I know it's a bit of overkill as some gardeners use it straight up, but manure tea is powerful stuff and tender plants may not tolerate it well. It should be the color of weak tea.  I'd rather fertilize more often than too much and kill my plants.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One of my most favorite flowers, Prairie Lilies

Lilies grow well in my clay soil. I know that the gardening books say that they grow better in sandy soils with added compost or manure. I always add peat moss and manure to the soil when I'm planting just about any plant and my lilies are no different. I have planted them on the south, north and west sides of the house and they have done well there. The blooms have gorgeous colors and they  last quite long. Lilies are available in a huge variety of colors. In the spring time when all the packaged bulbs come out in the stores, I'm always looking for a new variety for my yard. Lilies need to be replanted about every three years, sometimes four. You can either add to your flower beds or share with your neighbor! When planting my bulbs, I prefer to plant them about four inches deep in well drained soil. Lilies don't like wet feet and seem to do better mulched. I fertilize all my plants with the appropriate organic fertilizer every spring.  When it's dry in our area, as it often happens, I usually water my lilies about once a week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012