They’re codling moths and they can ravage your apples. Momma codling moth sprinkles her eggs on the leaves and flowers of the apple trees and once hatched, the larvae burrow into those juicy apples and feed for weeks.
We have not yet had any issues with this kind of pest but it’s all about prevention.
We opted for this easy, organic method to control apple moths.
It’s simple. Pop open this cardboard square which has a glue like substance smeared on the inside walls, drop in one of the lure squares which will stick to the glue, then hang it in the tree. Read the rest of this entry »
Every spring we invest in a variety of garden seeds, plant as much as we can fit into our garden, and stash the remaining seeds. When the seeds are pulled out the following spring I always question how viable they are after being stored in a ziplock bag in the pantry all summer and winter. So, the challenge is how to store garden seeds to maximize shelf life.
The 3 most important factors in seed storage are moisture, light and temperature.
Seeds germinate in warm, moist, and bright environments. Therefore, to successfully store seeds a cool, dry, and dark environment must be created.
The amount of light seeds are exposed to is simple to control by the container used to hold the seeds as well as the location of storage. But consider the temperature and humidity fluctuation experienced over the course of a year in a house. One of the most critical factors of long term seed storage is consistency. The goal is storing seeds in an airtight, controlled environment. Read the rest of this entry »
While it’s snowy and frigid outside, the calendar says we’re about 8 weeks away from our last frost day. That means one very exciting thing: it’s time to start seeds!
Previously, I posted some information on the rockwool substrate we’re using this year for the majority of our seed starting.
Rockwool preparation was the 1st step. It was then nestled into homes inside the humidity domes we have set up.
8 weeks out from our last frost date, we’re starting Sweet Corno di Toro peppers, bell peppers, brandywine, persimmon, black cherry, san marzano and pear tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and herbs.
I’ve already started strawberry seeds and the rest of the veggies that can be transplanted will be started in the next few weeks.
The rockwool cubes make seed starting very clean and simple. Once prepped just pop a seed into the small hole in the top of the cube. Since the rockwool has already been thoroughly saturated during the prepping stages, there is no need to add additional water and depending on conditions, may not need to be watered again for quite a few days. Read the rest of this entry »
How to prep and treat Rockwool for horticulture use:
1. Place Rockwool in the seed flat or other container to soak. You may want to wear gloves when handling dry Rockwool to avoid skin irritation.
2. Add water with a pH of no lower than 5.5 and no higher than 6.5 for 30 minutes. To reach a pH of 5.5-6.5 you can either use a commercial pH lowering product or lemon juice. For precise results, I recommend testing the pH of the water as you add the pH lowering substance.
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Made of melted and spun rock, Rockwool is an inorganic man-made material used as a growing medium. More commonly, rockwool or stonewool is used as insulation.
Basaltic rock, a volcanic rock, constitutes the highest quality Rockwool because it is non reactive to nutrient solutions. Other ingredients include chalk and binders.
Rockwool material has been used since the mid 1800’s in various applications but not until the 1960’s was it discovered that the mineral composition could be modified to promote plant growth.
The material is comprised of 46% Silica, 16% Calcium, 14% Aluminum, 1% Magnesium, 8% Iron, 2% Sodium, 1% Titanium, 1% Potassium, and 1% Manganese. Read the rest of this entry »
About 8 weeks ago (16 weeks from our last expected frost) I started our strawberry seeds. It was rainy and cold and I needed a touch of spring. I had my heart set on starting the first seeds of the summer crop before I went into the garage to search for some seed starting mix I had left over from last year. I searched high and low and couldn’t find that bag of seed starting mix but with my heart still set on starting those tiny strawberry seeds, I grabbed some general potting mix, against my better judgment, and got to work.
I filled some peat pots with the potting mix I scrounged up while trying to continue to convince myself that my seeds would grow just fine in this less than ideal mix. Once the pots were filled and popped into the new seed starting trays with humidity domes, the soil was moistened thoroughly and the seeds were added. Read the rest of this entry »
During our glimpse of spring a few weeks ago, I tried to get a head start on my spring to-do list. On that list was pruning the unruly climbing rose bush pictured below with front and back views.
This tall climbing rose bush was in the ground when we bought our property. I have no idea how old it is but it is established, about 8-9′ tall, and looks to have been neglected for quite some time. Last summer in an attempt to pretty it up we braced it to surrounding trees in order to keep it upright. It was top heavy and leaned badly under its own weight.
I’ve read that these climbing rose varieties usually do best with a trellis or some sort of structure to climb but we’re going for more a bush shape that can stand upright on its own. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s that time of year again. Even with snow on the ground and cold gloomy days I know spring is not far away because it’s time to start my very early seeds! We ordered some perma nest sets a few months ago and I’ve been itching to use them. After buying a couple of the flimsy plastic seed starting kits the last 2 years we decided it made more economical sense to buy the heavy duty, easy to clean, reusable seed starting trays once since we can expect to get many years of good use out of them.
We have a planter window that I usually over winter a flower or 2 in but I really want to utilize this space for seed starting. We got smaller seed trays so they would fit comfortably in the window. Read the rest of this entry »
Let me start by saving that quite frankly, pruning scares me. It’s intimidating. The thought of hacking off limbs and the possible damage I could cause is frightening. But I put on my big girl panties and got over it. I’ve nipped at various flowers before but the worst case scenario in that situation is losing some flowers…not losing food. It helped that I felt somewhat forced into pruning these blueberries because they had broken and split limbs from a past snow fall.
The blueberries never dropped all of their leaves from last year and it’s now nearly mid February. They were spotted, obviously dead or dying, and taking up room that the new leaves, which were starting to grow, needed. Most of these dead leaves fell off when brushed against and the others gave up their grip on the plant very easily. The ones that wanted to stay were allowed to.
Next, the broken branches were cut back. There are pictures of those in the post about snow damaged blueberries.
Branches with many twigs with brown withered tips were cut back or removed all together.
I tried to mindful of the overall balance of the blueberry bush. The picture above is of the Jubilee variety which has a compact upright shape compared to the Misty variety below which has upright shrub shape. The Misty has main branches which are much more open and spread out at the soil level compared to the Jubilee which has a very tight bunch of main branches at the soil level. I kept the shape of the bush in mind and didn’t try to make them identical in shape. Read the rest of this entry »
We recently added 3 more highbush blueberry bushes to our collection. Last year blueberries were an afterthought and needless to say we didn’t have a huge variety to choose from. This year we’ve balanced out the bunch by adding varieties that collectively will give us fruit all through summer and fall.
The added bonus to buying early this year was much cheaper prices. It’s a given that the plants weren’t as mature as the 2 we got last year but we paid about half the price. Score!
In order from left to right we’ve got:
Southmoon Southern Highbush blueberry which is a mid to late season producer, vigorous upright shape, will reach 5-6’ tall and should remain green through the fall and winter.
Oneal Southern Highbush blueberry which is a very early producer, upright spreading shape, 4-6’ mature height, and should grace us with orange/wine colored fall foliage. Can’t wait to see that.
Legacy Northern Highbush blueberry is on the far right. He is a late season producer with an open spreading shape, 4-6’ mature height, and beautiful crimson fall foliage. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2 potted blueberries didn’t fare so well through our first significant snow fall of the winter. Nearly 3 feet dropped over the course of about a week and these blueberries were completely buried. Once ma nature showed us some mercy and the snow washed away with rain we were left with some damaged blueberry bushes.
Read the rest of this entry »
Well, it’s been roughly 2 weeks since I first started treating my daisies infected with powdery mildew with Serenade, a biofungicide. Here’s the original post: Powdery Mildew.
Here are the results :
After 1 treatment there was a significant difference. The mildew disappeared for a few days leaving behind the brown spots of injury. But as you can see, the mildew reappeared.
I treated a second time 7 days after the initial treatment. This time I was meticulous in covering every nook and cranny. Now, the plant has been mildew free for about 5 days. There are still damaged spots on the leaves and some dried up Serenade spray, but NO MILDEW!
I brought these daisies home from work thinking they would be comfy in our planter window. Soon after they settled in powdery mildew struck. Slowly, one by one, the mildew took over a large percentage of the leaves and sucked the life right out of them. I cut off the infected leaves thinking part of the problem was due to poor circulation since the foliage was so dense. That seemed to act as a speed bump for the powdery mildew and soon enough it resurfaced. I was sure to give the plant plenty of moving air, kept temps within the ideal range, and was sure not to over water. Luckily, I was able to keep this powdery mildew from spreading to nearby plants.
Since I couldnt just cut out the problem, I tried a baking soda wash I read about online. A simple mixture of baking soda, water, and liquid soap. No luck. The infected leaves once again were cut. At this point most of the leaves were gone and I was desperate. If the remaining leaves had to be removed the plant would surely suffer. I’m not completely discounting the baking soda treatment, though. If I had started treatment immediately and had more time to wait for it to kick in, it may have worked just fine. But I was running out of leaves to cut.
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For those of you who haven’t followed our garden this year, we brought home 6 fruit trees in the spring, one of which is a lovely dwarf nectarine tree. There was a single nectarine growing when we got it and FINALLY about 2 weeks ago the tiny little guy was ripe. I had been keeping an eye on it as August was quickly passing by and while examining it, it fell off into my hand.
This was our only fruit from the six trees this year. Compared to a full size apple you can see how petite it is. I wish I had taken a picture of it cut open. This was probably the most juicy, sweet, delicious nectarine I’ve ever had. The skin was tender and at the peak of ripeness…all around perfection. Maybe I’m a bit partial because it came from my own garden but thats part of gardening, right?
I have so many dreams of a green, lush, landscaped, flower garden and so many things standing in the way. The soil is hard clay, zero rain fall during the hot summer months, freezing temperatures and plenty of snow fall in the winter and most importantly our conscious effort to use as little well water on non edible plants as possible.
During our backyard clean-up, which is an on going and seemingly never ending project, we discovered lush patches of what turned out to be Vinca Major, commonly known as Periwinkle. This large variety of the Vinca has thrived to say the least in the natural conditions so we decided to roll with it.
We have never watered this fantastic ground cover and yet it rambles on, so much so that we occasionally have to cut it back. This paired with our ignorance of the plant led to a poisoning of the dear husband during his clean up with a weed whacker. He wore no mask and ingested bits of the plant and its juice. As a bit of time passed he had an overwhelming feeling of nausea and dizziness.
Alarmed, I got online and read through our plant books to learn that Vinca Major is indeed poisonous and is used for medicinal purposes. We followed up with poison control and nursed him back to normalcy and all ended well. We have no small children or animals to worry about a future poisoning and the dog is uninterested so the plant stays.
A word of caution: dont hack freely at this plant without protection and do not let animals eat it.