Monday, January 26, 2009

How to Keep Track of What Plants You Have Bought, Where They are Going, and What You Still Need to Buy: The Garden Planning Binder

This month's Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop at Gardening Gone Wild is on Labeling and Record Keeping. Like many of the other bloggers, I have tried many different methods of labeling and record keeping with varying degrees of success over the years. For example, I tried the wooden and metal markers, but I didn't like how they looked in the garden, so I no longer use them. In recent years, I have settled on three means of record keeping: the Garden Journal, the Garden Planning Binder, and the photographs of my garden.
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In terms of the Garden Journal, I wrote a separate post about it last year that I won't repeat in full here: "I find the garden journal is an invaluable tool to help me keep track of my garden and plan for the future. I started keeping a garden journal about six years ago. Before then, I would keep notes at random on successes, failures, and sources of inspiration. These I would easily misplace and forget about."
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I used to try to keep track of absolutely everything in my Garden Journal, but one aspect of my record keeping kept slipping through the cracks: what plants I had ordered, where I planned to plant them, and what I still needed to buy. I would print out my online orders and put them in a file folder to read alongside my Garden Journal, but it was just too disorganized. Boxes of plants that I had ordered in the fall and winter would arrive on my doorstep in the spring and I would forget why I had ordered such and such a plant and/or where I planned to plant it. Sometimes I would remember the space I was trying to fill, but other times I would not and need to find a home for it. At some point later in the season, the intended space would present itself and I'd remember what I had planned to plant there, causing me to move the plant or change the plan.
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My Garden Journal needed a friend. Thus, the Garden Planning Binder was born. I bought a large three-ring binder and anytime I ordered anything--trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, annuals--I would print out the order form, write down where I planned to plant it, punch holes in it, and put it in the binder. This works on purchases for my containers, as well as my beds. Also, by keeping all of the receipts together, I am better able to keep track of my budget. Now, when the boxes arrive in the spring, I just find the matching order in the Garden Planning Binder and immediately plant the plants where they are supposed to go.

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One unrelated note about labeling dahlia tubers. If you over-winter dahlia tubers, here is one specific record-keeping suggestion: write the name of the dahlia on the actual tuber with a black Sharpie marker. I used to keep them in paper bags with the name of the dahlia on the bag, but I found that the paper bag disintegrated by the next spring.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Organic Pest and Fungus Control: Garlic Barrier - Yes, It Really Works

Last year, I picked up a pest control recommendation from HRH The Prince of Wales in his book, Elements of Organic Gardening (you can read my previous review here). Garlic Barrier is almost 100 percent garlic oil which can be mixed with water and sprayed on plants, including vegetables. It imparts no garlic taste and it repels both insect and mammal pests. This year, I sprayed it throughout my garden once every other week from April to October.

1. Does garlic barrier repel mammals? In terms of controlling mammals, my main concern was the groundhog which likes to eat both vegetables and flowers. My ultimate test was trying to grow dahlias in unprotected areas of my garden. If you don't know, dahlias are also known as groundhog candy and I have never been able to grow them outside of my fenced-in, groundhog-proof Cutting Garden (you can read about the groundhog-proofing here). This year, I was able to grow dahlias everywhere--in the Front Border, in the Rose Garden, in the Long Border, among other places.

2. Does garlic barrier repel insects? In terms of controlling insects, the garlic barrier significantly reduced the number of Japanese Beetles on the roses throughout the garden. It did not repel the potato beetles on my potato plants, so either it doesn't work against potato beetles or the potato plants need to be sprayed more frequently (you can read about how we controlled the potato beetles here).

3. Does garlic barrier protect against fungal diseases? Because I grow old roses, I do not have a problem with fungal diseases on most of my roses. However, the Bourbons and Hybrid Perpetuals are susceptible to black spot towards the end of the summer. While garlic barrier is not advertised as fungicide, I thought that since it is used as such in many medicinal home remedies it may work as a fungicide on plants. I found very little black spot compared to prior years. I didn't have a control patch of roses, so there my have been other factors.

4. Where can you buy garlic barrier? Unfortunately, garlic barrier is not readily available at my local nurseries. I was able to purchase it online from Gempler's, a great source of all sorts of gardening and other supplies: http://www.gemplers.com/shop/garlic-barrier. I purchased the one gallon container which lasted the entire season. From Gempler's: "Protect your plants and ornamentals from pest damage with easy-to-use Garlic Barrier. 100% natural deer repellent, rabbit repellent, rodent and insect repellent."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, January 2009: Snowdrops in the Snow!

This may be the most challenging month for my contribution to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens. My garden is buried beneath snow and ice, but I was fortunate enough to find at least one resilient snowdrop bloom in the Front Border to share with you. There were actually a few more, but the children picked them to make a small vase. Inside, I have some amaryllis blooming, which you can see here (white) and here (red).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Second Amaryllis in Bloom (White)

For a picture of my first amaryllis in bloom, click here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: the best heirloom seed offerings I've seen anywhere

I recently received my Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog. I love it. The whole thing deserves a cover to cover read. The heirloom seed offerings are phenomenal--the best I've seen anywhere. The descriptions and histories of the various seeds are interesting and illuminating. For instance, I'd never heard of some of the cucumbers offered, particularly those from India. There are cucumbers in many colors: white, yellow, green, and even brown.
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The seed selection is vast and diverse. They have so many of my favorite black and green tomatoes that I was out in the garden looking for more places to grow tomatoes. The catalog notes that Baker Creek offers more melons than any other catalog. I was happy to find a 60 day maturing watermelon. Also, you will not find any GMOs in this catalog, not even GMO corn.
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The story of Baker Creek and the company's aims are also to be applauded. It is a family owned business from Missouri (my home state) which has been able to grow every year in size and offerings. In the back of the catalog is a reprint of an article about the founder, Jeremiath Gettle. I love the story of how his love of heirloom vegetables and seed saving has grown into a thriving business. This is truly a story of how following you passion can reap vast personal rewards.
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In addition to offering seeds for sale, Baker Creek also publishes a magazine (with a great name) "The Heirloom Gardener;" has a poultry farm for historic, rare breed chickens; and hosts several festivals at Bakersville, the historical village they are creating.
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For more information, check out their websites:

http://rareseeds.com/
http://heirloomseedsmen.com/
http://theheirloomgardener.com/ (no relation to this blog)

Government Gone Wild: Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tax on Cows and Other Livestock

From the New York Times: The E.P.A. indeed issued an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” this summer that called for public comments on the idea of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars, as well as “stationary sources” — which, yes, would include cows and other livestock. For the full article, click here.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

Local Harvest: North Jersey Farms, Food and Families

Local Food and Local Farms

Frelinghuysen Arboretum
Saturday, January 17, 2009 (snow date January 24), 1-4 p.m.
Free admission

Meet some of the New Jersey farmers and artisans who produce the food on your table at “Local Harvest: North Jersey Farms, Food, and Families,” a celebration of the farms of northern New Jersey. Meet farmers, watch chef demos, sample and purchase local food, and learn about north Jersey’s agricultural heritage past and present. Learn about CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and sign up for a share of the 2009 harvest. Co-sponsored by the Morris County Historical Society and the Northern New Jersey chapter of Slow Food USA.

Made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

More details: http://www.acornhall.org/events.htm

Thursday, January 01, 2009

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