Browsing Tag

gardening tips

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Why Gardening by the Moon Works

January 6, 2017

“With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales.”
– Ute York

Lunar gardening is fun and makes so much sense!

Photo above is from the SpaceFellowship, Rob Goldsmith.

The gravitational pull of the moon on the earth affects water on our planet. The moon’s pull is stronger than the sun because, even though the sun is larger, the moon is closer to the earth.

As the moon gets full or waxes, its gravitational pull on the earth gets stronger. And it is felt the most when the moon is full (the moon and sun pull from the opposite sides of the earth at this time).

This is when the tides are at their height and people go a little wild.

But not only does the moon’s gravity affect tides and us, it also affects underground water tables.

So if you plant when the moon is waxing or growing toward being full, remember the water table is rising as well.

This means water is more easily available to a plant. The increased moisture content of the soil encourages seeds to sprout and grow.

Dr. Frank Brown of Northwestern University researched this over a ten-year period of time and found that plants absorbed more water at the time of the full moon.

Tests by Frau Dr. Kolisko in Germany and by Maria Thun also found maximum seed germination on the days right before the Full moon.

So as the new moon (no moon) grows, seeds swell with water and burst into life more quickly. This 2 week period in a month is considered the best time to plant leaf crops.

And this period is great for harvesting leaf crops because as the moon moves towards full the plant is putting everything it has into growing and is full of nutrients.


photos from Gardening by the Moon website

Similarly, when the moon goes from full back to being a sliver the opposite is true.

Ute York, in her book “Living by the Moon” says
” With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales. Then, the sap primarily goes down toward the roots. Thus, the waning moon is a good time for pruning, multiplying, fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and controlling parasites and weeds”

Now is the time when the water table drops, and it is a good time to plant root crops, such as turnips, carrots, onions, and bulbs etc.

How to know? Get a MOON PHASE widget and put on your homepage. And go to this Farmer’s Almanac article (click on it) for more info.

Blog

Hip Hip Hooray for Rose Hips

November 20, 2016

rose hips photo by Jan Johnsen

Allow your roses to form hips. Did you know that, like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season?

from Monrovia – Japanese rose

Rose hips provide wonderful color in the garden and are a good source of vitamin C for birds in the fall and winter. They are one of the highest plant sources of Vitamin C. ‘Cherry Pie’ Rose makes great rose hips:

Oso Easy Cherry Pie Rose -from May Dreams Garden Blog

You can eat them too. Rose hips are used for jam, jelly, syrup, soup, beverages, pies, bread, and wine. They can also be eaten raw if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit. The redder they are, the softer and sweeter.

source: live by the sun blog

for more info on roses go to Chris Van Cleave – click here.

Blog

Renew Your Garden Tools!

November 2, 2016
Caked on dirt on these shovels....

Caked on dirt on these shovels….

Winter is the time to get your garden tools in shape… hand tools such as shovels, picks, trowels, loppers, etc. should be cleaned, sharpened and well oiled.

Steel wool can clean off any rust or caked-on dirt.

And pure white vinegar works to remove rust too: pour into a bucket or small plastic tub. Submerse rusty pruning shears in the solution and soak overnight, or roughly 24 hours. The acid of the vinegar eats away at most of the surface rust. Wash off the next day…for more on this go to the Backyard Boss article on cleaning pruning shears.

This photo is from a great article about renewing your tools. Click here.

This photo is from a great article about renewing your tools. Click here.

But the most important thing I have found is to make sure to oil the tools. It is a rust preventative and a wood saver.

Moss in the City

Moss in the City

A while back, in our shop (I own a landscape design/build firm and we have trucks, crews and lots of tools) we would have a large container filled with sand and motor oil and put our tools in it.

…the sand acts an abrasive to remove dirt and the oil prevents rust. But this is not so smart.

Why? Because the petroleum oil goes from the tool into the soil!

Today's Homeowner

Today’s Homeowner

Blake Schreck of the Garden Tool Company knows a thing or two about garden tools. And his timely advice is to use boiled linseed oil.

Linseed oil is derived from the dried seeds of the flax plant and is a great alternative to any petroleum based product.

The Garden Tool Co. oils every tool that does not have a finish on it already before it ships.

Blake notes: “A cautionary note: The boiled linseed oil that is available today has a small amount of solvent added to it to keep it from hardening in the can, so after you apply it to your metal and wood, let it dry completely before using your tool, (about 24 hours) that way the solvent will have evaporated.”

Garden Tool Company - Border-Spade-with-T-Handle-by-Sneeboer

Garden Tool Company – Border-Spade-with-T-Handle-by-Sneeboer

Remember to use BOILED linseed oil which dries quickly.

Actual linseed oil can take ages to dry!

Just dip a rag (cotton wool or a cloth) in the boiled oil and coat a thin layer of oil on the metallic parts. Make sure to cover evenly and do not be tempted to add multiple coats or a thick layer of oil. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe off excess.

boiled-linseed-oil

Its a good idea to oil the wood handles as well to prevent cracking.
Thicker layers take longer to dry and often do not dry to form a hard surface and multiple layers of thin coats are also not a good idea, because they become prone to being removed when scratched.
I have also heard about Ballistol. lt is 85% mineral oil and maintains, protects, preserves metal and unpainted wooden surfaces.

Ballistol is biodegradable, and neither its use nor its disposal will pollute air or water. It comes in an aerosol and pourable version. It has a sweet and mildly pungent smell similar to black licorice.

Want to learn more about garden tool maintenance? Please see Blake Schreck’s “Garden Tool Care and Maintenance” article by Blake Schreck.

Blog

Verbena Bonariensis – Verbena on a Stick

September 4, 2016

Verbena Bonariensis is tall and airy and one of my fave flowers.

It blooms like crazy all summer into fall. I plant it next to walls and fences for a stunning effect. Here I mixed it with white cosmos – purple and white is such a great garden combination.

The lavender clusters are held high on wiry stems that wave in the breeze from mid summer to frost.

Called “verbena on a stick”, it is a hummingbird magnet and is an easy flower to grow.

It prefers full sun in well-drained soil. Remove top 1/4 of plant periodically to force new buds.

verbena-jan-johnsen-web

Blog

A Great True story about Organic Soil

August 18, 2016
Tony Avent runs the wonderful Plant Delights Nursery - offering a diverse collection of plants and the catalog is a collectors' item

Tony Avent runs the wonderful Plant Delights Nursery – offering a diverse collection of plants and the catalog is a collectors’ item

On April 29, 2010 Anne Raver of the New York Times asked: “How does Tony Avent, the horticultural mythbuster, grow so many plants successfully in his garden?

Rule No. 1: he uses the same mix of 40 percent native soil, dug on his own land, and 60 percent compost for every plant.

logo”The soil for every plant we have is prepared exactly the same, whether it’s a pitcher plant or an agave,” ….

After he switched to organics, he said, ”it took about a year before everything started jumping. Our insect problems disappeared. It was just amazing.” ….”

This observation took me back to 1972 when I was a landscape architecture student at the University of Hawaii and minoring in tropical agriculture

The university farm was in Pearl City ( next to Pearl Harbor) and it was divided into one large section devoted to standard agriculture (agribusiness majors) plots and a very small section reluctantly relegated to organic gardens (run by us ‘hippie haoles’ who were studying tropical agriculture)…

I had come to Hawaii via Kenya and was very interested in saving the world through tropical organic gardening.
Jan hawaii

This is me in Pearl City, Hawaii tending to my vegetable garden years ago – note the Kenyan Kikoy I was wearing..the latest in fashionable gardening clothes.. .:-)

The agriculture students got stipends for their seeds, fertilizer and pesticides…

the organic students got nothing….and you know what happened?

banner_ctahr
Well, every semester the organic plots got better and better because the soil was being improved consistently with fish emulsion and compost ( a local health services organization was training mentally disabled students on how to make compost on premises)

while every semester the big fertilized plots run by the aggies got worse and worse…this was back when ‘organic’ was some weird, unrealistic approach to agriculture….and no professor back then would acknowledge what was pretty evident to the eyes. The crops treated with herbicides and chemical fertilizers were poor and weak….

untitled

Of course, it didn’t help when the campus newspaper did a cover story on our ‘new organic plots’ at Pearl City..and they interviewed me.

I talked about how our crops were flourishing and about a new (ha!) organic pest control called BT -bacillus thuringensis. After that interview, I presented a report to a Hawaii legislature committee on why Oahu should use their sewage sludge in a soil fertilizer similar to Milwaukee’s Milorganite ….

they didn’t go for it but look at what is out there today:

menehune magic

Now, almost 40 years later, I marvel at how long it took society to understand what we – the hippies – knew: Organic is the only way…it is Nature’s Way.

And look at what they offer at Pearl City today:

Organic Gardening!

Live demonstrations by UH Master Gardeners including Organic Gardening 101, Building Healthy Soil, and Composting! First demonstration begins 9AM -10AM, next session 10:30AM -11:30AM.

Composting Worms for Hawaii
Small-Scale Vermicomposting
Backyard Composting Recycling a Natural Product
Building Healthy Garden Soil
Organic Gardening Resources

whole1crew menehune magic

We have come a long way….

The truth is that true tranquility lies in compost and happy earthworms….

And if you live in Connecticut you should know about these people too:

ctnofa_logo_webpage5

And you should know:

Authentic Haven Products - Compost tea

Authentic Haven Products – Compost tea