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horticulture 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, Garden Tips

The Sky and Earth – a Union We Overlook at Our Peril

September 3, 2016

I often write about creating beautiful outdoor environments to lift our spirits and enhance our wellbeing but we cannot be comfortable if the health of our planet is deteriorating.

We talk about restoring balance to the earth. This starts with the soil. Once the soil is revitalized the atmosphere and weather will correct itself.

Here is why: the sky and earth interact.

In other words, droughts come from poor soils, pollution and other inharmonious activities on the ground. Fix the soil and the droughts and storms will subside.

soil

So start with fertilizing the soil – this does not mean applying more soluble nitrogen fertilizers loaded with anhydrous ammonia or nitrates. Doing this to plants is like feeding them amphetamines. Reliance on poisons to grow our food is one of our major problems right now.

Changing this practice will help our atmosphere greatly. But it is not a quick process so we better start now.

At this point you may be skeptical but think of it this way- ammonium and urea-based fertilizers that we use to grow our food crops are susceptible to loss as ammonia (NH3 ) gas, especially when left on the soil surface. Ammonia gas from fertilizer has a negative effect on air quality and human health. Where are many of our crops grown? In the San Joaquin valley of California. Here is a photo of atmospheric NH3 over the San Joaquin Valley in 2008 (measured by the IASI satellite). It shows the most concentrated area of NH3 in the air in red. That was many years ago…guess what happened to California since then?

San Joaquin Valley, California - Harmful Gas emissions from Nitrogen fertilizers

San Joaquin Valley, California – Harmful Gas emissions from Nitrogen fertilizers

If you want to know more about this – click here.

Healthy soil is a teeming world that contains a symbiosis of fungi, minerals, organisms and more. Root structures interact with these ingredients to elevate levels of certain nutrients. It is an interacting and amazing network.

For example, legumes such as beans, alfalfa and peas bring oxygen to the root tips and release oxalic acid. They affect lime levels, nitrogen and more in the soil (cation exchange, etc. its complicated). Legume’s beneficial activity is augmented in the presence of certain crop roots that exude carbohydrates, like corn or sugar cane.

legume-roots

You can see this in full force in the Four sisters method of crop planting used by the Native Americans: corn, beans, squash and sunflower.

  • The corn is deep rooted, mining the soil for minerals and exuding carbs to the soil,
  • Beans ‘fix’ nitrogen and elevate the lime
  • Squash covers the soil to prevent weeds,
  • The sunflower’s stems, leaves and pollen contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They can be composted in the soil to help keep it nourished.
  • Buy from Renees Garden

    Buy from Renees Garden

    Add to this, composts, compost tea, rock dusts or pulverized quartz and seaweed or kelp and the soil will start to sing.

    This is vastly different from using soluble fertilizer that releases harmful gas to the sky –

    we should be building a matrix in the soil that is alive and healthy.

    So Governor Brown, please address the state of agriculture in California asap

    and the skies will rain upon the earth once again.