Saturday, July 22, 2006


I'm off for a bit of time. Off to the Oshkosh AirVenture first, and then on to meet our new grandbaby girl. Happy gardening and I'll log on and add something if I can get to the internet. Otherwise, I'll be back the second week of August.

Friday, July 21, 2006


You really need to know WHERE the vegetables are going to be put. Once you know that, THEN you can get the soil sample! The reason you should deal with this now is that once the plot is situated you can begin to prepare it so it's ready next spring when you are ready to plant things there. You'll have spent a fair amount of time during those winter months planning what seeds to buy; now you need to know where to put them! Go to this veggie link for a more complete "walk through" for the what, where and hows, etc. of vegetable gardening.
So, PICK YOUR SPOT! Then, IF you can, rent a roto-tiller. Maybe you're lucky and you already have one of those in the tool shed, garage, or barn. Roto-till that plot, first one way, and then the other until it's soft and about 6-8 inches deep. You can take out the grass or weed "clumps" and toss them into the compost, or you can leave them right were they fall. However, if you leave them, they will start to grow once again. This is another reason to begin to plan this garden now.
One of the things that I have found works VERY well killing all that green stuff you dug up, is PLASTIC. Depending on the size of the garden, you can cover it wih black plastic, weigh it down and just leave it for the rest of the season. In fact, right up to next spring if that's possible. The plastic will cook the grass with it's seed and turn it into compost right there in your garden! How much easier (and better) could it be???
In the spring, after the plastic is removed, you can amend the soil with the goodies the Extension Service suggested as a result of the soil test. Dig that in, Rake it out. Plant the seeds!

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I am posting an article that I read this morning. One of the gals that frequently comments on my blog, lives in Australia and has to deal with this problem daily. I thought it might be good for us to see just how difficult life can sometimes be for gardeners around the world, as well as just in our country!

Killer salinity rings Australia's desert heart

By Michael Byrnes Thu Jul 13, 1:46 AM ET

DICKS CREEK, Australia (Reuters) - Farmer John Ive squints through the barbed wire fence separating the roadside from an ulcerous patch of ground where salt has risen from the earth to collapse the land into crumbling, barren ravines.

Black stumps from an earlier fence, decayed from the bottom up by salt, dance from wire strands in the biting wind.

"These sites are pockmarked across the southern tablelands," says Ive, shaking his head in despair at desertification of Australia's farmlands as underground salt rises to the surface.

Only the Sahara has more desert than Australia, whose red center has long been thought uninhabitable by modern man.

But while Australia's central deserts are now seen as benign and are starting to yield fruit, salination is turning once productive farmland into lifeless dirt tracts and threatening the country's A$30 billion ($22 billion) agriculture export industry, one of the biggest in the world.

Around 2 million hectares (5 million acres) of land is now officially salt-affected, half of that in southwest Western Australia.

The amount of saline land could rise to 6 million hectares (15 million acres) in 50 years, but that would be the upper limit, says Kevin Goss, chief executive officer for the Cooperative Research Center for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity.

Farmers are terrified of the salt, which cuts land values by one-third and reduces output.

Prime Minister John Howard has rated salinity as one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the country and has backed a A$1.4 billion national action plan.

The most celebrated win so far is the reversal of salinity in Australia's biggest river, the Murray, through a combination of engineering works and management of water flows. A national tree-planting campaign is being accompanied by the use of salt-tolerant plants to combat growth of desertification.


The salt-ravaged land adjacent to Ive's Dicks Creek farm is a mere 35 km (22 miles) from the national capital, Canberra.

Ive bought his 250-hectare (620-acre) property in 1980 to run sheep and cattle. His land was then badly degraded, with active saline seeps on 23 percent of the property.

When it rained, water raced down from rocky bare ridges into the more fertile gully below, further eroding soil and raising the subterranean water table, bringing salt to the surface.

But Ive fought the creeping death that salt brought to his land. He put in contoured and graded banks of land on the hillsides and into the valley to control water rushing down from the ridges. He improved the soil on the gully pastures then put stock up on the rocky ridges when drought threatened.

"The sheep can turn the hills into a moonscape, but they are not prone to erosion because they are so rocky," says Ive, as he proudly looked down on a green valley as a winter wind buffeted a row of planted trees behind him.

When it rained, Ive took sheep off the hills to allow native trees to germinate without competition. Now he has 200,000 hilltop trees. Elsewhere he planted 25,000 furniture-grade trees.

Today, green pastures slope up a ridge thickly wooded with trees on Ive's side of a boundary fence.

On the other side, the hilltop is bare, a scratchy pasture is dotted with skeletons of dead trees and salt patches have eaten to the edge of the fence. Desertification is at the doorstep.

Ive points to a nearby metal drum. It contains a piezometer, a piece of plastic tubing sunk into the earth to measure the depth of the water table beneath.

Over the last 25 years, the water table on Ive's farm has dropped from earth-surface level in places to seven metres depth.

Now only two percent of his property is affected by saline seeps. Water salinity has fallen from up to 20,000 electrical conductivity units to about 60 -- better than Canberra drinking water which has 120.

But not all farmers have been able to perform Ive's "balancing act" between farm production and farm protection.

Most of Australia's 400,000 farmers and family members are still coming to grips with the fight against salinity, which is most widespread in agricultural areas between the vast outback deserts and the coast.


The outback deserts are also growing, due to climate change. Officially, lowland arid regions cover 3.6 million square km (1.4 million sq miles) of Australia's heart.

"Central Australia will get drier. And the periods of drought are likely to get more ferocious," says Professor Mike Archer, a longtime desert enthusiast and dean of science at the University of New South Wales.

Feral predators, tourists, grazing animals and big fires are all adding to pressures on Australia's deserts, after already making 20 or more mammal species extinct. But it is not all bad.

"Our deserts are in pretty good nick (shape)," says Mark Stafford-Smith, research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

"We've got these remarkable areas which are 70 percent of the continent and have some extraordinary biodiversity."

A growing love affair with Australia's deserts is pushing the CSIRO and others to develop a potentially lucrative bush tucker (native food) industry, new medicines from desert plants, salt-tolerant wheat and genetically engineered tomatoes, as well as sustainable harvesting of kangaroos and native plants.

One Western Australian farmer is growing ocean perch in salty ponds on his saline land.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


It’s been a crazy month. After my husband got back up on his legs, our son and his wife had a little baby girl! Such fun…

So, why did I name this posting “New Baby/New Garden”? Well, think about it. When you have a brand new baby the doctor checks to be sure all is fine. There are tests to be taken, and analyzed; there are new skills to be learned; there are fun things happening and grungy chores to be dealt with; and we look forward to pleasant surprises with a few bumps along the way. Yes, they are VERY much alike!

Let’s start with the tests. They are the most important and critical start to that new baby’s life. If there are any medications or special cautions to be taken, we learn about them as soon as possible. The same thing applies to the garden.

If you’re working with a brand new garden, get a soil test done! It will tell you all about the good AND the lacking issues with your soil. Contact your State University Extension Service for details. I have all of the New England Extension Services listed here. You tell them what you’re planning to plant, and they will tell you exactly what to add in order to amend your soil.

With a new baby, you begin to make wonderful plans for that little person. You get a Baby Journal and begin to add photo’s and comments about the baby’s progress. In the garden, a Journal works very well also. I’d suggest you get one of them, it will make things fall into place very nicely. Photographs of your garden will be wonderful. Before and after pictures are a great way to track your progress and learning.

Before you bring that baby home, you purchased furniture and other “things” like diapers, clothing, powder, baby oil, etc. etc! The same applies to a gardener. You’ll need some tools, small and large to help you manage you new tasks.

Just like you have to change dirty diapers with your new baby, you’ll also have to do some weeding, digging and planting in the garden. Some of this you’ll love, some you might want to delegate to others!

I’m sure you can think of many other comparisons. Realize that just as a baby grows into a wonderful person, your garden will evolve into a place of grand pleasures. Enjoy it!
More coming!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Order spring bulbs now for the best selection

Fertilize plants growing in containers

Direct seed kale seed for fall harvest

Sow a fall crop of peas

Pinch basil plants to promote bushiness

Side dress vegetables with nitrogen

Put nets over blueberries to protect them from birds. While you're there, give them a little fertilizer as well.

Dead-head (prune off) all your spent blossoms

It's a good time to sow seed of biennials and perennials

Cut back delphiniums when they are finished flowering. A complete
fertilizer at this time may encourage a second blooming.

Chrysanthemums will give a better fall display if fertilized a
bit now. You can continue pinching them back until mid-July for more blooms.

Try planting a clump of moisture loving Japanese iris where it can catch the water dripping from your air conditioner!

Madonna lilies should be divided as soon as the flowering period
is over.

Oriental poppies may be moved. Summer is the only time of the
year they can be divided successfully. Dig up the roots and cut them into 2 inch pieces and replant them in their new location.

Dahlias require little artificial watering in a normal season,
but should be soaked once a week during drought

Water your roses at least once a week

Floribunda roses will flower all summer if the old flower clusters
are snipped off regularly

This is the time for transplanting iris. Trim back foliage and only replant healthy, firm rhisomes. Set them quite close to the surface!

Start cuttings of coleus, geraniums, begonias and other plants
you want inside
for the winter.

The snow-in-summer should be pruned hard as it makes such rapid
growth at this time

When you trim deciduous hedges(ie,privot)be sure the sides slope out toward the bottom to be sure that sunlight reaches the base of the plants.

Wisteria's may be pruned now

This is a good time to attack Poison Ivy! Using discardable plastic gloves, cut the stems and paint the open wound with an herbicide on a HOT, SUNNY day!

Have you got Hosta's? Are there slugs chewing them? Try this solution, if you haven't already.
Combine 9 parts water to 1 part common household amonia and spray it on the hosta just before dark. When the slugs hit this, they will dissolve!

When you weed, grab the flowering ones first so they don't go to seed and spread! Then go after the tallest ones that are just taking over your other plants. Pick on the little guys last.

Any questions about July?