Thursday, August 31, 2006


OK, so you've either just moved to a home with overgrown, neglected blueberry bushes. Or perhaps you just plain don't have a clue what to do with them, so you've neglected them and just watched them grow, picking whatever berries come your way.
They need to be pruned, when they are you AND the bush will be happier. However, it's September (actually, not until tomorrow) and they are to be pruned in the spring...what can you do now?
Well, a couple of things.
1. You can remove dead and diseased branches.
2. You can get a soil test done so you can feed them properly.
3. If you have pine trees, you can put tons of pine needles around them as mulch!
4. You can study up, so when spring comes you'll know what to do!

I'm sorry not all of these book offerings have pictures available, but the titles should be self explanatory. You can also just click on the links and you'll be taken to a synopsis of the book. Give it a try!
You could also pick up some pruners and loppers. Click on the Gardeners Supply link and ask for Pruners and loppers and check out those tools.

MML Promo


Yesterday, my husband and I went to a friends home, which happens to be on the market. We didn't go to visit, because she's no longer there. No, we went to pick blueberries.
To me, blueberries are heaven, no matter how they are served. I love them fresh off the bush; with cream; in buckles and pies. I just LOVE blueberries!!!
The reason I get to pick blueberries at this friends home is because a few years ago, I helped her by pruning her bushes. In lieu of payment, I was given free picking privileges...which is MUCH better; that is until I learned she was moving. :-(
Last year was a terrible blueberry year, for any number of reasons, but this year is wonderful.
I was delighted to see that the pruning really paid off. The bushes I pruned had a yield FAR surpassing those I hadn't gotten to. What a reward that was. It just goes to show that pruning your blueberries REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Next spring, be sure to prune yours!
Visit this link on pruning blueberries to get some good advice. I'll also revisit this topic, but you can see pictures, etc. here, and that is of enormous help.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


We actually lit the fire in the fireplace the day before yesterday! It was so cool in the house, that my finger was itching to turn up the thermostat. BUT, now is not the time for that. It's a perfect occasion to crank open the flue, throw in some logs, and enjoy a pleasant fire in the fireplace, which is exactly what we did. Of course, now I've got the usual ashes to deal with.
I never throw ashes directly into the garden. I always put them in the compost bin. That way, they add lots of carbon to the pile, get mixed in with good compost and don't overburden the garden soil with potassium , or possibly raise the soil pH.
If you check out this web-site on use of wood ashes in the garden, you'll see that my solution may be a bit better than broadcasting ashes around the yard.
So, enjoy the fireplace, and put the ashes into the compost bin. That also makes disposing of the ashes in the winter easier. No need to throw them out in the garbage, just head for the compost!


This morning I heard from a gardener with iris that are in trouble. I thought other's of you might have similar problems, so here is the question, and the answer. I hope it's helpful and instructive for all of you.

"I have iris planted along the south side of my home. They have been there for over twenty years. The last time I separated them was about two years ago. Every year I cut them back and mulch with leaves for the winter. Lately the iris have become very yellow and the plants are droopy, although they did bloom great. I tried iron, but it didn't seem to help alot. Last year I added an automatic watering system to my flower beds. It runs(a soaker hose) 60 min twice a week. I am concerned if this is too much water? Is my soil just worn out? Any suggestions?"

It sounds like you have either some Crown Rot, or Bacterial soil rot. In either case, the treatment is about the same, and it’s something you need to control or lose all your iris plants!
First, Iris like to have a sunny, well-drained location. Remember that dark, moist environments are NOT desirable for healthy iris growth. If your iris are in the sun, I don’t think the soaker would harm it, but if gets soggy, or if it’s dark and moist, you may be in trouble.
Control for both problems is pretty much the same. Forget that they bloomed well. This problem has come AFTER the blooming, so that really doesn’t count. Perhaps this is caused by the “iris borer” which is a little worm found in the leaves or the rhizome. Sometimes you can see them. If this is the case, there are often little holes in the leaves where the borers entered.
Anyway, dig the iris rhizomes up. Get rid of ANY rotten or soft plant material. Use a knife to cut it off, and be merciless! Get some fungicide at the garden center and soak the soil (I’d treat the rhizomes as well) with it, in case it is Crown Rot (which is caused by a fungus found in warm temperatures and moist conditions, most often in crowded iris bunches).
Let the rhizomes sit out in the sun for a few days to dry out and then replant them. Frankly, I wouldn’t put them in the same place if the possibility of crown rot exists. Be sure that the top of the rhizomes show when you are done planting. They NEED to be dry and exposed.


Soil! What IS SOIL? Here's the definition given in my Master Gardener Handbook. It's pretty all encompassing and we know that it's RIGHT! If you visit the link I provided above, you'll see a longer explanation. In either case, soil is critical to the gardening process.

"Soil is formed when rock (parent material) is broken down by climate and vegetation over a period of time. Soil is weathered rock fragments and decaying remains of plants and animals (organic matter). It contains varying amounts of air, water, and micro-organisms. It furnishes mechanical support and nutrients for growing plants."

In other words, if you're a gardener, you need soil!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Check this link's on caterpillars as well!
If you're a teacher and would like some lesson plans on caterpillars, here's the page for you!
Then here's the ultimate! Try raising caterpillars. Actually, this could be interesting if you wanted to raise some Monarch Butterflies!


Here's some more about caterpillars! I'll bet you find that pretty exciting! Actually, as nasty as they can be; and a destructive as they are, without them, where would our birds, frogs, salamanders, turtles, etc. go for dinner? Everything is so totally dependant on everything else! Here are some books for your kids AND you! Check them out!

Monday, August 28, 2006


What ever you call them, they seem to be all over OUR area; up in the trees, lower or upper branches and even on my peony! YUK! Where-ever they are, I don't like them. When you look at them, up close they are pretty ugly!
What are they? They are Eastern Tent Caterpillar nests that appear in crotches or end of branches of trees, shrubs, and even my peony! The little caterpillars feed all around those silken nests sometimes defoliating large parts of the tree.
In the summer the adult female moths lay masses of eggs around twigs. The newly hatched caterpillars are the ones that spin those webs. When it's warm and sunny they are out chomping. The "worms" drop to the soil to pupate and the whole cycle begins again.
There are a few ways to deal with them. You can cut the nests, branch and all, right out of the tree and put them in plastic bags to be dumped into the garbage. OR you can spray them with Bacillus thuringiensis while the caterpillars are small. This is a bacterial insecticide that doesn't harm beneficial insects.
Also, if you have them in your trees, try to remove the egg masses when you find them in the winter. That will at least control them somewhat.
If you have them, share with us how you deal with them by posting a comment below.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


My life has been hectic with summer visitors.
Since we will be moving in a few years, I have been offering to share plants with friends and family. At some point, sooner or later, someone will ask YOU if you'd like to have some plants.
Here are some words of advice so you will be asked back again for plant sharing.
ASK where they'd like to have you take the plants. Then when you locate the clump you'll be working on...ASK again what section of the plant they'd like you to remove.
Once you start to dig, be careful NOT to harm the plant you leave any more than is absolutely necessary. As you remove the section you're taking, shake the dirt into the hole where you took the plant. There's no reason for you to take the have your own!
You shouldn't leave any holes, a golfer would call them divots, and a polite golfer always replaces them. Those holes are unsightly, and could be dangerous for a passing gardener. No need for twisted ankles!
Be sure the roots that you've exposed are COVERED! You don't want to harm the plant material you leave behind. This is another reason it's important to shake out that soil.
Always leave the garden in such a way that no one would know a piece has been taken. It may require a bit more time and care, but you'll be invited back to help when those plants need to be divided again. If you are clumsy and selfish, no one will want you back working in THEIR garden!
In order to know which to divide, and which to leave alone, here is a web site that explains that more thoroughly. Check it out!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Sorry! During vacation, I forgot August arrived, so here's your list of "to do's"!


Make some notes on what you need to add to next years garden while
you can see what's blooming!

Dig potatoes after the tops have died down.

Prune off those strawberry runners to keep your strawberry bed orderly.

Buy fall mums.

Water any newly planted shrubs and trees.

Stop pruning shrubs.

Water evergreens thoroughly during dry weather.

Sow forget-me-not seed. The make an attractive carpet planting
for tulip beds

This is also a good time to sow poppy seeds! August sown seed gives richer-colored flowers, so give that a try.

Cut off foliage of bleeding heart, which has probably become unsightly.

Apply fertilizer around peonies and scratch it into the soil. If you want to transplant or divide them, this would be the time.

Treat for Powdery Mildew. Try this recipe: 1 1/2 tablespoon baking soda, 1 gallon of water and 2-3 tablespoons of horticultural oil. Spray it on all the susceptable plants every other week or so.

Plant colchicum's and fall crocuses.

Order your bulbs if you haven't already!

Cuttings from English Ivy now will produce good house plants for

Are you remembering the lawn mower should be set at 2 1/2 to 3 inches to help the grass stay hydrated? Cutting the grass lower will be very stressful!

If you have an amaryllis outside, now would be the time to think about
bringing it inside.

Still time to sow lettuces and greens, carrots, beets and turnips (don't worry about how big they get...they ALL taste wonderful while still immature!) Then of course, there are radishes. Be sure to keep all of these well watered, also, a bit of mulch will keep the tender roots cool. As far as avoiding early frosts, a row cover will help there!

Get some netting over the blueberries! Remember the birds and small animals are great at crawling UNDER and THROUGH the netting. Try staking it so they can't reach the berries from the outside. If they get in, you'll live to regret it. Talk about a mess!!!

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!

Any questions about August?

Friday, August 11, 2006


As I was going through my "BirdScope Spring 2006" from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I came across an article indicating how to help with recycling. One of the things was to stop junk mail. Now who of us wouldn't want to do that?
Anyway, I thought you might appreciate this web address to stop paper catalogs, etc. So, visit this web site. It also has a link for helping you cut down on email junk. Good Luck!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


The baby is wonderful and we're exhausted! I wish we lived close enough to go and help out a few times a week until life returns to normal for them, but that's just not to be!
The Air Show was huge, as usual. My husband was honored with a Leadership Award for flying Young Eagles. I was very proud! It was also fun seeing Harrison Ford up close!!!
The only gardening I got to do while gone was to help my son's little 4 year old step-daughter plant some ground cover (Stonecrop). She helped plant, pack in the soil, recover with mulch, and then WATER this little plant! Her job this week (or until it is established) is to water it at least once a day. Virginia is pretty hot this time of year so that's pretty critical. She's excited about doing that. I'll have to check with her mom to be sure she's fulfilling her end of the bargain.
Teaching kids to garden is important. Someday, much to your amazement they will tell their friends how you were the one who got them started with gardening. What a wonderful thing! It is a lifetime pleasure. Help them launch that opportunity!