Saturday, April 28, 2007


Spring is here! It's raining...just a soft rain. We were supposed to get thunderstorms and lots of rain, but that never materialized. That's a good thing because the rivers are swollen to overflowing and any excess rain would send them over their banks. This rain on the other hand will soak into the ground, recharge the aquifer's and give sustenance to all those plants needing it after a long, hard winter.
As I look out of our back windows, I am dismayed. We lost a lot of trees in bad weather. Then we had a bunch taken down to avoid damage to the house. We ran out of money and could not afford to have most of them removed, meaning it looks just AWFUL out there. There are trees all over and scarified land. The fellow that did the tree removal for us, took all the wood worth anything and left all the scrub. YUK! But, hey. I guess that's the way it works.
Anyway, I ordered tons of little trees and plants from the USDA that I hope to have my grandson help me plant. Then I will spread wildflower seeds all over and hope for the best. I'm too old and tired to do any more.
The trees are little and will take many years to come into their own. I probably won't live here much longer and someone else will be enjoying the fruits of our labor. You can be sure I'll come back to look at them out of curiosity to see how they are doing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, Again

I have been reading more articles on this frightening event.
The bee colonies are dying off. This often happpens with bee colonies, but it has never happened in this country to this extent. Some farmers have had as much as a 90 percent dieoff of their bees. These tend to be colonies that are shipped all over servicing farms with their pollinating insects. Our country seems to have built a huge dependence on bees.
Monoculture (The agricultural practice of planting a field or other land mass with a single crop) is not a good thing in a situation like this. We need to have many types of plants to keep wild pollinators available. Many insects act as pollinators. Wasps, flies, honeybees, butterflies, moths, as well as hummingbirds and many other creatures. When we encourage only one type of crop that utilizes only one type of pollinator, it leaves us vulnerable to this kind of catastrophe.
One of the ways Canadian farmers are dealing with this problem is leaving about a third of their fields fallow, encouraging habitat for native plants and pollinators. We should think about having as much diversity in our gardens as possible and trying very hard NOT to spray ANY toxins that can be harmful to our pollinators.
It's interesting that the North Eastern United States seem less vulnerable to this phenomenon due to the fact that our croplands are more diversified than the mid-west or California. So, we are encouraging other pollinators due to our lack of monoculture.
Here is a link to the Mississippi State University giving a broad overview of the problem.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Gardening Comments

Unfortunately, I've had someone leaving some comments here that were not what I felt comfortable with. Because of this, I have asked to see all comments so I can approve them before they are posted. This may prove to be annoying for some of you who do leave good comments, but I hope you will understand my thinking. I don't want offensive comments on my site. This person has done this at least two times so it's NOT a coincidence!
Bear with me, and maybe sometime in the future I'll go back to the normal "commenting" procedure. In the meantime, trust me and we'll beat this together!

Friday, April 06, 2007


April 21st is my middle child's birthday! When he was born, there was no "Earth Day", as such. However, now I have to realize that the 21st or 22nd is a day to be aware of our wonderful environment. It's a time to get out and do some "clean-up" chores in the yard, or neighborhood.
I did a little Internet searching and came up with some things for you to think about. Here are some tips from Earth Share.
Read these tips and try to impliment them. You can also go to the link above and get some more ideas.
Making the Grass Greener

Now that Spring is here, it’s time to begin dreaming about the grass growing beneath your feet. But a lot of lawns aren’t very “green” — at least, not for the environment. Residential lawns can use a lot of toxic chemicals — up to 10 pounds of pesticides per acre. The poisons don’t end at your front door. When it rains, pesticides may be flushed into local streams, rivers, and lakes, harming fish and plants along the way. Here are some tips to make sure your grass looks great — and is safe for pets, children, and other living things.

Use natural fertilizers, which release nutrients slowly throughout the year, won’t leach away, and support the variety of soil organisms that improve fertility and combat diseases.

Water deeply but infrequently. Grasses do best when the whole root zone is wetted, and then dries out between waterings. Avoid frequent shallow watering that causes poor root development. Overwatering also promotes lawn disease.

Aerate in the spring and fall. Use a rented power-aerator, or insert a garden fork six inches deep every four inches and lever back and forth to loosen the soil.

Remove weeds using pincer-type weed pullers, which work great in moist soil and can be used standing up. Or, if you must, spot-spray problem weeds.

Crowd out weeds by growing a dense lawn. Mow higher, leave the clippings, fertilize properly, and improve thin areas with aeration, overseeding, and top dressing.

Create healthy soil. Earthworms and other soil organisms keep the soil healthy. By moving through the soil, they allow water and air to penetrate, and they recycle thatch back into nutrients that the grass can use.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Mia had a question about pruning raspberries, and when that should be done. Here's an article from the New Hampshire Extension Service about this topic. I thought I'd include the entire article because it addresses a number of important issues with raspberries.

"Pruning Raspberries
Pruning is a vital part of maintaining a healthy
raspberry planting. This practice greatly inhibits the
spread of raspberry diseases and improves fruit quality
and yield. Pruning red raspberries should begin
immediately following harvest by removing all the canes
that fruited. This improves light penetration and air
circulation of the canes that will fruit next year. Also,
remove any new canes that are growing outside of the
12-to-18 inch row width, or show obvious symptoms of
insect or disease damage. In the spring before the buds
break, thin remaining canes, leaving only four to five of
the sturdiest per foot of row. Spread the canes that are
left onto the wires of the trellis and tie them with twine or
some other soft material.
Everbearing or fall bearing red raspberries bear a late
season crop on first- year canes. If they are pruned in the
same manner as the summer bearing types, they will
bear two crops per season; one in the summer on the
second-year canes, and one in the fall on the first-year
canes. Everbearing raspberries are usually managed
to produce only the fall crop. Simply mow the canes
down early each spring. During the summer, cut down
any new canes which develop outside the 16- inch row
width and thin the remaining canes to about six inches
apart, leaving the sturdiest. This technique greatly
reduces pruning labor, but also eliminates the summer
crop. Unfortunately, most everbearing cultivars, such as
Heritage, produce the fall crop too late in the season to
escape damage from frost in most of northern New
For black and purple raspberries, pinch off the top four
inches of new canes when they reach about three feet in
height. Blackberries should be pinched when they reach
four feet. This encourages these canes to form side
branches, or laterals, which will bear fruit the following
year. Remove all canes that fruited immediately following
harvest. In the early spring, thin remaining canes,
leaving only five to seven of the sturdiest per hill. Cut
side branches back to 12 buds (usually about 12 inches
in length) and tie the canes to the wire or post for support.
Remove all plant waste from the field after pruning and
destroy it, preferably by burning. Leaving dead canes in
the planting will encourage the spread of disease."

If you are interested in reading more about Rasperries, here is a link that will take you to the entire article.