Archive for November, 2010
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Your yard is your own personal gym! Thanksgiving week kicks off the holiday season and that means holiday snacks and food galore. And you know what I say – go ahead and eat. We’ll burn those calories off right in your own yard! That’s right; working in the yard is a great way to burn those extra Thanksgiving and holiday calories. Of course, before you start, do a little warm up and stretching. We don’t want you to be a couch potato because of a few pulled muscles! So, what can you do to burn those calories this time of the year?
-Mow the grass one last time, and use a push mower, not a rider or self propelled. This can burn about 480 calories an hour (150 on a riding mower).
-Pull those remaining weeds, cut off dead foliage, and hoe those beds. This can burn about 320 calories per hour.
-Plant that extra tree, shrub, or spring flowering bulbs you’ve always wanted. Or put a new edge on those beds. Digging and planting can burn well over 360 calories per hour.
-Drag the hose around and water evergreens before the winter. That’ll burn 100 calories an hour.
-Check the gutters for leaves, and when you move the ladder, only move it a few feet. That forces you to go up and down more, burning even more calories. Of course, always be careful when using any ladder! And one of my favorite burners – rake those leaves! By raking up those late leaves, not only do you help the grass, but you can burn as many as 340 calories per hour. And if by chance we get an early snow fall, get out the snow shovel and burn over 500 calories an hour!
-And when its all said and done, here’s one of my favorite calorie burners – just sitting quietly enjoying my fruits of labor. Yep, you can burn 70-80 calories an hour just sitting here. Hey, is that more turkey I smell? Gotta run!
[There are 3 towns named after Thanksgiving’s main course – Turkey, Texas – Turkey Creek, La – and Turkey, NC. Want some hard facts about turkeys? Its Meleagris gallopavo – gallus meaning cock, pavo meaning chicken-like, and Meleagris being Roman for guinea fowl. The wattle is the loose skin below a turkeys chin and the warts on the waddle are called carnucles. The male is a tom, the female a hen, and the youngsters are poults. By the way, it takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound turkey.]
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Plant of the Week
Picea glauca ‘Conica is our plant of the week. What is Picea glauca ‘Conica’ you say? Well, it’s probably one of the most popular upright growing evergreens used in foundation plantings! You’ve seen them. Maybe you have one. Let me see if I can describe one for you. When you first see it, they look so cute – like a little perfectly shaped Christmas tree. They’re very slow growing, short green needles, very dense, upright in a pyramidal or conical shape, and usually growing in a pot at the garden stores. You even see them sold a lot around the holidays in pots with a bow on it for a little indoor potted Christmas tree. Now do you remember seeing them? Picea glauca ‘Conica’ or commonly known as ‘Dwarf Alberta Spruce’. By the way, if you do buy one for indoor decorations for the Holidays, try to limit the time indoors to less than a couple weeks. (Hardy to Zone 2, loves sun to partial sun, well drained loamy soils, grows 5-10 feet x 3-5 feet wide, and requires no pruning. Don’t let them dry out during the heat of the summer or dry fall seasons.)
[Did you know that Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state? North Carolina produces the most sweet potatoes, Illinois is the winner for producing pumpkins, Michigan for cherries, and Wisconsin wins again for producing the most green beans!]
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Problems in the Garden
We talk a lot about critter control in the garden, especially deer, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons etc. But more and more, we’re hearing from folks (mostly rural / some suburban) who are starting to experience damages from a new critter on the block whose populations are definitely on the upswing – wild turkeys! And not only are they having turkey damage, they’re also dealing with a lot of turkey scat, or more commonly known as turkey poop. Wild turkeys can destroy flower and vegetable gardens scratching and eating, they peck on shiny things like windows, doors and cars, they love eating birdseed, will roost in your trees or on top of cars with luggage racks, and they can get aggressive – especially during the mating season. Like I said, they haven’t become a major issue, but are definitely showing up on the gardening radar more and more. So, what can you do if your garden becomes invaded with wild turkeys, besides enjoying watching them? Well, it looks like the repellents aren’t too effective, so you’ll have to go the fencing route (leave the top loose so they can’t land on it), covering plants with nylon netting and anchoring it down (same for areas of mulch where they get in it and scratch), take down the bird feeders if they feed underneath, harass them by spraying them with a high powered water hose, keep a dog in the yard as turkeys generally won’t go into yards where there is a dog, try using the plastic and inflatable snakes (but move them around every few days), and one of the most effective ways to keep them out of the yard and garden (besides the dog) is to use a motion detector sprayer like the ‘ScareCrow’. Oh yeah, and if they do get a little aggressive towards you, the experts say act like you’re not afraid of them and they will respect you (easily said!). Open umbrellas make a good defense tool as well. Of course, there are the plusses of having wild turkeys in your yard. They are pretty cool to watch and enjoy, and they do eat bugs, especially grubs, slugs and snails. And for the extra turkey scat you may get if a large flock invades your yard, just hose it off the walks or scoop it up and throw it in the compost pile. It makes a good fertilizer. Their scat is not a health threat – wild turkeys are generally healthy and don’t get diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Who would have ‘thunk’ 15 years ago that we would be talking about chasing wild turkeys out of our yards? Go figure.
[Domesticated turkeys can’t fly, but wild turkeys can, at speeds of up to 55mph. They’re not too slow on foot, either, running as fast as 20-25mph! They have no external ears, yet have excellent hearing. Turkeys can see in color, cannot see well at night, and have a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees). They also have a poor sense of smell, but an excellent sense of taste. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey become the official bird of the United States? Yep, and he was really upset when the eagle was chosen!]
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Garden Questions of the Week
“I have English ivy growing up my tree trunks. Is that okay or should I remove it?” – Ivy will grow on the ground as well as vining up fences, walls, and other places it can get the roots in. Trees included. And whether or not it’s a good or bad thing on tree trunks can be a very controversial topic. In my opinion, the short answer is “not to worry”. If you like the look, and the tree is a more mature tree, let it grow. The ivy will root into the bark but will not penetrate the bark. It is not parasitic and will cause no direct damage to the tree. And no, ivy does not constrict the tree trunk. There are trees covered in ivy in some of the finest gardens and landscapes around the country, and many have supported those vines for decades. If the tree is mature with thick bark, keep the ivy and enjoy the beautiful effect. Now, the cons of letting ivy grow on trees – the major issue is the roots will compete with the tree for nutrients and water, so be sure the tree has adequate amounts of each. If ivy is allowed to grow on smaller trees and it becomes aggressive, it could reduce some of the tree foliage, so again, for mature trees only. Another concern could be that the ground cover often provides a home for voles or other critters who may gnaw at the bark (at ground level). And lastly, the ivy could mask the signs of borers, cankers and other tree problems that we couldn’t see. So there are pros and cons to ivy growing on trees and personally, on mature trees, I say if you like it leave it. But if you don’t and want to remove the ivy, fall is a great time to do it. Simply cut the vines just above ground level. The vines will die and the roots will start to dry and decay. By next spring, these dead vines should come off the tree fairly easily. And to keep those ivy cuts from re-growing, treat the cut ends with a little bit of Roundup.
“Should I cut off the foliage on my iris now?” -Yes, that’s a good idea. Cut it off and dispose of it. Iris borers can over winter their eggs on that foliage. So cut it off and pitch. For garden mums (also getting questions about those) just remove the spent flowers but leave the foliage – green or brown. We’ll cut that old mum foliage off next spring before they start to re-grow.
“I have a bag of weed and feed. Is it okay to use this for our last lawn feeding?” Nope. It’s too late for weed control, so although the fertilizer formula is good, you’re wasting the weed killer. Save it in a dry place for next year. By the way, let’s get that final feeding on by this weekend. And remember, as long as the grass is growing, you need to keep mowing! (PS…In the future, let’s switch to feeding the lawn with lawn food, and spot treating the weeds as needed with a water soluble fertilizer.)
“I have too many leaves to use them all in my yard. Can I just burn them?” – Technically you can, but you’re missing out on the nutrients of the leaves, watch adding ashes to the soil, and of course air pollution (many communities won’t allow it – and with the drought we’ve had, burning isn’t allowed) – and, yes, it smells good! Last year I just happened to see an article on this same topic, and in addition to the things we mentioned, they also included burning leaves as being a fire hazard that can easily get out of control, and the fact that the smoke introduces many types of pollutants that can actually be irritating to your respiratory passages, and carcinogenic. The EPA also notes that if leaves are moist when being burned, they burn poorly and emit even higher levels of dangerous hydrocarbons. Geez, not sure I want to smell those burning leaves anymore!
[North Carolina usually produces the most turkeys each year, but looks like Minnesota will win this year, with Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and California right behind them. Californians eat the most turkey in the country each year, eating 3 pounds more than the average American consumer. More than 46 million turkeys are cooked each Thanksgiving averaging 15 pounds in size. And the most popular way to eat turkey is the good old turkey sandwich. By the way, June is National Turkey Lover’s month. Go figure.]
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
Tips from Rita’s Kitchen:
- Vanilla gets better as it ages. Don’t refrigerate.
- Vary the flavoring. If using almonds, use 1 teaspoon almond extract
Sauce may separate when refrigerated. When Yardboy, I just finished a week of gifts from the kitchen classes and boy, they were a huge hit. A gift from the hands is a gift from the heart. Try this favorite.
NUTTY CARAMEL SAUCE
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup whipping cream
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup toasted chopped nuts, your favorite
Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil a couple minutes. Whisk in cream and vanilla. –Refrigerate. Makes 2 cups
To toast nuts: Lay on cookie sheet in single layer – bake at 350 for about
7-10 minutes, turning edges into center every few minutes. When they smell fragrant, they’re done.
- you bring it to room temperature or warm it up, stir and it will become homogenous again.
- Don’t like nuts? Leave them out.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Herbalist www.abouteating.com
[As best our records can tell, the original Thanksgiving menu included venison, fowl (probably not turkey), fish, seafood, grains (including corn which was used for making cornmeal and fried bread), fruits (which included boiled pumpkin), vegetables, nuts, herbs and seasonings. A little different than today’s menu wouldn’t you say? Charles Dickens is created for popularizing the serving of turkey on holidays, thanks to ‘The Christmas Story’. Before that, it was swans, peacocks, cranes and geese for special occasions.]
OBKB. That’s it for this week. Now do yourself a favor. Go out and have the best Thanksgiving of your life. See ya. RW, the Yardboy. (Join us every Saturday 6-9am ‘In the Garden’ on 55KRC The Talk Station / XM158. Also 10-noon on 610WTVN / Columbus – depending on Buckeye schedule.)
[The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, and was celebrated thereafter following fall harvests – although the 13 colonies did not celebrate it on the same day. In 1789 President George Washington declared it a holiday, but it was Abraham Lincoln (in 1863) who officially declared the last Thursday of November as the day of Thanksgiving. Then, in 1939, 1940, and 1941, F.D.R. (looking to lengthen the Christmas shopping season) proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the third Thursday in November. Controversy ensued, and in 1941, Congress passed a joint resolution decreeing that Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November, where it remains.]
Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t sleep. I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned – the dark meat and white. But I fought the temptation with all of my might.
Tossing and turning with anticipation, the thought of a snack became infatuation.
So I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door, and gazed at the fridge full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes, pickles and carrots and beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round, ‘Till all of a sudden I rose off the ground.
I crashed thru the ceiling, floating into the sky with a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees, “Happy eating to all – pass the cranberries please!
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Garden Success Tip of the Week
It’s way too early to be doing this, but thought we would give you the proper way to put roses to bed for the winter, when the time comes, so you’ll be prepared.
Putting All Roses to Bed for the Winter – As the gardening season comes to an end, it’s time to tuck away those climbing, hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses for the winter. Why wait so long to do this? 1.) We want the temperatures to be consistently colder so the roses are definitely shutting down for the winter. 2.) We prefer the ground to be close to freezing or less than 40 degrees if possible. So, it may be late December before the time is ‘right’ for putting those roses to bed! By the way, if it’s been a dry fall, make sure you water your roses. Here are some general steps to follow for putting roses to bed for the winter:
1.) Its okay to cut your hybrid tea, floribunda, and grandiflora roses back a bit if needed (anywhere from 18-30 inches or so in height), only to make them easier to work with or to prevent long branches from whipping in the winter winds. We’ll do the major pruning next spring, usually around early April. Climbing roses will not be pruned at this time, unless some of the canes have become excessively long and may be damaged in winter winds. You may also consider tying the canes together to prevent whipping. Again, any regular pruning needed will be done next spring.
2.) Rake out all debris and fallen leaves from around the base of the plant. Spray the rose canes and surrounding soil surface with a lime sulfur spray. If too cold for a liquid spray, use a dustible fungicide. As added protection for the rose canes, especially the climbers, feel free to spray the canes with an anti-transpirant such as Bonide’s Wilt Stop or WiltPruf to help seal moisture into the canes during the winter.
3.) Put the roses to bed by mound mulching each plant about 12 inches of so, up from the ground, with the center of the rose in the center of the mound. Rose collars are very helpful in making this process a bit easier. Several mulches can be used, including finely ground leaves, compost, pine needles, or one of the many bark mulches. Pinebark (pinefines) is highly recommended. Mounding mulch helps to protect the rose graft and the lower 8-12 inches of the rose canes from possible winter damage. If you have a rose bed containing multiple roses, it may be easier to consider using a fencing material around the bed, and then fill the entire fenced in area with your mulch. [We do not recommend using rose cones.] For added protection, climbing roses may be mound mulched, sprayed with Wilt Stop, as well as wrapped with burlap. In some cases, the entire canes can be laid on the ground and mulched over for the winter.
4.) For landscape or shrub roses, Knockout roses included, follow the above mentioned clean up around each rose (no pruning unless there are long whipping branches), and then treat with the fungicide. With our ‘normal’ winters, they shouldn’t require the mound mulching, but if you’d like to add the winter ‘mound mulching’ protection, they won’t complain (especially if your roses are in a very exposed or harsh winter climate). But again, not necessary. A good soil surface mulching will be just fine, again, after the soil has reached or dropped below 40 degrees. Note: Occasionally, there will times where this is not possible or feasible, so we simply suggest you wait as long as you can (to let them shut down) before giving your roses their final cleanup and winter mulching.
5.) Over wintering ‘Tree Roses” – Hopefully your tree rose is growing in a container which will make this tip a breeze. Leave the tree rose outside until it has totally gone dormant and the temperatures are consistently cold (mid December or later). Move the potted tree rose into an unheated garage, water, and water about once each month. You can also spray with Wilt Stop just before taking it into the garage. Next March, move it back outside (still dormant) to begin re-growing as roses normally would. If the tree rose is growing in the ground, you have 2 options for winter care. Either way, spray it with Wilt Stop first. 1.) Take a sharp spade (10-12 inches away from the trunk) and dig about ½ way around the plant, cutting the roots. Gently pry up on the cut root side and lay the rose on to its side (parallel with the ground). Cover the entire plant and root ball with mulch, finely ground leaves / compost, etc. 2.) Leaving the tree rose upright, circle the entire plant with a cage of chicken wire. Drive one stake in the ground to hold the cage upright and in place. Fill the cage with mulch, finely ground leaves / compost, even straw will work. You can even take it one step further and wrap the filled wire column with burlap and secure it with twine. Be sure to uncover your tree rose in the spring as you would your regularly mulched roses.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Problems in the Garden this Week
Buggy Joe Boggs is on winter hiatus, so in the meantime, we’ll address a few issues still happening out there. Had an email question last week about oak leaves having blonde colored fuzzy balls on the leaves that were actually clogging the mower filter when they exploded from the blades. These are probably oak sower gall, caused by a wasp that stings the leaf buds in the spring. No harm to the tree (just looks funny on the leaves), no sprays recommended, and keep changing the lawn mower filter as needed! Populations may be high one year and nothing the next.
Southwest Ohio Drop Day is Saturday Nov. 13! It’s a National day for collection and proper disposal of unwanted or expired medication. Visit www.hcswcd.org for more info and drop off locations for Hamilton, Clermont, and Warren County, or visit
Want to learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer? Visit www.emeraldashborer.info .
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Garden Questions of the Week
“When planting iris rhizomes do you measure the depth of the planting hole at the bottom of the rhizome or top?” -You want the top of the iris rhizome (tuber) to be just ‘barely’ below soil surface. If some of the top shows it’s okay, but buried and nestled in solidly just barely below soil surface. As they grow, they increase in size and appear on the surface of the soil.
“My asters were tall and floppy this year. Any suggestions what to do?” -Don’t forget that asters can be pinched back during the growing season, usually until early July, to keep them shorter, fuller and more compact (less floppy). In the future, look at the more compact asters available (which will still require dividing and maybe some light pinching).
“Anything I need to do for my new garden mums now that they’re finished blooming?” -Deadhead spent flowers, but keep all foliage. Keep watering as needed until we get cold consistently. Once the ground gets into the low 30’s, mulch for the winter. Remove the dead foliage next spring.
”I have some dead branches in my Japanese maple. When should I prune those out?” – Remove dead branches from any plant as soon as you know the branches are dead. Never leave dead branches on a plant, as they can harbor insect and disease problems. See dead branches, clip them out! And the best time to prune that Japanese maple (if regular pruning is needed) would be in the spring just before it leafs out.
“I have many leaves from a Southern magnolia. Can these big things be composted?” – They can, but just like oak leaves or pine needles or twigs and branches, they are slow to break down. So, grind them up before you put them in the compost pile. Some folks will actually have a separate pile for the ‘slower’ composting materials.
”My hydrangeas still have flowers. Should I cut them off or leave them on over the winter?” – You can enjoy them over the winter if you’d like, but sometimes ice or heavy snows will collect on the old flowers and cause the branches to bend down and possibly snap. I prefer to remove these spent flowers before winter so this won’t happen. And remember – if the hydrangea is a macrophylla type, be sure to remove the flower head just below the flower. These hydrangeas bloom buds for next year have already formed on the existing branches, so you need to leave the rest of the branch alone, or you’ll be removing next year’s flowers. By the way, I’ve been noticing over the past couple years just how late in the season those Endless Summer Hydrangeas keep blooming! They’re still showing good colors and I see more bloom buds getting ready to open! Not bad for late fall colors – definitely giving Knock Out roses a run for their money. But I have seen Knock Outs blooming as late as the second week of December.
“Is now a good time to feed my trees?” – Right now, the tree’s tops may be shutting down, but the roots are firing up! More roots are developed in the fall than any other time. And those developing roots are collecting and storing away nutrients for next year. Which makes mid to late fall one of the best times for feeding your trees. And if you’d like to do it yourself, here are 3 easy ways to get ‘er done!
1.) If your trees are newly planted this year or this fall, use a root stimulant such as Bonide’s Plant Starter. It’s a light and easy feed for new trees, and helps promote early strong root development. Mix this with water and pour around the base of the tree. If using a tree bag to water, pour your diluted solution directly into the bag for a slow drip feeding.
2.) If your trees have been planted for 1-2 years, still use a water soluble fertilizer like Plant Starter, or move to something stronger, like Miracle Gro. Again, mix with water and pour around the base of the tree. You also have another option, which is the Ross Root Feeder. This unique tool injects water soluble fertilizer right into the soil, watering the tree at the same time.
3.) If your trees have been planted longer than 2-3 years or are mature trees, you have several options for feeding.
-Fertilizer spikes driven into the ground, although not one of my favorites, make it pretty easy to feed the trees. I do suggest you calculate how many are needed, then break them in half and evenly distribute them around the tree. Be sure they go 6-8 inches down into the ground, to feed the tree more than feeding the grass. And yes, your trees will also benefit from your regular lawn fall feedings.
-Ross Root Feeder again is one of the easiest ways for homeowners to feed their larger trees, by injecting a water soluble fertilizer directly into the soil. This is the same process many professional tree care companies will use to feed the mature trees.
-And then there’s Vertical mulching – drilling holes in the ground around the tree with an auger, and putting granular fertilizer (TreeTone / Plant Tone / Milorganite / 10-10-10, etc, into the holes, followed by a good watering. This is a great way to feed the trees, and helps improve the flow of air and water into the soil, but takes a lot of time and is labor intense -and may be one to consider having the professional tree care companies take care of for you! Whichever method you use, fall is an excellent time to feed your trees.
Its still extremely dry, so be sure to keep watering your trees, evergreens, newly planted plants etc until we get the regular moisture back into the soil.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
Plant of the Week
Our plant of the week is a tree that has been one of my favorites from the time I first started in this business, as well as being a favorite of the late Merten Natorp. Ginkgo biloba, or commonly known as Ginkgo or Maidenhair Tree (leaves resemble the fan shaped leaves of the maidenhair fern), is the only surviving member of a group of ancient plants believed to have inhabited the earth up to 150 million years ago. Ginkgo is a deciduous conifer (a true gymnosperm) that features distinctive two-lobed leathery fan-shaped leaves with parallel veins. Once you see a Ginkgo leaf, you will always remember a Ginkgo leaf. Slow to medium growing, Ginkgos are male and female – the females less desirable as they produce seeds encased in a fleshy, fruit like covering are messy and smell absolutely horrible! That’s why our plant of the week is Ginkgo biloba ‘Princeton Sentry’, a male cultivar, upright growing (40-50 feet high and 20-30 feet wide), making the perfect street tree, lawn tree or shade tree. The fan shaped leaves turn a uniform golden yellow in the fall, and when they drop, they form a golden carpet around the tree. By the way, Ginkgo trees have no serious pest or disease problems, love the sun, will grow in a wide range of soils, and adapts to most urban environments.
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
From the Garden to the Kitchen
Yardboy, the pears on the heirloom pear tree across the road are ripe and I love canning them and making pear butter. This is excellent on toasted English muffins. Now here’s a tip – make sure your pears are ripe before canning or making butter so that the resulting product is smooth, not grainy.
20 medium size pears, about 7 pounds
Sugar to taste: start with 3-4 cups (see tips below)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Zest of one orange
1/3 cup orange juice
To prepare pulp: Wash pears. Core, peel and slice. Combine with 1/2 cup water in very large pan – nonstick if you have it. Simmer until pars are soft. Puree and measure 2 quarts pulp.
To make butter: Combine pulp and sugar in pan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rest of ingredients and cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4” headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minute in boiling water canner.
Tips from Rita’s kitchen: Apples can be substituted for pears. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon along with the nutmeg if you like. Freeze instead of canning for up to 6 months. Make pear or applesauce by mashing after the fruit is soft; add sugar to taste.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Herbalist / PT Witchdoctor www.abouteating.com
OBKB. That’s it for this week. Next e-letter will be Nov.23, just before Thanksgiving! Now do yourself a favor. Go out and have the best day of your life. See ya. RW, the Yardboy. (Join us every Saturday from 6-9am ‘In the Garden’ on 55KRC The Talk Station / XM158, and 10-noon on 610WTVN (Columbus).