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We went to a farm and garden center to pick up supplies Friday. They had some month old chicks, so Mama bought Eric another 3 Australorp pullets and 2 Partridge Rock pullets. He also has a hen sitting on a small clutch of eggs, so his flock keeps expanding.

I've never grown Strike bush beans, so I bought a pound of seeds for a test run. I was going to buy some extra Derby bean seeds, but they were too expensive at $6.95 for half a pound. They're much cheaper at Twilley Seed. No matter how much I'd like to buy local, I have a tight budget this year.

Miesha put on a show at the farm supply, running around wild and embarrassing us all. I'm setting limits with her, but I don't expect overnight results. Her Daddy lets her get by with everything, as does Mama. Beverly is often impatient with her, which never gets good results.

I'd love to talk to my Grandma Walker and ask her how she managed to be so patient with children, never getting flustered and always being consistent. Daddy was the same way, while Mama had a bad temper and had no patience at all. Naturally, she's too patient with Miesha, who is the first human she's ever been patient with in her life.
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A reply to a post in another community reminded me of a time-honored practice in Southern Appalachia. My cousin and good friend Duck first brought it to my attention.  In spring, weeds are removed from under the trees in apple orchards, then field or cow peas are planted among the trees to suppress weeds and fix nitrogen. The mature peas are harvested and eaten before the vines are cut and left in the orchard as compost that is worked into the ground the following spring. My friends and I are experimenting with this method in order to avoid herbicides and improve the fertility of the local clay soil.  
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Hey, Ladybugs, my rose garden is a nice vacation spot...
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It's hard work chewing up internet cables, cellphones, and garden tools. Dolly, my mother's dog, has to take a break every now and then. My nephew took this photo with his inexpensive camera. 
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http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1987-09-01/Slug-It-Out-Safely.aspx
I've had some success with this method. Aluminum sulphate is cheaper at farm suppliers than at the big box stores.
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Just today, Karissa told me about Colorado's law forbidding private citizens from collecting water in rain barrels. I just swiped this off the gardening blog. Colorado will no longer put you in the pokey over a little rain. In some parts of the country, it's still a crime. In others, it's a crime not to.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/us/29rain.html?_r=1&em
Wonder what Utah does to little kids catching raindrops on their tongues? Send them to juvie? 
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I've already posted this in a comment, but I thought I'd share it with everybody. This article explains how different herbicides work in a way that people without a Ph.D in chemistry can understand.
http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/herbicides.html
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Dr. Bill Hanlin, our local agricultural extension agent, wrote an article in this week's local paper about a growing problem: herbicide residue in manure used as fertlizer. Broad leaf herbicides are widely used on pastures and silage crops. Because these chemicals don't break down quickly in the environment, residue collects in the systems of animals fed food from treated fields. The residue is deposited in manure, where it continues to act on plants. Some farmers and gardeners are reporting damaged crops due to the residue in manure. Hanlin suggests testing manure in a small area, or checking the provenance of manure before using it. Some crops are more susceptible than others. I'll see if Mr. Hanlin has a file of the article that he'd like to share.

If we keep on carelessly using chemicals that remain in the environment years after use, we're going to make the Earth barren. Anybody remember DDT and the food chain? Will we ever learn?

BTW, the residue isn't removed by composting the manure. 
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If you want a Sweet Autumn Clematis, send me a private message. I have a bumper crop, and am astounded that companies charge $10 or more for them. If you get one, prune it to keep it in bounds and cut it off at the ground in winter or spring to encourage new growth.
 
On the subject of vines, I should have some wisteria seeds to share this fall.
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Good Friday bagan with me driving through the wee hours to pick Kent up after his shift ended. At 2:55 am, I met a group of 5 bicycle riders rolling toward Ferguson. It was a bizarre sight; the bikes had headlamps and tail lights, and the cyclists were hidden beneath slickers covered in reflective tape. After I picked up Kent, I got behind them at 3:24 am rolling through the countryside in the dark. I still can't figure out why they didn't get some sleep and travel during the day.

After a little nap, I got up, did the laundry, then went to Duck's to take pics of him discing the garden. It is the local custom to plow the garden before hand, then disc it on Good Friday, weather permitting. It isn't a religious thing, just a habit.  The rechargable battery in the expensive camera was dead, so I used the cheap camera.  It started raining about  dinnertime-that's noon for you non-Southerners, supper is the evening meal.

Before I left Duck and Jeannette's, Jeannette gave me a root sprout of her Old Man's Shirt Button bush. This is a shrub that covers itself with little white double pom-pom blooms before it leafs out in the spring. It is beautiful, and I am happy to have a one.

I did some more indoor work and pestered Momma for info about Beverly's date before going to the greenhouse during a thunderstorm at 8 pm to plant a few flats. Another local custom is to plant something in the garden on Good Friday, usually potatoes. I planted Bells of Ireland, Snowman Marigolds, Spanish Eyes Black-Eyed Susan Vine, and Snowflake Double Perennial Baby's Breath. One of my friends is a Priest of Irish descent who will amused by a gift of Bells of Ireland planted by a Baptist on Good Friday.

I checked on some seeds that I'd planted earlier in the week. My Painted Daisies came up in 4 days. There's about a dozen kinds of zinnias, all sorts of other flowers, and lots of tomatoes. All of the shrubs that I'm trying to propagate have new sprouts. It looks like a good year. 
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Our greenhouse doesn't have a misting system. It does have a gravel floor and the flats of plants sit on beds of sand. On days when the air is dry, we wet the sand and gravel. The water evaporates and raises the humidity inside the greenhouse. On very humid days, we open the windows and let the breeze blow through. The greenhouse is placed so that the prevailing winds will blow in one end of the structure and out the other. 
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I bought another dahlia today-Uncle Henry, a white & fuschia blend.

When you buy dahlias before the last frost date, you may find that they're already sprouting or that they're dangerously dry. The thing to do is pot the dahlias and put them in a warm place until you can plant them outside. It's safer to harden them off before planting in the garden. Just put dirt and all in the hole. Done.  

I place my potted dahlias under the benches in the greenhouse.

Tip: All bulbs like bone meal. The big box stores offer only little bags, but it's much cheaper in the 20-lb bags available at agricultural supplies.

New dahlia!

Mar. 4th, 2009 11:45 pm
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I had a rough day-I've already suffered through it once, so I won't go over it again, boring you in the process. Since I survived withou going berserk, I thought that I deserved a new dahlia and bought a pack of 3 Le Baron dahlias-1 to keep, 2 to give away. Le Baron is a deep purpley wine color. Fabulous!

Big Day

Mar. 3rd, 2009 11:32 pm
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My brother Eric came home from the hospital today. Several years ago, he had to have a stent implanted in his heart. A second cardiac vessel has narrowed since then, and he had to have a second stent. I'm just glad that they found it in time.

I've sold all of my columbines, cardinal flowers, rudbeckia, and hibiscus- even the ones that I intended to keep for myself. All of these were 2-year plants started last season. I've developed a good market for the second year plants because people are getting great results with them. Time to get to work on this year's crop.

I visited my friend Ty's  orchard. He has 400 more trees to plant, 700 more to trellis, and umpteen rootstocks to graft. He showed me his new chip-budding device-very nice! There's 13-15 inches of snow in the orchard, but it's supposed to get up to 68 degress F on Friday, and 73 on Saturday and Sunday. He'll be in the mud, and I'll be shoveling horse manure for my compost pile. Fun-here we come!   

Fish Pepper

Mar. 1st, 2009 10:21 pm
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I like to work veggies into my flower borders. Instead of a regular ornamental pepper, I put Fish Pepper in my borders; its fruit is more useful than that of the ornamentals. You can use it like cayenne. 

Fish Pepper is an African-American heirloom once used around Philladelphia and the Chesapeake Bay to season shellfish. It is lovely-in the right conditions, the leaves are variegated white and green. The peppers start out white and green striped, then become orange with lighter or darker stripes, and finish red. A beautiful show!  
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Bacterial fruit blotch is a disease of watermelons. Since first detected in 1989, it's spread rapidly. Willhite Seed Company was one of the first to make information available to the public. For the best info on this disease, look on page 37 of Willhite's 2009 catalog. (I don't know how to find it on the website.)

 Both Willhite's website and catalog feature a planting guide with correct spacing, etc. for various crops.

Willhite offers a variety of seeds, but is an especially good source for southern peas(cowpeas, crowders) and watermelons. I don't know of a more economical source for cowpeas. (A 2oz packet is about $1.25 and most lbs are $3.60.) This is a friendly, professional, reliable company with low shipping fees. I've bought from them for years without a single complaint. Read the catalog carefully- packets  of things like squash  sometimes contain 100 seeds instead of 25 like other companies' packs. Remember this when comparing prices.  Oh, check out the cucumbers, too; they have some good deals on cukes, like 1/8 oz of Carolina Hybrid or Calypso Hybrid for $1.55. This contains much more than a seed rack pack.
 

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