Archive for October, 2010


Ten Gardening To-Do Tips After a Storm

October 19, 2010

Usually, the first thing I do the day after a storm is to walk the front and back yards, and the perennial and vegetable gardens.

Here are some of the things to look for after a storm:

  1. Check for broken tree and shrub limbs. Remove with proper pruning tools. One size, one type/style does not fit all.
  2. Remove leaves that have major damage.
  3. Check stakes and ties. Replace or secure where needed.
  4. Check for erosion and exposed roots. Immediately cover roots with top soil and/or compost. Letting the roots dry out could damage or kill plants.
  5. To avoid breeding grounds for mosquitoes, empty, turn over or put away pot saucers, buckets, birdbaths, wheelbarrows—anything holding water.
  6. Check for areas with standing water. Try to avoid walking in wet beds. This will compact the soil and could damage roots. Plants need loose soil for air circulation.
  7. Check for snails and slugs, and treat organically. Remove old wood lying on the ground where snails, slugs, and earwigs can breed.
  8. Check plants for powdery mildew and treat before it spreads.
  9. Watch for weeds after it rains. Hand pull making sure to get the roots. Mulching will help prevent weeds but keep mulch at least three inches away from trunks.
  10. Check timers. Turn them off or adjust accordingly.

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



Autumn Rain

October 18, 2010

My heart has never carried a fondness for cold, dreary seasons, but the first autumnal rainfall is always sweet. It arrived midday, yesterday in the central valley where I live. A rush to bring in patio pillows, garden tools, and shoes forced me outdoors. Ralphie stayed back, protected under the eaves, and watched me gather summer’s paraphernalia.

I should have believed the weather report and prepared beforehand, but then I’d miss the amusement of dashing about in the rain. I would have missed the smell of wet dirt rising to gray light where birds sang from treetops and utility wires, the splash of water beneath my shoes, sky-fallen droplets on my tongue, slanted showers against my face, and wiggly earthworms on hardscape.

A couple of potted plants were dry so I placed a bucket under the downspout and then used the water to wet the plants’ roots. I turned off the timers, sighed at the soggy hammock, covered the outdoor furniture, and thought about hauling firewood from the barn to the house. Clogged with debris, water pinged against gutters as I passed by them hurrying to go indoors.

The amusement wound down as my jeans got wet, my skin chilled, and the work was less fun. The sweetness of the first autumnal rainfall had worn off. Then, later at day’s end when the rain ceased and a small cloud parted, the season’s charm had returned with a beautiful sunset. Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre



2010 Fall Reader’s Contest

October 16, 2010

It seems I created a flawed “2010 Fall Reader’s Contest,” posted October 14. My tired brain can’t think to amend it, so I’ve decided to go back to the old game and rules. The prize is still the same, a Michaels $10 gift card.


Here’s the rules and game plan: 

  1. You must be a subscriber to play. It’s FREE!
  2. Simply post a comment. No restrictions on length. The person with the most comments, starting today through October 31 midnight, is the winner.
  4. The winner will be notified by email. The winner’s first name and last initial will be announced on


Note: and/or the author have the right to remove comment(s) unsuitable and/or to exclude them in the above contest. and/or the author also have the right to decide what is unsuitable. By playing the “2010 Reader’s Fall Contest” you agree to these terms.  

Best of luck!  


Reader’s Fall Contest

October 15, 2010

Question #1:

What is my favorite movie, one that I’ve watched many times?

PS:  Be sure to include the “post date” where you found the answer.


Budding Garden Thoughts

October 15, 2010

“A fall garden

is an occasion to plant

for a winter harvest.”

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre


2010 Reader’s Fall Contest

October 14, 2010

It’s contest time, starting tomorrow, October 15.

New game, new rules, new prize: 

Michaels $10 Gift Card.

 Here’s the rules and game plan:


  1. You must be a subscriber to play. It’s FREE!
  2.  Watch for random notices with a question pertaining to something written on It’s up to you to find the correct answer and the date posted. Once you do, click on comments, and write your answer. The person with the most correct answers by October 31 midnight is the winner. In the event of a tie, one name will be drawn from the names.
  3. The winner will be notified by email. The winner’s first name and last initial will be announced on


Note: and/or the author have the right to refuse publication of comment(s) unsuitable and/or to exclude them in the above contest. and/or the author also have the right to decide what comments are unsuitable. By playing the “2010 Reader’s Fall Contest” you agree to these terms.  

Best of luck! 


Growing Pansies for Winter Color

October 13, 2010


Pansies are one of those delightful annuals that can flourish in winter, spring, or summer. During cooler months, pansies add invaluable color spots in garden beds and in pots as they bring sunshine to dreary, grey days. Plant now in full sun and they will flower through April or until summer’s first hot days.

Most varieties are two-tone with the classic pansy-like face. The Crown Series, however, is a singular color without the traditional and oftentimes humorous feature, but just a beautiful. Regardless what variety, pansies promise to bring color influence to your winter beds.

A favorite of mine is the Majestic Giants. Their large flowers are an absolute show-off, like the star performer of a Las Vegas dance team. In fact, developed to have long stems for cut flowers, the Majestic Giants won the first All-American selections award for pansies. Most of us forget (me included) or don’t realize is that all pansies are good for cutting. Even the short-stemmed pansies are sweet in a shallow bowl of water placed on a coffee table or bathroom vanity. There’s nothing like fresh flowers indoors to perk up a cold winter day with the pledge of springtime ahead.

Although I’ve never eaten a pansy, or any other flower, pansies are eatable* and downright striking in a bowl of split-pea soup or fluttering about salad greens. Women, you probably won’t snag a man putting pansies in his food, but men, the women will adore you for the gesture. Most anyone, though, would enjoy colorful pansies frozen in ice cubes in a drink.

While pansies will give you months of blooming pleasure, they can get Rhizoctonia, a fungus in soggy soil that will cause pansies to suddenly wilt and die. Once this disease is in the soil, wait a couple of years before planting pansies in the infected area. (Put something else in their place.) Until then, try planting pansies in a different location. If you use a fungicide to prevent Rhizoctonia, check with a professional before planting and always follow the instructions on the label.

Helpful Hints:

  • Avoid buying pansies with yellow foliage and numerous blooms.
  • Choose stocky pansies with dark green foliage, buds, and few blooms.
  • Plant in well-drained soil to prevent stem and root rot. Watch for yellow leaves that die which is an indication of this.
  • Plant the crowns half an inch above the soil.
  • Plant alone as borders, blend with other border flowers, or as groups in front of low-growing shrubs.
  • Plant in pots around the edge of an upright plant placed in the middle, or in a strawberry pot.
  • In cooler climates plant in full sun. In hotter conditions, plant in full sun to part shade.
  • To promote root growth, cut off flowers and leggy stems after or just before transplanting.

  * Never consume any part of an indoor or outdoor plant or flower without knowledge of its history in relation to the use of pesticides or fungicides or if it is poisonus. Grow your own in a safe environment or buy from a certified organic grower. Check with your local poison control center before using flowers/plants in food. Here is a link to an informative website on edible flowers:

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre

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