Archive for January, 2011


February 2011 Events

January 31, 2011

February 2011 classes, workshops, tours galore . . . fun and educational activities for the whole family.


Soulful Plotting

January 28, 2011


A thick, organic matter (leaves, straw, bark, wood chips, and more) placed over soil to suppress weeds, prevent moisture evaporation, maintain soil temperature, and keep roots from freezing.


A blend of decayed, organic material such as manure and vegetation used to fertilize or improve the soil’s structure with rich nutrients.


Note:  For your convenience, a ‘Glossary’ page is now available on the sidebar. On the fourth Friday, I will add each month’s terms.  








Budding Garden Thoughts

January 26, 2011 Registered & Protected


The primer for beautiful plants is beautiful soil.

Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre


Six Steps to Healthy Plants

January 24, 2011

Whether you’re a novice, passionate or occasional gardener, by following a few steps you can keep your plants looking their best. These simple effective steps introduce you to the basics of maintaining healthy plants that will reward you for years to come. 

  1. Zone:  Select plants for your zone by buying from local nurseries. Utilize the knowledge of nurserypersons, neighbors, garden club members, cooperative extension agents, and master gardeners.
  2. Size:  Minimize pruning by placing plants and trees where they have ample growing space for maturity, away from buildings and overhead utility lines. Avoid overcrowding plants so they don’t have to fight for nutrients.
  3. Exposure:  Sufficient light is one of the most important elements to plant growth. Improper light duration and magnitude can stunt growth, burn foliage, or even kill plants and trees.
  4. Temperature:  Select plants that will survive in your areas lowest winter temperatures. Most plant tags provide cold/heat zone data listing minimum hardiness and heat tolerance temperatures.
  5. Water:  It’s no secret plants can’t live without moisture. When and how much water a plant needs will vary according to the variety and soil type. Don’t put water-loving plants and trees in an area with little water or drought resistant plants in soil with poor drainage. Follow a regular water schedule using timers wherever possible.
  6. Nutrition: Nutrients is crucial to plant health. Your soil’s texture and fertility will determine how much and what to add for moisture retention, proper drainage, or organic material. A simple soil test kit (available at most nurseries) will offer data on your soil’s composition. The three main ingredients plants need are: 

Nitrogen (N) promotes vigorous leaf growth. Phosphorus (P) encourages good development of roots, flowers, and fruit. Potassium (K) promotes cell division and strong stems.

Follow the above tips and your plants will give you satisfying results year after year. Remember, small regular maintenance is easier than a field of copious tasks. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre


Soulful Plotting

January 21, 2011


Trees or shrubs (usually evergreens) that lose their leaves in the fall.


Plants that keep their leaves or needles year round, but lose some.


Full Moon

January 20, 2011

Yeah for yesterday.

First came the sun, then the moon, full and bright.

What will today bring?


Gathering Eggs

January 19, 2011 Registered & Protected

I put on my coat, just before sunset, and went to the henhouse. As usual, the evening air was cold so I hurried to secure eleven hens and one pet turkey for the night. Standing outside the running pen, I locked the hatch then opened the coop door to gather eggs.

Inside, the free-ranging Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucanas, and Barred Rocks were on their perch, some purring a serene earthy song. In the distance, owl hoots harmonized with croaking frogs and chirping crickets—a soothing ballad that refreshes the soul after a hectic day. I’ve been gathering eggs three or four years now, and it’s a gentler chore in comparison to other farm tasks. I never tire of reaching into the cozy nesting boxes for brown and green treasures. Unlike the eggs from caged layers, my eggs require no cleaning. The shells are as smooth as silk.

Although I was moving quickly to get out of the cold, I slowed down to peek into the nesting boxes. The first box cradled two brown eggs, the second box had a green egg, the third was empty, and the fourth (this reads like Goldilocks) held an unusual surprise, one XXL-egg, and one XXS-egg. As I held the two oddball eggs, one in each palm, I smiled then chuckled. The exaggerated sizes were as laughable as looking at a Great Dane and a Chihuahua standing side-by-side.

After I said good night to the hens, I returned to the house with three normal-sized eggs and two abnormal ones. Once inside, I measured them. The XXL-egg was nearly four inches long by six-and-a-half inches in diameter. (Ouch!) The XXS-egg was three-inches around and only one inch long—not exactly edible. However, the larger egg will make a mighty fine omelet. What better way to start my day than with a meal packed full of organic goodness. Likewise, the quiet gathering of eggs is a perfect threshold to the passing of a day.  Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre    



Left to right: XXL, Normal Size, XXS






A Lesson in Forced Blub Flowering

January 17, 2011


Indoor blooms don’t just happen. As you can see in the photo, my Narcissus Paperwhites are flowerless. This was my first experience with indoor bulb forcing, which I shared with my readers in November. You can review my original posts by clicking on these three links:

Day 8 of forcing Narcissus Paperwhites Indoors

Indoor Bulb Forcing: Part I

Indoor Bulb Forcing: Part II

At first, my Paperwhites flourished. Two buds burst into tiny white flowers and bloomed for nearly three weeks. I was ecstatic. Everyday I watched for more blossoms with eager anticipation. Buds continued to form. As the foliage grew, my excitement heightened because I looked forward to a happy plant covered in florets. Then the flowers as well as the buds died. I was devastated and couldn’t understand what happened because the bulbs were healthy and firm. It was obvious I had failed them, and I wanted to know why.

Since I couldn’t find the answer online, I called a local nursery for some practical advice. The owner answered the phone and said, “I don’t know, but come in and buy ours. Our bulbs would never do that.”  

Frustrated, I sought help elsewhere. Here’s what had I learned:

“Narcissus bloom when it is cold out. They like it cold and wet. They usually yellow when the air is too dry, and soil too dry.” –Julie Morehouse, Horticultural Advisor/Garden Coach, Stockton, CA | 209-598-4707 

“You under-watered, once the bulbs flower the water evaporates quickly. They need more water to keep blooming.” –Bill Renfro, owner of Plants and Produce Retail Nursery, Lodi, CA | 209-727-0323

BINGO! I finally knew what I did wrong and how to avoid failure next time. My potted Narcissus sat in a warm, dry room. I was so concerned about over watering, the soil was barely moist, and with too many holiday festivities, I probably let it dehydrate more than once. Although my oversight wasn’t costly, I was disappointed with the results of my neglect.

If you are thinking of forcing indoor flowers, whatever variety bulb you choose, benefit from my mistakes—research environment, water needs and other growing requirements for successful indoor bulb flowering. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre



Soulful Plotting

January 14, 2011


Plants grown mostly for their beautiful foliage or flowers, not consumption.


Plants that will grow in the same habitat from which they originated that can include a continent, state, or region.


A plant that has edible leaves or stems.


A Special Thanks

January 13, 2011

If you look on the sidebar, you’ll see a new page titled Media. I’m proud as a new parent when a publication mentions Last year, there were two write-ups. Not bad for a first-year blogger. The Media page is my way of saying thanks to the writers and the business owners. I hope you’ll support them with a visit, and tell them sent you.

%d bloggers like this: