Archive for April, 2011

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Soulful Plotting

April 29, 2011

Runner:

A slender creeping or, trailing stem which produces small plants along the length wherever its leaf and bud parts come in contact with the soil. These nodes and root tips are called stolons. The new plant can be severed from the parent after it has developed sufficient roots. A strawberry plant is an example of a plant that develops runners.

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May Events

April 27, 2011

May is the month for gathering information, ideas, and inspiration for your yard and vegetable patch. Check out the many tours, workshops, tea for Moms, classes, and more.

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Science in the Garden

April 25, 2011

New Citrus Variety is Very Sweet, Juicy and Low-Seeded

A new mandarin variety, ‘KinnowLS’ (the LS is short for low seeded), has been developed. It’s very sweet, juicy, and low-seeded. “People who like very sweet fruit are going to find ‘KinnowLS’ to be very appealing,” said Mikeal Roose, a professor of genetics in, and chair of, the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, who developed ‘KinnowLS’ along with staff scientist Timothy Williams.

‘KinnowLS’ can be grown in California’s desert regions because the fruit, which matures during February through April, does well in hot climates.

Currently, plans are to distribute ‘KinnowLS’ budwood, starting June 2011, to only licensed nurseries in California. For three years, only California nurseries will be permitted to propagate ‘KinnowLS.’ Licenses for ‘KinnowLS’ propagation outside the United States will be issued thereafter. KinnowLS will not arrive in U.S. produce aisles for at least five years. —  University of California – Riverside 2011, April 11.

Europe’s Wildlife under Threat from Nitrogen, Study Warns

A new international study warns that nitrogen pollution, resulting from industry and agriculture, is putting wildlife in Europe’s at risk. More than 60 per cent of the EU’s most important wildlife sites receive aerial nitrogen pollution inputs above sustainable levels.

Dr Kevin Hicks, of the SEI at the University of York, said, “While the nitrogen impacts on plant species are relatively well understood its effects on other wildlife, such as butterflies, and the consequent implications for biodiversity are not so clear.”

A team of scientists, conservation and environmental managers and policy makers from across Europe, co-ordinated by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, reviewed evidence from across Europe. The study confirmed nitrogen deposition as a major threat to biodiversity in the Natura 2000 network established under the Community’s Habitats Directive to safeguard important habitats and species. —  University of York 2011, April 14.

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Soulful Plotting

April 22, 2011

Erosion

The washing away or removal of soil created by wind, water or man.

Mulching or planting cover crops after the last harvest helps to prevent wintertime erosion.

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Old-Time Ritual: A Real Egg Hunt

April 20, 2011

A long, dense hedge of potato vines encloses two sides of my perennial garden. The vines are a thick mass of woven stems concealing a four-foot pasture fence. In the pasture, a small flock of ten hens roams freely. Eight of them are young, in their first season of egg production. Recently, when daylight stretched further into evening they started lying regularly. Then without notice, the number of eggs decreased from five – seven to two or three per day.

Since the weather had been inconsistent and hens need 14 hours of daylight to keep producing, I hadn’t given the matter another thought.

A few days later, when I was in the garden, I noticed a hen walking on top of the potato vines. Immediately, I told her the rules—NO HENS ALLOWED IN THE GARDEN—then shooed her over where she belonged. Hens are grub connoisseurs. They can’t resist enriched soil with wiggly worms and insects. But hens don’t give a hoot about plant care. They love to nibble away new shoots and carelessly rip up small plants as they forage for food.

Everyday, I kept a lookout for hens on top of the vines or in the garden. One Saturday morning, when I was cooking breakfast, I looked out the window and spotted a hen walking—head bobbing—on the vines. Joe went out to shoo her away. Just as I flipped a pancake, I heard him holler for me. I turned off the burner and hurried outside.

“They’re laying eggs in the vines!” Joe said, excited. “There are at least a dozen eggs.”

I grabbed the egg basket and together we searched for nests. When I spotted one, I carefully spread apart a thick weave of stems and leaves. Inside was a cozy cave filled with brown and green eggs. I felt like ten-year-old Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden when she opened the hidden door to a world of wonder.

That morning we found 5 nests and 20 eggs (one was broken). I didn’t expect to participate in an Easter egg hunt this year. The egg hunt wasn’t a traditional hide-and-seek quest for Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, and hand-dyed hard-boiled eggs. But the incident certainly felt like an old-time ritual. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

Happy Easter to Everybody!



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A Weekend of Celebrations, Pullets, and Gardening

April 18, 2011

It was a busy weekend filled with outdoor activities and a couple of celebrations. Ralphie turned two years old last Friday, on the day of my wedding anniversary. He enjoyed a new doggie treat, and my husband, Joe, and I had a good meal out, a gift from a high school friend. Thanks Irene.

Saturday, I volunteered at the Amador Master Gardeners’ first spring workshop. Several MGs (master gardeners) shared tips on a variety of topics from how to make different tomato cages to growing “not your ordinary vegetables,” to eatable lilies and recipes for an impending bounty. Afterwards, I joined fellow MG’s Barbara Dahlberg, Kathy Freeman, and Glen Johnson at the demo garden. This year’s major projects are building a tool shed and deer fence. Saturday, we focused on the fence. Glen used some sort of hydraulic post driver and within an hour, he completed the job. A few dozen T-posts stood vertical without the aid of human hands.

Sunday, I planted cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and melons, painted vegetable signs, mulched a flowerbed, and worked in the perennial garden. Joe finished grouting the tile in my garden house,  then got busy with outdoor chores with Ralphie by his side. Mid-day, Joe and I decided to buy a few pullets (chicks). Usually, we get new pullets every other year. But we’ve learned in order to keep a steady flow of eggs, we need to add to the flock each spring. After a short drive to Lees’ Lockeford Hay Station, we made our selections. We now have two Silkie Bantams (these are for fun as they are a petite breed and produce tiny eggs), two Black Australorp, and three Buttercups in a small cow trough here in the garage. They are safe and warm under a heat lamp with feed and fresh water to nourish them along. When they’re old enough, I’ll house them in the coop (separate from the layers) and later in the running pen. The goal is to eventually let them free range, when they’re bigger and have common sense to return to the coop at night.

As Sunday wound down, the power went out. Forced to stop activities, Joe and I had to find our way in a dark house for flashlights, matches, and candles. We brought the pullets inside where warm logs were burning in the fireplace. Once the pullets were calm, we snacked by candlelight on sandwiches, applesauce, and chips. Our home was filled with the sounds of little chirps, crackling logs, and a barking dog. The weekend was active, even into the twilight. I was tired, after working at a gardening workshop, fence building, tucking seeds and seedlings into the earth, sign painting, tending to perennial plants, adopting pullets and celebrations honored. But it was a tired that felt good. That’s how productive, long sunny days are in and around the garden. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

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Soulful Plotting

April 15, 2011

Fungicide:

A chemical used to

protect against,

inhibit, or kill

plant diseases caused by fungi.

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