Let’s Talk About March 2017

By: Pat Cordray
March is the time when The Nursery is alive with the colors and sounds of spring.  The beauty of the sky, the flowers, and the butterflies moving from bloom to bloom.  Then add the sounds of the birds, the musical tones of the wind chimes and the bubbling fountains. Next, add the breeze and now you have a chance to really be in the moment.   If you can get away, make it a point of coming by to see and hear “the spring” at The Nursery.  Come for a stroll, bring your lunch and enjoy the day here.

A little spring color:

Bougainvillea
Cajun Sunrise Hibiscus
Aloe
Cajun Starburst Hibiscus

March is a great gardening month with tons to do! Let’s get started.

The top of my list is getting the trimmers, garden scissors, and loppers out and get them sharpened because this month we are going to finally get all that dead looking stuff out of the garden. It only looks dead, most likely so don’t be hasty and pull it out by the roots. Cut it back starting at the top and then cutting a little back at a time until you see green. The plant may need to be trimmed all the way back to the ground, and that is okay. It may very well return quickly and be even more beautiful than before. Blooms might be delayed by this, but the plants will bloom again.
We may need a dose of color to brighten the garden quickly and now is a great time to add color plants. Some of the plants you might consider for containers or in the ground are dianthus, petunia, geraniums, begonia impatiens, marigolds, verbena, bacopa, nasturtiums, gazania, zinnias, pentas, coleus, salvia and dusty miller are just a few instant color options. Other plants to consider are foxglove, blue bonnet, delphinium and sweet pea. These plants are so beautiful you don’t want to miss having them bloom in your garden this spring. Any of these plants will brighten up your garden while you wait for the plants you cut back to fill in.
What about your vegetable garden? Let’s get going and get those tomatoes in the ground this month. Your potatoes should already be in the ground, plant potatoes mid-February. This month you can also plant beans, radish, corn, and lettuce. Mid-month you can plant cucumber, eggplant, peppers, squash, and watermelon.
For your lawn, use leaf mold compost and MicroLife 6-2-4 this month. Spread about ½ to ¼ of an inch of compost on your lawn, the compost should fall between the blades of grass.  A MicroLife 6-2-4 40lb bag covers 1000 sq. ft. at 10-15lbs. Leaf mold compost and MicroLife will add tons of microorganisms that will help your soil feed the grass. It is also great for correcting fungal problems and will help your soil from being compacted.
Since you will have the big bag of MicroLife 6-2-4 out in the yard, go ahead and feed the soil around all your plants, shrubs, and trees. Once your soil is fed it will take care of your plants. That’s the way it is supposed to be. Healthy soil is the gold of the garden.
Walk barefoot in the grass and enjoy your garden,
 Pat

Let’s Talk About December 2017

By: Pat Cordray

 

It is hard to believe we are here, the end of the year, the holidays, and maybe even cooler temperatures.  We have had lots of sun in November and not enough rain.  Usually, I’m able to turn off my sprinkler system in October and wait until March to turn them back on.  Not so this year, everything is dry and I have to hand water to make sure that all the plants get a drink.  What kind of gardening can we do this month?  There is still a lot of gardening to do, even if it is December.  It is not too late to add color to your garden or containers, vegetables are still an option and camellias.

Now for the freeze warning. If we have a freeze warning for our area, first water your plants; this protects the roots, so water thoroughly, not just for 60 seconds.  Next, cover your plants tenting the fabric to the ground then secure it with pegs.  Once the weather warms up remove the fabric. Use fabric made to protect plants or use fabric to cover the plant and plastic to cover the fabric, like a windbreaker.   For hanging baskets, take them in or set them on the ground, water and cover.  For plants in containers, take them in or water and cover.  These instructions are for plants that are tender to the cold.  This doesn’t freeze proof your tender plants but it will help add a little warmth and that may be all that is needed to save a plant.  It is better to be prepared than scrambling around at the last minute trying to find your cold weather gardening supplies.  So, place your N-Sulate cloth and pegs where you can find them.  The Nursery usually keeps these supplies in stock if needed.

Plants for fall and winter have wonderful bright vibrant color. Here are a few of the beautiful plants that bloom this time of year.  The pansy
Frizzle Sizzle Pansy
6-8″ tall
Blooms best in full sun
but can bloom in part shade
Snapdragon,
Snapdragon
Full Sun
Snapshot 6-10″ tall
Montego 8-10″ tall
Solstice 16-20″ tall
Sonnet 18-24″ tall
Rocket 24-36″ tall
And dianthus.
Floral Lace Dianthus
Full sun
6-8″ tall

 

These are just 3 examples of beautiful color for now.  Brighten up your garden with any of these.

What else can you plant in December? You can still plant vegetables.  Plant cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, Brussels sprouts, leeks, greens, and turnips.  Get busy now so you can eat soon!

Camellias are another beautiful fall through spring bloomer.  There aren’t too many flowers, that bloom down here,  as beautiful. Check out the pictures below

 

So much beauty!

Enjoy your garden,
Pat

 

Plant a Winter Herb Pot

by Kim Nichols Messer

                  Herbs can be grown easily in a container.  I like to start a couple of herb pots each season.  In the fall and winter, I prefer the savory herbs.  You may use almost any type of container.  A lightweight plastic container is good if you need to move the pot around as the light changes during the season.  A 15-gallon container will fit six herb plants easily.  Most herbs really only need about six inches of soil below to spread out their roots.  A large terra cotta pot is a beautiful addition to a porch or patio but will be a bit heavy to move.  A 16.5-inch pot will hold six herb plants.  You may also plant herbs in a window box.  A smallish version will easily hold four herb plants.  I have parsley in a large mason jar in the kitchen window.  A small Bay Laurel plant will do well in a small pot outside in the sunshine.
                   Use good organic potting soil in a pot with several holes for good drainage.  Then choose your favorite herb combinations.  As the weather cools, I will be roasting root vegetables and making soups.  Some of my favorite winter herbs are Sage, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme and of course Parsley.  Try roasting some beets with olive oil and rosemary.  Or butternut squash with sage.   Thyme is great with chicken and roasted vegetables.  Sage and Bay leaves are great in soups and stews.  Herbs are so easy to grow and so economical to have nearby for use in your cooking.  Fresh herbs will really enhance the flavor of your dish.  Give it a try, grow some herbs.

Just Add Water

By: Kim Messer
        There are so many ways to add water to your yard.  It may be as simple as adding a bird bath.  We have a bird bath in a corner of the yard.  It is a water source for birds, bees and squirrels.  We refill it daily this time of the year.  Birds drink and bathe in the fresh water.  They usually stay awhile and fluff out their wings to dry before flying off.  The song birds passing through are really social little birds.  The Wrens will visit the bird bath in little bird packs of ten or twelve birds.  They bathe and then dry themselves in the sand rubbing their bellies and chirping.
        We also have a three tiered fountain.  The water flow provides a soothing sound for us and another water source for creatures visiting the yard.  It also seems to be a nice place for lizards to hang around.  The fountain rarely needs to be cleaned, and that just means scooping out the leaves and changing out the water.  The sediment rich water is great for your nearby plants.
        Here at the Nursery, we have an above ground lily pond.  The plants help filter the water for the fish inside.  It is quite a relaxing spot.  The Lotus Flowers rise up  from the murky bottom to open clean and fresh to greet the day.  They are certainly beautiful and deserve a second glance.
        There are so many ways to add water to your yard.  Just a little effort may bring great rewards… Enjoy your yard and share some water!

Time for Fall Veggies

By: Kathryn Courtney

It’s very hot. I just went outside for 5 minutes and that was too much. It’s not terrible in the shade though, so sitting on my porch is still doable. I miss my gardening. Watering things just to keep them alive is not very satisfying. Just when it seems like there’s no hope, along comes fall vegetable gardening season. We are very lucky here on the gulf coast. We have 2 gardening seasons and if you start early enough, planting with seeds is the way to go.

   Plant a second crop of spring vegetables by choosing short season varieties. Bush green beans, cherry tomatoes, small cucumbers and short season summer squash are just some of the seeds you can start now for an extra crop during early fall. Look at the seed packets to find the varieties with the shortest time to maturity. This will give you a better chance of having more to harvest before temperatures get too cold. I especially like to do squash and green beans in the fall because the pests and mildew that plague the garden in spring are not as bad in late summer. Give your seedlings extra water and some shade if you can during August as the temperatures are very hot. As your plants mature, the temperatures will slowly drop allowing for your plants to flourish and provide a good harvest. I start my cherry tomatoes in Ladybug seed germination mix on my porch. This gives the seedlings some shade and protection from the worst heat. Healthy Harvest fertilizer contains actinovate which fights damping off of your seedlings. Sprinkle a little on top of your seeds before you water them. Squash, bush beans and short season cucumbers go directly in the ground. I sprinkle a half inch layer of seed starting mix or worm castings on top of the ground where the seeds will be planted. This helps the seeds germinate and the roots can get established directly in the ground. If you have a mist setting on your watering wand use it for your seeds. The soft spray will not disturb the fragile roots that are just getting established.

 

   Now for the cold weather crops. Root crop seeds can be planted now. These veggies don’t transplant

Easter Egg Radishes

very well so plant them directly in the ground or container where you want them to grow. Carrots, beets, onion seeds, turnips and radishes are good root crops to start now. Radishes take no time at all to mature making them a great veggie to plant with kids. Plus there is the fun of getting to pull them out of the ground. There are many brassica vegetables to start now. Broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, and cabbage are just

Romanesco Broccoli

a few. The fun of doing this type of vegetable from seed is the variety. There are the regular varieties and then there are some with great different shapes and colors. Romanesco broccoli, purple cauliflower and kohlrabi and frilly kale are some of the different varieties to grow. Germinate these seeds in a kitchen window or on the porch away from the hot sun. If the seedlings get too hot the vegetables can turn bitter. Greens are my favorite fall veggie. Fresh spinach is very hard to beat. Heat tolerant varieties of lettuce and spinach don’t mind the cold either, so you can expect to be harvesting until spring or early summer of next year. Mustard greens, endives, arugula, swiss chard and different greens mixes are only a few of the choices available. The diversity of the greens family is amazing. I start

Swiss Chard

my greens seeds where they are going to grow. I love growing greens in containers for ease and for decoration. Greens planted in a container can be as beautiful as any flower. Try one of the chards such as bright lights on your front porch. Your neighbors will be jealous.

 

Get your fall garden seeds started now. Don’t miss the fall gardening season!

 

On Watering

By: Deb Pavlosky
I know you all know this already, but I am going to say this again – plants NEED water – how often and how much is dependent upon the plant and the soil it is planted in as well as other conditions (like temperature, light, wind, mulching, etc.).  If all you are growing is succulents or other drought tolerant plants, overwatering is more of an issue for you than underwatering and this article is not meant for you.
If, however, you are like nearly everyone I know and you are growing typical landscape and/or potted plants in this area, this article should be like gospel.
Water your plants.  During the summer, most plants will need water EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Yes, every single day.  This is especially true for newly planted plants.  When you put a new plant in the ground, the root ball is directly underneath the bottom of the plant.  Plant roots need time to grow and spread before they are truly efficient at getting water.  So, when you water, be sure to water at the base of the plant and directly over the root ball.  Water deeply to encourage the roots to grow more deeply.  If you only water enough to moisten the top couple of inches of soil, you won’t reach the whole root ball and any roots that grow will be shallow.  Shallow watering will lead to weaker and more thirsty plants over time.
If you have a sprinkler system, that’s great for established plants, but the sprinkler heads may not deliver water exactly to the root ball as necessary for new plantings.  So, YES, you will have to hand water those new plantings at least through the first growing season.   It takes some time for plants to become established and develop sufficient root systems.
For established plants (plants that have been in the ground for more than a growing season) watering is less of a concern, but you still have to pay attention to their needs.  Water stress can be the cause of a lot of issues and can make plants more susceptible to disease and pests.  Water daily in the summer to keep your plants happy and healthy.
If your soil drains well, that’s a good thing (ideal for most plants except boggy types that either like to be in the water or have wet feet).  But, because it drains well, you are going to have to water daily.  Even if there was a rainstorm the day before, you have to water.  I have personal experience that I am sharing with you in the photo included here.  This photo shows a half whiskey barrel planter that I was replanting the day following a rainstorm.  I assumed the soil would be too wet for me to plant, but I thought I would give it a go anyway.  I pulled the old plants out and then dug down into the soil to find that it was completely DRY beneath the surface.  And, though the surface appeared wet, the soil beneath was not.  I was so struck by it, I asked my husband to come out and see it too.  He’s always asking if I really need to water and this was prima facie evidence.  Yes, counselor, I do.
So, the end of June came with a few days of really rainy weather and that was a nice little relief for this gardener.  But, the heat will return and watering will be key to happy plants and in turn a happy gardener.
Also, remember that your plants are using up nutrients in the soil as they grow and all the watering can cause some of those nutrients to leach out of the soil too.  Fertilize through the growing season with a good organic fertilizer like Microlife 6-2-4.  This fertilizer provides needed nutrition and encourages more fine-root growth that will help plants uptake both water and nutrients.  As a bonus, Microlife will not burn your plants.  It’s a win-win-win so, don’t forget to water-water-water and use a good organic fertilizer.

When Your Neighbor’s Trash Is Your Treasure !

By: Deb Pavlosky
Some days one person’s trash is YOUR treasure!  I was fortunate enough to come across my treasure on the street in my neighborhood as I was driving to work one day recently.  It was trash day and one of my lovely neighbors had left a broken wooden chair on the curb for pick up.  As I drove by, all I could think was, “Surely, I can do something with that.”  The chair was beautifully painted and looked like it would only need some minor repairs.  So, that’s when my husband got the call to swing by and pick it up.  Luckily for me, I married a man who will do weird things like pick up a chair off the side of the road without asking too many questions.  So, he did and I couldn’t wait to get home that afternoon.
Below is a picture of the chair.  The frame needed to be screwed back together and there was no seat, but that didn’t matter because I decided to turn the chair into a planter.
  Trash to Treasure 1
First things first — My husband is also quite handy.  He was able to easily fix the frame of the chair and reinforce it with both an exterior adhesive and screws.
 
Second, I sealed the chair with multiple coats of exterior clear, matte sealant.  I made sure to thoroughly spray all joints and screws as well as the underside of all surfaces.  I allowed the finish to dry between
 coats.

 

Third, I purchased a plastic planter that fit exactly inside the seat opening on the chair.  I used plastic because it is lightweight.
 
Fourth, I prepared to plant the plastic pot by drilling large drainage holes in the bottom and placing a layer of weed barrier on the bottom underneath a few cups of expanded shale (to aid with drainage).  The weed barrier keeps the shale and soil from falling out the bottom of the pot, but it still allows water to flow freely through.
 
Fifth, I selected my plants to fit in the pot and the location for the chair in my landscape.  Luckily for me, again, we had just received a shipment of Rex begonias at Maas Nursery.  I have wanted to grow Rex begonias forever, but I never really had the right place to put them.  With this chair project, I now do!
When creating a mixed container planting, there is a formula to follow: Thrillers in the back, fillers in the middle and spillers in the front.  Filler plants are typically in the middle of a mixed planting and provide contrast for the thrillers (tall and showy) and spillers (growing over the edge of the pot).  But, with Rex begonias as fillers, they are also thrillers!!!  Along with the begonias, I tried my best to pick other plants with similar light (shade, part shade, dappled light) and water (well drained and dry between waterings) requirements.  For spiller plants, I chose silver falls dichondra and a hoya.  For thriller plants, I chose Mariachi Pink picotee lisianthus.  Though lisianthus like a little more light and a little more water than begonias, I was able to situate the planter in my yard so that they get just enough light.  Also, they are planted at the back of the pot, so if they need to be watered, I can water only these plants and not the others.    There are usually ways to make things work!
 
And lastly, the most fun part, I put it all together and I have the cutest planter I have ever made!!!

So, don’t pass up that trash on the side of the road that caught your eye.  It may be your treasure!!!

Growing Flowers and Herbs with your Veggies…

Growing Flowers and Herbs with Your Veggies
     It’s pretty and your veggies will thank you.

By Kathryn Courtney
  How do you have a healthy, organic vegetable garden? Add flowers and herbs of course! The benefits of planting all of these types of plants together is amazing. Flowers and herbs attract pollinators to your veggies, repel pests, invite beneficial predatory insects and make very attractive plantings in your garden.
     There are so many herbs and flowers that attract pollinators to your vegetable garden, I just can’t list them all. A stroll through the nursery will give you an idea as to what types of flowers bees and other pollinators like. You will notice that bees are attracted to certain flowers. Flowers with a daisy like shape are the most attractive to bees and butterflies.Their flat surfaces make it easy for the bees to collect and spread pollen. Once the bees have found their favorite flowers, they will then move on to the nearby vegetable

Cosmos and Parsley with Cucumbers

flowers, pollinating as they go. This pollinating helps guarantee a healthy harvest. Some of my favorite flowers to add to my garden are zinnias, cosmos, cone flowers, coreopsis, sunflowers, pentas and sweet alyssum. Dill, celery, parsley and basil flowers will also attract pollinators. Anise hyssop and tulsi basil are my favorite pollinator herbs. These plants will have the bees and butterflies flocking to your garden.

     There are several flowers and herbs that will repel garden pests. A good companion planting chart will help you find the plants that will help repel the bad pests in your garden. One of the most common companion planting flowers is the marigold. French type marigolds help repel harmful nematodes that do damage to the roots of your veggies. The nematodes can also climb through the roots and up to the stems and leaves of your vegetables,destroying the entire plant. Melons, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, squash and okra will all benefit from marigold plantings. Basil and dill are two herbs that will attract tomato horn worms away from your tomatoes. Borage also repels worms that feed on tomatoes. Planting nasturtiums and tansy among your squash and cucumbers will repel cucumber

Nasturtiums with Squash
Nasturtiums with Squash

and squash beetles. Google companion plantings or look up this subject in your favorite gardening books. You will find a planting combination for everything in your garden.

     Not only can flowers and herbs repel bad insect pests, they can attract beneficial, predatory insects. These insects will feast on pests in the garden. Beneficial insects include ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic and braconid wasps and hover flies. The verdict is still out on praying mantis as these cute bugs will eat the good insects along with the bad. These beneficial garden insects munch on aphids, mealybugs, thrips, mites and scale.To attract these great predators plant daisies, dill and parsley for parasitic and braconid wasps. Mint, fennel, tansy and yarrow will attract a variety of beneficials including ladybugs, lacewings, hover flies and parasitic wasps. Sweet alyssum is one of my very favorite companion flowers because not only do bees love it but

Marigolds with tomatoes

so do hover flies and braconid wasps. Search to find what insects will eat the pests in your vegetable garden, then plant flowers to attract these garden helpers.

    Flowers, herbs and vegetables benefit each other, but planted together they make beautiful gardens. Line your flower beds with curly parsley for a ruffled border. Plant swiss chard for the bright, colorful stems. Plant borage for its great sky blue flowers. Try different combinations of flowers, herbs and vegetables all over your yard. Just remember to keep your yard organic if you are going to eat your wonderful garden plants. Come see us at the nursery. We can help you plan a perfect organic mixed garden.

Lets Talk About June By: Pat Cordray

 

With all the rain in May, hopefully, we haven’t all washed away.  One benefit of the rain is June may be an extremely green month.  If your yard is anything like mine, very much the blooming jungle, this rain is causing the plants to grow by leaps and bounds.  I can’t seem to find the time when it is not raining to take the garden loppers, shears and maybe even the chainsaw to it.  It seems impossible to even start, but start I must.  

 

Where to start?  I will be cutting many plants way back; I need to be able to walk on the path in my yard.    Now that it is June, I will not be trimming my azaleas or my camellias back.  Camellias are now forming the flowers for next fall and winter and azaleas are now forming flowers for next spring.  Pulling weeds is also on the list.  Don’t waste garden space on weeds that use up valuable water without any return.  IF the rain stops, we will all have to water.  With the hotter temperatures most plants need more water.  This is especially true for azaleas and camellias and any newly planted flowers, shrubs or trees.

 

Have you seen all the new Hibiscus varieties at The Nursery?  Wow! Is just the start of what I can say about them.  They are so incredible; it looks like someone has been tie dying the flowers.  I had to have the Cherry Appaloosa hibiscus; it has the most incredible red flower with splashes of white.  I added it to my Pink Lemonade and Gold Rain hibiscus.  I have no room left for the other equally beautiful hibiscus like Space Oddity, the double flower of Time for Magic, Big Bang, Yellow Jacket and the never too old, Rumrunner.  

 

With the heat of the summer starting any moment, keep watch for bad critters on your hibiscus.  Mealy bugs are cottony white bugs that congregate mostly on the stems of the hibiscus and feed on the new growth.  Aphids are tiny bugs that are black, greenish or yellowish.  Aphids

can cover the stems leaves and buds on the hibiscus.   White flies are tiny white moths that lay eggs on the underside of leaves.  White flies excrete honeydew that will cause sooty mold on the tops of the leaves.  These pests can be jet sprayed off but that seems to just be a temporary fix.  Triple Action Plus or Neem oil used in the early morning hours, seems to be a longer lasting fix.  Spray the tops and undersides of leaves every 7-10 days.  Don’t spray around or on beneficial insects.  Some will recommend products that contain imidacloprid for problems with pests on hibiscus.  This systemic insecticide product will work but the cost is that it also will kill bees and other beneficials in the garden when they feed on treated plants.  

 

Get outside your jungle awaits,

Pat

 

Cool Summer Pasta Salad with Organic Lime Juice

Bowl of LimesI have several Citrus Trees in my yard, but my favorite is the Mexican Lime.   It produces wonderfully fragrant flowers followed by one hundred or more  Limes.  I fertilize with Microlife, an Organic Fertilizer, for wholesome  Organic Limes. These  limes are extremely juicy and do not have any seeds.  You can smell the Lime through the skin of the fruit. Limes are great for  cooking or adding to a beverage. Friends and family love to be gifted with  Limes. At the end of the season, remaining Limes can be juiced and poured  into ice cube trays for freezing.  Place Lime Ice Cubes into baggies for use  later. One last good thing about Citrus Trees, they are a Host Plant for the  Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar.  If you see an oddly shaped black and  white blob on a leaf, that is the camouflaged Swallowtail Caterpillar. You can help the Butterfly population. Go Green!
 
Cool Summer Pasta Salad with Organic Lime Juice
 
10 ounces Gluten Free or Whole Grain Pasta, I used a 4 Grain Blend (White Rice, Brown Rice, Corn and Quinoa Rotini Shaped) or any shape you like
1 tsp Organic Garlic Powder
Small carton of yellow and red Organic Tomatoes halved
Half an Organic Cucumber peeled, seeded and cubed
Palmful of Kalamata Olives pitted and halved
2 or 3 tablespoons fresh Organic Chives chopped 
Palmful fresh Organic Basil chopped
4 tablespoons Organic unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt
Organic Lime Juice, Ice Cube melted or squeeze half a lime
Boil pasta according to package instructions and then set aside.  Combine all other ingredients and mix together. Combine with pasta, chill and serve.
 
Eat your yard!