Blog posts from March 2013

Garden Chat on Ken Druse’s Real Dirt Podcast

Mar 30, 2013

Ken-druse-real-dirtLast week I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Ken Druse of Ken Druse's Real Dirt blog and podcast. It's a really interesting podcast that covers all sorts of gardening topics and gardening experts for both home gardeners and industry folk like myself. We chatted about gardening trends, how to get people interested in gardening and some of the challenges about perception in the industry. If you'd like to listen you can head over to Ken's blog HERE.

Al little about Ken...he has been called a "gardening superstar." With sixteen books to his credit, frequent television appearances, regular articles for leading national newspapers and magazines, and now with his Podcast, he is one of the nation's leading voices of natural gardening. His groundbreaking book, "The Natural Garden," initiated a design movement that continues to grow in popularity today.   Check it out!

Spring Blooms in the Garden

Mar 18, 2013

Spring has definitely sprung around these parts! I thought I'd give you a sampling of some of the plants blooming around my garden. Enjoy!

Iris bestbet

Fava Bean flowers

Romanesco bud

Loropetalum everred

Tulip lighteningsun

Trailing Rosemary

Cilantro blooms

Iberis, Candytuft

Tulip 'Passionale'

Scabiosa in bloom

Natural Mosquito Prevention INSTEAD of Spraying!

Mar 11, 2013

OK PEOPLE, Dallas is planning to increase it's aerial spraying program this year. I find this not only unwarranted but reprehensible. The chemicals they will yet again be raining down upon us are not necessary...if they'd just focus on prevention. But see this mosquito problem is one that we the people can get control of ourselves, if we just put forth the tiniest effort. All it takes is a few handfuls of a natrial larvicide to do the job. And guess what? Now's the time you need to be planning for prevetion. While we've had a few cold snaps, we've also had a lot of warm days. The Fleas are already hatched out and jumping. Mosquitoes won't be far behind.

Bt

Bt (Bacillius thuriengensis var. israelensis) also known as Thuricide (liquid form) or Mosquito Bits, is my not so secret weapon to having no mosquito problems in my yard. This naturally occuring bacteria is fatal only to larvae and caterpillars. The species included in this product is particularly effective against Mosqutio larvae (and fungus gnats). All you have to do is sprinkle a few handfuls of the bits under your foundation shrubs, any landscape beds with automated irrigation or that you water regularly, drain boxes, low spots in the yard and even gutters. I do this about three times per year. Timing depends on the weather. If it's warm early, I'll put out my first application in April, if it's not then early May. Then again in June and July. If you have ponds, birdbaths or live on a creek, purchase the floating dunk form and just pitch one, or a piece of one in the standing water.

The Bt attacks the Mosquito larvae and kills them before they even have a chance to hatch. This bacteria is safe for children, pets, birds and fish. It's the most non-toxic and most effective treatment for dealing with Mosqitoes (Hello, Dallas?)

Quit over-watering your lawns and quit watering them over-night. Highland Park, Preston Hollow and Park Cities...you are major culprits. I know this, because I've personally inspected many of your irrigation systems...I know how much and how often you're watering. That's why you have so many fungal problems and decline in your St. Augustine and on all those Indian Hawthornes and Azaleas. I'm not saying it's all your fault..but realize many of you have maintenance companies that are setting your irrigation improperly.  If you need help figuring out how much and when to water, please drop me a line! But, I know plenty of you Lakewood and East Dallas Hipster residents that are just as over-generous with your watering. So no one is off the hook here!

If neighbors, or neighborhoods, got together on prevention we could make a huge dent in the city's Mosqiuto population. Make a deal with your neighbors...if you live on a creek, each one of you should get together and buy a 4 or 6 pack of the mosquito dunks. Once per month from April or May - July or August, just pitch one out the back door into the creek. You'll be AMAZED at the results! Do you have a housebound or elderly neighbor? How about buying a pack for them and dropping it off, or better yet, apply the bits or dunks in their yard/creek for them?

See that big jug in the photo?  (from Summit Chemical btw) It will cost you around $12-$13 bucks. Maybe less. Last summer I used about 20%-25% of the container and saw about 3 mosquitoes total on my property. Seriously people, why leave this in the hands of the city when they will only spend way too much of our money on an ineffective and toxic treatment? Spend a few bucks, knock on your neighbor's door, and let's prevent this problem before it even gets started...

Day Length Effects Egg Laying Rate

Mar 9, 2013

Now that the days are getting longer, you'll probably see a big uptick in the number of eggs your girls are delivering on a daily basis.

Eggs

Here is what I'm snagging from my coop these days...I currently have 7 hens a workin' (so in this photo there are a few from the previous day).

A chicken's egg laying cycle is dependent on photoperiod (length of darkness) and temperature. Different breeds are more or less sensitive to these environmental factors. So I often hear folks complain about the lack of eggs in the winter and they wonder what they're doing wrong. Nothing! It's just the natural cycle of things. My Silkies actually layed a few eggs here and there over the winter, as will my Barred Rock and Ameraucana. But the others; Polish & Faverolle won't drop a single egg in the winter. Others do better in the summer. This has nothing to do with whether you have chickens in the city, or in the country (I've been asked that as well.)

I also hear folks talking about putting a light in the coop during winter to extend the photoperiod. That' s all fine and well if your goal is heavy production at the cost of a short egg laying life span of your birds. Artificially modifying the photoperiod can stress your chicken's endocrine system. In commercial production, that's not a concern because laying birds are usually sacrificed after 1-year. But in a home flock, you usually have the quality and length of life as a concern with your birds.

So give your girls a break, would ya? When they are in season, they work hard! Everyone needs a little winter rest right? Happy spring!

Arugula in Bloom

Mar 7, 2013

It's been a bolting frenzy around my garden lately! I always leave some of my fall planted crops of salad greens and broccoli to go to flower come February. Because I keep beehives, I always want to make sure there is a food source around for my girls even during cold months.

Arugula bloom

This is a shot of Arugula in bloom in my front-yard garden. Because I allow some of it to go to flower each late-winter/early-spring, this stand simply naturally re-seeds itself and I rarely have to plant any new Arugula. Plus the bees love it! Remember, you can collect seed from open-pollinated and heirloom varieties of veggies. Arugula is quite prolific and pretty!

It’s Rose Time!

Mar 3, 2013

Ok guys, it's time to get planting! Now is a great time to get roses in the ground in Texas. Independent garden centers should be flush with their new 2013 inventory of rose plants and it will be the best time for you to find those special varieties you may be looking for. Remember, good drainage is key. Amend your soil with organic compost and expanded shale to improve drainage. Fertilize at planting time. It's too late to prune back your roses, at least in the North Texas, DFW area. But you can do some light pruning in August along with another fertilization. You might think I have enough roses...NOPE. I'll be planting six new 'Polka' climbing roses along my West side fence this week. It's ther perfect shade of peach...

 

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