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Archives for December 2015

Living: Highlight Your Landscaping Design with Rocks & Various Types of Stone …

Natural stone undoubtedly, is one of the most important and versatile elements of landscape designing. Rocks are known to add contrast and texture, require very little or zero maintenance and acts as a pretty durable groundcover.

Landscaping with the Right Rocks

Adding right rocks to your garden helps in highlighting your yard. River rocks or beach pebbles infuses an element of warmth, while dazzling white marble chips help in brightening up shady spots. Flat terracotta stones are best for tropical landscapes, but do not complement formal garden settings.

For a Polynesian-themed or minimalist modern garden, you could experiment with black lava rocks. Remember stones would be lasting indefinitely, so it is vital to select a look that would keep you happy for several years to come. Stone walls are used to highlight gardens. You could choose from a wide spectrum of stone walls to make your garden stand out from the rest. You can consult King Landscape Company for best landscaping ideas and solutions.

Undulating Fieldstone Walls

Undulating fieldstone walls help in creating effective barriers, while giving a chic and stylish appearance to the garden. Fieldstone provides a natural material just right for garden walls. You could be dry stacking stones or using mortar for holding them together. To create a natural garden setting, stone walls seem to be the best option as they are durable and truly classic.

Combination Wood Fence Fieldstone Walls

If you have a fascination for wood fencing and stone, you could incorporate both in your landscape design. A typical fence would be featuring a really low wall of fieldstone topped with one wooden shake center. It would however, be capped with small pickets. A stone foundation really gives a robust and substantial look to the fence. Round fieldstones are easily mortared into place thanks to their shape.

Curved Flagstone Walls

Infuse a stylish look to your backyard patio by using a curved flagstone wall. The circular flagstone wall would be creating a feeling of privacy and enclosure. Flagstone is usually available in large sheets mostly from ¾ inch in thickness to 4 inches in thickness. Limestone, Granite and Quartz are most common kinds of flagstone.

Stacked-Stone Entryway

The stacked-stone wall is the perfect choice if you want to integrate a garden bed into your entryway. The tight-fitting flat stones provide structure and strength which is vital for when it will be filled with soil to make a planting bed. Let your imagination run free, mix and match different masonry types to come up with impressive new designs.

Mortared Stone Walls

A mortared stone wall is perfect in any landscape and setting. It is sturdy, and can hold in a natural, terraced slope, perfect for your planting beds. Stone looks natural and is very sturdy, hence being the material of choice for garden walls of any type.

Stacked Block Walls

If you’re thinking of uniform, smooth walls, it could be a fantastic idea to go for concrete blocks or other manufactured materials. By stacking them in any order, you could establish an effective, seamless boundary and bring about a minimalist, aesthetically pleasing look to the entire landscape. These walls tend to be low, but act as an effective demarcation, creating a courtyard in front of the house.

Stone Lattice Walls

A combination of latticework top and stone base helps to create a tall wall having a see-through appeal. The latticework top adds an element of style and also, provides a support structure for vines.

Varied-Size Stone Walls

While landscaping, you could construct a varied-size stone wall to showcase the diversity and beauty of stone, in your garden. Small and large stones are mortared together for creating a textural wall, which is ideal for a country or cottage garden. The bamboo lattice would provide plants with a place for climbing.

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Heating birdbaths and other December gardening tips

By Leonard Perry, UVM horticulturist, and Charlie Nardozzi, garden consultant

Providing birds with water by means of heated birdbaths, starting herbs indoors, and choosing the best poinsettias are some of the gardening activities for this month.

Keep birdbaths ice-free and filled with fresh water. Heated bird baths, and heating elements made to insert into bird baths to keep them from freezing, are available at many garden supply stores and online. Make sure if using such electrical devices that they are plugged into properly grounded outlets using safe, outdoor extension cords.

To encourage birds to visit your garden this winter, set out feeders near evergreen trees or shrubs so birds have cover while they feed. If you or your neighbors have bird-chasing cats, or if raiding squirrels are a problem, hang the feeders higher off the ground and away from trees and structures. (Make sure the bears are hibernating before feeding the birds, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department recommends waiting until there is at least six inches of snow on the ground.)

Spend a few dollars more on high quality bird seeds, such as black oil sunflower, to appeal to the most birds and give them the nutrition they need.

Start seeds of basil, chives, sage, or other herbs for a winter windowsill herb garden. If you don’t have a sunny windowsill, consider setting up a light garden using fluorescent bulbs suspended a few inches above the tops of plants.

As nights grow colder, make sure houseplants are away from window glass to prevent chill damage. Or close shades and curtains at night to help insulate them against the cold.

When shopping for poinsettias, look for ones with healthy green leaves all the way to the bottom of the plants. For longest life, choose a plant with the flowers not yet open–these are the rather inconspicuous yellow lumps at the center of the brightly colored bracts (actually these colored parts are modified leaves). Visit a greenhouse to be awed by masses in bloom, and to find some of the latest varieties such as with marbled or spotted bracts. Make sure to keep the plant covered and out of cold on the way home, and away from drafts once home, as poinsettias are quite sensitive to cold.

If friends or others in your family garden, think about shopping for holiday gifts at a garden supply store or even hardware or home store. New hand tools, good pruners, gloves, weather instruments, and garden magazine subscriptions are some of the many items you might consider as gifts. If not sure what to get or what they have, then gift certificates are always welcome. If money is tight, consider a gift certificate of your own time this coming year to help with mowing, planting, weeding, building a raised bed, or other activity.

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Growing a Classic Garden

Unlike many garden authorities, Norwich resident Bill Noble did not start his career by going to college to study plants and serving as apprentice to a gardening pro.

He moved to the Upper Valley in 1976 with degrees in history and classics and a desire to work with his hands in a community. After a stint as an organizer with Listen Community Services, and as a woodworker, he found a niche in the soil.

“While working as a cabinetmaker I began a small market garden and put my community organizing skills to work by helping to start the Cornish Farmers Market — the first one in 1982 or so,” Noble said. “I loved growing plants and bringing them to market, selling directly to people who wanted the produce, and eventually expanded to grow 10 acres of vegetables, first in Cornish, then in Windsor. I marketed through a farmstand in Ascutney, the Cornish Farmers Market and wholesale. But I found it hard to make a living, and put farming aside.”

His interest in gardening became a career when he found a way to combine it with his interest in history. “I had an Aha! moment when I discovered the field of historic gardens and garden preservation,” Noble said. “I was lucky enough to be offered an internship at Saint-Gaudens (National Historic Site in Cornish) to help restore the hedges. That’s when I started learning about horticulture, garden design and garden history.”

Noble’s career as a garden designer and consultant has been an illustrious one, and he has received a new honor: The garden at his Norwich home has been featured in a new book, Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration — 25 Years of The Garden Conservancy.

Fifty gardens from around the country were selected for the book, each of which has been on display through The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program — which is in itself an honor. Noble’s garden is the only one from Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine in the book.

The brief text in the book notes that Noble’s gardens consist primarily of flowerbeds, and that “Bill’s goal is to have horticultural interest in his gardens from May to October.” It also calls the two-acre garden Noble’s “laboratory, his canvas on which to combine different leafy pictures.”

Growing up in Norwalk, Conn., Noble spent time playing in the woods and around old stone walls, but said he had no particular interest in plants or gardens.

He went to Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he studied history and classics and then earned a master’s degree at the University of Toronto with the idea of continuing on to a career in academia. He lived on a farm outside of Toronto while studying at the university, and realized that he was not cut out for an academic life.

After his first decade in the Upper Valley, trying out different jobs, the internship at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic site set him on his long course in garden design.

“I learned on the job and was offered a more permanent position and restored the formal garden and revitalized other parts of the landscape at Aspet (the Saint-Gaudens estate) over the next five to six years,” Noble said. “That was a big break for me, it was 1986, I think. I dug into the history of the gardens and used historic photographs and garden plans drawn by Ellen Shipman (a noted early 20th century garden designer and landscape architect) — I sought out old cultivars of hardy perennials that had once been in the garden and learned how to garden to create the effect I saw in the photographs and in Shipman’s plans.”

After working at Saint-Gaudens he went on to work at The Fells, the former home of 19th century politician John Hay, under the auspices of The Garden Conservancy, then in its infancy. Since that job was only part time, he also developed a garden design business, focusing on restoration of old gardens in Cornish and Hanover.

Along the way, he took classes in horticulture and garden design at Garden in the Woods, in Framingham, Mass., and Radcliffe Seminars, getting a certificate in the gardening arts from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Then, some 20 years ago, Noble went to work at the Garden Conservancy in Cold Spring, N.Y., as its director of preservation, work that took him to celebrated gardens around the country.

“It was my job to identify significant American gardens that had the potential to be saved and become public gardens,” Noble said. “I was responsible for helping to craft a strategy for each of them so they could flourish beyond the lifetime of the people who made them. And in some cases I oversaw or participated in the restoration of historic gardens such as the gardens of Alcatraz. It was a great opportunity to work with extraordinary gardeners and plants people, professionals and avid gardeners, in all parts of the country.”

In addition to Alcatraz, he also worked on the Hollister House Garden, in Connecticut, among many of the others that The Garden Conservancy has improved in its 25-year history. Working on so many historic gardens furnished Noble with a host of ideas that have influenced his home plantings.

When Noble and his partner, Jim Tatum, a longtime and now emeritus professor of classics at Dartmouth College, bought their home in Norwich in 1991, there was a limited budget for plants — and as yet a limited knowledge of garden design.

“I learned by my mistakes,” he said. “For instance, I viewed everything beyond the (original) flower garden as ‘not garden,’ so I planted screening too close. I didn’t have a drawn out plan.”

That came later. Currently the gardens continue far beyond the original flower and vegetable beds.

The lawn, garden and orchard occupy a little more than two acres of the 22-acre former farm, which also has 10 acres of field and 10 acres of woods.

“The garden is mostly organized around the house, barn, trees, stone walls and barn foundations that I found here,” Noble said. “It utilizes some of the features of Cornish gardens, such as the Lombardy poplar allee at the edge of the field. As I mentioned, the garden is somewhat autobiographical, it includes the big flower garden inspired by Shipman’s flower garden designs; a rock garden made while I was working at The Fells and cared for that rock garden; a dry garden also inspired by Clarence Hay’s work at The Fells; Silver and Gold garden inspired by new gardens I’ve admired in the Pacific Northwest which feature plants carried back from my travels working for The Garden Conservancy.”

Noble is a collector of plants, accumulating several examples of the genus of plants that he likes. Over the years he has gathered a variety of plants including willows, hellebores, phlox and delphinium, along with Himalayan plants such as Saxifrages and Primulas, rhubarbs, grasses and sedges.

His garden also reflects his love for green in all its shades. He likes groundcovers, junipers and grasses — plants with bold foliage — all of which lack dramatic blossoms and bright colors. What one perennial flower does he like best? Feather reed grass, a variety known as ‘Karl Foerster’ of the species Calamagrostis acutiflora. He noted that it holds its beauty longer than almost any other species, and that it was still beautiful in his garden earlier this month.

Instead of focusing on just a flower blossom, he is interested in ”the whole plant and how it responds to the soil and the place.”

For a showy blossom, Bill likes an intersectional or Itoh peony hybrid called ‘Garden Treasure.’ Intersectional hybrids are crosses between perennial peonies and tree peonies, retaining some of the characteristics of each. So they are cut to the ground each fall but have stiff stems that do not flop the way perennial peonies tend to do. And, like ‘Garden Treasure’, they often exhibit yellows — a petal color not seen in ordinary peonies. A mature intersectional peony hybrid can display up to 50 blossoms, blooming in sequence over a 30-day period.

Many of the perennials in Bill’s garden are quite large in summer. He has worked hard to improve the soil, adding compost and a bagged organic fertilizer, Pro-Gro, every year. The plants also benefit by the lack of weed competition. And he noted, “My garden has also benefited from being made on a former farm where the heavy soil was improved over the years with the addition of cow manure.”

Because Noble’s gardens are open to garden groups and for the conservancy’s Open Garden Days, they have to be tidy at all times. Up until recently, his office was in Clinton, N.Y., more than 3 hours from Norwich, and he also traveled extensively around the country. So for many years he has had Sue Howard of Thetford work one day a week in his gardens.

“She has been a huge help. She’s an excellent garden designer and has a great eye, and attention to detail; we complement one another extremely well,” he said.

But Noble, now 63 years old, still likes to work in the gardens himself. “I try to work three days a week in the garden in the spring, and then I can slack off in the summer.”

Inclusion in The Garden Conservancy’s book is a big honor, he said.

“It showcases some of the best gardens in the country, especially the eight preservation projects, all of which I have had something to do with professionally,” he said. “A number of gardens that are widely considered to be among the best in the country are included in the book, such as the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Hollister House Garden and Peckerwood Garden. And private gardens that I have emulated for years, such as the O’Byrne Garden, are also included.”

This honor isn’t the first such recognition Noble’s garden has earned: It has been featured in The New York Times, House and Garden and Martha Stewart Living, and has been entered into the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian.

For more information about Bill Noble’s gardens, see his website,

Henry Homeyer is a garden designer and consultant in Cornish.

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Milwaukee Design Team Wins National Eco Award

UW-Milwaukee’s Design Solutions and Milwaukee’s HOMEGR/OWN initiative won the SXSW Eco Award in October. Milwaukee’s design group, Partners 4 Places, won the urban strategies  category against groups from Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago and Seattle. The winning design transformed 28 vacant Milwaukee lots into six public parks and 20 orchards.

38TH  CLARK_ACROSS FROM SCHOOLCommunity Design Solutions, led by Carolyn Esswein, hosted original workshops for community members to share their design ideas. The Department of Public Works and city landscapers took the ideas and created a budget.

“Working with Home GR/OWN on the Partners 4 Places project was an amazing experience for us at Community Design Solutions,” said Project Manager Gerri Witthuhn. “Not only were we able to play a part in transforming vacant lots into community assets, but we were able to do it by working with the local residents and feeding off of their creativity and ideas.”

Most of the vacant lots used in this project are located on the northwest side of Milwaukee. The parks and orchards brought landscaping jobs to residents.

“Watching these patches of empty land turn into beautiful spaces for neighbors to gather, relax and play has shown us how rewarding it is to not just design for people, but with people.”

Amani Perspective small

The SXSW Eco Awards were held in Austin, Texas. SXSW Eco is a startup program allowing community groups from around the world to compete for prestige.

The workshops and designs completed by CDS staff and graduate SARUP students under the direction of Carolyn Esswein. Graduate students that took part in this project include: Amber Piacentine, Anna Doran, Andrew Carlson, Ryan Guetschow, Nick Zukauska, and Gerri Witthuhn. Additional support was provided by Growing Power, David J. Frank Landscaping, the Mayor’s Strong Neighborhoods program, the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation and the Milwaukee Common Council.

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Exclusive – Johnny Carson Returns

Long ago late at night, before Jay, Dave and the Jimmys, there was Johnny, a droll comedian out of Nebraska. A demographer’s dream, he evoked the viewer’s father, husband, son, or funny uncle. Johnny Carson was a member of the family and NBC’s MVP, at one point generating 17% of the network’s total profits. Americans got their news from Cronkite and their take on it from Carson.

On January 1st, Antenna TV will begin airing entire episodes of Carson’s Tonight Shows nightly at 11pm ET.

After Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon, Chapman told police he’d first fantasized assassinating Carson, but assumed he couldn’t get close enough to take him out. He was wrong. Johnny would have been easy to pick off. Sidekick Ed McMahon arrived at the Burbank studios in a chauffeur-driven limo. Johnny drove himself in, usually accompanied by a brown-bagged lunch.

There was no entourage or armed muscle. He didn’t make the demands of perishable stars with outsized egos that require the biggest dressing rooms. During construction work at NBC, he was moved to a windowless basement office. Mirrors were hung on the wall to make it appear larger. He said it reminded him of a New York City apartment.

Johnny never aired his politics. He was a liberal and knew I was writing humor for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, but that didn’t faze him in the least. Unlike insufferable leftist Stephen Colbert, he didn’t use his program as a forum to proselytize for one party. His mission was to get laughs and he kneecapped both sides.

Scores of legendary standup comics were birthed on the Carson show. His wave over to the couch was the imprimatur that forever altered a career trajectory. Johnny could match wits with the best of them but was thrilled when the comic killed. His goal was to make the guests look good, his grace notably on display with centenarians and children.

It must be added that Johnny was no saint. Too often he wasn’t very happy. I learned to keep my distance during weeks when dark clouds circled his head. He was keenly aware of his shortcomings. He once gave me a rare compliment, then added, “That’s from me, and I’m not exactly Mother Teresa.” But he was a decent guy and loyal boss, and he’d hate me for revealing his soft side. One day I walked into his office as he was hanging up from a phone call to a terminally ill boy. He was beaming.

“The kid kept asking, ‘Are you really Johnny Carson?’”

He made those calls all the time.

A private man, he couldn’t understand why Lucy lived in a corner house in Beverly Hills exposed to tourists who rang her bell and asked to pose for photos. In the ‘70s, he walked me through his Bel-Air mansion, the former home of Mervyn Le Roy, producer of The Wizard of Oz. Entering through the Oz-guarded gate, I admired the lush landscaping, tennis court, and screening room. The wizard of late night just winked.

“Got it on the GI Bill.”

Despite interviewing thousands of legendary performers, sports figures and newsmakers, Johnny considered himself first and foremost a comedian. When he was on vacation it wasn’t uncommon for him to phone me with premises for sketches. And he was always eager to have me pitch him ideas in his office, even when my visits awakened him from a nap.

Carson monologues ran eight minutes without interruption. In today’s 140 character, goldfish attention span world, late night hosts feel compelled to break up theirs with video drop-ins.

In this comedy time capsule, it will be instructive to note how humor has changed. We did material that would be inappropriate today. There were reliable go-to hooks. Ed McMahon was a lush. The band was high on drugs. An intimation that flamboyantly dressed bandleader Doc Severinsen was gay. We had Doc mince through a sketch. Carol Wayne, the matinee lady in the Art Fern Tea Time Movies, was the foil for dumb blonde-big boobs-slut jokes.

Conversely, the language in contemporary humor is coarser. After comics on HBO specials routinely dropped the f-bomb it bled over to Comedy Central. Each night Jon Stewart bleeped himself cynically so his fans obviously knew what he’d said. Once delivered for shock value, the verb is so common today it’s lost its power. Today’s targets are different too. Politicians are still fair game, but in sitcoms it’s perfectly safe to mock Christians as simpletons and even bigots.

Johnny was a constant in a rapidly changing society, a nightcap who tucked the country in. When he swung his imaginary golf club for the last time 23 years ago, it was akin to a wrecking ball flattening a landmark. Now millennials will get to see the man who sleep-deprived their parents and grandparents for three decades.

Raymond Siller was the longtime head writer on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

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Why Are Flowers Blooming In Winter? The Unseasonably Warm Weather Has Brought …

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Permaculture group learning to work as a team, share knowledge

Permaculture and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association were conceived during the time of peak oil production in the United States, the Vietnam War, burgeoning environmental awareness and knowledge that our processed foods contain pesticides, and few vital nutrients.

MOFGA, which began in 1971, is the largest and oldest state organic association in our country. Permaculture, which began in Australia in 1974, combines the best of natural landscaping and edible landscaping. The Resilience Hub and Portland Permaculture began in 2005 and now has more than 2,000 subscribers, making it the fourth-largest permaculture group out of 618 worldwide groups.


It can’t be coincidence that permaculture flourishes in a state nourished by MOFGA’s persistence in promoting awareness and advocacy about the connection between healthy foods and environmentally sound farming practices.

“It’s not like we know what we’re doing.” You might be surprised to hear that from recent graduates of a Permaculture Design Certificates class. Some of us have been using organic methods to grow vegetables for almost a decade and, yet, working as a group puts a novel emphasis on how to accomplish our tasks.

Three Rivers Permaculture is at the beginning stages of building trust with each other by sharing information and experiences about how to grow local food. We’re working out a common identity. Eventually, we’ll be able to develop shared work projects for our community based on resilient relationships among our members.

What’s behind our desire to come together as a group and work through such challenging tasks? We’re scared. We are afraid the world of today is disintegrating, and we aren’t content to sit back and watch without trying to change it.

Members of Three Rivers know a great deal about organic growing techniques and food species, but not so much about working together as a team, working through consensus, and working out the interpersonal conflicts that arise as differences split decision making and choices. Our collective food-growing knowledge has gaps because we have not lived as farmers for most of our lives but rather as growers of natural foods with supermarkets to rescue us from our crop failures or from being totally self-reliant.

What comes to mind when someone says “food.” Fields of vegetables or aisles in a supermarket? Or worse yet, a paper-covered hamburger in a cardboard container with fries on the side? We’ve become disconnected from centuries of accumulated knowledge about how to harvest, preserve and cook in harmony with seasonal availability. We struggle as much as anyone with the inherent challenges of returning to local markets and home-grown produce.

Permaculture is about more than sustainable agriculture. It challenges us to transform our secular lifestyle, created by “human progress,” into a sacred relationship with Earth and each other. The changes created to make our lives “easier” — mechanical substitutions for manual labor, dependence on electricity, electronic gadgets and suburbs that require transportation in separate vehicles — have contributed to a rising sense of isolation and despair.

Permaculture asks us to build a different future to establish fellowship with each other, links with our neighborhoods and participation in determining local sources of food; to develop kinship with our land and our homes; to sit still to absorb the spirit of place (smell, sound, sight of wind, rain, soil, plants and animals, as well as cars, kids, airplanes); to establish a relationship with the outdoors. We live as part of nature, not separately, and our actions are in constant dialogue whether or not we are aware of it.

Permaculture adherents take the knife of “not knowing” between their teeth and say, “Let’s just do it.” Someday we will be the elders our children remember who taught them how to thrive in the face of adversity. We want to focus on local issues we can influence, local foods we can grow in our yards, organic methods to turn lawns into living soils with edible ornamentals or food crops, and expand local markets. We want to engage and encourage cooperative community-based gardens that lift and join our spirits and strengthen our connections with neighbors and friends.

Gale Davison holds a Permaculture Design Certificate and has been the team leader for Three Rivers Permaculture since asking Sustain Mid Maine Coalition to sponsor a permaculture group in January. Three Rivers can be found on Facebook groups under Sustain Mid Maine Permaculture or on SMMC’s website,





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Landscape water conservation – Alice Echo

Posted Dec. 28, 2015 at 4:59 PM
Updated Dec 28, 2015 at 5:00 PM

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Gardening Tips To Grow Carnations


Carnation or clove pink, called so because of the spicy clove-like fragrance it produces, is a species of Dianthus. The exact origins are hard to determine because of its extensive cultivation but it was somewhere in the Mediterranean region.It originally comes in bright pinkish-purple colours. But it has also been developed in other colours, including red, white, yellow and green. Carnations have one of the longest vase lives at nearly 3 weeks.Spring time is often associated with rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. It is the apt time to sow carnation seeds. Keep the seeds at a cool place where the temperature is not more than 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.Here are some gardening tips to grow carnations.

Gardening tips to grow carnations are:

1.Soil: The pot should be large enough to hold several carnations. The soil needs to be fast draining and slightly alkali at pH 6.75. Soil meant for cacti would work wonders.The seeds should be sown at a depth of 1/4″ to 1/8″ and the space between each seed should be around 12″. Cover it up with firm soil and mist spray to keep it moist. The germination should take around 3weeks.

2.Water: Carnations don’t require a whole lot of water. But during the summers, they need much more water than the usual.

3.Manures and fertilizers: First of all, refrain from using nitrogen-rich soil. Cow manure, which has completely rotted, is good for its growth. Peat is another excellent source of nutrition.

4.Insects and diseases: Rarely do carnations have any problem with insects or any other diseases. If and when they do occur, treat them early with necessary organic fertilisers or chemical fertilisers or fungicide, whichever is appropriate.

5.Mulchings: Mulching shouldn’t be done while carnations are still growing. But during the winter season, cut the carnations to around 8″ and apply mulch to help it survive the winter.

Stem tips can be cut from a healthy carnation plant. These cuttings, often ranging around 4″ – 6″, are sown in pure sand after cutting excess leaf nodes.Make sure the leaf which you leave don’t touch the sand. Cut off any leaf which does touch the surface of the sand. Moisten the soil every day and make sure it gets indirect sunlight. They are usually ready in a month’s time for transplantation.

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Agromin Gardening Tips: Early planting for hearty trees and vegetation in January

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Agromin Gardening Tips: Early planting for hearty trees and vegetation in JanuaryHome Garden

Weather forecasters are predicting a cooler, wetter January for southern California. This makes for ideal planting conditions for many types of tree, shrub and plant varieties, says Agromin, an Oxnard and Huntington Beach-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities.

Residents can obtain Agromin soil products in bulk or in bags at Rainbow Environmental Services (gate seven) in Huntington Beach and in bulk at South Coast Supply in Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos.

Buy Bare Root Fruit Trees:  January is the month to plant deciduous, bare root fruit trees. Because the trees are dormant, they are sold without soil—making them a low cost bargain this time of year. Available varieties include apple, apricot, cherry, peach and pear. Check with your local nursery for the trees that grow best in your area.

Plant Berries: Plant bare root berry vines such as raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries. These berries like cold weather. If planted now, they could provide a crop this summer. Plant two to three feet apart. Consider adding a trellis now to support the vines as they grow. Keep the new plantings well watered. Hopefully, an abundance of rain will do the watering for you.

Prune Roses: Roses should be pruned in January through February. This encourages the trees to go into full dormancy. It also enables gardeners to remove “runners” and to shape the rose tree or bush. Pruning also encourages growth in spring. When pruning, remove all dead and older branches and any stems growing sideways. You will want to prune so the stems do not rub each other (which can cause stem breakage and even disease). Keep the middle of the bush open, forcing the stems to grow up and out.

Extend Life of Annuals: Pinch dead blooms on annuals such as pansies and violas so the plants will keep looking fresh longer and encourage new growth. There is still time to plant these winter annuals along with primrose, snapdragon, violas and even ornamental cabbage and kale.

Recycle Cut Christmas Trees: Agromin will recycle between 50,000 and 60,000 Christmas trees this holiday season. The trees are cleaned of any tinsel and ornaments, chopped and then laid out in giant composting rows, eventually finding their way to farms and into consumer and commercial products in the form of mulch. In as little as 60 days, trees go from being the center of holiday festivities to mulch used on farmland, roadside landscapes and in backyard gardens. 

Plant Quick-Growing Vegetables: Lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, opinion, potatoes and beets all grow well in winter

Start Summer Vegetable Seeds Indoors: For those who can’t wait to start on their spring gardens, cultivate vegetable plants from seeds indoors in January. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, basil and other herbs all can begin growing this way. Once established, plant the seedlings outside after the chance of below freezing temperatures has past.

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