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Archives for December 27, 2016

Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens gets major makeover

The aquatic weeds surrounding the shoreline of Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens have been replaced with 108 cubic yards of white sand.

People can now enjoy 6,000 square feet of beach — split into three areas — located at the shoreline where Lake Harris meets the basin at Venetian Cove.

Leesburg City Manager Al Minner said he hopes bringing back the beaches on the lake along with the cancellation of a no-wake zone will mean the return of boats, swimmers, families and children having a good time there.

That is the Ski Beach that Minner remembers when he first moved to Leesburg in 1988.

“It was so crowded with boats and blankets everywhere. There were people out on the lake skiing and boating and families along the beach barbecuing, kids playing … I loved it. We would go out there every weekend,” Minner said. “I want to get it (Ski Beach) back to when there was activity there, when it was filled with people.”

The Ski Beach revamp is part of phase two of an entire four-phase makeover of Venetian Gardens.

The $1.8 million phase I focused on the redevelopment of the Kids Korner playground in the northwest corner of the park near Dixie Avenue and a new splash pad that is expected to open in March or April.

The $6.5 million phase II focuses on Ski Beach and includes the addition of sidewalks, bridges, walkways, lighting, landscaping, restrooms and docks along the marina.

Phase III will involve improvements to the Leesburg Community Center at the entrance to Venetian Garden and what officials are calling Dozier Circle, a loop they hope will eventually be filled with restaurants.

Phase IV will involve linking Venetian Gardens to Leesburg’s main downtown drag.

The hope is that all those components will come together to make Venetian Gardens a destination for people from all over to visit, Leesburg Mayor Jay Hurley said.

“Venetian Gardens is literally the jewel of Leesburg. It’s the nicest piece to real estate in all the city and not to do something to draw people there would just be crazy,” Hurley said.

Leesburg spokesman Derek Hudson said residents will soon be receiving a city newsletter with their utility bills, letting them know that Ski Beach is open for business.

Professional Waterfront Cleanup (PWC), a Leesburg-based firm, did the prep work involved in having the weeds pulled before the sand was poured.

Hudson said the entire area around Ski Beach looks transformed.

“The more aesthetically pleasing, the more people will enjoy it and it looks nice,” Hudson said.

Hudson said kayaking and canoeing excursions out of Ski Beach through the Venetian Garden Islands and to Monkey Island will be offered soon.

When completed, Hudson said he believes Venetian Gardens will serve residents well.

“We believe people will enjoy Venetian Gardens even more by having all these components,” Hudson said.

Article source: http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/20161226/ski-beach-at-venetian-gardens-gets-major-makeover

Landscape architect turns walk in woods into something more

Basalt resident Suzanne Jackson to give 
presentation Jan. 11 on Alaska experiences

To Basalt resident Suzanne Jackson, there’s more to a trail than a walk in the woods.

A Harvard-educated landscape architect who has called the Roaring Fork Valley home for almost three decades, Jackson carries some big-time local bona fides.

She worked for many years for the world-famous Design Workshop, which has an office in Aspen. She parted ways with that prestigious gig to raise a family. When she returned to the workforce, she opted to fly solo, opening her own business, 40BWORKS, which, she says, specializes in “earth-wise art, design, landscape and planning.”

But Jackson, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, maintained creative interests that took the generic concept of her chosen profession — which most people would consider limited to expansive flower gardens and public parks — to the backcountry.

Jackson, being an ardent outdoor-recreation enthusiast, has long been interested in trails, and not just from a purely utilitarian perspective — though there is certainly that.

In 1986, she was offered an internship in southeast Alaska, where she studied under renowned backcountry designer Barth Hamberg.

“We worked on interpretive exhibits and an interpretive center around Sitka,” Jackson said. “It was also the first time I worked on scenery analysis.”

For most people who venture into the boondocks, the notion of analyzing scenery, especially on a professional level, might seem like a bit of academic overkill. But, Jackson insists, when you are designing and constructing recreational facilities, it is as important a consideration as anything else.

“It is my job to think of things that perhaps visitors do not consciously think about,” she said. “I had not given much thought to many of the things we worked on that summer.”

Over the course of the next 18 years, Jackson worked on various prestigious projects in the Roaring Fork Valley, including much of the exterior design work for the Aspen Music Festival’s grounds outside town.

Reunited with mentor

Though inspired by his vision, Jackson lost touch with Hamberg. Then, a couple years back, while preparing to give a presentation on trails systems in East Africa to the American Society of Landscape Architecture, she came upon several of Hamberg’s papers relating to the subject of aesthetic design as applied to backcountry facilities.

In 2014, she went out of her way to reconnect to her one-time mentor.

It was a worthwhile effort.

“He asked if I would be interested in taking a position that was funded for one year in the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska,” Jackson said. “The position entailed helping to design several trails and other facilities in the Tongass.”

She jumped at the opportunity.

“I started doing some of my initial work for Barth from home in Colorado,” Jackson said. “Then I went up in the spring for six months.

“Sitka is the Aspen of southeast Alaska, though it’s not quite as glitzy,” Jackson continued. “It has a writers’ foundation and music festival that goes the whole month of July. It has a great art scene and an old-fashioned downtown.”

Over the summer of 2015, Jackson worked on a trail system close to Sitka, as well as what she calls one of her favorite projects — a series of integrated interpretive signs on remote Prince of Wales Island.

It was also during that summer that she joined Barth as he worked at a place — one again, almost shockingly remote — called Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, near Wrangell. Most of her work was out in the field, swatting mosquitoes and dealing with the ever-present rainfall of the Alaskan Panhandle. And grizzly bears. Don’t want to forget about the grizzly bears, for which that part of the world is justifiably renowned.

The job description covered a lot of ground — literally.

“Barth has really taken the concept of incorporating landscape design into forest settings to a higher level,” Jackson said. “The goal is to establish a design narrative for whatever project we were working on. If it was a trail, we wanted to ask ourselves why that trail was there, what was its reason.”

Jackson said she was impressed by Hamberg’s sensitivity toward an aesthetic that mixed the natural with the manmade.

“He would wind a trail over near a beautiful section of rocks, or through the middle of a grove of trees without harming the trees,” she said. “He was always trying to think in terms of the optimum visitor experience, while making certain to have as little negative impact on the natural world as possible.”


 Suzanne Jackson/Contributed photo
At the end of the summer, Jackson returned to the Roaring Fork Valley, completing her year-long stint remotely.

She did not then know that Hamberg had received the funding to hire her for a second season. But work obligations limited her ability to spend time in Alaska. She was immersed in two major projects — one centered around the Bucksbaum Campus, shared by the 
Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen Country Day School, the other a water-wise landscaping project for long-time clients east of Aspen.

“I worked for the Music Festival for 15 years, and the landscaping project was for people who have been clients for a very long time,” Jackson said. “Much as I loved the work in Alaska, I had no interest in letting my work in the Roaring Fork Valley fall by the wayside.”

She went up twice in 2016 — once in late spring and once in the fall— for four weeks each time. Much of that time was spent back at Anan.

 “This is one of the most-famous bear observatories in Alaska,” she said. “Its facilities present a number of design challenges, starting with the access, which is totally by boat. A lot of the visitors are not in the best of shape, so disembarking onto the rocky beach was difficult for many. We improved that access.

“Southeast Alaska is very wet and many of the trails traverse muskeg-y terrain. So the trails, which are usually elevated, have to be built out of wood, which means they rot. It is a constant effort to maintain them. We eventually made some of the trails rock held in place by wood, which was a lot easier for visitors to traverse.”

So far, this sounds totally functional, like trail work 101 taking place in any national forest in the country. But the devil is in the details.

“There is no doubt that the main goal is practicality,” Jackson said. “At the same time, though, we work to overlay a landscape architecture mentality onto the project. At Anan, as we were rebuilding the trail from the landing site to the observatory platform, we worked on line-of-sight issues. We needed to make sure that, if there were bears on the trails, visitors could see the bears and bears could see the people before they stumbled onto each other. But we also wanted to make sure that the tour guides had lines of sight that they could take advantage of as they were talking to the visitors about the local ecosystems. This project was not just about taking people from one point to the next.”

Hamberg, Jackson and their trail-building associates also worked on the viewing platform, the guest cabins and the various shelters around Anan, attempting, once again, to overlay taste into the incomparable Alaska landscape, a venue that, from the sidelines, would be tough to improve upon.

“I work in the wilderness of southeast Alaska the same way I do on projects in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Jackson said. “I work for integration of the various components of a project. It’s nice if you can blend the natural with the manmade.”

It would be tough, in a cash-strapped agency like the Forest Service, to incorporate the services of detail-oriented landscape architects — people absorbed by the concept of concepts like scenery analysis — on trail projects on a national scale.

“Most of the projects we worked on in Alaska were fairly short — from a half-mile to 6 or 7 miles,” Jackson said. “That gave us the opportunity to look at projects consisting of trails and other recreational facilities as integrated works of art.”

Jackson’s attention to trail detail transcends Alaska and the Roaring Fork Valley. She was heavily involved in a book project centered on her native Africa. The book, published by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is titled, “Three Steps to a Successful Trail: A Trail Planning, Design and Construction Manual, Prepared for the Countries of East Africa.”

The goal of the tome, according to Jackson, is to help residents of developing countries that are relying more and more on tourism dollars to build trails through the region’s substantial scenic lands that enhance the experience for visitors from more developed countries.

“The book is designed to teach local people how to construct trails and trail systems that are both tourism friendly and eco-friendly,” Jackson said. “Historically, trails are basic transportation conduits. They can be so much more.”

At this point, Jackson has been informed by Hamberg that the chances of receiving funding for a third summer in Alaska are slim. But he did not say those chances are impossible.

“I would really like to go back,” she said.

Jackson will recount her experiences over the last two years in a program titled, “Adventuring Above Clouds, Over Water and Through Rain: A Summer in Southeast Alaska” — part of the Potbelly Perspectives series at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, ” on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

mjf@aspendailynews.com

Article source: http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/173723

Tropical Gardening: Using gardens to create peace on Earth through peace of mind

It is the time to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. In Hawaii, many Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu folks celebrate as well. The uniting elements of our multi-ethnic, multi-faith community are a bit complicated to explain in detail, but simply put, it is about faith, hope and most of all, love.

There are many similarities among the major religions. For example, most people might not know the Muslim Quran teaches that God, or Allah, sent Christ Jesus and He was born of the Virgin Mary. The message in the Quran is similar to that of the Christian Gospels.

Love and peace are binding elements of each faith and that unites us all. Gardens play an important part in finding peace and harmony, thus allowing us to experience a sense of love. Adam and Eve were to have lived in a perfect garden. Most faiths find the garden a place of meditation, contemplation and prayer.

So, let’s focus on how we can each contribute to creating a peaceful island garden community.

How do beautiful gardens affect our state of mind?

Gardens have played an important role throughout human history. There is the spiritual aspect. Practically speaking, we also should remember that a healthy green landscape helps minimize the extremes of hot and cold. Vegetation helps reduce noise, pollution and produces oxygen that makes us feel better. Also, the color green is a very restful color.

This season, we have had plenty of rain, but some years even the rainiest locations suffered drought.

With water rates on the increase, some people might consider concrete or plastic lawns. But don’t be hasty. You can have a beautiful garden even if you live in a drier area. It’s just a matter of planning and proper planting.

A garden planted with no thought given to dry spells will do well throughout rainy periods but deteriorate without irrigation during dry periods. Even in East Hawaii, we need to use plants that will tolerate extremes of wet to dry conditions. Fortunately, many garden plants in Hawaii are fairly hardy when it comes to short water supply, so we have a long list from which to draw.

It’s important to vegetate these areas so that our islands don’t look like Devil’s Hole, N.M., in years to come. A good reference to help you select the right plants is “Sunset National Garden Book.”

There are two factors that make plants able to survive moisture stress.

First, some plants are notably resistant to drought. This quality is centered largely in the cellular structure and has a bearing on the economy with which the plant functions. Some plants have the ability to carry through extended dry periods because of a happy faculty of closing the pores of the leaf against transpiration, or turning the leaf back or edge-on to the sun. Others root deeply to tap, and have available for day periods, any accumulated moisture in subsoil.

The garden environment is the other critical factor.

Water use is a process controlled by energy. The source of that energy is the sun. To move water out of the soil directly or through the plant and away into the atmosphere requires energy. The amount of energy available and the nature of the conducting medium that is the soil-plant-atmosphere complex determine how much water will be used in a given time.

Consider the amount of energy available on a piece of the landscape. The total available is the solar radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. Air that is heated in another and drier part of the landscape and moves across the area of land in which we have our plants growing also adds heat. The result is a larger amount of water evaporated than we would predict purely on the basis of solar radiation.

This is why the more shade and wind protection from trees we have in the garden the less water is required to keep moisture levels up. And conversely, the more asphalt and concrete to heat up, the more rapidly our planted area dries up, even in normally high rainfall areas such as Hilo.

Our lava lands are unusually prone to moisture loss, so when we develop these areas and plant trees, shrubs and grass, we actually create a cooler more comfortable environment. We actually might increase the rainfall in places such as Hualalai, Kukio and Mauna Kea Beach when we change lava flows to develop “urban forests,” parks and gardens

Besides the soil moisture, the nature of the plant itself has considerable effect on the amount of water lost into the air. The height of the plant and roughness of the surface have an effect on the wind movement and mixing of air across the surface of the vegetation. A rough surface will cause more water loss than a smooth surface.

Plants that are tolerant of salty beach conditions often use less water than many soft, luxuriant jungle plants because they are streamlined for water conservation. Beach naupaka is a great salt resistant shrub but also is used in the inland landscape. Plants such as the bird of paradise, dracaena, monstera and many philodendrons give a luxuriant look and are still drought resistant.

Many palms also have this quality. Heritage plants such as noni, hala and kukui are very drought tolerant but also will grow in our wet humid lowlands.

Relatively new plant introductions such as tropical Vireya rhododendrons have an amazing capacity for adjusting to environmental extremes. In wet areas, they can grow as epiphytes. Under drier conditions, they will grow as terrestrials. To learn more about this amazing family, connect with the Hawaii Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. For details, call Sherla Bertelmann at 966-9225.

Proper fertilization will help accomplish healthy roots. Also, poor soils should be improved with the necessary amendments to help the plants develop good root systems. Addition of well rotted organic matter or compost often helps increase moisture and nutrient-holding capacity. In many Hawaiian soils, available phosphorus is lacking. This is essential to root growth, so addition of this element is particularly important.

The use of mulches also will help conserve soil moisture.

Proper planning and maintenance of your garden will help in the short term, but we must do something about the overall future of the islands as well.

A series of past dry years and increased pressure on water supplies have made us aware that water is an exhaustible resource. Limits on our water resource mean we can sustain only a certain level of population. Too many people can seriously threaten our water supply. This includes keeping our parks, gardens and perhaps even houseplants alive if the shortage became critical. Limited water could mean a definite reduction in the quality of life in Hawaii.

Will the time come when we are islands teaming with too many people? Will we be so limited for water that we no longer can have gardens or parks or landscaped highways?

Reforestation and greening of our urban areas and lava lands will help, but the trend toward global warming and continued extremes of drought and flood require creative planning, planting and maintenance. For our mental, spiritual and physical health, we can focus on our own gardens and at the same time work with our local politicians and planners to keep Hawaii the green and peaceful Paradise it is meant to be.

This information is supplied by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. For more information about gardening and landscaping, contact one of our Master Gardeners at 981-5199 in Hilo or 322-4892 in Kona.

Article source: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/community/tropical-gardening-using-gardens-create-peace-earth-through-peace-mind

Gardeners’ World Presenter in Court For Sexual Spying on Tenants

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A veteran gardening expert who has appeared on several British television programmes has been charged with Voyeurism after allegedly spying for sexual gratification.

Steve Brookes, 55, will appear in court in January after having been charged with seven counts of of observing a person doing a private act. The Leamington Observer reports the celebrity and author of bestseller The Greatest Gardening Tips in the World observed individuals who were leasing the flat in the attic space of his bungalow.

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The Gardener’s world presenter who provided expertise for radio and television including BBC, ITV and Channel 4 stands accused of spying on his lodgers while they were “doing a private act knowing that the person did not consent to being observed for your sexual gratification” between 2015 and 2016.

If convicted, Mr. Brookes can expect a fine, or a sentence of up to two years imprisonment, depending on the severity of the case. According to the wording of the law which was enacted with the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, voyeurism can run to observing individuals who reasonably expected privacy if they are naked or covered only in underwear, using the lavatory, or “doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public”.

Professionally, Mr. Brookes may be better known as ‘Mr. Rotivator’, a name used in his work with schools, encouraging young people to take an interest in gardening in the 1990s. The professional gardener won the Royal Television Society Award for a Channel 4 series on gardening in 2000, a garden writer’s guild award for his radio programme work, and has presented ITV’s Gardening Time.

Just this year he was a presenter at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and has worked with the BBC since 1993.

The Stratford Herald reports the television personality is also active in the local community, supporting charities as well as being a former chairman of the Stratford in Bloom committee as well as helping organise the annual Christmas fair.

Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: or e-mail to: olane@breitbart.com

 

Article source: http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/12/25/gardeners-world-presenter-court-sexual-spying-tenants/

LSU AgCenter seeks photos for gardening calendar

Want to enter the contest? Submit your photos by Feb. 28.

If you’re a green thumb or a photography buff — or both — the LSU AgCenter has a challenge for you: Submit a picture for the 2018 “Get it Growing” calendar.

The calendar is a monthly guide to Louisiana gardening and is full of tips from AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. Each annual edition includes information on what to plant and when, reminders of when to prune and what to do about garden pests.

In addition, the color calendar features about 40 garden photos by Louisiana photographers, professional and amateur, selected from hundreds of entries.

“The LSU AgCenter is a great resource for lawn and garden information and educational programs, and the ‘Get It Growing’ calendar is a popular source for gardening tips and beautiful photos of flowers, plants and gardens from Louisiana photographers,” project coordinator Elma Sue McCallum said in a news release. “The calendar has become the ‘must have’ item for gardening enthusiasts.”

The 2017 calendar is on sale now for $11.95 plus $2.75 shipping and handling. To order, visit www.LSUAgCenter.com/GetItGrowingCalendar or call 225-578-4646. The current edition includes information on environmentally friendly landscaping and new Louisiana Super Plants and an illustrated section on repotting container plants.

A dozen photos selected for the 2018 calendar will be featured as full-page, color images, one for each month, and one will be used on the cover, McCallum said. The rest will be used throughout.

The photographer’s name will be included with each printed photograph. Those selected for the monthly pages will receive five copies of the published calendar, and other contributing photographers will each receive two copies, she said.

Submissions must be high-resolution digital images on CD with the photographer’s name, address, telephone number and email address attached. All images must be the original work of the photographers submitting them. Submission guidelines can be found on the Call for Entries form online at www.LSUAgCenter.com/GetItGrowingCalendar.

“We’re asking photographers to submit their favorite photos of lawns, gardens, flowers, trees and vegetables,” McCallum said. Each person is asked to limit entries to 25 or fewer of their best photos.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28. Entries must be mailed to Elma Sue McCallum, LSU AgCenter, 135 Knapp Hall, 110 LSU Union Square, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. CDs will not be returned.

For information, call McCallum at 225-578-2462 or e-mail emccallum@agcenter.lsu.edu.

 

Article source: http://www.dailycomet.com/news/20161225/lsu-agcenter-seeks-photos-for-gardening-calendar

MASTER GARDENERS: Some Christmas gardening tips – Odessa …

Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners

Carol Siddall’s home is recently pictured for this festive card made by the Permian Basin Master Gardeners.

Permian Basin Master Gardeners logo

Permian Basin Master Gardeners logo

We are an educational service organization of volunteers trained by Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service. Visit westtexasgardening.org



Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016 6:30 am

MASTER GARDENERS: Some Christmas gardening tips

PERMIAN BASIN MASTER GARDENERS

Odessa American

It is Christmas Day, the greatest day of the year, and our gift to you is a list of gardening tips that have been tried and proven true by Master Gardeners. The average years of gardening from these Master Gardeners is 45-plus years. We hope these tips help ease your gardening labors and create a garden that flourishes.

  • Try to have all of the needed tools, soil amendments, fertilizer, etc., gathered before planting or cleaning up your garden area. This allows you to begin and finish your work without having to stop and hunt for needed supplies.
  • When trimming back grasses or flowering shrubs, use a bungee cord wrapped around the plant to gather the stems before trimming. Once the biggest part of the shrub is trimmed, you can perform further cuts to achieve the shape you desire.
  • Use some form of a wagon to move things around your garden.
  • If you have perennials that might be cold sensitive, you can protect the roots by placing mulch around the base of the plant and then place rocks on top of mulch.
  • Make compost. Save leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps (all but diary and meat).
  • Now is the time to protect your plants with mulch.
  • Harvest rain water.
  • When making a new bed, layer newspaper and wet it down before adding your compost.
  • Take your garden shears and walk in your garden daily. If something needs to be trimmed or pulled, do it then.
  • Don’t try to grow plants that are not suited to an arid climate. Call your AgriLife office for a list of recommended plants for our zone.
  • Adding compost helps your soil store water.
  • Keep a gardening journal.
  • Add a drop of food coloring to your rain gauge. After the next rain, it will be easy to read.
  • Use a straight claw hammer to remove weeds from your garden.
  • Spray paint your gardening tools a bright color so you can see them easily.
  • When laying out a new bed or design in your garden, use a water hose or long orange extension cord to lay out the design.
  • Put small cotton balls inside the finger tips of your garden gloves to save your manicure.
  • Write the names of your plant on a plastic knife with a black marker then insert it into the dirt next to the plant.
  • Use an old ice bucket to put kitchen scraps for the compost bin. It is more attractive sitting on your counter than a coffee can.
  • Store your potting soil in an old ice chest.
  • When you pull a weed, make sure you have pulled root and all.
  • Potatoes, yams, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins hold their flavor better if kept at a cool room temperature.
  • There are two rules for watering:
  • For inside plants — when in doubt, don’t.
  • For outside plants — when in doubt, do.
  • Never plant more than you can care for.
  • The best time to water is in the early morning when the soil will take the most water to the plants.
  • Your garden in the spring is never as big as it was when you placed your seed catalog order last winter.
  • A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.
  • Winterize your garden tools by cleaning the dirt off and spraying with a vegetable based cooking spray.
  • Set empty seed packets in the tines of yard-sale forks and use as row or plant markers.
  • Add used coffee grounds to your compost pile.
  • To keep your shovels and hand trowels in good shape, partially fill a plastic bucket with sand. Pour in a quart of motor oil and stir up until all the sand is saturated. When you finish working in the garden, plunge your tool into the oily sand several times. This removes the dirt and gives it a nice oil treatment to make it last longer.
  • Fix drippy faucets and leaking pipes. A faucet that drips one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water a year.
  • Raise the blade on your lawn mower. Closely-cut grass requires more water.
  • A wise old gardener once said that the best medicine for your garden was your shadow on a regular basis.
  • Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.

For more tips, go to westtexasgardening.org

And lastly: Gardening is an art that uses flowers and plants as the paint, and the soil and sky as the canvas. Merry Christmas!

  • Discuss

on

Sunday, December 25, 2016 6:30 am.


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Article source: http://www.oaoa.com/people/article_81bd177e-ca14-11e6-b263-434b623dc578.html

MASTER GARDENERS: Some Christmas gardening tips

Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners

Carol Siddall’s home is recently pictured for this festive card made by the Permian Basin Master Gardeners.

Permian Basin Master Gardeners logo

Permian Basin Master Gardeners logo

We are an educational service organization of volunteers trained by Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service. Visit westtexasgardening.org



Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2016 6:30 am

MASTER GARDENERS: Some Christmas gardening tips

PERMIAN BASIN MASTER GARDENERS

Odessa American

It is Christmas Day, the greatest day of the year, and our gift to you is a list of gardening tips that have been tried and proven true by Master Gardeners. The average years of gardening from these Master Gardeners is 45-plus years. We hope these tips help ease your gardening labors and create a garden that flourishes.

  • Try to have all of the needed tools, soil amendments, fertilizer, etc., gathered before planting or cleaning up your garden area. This allows you to begin and finish your work without having to stop and hunt for needed supplies.
  • When trimming back grasses or flowering shrubs, use a bungee cord wrapped around the plant to gather the stems before trimming. Once the biggest part of the shrub is trimmed, you can perform further cuts to achieve the shape you desire.
  • Use some form of a wagon to move things around your garden.
  • If you have perennials that might be cold sensitive, you can protect the roots by placing mulch around the base of the plant and then place rocks on top of mulch.
  • Make compost. Save leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps (all but diary and meat).
  • Now is the time to protect your plants with mulch.
  • Harvest rain water.
  • When making a new bed, layer newspaper and wet it down before adding your compost.
  • Take your garden shears and walk in your garden daily. If something needs to be trimmed or pulled, do it then.
  • Don’t try to grow plants that are not suited to an arid climate. Call your AgriLife office for a list of recommended plants for our zone.
  • Adding compost helps your soil store water.
  • Keep a gardening journal.
  • Add a drop of food coloring to your rain gauge. After the next rain, it will be easy to read.
  • Use a straight claw hammer to remove weeds from your garden.
  • Spray paint your gardening tools a bright color so you can see them easily.
  • When laying out a new bed or design in your garden, use a water hose or long orange extension cord to lay out the design.
  • Put small cotton balls inside the finger tips of your garden gloves to save your manicure.
  • Write the names of your plant on a plastic knife with a black marker then insert it into the dirt next to the plant.
  • Use an old ice bucket to put kitchen scraps for the compost bin. It is more attractive sitting on your counter than a coffee can.
  • Store your potting soil in an old ice chest.
  • When you pull a weed, make sure you have pulled root and all.
  • Potatoes, yams, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins hold their flavor better if kept at a cool room temperature.
  • There are two rules for watering:
  • For inside plants — when in doubt, don’t.
  • For outside plants — when in doubt, do.
  • Never plant more than you can care for.
  • The best time to water is in the early morning when the soil will take the most water to the plants.
  • Your garden in the spring is never as big as it was when you placed your seed catalog order last winter.
  • A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.
  • Winterize your garden tools by cleaning the dirt off and spraying with a vegetable based cooking spray.
  • Set empty seed packets in the tines of yard-sale forks and use as row or plant markers.
  • Add used coffee grounds to your compost pile.
  • To keep your shovels and hand trowels in good shape, partially fill a plastic bucket with sand. Pour in a quart of motor oil and stir up until all the sand is saturated. When you finish working in the garden, plunge your tool into the oily sand several times. This removes the dirt and gives it a nice oil treatment to make it last longer.
  • Fix drippy faucets and leaking pipes. A faucet that drips one drop per second can waste up to 2,700 gallons of water a year.
  • Raise the blade on your lawn mower. Closely-cut grass requires more water.
  • A wise old gardener once said that the best medicine for your garden was your shadow on a regular basis.
  • Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.

For more tips, go to westtexasgardening.org

And lastly: Gardening is an art that uses flowers and plants as the paint, and the soil and sky as the canvas. Merry Christmas!

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Sunday, December 25, 2016 6:30 am.


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