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Garden Maintenance

Good Bugs, Bad Bugs

Good Bugs, Bad Bugs

A friend sent me the photo above and asked what had been attacking her tomatoes.  These pretty freaky looking bugs are appropriately called “Assassin Bugs”, and they are NOT causing the problem she is having with her tomatoes.  In fact, they don’t eat plants at all.  Assassin bugs are considered beneficial insects because they are carnivores, they eat other bugs, hopefully the ones we want to eliminate in our garden like aphids, caterpillars and Japanese beetles.  Here is a picture of a new cropthat  just hatched on my squash plants. (Yeaaa - Go get 'em, babies!) Nymphs...

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Diseases of Tomato Plants & more

Diseases of Tomato Plants & more

  I have never seen a tomato plant look so funky –  deep green but with thick hard stems, dwarfed curled leaves and stunted growth.  Not the usual yellowing leaves with black spots so typical of tomato fungus or bacterial problems.  What happened? Tomato plants can get any number of pest and disease problems, and there may be similar symptoms with very different causes. In this case, it was clearly a case of horse manure tainted with a broadleaf herbicide. The older manure I used was OK as any chemicals it may have contained had dissipated, but the most recent load was too fresh!...

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Babies, Voles, Tomatoes & other tips for spring.

Babies, Voles, Tomatoes & other tips for spring.

It is the "Pastel Season" as my friend Betty Hill calls it, and one of the most exciting times for me in the garden.  Every day I go out there are wonderful new surprises.  Leslie Scher shared a big surprise last week too.  "Outside scooting around on my deck (with a broken foot) planting my seeds! Just took the plastic cover off my propagated hydrangea and camellia from the fall and THEY'RE ALIVE!!!"  These were from cuttings taken in our September propagation workshop. Connie Kotis sent an adorable picture too (sorry, the Mac to PC translation didn't make it).  Her newly propagated...

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Horticultural Symposium this Saturday

Hello Fellow Gardeners, This is a quick reminder about the Guilford Horticultural Society's annual Symposium coming up this Saturday, Feb 23rd, 8:30 to 3:45, at the Emerald Event Center on Wendover Ave.  It will be a day full of excellent speakers, plants from local growers, food, door prizes and an opportunity to spend the day with fellow gardeners.   What better way to spend a cold winter day?  It is usually sold out by now, but there are still a few seats left.  This is my 11th year to attend and I would not miss it! Bryce Lane who does the weekly garden shows on UNC TV will be the keynote...

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Organic Lawn Care

Organic Lawn Care

Many of you may remember my dilemma last year – keeping an organic edible garden while continuing to pay a lawn care company to spread chemicals on what adds up to be an acre of turf!  I have been on a mission this winter to find a solution.  I have taken yet another class on soils, read more books and research organization websites, and interviewed industry experts.  I have high expectations of any lawn care program calling itself “organic”! What’s the big deal about an organic lawn?  After all we are not EATING the grass, right?  What The thing that really has environmentalists...

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Why We Plant

Why We Plant

  The ice is melting and the forecast is for a gorgeous 67 degree day on Tuesday. Warm sunshine on a winter day is so motivating!  Like my cats waiting at the door to be released out at the first ray of daylight, we gardeners wait impatiently to be back outside inspecting the height of our daffodils, the first new blooms on our hellebores or primrose, seeing what needs cleaning up or mulching, and planning where to add the next new plant. Twice last week I was asked if it is OK to prune roses now.  It is tempting to do it, but wait.   Minor pruning to shape them up a bit is OK, but hold...

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SOUP – It’s what’s for Dinner

Caldo Verde I really tried to be good.  But alas, even my “fat pants” are tight.   I’m back on the treadmill now, and back in my garden soon.  Veggies could save me.  Fortunately, delicious hot soup is on my “get healthy again” plan and I have one of my favorite recipes for you below. I picked the last of the lettuce and arugula from my garden today for salads with zingier flavors that the grocery varieties. My collards are sweeter than ever and growing strong - perfect with New Year’s black eyed peas!   Did you know it’s the sugar in collard leaves that keeps...

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Sept 27 – What’s Happening?

Sept 27 – What’s Happening?

Every September seems to be a crazy time again in my gardens. The temps & humidity drop, the rains come the grass turns green and I celebrate everything that survived.  I’m still picking loads of eggplant, okra, cucumbers (replanted), peppers, and raspberries …and now my first CHESTNUTS!  Those prickly green pods have started popping open and there are the sweet nuggets that Mom used to always use for stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey. They are delicious sauteed with pancetta (or bacon) and sliced brussels sprouts. My arugula, collards and bok choi are  ready for harvest too. September...

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Organic Fungicides – Fact or Fiction?

Organic Fungicides – Fact or Fiction?

“Have you ever tried any of these home remedies for controlling fungus on cucumbers?  Just wondering if this might work?”  My friend Linda sent this with an attached web link for a list of home remedies for powdery mildew.  Excellent question!  I don’t think I have ever grown a squash, cucumber or melon (the cucurbit family) that did not eventually succumb to powdery mildew. Our hot humid summers along with crawling insects that spread the fungus almost guarantee that our plants will get it. Horticultural professors and researchers such as Jeff Gillman, Uv of Minnesota, have...

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Guilford Horticulture Society schedule

Guilford Horticulture Society schedule

My Mom’s 86th birthday was last Sunday.  She is lives alone in her own home, swims at the YMCA twice a week, works the level 4 Sudoku (I can't even spell it) puzzles and goes out on her scooter early every morning to pull weeds in her flower beds.  I only hope I can age so gracefully! Here is very valuable bit of information about the Guilford Horticulture Society’s 2012-2013 schedule of monthly speakers as well as their 30th Annual Symposium on February 23rd.  Anyone can join for an annual membership fee of a measly $25!  I highly recommend it!!  This almost-secret society of some...

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