Spring is almost here!

Yes indeed, it is officially March and that means Spring!  Outside is looking like spring too with daffodils in bloom everywhere, the trees are slowly putting out blossom and the forecast is …….. SNOW????????   Apparently the rain from yesterday has turned to drizzle this morning and is going to degenerate into snow by this afternoon.  I am sure it will be just a bit of the damp wet sort of snow, but darn it, I am ready for spring.  If the snow arrives, look for a picture this afternoon.

Until then I am watching my little seedlings.  I finally sowed the first batch last Thursday, and some of them are already showing signs of germination. Mainly the lettuces and basil.  I realised when I was looking at them that I do not have a purple basil.  I will just have to order a bunch more seeds because just one packet, plus postage is a waste.  I wonder what else I will feel compelled to order?

Yesterday on the new radio show (www.radiosandysprings.com Americas  Home Grown Veggie Show ) we talked about sowing seeds, average first frost, and getting way too many seedlings – one of my failings.  The show was great fun, so take a listen when it is online.

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America’s Home Grown Veggie Show

Well the show is going ahead and previews tomorrow at noon for one hour. If you are interested in listening, go to www.radiosandysprings.com.
Tomorrow we are going to wing it, and just chat about the show, what we are planning and how we are organizing this, but we will have input from Chef Brian Whitcomb (of The Roadkill Sideshow) and the Chicken Whisperer, Andy Schneider.  Station owner/President/producer David Moxley will be in charge with me as the side kick and we should have a great time – so phone in if you are starting a veggie garden this year, we would love to hear about it.

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Another Radio Show

For the past year or so I have hosted the Master Gardener radio show every other week on ww.Radiosandysprings.com. This morning, toward the end of the show we were talking about vegetablegardens, then Victory gardens, and the producer/owner now wants to do a show at noon each Saturday, devoted to vegetables in the garden. We are going to talk about it sometime this week, and I may be able to host that one too.
I will keep you posted

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Attention spans get smaller

When I first started giving lectures to the public, that standard was 60minutes.  This was roughly divided into 5 minutes introduction to you and the topic, 40mins talk, 15 minutes questions and wrap up, plus clear away.  Then things got shorter and you were expected to go from start to finish in just 45 minutes. I came across another new ‘low’ this week – could I talk for 15 minutes and take 5 minutes for questions??? Goodness, and they wanted good shrubs for the area – how many of those can you do in 15 minutes – talk of fast.

The ladies were very nice, but really how much can you say in 15 minutes, and was it really worth the 2 hours it took me to find the pictures and make the show up?  I am recylcling the show though and making it into a 45 minutes show on ‘Color All Year round’.

The Prime Winter Flower

The Prime Winter Flower

At the garden I am doing a series of lunchtime talks – just 30 minutes, plus 15 minutes for people to get there and back from the city offices (or their office).  They are going very well, and I think we may offer one in the fall too.

But I do wonder about attention spans – how short can a presentation be before you say it is not worth the effort?  Should you just give a brief talk with no images?? I guess we will wait to see how things work out in the next yr or two – maybe we will all be giving talks by video by then!

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Spring is getting closer

There has been so much going on that I neglected the blog!  From hellebores to winter honeysuckle, and now the cherry trees are coming out.  I even ordered seeds, belatedly, and have some compost to sow them in. Tomorrow though I am going off to the Georgia State Botanical Gardens at Athens for a short conference. The event is the Southern Garden Heritage conference and should be great fun. I plan on going over their early tomorrow to see the camellias in bloom, and the star magnolias which should also be in bloom.

Look for some photos in the next few days.

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Hardy Bananas and Bamboo

Yesterday on the radio show I had Steve Guiness who enjoys playing around with tropical plants. He takes people on gardening trips to the South American continent, so he was the perfect person to ask about my hardy bananas and how to prune them.  I have now neatened them up by taking all the dead leaves off, but leaving the stems:

Neat and Tidy Hardy BananasThe Tidy Bananas

Apparently if you lop the top off the stems, you can tear off the growth area. Mine were rotted though so I did take those peices off.  I think the leaves come out from the central area. 

You can listen to the radio show about tropical plants at: http://radiosandysprings.com/showpages/mastergardener.php and look for February 7th.

After the show we talked about bamboo which is quite commonly grown in Georgia.  Mine is a golden bamboo and restricted between a concrete drainage channel and the concrete that surrounds the pool. It does try to run over to greet the bananas though, and I had to dig a few runners out of the ground.  I don’t want to put them into the compost, so they will join the group of plants that I leave to dehydrate and then put into bags for the city recycling crew.

Rampant Golden Bamboo - A lovely plant though

Rampant Golden Bamboo - A lovely plant though

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The First Daffodil

The weather turned mild this past 24 hours, so I was able  get out into the garden to work today.  The chore was made more pleasant by the fact that the first daffodils were out.  These cheery little guys are just the wild variety not posh ones, but they are always a welcome site.


The first Daffodils

The First Daffodils

The problem was the they were difficult to see because of the pile of mulch and topsoil that was left over from last year.  So today we moved the topsoil to finish the heirloom rose bed, and I shifted some mulch too, so that I can see the blooms from the kitchen.

I also took a peak at the vegetable bed, and decided that somehow we need to make it bigger, and maybe edge it with some cedar timbers.  I have a thought that two smaller raisedbeds on the side of the main bed would be great for carrots and potatoes, as well as keep the tomatoes and peppers in better control.  I will see how far we get with that plan though!

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Hellebores are almost in bloom

I wandered into the garden last week and I noticed that the hellebores are already close to bloom. They were put in two years ago and I was not sure if they were goiing to survive through the drought and they have never bloomed. So this was exciting to see! It is too soon to see what color they are going to be, but at least they will produce something.


The temperatures dropped last night, and the night before, so I ran out today and looked at the blooms thinking that the single digits might have zapped them to toast. They seem to be all right, but it will be tomorrow when the temperatures rise to a decent degree (plus rain), before I can be sure that they are still bloom, but if we assume that hellebores are hardy way up to zone 5 and maybe higher they should be fine. The blooms are more tender than plants as a whole and for many plants the bud/flower stage is killed at a much higher temperature that will kill the whole thing.

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Usually the seed and plant catalogues arrive in the mailbox sometime between Christmas and New Year. A few years ago they started arriving even before Christmas.  This year it is different though – only two catalogues have arrived!

One is quite delightful though, it is the new version of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds : http://www.rareseeds.com. This company is about a decade old and always had a simple catalogue filled with great vegetable seeds.  This year the catalogue is much larger and has been printed in full color on glossy paper.  The pictures and images are terrific and the whole presentation has been taken up a notch.  Where else would you get 16 full color pages just of tomatoes? They are classified in terms of color (green, red, orange,yellow, pink, purple and white) plus striped.  Even just picking one from each of these categories could yield a garden full of heirloom tomatoes!

There are also lots of other veggies and hierloom seeds as well.

The other catalogue is a long time favorite of mine – Bluestone Perennials:  www.bluestoneperennials.com. These people have been around for a long time and always have a great selection of old favorites plus newer varieties such as the Coconut Lime Echinacea.  If you enjoy perennials then this is a catalogue not to miss.

Of course all these are online, doubtless with lots more pictures, but you cannot circle your ‘must have’ selections when they are online, and you go past the page in search of the next best thing and forget what you liked three clicks back.

I suspect that the catalogues are pricey to produce and will become a thing of the past, but for now I miss them!

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