Winterizing Container Plants

Container-WInterIt’s getting close to the time when vacationing houseplants need to be moved back indoors. That includes tender perennial plants, like rosemary and dwarf fruit trees. It’s best to get them back indoors while the windows are still open, so they can acclimate gradually, long before the drying heat comes on.

But what do you do about those perennials you planted in containers. It seemed like a good idea when you say it in a magazine, but will they survive out there in a pot?

5 Things to Consider, Before You Leave Your Containers Out in the Cold.

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Composting Citrus – Yes, Maybe, Never?

Photo: canoncan / Stock.xchng http://www.freeimages.com/photo/451066

Photo: canoncan / Stock.xchng
(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/451066)

I had always tossed my orange and lemon peels into the compost bucket with the rest of my peelings. I never thought twice about it until someone said “Of course, you can’t compost citrus.” Of course? Why not?

Why You Shouldn’t Compost Citrus

I never really got a satisfactory answer to that question. Some said the oils would kill off the worms and beneficial organisms needed for decomposition. After all, citrus oils are often included in pesticides and bug sprays.

Others said it was because the peels themselves decompose so slowly, though I don’t know why that should be a deterrent. And some worried that they would acidify the compost.

Never Mind
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A Little Compost is Good. Is a Lot Better?

CompostHow often have you been advised to add more organic matter to your garden beds? We all know compost is a magic elixir, but can you over do it? Most of us can barely make enough to keep up with our needs, so maybe this question is moot, but I was curious, none the less.

I’ve read that you shouldn’t start seeds in pure compost. I’ve never gotten a definitive answer as to why, but most experts are in agreement with a general “No”. However I know a couple of gardeners who swear by it and the tomato plants that have volunteered in my compost heap look healthier than the ones that have been putting on a valiant show in my garden.

But back to my original question, can there be too much compost? Continue Reading

Do You Soak Your Garlic?

Garlic-HarvestI didn’t have a terrific crop of garlic this year and I’m not sure why. My shallots and onions turned out great, but despite planting some impressive sized cloves last fall, my garlic harvest was puny.

Can You Plant Grocery Store Garlic?

I always order so called “seed” garlic, if I don’t have any of my own to plant. Grocery store garlic is always said to be treated with a growth inhibitor, to prevent it from sprouting in the store. I’ve always questioned that, because I have purchased plenty of garlic that sprouted. Maybe it was organic and untreated?

Well,  I’ve been doing some reading and poking around and found that this growth inhibitor, a hormone known as maleic hydrazide, or Royal MH-30, didn’t do a very good job of inhibiting garlic sprouting and is no longer widely used on it. It doesn’t even appear to be registered for use on garlic.Continue Reading

Had Enough of that Squash Vine?

Squash-VinesEvery year I would try a new winter squash variety that was supposed to be compact and every year it took up more room than I allotted for it. I finally decided to trellis the vines, but they don’t like to stay put. When I turn my back, for just a second, the vine reaches out and grabs hold of the hydrangea planted on the other side of the fence. Squash vines are not easy to un-twine, trust me.

So I asked a fellow gardener and squash enthusiast if he ever prunes his vines. He laughed at me, because he has way too many vines to be that particular about them. But he also assured me that it is very hard to kill a squash vine with pruning. Since winter squash can only reasonably be asked to carry 4 – 6 fruits each, once they set those fruits, he said it’s fine to trim away the excess.

How Much is Excess?Continue Reading