Sunflower Support

After sunflowers bloom, don't throw away those beautiful stalks. They make sturdy bean poles, flower stakes or trellisis and their natural looks blend in with any garden. Save the stalks for use the following year; just store in a dry location.

Cabbage Protection

Wrap strips of newspaper around the roots of cabbages before planting. This prevents cutworms from getting at the plant.

Spring Bulbs

Use blood meal to repel critters (it is a fine fertilizer as well) for your crocuses, tulips and pansies that succumbed to chipmunks and rabbits.

Edible Landscaping

Edible landscaping is not a new method of gardening but is resurfacing as people strive to become more self-sufficient in all phases of their lives. We know that growing our own food not only saves money but provides us with the freshest and healthiest produce. You can grow a substantial amount of food using a minimal amount of space.

Rosalind Creasy, garden and food writer, lecturer, photographer and landscape designer has a new book coming out in April called Edible Landscaping. Since 1970, she has been educating people on practical integration of food plants within an ornamental or decorative setting. Why not have a trellis of cherry tomatoes cascading over your entryway, a border of colorful and flavorful basils, a semi-dwarf apple tree or two or a border of lettuces and spinach inter-planted with nasturtiums?

Rosalind did an experiment in 2008/9. She used her 5' x 20' flower garden bed adjacent to her lawn to see how much food she could grow in 100 sq. ft. She selected transplants that were easy to grow and produced high yields as well as vegetables that are expensive to buy at the supermarket. She used spreadsheets for each type of plant and kept records of each harvest, recording weight/ounces and the number of vegetables picked. At the end of the season she had grown $700 worth of food from her small space. You can go to her website to follow the progress of the garden. By utilizing our land to grow our own food instead of having a large lawn just makes good sense and combined with integrated planting becomes a win-win situation for you and our planet. Get growing!

Stronger Pea Seedlings with Vitamin C Boost

Vitamin C and folic acid, two nutrients vital to our own health, boost the performance of pea seeds, according to a recent study at the University of Massachusetts. The researchers doctored pea seeds with different concentrations of vitamin C and folic acid. Ten days after planting, average seedling height of seeds soaked for 12-48 hours in either a vitamin C solution or a folic acid solution was 40 percent greater than that of the seeds soaked in plain water. Root length, seedling weight, and germination were also enhanced by both treatments. Food-science professor Kalidas Shetty, Ph.D, is now developing a natural treatment to boost seeds' defenses.

Try this at home - dissolve half of a 150 mg vitamin C tablet, or four 5 mg folic acid tablets, in a quart of water. Soak your peas for a day or so; then plant.

Is Your Old Fertilizer Still Good?

As we get ready for the new gardening season, one of the things we do is assess what we have left over from last year's garden supplies. One of the items you may come across is a bag of fertilizer that has turned into concrete-like lumps. Is it still useable? Yes - all of the nutrients are still contained in the lumps but you'll need to crush them with a hammer before you apply it. To reduce the likelihood of this happening again, store fertilizer in its original bag in a protected dry location. It's also a good idea to place the bag in a five-gallon bucket with a tight-fitting lid. Never leave unused ferilizer in your spreader as it will rapidly corrode any metal parts, ruining your equipment.