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Product Review: Stanley Folding Saw

Written by Mindy on February 20th, 2019

Ok, I have to admit there are times that I am just lazy as a gardener and yes, there are times that I use the wrong tool for the task just because I do not want to have to walk up to the garden shed for the correct tool but…….with a little planning and the right product, you will not have to. This is where the Stanley Folding Saw comes into play.

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To begin with, this saw is so compact that it easily fits into my garden bucket that I carry around with me as I walk in my garden space. While I have placed a saw in my garden carryall, I always seem to brush my arm against the teeth of the saw and in doing so at least scraping my arm and at worst, cutting myself. The fact that the blade folds up makes it a wonderful and safe addition to my transportable gardening tool box.

The other point I like to bring to light is the hole in the handle by which I can run a rope or other attachment through for securing it to a number of things. This includes my gardening tool belt, belt loop or even the handle to my gardening bucket. This saves me time and energy when it comes to finding the tool when I need it. Also, it allows me to simply go out on my property with a few tools on my person and hands-free to continue with my gardening to-do list.

All in all, I give this tool two green thumbs up but….what makes it a wonderful garden tool also creates a problem. What is this? Well, it is the fact that it is foldable. When cutting plant material, there will come a time by which you need to remove diseased parts of a plant. In the best situation, you would wipe down the saw after every use to prevent contaminating the next cut but…..in a hurry to get the garden chores done; many people will forget to do this step. Once the saw is closed, the disease and/or pest will be in the folded part of the handle and will continue to spread every time you open and close the saw. While there is no sure way of preventing this due to the design of this product, just always remember to wipe down the cut surface after every cut regardless if you view it disease or not. If in doubt, soak the entire saw in a bucket of water that has had a capful of bleach added. This should be enough to kill any plant diseases and/or pests that may remain after use.

 

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Tips for Growing Carom Plant

Written by Mindy on February 10th, 2019

The carom plant is an Indian herb that is also known as bishop weed, ajowan, and Trachyspermum ammi. It can grow both outside in the herb garden and indoors. If you live in a tropical area, you can grow this herb as a perennial but just like mint, make sure you want the plant in that area. On the other hand, if you do not live in a warm environment year round but still want to grow this herb outside then you will be growing the carom plant as an annual. The other choice is to simply cultivate it as an indoor plant.

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While you may think that you can simply find this herb in a seed catalogue and order but it is not that easy. The simplest solution to this problem is to buy fresh plant from an Indian grocery store or ask if you can have a sprig at an Indian themed restaurant.

Once you have your sprig, you can process your start like you would with mint. Cut the start at an angle and dip in a rooting hormone. In a shallow container, add an all purpose potting medium and mist with water until evenly moist.

Next, take a pencil and make a hole in the soil. Place your prepared cutting in the hole and move the soil around the cutting. Repeat this process until you have planted all your prepared cuttings. Mist the soil surface again. Place the cutting in a sunny location, monitor the soil moisture, and check for the rooting progress in about two weeks. This is not done by pulling up the cutting instead gently tug on the cutting. If you feel resistance then you have roots, which means you are ready to transplant.

If you want to plant outside, there are only two requirements that this plant is picky on. The first one is sunlight. This herb requires full sun. The second is the moisture. It does well in a soil that is kept evenly moist. Beyond these requirements, the carom plant can be planted anywhere but as stated before it can take over like mint. While it will probably be grown as an annual, the quick growth can smother out plants before a killing frost kills it.

Another idea is to add this herb to your indoor culinary garden. To control the soil moisture and keep it from becoming too wet always plant this herb in a container with a drainage hole.

 

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Growing a Brazilian Cherry Tree in your Home Orchard

Written by Mindy on January 30th, 2019

I know what you are doing right now. You are scratching your head going I have never heard of such a tree but if you live in Florida, you probably have by a different name. In this region, it is referred to as the Florida cherry or Surinam cherry because it has naturalized itself in this area. The reason this has happened is two-fold. First, it’s USDA Plant Hardiness Zones include 9b to 11. They were planted in this area of the United States as a quick growing hedge or living screen and quickly made their home in this locale.

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Beyond being a fast growing tree with a deep taproot, it is also beautiful. When the leaves are young, they are a vibrant red with a wonderful aroma. As these leaves age, they turn green. Small, white blooms appear along with a sweet smell. Once pollinated, the blooms produce red berries, which are edible.

While this tree does reach a mature height of 25 feet, what makes it a wonderful landscaping plant is the fact that it keeps a lot of its foliage farther down on the tree. This is a bit unusual for trees but this low foliage is what makes it a suitable as a hedge or living screen. The other reason is the fact that this tree does not mind being pruned into a shorter version of itself.

When it comes to the growing requirements of the Brazilian Cherry tree, make sure the soil is well-draining and the location is in full sun. Also, you will need to plan for “room” when it comes to this plant. Since this tree has a “spreading” habit, if you are going to simply add this fruit tree to your orchard plan on having at least 18 feet between plants. On the other hand, if you are looking to create a hedge, space out the trees so that there is two to five feet space between trees.

Since this tree can grow four feet a season, it is important to prune if you are using this as a hedge plant. In general, a hedge is defined as being 5 to 10 feet in height but it can really be any height that you need. While pruning can be done anytime, it is normally conducted in the spring after the flowers are spent but before the fruit has formed and again in the fall.

If you want the fruit, you will need to wait until it has been picked but as with any fruit, birds love these little cherries. This in itself can cause a problem if you planted this tree near your front door, patio and/or near your vehicles. If this is the case, it would be a good idea to prune in the spring to remove the fruit before it causes damage.

The pruning process is simple and only requires you to cut the plant to the desired height. After that, just continue to prune to control the height and the shape you want.

 

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Product Review: Gardeneer Dalen Season Starter

Written by Mindy on January 15th, 2019

Every gardener wants to be the first one to set out their plants in the garden space. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, it allows the gardener to treat that itch that one gets when you are waiting for it to warm up so you can got out and start working the soil. The second reason is it gives one some bragging rights when you can harvest the first tomato many days to weeks before anyone else. While there is no secret potion to add to your plants to achieve this goal, there is a product out there that can aid you in getting your plants outdoors sooner. What is this? Well, when I was in college it was simply called “wall-of-waters” but today it can go by many names. To help you find a product like the Gardeneer Dalen Season Starter, I will be describing the science behind how this works.

gardeneer.dalenThe concept of the “wall-of-waters” is to create a small environment around your plant where it is warmer. This simple technique will keep the cold off your plant, which occurs in the early spring. While this product can work any time of year, it is better to use it in the spring as the sun becomes more intense. The “wall-of-waters” is made of a two-layer, thick plastic that is clear or slightly tinted green and forms a tube. The tube is placed over your planted plant of choice. What holds this tube up is water. Where does the water go? Well, the two-layer construction is further divided into channels that are filled with water. During the day, the sun hits the channels filled with water, heats the liquid up and this heat is released during the evening hours. In a nutshell, this product protects your plants from a frost. It can also speed up the growth of the plant due to the concentration of heat.

This is how this product works but it should only be used after your last local frost and not before. The reason for this is the fact that your soil also needs to heat up before you can plant your tomato plant in the ground.

When it comes to the Gardeneer Dalen Season Starter though, the principle is the same as any “wall-of-water.” In the kit, you get three season starters that are large enough to hold plants that are transplant size. These are made of a heavy plastic that will last many years and the tubes that hold the water are made so that they are easy to fill, which is not always the case with all “wall-of-waters.”

While this product is designed for many years of use, I do find some instructions on the cover a bit misleading. As stated, you do need to allow the soil to warm before you plant out in the ground. On the cover, it states that it allows you to plant up to six weeks earlier, which may or may not be correct depending on the soil temperature. It also states that his product is designed for “vining plants.” Whether the company meant this or not, it lists tomatoes and peppers along with cucumbers, and melons as plants that this product can be used over. As an experienced gardener, I know this product can be used to protect other plants along as they are small and I also know that tomatoes and peppers are not considered “vining plants.” To reduce confusion on this matter, the cover on this product needs to be clearer.

Overall, I really like this product due to its durability and ease by which I can fill the cells with water and be on to my next gardening chore. I simply wish clearer information was presented on the label.

 

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What is Bark Lice and How to Control Them

Written by Mindy on December 20th, 2018

Ok, yes I bit you are beginning to itch when you think about the topic of lice. But, do not fear you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to bark lice.

First things first, this lice does not transfer to humans or animals. They actually provide a service to the trees that inhabit. While you may not notice them on your tree bark, you will notice the web that they spin. It can cover the bottom of the tree along with the lower branches. The purpose of this webbing is really not fully understood but you will find these tiny insects living in the web they have spun. Their physical appearance will remind you of aphids due to their small size. They have long antennas on their heads and when they are not using their wings they fold them up over their heads so they look like hoods.

what.is.bark.liceAs far as their purpose in nature, they help the tree by removing dead material, fungus, algae, and mold. They do not cause the tree any harm except the appearance of the webbing but……..as the growing season comes to a close and the winter winds blow, the bark lice does something interesting. They eat their own webbing and do not appear again until the warmth of spring blows back in. Once that happens, the process begins all over again.

Now, one may be wondering about control. I mean, this is a pest, right? Well, this little insect does not harm any plant material and in doing so there really is no need to consider any type of chemical control. On the other hand, some gardeners will spray the area with water to break up the webbing in hopes of killing the bark lice. While this approach will destroy the webbing, the insects will rebuild and you will have the same problem or more. The hard spray that will be required to destroy or at least tear up the webbing can also cause bark damage, which is a welcome mat to pests and plant disease. At the end of the day, the best technique is to just let things be and realize that admiring nature’s work is finest thing we can do as gardeners.

 

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