Hoppin’ excited to garden

Tue. Feb. 11, 2014

Well that’s one way of getting them into the garden!

Men ages 18 to 34 are growing hops in record numbers!  The explosion of craft beers and homemade brews has led to the desire to grow your own…  hops, that is.

The University of Minnesota has been working since 2010 to identify the best cultivars to grow and the best trellis system to grow the hops on.  Hops was a hardy crop in the midwest, after all, Milwaukee didn’t become “the beer capital of the world” for nothing.  But disease  … [Continue reading]

Trees benefits beyond beauty

Mon. Feb. 10, 2014

oh let me count the ways!

Trees clean the air by absorbing noxious gases and pollutants. One of the key gases they absorb is carbon dioxide, which, according to American Forests, is a main contributor to climate change. The trees then release oxygen. One mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at the rate of 48 pounds per year.

Trees also save homeowners money.  Correctly placed shade trees, windbreaks, and foundation plantings can reduce heating and cooling costs by an estimated 25-30%, that according to information from the University of Minnesota  … [Continue reading]

Nutritive herbs for pets

Fri. Feb. 7, 2014

WARNING:  Before you give your pet any herb – KNOW what you’re giving them and ask your veterinarian if you have ANY questions.  If your pet is not healthy – then make sure your vet says it’s okay.

My recent Organic Gardening magazine offers an article on herbal pet care.  I know that I never really liked putting Frontline on my Golden Retriever to protect her from ticks.  It just didn’t seem right to put something on her that I had to wear gloves to do.

BTW, she hated that  … [Continue reading]

A change of climate for gardening too

Thu. Feb. 6, 2014

Climate Change!  Global Warming!  Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

In case you’re too young to remember where the “Will Robinson” reference comes from it’s the catchphrase of an old tv show called ‘Lost in Space’ that aired from 1965 to 1968.  (I was very young!)

I’m not making fun of climate change, I’m just having fun with the extremes, not only of our weather, but of newspaper headlines.   The fact is, our climate’s changing.  It always will…  the question is how much faster is it now because of human actions.

There  … [Continue reading]

Benefits of indoor plants

Wed. Feb. 5, 2014

I’m sick of winter.  There, I said it.  Now I’m done!  Let’s talk indoor plants.



There are numerous benefits, of course, first up is having something green and growing ito look at.  But more than that, big leafed houseplants are the best, natural way to clear the air in our closed up homes and offices during the winter.

Dracaena and philodendron

Plants reduce unhealthy pollutants, airborne bacteria and fungi; along with adding humidity to the air. Plants leaves are able to absorb the polluted air, send it down  … [Continue reading]

Controversy over Colony Collapse continues

Tue. Feb. 4, 2014

Do an internet search for Bee decline, also called Colony Collapse, and you’ll get almost 2 million hits.  Wikipedia says this phenomenon has been going on since 1972.  Greenpeace says since the 1990’s beekeepers have seen a serious decline.  And it’s not just the United States, but Europe too.

Pathogenic plant virus jumps to honeybees“; that’s the headline in Science Daily, click on the headline for the full story.

There are likely several factors involved in bee decline.  I’ll let that debate continue with farmers and scientists but  … [Continue reading]

Groundhog day 2014

Mon. Feb. 3, 2014

Well, here he is, the rodent responsible for Spring!

Punxatawney Phil

Or winter as the case may be…  So Punxsutawney Phil says 6 more weeks of winter.  I’m okay with that here in Minnesota.  I just wish it would be ONLY 6 more weeks.  When you have darn near a foot of snow in one snowfall in May, well, you’re hopeful for anything less than that!

Check out the Farmer’s Almanac and you’ll get fashion trends too!  Think denim.

NOAA says much without saying anything at all.

And Accuweather?  Well, they  … [Continue reading]

Yellow says spring

Fri. Jan. 31, 2014

After these brutal temps, I thought I might remind all of us that Spring will, at some point, arrive in Minnesota!  Hold on to that thought and go to your happy place when the brutal winds blow!

Forsythia is really a harbinger of spring.  They’re a great shrub but do have some drawbacks.  If left unpruned they can become a dense thicket and look unruly.  Their flower buds can freeze before you get the glow of their pretty yellow color.  I still love them!

There’s another option, however.  It’s called  … [Continue reading]

Free fertilizer and monitoring outdoor plants

Thu. Jan. 30, 2014

It’s a good idea to monitor your outdoor plants, particularly those 3 years and younger, at this time to see if the critters have been nibbling.  If they have, you need to get some hardware cloth or chicken wire and surround them.

Hardware cloth comes in a variety of sizes, you’re best to buy one with small mesh.  Now on to Public Enemy Number ONE…  maybe….

Turns out, rabbit poop is really good for the garden…  just not your shrubs!  Those little brown pellets are a bonanza for your soil.   … [Continue reading]

Portable compost bin

Wed. Jan. 29, 2014

Trudging out to the compost pile in sub zero weather is hardly appealing!   Why not make a portable compost bin and use it all year long.  You can park it next to your recycling bin during the winter and then roll it around with you during the growing season to your gardens.

Portable compost bin with dimensionsPortable compost bin drawing

portable compost drawing

Use a 1 inch paddle bit to drill the holes.  Start the holes about 18 inches down from the top and the rows are about 3 1/2 inches apart.  Each hole is about 3 to  … [Continue reading]