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Fooling Mother Nature


Can you really fool Mother Nature?  Maybe, sometimes.

Let's look at some tricks we can use to at least get around Mother Nature.  Azaleas bloom generally in the Spring.  There are, however, many varieties of azaleas and each one of them blooms at a slightly different time.  They really don’t bloom by the time of year in reality they bloom by length of day and night.  Some varieties bloom as early as late March while others don’t bloom until early June.  Going one step further, bloom time may be two weeks different from one year to the next depending on the weather.  A bright sunny spring and they bloom early, a cloudy overcast spring, such as this year, may delay blooming by as much as a couple of weeks.

A prime example of how important light can be to bloom time happened in my own yard.  Being a professional and knowing everything about plants, I wanted a late blooming azalea in front of the background shrubs in front of the house.  I planted 10 later blooming plants that I thought would look great in front of the house.  However, I didn’t consult Mother Nature.  I didn’t take into consideration that my house did not face due North.  The sun actually came up facing the front corner of my house and crossed my house in a catty-cornered path setting in the afternoon on the lower back corner of the house.  This caused the shade to be different on each plant and caused each plant to bloom about three days later than the one beside it.  By the time the last one bloomed the first ones had faded and dropped bloom. So much for knowing everything.

I looked at my pink dogwood in front of the house this morning.  It should be in full bloom by now instead it has not even started to crack bloom.  It will probably be another week at least before it blooms. Just too much cloudy weather.  It needs some sun.

Now I fooled Mother Nature with some azaleas on the side of my house.  I wanted some azaleas on the west end of my house and even though it was in full sun I thought I could make them work.  I couldn't.  For two years I tried and they refused.  Pure hot sun, they grew little and bloomed less.  I planted a row of dogwood out about 10 feet from the azaleas which shaded them from the hot sun and the azaleas took off.  They began to grow and thanked me for the shade by blooming profusely.  Now they were happy.

I have used azaleas as an example but many other plants would have followed the same pattern.

Another way Mother Nature can be fooled is with artificial light.  Most plants that bloom in the spring start to set next year's bloom within about four to six weeks after they finish blooming.  That's why you want to prune spring bloomers as soon as they finish blooming.  Wait too long and you cut off next year's bloom.  This can also work in your favor.

You find azaleas, for example, in florist shops, in full bloom almost any time of year.  They are the same plants we grow outside.  They have been grown in greenhouses where the light could be controlled.  Usually this is done by rolling out black plastic over the plants giving them just the right amount of light to bring them into bloom.  If the plant needs more light to bloom the grower uses artificial light to lengthen the amount of light they receive.

Plants are being grown in artificial environments using all artificial light.  Grown in all water, using no soil.  Patterns that you see in many plants today are computer designed and then the plant is bred to grow and bloom in that pattern.  I wish I knew how to do this.

Maybe fooling Mother Nature is the wrong term.  I'm really not certain she can be fooled.  Maybe the right term is growing in cooperation with Mother Nature.

March - Planning For Vegetable Gardens!

Planning For Vegetable Gardens!


Spring is right around the corner and we are all ready to get out and start planting. Many retailors already have in stock seed potatoes, onion sets and vegetable seed.  They will be stocking cold crop plants shortly.  We are going to try and offer tips and videos to help you to be more successful with your vegetable gardens.  Whether you are trying vegetable gardening for the first time or are old pro at the game we think we will have some tips that you can use.

What I would tell you whether it's your first try at gardening or you are an old pro not to bite off more than you can chew. As you start to plan look first at how much time you have to spend in the garden.  The other important thing to use in planning is how much space do you have that offers good soil, light and drainage for a garden.

A garden can consume a lot of time and if all you have is weekends ask yourself do you want to spend a few hours each weekend in the garden or do you want to spend the entire weekend in the garden. What will you do if it rains all weekend?  When will you catch up?

I have seen to many of our customers try to overdo the time they had and plant in soil and light that was not appropriate for vegetables and soon the garden was taken over by weeds and grass and some stuff was not growing and finally they just give up.  They then decide to give up or try some of the new fads in growing.  Things like square foot gardening, raised bed gardens, planting in straw bales and other new ideas.  Believe me, none of these new fads answer the two points I raised above.

In general, a vegetable garden should be in full, all day, direct sunlight.  The soil should be well drained and loamy. Running your rows so they run north to south will help with the light problem

Another consideration before you start is spacing and layout of the garden. If space is limited you may want to stay away from things like melons and pumpkins.  Think about how many plants it may take to produce enough crop for your family.  Make sure you plant things the family likes and will eat.

I once had a neighbor that decided to grow tomatoes.  She bought six tomato plants, planted them, diligently tended them, ended up with some of the nicest tomatoes you could want.  Never harvested the first one because nobody in the family liked tomatoes.  They all rotted on the vine while my mouth watered.

Below is a chart of some of the vegetables more commonly grown with suggestions for space requirements and depth of planting.




One quick comment all of these measurements are approximate.  A few inches one way or the other is not going to matter.  When I plant I dig a trench and drop seed in and it works just fine.  When planting potatoes and onion sets I don’t worry about setting them with the top up or how far apart they are.  They know which way is up and distance apart is not all that important.

Just have fun when you garden.  Don’t let it be a burden.

If this info is helpful lets us know.  We would like to think we are doing some good.


Plant of the Month: Paperwhites

(Narcissus Tazetta)

The "Just Add Water" Plant

Popular indoor plant for winter and the holidays.

Paperwhites do NOT require a chilling period.

Frangrant flowers blom in about 3 weeks.

Can be planted in soil outdoors but are commonly grown in pots or dishes with some stones or marbles to anchor them in place and a little water.




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Plant of the Week - Easter Lily

Easter Lily

Easter Lily

Keep your Easter Lilies blooming by taking a few easy precautions.

  • Display your plant in bright, but indirect sunlight.
  • Protect your Easter Lily from drafts and heat sources, such as fireplaces, heaters and appliances.
  • Remove the yellow anthers from the flower centers. This helps prolong the life of the blossoms and prevents the pollen on the anthers from staining the flowers, your hands, clothing, tablecloths, rugs and anything else it can find its way to.
  • Cool daytime temperatures in the 60 - 65 degree F. range will prolong the life of the blooms. The temperature can be even cooler at night.
  • Water the Easter Lily only when the soil becomes dry to the touch and don’t leave it dry for an extended period of time.
  • If the lily’s pot is in a decorative foil wrapper, be sure water is not accumulating under the pot. More plants die from over watering than under watering.
  • Remove flowers as they fade and wither.
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