Getting Rid Of Aphids On Roses

by Admin 31. May 2012 05:29

Hundreds of buds on the Queen Elizabeth rose bushesBy: Eliza Osborn

I've done things this past 2 weeks that I never, ever, thought I'd do. Actually it had never even occurred to me to do before.

Since we’ve been having such a beautiful, warm (sort of) and dry spring, I thought that we would escape the plague of the aphids that we suffered through last spring. Not so. Well, they aren’t nearly as bad as they were last year, but they are bad enough, and besides, I have a lot more roses to worry about this year.

My usual tried and true method for combating aphids is to spray them with a mixture of Ivory liquid in water, wait 10-15 minutes and hose them off really well to wash away the soap and the dead aphids.

This year the roses are maturing and setting hundreds of buds. As I worked in the garden I began to notice that some of the buds looked like they were wrapped in brown velvet. Since I was very busy and didn’t really have time to stop and mix my aphid-killer potion, then wait to rinse them off, and I didn’t want the little buggers sucking juice from the rose buds for another day or so, I just reached up (with gloves on) and started squishing the aphids. That was gross and I couldn’t believe I was doing it, but, hey, it really worked…except that the leather gloves I was wearing made it hard to do and I wound up actually pulling off some of the buds.

So, the next step was (you guessed it) to remove the gloves. I did hesitate, for about 3 seconds, and then I reasoned that I could go and scrub my hands and the aphids would be gone in a fraction of the time it would take to do the civilized method.

After doing this a few times, I realized that some were falling off (only to crawl back up later) and I needed to catch them some way. So, since the aphids were always concentrated on the bud and about an inch down the stem, I found that I could grasp lower on the stem with my left hand, keeping the bud over my palm and use my right hand to smash the aphids.  I was surprised to find how many dropped off as soon as I took the stem in my left hand. It must be an instinct for their survival, which explains why there are a bazzillion of them.

Now, not only do I have to kill the ones on the bud and stem but also the ones that drop into my palm.

I know that it’s Yucky! I know that it’s Disgusting! But it works. I go on patrol each day to see if any new colonies have been established. I’ve pretty much obliterated them at this point.

The things we will do for our roses.

I was surprised that when I revealed my revolting aphid-control method to other gardeners, I found that they’d been doing it for years.

Who knew?

Thanks and happy planting!

Cheap Gardening – Beautiful Flowers Don’t Have To Cost A Fortune

by Admin 3. May 2012 03:49

Cosmos grown from seed.By: Eliza Osborn

When we bought our house 2 years ago, we removed almost all of the lawn, leaving only the parking strip in the front and a small patch of lawn on each side of the front walkway. That left a lot of empty space to fill. Even allowing for the future deck, grape arbor, raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and garden paths, there were still a lot of empty flower beds.

Since plants cost so much, especially perennials and shrubs, we had to figure out the least expensive ways to get the plants we wanted.

We planted some of our perennials from seeds, like Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea), Foxglove (Digitalis), Canterbury Bells (Campanula) and Delphiniums. It takes longer to get mature plants and blooms, but you sure get a lot of plants for your money. All of these did really well and come back each year.

Most of our flower beds are filled with roses and perennials, the majority of which were bought this time of year (Sep. & Oct.) when they had been marked down 50-75% because it’s near the end of the growing season and merchants want to get rid of them.

Some of the ones we bought looked pretty sad after a long, hot summer in a pot, but because they were perennials, it didn’t matter. I knew that if we got them in the ground and took good care of them that next Spring they would come back out and be beautiful.

So check out the garden centers and nurseries, don’t forget to check grocery stores that carry plants. Online nurseries also have some great deals because they are also trying to get rid of their stock before winter. It doesn’t matter if the plant is a little ratty looking, as long as it’s alive. This only applies to perennials, not annuals, which will die at the end of the season anyway.

A good source of free plants is from friends who have mature plants that need dividing. This is such a good source of plants because if a plant needs to be divided then you know that it grows well in your area.

Taking cuttings from plants and rooting, then potting them, is another good source of free plants.

Have an idea of the size of the space you’re trying to fill and read the plant labels to see if it’s a good fit. Perennials look good in groups of 3, 5 or 7 plants.

Use markers with the plants’ names and stick them in the ground where you plant them, because when they die down in the winter it might be hard to remember what you planted and where.

Not doing that is why I have some mystery plants in my garden that I hope to learn the name of one day.

Until your shrubs and perennials mature and reach their full size you’ll have room to plant annual seeds such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and Marigolds. I’ve used these to fill in the spaces and they make great cutting flowers. Save the seeds from these and you’ll never have to buy seeds again.

You can have such a wonderful yard and not spend much money, just track down those bargains, don’t be afraid to plant seeds and make some good gardening friends who like to share.

Thank you and happy planting!

Where to start? – How To Plan a Garden, How To Plant a Garden – How To Be a Gardener

by Admin 11. April 2012 05:01

Back yard in 2009, before garden planted, arbor and deck builtBy: Eliza Osborn

I’m trying to decide whether to begin at the end or the beginning of our garden. Maybe I’ll just jump back and forth.

In 2009 we’d bought a very old home in the Rocky Mountains (zone 5b-6a) and had taken up most of our lawn. I didn’t mention that we also took down four huge trees and many large, old shrubs. You can imagine what a mess our yard looked. But…we had a plan.

Here is a picture of our yard when we began laying it out. The big crater is where a large stump was ground out and where the Queen Elizabeth roses now stand beside the deck. You can see 2 of the 5 little peach trees planted early that spring. The small one on the end is stunted because deer ate the top out of it when it first put on leaves.

I think the neighbors were a little worried about the nut jobs that had moved in next door. It did look pretty bad but we did put up a privacy fence to protect their eyes. Of course the picket fence in the front yard didn’t hide very much and the front yard looked this bad too.

Thank you and happy planting!

Growing Your Own Food Is Easy With a Vegetable Garden

by Admin 4. April 2012 09:59

Raised vegetable bed ready for plantingBy: Eliza Osborn

Vegetable gardens are popping up all over the place. Next summer, notice how many people are carving out a little portion of their yard to start a garden to grow some of their own food. I remember back in the 40′s and 50′s small kitchen gardens were the norm, along with a few fruit trees.

It really doesn’t take much space to grow a few vegetables, vegetables that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of know how either. A little research on the things you want to grow, and you will be a gardener before you know it. If you happen to live where there really is no room for a garden, then grow some things in containers. The containers don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be big enough that the roots will have plenty of room and big enough that there is plenty of soil so that it doesn’t need watering every hour. Good drainage is a must. Boards nailed together to make grow boxes, or barrels cut in half and holes drilled in the bottom will work.

Growing your own vegetables can be a fun family project. Let the kids choose vegetables to plant and help them to learn how to take care of their own plants. I noticed that my children ate vegetables out of the garden so much better than ones from the freezer. I think it was because they had part in planting, weeding, watering and harvesting them.

Times are tough for a lot of families right  now and buying a few packets of seeds might be a really good investment. As the winter months drag on and we plan for the spring and summer, consider giving the vegetable garden a shot.

Raised beds in in front of grape vines on fence in August
Even though I’ve been gardening for so many years, it still amazes me that we can take a little seed, put it in the dirt, and it will make food for us. Isn’t that just amazing?

Thank you and happy planting!

Spring Clean Up Of Perennial Beds Underway…At Last!

by Admin 28. March 2012 09:44

Flower bed by south gate all cleaned outBy: Eliza Osborn

Underneath all of that old, dead debris from the winter, green life is pushing its way up. It’s amazing how much growth has taken place. It won’t be long before everything is getting big and setting buds for spring and summer blooms.

I cleared the asparagus bed and was amazed to see asparagus spears already appearing. It must be this mild season we’re having. Bad timing for us since we’re about to leave on vacation, I guess I can get someone to harvest the spears for me so they will keep coming. Since this is the fourth year on the plants, maybe we can get a few weeks of cuttings when we return home.


Flower bed by south gate all cleaned out
The peonies are coming up and the roses and many other perennials are leafing out. The apricot, peach and aprium trees are in bloom. Even though I have only a few hyacinths, they are in full bloom, as are the daffodils.

I lost a lot of tulip blooms to the deer last year and so this year I’m trying to protect them with some mesh. I noticed today that they have chomped down the tulips in the front flower bed that I hadn’t covered, but the covered ones are still looking good.

Once I’ve finished with all this not-so-fun clean up, then maybe I’ll get to sit back and enjoy watching the garden come to life.

Thank you and happy planting!

Planting Time Is Finally Here

by Admin 22. March 2012 06:53

Vegetable seeds for this years gardenBy: Eliza Osborn

I finally made it to the garden center to select the seeds for our raised-bed vegetable garden. We have 3 beds that measure 16′x4′. One is located in the back yard by the peach trees, and two are in the side yard, on the other side of the driveway.

We usually grow the peas and lettuce in the side yard beds but this year I’m moving them to the raised bed in the back yard, mainly for convenience sake. It’s easier to dash out the back door and pick peas and lettuce, it’s much closer to my kitchen. The corn and tomatoes will go out in the beds in the side yard.

As you can see from the picture, I have quite a variety that I plan on growing this year. All have done well before, and I really look forward to having them much closer to the kitchen.

Almost all of the ones in the picture need to be planted soon and I’ll be trying to get them all planted today. We are in zone 6, so the time for planting early veggies in your zone may vary. Check the seed packet for that info.

The beans, squash and cucumber will go in later, when the soil warms up a little. I’m planting two kinds of peas, regular English peas and Sugar Snap Peas. Also, I’m planting 3 kinds of lettuce, for variety.

I did get a few packets of flower seeds, but I save so many seeds from my annuals each year that I don’t really need to buy many of those.

The timing is perfect for planting tomorrow because it’s suppose to rain over the weekend, which will water the seeds in really well and give them a good start. Also, I’ll be soaking the peas seeds overnight to give them a little head start.

If you want a really good selection of seeds, now’s the time to get to the garden center and make your selections.

Thank you and happy planting!

Never Ending Variety of Succulents…and Their Uses

by Admin 15. March 2012 08:03

Figure Created Using SucculentsBy: Eliza Osborn

I have to admit that I’ve not grown too many succulents. Ive had the Hen and Chicks and the Kalanchoe, but not much else. Lately though, I’ve been noticing them more and more in other people’s gardens and in the garden centers. I had no idea that there was such a huge variety of these beautiful plants.

They are not only beautiful but very easy to grow, if the conditions are right. When we were in the San Diego Botanical Garden I fell in love with these figures that had been created using succulents. How do people even dream up things like this, much less figure out a way to do it?

One of the garden centers we visited in California had such a huge selection of succulents to choose from, I would have like to have had one of each.

When our garden centers get up and running this spring, I intend to check them out to see what wonderful little treasures I can find. I will be finding ways to use them in our garden from now on.

Thank you and happy planting!

Starting a Vegetable Garden…It’s Easy

by Admin 7. March 2012 10:34

A very small vegetable gardenBy: Eliza Osborn

Many people, who have never gardened before, are considering growing their own food this year and backyard vegetable gardens are becoming quite popular. If you're reading this, then likely you are already a gardener, but if not, and you want to start a garden, don't be intimidated.

It's easy, if you follow these simple steps:

  1. Plan
  2. Prepare the Bed
  3. Layout the Plan and then Plant
  4. Water and Keep Moist Till Germination
  5. Watch Garden Grow

For information about each of these steps, check out this article: How To Start a Garden in 5 Easy Steps
Gardening should come with a warning, because it is very addicting.

Thank you and happy planting!

Composting…SO Important For The Garden

by Admin 2. March 2012 05:49

By: Eliza Osborn

 Finished compostTo some people, composting is a totally boring subject, but to a gardener who is interested in increasing the production and beauty of the garden, it is a very fascinating topic.

So much has been written on “How To” that it can seem a little  intimidating. It really is easy, and so worth the effort.

I’ve found a site that is all about composting and has some excellent information. It breaks it all down and de-mystifies the whole process. Check it out at: http://www.composterconnection.com/site/how-to.html

Thank you and happy planting!

Don’t Want Pesky Pest and Damaging Diseases In The Garden?…Follow These Tips

by Admin 27. February 2012 11:17

By: Eliza Osborn

Green beans growing and maturing with new onions coming up in front.Okay, all gardeners get pests and even disease sometimes. Oh, the aphids were bad last year.

There is a lot we gardeners can do though, to help prevent a lot of our problems in the garden. Most of them are just good gardening practices, and we probably already do most of them. Just thought I'd list them so we can see what we might be neglecting.

Make sure your soil is healthy. Put nutrients (compost) back into it each year. Healthy plants are much more resistant to diseases and pests.
Don't plant the same vegetables in the same place each year. Rotate, rotate, rotate. Keep the bad guys guessing.
Plan your vegetable garden well. Plants need lots of sunshine and good air circulation. Over crowding hinders both.
Don't neglect your plants. Checking them regularly allows early detection of any problems.
Don't water the foliage late in the day, as it needs time to dry out before night to prevent fungus and mildew.
Keep garden tools clean. Rinse the dirt off and store them away. If you're working with diseased plants, it's a good idea to disinfect the tools with a little bleach water. Clean hands and garden gloves as well after working around diseased plants.
If you have plants with disease, do not compost them. Put them into the trash bin.
Hopefully this years garden will be pests and disease free.

Wouldn't that be so nice?

Thank you and happy planting!