These four plants of Walker's Low Catmint were planted two years ago in what is very heavy soil. I have done nothing to them except apply fertilizer once a year in early spring working it into the soil around the roots. I have been cutting off a couple dozen stems from each of these for the last two farmer's markets I attended, and still I have these huge mounds of periwinkle blue stems. Each plant is about 18" high and spreads almost 2 feet. They will continue to bloom for almost another month. The bees love it, and it has a nice fragrance too!
It has been a very wet and cool spring here and not much is growing well, the annuals are just beginning to grow and I am so glad I planted this lamium early in April. My containers look full by mid-May! This cascading vine with the variegated leaf is a lamium that bears yellow flowers. Lamium is common here and often becomes invasive in the garden and even grows wild, but that is the purple flowering variety that has an upright habit. I took a few starts of this variety from a friends garden last summer and started them in pots. Early this spring as soon as they started to green up, I put them in some of my larger containers, and by May I had these pretty silver and green leaves filing out my pots. It is a perennial so can be planted in early spring when frost is still possible.
This is the first of two posts about non-toxic weed control: one for lawns and one for sidewalks cracks, driveways and patios.
For crabgrass and other weeds the new corn gluten lawn products should be applied in early spring to reduce the germination of new weeds. These products are applied with a lawn spreader and prevent seeds of weeds from sprouting. Allowing your grass to grow taller and avoid cutting it too short will discourage weeds and allow the grass itself to get healthier.
If you have a dandelions, here is a method that will just about completely eliminate them. This method is not practical for very large lawns however, but I have had great success keeping smaller lawns completely dandelion free with about 1/2 hour per week or less of work in the spring dandelion season.
As soon as dandelions appear, both flowering and still only green, I use a weed remover tool like those pictured below. These tools do not require bending. Removing dandelions twice weekly with this tool alone will keep the lawn nearly free of dandelion flowers especially if you look for dandelions that have yet to flower and pull them also. If the flowers are already going to seed (forming a white puff ball) try to remove the puff ball without dispersing any seeds an dispose them in a bag.
Since this tool will not get the entire root of many of the dandelions, they will grow back. A trick that I have used to kill the remaining root is to squirt vinegar into the hole as soon as I have pulled the dandelion. This does require bending or kneeling, I often prefer to do the dandelion removal without the no-bend tool and use a long serrated edge kitchen knife. I encircle the root by making three or four stabs around the root. Then after lifting most of the weed and root, I squirt about a tablespoon vinegar into the bottom of the hole. This will kill or at least stunt the remaining root, and because the vinegar is applied below the sod it does not harm the grass. If you do this a few times in spring when the dandelions are plentiful (here that is late April and early May) I find that the number decrease dramatically through May and June. By June I can do my entire lawn in about 10 mins. twice a week. This may be less time than it takes to apply Round-Up.
I have posted below a squirt bottle I made to make it easier to get the vinegar deep into the hole. This was made simply by gluing a plastic straw on to a empty water bottle lid after making the hole in the bottle cap slightly wider to fit the straw. I used epoxy for the glue and was careful not to get glue on the inside of the bottle cap where it screws onto the bottle. I stretched the hole in the bottle cap with a the single blade of scissors just by pushing it in and turning.
If you have had difficulty starting seeds indoors to get a head start on your garden or just to start varieties you can't find already started, this hands-on workshop will help. I will share the secrets I have learned through the years to start vegetables and flowers indoors and you'll go home with confidence, organic seaweed fertilizer and an organic anti-fungal agent and 18-20 seed pots planted,
I will do another workshop to start the tender veggies in March. Seeds offered will include varieties of tomato, sunflowers, peppers, squash and melons. Your choice up to 18 pots of plants to take home.
A client asked for centerpiece decoration for a dinner party in early December. She had a long table and a beautiful red velvet table cloth. We used long branches of white birch interlaced with magnolia leaves, teasels sprayed white, red roses, pine cones, pussy willows, baby's breath and few delicate branches also sprayed white. Some items were purchased at a floral wholesaler but the birch, pine cones, and teasels were foraged.
Dahlias and zinnias comprise these fabulous wedding bouquets I put together for a September wedding. I added small sprigs of boxwood and some graceful stems of asparagus.
Although slightly cooler than average, the almost perfect growing season we had here in Northeast Ohio produced a wonderful fence full of morning glories. These were the last blooms before our frost last week.
Last fall my crew and I planted a river of grape hyacinths and tulips for a customer. It was about a total of 8,000 bulbs. We roto-tilled the area first to loosen the soil to a depth of about 6 inches, then used a bulb planting auger where we wanted extra depth. We treated the bed with cayenne pepper before covering the bulbs, then after covering the bulbs, we gave it a dressing of milorganite to keep the deer away. The clients took a winter vacation in March and neglected to retreat with milorganite, and unfortunately, the deer ate quite a few of the tulips while they were away. The Muscari however bloomed well even though they obviously had been munched also. We retreated with milorganite just before the Muscari opened.
Barbara Eaton, M.Ed. is a Master Gardener, a garden designer and an artist. She works as a professional gardener caring for the gardens of several regular clients. She is a published author, retired educator and a fool for flowers.