The First Step to Recovery…

The first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem. We sure do, its our drainage! We sit below the road in our cul-de-sac and while drainage is generally good for our house, our driveway pools water near the garage. It's mostly just an annoyance. When its rained heavily you have to step through a mud puddle to get into the car, usually it doesn't require scuba gear. I have a plan though: A modified French drain.Along the edge of the driveway I plan to dig a trench, as long as the puddle is wide and deep enough that a perforated drain tube can be placed in it. The drain will then attach to another tube that leads out into the yard through another trench. At the end of the second trench will be a water receiving area partially filled with gravel. Once all the tubes are in…

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War of the Weeds!

The moment I found out what that particularly green feathery weed in my yard was, it was war! RAGWEED! It was everywhere in our yard. The front, the back, the sides, underneath hollies in all the garden beds, and pretty much everywhere else you looked it was there. Like an alien entity overlooking our planet while planning its method of invasion. For several weeks I waged war on the plant with little success. I tried the non-toxic chemical method with vinegar leading the charge. It's odoriferous scent attacked the invading invasive like a salad dressing on fire. Unfortunately it did little more than burn the tips of the leaves. Still the ragweed came on, seeking to ravage more land and destroy more of our faltering fescue lawn. The great arms of ragweed blotted out the sun from the blades of grass causing them to wither and die. Beneath the aliens,…

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Follow Up: Rosemary

The other day I wrote about layering rosemary plants. Layering is the process of propagation where roots are formed by placing the stem of the plant underneath rooting medium (soil) to allow it to root with the support of the parent plant. If you look closely at the picture to the left you can see small roots being formed at the base of the plant. These roots will continue to grow and will eventually be able to support their own plant.Rosemary grows very well outdoors in Tennessee. Yesterday while visiting my parents house for Thanksgiving dinner I took an updated picture of the rosemary. The picture on the left (it's the same one in the layering rosemary post) was taken a year ago and here it is now! Notice how the large rock in the first picture has been devoured by the spreading herb. Like I said, it grows well…

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For Next Year

I know most people have already put their tools away and their beds are ready for winter. It may be too early to even think about next year, but the off season (winter) is planning time for next year. It's time to figure out what worked for the 2007 season and think about what to plant in 2008. The University of Tennessee Gardens website has some great information about annual plants from their 2007 annual plant trials that may help the planning process. They tested the same annuals in Jackson, TN and in Knoxville, TN then rated them for June, July and August. On the site they show the rating for each location on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best) and gave an average of the two locations. This information is a very good resource for a gardener wanting to find a new annual to put into the…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! It's good to have a day to reflect on what you appreciate. Don't over stuff on the turkey today! It's usually the side dishes that get me!

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Crazy Thought? Maybe Not! (Butterfly Bush Cuttings)

Last night I had a crazy thought "why not take a few last minute cuttings before the cold weather moves in for good?" The cuttings would need warmth to root and survive, so keeping them outside was not an option. I found a decorative pot that my wife bought a few years ago at a campus art sale back in college and filled it up with sand. Sand works great as a rooting medium for cuttings. Then I went out to my butterfly bush and took enough greenwood material to make 8 cuttings. I cut each of the cuttings to about 4 inches long with at least two nodes and a couple leaves. I pinched the growing tip from the top of each cutting and dipped the bottom of the cutting in water. Next I dipped the cutting into some powdered rooting hormone and inserted it into the sand. Finally…

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Yet Again!

Yet again I could not resist the urge to look for discount plants, and I found some! I picked up three more 'East Friesland' salvias, three 'Caradonna' salvias, another viburnum, and two 'Patriot' hostas. My total for these nine forlorn plants was $8.74 after taxes. The salvias were all in great shape for being on a discount rack. The hosta leaves had faded on the 'Patriot's but the root systems were strong. I took a chance on the viburnum, but for a dollar why not? I scratched the bark with my fingernail and found green underneath so it is alive and hopefully will stay that way until spring. I suspect the freeze we had caused it to go dormant, which for many trees and shrubs dormancy is a good time to plant. I managed to get each of these plants in the ground yesterday before today's rains came. The 'East…

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Plant of the Week:Hemlock

Most people got it right! The correct answer was the hemlock. The Canadian Hemlock or Tsuga canadesis is a great plant to use as an evergreen screen or a specimen tree. It has the potential to grow between 40-70 feet tall and could spread up between 25-35 feet in diameter. Its foliage is soft and feathery unlike many other evergreen trees. Hemlocks produce cones with seeds that are eaten by a number of birds. A great tree for wildlife, the hemlock is facing a devastating predator: the woolly adelgid. This little insect is destroying many of these magnificent trees.We planted four little hemlocks to eventually become a privacy screen along our property line.

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A Chore is a Game to a 2 Year Old!

My daughter and I went out to play today in the 70+ degree temperatures. Our goal was to take advantage of the last gasp of warm weather before old man winter came for his annual visit. Almost immediately my daughter darted to the sandbox. We removed the covers from the sandbox to reveal an assortment of toys half buried in the sand for safekeeping. She played in the sand for a bit, moving the sand back and forth and putting into various buckets and containers, while I moved a couple patio doors to a better location for the winter (possible greenhouse story later!). In order to put them where I intended I needed to move my assorted collection of nursery pots (I'm not sure I can bring myself to throw any good pots away). All this commotion caught my daughter's attention and she had to get in on the game.…

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