Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Gardening

I love late fall when the holidays are approaching and summer seems distant.  Life slows down from the summer busyness and fall clean up, so I shift my thoughts to decorating for the holidays.  I have a few customers that like the look of natural greens for decorating, which is what I love also, so I make some of my own creations for them to hang on their doors or where ever they want them.

This wreath was for a large piece of granite in the entry way
of a fence.
When I collect greens, I store them outside in the shade.  The days are cool in late November but the sun can still get pretty warm and dry the greens up fast.  I cover them with a tarp so if it snows or rains, I don't have work with the greens when they're wet.  I found the quality of the wreath frames are important when making wreaths.  The good ones hold the greens and don't bend when full.  The ribbons for bow making are also important when it comes to making full puffy bows.  It's easiest to make bows that have wired edges.

A variety of greens, when assembling a wreath, gives way to more of a three dimensional look.  It doesn't take many varieties to make the wreath interesting, it's where you place them that makes the difference.  In the wreath pictured here, there is hemlock, white pine, holly, winterberry, cedar, and spruce.

If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, look everywhere around your property for what ever you can use.  I cut some Witch Hazel and birch branches and implemented them with some of my designs. The three dimensional look was very satisfying.

Until next time:  My wish for you is to have a healthy and happy year ahead.  May the holidays, which ever ones you celebrate, bring you love, happiness, and peace of mind.  See you next year!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grass Seed at 30 Degrees

Usually when I do something in the garden now, I have a purpose.  I don’t just throw a plant in the dirt and hope for the best.  I usually have some knowledge behind my purpose and place a plant in a specific location because I’ve done a little research and know that the plant has the possibility of thriving in that area.  I am usually pretty sure that the soil has good nutritional value and the sun is about right for the plant.  Well, today I kind of threw that practice out the door and planted grass seed on a whim.

It’s not that I’m completely ignorant to this; I’ve done it before.  I’ve also talked to a few of the old time Yankees that I know, like my dad, that have told me that this is a good time to plant grass seed.  It’s cold out, very cold for this season as a matter of fact.  The ground is still frozen in Connecticut, but it’s starting to thaw little by little.  We had a tremendous amount of snow this year so that makes the ground perfect for germination.  Today is cold, not reaching more than 32 degrees F, so that’s not so great.  

Here's my evaluation on this:

First of all, I’ve done this before - two times to be exact.  It was a little earlier in the season the last time I did this.  There was still snow on the ground at the time but the days were getting longer and warmer and I thought it was an appropriate time to do it.  I threw the seed on top of the snow where there was about 2 or so inches, and then on the ground where there were bare areas.  I didn’t put any pre-emergent down in my yard in the spring, so I wasn’t worried about killing off the seed before it had a chance to germinate.  I didn’t think about it again until July, which is when I noticed how great the lawn looked.

It’s later in the season this time, but because the winter has been hanging on like Velcro, I thought it was a good time to do it.  Here are some things that I think might be helpful if you’re thinking about doing it too.

*Check the ground.  The areas that I seeded are thawing and somewhat soft – this is good.

*It’s freezing today - not so good.  Grass seed could die off a little in the freezing temperatures.  I don’t know at what temperature the grass seed can die, but I do know that the percentage of germination diminishes when it freezes and I know that it won’t all die.  So you might not get the germination you would if the temperatures were warmer.  Instead of 98% you might get 80%, so plan on that when putting the seed down.

*Grass seed likes a cool germination period, so don’t worry that it’s too cold, unless of course it’s like 10 degrees F.  

*Spread the seed and walk away.  Don’t water it unless you are in a drought, then my advise is don’t bother to even put the seed down.  If it doesn’t all take, you have nothing to loose.  Remember I’m not suggesting starting a new lawn like this, I’m only suggesting to over seed a little to improve the lawn for the coming season.  Don’t spend a lot of money on this.

*Last but not least if it snows again, don’t worry about it.  If there a deluge of rain, the seed may wash away if the area that you seeded is on a slope.  It doesn’t usually all wash away though and you can fix it when the weather gets a little better.

So for all the expert advise that I or some other gardeners may give, this is not one of them.  One bit of advise that I will give though, is that if your grass continues to not do well in the same area over and over again, then get the soil tested.  It takes all the guess work out of planting and saves a lot of time and headache.

So until next time:  may your grass be healthy and happy, and may our mowers get started soon.  Remember, good things come to those that wait.