Rebecca's Garden Blogs

Get those hands dirty! Rebecca Kolls of Rebecca's Garden has great tips for gardeners. Whether you're planting flowers, vegetables, herbs or trees and shrubs Rebecca can help!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Planting a Bouquet of Spring Bulbs

First things first, don't get all hung up and nervous when planting bulbs. Just give them the depth they need and your job is nearly done. But just in case you need more particulars, here you go:

Find a spot that will get some decent sunlight. Under a big shade tree is not good. Look for good soil that drains well. Bulbs resent wet feet. Amend the soil with the three magic ingredients if you have to; peat moss, cow manure and compost. If you don't amend, be sure to sprinkle some bulb food into the holes of the bulbs.

Start digging! How deep? Rule of thumb: plant the bulb 3 times as deep as its diameter.
Instead of digging one hole at a time, dig out a large hole and place more bulbs. Remember the points go up! And if you want to get a bit fancy, plant layers of bulbs to create a spring blooming bouquet. Simply divide the bulbs according to size. Plant the largest ones first as they need to be planted deeper. Cover them so that their noses are just poking out a bit and lay down the second sized bulb etc.....cover up and wait.

Be sure to mulch over the newly planted bulbs...this will trick squirrels. If they see disturbed soil they will go digging in search of their stash of acorns.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Planting Trees in the fall

Fall is an excellent time to plant deciduous trees. Not only can you typically get a good deal from the nursery, but the as the trees lose their leaves they are no longer using a lot of energy making food and they're not taking up as much water. So by planting trees in the fall you reduce the shock plants go through when planted during warmer months. Just be sure to do it right - don't plant the tree too deep.

Think of digging a saucer shaped hole. Start by digging a hole 3-4 times wider than the tree's rootball. The depth of the tree will be determined by the "root flare." This is the first horizontal root on the trunk. To find it, remove the tree from its container and start pulling away soil from the top. Typically trees are planted deep in containers so that the soil's weight will anchor and stabilize the tree when its being shipped. So don't be surprised if you remove 6-10 inches of soil before finding the root flare. Also, gently detangle any twisted roots. If you notice the roots growing in a circle as they conformed to the pot, it will be critical to cut them and stretch them outwards. Otherwise the tree's roots will strangle the tree as it grows.

Place the tree in the hole, making sure the "root flare" is at or slightly below the soil surface (no more than 2 inches). Backfill the hole with the same soil you dug out (don't amend the soil). Toggle the tree back and forth making sure the soil settles. Water and drain. Add more soil if necessary and water again. Finish the hole by creating a saucer shape with soil. This will help direct water to the root zone.

Don't stake! Trees develop a stronger trunk if they can bend with the wind. If however, the tree can't stand upright on its own then you should stake it.

Happy Planting,

Until next time keep those hands dirty.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Herbal Bouquet Garni

If frost is in the forecast, start clipping your herbs and make a cluster of Bouquet Garni.

Bouquet garni are bundles of herbs tied together with string or raffia. They can be used fresh or dried. And because they are tied, you pop them into your favorite soup, stews, gravies, etc., then remove the bundles once they've done their job spreading their flavors. Here's how to do it.

Cut stems of your favorite herbs. Typically bouquet garnis consist of parsley, thyme and bay. However create your own. Depending on the type of cooking you do will determine the types of herbs you will combine. (My kids don't like "green things" in their spaghetti sauce - so I tied bouquets of oregano, basil, Italian parsley and a bay leaf. I still got the great flavor without leaving behind the "green stuff").

For the traditional Bouquet Garni - Tie together 4-6 stems of parsley, 2-3 sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Either use fresh or hang to dry. When needed either hang or drop bundle into pot. Discard after cooking.

For more tips, ideas and recipes be sure to subscribe now to get the fall issue of "Seasons by Rebecca" magazine

Until next time,
Keep those hands dirty!


Friday, September 22, 2006

Hummingbird Feeders - When to Take Down

You know winter can't be far behind once the hummingbirds start their southern trek. Such is the case, already hummers lounging in Canada have started their journey southbound looking for warmer places. Now is NOT the time to take down your hummingbird feeders. The old school of thought was that if you kept your feeders up the hummingbirds wouldn't leave and would eventually get caught in the cold. That simply is NOT true. Hummers really need the extra energy to migrate and they won't stick around because of food. Now more than ever it's important to leave feeders up and keep them stocked. Typically the rule of thumb is to leave feeders up at least three weeks after seeing your last hummingbird.

Nectar Recipe:
- Mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water.
- Bring to a boil stir until all sugar has dissolved. ( Do NOT add red food coloring).
- Cool completely and fill feeders.
- Store excess in refrigerator.
- Nectar in feeders should be replaced every 3-4 days when temperatures are between 80-88 degrees, every 5-6 days when temperatures cool between 70 & 80 degrees.

Enjoy these winged beauties!

My Fall Issue of "Seasons by Rebecca" is now out.
Subscribe online

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Protecting Tomatoes from frost

Fall is definitely in the air in the northern states. If you still have tomatoes on the vine, keep bed sheets on hand. When frost is in the forecast cover the vines early afternoon before the sun starts setting. This will help trap the daytime heat before the soil cools. Also, try to extend the sheets to cover as much ground as possible. I stretch mine out and put a stone on top to hold it in place. This creates a tee pee which too traps more warmth. Remove covering once the sun comes up.

Until next time, keep those hands dirty!