Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Growing Season 2010







Growing Season 2010

Plants are part of the Christmas season just as much as the yule tree. Holly is one which comes to mind almost immediately, so does the Christmas cactus and the poinsettia.
Poinsettia plants have a lot of nostalgia but have a bad reputation as being poisonous; in reality though, that attribute is a big myth. Not even the family cat is going to croak after nibbling on a few leaves.
Mistletoe, however, is sort of an odd plant to use as a Christmas decoration. It is usually hung in doorways or from the ceiling. According to long held traditions, a person standing under it, can be freely kissed.
But the plant is a vampire of sorts, a parasite. It sucks the blood out of trees and shrubs. Granted it might be a good looking plant with pretty berries with an ancient history steeped in folklore, but it is a parasite.
Then there is the native Christmas Fern found in woodlands throughout much of northern North America. Perhaps, because they are not tropical or colorful, the Christmas Fern is often overlooked and forgotten today. Except for moss, the ferns are the only remaining green-ery in a woods in December and throughout the rest of winter.
Some ferns are still collected today and used for Christmas decorations; it was much more common, however in the early 1900's. So many plants were harvested from the woods back then that concerns were raised about over harvesting.
Today, the plants are readily available online, in many garden centers and nurseries. There are many landscaping possibilities around the home for the Christmas Fern because they are hardy (zones four through nine), evergreen and enjoy shady. moist areas. Additionally, for the most part, they are generally disease and pest free and are not eaten by deer or other wildlife.
Go native and plant a living Christmas decoration for the 2010 growing season.

A Plant with More Publicity for Growing 2010

The International Herb Association named Dill as the Herb of the Year for 2010. Dill is a nice garden plant and has more uses than just for pickles. It can be used in dips, salads, a seasoning for fish, lamb and breads.
Dill is attractive, somewhat ornamental and draws the attention of many beneficial insects. It is rather hardy, easy to direct sow and grow and is generally trouble free. Dill is a good choice for the 2010 growing season.
Dill attracts many good insects, like honeybees and other pollinators, to the garden. Dill can help the declining numbers of our pollinators which are in decline and necessary for food production. It is also a rich food source for the swallowtail caterpillar.
Dill is a good companion plant for onions and potatoes; however, it is not overly friendly with either carrots or tomatoes. There are smaller somewhat dwarf type plants which can be used in patio container gardens.
Next year (2011), the selected herb will be horseradish. Last year was bay laurel. Herbs, according to the Web site for the organization are chosen for their medicinal and culinary or decorative uses.



Looking for Ideas
See some of the ads for Christmas gifts at the end of this post for some ideas. Most are from local farms and organizations and there is no commissions or whatever. Just good items. The final ad is from Graden-Plantings. They contacted me about placing a link, since it is Christmas, I did. Thanks.


Tomatoes – 2010 Growing Season



Late Blight made for a troublesome year for tomatoes in the backyard. The fungal disease is fatal to both tomatoes and potatoes as way too many backyard gardeners discovered in rainy and cold 2009.
The good news is that late blight doesn't survive the winter; it needs living tissue to live. However, it can survive if the potatoes left in the ground were blighted or if infected plant material was added to the compost pile where it can stay warm.
If volunteer potatoes sprout during the 2010 spring weather get rid of them quickly. The late blight can spread rapidly from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Consider starting your own tomato plants this year or find a reputable grower in your area. Tomatoes are easy to start from seed as long as they have plenty of light and warm temperatures. Infected tomatoes from a large grower in 2009 were shipped north to many big box stores and were then purchased by many backyard growers. The infected plants and the cold and rainy weather in many areas created perfect conditions for the blight to spread rapidly.
If seeds were saved from 2009, they will not carry the blight. Your safe.
Some of the seed catalogs are already appearing in the mailbox. The five which have arrived so far did not contain any information regarding steps which can be taken to control not only the late blight, but also two other common blights which can diminish a tomato crop. There are actions that can be taken by home gardeners to control and manage next year's tomato garden. Those simple and inexpensive steps will be posted in the next several posts.
The 2010 growing season does not have to be a repeat.

Blogs:

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie

Simply Snickers





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Gift Ideas

Gift baskets from farms in the northwestern Pennsylvania can be purchased. These unique gifts are filled with all locally produced and crafted items. For more information, hunterfarm@yahoo.com
Two local brand new cookbooks are also available. One, The Meadville Marketplace Cookbook, features local recipes with historical footnotes and photographs. The proceeds go to the old Market House.
The other was produced the Col Drake Chapter of the DAR and the proceeds go to a scholarship fund. The Heritage Cookbook is another great source for recipes and historical insights. Some of the recipes included in the 150 page book include pumpkin fudge and red pickles. There is also a recipe for homemade gingerale which I listed in another blog I write for GoErie in the GoCrawford section found here. For more information, email cchsresearch@zoominternet.net at the Crawford County Historical Society. They also have other unique gifts including a great calendar.
One more gift ad:
Garden Fountains



Pictured are the gift baskets available from Hunter Farm