Friday, February 25, 2011

You don’t have to shovel rain

It’s a rainy Friday. Over an inch of rain and wind gusts to 50 mph forecast for today. But the rain hasn’t dampened my mood.

From my window, I can see the Daffodils stretching through the ground. The Snow Drops are ready to burst into bloom.

I know Crocuses nestled under the fallen leaves are pushing through the soil.
And the hellebores must be quietly expanding their blooms in my absence.

Only 23 days to spring and I don’t have to shovel rain!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Surprising Anthurium

Anthurium andraeanum (Tailflower, Flamingo-Flower)
Here’s a house plant that came into my life as a gift in 2008. It arrived with large dark green leaves, bright red waxy flowers and not much hope for the future.

Having only seen anthurium in florists shops, I had no idea how to take care of it. I did a quick internet search. “The red, heart-shaped flower of Anthurium is really a spathe, or waxy, modified leaf flaring out from the base of a fleshy spike (spadix) where the tiny real flowers grow.” Huh?

I noted some general care information.

- low light (I placed it near the French doors to get morning sun.)
- moderately drought tolerant (a good thing in a heated house.)
- flowers last up to six weeks (I didn’t hold much hope of ever getting it to bloom again.)
- continuous flowering (see above.)

After that, I didn’t pay much attention to the plant. In the back of my mind a little voice was saying, “It probably won’t live.” It got watered as I passed by and fed with the other plants. It hasn’t moved in three years.

And, It blooms regularly despite me - A very pleasant surprise.

(Quote above from “The Flower Expert".)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Adventures in Agriculture

Adventures in Agriculture in Palmer Mall is always fun. Last weekend was no exception. Antique toys and tools, spinning alpaca yarn, fly tying for fishing, animal hides, farm products and go green displays filled the mall with exciting exhibits.

Easton PA Farmers Market displayed colorful totes for sale and information about the market. Bath PA Farmers Market reminded everyone that fresh farm products will be available again this summer.

A motorized ground water flow model (RSVP sponsored) demonstrated how contamination from an oil tank, for instance, pollutes wells and streams miles away. The animated illustration slowly took the dye colored water underground until it met an impermeable layer then traveled horizontally toward wells and streams.

Master Gardeners with the “Green Gardening” theme had some timely tips on recycling, water barrels, soil quality, native and invasive plants, pesticides and compost. Free brochures were available to expand on all the topics.

The 4-H clubs were the stars of the show as far as I’m concerned. They enthusiastically shared stories of their adventures and work. There is a club to fill almost every interest.

A few of the clubs represented:

Wagging Tails 4-H Dog Club – teaches care and training of dogs
4-H Reptile and Amphibian Club – teaches the roll of these animals in nature along with ecological studies.
4-H Livestock, Beef, Dairy and Swine Clubs – teaches the importance and responsibility of raising goats, pigs, poultry, cattle, cows and sheep and the use of their by-products
Little Rascals 4-H Rabbit and Cavy Club – teaches the process of raising rabbits and guinea pigs.

I pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

4-H teaches responsibility and boosts self-esteem. And it looks like they just have fun.

I know I had fun with these and many more displays in the mall.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tomatoes, Compost and Bees

I attended Master Gardener Spring Garden Series on Saturday. The informative and interesting topics made the morning speed by. I’ll share just a few details.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are passed down from generation to generation mostly because they taste good. Other qualities such as meaty texture in ‘Opalaka’ for a paste tomato or the large sized ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ (1 lb or more )caused growers to save seeds year after year.

Descriptions are listed in heirloom seed catalogs. Heirloom plants can be found at local garden centers but it’s best to do some research first to know what you’re looking for. (Google “Heirloom Tomato”.)

The stories behind some of varieties are entertaining. Folklore says the heirloom ‘Mortgage Lifter’ was named for a man who sold his crop to pay off his mortgage.


Making compost can be as easy or labor intensive as you want to make it. If you get everything perfect you will make compost in about 3 months. If you don’t get everything perfect, it may take a little longer but you are still most likely to get good compost.

Add –
Browns (fallen leaves preferably shredded, torn newspaper);
Greens (weeds preferably without seeds, kitchen vegetable scraps, coffee grounds):
Air (turn ever week or so);
Water (should remain as wet as a damp sponge).

The benefits of adding compost to the garden? Less waste to the landfill, improved soil and healthy plants.


According to the Natural Research Defense Council, “Honey bees are disappearing across the country, putting $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and vegetables at risk.”

Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria ssp.) supplement honey bees in pollinating fruit trees and other spring crops. It is slightly smaller than a honey bee, lives in the ground, is non-aggressive and solitary.

Man-made Mason Bee houses are used to attract the pollinators to the garden. A series of tubes (made of bamboo in the picture below) or holes drilled in a wood block is all they need. Mason bee houses can be purchased or made at home and hung in a tree. Think cherries and apples, blueberries and strawberries.

See February 9, 2011 post for future dates and topics in the series. Join the spring excitement.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Ah, Amaryllis

It was worth the wait.

Look, the other is one has a bud.

So, - still waiting



Master Gardener Spring Garden Series continues at two locations. See brochure for details here. $7

at Lehigh County Agricultural Center
- Feb. 12, 2011 – 9 AM Heirloom Tomatoes,10 AM Composting, 11 AM Pollinators
- February 26, 2011 – 9 AM Community Gardens in Urban Settings, 10:30 Green Roofs
- March 5, 2011 – 9 AM Backyard Fruit Production from Apples to Zinfandels, 10 AM Flowering Trees: The Good, the Bad and the Scabby, 11 AM Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs

at Bethlehem Township Community Center
- February 21, 2011 – 6 PM Flowering Trees: The Good, the Bad and the Scabby, 7 PM Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
- February 28, 2011 – 6 PM Backyard Fruit Production from Apples to Zinfandels, 7 PM Colonial Herb Gtowing with Mistress Rebecca

Adventures in Agriculture Feb 11-13, 2011 at Palmer Mall. Hours and location here.
Environmental, ecological, and home gardening information; farm products, and more. Displays, sales and information throughout the mall. Free

Saturday, February 05, 2011

And waiting

While waiting for the amaryllis to bloom . . .

I decided to organize my seed packets -

Some old, some new; some herbs; some vegetables; some flowers; some to keep; some to give away. No need to buy more seeds. Done.

Still waiting

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

And waiting

While waiting for the amaryllis to bloom…

I decided to pot the Christmas cactus in individual pots -

(See January 6, 2011 post here.)

Plants out of plastic pot, a gentle tug to separate; 4 pre-soaked clay pots, a little fresh potting soil; water; done.

Still waiting