Saturday, July 19, 2014

Picking herbs is good for them

Sometimes I forget to pick herbs, because I think I'll wait until its needed for dinner. Then I burn dinner because I go out to the garden to pick herbs and find other things to pick or weeds to pull.
Picking herbs and greens is helpful to the plants because it prevents them from forming seeds. The best way to pick parsley, and many herbs and leafy vegetables, is to snip the whole leaf and stem from the stock. Sometimes you can twist them off near the ground, especially when you pick parsley and Swiss chard.
Basil's a little different. You should cut the stock or branch, just above leaves, well below the leaves you want to harvest. Picking in late morning is the best time of day, especially for greens and herbs.
Pick leaves often to prevent the plants from going to seed. Because once they go to seed, many of the plants lose their herbiness flavor.
For Rosemary and sage, cut 5 inch branches and hang to air dry or chop and freeze herbs in ice cube trays or clumps in a freezer bag.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's time to treat for grubs

Beneath your feet, working diligently against your perennials and ornamental shrubs... are the grubs.
Getting rid of this pest involves more than just attacking the grub larvae. As with many insects, there are several stages in the grub life cycle.
"White grubs are the larvae of various scarab (or chafer) beetles, including Japanese beetles, June, and May beetles," according to
The larvae overwinter in the soil. Then in late June and early July, the adult beetles emerge.
Beetles can be treated with spray insecticide, but it needs to be applied often because the beetles keep coming. If there's not too many of them, they can be hand-picked and dropped in a container of soapy water.
If not killed, the beetles will continue to lay eggs in the soil.
"The eggs are invulnerable. The grub larvae are susceptible to several kinds of granular insecticide sold specifically for lawn treatments for grub control. You can work this granular formulation into your flower beds as well,"
In addition to granular insecticides such as Dylox 6.2G, there are organic alternatives including parasitic nematodes or milky spore. Both are living bacteria that kill grubs.
Parasitic nematodes also kill cutworms, borers (including squash vine, peach tree and iris borers), corn earworms, cabbage root maggots, weevils (including strawberry, carrot and black vine weevils), wireworms, armyworms and even flea larvae.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weeding can be fun

I like to weed, but it can do a number on my back rather quickly, eliminating the joy of gardening. Here are some ways to reduce weeding and how to maximize and ease the weeding experience.

1. Mulch to prevent weeding. You can use a number of items. I am heading out to the garden this morning to rake water weeds from the pond for mulch. Other materials you can use, to avoid buying expensive bags of mulch include wet newspapers, straw, grass clippings, leaves, aged manure and aged compost. Manure should not be fresh. Organic Gardening magazine on mulch
2. Take cover. Place cover down where you aren't growing anything, like in walkways and borders around the garden. We laid strips of old carpet one year. Black plastic with mulch on top, is good for the walkways. Rototilling between the rows is efficient for keeping the weeds under control, but it needs to be done every three weeks. If you use want to use weed block or landscaping cloth, don't bother buying the cheap woven kind, the roots of the weeds get stuck, creating more work. There's a bonded type, if you want to spend the money.
3. Hoe hum. Hoe the little weeds, that are less than once inch and pull the larger weeds. Hoe 3 to 4 inches deep. I really don't like to hoe, so I usually wait until the weeds are big enough to pull.
4. Weeding is Zen.  Weed when the soil is moist or water beforehand and wait a few hours. Remember to water after you weed. I take a tool and loosen the soil before pulling weeds. A tool like the hula hoe which looks like a hoop on a stick or the mini rake or a pronged tool can help loosen the soil. You can use a hand trowel to dig up the big weeds. I do my best thinking while weeding.
 5. Garden yoga. My friend Mickey told me her trick to weeding includes the three yoga  poses of weeding, (no kidding). Bend over and pull. If you do that too many times, you'll feel it for a week. Squat down on your haunches. I can only do this for a few minutes. Kneeling. This works great until you need to move.
You can add various yoga poses, like crossing your legs while stretching over to pull weeds, maybe meditate a bit too while you're down there. You can spread your legs and do a leg stretch in between weed pulling as well. The main thing is to change positions to prevent continuous repetitive motions.
 Back exercise. Here's a quick back exercise that is like the reverse of bending over. Lean back against a flat wall, press the small of the back against it with feet flat on the ground and hold for a minute or two. Repeat a few times everyday. For more on protecting your back, gardeners-dr-wang-says-start-out-slow.html