Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dirty Word Of The Day: Petrichor

From Jane Fallon's  Business of Life post "4 Useful New Words."
You know how it smells after it rains? That clean, greenish smell? That’s petrichor, from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods and goddesses). The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964.
I know that smell! It's the ozone. (O). Going outside before and after the rain you can smell the freshness. I love that smell! Now I know what to call it! Petrichor.

We Didn't Have That Green Thing

Making its way around the Internet is a story of how wasteful older generations were... What do you think? If you know who the author is, please let me know.
In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building.

They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts – wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house – not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana .

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not polystyrene or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service.

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

I have to add that with older generations, nearly everyone grew their own fruits, vegetables, and meat locally. They fished for their seafood. In the wee hours of the morning, you got up and took care of the farm chores before you went to school or work. When you got home, you had to take care of the farm animals and any chores that needed to be finished. We didn't have much need for mental health therapy or psychiatrists. Digging in the dirt was cathartic enough.

At our house, we've gone back to drying our clothes on the clothesline. Its been amazing how easy it has been to get into a routine of washing and drying on a daily basis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Do I Do With My Chives?

A timely gardening question about harvesting chives from an "In Your Backyard" listener:
Hi Teresa,

I have a question. My chives are doing well, however I need to do something with them. Can I freeze them or what should I do to keep them. Them are already budding and I think it is time to trim them out.


Ted via email
Dear Ted,

The best way to keep chives is freezing them as they lose their taste after drying. After cleaning them, wash and pat dry with either paper towels or cloth. I prefer paper towels. Bunch the chives together and slice with a sharp knife. You can use a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to spread the chives on and then place in the freezer. They will freeze quickly. I put them into a freezer bag marked with the date on it. They will be good for six months. I use them with potatoes, stews, soups, salads, eggs, breads, biscuits, cream cheeses and dips.

Here are some easily printed tips on storing herbs from Cooks Illustrated (my favorite cooking magazine) and Freshness Farms.
Hope this helps, Ted! Thanks for writing and listening to "In Your Backyard."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Transplanting Easter Lilies In Your Backyard

A wonderful hostess gift for Easter is a basket of Easter lilies.  Gracing the table as a centerpiece or as a welcome at the front door, Easter lilies are easy to put into your garden after the holiday.  Easter lilies are non-native bulbs which typically bloom after Easter, but are planted in the fall and grown in the right conditions by greenhouses and nurseries to open early for the spring season.

To enjoy in your home, make sure that you cut off the yellow anthers in the center of the fragrant flower so that the pollen doesn't get on the flowers, your nose, or on tablecloths and furniture.  Older blooms may be cut off  so that the unopened blooms will take center stage. Remove the foil wrapping around the pot so that the container has proper drainage. Leaving it on can cause the lily to rot and the water can be a source for mosquito larvae if the lily is outside.

Easter lilies will transplant nicely in your Florida yard just like many other bulbs. After all the blooms are finished, select a full sun location with rich, organic soil.  If you have sandy soils, amend the garden bed as wide as possible with equal parts of top soil, peat moss, and manure, or compost.  Place the bulb with soil intact into the hole.  Water well and then sprinkle a slow release fertilizer for blooming flowers.  Mulch and water on consistant basis.  It will go dormant, so don't forget about it.  Fertilize every three to six months, depending on the slow-release fertilizer rate. You will see the lilies start to emerge in late January or February.  They will bloom later than commercial Easter lilies, so don't be surprised if your lilies bloom in May or June.

History of Easter Lilies

Easter Lily diseases

Bulbs for Florida

Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants

Florida Marsh Rabbit

Great Seed Catalogs

Here are some of my favorite free seed catalogs:
  • Abundant Life Seeds: Certified organic and biodynamic seeds. OMRI listed fertilizers and pest controls.  Out of 2011 Catalogs but get on their list for the 2012 catalogs.
  • Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds: Open-pollinated pure seeds1400 heirloom garden variety from the largest seed grower in the United States.  Family owned, the seeds are descended from original 19th century seeds. Jere Gettle and his wife Emilee created an authentic pioneer village called Bakersville.Their most recent project is the restoration and preservation of the Wethersfield, Connecticut landmark, Comstock, Ferre & Company, the oldest continuously operating seed company in New England. The Gettle family is featured prominently in the colorful and interesting catalog.
  • Botanical Interests: Family owned. Organic seeds. Guaranteed untreated seed germination.
  • Bountiful Gardens:  Certified organic. Rare and unusual varieties. Medicinal herbs. Super-nutrition varieties.
  • Brent and Becky's Bulbs: Perennial bulbs and seeds.
  • Burpee:  One of the oldest seed catalogs in the United States. Vegetable, perennial, and organic seeds.  Great website with gardening videos and information on growing vegetables.  

Enjoy seed catalog artwork? The Smithsonian has an online database of original seed catalog artwork to enjoy. Take a look at them here.

Growing your own vegetables is easy and satisfying.  It can also save money by reducing grocery bills and not having to work out at the gym.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Giving New Life To Dracenas

You've seen the life and death struggle before: a plant going towards the light. Whether in an dimly lit office or in the corner of a friend's house during the winter, a five to six foot tall dracena marginata bent over and twisted towards a sunny window.

Its easy to rejuvenate your worn out dracena and get it to thrive for another year? Give it a haircut and recondition the soil.  Take your houseplant outside where you can take the entire plant out of the pot.  Be careful if it has a spindly stem to not break it.  (Now it won't kill it if you break it but it's just going to stress you out) Take sharp pruners and cut the stems about  8" to 12" up from the base of the plant.  The cut top portion of the plant can be cut in a foot long pieces, dabbing root toner on the ends and placing in potting soil and kept shaded and moist for several weeks until rooted.  Cut a third of the bottom portion of the plant roots and break up any root mass.  Place new potting soil in your designer pot and replant the topless dracena.  Place in a sunny location and water well.  Its a good time to give it some slow release fertilizer. 

Within a few weeks your dracena will have a new leaves sprouting and will vigorously grow through the summer.  If you're placing it by a window, make sure you turn it once a week, so that all sides have a chance at the sunlight.

Spring Water Wise Event

The City of Sanford is doing its part in celebrating Earth Day and educating its residents on water conservation. Its a great opportunity to know more about taking care of your yard? I will be at the Spring Water Wise Event at Lowes this Saturday, April 16, 2011 from 9am until 2pm helping with landscape designs and selecting plants for your backyard. Bring your landscape photos and plant problems so that I can help you make lawn maintenance easier. Bring your old showerheads to exchange for new showerheads. There will also be a rainbarrel workshop.

Orlando Sentinel Targets Yard Crimes

Just in time for Earth Day, Orlando Sentinel's Kevin Spear shines a light on lawn maintenance misdemeanors that have felonious impacts on Florida's water quality.  Blowing leaves and grass clippings into storm drains or out into the street is against the lawn.  Sadly its a common practice among lawn maintenance crews and unknowing homeowners that doesn't have much repercussion from county and city officials.

How can you make a difference?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

April Showers Bring Relief

Last week Central Florida received abundant rainfall between six to eight inches in a three day span. The ground soaked it up! This week, we will be seeing an additional one to three inches which will go a long way to catch up rainfall lacking so far this year.  Florida's rainy season is different than our Northern cousins. Our springtime and winter are our dry seasons. Florida receives most of its rainfall in the summer and fall with daily afternoon showers and our usual tropical storms and hurricanes.  We need these torrential rain storms to replenish our aquifer systems.  We shouldn't have to irrigate in the summertime if we have normal rainfall of an inch of water a week.  But with these rains, especially in low-lying areas or in yards that are irrigated too much, we will see turfgrass and plant diseases.  Treating these fungal and viral issues after we have diagnosed them is usually too late to apply the fungicides. Fungicides are preventive not curative.  So if you usually have disease in your landscape, make sure that your irrigation system is not your watering overhead and for long periods at night. Then check your irrigation system to ensure that its watering your turf efficiently.

Here are important publications from the University of Florida IFAS for diagnosis and solutions:

Homeowner's Guide to Fungicides for Lawn and Landscape Disease Management

Turfgrass Disease Management

Brown Patch Disease November through May - All warm season turfgrasses

Cercospora Leaf Spot Late spring and summer - St. Augustinegrass

Fairy Rings Any abundant rainfall - all warm season turfgrasses

Gray Leaf Spot Late spring and early fall or excessive rainfall - St. Augustinegrass and centipedegrass

Helminthosporium Leaf Spot All year round - warm season turfgrasses

Pythium Root Rot - All year round - warm season turfgrasses

Rust - St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass - late fall to early spring.

Take All Root Rot - Summer to fall - all turfgrasses

We'll be discussing fungicides and disease issues on "In Your Backyard."  Call in!