Category Archives: Family

Hibiscus syriacus (Hardy Hibiscus) – Rose of Sharon

blue rose of sharon Hibiscus syriacus (in the USA commonly called Rose of Sharon), name is misleading. These plants originated in the Far East but, because winter can be harsh in their native home, they are well suited to many climate zones, cold, hot, moist and dry growing conditions.

They are unusual, they can be bare of leaves until May. You might be wondering whether your plant has died, and then, one day, it regains its oak-like foliage.
Summer may be just turning into autumn when the leaves turn yellow and fall, leaving more flower buds still to open.

white rose of sharon The flowers of the single varieties are composed of five petals, from which obtrudes an imposing column of stamens. ‘W R Smith’ has had its admirers half a century, but now it is being challenged by the beautiful `Diana’. Both are of American origin.

French gardeners, skill in tailoring woody plants exploited, hibiscus bushes are often trained as standards(small tree form). The practice could be adopted any where that you can grow hardy Hibiscus.
Hibiscus responds well to hard annual pruning in the same way rose bushes do.

Hibiscus flower on this season’s growth, so hard pruning that leads to the production of many side shoots makes them flower prolifically. Every sub-branch that springs from the main trunk(branches) and is cut back will produce four new shoots in three or four months, each bearing clusters of flower buds by late summer. If these are cut away the following season, another relay of shoots and flowers will spring from the cut branches.
To make sure that hardy hibiscus produce plenty of flower buds, it is important to plant them in an open sunny position. They also like plenty of humus worked into the planting sites. An annual dose of rose fertiliser will promotes tough growth.

Hint: To train a bush into a standard, select the strongest main branch and tie it to a cane pushed into the soil at the base of the plant. Remove other branches but shorten only the shoots that spring directly from the selected branch. Tie in the tip as it elongates and shorten to a couple of inches any side shoots that develop. After the standard has reached 4ft, remove the tip in spring and encourage the branches that form to become the head by letting them develop to a foot or so. Cut them back by half the next spring. Only when the head has formed and the trunk thickened enough to stand without support, should all side branches be removed.

How to grow: Hibiscus The (London) Telegraph.

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Lamb That Glows In The Dark(GMO) Sold For Human Consumption

A genetically modified research lamb bred to have the DNA of a jellyfish was sold to a slaughterhouse

According to ABC News, “The lamb was born to a genetically modified ewe that had a gene derived from jellyfish, resulting in a ‘green fluorescent protein’ that makes certain cells florescent.

The incident is believed to have been a deliberate and malicious act resulting from tensions among the staff.

Note: This occurred in France. However it clearly demonstrates the dangers involved in controlling GMO’s.

Send a loud NO message to companies that are involved in Genetic Modification of plants and animals.

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Apples and Bamboo Who Knew

The 2 – dwarf Red Delicious and 1 – Golden Delicious apple trees arrived last Wednesday, however the soil has been far to wet to dig and plant my trees.
They are bare root but I am well pleased. All 3 stand 4 feet tall and about 5/8 inch at their trunk base. Well worth the $9.00 per tree investment, even if it is a really bad time of the year to plant bare root trees.

These trees will go in the ground in the morning. Staking may not be required but with our sometimes stiff winds I will feel better if I stake them. Hehehe… better safe than sorry.

FYI – I selected the Red/Golden Delicious varieties because they will produce well in-spite of my normal summer heat. Many varieties do not produce or grow well south of zone 5 or 6a.

I off on a new Adventure. While in Dallas, Texas this past week, daughter Michelle L saw a planting of Bamboo and fell in love with it. So, being a old guy Grin … with a lot time on my hands, I did what any one would do. I Googled it!

Much to my surprise, the first business I looked at has 300 That’s Right, 300 Bamboo Varieties in their catalog. Even more amazing to me was the number that are cold hearty as far north as USDA Zone 5.

Bamboo is not cheap. Prices range from $20.00 to $100.00 plus shipping for a 1 gallon potted plant.

The truth is I don’t think any Bamboo that gets over about 15 feet tall can stand up to our 60 or sometimes 70 MPH winds and cold hearty to -10 degrees. With this in mind it limits my choices to about 7 varieties.

The sales pitch.

A.-gigantea2 Arundinaria gigantea Common Name: River Cane or Canebreak bamboo
Diameter: 1 inch
Hardiness: -10° F

This species, along with its shorter form, ‘Tecta’, are the only bamboos native to the United States. It was once widespread in the southeast, growing in Florida and as far north as Ohio and Maryland.
The ‘Tecta’ form looks similar but only grows 6-8 feet tall and is tolerant of wet soil.
A variety called ‘Macon’ is rumored to grow more upright and to be cold tolerant to -22 F. We cannot verify if this is true.

P.arcana'Luteosulcata' Phyllostachys arcana ‘Luteosulcata’
Diameter: 1-2 inches
Hardiness: 0° F

This rare bamboo has zigzag culms that look different than the more common “Yellow Groove” . The yellow strip along the sulcus is also brighter. A small to medium height Phyllostachys with slender, smooth canes. It is best used as a specimen plant in a visible area where people can appreciate its unusual curvature. It is adapted to grow in most places within the United States, from zone 6 through 10.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Alata' Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Alata’
Common Name: Crookstem Bamboo
Diameter: 2 inches
Hardiness: -10° F
This is the all-green form of Yellow Groove Bamboo. It has many culms with sharp bends near the base. This attribute gives this plant its common name. This form is larger than the species. Crookstem bamboo although having the crooks near the base is very erect and makes a good hedge or screen.

Happy Note. The area selected to plant Bamboo is 10 feet wide 20 feet long and is bordered by a concrete curb 12 inches in the ground. This should contain this plant in the event it likes it here and grows well.

With $36.00 shipping cost, 3 different bamboo varieties in 1 gallon pots will cost about $111.00 shipped to my front door.

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Ear Worms

Who ever eats the most corn gets the most worms.

Even with the rain brought to me by Tropical Storm BILL, I still managed to harvest my first sweet corn planting. In all I fed 5 adults, 3 great grand sons all the sweet corn they could eat.
That left me with about 30 ears to bag and put in my freezer.

Tropical Storm BILL moved in Wednesday morning dropping 1 – 7/8 inches of rain before turning north east headed for Missouri.

Nursery sucker list. This spring I ordered three grape vines. So I wasn’t all that surprised when I received a ‘Special’ offer on dwarf apple trees that the nursery had not sold this spring.

These Dwarf trees normally sell for around 20 – 24 dollars each. The clearance trees cost 9 dollars each. So I pretty much got 3 trees for the price of one at the nursery’s normal catalog price.
I opted for two Red delicious and one Golden Delicious apple trees.
The nursery recommended the Golden Delicious apple variety as a pollinator for the Red delicious apple trees and the Red to pollinate the Golden variety.

At 8 to 10 foot tall at maturity. These trees will fit in nicely in my cow/donkey proof garden area.

Yes I do know that dwarf trees will not be very productive when compared to semi-dwarf or standard size trees. But the truth is me or none of family are big into making jelly/jam or other wise canning fruit. Hence most if not all fruit produced will be consumed fresh or will find it’s way into the hog feeder.

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Getting Old Is Not For Sissy’s

It dried out enough that I could get a 8 yard dump truck into the area where I wanted my fill dirt (really it’s called chat) dumped. Chat is the fine screenings left over from crushing large rock into smaller rock that is used mostly to top our country roads.

After the heavy rains a few weeks ago I must do a lot of repair around my house foundation as well as fill washouts around walks and around my chicken house.

At one time I could have completed this project in two days, but, sadly I have discovered that at my age a 2 day project may drag on for 2 weeks! YUK.

Early Saturday morning we got a 1 1/2 rain but also had some 70 mph winds with the rain. My second planting of corn was laid to the ground. Fingers crossed, sometimes healthy plants can re-right them self’s and still produce a crop.

Sad smile, well, okra and pumpkins were planted, ‘again’ Friday. By this time next week I will know how much seed did not, get washed out of my garden with Saturday mornings rain/wind storm.

It’s almost 10am and temps will soon be bumping 90 degrees. SO, I’m off to wheelbarrow a few loads of chat before it gets to hot for an old guy.

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Drip Irrigation In A Bucket

drip bucket Drip watering container plants. I have posted about drip watering in the past. Some of my installations worked out better than others.

This time I need to water 2 tomato plants, 2 squash and a container filled with small green onions.

I opted to use a 5 or 6 gallon bucket as my water container. I had on hand several short sections of 1/8 drip feed line, valves, emitters and barbs.

Barb(s) are sued to attach drip lines to my bucket as well as to splice short drip hoses together when I need longer drip lines.

Emitters attach to the end of my drip lines at the plant base. Emitters can be purchased that dispense water rated at GPH(gallons per hour). The emitters I had are rated at 1/2 GPH.

Much to my surprise, the emitters didn’t work! It seems that I received a FFI, failure to follow instructions. That 1/2 GPH rating is based on a line pressure of 20 to 40 PSI(pounds per square inch.
My gravity feed bucked failed the pressure requirement.

Plan B Remove emitters and allow water to free flow from the 1/8 inch drip lines.
Yea for me.
Without the emitters attached, water free flows nicely. Taking about 1 1/2 hours to drain 2 gallons of water from my bucket. I’m putting 2 gallons in my bucket twice a day. Once at about 7 or 8 AM and again about 7 or so in the PM.

Results. So far and it’s been about a week of 95 – 102 degree days. Container soils have remained nicely moist, not to wet, and with this slow application no water has drained out the bottom of my containers and soil temperatures are remaining fairly cool. Cool soil in hot weather for tomato plants is a good thing.

How I did it. I used an ice pick to punch the hole near the bottom of my bucket where I used epoxy glue to glue barbs into the bucket. After the glue setup I attached my 1/8 inch drip lines(rubber tubing).
Note, I think a 1/8 inch drill bit is the correct size to drill the barb holes. BUT, test this hole size before drilling holes in your bucket. However using a liberal amount of glue on the barbs should help you avoid and unwanted leaks.

Added side benefit using left over and recycled parts, cost on my container drip watering system was $0.00 United States Dollars.
Also I can add fertilized to my bucket when a dose of fertilizer is needed.

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Q: Carrots – Plant Them In Spring Or Fall? A: Yes

Carrots are planted when the ground begins to soften in early spring (for a late-spring harvest), and planted again in late summer (for fall harvest).
Fall carrots are often cellar-ed for long term winter storage or even left in the ground. Cover carrots with a heavy layer of mulch, and pull them as need throughout the winter.

Orange carrots may be the norm now, but before Orange varieties took over the market place, carrots were available in all sorts of shades, from vibrant purple and deep red to pale yellow and even white. Depending on the variety, some are more sweet while others have earthy notes.
Mark Psilos, the Associate Director of Green City Market in Chicago, points out one crowd favorite called Purple Haze. He said “It has a really dark purple exterior with a deep orange interior. It definitely has an earthier flavor but I find the big difference to be texture. It is generally a bit more robust and crunchy and is particularly great in soups.”

Baby carrots the supermarket lie. Baby carrots found in bags at the supermarket are actually adult carrots that have been cut and trimmed down to snacking size.
Real baby carrots are carrots that have been harvested early and haven’t grown out to normal mature size. You’ll recognize them because, unlike the stubby, rounded baby carrots in stores, true baby carrots actually look like real carrots (only smaller).

Fresh Spring planted carrots are now being pulled-from-the-ground. Carrots that are hitting farmers markets now are more delicate than the big carrots you’ll find in the Fall planted carrot crops.
Hint To make sure new spring and fall carrots stay sweet and crunchy, cut off the greens and submerge them in water in a sealed container. Keep the container in the refrigerator and change the water every 4-5 days. If stored this way, they’ll keep for about a month. Another option wrap them in a paper towel and store them in the vegetable crisper.”
Winter carrots don’t need as much TLC. “They tend to be a little bigger and more hearty.”

Thank you Fox News

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Corn-o-rama ?

Early planted corn ‘about 30 stalks’, is in full tassel stage and it looks like I may get as many as 60 ears of corn to harvest by the end of this week.

I have never planted this variety ‘Peaches & Cream’ sold by Ferry-Morse seed company. Seed package said ears will be 7 1/2 inches long. Well truth is I’m not convinced that my crop will ever be more than 6 or so inches long. My stunted corn crop problem was not caused by a lack of moisture or fertilized.

I will not plant this variety next year. First and second planting had at best only about 75 percent germination rate. The stalks are small and under size for their age. The ears are also small. Well filled out but small all the same.

Second planting of corn, same variety and supplier, had a poor germination out of about 35 seeds planted I have about 15 stalks that will enter tassel stage near the 30 of this month. Even with this poor stand, I may, with luck, harvest near 30 ears of corn.

These two plantings will give me and family a lot of smallish ears of fresh corn and a good number of ears to freeze for this winters table.

On the sunny side, I discovered a sunflower only about 2 feet tall but if has a flower at least 8 inches in diameter and an unusually light, bright yellow flower. Grin … no idea where it came from.

O-yes, my porch container planted tomato has started blooming. Loads of grape size tomato’s, mmmm, that’s yet to be seen.

11 AM And It’s Already 94 Degrees

So, summer finely arrived. May 30 the cool wet month ended for me, sun came out and temperatures that have been holding mostly in the high 70’s jumped to the mid / high 90’s. 10 days of dry weather and 95+ degree temperatures are beating up my tender summer squash and cucumber vines. Two have died and the others don’t look all that good either.

It’s not from a lack on moisture. It’s a simple fact my vines have not had time to acclimate to the higher temperatures.

Now my If Anyone Cares Report. Wheat crops are ready to be combined, however many fields are still to wet to support the weight of combines. Wet windy conditions in late May has caused a great deal of the wheat to fall. It is what farmers call lodging and make it difficult or impossible for the combine headers to get the lodged wheat off the ground.

What looked like a bumper crop 45 days ago now looks average or even in many fields below average yields. Yields and quality will quickly go south. Everyday of delayed harvest is dollars lost, taken out of struggling farmers pockets.

Drying and warm weather is helping the cattle producers get foot rot problems under control. Cattle that must stand in cool wet soils are in danger of developing this bacterial disease.

I’m off to the pond. Time for grand pa and great grand pa to spend some time entertaining grand / great grand sons.

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Happy Days – My Garden Weeds Are Getting Sick

grape vine 2015 In Southwest Oklahoma it mostly stopped raining May of 2008. I think our long running dry spell has been sent into the history books. So far this month my tiny garden has received more than 15 inches(380mm) of rain. Another storm pasted over head last evening dumping 3/4 of an inch in less than 30 minutes.

The garden seed people are loving the thunder storm. Every time I plant squash and cucumbers it comes a hard rain and washes my seed out of the ground. I’m getting a lot of experience in planting / replanting garden seed.

If I can get a full day of sunshine I will re-re-replant squash and cucumbers. Maybe it will dry out enough before the forecast weekend thunder storms arrive to replant my okra patch as well.
It may even get dry enough that I can hoe a few of my unwanted plants like johnson grass!

Grin … one good side benefit of all this May rain is it is killing many of the weeds that have taken up home in my garden plot. It seems that careless weeds(pig weed), bind weed(wild morning glory) and henbit do not like their roots setting in water or really wet soil. However, ragweed doesn’t seem to be effected by the wet soils.

Grape vine update, All three vines have leafed out and are sending out runners. At this rate I will need to get my trellis up this summer to start training my vines.

corn may 2015 Corn is setting ears, but, the rain keeps washing away my fertilizer applications faster than I can apply the fertilized. FYI – I’m using a NPK, 13-13-13 shotgun blast approach. Clay soil is generally low in nitrogen. That’s the reason for the 13 percent nitrogen content approach to amending garden fertility.

Tomato’s are not looking well. Roots have been setting in wet soil and they are beginning to really suffer.
Onions still in the ground have started to rot and I have decided to plant more pumpkins in the area now taken up by my failing onion crop.

As a side note. I have noticed the my hens and pullets have started growing web feet.

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