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Gardener's Corner

Join us for tips, helps, questions and answers about the gardening world. Monitored by a Certified Master Gardener but wisdom is shared by ALL.

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Gardener's Corner

GREETINGS MEMBERS, GUESTS AND VISITORS.
Chief Walks In Shadows is a Florida State Master Gardener.
He will post information that he feels will benefit everyone as a whole. But basically this will be a question and answer group.
IF A GROUP MEMBER KNOWS THE ANSWER TO ANY QUESTION PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ANSWER.
Chief Walks will answer all questions asked to him directly. He has over 40 years of experience. And a sizable personal research library.

We are here to meet ALL of your gardening questions and/or related subjects.

 

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The USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones; each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. If you see a hardiness zone in a catalog or plant description, chances are it refers to the USDA map. To find your USDA Hardiness Zone or use the map below. 

 

 

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Comment by Chris Durbin 1 hour ago

Taking the gas out of pinto beans.

Comment by Chief Walks 9 hours ago

Freezing eggs is an excellent way to store them for later.

Here's how to freeze eggs so you can store all those fresh eggs for winter use:

Break two new-laid eggs into a small bowl. Using a clean knife stir the eggs to roughly mix yolk and white — do not beat.

Lightly oil a Pyrex custard cup. Pour in the eggs and freeze. Do as many eggs as you have and want to put up. When frozen solid, tip eggs into a freezer bag, fitting in as many as possible. Zip tight and freeze. You can add frozen eggs until the bag is full.

Two eggs seem to be the most useful amount for baking and to eat. They are thawed in the refrigerator, covered, beaten into milk, etc. and used just like fresh eggs, to scramble, make omelets, cakes and so forth

Comment by Chief Walks on Friday

A cold frame can extend your growing period by two to three weeks at each end of the season. Cold frames can be made from old storm windows, spare panes of glass, or other recycled materials.

Building a Cold Frame

A few years ago, I was given five wood-framed storm windows, each 30" wide, and decided that they would make a great cold frame for my garden. As the growing beds were already 4 feet wide and the windows were 5 feet long, the cold frame’s back height of 3 feet was simple to calculate (3-4-5 triangle). I built two triangular ends and a rear section and screwed the three parts together easily, after which the storm windows were simply set in place.

Tools:
• Handsaw or rotary saw
• Screwdriver or hammer
• Tape measure

Materials:
• Two 4-inch x 4inch x 4-foot pressure-treated posts for the back corners

For the ends:

• Two 2-inch x 4-inch x 3-foot boards
• Two 2-inch x 4-inch x 28-inch boards
• Two 2-inch x 4-inch x 22-inch boards (Tops will be trimmed to suit the slope of the triangle.)
• One 2-inch x 4-inch x 4-foot board for the base
• One 2-inch x 4-inch x 5-foot board for the hypotenuse
• Scrap barn board or siding to cover the ends, or one 1/2-inch x 3-foot x 4-foot marine-grade plywood sheet, cut in half along the diagonal

For the back:

• Two 2-inch x 4-inch x 12-foot boards for top and bottom rails
• Six to ten 2-inch x 4-inch x 3-foot boards for the supports for the top and bottom rails. (Spacing the supports 24 inches apart requires six supports, and spacing them 16 inches apart requires ten support posts.)
• Scrap barn board or siding to cover the sides, or one 1/2-inch x 3-foot x 12-foot marine-grade plywood sheet
• Five 30-inch x 5-foot wood-framed storm windows

Fasteners:

• Either 16P nails or 3-inch galvanized or ceramic-coated exterior screws for the main framing
• 1-1/2-inch 6P or 8P galvanized exterior nails for installing the plywood.

Time:
I built my cold frame in about 8 hours but your actual time will depend on the type of windows or glazing that you use.

Method:
1. Sink the 4-foot posts 1 foot deep into the ground at the two back corners of the bed.

2. Build the rear frame. Lay the top and bottom rails out on a flat surface and screw or nail the support posts in place at 16-inch or 24-inch intervals along the rails.

3. Build the end triangle frames. Make sure the tallest post is the same height as the rear section (nominally 3 feet) with the triangular section tapering to nothing at the front. Space the supports and cut them to suit the end angle before nailing or screwing them in place.

4. Erect the ends and rear sections and nail or screw into place.

5. Clad the frame with siding. Size your siding to extend below the side of the frame in order to cover the air gap between the sections and the raised bed.

6. Set the windows in place. They do not need to be hinged, but you can install two 3-inch hinges at the top of each window to ensure the windows stay in place. A simple stick pushed into the ground in front of the frame will serve to keep the frame open.

Comment by Chief Walks on June 30, 2019 at 7:27am
Hollyhocks are the showstoppers of the flower garden. These towering plants can grow to nine feet (2.7 m.) tall and produce stunning large blooms. To make the most of these gorgeous flowers, know how best to care for them. Do hollyhocks need to be deadheaded? Yes, if you want to keep them looking great and blooming for as long as possible.

Should You Deadhead Hollyhocks?
Deadheading hollyhock plants isn’t necessary, but it is a good idea. It can help keep the blooms going longer throughout the season and also keeps your plants looking nicer and tidier. Think of deadheading this plant as a way of pruning to coax it into producing flowers right up to the fall and even the first frost. It’s also a good idea to remove dead and damaged leaves, too, for a better overall look and a healthier plant.

Keep in mind, too, that deadheading will prevent or minimize reseeding. Hollyhock is a biennial in most growing zones, but if you let the seed pods develop and drop, they will regrow from year to year. You can deadhead to prevent this, to collect and save the seeds, or to manage how and to what extent the plants reseed and spread.

How and When to Deadhead Hollyhocks
Removing spent hollyhock blooms is pretty simple: just pinch or clip off those that have faded and finished flowering, before the seed pod forms. You can do this throughout the growing season. Pinch off spent blooms and dead leaves regularly to promote more growth and flowers.

Toward the end of the growing season, when most of the blooms are finished, you can cut down the main stems of your hollyhocks. If you want the plant to continue coming back year after year, you can leave some seed pods on the stalk. These will develop, drop and contribute to more growth in the coming years.

Hollyhock flower removal is not something you have to do to grow this plant, but it does benefit blooming by forcing energy and nutrients into flower production rather than seed production. Keep deadheading to promote flowering and to keep your plants tidy and healthy.
Comment by Chief Walks on June 26, 2019 at 9:14am
Comment by Chief Walks on June 12, 2019 at 7:59am

Biting Midge Info: How To Stop No-See-Um Insects

Have you ever had the sensation something is biting you but when you look, nothing is apparent? This may be the result of no-see-ums. What are no-see-ums? They are a variety of biting gnat or midge that is so tiny it can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Keep reading for important biting midge info, including tips on controlling no-see-um pests.

Biting Midge Info

No-see-ums are so small that they can pass through the average door screen. These itty-bitty flies are found almost everywhere. The tiny terrors inflict a shockingly painful bite, especially for their size. They go by various names. In the Northeast they are called “punkies,” in the Southeast “50s,” referring to their habit of showing up in the evening; and in the Southwest, they are called “pinyon gnats.” Up in Canada, they appear as “moose gnats.” No matter what you call them, no-see-ums are nasty and annoying.

There are over 4,000 species of biting midge in 78 genera. They do bite, but don’t transmit any known diseases to humans; however, a few species can be vectors for important animal diseases. The gnats are present in the morning, early evening and when the day is cloudy.

Adult gnats are gray and so small they would fit on the end of a well-sharpened pencil. Females can lay up to 400 eggs in a batch, which hatch in 10 days. There are four instars. Larvae are white and develop into brownish pupae. Both males and females feed on nectar, but it is the female which much take blood in order for her eggs to develop.

How to Stop No-See-Um Flies

Biting midges appear after the first spring rains and seem to breed in seepage areas and canyon washes, although different species prefer different locations. That makes widespread extermination impossible. There are a few steps you can take to minimize contact with the insects, however.

The first thing you can do is replace your door and porch screening. These pests can get through 16 mesh, so use a smaller grade to prevent their entry. Similarly, campers in areas plagued by the insects should use a “biting midge screen.”

Using DEET on clothes and skin can have some repellent effect. Limiting outdoor activities to the times the insects are the least present will help prevent bites too.

Controlling No-See-Um Pests

Since you can’t really get rid of biting midges, avoiding contact with them is the obvious answer. However, in some areas, they carry the disease bluetongue virus to cattle, which is economically damaging. In these ranges, community dikes and draining marshlands can help reduce populations.

Traps are also set, which emit Co2, to attract the insects which are then killed. Aerial spraying of insecticides has been shown not to work. Some success was achieved by stocking smaller bodies of water with carp, catfish, and goldfish. These hungry predators will feed on the bottom of the water, where many types of no-see-um larvae live.

Comment by PITA SIKSIKA WARRIOR on May 31, 2019 at 1:28pm

thank you for the great tips my dear friend and brother

Comment by Chief Walks on May 29, 2019 at 8:10am
Comment by Chief Walks on May 10, 2019 at 7:15am

Deadheading

Deadheading can make a huge difference in the appearance of one's landscape without a whole lot of effort. The act of deadheading is the removal of individual blooms or flowering stalks that are past their prime.

Leafy green coneflower plant with spindly orange and pink daisylike flowers

Coneflower, after deadheading, with new growth and flowers. 

When deadheading, always trim the stem to an area above a node. The node can be determined by the presence of a leaf and its attachment to a stem. This area is known as the leaf axle.

The main benefit of deadheading flowering shrubs and perennials, particularly in the spring and summer, is that removal of spent flowers promotes new growth and more flowers. It also eliminates unsightly seed stalks and decaying petals from the landscape. If trying to save seed or promote re-seeding, do not deadhead in the fall or near the terminal side of a given season for any plant.

On the left a rose plant with a very dead flower and on the right the same plant after the dead flower has been cut off

Roses before (left) and after (right) deadheading. 

Once proper deadheading is performed, new growth will emerge from the trimmed area. Oftentimes, this new growth is another single flower or flower cluster.

While this process is generally used for repeat flowering shrubs, such as roses, it can also be used effectively on crape myrtle, salvia, coneflower, coreopsis, and many others. Promote an extended bloom season in the garden and deadhead!

On the left a poor photo of a leggy salvia plant that's practically indistinguishable from the grassy background and on the left a fuller leafy green salvia plant with shorter purple flower spikes

Salvia, before and after deadheading. 

Comment by Chief Walks on May 8, 2019 at 10:37am

Hole in One! A Creative Garden Tool Organizer
Repurpose your old golf club bag into a multi-functional toolbox capable of housing tools and gardening equipment.
Golf Club Organizer
Get creative while planning how to organize your yard and garden tools!

I needed a place to store my garden tools, including various rakes, shovels, hoes and more. My tools used to just lean against the corner of my shed, and I sometimes lost my hand tools. I needed something to hold all of my gear and keep it organized.
I found an old golf club bag at a garage sale for a dollar. The main opening in the top works great for organizing all of my large, long-handled tools, and my smaller hand tools fit well in the golf bag’s large front pocket.

 
 
 

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