from the soil

Weather or Not

Oct 17, 2012

Did you know a Quaking Aspen, one of the lovliest trees in the fall landcape, can predict the weather? Keen observers note weather changes underway just by listening to trees.  Jim has a better method: he keeps changing channels on the TV until he sees a forecast he likes.  Here are some natural things to look for that may help you predict the weather in your neighborhood.

Dig, Drop and Done

Oct 17, 2012

Jim has a rule when he bites into a really hot pepper sprout in one of Megan's five-alarm hot shot panini sandwiches while lunching out on the job;  'stop, drop, and roll.'  After recovery he then stumbles back to the flower bed to resume planting those spring bulbs.  The rule there is 'dig, drop, and done.'  It's really simple, and guaranteed to bring many springtimes of pleasure.

Love 'em and Leave 'em

Oct 17, 2012

Fall is the time of year you can be a heartbreaker without remorse.  Love 'em, then leave 'em.  Be a landscape Casanova or Cleopatra with a lawn rake and a lawn mower.  Shower those favorite leafy shrubs and trees with your attention and affection from spring through summer and then, when autumn leaves start to fall, mulch them into your lawn.  No tears will be shed and your lawn will love you for it. 

Needles, Leaves and Lights

Oct 17, 2012

"Lights, Conifers, Action!"  That's what they shouted in Hollywood just before they shot the last scene in 'White Christmas' (well, something like that, surely).  Now you can be the director of your very own holiday special by bringing your home landscape to a dazzle with holiday lighting that repels deer.  Better yet, make it a double feature starting with fall colors that razzle as well as dazzle.

Angel's Share

Oct 17, 2012

When fruits, vegetables and other vegetation disappear from the landscape, old timers declare that's 'the angel's share.'  Other people blame deer - and they may just be onto something.  Fruits and vegetables will regenerate, but when trees and shrubs are damaged - by mice and other woodland creatures as well as deer - the damage can be permanent.  Jim has some ideas about how you can help protect your landscape from these pesky nibblers. 

Landscapes Alive

Sep 1, 2012

Jim says the best use for landscape fabric may be shower curtains or really unique high fashion ball gowns.  He won't sell it in his shop, and he says you should not use it in your landscape.  Learn why.

Woodsman Pare That Tree

Sep 1, 2012

Why is it that a bird can fly through a tree canopy repeatedly without so much as a ding to a wing but a golf ball will find a limb every time?  No answer here, but Jim has some great tips for pruning your trees to enhance their appearance.  Careful pruning will add elegance to your landscape for years to come.

You Are how you Plant

Sep 1, 2012

Question: which of the following is the most sensible statement?
A) best time to do your landscape chores is on a hot, sunny day at noon.
B) best time to water your plants is on a hot, sunny day at noon.
C) best way to keep your landscape verdant and thriving is to ignore it.
D) best way to keep plants thriving is to place them where the sun and other natural conditions will work to their advantage as they become established.
(correct answer is D, unless you are a mad dog or an Englishman and inclined to take song lyrics by Noël Coward  literally)

Just Add Water

Sep 1, 2012

Feeling cranky because it's too hot, sticky and uncomfortable to work outside?  Think of it this way: when is the last time you had to shovel sunshine?   To improve your disposition, jump into a cold shower, then go out and water those thirsty plants and trees.  Nothing to it - just add water.

Global Warmups

Sep 1, 2012

What's white and black and red all over? A sunburned polar bear in a black bikini?  Okay, not so funny.  Global warming is no laughing matter.  But for all its negative effects, the extended growing season in this region may not be one.  Jim has some startling news.

Fall Planting

Sep 1, 2012

It's fall, the time of year we start thinking about closing up the garden shed and moving inside.  Before you put away that shovel, plant a tree.  Fall is the ideal planting season for trees, shrubs and other hardy plants.  Their roots will respond well to the head-start on spring. 

Bee Smart or Be Smarting

Sep 1, 2012

Knowledge may be power, but wisdom is the real deal.  Wise weekend warriors read the label - and follow the directions.  In this commentary Jim talks about how we sometimes get in the way of Mother Nature and, that when we need to nudge her a bit, we should do so wisely.

Rachel's Coffee Filter Fixes

Aug 29, 2012

In this commentary, Jim's daughter Rachel describes lots of uses for disposable coffee filters in addition to filtering what she calls her vitamin 'C.'  Rachel will have you asking yourself 'Why didn't I think of that!"  She's a chip off the old block, and serious about taking care of the only planet we have.

Super Soil

May 17, 2012

Remember what Grandma used to say... 'If the soil ain't happy, ain't no tree, shrub or clingin' vine happy!'  Okay, so that's not what she said, but it IS the point of this commentary on building high quality, highly productive soil. 

Fertigation

May 17, 2012

Two things required to get your landscape plantings off to a good start - and keep them happy - are fertilizer and water.  Landscapes look great and stay healthy where natural fertilizer and water work together in a process Jim refers to as 'fertigation.'  Don't just irrigate... fertigate!

More About Mulch

May 17, 2012

As Jim has said before, you can never have too much mulch.  Just make sure you have nature's mulch,  free of chemical additives that leach into the ground and spoil soil.  Be natural.  Mulching is not rocket science, but it can launch a great new look and feel across your landscape.

Juneberries

May 14, 2012

Delicious right off the shrub and spread on toast or ice cream right out of grandma's preserve jar, Juneberries are a real treat, full of flavor and good for everyone.  Juneberry shrubs make a terrific addition to any landscape.  If you have never heard of them, stay tuned. The word is out.

Mulch More Than You Think

May 10, 2012

Take an inventory of your home landscape.  Chances are each of those shrubs and trees you planted long ago fall into one of three categories: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. Now may be the time to clear them out, select hardy varieties that will be happy in your yard for many years to come.

Make a View Space

May 3, 2012

For centuries the Japanese practice of shakkei has enlived landscapes by framing what is already there.  The idea is to 'borrow from the scenery around you.'  Why build it if it the space around you is already a breathtaking masterpiece?  Words of wisdom from the master landscaper on how to make the most of your space, whatever the condition of your surroundings.

Is your green space a lawn, or a yawn?

Apr 24, 2012

Snappy lawns do not just happen - they result from thoughtful planning, regular maintenance and a bit of friendly competition from that neighbor with the green thumb - and the perfect hedge.  If your lawn is looking a bit retro, think makeover. You can bring your lawn into the 21st century with these simple tips.

Trim Those Leggy Plants

Apr 17, 2012

When your landscape plants begin to get a bit long in the limb, do them - and yourself - a favor.  Trim them back, and don't be shy.  If you do it right, they will come back better and healthier than ever.

A talk with the Lawn Arranger

Mar 30, 2012

"Hi-yo, Silver Maple, away!"  or so the 'Lawn Arranger' might have said in a particularly bewildering fit of pun-itis.  Early spring means a return to lawn care - and all those fancy bag products that promise what nature already provides.  Listen to why you can 'bag' the heavy lifting and spreading this year.

Build your landscape management skills

Mar 30, 2012

Maintaining an attractive and rewarding landscape is not rocket science - but it does require constant effort toward improving management skills.  Here are some tips on how to keep those landscape challenges from getting you down.

The Iroquois had it right when they planted the 'three sisters' - corn, beans and squash.  They added something fishy to the soil, which made all the difference.  Listen to this 'fish tale' and learn how 'shadbush' got its name. 

Spruce up your dormant landscaping

Mar 30, 2012

Spruce up your dormant landscaping with attractive - and deer proof - plants and accent objects that show well against gray skies and winter snow.  Use these techniques to cheer up your yard in winter and early spring.