Picture Snob

May 31, 2011

Summertime is here!


At last in Boston the sun has appeared. We have been having 50 degree days and clouds and rain since I got here. Now a week of warm and sunny has been forecast! And it's such a delight to have sunshine! The backyard again becomes a place to hang out and play and it's time to plant all the warm weather loving vegies and they are some of the ones we love the most.

The nurseries are bursting with both flowers and vegetables, and the kids have planted some pumpkin seeds that germinated nicely. The squirrels are a real problem here and there isn't a cat or a dog to deter them, so tomatoes and summer squash will have to be planted on the deck where they are more protected. It's impossible to not to want some zucchini for the summer. It's fast growing, prolific, and a versatile companion to almost any meal.

You should start several plants in sequence of about two or three weeks to get a steady and abundant source of zukes. Zucchini are usually picked when under eight inches in length, while the seeds are soft and immature. Some are picked with the flowers still attached and the zucchini barely formed.

Zucchini can be prepared steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as souffl├ęs. It also can be baked into a bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.

At Black Beauty Zucchini

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May 27, 2011

A set of planters will brighten the porch


We have six pots of flowers out on the steps to the porch. It really makes for a cheery moment when coming into the house or going out. It's so easy to create a colorful, bright cluster of colors and shapes. These pots come in lush shades of sand and jade and provide a touch of elegance which will show off your plants to stunning effect

The oordinated pots come in three separate each with a drain hole at bottom. They are ceramic and carefully packed for shipping. The large pot is 12 inches diameter x 8 1/2 inches high; the medium is 8 3/4 inches diameter x 6 1/2 inches high; and the small is 6 3/8 inches diameter x 4 3/4 inches high. This set will go well clustered together or arranged separately. All you need is some potting soil and a few six packs of flowers and you have an instant flower garden.

At Jade Planters Set

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May 26, 2011

A lawnmower that always starts!!!


One of my jobs as a kid was to mow the lawn and I used a mower like this one. It was a simpiler time! I always enjoy lawn mowing as you can really see the difference when it's done and the grass looks so neat and inviting. If you don't have acres to mow or a large yard, consider getting this little gem which has served so well and with so little trouble.

This mower always works when you want it to, and it is quiet and doesn't need any fuel. Today's reel mowers are lightweight and easy to maneuver. They're always ready when you're ready, and they're almost maintenance free with no spark plugs to foul or engines to clog up. You get a little workout with the mowing and also get the benefit of clean air to breathe while working.

At Great States lawnmower

Read More in: Container Gardens & Window Boxes | Decorations for Garden and Patio

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May 25, 2011

Planting Boxwood to foil the deer


There is an interesting article in the New York Times suggesting boxwood which comes in so many varieties is a good plant which the deer don't bother. Many boxwood are tropical but the European varieties are frost tolerant.

If you love green, and the deer are eating everything in your garden, boxwood -- which comes in a range of shades, shapes and sizes -- is a lovely alternative. Unlike English boxwood, which prefers partial shade, most will tolerate sun without turning yellow, but almost all are darker green in the shade.

Many people shape boxwood but it can be grown without shearing and left to it's natural shape. With so many varieties to choose from it's possible to have contrasting and complimentary colors and shapes from this one species. American boxwood is a wide-spreading shrub and sometimes grows to a small tree with very dense evergreen foliage. The leaves are 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long and are usually shiny, dark green on the upper surface and pale green on the lower surface.

Flowers come in early spring and are pale green and hardly noticeable. This boxwood grows 5 to 10 ft tall, though old plants may attain a height of 20 ft. in tree form if left unpruned. This species and most of its cultivars are tolerant of cold weather.

At Boxwood

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May 24, 2011

Japanese Hori hori knife for ease in weeding and digging


High-quality Japanese steel blade makes this hori hori knife very durabie and sturdy. The stainless steel blade is very sharp and concave shaped for scooping soil and other materials. It has a serrated edge to cut through weed roots and the concave shape makes it possible to scoop up soil and a whole small plant for transplanting.

The length of the blade is 7.28" and with the handle the length is 12.5". So it's a good size for the close work of weeding and moving plants. The polymer handle has an easy grip. This is a versatile tool that does the work of several tools currently clunking around in the bottom of your garden bag. The pointed blade and curved shape work like a garden spade while the serrated edge works as a garden knife to cut plantings apart. Also perfect for weeding, transplanting and cutting open fertilizer bags.

At Japanese Hori hori

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May 23, 2011

Rain barrels can save rain until you need it


Although it seems that it will never stop raining, it will. And having a rain barrel to catch the rain now to use outdoors later is an old idea that is worth considering. A rain barrel is a simple way to harvest runoff water, prevent unwanted erosion, and conserve healthy natural water. By either purchasing or making a rain barrel, water runoff from a gutter system or roof will be collected for use around the yard and can even be hooked up to a homemade irrigation system to keep any garden hydrated and nutrient-rich.

The average American uses around 100 gallons of water per day and more than 50% of that water is for outdoor use. An inch of rain produces 625 gallons of water runoff from a 1,000 square-foot roof. A rain barrel holds approximately 55 gallons of water, keeping a significant portion of that runoff for yard and landscape uses. Water collected in rain barrels is also devoid of chemicals and treatments including fluoride and chlorine and is therefore better for the lawn or garden. Many green gardeners have also taken the opportunity to be creative and decorate their rain barrel using paint and flowers.

So I know it's hard to keep up your spirits in the week long rainy period, but getting a rain barrel or two and installing them will pay off when a summer drought hit. Some varieties of rain barrels are very attractive vase shapes and some are large enough to store 65 to 75 gallons.

At Algreen 81002 Agua 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection

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May 20, 2011

Getting the garden started in Boston


I've been here a week and we've had mostly rain, cold and dreary weather. Yesterday the sun shone and the grandkids and I got inspired and planted some lettuce and then went to the nursery and bought flowers. Most of the flowers we will put in pots in the front yard but the perinneals will go along the edge of the yard where we hope to build up a flower garden.

The nurseries were full of rainbow colors of flowers and many vegies. It's such a pleasure to walk through the rows upon rows of seedlings and six pacs and choose a variety of colors and shapes. We came home and planted them. It was supposed to be the only nice day for a week and we wanted them in the ground before the rain. We got a mix of seeds to attract butterflies and birds and some perinneals. In the six packs we bought petunias, sweet williams and snapdragons.

Such fun with the whole family out in the yard, mixing potting soil and digging rows. The grandkids were so excited it was hard to get them to slow down. This a great project for the family and it teaches kids where their food comes from and the effort it takes to grow it, and they also participate in the miracle of seeing sunlight, soil and water work their magic on seeds.

At Wildflower Butterfly Mix

Read More in: Garden Thoughts | Plants

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May 19, 2011

Scientists question modern methods of agriculture


Science Magazine has an interesting article outlining the way in which modern agricultural practices may have increased productivity, but at the exspense of the health of the soil, water, and humans. We all know the horror storiess of factory faming with animals caged and standing in their own excrement and given antibiotics to prevent infection and increase growth. We know that acres and acres of one crop farming with chemical fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides depletes the soil, contanimates the water and reduces the nutrients in the crop.

In an interview, the lead author, Washington State University professor John Reganold said, "If mainstream, conventional farming systems were sustainable, then we would not have overdrawn aquifers, eroded and degraded soils and polluted surface and ground waters." We also have concerns with farm labor working conditions and animal welfare," Reganold added.

With those concerns in mind, some farms have striven to innovate, cultivating practices such as organic farming, conservation agriculture and grass-fed and other alternative livestock production. Some of these practices aren't abstract or new, of course, none are yet widespread.

Yet when we plant our backyard gardens we can do our part to use compost, till in cover crops, vary the planting in rows and use organic fertilizer and pesticides. Our food will be safer and tastier!

Read More in: Industry News

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May 18, 2011

A rotary cultivator tills places your rototiller misses


If you've got your garden tilled and planted with young plants triving, you might find this garden "weasel" very handy. Most likely the weeds are thriving along with the vegies, and although I make my rows far enough apart that I can get the tiller between them, this hand driven tiller gets into places my rototiller can't go without damaging the tender young plants.

The "weasel" is made of steel so it won't break or bend easily should you hit a rock with it. It's handle is 56" long so that you can push it back and forth without bending over. It's width is 5.5" which enables it to get close around growing plants and loosen up the soil and knock down and uproot weeds.

At Weasel cultivator

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May 17, 2011

Strathwood folding Adirondack chair--classic outdoor comfort


This chair is crafted of high-density Brazilian eucalyptus wood that is harvested in a sustainable fashion. Eucalyptus timber has great strength and is able to withstand moisture and heavy use. Strathwood Adirondack chair features a contoured back support, a slatted seat, and oversized armrests that include a built-in drink holder.

This Adirondack chair requires no assembly other than inserting the included pegs that hold the chair upright, and the chair folds flat for easy storage. It has two finishes, a dark-brown stain or white painted finish. These finishes will weather when if the chair is left outside, but this will not weaken the strength of the wood. If you want a "new" look, then you can repaint or apply coats of hardwood oil.

\ Strathwood furniture is sleekly designed, handsomely finished, and built to last. This classic style and reliable craftsmanship will weather ever-changing trends and regular use for years to come. The chair will available in June and you can preorder it.

At Strathwood Adirondack Chair

Read More in: Decorations for Garden and Patio

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