Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fruit Pruning Class in Provo

All photos courtesy of Troy Nuttall.

The class was a great success! I hope you join us for the next one.

Utah Sustainable Gardening and Elizabeth Ellsworth Stika are pleased to present a fruit tree pruning workshop in Provo on March 9th 2013.

Subjects covered will be:

  • Where and how to make a good cut.
  • How to shape a fruit tree.
  • What to do to make you fruit trees more productive.

Class will be held at 12:00 on Saturday March 9th. At 365 N. 900 W. Provo, Ut. The hostess has generously offered to pay for the workshop. If you are able, please bring $20.00 to help defray the cost of the workshop. A light lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP at: 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pruning Lavender

Lavender before pruning.

Usually I prune my lavender shortly after it is done blooming. It is a great time to do it since it keeps the lavender looking prim and maintained. But really it doesn't need pruning until just before it starts its summer growth.

Lavender after pruning.

This last year things have been so busy that I did not get the prunning done until shortly before Christmas. But as things slowed down I grabbed the hand pruners and headed out to the back flower bed.

The main point of pruning lavender is to take off the old flower heads. As long as you do that you will be good. If you want to do more to guide the shape, snip off and inch or two of the leaves. Just remember, don't cut back so fare that there aren't living leaves left on a branch. Lavender is one of the shrubs that needs those leaves to regenerate growth. Cutting away all the leaves will lead to dead twigs.

Making a cut.

Most people use hedging shears to get their lavender pruned. Shears do a great job, and get it done much quicker that hand pruners. I like to do it the slow way because it creates more texture. And I have gotten fed up with the smooth meatball look that is so common today.

Remember, the leafy cuttings can be used either fresh or dry to create a relaxed mood or encourage sleep. 

The trimmings can be composted or used
to help relaxation.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seed Quality

Seed racks are out at the big box stores and catalogues are arriving, it must be time to think of spring planting.

Starting seed is like anything else, good materials make for a good experience. But it is hard to tell what seeds are good and what are not. After all, you can't see through most seed packets.

The importance of quality seeds has struck me with almost an urgency after failures for the last five years. My swiss chard was a mixture of varieties, tomatoes the same, two squash varieties failed, and my beloved kohlrabi turned out to be radishes. What is a gardener to do?

First: Keep good records. If you have a record of failures and successes, you will know whether it is the seed or how you are growing it. You will also be able to see patterns for the seed companies you use. One problem is not that important, every company will make mistakes once in a while. But once you have a pattern you know that you need to look for a new suppliers.

Second: Choose seeds from a source that has a good reputation. This means talking to other gardeners and evaluating the sales materials. If a company has not put thought into quality advertising, they will not likely put the thought into quality seed production.

Third: Don't buy cheap. You don't have to pay $20 for good seed, but you have to wonder what you are getting if you pay $1.

Fourth: If you save seed, learn your business and do it right. Saving seed is more complex than just scraping the seeds out of a squash.

Fifth: Understand that you will get better quality and uniformity from hybrids. I prefer open pollinated seeds, but I know I will have different results from some of my neighbors.

For a good start look at Johnny's and Territorial. You should also look at Burpee. I don't use Burpee much now-a-days, but I never had problems.

Have a great time buying seeds!