The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

June 14, 2007

I'm no flower arranger, but…

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 8:06 pm

I’m no flower arranger, but don’t these Peonies and Siberian Iris look great together?

Vase of Peonies and Siberian Iris

Hey, they’re flowers! What’s not to like?



These were cut last week, the excessive heat we have had, has accelerated the flowering of both of these flowers in our garden. As a result there are not many are left to enjoy.

June 12, 2007

Blogger's Picnic

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 8:41 pm

This past Sunday, many of the blogsmonroe bloggers and members of their families got together at the home of Monroe News editor Dan Shaw (our fearless blogging leader!) and his wife Kathy.

When Judy and I first met Dan several months ago to discuss this gardening blog, he mentioned that he and his wife were avid gardeners. Well, let me tell you that was an understatement! They have transformed an ordinary yard into a series of wonderful outdoor spaces complete with front entry gardens, flowers gardens, a vegetable garden, and even some fruits and berries. Potted plants and containers accent their deck.

Every flower, tree, shrub or vegetable was chosen and planted by Dan and Kathy. Many of the plants were from past homes they had lived in. Kathy told me that each time they moved, they would dig up some of their favorite plants and moved them with the rest of the family! That eventually added up to quite an interesting collection of plants.

Regular readers of this blog know that I like to use photos in my posts, in this case I have none to show you, unfortunately. I didn’t bring my camera to the picnic for cryin’ out loud! Fortunately, Jim Dombrowski, who writes the blog Revolving World, did bring his camera and let me borrow it for some snapshots. Hopefully we can get a couple of those photos posted.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon and I know, judging by my fellow bloggers postings, that they had a great time too.


June 11, 2007

Tomato Tech

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 6:57 pm

I have no statistics on this, but I believe that tomatoes are grown in more gardens than any other vegetable. As a result, a lot of tomato tricks and technology have been developed over the years.

One such technology is plastic “mulch”. For the past seven years we have been using three different plastic mulches. These lightweight plastic sheets differ only in color as far as I can tell:

Red, brown, silver tomato mulch

The red colored plastic has been researched by Agricultural Universities. It has been proven scientifically that the red light that is reflected by the plastic stimulates the tomato plants to produce more tomatoes.

We really don’t run any kind of formal experiments here and just by “eyeballing” our harvest, we haven’t noticed any appreciable difference in yield from year to year with the plastics. However, if one were to measure the increase over many acres, I’m sure the difference would become apparent.

The silver plastic film has also been extensively researched. It works by reflecting light upward and confusing insects. The bugs become disoriented and can’t find your tomatoes.

The brown colored mulch, as far as I can tell, works only by smothering weeds. Actually, all three of these mulches have the ability to suppress weeds. In our tomato beds, we do very little in the way of weeding.

I’m sure you noticed in the photo that we use tomato cages along with our plastic bed covering. This technology has been used for tomatoes in one form or another for decades. The cages are useful in helping keep the plants up off of the ground. This makes for fewer disease problems and easier picking.

We started out years ago putting six tomato plants per bed. By using the cages, they all fit. The problem was that the plants always grew so large that they crowded each other. As a result, diseases and other pests seemed to spread quickly. It was hard to pick tomatoes when they were that close together too.

There is an old British gardener’s saying that goes something like, “Air and light makes tomatoes right”. So, this year, we finally decided to heed that saying and separate our tomato plants to give them more space. Only three plants per bed were planted this year.

I have a feeling our harvest will be nearly as large with only half the plants being used. The quality should improve as well.

Tomato technology and tradition marches on!


June 7, 2007

Man-eating Plant ?

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 9:35 pm

Banana flower

Nah, it’s just a view of a banana flower. I thought it might be fun to show how they look. I always get a “big kick” out of these flowers. I hope you enjoy this photo.

This is the relative size of the outer covering of the flower, also known as a “bract”:

banana bract

I guess I won’t be singing “Yes! We have no bananas” anymore for a while. (Yikes! am I getting that old?)


June 5, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 9:01 pm

Here is another reason I don’t particularly like dumping chemicals on a lawn just to kill those “evil” dandelions. Chemicals have their place, but they are often used indiscriminately.

In this example, a liquid herbicide containing the compound “2,4-d” was applied in the general area of these grapevines. It was a warm day, the chemical evaporated and drifted over to the grapes. Here was the result:

2,4-d damaged grapes

This was the second time in two years that these grapevines were damaged by the same compound. The first time it was a granular “weed and feed” that was applied. The results were much the same.

2,4-d kills weeds by disrupting the hormone balance within a plant. It is this disruption that causes the severe twisting and curling you see in the photo. Unfortunately, the chemical will kill any broadleaf plant, this includes grapes (which are particularly sensitive). Other plants nearby were also affected including some spinach.

With a mild exposure, most plants will out grow the damage. However, it has been around 3 weeks since the grapes were exposed and they haven’t really “bounced back yet”.

I’m afraid that some of these vines may have gotten a higher dose than they are able to handle. The fact that they have been damaged twice in the past three seasons, I’m sure has some bearing on their slow recovery.


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