Share Your Plant Wealth Through Plant Division

Plant PropogationEvery gardener knows the feeling one gets when one of their “garden children” are relocated to a new home.  This new home can be in a new-fangled area of the garden or gracing the garden at a friend’s new abode.  Regardless of where the plant ends up, the best way to share ones plant wealth is through a process called division.

Division is a form of propagation where the mother plant is divided into at least two parts.  While this may seem cruel, it is in fact healthy for the plant and increases the plant’s ability to take in more nutrition.  The drawback to this type of propagation is that it cannot be done anytime of the year.  It must be done while the plant is not growing.  This includes vegetative growth and flowering.  If done while the plant is actively growing, the plants cycle will be thrown off and the plant will not be able to generate enough food to store for winter.  This, in turn, could cause the plant to lose vigor and not survive its winter slumber.

Plants should only be divided in the early spring or early fall.  If you are not sure whether the plant needs to be divided, observe the plant material.  Plants that are dying out in the center, produce flowers that are small in size, and whose vegetation is laying over.  These  need to be divided.  Another way of determining if a plant needs to be divided is to perform this procedure every two years.  This will guarantee plant vigor and health while giving the gardener the chance to examine the plant material for disease.

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Creating a Backyard Paradise for this Season’s Stay-cation

backyard_designThis year there is no reason not to enjoy a stay-cation in your own backyard.  All that is really needed is a few items that can be purchased through Outdora and the backyard will be transformed into a paradise.

To begin the design, decide on a focal point or center the paradise around the patio. Next, address the elements that are essential to any paradise.  These elements include fire, water, earth, and wind.  Each one of these elements addresses one of the five senses and together creates a complete paradise.

The fire element can be described as the part of the design that brings heat into the environment. It addresses not only our vision but also touch and if food is cooked over the fire then our taste buds come into play. This heat can be created from the spark of a gas grill all the way to a literal fire in a fire ring or pit.  Placing a grill on the patio along with a table chairs can create the fire element.  Another approach is to use a fire ring or pit that is placed on the patio or moved out into the backyard environment. When using the fire element, always remove any flammable material, such as grass, from the area before lighting the fire.

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Grilling for Health

healthy_grillGrilling has been widely lauded as a cooking technique because in the act and positioning of grilling, fat drains out of protein sources, thus reducing both the amount of calories and the amount of fat consumed. As well, as an alternative to something like deep frying, there is simply no comparison health-wise. But grilling, done right, can be a boon to your health in a number of other ways, starting with the ingredients selected for grilling and the way we go about it. Let’s take a brief and admittedly less than complete look at some of the ways in which we can increase the healthiness of our consumption, and overall health, in grilling foods.

Choose foods that are low in fat. The dangers of excessive consumption of fat are well-documented. While fat definitely has flavor, there is no need for the consumption of excessive quantities of it. Chicken, veal, pork, fish, veggies and fruit are all wonderful on the grille.

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Components of Barbecue Flavor: Seasoning (Part 2 – Sauces)

bbrsauceWe’ve previously discussed general aspects of flavoring of barbecue, and particularly, the use of dry rubs as seasonings (Components of Barbecue Flavor: Seasoning, Part 1-Dry rubs). We’ve also discussed the concept of using seasonings at different stages of the barbecue process, and the uses and functions of marinades. We’ll now take a quick look at some of the more common forms of barbecue sauces found in the United States. Again, this list probably only scratches the surface of what is available.

Kansas City-style Sauce – The most popular style of sauce found in this country, Kansas City-style sauce is a sweet sauce, a rich, somewhat thick tomato-based sauce with typically, a lot of sweetness to it. This type of sauce is typically sweetened with brown sugar and/or molasses, and will sometimes have a bit of liquid smoke added to it. Best used as a mop, during cooking, as well as a dip, because of the concentration of sugar, this type of sauce is used on pork shoulder, ribs, beef brisket and chicken.

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10 Magical Garden Myths

gardeningA little bit of science in the wrong hands is dangerous, but pseudoscience in the wrong hands is down-right disastrous—orders of magnitude worse. Pseudoscience can be grounded in little bits of science, strung together incorrectly, 90 percent science peppered with 10 percent fantasy, old-wives’ tales or urban legend, just to name a few variants.

Horticulture is a science, and our gardens grow within that realm of reality. Sometimes, however, we, the gardeners, stray from the reality into the magical thinking of garden myths. So, when something doesn’t work quite like it’s supposed to work, we need to check our premise and adjust accordingly.

We’re all guilty of relying on a little garden mythology. We know who we are. We are master gardeners, avid gardeners, amateur gardeners and occasional gardeners. We are all guilty of spreading the occasional garden myth. Follow along as we debunk some of gardening’s tallest tales and replace them with proven science.

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A Passion for Pastrami

patramiMy great-grandfather, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, arrived in the United States, Boston, to be exact, in 1911. A butcher by trade, he opened a shop in the old West End of Boston. Upon his death in 1921, two of my great-uncles ran the shop until 1958, when a major urban renewal project razed the whole West End neighborhood. The shop thrived, and was known particularly for its smoked and cured meats. People from New York were known to come to Boston to buy their products. All of this is a long introduction to the fact that I grew up being used to not only the finest in Kosher meats, but, in particular, the finest of smoked meats. Primary among them was pastrami, which was exported to the United States by Romanian Jews.

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How to Design a Summer Floral Arrangement for the Patio Table

outdoor_floralTable design is not limited to the indoor environment but instead adds another element to incorporate into the outdoor landscape. In the past, the style of the interiorscape was carried over into the outdoor design.  Today, either living environments can be different or the same.

When designing an arrangement for an outdoor table, a few things need to be considered.  First, the size of the table and its function needs to be evaluated.  Is the table small, such as an end table, or is large, dining type table?  Another consideration is the function of the table?  Are people going to be dining on it or just sitting drinks on it?   Also, consider the health issues of those who may be around the patio furniture.  Cut flowers still attract bees and this could be an issue for any guests that are allergic to bees.

Before cutting the flowers, decide on the shape and height of the container.  The type of container can be very formal in shape, such as an urn, or more informal in nature.  Informal containers include clay pots or plastic containers.  Always keep in mind though that the arrangement is going into an outdoor environment, so avoid glass vases.  Next, consider the scale of the project and how it will work with your outdoor environment. Are people going to have to look over the project or is it going to be so large that it interferes with the natural flow around the furniture.  An easy gauge to use with thinking about the arrangement design is that the height of the arrangement will be 2 ½ times the height of the container.

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Having a Grille-Top Clambake

clambakeI’m an East Coast kid, having grown up on the North Shore (pronounced Nawth Shoah) coast of Boston, and some of my most precious memories of childhood revolve around the old-fashioned New England clambake. To me, the maximum enjoyment of food involves four senses; taste, sight, smell and the social, the act of enjoying good times and good food with cherished friends. I’ve said elsewhere that the combination of a good-sized outdoor grille, fresh air and space make for the perfect setting for a great social, food-oriented event, and nothing proves this proposition more than a clambake. Work, yes, but well worth the effort. And doing this on the top of a spacious grille does simplify the work somewhat; no pits to dig, collections of rocks to heat, etc.

The clambake can be relatively simple, with clams, potatoes, corn and onions, or more complex, involving lobsters, sausage, a pot of clam chowder, and some additional veggies. Either way is wonderful. You will need to do some preparation, particularly making sure that you have all the necessary ingredients at hand, and you will need to plan your time effectively so that you can combine the joy of cooking with the joy of socializing. Have I convinced you? Okay, then, let’s get to it.

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Reduce your Carbon Footprint through Proper Turf and/or Garden Maintenance

eco_gardenMany homeowners are not only looking for a way of saving money, but also saving the plant through a reduction in carbon.  Carbon is released into the environment when vegetation is cut down, and when fossil fuels are burned.  This fuel can be used not only through the use of personal equipment, such as lawn mowers and weed eaters, but also through transportation of goods and services. These goods and services include the movement of equipment and materials form one area to the next.  To create a turf and/or garden that has a reduced or carbon-neutral footprint, try some of the following suggestions.

Use Only Natural Fertilizers

One of the big carbon contributors to the carbon problem is through the creation of synthetic fertilizers.  The components of this fertilizer not only have to be trucked into the lab but once made it also needs to be trucked out.   A better approach when it comes to fertilizer is creating your own.  This is easily done through a compost and/or worm bin.  Another approach is to grow your own fertilizer.  Hairy vetch and soybeans are grown as a living fertilizer that is tilled under in the spring.  This releases nitrogen into the soil along with other nutrients.  All of these approaches will produce a local, Mother Nature made fertilizer that works as well, and in many situations better, than the synthetic form.

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Garden Blues

blue_irisTrue blue flowers are the rarest of blooms, but they can be found. While you’ll find many purple and violet flowers, it’s the true blues that remain elusive. Perhaps it is the true blue’s rarity that has led it to symbolize romanticism in literature through the ages. Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, under the pen name Novalis, was the first to use the blue flower in this context in his unfinished novel, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, in the late 18th century. C.S. Lewis mentioned the blue flower as a symbol of romanticism in his autobiographical work, Surprised By Joy, and contemporary artists have continued to point to the blue flower as a symbol of general romanticism. You’ll even find allusions to it in movies, stage plays and rap!

Surprisingly, blue is the most desirable color for wedding arrangements, not as the primary color, but as a complementary color. In addition to representing romanticism, blue represents royalty, and who doesn’t want to feel like royalty on their wedding day?

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