October 2012

Justin W. Hancock

There’s a New Fertilizer in Town

Today my fellow BHG garden editors and I had a special guest: The folks from Sustane popped down (from my home state of Minnesota) to talk about their line of natural, organic fertilizers. Sustane has been around for a while, but mainly in the professional arena: Golf courses, commercial agriculture, etc.

For spring of 2013, the company is releasing a couple of mixes designed specifically for home gardeners like you and me. The product is made from turkey litter, the company representatives told us, and fully composted at about 150 degrees for about half a year. That makes the nutrients available almost right away when you go to use it.

They talked a lot about organic fertilizers, of course, and their benefits: They help build the soil profile, they’re much less likely to run off into our water supply, and it’s tough to burn your plants by using too much. Organic matter, especially compost like this, also encourages beneficial microorganisms in the soil — and they can help your plants resist disease better.

I like that the company is using a waste product — turkey litter and droppings — and turning it into something useful. And I like the idea of using a natural product that’s not overly produced.

Happily, they provided samples so this spring I’ll get to try it out!

What do you think? Do you fertilize your garden? If so, does organic or synthetic matter to you? Comment below !

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James A. Baggett

Playing Possum

A marsupial transient has taken up residence on my front porch. Mind you, I was not the first to take notice of the young opossum (about the size of a large guinea pig) curled up in a ball inside one of the many vintage watering cans that line my front porch—my good terriers Scout and Finch did. As soon as I let them out the front door they were all over that watering can. I put the dogs back in the house and grabbed my camera.

Our young visitor is properly known as a Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), North America’s only marsupial (mammals with a pouch in which they carry their young, like a kangaroo or a koala or a wombat). The opossum has been around for at least 70 million years and is one of the world’s oldest surviving mammals. Solitary animals, opossums are nocturnal and spend the day in dens or protected spots like my watering can. They do not hibernate in winter.

 

I knew opossums were nomads, so I couldn’t figure out why this one wasn’t moving on. After digging around on the internet, I discovered that, in order to avoid predators, opossums move to a different den every few days. Sure enough, by yesterday there was no sign of our pointy-nosed houseguest with a prehensile tail. Considered loathsome by some, I find these shy creatures quite curious. Opossums are by no means stupid. In fact, results from learning and discrimination tests rank opossums above dogs and more or less on a par with pigs in intelligence.

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James A. Baggett

Talk Dirt to Me!

My friend and neighbor Amy Worthen dropped by the other night to share the catalog for her new exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center because she knew I would like it. She’s the Curator of Prints and Drawings and the new exhibit is Iowa Artists 2012: Print and she selected this piece, I Love It When You Talk Dirt to Me! (2012) by Rick von Holdt of Minburn, Iowa, as the cover of the catalog. The exhibit is up until January 13th, so if you’re in our neck of the woods, the Des Moines Arts Center is definitely worth a visit.

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Katie Ketelsen

5 Must-Have Bulbs for Spring-Blooming Glory

I have to confess something.

 

I’ve never been much of a fan of bulbs.

 

The thought of digging tiny little holes for several little blobs of bulbs sounded so tedious I couldn’t even bring myself to lift the dainty little trowel.

 

Until last year when someone graciously gave me some free bulbs (perspective changes completely when something is free –right?) And then I made my husband plant them (I was pregnant and coming up with every excuse to get out of bending over).

 

And although this last winter was nothing to complain about in regards to excess snow, when those tiny daffodils and  bright pink tulips popped this spring it was nothing short of a godsent. Spring had arrived. It was a new awakening. A new year to try new plants in the garden. The smell of good Iowa dirt magically finds its way to your nose. All of a sudden you find yourself rejuvenated just from a handful of tiny little flowers.

 

Another confession: I’m planting more bulbs this year.
Unless of course I can talk the hubs into planting them for me again.

 

Here are a few bulbs I’ve got my eye on but would take any suggestions you might have!

Grape Hyacinth
It’s so dainty! It will look perfect along the front edge of my flower beds. I just need to pick a variety.

 

Siberian Squill
How fun would these flowers look peppered throughout my lawn? Have you ever planted bulbs in your lawn?

 

Allium
While allium tends to bloom later in spring, it’s always been a favorite of mine.

 

Black Parrot Tulip
I’ve never have a plant with black blooms and a bulb might just be the way to test that color, since it won’t be blooming all season long. If I don’t like it, I might transplant them to my neighbor’s garden — on the other side of their house.

 

Zurel Tulip
With so many types and varieties of tulips, you almost have to have more than one in your garden. Plus, two-toned flowers are extra pretty.

So…am I missing any of your favorites?

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Katie Ketelsen

Pinterest Inspired: Welcoming Fall Entry

Even though I’m on our website day in and day out, there are still inspiring images I manage to miss (somehow!) And if you’ve been reading Everyday Gardeners you’ll know about my obsession with Pinterest. So it’s been my habit to peruse the Better Homes and Gardens Pinterest boards to catch up on what I might have missed.

With the recent change in weather I’m reminded how I’ve yet to decorate my front entry for the season and in desperation have taken to BHG’s Pinterest board for some quick and easy ideas.

This is what’s inspiring me

 

Source: bhg.com via Better Homes and Gardens on Pinterest

I’ve always love the look of burnt orange gourds. Creating a topiary of them for the front stoop sounds perfect.

 

 

Bittersweet is always a favorite of mine. Draping it over pumpkins, on the mantel or creating a wreath are just a few ideas I’ve daydreamed about.

 

 

Maybe a fresh coat of paint will help set the tone for the season.

 

 

Surely mums are a must!

 

How are you decorating for the season? What do you always include on your front stoop? Pumpkins? Mums?

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