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becke_davis
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Re: Introduce Yourselves

Well, we've narrowed my topic for the 29th down to two possibilities -- Weird and Wonderful Plants or Plants from the Dark Side: Dark and Purple Plants. (I was supposed to teach the latter last year but got sick and they had to get a sub for me.) It may depend on what I can get a hold of for props, plantwise!
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caroline88
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Bulbs in The Netherlands

Hi Becke,

I am not sure if I was in a previous class or not, but I know I have already seen your name in other book clubs here. Bulbs shows, do you mean De keukenhof? http://www.keukenhof.nl/

My preference are perennials because they last much longer than bulbs do and my garden is too small to have a really big showcase like on the Keukenhof. But I have a few crocuses (which are not doing very well), snowdrops (always the first to say hello!) and tulips, hyacinth and quite a few groups of my favourites, daffodils.
I find it challenging to plan a good garden layout with bulbs (where did I put them???) but they go nicely with the begonias. They are still invisible, and start showing by the time, the daffodils are fading. And I put the crocus between the astilbe because it is also gone underground during this time of year.
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
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becke_davis
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Re: Bulbs in The Netherlands

I also like the idea of planting bulbs under perennials. This is really a good idea if the perennials have large or "bushy" foliage that will disguise the bulb foliage while it dries out. You shouldn't cut off the dying foliage of bulbs, or you will have smaller flowers -- or no flowers -- the following year.

I am fond of the small, clump-type daffodils even though the tall trumpet daffodils are beautiful when they bloom in large, naturalized masses. I like the white and cream flowered daffs, too --Erlicheer and Thalia are favorites of mine.
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becke_davis
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

You all can ask me questions but let me start with one for each of you: how did you get interested in gardening? Have you always been interested, or is this new to you?

I was always interested in gardens but the only time I recall my mom growing flowers was for a short time when I was a kid, and for awhile when I was a teenager. When I was little, it was when we had moved from an apartment into our first house. My parents decided to seed instead of sod (it was a lot cheaper) and I remember my mom sitting on a blanket on the "lawn" with my baby sister. As she pulled up the weeds, I seem to remember my sister eating them. Later, we tried planting a small garden but the dirt was almost solid clay. I'm not exaggerating -- I made pottery out of stuff I dug in that yard (well, pencil holders for my dad anyway). I was able to grow morning glories and zinnias and marigolds, that was about it. Maybe that's why I've always had a fondness for those flowers.

One of my grandfathers lived in Arkansas and had fruit trees, vegetable patches and probably flowers but I don't remember those. I mainly remember him pulling a plum off a tree, taking a bite and showing me the half a worm left in it. Yeeulch!

My other grandfather in Illinois lived in a bungalow with a tiny back garden. He had a Victory garden allotment and his secretary grew rhubarb in her back yard. It always amazed me! That same grandfather had ping pong tables in his basement where he propagated begonia cuttings under grow lights. He forced bulbs in what I always think of as his air raid shelter in the basement. I am interested in genealogy and found an obituary for his grandfather, which noted he was considered an expert on gladioli (he was a Methodist minister by trade. Most of my male ancestors were!).

Moving to England kick-started my interest in plants, and when we moved back to the U.S. my dabbling grew and grew and. . .well, you know the story. Many of you probably have similar tales! The only difference was that I started working for a landscape contractor, met a lot of people in the nursery business, county extension agents, plant propagators, landscape architects, horticultural researchers and professors, and then started to write about plants.

So, that's my story -- what's yours?
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caroline88
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Re: Bulbs in The Netherlands

Becke, I know that we are supposed to cut of the flower stalks of tulips, but let the leaves die off; one of the experts said that was the best way to keep the bulbs strong and healthy. They need the leaves to do the photosynthesis (sp?) which is nutrition for the bulb.

I love the tall, classic daffodils but for my garden, the small ones are better. I live near the costs and the winds are often fierce. I prefer small ones standing "tall" to long ones toppling over.

Seeing what comes up now, I feel like I should treat myself to a few more bulbs this autumn. It would be a good idea to take a few pictures of the garden so I can remember exactly where the bulbs were located. I would buy more snowdrops and I think some white daffodils with the orange rimmed yellow inside.
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
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caroline88
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

I was born in a marina where I got more experience with water than with gardens. When I was six, we moved to a new home and a new stepfather who had two homes. One with a pear tree, no privacy but that one tree gave so many pears that a 7 people family and all their friends neighbours and what have you, were UNABLE to eat all the pears. And my stepbrother was always hungry, but still!
These were stewing-pears by the way and this is where I learned the joy of cooking my own food with own produce. Very addictive kind of joy. I was a Masterchef when it came to Stewing Pears Puree. Using my sisters cooking set, she grew bored with it real quickly so she did not mind it at all.

The second home was in a forest and my mother developed a passion for gardening. Inch by inch, she took over bigger parts of the forest. Some flowers but most of the area became appropriated for growing vegetables and fruits. One day, we had a few friends dropping in on us. Here is a knife, Caroline, she said. Go get some more lettuce. The luxury of having FRESH vegetables literally in your own back yard. Also addictive. Of course it is also more healthy and tastes a lot better.

My first own home was an appartment, no garden, but fortunately my bf graduated and we moved down south where we got a big garden which was a bit clay-like, what I was not used to. But very good otherwise, the previous owners had held chicken! (And removed all of it before they moved out, but of course they could not dig up the chicken manure which had steadily seeped into the ground.) We had a lawn and a border of flowers around and a small border up against the house. I tried strawberries but it was too wet and those white wriggly ... made me forget all about the dream of ever growing my own strawberries.

Today I have a city home and a city garden. The back garden is infested by cat manure - who often carry diseases so I do not dare grow anything edible there. My front garden is restricted to gooseberries and a few herbs because I have not enough faith in the honesty of all people who are passing by. And the air and noise pollution is too bad to stay here forever.
I do not work in the garden as often as I should or could. Fulltime job and a single person household, combined with a home that does not have a kitchen. My association with gardening is peace and so I prefer to do the work on holidays when there is little or no traffic.

My dream for tomorrow is to have a house in the country with a really big garden where I can plant my own fruit trees. The first one that comes to mind is the reine claude plum tree - funny because we did not have any plum trees, it was mostly berries but that plum and the things my mother used to do with the black currants makes my mouth water in anticipation.
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
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becke_davis
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Caroline - Your childhood sounds idyllic but it makes me so sad that you don't have a garden now, or the ability to cook and grow with homegrown foods. Have you tried growing in containers? Cats would probably leave those alone.

I can just imagine your mother little by little turning her forest into a garden -- in my mind, it's like a fairy tale unfolding!
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becke_davis
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Re: Bulbs in The Netherlands

You have it exactly right -- the leaves store the nutrients for the following year's flowers. If you have time and not too many bulbs, you can fold the foliage over and tie it down so it isn't unsightly while it dries out.

Like you, I'm especially fond of the little clump-forming daffodils. They aren't as bright and bold as the tall trumpet daffodils, but they are so friendly and cheerful, they always make me smile.
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becke_davis
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Re: Daffodils, Bulbs, etc.

If you read my profile you will find this anyway, but if you are interested in reading more about different types of daffodils, I posted an article I wrote for a trade magazine on this subject on my blog:

http://the-garden-muse.blogspot.com

A lot of the articles at this site were written for the landscape trade so they may contain more than you'll ever want to know about garden topics, but some of you may be interested.

If you have any suggestions for article topics, let me know. If I've already written one on the topic you suggest, I'll add it to my blog.
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caroline88
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?


becke_davis wrote:
Caroline - Your childhood sounds idyllic but it makes me so sad that you don't have a garden now, or the ability to cook and grow with homegrown foods. Have you tried growing in containers? Cats would probably leave those alone.

I can just imagine your mother little by little turning her forest into a garden -- in my mind, it's like a fairy tale unfolding!

Becke, yes the gardening and nature part of my childhood was idyllic and I count my blessings. But the grass is always greener on the other side. The ones who envied me, never knew what it was like to be uprooted twice a weak, to be car-sick for 90 minutes and never to belong anywhere. My blessing today, next time I move home, will be the first time in my life that I do it by choice.
And the blessing of good food while growing up, is at least part of my good health today. Nobody can take that away from me.

I have tried growing tomatoes in containers. They were so small but they were tasty. It is challenging because there is no place where they have sunshine for a long time so my planting is literally in one container only. At least for fruits who need sunshine. I think that is also why the normal tomatoes showed up in cherry size.
The other challenge is timing. Usually I find out about these things, like two months after I should have planted them. Though I can only bake one small gooseberry pie a year, rest assured, it is the best piece of food and I enjoy every morsel of it!
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
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KathyS
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Caroline, I was thinking about some things you were talking about. Small space gardening is something I think of often, mainly because my place is covered with decorative rock, and made up of individual small spaces, except for the front yard.

Over the years, in different places I've lived, I've raised beds in small areas, and have grown my vegetables in those areas. You might still consider taking out those hedges, putting an edging to raise it a little, and use that area for both vegetables and flowers. The decorative cabbages and kale are beautiful to grow amongst greens of your vegetable garden, and you can eat them! I wouldn't think that most people, walking by, would think to pick them out of your garden.

You can do the same in your back yard. Make raised beds in different shapes, with walkways, or small ornamental flowers between the beds. Different shapes can make for a pretty and interesting design. It's hard to visualize your spaces, but even the smallest is worthy of planting. I'd go out and buy a truck load of cheap cow manure, dump it in the back yard, and roto till all of that soil under....and watch your flowers grow! If you have a concept in mind, there is a book and a picture out there that will give you inspiration!
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KathyS
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Story? I'm not sure if I have a real 'story' behind my interest in gardening. I contemplate whether it's what you see when you're a kid growing up, or if it is something that comes through education of one kind or another, or if it's just inbred.
Forgive me the analytical approach.

I grew up with a brother who is three years old than myself. We played in the dirt...meaning we played with his cars and trucks and built roads and made "things" out of dirt. Hence the hands in the dirt! My dad was always adding on to every house we lived in....just to change the look of it. Hence the love to build. My brother went on to design and build two of his homes, but this wasn't his profession, only his love. I went on to study art and design gardens and build structures within those gardens, or within my homes, this wasn't my profession, only my love.

My mother grew flowers and apparently loved the 'idea' of flowers, because we had many, even though most of the time it was spent weeding, with my help. Not something I wanted to do with my own gardens. So I designed them in a way in which weeds were the lesser of all of the gardening problems. As a child I was always aware of the beauty that flowers gave back to us - But not just eye appeal, but all of the senses were involved!

I've loved vegetable gardens, because I'm amazed to see these little seeds or plants grow from nothing, and then be able to eat what I grew! I'm always in awe of this. Also, it was a way to give back to anyone that needed what I could grow.

So I mix the ideas of landscaping designs, building, getting my hands in the dirt, and sharing what is given to me; it's all the best of all the worlds, put into one concept - GARDENING!
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becke_davis
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Sometimes playing in the dirt is all it takes to catch the gardening bug. I love to hear everyone's stories about their experiences!
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becke_davis
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Your words are so true, and no one else can really know what it's like for someone else. Thank you for sharing this story with us all. It sounds like you have made a good life for yourself, but I hope sometime in the future you will find a place to live that has room for a sunny garden, too!
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caroline88
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Re: How did you get interested in gardening?

Kathy,

You are overestimating the size of my back yard. There is not enough room for raised beds and walkways there. And the hedge is on the side of same back yard, there is no hedge in the front garden.

I love your suggestions but I fear they would be too difficult (or expensive) to implement.

Back yard
Unless I do the major overhaul and build a new garage (expensive!!), the yard is too small. Removing the hedge and replacing with raised bed, could be done. But I betcha it will be the new hot seat for cats! Am I willing to spend a fortune to make the cats more comfy in my back yard?
LOL about the truck load. That would certainly make me popular with the neighbours. I will do the moderate version. On a regular basis, horses are passing by and leaving proof they were there. I could pick it up and put it in the back yard somewhere and then move up front after it has rotted a while. I know the fresh stuff can burn the plants.

Front garden
I am going to check on finding some cabbage seed. Pretty or not pretty is a matter of opinion. If someone passes by and likes the look of my garden, good for them. If not, LOL it is MY garden :smileytongue: And I love eating cabbage but I do not eat it as much because it is hard to cut. There should be one that has the leaves less tightly, I know there is, I just cannot think of the name right now.

Thanks for your suggestions!
Caroline


KathyS wrote:
Caroline, I was thinking about some things you were talking about. Small space gardening is something I think of often, mainly because my place is covered with decorative rock, and made up of individual small spaces, except for the front yard.

Over the years, in different places I've lived, I've raised beds in small areas, and have grown my vegetables in those areas. You might still consider taking out those hedges, putting an edging to raise it a little, and use that area for both vegetables and flowers. The decorative cabbages and kale are beautiful to grow amongst greens of your vegetable garden, and you can eat them! I wouldn't think that most people, walking by, would think to pick them out of your garden.

You can do the same in your back yard. Make raised beds in different shapes, with walkways, or small ornamental flowers between the beds. Different shapes can make for a pretty and interesting design. It's hard to visualize your spaces, but even the smallest is worthy of planting. I'd go out and buy a truck load of cheap cow manure, dump it in the back yard, and roto till all of that soil under....and watch your flowers grow! If you have a concept in mind, there is a book and a picture out there that will give you inspiration!

Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
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Cabbage and cutting

Caroline, well....okay, maybe at "truck" load of horse manure was a little bit too much. LOL...I tend to OVER estimate! I should have said, get "plenty", because it's good for the soil. I only bought three bags the other day, at 99 cents a bag, so it's not expensive. I'm not sure if you were kidding about picking it up off the street...hmm, but if you did, you might find it full of weeds. At least when you get it in the bag, it should be weed free. Okay, enough talk of horse manure!

Now, as far as the cabbage. I've never grown any variety, but what I was referring to was, the Ornamental Cabbage. It's beautiful! It's leafy, and looks like purple flowers. It doesn't grow too large, and it's also edible. I've never planted it, but I have seen it grown. I've also never eaten it.

"Regular" green/head cabbage, or purple head cabbage, can grow to a pretty good size, and the outer leaves can be tough. Some grow dense/tight, and some don't....but I'm not sure if it's because they are different varieties, or it's weather/water related. If you do plant it, don't let it grow too large, pick it young, and always peal those outer - tough leaves away before you cut into it. Besides cooking it, do you ever make coleslaw?

When you cut a head of cabbage, use a french knife, or a large knife. And sharp! Cut it right down the middle, in half. Then lay the half on it's cut edge, and quarter it---or you can slice it easily off the edges for thinner slices, with the same large knife, or a smaller/paring knife. Watch your fingers! If you don't want to tackle a head of cabbage, there is always a Brussel Sprout! :-))
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caroline88
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Re: Cabbage and cutting

LOL, Kathy, thanks for the late afternoon chuckle. Just got home, tired and cranky and with sore feet. None of that is much of an issue if it weren't for my blood sugar.

No I was not kidding about the horses. Their gifts should be appreciated, me thinks. And a short walk to a small supply would be much easier. I do not have a car and that makes big bags or containers an impossibility. I was just at the grocery store and they were also selling containers of cow manure - I probably would have bought it if I had been born with three arms. Full of weeds? Then that must be the price of this "freebie".

A question: how often do we need to put manure on the garden? I think I should start a gardening log so I can remember when, but it has been done quite recently and the plants still seem quite content. How much is enough? How much is too much?

Thank you for the instructions on how to cut, my problem is twofold. My hands are no longer my strongest because all they do is type on keyboards. And I do not have a kitchen. It is annoying to cut one on a cutting board on the floor. Downright dangerous to try and do it on a wobbly board next to the bathroom sink. All my knives are large and sharp, so that will not be a problem. Brussels Sprouts taste great, not so sure about the decorative issue or how many plants I would need, to get a meal.

Will have to wait and see what I can find at the garden center. Coleslaw is not part of our culture so no recipe was handed down to me. (And at least for now, I would have the shredding problem, I do not have a kitchen machine anymore) I guess I will be condemned to regular flights to get my fix :-))

Caroline
Belief in your mission, greet life with a cheer
There's big work to do, and that's why you are here
~ Caroline
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
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Re: Cabbage and cutting

Caroline,

Well, we do have a dilemma with the cooking, don't we? Hmm....So, I assume you must eat out a lot....No kitchen...no refrigerator, either? Maybe, if you're going to grow vegetables, we should stick with the ones that need no refrigeration, and no cooking? I guess most vegetables can be eaten raw, although, I've never eaten a raw Brussel Sprout...I'm not even fond of them cooked!

I don't use a shredder when I make coleslaw. I know you can use a mandolin(not the musical kind;-), but I've always just used a knife, sliced it thin, and then chopped it up. If the knives are sharp enough, it doesn't take much strength in you hands.

When I'm on my computer, I use an ergoBeads wrist support in back of my mouse. It's made by IMAK. I pick it up once in a while, when I'm reading or not using my mouse, and squeeze it with my hands. Kind of like those balls you sqeeze to releave stress and strengthen your hands. I've worked in produce for so many years, knives are just what I use every day.

You don't have a place to cut anything? A bed? A table? I'd give you my recipe for coleslaw, but it uses mayonaise...that needs refrigeration. But you can always toss the cabbage with a light vinegar and olive oil with salt and pepper. Providing you like raw cabbage.

Where I live, in the southern region of California, I'm relatively close to the Mexican border, and eating Mexican food was common when I was growing up. The Mexican culture uses a lot of cabbage, in place of lettuce. Raw onion, the Spanish (brown) onion, is thinly sliced and soaked in lemon juice(or vinegar)/water. The onion becomes mild and can be used in salads. You can even toss this in with cabbage, if it sounds good to you. How did we get off onto the cabbage subject? LOL

Now, I think any gift, whether by a horse, cow, chicken, fish, or a bat, sounds good enough, as long as you aren't worried about the weed problem. But if it's "fresh" it will be "strong"....I'd probably dig a hole or area, and allow it to sit and "mellow out". I'm thinking it contains a lot of acid, or residual alkaline source, and you don't want to burn your plants with this fresh stuff! Becke could advise you on this. And I don't have a clue as to how often you should spread your wealth! LOL....I'm lucky if my garden gets it once a year, but Spring always sounds good to me. And it's a good source of mulching material while turning the soil over. Some plants have different, and specific fertilizing needs and regimes, other than the generic horse stuff....So, Good luck! (You might want to have a fly swatter handy)LOL
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becke_davis
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Re: Any garden writers out there?

Hi - I was wondering if any of you are garden writers, in any form? Do you write a newsletter for a garden club, a column for your local paper, a garden blog, books, magazine articles, whatever?

I'm going to be teaching a class on becoming a garden writer soon (I've taught it before) but I would like to hear from other people who write about gardening to see how they got started. If any of you have tried to get published in this line of work, I'd like to hear your successes and horror stories, too.
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gluepot
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Re: Introduce Yourselves

Crape myrtle in full bloom.
My blue daze (or is it "days"? I like daze better) are hanging in there--they seem always about to fade away into the sunset. Would it help to talk to them?

g p plumber