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Our company blog, Annie's Gardening Corner, takes a sneak peek at how we balance our own love for everything green + a place to find inspiration, garden ideas and landscape design tips.

To browse our award winning landscape design portfolios, click on our company website at WWW.BILOWZASSOCIATES.COM

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Farms, No Food


On occasion, I tap into a news article floating out in cyberspace. Although this particular read takes us across the pond, its content is relevant to our own farming industry in the United States. http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/news/farmers-left-trapped-poverty/article-2951449-detail/article.html
It places a keen eye on the poverty levels of farmers in the United Kingdom. Unless we know farmers firsthand, few of us ever understand our food producers’ dilemmas. Many farmers in the U.S. and abroad subsidize their income with other work. Unfortunately, this is a reoccurring theme and unless we pay attention to it, we will continue to lose farmland and the valuable resource it provides us – our food. The title of today’s blog, ‘No Farms, No Food’ is a bumper sticker that many local farm owners stick on the back of their pickups. Ralph Waldo Emerson got it when he said, “The first farmer was the first man. All historic nobility rests on the possession and use of land.” Post your comments and thoughts. Annie
Image from the Internet.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Decorating the Old-Fashion Way


Winterberry, pine cones, dried flowers – these bits and pieces of nature may still be showing up in your garden or during your early morning walks. Want to make it a simple holiday? Bring the outdoors inside for the winter festivities. There is no shortage for quick decorating inspiration. But why resign yourself to the sometimes difficult glossy magazine tips at the checkout counter? Immerse yourself. Check out a local botanical garden and take a gander on how they are decking their halls. See how to use greens and floral arrangements to liven up the joint. You should be able to find a garden club, a florist or some other home goods store with an evening class to give your creative holiday juices a jump start. If you want to be inspired, look for some local talent with loads of decorating tips. As Charles Schulz points out, “Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.” This is the season when we can all get into embellishing the homestead with bits and pieces of treasures from the attic and greens from the outdoors.

P.S. Here’s a class I am going to check out this Thursday evening at Still Life Consignment located at 68 Tower Street in Hudson, MA. You need to sign up in advance. Phone (978) 562-3221

Thursday, Dec. 2nd 6-7:30pm
HOME HOLIDAY DECORATING CLASS
Designer John Mansfield will inspire you to transform what you already have in your home into Holiday magic! This seminar will be FREE to the public, and all who attend will be entered to win our Raffle Basket. Refreshments will be served!Sponsored by Still Life and Home 2 Home Services. http://www.stilllifeconsignmentshop.com/

If I can’t tie a good bow, I can always check out my favorite consignment bargains. Annie
Image of an awesome homemade centerpiece - from the Internet

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Leftover Friday


There’s plenty to do the day after Thanksgiving, especially if you’re one of the fearless early morning shoppers. Here are a couple of quick tips for leftover holiday kitchen treasures should you prefer spending the long weekend dabbling with the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Residual Eggnog

This rich creamy drink may still find residence in your fridge after the Thanksgiving feast. Search for an easy rice pudding recipe and substitute the eggnog for milk or combine a small amount with the milk and egg mixture. There are tons of simple ways to use eggnog (i.e., French toast) but rice pudding is a cinch, smells yummy when cooking (takes an 1 ½ hrs.) and settles quite nicely in the tummy after the heavier holiday pies. Granted you’ll need some leftover rice, which may not be a traditional Thanksgiving fixing but rice is a cinch to cook up and the pudding is a great afternoon snack. I forgo the raisins in rice pudding. Raisins out of the box or covered with chocolate taste great but cooked? There’s something about that puffy, bloated cooked texture that I forgo with recipes calling for raisins.

Turkey Soup

My latest kitchen discovery: the best soup is made with a Dutch oven. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this handy kitchen tool, you don’t have to fly to the Netherlands to purchase one. This heavy cast-iron pot is perfect for soups. If you have that leftover turkey bone, don’t toss it in the trash. Use it to make a soup or even a stock for future recipes. The slow cooked simmering from a Dutch oven creates some of the clearest and best tasting broths. You can do it with a ham bone, leftover chicken bones; get creative. And don’t waste anything.

I’ll be back on Monday with blog posts but you may find a twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz or a photo on our fan page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 in between. Post your leftover holiday recipes or tips. Next week we’ll get back to design, gardens and all that good dirt.

We wrap up today with a W. T. Purkiser quote. “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” What better way to celebrate! To everyone, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

All Images from the Internet

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What’s in the Oven?


In case you’re doing the last-minute turkey scramble, be it a first-time host or you just need a different twist on cooking the holiday bird, Ina Garten’s (A.K.A. The Barefoot Contessa) sure-fire tasty but easy recipe is a winner. http://www.google.com/landing/thanksgiving/#turkey This is an uncomplicated way to get your veggies and turkey done all in one pan. Plus it has oodles of olive oil and a stuffing recipe on the side. You can have your guests bring the squash, green bean casserole, desserts or additional condiments.

What’s Thanksgiving without the turkey fever – a four day stint of sandwiches, soups, or pot pie? Last Thanksgiving, all we asked our guests to bring were the desserts. I recall asking for desserts – not disasters. Rule of thumb – always keep an extra something in the cupboards for any cooking catastrophe. You can always make it up with an interactive game of charades. All was forgotten about runny chocolate cream pie once the guests engaged in a challenging game of how many syllables and it begins with… It gets competitive in a big family. The store-bought Tiramisu ended up being the winner in the dessert category.

Post your fondest Thanksgiving memories or tips for how to make it through the holiday meal. To end with our inspirational quote for the day, Johnny Carson obviously attended a disastrous holiday meal. “How to thaw a frozen turkey – blow in its ear.” To be safe, go to a local turkey farm and buy it fresh. http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/holiday-page.htm
Images from the Internet

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Checklist Worth Living By


There are always a host of chores to do in the garden although at this time of year it often feels like the ‘hunkering down before the storm’ period. If you need a fall list of buttoning up chores for the garden, there should be plenty in the Annie archives. You may even find a few holiday ideas or recipes to get you in a festive mood.

My sneaking suspicion is that even for the hardiest of gardeners, the outdoor undertakings become overshadowed with holiday fury. Although last minute garden chores are a surefire way to beat any early winter doldrums, the season’s festivities undoubtedly take precedence by eminent domain.

To keep oneself on track during the hectic frenzy, lists often do the trick. A while back, I found a checklist in a daily business newsletter. I clipped it out and posted it near my computer. It’s similar to a gardener’s checklist; valid 365 days a year.

Curiosity leads to creativity.
Trust your positive instincts.
Faith is always stronger than failure.
Success without conflict is unrealistic.
Never let a problem become an excuse.
Always look at what you have left, not at what you have lost.
Don’t miss the best things in life.
You will never win if you never begin.
Fix the problem, not the blame.
Share the credit.
When the going gets tough – laugh.
Never make an irreversible decision in a down time.
Treasure time like gold.
The real focus of this season for gratitude and giving often takes a back seat. So forgo the fancy packaging and check out this list worth living by. Enjoy the remaining days in 2010. Treasure time like gold. And don't forget the pleasures of a winter landscape when you can leisurely peruse your garden checklist! Annie

Images from the Internet

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Electrifying Season

November and December are the two months when there is an extra charge of energy in the air. During the holidays, sparks can fly in different directions with frenzy and excitement. For some, it isn’t always this exhilarating, especially in these tenuous economic times.

So when you are preparing for this joyous season, remember the fitting words of William Faulkner. “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” Make time to unearth the endless opportunities to give back and be grateful. Share your talents, fortunes or lend an ear to a friend, family member or even a stranger that’s lacking some spark. This is the season to produce gratitude. And don’t forget to share and nurture what may still be growing around you. There is always room for gardening in your busy lives. Bur for now, dig for the gratitude and generate an electrifying season.

Dog Images from the Internet

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Harvest Table


Are you the one with dibs on Thanksgiving dinner this year? If so, decorating the table with a festive flair is one of the easier parts about preparing the entire feast. Lately, one of my favorite crazes has been collecting glass canisters. What makes these jars perfect for entertaining is your holiday guests have eye candy without the large Hors d'œuvre platters or messiness. Plus, putting out snacks like dried fruit and nuts guarantee there is something to nibble on without spoiling one’s appetite for the main spread.

If you want to put your guests on a diet prior to the sit-down, you can always fill the canisters with dried seed heads from your garden or create your own potpourri with lavender, sage, spearmint, wintergreen ….there are a host of things that may still be growing in the herb patch.

So don’t stress the set-up for the harvest table. Make it simple but colorful. Leave time to spend with your family or guests. Andrew Weil gives us a head-start on Thanksgiving inspiration, a favorite holiday for the foodie. “Get people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food.” Make your feast wholesome and stress-free. Remember to go local if you can ….root for the home team – our farmers.


Top image of colorful jar filled with Potpourri (From the Internet)
Below image - one of my glass jars filled with pretzel sticks. You can do something more colorful like M&M's or Candy corn (From my phone -professional photographer unavailable)

P.S. Not responsible for hands stuck in the cookie jar!
And don't forget to post your favorite table decorating ideas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Root Geranium


To expect autumn foliage only as grand as the leaves of a Sugar Maple, we often overlook what might or could be occurring on a smaller scale in our fall plant beds. There are plenty of ways to hold onto late season foliage with choices as vibrant and rich as the Maple leaves. Geranium macrorrhizum, which means ‘Big Root’ is a hardy perennial and ideal choice. Often overlooked by many, this weed smothering groundcover thrives in full sun to partial shade; perfect for many garden locations. The varieties range in color blossom from white, light or deep pink flowers.
Expect this show of color in late spring to early summer. Its foliage emits a pleasant citronella-like fragrance, offering a bit more than just a versatile groundcover. Plant one of the pinks, ‘Bevan's Variety' under trees, shrubs or edge a large plant bed.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we are that much closer to putting our gardens to bed. But as Hal Borland points out, “autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.” Make sure you add some longevity to your perennial garden with versatile selections like Geranium macrorrhizum.

Top Photo of fall foliage Geranium macrorrhizum by Greg Bilowz
Second Photo of Geranium macrorrhizum in bloom - Image from the Internet

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Pattern of Our Surroundings


Today is an assignment day. Go beyond your usual route whether by car or foot and discover some natural form that inspires you. Get enthused and motivated to put a plan in action. Sometimes when we stare at something in our own backyard for too long, we lose perspective. If you are considering anything beyond a few flowers or shrubs in your garden, this is a much needed exercise. No need to go into design theory. Your assignment is to discover some of the simple patterns in nature. These patterns can be difficult to articulate in words but become obvious to the keen observer. It is all around us. If you want to enhance your surroundings, it is essential to be this keen observer. So take this assignment seriously. Get out there today and discover what inspires you in its natural form. You’ll be surprised upon return to your own space how you may see things from a different perspective. Marcus Aurelius articulated it best. “No form of Nature is inferior to Art; for the arts merely imitate natural forms.” Hope you'll post your favorite findings.
Image from the Internet

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bloom's Best


Arthur 'Bugs' Baer once said, “A newspaper is a circulating library with high blood pressure.” So why start your Monday overloading the brain with negative news. Jump-start the engine and schedule some garden reading. If you are looking for a coffee table addition for your upcoming winter perusal, ‘Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses: Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens’ is a perfect choice. Another Timber Press hardcover, you shan’t be disappointed by this book’s lovely photographs and philosophy. The Bloom family, the Blooms of Bressingham, has been gracing us for decades with their perennial introductions and developments. My favorite Bressingham is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and of course, there is Geranium ‘Rozanne’, the workhorse for many perennial gardens and a 2008 PPA Perennial Plant of the Year.

If you are looking for one worthy gardening book for your holiday list, this is a well-rounded choice. Six chapters lay the garden process out neatly for even the novice but trust me. Your die-hard plant geek will love this one for the shelves. The spectacular imagery along with the insightful text is timeless; key factors when collecting for your garden library.

If you didn’t get out and enjoy the brilliant New England weather this weekend in the gardens, you best have a darn good excuse. There is going to be plenty of time for cozying up with a book. But when you do curl up by the fire, sneak a peek at Bloom’s latest and tell me if you agree.
Remember where you can find us. You can follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/annbilowz or our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444. Or straight from the blog. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/ Have a great Monday. Annie

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Garden Scene


Jack Handey, the American humorist said, “I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it.” There is always room for humor in the garden scene especially on Friday. So just in case you aren’t stranded like these two blokes above, you may want to check out what is happening in the local garden scene.

One option is a fantastic recession deal – free admission for a Winter Open House at Tower Hill Botanic Garden from 10am-5pm this Sunday, November 14th. http://www.towerhillbg.org/ For all you lucky buggers that have your garden chores buttoned up, pack up the family caravan for a late autumn ride to the Boylston countryside. It’s also a fail-safe in case any clouds roll through. You can sneak into my favorite spot, the Orangerie and bask in the ambiance of glass, tropical plants and classical music.

If you have a little extra time, hop on Rt. 290 to 495 and head out to Bonsai West. http://www.bonsaiwest.com/index.html Everyone loves this place. Whatever you do this weekend, put a little garden skip in your step. Before you know it, that deserted island might start looking good. Have a great weekend. Plant Ahoy.
Cartoon Image from the Internet

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Quirky Oak


It’s the tree we most know and often see standing tall above the rest in the landscape. The majestic Oak Quercus sp., is a member of the Beech family (Fagaceae). There are over a hundred species of Oak that grow in North America yet this tree tends to be quirky. The nature of its deep root system makes some Oaks difficult to transplant; hence one is hard-pressed to find many of size for sale in the nurseries. But somehow this quirky species adorns our landscape; even the plant novice knows the mighty Oak tree. The special ones often started as acorns and take generations to turn into a regal specimen.

The massive White Oak in my parents’ backyard was always strong enough to handle the tire swing that ate up a lot of my summer afternoons. It helped to have someone near by to push you off into the yonder but if there was nothing else happening, twisting around and daydreaming on the tire swing was always an option. In Michael Dirr’s ‘Hardy Tress and Shrubs’ he refers to the White Oak in simple terms. “The majesty of a mature Oak warrants pause for reflection.”

To sum up what makes Oaks extraordinary, Napoleon Hill captures it best. “The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” Today’s message: plant an Oak for the next generation.
To my Dad, who I still honor on this Veterans Day for his service to our country. You were the strongest Oak in my life and your little acorn is still a nut!
Images from the Internet

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beyond the Frying Pan


Looking for some late season vegetables and herbs to add more than just splash to the dinner plate? Swiss chard, Kale, Brussel sprouts, Arugula, Radicchio, Sage, Thyme and Parsley give color and texture late into the season plus offer plenty of culinary options. Since July, our Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ (photo above) has been kicking out bold spikes of color. A great green for sautés, Swiss chard is a bit milder than spinach, which also does well late into the season. A note to the kitchen cook - the flavors intensify with these veggies during the cooler weather.

Beyond the frying pan, let's fast forward to design. Looking for ideas on how to lay out a beautiful and tasty culinary garden? Here is an example of a late October garden patch in northern England. This display shows how you can arrange the plants with a bit of formality.

Think beyond the standard vegetable rows and get a bit more geometrical or organic with free-flowing drifts. There is no standard rule, no right or wrong. If you are limited for space, you can always try your luck with containers. Don’t run out of steam because your tomatoes are done for the season. Keep this group of plants in mind as you compile your seed order for next year’s garden. As Orison Swett Marden says, “It is like the seed put in the soil - the more one sows, the greater the harvest.”

Photos by Greg Bilowz

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blooming Tuesday


After a bit of rain and a coating of white, you still may find the occasional rose or the Witch-hazel (Hamamelis sp.)blooming in the gardens. If you can’t discover much happening because all the perennial borders have been cut down and your mind has packed it in already for hibernation, this is a great time to pick up the last minute deals for deciduous plants at the nurseries. It is beyond the Evergreen planting season but you are still within sneaking in some deciduous trees and shrubs. It is also a good time to transplant and divide a number of shrubs like Spireas, Lilacs and Hydrangeas. Here is a helpful fall digging hazard tree list from Nursery Services’ November newsletter to keep on file.

Below is a list of Fall Dig Hazard Trees:
Acer rubrum and cultivars - Red Maple
Betula species - Birch
Carpinus species - Hornbeam
Cercidiphyllum species - Katsura
Cercis species - Redbud
Cornus florida and cultivars - Flowing Dogwood
Crategus species - Howthorn
Fagus species - Beech
Gleditsia species - Honeylocust
Halesia species - Silverbell
Koelreuteria paniculata - Goldenraintree
Liquidambar species - Sweetgum
Liriodenron species - Tuliptree
Magnolia species - Magnolia
Nyssa sylvatica - Blackgum
Platanus species - Sycamore
Prunus species - Cherry, Plum
Pyrus species - Pear
Quercus species - Oak
Salix species - Willow
Tilia species - Linden
Ulmus species - Elm
Zelkova species - Zelkova

Take a current inventory of some of your gaps to fill and shop around for the end of season close out deals. And remember the tips on how to spot a healthy plant. Check back on this October link for some helpful hints. http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2010/10/yard-gig.html Good structure is often overlooked when shopping for a sound tree or shrub. With little or no foliage, it is easier to evaluate the plant stock. Check out the beauty of this Laceleaf Japanese Maple. It speaks for itself.

We end with a Winston Churchill quote to wrap up this blooming Tuesday. “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.” Gardeners beware. It’s not all about practice. It’s getting out there, no matter the time of year and having fun just playing in the dirt. Don't forget to plant your bulbs.

Images from the Internet

Monday, November 8, 2010

To Do Before Snow Flies


There is only one word for today’s weather – it’s yuck with a capital Y! But heck - we gained an extra hour over the weekend. That 60 minutes doesn’t do much for the psyche come mid-afternoon when the darkness creeps in a bit sooner but I’ll take those extra ZZZ’s after last night’s sleet and howling winds.

Sipping that perked cup of Hawaiian coffee this morning, it’s a haunting realization that a gazillion chores remain on the ‘to-do before snow flies’ list. The bright side of this Monday morning is that most of the leaves are chopped and mulched into the vegetable garden. The remainder of the leaf pile now waits for a few bucketfuls of manure for winter ripening. There is still brush to clean up, pruning to be done, beds to cut down but the garlic is planted.

That’s the clincher about lists. One item down with ten more and counting; it is an add/delete/resubmit kind of thing happening with garden chores. A perpetual list of to-do’s in motion. So there is no better way to think about the upcoming week then to capture a few moments in Kodak with an unknown author’s quote that poignantly captures today’s forecast. “Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” It depends which window you are looking through.

All photos by Greg Bilowz
Don't forget to post your comments, questions and thoughts! I just eyed a recipe for Herbed Ricotta Bruschetta in this month's Costco Magazine. This is a good week for Annie's test kitchen so I'll keep you posted if it passes muster.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Repeating the Basics


If you are one of our Facebook or Twitter followers, you may have seen the American Nurseryman notice I posted yesterday regarding a pest that has hit 13 U.S. states. Here is a fascinating link that I encourage everyone to read about Duponchelia fovealis. http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/pestalert/NPAG_duponchelia_report.pdf I became so caught up in this today that I am going to do a repeat post from last November. It’s a favorite family recipe for a cool fall dinner http://blog.bilowzassociates.com/2009/11/spearmint-secret-ingredient.html and a great way to use any straggling tomatoes.

In the meantime, remember the importance of cleanliness in your garden. I have a sneaking suspicion that the spread of this recent pest, Duponchelia fovealis may be due to shortcuts in cultural practices. We should never cut corners when it comes to horticultural hygiene in our gardens, our greenhouses and especially with our house plants. Although this particular pest may never naturalize in the Northeast due to our cold winters, we still must be cognizant of the ability to harbor this pest with the right conditions. The quote to end this Friday is by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean."


Photos by Greg Bilowz at Green Point Nurseries in Hilo, HI a top-notch anthurium grower.
If you want to follow us on Twitter or become a Facebook fan, it's easy. http://twitter.com/annbilowz or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilowz-Associates-Inc-Our-Blog-Annies-Gardening-Corner/325316334444 where I often post extras! Have a great weekend. Annie

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Garden Chatter


If you are getting static reception for today’s garden chatter, you may have your station tuned to Thanksgiving recipes already. Reed, get your hands off that dial. Before we start talking turkey, which is coming all too soon, you can’t forget about the November garden chores. Here are a few to keep in mind while preparing for the football games and upcoming feast.

1) Make sure the plant beds are clean. This includes cutting this past season’s growth on your perennials. We often leave some flower and seed heads like the Autumn Joy Sedum and the ornamental grasses for decorative winter interest. Otherwise, everything else gets the winter haircut – short, back and sides.
2) Stockpile your winter mulch. If you ran out of mulch, you may want to get another delivery from your local nursery before they wrap it up for the season. If you can’t get a bulk delivery, you can always purchase the bagged mulch. Note: cover the mulch to keep it dry. You do not want the mulch to get wet and freeze as it makes it unusable for chore 3 & 4 (See below).
3) As soon as the ground freezes, you want to mound certain rose varieties like tea and multi-flora. There are a lot of good tips on mounding roses. This UVM link is an easy read http://www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/fallroses.html and this below internet photo shows a simple mounding illustration.


4) Any bulbs, peonies and recently planted perennials should also get a layer of protective mulch for the winter. Again, wait until the ground freezes so you don’t create little hotels for the critters.
5) This is also a good time to clean up all your garden tools and start winterizing your equipment. Run all your lawn and garden power tools until the tanks are empty or condition the remaining fuel with fuel conditioner. Your local power tool dealer is your best resource for tips and recommendations for winterizing your handy garden gadgets. Hold off on the leaf blower. The last few days of November are a good time to give the last hoorah to the fallen leaves.

Inundated with the list? It’s not as cumbersome as it may sound and your reward at the end of November is my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving. For all my Massachusetts’ readers, here is a quick link for fresh turkey farms and winter farmers markets. And remember to root for your local All-Stars – the farmers! http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/holiday-page.htm

The inspirational quote for the day is by B. Cybrill. “When the bold branches bid farewell to rainbow leaves – welcome wool sweaters.” Get out your old wooly jumper. It’s the final stretch for garden chores. Word of caution: a true gardener always has a list!

Top photo of Ben, the infamous Border Collie taken by Greg Bilowz
P.S. The neighborhood skunk visited late yesterday but Ben gets it now. This ain't no cat to chase!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Garden Break

My favorite cartoon character, Calvin and Hobbes said, “There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” I'm scheduling a day or two of rest in the forecast. And as John De Paola points out, “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”

Be back on Thursday.

Images by Greg Bilowz

Monday, November 1, 2010

Diving Into November


It’s the first day of November and a Monday no less. So where do you stand on the garden chores? Even if you attempted leaf blowing already, this month is the best time to clean up all the fallen leaves; yours and your neighbors. By now most of the foliage has dropped, although there are still a few stragglers hanging on and the weather is typically cooler for the hard labor involved in this task.

There are a few good reasons to clean up those big piles of leaf debris rather than to let them sit for the winter. One of the biggest reasons is that leaf debris makes great compost for the garden. Replenishing your organic matter in your soil should be done on a yearly basis. A repeated message but one always worth recapping: don’t use grass clippings from your lawn if you use chemicals. Here are a few quick tips to make leaves part of your decomposition process.

Chop up leaves in a chipper grinder.
If you want to accelerate the process, add lime (especially if you use lots of acidic Oak leaves or pine needles). This helps adjust the pH. Compliment this mixture with ripe manure. Great compost with high fertility has a balance of carbon, (leaves and grass clippings) and nitrogen (manure).
Cover the pile with an old tarp to keep in the heat and moisture.
If you set up your bin or compost area correctly and cover it, the compost does not need to be turned as often
Composting is a fascinating subject for gardeners. Finding a good recipe for proportion and techniques are always recommended. Small versus large piles have different requirements so do your homework.

Clean your plant beds. Unwanted leaves should be removed to prevent over-wintering diseases. Damaging rodents often find warm shelter under the leaf debris so you need to discourage that habit. Remember, if you are going to mulch your beds for the winter months, wait until the ground is frozen. Otherwise, these pesky rodents realize there is a Holiday Inn under the fresh blanket of mulch.

For your lawn, you need to remove the bulk of leaves so grass crowns do not rot. A wet layer of decomposing leaves left to overwinter stifles your lush spring carpet of lawn. If you want to make it easy, mow the lawn short (2 to 2 1/2” for its last haircut) to keep any remaining leaves off the blades of grass and above all, do your leave cleanup during dry conditions. A couple of good rains and you find yourself blowing clumps of taffy off the lawn; not a good use of time.

A Russian proverb sums up leaves. “The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living” Make your garden healthy next spring by creating your own private reserve of homemade compost.
Image from the Internet

About Me

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Check in for your daily share's worth of garden inspiration, landscape architecture and design tips; always original, not cookie cutter and copied. Just like our design work, we strive for unique! We invite you to contact Bilowz Associates, Inc., or to browse our portfolios. Like our Facebook follow on Twitter or subscribe to the blog to receive posts daily via email or a feed. You can follow with visuals on Pinterest and find us on LinkedIn and Houzz, too.  You can also find us back on our Google+ Business Page. (Landscape architects/Landscape Design/serving Massachusetts and New England.) Visit our landscape architectural design firm's website where creating design with balance and harmony is our story. http://www.bilowzassociates.com/

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© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)