Amaryllis, a Magnificent Bulb for Indoors

An outstanding bulb that makes your heart sing when in bloom. Expensive, it all depends, buy a small bulb, and get a smaller bloom, pretty. However, get a big bulb, and it repays us with huge, breathtaking blooms that are so beautiful even a photograph cannot capture their true beauty.

 Two years ago I purchased two large size bulbs and planted them into pots because they freeze.The blooms were simply elegant. One is white with a greenish yellow throat, the other is white with red stripes, or is it red with white stripes, who knows.

Planted into pots with drainage holes, a coffee filter in the very bottom then filled half way up the pot with rich composty soil. The bulbs were seated on the soil and the pots were filled. This left the bulbs about ¼ out of the soil. Pots were located indoors in a bright window. What a sight when they bloomed about two months later.

 After blooms faded, stalks were removed and the pots were moved outdoors in part shade for summer. Pots were brought inside on the first of October and allowed to dry out and the foliage to die down. They were moved into the garage, still in their pots, to rest until February. Then they were brought into the light, watered well, given a dose of liquid fertilizer, and left alone until a tiny spot of green appeared on top of the bulb.

Watering began once a week and the bulbs put up tall, fat, green blades of leaves. They grew and grew, taller and taller. I thought they lacked light so they were moved into brighter light.

Now leaves and blooms are about three feet tall, with magnificent blooms about the size of sandwich plates to astound onlookers. Buds are still appearing on the tall stalks, perhaps four more on each stalk.

Anyone can grow an amaryllis bulb. Simply check your catalogs and order one or two. They come in many colors, white, red and white, pink and cream, and on through about ten shades and colors. All are wonderful, easy care and few bugs bother them.

It is possible to order for fall delivery, then plant them immediately into pots and set them in the light. Amaryllis may bloom in December or later until April, depending on the time planted.

When they finish blooming, remove the bloom stalks, and set bulb pots outside in part shade for the summer. The bulbs will continue to grow during summer. Bring them indoors October 1, store in a cool, dark place, and let them rest until brought into the light, in December or January. What a treat. Try amaryllis and you will enjoy this delightful bulb.

An Egg Tree – Its Not Just for Easter Anymore

An Egg Tree - Ohoto by Jeanne Cope

An Egg Tree – Ohoto by Jeanne Cope

Nothing could be more attractive than an Easter egg Tree, anytime of year. Easy, fun to create, and delightful to display. Anyone can create this lovely tree in a few hours covering parts of two days. Eggs can tell a story

Step One: Make a dozen blown eggs: Purchase a carton of large eggs, preferably mixed colors of shells, or buy brown eggs. Keep eggs at room temperature, do not cook the eggs.

 Holding an egg fat end up, draw a little circle with a marking pen, about the size of a small dime. Turn the egg around and draw a smaller circle on the small end of the eggshell. Now shake the egg, shake, shake, shake! Shaking scrambles the raw egg inside the shell.

 Holding the egg small end up, use a darning needle and gently peck out the small hole. This hole is for blowing the egg out of the shell.

 Place a small bowl on the table. Turn the egg fat end up, and gently peck out the large hole. This is the exit hole for the scrambled egg.

 Step 2: Small hole at your mouth, gently blow the egg out the large hole into the bowl. Place the blown shell, fat end down, on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the other eggs until all are blown. Using tap water, gently fill and drain eggs until clear water comes out. Dry the rinsed, blown shells large hole down, over night.

 Step 3: Collect a small supply of lace, fabric trimmings, colored paper, small pieces of yarn, ribbon, string, feathers, dried flowers, or other findings to decorate each shell.

See photo ideas for various ethnic groups; Indian girl, Geisha lady, Dutch boy, Arab, Southern Lady, School Girl, Mohawk haircut, Florence Nightingale, peasant with headscarf, Dutch girl, various eggs with hats, and haircuts.

 With imagination and white glue, decorate the dry shells one at a time. Finally, use narrow grosgrain ribbon doubled as 4” loops to attach the finished eggs to the tree. Costumes should cover the blowing holes.

I omitted faces, so people can imagine themselves in costumes. Dry all eggs overnight.

Step 4: For the tree, easy is the key. Cut sturdy branches from forsythia or other early blooming plants just before buds open. Place immediately in water.

Choose a container for the tree, such as a basket. Soak a wetable foam block overnight. Then insert the block into a large plastic bag to keep table surfaces dry. Insert branches into the wet foam in the container to create a tree.

 Finally, decorate the tree by using clothespins or little ribbons to attach egg characters to the branches. Pile Easter grass around the trunk of the tree. Place little rabbits or chicken ornaments on the grass.

I made the eggs in the photo about 30 years ago, and they have been used ever since. Pack in tissue and store in a sturdy box to use again next year.

April: Gardening by the Month

APRIL

  • Plant onions and carrots if not already done
  • Plan to attend seminars, keep your knowledge current with the times
  • Grow your own potatoes, check the types of potatoes available, so easy, so good. Organic are best
  • Iris bloom soon, a little late this year. Deadhead when the stalk is completely finished blooming
  • Do not compost iris leaves and stems – cut off and remove from the property to prevent spread of fungus and other problems.
  • Continue to plant cole crops as in March
  • Finish spring pruning of shrubs and trees
  • Add fertilizer or rotted compost around trees and shrubs
  • Renew mulch around all flower beds and trees
  • If using Preen on vegetables, be sure it is made for vegetables
  • Sprinkling Preen on top of mulch helps deter weeds seeds from sprouting
  • Take care to keep paths clear of debris, neat is the key
  • As soon as peonies begin to sprout from the ground, add supports to keep them from flopping
  • Huge numbers of folks are planting organic vegetable and herb seeds to have food safe from GMO’s
  • Use a large pot to grow vegetables and herbs on the deck or at the kitchen door. Safe, healthy produce, not processed or tampered with by huge companies.
  • In every vegetable garden, plant some flowers, diversify
  • In every flower garden, plant some vegetables, diversify
  • Shopping Farmer’s Markets, find one who specializes in non-GMO fresh produce. Keep your family healthy

The Joy of Fresh Strawberries in March, Mmm Good

David Crockett High School Student Zach Young displays Strawberries - Photo by Jeanne Cope

David Crockett High School Student Zach Young displays Strawberries – Photo by Jeanne Cope

This is a case ofI heard it on the grapevine,” he told she and she told others, and then someone sent a delightful email. I sent an email to order strawberries from Florida. Happily, my order made the list.  

Students in the Agriculture Classes at David Crockett High School taught by Mr. Ryan Arnett were taking orders, planning, and coordinating all preparations to receive strawberries. The strawberries, just picked the day before in Plant City Florida, were loaded onto an 18-wheel, refrigerated truck. Continue reading

Witch Hazel, Hamamelis spp.

Witch Hazel - Photo by Jeanne Cope

Witch Hazel – Photo by Jeanne Cope

Beginning in February and continuing into late March spring blooming varieties of Hamamelis spp., witch hazel, begin to bloom in the wild and in landscaped areas. The photo of the yellow variety with red centers was taken on the campus of ETSU. It is one of a grouping of three different plants, each blooming in a different color and at slightly different times. Autumn leaves are bright and colorful. Continue reading

How to Plant Asparagus

2014_0305201401AsparagusPlant0002.s   Can you name an elegant vegetable harvested in early spring; color fresh green; rich in vitamins and iron, crunchy, tender and delicious to munch? You are right; it is asparagus. Fresh picked from the garden!

 If you already grow a patch of hardy, perennial asparagus, consider adding a new variety, or start a bed from scratch. Continue reading

Build a Birdhouse on a Quiet Day

Imaginative Birdhouses - Photo by Jeanne Cope

Imaginative Birdhouses – Photo by Jeanne Cope

Sometimes the weather, with dark, cold, damp, or snowy days just gets us down in the dumps. One person thought up the design for a birdhouse pictured, and another thought up the second. Imagine what you can do on a day that might brighten the heart of a bird.

 A bird will nest in any shape of birdhouse even if it is fantasy at its best. The only deciding criteria for birds are the sizes of the holes where they enter and leave. Most builders leave the perch off due to predators entering and destroying babies in the nest. Continue reading

March: Gardening by the Month

March

  • Prepare raised beds, topping them off up to the top board with additional compost
  • It is fine to bury raw trimmings from the kitchen into the beds to rot-8 inches deep
  • Buy some red wiggler worms or night crawlers at sporting goods stores, dig a shallow trench and set them into the garden. They work as little plows to loosen soil
  • Purchase worm castings, (compost), and mix with soil in raised beds
  • Soil in raised beds should come up to the top of the frame
  •  Locate a source of rotted horse manure to fill compost bins
  • As blooms fade from spring bulbs, cut off spent blooms. Allow the leaves to die down, do not cut them off, bulbs need the leaves to make new blooms for next year
  • Iris of many varieties begin to bloom, mark clumps that are not blooming, these  need to be divided in July and August.see how to divide iris on this website
  • Plant cole crops, collards, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, spinach, and all hardy greens
  • We may have snow again this month, keep the row cover close by to at night
  • Read the seed packets of tender plants, start seed indoors to have about 45 days to grow from seedlings into planting size to set out about May 15
  • Plan to have crops coming in, being eaten, and replanted year around
  • This will save 5% off the top of the food budget
  • Plant a pot of vegetable soup, use vegetables you like in soup grow in a large pot
  • Try a few kohlrabi plants, root grows on top of the ground. Pick when the size of a small orange, wash, peel, and chop into a salad. Delicious and crunchy
  • Prepare pots for flowers, being sure to add a vegetable to the pot – lovely

So Long Mize Farm and Garden, and Hello Again

Mize Farm and Garden Store, Johnson City, TN Photo by Jeanne Cope

Mize Farm and Garden Store, Johnson City, TN
Photo by Jeanne Cope

 About 20 years ago, we moved to Jonesborough from Tallahassee. One of the first things was to locate a Farm and Garden Store.The name Mize Farm and Garden was suggested with directions to the store. Mize was wonderful, all sorts of things we loved, hay, Continue reading

Cabin Fever-the Last Carrot-Bird Brain

 

LuckyDuck's last carrot in the snow

LuckyDuck’s last carrot in the snow

The first symptom of cabin fever is longing to be outdoors in the sunshine, walking the garden and planning where to plant various seed and cool season plants. This sensation is closely followed by the idea of a little trimming to a few bushes, but that is not possible when cold, snow, wind, and rain take over the landscape. Continue reading