Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Beloved Lilacs

A few words on the beloved LILAC....  
Ever since Lilacs came to America they have been a long standing favorite for nature lovers. The "old fashioned" species' that are so familiar to us are the Syringa Vulgaris hybrids.

 Lilacs need a sunny, well drained spot. They do not like their feet wet! If your soil is on the acidic side, you may want to look into amending it with lime, or fertilizing lilacs with bone meal. Bone meal is high in phosphorous and encourages big, showy blooms. Avoid feeding lilacs with fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content, as this will depleat blooms. The general application rate for bone meal is about 1/2 cup to every 1/2 inch of trunk diameter. Repeat application annually in early spring. Whatever you do, don't prune your lilacs in late summer or fall! It is best to prune as soon as the spring blooms fade, because the following years' blooms begin to form as soon as this years have passed. It is reccommended to prune only a third of the plant at a time, so as not to shock it. We grow twenty different varieties of Lilacs here at the nursery and it is quite a spectacle when they're all in full bloom!

Natives vs Aliens

There are countless benefits to growing native plant species in your garden. Not only do they provide wildlife with an oasis from which they’re supplied with the food and shelter they need to thrive, but they are more cost and time effective and promote a healthy balance in the realm of biodiversity. “Native species” are generally described as such if they lived here prior to European settlement. Today, approximately 25% of flowering plants in North America are non-natives. We do think of many alien species as favorable, as they supply us with food and provide all kinds of resources to society. It’s only when a species is “out of place” that there is cause for concern. Invasive alien plants pose a threat to our rich biodiversity.

A natural lack of competitors can allow alien plants to displace native plants, therefore creating imbalance in the ecosystem as a whole. Native plants on the other hand, will maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion and require much less fertilizer and chemicals to thrive than do their alien counterparts.

Designing with natives allows for the manifestation of distinctive natural landscapes like woodlands, meadows and wetlands with character unique to your region. They attract a greater variety of pollinators and support your particular plant and animal kingdoms in a healthy and structurally sound way that does not disrupt the “web” of life. When you plant native species, EVERYONE WINS!!

Another important aspect of the “native spiel” is to buy local. When you buy your material locally, there is no danger of giving foreign pests and diseases a free ride into your community. When plants are grown locally, they tend to be stronger, healthier and more suited to thrive in your climate. Insects that decimate our fragile biodiversity are typically transported here by humans! There are SO many more reasons to buy local, we can’t even get into them all…  Here at the nursery, we offer natives galore! Come see our enormous selection and do your part for biodiversity!!!

What is Organic Gardening? - The Basics for Gardening Organically

What does it mean to have an organic garden?

Does organic gardening mean you have to put up with insects eating your plants or unattractive flower beds?

Answer: The short answer is that organic gardening means not using synthetic products, including pesticides and fertilizers.

Ideally, organic gardening replenishes the resources as it makes use of them.

Like feeding depleted soil with composted plants, or planting legumes to add nitrogen to an area that had been planted with heavy feeder.

The bigger picture involves working in cooperation with nature, viewing your garden as a small part of all the natural system.

Here are some basics to get you started with organic gardening: One of the basic tenant of organic gardening is to "Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants". It's really common sense. Plants get water, air and nutrients from the soil. Clay soil is higher in nutrients than sand and hold water better. Sometimes it holds water too well and the plants can't get enough air. Sandy soil is well drained, but can use some amending to make it great garden soil. This is where organic matter comes into play. Adding organic matter improves any soil's texture as well as attracting soil organisms that create nutrients in the soil.
Growing fields in Jay

How Do You Know if You Have Bad Soil?

The only definitive way to know for sure is to have it tested. Your Cooperative Extension probably provides this service for a nominal fee.

A quick guesstimate of your soils health can be made by looking at your plants health. If they are thriving, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

If your plants are languishing, yellowing or otherwise looking sickly or you feel like you are forever feeding them, it would be worth testing your soil.