Wednesday, September 7, 2011

From a Feline's Point of View

My first blog post! I was so excited earlier, I spazzed out and ran around the office looking all insane and fluffy! The humans love that, so I figured I'd give them a thrill, too.

So, things have been crazy around here lately! Phones are ringing. Office humans are beginning to walk around more. The humans in the warehouse are moving big black crates out of trucks. Others are taking the bags out of the crates, putting them in boxes and then either a brown truck or a white truck takes it away. Seems odd for humans to be excited about taking something in and then letting it go out the door again. But who am I to judge?

View from the window sill of Zephyranthes candida, after the rain.
I just jumped up on the window sill and took a look outside. It rained earlier. Puddles are everywhere. But the Zephyranthes candida looks great! Its blooms are sparked open by the ozone after a falling rain in the late Summer/early Fall. Huh? What? You're surprised by my knowledge? Give me a little credit! Don't forget, I lie around this office all day listening to what humans are saying. I know a lot more than you'd think. In fact you can email me your questions if you want. Yes, I know...a cat has an email? Oooo, wow, like humans are the only ones who use a computer. What do you think I do around here after everyone leaves at night? Lick my paws and look cute? No, I'm scoping out the latest feline finds on the Doctor's Foster & Smith's website and playing Angry Birds! Ha ha ha meow...Love that game! Anyway, email me your questions at

 (Yaaawn...stretch) Well....I hear my litterbox calling. Check back again soon. I think I'll sneak outside next time when no one is looking and see what's crawling around in the garden!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bulbs on a Budget

With the recent announcement that unemployment rates will hover around 9% through 2012, along with the ever growing concern over the long term economic standing of our country, frustrations can run high. So to help ride out these unsure times, people begin to look for deals. They do research to find the best quality for the best price. Gardening is still one of the most cost effective ways to beautify your home, ease stress, feed yourself and more. So, when it comes to bulbs, should you shop for price? Or should you shop for quality? The answer is "both".

Spring & Fall Flowering Bulbs
Quality of the product and company you get said product from can be determined in two ways: your opinion and the opinion of others. Do your research online with reputable gardening social sites such as Dave's Garden or See what other people are saying, see what they are getting, how it arrives, how it looks when it arrives, when they planted, how it performed, etc. Find companies who are of interest to you, then look them up by name online. There may be blogs such as Garden Rant or Dirt that are talking up certain companies or talking down others. Then the rest is up to you. Trial and error. Choose a company and place an order. Once you've chosen a company that, hypothetically speaking of course, has a LONG history of being dependable and offering the highest quality product through it's now 4th generation of service (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), you may also want to order some similar things from other companies so you can compare. Compare websites. Compare customer service. but most importantly, compare size and quality when it arrives. Then plant them. But what are you really planting?

Did you order varieties that are more perennial? Are they hardy for your zone? Do they need full sun and you have full shade? Do they like good drainage or wet feet? Is your soil sandy and loamy or hard clay with rocks? Are all of these questions making your head spin? Try a product search engine to determine your needs such as...(ahem)...this one! The BulbFinder allows you to select from a number of conditions that will help narrow down your choices for you. Do you live in Zone 7B in full sun with average soil and love the color red? Done. Do you live in Zone 3A in full shade with dry soil and love plants that were introduced in Europe between 1651 and 1700 that bloom in the mid-spring with the color red in it that are fragrant, pest resistant and considered a Brent and Becky's Favorite (the best of the best)? Done...but good luck finding results that specific. But you get the point! So, why is it so important to use this tool?

Mass Fall planting on the farm and home of Brent and Becky
Easy...we're busy. All of us. This will narrow down potentially thousands of choices to a more manageable size. But it also forces you to be aware of conditions. The title of this blog is "Bulbs on a Budget" and to get the most bang for your buck and not waste what money you may have left, consider those things that are hardy in your zone, love the lighting/soil/moisture conditions that you have and are the best performers. Annuals are nice, but in these questionable economic times, you want to have something perennialize year after year with little effort and money.

For more information on how to maintain your bulbs before AND after they are planted, download this Cultural Instructions booklet for Spring Bulbs and Summer Bulbs. Plus follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more information and ways for you to ask us for some help.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Through the Eyes of a 3 Year Old Gardener

It occurred to me the other day, that I hadn't posted anything here in a while. I began to think of a topic that would be of interest to people who garden, or more precisely, to people who garden with bulbs. I mean, we are in the understated, lesser known phase that I call "the bridge"...when Spring is gone and Summer is coming. Color is not quite as obvious as Spring and the aura of Summer has yet to fall upon us. For some it's the time where they start mowing the lawn more frequently. Others are prepping and planting bulbs for Summer bloom. But I was still stuck with what to write about. Then yesterday, something was presented to me which lit me on fire (which rarely happens) and it took me a good portion of the night to remove the emotion of it all and ponder what I may be observing. And, at the time, it had nothing to do with gardening. And now, after a night's sleep, it still doesn't. Or does it? So, exuse me while I ponder more...

 Do you know those people who rant? Ranters! They are people who just have to express their opinions on a certain topic whether you want to hear it or not. There are ranters who sometimes have a little something to say, but then there are "those" who have little to say other than their rant!

As an example, let's say hypothetically (more or less...and in this case, less), you decide one afternoon to partake of the food, service and fellowship with your wife and child at a local restaurant later that evening, and then you decide to make a nice, quiet mention of the fact on a certain social networking website. Your intention was to share the joy you foresee occurring when your child's eyes light up after hearing that he is going to eat there. Then someone takes a stab at the restaurant for something they feel isn't fair. Then someone defends the restaurant and the owner. Then it elevates to a political discussion that is FAR removed from the original intent of the message.

Another example, you are at a party and you know "that" person who, if given the chance to corner you, will do so and divulge all of what should and shouldn't be done with this company, that country, this neighbor or that President. They won't do anything about it, like run for public office or join the home owners association. Nope, they are content on sharing their opinions to anyone that is forced to listen to them.

You have the point now. So, why do they feel the need to take shots, be outspoken, turn an otherwise sweet comment and make it into something argumentative? I thought about this and then looked at my son. Here is a boy who loves people, who loves being outside, digging for worms, planting seeds, picking and eating vegetables, picking daffodils (and correctly, I might add), fishing, finding bugs in the grass and more. So much more! He's a boy that also doesn't see race. He doesn't see liberal, conservative or independent. He doesn't see financial status. He doesn't see gay or straight. He sees the love of the world that was instilled into us before birth. He sees a family that loves him. He sees friends that love the family and he sees strangers who smile and wave at him. He sees the beauty of the earth and that it is his HUGE, personal playground.

So, where did those eyes go for us? We use to have them. Do they just fade overtime like our real eyes? Or is it that we get too wrapped up in the agendas around us that we just forget. Do we get too wrapped up in the agendas that, to some, it just becomes their world? A mockingbird mimics the songs that it hears, but what if it only hears crow? Then it never enjoys the song of the dove.

Take a moment and reflect on how you see things and how you express your feelings about it. And, more importantly, watch how and when you choose to speak out. Step back and take notice as to what song you are singing. It's perfectly acceptable to be the mockingbird, as long as you know how to change your song depending on the audience. Or, watch your child, your grandchild, or remember (if you can) what it was like to see the world through the eyes of a 3 year old gardener.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hairstyles of the Fresh and Fragrant

Braiding. Cutting. Trim. Shave. Sure, sounds like a crash course at Supercuts. But this isn't about the latest styles of your coiffure. It's all about the foliage of your Spring bulbs. Or ANY bulb for that matter!

A certain "do-it-yourselfer" who shall remain nameless (only because we love Martha), use to teach and demonstrate on national TV how to braid your foliage. It was stylish, it was très chic, and for that reason people felt that they HAD to do the latest and greatest thing. When in fact, it's the second worst thing you can do to your foliage behind mowing it down too early. So, what do you do? Well, the answer to that can be found in a quick trip, back in time, to your middle school earth science class. Let's go, shall we? (Whooosh...)

Wow! So this is your old middle school, huh? Nice. It smells of canned vegetable medley and old sweat socks. And is this your earth science teacher? Holy beehive, Batman, how much hairspray did she use to get all of that hair to stay up that high? Apparently, she hasn't heard about the ozone layer yet. Ah, but it seems she does know about plant health and how they take care of themselves through photosynthesis. You remember, the synthesis of organic compounds from carbon dioxide and water, with the release of oxygen, using light energy absorbed by chlorophyll. See! After all these years, you thought you'd forgotten all of that stuff. On the way back we'll stop by 'Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader' and fill out an application for you. layman's terms, the plants photosynthesize to create food energy and this energy can be stored into the bulb for next years blooms. Uh, oh...speaking of "next year", we better get back. I think that's the principal and he's eyeballing us with that paddle in his hand. (Whoooosh....)

Ok, let's review what we've learned. By leaving the foliage alone, it allows the plant to do what it should do naturally. Don't braid or tie it, because that just decreases the amount of surface space that can absorb the sun's rays and help with photosynthesis. Don't bother with it at all. Let it do it's thing and let it feed itself. Yes, put away the sippy cups and wide handled forks, this plant is a big boy now and can feed itself! Without you! I know, it hurts to think that this plant doesn't need you, but I'll give your ego a boost in the next paragraph. When it starts turning yellow, the photosynthesizing is complete and then you can feed that odd desire to brutally mow it down. Or better yet, for Spring bulb foliage, plant Daylilies with them and the Daylily foliage will come up and hide the dying foliage.

 Ok, here's your ego boost. The bulb does need you! ("They like me, they REALLY like me!") Yep, every Fall your bulbs need to be fed to restore the nutrients they depleted in the Spring. A simple compost on top will work just fine or whatever you want to use. But, here's what that does. Because you let the bulb be a big bulb and feed itself last Spring without interference, it already has some stored energy in the bulb. Then, by feeding it in the Fall during its root production period, you've added even more energy. You've given it everything it needs to explode in the Spring, full of strength, confidence, and vigor, ready to be an even bigger bulb! Hey, who knows, maybe it might ask to borrow the car next year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deadhead - Not Just Band Groupies Anymore

Although "Deadheads", or Grateful Dead groupies, are still around, this post has NOTHING what-so-ever to do with them following the band around the country! It DOES, however, have everything to do with keeping your garden clean, beautiful and healthy.

Deadheading involves the removal of the expired bloom of a plant. And it's one of the easiest most enjoyable parts of gardening! Now, you may think to yourself, "Why would taking off a dead bloom, ala Marie Antoinette, be enjoyable?" Well, think about it. Most blooms are within reach without kneeling, so it's easy on the body, young or old. It keeps the garden looking tidy and makes your garden visually more appealing. And it only takes a few minutes of your day, so not a lot of time needs to be spent doing it. In fact, make it a habit to grab a friend or loved one, pour a glass of wine or two (two meaning one for you, one for them, not "two-fisting" it!) and take a stroll to enjoy your garden. While you walk and admire the beauty, the sweetly fresh scents, and the joy of being outdoors, just reach down and..."pop" with their heads! Doing this every day or every other day not only gives you a great way to wrap up your day, but takes care of the deadheading situation with little to no effort. But, there's another reason to do this that is beneficial to the plant.

Most bulb plants like Daffodils and Tulips have heavy pollen. It is not blow by the typical breeze. They have no nectar so, usually, bees don't root around in there and pollinate it. But, if by chance one IS pollinated, removing the dead bloom keeps the bulb from creating seed. And the energy that would have been wasted creating the seed is now stored in the bulb and saved for next year's blooms. Along with letting the foliage continue to photosynthesize until it dies back (another story for another day) and feeding the bulbs every Fall (like you ALWAYS do, right?), this will give the bulb the highest concentration of stored energy that it needs to show off for you again and again! Speaking of again and again...

Some plants, like Dahlias, will actually bloom over and over within the same growing season if they are deadheaded regularly. By deadheading them, the plant believes that it has not "done its thing", and will put out another bloom. Keep deadheading it, and subsequently confusing the hell out of the plant, and it will keep on keepin' on!

Deadheading. Easy. Fun. Enjoyable. Beneficial.