Archive | July 2013

Containerscaping


Reprinted with Permission of the National Garden Board:

 

“Containerscaping”

My computer keeps underlining this word saying it doesn’t exist in the online dictionary so I guess it’s fair game for us to define the term. From observations and conversations, a few NGB members have noticed that this seems to be the next step after container gardening. For years, we have been doing all or some of our gardening in containers and now the goal is to have those containers look cohesive and well-organized.

When we tried doing a quick internet search, Google asked if we meant “Container Spacing” and that’s certainly not the case but could be a small element.

We found a few garden centers who offer containerscaping services and they define it as container design and installation service for potted plants. That’s a pretty good definition for a business that offers the service.

Very likely, containerscaping is the next level beyond basic container gardening so we thought we’d share some observations for good containerscaping in your garden. And by the way, by garden, we mean, your balcony, your deck, your patio, your suburban yard or your 2 acre farmstead…all can be included!

Pinterest (of course we have to refer to Pinterest, our favorite social media site) has numerous boards and pins citing containerscaping. Some are more container design but there are some really good pins that reflect our interpretation of the concept so explore that social media tool for inspiration.

After a bit of research and collaboration, we’ve come up with a few tips on the subject:
1)      Use containers of the same color, shape or texture for continuity (see picture below right). Or, select one color of flower to use in multiple containers as with the purple in the photo, below left.
                 
2)      Use containers not just on the porch or patio but in garden beds to add height, color and/or impact.
3)      Less-attractive garden areas can be covered up with the right container and plantings.
4)      Soften or camouflauge architectural features by using containers strategically placed.
5)      Big and bold containers will make more of a sophisticated impact.
6)      Small, numerous containers will give more of a cottage-garden feel.
7)      Feel free to move containers as needed, to the sun, to the shade, to block a view, etc.
8)      The right container in the right spot will act as a focal point for the patio or garden.
9)      Use taller, larger containers with upright plantings to create rooms or screens.
10)    Containers can also be used to direct or stop traffic flow, like at the edge of a deck or patio.
11)    Even empty containers, if the right size and design, can be used as garden decor.
12)    What to use in your containers? Anything! Annual, perennials, vegetables, shrubs, bulbs, succulents, firs, evergreens, etc. (But that’s more of a topic and container design.)

We would love to hear from you. Do you have additional tips on containerscaping? Post them on our Facebook page or email us your ideas.

Let’s Go Garden!

National Pickling Cucumbers throw the ‘Nubs’


“We have been very happy with most of the vegetables we grew this year, but have had problems with our cucumber crop, though.  We got National Pickling Cucumber andthe yield is fair, but the strange thing is that we have TWO different types of cukes growing, one of which is oddly shaped and very seedy.  The “bad” ones have a yellow thick skin, they are bulbous with a pointy tip on their ends.  We have planted cukes in past years and never had problems.  Do you think we had a package with mixed seeds?  The cucumber plants are in our garden in one row; corn is in the row next to these.  Honestly, I am not sure if both types of veggies grow on the same plants.  We also have cucumber plants growing beneath the corn; just about every cuke I’ve picked from under there is oddly shaped and colored.  I have used some Miracle Grow plant food on the plants once a week.  We started these plants from seed directly in the garden, not in pots.

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100_0720100_0722Thank you,

Keith”

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Hi Keith,

Thank you for the photos.  First off, good news: all of your cucumber plants are National Pickling Cucumbers.

The rounded fruits that you have been harvesting are due to a stress response in the plants to temperature.  It is related in part to poor pollination.

If your weather has been unseasonably cool and wet (highs in the 60s or lower): your bees have not been as active and therefore haven’t been doing too good of a job at visiting each flower. Cool temperatures make bees more sluggish and wet conditions (either from overnight precipitation or heavy dew) make wet foliage and flowers more difficult to navigate when you are a winged insect packing pollen.

If your weather has been unseasonably warm (morning temperatures in the upper 80s plus or overnight temperatures 78 or above): pollen if viable for only a short amount of time and is temperature dependent.  The higher the temperature is overnight or during the morning hours, the short the viability of the pollen.  Even though the bees might be going crazy in your garden, they are there for the nectar inside the flowers (which is temperature dependent also, but does not start to deteriorate until temperatures reach about 110 or above).  For the bee, picking up pollen is just an added bonus for the gardener.

For both conditions: A female flower needs to have as many grains of pollen  to end up on the stigma as there are ovules (future seeds) in the small cucumber that is waiting to grow at the base of the flower.  With the way cucumbers work, the first pollen grains go to the ovules that are nearest the stem and things work their way towards the blossom end.  If there is not enough pollen on the day that the flower is open (from lack of bee activity or lost viability due to cooked pollen), then the ovules that did not become fertilized will not grow.  The lack of growth causes the tissues around it to not form and you receive fruits that are ‘nubbed’.  As a gardener, you leave that fruit on longer because you are waiting for it to grow to a normal size (or in my case, do not notice it until it is a fat yellow ball that is easy to notice). What actually has happened is that it becomes overgrown and turns yellow.  If you cut open yours, you would see the the
upper part of the cucumber is fully developed like normal and the seeds are very mature, but the lower portion will not look much different than if you
sliced open the cucumber that is set below a female flower that hasn’t opened yet.

The plants that are producing the fruits will revert back to their normal selves once the stressful temperature conditions go way.  You want to make sure that you pick off any you see as soon as you notice them, as allowing them to grow to being yellow will falsely induce the plants to assume that they have produced seed (their goal in life) and can now die.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

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