Category: Seasons

Proven Winners® WaterWise™ Watering Kit

The thing that I love most about gardening is getting my hands in the soil, well almost. Actually I do love abundant beauty that flowers produce, but you know it’s that in between stuff that often gets in the way for a lot of us. Watering for instance. Keeping the soil consistently moist in containers is the key to success, which is why a use a drip irrigation kit. The one I like to use is from Proven Winners and it is so easy to assemble. It takes the work out of watering. With a single kit I can water up to ten potted plants.

Here is how easy it is to set up the Proven Winners WaterWise Container Irrigation Kit.

Attach the backflow prevent valve to your outdoor water faucet. Screw the faucet adapter onto the end of the valve.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Fauce Adpater and Nozzle

Push the end of the ¼-inch tubing onto the nozzle of the faucet adapter. This will go on easier if you wet the nozzle first.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Tubing Attached to the Backflow Valve and Nozzle

Run the tubing from the spigot to the base of your first container.

Cut the tubing and insert a barbed-tee, which is a little t-shaped piece. Insert the tubing onto the branch of the barbed-tee the points upward. Run the tubing up into the middle of the container and cut to size. Cap off the end of the tubing with a dripper.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Dripper Plugs into the End of Tubing

Next insert the tubing onto the horizontal branch of the barbed-tee and extend it over to your next container. Repeat the process until you have all of your containers outfitted with drippers.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Barded-Tee Splits the Line So You Can Water Multiple Pots

10 – 12-inch container = 1 dripper
14 – 20-inch container = 2 drippers
24-inch containers and larger = 3 drippers

The tubing is a neutral tan color that disappears among the plants, but you can further camouflage it by inserting it through the drain hole of an empty container before adding soil.

You Can Insert the Tubing Through the Drainage Hole

Depending on the weather and the size of the container you will probably water for one hour each day. Is it is really hot and dry or the container is extra larger you will need to increase the amount of time you water.

You can take all the work out of watering by purchasing a battery-operated water timer to add to the faucet. Now you won’t even have to think about watering.

Purchase a water timer to take all the work out of watering.

Click here to Purchase a Proven Winners WaterWise Container Watering Kit

Each Proven Winners WaterWise kit contains:

  • A 30-foot coil of high-quality tan-colored vinyl tubing
  • Ten 1/2 GPH pressure compensating drippers
  • Ten Barbed Tees (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Three Barbed Crosses (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Ten Nail Clamps (for positioning and holding vinyl tubing in place on wood decks or other wooden applications)
  • One Faucet Adapter
  • One Back Flow Prevention Valve
  • Ten Support Stakes (to attach and hold drippers or to train the tubing in place in landscape beds)

Hot House Flowers

The grocery store makes for an unexpected ally in beating winter’s blues. Spruce up your home with a few potted plants that you can find at the grocery store. To personalize these blooms to suit my style I slip the plants (pot and all) into decorative containers.

Hot House Flowers are a Breath of Spring

Forced Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinths – The daffodils and hyacinths you buy at the grocery store can be planted in the garden after the flowers fade. Wait until the foliage dies back. I’ve not had much luck with replanting tulips because they aren’t perennial in southern gardens where springs are short. However, daffodils and hyacinths will bloom again for me the next year.

Daffodils

Cape Primroses– Maintain temperature around 60 degrees. Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to provide humidity without overwatering.

photo credit: Eva Gruendemann

Hydrangeas – These big, colorful flowers are everyone’s favorite. While the plant is indoors keep the soil consistently moist and out of direct sunlight. After the last frost date in your area plant it outside in a partially shaded spot.

Hydrangeas

Orchids – Watering orchids can be tricky and varies depending on the type or orchid and time of year. (Water more in the summer and less in the winter.) Generally a good rule is to water every five to 12 days. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Dab excess water off leaves.

Orchids

Five Edibles You Can Grow Indoors

Here we are smack dab in the middle of winter and I’m starting to miss walking to the vegetable garden, snips in hand, to gather ingredients for dinner. To tide me over until it’s time to plant spring crops I’m actually growing a few things indoors. I won’t be harvesting any tomatoes, but at least I can get my hands dirty and enjoy the satisfaction of adding a few fresh ingredients to my recipes.

Here are five edibles you can grow indoors this winter.

Edibles to Grow Indoors

  • Lemons and Limes
    Citrus won’t give you instant gratification, but you can enjoy the sweet scent of the blooms while you wait for the fruits. Look for a variety that is known to thrive indoors and produces year-round such as Meyer lemon or Bearss lime. Place the tree near a bright, southern or western facing window and away from sources of heat. Deep soak the soil every 5 to 7 days. Citrus prefer slightly acidic soil and high nitrogen fertilizer. Feed with a slow release fertilizer designed for citrus plants and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Sprouts
    Soak seeds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and drain again. Place the seeds in a quart sized Mason jar. Cover the top with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band. Set the jar in a dark place propped at a slight angle. Rinse and drain the seeds with cold water twice a day for about 4 to 5 days, at which point you will have mature sprouts. Place the jar of sprouts in indirect light and they will green up. Rinse in cold water and store in the refrigerator.
  • Micro Greens
    Micro greens are the baby leaves of fast sprouting seeds such as lettuce, radish and basil. The leaves are harvested while still small. To grow micro greens sow the seeds in sterile potting soil, cover with about ¼ inch of soil and mist the soil daily to keep moist. Keep the seeds warm until they begin to sprout then move the container to a sunny window. Ideally the plants need 12 hours of light for healthy growth so a grow light might be required. Depending on the type of plant you grow you should have harvestable leaves in 14 to 30 days.
  • Garlic Greens
    Garlic greens are a great substitute for fresh chives or scallions. Pot up about 10 organic cloves (ne need to peel) in a 4-inch container. Place in a sunny window and water consistently. Harvest the leaves when they are about 8 inches tall. When the cloves stop sprouting toss them into the compost bin and pot up another 10 cloves.
  • Mushrooms
    Growing mushrooms is pretty easy when you start with a kit. Everything you need comes in the package and all you need to do is keep the growing medium moist. Heck, you don’t even have to take these mushroom growing kits from Peaceful Valley out of the box.

Mythological Amaryllis

In Greek mythology Amaryllis was a lovesick shepherdess who stood at the door of her intended every night piercing her heart with a golden arrow. From her wounds sprung an exquisite flower.

Now that’s what I call the hard way to grow these gorgeous blooms. Unlike the Amaryllis in Greek mythology you can grow dramatic blooms this winter without a single puncture to the heart. Simply pot up a few bulbs this fall. With a little water and sunshine you’ll have breathtaking blooms in just over a month.

Here are a few varieties I’m trying this year. I feel certain that if Amaryllis had these to offer her flower-loving beau her fate would have been much rosier.

Amaryllis Dancing Queen

Clockwise from left: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Double Dragon’, ‘Blossom Peacock’.

Amaryllis Clown

Amaryllis ‘Clown’

Amaryllis Varieties

Clockwise from left: ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Vera’, ‘Elvas’.

 

Setting the Scene for an Autumn Celebration

How is the weather in your Garden Home? It’s glorious here with warm days and crisp nights – the perfect time for throwing a garden party.

October Garden Party

Details

When it comes to entertaining I like to create a welcoming environment for my guests. I want them to feel completely at ease and enjoy themselves.

Tablevogue table covers will make any type of table party-ready.  Tablevogue table covers have a tailored seam and box pleats that give the table an upscale look.

A round table makes it easy for guests to go around and choose what they like to eat and visit with one another.

Bring autumn’s colors to your table with bright tableware, pumpkins, gourds and glazed vases filled with flowers.

The alstroemeria and lilies I used are long lasting so I can make the arrangements a day or two in advance.

The décor is rustic using garden elements such as pumpkins, grape vine, gourds and wheat stalks. Easy and relaxed, which sets the tone for the gathering.

Accents

Tablevogue 72” Round Table Cover in Natural

Le Creuset Dinnerware in Cassis

Glassybaby Votive Candles

Menu Ideas

Pumpkin Pie Martini
Citrus Tea
Assorted Cheeses and Pickled Vegetables
Grilled Mushrooms Stuffed with Artichoke Hearts
Cinnamon Apple Chips
Honey Glazed Pecans
Shrimp Over Rice
Rustic Pear Cranberry Tart
Caramel Apples

Ten Edibles to Grow this Fall

Getting the kids back to school and heading to the lake for the long Labor Day weekend aren’t the only ways we kick off autumn. Planting cool weather crops such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach is also an activity that signals the advent of the season.

Many gardeners don’t realize that the end of summer doesn’t signal the end of home grown vegetables and herbs. There are quite a few things we can grow during the cool, short days of fall. Here are eleven of my top favorites.

Lettuce


Spinach


Broccoli


Arugula


Cabbage


Dill


Radish


Chives


Chard


Kale

Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

You can harvest leafy greens just a few weeks after planting.

Find out the first frost date in your area and compare it to the maturity dates of plants. This will help you determine what and when to plant.

Use cold frames and frost blankets to extend the growing season.

Top Six Must-See List for Arkansas This Fall

I’ve always known that Arkansas is the place to be and now the secret is getting out. Just this year Little Rock was named a top ten midsized city by Kiplingers and Editor’s Choice by Outside magazineIn this guest post Arkansas Tourism Director Joe David Rice shares six great places to visit in Arkansas during one of the best times to come – fall.

All four of Arkansas’s seasons have their charms, but fall’s my favorite. That first crisp morning after the dog days of summer recharges my flagging batteries and reminds me that cooler days are coming. Shown below, in no particular order, are half a dozen options for entertaining autumn getaways in The Natural State:

1) Driving the length of Crowley’s Ridge Parkway in eastern Arkansas should be on everyone’s bucket list. For nearly 200 miles, this national scenic byway traverses the winding terrain of Crowley’s Ridge, a fascinating geological anomaly extending from Helena-West Helena north to the Arkansas-Missouri state line. Civil War battlefields, historic districts, cemeteries, state parks, antique shops, golf courses and some fine barbecue joints line the route – and the fall foliage can be stunning.

2) Checking out the harvest in southeastern Arkansas is worth a trip, especially when you work in visits to Lakeport Plantation, historic Arkansas City and the Japanese internments sites at McGehee and Rohwer. Bargain shoppers will enjoy a stop at Paul Michael Company in Lake Village.

3) Walking the grounds at Crystal Bridges is a true delight. We’ve all heard about the outstanding collection of masterworks in the Moshe Safdie-designed complex of buildings, but don’t forget the 120-acre site includes 3.5 miles of splendid trails – complete with outdoor sculptures, picturesque bridges and a gurgling stream. Park your car on the square in downtown Bentonville and walk to nearby Compton Gardens where you’ll catch trails winding through the lush landscapes to the museum.

4) Floating the lower end of the Buffalo National River (from Buffalo Point down to Rush – or on to the White River if you have time) can be a wonderful fall experience. With the summer crowds pretty much gone, your chances of seeing wildlife are that much better. The gravel bars and bluffs provide great scenery, particularly if you can time your trip with the peak of fall colors. Bring your camera and poke around a bit in Rush, one of the state’s only surviving ghost towns.

5) Touring Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs is always a special treat, but it’s even better with the enchanting Splash of Glass exhibit featuring 225 pieces of James Hayes’ handcrafted art (through September). This 210-acre peninsula, located on the shores of Lake Hamilton south of Hot Springs, includes 3.8 miles of easy-to-negotiate trails. For those not up for a good walk, tours by golf carts are available.

6) Last but not least on the list is hiking the Cossatot River Corridor Trail. Maybe a bit lengthy for most at 12 miles, this southwestern Arkansas treasure can be broken down into more manageable segments. There’s no better place to grasp an appreciation of the Ouachitas than along this relatively unknown footpath which parallels a beautiful mountain stream.

Between football games, county fairs and festivals, fall in Arkansas can slip away before you know it. So grab your calendar and set aside a couple of days for yourself. If none of the above ideas appeal to you, check out www.Arkansas.com for plenty of others.

Game Day Gatherings

Football season is getting underway this month so lots of folks are discussing their favorite teams and planning game day gatherings.  And while I don’t claim to know a lot about football, I do know something about parties and a tailgate party is fun way to celebrate with friends and family.

A backyard or patio is the perfect place to set up a tailgate, especially on a beautiful autumn day. All you need is good food, a few lawn games, drinks and plenty of team spirit. Include a few of these game day essentials and your guests will feel like they are at the stadium minus the traffic jams or bathroom lines.

1. Winning Table
Give your buffet and folding card tables team spirit with a table cover from Team Tablevogue.
They feature the logos of numerous collegiate teams and fit neatly over standard-size folding tables.
Available from Team Tablevogue.


2. The Wheel Deal
Forget lugging your food, drinks and tableware to friend’s tent. Drinks, appetizers, plates and more all fit neatly inside this rolling cooler.
Available from Brookstone.
[photo courtesy of Brookstone.com]

3. Give Me an “A”
Face it—cheers just sound better with a few pom-poms in the background. Plus, they’ll add color to your tent or tailgate.
Available from GameDayPoms.com.
[photo courtesy of GameDayPoms.com]

4. Stadium Crystal
Toast a victory with a shatter-proof version of a well-loved drinking glass.
Available from Target.
[photo courtesy of Target.com]

5. Fun and Games
Don’t forget the entertainment! Challenge your friends to a game of bag toss or ladder golf before you head into the stadium.
Available from Frontgate.
[photo courtesy of Frontgate.com]

6. Meal at Hand
The Drink-and-Plate keeps refreshments together in one place, giving you a free hand to cheer.
Available from Shop.InstantTailgate.com.
[photo courtesy of Shop.InstantTailgate.com]

7. Field of Teams
Fun meets functional in this pack-and-go table that mimics the playing field.
Available from Sports Authority.
[photo courtesy of SportsAuthority.com]

8. Tech Support
Spend less time setting up the satellite and more time enjoying the other game’s around the country before heading into your own stadium.
Available from Dish Network via Amazon.com.
[photo courtesy of Amazon.com]

Win a Team Tablevogue table cover!

Tell me which college football team you cheer for in the comments section below. I’ll select a winner at random on Wednesday August 28, 2013.
Up for grabs is a 34-inch square Team Tablevogue table cover in any of the available team logos. Click here to view the team logos.

If your team isn’t available or, perish the thought, you don’t have a team you can choose an unembellished Tablevogue 34-inch square table cover. Click here to view.

Congratulations to Debbie Dillon! She was selected using Random.org to receive a Team Tablevogue table cover with her team’s logo! Go Texas A&M Aggies!

Tomato Tales

This is an excerpt from my column in AY Magazine. Read the entire article here.

Long before social media was even a spark in our collective conscious, bits of “wisdom” have been going viral via word of mouth in the form of old wives tales and folklore.

For me, these stories are interesting because they are part of our oral tradition. For instance, how many of you have heard that it is bad luck to place a hat on a bed or that going out in the cold with wet hair will make you sick?

Of course, my favorite anecdotes are about gardening and some of the best are related to growing tomatoes. It seems everyone’s grandmother had a pearl of wisdom about getting the growing the best tasting tomato.

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato

Here are a few tomato tales that I’m familiar with. Some are based in fact, while others are pure fiction.

  1. Sprinkle sugar in the planting hole or water your tomatoes with sugar water to make them sweeter. This is untrue. The sweetness of a tomato is determined by the variety. If you want a sweet tomato try planting ‘Sungold’ or ‘Mr. Stripey’.
  2. If you have a tomato plant that is lush, but doesn’t set fruit, beat it with a broom. The idea behind this tip is that the beating will stress the plant and prompt bloom. More blooms mean a better chance for tomatoes. I haven’t tried this one, but the old-timers swear by it.
  3. To prevent blossom end rot add crushed eggshells to the planting hole. This suggestion actually has legs to it. The eggshells are a good source of calcium, which helps reduce blossom end rot.How about you? What’s the best tomato growing “advice” you know? Have you tried any of these tips?

Tulip Displays in Arkansas

Arkansas attracts travelers from all over the country with all the splendor the Natural State has to offer, especially in spring. The vivid blooms of tulips usher in the warmer months and knock out the remaining gray of winter.

Here are a few of the state’s most spectacular tulip displays:

Moss Mountain Farm

We’ve planted 8,000 tulip bulbs at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home this year. I choose an array of types, bloom times and colors, including: ‘Blushing Girl’, ‘Menton’, ‘Maureen’, ‘Negrita’, ‘Princess Irene’, ‘Queen of the Night’, ‘Daydream’, ‘Red Impression’, ‘Golden Parade’, ‘Apeldoorn’, ‘West Point’ and ‘Red Shine’. The vast diversity of tulips makes them one of my favorite flowers¬— I never get tired of growing them.

The tulip display makes April’s tours at the farm a real treat. One of the greatest joys of gardening for me is to share the beauty with visitors, making the tours of the farm very personally rewarding. There are four tours that will be available in April, the 4th, 5th, 11th and 25th. These give me a chance to meet fellow gardeners, poultry enthusiasts and flower lovers. Plus when I see visitors enjoying the farm, it renews it for me; I see it in a fresh light. Click here to learn more about visiting the farm.

Garvin Woodland Gardens

Garvin Woodland Gardens boasts a spectacular display of tulips every spring for its Tulip Extravaganza. This 210-acre garden, owned by the University of Arkansas, has planted 130,000 tulips of all types this year. Just outside of Hot Springs, a spa city famed for its purportedly healing waters, the garden makes for an excellent day trip. The tulips are planted in curving, full beds, blocked by their respective colors – pink, red, purple, orange and variegated – and surrounded with still-blooming daffodils and hyacinths. The sheer numbers overwhelm your senses with beauty, and it’s simply impossible to take a bad picture in these gardens. If you’re in Arkansas in the spring, this is a must-see. The Tulip Extravaganza is March 16 through April 16, 2013. Click here for details.

Downtown Little Rock

The streets of downtown Little Rock are bursting with pink and purple tulips this month. I partnered with the City of Little Rock this year to create March Tulip Madness, and we filled planters around downtown with 25,000 tulips bulbs as part of the city’s effort to revitalize downtown.

I choose a blend of three different types for the planters: ‘Menton’, ‘Pink Impression’ and ‘Negrita’, which when combined create a pleasing pink and purple display. These mid and late bloomers take full advantage of the season and make stunning streetscapes. Read about everything you can do in downtown Little Rock.

Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock

The Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock is another fantastic place to see tulips. The city planted 28,000 ‘Red Impression’ tulips this year. These bright flowers reach the peak of their blooming in late March and continue through early April. They are growing in beds and planters throughout the Arts District.

One of the most wonderful aspects of this display is that the majority were planted by 75 volunteers last fall during a tulip planting party. The Bank of America, the North Little Rock City Beautiful Commission and the Park Hill Garden Club partnered to sponsor this effort, and the red tulips paired with yellow spring flowers create a vivid contrast in the district’s streets. Find out what’s going on in Argenta.