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08 Apr 2019

Vole Damage in Lawns: what can I do?

The winter snowpack is melting and we are left with a mess covering our lawns. Voles have enjoyed had a nice long winter under a protective snow layer. Tunnels, dirt piles, grass clippings and droppings are all unsightly remains of vole damage. Voles do not hibernate but are active year-round, living between the soil surface and snow during the winter. They feed on bark, roots and grass. The damage has been done, now what?

Control the population:
There is no magic bullet here, but a combination of tactics seems work the best.
-Traps: Cheap and very effective, simple mouse traps placed perpendicular to active tunnels can do a lot to control the population. They work well without bait as the voles are habituated to run along their tunnels. Keep trapping (and emptying your traps-yuck!) until you notice fewer voles being caught.
-Habitat Reduction: Mow tall grasses or weedy areas in the fall. These areas are perfect cover for voles.
-Baits: A few are available to the homeowner. Always follow instructions carefully and be cautious when using in areas with kids or pets.
-Repellents: There are many commercially available repellents with varying formulas. They can be helpful, but need to be applied in intervals. Be sure to do a final application late fall for a longer effect through the winter.

Fix the damage:
It may be overwhelming at first, but lawns and grassy areas can bounce back from vole damage quite well. Once the snow has melted and the damaged area is no longer sodden, begin with raking up dead grass. Tamp down any raised dirt tunneling and reseed bare dirt with a lawn mix. Feed with lawn food and keep any newly-seeded areas damp. As the days lengthen and warm, existing grass will spread into damaged areas and new seed will germinate.

Vole populations are always changing. Natural predators such as hawks, skunks, foxes and owls are our allies against voles. Domestic dogs and cats can also help control vole populations. Our beautiful western landscape with its fields and meadows is home to voles. They will continue to be the bane of the rural homeowner and gardener, but it’s better than living in the city, right?

01 Mar 2019

Quick and Dirty Gardening Basics

Volumes of books have been written about gardening. But what do you really need to know to be successful? Here’s our version of the basics:

– Location: Most veggie and fruiting plants will need at least 6 hours of full sun daily. Perennials and annuals are more adaptable.
– Soil: Healthy soil equates to healthy plants. Adding compost will feed your soil and in turn feed your plants. Do this yearly in veggie gardens and at planting time for perennials, shrubs and trees. Choose a quality potting mix for planters.
-Seed and Plant Selection: For seeds, pick those with a shorter ‘days to harvest’ on the label. Plant fresh seed that is labeled for the current year each season. Select perennials, shrubs and trees known to grow well in our area and that are the correct USDA zones (zones 2-4).
– Watering: Watering needs will vary depending on your plant selection, stage and location. Generally, the larger the roots (trees) the less frequent watering they will need. A tiny root system (a germinating seed) will need more frequent watering. Water early in the morning to allow the foliage to dry during the day and for less waste from evaporation.
-Feeding: A yearly application of fertilizer in spring will help keep plants vigorous and healthy. Some veggies like beans, squash, corn and tomatoes are heavy feeders and may need additional fertilizer throughout the growing season.
-Be watchful: A quick check every few days for bugs or other issues will help spot trouble before it gets out of control. Keep an eye on the weather and be ready to cover up any tender plants with frost cloth when a temperature dip is predicted.

No two gardens are alike and no two seasons are alike. Learn as you go and enjoy!

15 Feb 2019

Three Sisters Garden

Early Native Americans traditionally planted corn, squash and beans together. These crops grew so well together that they became known as the Three Sisters. Here is a classic example of companion gardening where each plant helps another. The corn stalks provide a trellis for the beans to climb, the beans provide nitrogen for the corn and squash. The squash in turn provides protection for the beans and corn by shading the soil and discouraging pests with their spiny stems. Growing a Three Sisters garden would be an excellent lesson for kids about co-dependence and growing food.
This garden theme is fun with kids because the plants grow fast and they grow big. The seeds themselves are relatively large and easier for little hands to handle and plant. These veggies all like to grow in warm soil, so wait until the first or second week of June to start. This garden needs its own spot with good soil and full sun. To begin, build up a gently sloping mound of soil. Incorporate a granular vegetable fertilizer into the soil. Plant the corn seeds in the center. Wait a couple of weeks until the corn has grown up about 6 inches then surround the corn with bean seeds. Plant the squash seeds surrounding the corn and beans, on the sloping edge of the mound.
– Corn: Choose any short season variety or buy starts from a garden center.
– Beans: Pole beans are traditionally grown in this garden, but bush beans would be fine too. Sow seed directly into the prepared area.
– Squash: Zucchini and yellow summer squash are the easiest bets for our region. Sow from seed or buy starts from a garden center.

04 Feb 2019

Hummingbird Habitat Garden

Delight your senses each summer with a backyard hummingbird haven. After their long migration from Central America and Mexico, these little guys are ready to hang out and eat. Hummingbirds are famous for visiting feeders, but providing additional food sources will enhance their habitat. With their long beaks, hummingbirds sip nectar from flowers. Although they are attracted to red flowers, it’s the sugar content in the nectar that keep hummingbirds returning for more. Here are some of their favorite flowers:
• Bee balm
• Salvia
• Honeysuckle
• Penstemon
• Jupiter’s beard
• Dianthus
• Nicotiana
• Callibrachoa
• Nepeta
• Verbena
Most of these can be found at your local garden center either already growing as ‘starts’ or in seed form.
Hummingbirds need safe perches to rest upon, such as trees and shrubs. A nearby water source like a bird bath or fountain is also important. In addition to sipping nectar, hummingbirds are insectivores, feeding on tiny insects such as aphids, thrips and spiders. Creating a hummingbird habitat will benefit your garden and these birds.

23 Jan 2019

The Snack Garden

Feeling a bit hungry? Just walk out to your Snack Garden and pluck a few berries or veggies. These foods can be foraged right from your yard and require little or no chopping, washing, cooking or fuss. Snacks from the garden don’t come in plastic wrappers and are 100% healthy. The best part though is the flavor. Home grown food just tastes better. This garden could be planted in a raised bed, containers, in a greenhouse or incorporated throughout your landscaping. From vine to mouth with little or no prep, this garden would fit the bill for a busy family.
Snack Garden plants:
My absolute must-haves are snap peas and cherry tomatoes, but any or all of these would make fine Snack Garden picks.
– Snap peas
-Broccoli
-Carrots
-Radishes
-Cherry tomatoes
-Berries (strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and serviceberries)
-Apples
The Set-Up:
This idea is very flexible depending on what you have in place or how extensive you’d like to go.
Most of the veggies will do best in a raised bed in full sun. Tomatoes grow well in big containers like an EarthBox™ or even a used plastic nursery pot. Strawberries and raspberries need a patch of their own to sprawl. Currants, gooseberries and serviceberries and apple trees can be planted throughout your existing landscaping or set apart in a place of their own.

16 Jan 2019

Hanging Houseplants

Hanging plants are a great way to add life and beauty to any indoor room. They help purify the air we breathe by removing carbon dioxide, adding oxygen and absorbing other toxins such as formaldehyde. Hanging plants frees up floor space and adds visual interest. Hanging plants can also be positioned to take advantage a room’s best light.
To begin, choose the location. Most indoor plants require bright, indirect light and a spot that is neither hot, cold nor drafty. Secure a hook or eye bolt to the ceiling. Be sure to set it directly into a beam or stud.
Next, select a hanging plant. Consider that the plant will be viewed from below and look for attractive foliage that will cascade over the edges of its container. The choices are wide, but here are some of our favorites:
Spider Plant: This is one of the most common houseplants. The spider plant is adaptable, fuss-free and is an excellent choice for beginners. It’s fast-growing and the new plantlets are easy to remove to make new plants. The spider plant is also excellent at filtering the air we breathe.
Ivy: Ivy is a fast growing houseplant that has been popular since Victorian times. It is very easy to grow from cuttings. Ivy plants enjoy lots of humidity, so misting often will help keep them at their best.
Pothos: Pothos is adaptable to a wide range of indoor environments, making it another great choice for beginners. The heart-shaped leaves can be solid green, but are commonly variegated with white and yellow splashes. It is not too picky about water or humidity, just avoid direct sun.
Christmas Cactus: These showy plants are not the sun-loving, spiny desert cactus of the western US, but a mountainous rain forest cactus of Brazil. The bright, tubular blooms are a welcome addition during the darkest time of the year. They enjoy bright light, high humidity and consistent moisture.
Boston Fern: Boston fern has gorgeous crinkly fronds that are perfect for a hanging accent. It likes cool room temperatures, high humidity and consistent watering.
Hoya: The hoya is a trailing plant with fleshy leaves and clusters of waxy flowers that bloom from May to September. New stems are almost bare and the leaves appear much later. They can be variegated or solid green.
Water needs will vary depending on your indoor climate and plant choice. As you bring new plants into your home, check them every few days or so. Feel the soil with your fingers to determine if it’s dry or not. Water carefully with room temperature water and be sure not to let any plant sit in standing water. Bring hanging plants down monthly and shower them in a kitchen sink or bathtub. A monthly shower will remove dust and allow the plants to be thoroughly soaked. Most indoor plants need less water and fertilizer through the winter months and more during the growing months of March- August. For plants that require high humidity, consider grouping these with other plants to create a humid micro climate. Regular misting, pebble trays and room humidifiers will benefit the humid-loving plants.
Plant hangers are not necessary but will add a decorative component. Macramé, galvanized metal and woven plant hangers can be found at our garden center.

07 Sep 2018

5 Reasons to Plant Bulbs this Fall

1- Bulbs are Beautiful:
Vibrant colors, fragrance and eye appealing combinations make bulbs one of the most charming flowers of the spring.

2- Bulbs are Easy to Plant:
Plant them once, and you’ll be rewarded with color year after year. Simply choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Dig a hole two to three times the bulb’s height (for example if a bulb is two inches tall, dig a hole four to six inches deep). Sprinkle the bottom of the hole with bulb food or bone meal and place the bulb pointy side up. Cover with soil, water once and wait for spring! To plant bigger clumps of bulbs, follow the same method as above but make a wider hole and place multiple bulbs into the same hole. This ‘mass grave’ method saves a ton of time and bigger clumps of bulbs will make more of a visual impact than a scattering of single bulbs.

3- Bulbs Will Make You Happy:
Imagine a warm spring day after months of seeing mostly snow, ice and mud. You walk outside and ta-da! A pretty clump of purple crocus are blooming right next to the receeding snow. Studies have shown that flowers release the ‘happy’ brain chemicals triggering positive emotions. Plant bulbs to plant happiness!

4- Bulbs Feed the Pollinators:
Yes, bulbs are wonderful for spring color, but did you know that flowering bulbs are also a valuable food source for bees? Bulbs are one of the first available pollen sources for bees and other pollinating insects.

5- Bulbs Need to be Planted in the Fall:
All spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils, tulips and crocus need a cold period before they will bloom. This starts the biochemical process that makes them bloom. Bulbs are not like seeds where they can be viable for months without planting. Bulbs will dry out and are unlikely to bloom if they are not planted in the fall. Plant bulbs any time before the ground freezes.

Our seasonal shipment of high quality flower bulbs is here. Browse our huge selection of all of the favorites like daffodils, tulips and crocus.

31 Jul 2018

6th Annual Big Zucchini Contest

Who can grow the biggest zucchini in the Tetons? Can you beat the twelve pound record?
We’ll see on Saturday August 18th when our scale is the judge! Bring in your homegrown zucchini for judging between 9:00 am and noon on Saturday, August 18th. Zucchini must be grown in Teton County Idaho or Wyoming. Contest is free to enter and fun for all ages.

The contest winner earns bragging rights and a $50 MD gift card!
One entry per household please.

10 Jul 2018

What Bugs Us- spider mites

Spider Mites

Spider mites are common garden pests that feed on shrubs, trees, flowers, vegetables and even houseplants. These miniscule pests cause damage by bruising the plant’s tissues as they feed leading to mottled, brown foliage. Spider mites are difficult to see to the naked eye, but their presence can be detected by webbing on a plant and brown, mottled or dirty-looking foliage. To confirm the presence of spider mites, try holding a sheet of plain white paper below suspected plants. Tap or flick the foliage above the paper. Using a magnifying glass or the naked eye, watch for any tiny specs that move. These are mites. Outbreaks occur under dry conditions and can seriously injure or kill a plant. There are a few ways to control spider mites:
• Hosing: A strong jet of water can destroy webbing, knock down and kill spider mites.
• Beneficial Insects: Ladybugs, sold commercially, can also be released under mite-infested plants to feed on mites.
Avoiding strong insecticides such as those containing sevin, malathion and imidacloprid that kill mite’s natural enemies will actually help avoid mite infestations.
• Sulfur: This is often sold as a multipurpose spray such as Safer™ Brand 3 in 1 Garden Spray. Always follow the directions on the label.
• Horticultural Oil: This is possibly the best control available for the home gardener. The oil suffocates the eggs and the adults. Always follow the directions on the label.
Maintaining healthy plants will also help avoid mite infestations. Plants stressed by drought or lack of nutrients are prone to insect problems.

15 Jun 2018

Gardening with Kids

It’s nothing new, but we all know that children today are more prone than ever to stress, obesity and ADHD. Research has shown that kids with access to greenspace such as gardens on a daily basis have reaped many health benefits including increased attention span and deeper forms of creative play. Children who grow their own vegetables are more likely to eat them. How are parents to encourage kids to get outside and garden? Here are a few tips:

• Give a child their very own planting space to plant and dig as they please.
• Plant veggies kids like to eat such as carrots, sugar snap peas, strawberries and potatoes.
• Try planting crazy veggies like purple potatoes, atomic red carrots or dragon’s tongue beans.
• Create a theme garden. Popular themes include a pizza patch (see below), hummingbird habitat or a fairy garden.
• Invest in some basic pint- sized tools. Gloves, shovels and buckets are a good start.
• Incorporate some family- friendly features into your existing garden. Birdbaths, houses and feeders, gathering areas such as a dining set or bench, play areas such as a sandbox, fort or swing set.
• Involve your kids in harvesting. Kids love to pick peas, dig up potatoes, pull carrots and cut lettuce.
• Pass the scissors. Older children can cut some salad greens or some flowers to bring into the house.
• Hand them the hose! Very small kids are delighted to fill up a watering can and water something. Bigger kids can use the hose to fill birdbaths and water the veggie patch.
• Lead by example. Your kids are more likely to garden if you’re out there too!
• Make it fun. Great ideas can be found on our pinterest board, children’s gardening

RECIPE FOR A PIZZA GARDEN
Imagine a six foot wide pizza, cut into jumbo slices, outlined with a thick rock crust overflowing with your favorite toppings. The idea of a pizza garden begins with making the ‘pizza’. Either create a round bed with rocks and divide into slices or use another round vessel such as a kiddie pool (with drainage holes in the bottom!). Fill your ‘pizza’ with good quality planting soil and divide into slices. Use rocks or string to delineate the slices. Let the kids decide what kind of toppings they’d like to grow and add any or all of these ingredients. Plant your slices and water regularly. Plan a pizza party for the end of summer as the grand finale!

• tomato plants
• bell pepper plants
• zucchini plants
• rosemary plant
• oregano plants
• onion plants
• Orange marigold or calendula plants (as the ‘cheese’)
• Spinach seeds
• Arugula seeds
• Broccoli plants