Hydroponics is "the cultivation of plants without soil." The plant's roots can either be in water or in a growing medium like sand, gravel, perlite, peat moss, sawdust, coir, or rockwool. Hydroponic systems are often used when the supply of water and farmland are scarce or among home gardeners with limited space or an interest in year-round gardening. Soilless gardening offers many advantages to the home gardener: • Since a sterile medium is used, there are no weeds to remove, and soil-borne pests and diseases are minimized, if not eliminated completely.
Now that the growing season is put to bed, and the holiday season is in full swing, I pause to consider the food that I prepare and serve to my friends and family. This summer my garden didn't produce as I'd hoped, but I have plenty of leftover home-canned green beans and an abundance of winter squash. But as winter drags on, the bounty from my garden quickly diminishes, and I wonder where I might find locally produced fruits and vegetables to sustain me until spring breaks. Now, I am a foodie from way back. I enjoy cooking - and eating - marvelous concoctions.
Several traditional holiday plants make their appearance in your local retail markets this time of year. If you're looking for a gift plant or a decorating accent there are many from which to choose. Poinsettia, are common and form the core of traditional holiday decorating. Others, such as the Christmas cactus, amaryllis and paperwhites, are much less common but offer great holiday decorating and gifting ideas. Poinsettias are the most popular plant of the holiday season. Their bright reds, pinks and whites add holiday cheer.
Black and orange insects abound this time of year. I have had several calls about the black, orange striped boxelder bug.
I have gotten many, many questions regarding tree pruning lately. The weather has been lovely, gardens have been put to bed, and people are eager to get the rest of the garden chores done. If you've got a pruning saw and loppers in hand, STOP, and put them right back where you got them. It's still too early to prune deciduous trees!
In recent days I have had many homeowners call, send photos and come in with samples of brown, tightly curled worms found in the garden, along pavers; under garage doors and welcome mats; and in the damp recesses of their basements. All are concerned at the vast numbers of these yucky bugs, and want to know what to do. They've all got millipedes.
If your garden is running low on some of your favorites, don't fret! There is still plenty of time to plant vegetables for a fall harvest. In Alexandria, our average first frost date falls roughly around October 1, which leaves us a good 45 days to get things growing. Add to this some frost resistant plants, and you can have a wealth of late summer garden choices! Beets, some varieties of cabbage, kale and collard greens are the hardiest to plant, surviving temperatures into the 20s. They mature in 40-70 days.
I've recently received many calls from people who are struggling to find plants that bloomed in the shade. They were surprised to hear that there are choices beyond hostas and impatiens. In fact, there are quite a few shade loving plants that can add color and texture to your garden, some of which bloom throughout the summer. Shade gardening doesn't have to be frustrating; if you can grow hostas and impatiens, these beauties will do well in your perennial beds.
Many of our local conifers are really beginning to look ragged, and the questions have come pouring in! To determine why your tree is ailing, you first need to know exactly what kind of conifer you have— fir, spruce, hemlock, cedar, larch or pine.