I'm always amazed what a little paint can do. We painted our two front doors a bright, popping red color to go with the red brick and the result is astounding. One door was white (well gray actually since it hadn't been painted in over 20 years.) And the other door was yellow, but the wrong shade of yellow. The doors now match, look amazing and for the price of paint samples, (4 bucks), we were able to refresh our house.
Speaking of Mise En Place, the term also applies to home improvement. We're remodeling the downstairs bathroom and having all the materials on hand and ready to go has made the process go that much smoother. Well, as smooth as any bathroom remodel can possible be. But making less runs to the store because we had the toilet, cabinet, caulk, faucet among a gizillion other items has made it go better. Because when a 2-year-old says "I go pee pee now" means, you have approximately 30 seconds to get to a bathroom. And the upstairs bathroom might as well be in Guam.
There's this French term "Mise En Place" that usually refers to cooking and means putting in place. In its rough translation means having all the ingredients and props ready to go so you're not running around the kitchen like a lunatic trying to make dinner happen. I find the term equally applies to gardening or home improvement for that matter. Having everything you need like shovels, hand trowels, rakes, fences, gloves ready to go, just makes the gardening experience go that much smoother.
Another advantage to fall planting? Fewer insect pests. As the temperature goes down, cold-blooded insects are entering winter dormancy. Even most weeds are growing more slowly. So less weeds competing for nutrients. You may even have less watering as well. In the cooler temps, water doesn't evaporate out of the soil as quickly in the blazing heat of July.
As tempting as it is to go out and harvest all your produce at once, it's best to leave it on the vine until you're ready to use. As soon as you pick it, the nutrient value starts going down. This is why grocery store produce shipped in on trucks (picked green) is lacking in nutrients. And flavor for that matter.
As summer has finally arrived here in Wester New York (I mean, it's been rainy and cold right??) Make a point to do a weekly spot-check for Japanese beetles, thrips, scale, mites or aphids in your garden before the decimate and destroy your plants. And go make that eggshell powder I blogged about. It works! And did you notice? The bees seem to be back in full force this year. Hope that means I'll be able to score some organic honey at a roadside stand. So far this year....no luck! Suggestions?
Well....I got my first morning glory flower. That's right, I noticed the first light, bright bloom this morning. And morning glory flowers are kind of like investing. You plant the seeds month ago. And wait. And wait. And wait. And the vines start to grow. And climb. And multiply. They weave up and around the trellis until you get your first flower. And then hopefully many flowers. I paid a buck for the packet of seeds and now have three trellis's with morning glories climbing up them. Yay!
I know, it's not quite fall but it sure feels like it.....right?!? Although they need a spot in full sun, there are plenty of vegetables that don't need lots of heat. Spinach, lettuce and radishes, among others, grow best in the warm days and cool nights of early fall. And, unlike spring when the ground is cool, the soil in your garden is nice and warm-- perfect for a fast sprout. However, be ware that as the daytime temps fall, the growth on fall crops may slow down on you.
We ask ourselves this question every time we plant a tree. Should we mulch it? Quick answer. Yes. Spread a layer of mulch over the roots. A 2 to 4-inch layer of organic mulch spread over the trees' roots is plenty to keep roots insulated from the freeze-thaw cycle that damages plant roots. Be sure to start about 6 inches away from the tree's trunk so you don't invite pests.
Finding just the right spot for a plant is more than visual or the best soil type. Sun and wind play important roles in how well a plant thrives, too. For sort of hardy plants, look for areas that are out of strong winter winds, often the south or east sides of your house. And consider the heat retention of a sunny stone wall or even a concrete sidewalk.
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