Weston Nurseries plant availability list

Yes, you’ll probably pay significantly more for plants at Weston Nurseries than at their competitors but, having visited pretty much every nursery within a 20 mile radius last summer and fall, their stock was by far the healthiest.  (I suppose “You get what you pay for.” applies*.)   They released their first Retail Availability List of the season today.

* Buy small.  Not only do smaller plants cost less but they establish faster.

UMass Home Garden Workshops

It’s not too early to think spring!

UMass Extension offers its 2014 Mass Aggie Seminar Series:
Home Garden Workshops

Eight hands-on workshops are being offered, ranging from grafting fruit trees to native pollinator conservation.

The workshops being offered include:
* Growing & Pruning Blueberries
* Growing & Pruning Raspberries and other Bramble Fruit
* Pruning Apple Trees, A Hands-on Workshop
* Grafting Apple Trees, A Hands-on Workshop
* Growing & Pruning Grapes
* Backyard Apple Orchard Fruiting Wall!
* Insect Pests & Diseases of Apples – and how to manage them
* Native Pollinator Conservation

Locations and dates vary with each workshop.  Go to https://extension.umass.edu/fruitadvisor/mass-aggie-seminars  for complete information and how to sign up

Catalpa bignonioides

William Cullina in “Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines”:

Catalpas are coarse, ponderous trees that for a week or two each spring decorate themselves with large, frilled flowers possessing a hothouse beauty strangely at odds with the visage of the tree itself.  The effect is akin to a heavyweight boxer in drag.

I’d never tried to put to words my impression of catalpas but, by god, I think he nailed it.

Continue reading

Weeds, tools, and rocks

It’s been great to be outdoors over the past several weeks.  It’s been sunny for the most part and the temperatures have been pleasant.  I particularly enjoy watching the flowers bloom and trees and shrubs leaf out.  For better or worse though, spring brings weeds as well as flowers.  We’re got two nasty ones in abundance in this area:  garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica).  The problem with them is that they crowd out native plants.  They colonize areas and don’t provide the foliage, pollen, nectar, fruits, seeds, etc. that wildlife would otherwise get from native species.

This is garlic mustard:


This is Japanese knotweed early in the season Continue reading

Reflections on last weekend

Two observations after having spent much of last weekend gardening:

  • My body is shit.  I need to get more exercise.
  • I don’t know how I managed to get by all these years without a soil knife.  It is one incredibly useful tool.  How did I ever make do with just a trowel?

UPDATE:  The weekend’s major project was to build two raised garden beds.  My wife spend a good chunk of time over the winter researching options and settled on a 4 ft x 8 ft design.  The Sunset design was a good template but we made a few changes when it came time to build.  Specific changes:

  1. We used single 2×10 planks rather than stacked 2×6’s
  2. Used 1-5/8 x 1-5/8 corner posts rather than 4×4’s
  3. Used #12 wood screws rather than #14.
  4. No wire mesh liner.  (Not necessary.)
  5. We didn’t attach the 1-in PVC pipe sections to the inside (the ones to hold hoops)

Materials for two beds:

  • Two 12-ft 2×10 spruce planks ($16 ea)
  • One 8-ft 1-5/8 x 1-5/8 pine ballister post.  Cut it into eight 1-ft sections for corner posts. ($10-ish.  I don’t recall exactly how much.)
  • Box of 100 3-in #12 wood screws.  Steel.  ($17-ish.  Brass would have been about $75.)
  • Two cubic yards of compost.  ($35/yd plus $20 delivery charge)
  • One 30-ish lb bag of partially-composted chicken manure.  ($5)
  • One gallon of Seal-Once waterproofer.  Chosen because it’s non-toxic. ($60/gallon)

Total cost approximately $210 for two finished beds.   I figure we’ll get at least five years out of the wood.  (We have a friend who used untreated wood for hers and they’re fine after four years.)  Provided we do, that seems like a very modest investment.