Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Needle Drop Is Normal in Evergreens by Mary Small

Photo by Carol King

Spruce trees are getting a lot of attention this fall. Their inner needles are turning yellow or brown and dropping off. To put your mind at ease, it’s not unusual for these conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall.  This is normal evergreen behavior. 

In fact, all conifers (“evergreens”) including spruce, pine, fir, juniper and arborvitae lose their oldest needles every year. Contrary to what the name implies, “evergreens” are not really green forever. Their needles generally have a 2–4 year life span, although spruce trees live about 5-7 years. 
While needle loss occurs every year, the process is usually gradual, over a period of several weeks or even months, depending on species and weather. It’s so gradual, that you might not even notice the needle drop. Some species can shed needles in a fairly short period of time, making it look as though they’re in serious trouble. And environmental problems, like drought, can make needle drop happen more quickly than it would if the tree was healthier.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Three Girls, Three Gardens, Thirty Days by Jennifer Verprauskus

Black Beauty Eggplant

One hot summer day I went to visit my former client’s organic garden and she said to me, “One day I want to eat just from my garden. I wonder if I could do it for a month?” I quickly responded that I loved the idea and wanted to try it. Our friend, who is an organic urban grower, wanted to take this challenge as well. The three of us planned to live off of our gardens from September 1st- September 30th. Since the beginning, our goal has been to promote the awareness of affordable organic gardening through education to empower individuals to make changes to their health and life. In this challenge, the rules were simple. We could share our food, use oils & seasonings, and drink liquids (I was not about to give up my wine for the month as well!) but we could not have any fruits or vegetables we didn’t grow, no flour, quinoa, barley, wheat, rice, pasta, meat, lentils, beans, fish, soy, candy, chips, nuts, chocolate, ice cream, or cheese!
Although I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I was excited. None of us planned our garden to sustain this challenge, but we figured we could be creative with what we had.  In my backyard, just over 1,100 square feet, I was growing over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Kathleen had a smaller back yard and Barb had a much larger yard with vegetables growing everywhere. Between the 3 of us, we had every green imaginable, peppers, tomatoes, acorn squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, hens and much more. It should have been easy, right? 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Colorful and Curious Gourds Provide Fall Garden Interest By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Every year when I plan my garden, I try to add a few items such as gourds, pumpkins and ornamental corn that will add some end of the season color and fun. Gourds are easy to grow and can be functional as well as decorative. 
Gourds fall into several types, such as the hard shell gourds which are grown to make dippers, birdhouses, baskets and bowls. These gourds have very durable shells and can be carved or cut into a variety of functional shapes. Luffa, which are often used as bath sponges, are also a gourd and there are a variety of other gourds of all shapes, sizes and colors that belong to the Cucurbita family.