Monday, January 13, 2020

A New Year and Change of Venue


     Happy New Year, Folks!
For my long-time followers, you have probably realized that I am no longer in Charleston, SC. If you are new to my blog, I had lived the past 22 years in Charleston and my blog was heavily centered on being in that location.

     Many of my articles were fairly generic and were useful for anybody, anywhere, in the world. Today, I wanted to give you some food for thought on what goes into a move from a gardener's perspective. Especially, if it is to a different USDA growing zone.


     If you have never seen this map, it is very useful when trying to figure out what to grow, when to plant it, and when you can expect cold/freezing temperatures. Just to let you know, Charleston was a Zone 8b, almost a 9a. I am now in a 7b, just over an entire zone difference.
     I know what some of you are asking, "What is the big deal?" It can't be that different?

Check out this, Average Last Frost Date and you tell me.


I went from March 15th being my last average frost to April 15th. I have lost a month of growing time. 
     Ok, before I move one, please do not think this is a whining article, I moved here knowing what to expect. The purpose of this writing is to help folks with some resources to learn about their new environment quicker that they may not have thought about, or, just open up some new information for you to seek out even if you have lived in your current spot for decades. This article is/was how I am learning my new surroundings.

     The maps above are one of the greatest tools at your disposal. Remember to take them with a grain of salt, they are just averages. Some years might be earlier, some later. There is always going to be a little luck of the draw when it comes to the weather. 

     Observation. When you are learning a new area while riding around, look at other yards in the neighborhood. A plant that looks really healthy, happy, and growing well is probably a good choice for you. If it looks like it has been whacked back by the cold, melted by the heat, or is just growing weird, you should take that into consideration too. For example, this Sago Palm.


If you are used to it being pretty all the time and move somewhere that might be a tad colder, this will require more work on your part. 

     County Extension Offices. Extension offices are departments located in local counties and universities. These offices are run by university employees and volunteers that are experts in local crops, landscaping, soil, gardening, pests, and more. Almost every single county in the United States has an extension office, and the offices are supported by state universities. Find Your Local Office

     Local Independent Garden Center. I am not talking big box stores here, they receive plants from a buyer that might be hundreds of miles away and usually have no idea of the proper planting times for things. No, I am talking about the mom and pop type places that are not national chains. There are literally thousands of them around the country. If you want an idea of what I am talking about, check out this link for the top 100 Independent Garden Centers in the country. 

     Finally, Common Sense. If you are new to gardening, then the above approaches should be utilized first. For the seasoned gardeners out there, a little common sense will go a LONG WAY. For example, you know that tomatoes love hot weather. If you have moved to Maine from Florida, chances are that you will need to wait a few extra months to plant. Of course, the opposite is true too. If you just moved to Florida, you can plant in February and brag to your snowed-in friends what you are doing.

     Gardening and yard work have always been a little luck, a little knowledge, and a whole bunch of trial and error. That will probably never change. But, if you go into it with as much knowledge and information as you can, your success rate will rise dramatically.

     If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to drop me an e-mail to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.net or .com. You can also follow me on Facebook.

Happy Growing!
Darren

Saturday, December 14, 2019

On The 12th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style


     Well, here we are, Day #12 of Gardener Christmas Gift Ideas. I saved the very best, most personal things that you could give anybody during the holidays.
Love and Time


Spend time with the ones you love. If they love spending time in the garden, give them a Gift Certificate to help, like this:


     Offer them Gift Certificates of your time. Not only will you get to spend quality time, they will appreciate the help.
     Isn't that what the holidays are TRULY about?
     Love, time spent with family, and caring.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts as much as I have writing them?
From the deepest part of my heart I want to wish every person that reads this a

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Kwanzaa
Insert Your Preferred Holiday Here
and a
Joyous and Prosperous New Year

Happy Growing!
Darren

Friday, December 13, 2019

On The 11th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style


     Tomorrow, for the 12th day of Christmas I will have the biggest, bestest, nicest, gift of them ALL!
But first, for the 11th day of Christmas, let's bunch together the first 10 days in a neat little basket.

On the 10th Day of Christmas, we discussed little stocking stuffers.
On the 9th Day of Christmas, we discussed saving all that great food.
On the 8th Day of Christmas, we discussed gardening magazines.
On the 7th Day of Christmas, we discussed gardening memberships.
On the 6th Day of Christmas, we discussed indoor garden kits.
On the 5th Day of Christmas, we discussed organic pest products.
On the 4th Day of Christmas, we discussed garden fertilizers.
On the 3rd Day of Christmas, we discussed finding camellia plants.
On the 2nd Day of Christmas, we discussed many seed vendors.
On the 1st Day of Christmas, we discussed finding citrus plants.
On Black Friday we discussed The Citrus Guy's Books.

     So, how do we put ALL of this info into one neat little basket?
By putting them all in a NEAT LITTLE BASKET, of course!!


These are just a few ideas that I found on Pinterest. You can very easily use any of the links/ideas that I have been talking about for the past 11 days or more and create something special for your gardener.



This is again a Pinterest idea I saw. You can add some pretty artificial flowers, fruit or vegetables to yours to make it that much more personal.


     It does not even need to be a "basket" a pretty colorful pot, pail or bucket would work. What about a wheelbarrow, or utility cart? The only limits would be your imagination.

I hope you have enjoyed these Christmas gift ideas for your gardener. I enjoyed....what?
I didn't do the whole 12 days of Christmas? This only day 11?
Tomorrow is not here yet my friend.
The best always comes last!

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!
Darren

Thursday, December 12, 2019

On The 10th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style


     Today, we will discuss a few smaller items that might be good for Stocking Stuffers or if you just need a small gift. These are miscellaneous things that, while by themselves may not seem overly exciting, they can and WILL be very useful! (Amazon Affiliate Links Alert)



 

My mother may disagree with me on this, but, tagging plants is very important! Especially when you have multiples of the same thing planted, i.e. seeds in pots. You need to know whether that little thing coming up is a carrot, fennel, tomato, or a weed. These multi-color tags are ideal for grouping things into different categories. All of your peppers could be blue, tomatoes red, etc.



#2-Twist Tie Roll-

This handy roll of 328 feet of coated twist tie material is ideal for tieing up tomatoes or other plants that are rather sprawly. Having a roll of this material with a handy cutter makes it easier to use as much or as little as you need for any particular job.


#3- Aluminum Plant Tags-

These tags are designed more for already established plants. I use them on all of my citrus, camellias, and fruiting plants. These plant labels are made of high-quality aluminum material, which is sturdy and durable, can be used for years in any environment. They are Waterproof and Sun Resistant and your label is permanent and remains legible for years. You have plenty of space to write on with a ballpoint pen, pencil, or another sharp object.

     Your gardener will love these little items. Again, they are not very sexy by themselves but believe me, they DO come in handy!

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!
Darren


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

On The 9th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style


     For the 9th Day of Christmas, instead of the ladies dancing, let's have them preserving all of that glorious produce they will be harvesting!


     Like most gardeners, if yours is any kind of a farmer, they will have an overabundance of fruits and veggies come harvest time. What to do with all of that food?

Preserve it!
     I only have two items for you today, but they can REALLY be nice as gifts, especially if YOU end up being on the receiving end of the final product!

These will be Amazon affiliate links, and I use both of these seemingly constantly.

#1- Garden Master Food Dehydrator- I LOVE making my own pepper flakes, fruit roll-ups, and fruit chip snacks. There are many models available, but this is the one I use. It is expandable. As needs grow, this four-tray unit can be expanded with accessory Add-A-Trays, up to 20 trays (20 square feet.) Drying pressure adjusts automatically to the number of trays. Dries in Hours, not Days.

#2- Bernardin Canning Starter Kit- Maybe your gardener is more into pickling or jam/jelly. I LOVE making homemade Pepper Jelly with my hot peppers. So, if they want to learn how to do some canning like Grandma used to make, get them a starter kit.  This kit contains the essential tools needed for beginning canners or for those looking to upgrade their equipment. It includes a starter set of home canning recipes and a home canning "how-to" DVD (English/French).
Set of 12: water bath canner, canning rack, jar lifter, funnel, lid lifter, bubble remover/headspace gauge, 4 mason jars with lids, pectin, and canning DVD.

     The gift of food is always useful, everybody has to eat. This gift reminds me of the story about teaching a man to fish. You can buy pepper flakes and jelly at the store, but teach them to do it themselves and they save LOTS of money!

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!
Darren



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

On The 8th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style

   
     On the 8th day of Christmas, gardener gift ideas, we are going to imitate day 7 slightly.

     But first, a recap in case you have missed any.
For Black Friday, I discussed my books.
On the 1st Day of Christmas-Citrus Plants
On the 2nd Day of Christmas- Seeds
On the 3rd Day of Christmas- Camellia Plants
On the 4th Day of Christmas- Fertilizers
On the 5th Day of Christmas- Organic Pesticides
On the 6th Day of Christmas- Indoor Garden Kits
On the 7th Day of Christmas- Memberships

So, how are we going to imitate day 7?
This gift will also remind them of you, ALL year long!

Sadly, this one, which was my favorite, went out of business.

Garden Magazine Subscriptions
(These will be Amazon Affiliate links)

Here are my top three, but there are many others.

#1-Birds and Blooms- Most gardeners enjoy attracting birds to their gardens, and "Birds and Blooms" combine the two interests into one magazine. There are tips on plants for attracting particular birds, education for those of us who can't identify all the birds that come to our gardens, and of course, crafts and projects and lots and lots of photos.

#2-Fine Gardening- If you only read one gardening magazine, I recommend "Fine Gardening." They just seem to know what's important at the moment. There are regional departments, and the writers come from all over and from all aspects of gardening.

#3-Garden Gate- "Garden Gate" has no advertisements, just lots of colorful pages of gardening how-to and tips. They have regular features like Before & After, Design Challenge, Container Recipe, and Weed Watch. "Garden Gate" always offers something new to learn.

     I mentioned earlier, there are many other fine magazines out there, it will only take a Google Search to locate them. I am familiar with these three and have enjoyed them in the past.

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!
Darren

Monday, December 9, 2019

On The 7th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style


     For the 7th day of Christmas, your gardener will be swimming with the swans all year long, if you get them one of these ideas. I only list three, BUT, if your gardener is not interested in any of these, there are MANY others out there. I will explain in a moment.


     The Gift of Membership- Giving them a membership to their favorite plant society or other horticultural/gardening group for a year will have them remembering YOU all year! Every time they get a magazine, e-mail, or something else from the group you will come to mind.

My three favorites are:

#1-The American Horticultural Society- They offer unique gardening information through The American Gardener magazine, seed, and plant discounts, and more.

#2- Azalea Society of America-  The Azalea Society welcomes membership by anyone interested in azaleas, from all cultures and disciplines. They invite those who wish to learn and those who know and wish to share their knowledge. Some of the major benefits of membership is an association with like-minded gardeners, along with a quarterly 24-page color journal The Azalean.

#3- American Camellia Society- Being as heavily involved as I am in the Camellia world, I saved my absolute favorite for last. There is SO MUCH associated with being a member of this society, things like Quarterly issues of the Camellia Journal, A copy of the American Camellia Society Yearbook,  Free admission to Massee Lane Gardens, and Free or reduced admissions to participating gardens available through the American Horticultural Society's Reciprocal Admissions Program. There are over 300 gardens that participate in this alone!

     Like I said, these are my favorite three, but there are literally dozens, if not hundreds more. A simple Google search of their favorite plant(s) will give you a nice list. For example, do they like Cactus and Succulents?
     What about Daffodils?
If you can think of a plant that they like, chances are there is a group they would LOVE to hear more from.

     This might be a great gift for somebody on a fixed income that would enjoy the magazines, meetings, and other things that membership can bring.

As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!
Darren