Category Archives: Home & Garden

Planting Yuccas

Yucca is usually thought of as a desert or semidesert plant, confined to dry areas of the South and the southwestern desert, but several yuccas are surprisingly hardy in the cool, moist regions of the North.

Yuccas are very handsome plants. Nearly all of the 40-odd species have stiff, swordlike silver green leaves, growing in a clump at ground level. From this clump arises a single leafless stalk bearing a magnificent spike of highly fragrant, waxy flowers.

Yuccas blend handsomely in borders, contrast beautifully with the shapes of both evergreen and deciduous shrubs, and can be planted to stand as majestic sentinels on either side of an entrance gate or door. They also serve well lining a driveway, fence or terrace wall, or as a dramatic living sculpture against low, craggy rocks. Finally, yuccas can be grown in tubs and moved around for special effects.

Yuccas Planting and Culture

All yuccas require a sunny and fairly dry location with a light, sandy or gritty well-drained soil. Digging a deep hole and filling it with a sand-humus mixture will take care of this. Apply compost, bone meal and dried manure to the plants once each year. Watering should rarely, if ever, be necessary. Drought produces a lovely foliage and stem patina on desert-type plants. Yuccas generally flower only in alternate years, but the flowers last four to six weeks.

Yuccas are easy to propagate. They can be increased by seed, rhizome or stem cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of an established plant.

In nature, the yucca is pollinated by a small white moth, the pronuba. This night-flying insect deposits her eggs in the seed vessel of a blooming yucca, and then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Yuccas Types

Two species have trunks. The Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) grows up to 40 feet high, its branches twisting into grotesque shapes. The Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia) is about 20 feet tall, and has very sharp-pointed, long leaves and spectacular white or purple-tinged flowers. Neither of these will stand wet winters, and they grow only in the South.

Blooming yucca then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Our-Lord’s-candle (Y. Whipplei) has short basal leaves but sends up great creamy spikes, bearing many blooms. It will not stand frost or wet soil.

Northern gardeners who have never grown the hardy yuccas are missing plants that add great beauty and accent to gardens. One of the best yuccas for northern gardens is the Adam needle (Y. filamentosa), sometimes calm needle palm. It is a deep-rooted, tough-fiberish and some plant that has no trouble in New England winters. Its flower may rise 12 feet or higher. Y. flaccida is a similar species.

Other yuccas for the North are soapweed, and Y. data, both good as far north as southern Minnesota, good drainage and shelter against harsh wind are provided. Y. gloriosa is reportedly able to withstand city smog.

Hydroponic Gardening

From the Greek roots hydro, water, and meaning work, hydroponics is the science of growing plants in water, without soil. Plants are supported in an inert, non-organic medium such as sand, fine gravel or mica compositions, which are saturated with nutrient solutions for short periods. These solutions typically contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, urn, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, and copper. All of the essential foods are available to plant roots quantities.

Hydroponic gardening requires a trough for the plants, an aggregate such as gravel or vermiculite for root support water supply with a pH rating of between 6 and 8.5. Nutrient solutions need to be added with water regularly.

Hydroponics has intrigued scientists because it eliminates the need for ordinary cultivation. Its main cost in the labor is saved by automatics and fertilizing, although installation costs are generally pretty high. So greater crops yield result from hydroponic gardens. Until very recently, corn-acceptance and implementation of hydroponics methods have been impeded by the reliance on chemical nutrient solutions and frequent testing.

With mounting interest in urban agriculture and rooftop food production, however, hydroponics seems destined to assume greater significance. The organic grower can either use a tea made from high-quality compost, or can mix a basic solution of one tablespoon fish emulsion, one tablespoon liquid seaweed, and a teaspoon of blood meal to each gallon of water. The mix varies, depending on the type of plant to be grown. Less blood meal should be used with flowering and fruiting produce than with leafy crops. Other nutrients can also be added: blended eggshells, for example, might be helpful when added to a cabbage crop. Organic hydroponics is very much in a developing stage, and a taste for experimentation is essential.

While soil is cheaper than perlite or vermiculite, it is significantly more difficult to cart up to a rooftop in bulk. Moreover, container soil is prone to rapid leaching and usually requires repeated fertilization, so the actual cost of organic fertilizers for hydroponically grown plants is comparable with that for conventionally grown plants. Hydroponics advocates also point out that since hydroponic roots do not need to grow as far in search of nourishment as the roots of soil-grown plants, planting densities can be more intensive and higher yields can be achieved.

The equipment for hydroponic production can be constructed simply and inexpensively. The container must be elevated slightly at one end and have drainage holes at the opposite end. One-inch plastic pipes with holes drilled every three inches are laid about an inch below the medium and raised at both ends of the box. Smaller rubber hoses coming from the nutrient supply are inserted into the pipe at one end; the upward bend in the pipe at the opposite end stops the flow of the solution. A gravity system for controlling nutrient flow composed of two five-gallon buckets elevated on boxes and standing two feet above the top of the growing container, makes it easy to add nutrients and care for the hydroponic plants.

Planting Aloe Seeds

Grown mainly outdoors in the warmer climates, aloe vera remains among the most popular houseplants. Famous for its medicinal qualities, aloe vera is used to soothe skin irritation, hair care and cosmetics. To grow the plant most persons will start with a ‘pup’ which is a cutting from a mature aloe vera plant. The main reason for this is that they tend to grow a little faster. However, using seeds is also a good option considering that mature plants from seeds do not take considerably longer.

When growing aloe vera from seeds, on average you need aloe vera seed, potting soil, compost, plastic planting tray, 3-inch pots, sand, peat and water. To start, mix peat and sand, then use the moist mixture to fill the plastic planting try. Seeds must be sown on top of the mixture then covered by sprinkling compost over them.

Caring for the Aloe Seed after Planting

The tray must then be placed in a location with temperatures between 70°F and 78°F. Trays must be exposed to sufficient light since this will significantly help the seeds to germinate. Sunlight is essential for germination however, a brown discoloration can result from sunburn so light should be indirect.

Without over watering, ensure that the soil is always moist. It can take anywhere between one to four months for germination to start. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to hold without breaking, the 3-inch pots filled with potting soil should be used to transplant them. Pots are used as the permanent beds for aloe vera because they are often grown for ornamental purposes in and around the home.

When using pots, make sure that the potting soil is well-drained and sandy. Some gardeners prefer to use terracotta (unglazed, clay-based ceramic) pots because they are porous. Making sure that there is a drainage hole can be a good step. Commercial pre-packaged or propagation mixes aid good drainage and are recommended where available. Most will have granite grit or coarse sand as well as extra perlite in them. Succulent and cacti mixes tend to eliminate the guess work as well.

In cold areas or seasons, the pots should be stored indoors (whether in the home or a greenhouse) and kept as warm as possible since they are intolerant of heavy snow and frost. Aloe Vera is resistant to most insects so pest control is relatively easy however, scale insects, aphid species and mealy bugs can damage them.

When watering potted plants, it is important that gardeners allow plants to dry completely before watering them again to avoid sogging which will undermine their health and overall growth. During cold months plants tend to dry out slower than normal so reduce watering.

Watch your aloe vera plants for new shoots when they begin to mature. Once shoots are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be removed to their own pots or they will suck the life from their ‘mother plant’. This is characterized by the mature plant turning bright green and spreading its leaves horizontally instead of upward. Leave newly potted plants for 3 weeks before watering, turning grey or brown shortly after repotting is normal and not a sign that they need water.

Planting Orchids

Cultivation of Hardy Orchids

Many of these are beautiful and quite showy—very worthwhile additions to the garden—and most are quite easily grown if proper attention is given to their requirements. Primary emphasis must be given to soil. Most orchid species require an acid soil of a fibrous loam or peat type that stays moist. Knowledge of their habitat in the wild is essential because some grow in bogs or swamps, some in shady cool woodlands, while others are found in meadows among the grasses where the soil stays cool and damp and some grow even in fairly dry, grassy plains areas. The most important thing is to duplicate as closely as possible their natural habitat in regard to soil and conditions of sun and shade.

Protection from cold during the winter is also important and a heavy mulch of leaves or several inches of peat moss spread over the bed will usually be adequate.

Where to Obtain Orchids

Many dealers in native plant materials list a number of the species most easily grown and having showy flowers. Oftentimes, these dealers can also give suggestions as to their culture. Orchid bulbs are often imported for sale, mainly those of Asiatic origin. Some may be collected from the woods and fields, but one should check on local and state conservation laws before venturing on this quest, and then only at the proper time. Sept. and Oct., when the bulbs and tubers have matured, is the best time for transplanting, but the plants are almost impossible to find then. The best way is to go to the woods in the spring, locate and mark the plants while in bloom, and then return in the fall to collect them. Collecting these plants when in flower and while in active growth is nearly always fatal. They should be taken up with a sizable ball of soil attached to the roots, the bigger, the better, as large as you can manage to transport. Good ones to grow are: Arethusa, Blettilla, Calopogon, Cypripedium (native species), Habenaria, Orchis and Pogonia. Others that will also be worthwhile, though not quite so showy, are Aplectrum, Goodyera and Liparis.

It is best to start with plants that are strong, full grown, well established in the pot and ready to bloom soon. Don’t start out with small, weak plants, seedlings or back bulbs, since they will take several years to bloom and are likely to cause trouble for the novice.

Orchid Problems

Orchids are extremely tough plants that are seldom troubled by diseases, but there are a few cultural problems that crop up. Plants that grow well but do not bloom, especially those with tall, slender, dark, glossy green foliage, need more sun or a food with less nitrogen. “Black-rot” and “soft-rot” in the leaves and pseudo bulbs is usually a sign of too much water, too high humidity, a lack of sufficient air movement or ventilation or a need of repotting. Rotten areas should be cut out, cutting well into the clear green tissue around it, and then the cuts should be sealed with a fungicide powder. Plants should then be dried off for a few days to allow the cut to heal.

Insect problems arise with orchids, as with other plants, but the plants are so tough that the effects are not usually drastic and the symptoms usually take much longer to appear than with other types of plants. Treatment and sprays to be used are the same as for other plants except that new sprays, unless specifically recommended for orchids, should be tested gingerly on a few plants first.

Sunburn usually shows up as large, rough, scalded or blistered-looking areas which turn black with a yellowish margin and then turn hard, dry, gray and papery in a few days or weeks. If the blackened area is soft, squashy and wet or greasy to the touch, then the problem is “black-rot” rather than sunburn.

Orchid Virus Diseases

Several virus diseases are recognized in orchids and, though most are not very wide-spread, it is best to sterilize between every cut all instruments used for cutting orchid plants to avoid transferring a possible virus infection from one plant to another. The 2 most easily recognized are “Flower-Break” virus which causes uneven blotching and “color-break” in the flowers, particularly on Cattleyas, and “Orchid Mosaic” virus which causes light and dark streaks parallel to the veins in the leaves of Cattleyas and some others. Another form is known as “Ring-Spot” which causes yellowish and sometimes dark brownish-black ring-shaped spots in the leaves. There is no known cure for any of these virus diseases, so suspected plants should be isolated until some authority can inspect them. Infected plants should be destroyed, since the virus can be spread to others. Insects that chew and suck on the plants are said to be one method of spreading the virus, but the orchid grower with his cutting tools is much more likely to be the offender. He can spread the virus every time he divides a plant, cuts off a flower, an old bulb or leaf, so it is best to sterilize all cutting instruments between every cut and no doubt it would be wise to sterilize pots between uses, also.

Planting Apple Trees

Cultivated in Europe for more than 2,000 years, the apple was introduced to this country soon after the Europeans first arrived. Today, Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the leading producers of apples. The number of trees has dropped since early in this century, but yields have remained about the same thanks to superior sites, soils and better orchard management. Per capita consumption of apples has suffered as better transportation has made citrus fruit more available. The most popular varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, and York. Such old standbys as Baldwin, Grimes, Northern Spy, and Wealthy are losing popularity.

Apples will grow in almost any soil, but do best in a clay loam. A general rule is that they thrive in soils suited to common cereals and potatoes. A sloped site promotes air drain-age, thus minimizing frost damage, but also encourages soil erosion. Such steep sites can be grown to alfalfa sod, and the growth cut two or three times a season.

Trees must be provided with plenty of organic matter, such as a heavy mulch of alfalfa or grass clippings. Sweet clover, seeded late in July, makes an excellent winter ground cover. Leave it standing through the following summer or turn it under in spring. If the surface soil is low in fertility, rye will do better than clover but must be turned under before it develops fully, as it tends to grow woody when mature and could threaten young trees.

Mulches should be deep enough to smother the weeds beneath the branches. Increase the depth of the mulches as the years pass: a five-year-old tree can use 100 pounds of straw; trees two to four years old will need proportionately less.

Natural forms of nitrogen can be applied in the fall after the foliage has dropped. Use 21/4 pounds of dried blood or 41/2 pounds of cottonseed meal per tree. If too much nitrogen reaches a tree late in the season, the resultant growth may be susceptible to winter injury.

Young trees have shallow root systems, and are therefore more vulnerable to shortages of water and nutrients than well-established trees. Larger trees also can rely on food re-serves in the bark and wood in hard times.

To protect trees from field mice and other small animals, place fine-mesh wire screens or wrap two thicknesses of aluminum foil around the base in the fall. Also, staking a new tree may be necessary where wind or heavy snow might cause it to grow crooked. Placing a four-inch barrier of one to two-inch crushed rock on the bottom, sides and top of the planting hole is also effective.

In late winter or early spring, while trees are dormant and before their buds begin to swell, a dormant oil spray should be applied. This mixture of 3 percent miscible oil and water smothers many insect eggs before hatching.

Planting Apples

Buy healthy one or two-year-old trees about three to five feet tall and plant them after the leaves have fallen, from late October into early November. Freshly dug trees can also be planted early in spring, but in spring land dries slowly and the growing season maybe well advanced by the time the orchard is planted. Young apple trees withstand the shock of transplanting best when they are dormant, another good reason for fall planting. By planting your trees before the ground freezes, some new growth of the roots will take place at once and the trees will have a good start on the sea-son when spring comes.

Set the trees 40 feet apart in and between the rows. Make the holes for them just large enough to accommodate the root development of each tree. Set the trees an inch lower in the ground than they stood in the nursery; a young apple tree will not root any deeper by deep planting, and may suffer for it.

Trees of at least two varieties should be planted within 50 feet of one another, because pollination of one variety by the pollen from another is usually required for the trees to bear.

Apple Nutrition

If your soil is very acid, broadcast one pound of lime and 1/2 pound of phosphate rock per tree over the entire orchard before planting. One-half this amount may well be sufficient for young trees grown in a cover crop that is mowed for mulch. If apple trees are grown in sod and mulched with non-legume hay, add dried blood or other nitrogenous fertilizer. Increase the amount with each recurring season, reaching a maximum application of two pounds of nitrogen for seven or eight-year-old trees. Apply nitrogenous material in a circle about three feet wide under the outer extremities of the branch spread.

A deficiency of nitrogen will show up as small, yellowish leaves. If the foliage rolls and scorches that indicates a lack of potassium in the soil. A liberal mulch of manure (or clover mulch to which lime has been added) mixed with the right amount of potash rock to the acre, will adjust the potassium deficiency.

Falling Apples

The fall of apples, if not in excess, is a natural phenomenon, nature’s way of removing improperly pollinated fruit. This also removes fruit that the tree could not normally bring to maturity without exhausting its nutrient supply. Two abscission periods generally occur. The “first drop” begins shortly after petal fall and lasts for two or three weeks. The so-called “June drop,” which begins a few days after the completion of the first drop, is somewhat of a misnomer since it normally spans two to four weeks anywhere from late May to early June. Excessive drop may be caused by a deficiency of boron or magnesium, or by too little moisture, and heavy applications of nitrogen may encourage drop.

Apple Scab

Apple scab spends the winter on dead fruit and dead leaves on or under the tree. It can be prevented largely by carefully removing all dead leaves and fruit to the compost heap and mulching under the tree. A dormant oil spray will also help.

Old Apple Trees

Apple trees may bear crops for 30 to 50 years. If the trunk or branches are badly rotted or about a quarter of the top is dead through disease or winter injury, it is not ordinarily worthwhile to attempt salvage. However, here’s some general advice when trying to bring new life into old neglected trees:

Cut out old wood and prune heavily to strong, new growth; remove all suckers not necessary to replace the top; prune out inter-lacing branches to open the trees to light and the circulation of air; break up the soil around the tree, working in a great deal of compost, manure and organic materials; apply organic nitrogen such as dried blood, cottonseed meal or nitrogen-rich sludge, about 25 to 35 pounds per tree; mulch heavily. Do this regularly for several seasons.

Vitamin C Content of Apples

Apples are an important source of vitamin C, although the varieties differ greatly in their level of this vitamin. While five Delicious apples provide a minimum amount of vitamin C, one could get the same amount from two Wine saps or one Baldwin. Yellow Newton and Northern Spy are other good sources. McIntosh, Jonathan and York Imperial rate low in vitamin C.

Baldwin is widely grown in the eastern United States. It is sensitive to the climatic extremes existing west of Lake Michigan, how-ever. Northern Spy, another high-C apple, is also adaptable to the midcontinent and eastern region. Northern Spy is an excellent dessert or eating apple, but is not too useful for cooking. Baldwin is just the reverse. It is good for making pies and applesauce, but not too good for eating fresh. So by planting both of those trees you will get good supplies of both cooking and eating apples that are rich in vitamin C.

Tests have shown that most of the vitamin C in apples is right in or under the skin, and the skin can contain five times as much of the vitamin as the flesh. It is interesting that small apples are richer in vitamin C than large apples; small apples have more area of skin per pound of fruit, and this greater percentage of skin is probably the cause of the higher vitamin C content. It is fortunate that apples lose very little of their vitamin C in storage. If stored at 36°F. (2.22°C.), Baldwin apples will lose no vitamin C over a period of five or six months. However, if the storage temperature gets up to 45° F (7.22° C), some of the vitamin content will be lost.

Selecting a Location for an Apple Tree

Each variety does best in certain regions of the country. In the Northeast, the Great Lakes keep the growing season cool and summer rainfall is usually dependable. Growers in the central Atlantic region worry more about rainfall. Warmer temperatures dictate that most orchards be placed at fairly high elevations in the Appalachians. Warm temperatures in the Ohio Basin region cause more importance to be placed on a sufficient rainfall; droughts tend to be quite serious. Soils that can hold water well to a depth of three to four feet will minimize the threat of damage. In the north central states, cold winters are the grower’s main concern. Cold-resistant varieties have been developed, and include Haralson, Honeygold, Red Baron, Joan, Secor, Anoka, and Regent. Sunny summers and relative freedom from spring frost damage make the West Coast an excellent apple-growing area, although large orchards often must be irrigated.

In general, the primary consideration determining what variety can be grown is temperature. Talk with growers in the immediate area and extension service agents about the dangers of spring frost, in particular, and the suitability of temperature the rest of the year.

A persistent heavy wind may render a site unsuitable, making spraying difficult and affecting fruit set. The best sites are elevated rolling or sloping fields; low-lying areas tend to collect cold air.

Although they cost a bit more initially, dwarf apple trees offer several advantages to the home orchardist. Most standard apple varieties take five to ten years to bear fruit; dwarf trees bear from one to three years after planting. A dwarf produces an average of one to three bushels (50 to 150 pounds) of fruit per season—plenty for the average family—and the fruit is as large as or larger than that of the standard tree. Because they grow only six to eight feet high – 15 feet in the case of semidwarfs – dwarfs are easy to spray and pick from. They also require much less space; you can plant six dwarfs in the amount of space required for one standard tree.

Gardeners interested in growing some of the colorful old apple varieties of yesteryear, either for their superior regional adaptability or exceptional taste, should consider grafting scions of old varieties like American Beauty, Rhode Island Greening and Cox Orange. Individuals and groups who raise these old favorites can often be traced through local nurseries, horticultural societies or county agricultural extension offices. Other old-time varieties that once flourished in backyards and small orchards include Ben Davis, Black Gilliflower, Blue Pearmain, Esopus Spitzenburg, Maiden’s Flush, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, and Fameuse.

Preparing Garden Soil

The key to any successful gardening is good soil preparation. Inadequate attention to preparation at the outset is difficult to remedy once the plant has put down its roots and become established.

First of all, it is extremely important to clear the soil of perennial weeds. If only one piece of many of these remains, it will soon re-grow and, if the roots become entwined in those of the climber, could become impossible to eradicate. Once the planting area is completely cleared, however, it is not such a difficult task to remove weed seedlings and keep the bed and the plants clear from then on.

Digging is important, too, as it breaks up the soil, allowing moisture and air to enter, both being vital to the well-being of the plant. The process also allows the gardener to keep an eye out for any soil pests. Dig the soil some time before you intend to plant thebe; digging in autumn and planting in early spring, after checking for any emerging weeds, is ideal.

As you dig the soil, incorporate well-rotted organic material. Not only does it provide food for the plants but it also helps to improve the structure of the soil. The fibrous material helps to breakdown the soil to a crumbly consistency, which allows free drainage of excess water and, at the same time, acts as a reservoir to hold sufficient water for the plants without water-logging them.

The final breaking down of the soil with a rake is more for aesthetic appeal than usefulness; the planting area will look more attractive if it has a smooth finish than if it is left rough.

If possible, prepare an area of at least1-1.2 m/3-4 ft in diameter, so that the roots can spread out into good soil as they grow.

Soil conditioners

Most gardens have patches where, for whatever reason, there is less moisture than elsewhere. If you improve the soil and select plants that are able to thrive in dry conditions, however, this need not be a problem.

Chipped or composted bark has little nutritional value, but makes a good mulch when spread on the surface, by reducing water evaporation and discouraging weeds. It will break down in time. Farmyard manure is rich in nutrients but often contains weed seed; it is a good conditioner. Garden compost (soil mix) is also very good as a conditioner and has good nutrient value. Leaf mould, made from composted leaves, also has good nutritional value and is an excellent conditioner and mulch. Peat is not very suitable as it breaks down too quickly and has little nutritional value.

Tending The Soil

1. Using a chemical spray is the only way to be sure of completely eradicating perennial weeds. Use a non-persistent herbicide, which breaks down when it comes into contact with the soil. It is vital always to follow the instructions on the pack exactly, not only for the obvious safety reasons but also to ensure you use the correct dose to kill all the weeds in the area first time.

2. If the turf to be removed does not include perennial weeds, or the soil is friable enough for the weed’s roots to be removed by hand, it is safer to remove the turf by slicing it off with a spade. Stack the turf in a heap, grass-side down, and use them as compost (soil mix)when they have broken down.

3. Dig over the soil ‘and, as you dig, remove any weed roots and large stones. Double dig, if the subsoil needs to be broken up. Add as much well-rotted organic material as you can to the soil before it is planted, in order to improve its condition.

4. Add the compost (Soil mix) or manure to the soil as you dig, or spread it over the top after all weed roots have been removed, and fork it in.

5. If you dig in the autumn, leave the soil for the winter weather to break down; at any other time, break the soil down by hand into a reasonably fine tilth. Use a rake or hoe to break down the larger lumps of soil, until the bed has an even appearance

Preparing Surface for Covering

Once the previous wall and ceiling decorations have been removed the next task is to restore any defects in the surfaces to be covered, and then to prepare them so that they present the perfect substrate for successful paperhanging.

The first step is to put down some heavy-dory plastic sheeting on the floor to catch splashes, and then to wash down the hare wall and ceiling surfaces thoroughly with strong household detergent or sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner), working from the bottom upon walls, and then to rinse them off with clean water, working this time from top to bottom on walls. Turn off the electricity supply first in case water gets into light switches and socket outlets (receptacles). Leave the surfaces to dry out thoroughly.

Next, repair defects such as cracks, holes and other surface damage which may have been concealed by the previous decorations, or even caused by their removal.

Finally, treat the wall and ceiling surfaces with a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste, and leave this to dry before starting paperhanging. Size seals porous plaster, providing a surface with absorption, and also makes it easier to slide the pasted lengths of wall covering into position on the wall.

Wash wall surfaces with sugar soap (all-purpose cleaner) or detergent, working from the bottom up , then rinse them with clean water, working from the top down

Wash ceilings with a floor mop or squeegee, after disconnecting and removing light fitting.. Again, rinse off with clean water.

Fill cracks, holes other detects in the wall and ceiling surfaces as appropriate, leave the filler to harden and then sand the repair down flush.

Apply a coat of size or diluted wallpaper paste to wall and ceiling surfaces that are to be papered, and leave them to dry before starting paperhanging.

CROSS-LINING

If the wall surface is in poor condition, has been previously decorated with gloss paint or is being decorated with a thin fabric wall covering, it is best to hang lining(liner) paper first. This is usually hung horizontally rather than vertically, with butt joints between lengths and with ends and edges trimmed just shun of adjacent ceiling and wall surfaces. Use the same type of paste for the lining paper as for the subsequent wall covering.

MEASURING AND CUTTING TO LENGTH

1. For quick and easy calculations, mark the length of the pasting table at 30 cm/12 in intervals using a pencil and metal straight edge.

2. Measure the length of wall covering needed for the drop, including trim allowances., and mark this on the paper. Cur the first piece to length.

PASTING WALL COVERINGS

1. Face the light to make it easy to spot any unpasted areas – they look dull, nor shiny. Apply a generous hand of pastedown the centre of the length.

2. Align one edge of the wall covering with the edge of the pasting table, then brush the paste out towards that edge from the centre band.

3. Draw the length across to the other edge of the table, and apply paste out to that edge Rio. Check that there are no dry or thinly pasted areas.

4. Continue pasting until the end of the table is reached. Then lift the pasted end of the wall covering and fold it over on itself, pasted side to pasted side.

5. Slide the paper along the table so the folded section hangs down. Paste the rest of the length and fold the opposite end over on itself.

Planting Blueberries

This popular insect-resistant shrub, growing six to ten feet high, bears plenty of fine-tasting fruit and adds beauty to the home when used as an informal hedge.

Blueberry Soil

The cultivated blueberry is still close enough to its wild ancestors to be appreciative only of natural, organic fertilizers. They like humus and soft, woodsy soil so much that it is almost a question of growing them organically or not growing them at all.

In nature the blueberry plant displays its blossoms and tasty fruit in the seldom-frequented spots of forest and wilderness whose soil is covered with a rich blanket of decaying vegetation. It grows wild among the redwoods of California, on forest hillsides in New England and on the broad crests of the Appalachian ridges.

Soil should be of a pH from 5 to 5.6, which is quite acid. A liberal amount of peaty material is needed; a mulch of peat is fine. If additional acid is needed, use peat or compost made without lime to give the right acidity. The peat should be dug into the earth, and well intermixed with it.

Despite the need for moisture, blueberries require good drainage. Water should not stand on the surface. If you need to keep the water condition right, dig an open ditch or install tile drains. Cool, moist, acid conditions are needed in the soil for the best growth of roots to support the plants.

Blueberry Planting

Upon arrival of plants (rooted shrubs) for setting out, it is urgent that the roots be protected from drying. Cover them at once with soil or burlap—if unpacked. Do not expose the roots to the drying effects of sun or wind. Put the plants in a cool moist cellar or in the shade till set. Dig the hole large enough to receive roots without bending or cramping them. When the subsoil is very hard, break it up at the bottom of the hole, using a pick or crowbar if necessary. Set the plants slightly deeper than they stood in the nursery and spread all roots out naturally. Place good surface soil next to the roots and work it in with the hands. When the hole is half-filled, tamp the soil firmly. Fill the hole and tamp the soil harder. Leave loose soil on top or cover with mulch. Leave a saucer like depression at the top to catch water. If manure is used, it should be well rotted and worked into and mixed with the soil. Manure can be used on top for mulch. Never put fresh or un-rotted manure next to the roots. It may heat or dry out and hurt the roots.

Careful planting is important and should never be hastily done. In all cases, pack the soil firmly about the roots and use moist soil for the purpose. Young plants, usually eight to 15 inches high, should be planted in early spring or late fall. Space them about five feet apart, with the rows about seven feet apart. Ten- to 15-year-old bushes usually yield about 14 quarts of berries.

Blueberries are not self-pollinating, so more than one variety should be planted. Since each of the common varieties has slightly different characteristics, it is good home-garden practice to plant a selection of different types. They ripen at different times and vary slightly in flavor.

For good pollination, encourage and protect bees wherever possible.

Preferred varieties in the two chief areas of high bush blueberry production are as follows:

Michigan-Early: Earliblue; Midseason: Blue Ray, Bluecrop; Late: Jersey, Coville.

New Jersey-Early: Earliblue, Blue Ray, Ivanhoe; Midseason: Bluecrop, Berkeley; Late: Herbert, Darrow.

Some of the older varieties like Concord, Rancocas, Weymouth, and Stanley do well in the northern and middle Atlantic states, because they usually produce smaller berries than the varieties listed above.

Blueberry Pruning

In the wild, blueberry plans are pruned by the “burning over” process on the managed areas; the old stems are burnt out. But in the garden the pruning shears need to be used after four or five years from set. Varieties vary greatly in growing habits. Some of the more open and flat-topped ones like Cabot, Herbert and Pioneer need very little pruning. The upright and close-growing varieties (Weymouth, Rubel and Rancocas), on the other hand, need considerable opening to prevent them from becoming too thick and bushy. A little attention to the natural degree of openness will suggest what thinning-out to do—if any is needed. It is well to compare and contrast different modes of growth before starting the pruning.

There are two types of growth to cut out in pruning—the very slender stems which may not bear much, and the oldest and largest that have borne several years and may not bear much more, except at the tips. It is well to keep the clumps fairly open to avoid crowding and shading. More than one foot asunder for all stems is too open; less than four inches is too close.

Blueberry Planting Problems

It is important to suppress all weeds. This is best done by the liberal application of acid mulches each year—peat and oak leaves are better than sawdust or pine needles. Compost is helpful. Woodland soil is often suitable for the plants.

Insect damage to blueberries is confined primarily to the blueberry fruit fly, whose eggs hatch into maggots inside the ripening berry, and the cherry fruit worm, a small red worm whose damage is usually confined to large commercial plantings. Best control of the fruit is rotenone dust, 25 pounds to the acre. It is applied five times between June and the end of harvest. Shallow cultivation also helps by imposing larvae to predator ants and birds.

The most troublesome blueberry disease is mummy berry, which causes berries to rot and fall off. Control by collecting old mummies off the ground or turning them under when cultivating.

Planting Artichokes

Native to the Mediterranean region, the globe artichoke is finding increasing popularity among gardeners in the damp mild coastal regions of this country. Generally three to five feet tall, this coarse, herbaceous perennial has large, lobed leaves to three feet long and good-sized heads that take on a violet shade as they ripen. The base of the scales of the unripe flower head, along with the bottom part of the artichoke, is eaten either cooked or raw.

Artichokes are best planted as started seedlings in trenches eight inches deep, lined with one inch of compost or rotted manure. While it does best in rich sandy loam, the artichoke will grow on any kind of soil, so long as it is trenched, pulverized and well manured. Plant roots five to six inches below the surface, cover with soil and tamp firmly. When plants are six inches tall, mulch heavily to preserve moisture. Cut away all but six of the suckers that develop at the base when plant reaches eight inches and transplant the suckers to make a new row. Plant these singly two feet apart, in rows at least four feet apart, or in groups of three in triangles, at least four feet apart in the row. Protect the young suckers with hot caps, evergreen boughs or some other protecting material. Cut plants back to the ground in fall. In cool areas, protect through the winter with an inverted bushel basket with leaves.

During dry weather furnish artichokes with copious amounts of manure water or compost tea. Deep, thorough watering is best, followed by a liberal mulching of half-rotted manure between the rows.

Crops are produced in spring in warmer areas; in summer farther north. Halfway through the growing season, apply a small handful of fertilizer around the base of each plant, and repeat after harvest. When harvesting, cut with one inch of stem. The preferred method of preparing artichokes is to harvest a head while still green and unopened, when it is about the size of an orange. Heads are placed in a pot of cold water, salted and cooked for 45 minutes after the water has begun to boil. Individual leaves are then picked off and eaten one by one, starting at the outside. The thickened bottom portion of the leaf is dipped in melted butter or basil vinaigrette and its fleshy part stripped between the teeth. When all the leaves have been eaten and the hairy “choke” at the heart removed, the meaty and delicious artichoke heart—the best part of the plant—reveals itself.

The variety most commonly grown in this country is large Green Globe, which normally buds in its second year.

Although it bears a slight resemblance in taste, the globe artichoke is completely unrelated to the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthustuberosus), a North American sunflower.

Bird Watching

The interest in watching birds and attracting them to the garden has grown enormously in recent years. Their beauty, song and active behavior make birds the most conspicuous form of wildlife that lives in close proximity to man. Their exuberant presence can transform the garden from a collection of plants into a lively community of interrelated life forms. They satisfy a human need for close contact with the wild things that share the planet with us. Organic gardeners value birds highly in their role as efficient predators of insects. A varied population of resident birds will help to control insect pests. Bird and insect populations tend to balance each other out, and birds will disappear from gardens that are doused with pesticides and herbicides at every appearance of aphid and dandelion. The slate gray berries of the juniper will satisfy the appetites of some birds which might otherwise turn to the garden for food. Organic gardeners are accustomed to thinking of pests in terms of balanced control rather than overkill, and they have taken an important first step in making their gardens attractive to birds by refusing to use these poisons. The birds will increase its number and variety if a few other requirements are met.

Birds have three basic needs for survival-food, water and cover. A well-stocked feeder can increase the garden’s bird population dramatically in winter, and a birdbath can be a busy center of activity during the heat of summer. These two amenities in combination with plantings attractive to birds as nesting site, shelter and sources of food will help to insure a year-round population of birds in the garden.

Planting for Birds

In the wild, more species of birds will be found in the brushy area where woods and fields meet than will be found in the interior of either the woods or fields themselves. Ecologists call this phenomenon “edge effect,” and when it can be duplicated on the home grounds, a greater variety of birds will be encouraged to take up residence there. One way to accomplish this is by surrounding the lawn with a thick border of fruiting trees and shrubs. The wider and more varied in content the border is, the better, but even a narrow boundary hedge can make a garden more appealing to some birds. A gradation of heights in the planting will make it more aesthetically pleasing and more attractive to more species of birds. Some birds, robins among them, forage on the lawn; others like catbirds and mocking-birds prefer to nest in dense shrubbery; and still others such as orioles spend most of their time in tall trees. The outer edges of the planting might be framed by tall shade trees, grading down to small fruiting trees and tall shrubs faced in turn by lower shrubs around the center of the lawn, which should be kept as open as possible so the birds can be seen. Evergreens should be included in the border because of their value as year-round cover. Mass them where a permanent screen is wanted, or where they can serve as a windbreak for the garden and house. This kind of mass border when lawn planting will provide birds with an abundance of nesting sites, a variety of habitats, ample shelter, and food in the form of insects, seeds and fruit. It can be installed over a period of years as the budget permits, and will amuse its owner with little work once established.

Bird gardens are of necessity low-maintenance gardens because birds prefer things tone as natural as possible. Converting large areas of lawn into islands and borders of shrubbery cuts down on the monotonous chore of grass mowing. The shrubs and trees in the bird garden might be pruned occasionally to induce formation of forks and crotches that can support nests, but they should be allowed to grow together, thicket fashion, to some extent. Close dipping of fruiting shrubs should be avoided because it reduces berry production. Use the pruning as pea stakes in the vegetable garden, or to make a brush pile in some out-of-the-way corner. Brush piles are attractive to ground-dwelling birds as resting and feeding areas. Bramble fruits can be planted around them to form dense thickets which are the preferred nesting sites of several species. Leaves which fall in the shrub borders should not be raked up. Leaf litter harbors many insects and is a rich foraging area for birds, and it will slowly decay into leaf mold, which is the only fertilizer the shrubbery will need. Many common weeds will furnish valuable seeds for birds. The common annuals lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium) and pigweed (Amaranthus) produce highly nutritious seeds favored by many species. The plants can be cut in fall, tied in shocks and placed near feeders or among shrubs so birds have access to the seeds in winter. The purple black berries of pokeweed are eaten by 28 species of birds. This plant can make a showy addition to the shrub border. Gardeners may rebel at allowing such pests as ragweed and poison ivy to get established in the garden, but both are excellent bird food plants. Garden flowers are most closely associated with hummingbirds, but many will provide food for other birds if allowed to ripen their seeds. The colorful small-seeded sunflowers, cosmos, China asters, marigolds, and zinnias are especially good.

Even though a planting devoted to birds should be kept as casual and wild as possible, it should be as carefully planned as any other major landscaping project. There are limits to the amount of actual jungle that can be tolerated, especially on small suburban properties where there are usually finicky neighbors to contend with. Make a scale drawing of the area to be planted, and lay out the planting on paper before anything is put in the ground. While it is true that a great variety of plant material means a great variety of birds, don’t overdo it by planting one each of two dozen different shrubs at random around the garden. Try to group at least three shrubs of each species together, and repeat the groups at various places in the border. This will insure good cross-pollination and fruit set, and will make the border more pleasing to the eye by giving it a pattern. Choose plants that fruit at different times so food is available most of the year. A limited list of proven bird attractors follows.

If there are no natural sources of water in the vicinity, a well-placed birdbath will add treatly to the attractiveness of the garden for birds. Almost any wide, shallow container with rough interior surface, gradually sloping sides, and a maximum depth of three inches will do. Place the birdbath out in the open away from shrubbery which might hide lurking cats. A waterlogged bird is a clumsy flier and makes easy prey. Where cats are a problem, a pedestal-type bath is best. Otherwise, a naturalistic bath can be made by scraping a depression in the ground and lining it with concrete. The gleam and sound of dripping water will attract more birds. A hose can be suspended from overhead tree branches and turned on just enough to provide a slow, steady drip, or a bucket with a pinhole in the bottom can be hung over the bath. Make the hole very small initially; it can always be enlarged if desired. The bucket can be camouflaged with bark, and it should be covered to prevent debris and birds from falling in. During warm weather, a popular bath may need a daily refilling and a weekly scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove algae. It can be interesting to watch the elaborate preening ritual birds go through after bathing. Keep them in view while they do this by placing a few dead branches near the bath for them to perch on.

Attracted by the garden insects, eastern bluebirds will nest in the hollows of nearby trees or in homemade birdhouses nailed to fence posts.

Great migrations of birds to and from their breeding grounds take place in spring and fall. The well-planted bird garden can be a welcome resting and feeding place for tired migrants during these seasons, and the sedentary gardener busy with his own seasonal routines can sense the wonder of this continent-spanning flow of life as he watches them come and go. Many northern birds looking for a good place to spend the winter appear in fall. These winter visitors together with the resident birds can make the garden a lively place all season if food is provided to keep them around. Feeder-watching can be one of the greatest pleasures of dreary winter days, and it is a good way of becoming familiar with birds. The lure of a reliable food source overcomes their instinctive wariness and brings them out in the open where they can be easily seen. The birds may become dependent on the feeder once natural food sources are used up, so if you start feeding, don’t stop until winter is over. Any of the commercial wild bird feed mixes or fine cracked corn and sunflower seed will satisfy the seed eaters. Suet and peanut butter will attract additional species.