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Garden Ramblings, Issue #042
February 15, 2008
February 2008

Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos.


In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- The Most Beautiful Flower Garden
- Addicted to Composting
- Organic Gardening by the Phases of the Moon
- The Rise And Fall And Rise Again Of Garden Gnomes
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the February issue of Garden Ramblings. When I was searching for articles to include in this issue, I found two, but then noticed a third which I could not resist. So there are three this month.

The first is by Patsy Bredahl. Most people agree that the secret of success in gardening lies in the soil and one way to improve your soil is to add compost. After reading her article you may not become "addicted" but you will pick up some useful tips.

Our second guest author is Julie Williams whose subject is Moon Planting. This is one of those techniques that I have always meant to try, but never seem to have been sufficiently organized to do so.

Garden gnomes feature in the extra article by Sandy Cosser. I am always on the lookout for stories about these little creatures which, as she says, "You either love garden gnomes or you hate them".

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

We start with a video. Perhaps not quite "The Most Beautiful Flower Garden" but if you like tulips this is for you.

Enjoy the issue.





The Most Beautiful Flower Garden

The Most Beautiful Flower Garden



Addicted to Composting
by Patsy Bredahl

It was in the fall of 1998 that I took up composting. Most Saturday mornings were spent watching gardening shows on HGTV and DYI. I understood that without good soil a garden was doomed to failure. What better way to achieve good soil but with compost? I wanted to find out more about composting before I began. So I went on a search for a book on composting. There are many good books out there with a lot of good information on composting. But one book really caught my eye because of the title, "Let It Rot" by Stu Campbell. How appropriate because that is what happens when plant material decomposes. I read that book cover to cover. I'm sure I got some strange looks from people when I took it to read while waiting for an appointment. I enjoyed that book as much as any novel I'd ever read!

There are numerous methods of composting. The three bin system is probably one of the most efficient methods to compost. The first bin holds your raw material. The second bin holds the compost material you are currently working on. When it is completely composted you place it in the third bin. This method is for someone with plenty of room plus excess energy. Since I have neither, this was not the method I chose.

I decided to go the slower way. I found a good size plastic bin that snapped together at one of the big box stores for $75. It wasn't too ugly and I found a place in the back corner of the yard behind the shed to hide it. With this method all I had to do was add garden waste and produce from my kitchen that was past the point of human consumption. I had to turn the pile a few times a week and keep it moist but not wet.

We had an abundance of leaves at our South Austin home. The main component of my compost was leaves for the carbon portion of my compost. For the nitrogen portion I mostly used vegetable waste from left over produce. I also used a store bought compost activator.

There are several good compost activators to help get your compost cooking. You can just leave some compost from your last batch and mix it in with your next batch. Blood Meal and animal manure are good nitrogen sources to get compost going quicker.

The recommended carbon to nitrogen mixture is 30:1. It doesn't have to be exact-after all who is going to stand there and measure everything. A general rule is that if it is breaking down too slowly, you probably have too much carbon or you are not keeping it damp enough. If it is smelly, you either have it too wet or you have too much nitrogen.

My Husband once accused me of over buying fruits and vegetables so some would be left for the compost bin! I don't think I ever did that but it does cut down on the guilt when the produce in the refrigerator deteriorates past recognition. It can go into the compost instead of the trash and into a landfill.

In November of 2006 we sold our house in South Austin. We had thought about simplifying and moving to an apartment. So I gave my green plastic bin to a good friend and fellow gardener.

But then we decided that apartment life was not for us. We bought a house in Hutto, near all our Grand kids.

I was having deep withdrawal symptoms from not composting. I had been interested in trying a compost tumbler. So we spent a little more than was practical and bought a small compost tumbler through mail order. I also keep a garbage can nearby to store the raw material for the tumbler. With the tumbler, the best way to compost is to fill it up all at once and turn the handle at least five turns a day. It is an easy way to compost. No turning with a pitch fork or shovel. . I believe that the less waste we can put in our landfills, the better our environment. The richer the compost we put back in our gardens, the richer the soil will become, the less fertilizer we will need and the happier our plants will be. I'm glad to be addicted to composting!



About the Author
Patsy Bredahl is a Master Gardener living in Williamson County, Texas. She is a retired nurse and enjoys spending time with her family including 10 grandchildren. If you are interested moving to the Austin, TX area, please visit Austin Realtor Ronnie Bredahl at


Organic Gardening by the Phases of the Moon
by Julie Williams

Every early culture known throughout the world knew and implemented the benefits of planting with the phases of the moon.

Planting according to the phase of the moon is now looked upon by some as lunacy (if you'll pardon the pun) and by others as an integral part of their organic gardening strategy. Personally I believe in giving every plant the best possible chance of growing into a strong and healthy specimen.

So if we are to believe that the moon influences the behaviour of water on the earth, then it is reasonable to think that it influences both soil and plant tissue. After all, the gravitational pull of our moon causes the tides to ebb and flow twice a day - an incredible influence.

While there are many systems that have been exhaustively tested and recorded, I think that results will vary depending on your particular weather conditions and soil type. The effects of moon planting are pretty much non-existent in soils where chemical fertilizers and pesticides are in use.

Working with the appropriate phase of the Moon for each aspect of planting, cultivation, and harvesting can increase quality along with quantity of your yield. The actual days of Full Moon and New (or Dark) Moon are best avoided. Try the suggestions below and keep notes of your results in your garden diary.

* From the new moon to the first quarter - at this time there is a greater upward pull by the moon - it is a good time to be planting any leaf producing crops such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, Chinese vegetables etc. as well as flowering annuals

* From the first quarter through to the full moon - this is when you can concentrate on above the ground growth, the fruiting type of plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, legumes etc.

* From the full moon through to the last quarter - now is the time to be focusing on root crops such as radish, carrots, potatoes etc. as well as bulbs, biennials and perennials

* In the last quarter through to the new moon - Do Not Plant! You can either take the week off or spend your time weeding, tidying and mulching.

Another very simple and easy to remember rule for planting with moon phases is: to plant crops that produce above the ground during the increasing light of the moon (from new moon to full moon) and to plant crops that produce below the ground during the decreasing light of the moon (from full moon to new moon).

I believe it's worth giving a go in your garden. Anything that is going to increase your yields is worth trying - especially when it is totally free. Good luck.


About the Author
Julie is an avid organic gardener and recycler, living on a small country property in South Australia. Her mission is to encourage as many people as possible to garden organically. Please visit her website for great info Beginners Organic Gardening or Companion Planting Guide



If you want a free copy of the Moon Calendar click the "moon phase info" link above.


The rise and fall and rise again of garden gnomes
by Sandy Cosser

You either love garden gnomes or you hate them. In the realm of the garden gnome there are no shades of grey. This is meant literally as well as figuratively, as gnomes come in a variety of bright colours. They have faded in and out of vogue since their creation in 1800 and are currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Thanks to the modern trend that embraces everything retro, the status of garden gnomes has been elevated to that of pop-culture icons.

Traditionally gnomes are male, with pointed red hats, tan trousers, and green shirts. But, even though we've embraced the retro garden ornament, we're no longer satisfied with such a limited range. Variety is everything in today's consumer-driven market, so we now have gnomes in plaid, polka dots, bikinis and with faces resembling famous personalities.

To maintain the whimsical theme of gnomes, acquiring one is referred to as adopting rather than purchasing. According to folklore, the adoption of a gnome or garden keeper will bring you a good harvest, or luck where you need it most. But they can also be mischievous little imps, playing pranks and sabotaging your attempts at creating a beautiful garden.

Whatever character you believe your garden gnome to have, either tender and caring or playful and prankish, they seem to have an inherent wanderlust. They are often "liberated", or gnome-knapped and taken as companions on holidays and adventures. In an increasing trend, gnome-knappers take photographs of the gnomes in exotic surroundings and send them back to the original owners.

For those with a taste for kitsch, or who have a naughty sense of humour, there are gnomes available that stray significantly from the template of the originals. The Bubble-"Blowing" Gnome demonstrates his prowess by lowering his dipstick into a bubble solution and then expelling air from his exposed rear. Well, suffice to say that if it were human, you wouldn't want to light a match.

The Squatting Gnome has his trousers around his ankles and is caught in a moment of evacuation usually undertaken in privacy and behind closed doors. Gnomes of a less exhibitionistic mien, ride on one another's shoulders, the stout rider evidently burying his compatriot in the grass with his weight. Flasher Gnomes are also available, but are best positioned with their backs to the general public.

Despite being such little creatures, with charming smiles and friendly faces, they are capable of inspiring morbid fear in the lives of many people. Fear of garden gnomes is known as gnomophobia, and while it's not currently recognised by the American Psychiatric Association, it is prevalent among a growing population in society.

No one knows how long the current fascination with these little garden ornaments will last. What we can be sure of, however, is that when they do go out of fashion, it will only be for a temporary period. Meanwhile, they continue to live the good life, being furnished with their own accessories, and going on occasional holidays. Whether they bring you good luck or bad, garden gnomes appear to have a charmed existence.

Recommended sites:

Garden Gnome Gallery

About the Author
Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers Garden and Home News garden and home innovations and creations one of the leading site indexes for the latest news, trends and information regarding garden and home industries


Special Offers


At Gardener's Supply Company the After Holiday Sale is still in full swing. The link takes you to the home page, but look down the left hand menu to find the Outlet section.



Gardener's Supply Company






At Dutch Gardens you can still save $25 when you spend $50 or more. Click the banner.


Dutch Gardens, Inc.


One company that I haven't mentioned for some time is Gurney's Seed and Nursery Co. If you are looking for a blueberry bush, they have a half price offer for the "Brigitta"’ variety. But the offer is only good until 18 Feb.


Shop at for your vegetable and flower seeds!

Here's a new company that might be worth a look. Their claim is "America's Favorite Source of Quality Horticulture - At the Best Prices Anywhere". Gardeners' Choice







John Woo's Weekly gardening Tips


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That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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