Garden Supplies

Garden Ramblings, Issue #065



January 2010


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Trees That Will Add Color To Your Wisconsin Winter
- Three Cheap And Safe Garden Insecticides
- Friend Or Foe? The Weed!
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece



Welcome to the January issue of Garden Ramblings. This month there are again three articles by guest authors.

January marks the beginning of another year and the start of a new season, but spring is still some way off so there is little to enjoy in the garden right now. But with careful planning you can have some color at this time of year. Our first guest author who uses the pseudonym Tree Mover suggests some "Trees That Will Add Color To Your Wisconsin Winter", but his ideas will also be applicable to other areas of the country.

Organic gardeners do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, but there are some products that you can use in an organic garden. Lec Watkins reviews three that are both safe and do not cost the earth.

Our final guest author is J Duffner who takes a light hearted look at that perennial enemy the weed. His title asks the question "Friend Or Foe?", but I think there is little doubt about the answer.

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

Wild winter weather with strong winds and snow and ice can cause extensive damage to trees and shrubs so this month's video shares a few tips on how to protect your trees in winter.


Enjoy the issue.



Protecting Trees in Winter


Trees That Will Add Color To Your Wisconsin Winter
By Tree Mover

Winter is no fun! It is cold and dull. But let's try to make the best of a bad thing. If you plant the right trees in the spring you can enjoy color in the dullest of the winter days! During the middle of winter look around at some of the Landscaping Milwaukee has to offer; and take note of the shrubs and trees that are still providing color. If you are not well versed on different types of plants and trees, take pictures of them, and bring the pictures to your local garden center or landscaper and ask them about the trees and shrubs that you like, they should be able to answer all your questions and give you some helpful tips. But here is a list I composed of some of my favorites.

1) Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs are a nice addition that is a lot of times overlooked. They can do wonders to bring a little life to your winter flower beds. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of broadleaf evergreens that will survive the Wisconsin winters. But a few of the broadleaf evergreen shrubs and plants that will survive are some select strains of hollies, boxwoods, rhodendrums , winter creepers, and barberries. Keep in mind that boxwoods and rhodendrums are especially sensitive to strong cold winds.

2) Make sure to add some nice evergreen trees, such as: Pine and Spruce Trees, nothing will liven up a winter landscape like a hillside lined with White Pines, or the refreshing color of a healthy Blue Spruce. Used in the right areas, such as planting on berms or on hill sides, these trees will bring privacy and interest to your home and give you the feeling that you are up north, in a cabin tucked away in the in the woods.

3) Look at the bark of the trees. There are some trees such as such as River Birch, China Snow Lilac, and Paper Bark Maple Trees; that have very interesting, ex-foliating bark.

4) Even though all the colorful leaves are gone, consider the color of the fruit left behind. Many berry producing trees will hold onto their fruit until the mid winter, bringing color to your landscape and food for the wildlife. Crabapples are especially good for this; they have a small bright red crab apple that will normally stay on the tree until mid winter. Hollies are another shrub that will also produce a bright red berry. Mountain Ash is another tree that produces a bright berry and will feed many birds, but the berries can be a bit of a mess, so it is not recommended to plant over a patio or driveway. The Mountain Ash is not susceptible to the Emerald Ash Borer, but does have its own problems with certain diseases, but a beautiful tree none the less.

5) The Color of the Bark will add some interest. Take a look at some trees and shrubs; such as Coral Bark Japanese Maple Trees, Salix Flame Willow Trees, and Red Twig Dogwoods to add some bright colors to your yard.

Visit your local garden center or call a reputable landscaper in the spring to get some ideas on these trees; and where they will look the best in your yard.

About the author: Tree Mover

Take a look at your local Garden Center. If you are from Milwaukee please visit my website to take a look at our inventory. We can help you with your Landscaping needs.


Three Cheap And Safe Garden Insecticides
By Lec Watkins

Organic gardening does not have to be expensive, nor does it need to mean putting up with insect pests. Though the principles of organic gardens indeed incorporate allowing nature to thrive, not all natural organisms are to be enjoyed or allowed.

The following three safe garden insecticides can all be used to keep your ornamental and vegetable crops thriving without costing the earth or you a fortune.

Insecticidal Soap
Neem Insecticide
Diatomaceous Earth

Insecticidal Soap is the simplest of environmentally friendly garden pesticides to use and make. You can buy preformulated products but if you want to keep costs down do be sure to buy one that is highly concentrated. You then add water to make one gallon last years of gardening. Or if you are really frugal buy instead a mild liquid soap, mix with water and you have created the ultimate cheap insecticidal soap spray. Do not forget soap spray is also effective at eliminating other garden pests such as rust and fungal problems, not just insect pests.

Neem oil is used in several new organic gardening products. It is extremely effective used in the longer term. It does not kill pests immediately, but stops them breeding and eating, so within a season it will have a marked effect on your garden pest situation. Readily formulated products containing neem are still rather expensive. Buy instead a quart of pure neem oil, mix with water and a little liquid soap to make a much cheaper Neem Insecticide yourself.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is available in bulk packs. For garden use you do not need to buy food grade DE so can save yourself more money. Simply sprinkle where ants or other crawling insects are a problem and it will quickly destroy those coming into contact with its tiny drying particles.

All three safe garden insecticides mentioned are available to buy as separate ingredients. Buying concentrated products is an easy way to save money and garden organically.

About the author: Lec Watkins

For more information about Insecticidal Soap, Neem Insecticide and Diatomaceous Earth Insecticide see my other articles.


Friend Or Foe? The Weed!
By J Duffner

There they sit: the Canada thistle; the common cocklebur; the milkweed; the ivy leaf morning glory; the Japanese knotweed; the purslane; dandelions; yellow foxtails and the list and names become endless.

These and many like them can be friend or foe. The WEED!

Ask yourself how much time you spend preparing a section of the yard for vegetables or flowers, digging, mixing and planting. When finished you feel triumphant. You cannot wait to see the yield of vegetables that you’ll be able to pick or the bloom of the flowers.

And what appears first……the weed!

With a resolute these uninvited nuisances are dispatched. An air of victory is had although this is to be short lived.

Overnight these pests seemingly band together and to your dismay reappear the next day in greater numbers, bigger and startling stronger.

Some are completely foreign to your immediate area so they surely had to catch the red-eye to find itself in your yard.

The war has begun. The struggle begins….man against foe. Or is it friend?

Normally the weed is seen to many as a foe because it as an unwanted plant which diminishes the hard work spent in preparing the yard for vegetables or flowers.

This un-invited, stealth like guest is seen stealing water, nutrients and light best spent and used to grow vegetables (or plants).

I just love the ones that appear to be so tiny and you start to pull and then you have to dig and before you know it you tend to think that its root extends miles down into the middle of the earth. A back hoe wouldn’t get it out.

However there are some weeds that are edible. The burdock root can be used in stews and soups; the dandelion young leaves are used in salads, gravy and the flower can be used to make wine; the violet’s young leaves can be used in salads, added into marinara sauce, can be made into syrups, sorbet and candied; the shepherd’s purse leaves can be blanched and sautéd in olive oil, garlic and chili.

Make absolutely sure that the edible weed you are planning to eat is good for human consumption. The mere fact that a neighbor tells you that her parents and grandparents ate this or that particular weed is no guarantee that it is good for you. Do your homework.

So like many other things, the weed can be seen as a foe or a friend. To be sure Mother Nature has a store house of weeds, available for the asking. In fact you don’t have to ask…..they are part and parcel of the natural order of things provided us by nature. When you leave they will re-take what was their place.

Oh by the way.....Mother Nature doesn't look at weeds as weeds. Humans do!

About the author: J Duffner


Special Offers 

Now that the Christmas holiday season is over you would expect to see lots of sales as well as the usual free shipping and $$$ off when you spend $$$. In fact there's only one this month as you can see below.

Gardener's Supply Company have their Winter Sale where you can find reductions of up to 80% on a wide range of products.

 Gardener's Supply Company

Dutch Gardens are concentrating on new varieties for Spring 2010 so their only concession this month is free shipping on orders of $55 or more.

Dutch Gardens, Inc.
This month Nature Hills Nursery are giving a 25% discount on Trees, Bushes and Shrubs. There's also a 10% discount on all fruit trees, bulbs and accessories. 


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



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