How to Winterize Your Dahlias by RGC Blogger Donna Feit

 How to Winterize Your Dahlias by RGC Blogger Donna Feit

I love my dahlias. I bought some tubers from Zulily a few years ago, planted them as soon as they arrived, and several weeks later was delighted with beautiful pink and sunset-orange blossoms. They bloomed throughout the latter part of summer right up until the first frost. I left them in the ground for the winter and they returned the following year.

After that, I wanted to learn more and started to research growing dahlias on Pinterest. I was surprised to learn that they don’t “winter” well and are often killed by freezing cold weather…I was fortunate in that the first winter was an especially mild one and my tubers survived.

I don’t want to run the risk of losing my beautiful dahlias, so this year, I’m going to dig up the tubers and store them properly over the winter. Since we’ve already had a couple of frosts, now is the time! Cut off the stems and leaves. It’s a good idea to let the tubers cure (dry out a little), especially the larger ones. Shake the dirt off, but it’s not necessary to completely clean them. They may be okay wrapped in newspaper, and/or stored in a paper bag. But, it’s even better to store them in dry-to-slightly-moist packing material such as peat moss, coco coir, wood chips, pet bedding, or sawdust. You could also use a mixture of vermiculite and perlite. Use whatever you have on hand.

Line the bottom of a box with newspaper to keep any packing material from falling through the cracks. Layer the packing material on top of that. Lay the tubers in the box so they will be surrounded by the packing material. You can store several clumps in the same box as long as they are not touching. Fill the box with packing material so the tubers are completely covered. Close the box and put on a shelf. It’s important that your dahlia storage space is cool and dry. A basement or the inside wall of your garage should work. If it is too warm, the tubers could rot.

You’re all set! After the last frost next spring, you’ll be able to replant your tubers and enjoy beautiful dahlias from late summer through fall.

 

 

 

National Garden Week: Add Color in June by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

National Garden Week: Add Color in June by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

If a quick survey of your yard in June reveals a mostly green palette, it’s time to add some color. June is the perfect time to make attractive and family-friendly additions to the greenspace and outdoor living areas of your home.

The addition of blooming plants can really be eye catching. Pick an area of the yard that needs brightening and add a spot of color. Borders, pots, hanging baskets, and trellises are popular. When you go to the nursery or garden department, look for vital, green specimens that are in bloom and ready to set out in the garden. Choose plants that meet your sun/shade needs and select different sizes, varieties, and textures. For baskets and pots, make sure to buy some trailing plants to make your arrangement more flowing and artistic.

Remember, it’s all about the soil; before planting, be sure to recharge the soil in the pot or bed with compost. Water the new specimen while it’s still in its pot.Then plant at the recommended depth and space according to instructions on the tag. Once your bed or pot is planted, water thoroughly.  To maintain the beautiful color throughout the season, water regularly, deadhead if needed, and fertilize monthly.

Think outside of the pot when it comes to color. Paint is cheap and easy to apply. Spray paint is now specially formulated to adhere to plastic and other materials. Tasteful colors abound, and some paints simulate beautiful textures. Think about painting pots and grouping them in harmonious vignettes. Vary the pot sizes and shapes to make things more interesting and stick with odd numbered arrangements.

Accessories can add color without taxing the budget. Big box nurseries and stores with garden centers have a great deal of space devoted to yard art. Some well-chosen pieces can add interest and color to the landscape—just don’t overdo it.  If you don’t feel comfortable making selections, take a friend whose garden you admire.

The featured image for this post is one of Dorothy J’s stay-at-home projects. She painted a red pot that didn’t work in her color palette and turned it into a brilliant spot of color in her yard.

For help with all aspects of planting annuals, download brochure B954: Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens at extension.uga.edu/publications.

Garden Week in Georgia: Explore Gardens Around the World by RGC Blogger Suzy Crowe

Garden Week in Georgia: Explore Gardens Around the World by RGC Blogger Suzy Crowe

We are topping off Garden Week in Georgia with virtual garden tours here and around the world. Join us as we appreciate this amazing planet and the work of gardeners everywhere.

  • Get lost in beauty at the Gardens Illustrated website, starting at the Inspiring Gardens tab. You can spend hours looking at and reading about rural, urban, and international gardens. More hours are needed to read about the gardeners and to explore garden design.
    • Read about the RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show May 19 – 23.
      • You can sign up for Gardens Illustrated’s RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show emails and receive a free digital copy Pots of Style Special Edition—I signed up because I’m going to take part in the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show.
      • I downloaded Pots of Style, took a peek, and couldn’t stop skimming it to finish this post. The people at Gardens Illustrated aren’t exaggerating when they say it is gorgeous.
    • Check out Gardens Illustrated’s Ten virtual garden tours to take from home. One of the tours is Monet’s Garden at Giverny, another is Kew Gardens. The United States Botanic Garden is on the list, with several starting points for Google Street View tours.
  • Jump off the Garden’s Illustrated site to explore the Gardens of the Globe—this clickable map is an advertisement site, but the gardens on it are unbelievable. Since I had to write this post, I couldn’t spend too much time there, but I checked out the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Anima Garden in Morocco, and the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens. I’m headed back there after I post this.
  • Take a trip down memory lane with the American Hydrangea Society’s YouTube channel videos of previous Annual Garden Tours.
  • Tour the Atlanta Botanical Garden starting on the Life Blooms On page—scroll down a bit for the virtual tour.
  • Tour the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.
  • Get lost in the beauty of the Gibbs Garden Photo Gallery.

If these tours leave you wanting more, you can always google virtual garden tours. Get lost in the splendor of these gardens as we stay at home together.

Thank you for spending Garden Week in Georgia with us. I’ll think about you when I’m at the Virtual Chelsea Garden Show. Cheers.

Garden Week in Georgia: Inspired by Earth Day? Now’s the Time to Start a Compost Bin by RGC Bloggers Lisa Ethridge & Suzy Crowe

Garden Week in Georgia: Inspired by Earth Day? Now’s the Time to Start a Compost Bin by RGC Bloggers Lisa Ethridge & Suzy Crowe

Many of us’ve thought about composting waste, but never made the time for it. While we’re staying at home, it’s the perfect time to start a compost bin  and develop the habit of composting. This DIY project can improve air quality, enrich the soil, and alleviate landfill woes. Kitchen and backyard composting is not only FREE and incredibly beneficial, it requires little effort—a definite win, win, win for gardeners.

According to the UGA Extension, “Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a soil amendment known as compost.” Compost is a magical soil enhancer. It helps retain moisture, eliminates the need to use commercial fertilizer, and encourages vigorous plant growth. A good garden can be made great by improving the soil with home-made humus.

Statistics show that compostable waste, which creates greenhouse gases as it decomposes, makes up almost 25% of the world’s garbage. The simple act of composting reduces the amount of garbage in landfills and improves air quality by breaking down waste quickly and safely. Let’s look at what goes into the compost bin and how to make an outdoors or indoors compost bin so the magic can happen.

Composting starts with layers of brown matter and green matter

  • Brown matter provides the carbon needed for composting
  • Brown matter includes dry leaves, wood chips, straw, sawdust, smushed egg shells, coffee filters, corn stalks, shredded brown corrugated cardboard, and shredded newspaper
  • According to Planet Natural Research Center’s Composting Paper: How to use cardboard and newspaper in your compost pile, you should only use plain newsprint and plain brown corrugated cardboard—no glossy pages, no colored ink, no bleached white paper
  • Green matter provides the nitrogen needed for composting and most of the nutrients that enhance the soil
  • Green matter includes food scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, manure, and recently pulled weeds
  • Never put cooked food, dairy products, meat, fish bones, or fat in your compost bin—these substances produce odors that can lure pests
  • Aim for a ratio of about 4 parts browns (carbon) : 1 part greens (nitrogen) for outdoors composting and 3 brown : 1 green indoors
    • If your compost is smelly (yuck!), add more browns
    • If your compost doesn’t get warm, add more greens
  • Read more at Gardening Know How: Understanding The Browns And Greens Mix For Compost
  • Be sure and mix in some water to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria/fungi—these helpful agents break everything down and eventually create rich, organic, nutrient-filled humus

Starting an indoors compost bin
There’s a wealth of great online resources for starting an indoors compost bin. Here are some excellent videos and articles to get you going in about 5 minutes.

  • Better Homes and Gardens’ article How to Make Your Own Indoor Composting Bin and 55 second video are chock full of information. If you want a small, sink-side or under-the-sink compost solution, start here—it’s concise, helpful and inspiring!
  • P. Allen Smith’s YouTube video DYI Trash Can Compost Bin is twice as long, covers a larger solution, and is also concise, helpful and inspiring—go figure
  • Bob Villa’s All You Need to Know about Indoor Composting is a great article with a wealth of information about multiple types of indoor composting

 Starting an outdoors compost bin
Although there are myriad compost-related bins, tools, and equipment available on the Internet, there is no need to purchase anything. I got started when a friend who owns a truck brought me 4 wooden pallets and told me to go buy 8 bungee cords; that’s simple construction, and it worked perfectly.

  • Place the bin conveniently near the house on a level, dry, shady spot with access to a hose
  • Don’t place the bin on tree roots
  • Air and water are critical to the composting process
  • Keep the pile moist and turn it with a pitch fork as you add ingredients; this maximizes the rate of decomposition

The thermophilic compost process takes place slowly, and the finished product can take months depending on maintenance and conditions. You will be rewarded for your patience. For detailed information on composting, download publications C816 and B1189 from extension.uga.edu.

Let’s get it started.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Garden Week in Georgia: RGC Members’ Reflections on Gardening by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

Garden Week in Georgia: RGC Members’ Reflections on Gardening by RGC Blogger Lisa Ethridge

Recently, RGC members were asked to share their top reasons for joining a garden club; their favorite gardening memories; and why they love to garden. After reading some of their reflections, we hope you will consider sharing your gardening reflections and joining us in one of our favorite pursuits.

Linda B
Top 10 reasons to join a garden club, specifically Roswell Garden Club:

  • Socialize with like-minded people
  • Learn about new techniques, products, plant varieties
  • Listen to relevant speakers at monthly meetings
  • Volunteer to beautify the community
  • Help raise funds for worthwhile causes
  • Take field trips to interesting locations
  • Be part of community service projects
  • Participate in plant exchanges
  • Contribute to an award-winning organization
  • Be part of an active, vibrant, caring group

Linda Lee P
I was retired and had the time to join a club, to get out there. RGC had a meeting. I went. I was a first timer with another friend I’d recently met in church. We sat together. I fell in love with the president, the group, the mission. I joined. Twelve years ago.

My husband loves flowers and he grew every kind. He especially liked the distressed flowers that had to be brought back. Ron could touch a leaf, a flower, a stem, talk to it, and it would flourish! That is a main reason I decided to try a garden club. To support him. To learn. And to be around the natural beauty God made possible. To watch Ron play in the dirt, gently pat the soil around a plant, and caress the petals made me want to be with him and to help him.

There is nothing more special than to be in the presence of flowers, their fragrance, their beauty and colors. The way the colors all go together in a garden complimenting one another. God is there, the master gardener and artist.

Gretchen C

I’ve been an active member of a garden club for more than 50 years. This is a perfect way to be involved in a new community. You find like-minded friends and learn more about this wonderful hobby. My favorite activity is floral design.

We have planted many things at the 5 houses we have owned. My favorite thought is the hundreds of Narcissus we planted over the years, and many must still be blooming. We’ve lived in Roswell for 13 years and have planted close to 200 Narcissus here. A friend started this with the gift of 100 bulbs that are planted in our woods.

 


Roz R

Best gardening memory: the first time I planted a vegetable garden

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. This was the first time I planted ANYTHING. We had just purchased a small house in Brooklyn, a small side by side home in Flatbush, in walking distance to Brooklyn College. Most neighbors had nothing in their backyards other than grass. My children were young and I was working only part-time. I decided to plant a vegetable garden and knew enough to plant the corn in the back row and smaller vegetables in front. There was 1 row of corn – 1 row of tomatoes, etc. We watched the veggies growing all summer and in the fall, the corn was taller than my girls. VERY thrilling.

Eight reasons I love to garden, in no particular order:

  • outside – hear and see birds
  • provides me with time to ‘just be’–daily stroll around/look around outdoor and indoor plantings
  • provides me with space/place to use all my senses as I concentrate on gardening and block out the rest of the world.
  • provides me with a more enjoyable way to exercise (stretch, bend, lift, carry) than a session at the gym
  • provides me with a place to visit with neighbors in my apartment complex (only garden in the complex and I invite neighbors to pick flowers and figs)
  • enjoy the sweetness of freshly picked figs (and in previous homes: tomatoes)
  • enjoy experimenting: outside – 2 branches from friend’s established fig tree, plucked in Dec., 2010 or 2011, did not begin to show signs of life for 2 or so years and now is a towering fruiting wonder; inside – discarded orchid took two years to bloom
  • enjoy the sense of wonder when a small seed evolves into a living plant

Lisa E
I have so many reasons to love gardening. First, it brings back awesome memories of my grandpa and me in his vegetable garden. Every day after he worked, we went to his vegetable garden. He wore a big hat, and pictures show me attired in the 1950s “bubble suit”—very cute, of course. Grandpa taught me so much. I was great at spotting bugs and pointing out what needed to be picked. I loved, and still love, watching things grow. Houseplants remind me of my mom. She could grow anything. I learned to enjoy indoor plants and make them thrive from my mom. I love visiting gardens everywhere I go. My Master Gardener friends teach me something every time we visit a nursery. I love to learn, and there’s something to learn in the garden every season. The contentment and joy I feel walking around my garden, as imperfect as it is, is amazing.

Garden Week in Georgia: Earth Day 2020 – 50 Years of Celebrating & Saving our Earth by RGC Bloggers Suzy Crowe & Lisa Ethridge

Garden Week in Georgia: Earth Day 2020 – 50 Years of Celebrating & Saving our Earth by RGC Bloggers Suzy Crowe & Lisa Ethridge

Explore Earth Day 2020’s theme—Climate Action—by taking part in Earth Day Live. EarthDay.org is the place to be, not only to read about challenges we face but also to be inspired to make changes large and small to preserve our precious Earth. So what can you do online for Earth Day?

  • Watch Earth Day Live! See live performances, hear live messages and calls to action. The stream starts at 12:01 am ET and runs until 11:59 pm.
  • Take part in the Seawalls Stay-At-Home Mural Festival for our Planet. There are several free events to register for and take part in. If you don’t feel like participating in an event, browse 350 ocean-inspired murals from 15 countries around the Earth.
  • Tap into NASA’s Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit. Check out the NASA Visualization Explorer.
  • Create some fun Earth Day art of your own with resources from Kathy Barbro’s Art Projects for Kids. You will recognize the featured image for this post if you go to Kathy’s siteit’s the free Earth Day Mini Mural.
  • On the Earth Day news page, read the Q&A Interview with Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day. Denis speaks about the past, present, and future of Earth Day. On the same page, explore 11 Actions for the Earth During a Pandemic.
  • Read Roswell High School students’ thoughts and suggestions regarding the environment. Their thoughts are in response to the Roswell Garden Club Environmental Competition Blog prompt:
    • Inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thernberg’s speech to the UN and the National Garden Club, Inc.’s Conservation Pledge – ‘I pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of the planet earth and promise to promote education so we may become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife.’ Roswell Garden Club invites high school students from public, private, and home schools in Roswell, GA, to write a blog post exploring how we in Roswell can become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife.  The topic for the post, ‘Moving from consumers to caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife,’ lends itself to a variety of perspectives. Students are encouraged to blog about ways communities, organizations such as schools, families, and individuals can begin to have a positive impact on our world.”
  • Read our short History of Earth Day:

In the late 1960s, individuals and politicians embraced environmentalism. Graphic proof of the decline of water and air quality presented ominous images of international abuse of the planet. Activists made it clear that in order to secure a decent quality of life and a sustainable future, laws must be enacted and behaviors must be changed.

In 1970 politicians added Earth Day to the calendar to strengthen the message and unite supporters. Cartoonist Walt Kelly’s iconic poster designed to promote the first celebration depicts Pogo the possum surveying the trash-covered Okefenokee Swamp declaring, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Message received—millions paid tribute to Mother Earth on April 22, 50 years ago.

Grass roots initiatives and meaningful political action produced unprecedented victories for the environment. Congress passed The National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, and two years later the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts followed. President Nixon proposed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain and enforce environmental laws, work with industry to develop best practices, and co-ordinate educational outreach. While there is still room for improvement, the outlook for the environment is positive.

Through the years the number of government agencies and non-government organizations has burgeoned. The Internet provides links to millions of informative, eco-centered websites dedicated to raising awareness of the green movement. Widgets that calculate every aspect of our carbon footprint are available. Social media allows people from all over the world to comment and contribute. Bloggers raise awareness of issues and share personal views of timely topics. We no longer have to be our own enemy. Individuals can get involved and share responsibility for protecting the planet.

This year, join Roswell Garden Club and celebrate the earth on April 22 and throughout the year. Whether you attend an online community event, plant vegetables or flowers, pick up trash, or enjoy a walk, take time to focus on being a good steward of the environment. As one blogger put it, “To do something nice for the planet ultimately does something nice for you and all those you care about because, for now, we all live here.”

Note: The featured image for this post is Kathy Barbro’s free Earth Day Mini Mural, available at https://artprojectsforkids.org/free-mini-earth-day-mural/