Most of you who follow The Imperfect Gardener know my thoughts on wildlife and how I feel a responsibility to share my property with them. I’ve written about this before.
For years, I’ve thought that opossums — or possums, as most people call them — receive a bad rap because they’re not as cute and cuddly as, say squirrels or raccoons. I’ve known of people killing them just because they don’t like possums.
So I asked one of my writers to do a story for the magazine that I edit — Out Here, which is Tractor Supply Co.’s quarterly how-to and lifestyle magazine — focusing on why possums aren’t as menacing as some people think they are.
Now, let me say that I know that wild animals can cause problems. Skunks and raccoons will kill an entire flock of chickens if given the chance; rabbits and deer will raid your garden; and possum feces in horse feed can deadly for horses. It’s up to each of us to decide how to best handle our particular situation.
For now, though, check out the story, “The Misunderstood Possum,” that ran in Out Here:
My absolute favorite part of producing Out Here magazine for Tractor Supply Co., is getting to meet and spend time with the most interesting people. We’ve featured organic farmers, ranchers, musicians, livestock growers, fiber artists, and so many more. They’re “regular folks” who are doing some amazing things.
Our newest issue features Lee Zieke, of Decorah, Iowa, who not only makes the most beautiful baskets and garden art, but she grows all of her own willow, as well.
Click below to read her story.
Well, it may not be as elegant as expensive perfume and jewelry, but if you’re a devoted gardener, gifts to help you garden better are just as precious.
So I was happy to learn about a new calendar that not only helps me keep my days straight, but serves as a detailed gardening guide for my tomato patch.
The 2013 calendar, “Tomatoes: a Month-by-Month Guide to Growing Tomatoes,” was created by tomato gardener Laura Taylor and is full of growing tips, recipes, suggested reading, and a very handy color-coded growing guide for eight different U.S. geographic regions.
For example, by Feb. 13, the southwest desert region can put their tomato seedlings in the ground. But the south Atlantic coast must wait until March 16 to plant. And it won’t be time to plant in Northern California and the Appalachian Mountain for two more months.
The full-color calendar, with bright photos of tomatoes to encourage any gardener, also includes tips like these:
• Feed seedlings in the ground once a month by working 1 cup of dry organic fertilizer into the soil surrounding the plant.
• Encourage pollination by gently shaking branches with flowers to spread pollen.
• A canopy of shade cloth will protect ripening fruit from sun scald.
The gardener in your life — even if it’s you — will enjoy finding this calendar under the Christmas tree. Visit Laura’s website to order: http://tomatomatters.com/2013-tomato-calendar/
One of my lucky readers can win one of these calendars. To enter, just leave your name in the comments section and tell us what your favorite tomato variety is.
I’ll randomly choose a winner on Saturday, Dec. 15, and notify by email, so I can get a mailing address.
Good luck and happy tomato gardening!
After selling at my very first farmers’ market on Saturday, I came away with a lot of lessons learned.
First off, I did okay selling my homegrown heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. Didn’t sell as much as I would have liked, and brought home more plants than I wanted, but friends who are more experienced at this than I say I did very well on my first day out.
As I looked around at everyone setting up their booths around me, it was easy to figure out who was experienced at selling in venues like this. We all had identical spaces — a 10×10 tent with a long table and two chairs — but some of those spaces were arranged and decorated in a way that were very inviting. The only thing special about my booth was a beautiful banner that a friend designed for me.
The plants did not, as I expected, sell themselves. So there will be a few changes and improvements when I show up for the market next week.
• Better signage. Thank heavens for a friend who ran and bought a dry erase board when we saw that most other people had them. I was able to list exactly what I was selling, instead of making the customers guess. Also, many customers didn’t understand what heirloom plants are, but were very interested once they asked. I’ll create something to explain heirlooms and why they’re important.
• More variety. Timing was a challenge. A lot of people around here have their gardens in, so many weren’t looking to add to it, even if I offered something different. I’ll continue offering vegetables and herbs for those who want to take advantage of our long growing season and have a late garden, but I’m going to turn the focus to flowers and decorative plants.
• More display space. I need to bring more tables to display my plants. Also, arranging tables in particular configurations can bring customers further into your booth space so they can see more of your product.
• Interesting decorations. Watering cans, wind chimes, pretty pots — all of these can create an atmosphere that says, “If you’re interested in gardening, you need to come to this booth.”
So, I’ll return to the market next Saturday a little wiser and a little more ready. With my newfound knowledge and a little luck, maybe I’ll be bringing fewer plants home.
When I launched The Imperfect Gardener blog and its accompanying Facebook page, I had no idea of the wonderful community of gardeners that I was getting ready to join and how much I would learn. It is so fun!
It’s been exactly one year today — happy birthday, The Imperfect Gardener! — and I continue to be amazed at the camaraderie, helpfulness, encouragement, and kindness that my fellow gardeners show to me and each other.
We keep each other in our thoughts during good and bad times — the arrival of a new baby (human and animal) or the heartbreaking loss of much-loved poultry to predators. When I asked for advice on planting a cottage garden, I got all kinds of helpful suggestions. You understand my greenhouse obsession; Facebook friend Valerie Crites Hawes even shared the unique and very lovely greenhouse and garden shed that her husband built for her from recycled materials.
And the amount of knowledge out there is astounding. I’ve learned things that I didn’t even realize I needed to know.
Blogs and Facebook pages that I have discovered and “liked” over the year have provide fun, helpful reading every time I visit them.
There are many others, of course, and there will be more gardening friends to meet in the year, and years, to come. What a great, great community. I’m so happy that I joined in.