* The first blooms on most vine crops such as Cucumbers are all male? Many gardeners’ panic, but just wait and the female blooms will be along with a miniature fruit on its stem.

* You can buy seeds for seedless Tomatoes! I was given a big plant in a bucket in the spring of 2010 and planted it out too early. When a cold night was forecast I filled 2 milk jugs with hot water and put them next to the plant.  Over the top I dropped a huge pot.  It worked. My first ripe Tomato came from that plant.  It had seeds but not many.  Big Mama is an oval (not round) Tomato, a Roma type with a few seeds and juice, and lots of flesh so it slices nicely for a Lettuce, Vidalia onion, and Tomato sandwich.

* “Peony roots are edible! The roots can be substitued for Potatoes and a pleasant drink can be concocted by steeping the seeds in hot water.” (from Pass Along Plants by Bender and Rushing.)

* Butterflies need their own water supply.  You can make them one with a shallow bird bath partially filled with mud, manure, sand, and a rock or brick so they can light and sip without getting wet.  The males like to have “puddling parties” and a number will gather at one time.  A yard with flowers in sun is necessary as they have to be warm in order to fly.

* Fungous gnats are those little, perky, flying creatures near your house plants that will wander around the house.  They don’t hurt plants but are eating dead organic matter in your pots. They like damp soil so to get rid of them, let the soil dry out on top before watering again. They are often mistaken for fruit flies, especially in fall when harvest from the garden may be ripening on your counter.  The gnats can persist all winter.

* Our average rainfall for the year in Lancaster County is about 28 inches-a variance between 25 and 30 inches.  Our frost dates for Lincoln in the fall are generally October 11-15. Last fall we had all of October to be outside while the year before it was snowy and cold.  The median dates for average last spring frost are May 16-20.  The temperature of the soil gives a clue when to plant. To get the soil temperature in your county go to “”. The first article gives the soil temperature for the past week and the second the soil temperature the day before. Lincoln’s soil temperature is taken and listed in the suburb of “Havelock”. Or call your local County Extension Office.

* Every autumn more than 200 bird species leave North America to relocate to Central and South America.  The number of individual birds is in the billions.  Your yard is a breeding area for some birds and a wintering area for others making it a critical area year around.  The two top hobbies in the United States are gardening and bird watching.  By looking at beaks you can get an idea of what it eats.  Hawks catch their prey with their feet and then that hooked bill tears the prey apart.  Short heavy cone shaped beaks are seed eaters, for example Goldfinch, and Cardinals. Some birds fly with their mouth wide open to catch flying bugs, for example Flycatchers and Night Hawks. Humming Birds with their long slender beak can drink from down in a flower.

* Why do we mulch in November or early December after the ground freezes? Snow is an excellent mulch, but we usually don’t get enough of it. A layer of anything helps insulate the soil from changing temperatures. Thus  the soil stays frozen, and bulbs don’t grow.  This insulation also prevents soil from heaving, which can leave roots or small bulbs out of the soil.

* When you plant a Beet seed you are planting several! Those rough, big seeds are really a group of seeds fastened together.  So we need to plant them a little farther apart or thin more after they come up.

* When preparing your soil to make it better, add lots of compost or well rotted manure for (a) drainage in clay, or (b) water holding capacity in sandy soils.  Do not add sand to soil unless you add as much sand as there is soil or you will create cement. I had a low, clay area in the extra lot we acauired when we bought our house some 40 years ago. It took 20 tons of sand in a not so large area, and about the same amount of compost, to improve that small area so it would drain well and provide oxygen for the garden.

* If you want a pond on an acreage, the soil must be checked to see if it will hold water. Check with your local county extension office for information on how to determine and how to proceed.

* A root flare is the area where the bark ends and roots begin to form just before entering the soil.  This area should not be covered with soil when planting a tree.

* Root bound is a condition of a plant being in a container for too long before planting. The roots are found to wrap around themselves or even over the top of the container.  Repotting requires untangling or even trimming some of these roots. Gently try to spread them out without injury when re-potting or planting.

* Dandelions are not native to the United States.  They were brought from Europe by settlers seeking a new home.  They were carefully packaged and tended on that long journey, but not as a flowering plant! They were medicine, and the women very carefully planted them in their herb gardens.  They have been known as a liver tonic in Japan. In the United States they were well established within a few years, and now we spend millions to keep them out of our lawns.  It is said that 7 million birds are killed each year from the pesticides we use. Dandelion killers are some of the least obnoxious.

Copyright 2011