|Green Thumb Nursery Newsletter||December 30, 2011 / January 2012|
In This Issue:
* Vegetable Plants for Spring 2012
* Confederate Rose, 2 gallon - $5.99
Vegetable Plants for Spring 2012
Some of you may be thinking that it is just a little bit too early to be talking about planting a vegetable garden or, for that matter, any other kind of garden. The weather is still cold, at least part of the time and it's still football season anyway. The Tigers haven't won the National Championship yet and the Saints haven't won the Super Bowl yet either! - vegetables can wait!
However, the fact is that it is never too early to be thinking and planning for the spring. I'm sure you're all tired of eating those store-bought tomatoes that taste like wet cardboard and can't wait to have some delicious vine ripened fruit that is both nutritious as well as delicious.
Planning for your garden includes soil preparation. Do you know whether your soil has enough organic matter and is within the proper range of soil pH to enable it to grow the best plants? A little action now can settle those doubts and allow you to be ready when it's finally time to plant in March.
Consider taking a soil sample to send to the LSU soil testing lab. The report you receive from the test will tell you whether your soil is ready for planting or whether it needs help, perhaps lime (and how much), perhaps using a different kind of fertilizer (again what kind and how much).
If you have never had your soil tested the first thing to do is to go to the LSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab web site. http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/departments/SPESS/ServiceLabs/soil_testing_lab/
The above page will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about soil testing as well as where and how to obtain a testing kit, how much it will cost for the test, and how to interpret the results so that you can get your garden's soil ready for planting.
Do it now, while you still have plenty of time in case you need to add lime or other ingredients that will need time in the soil to take effect fully.
And while you are doing that you can peruse the following list of vegetable varieties that we will have for sale at Green Thumb Nursery this spring starting in early March. The following list merely shows the variety name and type of plant. If you wish to see a picture of each variety plus a description go to this web page on our site. http://greenthumbnsy.com/vegetable_plantsTOMATO:
Celebrity Supreme f1
Better Boy f1
Creole - Heirloom
Big Beef f1
Early Girl f1
Sweet Million f1
Small Fry f1
Lemon Boy f1
Bedding Plants for Spring 2012
In the past few years we have seen the introduction of many new bedding plant varieties that are just right for southern gardens. We will offer for sale a great selection of these varieties to go along with our traditional lush ferns, bougainvillea, hibiscus and roses.
We have chosen three superior varieties to highlight here, but if you wish to see photos of all of our varieties with a description go to the following page on our web site. http://greenthumbnsy.com/bedding_plants
These three excellent bedding plant varieties need much more touting. One is very nearly an old-time favorite and the other two are fairly new introductions.
Impreza Impatiens is an impressive new variety not simply because it blooms well but because it grows differently. Impreza is much more compact growing and tends to spread rather than grow upward. If you can avoid the common no no's of impatiens growing (over-watering and over-fertilizing) they will grow into beautiful mounded plants filled with blooms. Grow in shade.
Taishan Marigold is another variety that warrants attention. It has huge flowers on very sturdy plants that stay short (12" to 16" in the garden). The big flowers shed water well so they last longer also! Grow them in mostly sunny spots.
Finally there is Homestead Purple Verbena which is simply the best and most hardy verbena available. It blooms well, grows well and overwinters well. What more can you ask. Grow in part sun.
Roses for Spring
It is now late December and all of our roses have been planted in their 3 gallon pots and are lined up waiting for your inspection. They are limed and fertilized and ready to break out in lush growth when the weather warms a bit.
The photos above show my favorite varieties since they are so easy to grow as well as being resistant to blackspot. Red, Pink, and yellow are colors that go well together in a flower bed.
A few tips are in order. If you purchase your rose bushes early before they bloom you should wait until after they bloom the first time to plant them so the roots will have time to grow enough to hold the soil ball together during transplanting. If you should be so unlucky that the soil ball falls apart anyway just plant them and cut the stems further back than you normally would, pruning uniformly. This is to compensate for the root loss and disturbance. As long as you don't do anything else drastic they should come back out just fine. The second bloom will simply be a little bit longer in coming.
Just because a rose variety is touted as being disease resistant doesn't mean it's immune. You should spray regularly for rose diseases just as you do with other less resistant roses such as most hybrid teas. All roses will be subject to insect infestation so watch for the little critters and wack them with a good insecticide if and when they appear on your plants.
Watch closely for Aphids (plant lice), Thrips (they get into the flowers and ruin them), and White Flies. The tiny spider mites are hardest to see but they usually wait for hot weather to appear. A good blast under the new-growth leaves with a water hose will sometimes discourage them eliminating the need for heavy insecticide use.
Keep your plants watered and fertilized and you will be rewarded with lots of blooms. And if you cut the old blooms off when they fade the new ones will come much faster.
New-Fangled Tech - Should You Be Excited?|
#1 NFC (Near Field Communications):
To be blunt, I am against it! I think the idea of using a cell phone as a credit card is a bad one. To me it seems much more sensible to use the tiny technological marvel that is your smart phone exclusively for communications and as a small portable computer. Use your normal credit card, a check, or (ShaZAAM) cash for purchases. It is a terrible idea to involve a phone company (any phone company) with your finances.
If this system ever comes into general use the banks could use phone companies as collection agencies with the threat to cut off your phone service if you had any credit card account problems. It would bad enough if your credit were declined, but if that were coupled with cutting off your communications access that would be even worse.
Under this system, I pity anyone who is the victim of identity theft and then loses the use of their telephone service on top of it. Let's just relegate NFC for use as bridge toll, subway token or bus token replacements as they are now doing in China.
I am in total agreement with John C. Dvorak, a columnist from PC Magazine, on this. Read his enlightening article NFC: Let the Scamming Begin!
#2 Cloud Computing vs Online Backups
The above services are primarily file-sharing cloud based services and there are plenty of other internet based backup companies such as Carbonite, Mozy, and Barracuda Networks to name some of the leaders that will be happy to charge you monthly (or yearly) for their service. But if all you really need is a static backup buy a one terabyte (or larger) USB drive as a backup device. If there is a hurricane or other natural disaster place your USB drive in a durable plastic container to protect it. You'll only have to pay for it once! And it should last a long time if you don't power it on continuously.
It seems that everyone and their brother would like for you to pay them $5, $10, or more a month to have them back up your data and documents on their secure and encrypted site. The problem is that they don't offer nearly enough space for that price. If you are a normal PC user and have a normal 500GB harddrive on your PC it would cost you an arm and a leg to backup even a portion of that much data online.
If any of you have that much spare cash laying around you may send it to me. I promise you that I will put it to extra good use. Scout's Honor!
If you want to backup your precious data, pictures, songs, movies and documents you can make an exact image of your PC's harddrive on a relatively inexpensive USB harddrive. If and when your PC crashes simply reload the image you have saved when your PC is repaired. Simple! Then you can upload a relatively few critical, frequently used and frequently changed files to Dropbox, iCloud, or Skydrive.
If the backup software that comes with your drive is obtuse go to CNET's Download.COM and get the freeware program called Syncback. If you don't like that one choose from their lists of other good freebies.
If you want to learn more about cloud computing click the links below.
#3 Home or Office WiFi: Security First
Normally the first thing you will do after attaching your new wireless router to your broadband internet is to check to be sure your wireless devices, laptops and cell phones will connect well with the router's default settings.
However the next thing, if you are not prompted by an installation wizard, is to choose your wireless security settings. If you are serious about security (and don't want poachers on your WiFi network) bypass the normal WEP (wired equivalent privacy) protocol and use at least the WPA (WiFi protected access) option in your router's security setup.
Even novice hackers can acquire and use simple free software tools to break WEP encryption. WPA and WPA2 is much harder for them to penetrate. Use one of these protocols to secure your WiFi then when you are finished setting it up and have everything and everyone connected turn off your SSID broadcast on your router so that anyone walking by with a cell phone will be unable to find your WiFi broadcast unless they know its exact name.
Once you get your router set up just the way you want it don't forget to make a backup of its settings so that you can reload them if you ever need to reset and restart your router.
Choosing the correct router will be critical if you plan to stream music, movies, or games through your network and you have (or are planning to get) the devices to do that. You'll want to get a good-quality wireless-N dual band WiFi router that will enable you to stream on one band and compute on the other!
On the other hand there is no reason to pay a premium price for a router with features you may never use. For instance, there's no sense in paying extra for a top-of-the-line dual band router that can push data at 450Mbps if you have no devices that can take advantage of the extra 5GHz band or extra speed over 300Mbps. Especially if you have no plans to get any such devices in the first place!
You may want to consider getting dedicated-use devices; a separate router and a separate modem, not both combined into one. If you get a combination modem/router and it quits working (and it will, much sooner than a dedicated-use device) you will lose both internet access and your WiFi. Dedicated modems and dedicated routers are usually more robust than dual-use devices since dual-use devices tend to overheat more.
Upfront cost will be a bit more when getting two devices, but durability and reliability will also be enhanced. If you look closely at the specifications of dual-use modem/routers you will sometimes find that features have been reduced to combine them into one. A good DSL or cable modem should last quite a long time. The same is true for routers. An added benefit to bringing your own devices is that you will never be charged a monthly service fee for either modem rental nor for WiFi service.
For your next router purchase you might even consider getting one with the NAS (network attached storage) feature. That way you can plug in your USB harddrive that I mentioned in #2 above.
Growing Citrus Plants
This year, as always, we have a good selection of citrus plants on hand now. This year's crop is very nice. We have Satsumas, Meyer Lemons, Navel Oranges, and Ruby Red Grapefruit. All of the plants are at least four feet tall with most even taller. They are well branched with strong stems and a good root system.
As all of you know, citrus plants are somewhat tender and can be damaged by severe cold weather. So if you plant citrus early be prepared to cover them if we get a hard freeze (temperatures below 32 degrees for more than a few hours). Citrus tend to be more cold hardy when they have been established in the ground for a season. There is a measureable difference with Satsumas, Lemons and Grapefruits, not so much with Oranges.
If it is necessary to trim your plant to cover it to protect it from severe cold then it is better to lose a bit of branch length than to lose the whole plant, don't you think? For the first year, at least, remove the fruit from the plant to let it grow. The branches must be strong enough to support the heavy fruit without too much stress or they will break. After the first year prune lightly to encourage branching and remove the fruit from immature branches to let them get stronger.
When you plant your citrus plants be sure the soil pH is closer to neutral than on the acid side. If your fruit tastes like paper mache then add lime to the soil. Your fruit will have much more flavor the following year. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer unless a soil sample report has a specific recommendation. Be careful using nitrate fertilizer. It can burn the roots. Don't pile this type of fertilizer up on top of the root ball. Spread it out or place it just outside the root area in small holes below the grass roots. If you use slow release or timed release fertilizer this is not so much of a problem.
Citrus must be kept evenly moist. Do not let citrus plants dry out too much. If you don't get much rain your citrus plant will need extra water or else it will start to drop leaves. Be sure to water the plants well, soak the ground good and then let them dry out a bit between waterings. But not too dry!
Picking citrus from your own tree is quite a treat!
LSU Agriculture Center - http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/
New! Horticulture Hints - From LSU Ag Center. This popular publication was once distributed in printed form from the County Agents but now is available only as a PDF directly from the LSU Ag Center Site.
In Louisiana -Find an LSU Ag Extension County Agent Near You
American Rose Society - Need some authoritative information on roses or want to contact fellow rosarians?
Azalea Society of America - Find out more about this highly divergent class of popular flowering shrubs.
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