Archive | March 2012

Planting Grape Vines

The greenhouses in our area have recently received shipments of bare root grapevines.  I couldn’t resist and bought four: one Concord with seeds, two seedless Concords, and a red Catawba. Our local greenhouse gave me excellent instructions on planting them which I’ll share with you.

  •  Soak the roots for one hour in a root stimulant solution.  (After soaking, you can use the solution to water after you’ve set them in the ground.)
  • Prune any dead roots. 
  • Dig a hole deep and wide enough that the roots do not bend when sitting in the hole.  Give them “elbow room.” Set in the hole so that the root collar is about 2 inches below the soil level. 
  •  Work compost or peat moss into the soil and water with the solution you had used to soak your roots.
  • Prune the top to 1 stem containing 3 or 4 buds.
  • Keep the ground around your vines lightly cultivated for the next couple of years to allow the vines to establish a good root system.

 A great resource for planting grapes, fruit trees, and vegetables is your state university extension office and website.  In Missouri, our extension website is   Ask your local greenhouse about what varieties work best in your area. 

I’ll write more about caring for grapes later.


Starting Seeds Indoors


Starting seeds indoors is so much fun.  I love to watch the little sprouts pop up in our bay window.  It’s fun and it’s challenging.  This is my fourth year of indoor plant starting and each year I’ve learned something new.

  •  Always use seed starting soil mixture.  These mixtures are high in phosphorus which promotes root growth.
  •  Wet the starting mixture a bit before planting your seeds.  It takes a while for the starting mixture to absorb water.  Let the water soak in and then add your seed otherwise your seed floats to a place you might not want it to set.
    •  Place a clear plastic wrap loosely over the top of your seeds and remove it after the seeds have germinated.  The plastic makes a nice, humid atmosphere for the seeds to germinate.
  •  Place your seed tray in direct sun.
    •  Keep your seeds moist, but not waterlogged.
  •  Transplant your tomato plants into individual peat pots when they have formed at least two leaves.

 As you can see in the picture, I planted my tomato seed in three rows.  I marked my rows with a colored flag that corresponds to the color on my seed packet.  I used colored electrical tape and toothpicks to make my flags.

 So that’s it.  I started my tomato seeds today.  Let’s see what happens.

Spring Has Arrived!

It may not officially be spring until later this week, but the honey bees are not waiting.  Here they are working last week on the crocus growing outside my office window.  I am especially happy to see them since I’ve had problems for the last two years with my zucchini not getting pollinated.

I checked my flower records and found that our crocus and daffodils are blooming one week to ten days sooner this year than last year.  All these warm days and warm nights have accelerated the spring growing season.  I just hope we don’t have a surprise April snow.  That would be cruel!

Garden Hose Wreath

Got any old garden hose hanging around?  This is what my sister, Kay, did with hers.  She turned it into a such a pretty wreath using flowers and ribbon.  It’s perfect for gardeners!  Thanks for letting me post your idea, Kay!

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


Last year, rabbits and groundhogs destroyed my sweet potatoes and peanuts.  I may have forgiven them over the winter, but I haven’t forgotten.  I need to fortify our garden fence without spending a fortune.  My husband and I brain-stormed about what materials we already had that would deter varmints.  It just so happens that we saved some metal panels that a ferocious wind or microburst blew off of our combine shed last spring.  My husband nailed them to the bottom half of our garden fence which should prevent rabbits from slipping inside the garden. 

I’m not as confident about the groundhogs.  I’m afraid they might climb over the fence, but I’m hoping they will be too lazy to do so.  I need a Plan B devised just for industrious wise-guy groundhogs!  I’m open to suggestions.