Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tips for Growing Peaches

I've been living in the fine state of Georgia for about two years, and of course I had to grow my own peaches.  For those of you who don't know, Georgia is the "Peach State."  The first year, I had no idea I even had peach trees in my backyard.  So I went out and bought one.  I planted it right next to the other peach trees, which at the time, I had no idea were peach trees.  When spring came, they all had pretty pink flowers on them.

Hmmmm, I thought.  Those look like the all the same flowers.  I must have three peach trees now!

Sure enough, the baby peaches started to form.  I was all excited about that.  I imagined making all kinds of delicious peach pies.  But then something horrible happened.  All the peaches fell off.  Yes.  Every single one of them.  I did not get one juicy peach.  So this year, I did a little research.  I'm not going to let that happen again!

So, today, I'm going to share with you what I've learned.

First of all, you can expect to lose 80% of the peaches on your tree.  It's mother nature's way of keeping only the good fruit.  But if you lose them all, something is wrong.  Here are the possible culprits:

1.  Inconsistent watering

2.  Too much shade

3.  Not enough pollinators (a problem with diminishing bee populations)

4.  Too cold - a frost can kill the young peaches

5.  Insects (like stink bugs) eating the fruit

6.  Insufficient nutrients

To solve the problem, make sure your trees are getting enough water.  You may have to water by hand if they're not.  Plant your trees in a sunny location.  Keep an eye out for insects.  You don't want to kill the pollinators, so spray insecticides only as a last resort.  Use fertilizer.  A 10-10-10 mix is ideal.  Apply 1/2 cup for new trees, and 1 - 5 pounds per year, for older trees.  Do not apply the fertilizer against the trunk.  Apply a foot away from the trunk so the roots can get to it.

I plan on trying the fertilizer this year.  Right now, the trees are in bloom, which means this is the time to do it.  I'll let you know if I get any good peaches this year.

I hope these tips help those of you who try to grow your own peaches!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Located in Houston, Texas, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens is part of the Museum of Fine Arts.  It contains fourteen acres of woodlands and gardens, which are simply lovely.  These include the Clio Garden, Diana Garden, and Euterpe Garden.  These three gardens are formal, with statues, hedges, roses, azaleas, and pink magnolias.  When the pink flowers are in bloom, it is stunning!  The Carla Garden, interestingly, is named after a hurricane that came through and created a clearing for the garden.

Other gardens include the East Garden, Butterfly Garden, and Topiary Garden.  The latter has lovely wire  topiary sculptures of a turkey, squirrel, rabbit, deer, and eagle.

The gardens are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Admission is $15.00 for adults.  Children under 12 are admitted free.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Tips for Planning a Vegetable Garden

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to start working in a garden.  It's been a long winter!  If you haven't already done so, and you want to grow a vegetable garden, now is the time to begin planning. A while ago, I created a Slideshare presentation on how to grow your own fruits and vegetables.  The following is one of the slides from that presentation.  It offers some tips for how to lay out your garden and plan the placement of your crops.  Happy gardening!