ShadyGardens Blog

March 8, 2010

Grow Your Own Food

Filed under: Berries, blueberry, food, garden, Grow, home, vegetables — shadygardens @ 2:45 pm
In recent years I have become increasingly concerned about what’s in the food I feed my children. Everywhere I turn, I am reading or hearing news of preservatives, pesticides, and various other unknown food additives. Additionally, how many times have we heard in the news of food recalls due to salmonella or e. coli contamination? Many! It’s very frightening.
I have tried purchasing more organic or kosher foods, but they are expensive. I do think it’s worth it, but sometimes it seems I just can’t afford those more costly choices. So what’s the solution?
Grow your own, of course.
One of the most important foods to grow at home I think is leafy greens. I remember numerous recalls on spinach due to salmonella contamination. Lettuce is difficult to grow here in Georgia, but we can grow other salad greens. At various times of the year, we’re growing cabbage, collards, kale, mustard, turnip greens, spinach, and swiss chard.
Berries are a special concern since they absorb whatever is sprayed on or around them. I worry that pesticides won’t completely wash off. And I do remember more than one recall on strawberries due to contamination. Strawberries are difficult to grow at home, although it is worth the trouble. Blueberries are easy to grow and have few if any pests. Really the only difficult thing about growing blueberries is keeping the birds from eating them before you do. For more information on growing blueberries, read Blueberry Growing Tips for a Georgia Garden.
Many vegetables can be grown in a small garden. Just a few squash plants can yield more squash than our family of four can eat. This year, we have a freezer, so extra food will not go to waste. A favorite of my children is the sugar snap pea. Pods can be picked right off the plant and eaten whole, making them a great snack for small children. Sugar peas, as my babies call them, can be planted in March here in Georgia. Look for the seeds at home improvement stores or even your local dollar store.
I did read that it’s unnecessary to pay more for organic citrus, since citrus requires no preservatives. That’s good news, since we don’t live in South Florida.

February 1, 2010

Blueberry Growing Tips for a Georgia Garden

Filed under: Becky Blue, Blueberries, blueberry, buy, Climax, Georgia, Premier, rabbiteye, sale, Woodard — shadygardens @ 3:11 pm
Blueberry Bushes often sold in our local garden center stores will not grow well here in Georgia, because they are not able to tolerate our summer heat and humidity. 
“Rabbiteye” varieties are better for the Southeast. Highbush blueberries grow fairly well in cooler areas of the state, but they will not thrive in our area like Rabbiteye varieties do. When selecting blueberry plants for your garden, look for Becky Blue, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, or Woodard. For a good crop of berries, you will need 2 or more different varieties for cross-pollination. 
Although blueberry bushes normally occur in the woods, more berries will develop when the plants receive at least half a day of sun and plenty of water. 
The planting hole is important for getting the plant off to a good start. An effective planting method is to dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and the same depth. Mix the soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, and peat moss. Place the plant in the planting hole and fill the hole completely with water before filling in with soil. After filling in around the roots with the amended soil, water again, and apply a thick layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool. 
Water weekly. You’ll be eating blueberries every year, as long as you get to them before the birds do!

September 30, 2009

Fall Planting: Shubs that Will Flourish!

Filed under: azalea, bloom, blueberry, buy, fall, garden, gardens, Hydrangea, nursery, online, plant, Rain, sale, Shady, ship, shrub — shadygardens @ 2:02 pm
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. 
October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! 
Since we are now receiving regular rainfall here in Georgia, you can take advantage of that and be ready to plant when another shower is headed your way.
Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having!

February 8, 2008

Gardening for Birds, Squirrels, and other Wildlife

Although I do plant in my garden plants that please me, I usually garden with little animals in mind. Birdwatching really does bring alot of joy to my family. We enjoy watching the little birds flitting around, grabbing seeds, diving at each other with their territorial antics, and such. Most of our native birds are very beautiful, and my favorites are the little chickadees! Also, it tickles us to hear the sound the doves make when they fly up to a tree branch. And, although I hear many complaints from others about the squirrels, I don’t mind that they eat so much of the birdseed. It’s worth it to us, for the fun we get out of watching them try to get a little snack before Shadow, our very large black lab, notices them.

So it probably doesn’t surprise you that when I choose new plants for the garden, I look for something that will help me out with expenses–I try to plant shrubs and trees that will make berries and fruits for the wildlife creatures to eat, thus saving me a little bit in the cost of birdseed and corn.


Some of the plants we use are common, but every little bit helps!

  • Holly is a dependable plant for berries each winter. The evergreen hollies with which we’re all so familiar are great, but my favorite is our native Possumhaw Holly, Ilex decidua. The shiny red berries really stand out against a winter background, the mottled gray and white bark is lovely in all seasons, and the tree is constantly full of birds during the winter.
  • Dogwood provides showy fruit in either red or white, depending on the species you plant.
  • Viburnums are available in both deciduous and evergreen species, but my favorites are the Cranberry and Arrowwood Viburnums. They’re native to the US and provide plenty of colorful berries. Plant several of each for good berry production.
  • Blueberries are devoured quickly by the lucky one who finds them first, so plant as many shrubs as possible, and you’ll need more than 1 variety for cross-pollination.
  • Mahonia, although not a native plant, is a wonderful addition to the winter garden, since the bright yellow blooms appear in January and develop into purple berries in late winter and early spring when all the other berries have been eaten.

So as you add to your garden, plant some of these berry-producing shrubs near a window so you can see the birds and squirrels, and I promise you, you’ll find yourself smiling as you watch them.

January 29, 2008

Rabbiteye Blueberry Bushes Easy to Grow in Georgia

Filed under: Becky Blue, Blueberries, blueberry, Bush, Climax, Georgia, plant, Premier, rabbiteye, shade, shrub, South, southeast, variety — shadygardens @ 3:52 pm

Many times Blueberry Bushes sold in our local garden center stores will not grow here in Georgia—they are not able to tolerate our summer heat and humidity. There are several “Rabbiteye” varieties recommended for the Southeast. Highbush blueberries will not thrive in our area.

When selecting blueberry plants for your garden, look for Becky Blue, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, or Woodard. For a good crop of berries, you will need 2 or more different varieties for cross-pollination.

Although blueberry bushes normally occur in the woods, more berries will develop when the plants receive at least half a day of sun and plenty of water.

The planting hole is important for getting the plant off to a good start. An effective planting method is to dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and the same depth. Mix the soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, and peat moss. Place the plant in the planting hole and fill the hole completely with water before filling in with soil. After filling in around the roots with the amended soil, water again, and apply a thick layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.

Water weekly. You’ll be eating blueberries every year, as long as you get to them before the birds do!

October 30, 2007

Blueberry Growing Tips for a Georgia Garden

Many times Blueberry Bushes sold in our local garden center stores will not grow here in Georgia—they are not able to tolerate our summer heat and humidity. There are several “Rabbiteye” varieties recommended for the Southeast. Highbush blueberries will not thrive in our area. When selecting blueberry plants for your garden, look for Becky Blue, Climax, Premier, Tifblue, or Woodard. For a good crop of berries, you will need 2 or more different varieties for cross-pollination. Although blueberry bushes normally occur in the woods, more berries will develop when the plants receive at least half a day of sun and plenty of water. The planting hole is important for getting the plant off to a good start. An effective planting method is to dig the hole twice as wide as the rootball and the same depth. Mix the soil with plenty of organic matter such as compost, manure, and peat moss. Place the plant in the planting hole and fill the hole completely with water before filling in with soil. After filling in around the roots with the amended soil, water again, and apply a thick layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool. Water weekly. You’ll be eating blueberries every year, as long as you get to them before the birds do!

October 27, 2007

Plant Blueberry Azalea and Hydrangea Shrubs in Fall

Filed under: blueberry, native azalea, native plant, plants, rabbiteye, shrub — shadygardens @ 6:30 pm

Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! Since we still are not receiving regular rainfall, you’ll need to water newly planted trees and shrubs once or twice weekly, especially while these hot days continue. Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having, and remember to pray for rain!

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