I took a few minutes to add some additional links in the blog sidebar, and changed the title from "Blogroll" to "Web Resources" because only a few are actually blogs. Do you have any other suggestions? I am sure our members have some favorites. Thanks!
When I received the Blackboard the other day, it reminded me that I promised to list a few favorite shade trees here on the blog, and I will, but it may be after next week's meeting. In the meantime, if any of you have any favorites you'd like to mention, please leave a comment here. Thanks!
The topics for my Cooking from the Kitchen Garden (Groundhog Day, BCA, 7 PM) presentation remain planning your garden, starting seeds indoors, maintaining your garden, and putting things by, but my guest stars are an evolving list. Bernie will still be talking groundhogs and pickles, and Dan and Amanda will still have photos of their massive tomato and pepper canning operation, but Joe will have to play nursemaid to one of our dogs, who just had knee surgery, so I'll have to relay any questions you have about building the cold frame to him, and I'll answer them here after the program.
A new and wonderful addition to our line-up of seasoned gardeners on hand for you to ask questions of are Ralph and Kathy, who have a fabulous garden in general, and their vegetable patch is excellent, and surrounded by a tall and effective deer fence! They plan to add some raised beds next spring (great for those with small yards, and also for those with physical challenges), and they reminded me that a wonderful place to buy seedlings is Garden Dreams in Wilkinsburg! Ralph will be bringing the Garden Dreams catalog to the meeting, and I will bring lots of good show and tell items, too.
Throughout the presentation, our guest stars will add their words of wisdom and experience, and afterwards, we will have a round table for you to ask questions. I know the food committee is planning a delicious kitchen-garden-inspired snack and beverage spread, and one of our guest stars may even bring some groundhog cookies, but she promised me that not one of the 13 little buggers she trapped last summer are included in the recipe. (I think they might be more on the order of this.) I think our webmaster (decorating committee) has a few other surprises up her sleeve, and I'll keep you posed on more deets as the time draws closer.
We hope to welcome some members of the nearby Churchill Garden Club, and would love to see as many hibernating Blackridge neighbors and friends and their guests as possible. Give me a call at 412-241-5769 or Nancy Del Presto at 412-247-4129 if you'd like to attend, so that we have an idea of how much food to prepare and how many chairs to put around the tables. You are, of course, welcome to post your RSVP or your questions right here, as well.
A certain webmaster treated me to a subscription of the new Pennsylvania Gardener magazine. The first issue arrived the other day, and I've had a chance to take a good look at it, and I can say it is a solid effort, and a worthwhile issue. I hope the title continues to be published, and I am looking forward to upcoming issues and to the planned website.
Columns specific to our geographic area were written by local gardening experts, and contain accurate, reliable information, and the variety of topics covered should appeal to most home gardeners. I think it is a valuable supplement to the basics of gardening veterans, Organic Gardening and Horticulture, and/or a good general introduction for garden magazine newbies.
I found a few nice articles that I can add to my show and tell for the garden-to-fork BGC meeting on February 2, and I am in love with some new hellebores the magazine pointed out. I was also delighted that the editor left this line in one of the questions in the Ask an Expert column: "What is the best deer repellent to use? I always have deer in my yard and chasing them doesn't seem to help...."
Sadly, no illustration accompanied the query. If I had to nitpick, I'd say the writing itself, especially in the features, isn't exactly Vita Sackville-West's, but then neither is mine. Happy reading!
Since the food committee and the decorating committees are moving towards making our February meeting (7:00 PM, 2/2/11, BCA) delicious and beautiful, I thought I'd toss out a few teasers about some of the friends and neighbors who will be joining me:
I'm still collecting stories, so if you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, please post them here. If you are interesting in attending, so we can have a head count, please contact me or Nancy Del Presto.
One huge exception to my detestation of receiving catalogs in the mail is when they are seed catalogs. A few of the ones I love to peruse are:
What suggestions do you have, gardeners?
It’s winter in Blackridge, and most of our large trees are bare of leaves, so we can observe the branching structure, and plan appropriate pruning, which is best done in late winter or very early spring, before bud break. Winter is a good time to make the decision to carefully remove trees that have been weakened and disfigured by topping (aka “stubbing” or “heading”), and especially trees on which you can see fungal conks (aka “shelves” or “brackets”), indicating the tree is rotted and in danger of falling. (And I have seen a few of those in Blackridge.)
On the other hand, short of these extreme circumstances, or if a tree is dying, in a dangerous spot, or causing significant property damage, I am very hesitant to ever recommend removal of mature trees, and would recommend that you first consider the financial value of large shade trees, in addition to their dominant position in the micro-climates and ecosystems in your Blackridge yards. We are lucky to have so many mature trees in our neighborhood, helping to give it its special character. There are actual formulae in use to calculate the value of a large tree based on its size, species, condition, and location; estimates generally show a 10-20% increase in the value of your property, depending on these criteria.
Shade trees, both deciduous and evergreen, help cool our homes and neighborhood in the summer; serve to break the cold winds, especially from the northwest, to help lower heating costs in the winter; and provide habitat and food above and below ground for beneficial birds, insects, and other organisms—not to mention the other plants in your landscape—or yourselves.
If a mature tree must be removed, a certified arborist should be consulted and a thoughtfully-selected replacement tree should be planted. (Check a future blog post for a list of a few of my favorite shade trees.)