Pages

Rabbiteye Blueberry Bushes Easy to Grow in Georgia


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!

Rain Barrel: Save Water for Future Drought!

Well, we went from no rain in sight with creeks drying up all over the place to large amounts of rain every few days! Wow! It just goes to show you we can never underestimate the power of prayer! The fact that rain is sometimes plentiful and then scarce again has prompted many gardeners to devise methods of saving that precious water for hard times. One method of rain collection that is becoming more popular is the rain barrel. I’ve seen numerous methods of building such a collection system, some quite expensive. One thing we in Georgia must consider is mosquito control, but safety is an important concern as well—it must be impossible for children and small animals to get into the barrel which would contain perhaps several feet of water. In addition to holding down costs on your water bill, it is wise to conserve and protect our most important resource—water. Ready made Rain Barrels can be purchased, or you can build one yourself. The photo above shows how attractive a rain barrel can look, while conserving water at the same time. Walter Reeves has 2 different methods of building a rain barrel online at http://www.walterreeves.com/how_to/article.phtml?cat=26&id=1005. If building a rain barrel is a matter that interests you, and you live near Troup County, Georgia, you’ll want to attend the upcoming Watersmart Program sponsored by the Troup County Extension Service in February. The Watersmart Program is an instructional program presenting many different water smart ideas for homeowners. During this program, Jennifer Davidson will demonstrate how to build a rainbarrel. A very small fee will be charged for the program which will be at the Troup County Agricultural Center at 10 am on February 8, 2008. To register, please call the Troup County Extension Service at 706-883-1675.

January Ideas for Georgia Gardens

Even in mid-winter, there are many things you can do in the garden to enjoy those sporadic warm days we often have during January and February here in Georgia. Any time is a great time to improve your soil, but now would be ideal since you probably aren’t doing much planting. Soil amendments can be anything from homemade compost, composted manure, mushroom compost, or purchased soil conditioner. Do you ever wish you had some of those old-fashioned plants like your grandmother used to grow? Well, now is also a great time to order seeds. Order seeds of Nicotiana, Cleome, and other summer flowering favorites now, so you’ll have them ready when it’s time to plant. There are many mailorder seed catalogs, but I have found seeds from the following to always be fresh and reliable:

Winter is also a good time to have your soil tested. Soil tests can be purchased at most home & garden stores, but a more accurate result can be obtained from your local county extension service. In addition to more detailed and reliable soil nutrition levels, the report from the extension service will tell you exactly what you need to add to make your soil better! For complete instructions on soil testing, you can view the online publication:

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/C896.htm or just drop by your local County Extension Office to pick up a soil testing bag with instructions. You'll be charged a small fee when you take your soil sample back to the office where it will be sent to your state university for testing.

However you decide to spend the rest of your winter, I hope you'll enjoy those nice days and take a walk through your garden as you dream of how much more beautiful it will be this year with regular rain. (I’m optimistic!)

Italian Arum for the Winter Shade Garden


An unusual perennial I enjoy seeing in the winter garden is Italian Arum. Just as the Hostas disappear for the winter, the beautiful deep green leaves of Arum Italicum emerge. The variegated leaves are arrow-shaped and very unusual, sometimes growing quite large—up to 12 inches long on mature plants. Italian Arum is a tuberous perennial, which is probably why it is so hardy and tolerant of the drought so common in Georgia. The leaves are variegated green and white and last until May. Mature plants produce an Arum-type spathe in spring followed by bright red berries that remain on the stalk even after the leaves have disappeared. Italian Arum forms a nice clump of leaves about a foot tall, and is a great companion plant for any perennial that dies down for the winter. It grows well with hosta, ferns, and hellebores. As the hosta leaves emerge, Italian Arum will go to sleep for the summer, storing energy for an even better show the next fall. An added bonus is that deer will not touch Arum Italicum! For information on how to purchase this plant, click here. I hope you’ll enjoy the warm spells we have in between the cold snaps by getting outside, and remember to pray for the regular rain showers to continue!

Daphne Odora: Rare Shrub for Winter Bloom

Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find in nurseries. Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers--right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you'll love it!