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Gardening with "Brother"

"Brother", aka Uncle Ernie, has been gardening "since I was old enough to thump melons".
Now in his 90's, he still can work longer and harder than most younger men.
He arises just before "can-see", and gardens and handy-man's all the way to "can't-see", with just a lunch break (and, as we've spyed, a couple of short cat-naps in his swing).

His column is updated every day or thereabouts, so check back to see what's doing in his garden.

Brother Gardening circa 1935

Cold Weather Composting

As temperatures drop, so does the activity in your compost pile.

The microbes that cause decomposition slow to a halt in winter.

As your green table scraps pile up, the pile becomes unsightly, and can attract winter-hungry animals.

Why not try to compost indoors during the winter months?

First you'll need three containers: plastic garbage cans, or five-gallon buckets with loose fitting lids will work.

  • In bucket A, put equal amounts of dry garden soil and sawdust, or garden soil and peat moss. If using peat moss, throw in a handful of lime to neutralize the acidity of the peat.

  • In bucket B, put an inch or two of dry leaves, or shredded newspaper in the bottom. Dump your table scraps in this bucket as they become available.

    Each time you add green scraps, sprinkle some of the soil-peat mixture from bucket A to absorb excess moisture and to reduce odors.

    This mixture is also a source of carbon, needed to combine with the nitrogen in the food scraps for decomposition.

    Loosely cover the bucket with a lid.

  • The rest of the instructions will follow next time.


    Lilacs can be an absolutely delightful, fragrant addition to your yard or garden, but some people figure they can't grow them because they live in a warmer climate or don't have much room.

    Luckily, lilacs come in all kinds of packages.

    For instance, gardeners who live in zones 8 and 9 -- too hot for many lilacs -- may have success with "Angel White" or "Blue Skies," which appreciate some afternoon shade but stand up fairly well to the heat.

    If your problem isn't heat but space, don't rule out the common lilac (also known as French lilacs).

    While ordinarily growing to around 15X15 feet, they can be pruned down to a mere eight feet.

    In addition, some cultivars -- most notably, Dwarf Korean lilac -- grow to just 5X5 feet.

    And then, there are lilacs for colder temperatures.

    Canadian hybrids are hardy in zones 2 through 7.

    Among the Canadian cultivars are "Miss Canada" and "Donald Wyman."

    Pull yourself up a shovel blade and sit yourself down for a visit with "Brother" and his "Wise" Sayings.

    If you're on the lookout for a great gardening resource, check out Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew.

    Published by Rodale Press, this book offers very helpful information on garden basics such as soil preparation, planting techniques, and controlling weeds -- but it's much more than a general gardening manual.

    Square Foot Gardening will introduce you to a system of designing gardens that are easy to maintain, that conserve resources, and that produce abundantly in less space.

    Do you have some gardening knowledge to share or have a question for "Brother"?

    You can Write to Brother!

    Include your first initial and last name and put the word GARDEN in the subject.

    I'll try to use your contribution in a future column.

    (Please note that these columns are written several weeks in advance so publishing it will be delayed accordingly.)

    See y'all tomorrow and remember:
    Nowhere else in the world are we closer to the Creator than in the garden. Well, at least we're closer to His creation.


    Brother Resting

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