Feb 17

Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs

Pruning Fruit Trees and Shrubs Fruit trees have been extremely popular the past few years and that has a lot to do with people wanting to enjoy a freshly picked apple or juicy peach straight from their own backyard.
In addition to the fruit trees, many homeowners also are also gravitating towards small fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.

Besides their great flavors, the advantages of having small berry producing plants are numerous. They require less space, generally bear sooner, bloom reliably and require less maintenance against insect issues. However, the same cannot be said for grapes. Grapes require more attention and need to be on a rigorous spray schedule and can take up to three years to bear fruit.

Look for disease resistant varieties when selecting a fruit tree. In addition, look for a healthy tree with good structure. Avoid trees that are one sided. A few apple trees worth considering that do very well in our area and are disease resistant are Pristine, Goldrush, and Sundance.

As for peach trees, brown rot and bacterial leaf spot are fairly common. Brown rot infects blossoms and developing fruit, while bacterial leaf spot causes lesions on foliage, fruit and stems. Reliance is an excellent cultivar along with Elberta and Starfire. Reliance and Elberta have been popular amongst homeowners for sometime. Starfire is a new variety from the Stellar Series. It is very strong and spreading tree with excellent resistance to bacterial leaf spot and canker. Starfire is an excellent producer and has a wonderful flavor. When it comes to pruning, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are attractive to most homeowners because they are easy to spray, prune and harvest. Pruning at planting is very important. Once this is done correctly, prune young trees only enough to shape them until they come into bearing. As trees get older, pruning should be increased. Prune and thin larger trees to improve foliage drying and to allow for better spray coverage for all parts of the tree. In addition, all sprouts or suckers at the base of trees should be removed.

Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune. Fruit trees should be pruned in the following order to avoid injury from late spring freezes: apples, pears, cherries, plums and peaches. On trees subject to frequent frost loss, pruning may follow bloom and or fruit set.

David Koester the Agricultural Agent at the Boone County Extension Office will be joining us this Saturday to discuss selecting and pruning fruit trees.

Feb 10

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday and I can’t think of a better way to express your feelings for someone other than doing it with flowers. In Victorian times is wasn’t appropriate to let someone know, verbally, how you felt about them. We can thank Queen Victoria for emphasizing the importance of the meaning of flowers.

Since more roses are sold this time of year than any other time, it’s only right that we cover the meaning of roses.

The beauty of roses is they always have a wonderful story to tell. Roses are rich in history, color meaning, and have been used for hundreds of years to convey messages to those that we admire without saying a word. Roses symbolize confidentiality, and the Latin expression sub-rosa (“under the rose”) means something told in secret.

If you truly want to make someone’s day, send them flowers to their home or workplace. I can tell you first hand, when I deliver flowers to someone they’re so surprised and put on the biggest smile!If you’re going to send flowers, and want to add a little extra sentiment to your silent message, listed below are the meanings associated with different colors of roses.

We all know the red rose symbolizes love and enduring passion. The red rose is known universally as the lover’s rose.

During Victorian times, the yellow rose symbolized jealousy, today it represents friendship, joy and caring. A bouquet of yellow roses conveys warmth, gladness and affection.

The pink rose Symbolizes gentility, femininity, elegance and refinement. In addition, the pink rose also carries additional meanings depending on its hue. A deep pink conveys gratitude and appreciation, while pale shades connote grace and gentleness, admiration and happiness.

The vibrant warm tones of the orange rose symbolize enthusiasm and desire. If you’re looking for a way to express admiration and attraction with an underlying message of passion and excitement, make sure you send a bouquet of orange roses.

Lavender and purple possess mystique and symbolize enchantment, desire and even proceeding cautiously. It’s not surprising that lavender and purple roses send a message of love at first sight, a great Valentine flower.

If you haven’t contacted your local florist and placed your order yet, what are you waiting for? By supporting your local florist, an average of sixty-eight cents of every dollar you spend remains in the local economy.

Most importantly, when ordering flowers from your local florist, you will always receive a quality product, friendly advice and guaranteed satisfaction from a very professional group of people.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, not only are we going to talk about the meaning of roses but also the meaning of other flowers as well.

Jan 27


Asclepias tuberosa commonly called butterflyweed or milkweed, has been named the 2017 perennial plant of the year by the Perennial Plant Association. Some of you may already be familiar with this wonderful perennial and some of you may be hearing about it for the very first time. The butterflyweed is our plant of the week and we’re going to share with you its importance to the existence of the Monarch butterfly.

A conscientious effort is being made to do everything we can to protect and increase the population of the Monarch. This is the main reason why the butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) has taken center stage in recent years. Without it, the Monarch would not exist. The butterflyweed is the only plant on which the Monarch will lay its eggs.

Over the years there has been a considerable decline in the existence of the common butterflyweed thus leading to the decline of the Monarch. This decline has lead to the development of the Monarch Waystation Program.

A huge effort is being made to encourage homeowners to develop ‘Waystations’ in hope to increase the Monarch population and continue their existence for many years to come.

The following criteria is whats required to establish a Monarch Way Station;

Size. “A suitable Monarch Waystation habitat can be easily integrated with an existing garden. There is no minimum area requirement in order to certify your habitat; however, a truly effective Monarch Waystation will be at least 100 square feet. The total area may be split among several sites at your location and there is no upper limit for the size of a Monarch Waystation habitat.” 1

Exposure. “Butterflies and butterfly plants need lots of sun; therefore, Monarch Waystations need to be located in an area that receives at least six hours of sun a day.” 2

Drainage and Soil Type. “Milkweeds and nectar plants will do best in relatively light (low-clay) soils. Good drainage is needed to avoid root rot and provide good aeration of the roots.” 3

Shelter. “To assure that the maximum number of monarchs survive in your habitat, the plants should be relatively close together. However, they should not be crowded – be sure to follow the planting guides specific to each plant. All monarch life stages need shelter from predators and the elements. Planting milkweeds and nectar plants close together contributes to this shelter for monarchs and other wildlife.” 4

Milkweed Plants. “To maximize the utilization of your habitat by monarchs, it is desirable to include a number of milkweed species. It is best to have at least 10 plants, made up of two or more species; however, a large number of plants (more than 10) of one species is sufficient. Milkweeds of different species mature and flower at different times during the season. By increasing the number of milkweed species in your habitat you will increase the likelihood that monarchs will utilize your property for a longer period during the breeding season.” 5

Nectar Plants. “Monarchs, other butterflies, and numerous pollinators need nectar. By providing nectar sources that bloom sequentially or continuously during the season (as many butterfly plants do) your Monarch Waystation can provide resources for monarchs throughout the breeding season and the migration in the fall. A Monarch Waystation should contain at least 4 annual, biennial, or perennial plants that provide nectar for butterflies.” 6

Management. “You should have a plan to sustain a Monarch Waystation. Specific actions you take will depend on the features of your habitat; however, some general examples include mulching, thinning, fertilizing, amending the soil, removing dead stalks, watering, eliminating insecticide use, removing invasive plant species, and incorporating additional features.” 7

All stats were pulled from www.monarchwatch.org

What’s bugging you?

Fungus gnats are a constant problem for homeowners, especially after bringing outside plants in for the winter.

Fungus gnats are more of a nuisance than anything. They do not bite nor carry any diseases, however, a heavy infestation can wreak havoc on plants. The adults are short lived. It’s the larvae that causes the most damage, especially when they rely on root systems for their main food source.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, as we talk more about the butterflyweed and things you can do to control fungus gnat issues.

Jan 19


Bromeliads are one of the most striking plants that you can have in the home, and to this day, I cannot figure why they are so overlooked. Thousands of varieties have been identified and more are being discovered daily. If you’ve never had a bromeliad, you are in for a treat,especially if you appreciate colorful foliage and unique blooms.

Although the bromeliad is somewhat tropical, it doesn’t like wet feet. As a matter of fact, overwatering is the best way to kill a bromeliad, especially if they are planted and growing in soil. In their natural habitat, they are epiphytic. Meaning they live (host) on another plant such as a tree and receive moisture and nutrients from air and rain. Water uptake is not the primary function of their root systems. Because of this, refrain from keeping them too wet. Their main source of water is from rainfall that becomes trapped in their rosettes where the leaves meet the stem of the plant. In addition to the rain water, leaf debris also collects and serves as a valuable source of nutrients.

It was once thought bromeliads were difficult to grow and only meant for the experienced gardener. Not so, they are easy to grow and extremely adaptable to growing in pots therefore making them suitable houseplants.

Tips for growing Bromeliads

When it come to light, there are some varieties that will tolerate sun and there are those that will easily scorch. To be on the safe side, provide bright indirect light. If placing next to a window, monitor closely to make sure the amount of light isn’t too much and the glass isn’t magnifying the sun’s rays.

As for temperature, bromeliads aren’t too fussy. They prefer temperatures between 50oF and 80oF.

An interesting fact about the bromeliad is; most, but not all, are monocarpic. Which means after blooming, the parent plant will never bloom again and will eventually die. Fortunately, you will get new offspring, one or more smaller pups at the base of the plant. Carefully remove the pups and plant them individually in whatever spare containers you have. Hopefully, you may carry out future generations for many years.

I have found bromeliads to be somewhat drought tolerant. So when it comes to watering (As I always say) error on the dry side not the wet. I like to water bromeliads in the center where the leaves meet the central stem. But only water centrally if there is plenty of light available, temperatures are warm and there is plenty of humidity. You may also water soil around the base, however do not water using both methods simultaneously and make sure there is quick drainage. If you keep a saucer under your pot, never allow your bromeliad to sit in water.

When it comes to fertilizing, bromeliads are not heavy feeders and never use fertilizers that are high in salts. I like using organic fertilizers such as Neptune’s Harvest Seaweed or Neptune’s Fish Emulsion with Seaweed.

Last but not least, what should you do if insects take residence on your bromeliad? Early detection is the best approach for any plant inside or out. First line of defense, I suggest using tepid water and gently spray/rinse the plant free of insects. If situation persists, try using an Insecticidal Soap. If the infestation is severe, discard the plant all together, especially if you have other plants close by.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, as we talk more about bromeliads and things you could be doing to get yourself ready for the upcoming spring season.

Jan 06

Champion Trees

We all like a champion, especially when it comes to sports. However, there is another type of champion that I would like to bring to your attention and that would be champion trees. There are national champion trees and there are state champion trees.

Champion trees have endured the test of time. Some have experienced severe droughts, cold winters and countless storms. Most importantly, they have escaped man’s quest to develop and build.

So what constitutes a tree to be identified as a champion. Must it win a fight, no? Must it win a race, no? Champion trees are measured and assigned points. The tree with the most points of each species is considered the largest or champion. The formula for points is: Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + 1/4 Average Crown Spread (feet) = Total Points This Champion Tree Measurement Formula was developed by Fred Besley, Maryland’s first State Forester. With some modifications, it was later adopted nationwide and is still used today. Mr. Besley began keeping records of “notable trees” in Maryland in 1925.

We are very fortunate to have quite a few champion trees right in our own backyard in Spring Grove Cemetery. In addition to being state champions, some are Centenarians, north of being a hundred years old.


Imagine some of the stories our champion trees could tell. I always wonder how many rounds of golf some of the old oak trees at Twin Oaks have seen in their lifetime. Even better, the golfer who is looking for their ball, pulls one out of their pocket, drops it and yells…… “I found it”.

We owe a great deal of thanks to all trees and especially champion trees. If it weren’t for trees, our forests would be non existent, our communities would be barren and our environment would be harsh.

Join us Saturday on In and Around the House, we’ll be discussing champion trees and things that you can be doing to prepare for the upcoming spring season.

Dec 10

A Blooming Holiday

Blooming plants are the perfect gift when you don’t know what to give someone for the holiday season. While the Poinsettia is probably the most popular holiday plant, there are other beautiful plants such as the Christmas cactus, Cyclamen and Amaryllis that are appropriate to give. As we draw nearer to the holidays, these plants are readily available from your local florists and year round garden centers.

The most common holiday plant gift is the poinsettia, which was a traditional favorite in its native Mexico long before the American ambassador (Poinsett) for whom it is named discovered it and brought it to the United States.

The large colorful bracts grow around the flowers that are small and yellow. Thanks to breeders such as the late Paul Ecke, there are numerous hybrid varieties that offer bracts in a variety of colors.

poinsettia1 poinsettia2

Another favorite is the Christmas cactus, especially when they are in full bloom. They are easy to take care of and in many cases have become treasured heirlooms. It’s not uncommon for the original plant to be passed from one generation to the next and cuttings shared with many friends.

christmas_cactus1 christmas_cactus2.jpg

One of my favorite blooming plants to have around during holiday is the Cyclamen. Every year I place a white Cyclamen on our kitchen table. I think the Cyclamen’s foliage is attractive showing off the silver marbling effect on the top side of its leaves. That in contrast with the white blooms is why it’s a must have for me every year. The Cyclamen come in a variety of colors. If you’ve never had a Cyclamen, they are definitely worth considering.

cyclamen1 cyclamen2

The Amaryllis is another stand out during the holiday. Red Lion has been a favorite and just steels the show with its vivid red trumpet shaped blooms when fully open. You will not be disappointed and they too make excellent gifts.

amaryllis1 amaryllis2

Of course, there are the Paper Whites that are always cheerful and fun to watch as they grow when planted in glass cylinder vases.

paper_whites_bulbs paper_whites

There are local holiday events taking place such as the Cincinnati Zoo’s Festival of Lights, which is one of my favorite events. Don’t forget about Duke Energy’s train display which is now held at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Enjoy the holiday season with family and friends and forget about work related things and the stress it creates.

Dec 01

The Perfect Fresh Cut Christmas Tree

Scotch pine, Douglas fir and Fraser fir are among the most popular selections for fresh cut trees. Scotch pine has stiff branches with good needle retention. The Douglas fir has soft needles that radiate in all directions from the branch. When crushed, its needles give off a sweet fragrance. Fraser fir is considered to be the Cadillac of trees. It has stiff branches and soft, short needles that are very fragrant. If you’ve never had a Fraser Fir, it’s definitely worth considering.

How to Select a Clean, Fresh Tree

A cut Christmas tree will last the entire holiday season without becoming too dry or dropping a lot of needles, provided it is fresh and given proper care.

tree_lot1 tree_lot2

When selecting a cut tree from a retail tree lot, more care is needed to ensure that the tree selected is fresh. The best way to determine the freshness of a cut Christmas tree is by how firmly the needles are attached to the branches.

tree_needles1 tree_needles2

You can check by lightly grasping a branch of the tree and gently pull the branch and needles through your hand. If the tree is fresh, very few needles will come off.

Other methods of checking the freshness of a Christmas tree include needle flexibility, tree color, aroma, and a look to see how dry the bottom of the trunk looks.

Caring for the Tree Before it Goes in the House

If the tree is to be stored more than a couple of days, I suggest placing it in water until you are ready to take it inside your home and decorate.

cut_tree_trunk bag tree

Give your tree a fresh cut, an inch or more is adequate. Generally a cut will be good for about 6-8 hours. Anything longer than that, the tree should have another fresh cut. Sap will usually seal the bottom of the trunk and will more than likely prohibit or disrupt water intake.

Once inside, refrain from placing your tree near sources of heat such as a fireplace, an open heat duct, or a radiator, or in front of a window that receives the direct sun. Consider using a tree disposal bag and place the bag around the base of the tree before it is put in the stand.

christmas_tree_stand1 christmas_tree_stand2

The most important thing you can do is make sure your tree stand is large enough and strong enough to hold your tree. If you’re in doubt, then it probably isn’t. In addition, make sure your tree stand can hold an adequate amount of water.

Water is important because it prevents the needles from drying out. Your tree should take in a fair amount of water, especially during the first week, and it’s important that the water level in the stand never goes below the cut end of the trunk. If that happens a seal of dried sap will form, then you’re out of luck!

When you string lights on your tree, use only approved lighting that carry the UL (United Laboratories) stamp of approval. Carefully inspect electrical lights and extension cords before decorating your tree. Remember, before going to bed or leaving the home, turn the tree lights off.



Nov 18

Giving Thanks


We can attribute the Thanksgiving Holiday to the early colonists sharing an autumn harvest feast with the Wampanoag Indians. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.
If you’re an avid cook looking to prepare that perfect Thanksgiving turkey, you may consider purchasing a fresh turkey from a local farm.

                                                                       From this………. To this Mmm!

In Northern Kentucky, Tewes Poultry farm located in Erlanger is a favorite place for locals to go and pick up their Thanksgiving turkey. You can visit their website for more information and directions www.tewesfarm.com.
Nothing says welcome to my home more than a beautifully decorated wreath or swag on the front door. Seasonal decorations create a special warmth that make your guests feel welcomed and invited when they visit your home.

15135484_10157827579040531_2118651729_nA fresh floral arrangement for the dining room table adds an inviting and appealing touch as well.


Our lives are stressful enough with work and our busy schedules do not allow us the opportunity to enjoy things like we should. That’s why decorating with seasonal floral arrangements make us feel good and helps relax us from the hectic life styles we live.


If you are interested in creating an arrangement yourself, your local florist is a great source for quality flowers. Most florists will sell flowers and greenery by the bunch. If you’re too busy and do not have the time, ask your local florist to arrange something for you during the holidays. Remember, getting ready for the holiday is half the fun.


If you don’t already have a preferred florist, consider any of the following. HJ Benken (513) 891-1040, Jackson Florist & Garden Center (859) 331-0222, Ft. Thomas Florist (859) 441-8049, McCabes Floral & Greenhouses (812) 537-4525 and Robbens Florist & Garden Center (513) 251-2737. We are members of the Cincinnati Flower Growers Association. The Cincinnati flower grower’s Association is an association of growers, retailers, suppliers and educators, dedicated to the promotion of flowers and the well being of those around us. www.cincinnatiflowergrowers.org. You will always get beautiful arrangements, quality flowers and exceptional service from your local florist.

Oct 22

Time to Clean up the Garden

You can already sense daylight hours getting shorter and nightfall quickly creeping upon us. As a matter of fact, we aren’t far away from setting the clocks back which takes place November 6th.screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-22-17-am

It’s time to tidy up our gardens while the weather is still cooperative. For example, our vegetable and herb gardens do not look near as good as they did earlier. Therefore, it’s a good time to get rid of the mess and start putting things away. Removing leaf debris from under plants, such as perennials, trees and shrubs will help prevent diseases from spreading throughout your garden next spring.

Do your best to remove all the fallen leaves from your lawn and landscape beds. If leaves remain on the lawn and stay wet throughout the winter months you can expect to see some damage.

Leaves will smother out parts of the lawn, as a result leaving you repairing your lawn in the spring when you would rather be doing something else. If you don’t have a leaf shredder, which are very nice by the way, you can use a lawnmower and bag your leaves.screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-22-29-am

If you have the room, now might be a good time to try composting. In the landscape beds, I found the leaf blower converted into vacuum mode to be the most effective. It does an excellent job shredding leaves.




We sometimes take our perennials for granted, I think if we gave them a little more attention they would reward us even more. One of the most important things we overlook is dividing our perennials. You may see the need for division when you notice a perennial plant no longer looking good. Maybe it hasn’t been flowering prolifically, the leaves are getting smaller or the center is opening up. Dividing perennial plants is a great way to rejuvenate tired plants.


When replanting, prune off about half of the foliage. Plant the crown at the same level it was growing in the ground on the original plant. While some perennials prefer being divided in the spring, there are some perennials that prefer division in the fall. Typically home gardeners have the greatest success in the fall. Whenever you choose to divide your perennials, be sure to save a few to give to your neighbors.


It’s still a great time to plant trees and shrubs. The cooler temperatures signal plants to stop growing new shoots and leaves above ground, but not below. Trees and shrubs continue to develop their root systems, making fall an ideal time to plant. The cooler weather during the fall reduces the risk of transplant shock, or dieback, giving plants the opportunity to acclimate themselves to their new home and set out new feeder roots before winter arrives.

If you like fall color, now is the perfect time to visit your local garden center and nursery. You get the opportunity to see what color the tree or shrub you are interested in is turning. Below are a few trees and shrubs worth having that will reward you will beautiful fall color!

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-23-27-am screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-23-55-am screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-25-32-am screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-25-24-am screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-24-15-am screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-6-24-08-am


Oct 13

Aerating the Lawn

     It’s not often we put a lot of thought into the condition of our lawn’s soil. Healthy soil is a key component to having a beautiful lawn. Poor soil conditions are usually an open invitation to lawn issues such as limited growth, weed problems, insect damage and diseases.

Before winter sets in, there are a couple more things we can do to create a healthier and more beautiful lawn. One of those is aerating the lawn. If you haven’t already done so, October early November is an excellent time to aerate.


Aerating is an easy project and the process is rather simple. The aerating machine pulls 2 – 3 inch long plugs from the ground and lays them up on top of the lawn as you work through the yard. I’m often asked should all the plugs be raked up and the answer is no. The plugs are healthful in such a way that when they break down, beneficial bacteria works its way back into the soil which in turn help reduce thatch.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-32-54-pm     Aerating the lawn will help loosen compacted soil, especially in areas where there is heavy foot traffic. The holes will then allow water, oxygen and most importantly, nutrients work their way back into the soil.

The other important timely thing we can do for our lawns this fall is fertilize. If you haven’t fertilized your lawn yet, don’t put it off. Get out to your local garden centers and nurseries and pick up Ferti-lome’s Lawn Food Plus Iron. Applying nitrogen late in the season promotes strong root development, enhances storage of energy reserves, and extends color retention in cool-season lawns. Most of the benefits from late fall nitrogen will be seen next spring and summer with earlier green-up, improved turf density and improved tolerance to diseases and weed reduction.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-33-09-pm screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-3-33-17-pm
Take advantage of the fall season, especially if you want a greener and healthier lawn. You will definitely benefit the most by starting with the three step program now rather than in the spring.

Older posts «