CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Wonderful Daisy Bennett of Ripley sent me a book called "Down to Earth: Gardening and Recipes," published by the Garden Club of Lookout Mountain. The copy was a fifth edition -- obviously a popular guide. It's organized by months, with gardening tips and recipes suggested in its 24 chapters (12 for gardens, 12 for recipes).
A few tips I gleaned from the winter month chapters in the book include:
A wonderful rooting solution: Soak pieces of willow for several days in water. Root cuttings in this solution or use to water cuttings you are rooting in soil mix.
If you have a hanging basket indoors and don't want it to drip when watered, put ice cubes on it when you finish a drink.
In May's section:
Azaleas: If fertilizer is indicated by a soil test use Osmocote 18-6-12 sprinkled lightly around the drip line of the shrub. Do not scratch in, for the shallow roots may be damaged. Feed azalea after bloom fades. If pruning is necessary, this is the only time of the year they should be pruned.
Early-flowering shrubs, such as quince, forsythia, spirea and flowering almond, should be pruned after they have bloomed. They are strong growers, so don't hesitate to prune well. Cut the oldest flowering stem to the ground to encourage strong new growth for the next spring's bloom. Take care not to give these shrubs a "bob"! It is heartbreaking to see shrubs mutilated by shearing into a round ball. Keep it natural!
In June's section:
Geraniums: Plant in free-draining planting mix, water only when soil is dry, allowing water to run through the pot. Pinch off the small triangular leaves at the joint where blossom meets main stem, not on the ruffled ones, for more bloom and full, bushy plants.
Mountain laurel: Remove seed clusters from mountain laurel (Kalmia), rhododendron and azalea when they finish blooming. This doubles the number of blooms for next year. When removing the seedpods, be careful not to injure the two small leaf buds that are "putting out" on each side.