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Archive for May 2011

Yellow Leaves on Magnolia Tree

May 25th, 2011

I have a magnolia 4 years old in a pot in a conservatory. Its leaves have started turning yellow in patches. Can you tell me what is wrong with it?

Answer: Without more information I cannot really give you a definitive answer. There could be multiple reasons why the leaves are yellowing.  Lack of water or too much water can cause similar reactions so be sure you are keeping it evenly watered and not over-watered, especially. If the yellowing is occurring in the tissue portion of the leaf and the veins remain dark green, then your plant could be experiencing chlorosis, where the plant is lacking iron because the pH level of the soil is too high (above 6.5). You should test the soil pH to confirm this. You say this plant has been in a pot for 4 years, so it’s possible that it’s simply pot-bound. As a tree that prefers to have its feet planted firmly in the earth, it could be that it isn’t receiving sufficient nutrients after 4 years in the same soil and it might be as easy as repotting in a slightly increased size of pot to accommodate the expanded root growth. If repotting, give it some acid/iron-based fertilizer like our Hi-Yield Azalea Fertilizer to give it the required nutrients for acid-lovers.

One other possible cause could be a soil fungus, Verticillium wilt, but you would want to take a sample leaf and a sample of the soil to your county extension office to verify.

If this does not remedy the problem, then please provide more information, such as your location, a photo of the tree and a problem leaf, and information about its environment.

Happy gardening,


Great Begonia Plants, Thanks!

May 24th, 2011

Hi, I received my 4 charm begonias and 2 double red begonias today and was quite amazed at the quality and size of the plants. I was expecting much smaller ones, but these are 4-5 inches tall and quite full. I have planted them in their pots and will keep them protected until they recuperate from their trip. But anyway, great plants and clever packaging, too. Thanks….Helga G

GHS: You are welcome Helga, thanks for being our customer. Happy Gardening!

How to Grow Goji Berry Plants

May 20th, 2011

Goji berries growing on a plantThe Lycium barbarum variety of Gogi Berry Plants are a perennial in zones 3 to 10, they are actually quite remarkably heat and cold tolerant. Bearing slightly elongated, red fruit, about the size of a raisin, Goji plants are deciduous, which means they drop their leaves every year, usually after the first frost. You can read about pruning below.

Goji Berry plants are very adaptable, but for the very best results, test your soil, and then adjust the pH to between 6.8 – 8.1. You can add lime to raise the pH if necessary or aluminum sulfate to lower it.


Gogi Berry plants can easily be grown in containers on your deck or patio. Goji plant roots like to grow deep, but the plant itself will stop growing once the roots touch the bottom of the container, so they won’t grow as large as the plants grow in the ground. One advantage is that you may very well see goji berries in the first or second season, rather than the third, which is normally the case when they are grown in the ground.

It will take approximately 15 plants to feed one person for one year. Nutrition experts recommend eating 10 to 30 grams per day, which equates to about 1/3 to 1 ounce. One ounce is about the size of a single-serve box of raisins.

Your bare root plants will survive for a while without being planted, but we recommend you plant them as soon as possible. We also suggest that you get them established inside, in a sunny location, before moving them outdoors to a sunny location. Your Goji plant will appreciate some afternoon shade if you live in a very hot climate (temps above 100°F).

  • Place the bare root plants in a jar or container with room-temperature water and allow them to soak for about 15-minutes.
  • Prepare your container. We recommend a pot at least as deep as a five-gallon bucket, but it does not have to be wide. Your container or pot should have drainage holes in the bottom (if it doesn’t make some), so you may also want to provide a drain pan for the container to sit in.
  • Mix about 1/3 sand to 2/3 soil in order to provide the best growing medium and drainage, though any good potting soil will work. Fill the container, leaving 2 to 3-inches at the top.
  • Dig a hole in the middle of the container a couple of inches deeper than to the crown of the plant (where the roots meet the stem), pushing loose soil back in until with the roots lightly resting on the soil in the hole, the crown is level with the top of the soil.
  • Push the soil back in, filling around the roots and up to the crown, gently tamping as you go.
  • Water well and push more soil around the plant if necessary, watering again to let the soil settle.
  • You should continue to keep your Goji plant moist, but not overly wet, until you see new growth sprouting, usually in about 2-3 weeks.
  • Apply an inch or two of mulch in order to help with moisture retention (and because it looks nice). If you mulch, you will depend upon touch to check soil moisture, or water into a large reservoir under the planter so it is wicked from the bottom up.

You may see flowers, after which fruit will follow, depending on when you plant. It could be the first season but more than likely it will be the second season. Remember that containerized plants will feel the heat and cold more because their roots are in soil above the ground. Be weather-aware, providing adequate moisture when it is extremely hot and dry, as containerized plants will usually dry out quicker. Provide protection for your plants if the temperatures become really cold.


You can grow Goji Berry plants in the ground in any relatively sunny location, as long as you have room for expansion. Adult Goji plants can grow up to 8-feet high and wide, though some gardeners prune their Goji plants to keep them within a desired size range. You can even grow Gogi bushes as a hedge or you can train them to a trellis, in which case, they can get as tall as 10-feet.

We recommend you start your Goji plant in a container, though you don’t need a 5-gallon size. In fact, you can buy a 4- to 6-inch peat pot and not even have to worry about taking it out of the pot to transplant it. This will greatly reduce the stress involved with transplanting, further ensuring your Goji plant will thrive. If you are starting it in a container, just follow steps 1 through 7 above, after which point you can transplant your Goji plant into the ground. Goji plants growing in the ground will sometimes start to produce fruit the second season but will not go into full production until the third year.

Unpruned Goji Berry PlantIf you are putting it directly into the ground:

  • Choose a sunny site if you live anywhere but in the desert southwest, where you will either want to have shade or be able to put up a shade cloth during the hottest part of the day.
  • Follow step 1 above, and then prepare your soil, testing and amending it if needed.
  • Mature Goji Berry bushes can reach up to 8 feet high and wide unless they’re regularly pruned, so space accordingly. We recommend not closer than 48 inches between plants and 8 feet between rows.
  • Skip to step 4, and continue through step 8 above, applying mulch immediately, rather than waiting, and carefully monitoring soil moisture. It is critical that it not be allowed to dry out until you see new growth start to sprout, usually in about two weeks.

Once the average daytime temperature drops below 50 degrees, your Goji plant will start going into dormancy. It will stay dormant until the springtime temps are up above 50 degrees. If you live in an area that does not get that cold, keeping your plant pruned back to new growth is the key to keeping the berries coming.


Pruning is normally done in the winter, but they can also be gently trimmed throughout the season to shape the canopy and to improve berry yield, though pruning incorrectly or over-pruning can reduce your yield dramatically. It is also important to have the right tool for the job. A dull or inadequate pruner can do more damage than good.

You will not want to prune them heavily the first year. You first need to identify the largest, healthy shoot, which will be the main trunk. Then, gradually remove the lower lateral shoots, with the goal of keeping the trunk clear for the first 15 inches, and then when your Goji plant reaches 24 inches, remove the growing tip to stimulate the growth of additional side branches.

To prune adult plants, just remove the branches above the maximum height you want. You should maintain clearance from the ground up of about 15 inches. You can also identify any ineffective branches. These usually grow very fast, straight and smooth and will not be very productive, so if they aren’t essential to the overall look, they can simply be removed. Goji Berry plants grow similarly to a weeping willow. If allowed to grow un-pruned, you can end up with a mighty wild look.

We hope this has helped you to understand the needs of the Goji berry plant.  Fertilizer is not necessary as excess nitrogen will kill the plants.

For preparing this amazingly healthy superfood, we have discovered a cookbook, Goji Berries :The Ultimate Recipe Guide – Over 30 Delicious & Best Selling Recipes It’s filled with illustrations and recipes for everything from breakfast to main dishes and even includes a chapter on appetizers!

We wish you much planting success and good health! Happy Gardening!

Survive in Style with Grabill Farms Canned Meat

May 12th, 2011

Have you ever thought about what you would eat if weather conditions or some other emergency kept you housebound for an extended period? Canned meat is a great thing to stock up on as a protein source to balance out all the easily stored carbs like rice and pasta.

But canned meat isn't just for survivalists: it's for anyone who runs out of Canned Porkbeef, chicken, turkey or pork and doesn't have time to rush to the supermarket. It's for busy people who wants the convenience of a heat and serve meal. It's for the chef who wants to prepare a gourmet dish without all the prep work. It's for people who want to solve the problem of their overstuffed fridge or freezer, and save energy in the bargain. It's also for campers, boaters, RV owners, and anyone who will be away from the usual sources of sustenance for a while.

Someone once said that buying canned meat is like buying batteries. Sure, the electricity out of the wall is cheaper, but batteries serve so many useful functions that most of us find the cost of canned electricity totally worth it.  The thing about canned meat, though, is that it actually might wind up being cheaper than fresh meat when you factor in the cost of gas, fuel, and electricity.  And, amazingly, canned meat lasts even longer than batteries!

The Grabill Farms canned meat that we sell is guaranteed for five years, but has been known to last at least twice that and still retain its original flavor and texture. So let us tell you a little about this fine company and their products.

Grabill Farms: Canned Meat Perfection

Grabill Farms is a family owned operation that prepares, cooks, and cans their meat in a USDA-inspected facility in Grabill, Indiana. The beef is chuck tender cut; the pork is cushion cut; the chicken is half dark meat and half-light; the turkey is entirely from the breast and thigh.Canned Beef

The Grabill Farms products that we carry are chicken chunks, beef chunks, turkey chunks, pork chunks, and ground beef. All are boneless, low-salt, low-fat, free of preservatives, and cooked in their own natural juices. They come in either 13 oz. or 27 oz. sizes. If you buy them by the 12-pack, you'll get an additional savings of up to 17%.

Add Dehydrated Veggies and You're Ready for Anything

While you're stocking up on canned meat, you might want to pick up some dehydrated veggies as well. Then if you're housebound for any length of time, you'll be all ready to cook up some tasty meals. These dehydrated veggies come in bags of 3 lbs. or larger and, like the canned meat that we sell, they have a very long shelf life.  They all rehydrate after two minutes in boiling water.

We offer veggie flakes that contain potato carrot, red and green bell pepper, and celery. They rehydrate after two minutes in boiling water. We also have dehydrated soup greens that contain carrots, onion, red bell pepper, celery, green bell pepper, tomato, and spinach.

Dried VegetablesIf you just want a particular vegetable, we offer individual bags of dehydrated carrots, double diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes halves, sweet green bell peppers, sweet red bell peppers, and a red and green sweet bell pepper combo. Last but not least, we have dehydrated spicy jalapeno pepper chips on sale this month for 30% off. And, to repeat, if you order a case of canned meat, we'll give you an additional savings of up to 17% off our already very competitive prices.

We hope this newsletter has convinced you that quality canned meat is a good way of keeping you and your family well-nourished whatever the weather. And perhaps its opened the eyes of some of you that canned meat isn't necessarily the same as luncheon meat.

Just as there used to be only Maxwell House and Folgers on the shelf in the grocery, and Budweiser and Miller used to chill out together in the refrigerated beer section, the canned meat industry used to consist mostly of SPAMnot the junk in your email in-box, but tinned pork formed into a solid block. Now even SPAM comes in nine varieties and quality canned meats such as those made by Grabill Farms have become available. It's a great time to start using and enjoying canned meat!

Cooking with Canned Meat

To introduce you to the pleasures and convenience of quality canned meat, here are a couple of recipes that come to us courtesy of allrecipes.com. Enjoy!

Boyfriend Bait Beef Strogonoff

Yield: 3 servings

Prep time: 15 min. Cook time: 15 min.


  1. 1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, well-trimmed, meat cut bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch square)
  2. 4 tablespoons butter
  3. 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  4. 2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
  5. 2 cups canned beef broth
  6. 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  7. 1 cup sour cream
  8. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


  1. Over medium high heat, gently cook beef tenderloin in 2 tablespoons of butter for about 2 minutes, until just seared on all sides. You will still be able to see red. Remove from pan and set aside in a rimmed dish or baking sheet so that you collect the juices.
  2. Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook the shallots and mushrooms in remaining butter until soft and wilted, about 5 minutes. Mix cornstarch into cold beef broth, whisk to blend. Pour into pan, and stir together with shallots and mushrooms until thickened, two or three minutes.
  3. Add sour cream and mustard, stir to blend. Add beef and juices from dish; stir over medium just till warmed through. Salt to taste. Serve over noodles or rice.

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 747 | Total Fat: 59.2g | Cholesterol: 190mg

Chicken Pasta Salad II

Prep Time: 30 Min Cook Time: 10 Min

Yield: 6 servings


  1. 1/2 pound rotini/corkscrew pasta
  2. 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  3. 1/2 cup sliced green olives
  4. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  5. 1/4 cup minced onion
  6. 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  7. 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels
  8. 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  9. 3/4 cup Italian-style salad dressing
  10. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  11. 1 cup canned chicken meat – drained and flaked
  12. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cool water. Pour into a large dish.
  2. Combine mushrooms, olives, celery, onion, cheese, corn and green bell pepper with pasta; mix well.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing and mayonnaise; pour dressing over salad and toss again to coat.
  4. Gently mix in flaked chicken; refrigerate for a few hours or serve.

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 458 | Total Fat: 33.3g | Cholesterol: 48mg

The Scent of Lilacs

May 11th, 2011

lilac plantThe syringa plant, better known as a lilac bush, has been a favorite shrub of homeowners and landscapers for eons, and for good reasons.  In the spring, it becomes densely covered with colorful blooms, and they smell like a slice of heaven.  Not many flowers are as heavily perfumed as lilacs.

The proper name is syringa (pronounced si-RING-uh), and there are varieties to suit nearly every taste and growing condition.  There are numerous colors of blooming lilacs available, from white to pale yellow to lavender to the deep, intense hot pink hues of the Redwine Syringa Plant. The Redwine also has a slightly spicier scent than most other lilacs.

The Bloomerang® Purple Syringa Plant is unique in that it blooms like most varieties in the early spring, but then it re-blooms after the summer begins to turn to fall. It has a mounding habit, full green foliage throughout the warm months, and two seasons of luscious deep lavender flowers in abundance. 

In a full sun to mostly sunny location, the Bloomerang® Purple Syringa will grow 4 to 6 feet tall.  It has normal watering requirements, and will thrive in most soil types.  It's a very low-maintenance shrub that will even grow well in a container.

Syringa plants create an intoxicating fragrance outdoors, and the cut flowers will scent a whole home interior when used in arrangements for centerpieces or placed in bud vases.  Syringas produce plenty of blooms, providing you all the cut flowers you need without diminishing the beauty of the shrub. Just make sure to clip them with high quality bypass pruners, so you don't crush the stems and prohibit healthy future growth.  Also, dead-heading the spent blooms will increase flowering production the following spring.

Lilacs can become leggy, so it's a good idea to prune branches back at the end of the growing season.  They'll come back bushier and with a more balanced shape and healthier foliage and flowers.

If you like plants that have a graceful weeping habit, the Lilac Sunday Syringa Plant is a lovely shrub.  It has an unusual stem design, with flowers produced both on the stem tips, called panacles, and also laterally growing buds farther down the stems.  The weight of all the flower clusters causes the branches to grow downward instead of upward, giving this unique lilac a very flowing shape.

When planning landscaping, it's a good idea to consider the best seasons of your plants, and try to achieve year-round beauty in your spaces, no matter what your growing climate. Lilacs are a welcome sign of spring in most regions, and they continue to provide full foliage throughout the summer, for hedge rows or single focal-point planting.

Canned Meat? A Time-Saving Miracle!

May 9th, 2011

I can hear some of you thinking, Really? or Right!, but don't knock it until you've tried it!

This is not your Grandma's canned meat, unless she happens to stock Grabill Country Meats. The meat is processed at a USDA inspected processing plant. Each can is hand-packed and then is fully cooked, right in the can, with all of the meat's natural juices. You don't even have to worry about cooking it properly to avoid things like botulism or E-coli. Grabill Country has taken the worry and the time out of preparing wholesome, nutritious and quick meals for your family.

Stressed and time-starved Moms are just now discovering what hunters and sailors have known all alongcanned meat is really convenient, has exceptional flavor and lasts almost forever on the shelf! Though Grabill Country puts a 5-year expiration date on their products, the truth is that they can last twice that long, losing none of their flavor and being perfectly safe to consume.

Keep some on hand for when you've just run out of time and don't want to go out for fast food or stock up for those unexpected weather events, such as flooding or blizzards, that may keep you confined to your home for an extended period. Watch our short video for even more ideas on how to use this fantastic product and then stock up on Grabill Country Meats canned meat products.

Ride The Wave – Grow Like a Pro

May 5th, 2011

easy wave, easy wave petunia, petunia plant, pink petuniaThe Wave family of petunias has made growing and displaying luscious petunias easier than ever before. Easy Wave™, purposely bred to be easy to care for, have bold colors, grow fast, bloom profusely and are more heat and cold tolerant than your ‘garden variety' petunias. Most Easy Wave petunias will be from 8 to 12-inches tall and can spread up to 3-feet, which makes them perfect for hanging or tall standing containers, spilling over retaining walls or out of window boxes and for flowering ground cover applications to brighten up a fading perennial garden.

When it comes to care, they were aptly named. When you receive your potted Easy Wave Petunia plants, we recommend that you set them in a shady place, maybe under a tree, to recover from the rigors of shipping for two or three days and to become acclimated to your climate before transplanting. We have also found that allowing them to soak in the pot, set in a shallow container with Neptune's Harvest for a few hours, gives the already vigorous root system a bit of a boost, ensuring they will take hold in your flower beds quickly.

Easy Wave Petunias are sun-lovers, so sun is a MUST! The bed where you plant these beauties should have at least 5 to 6 hours of sunlight daily. If you work and are unable to watch the bedding area to make sure it gets that amount of sun daily, you might want to purchase an inexpensive 4-Way Analyzer or Sun Calculator to ensure that your Easy Waves will thrive and bloom their best throughout the season. And of course, you can use these handy tools over and over for every part of your landscape or vegetable gardens.

When transplanting Easy Wave Petunias to flower beds, you should maintain the same depth as the original pot. In a prepared bed, dig a hole almost twice the size of the pot and about an inch deeper, then add loose soil back to the bottom of the hole to bring the pot back to the proper depth, in line with the top of the soil. If you have soaked your petunias, they should come out of their shipping pot easily by just squeezing gently to loosen the soil from the pot. Then, simply tip the pot upside down, supporting the plant and the soil in your palm and between your fingers. Set the shipping pot aside and gently set the plant in the hole, double-checking to make sure the original soil is level with the bedding soil. Replace the soil around the plant, gently tamping as you go, and then water well.

We recommend that you space Easy Wave about 12 to 24-inches apart. This will ensure enough room for luscious growth and will fill in nicely for uninterrupted color. You are welcome to mulch to retain moisture, but once Easy Wave takes hold and starts growing, they quickly create a living mat that shades the soil, retains moisture and keeps the weed population at bay.

In containers, we recommend 3 plants for every 10 to 12-inches of container width. Keep in mind that containers will dry out more quickly than your garden beds and that petunias of any kind don't like to go to bed with wet leaves. Water in the morning and don't allow them to dry out completely between watering; you'll be rewarded with healthy growth, prolific blooms and gorgeous color.

Easy Wave also does not require pinching or deadheading. The faded blooms will just dry up and drop off on their own, providing valuable nutrients back to the plants from which they came; and more blooms will continue to appear all season long. As for pinching, that is not necessary either, unless they are not getting the recommended amount of daily sunlight and become leggy.

Finally, Petunias are heavy feeders and though they will perform well with little care, they will reach their full potential with regular feeding. The Easy Wave breeders recommend using a liquid fertilizer very 10 to 14 days, or you can use a combination of liquid and a slow-release fertilizer over longer intervals. Jobe's Drip Feeder for Flowering Plants is an easy solution for your containers, or use Jobe's Organic Container & Bedding Plants Fertilizer Spikes in your flower beds!

We hope this has answered all of your questions about how to plant and care for your Easy Wave Petunias, but in the event that you have further questions, you are invited to contact our Master Gardener, Karen.

Happy Gardening!

Wonderful Plants!

May 4th, 2011

Just a note to let you know that I was really impressed with the wonderful and healthy plants and herbs that I had orderd from your website. I shall continue to use this site for my all my plants. The packing was also quite well done!

Many thanks, Mary

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