Put your soul into your work, not your hand or foot:
Always carry the chainsaw with the bar pointed behind you, as shown above. If pointed forward, even when off, you could trip and fall on it. Be sure the hot muffler is located away from your body as you walk.
Engage the chain break any time you take a step with a running saw. Glenn Peroni of North American Training Solutions has demonstrated with one of his famous saw impersonations.
Hear the clicking as Glenn engages the chain break? Can you tell how many steps he is taking?
Always shut the chainsaw off before setting it down and before carrying it any distance. It is extremely dangerous to carry a chainsaw while the engine is running.
Let the chainsaw cool before you transport it. Use a scabbard or bar guard to cover the chain when carrying or transporting a saw. The scabbard will protect you and the saw.
Consider purchasing and using some type of carrying case for use during transit and long periods of storage. A case provides protection for you and your valuable equipment. It also makes a great place to store important maintenance instructions (owner’s manual) and tools required for daily maintenance like a bar wrench and a chain file for light sharpening or touch up! Plus, you look sharp.
So how many steps did Glenn Peroni take in his Saw Song Performance? If you guessed at least three, you would be correct.
Only three safety trainings left this year and the one in Columbus is full! Sign up quickly!
Collecting a sample for identification of a pest or disease problem.
DO YOU WANT A GOOD PEST OR PROBLEM ID?
Observe the plant symptoms and collect the right sections. Then bring them in to the Extension office in good condition.
SYMPTOMS: WILTING; YELLOWING, GENERAL PLANT DECLINE could be caused by a root, stem or foliage problem.
If practical and possible: it is best to bring in the entire plant (leaves, stems and an intact root system). Dig the plant out carefully-do not pull it up or you will lose the roots.
SYMPTOMS: TWIG AND BRANCH BLIGHTS AND CANKERS wounds and dieback of the branches and their foliage.
Select specimens which show recent damage or infection. An area where there is a transition (change) from healthy to damaged (dying) or visa versa. The area where there is a wound or damage to the stem is often the point of infection and this is the area that should be examined for a correct diagnosis.
DO NOT include twigs or branches that are entirely dead, or have been dead for a while. These branches would NOT help with a proper diagnosis because several decay fungi would already have been introduced.
SYMPTOMS: FOLIAGE DISEASES can include spots, scorch, curling, mottling, marginal burning, etc.
Select leaves which show early or recent signs or symptoms of infection, not leaves that are entirely dead or long dead. Marginal burning on the edges of the leaves indicate chemical injury or a type of root disorder (physiological, organic or chemical).
SYMPTOMS: FRUIT, VEGETABLES FLESHY PLANT ORGANS often related to cultural or disease problems.
When collecting, NEVER select specimens that are showing advanced stages of decayor disease. SELECT fresh specimens which show EARLY stages of a problem-disease.
OTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR GOOD SAMPLING & HANDLING
DO NOT allow specimens to lay around several hours or days before bringing into the Extension Office. Rotted or dried, brittle samples are worthless.
PICK plant samples right before your trip to the Extension Service office.
KEEP SAMPLES COOL – under refrigeration – until you can bring them in.
DO NOT allow specimens to over-heat and be destroyed in an automobile.
Bring your FRESH specimens in a plastic bag but wrap all plant materials in paper towels before dropping them in the bags.
DO NOT add any moisture to these diseased samples.
Bring samples- Monday thru Wednesday so that they can go out right away if they need to, we can forward fresh samples to the UGA laboratory. (Samples brought Thursday and
Friday will be held until shipping, the following week – and will not be as fresh.)
Fill out diagnostic forms as completely as you can.
Collect them ALIVE and bring them in alive, undamaged.
If you must kill them, place the insects in alcohol.
Do NOT crush or smash and bring more than one for ID (bring 3-5 or more).
IF POSSIBLE, and available on the plant or in your home, collect and bring in the various life stages of the pest: adult, larva, pupa, egg, etc.
DO NOT mail insects in envelopes or on tape – they are impossible to ID due to the handling they receive while in the mail.
MAKE NOTES as to where the pest resides, type of damage,host plant, types of chemicals or other controls you have tried, etc. (for ID FORM).
As of 3/5/99, there are a limited number of fees for diagnostic samples.
FEES ARE CHARGED FOR:
SOIL SAMPLES (basic test) is $6.00. For other specialized soil tests you should call for the current cost.
WATER TESTS: basic = $12.00. All specialized water tests, call for current cost.
DIAGNOSTIC SAMPLES sent directly to the UGA LAB without going through the local County Agent. These samples circumventing the system are not considered educational samples and are $25 per sample. So, please go through your County Extension office and use the correct forms.
(NO CHARGE TO HANDLE: plant ID, nematodes, disease or insect ID)
If you have questions about what can be tested, Call First!
It is important to correctly identify an insect as a termite. This way, you may be able to dismiss an insect that is not a termite. On the other hand, if you confirm the presence of termites, it is time to begin educating yourself on what to do next.
IS IT AN ANT? OR IS IT A TERMITE?
OTHER INSECTS THAT CAN DAMAGE WOOD IN BUILDINGS
COST OF DAMAGE FROM SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES
Subterranean termites cause millions of dollars worth of damage each year to buildings across the United States. Much of this loss occurs here in the South. It is important to check buildings often for evidence of termite infestation.
DETECTING TERMITE INFESTATION
Obvious external evidence of subterranean termite damage includes:
Flights of adults emerging from soil or wood.
Discarded wings on floors beneath doors and windows where termites have emerged within a building and tried to escape.
Flattened, earthen shelter tubes running from the soil upward along the foundation walls into the building itself.
Most subterranean termite damage is not visible on the surface, but it can completely honeycomb wooden timbers, leaving only a thin shell covering the surface. These are called “galleries.” Find these galleries by removing weatherboarding or trim boards or by probing suspicious areas with an ice pick or a knife. Termites do not push out sawdust-like material from their galleries.
PROTECTING EXISTING BUILDINGS FROM TERMITE DAMAGE
Look for areas termites favor where warm, moist soil contains an abundant wood supply or other cellulose material. Keep crawl spaces clean. Do not allow scrapes of wood to accumulate. Provide plenty of ventilation under buildings. Check cracks and voids in foundations and concrete floors through which termites may establish tunnels between the soil and wood.
AVOIDING FUTURE PROBLEMS WITH NEW CONSTRUCTION METHODS
Planning New Construction
Good building practices help insure long-term protection against subterranean termites. Termites must maintain contact with soil or other sources of moisture or they will die. Your Extension Service can provide you with detailed building methods and information designed to prevent problems from the beginning.
Selecting Resistant Materials
Pressure-impregnated wood chemically-treated by a standard process provides maximum protection where wood must be in contact with the soil. Certain species of native wood resist termites, but are not as resistant as pressure-treated wood.
AREAS OF POTENTIAL INFESTATION
Subterranean termites frequently infest certain types of construction including:
Concrete slabs on the ground.
Crawl spaces with inadequate clearance, ventilation, and drainage.
Foundations under enclosed porches and terraces where filled earth comes very close to the building timber.
Buildings with no basement and slab-on the ground construction attract termites along the inside of the foundation, while
Buildings with basements more often attract termites outside the foundation.
IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE A TERMITE PROBLEM…
Termite control requires specialized equipment and knowledge. Retain the services of a competent, licensed professional termite control service. For a list of the name of termite eradication professionals, contact the
Better Business Bureau,
Georgia Department of Agriculture Pesticide Division,
County Extension Service,
Georgia Pest Control Association,
Get at least three estimates. Don’t automatically go with the lowest estimate. Select the professional you have the most confidence in and feel the most comfortable working with.
FIND AN EXPERT TO ERADICATE TERMITES.
IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE A TERMITE PROBLEM…
All loose and unnecessary wood from underneath and adjacent to buildings with crawl spaces, including form boards and other debris. All wood units that connect the soil with the exterior woodwork of the building, such as trellises. All soil within 18 inches of floor joists and 12 inches of girders.
Needed units, such as trellises, in a way to avoid creating new contacts between soil and woodwork. Wooden piers and posts with pressure-applied preserved wood. Damaged and structurally weakened sills, joists, flooring, etc. with sound material.
Voids, cracks or expansion joints in concrete or masonry with either cement grout, roofing-grade coal-tar pitch or rubberoid bituminous sealers.
Adequate drainage and ventilation around and under the building.
Frequently for evidence of new infestation. Wooden buildings in areas of high infestation should be inspected annually.
FREQUENT INSPECTION IS SIMPLY GOOD INSURANCE.
Identifying Subterranean Termites:
The subterranean termite has:
Two short thread-like or bead-like straight antennae,
Two pairs of wings similar in size, shape, and pattern with many veins,
Four stubs remaining after the wings detach, and
A long rectangular body.
Life Cycle of the Subterranean Termite
Examining a piece of infested wood most likely reveals the wingless, grayish-white worker termites. The other mature forms are soldiers and reproducing adults. All individuals of each form pass through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
Everything of an organic nature will compost, but not everything belongs in your home compost pile.
The following is a list of compostable materials:
Apples and apple peels
Algae (pond weeds)
Leather waste and dust
Egg shells (crushed)
Apple pomace (cider press waste)
Bananas and peels
Muck (marsh and swamp mud)
Pine needles (chopped)
Garden wastes (trimmings, plant remains)
Grape plant waste
Cabbage stalks and outer leaves
Carrot tops and scrapings
Tea leaves and bags
Coffee grounds (and filters)
Corn cobs (chopped
Do not compost meats, fats and dairy products including:
Common Organic Wastes You Can Compost (from around the community)
Coffee wastes – every restaurant has coffee grounds. Ask if they will save their grounds for you to pick up.
Leaves – you’ll find these bagged and waiting at neighbor’s curbside.
Food scraps – minus meat, bones, dairy or fatty foods. Ask your greengrocer or supermarket for their wastes.
Sawdust – don’t use any kind of treated lumber as it may contain toxic material.
Grass Clippings – are plentiful; landscapers are always trying to get rid of these.
Wood chips – a tree service may deliver a load if you are willing to take a large uantity. Use first on garden paths, then compost it after the initial decay.
Hair – very high in nitrogen
Non-Compostable Organic Materials
Everything of an organic nature will compost, but not everything belongs in your home compost pile. Some materials that create problems include:
Certain grasses with a rhizomatous root system, such as crabgrass. These may not be killed by the heat of decomposition and can choke out other plants when compost is used in the garden.
Plants infected with a disease or a severe insect attack where eggs could be preserved or where the insects themselves could survive in spite of the compost pile’s heat (examples are apple scab, aphids, tent caterpillars….).
Cat and dog manures, which can contain pathogens. These pathogens are not always killed in the heat of the compost pile.
Plants which take too long to break down, such as rhododendron and English Laurel leaves.
Several types of compost bins can be seen at the Fernbank Science Center Compost Garden, 186 Heaton Park Drive, Atlanta, GA 30307. The DeKalb County Extension Service has several compost demonstration sites throughout the county.
Orange-striped oakworms(Anisota senatoria) are often found on oak trees and other hardwoods in late August and September. They are usually recognized in the caterpillar stage because of their defoliation of oak trees.
The full grown caterpillars are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, black in color with several narrow, yellow-orange longitudinal lines. Behind the head are a pair of stiff, blunt spines, about the thickness of the body. The remaining segments of the body have pairs of smaller spines. The orange-striped oakworm caterpillar generally appears in Georgia in August, September and sometimes as late as October. They defoliate sections of various oak species and sometimes completely defoliate smaller trees. This insect is extremely troublesome when present in oaks over patios, driveways, sidewalks, etc. because of the large amount of excrement from the insect’s body.
The winter is passed in the pupa stage in the ground. Adult moths emerge from June to August, mate and deposit eggs on the undersides of foliage on host plants.
Usually, there is only one generation per year and control measures are not necessary. If, however, control measures are necessary, such as to protect a small seedling oak, treat with Dipel or Thuricide (both are Bacillus thuringiensis, a biological control) or use an insecticide such as cyfluthrin or Sevin.
Information: Georgia Forestry Commission Metro Forestry
Reproduced by: DeKalb County Extension
Determine where in your home you will display your tree so that you will know at the tree lot what size and shape you need.
Do a freshness test. Hold a branch about 6 inches from the tip. Pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
Another freshness test: lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end. The outside, green needles should not fall off in substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.
A good fragrance and green color also indicate freshness.
CUT TREE CARE
Bring several plastic garbage bags or a large sheet of plastic when you go to purchase your tree. Wrap the tree with plastic if you plan to transport it on top of your car. Cold winter air at 60 mph will dry the tree further and can cause early needle drop.
The most important thing to remember is that real trees need water. Research has not shown much benefit from using “freshness extender” chemicals. They seem to work well for flowers but results are more uncertain for trees.
Make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk, 1/4″ up from the original cut.
When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump, which keeps moisture in the tree. It’s important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up the water needed to keep it fresh throughout the holidays.
Until you are ready to decorate, keep your tree outdoors, standing in a bucket of water and protected from the wind and sun. This will help the tree retain its moisture.
Keep plenty of water in your stand. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water in the first 24 hours it’s up and two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. Never let your tree stand go dry. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form on the cut surface of the tree trunk and a new cut should be made.
Position your tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators and television sets.
Test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are in good working condition. Look for cracked insulation or broken sockets, and make sure all the sockets are filled. Don’t forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home.
LIVE CHRISTMAS TREES
Several kinds of evergreen trees can be bought as live Christmas trees and then planted after the holidays. It is important to remember that live trees take much more care than cut trees. Live trees should be kept inside no more than two weeks.
LIVE TREES FOR THE ATLANTA AREA
White pine Leyland Cypress Virginia pine Canadian Hemlock
Note: Fir and spruce trees have difficulty surviving hot Atlanta summers. They are not recommended for planting in this area.
HOW TO CARE FOR LIVE TREES
Leave outdoors in a shady spot until mid December. Spray with an anti-transpirant such as Cloud Cover or Wilt Pruf.
Transport indoors on December 15. A child’s wagon, lined with plastic, makes a good cart. The tree can be left in the wagon or it can be set into a wide, shallow pan indoors.
Water the root ball every day. Use at least two quarts of water each time. Pour the water slowly on top of the root ball and allow it to soak in. Do not just pour water into the pan.
Close all hot air vents near the tree. Try to keep the room cool for most of each day. Close all hot air vents near the tree. Try to keep the room cool for most of each day.
Move tree outdoors by December 28. Dig a hole five feet wide and 12 inches deep. Plant the root ball in the center. Apply lots of water. Mulch with three inches of pine straw.
Water weekly until spring. Fertilize with liquid plant food (MiracleGro, Peters, etc.) in mid-summer.
The mention of brand names in this publication does not imply endorsement or exclusion by the Cooperative Extension Service.
Place your tree in a garden or backyard for use as a winter bird feeder and shelter. Orange slices, bread and suet will attract birds and brighten up the winter landscape.
Christmas trees are biodegradable. The branches and trunk may be removed and chipped to be used as mulch in your garden. Contact your local Clean and Beautiful office for recycling sites.
4 Branch tips and needles provide aromatic stuffing for sachet.
Sunk into private fish ponds or lakes, trees make excellent refuge and feeding areas for fish.
Living Christmas trees can be planted in the yard and enjoyed for years to come. If there is no room in the home landscape, trees can be planted at schools, churches or neighborhood beauty spots.
SOURCES OF TREES
All Local Nurseries
Send self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Georgia Christmas Tree Association Cut Tree Guide & Farm List Route 2, Box 104 Midway, Georgia 31320
Make every drop of water count so that everyone has enough to use all summer long.
General Watering Tips
When watering, wet the soil to a depth of about 6-8 inches which is about one inch of water. Short, surface waterings do more harm than good by encouraging shallow roots.
Three to five gallons of water, or less than one minute of watering with a garden hose, will saturate the root zone of a plant.
Established shrubs can survive with one 30 second hand-watering into their root zones every 2-3 weeks.
When installing new plants, especially large trees and shrubs, build a shallow soil bern (2-3 inches high) so that water can be directed to the plant’s root zones.
If possible, consider doing larger plantings during the fall to early winter, or in early spring when there is more adequate rainfall.
Trickle, drip or soaker irrigation systems provide adequate water for plant growth and reduce the amount of water used by 80-90%. Most of these systems put out 1-3 gallons of water per hour, and the water goes right to the plant’s roots where it is used.
Before deciding how long to run your watering system, test it to see how much water it puts out over a desired time period.
Watering plant leaves and/or stems increases your chances of pest problems, especially diseases. Also, it wastes water because very little to no water is absorbed through these plant parts.
Ornamental Plants – Watering Needs
Many southern landscape plants can tolerate drought conditions for several days and even weeks once they are well-established (after first 2-3 years). Examples: crape myrtles, junipers, many holly varieties.
Place large, valuable and historic trees at the top of your watering priority list. Large oaks are especially vulnerable to drought conditions and you can not easily replace 100 year old oak trees.
Most annuals, perennials, and many shrubs (azaleas, rhododendrons) are shallow rooted and therefore have high water demands. Water them more often but limit the size of these planting areas.
If planting color areas, such as annuals/perennials, concentrate them in containers or planter boxes, and use some water-holding polymers in your mixes.
Water newly planted trees and shrubs BEFORE well-established mature plants. They will need at least 1-2 good waterings per week, to get rooted and to insure their survival.
Hold off on the installation of new plants during the driest months of the year (usually June- end of August).
Plants growing in shade generally require less water than those in full sun.
Avoid Plant Stress
Do not fertilize drought stressed plants. Fertilizers are salts which dehydrate plant roots when the soil is dry. Encouraging plant growth during a drought is not what you want. New growth requires the use of even greater water resources.
Drought stressed plants are weakened and more prone to pest attacks.
If applying pesticides, follow label precautions and do not apply to a plant that is already wilted or during the hottest hours of the day.
Avoid unnecessary pruning. Pruning stimulates new growth which again requires more water.
Install a 3-4 inch layer of organic mulch (leaves, pine straw, etc.) over plant root zones to conserve soil moisture.
Mulch entire root zone 6 inches out from the stem to the tip of the plant’s drip-line (ends of its branches).
Do not pile mulch on lower stems or it will encourage rotting and pest problems such as voles.
Most turf grasses can get by on 1 inch of water per week. This can be supplied by one to two good waterings, but you must know how much water your system puts out.
Tall fescue grasses are not as drought tolerant and they may require up to two inches of water per week. Mowing fescue as high as possible, 2 to even 3 inches, will help shade its roots and limit drought stress.
The best time to water a lawn is between sunset and sunrise while it is already experiencing its natural wet cycle (dew period). However, follow your local water restrictions as required and do not water until after 10 PM.
Mow all turf less frequently during dry weather and only remove 1/3 or less of the blade height per mowing. Grass-cycle and leave those clippings on the soil to shade grass roots and provide nutrients.
Do not fertilize drought-stressed or weakened trees.
Water deeply by establishing soaker or drip hoses at the tree drip-line (branch tips). Provide one to two good soakings per week.
Do not water at the base of trees or onto foliage.
Watering leaves in the daytime can cause leaf scorch and watering leaves at night promotes leaf diseases, like mildew, and leaf spots.
Establish natural areas or mulch islands under your larger, valuable trees.
Leave an air space at trunks, but place mulch over as much of tree root zone as feasible.
Limit plant competition by not over-planting in tree root zones.
Slow the Flow – Make every drop count so that everyone has enough drops to use all summer long. This is not just water conservation, it is a wise and equitable use of our natural resources.
About one out of five persons suffers from allergies, many of them plant related. Flowers, trees and lawn grasses in our backyards product billions of pollen grains each spring. Georgia’s pollen season is at its peak in mid- April, receding in mid-May, and resurfacing in mid-August.
Some plants pollinate by insects and animals, others are wind-dependent and shed pollen into the air currents on warm, dry days intending to land on flowers. Instead, these tiny particles are easily inhaled by people and adhere to the linings of the nose, throat, and eyes. A chemical (histamine) is then released by the body that will induce allergic symptoms in sensitized individuals producing sneezing, coughing, itching, and watery eyes.
Plants pollinated by insects and animals tend to have large, sticky pollen grains that are not airborne, posing much less problem to the allergy sufferer. Pine pollen is often accused of causing allergies, but is not a potent allergen and is too large to go deep into the respiratory tract.
Although pollens can travel many miles, the majority tend to be focused in the general vicinity of their origin. An oak tree in the yard can expose the homeowner to ten times more pollen than an oak tree a block a way.
During the height of the pollen season–from late February to June–there are often thousands of pollen grains in every cubic meter of air. Most airborne pollen is so small it is barely seen. The amount of pollen in the air varies mile to mile and hour to hour, depending on local vegetation, wind direction and velocity, and other weather conditions. Pollen counts are higher on sunny, dry days and lower on cool, cloudy days, or after a rainfall.
Coping with Allergies
When the pollen counts rise, close your windows and don’t use window fans, stay in air conditioning, change air conditioning filters often.
Pollen counts are higher in the morning, so outdoor activities – such as running or cutting grass – should be done in the late afternoon.
Keep your car clean and use the air conditioner.
If you wear contact lenses and have allergic eye symptoms, a regular pair of glasses is much better for you at this time of year.
Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors to prevent pollen from irritating the eyes.
Wear a paper mask that covers your nose and mouth when doing yard work, (available at drug and hardware stores).
Use gloves when gardening or wash your hands often.
Shower and put on fresh clothes after spending a lot of time outdoors, wash your hair particularly if you have long hair.
Wash pets (especially dogs) regularly because pollen clings to their coats. Consult your physician if you experience ongoing symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffiness, sinus pressure and headaches along with coughing and wheezing.
Use antihistamines sparingly, always with your doctor’s advice.
Do not use over-the-counter nose sprays more than three consecutive days; you can become tolerant to the medication rendering it ineffective.
Hay fever sufferers and allergic asthmatics participating in sports on grassy areas should take medication at least an hour before play.
Many plants can be used in place of allergy producers. All plants, however, have the potential to cause allergies if the exposure is high enough. For example, a florist may become sensitized to flowers listed here as ‘sneezeless,’ after close and frequent contact with the pollen.
People with allergies and asthma have sensitive airways, which can be adversely affected by slight irritants, such as plant fragrances. Other irritants which can trigger nasal distress or asthma include dust, secondhand smoke, pollution, and perfume. Some plants known to cause problems among sensitive persons include the rose, star jasmine, citrus tree, eucalyptus tree, narcissus, rosemary, and gardenia.
One way to select “sneezeless” plants is to examine the flowers. Plants that produce the most frequent allergies are wind-pollinated. Their flowers are drab, inconspicuous, and often in clusters or tassels (called catkins). Frequently, wind-pollinated plants have separate male and female flowers, or entirely separate male and female plants.
Most colorful and showy flowers are “safe.” They are insect-pollinated and their beautiful petals serve to attract bees and other insects. Their pollens are usually heavy, sticky, and have a variety of surface structures. such as spines. The pollen grains can easily and securely attach to the insect and are not easily picked up by wind currents. These pollens seldom cause allergies.
A Word About Lawns
Bermuda grass lawns in particular produce abundant pollen, and the common seeded bermuda more than the hybrid. Bermuda grass can pollinate when the lawn is very short, as quickly as a few days after mowing.
Of the grasses, blends of perennial rye grass, blue grass, and tall fescue are recommended or other varieties of bunch grasses. They are available from seed or as sod lawns and will not flower unless allowed to grow 12″ or higher. The recommended mowing height is about 2″. Therefore, a well-maintained lawn of only bunch grass is also essentially allergy- free.
If a bermuda grass lawn is already present, someone other than the allergic person should mow and edge it as frequently and as short as possible. By keeping it watered and fed properly, flowering may be somewhat inhibited. Remove runaway bermuda grass from flower beds because it will flower prolifically.
Ragweed is the dominant allergy producer in the fall. Other weeds that are common allergy producers include grasses, nettle, dock, English plantain, tumbleweed, pigweed, lambs quarters, and other members of the Amarantheceae and Chenopodiaceae families.
A dish garden is a collection of compatible plants growing and changing together over time in a small container. Using basic principles of design, you can create, in miniature, the feeling of a sumptuous full scale landscape. First select the location where the dish garden will grow; then select the plants suited to your location.
Careful location and plant selection is the key to successful dish gardening. For example, if you expect to grow your dish garden in the often dry and dark open atmosphere of the home or office, select plants suited to this environment.
What makes a Dish Garden?
A dish garden is composed of the
decorations and trims.
Learn about each of these individual elements in the discussion below.
Unlike a traditional flower pot, there is usually no hole in the bottom of a dish garden container.Virtually any object that holds water and does not leak con contain a dish garden. Suitable containers include metal, china, glass, pottery, and plastic-lined wooden bowls, boxes, and baskets, and antique and reproduction items such as basin and pitcher sets.
Look at your surroundings. Cast-off and yard sale items often have interesting shapes and colors, including dishware, old gardening tools, outgrown toys, and bricks and concrete blocks.
A visually active container demands simple plantings. A container with simple lines and subtle colors permits the variety of exotic plants to catch the eye.
A rather wide and shallow vessel helps to create the illusion of a miniature landscape. Select a container deep enough to provide room for the roots, soil, and necessary drainage materials. Usually 3 inches deep is sufficient.
Loose materials, such as small rocks, pea gravel, marbles, and coarse sands, provide drainage for a container with no holes.
Coarse charcoal layered just above the rocks prevents sour soil, s common problem in dish gardens. Sourness results from too much water (H2O) and from a lack of air (Oxygen) between the soil particles. Roots need air too!
Most foliage and dish garden plants thrive in a soil mix made of
coarse sand and
peat moss or leaf mold.
You may either sterilize the soil in your oven or buy a commercial sterile soil mix.
For cacti or succulents, double the amount of coarse sand.
Remember: A container with no drainage hole in the bottom requires a well-drained soil mix and careful watering.
Plant selection depends on each plant’s compatibility with the others and its adaptability to the site conditions and the style of the container. Avoid mixing incompatible plants, such as cactus and coleus. Plants thriving under different conditions will not prosper together in a dish garden.
See the table at the end of this brochure for types of dish gardens, their plant selection, and special requirements.
Decorations and Trims
Miniature figures and ground objects, such as bits of wood, rocks, stones, and crystals make appropriate additions to a dish garden. Select shapes, colors, and sizes to create interest and contrast. Toe enhance your dish garden for gift presentation, attach a small ribbon duplicating a color already present in the container of the plants. As a rule, minimal decorations create the greatest charm and delight.
Planting your Dish Garden
The Day Before You Plant
On the day before you plant your dish garden, thoroughly water all the plants you expect to transplant.
Layering Your Container
Follow these steps to layer your container.
Line the bottom of the container with loose drainage material to prevent the soil and roots from standing in water.
Add a thin layer of coarse charcoal to prevent sour soil.
Fill the container about 1/2 full of damp, but not wet soil mix.
Note: To test for proper soil moisture, squeeze a handful of soil. The moisture content is satisfactory if no water oozes out but the soil retains its shape when released.
Planning Your Design
Follow these steps to plan your design.
Temporarily place and view the plants in the container.
Look at your work from all sides and angles and from several distances.
Try your decorations. A figurine can turn a few plants into a miniature landscape. To see this effect, place the figurine in among the plants.
Viewed from eye level, the plants swell to the size of trees.
On a sheet of paper, sketch a quick plan of your chosen arrangement or make an instant photo.
Gently remove the plants and set them aside.
Note: Consider where you plan to display your dish garden. If it will be seen from all sides, check the views all around it. If it will sit next to a wall, you need only consider the view from the front or at most, three sides. If it will sit in front of a mirror, use this to your advantage. A dish garden viewed from table level benefits from a different plant arrangement than one seen from eye level. Carefully move the plants until you discover a pleasing composition.
Planting Your Dish Garden
Follow these steps to plant your dish garden.
Begin to permanently plant your dish garden. Follow your sketch.
Build a small mound in the dish for each plant and spread its roots over the mound. If a plant has an extremely large root root system, prune its roots a little. Place a little more soil over the roots to hold the plant in place.
Following your sketch or photo, plant the remaining plants in this same way.
Finish filling the container with soil.
Water the soil and mist the leaves.
Place your new dish garden in a warm, shaded location for two weeks to allow the fresh transplants to become established.
Maintaining Your Dish Garden
Follow these steps to maintain your dish garden.
Test the soil moisture with your finger several times each week. Water slowly with lukewarm water.
Turn the container every few days so the plants grow upright.
Fertilize infrequently. Over fertilizing causes plants to outgrow the container.
Repot when the plants grow too large for the container or after a year or so when the soil nutrients deplete.
Remember: Drainage does not exist in most dish gardens. Dish garden success depends on proper watering.
Types of Dish Gardens
Use this table to design and select plants for your dish garden.
Type of Dish Garden
Plant Selection Ideas
Sunlight Requirement Other Special Needs
Ground & club mosses, small ferns
Full to part sun
Agave, aloe, cactus, crown of thorns,
echeveria, haworthia, house leek, jade, sun, kalanchoe, opuntia, panda plant, sedum, snake plant
The most common materials used for compost bins are concrete blocks, 14-gauge wire fencing and wooden pallets. Concrete blocks and wire are readily available at hardware and building supply stores. Used, wooden pallets can often be picked up from manufacturing companies for free or a small fee. It takes 4-5 pallets wired together to make a suitable compost bin.
Wire fencing for compost bins comes in rolls 3 feet wide by 50 or 100 feet in length and are made of 14-gauge steel wire which is usually referred to as welded wire or fence wire. Because you will only need a about a ten (10) foot long piece of wire, inquire if the dealer is willing to cut fencing to size. This length of wire should provide you with enough wire to overlap the ends and fasten them with cord or twine. Once fastened, you have produced a wire compost cylinder, 3 feet high by 3 feet wide.
Residents should contact their local sanitation departments to inquire about the availability of wire bins that may be available for homeowner composting. In addition, many service-oriented hardware stores are willing to cut wire bins to size (10 foot lengths) for homeowners interested in establishing small backyard or community compost areas (cost $5-$6).
Commercial bins of various shapes and sizes are available everywhere including: hardware stores, garden centers, garden catalogs and mail order, Costco Department Stores and many others. These bins are often more attractive but are also more costly usually starting at a minimum of $50.
For demonstrations of various bin types and composting methods, visit compost demonstration sites in your area. In many counties, Master Gardeners have constructed various types of compost bins and offer free classes on composting. Call your local County Extension Service for more information. Also, County Extension Agents and staff are available via telephone and email to assist you with composting, gardening, and landscaping questions and information. Please call for more information.