May 2017 – Tips from the Landscape Architect

Planting Season

It’s here, planting season that is.  The soil can be worked now that it is beginning to dry out.  For any successful planting, you should know how your particular soil is made up.  The best way is by way of a soil test by a local testing laboratory.  This will tell you what you will have the most success growing and what amendments will need to be added to meet your growing goals.  Once you know what you are working with from a soil stand point, then it time to select the plants you will want to grow.  Prepare any new planting bed or garden space by tilling or hand spading to a depth of about 8 inches.  Add your necessary amendments as determined by the soil test and about 25% organic material (2”) consisting of compost, peat moss, pine bark fines or any similar product.  Hand spade or till to incorporate all together.  Rake the beds and begin planting.

Outdoor Cooking

There is nothing better than a grilled meal.  It sure is a wonderful sense of pride when we prepare our favorite meat and cook it just the way we like our tenderness.  The side items to serve with our meals can become a bit of a problem.  

Useful items for cooking include aluminum foil, iron skillets and a deep cast iron pot with lid.  You will also want to have long handled tongs, forks and spoons.  Use your favorite cooking oil for coating your pots and pans.  Avoid using butter or margarine as it will burn next to your fire.  Once an item is cooked then you can flavor your foods with butter or margarine.

To go with my favorite meat, I like grilled asparagus and potatoes.  Using my iron skillet, I heat olive oil for about a minute and add the asparagus tips, continuing turning and grilling until slightly brown on all sides.  Once prepared, I grate parmesan cheese and pepper to taste before serving.  For my potato dish, I use heavy duty aluminum foil and lay open.  My potatoes are thinly sliced, sprinkled with basil, onion, a dash of pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  This mixture is spread over half of the foil and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the ingredients so they don’t stick to the foil.  The foil is folded together and all edges all double sealed so the foil doesn’t come apart while cooking.  You can lay this food package directly on embers but will need to turn regularly or rest on a grill rack and it cooks a bit slower.  Enjoy your grilling and outdoor season and please feel free to share your favorite outdoor recipes.


Is It a Pest?

The wasps are busy at my farm.  They are looking for nesting sites in firewood, old beams of the barn and between my sheet metal sidings.  Wasps are more interested in their privacy than bothering us.  We as humans have a love hate relationship with this insect group wasp, bees and ants.

We certainly don’t like them buzzing around our homes, patios and gardens but we certainly enjoy their efforts as they pollinate our plants and eat destructive insects that migrate into our gardens.  It is believed this insect group is responsible for pollinating 50% to 80% of our food supply but the insect population is beginning to dwindle due to several environmental conditions as well as pesticide usage.  These creatures will scour for food scraps, dead bugs leaf debris etc. and serve as the environments’ cleaners.  

Since we want these creatures for all of the good things they do, we also want to avoid confrontation with them.  Their stings and the allergic reactions we receive from them definitely can spoil a pleasant afternoon on the patio.  Clean up your surroundings on a regular basis.  If you eliminate food sources then you will lessen the chance of confrontation.  Wipe down your grill and all equipment associated with outdoor cooking.  Keep all debris cleaned up such as branches, bark and fallen leaves.  Enclose your trash containers and pick up all scraps and debris around them.  

It’s all about the food whether we love or hate this insect group.  I guess it’s time to go clean up the barn.