Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.

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A Battery Operated Dog


EVERY YEAR OCTOBER sneaks up on me, but this year has been such a whirlwind that I’ll have to say this is the sneakiest October I can remember. I barely remember August and have no idea where September went. October is my favorite month because it brings my favorite season. It brings hope and a sort of relief that can come along with positive change. I say positive change because in the gardening world everything gets a little easier.


We probably have four or five mows in front of us. That’s pretty hopeful. The countdown to parking the mowing equipment or having the mowers come by to take care of your yard is on. Pretty soon you will be able to walk outside your house and not hear a blower or weed eater or mower drowning out the natural sounds. It seems like no matter where I go when I get out of my truck the sound of some gas-powered equipment is humming away. The cordless, battery operated equipment is getting way better. There are battery operated weed eaters, blowers, mowers and chain saws available now but they are not inexpensive. I guess, like everything else the prices of these tools will begin to fall once they are a little more widely accepted.


I changed our chainsaw we use to put Christmas trees on stands for people from a noisy, smelly gas one to electric and it definitely does the trick. It kind of takes the fun out of the Christmas tree buying experience when the family picks their tree out and everyone is feeling good spirited unless there was too much arguing over which is the best tree, when the next thing is a guy cranking up the gas chainsaw. It suddenly seems more like we were kicked back to Halloween. That gas smell gets on everything including the tree you are about to drag into your house.


The new electric chainsaw has nearly no noise, just the sound of the chain rolling, and no odor. I keep a spare battery on a charger but honestly, we get through most days without having to exchange the batteries. I’m sure there are some cheapo versions out there at the big box stores that probably don’t have a good battery system. Like with everything, those places don’t mind selling you a version of anything that looks like the real thing for way cheaper than going to a real equipment dealer where they are selling the kind that can last you a lifetime and they provide service when you do have a problem. You may be surprised at the selection of tools now offered with batteries. The trick is learning from those dealers how to correctly charge the batteries. They will educate you about the proper way to keep your battery life going longer by not leaving the batteries on the charger after it is fully charged (which I used to be guilty of).


The real equipment dealers will fill you in on all kinds of tricks that can make your gardening life a little easier and lot more fun. They want you to be successful and come back to buy more of the latest garden tools. I think the world of lithium batteries is about to get a lot better and I hope that one day the disruptive, smelly, and hearing killers will be a thing of the past like a rotary phone.


BEFORE YOUR LAST mowing, as in right now, it is time to apply some winterizer and some pre-emergence to your beds and lawn. The winterizer will aid in creating strong roots during the winter months and the pre-emerge will keep those winter weeds from elbowing their way into your yard. The winter months are usually rainy which allows weed seeds from neighboring properties to wash onto your property creating new problems for you. Once an area becomes infested with weeds the lawn begins to weaken and gives in to the weeds. The weeds produce more seeds and more weeds leaving you with a whole new battle next spring to deal with. Recovery from that battle can be slow and you sometimes won’t see a nice lawn until June if you fight hard.


All that can be unnecessary if you strengthen the grass with winterizer and kill the weed seed before it has a chance to germinate in your yard. The same rule applies for your beds or anywhere there is soil. Pre-emerge will keep any seeds from germinating during those winter months when we often don’t pay any attention to our yards while we take a little break. If you get religious about using pre-emerge once now and once in February every year you will have way fewer weeds to battle.


I love the weather trend that we have been on these last few weeks. If it continues trending in this direction we will be in for an early fall. It won’t be long until we begin to see some new colors in some of our deciduous trees. I’m sure north of here and up in a little altitude like the Ozarks some of those colors are beginning to build up.


Mimi just went to visit her mother up in the Ozarks last weekend and she didn’t mention that they saw even a slight change, but a couple weeks can make a huge difference. Mimi drove up with her best friend so they could spend some time together without me turning it into some kind of work weekend. I think they really relaxed and had a great time discussing life. I was relieved to see her take a real break while spending time with two of her favorite people.


I had one day in the yard while she was gone. I cut some limbs and took on the dreaded job of taking the yurt down and cleaning the yurt furniture because we are expecting the new one to show up in the next few weeks. We have to change the yurt out every three or four years because the cotton canvas they are made of will get moldy from the humidity. Once we smell that tent smell we know the time is near. We left this one up all summer this year just because it looked so good back in the trees especially when the lights came on at night. When the yurt is illuminated it is quite a site. The white canvas looks great during the day with the bamboo background.


We have so many limelight hydrangeas in our yard now that the yurt blends in with all these late season white blooms. We just couldn’t take it down. We will be excited to see the new one come in. Even our dog, Barney gets excited when he knows it’s a yurt night. He has his own little bed right by the heater. He does some mighty snoring on yurt night almost as if someone is running a weed eater over in his corner. Maybe I should find a batteryoperated Barney so he won’t keep us up at night.


We have planted our first two crops of pansies at our greenhouses. I love planting the little starter plugs which are really just germinated seeds with some roots on them. They already have little blooms when we plant them. They are like cute little babies with grown up heads. Don’t be tempted by them. We plant the first two crops up front at the retail area to prevent having to move them up there when the time comes. I think our customers love to watch the progress. Sometimes we have customers who ask if they can jump in and help just for the fun of it. We will try to stop you from buying them too early, but after we slap your hand two or three times sometimes, we just can’t stop you.


The thing is sometimes the plants look ready, but they aren’t really rooted out so when you try to pull them out of their pots it will break off at the base. So, make sure to check that if you are out shopping around at Jackson’s garden centers and you suspect it’s a little early.


I THINK THIS YEAR early October might be the magic fall planting time so it’s time to start thinking about your color scheme. It’s time to decide if you will be using pansies with the traditional blotch or the clear faced kind. Will it be Panolas, which are a cross between pansies and violas, or will it be just violas this year? You might do a combination of them with pansies towards the back and violas up front. I think the violas, with their smaller but more plentiful blooms, last longer on the back end of winter and deep into spring. I like that because it buys more time to decide what my spring planting will be about. It also keeps me from jumping the gun in spring and planting too early which I am prone to do.


I do know I will be planting gold violas on the highway in front of our garden center along with multi-colored tulips. That might cause a wreck, but it is stunning. It is time to begin gathering the composted soil you will be adding to your beds once you pull out your summer stuff. Just getting back into the garden centers will get your momentum going. You’ll find tons of ideas and things you need to make this fall’s planting a little easier.


We are excited and getting ready for our annual bash we call Pinot and Pumpkins on October 15. We serve wine and we will have some local eateries providing light food. I will do a Life Is A Garden seminar where I can talk forever about travel and gardening until someone tells me to stop. It’s all free and lots of fun. You should make an evening of it. Our place looks great at night.

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