July 30, 2014

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Kylee Baumle

Days of whine and roses PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:23 AM

By Kylee Baumle

It’s hard to believe that we’re still cranky about the weather at this late date, but the truth is, we still haven’t settled into a comfortable no-coat weather pattern. With frost in outlying areas just last week, it’s hard to believe we’re approaching Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer.

Spring has brought new experiences for many gardeners this year, even those of us who have been doing this for a while. We knew that we’d lose some plants and that spring was likely to be a bit wonky when it came to our gardens, but we were hoping for the best.

Protect yourself head to toe PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 9:35 PM

By Kylee Baumle

With days last week that were near or above record high temperatures, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve finally put winter behind us. These are a gardener’s salad days, when we love nothing better than to be out on a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon, digging in the dirt.

Many of us are diligent about wearing gloves while we’re in the garden. Get just one nasty blister or a cut from a sharp blade of ornamental grass and you don’t soon forget to put them on. If you have cats (yours or someone else’s) that think your garden is just one big litter box, that’s reason enough right there to wear your gloves.

You say potato...I say just plant 'em PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, May 06, 2014 9:09 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Most of us are fans of phenology, even if we don’t know it or have never heard of the word. When we talk about how late the crocus bloomed this year as compared to last, that’s phenology at work.

“Knee-high by the Fourth of July” when talking about corn is another example of phenology, and saying that spring is imminent when the red-winged blackbirds return is too. Observing environmental signs that are affected by the climate can make for some very interesting table talk.

'Project' isn't a four-letter word PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:59 PM


By Kylee Baumle

It’s that time of year when I utter the word that my husband most hates hearing. He knows it’s coming because it all starts with, “Honey...” (pregnant pause) “...I’ve got an idea.” This brings on eye-rolling because “idea” is on his list of four-letter words, which also includes the words “mall” and “shop.”

He knows when I get an idea that the idea itself is very likely going to be my biggest contribution to the project and that his part will mean the most work. He admits that it isn’t the work part that he dislikes the most; it’s the figuring out just what he’ll need to make what I’ve shown him I want.

He also knows that the reason it’s never easy, this part, is because I never want anything that goes in a straight line. I’m a fan of curves and angles. He’s most definitely not. He likes things very uniform and straight and orderly. I like it better when it’s asymmetrical and wonky.


After nearly 39 years of marriage, he has learned to never assume anything. I have learned that when he says, “No, I can’t do that,” that if I just leave him alone, he’ll eventually figure out a way.

He knows if he gives me enough time and he doesn’t complain too much about doing it the way I want it done, that I’ll compromise and change it up a little bit, just to make it easier for him. We have learned how to work together well so that neither of us kills the other one.

The neighbors will tell you that during the act of compromise and working out the details of The Projects, things can get a little testy and rather loud. But they know that it’s all part of the process of each of us getting our own way just a little bit, making it a true joint venture.

That’s kind of what life in general and marriage in particular is like, isn’t it? Give and take? In every partnership I think there is one who is a little more giving than the other and one who likes being on the receiving end a little too much maybe. I tell him I don’t deserve him. He tells me he doesn’t know how I put up with him. Now it’s my turn to roll my eyes.

So anyway, this year’s project is an enclosure for the blackberries and the blueberries, the latter which the rabbits decimated, meaning I may be purchasing new ones. Last year, we netted the blackberries, which worked, but became a pain when it came time to harvest and then later remove the nets from the primacanes and when I pruned the second-year floricanes.

The enclosure is basic – just a wooden framework covered with chicken wire, tall enough for us to walk into, with a pathway down the middle. Blackberries to the north, blueberries to the south. The point of contention in this project is the top. I don’t want a simple A-shaped roof; I want a scalene triangle for a roof, because the blueberries are quite short and don’t need for the roof to be as tall on their side. And it will look cool. Asymmetrical – just the way I like it.

He should be thankful for small favors. At least it has no curves. He should also still be celebrating the fact that I agreed several years ago that we will never hang wallpaper together ever again as long as we both shall live. Maybe I should remind him of that.

Read Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OurLittleAcre. Contact her at PauldingProgressGardener@gmail.com.


‘Buy local!’ The garden version PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, April 27, 2014 9:26 AM

In The Garden


Clichés are just so...cliché. When we see them, our eyes tend to move quickly past them, our brains barely registering the words we just read. Yet we somehow grasp the meaning in a split second, giving clichés inherent value even as we dismiss them as a tired communication tool.

You hear it all the time - “Buy local!” We generally take it to mean that we should spend our dollars in locally owned businesses. It can be a tough row to hoe (cliché alert!) for the smaller independent businesses, as they struggle to maintain their presence alongside the big stores.

It can be a dilemma for the shopper too, because we all only have so many dollars to spend and we want to get the most for them. I will be the first to admit that if I can buy something considerably cheaper at a big box store, that’s where I’m going to buy it. Add to it that many times those stores are more convenient in terms of location as well as being a “one-stop shop,” and it’s hard not to shop there.

But there are compelling reasons to buy your plants and garden materials locally. “Local” can be an ambiguous term, but generally it means a business that is both located in your community and owned by people who live there. Consider these things when you’re ready to get in the garden this spring:

Your local garden center often carries the same plants you might find in a big box store, but if you want something out of the ordinary, you’re more likely to find it in a smaller, independent garden center (IGC).

There’s a lot of thought given by the IGC owner when they make their buying decisions. They want to carry attractive plants that perform well, including those tried-and-true varieties that we’re familiar with, but they also want to cater to those who seek the unusual.

It’s always a gamble as to what will sell well. No business owner wants to get stuck with inventory that buyers passed over. But IGCs also don’t want their business to look like one you’d see in Every City, USA. And besides, those big box stores don’t have as much invested (relatively) as the independently owned ones do.

You know those plants that have a one-year guarantee at the chains? When you return a plant there, the store doesn’t lose money outside of the lost sale. They only pay for the plants that go out their doors and stay out. That loss is borne by the supplier and/or grower. Not so with the smaller independents. So when they offer plant guarantees, appreciate what that means to their business.

IGC owners also care a lot about whether their customers have success with what they buy, and they often choose to carry plants that have a high rate of success for their particular geographic and climatic area. That means happy customers, which in turn means repeat business. Happy customers often share their experiences with others and word of mouth can be the best PR a business can have.

Local garden centers are known to take better care of their plants too, and healthy plants already have a better start in your garden before they even go out the door. As a rule, IGCs are more knowledgeable about plants in general and the ones they carry in particular. They can help you make decisions about what would work best in your individual situation.

Many times, the local garden centers purchase plants as liners and grow them larger themselves. That may mean that the plants you buy locally have acclimated themselves to local conditions, thereby increasing their chances of success in your garden.

Want a certain plant or a large quantity of something? Sometimes local businesses will special order things for you. Good luck trying to get a big box store to order you a couple of flats of something specific.

It’s no secret that the smaller garden centers are struggling. Last month, I spoke with the owner of one of them at the Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show and during the hard part of this winter (which was pretty much all of it), he shared with me that just keeping his greenhouses going cost him $200 a day in propane.

It takes a lot of sales to support costs like that and it’s representative of the things that all businesses have to face, whether large or small. But these things have a bigger impact on the smaller businesses.

Sometimes I think we take our local small businesses for granted. We assume they’re doing okay and that they’ll always be around, but they won’t be if we don’t support them. There’s another cliché that I’m sure you’re familiar with: “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also takes a village to make a village.

Read Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OurLittleAcre. Contact her at PauldingProgressGardener@gmail.com.

Click to read more stories from our Spring Special Section!

Spring surprises in the woods PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:55 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Since spring and winter decided to call a truce, it’s the perfect time to take a break from your garden chores and enjoy the show that may be going on right now in a woods near you. If you’ve never taken a stroll through the woods at this time of year, you’re really missing out.

Ohio has an abundance of native wildflowers and Mother Nature can be a real show-off. Don’t wait too long to get out there though, because just like the crocus and daffodils and other spring bulbs in your garden, the spring wildflowers won’t last forever.

Was your garden winter strong? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:09 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Gardening is an exercise in patience. Ours has already been tried for nearly the entire year so far. So much of gardening depends on the weather and we know how that’s been.

Lots of snow to move, school delays, cars that won’t start, spring that won’t come. Then it does and we go on walkabout through the gardens to assess the damage. Before we can find out what’s made it and what hasn’t, we give ourselves the standard pep talk to bolster our hopes.

Tapping and sapping maple trees PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 8:40 PM


By Kylee Baumle

If I could name one thing that I enjoy most about gardening, it’s that it is a venue for always learning and experiencing something new. Become a gardener and you’ll never ever be bored. Even if you don’t like some of the activities that tending a garden involves (weeding, anyone?), the perpetual classroom in the great outdoors more than makes up for it.

I suppose there are people who don’t crave knowledge, maybe because they didn’t have a good experience trying to absorb facts in high school, so that they could pass their exams. But so much of life isn’t a test as much as it is learning at our own pace, in the subject matters of our choosing.

Gardening is more than planting seeds, hoeing weeds, and pruning shrubs. It’s an opportunity to see nature at work and the miracles that happen every day if we choose to slow down and observe them. It invariably leads us down related paths, such as watching the insects we encounter while harvesting the vegetables or hearing a bird song that we never noticed before while deadheading the perennials.

An example of related activities occurred for us in late winter and early spring this year, when my husband and I decided to take advantage of the fact that we have maple trees and live in a part of the country with a climate that allows us to tap them for sap.


We’ve been around for about six decades now and neither of us had ever even thought to do this before. I’m not sure why we didn’t, because much to our pleasure, we found the whole process to be quite easy and rewarding.

Several weeks ago, we made use of a tree-tapping kit that I was given at one of the trade shows I attended last summer. Using a 1/2-inch drill bit, we drilled a hole two inches deep into one of the larger maple trees we have (probably a silver maple), and immediately the sap began dripping down the side of the tree.

We inserted the spile (that’s what the tap is called) and hung a 2.5-gallon bucket on the attached hook below, to collect the sap as it dripped from the tree. In order for sap to flow, night temperatures need to be below freezing and day temperatures above freezing, creating pressure that causes the tree to draw up groundwater through the roots.

Sugar that the tree stored there the year before is added to the groundwater and then it’s delivered as nourishment to the branches and developing leaves.

If you’ve never tapped maple trees for their sap, you might be thinking that it’s golden and sticky, sort of like pine sap. But it’s clear and thin, just like water, and in its natural state, tastes like it too. It has a very slight sweetness to it, and it’s very healthy to drink it this way, due to its antioxidant qualities and the micronutrients it contains.

In my opinion though, one of the best things about maple sap is boiling it down into maple syrup. We did this in small batches on our stovetop, but because of the amount of steam the process gives off, it would be best to do it outside, if possible. We have a good exhaust fan over our stove that vents to the outside, so it works for us to process it inside.

The maple sap collecting season varies from year to year, both in length and in the sugar content of the sap. The length can be anywhere from two to six weeks long, depending on the weather. This year, the season, which has come to a close for us, lasted about four weeks. Sugar content varies from 1-4%, depending on the type of maple.

Trees need to be 12 inches in diameter before tapping and we tapped three trees. In the end, we collected 42 gallons of sap and ended up with 1.5 gallons of syrup. We’re calling it good and the spiles and buckets are now cleaned and stored for use again next year. The trees will repair the holes by then with no help needed from us, not even plugging.

Until then, we’ll enjoy the maple syrup - nectar of the gods, really. I think it tastes better than honey and I really like honey. If you have maple trees, you should try it.

Read Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at www.ourlittleacre.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OurLittleAcre. Contact her at PauldingProgressGardener@gmail.com.


Stop killing the trees! PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 9:15 PM

By Kylee Baumle

As the ground is thawing out from The Winter That Would Not End, even those of us that may dread the coming busyness of the spring season are chomping at the bit to get out there and do something. Anything.

One of the many things that spring is good for is planting trees. Fall can be a good time too and many will debate which is the best time, but as with perennials, I prefer spring. This allows the plant plenty of time to become established before winter.

No matter when you plant a tree, there are some things to remember. And as I go about my business, I see one huge mistake being made over and over again that costs many a tree its life - the mulch volcano.

The perfumerie in the garden PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 6:50 AM

By Kylee Baumle

Fragrance in some form or another makes up one of the most successful luxury industries the world has ever known. Few things that are by and large unnecessary, can boast of such popularity as the use of scent in our everyday lives.

Think of it - we don’t just use fragrance in perfumes and colognes. Cleaning supplies have it. We burn candles, plug cartridges into our walls and hang deodorizers in our cars. It’s even in our garbage bags. This makes it tough for those who are allergic to perfumes, because we live in a world that’s inundated with them.

Thank goodness I’m not adversely affected by perfumes, because I love fragrance and use it in all forms. In my garden, I grow some plants expressly for their fragrance, not because I think the plant or flowers they bear are particularly attractive.


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