August 29, 2014

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Kylee Baumle

'Tis The Season PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:33 AM

By Kylee Baumle

For over a week now, I’ve seen Christmas decorations and heard Christmas music in a handful of stores. I’m not irritated by it like some people are, maybe because I’m a procrastinator extraordinaire and anything that attempts to jump-start me at such a major event on the calendar is probably a good thing.

The garden year goes by a slightly different calendar, dictated by the weather and daylight hours. For those of us who live up here where the four seasons are distinctly different from each other, the growing period pretty much comes to a halt after a hard freeze.

Leaves: The gift that keeps on giving PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:35 AM

Leaves: The gift that keeps on giving

By Kylee Baumle

Few would dispute that we’re experiencing one of the most colorful fall seasons in recent history. I see comment after comment on Facebook and  Twitter talking about it and numerous photos provide the visual proof to the rest of the world that the trees and shrubs are about as gaudy as it gets here in northwest Ohio.

I’ve been asked just what it is about this fall that makes the colors so much more vibrant than in those past.  The process that produces color in leaves is called senescence. Changes in both day length and temperature trigger its beginning, and the trees stop producing chlorophyll, which gives the leaves their characteristic green color.

Without chlorophyll, the green disappears and the yellows and oranges, which were there all along, remain. Red color is another matter and the mechanism for its appearance is not entirely understood.

Though some red is present in certain leaves, it is mostly produced as a stress response, and serves as a kind of sunscreen for the leaves.  It allows them to remain on the tree a little longer, perhaps so the tree can continue to gather nutrients to help it through the winter. We don’t really know for sure.

Why one year’s colors are superior to another’s is related to that season’s weather.  The season’s rainfall (or lack of it) plays a part, but when we have an autumn that has cool nights without frost combined with sunny days, we get the most vibrant shades of color.  That’s exactly what happened this year.

The winds of the past week have done a pretty good job of stripping the trees of their colorful array of leaves and those of us with a fair number of trees on our property are left with an equally colorful carpet on the lawn floor.

Fallen leaves can be a good thing for our gardens and even the lawn itself, but you can have too much of a good thing. Too many larger leaves, and smaller plants get smothered and fungus grows.  I’ve seen it happen in my own garden.  So what’s a person to do with all those leaves?

Open burning isn’t allowed in most areas and for health reasons it isn’t advisable to burn leaves anyway.  The smoke contains carcinogens. And burning them would be a waste of a perfectly good organic material that can be used to enrich our lawns and our gardens.

Personally, we chop the leaves with the mower and add them to the compost bin.  Chopped leaves will decompose faster than intact ones and by the time spring rolls around, we’ve got some pretty good stuff to add to the soil.  We also use some of those chopped leaves as mulch in the fall, placing it around trees and shrubs.

Fallen leaves are important to the ecosystem in other ways.  Have you ever noticed the ladybugs present in large numbers under the leaves when you clean them from your flower beds in the spring? That’s where they’ve spent the winter.  Other insects do the same.  Some butterfly caterpillars will wrap themselves up in leaves in the fall and stay there until spring.

Consider these things when you’re cleaning up your yard and your gardens this fall.  Use them for good and leave some of them for our insect friends.

Read more at Kylee’s blog, Our Little Acre, at and on Facebook at Contact her at

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 1:40 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Halloween is now behind us, but Thanksgiving looms large and so do the pumpkins. Everywhere you look, you see the orange orbs, on front porches, in the groceries, and some are still sitting in the pumpkin patch.

But, not all are carved as Jack-o-Lanterns. Not all will end up on your plate in a few weeks. (Mmm...pie!) Some are grown just for the sheer joy and competition of growing them. I’m talking about the quest for the largest pumpkin ever grown.

This is serious business among those who grow the giants. There are seeds called ‘Dill’s Atlantic Giant’, ‘Silver Bullet,’ and some are a number indicating size (in pounds) coupled with the name of the grower. For example, 1725 Harp seeds are seeds from a pumpkin that Christy Harp of Massillon, Ohio, grew to a record 1,725 pounds to win the competition in 2009.

Plant guarantees & how they work PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 9:09 AM

By Kylee Baumle

Back in the spring, when you were shopping at the garden center, you might have noticed some new additions to the menu and purchased some of them. There are always new introductions, those plants that are new hybrids and always a few that are new to each particular garden center. This year was notable, in that some of the new plants were those that are rated as hardy to Zone 6, a response to the new USDA Zone Map.

I’ve said it before, that the new map places us in Zone 6, where previously we had been in Zone 5. I’ll say this again too, I’m not buying it. I’ve always been a gardener who has pushed the zone limits (like many of you) and I’ve tried growing Zone 6 plants before. It’s only one zone off, so there’s a chance, right?

Plants do the strangest things - Part II PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 2:15 PM

By Kylee Baumle

When I last left you, we were amazed at the powers of the tomato to call in reinforcements to deal with those tomato worms and the beans were feeding the soil. But just wait, there’s more. More fascinating stuff going on right under your nose.

Speaking of noses, several years ago I was away on a trip when I got a phone call from my husband. He told me there was a strange smell in our utility room that he just couldn’t put his finger on. We have inside cats, so that’s where he initially placed the blame, but he couldn’t find any kitty-related evidence.

He, then, came to the conclusion that there must be a dead mouse or other little animal inside one of the walls or between the floors and he was going to take apart the suspended ceiling in the basement room below it to investigate.

Plants do the strangest things PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 2:57 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Plants are like people. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors and while they all share some basic similarities, their personalities are just as diverse. There are plants that make the world a better place for their fellow rootmates just by being in it and there are those that, well, frankly, the world could probably do without.

Poison ivy, for example. We all know what its claim to fame is and that fact alone is enough for me to vote it off the island. In all fairness though, it’s a vine that helps prevent erosion and its berries provide food for wildlife. But there are plenty of other plants that do those things and could take up the slack if poison ivy were to disappear forever. Good riddance, I say!

Time to plant the garlic! PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 09, 2013 12:58 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Just when you thought it was safe to put away the garden spade and hang up your gloves, along comes October, the month of colorful leaves (for putting into the compost), and first frost. It also means it’s bulb planting time, but you knew that already.

Those sweatshirt days and weenie roasts nights are the perfect time for planting the hope of spring – tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and alliums. Alliums? You know the ones – those giant balls of purple that look like oversized lollipops in flower form. There are others too, that are barely a foot tall, and some look like fireworks exploded at the top of a stem.

But did you know that garlic is an allium, too? If you’ve ever planted the flowering types of alliums, you have likely caught a whiff of the oniony odor that their bulbs give off. The smell of garlic isn’t a whole lot different from that of an onion, so it’s not surprising that they both belong to the same family tree.

Let's drink to apples! PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:20 PM

By Kylee Baumle

My husband and I have taken many, many evening walks down our road over the years.  As far as country roads go in these parts, this one provides some interesting scenery. There are the neighbors that have an assortment of animals, a cemetery that has many familiar names, and we cross two creeks lined with wildflowers.

Many years ago, we also noticed a mature apple tree growing in the deeper ditch on the west side of the road about three-quarters of a mile south of our house.  I’ve always been curious as to how it got there, knowing that there are random apple trees planted by Johnny Appleseed in our general area.

Taproots run deep PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 1:49 PM

By Kylee Baumle

As gardeners, we know what a taproot is. Many times as my husband is helping me dig and transplant something from one place to another (or I’m helping him), he’ll say, “We need to be sure to get the taproot or it won’t live.” While that may or may not be true, the taproot runs deep and it’s hard to remove the entire plant.

It’s as if the plant is sending the message that it doesn’t want to go anywhere, because it’s doing just fine where it is, thank-you-very-much.

A few years ago, I had a recurring dream, a nightmare, really, in which we sold our house, bought a fixer-upper, then halfway through the fixing-up, I missed my old house and wanted it back. Of course, someone else owned and was living in MY house and didn’t want to give it back to us. I couldn’t blame them. I liked my house, too, and I really wanted it to be ours again. I started crying uncontrollably, my heart broken. A couple of times, I actually woke up in tears.

What's in and what's out? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 2:18 PM

By Kylee Baumle

It started out so well. The spring and then the summer brought regular rains and the gardens never looked so good. Seeds germinated, new plants grew by leaps and bounds, and I started thinking that this summer would be different than so many before it.

Then the rain stopped. Or it went around us; it can be such a tease sometimes. But here we are, so much like last year, wondering once again why I try to grow things like hydrangeas, ligularias and cannas. They’re so darn thirsty.

I said earlier this year that if I saw a plant in my garden struggling, it was outta here. If a plant can’t grow well with plenty of rain, then I’m sure not going to baby it along when the skies dry up. This time I really mean it.


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