September 1, 2014

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Kylee Baumle

....and now the good news! PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 3:11 PM

By Kylee Baumle

Last week, I was the messenger you wanted to shoo away, because the message was so depressing. Sharing the list of the “Dirty Dozen” fresh fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticides isn’t exactly the news you want to read during the season of merry and bright. But, I’m going to make it up to you this week, just as I promised.

The Environmental Work Group also puts out a list called the “Clean Fifteen,” which consists of fifteen fresh fruits and vegetables that are the least tainted by pesticides.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t contaminated at all; it just means that these are considered to be somewhat safer to eat than those other ones, when buying non-organic produce, because they were found to have low levels of residual pesticides on or in them.

First the bad news... PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, November 29, 2012 1:23 AM

By Kylee Baumle

I know we’ve just come out on the other side of Thanksgiving and we may be feeling a bit remorseful about eating a little too much. And, maybe, some of us plunked down a few too many dollars on Black Friday. So it isn’t as if you need any more bad news, but since we’re on a roll, let’s just get it over with.

The growing season has pretty much come to a halt for the year, especially when it comes to edibles. Oh, there might be some parsley or spinach still looking good, but for the most part, if we haven’t canned it, frozen it, pickled it, dried it, or otherwise stored it, we’re going to have to find another way to get fresh fruits and veggies if we want them.

Memories pressed between the pages of my mind PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 2:44 PM

As the deadline for our book looms near, my co-writer and I are working to get all the photographs we need to illustrate the marriage of houseplants and design.

Just as I traveled to Austin in July to spend a week with Jenny, she was here in Ohio a couple of weeks ago and we visited local places to gather what we needed for our book projects.

It always takes me by surprise when I’m just walking along, minding my own business and a distant memory stops me in my tracks. We were meandering through the aisles at a greenhouse, trying to decide which plants we wanted for the book and there it was – a prayer plant. Known as Maranta leuconeura botanically, this little plant is one of those quirky wonders of nature that seems to have a personality beyond its cosmetic beauty.

A life lived in the garden PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:26 PM

When I walk through the garden, the plants make me happy by virtue of their beauty. Their flowers can be fabulous, but it may be the way each plant plays off the others with foliage in shades of green, blue, white, red, yellow or pink. The textures of the leaves – spiky, rounded, ferny, lobulated, scalloped, shiny, fuzzy – also provide interest, especially when combined with the various architectural forms of trees, shrubs, and plants.

My garden isn’t a designer’s dream by any means. Much of what grows next to its neighbor got there by accident. Rarely do I visit a garden center with a specific purchase plan for the plants I buy. I’ll walk through, something grabs my attention, I buy it, and then I figure out where I’m going to put it when I get it home. I’m a plant collector.

While I aspire to assemble what grows in our gardens in an aesthetically pleasing way, that talent doesn’t come naturally to me. But now and then, a moment of brilliance strikes and the result works. Many people hire someone to design their gardens to achieve a desired effect, but for me, that’s just one of the aspects of gardening that I enjoy – playing with the plants, moving them around until I’m happy with how things look. My garden is one big learning laboratory where I perform all kinds of experiments.

The birds and bees, flowers and seeds PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, November 07, 2012 3:17 PM

By Kylee Baumle

When the growing season has come to a close, there are plenty of related activities to keep me connected to the garden. By association, I’ve become much more interested in butterflies and other insects, birds, worms, and anything else that affects or is affected by what we grow on our property.

The monarchs and hummingbirds have fled. The robins are loading up on the juicy red berries on our Washington hawthorn trees. Wooly worms are inching along as they seek the perfect spot for their winter hibernation location.

What do I do with all these leaves PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 3:51 PM

After adorning our landscape with jeweled tones of gold, red and orange, our maple trees have pretty much given up their leaves for the year. It’s like wearing all those colors is one last hurrah, going down in a blaze of glory. And now comes the raking.

We have oak trees too – big ones, with lots of leaves – and we’d be swimming in a sea of leaves by Thanksgiving if we didn’t do something with them. Some people look at leaves as a nuisance. I see them as organic food for the lawn and the gardens. But there is a little bit of work involved to make the best use of them in this way.

If you’ve ever walked through the woods and stopped to dig around in the soil there, you know it only vaguely resembles that hard, sticky clay most of us have around our homes and in our gardens. That’s because over years of the trees losing their leaves and them decomposing, they add to the enrichment and enhance the texture of the soil. Most of us are on a little shorter timetable than the woods though, so we may need to give Mother Nature a helping hand when it comes to our own immediate environment.

Observations from the desert PDF Print E-mail

By Kylee Baumle

A couple of weekends ago, I traveled to Tucson, Ariz. for a garden writers conference. This is held at a different location every year and when it was announced last year that it would be held in the southwest, I knew immediately that I wanted to go. I’d never been there and gardening in Arizona couldn’t be further from the experience of gardening in Ohio.

As the airplane flew in over Tucson, of course I noticed the mountains. Being from the flat plains, those mountains are a novelty and a wonder. (They also create turbulence for the airplane. Ugh.) But the next thing I noticed was the color. Everything was brown. It wasn’t the brown we experience when going through a drought or the brown of winter. It was a golden color, dotted here and there with oases of blue-green.

Gettin' buggy with it PDF Print E-mail

By Kylee Baumlee

One of the concerns about having such a warm winter last year was what effect it would have on the insect population. It’s generally thought that a warm winter won’t kill all the bugs it needs to. Every ecosystem has its balance and when things are shaken up by such things as temperature, you have to wonder if there will be changes in other parts of the whole.

I’m no scientist, but I like to think my brain works logically (most of the time). So my initial response to this bug thing was to say that even if many of the bad bugs weren’t wiped out by the usual prolonged cold temperatures of a typical winter, neither would their natural enemies. Balance would remain, right?

I don’t know what your personal experience in your garden was, but here’s mine: I had fewer bugs. That’s right. Fewer. In particular, the Japanese beetle numbers were down. For years now, I’ve kept a running tally of just how many Japanese beetles I’ve caught and destroyed throughout the summer.

I hand pick them off of their favorite haunts – the ‘Morning Magic’ climbing rose and the pink hybrid tea rose, ‘Memorial Day’. These are the only plants I find them on, with an occasional one or two found on the daylily ‘Big Smile.’

In my worst year, 2009, I found over 300 Japanese beetles in the garden. This year, only 33 TOTAL. Since my chickens find these to be a delicious treat, they were disappointed when I walked by their run with no treat, time and time again.

Was this because of the warmer winter? I have my doubts and like to think it’s because I’ve been diligent each year in removing them so there are fewer to reproduce for the next year. I also give the grubs I find when digging in the garden to the chickens, so those never have a chance to grow up to be beetles either.

As far as other insects go, the dry summer reduced the mosquito population to almost non-existent. They increased this fall as we got the badly needed rains, but not to unbearable amounts. I can remember some summers when they were so bad I couldn’t even work outside in the middle of the day without being swarmed by them.

Our garden is a Certified Monarch Waystation and we grow several types of milkweed so that the monarchs have another place to lay eggs. Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) plants are the only things that monarch caterpillars eat, and with much of that habitat disappearing, so are the monarchs.

I love the monarch and its miraculous migration story, so I want to do my part to help increase their populations. They were conspicuously missing in the first part of summer, but returned in the second half, although I never found a single chrysalis in my garden this year.

I didn’t have any problems with squash vine borer, and the flea beetles that usually pepper the foliage of many plants with tiny holes that look like they got hit with buckshot were minimal, too. I had the usual number of tobacco hornworms on the tomatoes (again, chicken treats!) and the katydid nymphs took their toll on the roses in similar fashion as years before. The spotted cucumber beetles were everywhere, but no more than usual and the same goes for cabbage loopers.

One of the most disgusting insects in my garden is the earwig. It can cause some damage to flowers, but I had fewer of those this year, too. If I noticed an increase in any unwanted garden pests, it was the slugs. I never actually saw too many, but my hostas suffered damage from them more this year than in any of the years prior.

This has been a record-setting weather year, to be sure, but I don’t know that it had much effect on the insects. At least not from my observation and perspective as a home gardener. Your experience may have been different and I’d love to hear about it.

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

Looking forward to spring PDF Print E-mail

By Kylee Baumle

Looking forward to spring

I’ve said before that when fall comes around, this gardener is tired. Though I don’t exactly welcome the winter that follows, autumn brings rest from weeding, deadheading, cultivating, and numerous other chores in the garden. Most of those things I love to do, especially weeding and deadheading; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t garden. But the rewards for doing all that are the biggest motivators of all: gorgeous blooms spring through fall, scrumptious fruits and vegetables that taste better than grocery store versions, birds and butterflies that enjoy my garden as much as I do, and even in winter there are visually beautiful images. (Red-twig dogwoods, anyone?)

Nonetheless, I’m about gardened out by now and my numerous houseplants will provide just enough of that gardening fix I seem to need on a regular basis. So who’s going to plant all those bulbs that just showed up on my doorstep?

Because of my garden writing, I am sometimes gifted with gardening products, including plants and bulbs. Companies hope that I will like their products enough to write about them on my blog, thus spreading the word to other gardeners. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. This is the first time I’ve received free bulbs and the great thing about this was that I got to choose which ones I wanted. Well, that and the part about them being free.

Vindication for the innocent PDF Print E-mail

By Kylee Baumlee

Fall has absolutely positively arrived, both officially and unofficially. The wondrously cool nights and crisp clear days when the warmth of the sun feels good on our backs instead of making us sweat is a welcome relief from the hot, dry summer. The leaves are beginning to turn those lovely shades of red, gold, and orange and the frost is on the pumpkin. And those of us that have seasonal allergies are sneezing and itching and coughing.

Most of us with those kinds of allergies know that it’s ragweed that’s the biggest culprit right now, but do you know what ragweed really is? I’m here to tell you what it ISN’T.

You know those beautiful golden plumy things that are blooming right now in the fields and along the roadsides? That’s goldenrod, one of our most beautiful fall wildflowers.


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