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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Take Advantage of the Cooler Months - Winter Plant Bed Maintenance

After Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds
Before I begin, I must say that other than pruning the somewhat young crepe myrtle (She was a slight mess.) in the center bed in the front yard, I had nothing to do with the shaping, trimming or perhaps otherwise unhealthy treatment of the shrubs.

This was done prior, by someone else, and the property owner knows it.

We did remove some unwanted ground growth and I did raise the canopies on some of the shrubs slightly to accommodate mulch - long needle pine straw in this case.

Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
This is a nice home, but the owner has had little time to work with it since moving in a few years ago.

Although it is in a beautiful neighborhood adjacent to a country club, her home is unfortunately surrounded on both sides by two overgrown vacant lots.

We are working on this in stages, which is a lot of what we do - landscape restoration over time, for many reasons.

Managing plant beds, not just the plants themselves, but more so the bed and how it accommodates the plants and balances with, shows off or highlights the property, was the concern here - attention to detail.

Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
Prior to Reworking the Plant Beds
A huge portion of this project was to have the beds more appropriately represent the size of the shrubs while accounting for future and mature height and width. Slowly curving lines were used for a more natural look.

Although some grading was performed, most of this was accomplished by re-establishing borders and this is not simply about drawing a line in the sand (lawn). It is about creating a more noticeable border (delineation) where the lawn meets the plant bed without using man-made border devices.

It's also easier for the homeowner or their lawn service to edge more accurately and deeper, keeping the grass runners (stolons) from spreading into the bed while allowing mulch to better stay in the bed.

After Reworking the Plant Beds
After Reworking the Plant Beds
In addition, winter is also a good time for pruning shrubs and trees for health reasons, which always adds to the beauty of a plant and promotes better structure. Much of this can be performed on even those early spring bloomers, if done right.

Re-working plant beds and re-establishing borders during winter allows you to plan for spring's growth or new plantings ahead of time.

Also, testing the soil now allows you to plan for spring fertilization, but more importantly allows time for adjusting the pH (typically by applying lime in our area) sooner so that it has a chance to take hold and be more effective.

This also may be the opportune time to install a drip-line system (either from a faucet timer or off your existing sprinkler system). This isn't Alaska.

So, think of winter as that time when you can work with the pallet of your landscape - manicure, tidy up and perhaps plan for all the wonderfulness to take place in the growing season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Craftsmen's Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival - November 9, 10 and 11

Craftsmen's Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival 
November 9, 10 and 11, 2018 
Columbia, SC - State Fairgrounds

It's time again. Come out and enjoy the show, the arts, the crafts and vendors.

And, come see me and the staff from MeadowCroft Farm at booth 3623 at the rear of the Goodman building.

We are usually busy and sometimes (often) swamped with customers, but we will get you what you want.

Please remember, after a day or so, we do run low on some of our most popular products, but you can purchase whatever you want that is available and we will hold it for you while you enjoy the rest of the show.

Seven years ago I began working with MeadowCroft and four years ago Columbia became it's Number One show. I'll take some credit along with our long-time and new customers throughout the state of South Carolina.

There are over 60 different tasty and healthy products - some easy Christmas gift shopping. 

Come out and get pickled and try our number one seller, our Pepper Mustard Sauce!

Learn more about the show.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Bethel Boston Butt Bonanza

Once again, it's time to grab some butt.

The MOB (Men of Bethel) of Bethel United Methodist Church are once again having their now semi-annual Boston Butt Bonanza and this is a wonderful time to let someone else do the cookin'.

In fact, this is perfect timing for Thanksgiving if you need to add a meat for Thanksgiving dinner or simply don't want to slave away in the kitchen and perhaps spend more time on some of your favorite side dishes, or not.

No ifs or ands, just butts - one of the best butts you'll ever get your hands on.

The Butt: A cooked weight of seven (7) pounds of shapely deliciousness packaged in tin foil...Only $30.00.

Tickets are now on sale through November 12 at the Bethel United Methodist Church office Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The church is located at 4600 Daniel Drive in Forest Acres.

Or, you can you use the Buy Now button below and select as many butts as you can handle.

Get creative! You can freeze your butt off (in the freezer) now and use it (them) to feed your family during the holidays, host a party or have some bona fide pulled pork for your next meal.

Please, don't later find yourself saying, "I wish I would have, butt I didn't." There's a theme here - getting it? Okay, enough.

Proceeds go to church and community projects including funding for Family Promise (hosting homeless families once per quarter), sponsoring and volunteering for the National Prayer Line the first Saturday of each month and funding for Sheriff Leon Lott's Elder Watch Program.

By the way, thank you to all of you who will be coming to Local Sheriff Sits Down with the MOB on Saturday, November 10. We nearly doubled our normal attendance last visit.

Pick-up for the Boston Butts will be available between 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Saturday, November 17 - just in time for Thanksgiving or just in time for you to enjoy another time.

IMPORTANT! If you use the Buy Now feature, please print and bring your receipt when picking up as this will serve as your ticket.

Your receipt will come from service@3rdtoad.com (Don't ask.), so please check your e-mail spam or junk folder if you don't shortly find this in your in-box.

Please contact Doug at 803-553-5757 if you have any questions or difficulty ordering.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thank You to Candytuft Garden Club

Back in the spring I was contacted by Keller of Candytuft Garden Club and was asked if I would like to speak to them in the coming fall. She wanted a topic and said she would contact me later after a date was set. I was flattered.

Well, last week I finally had the opportunity to speak with them. As the ladies trickled into Ruth's (the hostess) home and slowly began taking up most every available seat, I tried to find a position for myself.

The topic mainly revolved around pruning, but we touched on other subjects as well. Although I didn't have the chance to meet all the members, I enjoyed their attention, questions and conversation.

There is much more to discuss regarding plants and their care, and I'd gladly do it again.

Candytuft celebrated their 60th anniversary last year and I hope the legacy will be continued.

Thank you to Keller, Ruth and all the members of Candytuft.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Local Sheriff (and K-9s) to Sit Down with the MOB

Richland County Sheriff, Leon Lott, is to sit down with the MOB (Men of Bethel United Methodist Church) Saturday, November 10, at 8:30 a.m.

This regularly scheduled monthly breakfast for which Leon occasionally visits with Bethel United Methodist Church is open to the public - men, women and children.

This is a chance for you to meet with our sheriff, and some furry deputies, listen to what he has to say and allow him to field some questions you may have.

For breakfast, we serve scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, biscuits, coffee and juice. We ask for $3.00 as a donation to help pay for food - only $6.00 for a family.

During his visit, Sheriff Lott receives a donation from Bethel to assist his department or for a community cause.

Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 4600 Daniel Drive in Forest Acres on the corner of Daniel and Willingham Drives.

The breakfast is held at Pool Activity Hall - the closest large building adjacent to the parking lot off of Willingham Drive. There is also parking in front of the church on Daniel Drive.

Feel free to come at 8:00 a.m. to meet some of the MOB and to settle in.

Again, this is open to the public.

Please respond to this post using the CONTACT US form to the right (indicating how many attendees) so that we may plan appropriately for accommodations and food.

We hope to see you November 10!

Please share this using one of the features below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

An Early Scare - Utility Right-of-way Tree Trimming

Last Friday I was coming into my neighborhood and noticed a tree service vehicle to the right of the neighborhood about where power lines run along one side.

The power lines don't service our neighborhood - our utilities are underground. But, they do basically run along the rear property lines of several homes.

I figured they'd make it to my place in a while. I was here several years ago when they did this and was not pleased.

They have their marching orders and not much is going to change. There is no way to get any large heavy equipment into the back yard so three guys came back, one with some climbing gear and extended/pole loppers. I tried to speak with who I thought was in charge, but the communication gap was not going to narrow at all. I just backed off and watched.

The target was a yoshino cherry tree, which is at least 20 years old, has shot hole disease and starts dropping leaves late in July, but it is beautiful up until then. It has three co-dominant stems which shoot off at about the same angle. I recently took one stem out as it goes over the fence into an undeveloped forest and invites vines (I can't get to.) to itself and my neighbor's sasanqua.

He decided to climb one of the stems (I believe a different tool could have been used from the deck below.) and the first few cuts looked good, but then it appeared they were just out of convenience. Subsequent cuts were kind of willy-nilly - "Okay, wherever." I wasn't going to bother this guy while he was up the tree, but I did point out a branch for him to make a better cut on, from the ground, and he did.

This is not about slamming any tree service company - I know several owners. Their marching orders are from the utilities, but I believe they are meant to comply with the proper pruning techniques of ANSI A300.

I thought we were done. Nope. He starts eyeballing the gorgeous crepe myrtle which is about 30 feet tall with a 30-foot spread. I believe they have a fifteen-foot rule when it comes to proximity to power lines, so it was a candidate, but marginally. All of the cuts on my crepe myrtle were indiscriminate and I will need to make some repair cuts on it and the yoshino.

So, off I go with a variety of saws and loppers to get things right.

If you need such work done after a visit from the utility tree trimmers of for any other reason, call me at 803-553-5757, use the Contact Us feature to the right or go to https://www.back40.us/contact.html.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Japanese Maples

Japanese MapleI have pruned and cared for most of these japanese maples on a single customer property for several years, except for the youngest which I give time for them to tell me what they want to do.

Species are not indicated as most are unknown, at least to me - doesn't matter.

The japanese maple in the first photo I named Mother because she is the most mature of the ten-plus japanese maples on the property. She was about a two-footer when she was planted about 20 years ago.
Japanese Maple

(Click on any image to enlarge it.)

The second one is Crazy Girl. She gets this yellow and green thing going on in the spring and I prune her differently than any other to take advantage of it.

The next two are Acer palmatum dissectum or Fringe Leaf. (Sorry about the lighting.)

Japanese MapleBecause of their more lateral growth/branching habit, I break away from the one-third below canopy rule because the branch structure allows it.

The fifth image is of one with a vertical growth habit and the other, more lateral.

The sixth image is Alien. The customer and I simply decided to let her go about whatever she was doing with that funky upward angled branch.

Japanese MapleSeventh, is Happy - not so happy right now. She's in rehab. Other than Mother she was the fullest, had the best balance and wonderful crimson foliage in the fall. She also receives the most sun and those stones which were all the way up to her trunk weren't helping. I pulled back and tossed most of the stones. I also had to rid her of many dead branches, fertilize and water regularly. She appears to be recovering and hopefully she will because name changes aren't allowed.

Eighth on the list are two dwarf weeping japanese maples.

The last few photos are of other japanese maples on the property.
Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple