Monday, March 30, 2009

Eagle Eye Winery

We are thrilled to present our next Winemaker Event, this coming Thursday evening, April 2nd, 6-8 pm at Red Zinnia. By bringing the winemakers to Fallon, it gives you the opportunity to stop in and visit with them, sample their wonderful wines and enjoy an evening out with friends. As always, our Winemaker Events are No Charge! Hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A trip to the nursery........"in Mud Season"

Today we decided to venture out in the rain to visit a local nursery in the Brunswick area, Skillins. I had read about their open house in the weekend edition of the paper, and it seemed like it would be fun to see what "Spring" looks like at a Maine garden center. The pamphlet we were given when we arrived told us of their 124!! year history as a greenhouse/nursery/garden center and gift store. We walked around through the flowers, Cash and I stopping to smell the sweet scent of all the flowers they had in their greenhouse. The best part, at least to Sara and I, was when Bob stood for a few minutes trying to figure out what a small tool was that was hanging from a basket. "A seed spreader?, "A watering tool?" , "What could this be....???" We finally stopped a gentlemen that was walking by, dressed in "Skillins Green", and asked him exactly what this small tool was used for..............He kind of looked at us funny, like where are you from????? California or something. Well actually, somewhere better, Nevada! Turns out the tool is used for tapping Maple Sugar trees. If only Sara had one a few weeks ago, she could have tapped all the maple trees that cover the back part of her property.

We left with a new plant for Sara, and some great new ideas for our own place. It doesn't seem to matter where you garden, whether there is acid soil or alkaline, huge rhododendrons ready to bloom, or sagebrush spreading their seeds....when it comes down to it, spring in the garden center is all the same. The sweet smell of fertilizer and compost filling the nostrils in every aisle, blooming flowers awakening the senses, and people wandering through the seed racks filled with all the promise of crops to come.

I do love this business.................called gardening. See ya soon, Susan

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chef Ryan Scott

The evening of Tuesday, March 24th, found a group of us over at The Slanted Porch. Wine glasses in hand, we had wandered over from the Red Zinnia where we had gathered in anticipation of our "Team Building with Ryan Scott" event. Ryan, you may remember from an earlier post, was a participant in Season 4's Top Chef Chicago. He has been a guest Chef at The Porch these last few weeks, and he had agreed to do a cooking class/demonstration/dinner for us. We booked the event a few weeks ago, in between his trips to San Francisco to scout out locations for his new restaurant, trips to New York for his role as one of the spokespersons for Morningstar Foods, and trips to Southern California and ????? This young man is BUSY!

We entered through the back door of the restaurant into the immaculate kitchen, and took our seats in the bar stools that had been set up around one of the large stainless steel prep tables. The scent of garlic already filled the air and we watched as his prep cooks finished up some last minute details. Glancing at the brochures we had been given, my mouth was already watering in anticipation of what we would be preparing, and then later enjoying in the candle lit dining room. There were 11 of us total, and the atmosphere was fun and festive as the knives started flying, and the recipes were discussed in preparation of the first course - an amazing salad and homemade vinaigrette.

Over the course of the next three hours, we leaned basic knife skills, some tricks of the trade, and how to prepare some amazing food. Our dinner conversation was lively and animated as more and more dishes kept arriving out of the kitchen. Wine was poured, the pairings having been selected by Ryan's sommelier out of San Francisco, and the only way I could finish describing the meal would be to tell you this: If you get a chance, book your own evening event now, while he is still in town. Thank you Ryan, we had a great time!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bonnie Boys are Back!!!!

The big white truck pulls into the parking lot, bright green letters on the side spelling out "Bonnie Plants", but what it really means is "Spring is Officially Here". This last week marked the arrival of the first of many, many shipments over the next few months of Bonnie vegetables and herbs. Andrew, territory manager for Bonnie Plants, pulls in with a smile that is always welcome. We talked about some of the new varieties they will have this year and their new location in Hazen.
He started to tell me about the cabbage program that they were doing in the schools again this year, and we got onto the conversation of community gardens. I told him about one of our gardeners that had just told me her church was doing something along these lines. In typical Andrew fashion, he said to me "follow me to the truck, let's get some plants to give to them." We picked out some cabbage plants and I went in to call Kristen Mincer to tell her about the donation. A few hours later her family arrived to pick up the plants. They will be planted at the new community garden at the Church of the Nazarene in Fallon. If you have a project affiliated with your church to feed the community, just let us know. I am sure that Andrew will find some plants in the truck for you also. There is a small amount of paperwork to fill out, but the benefits are well worth the time.

As you see the Bonnie truck in our parking lot, take the time to say hello to Andrew. He carries a wealth of information about the plants that Bonnie's grows, as well as a wonderful enthusiasm for gardening and life in general. We are glad to see him back in the neighborhood!

The Bonnie Plants website is filled with great information on what they grow, as well as gardening in general.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hurray for Pollinators!

When I was in Maine last Fall visiting my daughter Sara, we took my grandson Cash to the main Lewiston Library to check out the children's area. A treasure, located on a downtown side street, we picked up some books, played with the available toys and had a great time. When we were getting ready to leave I noticed an entire wall filled with wonderful information for parents. Among the free literature available was "Science Websites of the Month". A brightly colored single sheet filled with websites and general resource information, with a single topic chosen for each month. While I think their purpose was to provide these resources for parents of young children, I found most of them fascinating myself.

Preparing for our upcoming visit to them again this spring, I came across a folder that I had put them in when I returned last year. I thought I would include a few sites here that they had chosen for Spring of 2008. (I have checked those listed to make sure the URLs are still active.) With all the BUZZ'zzzzz about home vegetable gardening this year, it seems like the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves about pollinators and the importance they play in our gardens.

Celebrating Wildflowers
This colorful and photo-rich U.S. Forest Service site includes games for kids, teacher resources, and sections of general interest about native gardening, wildflower ethics, insects that pollinate, and more.

Pollinator Partnership Home
This site has a wealth of info that includes free educational materials and media resources, downloadable Eco-regional planting guides, a digital library, and bee keeping resources.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Pollinators
Info about endangered butterflies and plants, backyard habitats and pollinator gardens.

Pick the Pollinators Game - PBS / Nova Site
A fun, informative game with nice color photos and interesting tidbits of info.

Have fun browsing through these great sites, and send over any new ones you might find. I will include them in our link list. Happy Gardening, Susan

Friday, March 20, 2009

Square Foot Gardening

Gardening is a learning experience. One that I never get tired of. Almost 25 years ago my Dad bought a book called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. He was living in Florida at the time, and while most of his gardening maintenance was trying to control growth, he decided he wanted to grow some vegetables. If you have ever tried to dig in the South Florida soil you might know that what you are usually dealing with is more of a coral rock than actual soil. He had big plans of putting in a square foot garden, and filling it with strawberries and tomatoes and other plants that he and my Mom enjoyed.

Fast forward to 2008, and life in Fallon, Nevada. Last year when the vegetable craze really started to take off we had a lot of gardeners come in and ask how to "quickly" correct bad soil issues. We would go over all the natural choices that came to mind; replace the existing soil, add in organics, add in more organics, correct the salt issues, add in more organics....... Sometimes, we would realize, that what they really wanted was not so much a large garden plot to tend, but something simpler and easier to work with. We would then go over the basics and benefits of raised bed gardening.

About a month ago, two of our steady gardening customers, Diane and Stan Legaux came by to check availability and pricing for some basic soil amendments. We started talking about what they were working on and what they were thinking of growing. Enter the Square Foot Gardening method. We started talking about the book and my own research on their website. They had made a raised box for themselves, and I guess they could tell by my enthusiasm that I would love to see some pictures of what they had built. They did me one better - they brought one by for me to see, and asked if I would like to possibly have them here at The Flower Tree to sell. They were enjoying working together making them, and really felt strongly that this was a way for people to continue to enjoy gardening well into their 80's and beyond.
Below are some of the pictures that we took last week. We have a great class tomorrow at 11am, on "Eating Your Way Through The Landscape", and we will also cover the basics of Square Foot Gardening. Stan and Diane will be on hand with their boxes, and will be available to take custom orders also. We hope to see you there. Susan
Start with a raised square foot garden bed.
Add: Mel's Mix
1/3 Peat Moss
1/3 Vermiculite
1/3 Organic Compost
(Gardner & Bloome, of course)
Mix it all together, with a friend if you have one handy.
Filled and ready to go! We will be planting it tomorrow along with the raised bed by the big white fountain. Join us, we promise not to toss any dirt your way.

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You said to wait until April 15th......

I know......we always ask you not to prune your roses until April 15th.............and during our upcoming hands-on workshops we will explain why....but.......

Do not try this at home!!!!! Actually, you might have a rose that kinda looks like this one. Old and overgrown, but it still produced the most amazing display of white roses all summer. If Niagara Falls spilled flowers, it would remind you of this rose. We have been asked at least a 1000 times what kind of rose it is. We have recruited ARS judges to help us, we have had at least 25 serious rosearians look at it, we asked the original owners of The Flower Tree, and we did research over and over to try and find out the exact species. We gladly handed out cuttings to any and all that requested them in the hopes that they might bring us back a plant to share. In spring every year we would give it a slight haircut, prune out the dead stuff we could reach, and cared for it with worm castings, fresh organic compost once and awhile but generally didn't do much more with it. With the decision to plant the rest of the beds that surround it this year, and the class when we would do it coming up fast, we decided to tackle it last Sunday.

Michelle and I gathered the tools - large pruners, loppers, gauntlet gloves, rakes and even a shovel to remove another grass that had outgrown it's spot. We spent the better part of the afternoon cutting and stopping - standing back and looking again....and then.....oh my! the haircut this lovely beauty received.

Another before shot..........

A beautiful bud, just filled with the promise of spring...........

The end of the day. Not totally finished. We knew it was going to take a little more pruning to totally get it into shape for the next few years, but the basics are all done. We went from a 7 foot wide, 4 foot high solid mass of thorns and branches.....and reduced it to about 12 major canes.

But here is the best part.......................look real will see an original Jackson & Perkins tag. Yes!!! Not only do we know now exactly what rose this is still available. The suspense is gonna kill ya isn't it........
To be continued.................................... see ya soon, Susan

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Grimes Point

Every once and awhile, if you are lucky like I am, you get to spend the day out hiking with friends. Such was the case last Wednesday when the three of us - Me, Linny & Charmaine, headed out to Grimes Point. For those of you not familiar with our desert area, Grimes Point is just east of Fallon and contains one of the largest and most accessible petroglyph sites in the United States. There are hundreds of boulders with petroglyphs inscribed in them and most are believed to be over 5000 years old. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, there are trails that wind all around through the area and over the last 20 years or so, I have been on most of them.

This day wasn't about looking for petroglyphs though. We were headed out for a picnic and just some plain old good quality time with friends. I can attest that we achieved both. After a slow gentle climb up the side of the mountain, we found the bench and display signs that had been placed there for our education, and we settled down for a feast of Danish Blue Cheese, crunchy french bread, apples and oranges, artichoke pesto, pepper spread, and ginger snaps. We munched for an hour or so, all the while filling each other in on what had been occurring in our lives since we last met. The wind was non-existent, a true blessing for this area, and the sun was shining brightly. After a quick photo stop, we headed back down the mountain, belly's and spirits full. The thoughts and memories will keep me full until we get the chance again. Take care, Susan
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Churchill Arts Council

Over $20,000 was raised last weekend at the annual Churchill Arts Council fundraiser. It was a great time, and we came home with two new pieces of art, and a stack of poetry books from the silent auction. La Fiesta did a wonderful job of catering, and a fun time was had by all in our group. Posted by Picasa(Me, Shelley and Jaime)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Top Chef .. Fallon style

Ryan Scott, a contender on the Bravo TV program Top Chef /Chicago, has been visiting with his old friend, and mentor, Steve Hernandez. Steve is the owner with his wife Peggy of one of our loveliest new additions to Fallon in a long long time, The Slanted Porch restaurant. We have the privilege of being located right next door to to this great place, and where Ryan is displaying some of his creative culinary art, so.........last week for our Friday wine tasting at Red Zinnia he decided to bring over some fabulous appetizers that he had paired with the wines we were serving that evening. After the 12 or 14 plates that had arrived, filled with wonderful delicacies had been consumed, he stopped and chatted it up with some of our regulars. Even signed some autographs for some of our star struck wine connoisseurs. Peggy was on hand to help and we managed to keep her out of the restaurant for a short period of time.

We are hoping to see more of him in the weeks ahead as he bounces between Fallon and San Francisco on the search for a location for his new restaurant. That is - in between when he will be appearing on The Ellen Show, with stop offs in New York and other locations doing radio spots as spokesperson for Morningstar Foods. He is a busy young man, who's energy is contagious.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nevada Landscape Trade Show

Catching up on some posts after I finally downloaded my camera. This is Karen Rockwood and I at the Norman's booth during the Nevada Landscape show up in Reno last month. Norman's supplies us with a large amount of the trees and shrubs that we sell at the nursery. Most years we have been able to get over the hill in February to choose our own trees, but this year with the storms we had to rely on Karen to pick us out the best she could find. I am happy to report she did a great job. We have worked with her for the entire 8 years we have owned the nursery, and have always been impressed with her quiet and professional demeanor. We are hoping to get back over the hill to the nursery again soon. Somehow meeting at the trade show wasn't nearly as fun as touring around the 100's of acres on the golf cart.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And they call the wind..................trouble!

I don't know about you, but I don't really like the wind much anymore. I used to.....I would fly a kite as a kid, I would listen to the chimes in the trees out back make their beautiful music, I would watch the kite surfers sail across the waves when we would visit the kids in Ventura, I would watch the trees bend and dance in the breeze..............all this was before I bought a nursery.

Now, not so much. Yesterdays wind storm played some major havoc at the store. Thankfully for us my husband is pretty good about watching the weather, so last Saturday he worked the entire day putting away the roughly 800 trees that we got in on Friday. He had seen the system that was moving in and thought it would be a good idea to get them all tucked into their places and tied up before the winds and "wishful" rain showed up. Wise man! However, while he got most all of them put away, we didn't get them all tied up until yesterday, in the middle of the storm. No rain! just wind....and more wind....and yet more wind. Marlea and I were outside most of the entire day tying them all down and getting them watered in. Michelle stopped by for a class that she is doing with the local high school and helped us out quite a bit, all of us laughing that we only had to go home and add a little water to our faces and we would have an expensive "mud mask" all set to go.

By the time 5 rolled around and we went to close the gate most all the trees were tightly tied up, watered in and ready for what would come later. But the rest of the nursery was showing some damage. The gazebo out front was on it's side. Most of the banners on the front gate were torn and blowing in the breeze, trees that were out in displays were on their sides and empty pots that had been carefully stacked in the recycling area were blowing about in the parking lot. Oh, and the greenhouse roof, yep, panels were flying.

Last night as I sat and read my book and listened to the noise outside as not one, but many branches were breaking on my own trees here at home, I could only wonder, what we will find this morning as we open the gates.
March winds in think we would be prepared for them, but every year....oh my!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pruning with Jay

This last Saturday found us gathering in the slightly chilly "Green Room" for another informative class, this time on pruning. Jay Davison, our Area Soil specialist with the UNR Co-operative Extension office was on hand for the 8th year in a row to teach us the ins and outs of pruning just about everything. We covered fruit trees, shade trees, hedges, name it. After an hour inside, we headed out front to do some pruning on the flowering crabapple 'Florabunda' that is by the front door of the gift shop. He started in, and I cringed a little at the the thought of loosing all those beautiful buds that would be opening in the next month. I gathered up branches and passed them to all that wanted to take some home to force inside the house and enjoy now. Jay finally "felt my pain" though and stopped the actually pruning, and showed me where to do the cuts after it blooms. So, you will see me out there sometime in late April taking care of the rest of the pruning that this particular beauty needs.
It was out back to the display garden next to take a look at the old apple tree that he has been working on for the last 7 years or so. A little bit each year, he takes some branches off and checks to see for the overall health of his old tree. This year he found a bug infestation of scale that was never there before, so the dormant oil, an organic way to control the bugs, will be coming out of the storage room and the tree will get a good soaking this week.

After the class was over, it was on to the worm bin to open it up and check on it's progress. There are what seems to me to be thousands and thousands of worms tucked under the lid. I can't wait for Darren Murphy, from Sierra Worm Solutions to come back out in the early summer to help us harvest our first crop of castings. He is the one that installed the system for us and is the local "go to" guy for all worm related things in this area. We will be having another seminar with him soon, so watch your emails for updates.The day turned out to be a beautiful one. Slightly cool, but the sun was shining and no big winds to speak of. Bob was busy on the forklift most of the day putting away all the trees we just got in. It looks so great to see the nursery filling up with all the promise of spring.

See you soon, Susan


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