Friday, February 1, 2019

FEBRUARY 

WHAT TO DO IN FEBRUARY                Doug Niemeyer
   
   I bet you've had your fill of snow and cold, February is the perfect time to begin planning and preparing for your spring garden.

VEGETABLES:
  Plan now for the vegetable garden, and order the needed seeds. Try some novelties like: oriental vegetables, kohlrabi, purple cauliflower, or purple beans.
Toward the end of the month, if the weather really changes and warms up, remove mulch from the areas where you intend to plant early crops so the soil has some time to warm up and dry out. If the ground is not too wet, spread manure on the garden in preparation for tilling in the spring.

FLOWERS:
  Weather permitting near the end of the monthwhich is very hard to even imagine right now, rake away any accumulated debris of old leaves from under trees, hedges, and on the lawn. If left in place, they could cause roots to suffocate and breed disease.
  Check perennials for signs of heaving. Heaving happens when the frost is coming up out of the ground and it pushes those bulbs and root crowns that are closer to the surface out of the ground somewhat.   Press exposed crowns back into the soil and cover with an inch or two of soil and mulch.
  Cut bagworm cases off evergreen trees and shrubs now to quell feeding injury later.
  Check regularly all bulbs that are being stored over winter (dahlia, gladscanna, etc.). Remove any that are decaying.
   Remove sprouts on tuberous begonias.  
  Prune back geraniums growing indoors in preparation for repotting next month. Be careful not to over water them.
  If you are sowing your own annuals under the lights like pansy, delphinium, impatiens, petunias, snapdragons, periwinkle, lobelia, coleus, browallia, and verbena, be sure to get potting soil and planting trays. When March comes you will be ready to begin planting your seedlings into the trays. 

SHRUBS:
  If there is a warm spell in this month be sure to water all evergreens, especially those in the Rhododendron and azalea family. When the air is warm the plant will call for moisture, but many times the ground is still frozen and the roots are unable to fill the request. This will cause the leaves to dry out and die.   

FRUIT TREES:
  February is a good month to prune most fruit trees, bushes, and vines. Prune trees for shape and to remove dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Be careful not to prune off fruit producing spurs. Do not prune peach or apricot trees until just prior to bud swell.
  Prune grape vines also this month.
  Dormant oil sprays should be applied on a 40-degree day to smother any over wintering insects and eggs. Make sure rodent and deer barriers are intact. 
  Tapping maple trees will also begin sometime this month.

HOUSE PLANTS:
  Wash or shower the foliage at the kitchen sink weekly to keep them healthy and beautiful. In doing so bugs are also washed down the drain.   
 Keep cactus plants in a bright sunny window. Avoid over watering and over fertilizing and beware of poor pot drainage.  Both encourage diseases.
  Peperomias should be watered sparingly or they will rot at the soil line.
  When rubber plants lose an excessive number of leaves, it is a sign of too much water or not enough light. Spathiphyllum leaves will turn yellow at the tips when there is a lack of fertilizer or improper watering.
  If African violet leaves touch the rim of the pot they often rot and fall off. Coat the rim with paraffin or foil. 
  Swedish ivy stems will become woody if plant is being over fed. Norfolk Island Pine tolerates low humidity and indirect light but prefers a cool spot. 

If you have questions NiemeyerLandscaping@gmail.com A You Tube enhanced version of this article is on our WEB site at www.NiemeyerLandscaping.comalong with a daily gardening Blog with timely information. Also, like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping.

  


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

GARDENING THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

   Gardening in January!   What in the world can be done in January?   Lots!                                             

  Here we stand on the threshold of "Gardening 2015"


VEGETABLES:

   With winter biting at our cheeks, blowing its bone chilling air over our hibernating garden, take a moment and curl up on the couch with your seed catalogs and plan for spring.

   Walk though your garden and decide where and when you would like to plant each item - making improvements, rotating crops, adding new vegetables varieties and deleting some. Carefully plan your garden with taller varieties toward the northern side.

   If you plan to order seeds do so now for late Feb. or early Mar. indoors planting. If you have seeds left over from last year check their germination rate by wrapping 10 to 15 of them in a moist paper towel and check them daily for sprouts. Buy new seeds if less than 70% germinate.

   If you have access to manure, now is the time to spread on the garden, especially on the asparagus. It will leach into the soil during thaws.

   Spread fireplace ashes on your garden, ashes are rich in calcium, potash, phosphorous, and trace elements.

   Clean and sharpen any garden tool. Make repairs on any other garden equipment such as cold frames, greenhouses, or trellises.

  

TREES & SHRUBS:                                              

  

   Early in the month move your live Christmas tree from the garage to the pre-dug hole. Water it thoroughly, stake and mulch heavily.                     

   Spread manure on peonies and around shrubs and young trees, but not around spring bulb beds. Replace mulch around perennials if it has blown away.

   Inspect stored bulbs and corms for signs of rotting or sprouting, which can be caused by too much moisture, warmth or light.

   If you plan on tapping maple trees, get your supplies ready this month.


FRUIT TREES:  If ordering any fruit trees do so by the end of the month to ensure arrival at the earliest planting time.

   Provide food and water for birds. They will feed on over-wintering orchard pests.

   Remove damaged twigs and branches but hold off on main pruning. Watch for rodent damage and replace mulch around trees where thin.


HOUSE PLANTS:

   Supplement the brief periods of natural light your plants receive during these short winter days with plant lights. Insufficient plant light is marked by spindly growth and dropped leaves; with newly formed leaves are noticeably farther apart on the stems.

   Do not over water your plants, water only when the topsoil layer is dry or when the pot feels lighter than normal.

   Spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale should be watched for, if found organic or chemical spray will take care of then in short order.

   If fertilized every four or five days with water soluble fertilizer and given six hours of indirect bright light daily, Christmas poinsettias will continue growing. Feed and water them until their leaves drop. Leaf shedding is normal and lets us know the plant is entering dormancy. When this occurs, place the poinsettias where they'll rest comfortably at about 50 degrees, and water them occasionally. They will remain dormant until April or May when after being cut back, they'll start growing again.

NiemeyerLandscaping@Gmail.com or post a comment on this Blog. And like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping. For more Landscape and garden info and pictures on the subject check us out at www.NiemeyerLandscaping.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ASPARAGUS

ASPARAGUS   by Doug Niemeyer

            The stuff just tastes like it’s good for you, and it is!!
            People back in the olden days saw asparagus as a Spring Tonic. After a long winter, pickins in the root cellar got kind of slim; and, things aren’t quite as fresh and abundant as they were in the fall, or early winter for that matter. Even the nutritional valve starts dropping away the longer it calls the subterranean vault its home; but even an elderly potato is better for you than a newborn Twinkie.
            Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable, even though the kids might not agree. Not only is it good for you, it is a perennial; that means it comes up every year whether you plant seeds or not. It is the first vegetable you harvest in the spring, and will last as a harvestable vegetable until other crops take over your dinner table.
            Its care basically involves planting it right, which we will talk about next. Weeding involves some in the spring, but is reduced as the summer progresses for the thick mature fronds choke out a lot of sunlight to what’s under them on into the  fall.

            Spring time and planting are the most important parts of growing asparagus. You can start them from seed but buying roots, or crowns as they are called, to plant is the best planting plan. One year old crowns can be purchased on line, by mail, and from local garden centers.
Asparagus needs sandier soils in areas exposed to the full sun; clay soils are out of the question; clay doesn’t drain well. You can create a sandier environment in clay however, but it takes a lot of work. Dig the trench 16 inches wide by 20 inches deep with a perforated drainage tile in the bottom of the trench; do not use any of the clay as backfill. For those blessed with good drainable soil the trench or trenches you dig are 12 inches deep by 12 inches wide.



Once dug, put a three inch layer of composted manure in the bottom, and mix it well into the soil. Take the Asparagus crowns and place them in the trench 18 inches apart; multiple trenches should be spaced three feet apart. Cover them with two inches of sifted compost humus soil and water in well. Throughout the summer the trench should be filled in gradually with an original topsoil / compost mix. If these directions are followed you will have a viable asparagus bed for years and years and years.
The big temptation, this year and the following spring, will be picking the new spears. Don’t give in to this temptation, the roots need these first year spears to grow up and develop into fronds that catch the sunlight and strengthen the root for next years production. No fronds, no sunlight catchers; no sunlight caught, no energy for the root; no energy for the root, no root eventually. So don’t pick any this year or the next!
Picking in the second year can happen until they get “pencil thin”. Once the spears start getting pencil thin, stop! Let these grow up and become energy suppliers for the root. As the years click by the picking season will get longer and longer, leveling off in about five to six years. But the “pencil thin” rule still applies; I can’t stress enough that you need some summer growth to rejuvenate the crowns for next year.

As for harvesting, some cut, some snap; we snap them. We find if you snap the spears off you harvest only the tender part of the Asparagus, leaving the woodier part in the garden.
Bugs in your asparagus bed revolve around the Asparagus Beetle; but they only become a problem if the fronds and the beetle eggs they host, are allowed to over winter. This is why good fall cleanup practices are a must. Cutting and burning the dried up fronds in the late fall is your best defense. If you can burn them, I guess the land fill is your second best option; just get them away from your garden and into something that traps the little buggers forever.



Lastly, adding compost directly over the crowns in the early spring will add nutrients to the soil; always a plus when growing these heavy feeders.
After saying all this, I don’t want you to get the impression that growing asparagus is tough, it’s not. I am just explaining to you its best growing environment. I have seen healthy robust asparagus growing on old, “long been torn down” homesteads properties and abandon city gardens. Something this hard to get rid of must be meant for our consumption.
Whether you pickle them, fry them, freeze them, steam them, cook them, or just plain eat them raw, you will never find a more healthy vegetable anywhere than this funny looking thing call asparagus.
Tune in this fall when I will talk to you about another childhood favorite, the vegetable that gets you ready for winter, the last harvestable veggie of the season, the Brussels Sprout. Yea Baby!!

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at NiemeyerLandscaping@Gmail.com or post a comment on this Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


      "Think Spring"
      We start hearing that in April, sometimes in March when the thermometer pokes it's nose over the fifty mark. But then it snows and we get all bummed thinking it's
 a fluke of nature... No, this is what happens in Spring, it snows and gets cold. Yes, sometimes it gets warm and sunny, but don't get your hopes up. Yes, sometimes the Crocus come up early on the south side of the house. But that doesn't mean you start harassing the Garden Center people on why they might only have pansies out (pansies are the only annual you can plant now, but they will croak in the summer heat) but none of the rest of their annuals yet.
     I believe the Crocus is perfectly named as a reminder for when we get a little antsy and want to rush the spring planting schedule. It's name speaks to us a warning and gives a voice to the tender annuals that people will plant too soon if they had their way. It says, "You will 'Croak Us' for sure if you think now is a good time to plants us tropicals outdoors!"
      Only the Crocus, Snow Drops, Bachelor Breeches, Grape Hyacinth and so on can take the wide temperature mood swings Spring can dish out. You throw a tropical annual like the Petunia, who calls South America home, out in this weather and you will be making another trip back to the store in May. These guys, and other family members of the rain forest, should stay in their climate controlled poly-houses until middle of May at least!
      If you are just itching to get out into the garden then do some of the Spring clean up chores like tilling under the leaves, or removing the mulch from around roses, or even spreading mulch in the landscaping. I know these are the back breaking non-glorious jobs, but they need to be done.
     You can start growing annuals in seed flats if you feel adventuresome. All you need are some very clean, flat, flower trays,with potting  soil, your seeds of choice of course, and a big sunny window on the south side of the house. Get a jump start on the vegetable garden, and finally be that Gardener that has the first red tomato of 2018!
     There are many things to do before it's actually annual flower planting time. Don't rush it, you'll only lose and spend unnecessary cash. Gardening is an exercise in patience, not a trip to the fast food joint.
     I know you want to get out there and do something colorful, something cheery, something that replaces the drab colors of what's left after the melting snow. And try as you might repeating that dumb little saying ;  "Think Spring Think Spring Think Spring!" Just know, "It Is"!
    If you want to chant something chant what you really want! Think Summer! Think Summer!
     

Monday, December 18, 2017

Squirrels


           The feeder or feeders are up and your feathered patrons are gracing your establishment in droves. There seems to be the right balance of "types" and "kinds", and not too many Blue Jays. Life is good and all's right with your world…. and then he wanders into your yard.

           He's cute at first, foraging innocently under the feeder, eating what the Blue Jay has incorrigibly tossed about. He's providing a service you say to yourself, by keeping the area clean of spring sprouting seed. You're pleased, he's pleased; pleased until the seeds are gone; and this is where your friendship with Mr. Squirrel starts heading south.

            You've noticed him looking at the feeder before, but you didn't pay it any mind. You assumed it was the movement of the birds. But now he seems to have a studious look in his eye, like he knows something; something you wish he’d forget. Then it happens; he makes his first move, he tries to shiny up the pole.

            At first you laugh as he entertains you with each failing. But you can't truly relax in the comedy, because, reluctantly, you've noticed he's gaining an inch or so with each climb.

            Then, as in the days of the Lusitanian or Pearl Harbor, it happens, he crosses the line, he tastes some of the forbidden fruit .........He has entered your feeder and you can't let him get away with this!!!!!  He's scaring away all the birds!!! THIS MEANS WAR!!!!

            So you think, mustering every brain cell into action and low and behold you come up with an idea; you Vaseline the pole. You laugh, you howl, you rejoice because of your over-sized brain; but your victory dance is cut short; the squirrel has found another way to torment your soul; he leaps from the deck.  No problem, you say, I'll just move the feeder.


            You move the feeder, he leaps from the fence,
you move the feeder he leaps from the roof,
you move the feeder, he leaps from the swing set,
you move the feeder, he leaps from the tree,
you move the feeder, he leaps from atop the kissing Dutch boy, using the Dutch girl to gain speed, enabling him to catching the corner of the feeder.
So you move it over a foot, but the claws of the squirrel have scratched up the heads of the two Dutch make out artists enough to give the squirrel more traction, thus gaining him more distance with each try and ultimately victory. So you move it another foot, but then he leaps from the fence again.

            The only place you have left is out back of the garage. This move will successfully keep the squirrel from enjoying your feeder but then you won't be able to enjoy it either. You're back to where you started. “Thinking Caps on”.

            OK, there's no spot in your yard that puts your feeder out of the squirrel's reach so let's put it back to where you can enjoy it from the warmth and comfort of your favorite window. If there's going to be a battle you may as well have the visual advantage.

            Reluctant to spend money on defense, you resort to materials on hand. Based on your observation you've notice that the squirrel lands on the same spot every time he leaps from your deck, sooooo let's make it difficult to land there, maybe even painful. Immediately your mind congers up impalement, (we could only hope).  Armed with that thought you head to the workbench.  With 3" nails (rustier the better) and a 5" x 5" block of 3/4" thick wood you construct your little "Bed-O-Nails" and screw it to the feeder.

            For the first time since this ugly squirrel incident started you hope he comes back. You sit by the window waiting. You eat your lunch there. You let the answering machine take your calls, you will sleep there if you have to, nothing or nobody is going to deny you this moment of revenge!!!

            And then it happens, you see him, slinking around the side yard, cautiously looking but oblivious to his impending doom.
He jumps to the deck, to the rail, and, without thought, onto the birdfeeder. You leap from your chair cheering as the squirrel falls to the ground.
You clap your hands with sadistic glee as you watch him limp off shaking his wounded paw. You confidently rejoice because of your very big brain. You have won, and to the victor belongs the spoils of quiet - uninterrupted bird feeding, free of Rocket J. Squirrel and his friends.

            Your night was sweet slumber; you woke with a song in your voice and a lilt in your step. Breakfast this morning is going be too glorious.  The smell of your coffee swirled around your senses as you sit to view the peace and serenity you worked so hard to achieve.

            Shock replaced peace, and horror consumed serenity as you looked up to see your old nemesis the squirrel, perched in your feeder eating away as if yesterday’s events never took place,
and to make matters worse he brought a friend. How did they get there? You shoo them away in order to watch their return. And then you see it; they just jumped to a different part of the feeder. Down to the workbench you go, to emerge with another nail deterrent, which you promptly screw into place.

            This works for about a day, but the squirrels, being a little wiser, find another place to land. After a week of plugging the landing holes you end up with a feeder brisling with nails (has a real warm, inviting look) which, ends up being a kind of "jungle gym" for the squirrels. They actually figured out a way to use them to their own advantage.

            You're desperate, you look over your options, shooting them is out of the question; you can't discharge a firearm in the city limits. A pellet gun would incur the wrath of your two charter members P.E.T.A. Neighbors (but later on you're ready to risk it).
Trapping has crossed your mind, but, during "sharing time" at your weekly neighborhood "Squirrel's Anonymous" meetings (you know the meeting, people in a circle, Hi my name is so-and-so, I've got a squirrels) you've discovered your neighborhood is riddled with them, all eager to take the places of those trapped.
A side note here: if you do decide to trap them you must put 10 miles and a busy expressway between your home and the drop-off, no lie, trust me.

            Well, it's time to finance this war, time to do some research, time to bring in the big guns.

            Research has shown you that for some, greasing the pole is effective. It will last until the persistent squirrel wears it off or turns it pebbly by his continued attempts. Temperatures in the teens renders it ineffective also. Teflon will last longer, thus giving more time to come up with a better idea.

            The "Squirrel Baffle" is the most common anti-squirrel device, but most are too small to be effective.  The squirrel will rough up the edges by clawing and biting at them thus gaining him a foothold.

If you wish to go the baffle route, you will need to get the biggest two you can find, mounting one above the feeder (deflecting leapers) and mounting one beneath (discouraging climbers).

            I could go on and on telling you about all the different devices and concoctions I've read about while doing the research for this article. You've got everything from chemical warfare to dart guns; how to use pop bottles, slip tubes, old record albums, pulleys and robots. You've got people who swear by hand puppets, sonic rodent repellers, and putting super glue on peanuts. What they all have in common is that you get to measure the IQ of the squirrels in your neighborhood. The smart ones can figure out any of these devices in less than a day, while the ones of lesser intelligence may take up to three.

            There is one devise that has caught my eye, and has proven to be the most formidable foe in all squirreldum; it is the Electric Bird Feeder & Squirrel Zapper; pricey, but very effective.              Talking with the guys at Bird Watchers Marketplace on 3150 Plainfield convinced me that this one would work. The feeder comes in two sizes, a 20 lb. capacity, ranging in price from $119.99 to $135.00 depending on make and model; and a 5 lb. capacity for around $99.99.  A 9-volt battery supplies about a year’s worth of hefty wallops. The only negative feedback I have heard is the price, all other comments are praise. Don't worry about the birds, the beaks they have will not conduct electricity.

            Feeding the birds is very enjoyable; doing battle with a squirrel can be maddening. Go ahead; try to conquer this formidable foe with your cheap tricks and potions. Throw your pennies, maybe nickels or even a couple quarters at him, he'll just laugh at you.... In the end, if you're serious, you'll bring out the heavy equipment. Trust me, THIS IS WAR!!!

If you have any questions, or would like to see the You Tube enhanced version of this article, visit my WEB site at www.NiemeyerLandscaping.com. A daily gardening Blog is also available with timely information for your perusal.


                                                                                            

Sunday, June 18, 2017

MULCH: STONE AND BARK GROUND COVERS:

            Does the homestead look abandoned because of the weeds in the landscaping? Do you try to keep them clean out, but in a couple weeks see them poking their mischievous little heads out of the soil?

   A ground cover of either stone or bark will help eliminate this problem.

BARK:

            Wood bark may be used on all sides of the house. It contrasts well with light colored houses, and holds moisture in the soil longer; shallow rooted plants like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Japonicas do well with this as their Planting mix.

            There are a number of different kinds of bark products: shredded hardwood bark, fines or processed bark, redwood bark, cedar bark, red pine bark, cypress bark, wood chips, shredded wood and so on. All have a different look, they also have to be applied at least 3-4 inches thick if you are starting from scratch.

            Before you start, be sure to dig a 4" deep by 6" wide trench right next to your edging, on the landscape side. If you do not have edging, now, would be a good time to install it; it not only keeps the grass out, but also keeps the ground cover in.

            The trench will allow you to put a thick layer of bark right up to the edging. If you go ground level to ground level on both sides of the edging you will have to pile up the bark near the edging to keep the weeds down, and not see the dirt. You will find that the bark will constantly be falling out into the yard without this trench.

            Putting the bark down at 3-4 inches thick will smother out any weeds or seed wanting to grow from underneath, and make it impossible for them to get a foot hold on top because the first two inches dry out so fast.

            Do not put any plastic or weed cloth down. Bark breaks down and turns into dirt; and in two years you will have a rootable soil layer for weeds. A 2-inch layer of new bark every 2 years will not only freshen up the landscape but also keep the weeds under control.



           Above is the right way to mulch around trees

           There is a painted wood mulch on the market that seems to have a lasting capability of well over 3 years, I've seen some go as long as 4 if you don't mind a little fading. It's just less than double the price of shredded bark but can last Three to four time longer or more. It comes in three colors; brown, tan, and a redwood color.

            Stone products come in a wide variety of looks as well. Most Garden centers with handle 1"-2" stone, 2"-3" stone, limestone, and red or black lava rock. Places like Grand Rapids Gravel stocking items like pea gravel 1" stone, and cracked stone.  Some Garden Centers handle several kinds of colored stone, but after looking them all over you haven't seen one that catches your eye, give The Stone Zone a try on Remembrance west of Wilson in Walker they have the largest selection I know of.

            The procedure is about the same as the bark in regards to trenching, but there are some things that are different.

            Stone should not go on the south side of a house. The intense summer heat bakes the stone to a point that the night hours are not long enough to cool it back down, thus the roots never get a break from the heat.

            A big advantage to having stone is, it never breaks down, so plastic or fabric can be used to eliminate the weed problem. If you are using plastic be sure to cut big enough hole around the plants for watering; usually a foot out from the center of the plant will be sufficient in the case of new plantings. An application of stone 3 inches thick would be enough to hide the plastic or weed cloth; any more stone would be a waste.

            To figure out how much stone or bark you will need multiply the width of your area by the length and divide by 80 if you are going to spread bark; and 100 if you are going to spread stone.

            A little time and sweat spent now will save a lot of time, sweat, and frustration later.


If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at NiemeyerLandscaping@Gmail.com or post a comment on this Blog. And like us on Facebook at Niemeyer Landscaping. For more Landscape and garden info and pictures on the subject check us out at www.NiemeyerLandscaping.com

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dried Flower Garden

Aug 5, 08 – June 11, 17

DRY FLOWER GARDENING          by Doug Niemeyer

Most people think “indoor arrangements” when Dried Flowers are mentioned; and I will talk about this in some detail. But Dry also pertains to plants in the outdoor landscaping as well.
When laying out Landscaping Designs at this time of year we tend to only think about the flowers and leaves visible during these warm weather months. If we can even bring our minds back to winter life, our minds have a tendency to conjure up being squirreled away indoors huddled around the heating vents. And, if our mind’s eye can see its way outdoors for a quick peek it will tend to focus only on the snow drifts and swirling blizzard conditions it remembers. But, and this is a big important landscaping “but”, it is this very snow on these dried plants that makes them look pretty cool out there in the landscaping.
For instance, plants like the Stonecrop and Brilliant Sedum have flower heads and leaf stems that become very ridged and strong after they have dried up in the late fall; ridged enough for quite a load of snow. The same goes for Ornamental Grasses; their seed tufts wear a jacket of snow quite nicely if it’s not blowing like a big dog out there.
The same is true of Cockscomb, Black-eyed-Susan’s, Coneflowers and others that I will list below. But (again with the buts), I do have to warn you that it is upon the seed pods that this snow is resting; and the key word here is “seed”. Seeds sprout, seeds the birds miss. Your fresh applications of spring bark should smother a lot of them out, but some will pop to the surface for your viewing or plucking pleasure.
Bare stems also add to the winter landscaping. Shrubs like Red Twig Dogwood and Yellow Twig Dogwood display a different stem and twig color not usually seen in the plant world. Coral Bark Japanese Maples do the same to the eye.
Bark oddities are better displayed in the winter months. Paper Birch and River Birch shed their bark in sheet type strips like botanical lizards. Burning Bushes get their name for how bark looks after the fire. Witch Hazel, also known as the Corkscrew bush, produces twigs and branches like its name as well; take your pick, Twigs like a witch’s hair or twigs and branches like a bush full of corkscrews.

Now let’s talk about taking some of that outdoor stuff we’ve enjoyed this summer and drying it for indoor use. There are three different methods used to accomplish this if you have the right plant specimens.
The first drying method, and the easiest, is Air Drying.
With air drying you don’t need any special equipment or materials, just a warm, dry, dark room; the only limitation - not all flowers dry well.
Air drying is best done in bunches, hanging upside down. Take six-ten stems, strip off the leaves (unless you would like to see how they dry), and wrap a rubber band around the cut end of these stems tightly, for the stems will shrink as they dry. You will know when they are dry when you can snap a stem crisply in two, and that will be in roughly two to three weeks. 
If you don’t have a space to hang them, or dust is a problem, place them loosely in shoe boxes or any covered box lined with tissue paper.
Some perennials like Globe Thistle and Baby’s Breath dry better standing upright.
Desiccant Drying requires the purchase of a reusable clear plastic sand called Silica gel; a plastic box with an airtight lid will need to be secured as well. Anytime “stuff” needs to be purchased the required skill level goes up a bit. But the end product, in this case, will be noticeably better. 
To start, make sure your flowers don’t have any extra moisture droplets on them, it just over taxes the Silica gel sand. Put down a ½ to 1 inch layer of silica sand in the bottom of the box. Lay your flowers and leaves on top of this layer of sand, making sure no plant parts are touching each other.
Fill in and around the flowers and leaves with more silica until all plant material is covered, then add an additional ½ to 1 inch layer of silica. Arrange the next layer of plants on top of this layer, cover them with silica; add an additional ½ to 1 inch to ensure good coverage and repeat this layering until you either run out of silica gel sand, plants, or your box is full.
Desiccant drying is faster than air drying by about one to two weeks. Tilt the box to get the silica to run off a leaf or flower; if it’s crispy or papery they are done.
Desiccant-dried leaves and flowers can absorb home humidity. Hair spray or a petal sealant can help them remain dry; but you can put them back into the silica gel sand too.
You can revitalize your water saturated silica sand by putting it into the oven for the prescribed time the instructions state.

Microwave drying is the fastest, and is done in combination with silica gel sand; but only one layer at a time.
You will need a Microwave friendly pan and the same “laying out of the flower and leaves” procedure as mentioned in Desiccant drying. The only difference is you will not be able to put multiple layers in the Microwave friendly pan. 
Drying time is around two minutes, depending on the amperage or strength of the microwave. You will need to keep a close eye on the first couple of drying attempts, over micro waving will burn the plants. By writing down your successes, and occasional failures, you will catch on pretty fast as to what each plant’s needs are. You will also need to place a cup of water, in a dish, in the microwave, next to the drying plants; this will protect the microwave’s magnetron tube. 
Below is a list of plants suitable for drying.

PLANTS HIEGHTBLOOM TIMECOLOR      

Baby’s breath     3 ft   July-Sept          Lt. Pink  
Delphiniums     3-5 ft    June-July                Blue, White, Purple
Globe Thistle    4-5 ft     July Sept               Blue
Lavender     18 in.     July Aug         Violet-blue
Lilium lilies 2-4 ft     June- Aug.                   Many Colors
Purple Cone Flower    3 ft     July-Aug          Rosy Pink
Pearly Everlasting     2 ft     July-AugWhite
Sea Holly     2 ft     July AugBlue
Statice     18 in     July-Sept    Lavender-blue
Wormwood   3-5 ft   Foliage only       Soft gray-green, feathery
Yarrow   2-3 ft     June-Aug       White, Yellow, Red

Flower and Leaf Drying is a way of putting before you a reminding glimpse of what lies ahead, my means of what lived in the past; while enjoying it in the present.



If you have any questions, or would like to see the You Tube enhanced version of this article, visit my WEB site at www.NiemeyerLandscaping.com. A daily gardening Blog is also available with timely information for your perusal.