Saturday, April 30, 2011

OSO Birthday party

Super excited about planning yet another birthday party! It won't be as over-the-top as Gavin's Mickey Mouse party but still fun nonetheless! We all LOVE Special Agent Oso, yes hubby included!

As mentioned in an older post there is no Oso party supplies to be had, anywhere, with every online place I search there are parents up in arms over Disney not having anything Oso but 2 little toy sets online (they used to be availble at Target but as of last yr arn't sold in stores anymore). Thank Goodness just this month Disney put a plush for sale online after a 2yr hiatus, I know my little guy will love this as much as the little Scentsy lamb he got from the Easter Bunny- he's such a stuffed animal lover, and loves every single one he has too!

I was going to make my own invites until I remembered my mother-in-law had purchased a ton of truck and construction theme supplies that were dirt cheep before Carter was even born, thinking they could have been used for future parties for Gavin. It just so happened that they had 3 birthday candles on them so they work well but after asking Carter what kind of party he wants I'll be fusing them together with Oso and came up with:

And because he's a special agent I saw another Mom on a party site post how she cut out the guests names from the newspaper to put on the invites like a real secret message; sooo had to use that idea! It was also great one-on-one time sitting with Carter helping me find and cut out each letter and then putting them together to spell everyone's name, he was just as into it as I was!

And for the longer names like 'Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Charlie' I opted to put the cut-up letters inside and have them put it together like a puzzle, also great for older kids to do!

Now all I have to do is print out all the online party printables for decorations!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Growing fruits in Maryland

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. ~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

I've been pretty busy here lately, especially now that the weather is breaking and I'm outside more with the kids. But I was able to attend a seminar at Homestead Gardens last weekend (my 'me' time since it was raining and hubby couldn't work!) that I wanted to post about so I at least have this reference material on here and an fyi for anyone else that's interested. The seminar was lead by a gentelman who grew up on an orchard and now works at one on the Eastern Shore, cultivating Hollybrook Orchard trees.

He did us a great diservice by explaining that each of these trees has a tag on them stating what type of tree you are looking at, not just 'Apple tree' like many other companies, but the type, size and if it needs other pollinating trees to grow. He handed out a flyer that has great info for growing your own fruit and visiting Hollybrook online they have even more growing resources that are great to follow. While you can't purchase trees directly from the orchard, they send their products to garden centers like Homestead, Greenstreet Growers or Patuxent Nursery for purchase.

(My favorite apple type, btw! But don't think they grow here too well unfortunately)


Choose a tree type that best suits your land and how you will use the fruit. Be prepared for alot of fruit, especially if you need other pollinator trees, up to a few bushels on each tree. So be prepared for alot of pies, canning or giving them away if it's too much for your household. Not sure if this pertains to us, Mike takes an apple a day to work, the kids and I go thru a dozen or more a week; between eating right off the tree and freezing some fillings I'm sure we'll put a few trees away in no time!


Dwaf tree: 8-10' tall

Semi-Dwarf tree: 12-14' tall

Standard tree: taller than 14'tall

Soil: Most soil in Md is Clay or Sand. Just make sure the land drains well.

Cherry trees- sandy soil
Pears/Apples- Can tolerate dense but prefer a mix type

*If you have a septic the land will drain fine for most types.

When you go to plant, don't dig extremely deep or wide holes. There's a knob on the bottom of the tree trunk called a graftium, that adjusts the height of the tree. If you get a dwarf tree do not bury the graftium, this make it grow to a standard size because of adjusting the root system. Just dig 2x the size around the tree, not deep. You want to keep the graftium close to the soil line.

Also, don't put anything else in the hole, just the dirt you took out and good top soil (not the cheap soil that has more mulch than soil, good soil will show you better results for anything you plant). But do build up a mound ontop of the soil to help drain water away from the trunk of the tree. Then a month later when the soil packs down you can add a 10x10x10 fertilizer to jump-start the growing process; making sure to only sprinkle it by the drip line of tree, that's where the roots are. But for apple trees, no further fertilizer is needed unless the tree isn't growing. The more fertilizer the more susceptible the trees are to disease. Where peach and pear trees may need fertilizer more frequently thru the growing season. Thus it was off to talk about spraying.


Blueberries you I love people who want to do everything organically, but I more loved when the orchardist asked: "Who here wants to care for fruit trees organically?" About 4 people raised their hand out of 40. He then says "Okay, you guys and get up and leave now." Cracked me up! "Other than sitting next to your trees all day, flicking off each beetle by hand or smashing 2 bricks together to kill mosquitoes, there's no option but to spray your plants chemically."

Apples, depending on the type, are pretty hardy but none are disease free or resistant to any bug nibbling them into non-existence. He mentioned that 'Christine' apples are vary hardy and seem the most disease resistant while still having a good taste but you still need to spray them.

You only need to spray once a season, then again after harvesting, very little disease with these cuties!

But peaches are the worse and have to be controlled or they will die off rather quickly or just not produce edible fruit. The stuff the commercial orchards use are 1 part chemical to 1 acre of land, that cannot be diffused for the typical homeowner so some brands have come up with chemicals that are the lowest of the low that are for purchase at any retail chain and can be used in a spray hose attachment. The easiest method would be to spray every Sat. morning from before sprouting occurs in early Spring up and then in the evenings when tree is in bloom up until to picking time; spraying in the evening is better because that's when the bees are done pollinating- you don't want to kill them off with the spray! Just wait about 12 days after spraying to harvest the fruit for eating.

If there is a true concern for too many chemicals, it was recommended to plant early maturing fruit so you don't have to spray the whole Summer to get Fall fruit.

Also a tip, the trees come with white plastic sleeves on their trunk for packing and shipping to nurseries; save them and put them back on the trunk in the winter so they stay warm and don't freeze in the winter if there are drastic temperature drops or to guard from mice eating the apple flavored bark.

Best time to prune is in the Spring; March. Trim flush to the tree. Trim so there's no double headers. And trim to make an outward growing tree; cutting away and branches that grow toward the tree and won't see the sun. Even if you over trim, it'll grow back, just with a little less production that year but watch out the year after that.

With all of this information as ammo I was ready for a couple of apple trees for the backyard! At the time of the lecture they were 25% off at Homestead Gardens and MD has a $25 discount for each tree purchased, half the price! So I went there today ready to buy after researching different types that thrive in our area and wouldn't you know they were down to 4 apple trees left and not really the kind I'd like to keep around the rest of my life. I could have gone to the other nurseries in the area looking for certain ones that we'd eat more of but I really wanted to give Homestead the sale since they provided this free seminar to get me hooked in the first place. Needless to say I wasn't leaving there empty handed, I got the next best thing that I'll use the heck out of... a lemon tree! Well, I opted for the smaller pot so it looks like a little one foot bush, but over time it will turn into the pricey tall one and help us make tons of lemonade and lemon filling for pies!

At least I have the info for apples to use next year and know to get one early Spring so I have a choice! So for now I have my lemons and strawberries to tend to and look forward to planting veggies and apples next year!