Why Do Trees Turn Color in Fall?

Aspen- Copper Mt CO Oct 2012The downside of living in the northern part of the country is that most trees lose their leaves for the winter. The upside is that many of them really put on a show before the snow begins to fly. While east Idaho may not have the reputation of New England for fall colors, nature still has a beautiful palette of colors this time of year. As days shorten and temperatures drop, the tranquil greens of summer transform into spectacular yellows, oranges, reds, and maroons. The vividness of color is affected a great deal by the weather, so some years are more colorful and the color lasts longer than others. Some years can be truly breathtaking. Continue reading “Why Do Trees Turn Color in Fall?”

What Can I Plant Now?

Some folks think they have to wait “until the chance of frost has passed” before they plant anything in their yards and gardens. But experienced gardeners know that there are lots of things that can be planted in April when frosts are not only possible, but likely. And the truth is that most of these plants actually prefer to be planted during the cool weather of April. Let’s review some of the things that can (and probably should) be planted this time of year. Continue reading “What Can I Plant Now?”

Caring for Birds in Winter

birdhouse in snowWhen winter arrives with the bitter temperatures and biting winds, we humans huddle inside with a hot cup of cocoa and a blazing fire in the fireplace. When we go out we don winter coats, hats and gloves. This is how we cope with winter, but what do the birds do? Their feathers are their down parkas and their metabolism keeps them warm but they need increased fuel to stoke their furnaces and shelter from wind and cold.

Following are some tips from Lillian and Don Stokes, makers of Stokes Bird Feeders, for caring for birds in the cold winter months.

1. Winter can be a difficult time for birds. Wild food sources may be scarce or covered in ice, and birds need more calories to keep warm. Keeping your bird feeders full and available can be very helpful to birds in cold & severe weather.

2. Depending on how sever or how long a store lasts, it is critical to have feeders available to birds as much as possible. Go out frequently and brush off snow and remove ice from feeders, including in the feeder portals. If possible, do this several times during the snow storm and as soon as possible after the storm stops.

winterfeeding on ground3. Some birds, such as Juncos, Mourning Doves, and White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows prefer to feed on the ground. Make sure you shovel the snow out below the feeder; this allows fallen seed from the feeder to be available to these ground-feeding species. You can also sprinkle a little seed on the ground or place seed in a platform feeder for these birds.

4. Keep feeders full at all times. Birds feed especially heavily at the end of the day to stock up on calories to get them through the night. They then feed first thing in the morning to replenish calories lost during the cold night. It is especially good if feeders are full for them during these times.

birdfeeder in snow5. Place feeders in sheltered locations or near cover, such as evergreens. Birds seek shelter as they come and go from the feeders.

6. Choose feeders that have a large seed capacity. This helps if you cannot get out to fill your feeders as often because of sever weather and there will still be seed available for the birds.

7. Choose feeders with overhands that shelter the seed. You can also get baffles (wide plastic or metal circles) and hang them above the feeder. This will help to keep snow off the feeders.

Suet Feeder in Snow8. Birds need high calorie foods during winter months. Fill feeders with Black Oil Sunflower and use suet cakes. These foods contain a high amount of fat so they are good calorie-rich food options.

Taking care of your feeders in the winter months is rewarding. You will see lots of birds as they come more frequently to your feeders. It will cheer you up and bring color and activity to your yard. Plus, you will have the reward of knowing you are helping the birds survive during these cold months.

Lawn Care Made Easy

The key to achieving a lush, dark green lawn that is the envy of the neighborhood is simple- apply the right product at the right time throughout the season. At Town & Country Gardens we developed, tested, and refined an exclusive 4-Step lawn program that makes it easy to have a beautiful lawn… and at a much lower cost than using a lawn service.

Johns Lawn 2 2005 cropped

Town & Country Gardens’ Premium 4-Step Lawn Program includes our own fully tested fertilizers formulated specifically for east Idaho soils and climate. Our customers rave about having their greenest lawn ever! It really works. We guarantee it!

Here are the four easy steps.

Step 1 – Natural Guard Soil Activator: March-April
Step 2 – T&C Premium Lawn Food: May-June
Step 3 – Fertilome Weed Out + Lawn Fertilizer : September
Step 4 – T&C Lawn Winterizer : October-November

NG Soil Activator 2010Step 1– In the early spring your lawn needs a complete soil fertility builder – to help it recover from the rigors of the harsh winter. Natural Guard Soil Activator, contains humates and a wide array of minor and micro-nutrients including iron in a totally natural form that not only adds nutrients to the soil, but releases “tied up” nutrients already in the soil so they can be used by the plant. Soil Activator doesn’t just force-feed the plant; it actually gets to the root of the problem and improves the soil for the long term.

A secondary benefit of using Soil Activator is the decomposition of thatch in the lawn. The humates in Soil Activator speed up the decomposition process that prevents dead grass stems and roots from creating the tight spongy layer that hinders proper absorption of water and nutrients. The result is not only a visibly healthier lawn but also the elimination or reduction of the need to power-rake (de-thatch) your lawn.

Step 2- In the late spring your lawn needs a boost that will carry it into summer. Town & Country Premium Lawn Food contains all the nutrients, including a high percentage of iron, which your grass needs to keep it healthy and give it that deep green color that you want for your lawn. Town & Country Premium Lawn Food contains three types of nitrogen, including 60% polymer coated slow-release nitrogen for extended greening of up to 12 weeks. You can’t buy a better lawn food. We guarantee it!

FL Weed-Out 10Step 3- In early fall, as the temperatures begin to cool, it is time to apply Fertilome Weed Out + Lawn Fertilizer. The lawn is now beginning to store nutrients in its roots in preparation for dormancy. During this period weed killers are particularly effective because the herbicide travels deep into the root, rather than just “top killing”. Fertilome Weed Out + Lawn Fertilizer contains 3 herbicides that control over 200 listed broadleaf weeds. Do not mow lawn prior to application. Lawn should be lightly wet before application, but do not water for 24 hours after application.

Step 4-  Late fall is probably the most important feeding of the year. Application can be made anytime in the fall, but the ideal time to apply Town & Country Lawn Winterizer is in October or November. Since your lawn is approaching dormancy now, nearly all of the nutrients are used to promote root growth and very little for top growth. Town & Country Lawn Winterizer contains extra potassium for winter hardiness and 30% slow release nitrogen. This builds a very dense, healthy turf and provides stored nutrients that will encourage early spring green up, often up to two weeks earlier than lawns that don’t receive a fall feeding.


A Little Extra Help When Needed

Broadleaf Weed Control- If you need additional help in controlling dandelions and other broadleaf weeds, spray with Fertilome Weed-Free Zone in mid April before the dandelions bloom. This will kill any weeds that the Fertilome Weed Out + Lawn Fertilizer may have missed the previous fall. Do not spray when temperature is expected to exceed 85 degrees.

Grub Free Zone II 2010Grub Control- Lawn insects, particularly Billbugs and White Grubs, can destroy large patches of your lawn very quickly. The problem can be prevented with an application of Grub Free Zone. The timing is critical. Apply in May, before any damage occurs, for best results. You may need to reapply in early July.

So there you have it- lawn care as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4. Now’s the time to get started with Step 1, and before you know it your neighbors will be asking “What do you do to get such a lush green lawn?”.

MGM- Mittleider Gardening Method

Jim Kennard

When you hear “MGM” most people think of a Hollywood movie studio, but increasingly it has become synonymous with the “Mittleider Gardening Method”. I first heard of the Mittleider Gardening Method in the 70’s when Dr. Jacob Mittleider published his books Food for Everyone and Mittleider Grow-box Gardens and customers came in asking about it. But the fad seemed to quickly fade.

Food-for-Everyone-Foundation1I didn’t hear much more about it until a couple of years ago when Jim Kennard andd David Gillmore both moved to the Idaho Falls area. Jim has been gardening with the Mittleider Method since the late 70’s and now carries on the work of the late Dr. Jacob Mittleider through the Food for Everyone Foundation. David (AKA LDS Prepper) is a more recent ‘convert’, but is a very knowledgeable and vocal proponent of the method and has become Jim’s right hand man in teaching the method across the country and around the world. Together and separately they have helped literally thousands of people learn how to grow food in their seminars and projects in the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Madagascar, Armenia, Georgia, and Colombia.

Mittleider Gardening Course Book 2015The Mittleider Method combines the best features of soil-based gardening and hydroponic gardening, but without hydroponic expense. It’s a complete, easy-to-follow plan that eliminates guesswork and ensures success anywhere: an apartment patio, a city yard, a country lot, or a farm.

The method is based on maximum utilization of space, time, and resources. Crops are large because plants are close together, nourished by supplemental feedings of natural mineral nutrients (as in hydroponics), but with no special equipment. You can use the Mittleider Method by raising crops in either soil-beds or grow-boxes and you’ll enjoy amazing yields like never before!

The book The Mittleider Gardening Course  (available at Town & Country Gardens) outlines in an easy to follow, step-by-step process exactly how to create a garden that has proven to out-produce nearly any other method, and at a surprisingly low cost, with no experience required.

David Gillmore will be our guest on the Town & Country Garden Show on KID Radio  at 590 AM, 92.1 FM, and 106.3 FM on Saturday morning  March 19 at 8:00 to tell us more about the Mittleider Method, including his recent trip to Russia with the Food for Everyone Foundation. Be sure to listen in, and call in with your questions.

KID Logo 2015


My Love Affair with Trees

treehouseTry to say trees without smiling. You can’t, can you? I know I can’t.

I think I first fell in love with trees as a  12 year-old boy when I built my first tree house. It wasn’t much to behold, more like a place to perch in the tree than a tree house really. But I loved to climb up that tree and sit there looking out at the world from above. The massive strength of the big branches of that old elm tree just seemed to wrap around me. I felt safe up there… despite the danger of falling and breaking my arm. Continue reading “My Love Affair with Trees”

Fire Blight

Fire blight is a bacterial disease primarily affecting pears and apples. It can be spread by insects, contaminated pruning tools, wind and rain-splash. Pear and apple are most susceptible at flowering, but actively growing shoots can be infected as well.

FireBlight-Apple-Wide-compressed-John-2015Carefully pruning to remove infected wood in combination with the use of agricultural antibiotics are the most effective means to manage fire blight. Streptomycin (Fertilome Fire Blight Spray) is available for homeowner use. Vigilant scouting for the disease combined with careful pruning techniques are recommended to manage fire blight in pear and apple trees. Continue reading “Fire Blight”