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Gardening Tips for the Summer

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HydrangeasThe Stockade garden is bursting with beautiful flowers. Love gardening? Hate what summer does to your plants? When facing hot weather or a drought, these simple gardening tips for the summer will help preserve your garden.

Start by choosing the right spot for the plants that you will grow. If the plants are shade-loving, putting them in direct sunlight will bring many challenges for you and ultimately, the plants may die. On the other hand, if the plants require direct sunlight to grow and flower, be sure the spot you choose is best for the plant so it will thrive and produce beautiful blossoms.

First, choose hardy plants that are heat-resistant or those with an extensive root system. Annuals vary from heat-lovers to heat-haters, so it’s best to match the plant to the place. While it may be Begoniastempting to choose annuals for their incredible bloom, it may not be worth the trouble it will take to try to keep them alive. Some plants tolerate heat better than others. Your local nursery can give you advice or you can do the research yourself on the internet about what’s best for your particular garden. Perennials are an investment in a garden that will last more than one growing season. Those that bloom mid to late summer are especially adaptable to the heat, while cool-weather perennials that bloom in the spring and early summer have a more difficult time with heat. Many plants now have a USDA heat zone rating.

Before planting, fertilize the soil well using organic compost and other fertilizers. When planting, Hibiscus2create a moat around each plant so that when the leaves drip, they will drip into this area and funnel the water back to the roots. When planting seeds, keep a small ditch over the channel of seeds so that the water can soak into the soil to reach the seeds rather than run off to another area, leaving the seeds dry.

Continue to fertilize the plants, following the instructions for the particular fertilizer, but do not over-fertilize. The plant will get many of its nutrients from the soil. Fertilizing correctly will not only give plants a boost but will help them in times of stress.

FloweringShrubIf the heat is really intense, consider using shade cloths available at many garden and home stores. You can even use old sheets or sheer curtains. While it may not give you the look you want, it may protect those plants that you have put so much effort into growing.

Use mulch. Mulch protects the soil from the sun and helps it to retain moisture. There are many types of mulch from which to choose, or you can make your own with newspaper or cardboard.

Water frequently, particularly in areas where the temperature is above 90 degrees. Make sure the root ball gets water. The soil should be wet 6” down. Instead of guessing, use a trowel and check the depth of wet soil. Keep your garden weeded as weeds will compete with plants for water and nutrients.

MagnoliasIf there is brick, concrete or stone near your plants, remember that they will absorb the heat and continue to produce heat after the sun has gone down. Plants in these areas will require even more attention.

While it may take some experimenting to find the correct plant for the area and the appropriate watering and fertilizing for the plants, the work is gratifying when it produces the look you want.

Come stay with us and visit our garden!

Shopping Locally and the Farm-to-Table Concept

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Vendor selling okra, red and yellow bell peppers to shoppers under a tentShopping for farm-fresh produce in Baton Rouge just got easier with the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. The concept of “Farm-to-Table” is becoming increasingly popular as local markets pop up across the country. Have you considered the difference in taste and texture, for example, between canned asparagus, spinach and beets, compared to when they are fresh? No wonder the farm-to-table concept has caught on!

“Farm-to-table” is defined as purchasing locally-grown food directly from the source, i.e. local farmers. According to the Farm to Table Concept there are many benefits to this way of shopping for produce because it takes less time and fewer hands to get the produce from the farm to the table. The obvious benefits are that the produce tastes fresher, lasts longer and supports local farmers. The not-so-obvious benefits, as pointed out by South Source, are that this process is good for the environment.

Since the produce doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to the supermarket, local food can be grown to be healthy and tasty without the farmer having to worry about growing foods that are resilient to long travel. In order to get fruits and vegetables into supermarkets, the produce can be transported as much as 1,500 miles. Eighteen wheelers burn about 500 gallons of diesel to travel this distance. Additionally, many fruits and vegetables are imported from other countries. To keep food from spoiling during these trips, some of the produce must be picked before it is ripe. The produce must ripen during travel. According to South Source, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that this causes the produce to lack some of the nutrients that would be present in produce from a local farmer.

Many bed and breakfasts are getting into the act by growing some of the fruits, vegetables and herbs they use in their meals. Restaurants are doing the same thing, growing organic foods that taste fresh with no preservatives.

Today, farm-to-school, or more correctly phrased, farm-to-cafeteria is becoming popular around the country. Students are provided with healthy locally grown food and some of the schools are teaching students to grow their own vegetables. Programs exist in the school to encourage nutrition education activities designed to teach children to eat healthy for life.

Try produce you’ve never tasted fresh before. If you live in or around Baton Rouge, check the schedule for the Red Stick Farmer’s Market. Otherwise, there are plenty of markets around the country with produce for you to enjoy, possibly right in your own area.


Planting a Butterfly Garden

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Monarch butterfly feeding on a pink plantThere are few things more calming than sitting still and watching nature. Now that winter is over, Baton Rouge and South Louisiana will soon see the migration of the butterfly as it returns from its winter home in Mexico. Now is the time to plant a butterfly garden to attract these lovely creatures. “Flutterby: Butterfly” will be held through April 10, 2016, at Collonnade Gallery at LSU, featuring these extraordinary insects.

A growing number of Louisiana gardeners are planting butterfly plants to create a natural habitat that attracts these magical creatures. Growing butterfly plants in pots or in the ground around patios is a great hobby for homeowners as well as bed and breakfasts innkeepers who decorate their landscapes with these plants to the delight of their guests.

The life cycle of a butterfly is a truly fascinating occurrence. Beginning life as a caterpillar, these insects develop into beautiful and delicate butterflies. Once a butterfly, before winter, they must migrate south from many areas in the U.S., mostly to Mexico but also to Florida and California. How can a small, delicate butterfly travel that many miles?

The flight of butterflies, which has been occurring for thousands of years, is the longest known distance insect migration on earth. The beautiful monarch butterfly tends to be very popular and is easily recognizable. They have an extraordinary sense which helps them avoid large bodies of water and tall mountains, even though none of them have ever traveled that way before. One of the most amazing things about the monarchs flight from Canada to Mexico is that they fly south in a 50-mile wide distance between Eagle Pass, Texas and Del Rio, Texas. To save energy, they take advantage of thermal waves in the sky. They end their migration to roost in evergreen trees in only a dozen specific high mountain peaks in the Sierra Madre mountain rage in Central Mexico. Then, after several months, they return north, east and west where the females lay hundreds of eggs. Those eggs develop into caterpillars, then as pupa in its chrysalis, then finally emerge as a butterfly. This process takes about 4 weeks.

The only source of food for the monarch butterfly is the milkweed plant, poisonous to many animals but not to the monarch. Gulf fritillary or passion butterflies like passion vine or maypop. Your local nursery should be able to help you choose plants that will work in your garden or around your patio.

Want to learn more about butterflies and get started planting your butterfly garden? Read Butterfly Gardening for Louisianians by the LSU Ag Center.

The Stockade Spring Garden, 2014

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Japanese Magnolia

South Louisiana, like much of the United States, experienced more than its share of unusually cold weather this winter.  Phrases like “polar vortex” were being used by weather forecasters – a term people in the south are definitely not familiar with.  All we know is that it was COLD – really COLD.  Snow, sleet and frozen fountains were a little too common in the South this past winter.

South Louisiana is not exactly a tropical area, but we do have somewhat fragile plants that grow here which don’t tolerate very cold or frozen temperatures.  Try as we might, it was difficult for us to cover and protect many of our plants, and now that Spring is officially here, we are all taking stock of what’s left and replacing plants that didn’t make it.

At The Stockade, we are happy to say that our plants are finally coming to life, albeit a little late.  And we couldn’t be happier!  Take a walk with us around The Stockade gardens and see what plants and flowers are springing to life!

Peppermint Camillia
Peppermint Camellia
Lady Banksia climbing roses
Lady Banksia Climbing Roses
Begonias in Hanging Basket
Bottle Tree, always in bloom
Bottle Tree, always in bloom



12th Annual Baton Rouge Spring Garden Show

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Photo Garden Show 2There may never have been a time when Southerners anticipated the coming of Spring as this year, after such a long, cold winter. If that describes you, head on over to Baton Rouge for the 12th Annual Baton Rouge Spring Garden Show, set for March 29th – 30th at the John M. Parker Coliseum (LSU) on Highland Road in Baton Rouge.  The show is located 13 minutes from The Stockade Bed and Breakfast. Make your room reservations at The Stockade now so that you can enjoy both days.

This show will include local nurseries and other vendors selling plants, tools, pots, ornaments, landscaping materials and so much more. Children’s activities also will be available.

In addition to the Spring Garden Show, there will be other events going on at the Coliseum during that weekend, as well:

Choose one or all shows for a fun-filled weekend.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Composting

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The Stockade Bed and Breakfast, which is certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, is committed to sustainable practices and protecting the environment. That’s why we are a big believer in composting — a simple and effective way to be more eco-friendly!

better compostAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest contributor to landfills in America is food waste; in 2009 alone, 34 million tons of food waste was produced. Once food waste is dumped in a landfill, it is unable to be reused for the environment.

There are numerous benefits of composting. Not only does composting prevent food waste from ending up in a landfill, but it also adds nutrients to soil, encourages healthy plant roots, saves water by helping the soil to retain moisture, reduces soil erosion, balances pH, and decreases the need for petrochemical fertilizers.

Here are some things that you can chop and use for compost. For best results, use a mixture of browns and greens to ensure a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio:


  • coffee grounds and filters
  • tea bags
  • citrus rinds
  • fruit and vegetables
  • ground eggshells


  • grass
  • pine needles
  • shredded cardboard or newspaper
  • wood