17 January 2017

Red Hills of OK and KS - talk on Jan 31 - Wichita

Ken Brunson
The Kansas Native Plant Society is sponsoring a talk on Jan 31st at 6:30,
The location is Dyck Arborteum, 177 W Hickory Street, Hesston KS, just north of Wichita.

The speaker is Ken Brunson and his topic is Fire Recovery in the Hills.
Ecologist and field manager Ken Brunson of the Nature Conservancy knows a lot about the Anderson Creek Wildfire of March 2016 that consumed about 390,000 acres of land in Oklahoma and Kansas. 
By some estimates, this was the biggest private lands fire in the U.S. since records have been kept. Several hundred head of livestock were killed, thousands of miles of fence, and at least a dozen houses were destroyed. Positive and negative impacts to land and wildlife varies, and Ken will show photos as part of his presentation about this fascinating story.

Come for supper at 6:00 p.m. or just the lecture at 6:30 p.m. ($2 for lecture, $7 for supper and lecture). Call 620-327-8127 by 4 p.m. on Friday before the Tuesday lecture for supper reservations.
Contact: Brad Guhr brad.guhr@hesston.edu 620-327-8127 or Phyllis Scherich pscherich@yahoo.com 620-213-0751
Beautiful Dyck Arboretum of the Plains  in Hesston KS is a primary sponsor.
Ken Brunson's blog, called The Kansas Outback, is at this link.

09 January 2017

After Freeze Plant Care

We've already had a hard freeze but this weekend's rain, sleet and maybe, ice storm will make matters worse for our vulnerable plants.

Here are some good reminders from Buchanan's Native Plants

 After a freeze, some plants may show signs of frost damage. Frost damage can reveals itself as dark areas on leaves, a burnt appearance, or wilting. Here are some things you can do to help protect and nurture a plant with frost/freeze damage.

1. Don’t prune: Although frost damage can be unsightly, you should not cut back dead or damages leaves or branches. This is very difficult for many gardeners, as cutting something unhealthy off their plant feels like the natural thing to do. However, the damaged leaves still have benefit by acting to protect the remaining plant from wind and chill. Besides, pruning promotes tender new growth, which is the last thing we want before winter is over. Keep your shears away until spring (late February for perennials and early March for tropicals) when the weather begins to warm. Spring is the time to cut back dead matter and let new growth take over. Feel free to trim plants all the way to the ground, just leaving a few inches of old growth. After you prune, use a fertilizer. Microlife 6-2-4 is an outstanding organic fertilizer that will help your plants with the production of new leaves and branches.

2. Add Compost/Mulch: It’s never a bad time to add compost and mulch. In fact, adding these two during the winter helps to further insulate plants’ rootzones while supplying plants with essential nutrients and the microbiology the need to stay healthy and happy. We recommend Vegan Compost from The Ground Up, because it contains a diverse range of microorganisms and is full of both macro and micro nutrients for plants. For mulch, the Native Hardwood is best, double-ground and aged, apply a 2-3 inch layer.

3. Prevent further damage: A damaged plant may not have what it takes to make it through another freeze. Protect these tender plants by bringing them inside if possible. If this isn’t possible, wrap them in frost cloth. Cover the entire plant and secure well at the base to ensure no wind can move under the cloth. Wrapping a plant may make the difference between life and death in the garden. Before a hard freeze, water your garden well. Water saturated soil holds heat better than a dry soil. Keep damaged plants well watered but be mindful that plants need less water in cooler weather.

06 January 2017

Vertical Gardening Benefits Schools and Cooks

The New Yorker published an exciting article about vertical farming efforts on the east coast.

Growing crops in the city, without soil or natural light.
 By Ian Frazier


Ingrid Williams, AeroFarms’ director of human resources, lives in Orange New Jersey but knows Newark well. She has degrees in labor studies and sociology from Rutgers. Williams told me. “There’s an AeroFarms mini-farm growing salad greens in the cafeteria of my daughter’s school, Philip’s Academy Charter School, on Central Avenue. I volunteer there all the time as part of parents’ stewardship, and I know the kids love growing their own lettuce for the salad bar.”

We need more Ed Harwoods in the US with messianic enthusiasm.
"The mini-farm’s inventor, Ed Harwood, of Ithaca, New York, sold it to the school in 2010. Harwood is a sixty-six-year-old man of medium stature who speaks with the kind of rural accent that sometimes drops the last letters of words. He has been an associate professor at Cornell’s famous school of agriculture, and he began his career as an inventor by coming up with revolutionary improvements in the computer management of dairy cows, an animal he loves. His joyous enthusiasm for what he does has an almost messianic quality."

And 76-year old Despommier and his wife are still working to improve the world - 
 ‘What would you like the world to be like in 2050?’ They thought about this and decided that by 2050 the planet will be really crowded, with eight or nine billion people, and they wanted New York City to be able to feed its population entirely on crops grown within its own geographic limit."

Agricultural runoff is the main cause of pollution in the oceans; vertical farms produce no runoff. Outdoor farming consumes seventy per cent of the planet’s freshwater; a vertical farm uses only a small amount of water compared with a regular farm. All over the world, croplands have been degraded or are disappearing. Vertical farming can allow former cropland to go back to nature and reverse the plundering of the earth. Despommier began to give talks and get noticed. He became the original vertical-farming proselytizer."

David Rosenberg, CEO
AeroFarms’ CEO David Rosenberg, used his grandfather’s invention to start a business called Hycrete, which he later sold, though not for a sum so great that he has chosen to fund AeroFarms himself. In recent years, his new start-up has raised more than fifty million dollars in investment, about twice as much as has any other vertical farm, or indoor farm of any kind, in the U.S.

Like the original Aero Farms Systems, this company would base itself on Harwood’s patented cloth for growing the plants and on his nozzle for watering and feeding them. It would build the vertical-farm systems but not sell them, grow baby greens commercially, and scale the operation up gigantically. This change in fortunes left Harwood thunderstruck. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “How many inventors have inventions sitting around, waiting for a break, and then something like this happens?”

Though many of the hundred-plus employees seem to be diffused throughout the enterprise and most vividly present in cyberspace, everybody gathers sometimes in the headquarters building for a buffet-style lunch, at which Rosenberg makes a short speech. Talking quietly, he repeats a theme: “To succeed, we need to be the best at four things. We need to be the best at plant biology, the best at maintaining our plants’ environment, the best at running our operational system, and the best at getting the farm to function well mechanically. We have to be the best total farmers. And to do all this we need the best data. If the data is not current and completely reliable, we will fail. We must always keep paying close attention to the data.”

Phillips Academy Charter School is still growing strong.
"Harwood’s original prototype mini-farm, the one he sold to Philip’s Academy in 2010, still produces crops six or seven times every school year. "

Catkin Flowers, left
Environmental Science Teacher Catkin Flowers keeps it going. "The teacher who keeps all this machinery in good order is Catkin Flowers. That is her real given name. A tall auburn-haired woman in her forties, she starts her science students working with the farm when they’re in kindergarten. “We use the farm to teach chemistry, math, biology,” she explained to me one morning between classes. 
“The students learn with it all the way through eighth grade. I think the farm is the reason our science scores are so competitive in the state. We get the kids involved in running the grow cycles and then solving the problems that inevitably come up. That’s how kids really learn, not from sitting back and watching the grownups do everything.”

And, Marion Nestle of Food Politics blog,  is proud to have been mentioned by WikiLeaks as an enemy of the sugary drink industry! What a mensch she is.

"On another morning, I stayed for lunch. First, Mentesana took me, along with Marion Nestle (not Nestlé; she’s no relation), the nutrition expert and N.Y.U. professor, on a tour of the school. A Clinton campaign e-mail released by WikiLeaks the day before had referred to harassment of Nestle by the beverage industry because of her book “Big Soda: Taking on the Soda Industry (and Winning),” and she was in a great mood, proud to have been mentioned. 

Phillips Academy Charter School farm
Robert Wallauer, the school’s young chef, introduced himself. He has worked for famous restaurants, but decided he could contribute more to the public good by running school kitchens. The entrée was a Chinese-style dish of pasta with chopped vegetables. I told him it was so delicious that if this were a restaurant I would come back and bring my friends."

01 January 2017

Native Plants Conference Feb 4 in Tulsa

The Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing is in Tulsa this year! Great news for those of us who live in the eastern part of the state.

Registration is now available online at the link above.

topic Landscaping with Native Plants
time  8:30 to 4:00
location Tulsa Garden Center 2435 S Peoria

To register
Conference is $15 per person
plus optional meal
Lunch is $10 per person
3926 E 33rd ST.
Tulsa 74135

Connie Murray 918.8453170

25 December 2016

Wildlife Fenced in by Refugee Fences

barbed wire fences
on the Slovenian-Croatian border
Yale 360 reported this week that the fences and walls that are being constructed to prevent the movement of migrants, are also preventing the healthy and necessary movement of wildlife. Excerpts follow - 

"A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves."

The author of the article, Jim O’Donnell, is a freelance environmental journalist and conservation photographer. 

In addition to bears and wolves, lynx roam Europe as part of their migratory behavior. 

"On his most recent trip into the mountains along the Slovenian-Croatian border, biologist Djuro Huber counted 11 dead roe deer, all caught up in the fencing. The deer stumble into the barriers while foraging. In a desperate bid to escape, they drive themselves further into the razor wire, entangling themselves and eventually dying of blood loss. “Certainly many more died, but the border officials try to remove them before [they are] photographed,” says Huber of the University of Zagreb in Croatia. “But it is what we don’t see that troubles me the most.” 

While the deer are the most obvious victims, carnivores tend to simply turn away from the fences. If a young male bear or a wolf can’t cross the border to mate, for example, he will look for a more accessible female. The result is genetic isolation and inbreeding, a problem already threatening the region’s dwindling lynx population. This can lead to an increase in diseases and unwanted genetic mutations that may ultimately lead to localized extinctions, scientists say. "

"Not only do the fences kill wildlife and lead to genetic isolation, according to a June 2016 study published in the journal PLOS Biology, but these barriers also hamper the efforts of organizations such as the European Wilderness Society (EWS), which is working to protect and expand existing wilderness throughout Europe. According to EWS Chairman Max Rossberg, Eastern Europe holds some of the best-preserved wildlands on the continent and some of its healthiest wildlife populations."

The impact is being felt in other nations, too.
The impact of border fences on wildlife is not limited to Europe. A 2011 study pointed out that the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border blocks 16 key species from about 75 percent of their habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that a fence proposed by President-elect Donald Trump would impact 111 endangered species and 108 migratory birds. In Asia, nearly the entire 2,900-mile Chinese-Mongolian border is fenced, impacting species such as the Asiatic wild ass and the Mongolian gazelle. Border fences also have been erected between states of the former Soviet Union. "

Consider this phenomenon that can no longer happen with the fences installed:
"One Eurasian brown bear, dubbed Ivo, was tracked by satellite collar as he roamed for 21 months from Slovakia, to Hungary, to Poland, to Ukraine, crossing international borders 63 times. " 
Fencing Europe

“European nations are small,” says Aleksandra Majic, a biologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. “They are not large enough to host their own healthy populations of large carnivores.” 

Although the flow of refugees has slowed, the fences are still being built. Few if any refugees traveled in the Dinaric Mountains, but a fence is nevertheless being erected in this rugged territory. Huber, Majic, and other conservationists say politicians in the Balkans are building the fences to divert attention from other economic and political problems. “They [the fences] only make sense when viewed within the context of populist politicians playing the ‘fear’ card to fuel nationalism and to try and appear to be doing something,” said John Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Trondheim, Norway and the lead author of the PLOS Biology study."

Political volatility in Turkey and a lack of resolution to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria have Europe on edge. A fence is currently being built along the Bulgarian-Turkish border that will cut through a key wildlife corridor
Romania highway bear
Romania, one of Europe’s poorest nations, badly needs a modern highway system. But conservationists warn that unless the movements of wildlife are accommodated, a planned boom in road construction could threaten one of the continent’s last large brown bear populations. 
"Along the border between Russia and Finland, a barrier is planned that could harm bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines, and forest reindeer. "

These are only excerpts from the full piece. You can click on the link at the beginning of this entry to read the entire article.

18 December 2016

Gifts for Gardeners

Since gardeners come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities, shopping for the ones on your list might take a little thinking. These suggestions should help take some of the confusion out of holiday shopping this year.

There are traditional gardeners who love reliable bulbs and perennial flowering shrubs and there are modern gardeners who want this year’s brightest colors and newest hybrids.

Eco-friendly gardeners prefer natural colors, wildlife-friendly and native plantings. A gift list for them could include a birdbath with a heater to keep the water from freezing this winter, bird feeders, solar lights to illuminate the outdoors in every season, or a motion-activated wildlife camera (www.wingscapes.com).

For traditional gardeners on your list who are killing time until spring arrives, a potted Amaryllis bulb (www.gardeners.com) that they can watch grow until it blooms in the spring can be just right. Poinsettias and other indoor plants add cheer to the indoors, too. Borovetz-Carson Greenhouse (3020 North ST in Muskogee) specializes in Poinsettias at this time of year.

Whether you need something for a new or experienced gardener, reading material is always welcome for cold days. 

Books and magazines are loaded with plant identification help and gardening tips. 

Some choices include: Oklahoma Gardener Magazine (888-265-3600), “Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life” by Jan Coppola Bills, “Oklahoma Gardener’s Guide” by Steve Dobbs, “The Guide to Oklahoma Wildflowers” by Patricia Folley, “Best Garden Plants for Oklahoma” by Steve Owens and Laura Peters, “Compact Guide to Oklahoma Birds” by Cable, Seltman, Kagume and Kennedy, and “Forest Trees of Oklahoma” from the OK Department of  Agriculture and Forestry Services (405-522-6158).

Indoor and outdoor gardeners welcome containers to brighten windowsills, patios and garden beds. 

Consider filling a pretty flower pot with small gifts such as gloves, a new trowel, pruning tools, a CobraHead weeder (www.cobrahead.com), hand cream or bubble bath. Add a colorful bow and you are ready.

There is an old joke among gardeners that a load of manure is a perfectly fine gift and winter is the ideal time for it. Manure has to age before it can be applied to the garden without burning plants and roots. Piling it or spreading it during the winter allows it to become mellow in time for spring planting.

Compost also is a welcome gift. Be sure to include a gift certificate offering help when it is time to spread the compost on the vegetable garden or flower beds.

Part of the reason gardeners love their hobby is because they thrive on being outdoors and most of us enjoy walking in public gardens to enjoy other people’s ideas. Gifts of a garden membership are always welcome.

Possible memberships include: Friends of Honor Heights Park/Papilion Butterfly House ($25 individual membership - www.friendsofhonorheightspark.org), Linnaeus Teaching Gardens at Tulsa Garden Center ($30 membership - www.tulsagardencenter.com), Lendonwood Gardens in Grove ($30 membership - www.lendonwood.com), Tulsa Botanic Garden ($50 membership - www.tulsabotanic.org) and Myriad Botanical Garden ($50 individual/dual membership - oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com).

If you are handy with wood, wire and tools, most gardeners would appreciate a raised bed, a potting bench, compost bins, garden hods (baskets with wire sides and wood handles for collecting flowers or vegetables), fluorescent light structures and shelves for raising seedlings, or a cold frame made of re-purposed windows.

Waterproof shoes are wonderful for wet garden beds and can be washed off with a hose. All of the farm and garden supply stores sell them in a variety of styles and colors.

Short on cash but have plenty of energy? A gift certificate for help with late winter pruning, mulching and clean-up is sure to please.

11 December 2016

Propaganda Gardening

The will to start life anew can begin anywhere, anytime.

Pam Warhurst's Ted Talk is only 13 minutes long, during which she encourages a revolution in how we interact, use resources and take community, learning and business action. Yes we can is her enthusiastic motto.

Watch How We Can Eat Our Landscapes here.

Three and one half years ago she and her friends invented the idea around her kitchen table: Pam Warhurst co-founded Incredible Edible. Follow them on Facebook here.

Invest in more kindness toward each other and the environment.

They started with a seed plot, grew that into an herb garden. From there a vegetable garden, fruit trees, gardens at police stations and senior homes.

Then, an aquaponics facility at a school where students grow fish that became a market growing center.

Yes, it is replicable! The Ten Steps Toward an Incredible Edible Town are at this link.1. Start with what you have, not what you haven’t.
2. Don’t write a strategy document.
3. Don’t wait for permission.
4. Make it easy.
5. Propaganda planting starts conversations.
6. Make connections.
7. Start now, but think two generations ahead.
8. Rediscover lost skills.
9. Reconnect businesses with their customers.
10. Redesign your town.

Watch the video! Become an activist for food kindness in your communities.

Thank you to Jerry Gustafson, MD, MG for the link to this incredibly exciting story.

04 December 2016

Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles

The new book, "The Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles: learn how to forage, prepare & eat 40 wild foods" by Mike Krebill is being released this month by St. Lynn's Press.

The handy paperback format will make it easy to tuck into a coat pocket or backpack and it's 190 pages loaded with information and recipes.

The author, Mike Krebill was an award winning middle school science teacher for 35 years so, while the book has plenty of detail, it is completely readable.

For each of the 40 plants covered the common and Latin name is provided along with photos of the entire plant and details for identification.

Additional information includes: range, habitat, positive identification tips, edible parts and preparation, when to harvest, sustainable harvesting and preserving the harvest.

Krebill says that he wrote about the 33 plants and 7 mushrooms that are his favorites and are widely found across the US. He included 10 activities that can be used with individuals and groups plus 17 kid-approved recipes.

Recipes include: fruit leather, burdock kinipira, dandelion donuts made with Bisquick, and a garden weed quiche.

This is a well-written and nicely illustrated book that can be used to introduce both scouts and adults to wild edibles.

List price is $19 and it is $13 at online retailers. Just in time for the gift giving season, too.

28 November 2016

Garden To Do List

Add caption
We are having some relatively balmy weather today for late November.

There are plenty of reasons to get outside in the garden!

- Make compost to improve next year's soil. Pile up faded plants, raked leaves, coffee grounds, etc. and let the rain (and snow) break it down into nutrient rich topsoil for next spring.

- Dump out flower pots that held annuals. In the photo you'll see that we pour ours directly onto the vegetable bed where they can compost in place.

- Prune any diseased or damaged branches, limbs and twigs. Diseased plant parts should be put in the trash. The rest can be composted.

- Pull out weeds that have grown among your perennials, fruit, and ornamental trees.

- Deeply water newly planted trees. Do not fertilize.

- Remove any remaining seed heads of plants you want to re-plant next spring. Zinnias in particular still have viable seeds.

- There is still time to plant garlic, daffodils, tulips and other bulbs that need months of chill.

- Protect young roses by piling 6 inches of soil around the crown. Add mulch late-Jan after we have had a hard freeze.

- If you know where you want to add a vegetable or flower bed next spring, put several layers of newspaper on it and anchor the newspaper with pots or rocks. By spring the weeds will be weak and the earthworms will have tilled the soil for you.

Enjoy being out in this almost-warm weather while it lasts!

20 November 2016

Carols & Crumpets Dec 3 from 8 to 3 pm

Hand made items are raffled
Members of the Tulsa Herb Society spend a full year making flavored vinegars, chutneys, jams, jellies, holiday decorations and more holiday goodies so we can enjoy shopping.

Carols and Crumpets 2017 Dec 3 from 8 am to 3 pm

Tulsa Garden Center  2435 S Peoria AV Tulsa

In addition to holiday goodies, the Herbies offer lunch at their Snowflake Cafe and evergreens to decorate your home at the other end of the Garden Center.

Tulsa Herb Society's hand made gift items
Dozens of vendors join the event to make it one of the most eclectic holiday shopping experiences in the area.

Not to be missed. (Hint - Arrive early - great prices so lots of items sell out early)