15 September 2014

New - latest fruit tree additions

All seven of the new fruit trees made it through their first summer in the ground. They came from a variety of sources, both local and mail order as I researched and searched for varieties that would survive our weather, fungal diseases due to the high humidity here, high temperatures, sometimes-droughts, and every insect known to warm, humid zone 7 gardens everywhere.
These photos are taken from the east -southeast of our 2.5 acres. In the first photo on the left is the raised bed usually full of garlic but pressed into service for winter squash and pumpkin vines.

The second photo is from the east. On the left is the same garlic-squash bed but you can also see the garden shed and the two new apple trees over there. The dream-fantasy-illusion is to have an allee of fruit trees that provides spring flowers for the pollinators, summertime shade for gardeners' rest and maybe some bits of fruit when they mature.

This year we planted a second Pawpaw (not shown), Red Currant bush (not visible), Minnie Royal Cherry, Royal Lee Cherry, 2 Stanley Prune Plums, Gala, Fuji and Arkansas Black Apples.

The larger fruit trees in the background by the vegetable garden are the 7 year old plum and the 5 year old pear trees.

Chestnut trees
Then there are the two remaining chestnut trees from an original planting of five. These have made it six years so far though have had a tough time of it. They are not at the farthest part of the eastern edge of the property (there are blackberry bushes and a wood pile behind them) but they are on a little slope. The dream when they were planted was for an early morning coffee spot.

Dreaming of benches in a shady fruit-tree allee or under the spreading chestnut trees....... Maybe next year?

13 September 2014

Old House Gardens Heirloom Bulbs - order spring flowering bulbs now

Martagon Lily
Old House Gardens specializes in heirloom bulbs and we order something from them every fall for October shipping and planting.

As the summer begins to fade away, ordering bulbs for spring helps ease the blues caused by the realization that, oh, no, the garden is fading.

Here's what I ordered this morning (all photos are from OHG site)
Coral lily

Martagon lily - European mountain lilies
Early flowering, pink turk's cap type flowers, 3-4 feet tall
and a bit fussy according to the OHG catalog. Zones 3-7.
Prefer part shade.

Coral lily - native to Siberia! Zones 4-8. Can be short-lived
but self-seeds. Early flowering.

White Windflower Anemone - Strong white flower for bright
shade in zones 5-8. Here they grow to about 6-inches tall in
the mid-spring.

Avalanche daffodils/narcissus - grows 16-18 inches tall and has clusters
of sweetly scented flowers. It was discovered in Scilly Isles but has grown
well in our garden for years. We needed more! Zones 6-9.

Avalanche daffodil/narcissus
White Anemone Windlfower
We're enjoying the cooler temperatures and the rain this week and are looking forward to the 80-degree days that have been predicted.

The vegetable garden needs another few weeks of warmth.

Click over to the OHG site and start dreaming of your spring garden coming to life.

11 September 2014

Terrific line-up of speakers at Muskogee Garden Club 2014-15

Muskogee Garden Club meets from September through May each year with speakers coming to share their wisdom, experience and ideas on a wide range of topics.
Each meeting that has a speaker begins with coffee and snacks. The January meeting is a round-table discussion during which members and guests talk about plants, soil, houseplants and any other topic that arises.
Two meetings are purely social: The December meeting is a holiday brunch, and the May meeting is an evening picnic at Honor Heights Park.
Everyone is invited to attend the meetings and social events. Membership in Muskogee Garden Club costs $20 per year. Its Facebook page is found at this linkhttp://hort.li/1xz0
Members bring plants they have divided or are ready to pass along, plus seeds, containers, books and other plant- and flower-related items to share. There is also a raffle at each meeting, with prizes provided by the club president. Everyone signs in to enter the raffle; there is no cost.
• • •
Here is the schedule of meetings for the 2014-15 membership year.
• Sept. 18 — Kathy Reid, owner of Pryor Creek Nursery, will speak on “Container Gardening” at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., a short business meeting is at 9:45 a.m. and the speaker begins at 10 a.m. Meetings end by 11 a.m. 

• Oct. 16 — Clark Shilling, Rogers County master gardener, will speaking on how we can help the environment through our gardening methods. His topic is “Support Diversity: The Importance of Native Plants.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., and the speaker is at 10 a.m.
• Nov. 20 — Pat Gwin, the director of the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank and Native Plant Center, will share his wisdom about “Cherokee Ethnobiology: Agricultural Practices.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive, with coffee and snacks at 9:30 a.m. and the speaker at 10 a.m.
• Jan. 15 — The “Plant Talk” Round Table Discussion at the Kiwanis Senior Center starts at 9:30 a.m. Members bring their questions, talk about their successes and failures and give tips about all things plants. It is always a lively discussion, and the time flies by.
• Feb. 19 — Andy Qualls, the director of the Muskogee County Conservation District, is one of the most knowledgeable professionals in the area who can talk about “Conservation, organic methods and cover crops in home gardens.” The meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee starts at 9:30 a.m. and the speaker at 10 a.m.
• March 19 — Matthew Weatherbee, owner of Blossoms Nursery, always shares his thoughts about “What’s New” for the garden year ahead. This is an evening meeting at Blossoms Garden Center, 3012 E. Hancock St. (near York Street). Refreshments begin at 6 p.m. and the speaker at 6:30 p.m.
• April 16 — Russell Studebaker, horticulturist and garden writer, is from Texas and knows a lot about his topic, “Poke: Native Spring Greens or Garden Pariah?” This meeting is at the Kiwanis Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive. Coffee is at 9:30 a.m., and the speaker starts at 10 a.m.
• May 21 — Club Picnic and membership drive at 6. Members are encouraged to bring guests. The club provides fried chicken and beverages, and club members bring side dishes and desserts.
• • •
Attending garden club meetings is a great way to learn which plants succeed in our area, find out which nurseries and seed sources to use, and how to best control insects and diseases.
Garden club members are generous with their knowledge, advice, resources and plants. In addition to the beautification of our neighborhoods, growing our own healthy fruits, vegetables and herbs is a big part of gardening.
If you would like more information, email mollyday1@gmail.com or call club President Susan Asquith at (918) 869-7401.

06 September 2014

Squash is Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita argyrosperma

After several years of saying no squash we planted again, using the seeds saved from a few varieties.

The black skin acorns have been wonderful, producing as much as we can eat plus several bags for the freezer.

Acron, curcurbita pepo
At one time, the term winter squash implied acorn, banana buttercup, hubbard and turban but now it includes practically any hard-shell squash or pumpkin that is eaten at the table. Ours is of unknown heritage since we saved the seeds from a fruit we baked last year. The All America Selection, AAS Winner is Cream of the Crop.

The cushaw and pumpkin soup varieties, Cucurbita argyrosperma,  are slowly making viable fruits. They are the real reason we got back into the squash growing habit.
Cushaw, Curcurbita argyrosperma

While many varieties of winter squash are available for purchase, cushaws are not sold here commercially.

We love pumped soup, breads, cookies and casserole that can be made all winter long from the preserved meat of the cushaw. Still check them daily for growth. Still hopeful.

The last photo is of one variety that we haven't identified yet. I think it's from seeds we brought back from Germany last fall.

posted from Bloggeroid
Unknown squash or pumpkin

05 September 2014

Brown Turkey, ficus carica, fig harvesting time

One of the highlights of fall is eating fresh figs from our garden. We have three Brown Turkey, Ficus carica, plants that provide all we can use.

Some years they die all the way to the ground like they did this past winter. But they bounce back and produce.
posted from Bloggeroid

04 September 2014

Hibiscus Cherry Cheesecake Mallow is Summerific

Proven Winners has definitely release a real winner with their Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus or Mallow. Here's the PW link for all the information.

It's deer resistant, matures at 5-feet tall, hardy in zones 4 through 9, and tolerates most soil conditions.
I tucked it into a place where I could keep an eye on it and noticed that it was getting a fair amount of leaf damage from a chewing insect but since we don't spray it had to take care of itself.

The next time I was watering and weeding, I discovered its first bloom - look at the size of it with my hand held in front! What a winner!

Hibiscus Cherry Cheesecake Mallow Summerific
in our garden
Cherry Cheesecake flower with my hand

31 August 2014

Bean picking and canning

Each year we do less and less canning but some things are a must for our pantry to keep the flavors of summer on our table.

In the past our friends Jan and Richard gave us quarts of canned field peas but not last year. So, what's a gardener to do but grow their own?

What we learned this year is when to harvest them. Only the beige colored ones are easy to pull out of their bean shells. Anything greener is way too much work. Live and learn.

Another lesson? They are about the easiest crop to grow - no bugs bother them, no diseases attack them AND they add nitrogen to the soil just by being there. Win Win Win

Here are those peas in their jars already making my mouth water for the taste of them this winter. There are still enough on the prolific, healthy vines out there for us to eat a bunch this fall.

This ends the tomato canning for this year, also. 
These dozen quarts of tomatoes contain six heads of our garlic, herbs from the garden, peppers and tomatoes from the Farmer's Market.

We learned from Richard and Jan to can outside in an adapted turkey fryer to keep the heat out of the house. We also sterilize the jars out there for the same reason. 

I'd show you a photo of the green beans we grew but we just ate them all as they became available.

posted from Bloggeroid

30 August 2014

Plant Database Online from USDA

Here's the link to the USDA Plant Database http://plants.usda.gov/java/ - where you can find information about plants, mosses, etc. that from all over the US and its territories.

The plant names include distribution, species information, characteristics, images, links to more information and references.

The site is focused on land conservation and provides information intended to provide an information exchange throughout the world.

The PLANTS site is a collaboration between USDA NRCS National Plant Data Team (NPDT), the USDA NRCS Information Technology Center (ITC), The USDA National Information Technology Center (NITC), and many other partners. 

Pollinator conservation has its own link full of references to other resources. 

Also, click over to the Fact Sheets & Plant Guide at http://plants.usda.gov/java/factSheet

There is a lot to explore and discover!

27 August 2014

Master Gardener Classes - Muskogee County

Master Gardener Certification Classes Cost $100
Start Sept 25 at 1, Muskogee County Extension Office, Muskogee Fairgrounds
Information: Mandy Blocker, Extension Educator ag/4-H, 918-686-7200, mandy.blocker@okstate.edu
Facebook: Muskogee County Master Gardeners

If you like to work with garden plants and help people, becoming a master gardener might be just
the thing for you. Master gardeners are trained volunteers who help the public with their gardening
questions, work on community gardening projects, assist with hosting public classes and volunteer in
the Muskogee County Extension Office.

From the first class in September to the last class in December, participants receive in-depth training
in gardening from Oklahoma State University Extension specialists.

All classes will meet from 1 to 5 on Thursdays. The schedule of classes includes
September - 25 Basic Botany taught by Mandy Blocker
October 2 – Woody Ornamentals taught by Dr. Mike Schnelle
October 9 – Plant Diseases taught by Jen Olson
October 16 – Soil Fertility taught by Regents Professor Dr. Hailin Zhang
October 23 – Pesticide Safety taught by Charles Luper
October 30 – Herbaceous Ornamental Plants taught by David Hillock
November 13 – Vegetable Gardening taught by Ray Ridlen
November 20 – Fruit and Nut Production taught by Becky Carroll
December 4 – Entomology (Insects) taught by Dr. Eric Rebek
December 11 – Turfgrass – lawns, meadows and fields

So far, Mandy Blocker has facilitated two master gardener series in Muskogee with 19
graduates out of 33 participants. The upcoming series could add another 25 to the collective
wisdom available to serve as a resource for beautifying our community and teaching citizens to
grow their own food while getting valuable family time.

Participants learn the basics: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, perennial and annual flowers, trees and
shrubs. In addition they learn which are the good bugs and which are the bad bugs, how to
control plant diseases with minimal chemicals, building soil and efficient irrigation methods.

When the training classes end, the fun begins for graduates. The volunteer hours you put in
after course completion are required to earn the title of master gardener. The hours can be
anything from sitting at the master gardener table at the Farmer’s Market, to maintaining beds
at Honor Heights Park, helping at the Extension Office, volunteering at one of the community
Mandy Blocker
gardens, attending continuing education classes and helping at workshops.

The first year required volunteer workload is 50 hours. In subsequent years, in order to keep
the certificate up to date, master gardeners put in 20 hours of volunteer work and participate
in 20-hours of continuing education through meetings and conferences.

Mandy Blocker said, “We have almost 30-recent and experienced master gardeners in
Muskogee now who contribute to a wide variety of projects around town.”

One of the many benefits of becoming a certified master gardener is being able to participate
in master gardener conferences in OK and other states. For example, the TX master gardener
conference requires a copy of your certificate for registration.

One of the proposed upcoming projects for master gardeners is introducing children to gardening
through extension, school, and Parks Department Programs.

“I am excited for the expansion into our school system of a fun, multiple-intelligence (http://hort.li/
1wpC ) activity that can be blended with physical exercise, science, math and other topics,” said

Upcoming events for master gardeners include continuing to maintain the flower beds at Papilion at
Honor Heights Park, community gardens, Muskogee Farmer’s Market, and monthly meetings and seed-
plant swaps with other master gardeners.

Next year on March 28 during Daffodil Day at the Thomas Foreman Home the master gardeners are
selling the plants they grew over the winter in order to raise money for a bus tour to a local garden
such as the Tulsa Garden Center.

Blocker said that she is ready to talk to anyone who thinks they might be interested in taking the classes that begin in Sept. Please call Blocker at 918-686-7200 or send an email to mandy.blocker@okstate.edu.

24 August 2014

Our Garden in Late August - Zone 7

Swallowtail nectaring on Phlox Victoria
The end of summer is coming whether or not we are ready for the tasks ahead. You know, the pruning, digging and dividing. Then there's the transplanting this year's plants to their better, new, location because trees grew and now it's too shady where they were or it's too dry where they are .....

Fewer flowers are blooming by late August but there are enough to keep the butterflies and skippers happy. The upside is that weeding takes less and less time as fall approaches.

Swallowtail caterpillar on parsley
This year we've had more dragonflies than ever, probably because there was some rain this summer unlike previous years.

Lots of projects present themselves at this time of year and although we spend 5 hours a day out there, we can't seem to get it all done.

The parsley did better this year than usual and since we plant it for the Swallowtail butterflies to raise their babies on, whenever there is one it's cause for celebration.

Pumpkins suffer in 100F temps
The pumpkins and squash seem shocked by the heat this week. We've harvested and eaten several zucchini. The dozen or so acorn squash we harvested we shared with friends and also baked a few.

I love to have baked and pureed winter squash in the freezer all winter. It becomes soup, cookies, tea cake and a thickener for casseroles. What I do not enjoy about growing squash is squash bugs.

Field peas

Many of my gardening experiments fail and we have nothing to show for the pack of seeds, carefully grown seedlings, water and fertilizer. However, the field peas are doing quite well for us. When to harvest them? I'm not sure and informational websites vary in their opinions - light green to grey/brown is the best I can surmise.

Squash vine borer 
Hope your garden is making  you happy!