30 June 2007

Gardening and Vacation

Preparing the garden to leave for vacation is a little easier this year since everything outside is already watered and beds are unlikely need more.

If someone is coming over to check on the potted plants for you - they dry out in a couple of days even if the ground is a sponge - gather them together under a tree or on a hard surface and definitely near a water source. Move all hanging baskets to one location so none will be missed by the good Samaritan who is caring for them.

To the extent possible, put houseplants in the bathtub or on a kitchen counter where they will be noticed. For some reason one plant is always missed if visitors are left to their own devices.

Add to your planning list a thorough bug and disease check. Look under the leaves of plants that tend to be vulnerable, like new trees and shrubs or pot bound houseplants.

Since you won't be home to watch them for damage, use a gentle spray for insect and fungus protection. Safer Soap is great for many plant problems and rarely burns the leaves.

Invite your plant-sitter to pick produce that matures while you are gone to keep the trees, vines and bushes producing and healthy in your absence.

27 June 2007

Today's Garden Lilies

Today's Garden

There is little we can do in the garden until the water goes down. Yesterday's experience of being up to my ankles in mud was enough for me. The Muck Boots stayed in the bed - it was the only way to extricate my feet. Then there was the exciting adventure of reaching back into the cucumber bed to pull out the shoes.
The various fertilizers have washed away and the water preserving crystals so carefully put into the potted plants two months ago have floated to the top and are dripping over the sides of the pots.
Enjoy the photos. Plant sources: The double tiger came from the Old House Gardens catalog, that dark red day lily is from Nelson Myers in Muskogee, the others came with me from California ten years ago and were grown by a hybridizer there.

26 June 2007

Garden Writers Assn, Plant A Row

Rain Rain Go Away; Come Again Some Other Day

This rain is a ridiculous abundance. Many of the squash plants are yellowing from the lack of sun. They all got a snack-size portion of Earth Smart composted chicken manure to help them out.
The blackberries bushes are loaded but can't ripen. The six ripe ones yesterday had little flavor.

I was out for an hour this morning pulling weeds but had to come in when I was drenched and dripping wet.

Duke Blueberry, at KSU

The Region V Garden Writers Assn meeting in Kansas City was a feast for plant lovers. Many of the attendees seemed to be long-time friends. For us, it was a new experience, new friends, wonderful public gardens, two garden centers and Kansas State University All American Selection Trial Grounds.

Ouchita Blackberry at KSU

The national GWA started Plant a Row for the Hungry in 1995 to help meet the needs of the homeless and other citizens who don't have access to fresh food. In Muskogee, Doug Walton at the Farmer's Market and Wren Stratton's Mayor's Task Force on Homelessness are working to jump start a food sharing program. The health benefits of fresh produce cannot be overestimated.
Heritage Raspberry at KSU

If you have something extra to share out of a bumper crop, drop it off on Saturday mornings in front of the Muskogee Civic Center (4th and Okmulgee). Look for a "Plant A Row" banner. (Doug Walton 918.686.6939 or 918.360.2012 cell)

Donations will be distributed in rotation to Ark of Faith, Community Action Nutrition Center, Gospel Rescue Mission, Monarch Community Living Center, Salvation Army and WISH (Women in Safe Homes).

23 June 2007

Local Produce, Muskogee's Farmer's Market Wed and Sat

A few photos from our yard.
There are several good reasons to buy produce locally grown - not in sealed plastic cocoons in the big box store nor produce wrapped in plastic from foreign countries.

Consider these reasons: Locally grown products support your friends and neighbors in making a living, local sellers are more likely to concern themselves with selling high quality products so you'll return, the less fuel used to transport food makes it an environmentally sound habit, foreign countries do not have the same regulations as the U.S. regarding chemicals and fertilizers and sanitation.

Author Michael Pollan recently found that foods produced in China and labeled organic were loaded with pesticides and chemicals.

We are lucky here to have Arnold's on Shawnee Bypass and the Muskogee Farmer's Market - both are great resources for local food.

There are other local favorites, too. One is a small home based produce shed on Highway 10 between Ft. Gibson and Camp Gruber. It's open in the summer and has a great selection of fruits and vegetables from their farm and other local sources. There are probably several known only to locals. Someone told me they always get their corn from a guy near Warner who puts up a sign.

To answer a reader's question - At this time of year, Muskogee Farmer's Market is held Wed and Sat from 8 a.m. to about noon. (Go early to get the best selection.) The Civic Center's front parking lot was reconstructed to house the Farmer's Market and other events. It is on Okmulgee near 4th Street. The market director, Doug Walton usually runs a column in the Wed Phoenix listing what will be available and provides a few recipes..

Eat more fruits and veggies and buy them from local producers. Without our business they suffer and then we are stuck with only the picked green and shipped a thousand miles stuff.

20 June 2007

Summer Produce, PAN Pesticide Database, Contest for Garden Lovers

Cucumbers by the bagful every day, cucumber salad twice a day, bags of cucumbers given away. Ah, wonderful summer. The first two tomatoes joined us for lunch even though they could have benefited from another two days on the vine. I couldn't wait. The scallopini summer squash has made its way into casseroles.

Pulling weeds today was a breeze if you don't mind standing in 2-inches of water. The fun part was pulling small trees out by the roots simply by tugging on them and sliding them out of the mud.


The PAN Pesticides Database is a one-stop location for current toxicity and regulatory information for pesticides. This resource is a project of Pesticide Action Network North America.

The Pesticide Chemical Search page allows you search for individual chemical active ingredients. Formulated pesticide products typically contain mixtures of active ingredients and other ingredients. Active ingredients are listed on the labels of all U.S. pesticide products. If you wish to search for a product by trade name instead, use the Product Search Page. Some of our top chemical searches: 2,4-D, atrazine, carbaryl (Sevin), chlordane, chlorpyrifos (Dursban), cypermethrin, DDT, dioxin, DEET, deltamethrin, diazinon, fipronil, glyphosate (Roundup), imidacloprid, lindane, malathion, methyl bromide, paraquat, permethrin, pyrethrins. You can view an alphabetical list of chemicals.

Kitchen Gardeners International and Mother Earth News joined together to put on a contest with a $500 first prize. The guidelines and rules are open or fuzzy, depending on your point of view. Grow-Off Show-Off
invites gardeners to submit photos, songs, video clips, stand up comedy skit, art - whatever represents your gardening skill. Entries must be sent by November 1, so you still have time to think, create, emote and submit. You have to use an official entry form available at the link above.

19 June 2007

Orchids, 2007 Tulsa MG Homes Tour

The new book, Orchids, was recently released by DK Books. The book is an over size 124-page coffeetable book of fascinating information about orchids. The photographs are the stars of the book - unusual, unique and wild looking.

The text was written by Pascal Descourvières, a botanist and biology instructor who specializes in orchids. The photos were taken by Manuel Aubron.

Tucked into the back cover there is a practical and useful 60-page 9 by 6-inch paperback that has Descourvieres' growing and care tips. One of the tips is to use bottled mineral water or collected rain water for orchids. Another is to use one gram of powdered fertilizer in one-ounce of rainwater or one ounce of fertilizer for one gallon of mineral water. Light feeders, those orchids.

At the fairgrounds in Tulsa, the Master Gardeners staff the phones to answer questions and they have planted the area around the building. The photos below are from a recent trip there. The members are active not only in gardening on the grounds, they run classes and have a great website.

This coming Saturday, June 23rd is the 2007 Tour of Tulsa Master Gardener Homes. A home built in 1926 will display shade gardens, a 1948 vintage home will have unique plants and container plantings, another features water gardening and wildlife and just west of Sand Springs a vegetable garden will be on tour. Tickets are only $5 in advance or $8 the day of the tour, June 23. Call - 918.746.3701 - for tickets and information.

Quince tree at the OSU Master Gardener Gardens at the Tulsa Fairgrounds.

Arum Dragon

17 June 2007

Father's Day, Living Kitchen in Bristow OK

All these photos were taken at the Living Kitchen, someplace near Bristow Oklahoma where 20 people had a wonderfully prepared dinner of roasted garlic on crostini, creamy soup, lovely salad and an entree of roast served with potatoes. Dessert? Of course. Fresh raspberries on a butter cookie tart crust topped with rich, creamy tapioca.

Lisa Merrill and Bibi Becklund work the farm and gardens and serve meals once a month for about 6 months a year. Becklund is a trained chef whose internship was at Chez Panisse.

Many of us met Lisa through her father, Darrell Merrill who most people know as Tulsa's Tomato Man. Merrill is retired now but after a successful career as a banker he moved to his family's land and grew heritage tomatoes and garlic galore - for decades, it seems. People flocked to Merrill's little place with the old farm house to buy tomato plants and garlic out of bushel baskets that he set out and sold on the honor system.

When Lisa moved here a few years ago she took up the family business in her own style. Living Kitchen catered a Master Gardener Conference in Claremore this month and served buffalo stew, chicken and an assortment of vegetable dishes.
The dinner at Living Kitchen includes a tour of the farming and garden operation and goat milking for the courageous.

The setting is two dining room tables where couples and groups sit together family style. The service is relaxed and efficient at the same time. At our table there was a couple from Tulsa and a couple from Oklahoma City.

Living Kitchen is a unique experience of some of the best food in the area. A cocktail was served for the tour, the cheese was made at Living Kitchen, local wines were poured. The produce came from the farm or from other local growers and the farmer's market.

This weekend's dinner theme was garlic because of the harvest. The next dinner is a lavender theme.

The drive is an hour and a half from Muskogee.

You have to go to the website and click on the various links to see photos of baby goats, the garden before and after and click on the "Menus" link to see lists of dishes Bibi has prepared for guests.

14 June 2007

In Today's Garden

On the left - In a backyard bed - daisies and black eyed Susans.

Heliotrope returned from last year's planting and covers a sunny flower bed.

This is one of my favorite daylilies blooming now.

New Organic Method
On the day of harvesting, Granny Smith apples were sealed with a flush of low-grade nitrogen in an experiment to discover reliable and low-cost methods of keeping them fresh. The study was reported in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

The treatment worked by reducing ethylene during storage. Ethylene is produced when apples react to oxygen in the environment and advances ripening. After six months in cold storage, 90 percent of the fruit treated this way showed no sign of scald. All the untreated control apples were lost after the same amount of time. The advance is being welcomed by organic apple farmers and could result in lower costs for organic produce.

Love Color?
Check out this British blog and website for Colour Lovers
The blog describes itself best - "check out a world of color, compare color palettes, submit news and comments, and read color related articles and interviews."

Take a look at the butterfly photos - talk about color photography at its finest!

Everyone Talks About It
Real Climate is a website for anyone who is interested in climate and climate change. Climate scientists blog about their favorite topic from every angle.

The May 22, 2007 blog entry serves as a good example of the content -

We've often been asked to provide a one stop link for resources that people can use to get up to speed on the issue of climate change, and so here is a first cut. Unlike our other postings, we'll amend this as we discover or are pointed to new resources. Different people have different needs and so we will group resources according to the level people start at.

For complete beginners:
NCAR: Weather and climate basicsOxford University: The basics of climate predictionPew Center: Global Warming basicsWikipedia: Global WarmingNASA: Global Warming update

12 June 2007

Monarda Bee Balm Bergamot, Aphids and Thrips

This is a single plant of Monarda or Bee Balm or Bergamot - whatever name you prefer, she is a beauty every year. I started it from a pack of seeds 6-years ago. The name on the pack that attracted me was Bergamot because that's the flavoring in Early Gray Tea. The leaves make thirst quenching iced tea. The plant has been divided over and over again to give roots to friends and to plant around the yard. It needs to be divided again this year.

Here's a closer photo of the petals. Not visible is the constant covering of honey bees, butterflies and moths.

Gnarled, distorted, arthritic looking leaves can be caused by aphids, according to plant pathologist Margery Daughtrey at Cornell University. Link here to full article.
Check the underside of curled plant leaves and stems for signs of insects. I start treatment by drenching the leaves and stems with a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of water. Use a paper towel or other disposable cloth to gently wipe off the dead insects. If you have to resort to using a chemical treatment try to do it in the evening hours after all the beneficial insects have stopped pollinating.
Daughtrey says foliar problems on impatiens can be some of the hardest to diagnose. Leaf spot diseases on impatiens can be caused by fungi (Alternaria, Phyllosticta and downy mildew), bacteria (Pseudomonas) and viruses (impatiens necrotic spot virus). Keeping foliage dry can help control several of these diseases. Water the soil and roots not the leaves and flowers.

Thrips pierce plant cells resulting in deformed buds, flowers, leaves and shoots. They leave behind silvery flecking and small black droppings can be seen.

Thrips spread impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) and tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) as they move among plants. Because thrips are so small and prefer to hide in flowers and buds, sticky cards need to be used to detect the thrips before their feeding damage is evident.

There is no cure for tospovirus-infected plants so use sticky cards to detect thrips before they start feeding. Spraying should start if you find as few as 10 thrips on the sticky card per week. Sticky cards can be as simple as Vaseline on a bright yellow plastic plate.

The link above has a full article with photos of plant damage from several sources (virus, mites, leafminers, etc.) so you can diagnose problems you may be seeing in your garden.

10 June 2007

Lilies and Indian Blanket

IN THE GARDEN - This is one of the daylilies blooming this morning. It probably came from Nelson Myers' garden on 12th Street in Muskogee. The entire back yard is dedicated to his day lily collection and breeding. Right now it is a beautiful sight with daylilies, purple cone flowers and roses blooming.
A Red Velvet Lily in the front bed from Old House Gardens Bulbs.
AROUND TOWN - The second day of the Muskogee Garden Club's garden tour was less successful in terms of the number of people on the home tour but was a great day at the plant sale - lots and lots of plants went home with plant lovers who had just the right spot for them.
The Shutterbug Club sold prints, the Genealogy Society sold note cards, the little girls from the neighborhood sold the cakes they baked last night, the Audubon Society sold bluebird houses they built and Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy Center sold their cookbooks.
Cal's Plant of the Week is an email subscription service that sends out information on a specific plant. Their emails do not arrive every week despite the name but come often enough to keep subscribers learning about new plants fairly often. This week's plant is Indian Blanket (Gaillarida pulchella) and the link above will take you to their informational post.
To subscribe to Plant of the Week click on the listserve's link. The whole endeavor is a service of the University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology and specifically Cal Lemke, who is OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener.

09 June 2007

Daylily Season, Routine Watering

Gardens around Muskogee are blooming with daylilies and Asiatics - one more beautiful than the next. It's too late to put them into this year's garden but do take advantage of the many sales to buy some for next year.

Muskogee Garden Club's tour attracted hundreds of people today and tomorrow will be as busy. The plant sale allowed attendees to take home flowers, vegetables and herbs from club member's gardens for a small price.
I was too busy with the sale to visit any gardens today but I met lots and lots of plant lovers. Tomorrow I want to go to all the tour homes and take a look inside some of the historic homes that are open.

This is the time to check on fruit trees, grapes, kiwi and plants such as hydrangeas that might need watering - they won't show any signs of water deprivation but we haven't had any rain for a while so if the soil is dry two inches down, give them an inch of water.

At the district Master Gardener Conference in Claremore, Mesonet gave a presentation - they have new software for gardeners that will be available in 3 weeks. You will be able to go to their website for specific watering advice. The idea is to use as little water as possible while still keeping plants healthy. I'll give you the site specifics when it's online.

06 June 2007

Discover Life and Athens Select Websites

Today's photos are all weeds. I know. But, I love these weeds. The tiny blue flowers that appear in the back yard in the spring, the huge Dock that grows under a tree back by the compost bin and the Zebrina or Friendship Mallow - all are considered weeds by horticulturists. Good thing the rest of us are just gardeners.
In our garden - The cucumbers are having a wonderful time in the heat - we are bringing in 6 a day now. No red tomatoes or ripe blackberries yet but still lots of spring veggies.

And, the flowers. No end to the daily joy from them.

On the Net - There are two interesting websites I discovered today. One is called Discover Life. Sounds religious but it isn't. The sponsors include: Missouri Botanical Garden, Sun Microsystems, Topozone, Maps a la Carte, University of Georgia, Smithsonian Tropical Research, USGS, etc.
On the home page there are links to All Living Things, Tree of Life, etc. All Living Things is a complete show and tell about all living things - endless fascination to nature lovers. The Tree of Life is simply amazing, too.
Photos illustrate each link to each living thing on the planet.
The other site is a for a plant propagation and production company that specializes in heat and humidity tolerant flowers, Athens Select.

Athens Select is responsible for one of the best heat and sun tolerant ground covers I have in my garden, a type of Heliotrope. (Heliotropium amplexicaule 'Azure Skies'). Last spring it started out as a 4-inch pot. It spread over the small bed it was in and then spilled out onto the sidewalk. It bloomed every day until the first hard freeze. It is already back and blooming.

The sweet scented flowers are magnets for pollinators so keep it away from the swing set if you have small children.
Take a look at their list - photos and growing requirements are given for each plant in the Gardeners link. Southwood in Tulsa is their local distributor.

05 June 2007

Old House Garden Bulbs, Parks Seed, Spicebush Caterpillar Update

The red lily on the left is one of the new additions to our garden from Old House Gardens. There were several additions and each one has seemed remarkable in bloom. The wonder of these bulbs is that they seem to take care of themselves after they are planted. The stems are strong and the flowers are breathtaking.

The Spicebush Butterfly Chrysalis was on the side of the container last night but gone this morning. A search of the immediate area yielded nothing so there are two possible outcomes. Either the butterfly emerged and flew away or another insect used the Chrysalis as a late night snack. The photo of the leaves folded over is where the next generation of tiny caterpillars hangs out during the daytime heat and the photo on the right is one of the youngsters.

It's easy to get into looking for new plants in new places. It may come as a surprise that the wonderful whirl of a succulent in the planter came from good, old, reliable Park Seeds and not one of the many new companies. The information on the plant predicts growth to a 12-inch wheel at full size.

A few other plants were in my shipment and I'll keep you posted on how they do as they adjust to their new surroundings.

If you use the link and click over to Park, look on the left side of their website for the web specials, new items, Park exclusives and their sales. Good stuff.

If you are local to Muskogee Oklahoma and are coming to the Garden Club Centennial Garden Tour this weekend you will find lots of treats for plant lovers. At the Community Garden near 435 North 14th Street the vendors will have plenty to look at if not buy. And, the home gardens you will see are wonderful. All the gardens were done by the home owners - no landscaping company demonstration gardens - all plants you can grow and arrangements that you can make at your house.
See you there if you can make it. See you back here if you can't.

03 June 2007

Flowers, Onions, Edamame, Greens and Berries

Flowers keep erupting from the little packs of seeds I planted in the front bed. They were all seeds from those free packs that come in the mail. Other than the bright orange California poppy, they remain without identification. I hope they re-seed. Maybe by next year I'll have found out what they are.
This was a big weekend in our yard - the piles of limbs from the ice storm are all burned now - it took 6 days of burning to dispose of them. All manner of wildlife had taken up housekeeping in those piles - box turtles, rabbits, snakes - all were displaced by the cleanup.

The red onions, pak choi and some mystery green were pulled yesterday and today. The greens were fabulous as part of our meals and the red onions are cleaned and spread out to dry.

The cool weather garden had to go in order to make room for edamame. The plants grew to 6 or 8 inches tall. I amended the soil with a variety of things and completed the transition from spring to summer. If the bunnies don't eat the heads off the edamame again this year we will be enjoying them as a great summer treat.

A friend was here today while I hung strips of flashing silver paper on onto the blackberry branches to distract the birds from the fruit. She said that the birds will use the silver surface as a mirror rather than a distraction from the sweetness of the blackberries. "Oh, doesn't my beak look grand today," the bird would say. "And, now for a snack." Oh, well, I have to at least try.
The 200 little plants I grew for the Muskogee Garden Club Garden Tour June 9 and 10 are benefiting from the sun finally coming out. They may be ready to plant in a week or two. Hopefully, your ventures and adventures in the garden are making you happy.