29 December 2007

250 Million Trees Planted in Mexico During 2007 Under UN

Mexico's president Felipe Calderon announced the news that 250-million trees were planted in his country during 2007. The UN Environment Program set a goal of four-times that number to be planted around the world to combat climate change.

The story was reported at Yahoo News (click link to read) and came to me through an Internet based Urban Forest newsletter.

Calderon reported using local labor and investing $540 million in the project.

Environmentalists Complain
Greenpeace complained that the planting was done without enough thought. Trees were not planted in appropriate locations and no arrangements were made for their care after the initial shovel-in-the-ground effort was completed.

The Greenpeace spokesperson also said that the rate of deforestation in Mexico is an astounding 1.48 million acres a year.

The United Nations claimed success, however. A total of 1.4 billion trees were planted. The top ten countries were: Ethiopia, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Cuba, Rwanda, South Korea, Tunisia, Morocco and Myanmar.

2008 Billion Tree Goal The website has pledges for 2008 already but they are looking for more pledges.

Add planting a tree or two to your New Year's Resolutions for 2008 but check to make sure you are planting one that will thrive in the conditions you have.

String out the garden hose and plant the tree somewhere along that trajectory. Trees planted further out will not get watered.

Stay away from trees advertised to grow fast - they will be weak. Also lean toward the trees called small and medium. Very few landscapes can handle the 100-foot mature size of a large tree.

The Native Tree Shop has great, easy to understand links. I have not bought from them but the link I selected to highlight (above) for your research is to tree mixes to consider.

The Oklahoma Biological Survey (link to Catalog of Woody Plants) provides Oklahoma tree names in Latin and by common name. Starting in January local nurseries will have hundreds of trees to choose from.

Resolve to add to our green cover, help the earth and beautify your surroundings the process.

Come Garden With Me, Planning for a Scented Garden

As holiday favorites prove, sometimes the old family recipes are the best at satisfying a hunger.

Gardening books are like that, too.

Lately, I've been reading some out-of-print gardening books written by gardeners rather than plant people. (The online book swaps, such as Paperbackswap, are great sources for these treasures. Paper and hard backs are available.)

The beautifully photographed, encyclopedic tomes are nourishing, too, but no one can grow or even have a passing first hand knowledge of the thousands of plants described in them.

I thoroughly enjoy Perenyi and Mitchell's books, too, but they gardened in a different zone with a planting schedule that is unlike our zone 7 heat, humidity, short winter and ice storms to consider.
"Come Garden With Me" is a compilation of garden columns written by Elizabeth Pickett Mills. You can tell by reading her columns that she actually is a gardener who messes with plants, dirt, houseplants, bugs, sprays and all the other time-consuming parts of gardening.

Mills wrote her column for newspapers in North Carolina from 1955 to 1979. A book of her columns is published by Parkway Publishers, Inc. a specialty publisher for books about North Carolina travel, tourism, history, etc.

Mills' horticulture schedule was similar to Muskogee/Tulsa zone 7 conditions and the book is divided into advice for each month of the calendar year.

Unlike our neighbors to the north, we are planting seeds outside in late January and February's warming days.

In planning a spring garden during the month of February, Mills suggests that all southern gardeners plant for fragrance to add charm and to improve the mood of the gardener.

The types of fragrances
1 - Aminoid
Spring flowering and fertilized by flies but never by butterflies. Hawthorn, pear, spirea and elder.
2 - Heavy
Overpoweringly sweet scent from indol and should be planted with restraint. Fertilized by butterflies and night moths. Jasmine, lilies, tuberose, lilac, jonquil, narcissus, honeysuckle and mock orange.
3 - Aromatic
Spicy scent without indol. Hyacinth, heliotrope, carnation, pinks, primrose, clematis and Nicotiana
4 - Violet
Elusive scent that fades. Violet, iris and acacias
5 - Rose
All roses, some peony, a few iris and Oregon grape.
6 - Lemon
The pleasing odor comes from citrata. Plants include four-o'clock, magnolia, lemon balm and all citrus flowers

Other fragrant flowers Mills suggests: Sweet Pea, Sweet Sultan, Sweet Alyssum, Blister Cress, Sweet Scabious, Wall-flowers, Musk Mallow, Red Valerian, Grape Hyacinth, Winter Daffodil (Sternbergia Betea) Nicotiana Alata grandiflora, Night scented stock (Mathiola bicornis) and Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis).

Many of the large seed catalogs have separate sections for scented gardens and there is an entire seed company dedicated to the art. Consider planting lightly scented herbs, shrubs and flowers on the path to your back door where you can enjoy them every day.

Mills' book is available from the publisher and local book sellers.

28 December 2007

Great Soil is Teaming With Microbes, Pre-Season Sales

Seed starting requires sterile surroundings to prevent the range of problems collected together under the name "damping off" disease.

But, soil itself has to be loaded with beneficial microbes in order to support plant life.

A book I would like to get ahold of, "Teaming With Microbes; A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web", published by Timber Press tells the whole story.

Joe Lamp'l reviewed the book in the Dallas Morning News.

Here's one quote. "Only since the invention of the electron microscope have soil scientists been able to fully study and understand the symbiotic relationships within the soil. Since then, we've learned that a single teaspoon of garden soil can contain more than a billion bacteria. We discovered that plants attract bacteria and fungi to their roots so that protozoa and nematodes will eat these single-celled organisms and then excrete the excess nitrogen in a form that feeds plants."
Click on the link to read his entire column.

Among many plant purveyors, American Meadows is having an online sale. Their email today said, " $10 off your Spring Garden" - It looks like bulbs on sale 40% and spring perennials on sale at 50%.
Then there is Merry Christmas Coupon and it will take another $10 off your order, when you order $40 or more. Good for everything on the site.
Expires Jan. 5th Input the word GIFT as you check out. Christmas Gift $10 Discount expires Friday, January 5th.

27 December 2007

Award for All the Dirt from Red Dirt Ramblings

Another Oklahoma garden blog, Red Dirt Ramblings, has graciously awarded All the Dirt on Gardening an award. Author, Dee Nash wrote about her three favorite blogs.

Here is the entry
(The Red Dirt author) received this award from Grace at Rose Cottage Lane. Thanks so much, Grace.

The way this award works is that I must now nominate three blogs which are favorites of mine. Gee, I only get to pick three? Think, think, think . . . .

Okay, here are three favorites, but it was very difficult to choose. First, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman because she writes one jammin’ blog. She’s becoming quite famous, having been on CNN and in The Daily Oklahoman. She takes wonderful pictures, and her self-deprecating wit is hilarious.

Second, I love Tongue in Cheek. Corey is an ex-pat living in the south of France. Her writing is heart felt; she is living an authentic life; and she also takes great pictures, some of which are featured in Victoria’s January/February issue. Yes, Victoria is back!! I’ve sent in my subscription. Have you?

Finally, I have to go with All the Dirt on Gardening, co-written by Molly Day and Martha (no last name listed.) This blog is sponsored by The Muskogee Phoenix, so I’m guessing the two authors are columnists for the newspaper. I’m not sure, but I do know that they write factual, interesting articles about gardening in Oklahoma, so I think they deserve the award.

Congratulations to my winners. This award is great because it gives bloggers an opportunity to showcase other great blogs. Thanks again Grace. I’m really glad you like my blog.

Eliot Coleman at Horticulture Industries Show in Tulsa, January 2008

was a new name to me until I became interested in growing greens here at home. Food safety, convenience, freshness and the joy of growing were my motivations. "Four-Season Harvest" is one of the top resources for anyone considering growing their own food for home use or to sell at markets and restaurants.

Today's column in the Muskogee Phoenix summarized the book and an upcoming horticulture show where the author, Eliot Coleman will be speaking. Enjoy!

Published December 26, 2007 06:05 pm - Garden column: Gardeners and those who are interested in selling at farmers' markets will find a treasure trove of information at the Horticulture Industries Show in Tulsa on Jan. 4 and 5.

The Kerr Center, Oklahoma State University, the Arkansas State Horticulture Society and other organizations sponsor the show so costs are kept well below a usual two-day conference.

This year's show, "Celebrating Horticulture Four Seasons of Success," will offer several topics: growing fruit, Christmas tree farming, growing and selling herbs, public gardens and master gardeners, farmers' markets, vegetables and sustainable agriculture.

Many of the classes are repeated on both days so you will be able to attend most of the sessions of interest.Keynote speaker, Eliot Coleman, is a big draw at this year's show because he is so well known. Coleman designs garden tools for Johnny's Selected Seeds. His books include, "The New Organic Grower," "The Winter Harvest Manual" and "Four Season Harvest."

In addition to keynote addresses on both days, Coleman is giving two workshops on Jan. 5. Coleman has been an organic grower for 40 years, raising vegetables in the field and in greenhouses, cold frames and unheated tunnel greenhouses. In fact, he and his wife, Barbara Damrosch, sell fresh salad greens and vegetables from October through May in Maine using minimally heated greenhouses.

One of Coleman's passions is the importance of small scale organic growing. Coleman's wife, Barbara Damrosch, was his co-host of the television series, "Gardening Naturally," and now Damrosch's gardening advice appears in her weekly column in the Washington Post. "Four-Season Harvest" is the book a person needs to have if they want fresh homegrown vegetables all year for their own healthy meals or for selling to restaurants and at markets.

Most vegetable gardeners grow from May to October, then can freeze for the winter. Coleman and Damrosch grow spinach, scallions, arugula, radicchio, miner's lettuce, radish, Swiss chard, corn salad, tatsoi and other cool season vegetables in season-extending structures such as cold frames. Coleman suggests starting a four-season garden on an area the size of a tablecloth.

Selecting the right seed variety, building healthy soil and working with nature are the keys to success Coleman presents in optimistic detail. Living soil, built of compost is the foundation of Coleman's healthy plants. Straw is at the base the foundation of the compost pile and the compost-holding structure can actually be built of straw bales placed under deciduous trees. Legumes, such as peas are planted for eating and for their ability to improve soil fertility. Coleman suggests planting legume seeds under beans, eggplant, corn and other crops so that the peas create green manure while they cool the soil and prevent weeds. They can also be planted in any bed you want to improve for the future.

The chapters on planting and cultivating have sketches of possible methods: structures, rows, beds, cold frame and low tunnel construction, temporary A-frame, and the use of garden-improving tools (including ducks).

One of the cold frame potting soil recipes will serve to illustrate Coleman's practical approach: three buckets sifted peat moss, two cups organic fertilizer blend (made of green sand, phosphate rock and cottonseeds meal), one bucket perlite and three buckets compost. The bucket is eight quarts.

Greenhouse construction, seed selection and growing, planting charts, natural pest control in a balanced garden and charts of planting dates round out the text. "Four Season Harvest" published 1992 and 1999 by Chelsea Green Publishing Co., http://www.chelseagreen.com/ and (800) 639-4099. The publisher's green-theme blog is at flaminggrasshopper.com.

A write up on Coleman's journey to organic growing is at http://family-friendly-fun.com/leisure/gardening/Eliot-Coleman.htm .Four Season Farm is the name of the Coleman/Damrosch business and their Web site is http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/. A Web cast of Damrosch speaking about her love of gardening during a Library of Congress Book Festival is at www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=3532.

Highlights of the two-day horticulture show

Anyone who would like to grow herbs will find these seminars of interest since successful growers and sellers are teaching the workshops. Their topics range from growing and cooking with herbs to fall blooming flowers. Sharon Beasley of Beasley's Bounty in Newcastle is speaking on "Flowers that Bloom in the Fall.""Fall does not have to be a sad time of year for gardeners and flower lovers," Beasley said. "There are many plants you can get color from in the fall such as cool weather perennials and annuals like beauty berry, Texas salvia, Toad Lilies and Mexican sage." Beasley said five gallon and other large pots planted with fall bloomers could make a big difference in the landscape. She will provide lists of choices at the seminar.

In the public gardens classes, the Jan. 4 topics include: "Polite Fences — Privacy with Plants," "Rustic Structures in the Garden and Hydroponics."

On Jan. 5, presentations include: landscape design, honeybees, vermicomposting and unusual plants. The fruit presentations are split over two days. Jan. 4's topics include: apples, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and pecans. On Jan. 5, viticulturists, food scientists and horticulture specialists will speak on wine grapes.

Friday's workshops for vegetable growers include: onion production, growing multiple crops, hoop houses and organics. On Saturday, the sessions include: farm labor, plastic mulch and specialty melons. Christmas tree farmers will learn about species selection and disease prevention.

Anyone interested in growing to sell will benefit from attending.

26 December 2007

History of Iris

In 1958 Buckner Hollingsworth's, "Flower Chronicles" was published by Rutgers University Press. Each chapter summarizes the history of an individual flower.
"Namesake of a goddess; symbol of a Bronze Age religion; heraldic device of the kings of France; "soveraigne" remedy for a vast number of ailments from weak eyes to insanity; flavor for various beverages hard and soft; basis for countless perfumes and powders; ornament of our gardens. The Who's Who item of the iris is a long and distinguished one."
Hollingsworth gardened on acreage for 25-years and when she and her husband moved to a small house lot in the town where they managed a museum, she used her extra time to research favorite plants.
Folklore, herbology, medicine and poetry are included, along with historical references.
Did you know that Iris is the flower of the fleurs-de-lis? Or that it is pictured in frescoes from 3 or 4 thousand years ago?
Early medical practitioners used iris root to clear phlegm in the throat, with the powdered root being called orris root.
In fact, iris were used in medicine for almost 2,000 years by rhizotomi or root diggers, the first druggists.
Dried iris roots were flung onto fires to deodorize the environment. Since the scent of iris root is that of violet flowers, the root was also used to prepare powder and perfume.
Out of print for many years, "Flower Chronicles" was reprinted in 2004 and is now available at online booksellers, new and used.

20 December 2007

Labyrinths Around the Globe, Calendar Site and Anne of Green Gables

Here are a couple of fun links for your entertainment from lii.org

Everything you need to plan your 2008 calendar is at the calendar website. Chinese, Christian, Jewish plus calendars no longer in use, such as the Mayan calendar are on the site with history and interesting information.

Anne of Green Gables is turning 100 and there is an entire website dedicated to the events surrounding the celebrations.

TODAY'S COLUMN Published December 19, 2007 07:03 pm -
Find yourself in a maze
By Molly Day Submitted Story Arizona, India, Scandinavia and other locations around the world had spiral rock carvings as early as 3,000 years before the birth of Christ.

In American, the Hopi people used square labyrinths to represent their Sun Father and Sun Mother. A labyrinth is similar to a maze but the labyrinth has a single path that leads to the center or goal location.

A maze on the other hand, has loops, forks and cul-de-sacs that circle the walker out and back. Some say that the difference is that in a maze you can get lost and in a labyrinth you can find yourself.

In Britain, people walked circle shaped labyrinths that were cut into grass and eleven of them are still walked today. The largest one is at Saffron Walden, England.Early Christians added loops to their labyrinths to make the walk have more curves and turns, creating mystery for the walker. Pavement walks were place on church grounds and finger labyrinths were put into church walls.

French cathedrals have octagonal (six-sided) walks as well as circular ones. At Chartres cathedral, the original form that was put into place in the year 1200 is maintained. Christians of that era used the walk to symbolize a personal journey to Jerusalem. Some did the walk on their hands and knees. A

ll around the United States, communities, churches and spiritual organizations are putting in labyrinth walks for public use. Participants use the simple, physical form of the labyrinth for prayer, celebration and contemplation. The Cheyenne Wyoming Botanic Garden and Ohio State University have installed a labyrinth walk where the labyrinth is modeled after the famous 11-circuit Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in France.

At Ohio State they placed evergreens in the outer ring to represent the tree of life and yew to represent eternal life of the spirit. The inner ring is flowering dogwoods to honor early residents of the land who taught the settlers to admire the flowering native. Carolina spice bushes were put in place around the gravel path to scent the walk.

At Cornell University the horticulture students made a labyrinth last month as a class project. They hand planted 14,000 daffodils, grape hyacinths and tulips donated by the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center. The students used a seven-ring pattern, digging bulb-planting trenches eight inches deep and eight inches wide based on a design from the Labyrinthos Web site.

Churches around the country have installed labyrinths as places to pray. The structure takes walkers into the center and back out again to symbolize going inside for prayer and taking inspiration back out into one's life.

Hospitals from Austin Texas to Salem New Jersey have install labyrinths for prayer, meditation and calming. The one at Meridian Park Hospital in Portland, Ore., is 36 feet wide and uses blue as the color of peace and tranquility in theirs. Umbrellas are provided for walkers.

Saint Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Ark., has a labyrinth that is open to the public and there are almost 25 labyrinths in Oklahoma open to the public. The City of Tulsa installed one in Hunter Park on 91st Street.

You can see photos of several Oklahoma public labyrinths at wwll.veriditas.labyrinthsociety.org.

Locally, Moonshadow Herb Farm on South Country Club Road has a labyrinth that will be open to the public, afternoons and evenings from Friday to Sunday."On the Labyrinth Walk schedule I have listed two or three suggestions with seasonal holiday themes," said Sharon Owen, owner. "It's a drop in event for the public."

In addition, Owen is opening the labyrinth walk for a holiday gathering of women to walk and dance together through her meadow and prairie labyrinth to Christmas and Yuletide music."Bring musical instruments if you wish," Owen said. "I will have a boom box to play seasonal music, too. We can have a hot drink in the big greenhouse, warm up and then be on our merry way."

Contact Owen for more information at 1-918-687-6765 and moonshads@aol.com.

Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that you say as you take each step, "I walk in peace with the earth."

Peace is Every Step
Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.
Our True Heritage
By Thich Nhat Hanh

19 December 2007

New Nutritional Melons from the USDA , MIT Offers You 1500 FREE Courses Online and Cats in the Garlic

A new, more nutritious melon has been invented, the Avant Gardener reports. The cultivar is available to growers from ARS Crop Quality Unit . The link takes you to the usda.gov site with the original report.

The new melon was bred to have fewer pathogens in the skin and more vitamin A, C, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, anti-oxidants and sugar. Watch for 'Orange Dew' in a farmer's market near you.


MIT is offering the course materials for 1500 classes free online for everyone. Click here for the index of classes.

Topics of interest include soil behavior, architecture, design for sustainability, kitchen chemistry, how to make almost anything, industrial landscapes, environment and society. Then there is also magic, witchcraft and the spirit world.

At the top of the page you can register for monthly email updates.


Three-hours out in the sun today!
The rest of the last bulb shipment was planted in an extension of an existing bed, 4-foot tall basil plant remains were tossed into the garlic bed and bunny screening came out.

The neighbor who is quick to pull out his rifle evidently has a second home so now his cat lives in our yard. The 6-foot tall chain-link we put up to keep out his dogs does nothing for cats. So the cat, adorable though he is, likes to dig in the sandy raised bed with garlic.

An entire box of moth balls did nothing to discourage him. So today I piled eggplant and basil stalks on top of the garlic to try another tactic.

Ah, life in the country.

18 December 2007

MOBOT Shows How To Use Environmental Consciousness by Recycling Plastics from Garden Centers and Botanical Gardens

GMPRO Garden Center Magazine ran a story today about the need for garden centers and botanical gardens with environmental consciousness to find a way of recycling plastic garden pots.

" Steve Cline at Missouri Botanical Garden has created perhaps the most successful horticultural pot recycling program in U.S. This past year, the program collected more than 100,000 pounds of horticultural plastics."

According to the story, 80-million tons of plastic end up needing to be recycled every year.

"In the horticultural industry alone, about 350 million pounds of plastic is produced each year.

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Plastic Pot Recycling Program is the largest program of its kind, recycling both plastic pots and polystyrene cell packs and trays. Since 1998, this groundbreaking program has saved over 300 tons of plastic from reaching the landfill. The program has become hugely popular with gardeners in the St. Louis metropolitan area with many participants anxiously awaiting the Garden’s annual collection period."

Monrovia Growers donated money for the purchase of recycling trailers to be used as satellite collection centers. The program was so successful that the plan is to spread more trailers around St. Louis.

Basic guidelines include: "All garden plastics are accepted including cell packs, trays, all pots of all sizes and hanging baskets. Garden edging and plastic sheeting materials cannot be recycled. Metal rings or hangers on the pots need to be removed. All soil should be shaken out of the containers. No food plastic is allowed. It is not necessary to wash the pots and trays, but we appreciate working with the material more when it is reasonably clean. Please check for rocks, metal objects and foreign materials before submitting."

By the way, every plastic bottle of water you buy and throw away takes 1,000 years to biodegrade according to Eldr Magazine's Editorial this month. (A dear friend is on the cover so I received a copy of the magazine as a gift.) Environmentally conscious water consumers filter tap water and use re-usable bottles.


It was a glorious sunny afternoon for being outside. The endless tasks of this time of year get taken on, one by one.

An old rose bush has to be taken out stem by stem. Minor tree pruning of all those tiny branches continues. Alfalfa hay mulch was applied to beds. More bulbs found homes in beds and pots. Bermuda grass was dragged unwilling out of iris corms. All of a sudden an afternoon was gone with a great feeling of satisfaction remaining.

17 December 2007

2008 All-America Selections Include: New White Daisy with Blue Center and a New Viola in Purple and Gold

All-America Selections are new plants that are chosen every year as winners for gardeners.

The selections have been made for 75-years and the plants are still reliable garden favorites. All the winners from 1933 to 2008 are listed on the organization's website.

This year's three winners are: Osteospermum F1 'Asti White' a new daisy - blue centers on white flowers, Viola F1 'Skippy SX Plum-Gold' and Eggplant F1 'Hansel'.

Of the three, the new daisy looks the best to me.
The Johnny-Jump-Up or Viola has a strange color combination that looks like someone was trying too hard to come up with something new for the trade. But, maybe it is just what you need for your spring beds. Flower color is very personal.

In general, I can recommend checking the All-America Selections site lists if you want to try something new.
For example if you have never grown petunias or pinks from seed, use the AA site to select the type of seed to buy so you will have something reliable.
The site has a link for seed sources, too.

14 December 2007

The Love of Gardening - Pass It On

The love of gardening is passed on from one generation to the next. Just as genetic markers and predispositions for career choice skip a generation, it is often our grandparents who led us toward the love of flowers, fresh vegetables and fruit or just the processes of making beautiful surroundings for ourselves and our communities.

Wherever you came to benefit from the love of all things earthy, pass it on to someone in the next generation. Encourage those younger than yourself in their horticultural hobby.
We put in another 150-daffodils today. What is the count so far for spring blooming? I have no idea anymore. The battery powered auger really helps with large plantings. If all the bulbs put in this year bloom next spring we will either be out there among them or be standing in front of a window enjoying them. (Please, Mother Nature, no Easter weekend freeze next year that destroys all the buds like it did this year.)
Look for the good and praise it extends to gardening - nurture the gardener in friends, neighbors, students and anyone who will listen!

13 December 2007

Global Climate Change in Oklahoma

Today's Garden Column is about the impact of global climate change on gardening in Oklahoma Plan ahead for possibly earlier spring next year

Scientists around the world have looked at the evidence and have decided that climate change is real. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are trapping more heat from the sun and are contributing to rising global temperatures.For Oklahoma, climate change is likely to lead to earlier springs, later falls, shorter winters, more damaging late spring freezes, and longer dry, drought spells. Local impacts will vary and there will still be the natural cycle of drier and wetter years. These are the Oklahoma impacts summed up in the Oklahoma Climatological Survey's statement on Climate Change and its Implications for Oklahoma.

Climate change will bring new challenges to Oklahoma gardeners and farmers, but there are ways to meet these challenges. And new approaches can turn these climate challenges into new opportunities. Using water more effectively and minimizing warm temperature impact are nothing new to Oklahomans. To make the most of their water, gardeners have moved away from using sprinklers to drip irrigation systems.

Using garden mulches is a standard Oklahoma gardening practice that lowers soil temperatures and reduces water loss from bare soil.

Albert Sutherland, the agriculture coordinator for Mesonet, a joint project of Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, in a recent conversation, talked about a number of ways gardeners and farmers are adopting new methods to deal with climate changes.

In agriculture, fuel prices are having a big impact on farming methods. One example of new technology is using no-till farming instead of plowing. While no-till methods require bigger tractors to cut through the crop debris, in the long run, the fewer trips across the ground result in lower fuel costs.

Irrigation methods that preserve water are being implemented on a large scale in agriculture. The worst offenders are of course, sprinklers that throw water into the air where wind and high air temperature can evaporate 30 percent or more of it.

LEPA, Low Energy Precision Application, is a method that uses existing irrigation equipment by adapting it to emit larger droplets of water close to the ground.

On a smaller scale, gardening practices that help preserve resources and reduce human impact on the global climate include: using natural mulches and drip or weeping soaker hoses to irrigate.

"Climate change brings with it warmer temperatures and mulch lowers the soil temperature. Plants do not like their roots above 90 degrees F. Studies show that natural mulches keep the soil temperature 85 degrees F and under," Sutherland said.

Sutherland's tips for gardeners:• Mulch the garden: Use grass clippings to mulch vegetable gardens; make compost to improve water retention of soil and mulch garden; use cottonseed hulls, straw and alfalfa baled hay for mulch. • For shrub beds: Pecan shells stay put better than most. Tree bark products, such as cypress and oak, float and can be harder to work with if you want to change the use of a particular bed and have to dig through the wood chunks. • Mulch around trees: Tree bark mulch works well. Pine needles: Austrian pine needles and cones can be sources of disease and infection. Loblolly pine needles present fewer problems with tip and needle blight.Mulches also minimize soil surface moisture evaporation so more water that is applied to the plants, goes into the plants.

"Watering in the morning is best," Sutherland said. "Mornings not only are cooler, but often have little wind. Cooler temperatures and low wind means less evaporation water loss."If you use a sprinkler, choose ones that keep the water closer to the ground and don't produce small droplets. Newer, turbine, rotary sprinklers fit both of these criteria and rotate without spraying water sideways, like older technology impact sprinklers. Another impact of climate change of interest to foresters, farmers and gardeners is that diseases and insects can move to new, warmer locations.

The good news about climate change is that a longer spring and warm fall will allow gardeners to grow more of their own food due to the longer season. For example, longer spring and fall seasons will allow us to start planting outdoors earlier in the spring and later in the fall. Oklahoma is already working to meet the challenges of climate change.

"The state is undergoing a water planning project," Sutherland said. "The Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan will consider the current water availability of water and the future needs of communities from 2010-60."

Oklahoma Mesonet, a world-class network of environmental monitoring stations, was designed and implemented by scientists from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. It is operated as part of Oklahoma Climatological Survey. The Mesonet Web site, http://agweather.mesonet.org, is a wealth of information for gardeners, farmers and weather watchers.

"Oklahomans can track current weather, wind shifts, air temperature, freeze lines, soil temperatures and link to radar for storm watching," Sutherland said. "Oklahoma Mesonet climate trend data goes back to 1994 and Oklahoma Climatological Survey data goes back to 1895. Annual average temperatures and rainfall can be viewed as a graph to illustrate that wetter years are cooler years and hotter years have less rainfall."

Another new Oklahoma Mesonet Web site is the Simple Irrigation Plan, SIP for short, that allows landscapers and gardeners to know exactly how long to water their turf. Using SIP tells you how much water grass needs to thrive. Sutherland pointed out that all of us will need to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We will need to learn how to live in ways that use less energy and make the most of the energy we do use.

"Individuals can make fewer trips in the car, consider closer vacation spots, re-use or repair what they own instead of throwing it away, replace appliances with more energy efficient ones, use florescent light bulbs where lights are left on for longer periods and make other choices that will help," Sutherland said.

12 December 2007

Tulsa OK Horticulture Industries Show Jan 4 & 5 2008

It is time to register for the Horticulture Industries Show in Tulsa Jan 4 & 5 2008. Early registration must be postmarked no later than December 14.

This year's topic is "Celebrating Horticulture: Four Seasons of Success" and you can click here to go directly to the Oklahoma State University Horticulture site's info on the conference.

The keynote speaker is author Eliot Coleman who now designs organic gardening tools for Johnny's Selected Seeds. His unique tools include Pinpoint seeder, Get-A-Grip handle-broadfork, three-tine cultivator, grading rake (metal toothed) and European style scythe.

In his 40-years of working in the field (literally - he raised cattle sheep, poultry, veggies, etc.) he has written three books and many articles.

His partner is also a horticulturist with a column in the Washington Post. Their website is called Four Season Farm.

Barbara Damrosch's column this week is about the importance of growing what you eat or at least buying local or organic. (Hmmm. Someone else writes about that topic, too.)

The workshop sessions at the conference include growing Christmas trees, fruits, herbs, public gardens, growing for farmer's markets, vegetables and sustainable agriculture.

Many of the sessions are available both days so if there are two topics of interest running at the same time, you can attend one each day.

We attended the Arkansas HIS last year and met great people, found new resources, and ate a fabulous lunch. This year again, the emphasis for lunch is all local organic food.

Cost for the conference is $50 for both days, $20 for a buddy to go along, and $13.50 for lunch.
You can get all the details on the Coleman book signing Friday night and the other events at the OSU Hortla link above.

I'll be reviewing Coleman's book, "Four Season Harvest" in an upcoming column.

11 December 2007

Your Houseplants Need You

Check in with your houseplants now that dry, furnace air is all they get to breathe. Even though most houseplants need less fertilizer and water during winter months, the dry air inside homes and offices can make them need a winter tonic.
If the leaves are yellowing, try a little houseplant food in tepid water. (Houseplants want water that is within 10-degrees of air temperature so do not shock them with cold water from the faucet.) If the leaves are browning on the tips, they may be over-fertilized.

Plants with drooping leaves need to be put into a sink full of tepid water until the top of the soil is wet. Drain the pot and then put it back where it was.

How is the light level during the winter rain? Can you move the plants to a location where they can receive brighter light? Even near a reading light can help when it is dark out for a couple of days.

Softened water is great for your hair and laundry but the salt is very hard on plants so use something else for them.

Debra Lee Baldwin, author of "Designing With Succulents", published by Timber Press, will be on Sirius Radio on Dec 12.
Check out her talks: 6:30 a.m. PST (9:30 a.m. EST): Martha Stewart's Morning Living (hosts - Betsy and Kim), broadcast from New York on Sirius Radio, http://www.sirius.com/marthastewartlivingradio

Click on the free trial offer if you don't subscribe. Topic: Designing a succulent wreath, traditional vs modern, plus the answer to this question-of-the-day: "What holiday decoration in your home is a little strange but you wouldn't be without? "
3:00 p.m. PST: The Gardening Show with Mary James, broadcast from San Diego, http://www.signonsandiego.com/signonradio/. Similar topic as with Martha, but with half an hour and a Southern California slant.

The book, "Gardening: the art of killing weeds and bugs to grow flowers and crops for animals and birds to eat." defines Hydrangea as, "Strange behavior observed in gardeners during periods of heavy rainfall. Symptoms include obsessive tool care, irrational mail order purchases, the neurotic sorting of seed packets, and buying alcoholic beverages by the case."

I'm guilty of some of those during these rainy days. I'll let you guess which ones.

10 December 2007

Trillium Symposium April 2008 in Delaware

News from the online Trillium and Woodland Plants conversation is that the 2008 Trillium Symposium will be April 17 to 19 and enrollment is limited to the first 200 who register. The workshops and seminars will feature the conservation and propagation of trilliums on the east coast of the US.

If you do not grow Trilliums yet, click on this link to see beautiful photographs of them.

The Minnesota nursery, Specialty Perennials sells seed and has dozens of links to more wonderful photos at this link. Once you see Trillium photos, you will realize how often you have enjoyed them in shade gardens.

Companion plants that want similar growing conditions include spiderwort, bleeding heart, green dragon arum, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, woodland phlox, columbine and Virginia Bluebells.

The Symposium is $195 if registration is received by Jan 31, 2008.

A member of the same plant family, Toad Lilies grow well in my shade garden. The ones I purchased as plants from Bluestone Perennials bloomed the first year.

09 December 2007

Join Seed Savers Exchange

Membership in the Seed Savers Exchange costs $35 per year and this is the right time of year to join. Members pay for membership and they pay for seeds but membership gives you access to a wider selection.
Photo: Blue Poppy - one of the new 2008 seeds available from Seed Savers.

The list of seeds is inspiring - almost 13,000 varieties. Request a print catalog at their site.

Formed in 1975, the members of the nonprofit organization save and share seeds of heirloom varieties.

A quote from their site: "Heritage Farm, Seed Savers Exchange’s scenic 890-acre headquarters near Decorah, Iowa, is a living museum of historic varieties. Amish carpenters have constructed an inspirational meeting area in the barn’s cathedral-like loft, and also a complex of offices and seed storage facilities that feature a magnificent oak post-and-beam frame."

Seeds can be purchased from their website without becoming a member. Links include Eating Beans, Seed Collections, Prairie Plants, etc.

If you are looking for a new seed source, give them a try.

Gifts for Gardeners 2007

This is the month of shopping for people who love plants. Fortunately, there are so many choices that no two gifts have to be alike: a pot of bulbs, a new tool, planters, live plants, grow lights, heaters and heat mats, shelving for indoors and out.

The amount spent can be from zero with a gift certificate for hours of digging and weeding to a fountain outside on the deck.

Gifts for gardeners includes items for every pocketbook and gifts from the humble to the sublime.
Washable garden gloves $5 — Ora Mae Piester, 918-683-4433, sells them for Muskogee Garden Club.

Or, become charter members of the new Oklahoma Botanical Garden, north of Tulsa. Send $35 for an individual or $50 for a family to Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden, 5323 W. 31st Street North, Tulsa 74127 and 728-2707.

On the higher end, a broad fork to loosen soil without using a rototiller, $160, or Johnny’s Selected Seeds, www.johnnyseeds.com and (877) 564-6697.

Seed collections: children’s garden, hummingbird and butterfly, old-fashioned fragrance, rainbow kitchen, herbs, unusual annuals, etc. Each collection of five varieties is in a decorative envelope, under $15, www.reneesgarden.com and (888) 880-7228.

Annie’s Annuals — gift certificates on sale — 15 percent off by Dec. 18 — www.anniesannuals.com and (888) 266-4370.

Gift certificates from Old House Gardens are sent on a photographed note — $40.
Owner Scott Kunst said, “Gift certificates give the gift of anticipation so gardeners can look ahead to spring in their imagination.”
Hard-to-find books such as the $10 “Spring Blooming Bulbs” or — T-shirts three for $25 and plastic bulb-planting baskets three for $13, www.oldhousegardens.com and (734) 995-1486.

Other books to please gardeners:
• “Best Garden Plants for Oklahoma” by Steve Owens, 2007, Lone Pine Publishing, $13 online, photographed beautifully with plant culture and best varieties listed.
• “Birds of Oklahoma Field Guide” by Stan Tekiela, published by Adventure Publications, $11 online.
Birds are classified by color first then shape or activity.

• “Butterflies of Oklahoma, Kansas and North Texas,” 2004, University of Oklahoma Press. Whether you are buying for a young gardener or a butterfly enthusiast, this is the reference they will want. Almost 300 pages of color photos and butterfly descriptions, habitat and food sources, $20 online.
• “Compact Guide to Oklahoma Birds,” 2007, Lone Pine Publishing. Chapters are by bird category such as water-foul, Grouse-like birds, doves and cuckoos, etc., www.lonepinepublishing.com, (800) 518-3541 — $14.
• “Birds of Oklahoma,” a CD-ROM of Oklahoma birds photographed by Bill Horn, $30, Bill Horn, 15217 S.E. 71, Choctaw 73020 or http://www.birdsofoklahoma.net/BirdCDform.htm
• “Oklahoma Gardeners Guide (Revised),” $13 online and “Oklahoma Perfect Lawn,” Cool Springs Press, $1 online, by Steve Dobbs.

Avant Gardener on sale — $18 for one-year, $50 for three years if ordered by Dec. 31. Monthly newsletters, eight pages, no photos, no advertising. Summarizes what’s new for plant lovers who want to stay up-to-date. Avant Gardener, Box 489, New York, N.Y. 10028.
Circle hoe for close weeding and cultivating. Imagine a sharpened circle attached to a hand-held or rake-length wood handle that was rated best value by the Wall Street Journal’s test of ergonomic tools. Three-handle lengths range in price from $10 to $30 and all are on sale on the company’s Web site, www.circlehoe.com and (800) 735-4815.

Fiskars and other companies make dozens of ergonomic tools: Rakes and pruners that are easy on the hands, shoulders and back, gardener’s knee pads, etc. Shop at www.arthritissupplies.com/ or www.fiskars.com and (800) 500-4849.

Gardeners Supply Co. has a link called “Gifts by Price” at www.gardeners.com or (888) 833-1412.

Root-Cut Weeder is seven inches long with a hooked-blade at one end and a fork at the other end, on sale, $7, great saws, trowels and other items of interest to gardeners, www.hidatool.com and (800) 443-5512.

Ups-A-Daisy Plant Inserts — Tall planters are an advantage for gardeners who want easier access without bending and kneeling. The circular discs come in three sizes and drop down into the planter to form a shelf for a planted pot. Sale — buy three get one free, www.ups-a-daisy.com and (815) 477-1388.

Wireless outdoor speakers from www.sharperimage.com could be a welcome summertime treat, as would a portable CD player for the days of endless weeding.

A gift card from Lowe’s has dozens of applications.

The 2008 seeds for a kitchen garden . . . lettuce, spinach, radishes, onions, etc. are available at Stringer Nursery in Tulsa and Conrad Farms in Bixby.

Make a soil-sifter for cleaning soil to sprinkle on the top of seeds. Use one-fourth and one-half inch hardware cloth nailed to wood frames that fit over a dishpan or larger plastic container.

For friends who propagate: a sack of vermiculite, rooting hormone, new spray bottles, insecticide for inside use, such as Safer Soap, or measuring spoons, small cups, and larger cups for measuring out chemicals. Make a gift basket out of several small items.

Sue Gray at Oklahoma State University Extension suggested, “A tree, a pallet of mulch delivered to their doorstep, a truckload of compost delivered and spread on the garden, a massage for after spreading the mulch and or compost. And, how about a collection of OSU Fact Sheets — print them off of the Web site and categorize them into a notebook for a gardener . . . it’s low cost and really thoughtful.”

Go directly to the fact sheets http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-389.
Plant lovers appreciate any gardening gift. With so many choices, you can’t go wrong.

04 December 2007

Winter Beauty

One of the wonders of the Internet is that you can see nature even when you don't feel like being outside. A site featuring the beauty of the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, Ozark Light has the photos of Randy Wilson. A must see.

After you enjoy the photos, click on the Links link to browse more.

Horticulture students at Connors State College in Warner, OK, grew poinsettias as a fund raiser. The plants are selling for only $8. Call to be sure they have what you want before you go - 463-6265.

"The Horticulture students and student workers have grown a beautiful crop of poinsettias this year. We have red, burgundy, white/pink, and white. They are $8.00 each. Cash or checks." And, you get to help a student in the process: win-win.

03 December 2007

December 18 Christmas Centerpiece Class $15

Call to reserve your space in a Christmas Centerpiece Class
being held on Tuesday Dec. 18
through the Horticulture Department of Connors State College.
There are 3 sessions available: 2-4; 4-6; and 6-8. Cost is $15.00 a person.

The class will be making a one sided, asymmetrical arrangement in red carnations, white mums, etc. Call to reserve your space (and allow us to have materials) by Thursday, December 13.

918. 463.6265 Debby Golden, Agriculture Division Chair/Director of Horticulture
Connors State College Rt. 1 Box 1000Warner, OK 74469
office - goldend@connorsstate.edu

Exciting Days in Winter Gardening

King's Crown
Bustani Plant Farm
Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Kings Crown Dicliptera and Wandering Jew all took root this week in water and were transplanted into little pots of well draining soil.

Highlights of propagation
It's actually better to start cuttings in a well-draining, moist, combination of sand, moss, potting soil but I was in a hurry when I started the process.
Neither dark nor bright light helps cuttings root. Diffused light makes the healthiest plants at this stage.
Temperature recommendations vary but 70-degrees F is usually the goal. When the air is cold, the soil can be 10-degrees cooler than the air in the room.
Sometimes I use Rootone and sometimes I don't. A few of things I've learned about it: 1) Using too much can cause as many problems as not using it; 2) Nurseries use a type of rooting hormone we home gardeners cannot buy; 3) Don't stick the cutting into the bottle because any dampness transferred into the bottle can ruin it.
Some plants are easy to duplicate; others resist.
Easy to propagate from cuttings: Begonia, Chinese Evergreen, Coleus, Jade Plant, Cordyline, Geranium, Ivy, Pothos, Swedish Ivy and Philodendron.

I read an interview with a famous gardener. When asked which plants to take cuttings from and which to leave to the professionals, he said, "Try everything for the fun of it."

02 December 2007

On the green living blog, ECOBLE there is a fascinating story about a man in Mexico who built his idea of paradise on 250,000 recycled plastic bottles.
Richie Sowa built it first in 1998, but Spiral Island was destroyed by a hurricane.
The island is classified as a ship, so it is allowed to float in Mexico's waters. On September 7, 2007 the new Spiral Islander social network utility was opened to the public.
Click here to see the blog entry and the video that accompanies the story.

Master Gardener, Nancy Szerlag, writes a garden column for the Detroit News. Since my column this week is about gifts for gardeners, I was curious about her recommendations.

Her suggestions are magazines and completely different from mine, so I will list them for you. The link above is to the entire column so you can get more details about the magazines.
- Chicagoland Gardening (866) 806-1498, www.chicagolandgardening.com. $17.95/6 issues.
- The American Gardener (800) 777-7931, www.ahs.org. $35/6 issues.
- Fine Gardening (800) 888-8286, www.taunton .com. $29.95/6 issues.
- Horticulture (877) 860-9146, www.hortmag .com. $19/7 issues.
- The American Rose (800) 637-6534, www.ars.org. $49/6 issues.
- Garden Design (800) 513-0848, www.gardendesignmag.com. $23.95/6 issues.
- Garden Gate (800) 978-9631, www.GardenGateMagazine.com. $20/6 issues.
- The Michigan Gardener (248) 594-5563, $16/8 issues.
- Bird Watcher's Digest (800) 879-2473, www.birdwatchersdigest .com. $19.95/6 issues.

It's December and there isn't much gardening to do right now. A new magazine could cheer up any gardener's spirits.