30 January 2008

Amaranth for Every Garden

My Thursday column about Amaranth possibilities Published January 30, 2008 06:43 pm -
Grow up a little amaranth By Molly Day Muskogee Garden Club

Amaranth is an ancient tropical plant that was originally grown in India, Mexico and South America.

There are 60 species that grow tall and erect, spreading, or prostrate on the ground.

Many of the species have colorful leaves and numerous, densely packed flowers over the summer and fall.

Some of the common names for plants in this family are: Chenille plant, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, Pig Weed, Goose Foot, Sow Bane, Chinese Spinach, Cock’s Comb, Gizzard Plant, and Lamb’s Quarters.

The leaves taste like spinach, are rich in Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. They are used to brighten salads and used in stir-fry and soup.

Amaranth seeds contain 18 percent protein, vitamin E, linoleic acid, lysine, amino acids, three times the fiber and five times the iron of wheat. Cooked amaranth seed is ninety percent digestible.

Amaranth predated corn as an agricultural crop and has a rich tradition as a prized plant.

Montezuma demanded 200,000 bushels of seed a year as payment of taxes from Aztec citizens. In Peru, it was a food staple called Inca Wheat.

Similarly valued in Africa, Asia and Europe the plant was sent to America by Thomas Jefferson in 1786 during his European botanical tour with John Adams. Jefferson sent Joseph’s Coat Amaranth to Virginia to be grown for its colorful, edible leaves.

In Mexico, Amaranth seeds are popped and mixed with sugar to make alegria and roasted Amaranth seeds are used to make atole.

In the United States, the grain is sold mostly in health food stores as vegetarian protein, a substitute for popping corn, a cooked cereal and to be sprouted for salads.

Some ornamental varieties are grown to feed birds, including Burgundy Amaranth with blood red flower, Warihio, with vibrant red leaves, Golden Giant with green leaves and yellow seed heads, and Viridis with vivid green flower tassels.

Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranth caudatus) has deep red, drooping spikes of flowers that have been used by gardeners and flower arrangers since Victorian times.

The variety Fat Spikes grows only 2 feet tall. Aurora has cream color upper leaves on a 2-foot tall plant and Illumination is burgundy, orange and pink.

Consistently one of the most popular garden varieties, Joseph’s Coat, has edible gold and crimson leaves with green.

Wayne Winterrowd said in his book, “Annuals for Connoisseurs,” “In the right place, Amaranth caudatus can be a stunning accent, both dignified and slightly giddy, looking like nothing else in the summer garden.”

Amaranth is fairly easy to grow from seed. Start seeds in the house in April in sterile, sandy soil or plant them directly outside around the first of May. Give tall varieties plenty of room in full sun and average soil with good drainage to prevent mold.

Winterrowd suggested that to make the beds look good, plant a few seeds a week for three or four weeks, always planting the new seed in a row in front of the emerging plants. Then, as the flowers fade in the back, fresh plants will be blooming in the front.

• For seeds of Asian vegetable types such as Asia Red, Bayam, Red Strip Leaf and others, try www.evergreenseeds.com.
• Botanical Interests (www.botanicalinterests.com) has Red Leaf Amaranth, which they call Tricolor or Een Choy Hiyu. Another company calls their edible Amaranth Yin Tsai or Chinese Spinach.
• Parks Seeds (www.parkseed.com) offers a three-color Celosia Bombay Collection. Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com) has Celosia argentea cristata Chief Mix, which is a combination of cutting flowers in six colors.
• Celosia argentea, Lagos spinach or Quail Grass, is a very popular, easy to grow ornamental plant. Early in the season the leaves are red, yellow and green. In the fall the leaves turn dark red and the 4-inch flower. They love sunny, dry spots. Start seeds indoors in late-March or April.
• Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena globosa, is a tough garden plant that flowers in purple, white, pink or yellow. Look for seeds of Gomphrena Strawberry Fields, Bicolor Rose and All Around Purple. Many gardeners grow them for their 1.5-inch everlasting flowers. Plant in full sun, 6 to 8-inches apart, to help prevent mildew and mold on the leaves.
• Territorial Seed (www.territorialseed.com) has seeds for Love-Lies Bleeding, Pony Tails and Autumn Touch.
• Seeds of Change (www.seedsofchange.com) sells eight, edible varieties including Greek Amaranth, the leaves of which are used in Greek cooking. (It’s 500 garden seeds in a packet for under $3.) Their catalog description: Delicious leaves, multi-headed flower plumes, dark purple edible seeds.
• Celosia cristata or Celosia argentea var. cristata is commonly known as Cockscomb and Crista-de-galo.
• Celosia argentea Kimono grows to 8-inches and Century grows to 2-feet tall. Apricot Brandy has pale orange flowers and green-purple leaves, Forest Fire has scarlet flowers and maroon leaves. These varieties are available from Thompson & Morgan (www.tmseeds.com).
• Kitchen Garden Seed (www.kitchengardenseed.com) offers Prince of Wales Feathers, or Century Plume Celosia with plumes in cream, orange, rose, scarlet, yellow and vibrant red — 400 seeds under $3.

2008 Master Gardener Conference Oklahoma City

The Southern Region Master Gardener Conference will be held June 18, 19, 20, 21 in Oklahoma City. If your calendar fills as quickly as mine you will have to mark off the dates now.

The Tour Agenda is on the website already but registration information is not yet so I don't know what the cost will be for the conference or the hotel.

Tours include: Will Rogers Park Arboretum, Myriad Gardens, Greenleaf Nursery, Oklahoma City Zoo, Bustani Plant Farm, private gardens of Kamala Gamable and Anne Griswold, private gardens of Don Resler and Kenneth and Nova Minick, Sunshine Nursery, Linneaus Garden at Tulsa Garden Center, and the gardens at Philbrook Museum in Tulsa.

The center for the event is Clarion Meridian Hotel and Convention Center. Staying at the host hotel has a lot of advantages but if you want to look for other accommodations, check the visitors bureau for other choices.

It looks like all the speakers are lined up.

Last year's Little Rock Conference was a dazzler.

At the end of it I had no complaints (except not many choices for a vegetarian). The highlights were seeing old friends, meeting new people, informative workshops and speakers, freebies, meals, garden tours, museum tours, a dinner on the waterfront (Taste of Little Rock with food from two dozen restaurants and half a dozen wines), an outdoor ice cream social late one night.

On one of the bus tours, I met a woman who shunned all the keynote addresses and workshops in favor of going on all the tours instead. She had a massage while we were busily taking notes.
The tours were so good I thought she had done the right thing. Well, except the workshops were great, too.

28 January 2008

Inconsistent Seed Germination is Nature's Plan for Native Perennials

Photo: Native primrose

Ken Boettger a member the listserve Trillium-L, explains why inconsistent seed germination is part of Mother Nature's Plan. (See Boettger's Alpine WildSeed of Ellensburg WA)

With Ken's permission, here are his comments -

"In the native plant industry this adaptation (difficult or long term germination potential) is beneficial to 'Seed Soil Reserves'.

The idea is that the seeds are predisposed to be difficult to germinate.

Ecologically, you want germination variability.

There are many examples, but here is one. Plants produce seed. All seeds germinate immediately. Spring turns out to be very hot and dry and all wither and die. The plants then lose their gene pool and if a wildfire happens to come through that year and kill the parents, the plants are entirely gone from the site with no progeny. Rather, the plants benefit from some seed germinating this year, some next year, some three years from now.

The probability of at least one germination group finding good spring conditions greatly improves. And if a wildfire happens to come through and kill the parents, some of the seed that did not germinate from previous years and may have been buried by trampling, insects, rodents,etc, would be available to germinate in future years. And so the plants depend upon inconsistent germination.

Annuals many times do not follow this rule nor do those plants that have seed carried on the wind.

But perennials that shed seed locally tend to follow this soil seed reserve model.

Native plants do not like to put all their seeds in one basket. It's a male adaptation thing in many animal species, too, and common throughout nature.

In any event, this is why native plants are difficult to germinate.

Sometimes the seeds are adapted to a particular natural cyclic environmental process, whether
this be wildfire or going through a birds gullet (aka, acid treatment).

The seeds develop germination requirements that are related to the environment from which they came.

Again, there are many examples, but Australia was one of the first to do work on smoke treatment to stimulate germination. But in many cases, there is still variable germination. Some seeds germinating the first year after treatment, some the second, etc.

Boettger's inspiring Mission Statement is on his website. Here are excerpts -
"My (our) mission is to provide an ecological and sustainable alternative of native floral services to support private and public nurseries and industry in their efforts to embrace wildland reclamation.

My reclamation with native plants began in 1981 while employed with the US Forest Service as a back country ranger. . . . This eventually led to early reclamation projects in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I was involved in some of the first reclamation projects utilizing native plants in the northwest.

. . . There is more to native seeds than sales and I fear a large corporate and largely financial influence would tend to erode my true ecological concerns and a sustained effort to promote genotypical native seed. As with the care of my plant communities, my philosophy is one of managed, contained and sustained growth.

I strive to think in the long term rather than the short term. The greatest gift in life, the most challenging path to follow, is to be successful in striving to give rather than taking for ourselves.

. . . As the sole owner of the business, I do all my own field collections as well as the administrative side and lab work here at my home. Ultimately, I hope that our efforts contribute to a greater sense and ecological concern in business and our way of life."

27 January 2008

Artistic Gardens Seeds, Handy Gardening Tool - Sun and Moon Data

Photo: Anise Agastache
and Rose Campion in one of the front yard beds last spring/summer.


Artistic Gardens has a great seed offer - 50 sample size seed packs for $14
- that's 28-cents each. My order came to $17.50
Sample Herb Packet Special = $14.00 Seed Shipping = $3.50 = Total $17.50

Other seeds are similarly priced. Cutting celery - 35-cents for a sample pack and 65-cents for a full pack of seeds. I can't wait to see which 50 sample packs show up.

Compliments of the United States Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department, you can obtain the times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, transits of the Sun and Moon, and the beginning and end of civil twilight, along with information on the Moon's phase by specifying the date and location in one of the two forms (one form is for US locations the other is for foreign locations.

Click here to see Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day

I entered Muskogee OK and this is the information that came up.

The following information is provided for Muskogee, Muskogee County, OK
(longitude W95.4, latitude N35.8): Sunday 27 January 2008 Central Standard Time

SUN Begin civil twilight 6:58 a.m. , Sunrise 7:25 a.m. ,
Sun transit 12:34 p.m. , Sunset 5:43 p.m. , End civil twilight 6:10 p.m.

MOON Moonrise 10:16 p.m. on preceding day, Moon transit 4:14 a.m. , Moonset 10:04 a.m.
Moonrise 11:15 p.m. , Moonset 10:28 a.m. on following day
Phase of the Moon on 27 January: waning gibbous with 73% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.
Last quarter Moon on 29 January 2008 at 11:03 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Keep the link handy for spring, when you need to know the number of hours of daylight, when the sun is coming up, etc. This is a very handy gardening tool.

It was 65-degrees by the time I went outside this afternoon. I/we decided to move the canna lilies away from the south end of the house in order to make room for something new.
As the Bermuda grass came out of one fence row bed, a few cannas went in.
Even though we haven't had any rain, the ground is soft and fairly easy to work so Bermuda removal continued to progress.

26 January 2008

Catalog Shopping for a Glorious Garden

This is a photo I took at a public garden in Kansas. Note the size of the shrub - yes, that's one shrub to the left of those rocks. I planted one of those shrubs in our yard, using the advice in the catalog that said that at maturity it is a medium sized shrub that plays well with others. Or, something to that effect. Maybe ours won't grow that big. But still, that is not a medium shrub. It is a giant.

At this time of year, most of us are focused on the seeds and plants we can plant this coming spring. I have been ordering for at least a month and have a big order to call in next week.


The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has a garden column by T. C. Conner today that we can all relate to.

Conner is unhappy about the unrealistic photographs in the catalogs and even used a magnifying glass to look for signs of normal garden wear: Bugs.

Conner also takes garden writers to task for suggesting that you/we go through the catalogs and plan for the year ahead because what you see you will not get.

Here is my favorite paragraph from the column, "My garden is not a dainty place, and I like it like that. Petals get torn, Japanese beetles munch here and there, and other bugs chew and leave telltale signs that they like my garden. This is how it should be. Bees, butterflies, birds, bugs and all kinds of other garden inhabitants make themselves known and sometimes even are photographed."


And, while you are catalog shopping, take a look at the ECHO site. I landed there while writing next week's garden column about all things Amaranth.

ECHO is a non-profit that sells everything from tropical fruit seeds to African kettle gourds.

This is a direct link to the US seed list if you want to take a look at what they have. There aren't many items in each category but there is something unique in every one.


And, if you have not looked at it yet, click on the Oklahoma Mesonet link to see the new water-wise software provided by a joint effort between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

25 January 2008

OK Gardening School, March 1, OKC

The registration deadline is near for a $30 all-day gardening school in Oklahoma City.

The line-up includes:
"New Trees for Oklahoma Landscapes" presented by Jim Ord, of J. Frank Schmidt and Son Nursery;
"Delightful Flowers for Oklahoma" presented by Kerry Meyer of Proven Winners;
"From the Kitchen Garden to Your Kitchen" plus
"From the Kitchen to Your Table" presented by Kamala Gamble from Kam's Kookery and
"Top Shrubs and Grasses for Oklahoma" presented by Allan Storjohann from the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
Registrations after Feb 22, cost an extra $10. Members of Myriad Garden Foundation get a $10 discount.

Lunch is on your own at local restaurants. Last year we brought our lunch and used the extra time to shop in the Myriad gift shop. There are several restaurants in the area in the hotels.

Registration information: 405.297.3995

24 January 2008

Where to Buy Plants, Seeds and Gardening Gear

Here is a list of Internet and mailorder sources for gardening supplies, seeds, plants, etc.
It's today's column
This year the catalog list is mostly gardener-recommended resources plus a few unusual finds.
Whenever possible, buy seeds and plants locally, but be sure to check out the offerings of a mail-order supplier and try something new.

• Abundant Life Seeds, (541) 767-9606, www.abundantlifeseed.org, organic seeds and seedlings.
• AM. Leonard, (800) 543-8955, www.amleo.com, reasonably priced gardening tools.
• Annie's Annuals & Perennials, www.anniesannuals.com, (866) 266-4370, rare and unusual plus cottage garden plants. Click on tabs for easy re-seeders, deer proof.
• Baker Creek Seeds, Mo., www.rareseeds.com, (417) 924-8917, vegetable and flower seeds for our zone.
• Bluestone Perennials, www.bluestoneperennials.com, (800) 852-5243, shrubs, flowers, bulbs, herbs.
• Brent and Becky's, www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com, (804) 693-3966, flower bulbs.
• Bustani Plant Farm, www.bustaniplantfarm.com, (405) 372-3379, Oklahoma-grown perennials, native and tropical.
• Dixondale Farms, www.dixondalefarms.com, (877) 367-1015, onion and leek sets.
• FedCo Seeds, www.fedcoseeds.com, (207) 873-7333, trees, untreated seeds, potato sets.
• Forestfarm, (541) 846-7269, www.forestfarm.com, catalog is as good as a horticulture book.
• Fragrant Path, www.fragrantpathseeds.com, seeds for 96 fragrant, rare and old-fashioned climbing plants, 100 fragrant shrubs, 140 fragrant annuals.
• Gardener's Supply Co., (800) 863-1700, www.gardeners.com, gifts, planting supplies, hot houses, potting supplies.
• Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, www.gardenmedicinals.com, (434) 964-9113, green and pink cotton, 150-herbs and native plants, seed saving containers.
• Gardens Alive, (513) 354-1482, www.gardensalive.com, organic pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides, etc.
• Gemplers, (800) 382-8473, www.gemplers.com, 600 pages of gardening gear.
• Girard Nurseries, www.girardnurseries.com, (440) 466-2881, 60 azalea varieties, 20 boxwood varieties, special for Phoenix readers through Jan. 31, four rhododendrons for $10.
• Graceful Gardens, www.gracefulgardens.com, (607) 387-5529, delphiniums, deer repelling plants, columbines, lupines.
• Harris Seeds, (800) 514-4441, www.harrisseeds.com, fruit, vegetables, flowers, greenhouses.
• Heronswood Nursery, www.heronswood.com, (877) 674-4714, perennials, grasses, collector's plants.
• High Country Gardens, N.M., (800) 925-9387, www.highcountrygardens.com, water-wise plants for dry places.
• Horizon Herbs, (541) 846-6704, www.horizonherbs.com, medicinal seeds and plants, herbal extracts.
• Irish Eyes, (509) 964-7000, www.irish-eyes.com, 200 potatoes, plus garlic, onions.
• Jackson & Perkins, (800) 292-4769, www.jacksonandperkins.com, roses and perennials.
• J. L. Hudson, www.JLHudsonSeeds.net, no telephone, seedbank with common and hard-to-find seeds.
• Johnny's Selected Seeds, (207) 437-4301, www.johnnyseeds.com, flower, vegetable, herb, cover crop seeds, organic, heirloom, pelleted seeds.
• John Scheepers, www.johnscheepers.com, (860) 567-0838, bulbs and kitchen garden seeds.• Jung Quality Seeds, (800) 247-5864, www.jungseed.com, flower, vegetable, herb seed, garden gear, perennials, groundcovers, bulbs.
• Klehms Song Sparrow, www.songsparrow.com, (800) 553-3715, peonies, perennials.
Lee Valley Tools, www.leevalley.com/, (800) 871-8158, tools, humane traps, garden supplies.
• Le Jardin du Gourmet, www.ArtisticGardens.com, (800) 659-1446, flower, perennial, herb seeds, 50 herb-seed packet for $14.
• Logee's, www.logees.com, (888) 330-8038, orchids, cacti, bamboo, collector's plants.
• McClure & Zimmerman, (414) 326-4220, www.mzbulb.com, bulbs.• Miller Nurseries, (800) 836-9630, www.millernurseries.com, fruit.
• Mischel's Greenhouses, www.mischelsgreenhouses.com, (800) 830-8447, all plants, $3.50, plants for hanging baskets and planters.
• Mountain Maples, www.mountainmaples.com, (888) 707-6522, maples for containers, bonsai.
• Mountain Valley Growers, www.mountainvalleygrowers.com, (559) 338-2775, organic herbs and perennial plants.
• Musser Forests, (800) 643-8319, www.musserforests.com, trees, shrubs, native flowers and ground covers, click on "Plant by use" for a list of plants for your situation. Shipping is a flat 20 percent.
• Native American Seed, www.seedsource.com, (800) 728-4043, conservancy seeds, Oklahoma grasses and wildflowers, quail and dove, deer proof, butterfly.
• Natural Gardening, (707) 766-9303, www.naturalgardening.com, organic plants and seeds.
• Niche Gardens, www.nichegardens.com, (919) 967-0078.• Nichols Garden Nursery, www.nicholsgardennursery.com, (800) 422-3985, vegetables, flowers, herbs, brewing and wine-making.
• Old House Gardens, www.oldhousegardens.com, (734) 995-1486, Heritage flower bulbs.
• One Green World, www.onegreenworld.com, (877) 353-4028, unique fruits and ornamentals from Eastern Europe, Russia. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, (888) 784-1722, www.groworganic.com, everything from pet food to growing supplies, flowers, fruit and vegetables.
• Pine Ridge Gardens, (479) 293-4359, www.pineridgegardens.com/, reliable source for local, native plants.
• Pinetree Garden Seeds, (207) 926-3400, www.superseeds.com, over 900 varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds, unusual vegetable seeds from all parts of the globe, sprouting, and cover crop seeds, soap making supplies.
• Plant Delights Nursery Inc., www.plantdelights.com, (919) 772-4794, catalog costs 10 stamps or a box of chocolates, a longtime favorite of plant collectors.
• Prairie Moon Nursery, www.prairiemoon.com, (507) 452-1362, native plants and seeds for wetland, prairie, savanna and woodland.
• Raintree, (360) 496-6400, www.raintreenursery.com, fruits, figs, quince, nuts, berries, bamboo, worms and mason bees.
• Renee's Garden Seeds, www.reneesgarden.com, (888) 880-7228, heirloom and new introductions, multi-packs and combo packs.
• Ronnigers Potato Farm, www.ronnigers.com, (208) 267-7938.
• Schreiner's Iris Gardens, (800) 525-2367, www.schreinersgardens.com, discount iris collections.
• Seed Savers Exchange, (563) 382-5990, www.seedsavers.org, heirloom seeds, nonprofit cooperative.
• Seeds of Change, (888) 762-7333, www.seedsofchange.com, organic seeds, collections, and supplies.
• Select Seeds, (800) 253-5691, www.selectseeds.com, historic, fragrant and vintage flowers.
• Seneca Hills, (315) 342-5915, www.senecahillperennials.com. plants from South Africa's Eastern Cape and U.S. natives.
• Shepherd's Garden Seeds, now White Flower Farm, www.shepherdseeds.com, (860) 482-3638.
• Sooner Plant Farm, www.soonerplantfarm.com, 453-0771, Oklahoma-grown trees, shrubs and perennials. Discounts for Sooner Garden Club members, OK Proven, TX Superstar and Proven Winners.
• Stokes Seeds, www.stokeseeds.com, (800) 396-9238, since 1881.
• Stokes Tropicals, (800) 624-9706, www.stokestropicals.com, most species zone eight.
• Swan Island Dahlias, www.dahlias.com, (800) 410-6540.
• Territorial Seed Co., (800) 626-0866, www.territorial-seed.com, seeds, plants, beneficial insects.
• Tomato Growers Supply, www.tomatogrowers.com, (888) 478-7333, peppers, tomatoes and heirlooms.
• Vesey's, www.veseys.com, (800) 363-7333, vegetables and annuals.
• Wayside Gardens, (800) 845-1124, www.waysidegardens.com, perennials, shrubs, herbs, Web site tabs for new, white, black, etc.
• White Flower Farm, (800) 503-9624, www.whiteflowerfarm.com.
• Wildseed Farms, (800) 848-0078, www.wildseedfarms.com, wildlfowers
• Worm's Way Catalog, (800) 274.9676, www.wormsway.com, organic, seeds, hydroponic, lights.

22 January 2008

Growing Challenge (more like a club) from Elements In Time blog

Elements in Time: Creating Edible Landscape is a blog by Melinda Epler in Geyserville CA. She has proposed a fun challenge and is creating a club of sorts.

Membership requirements: Grow one more edible from seed this year than you did last year AND write about it as a way to involve more and more people.

Elements in Time is a serious nonprofit with heartfelt goals other than growing your own spinach in flower beds. Go over to the blog and read "About". In short the mission of Elements in Time includes:
"1. Educating the world community about self-sustainability models which take into account increased global changes in climate and energy availability.
2. Promoting resilience and sustainable adaptation in areas of the world most at risk now and in the future.
3. Provoking sustainable local and worldwide solutions to social and environmental issues, focussing on the quality of life and future for humans and all other species."

The Growing Challenge Kickoff was today, Jan 22. If you would like to join a group of people who want to have a good time growing veggies and herbs as an Internet community, Click on the link above.

Photos: Colorado mountains last July

21 January 2008

Book - Tropical Slipper Orchids by Harold Koopowitz

Harold Koopowitz is the author of a new book coming out in February, "Tropical Slipper Orchids: Paphiopedilum and Phragmipedium Species and Hybrids".
Wonderful slipper orchids are the ones that always catch my eye when I see a book about orchids. Timber Press is the publisher of this beautiful and informative volume. The link will take you directly to a description of the book at the Timber Press site. It is 8.5 by 11-inches with 400-pages of photos and descriptions of tropical slipper orchids. The material includes information for those just learning about orchids and experienced growers.
Koopowitz is a plant biologist and professor emeritus of ecology at the University of California in Irvine. If you are attending the World Orchid Conference Jan 23 and 24, you will have a chance to hear Koopowitz speak.

NEW AND OLD PLANTS TO GROW My email mailbox is full of offers from the seed companies for free stuff with my seed order. I love free things but wish they would just reduce the amount of their shipping and handling charges instead of offering give-aways that I have little interest in.
Burpee's has new tomato introductions this year including Tangerine Mama, Italian Ice (white tomatoes!), Razzle Dazzle and Golden Mama. They are cool looking though I don't know if their flavor is significantly different. Packs of seed are $4 or $5 apiece.
This container is a collection of shade plants from White Flower Farm. The collection is called Tribal Fusion. It contains three foliage plants -- Sanchezia speciosa (sent in a 1qt pot), Coleus 'Merlin's Magic', and Begonia 'Fireworks'. The other plants are Heuchera Dolce® Key Lime Pie, bright Ipomoea batatas Sweet Caroline™ Light Green and two Impatiens: Fanfare™ Fuchsia (PPAF) and Butterfly™ Lilac (PPAF). One plant of each variety, seven plants total for about $80.
This lily is one of the many bulbs I grew from Old House Gardens last year. If you don't know about the company, it is powered by owner Scott Kunst's desire to preserve historic bulbs.

Normal Average Weather, Coldframes

Northeast Oklahoma's growing conditions change every year. Normal average rainfall is 44-inches which makes many high country plants swoon from the humidity. Mexican sage, lavender , penstemons and many bulbs dislike high humidity and having their roots too wet.

The area's normal, average temperatures include 70-days a year at 90-degrees and above, plus 70-days a year at 32-degrees and below.

We are in USDA cold zone 7 and American Horticulture Society's heat zone 8.

These are the factoids we need to take into consideration when planning our gardens for spring, summer and fall. Read catalogs and plant descriptions and try to give plants the conditions they need to succeed. If the catalog says "good drainage" put the plant in a raised bed, on a slight slope, amend the soil with sand or perlite or plant near the thirsty roots of shrubs and trees.

Two resources to keep handy: 1) Tulsa Master Gardeners website and 2) Oklahoma State University Horticulture. Both of these sites have answers to questions you did not even know you had.

The ground is frozen and nothing can be done outside so these flower photos from last March will have to get us through until winter passes. Remember two years ago when there was not one day of freezing weather? The outside work never took a break that year.

Photos: Native violets on the left and Leucojum blooming on the right.

Hotbeds and Coldframes have been taking up some of my research time for the past 6-months. I'm not sure I need them now that the shed provides a protected place to raise seedlings under grow lights.

But, what about hardening them off in a coldframe for 3-weeks before planting out? Maybe that would increase their survival rate.
North Carolina State University has a fact sheet that explains the basics.
Home and Garden Television has some simple construction tips.

Do you have an outdoor cold frame or hotbed? If so, do you use it very much? How was it constructed? Any advice for those of us who are considering building one? How big for a starter coldframe? Is yours dug into the ground 8-inches deep as recommended by NCSU and HGTV?

20 January 2008

Eat Close to Home, Foodshed Planet, and Flowers Indoors

The garden blog, Eat Close to Home, has posed a victory garden challenge and the author offers personal assistance to the first five responders, even if you do not live close to Ann Arbor Michigan. Such a deal.

Photos: Snow pea and pole bean flowers last spring.

Foodshed Planet is the originator of the idea and becoming a Companion Planter is at the core of the plan. The basics include the fundamentals of community building at its best.

Help each other; be part of a shared effort to help more people grow and eat home grown food.

Create a planting bed for someone else, share some of your perennial plants or annual seeds with them. Pass on gardening books and magazines. Share the produce from your garden or make something out of them and share the prepared food.

A quote from the blog, "My mom had a garden that she called her Friendship Garden because everything in it had been given to her by friends."

Sounds wonderfully nostalgic and I wish I could grow vegetables well enough to be one of those people. Only a few things grow well for me so far, but I share them.

Foodshed links to Hills and Plains Seedsavers in Australia in their discussion of getting friends involved in growing food. Click through to get inspired to grow some of your own food this spring.

The goals Foodshed set are not small. Their goals are: 2-million new gardens in 2008, Victory Garden poster (poster competition deadline is March 1), and to find sponsors who would be willing to offer a discount to Victory Garden participants.

Cooking Light Magazine has an article on how to grow amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus bulbs in the Jan/Feb issue. I don't shop much, so I didn't know amaryllis bulbs are still in stores.
If you find some on a late sale and want to grow them on a windowsill here are the instructions:
* Fill a container half full with rocks or potting soil and sprinkle with a pinch of horticultural charcoal.
*Nestle the bulbs into the rocks, pointed end up. Set multiple bulbs close together without touching each other or the pot.
*Arrange the rest of the stabilizing element (soil or stones) around the bulbs high enough to hold without burying. (The top one-third of the bulb should be above soil or stone line.)
* Add water until roots are covered, but keep level below bottom of the bulb to prevent rotting.

The amaryllis that I bring out every year, is in its fourth winter and has sprouted beautiful leaves. After it blooms, I tuck it behind a door to dry out until summer. When the weather is reliably above 60-degrees, I put it outside to build up the bulb for the next winter.

If you want your amaryllis to last from one year to the next, use the potting soil method.

I grow Paperwhite narcissus using the stones and water method described above. After they finish blooming I put them outside, then plant them in the garden in the spring.

19 January 2008

Daffodil Festivals, Sooner Plant Farm, OBG

Pearl Garrison, the communications director of the new Oklahoma Botanical Garden north of Tulsa spoke at Muskogee Garden Club last week.
Garrison gave us a tour of the OBG's master plan and the designer's vision for the future of the 240-acres.
It will wow visitors. Click on the link above to read all about it.

CHEER UP - SPRING IS COMING If you would like to be cheered up about Spring coming, go to Annie's Annuals, scroll down and click on her slide shows (on the left side). The possibilities for spring will dazzle you and warm your heart.

SOONER PLANT FARM Last week we had the pleasure of visiting Sooner Plant Farm in Park Hill OK. The owner is speaking at Muskogee Garden Club next month and I went to do an interview for an upcoming garden column.

From what we learned, their plant stock is all Oklahoma grown, making it a better bet for survival in your gardens and yards.

We also learned that if you expect to spend over $150 a year, it's a really good deal to join the $29.95 buying club. If you spend $100 or less, you are better off joining the $9.95 buying club. The photo is the new greenhouse at Sooner Plant Farm stuffed with plants for spring sales.

GOING METRIC? If you are ordering from Europe or Asia, you may need this site that converts U. S. forms of measurement into the units of measure used by most other countries. Called World Wide Metric, the site's calculator converts temperatures, volume, weight, pressure and length.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR There is an entire website devoted to daffodil festivals and it is called, Daffodil Festivals 2008. Click on the link. When you arrive at the page go to the drop down menu to find one near you or on your travels. Here are some local highlights:

Arkansas' Garvan Gardens, the entire month of March is for daffodil viewing. Located in Hot Springs National Park, Garvan Gardens is open 7 days a week. Three Sisters of Amity Daffodil Hill has 235-varieties of daffodils.

The Camden Arkansas, 15th Annual Daffodil Festival will be held March 7 & 8, 2008. Events include historic homes tour, daffodil garden walks, Confederate cemetery tour, a steak cook-off, etc. Click on the link above to get the details of a special $25.00 package that includes several attractions.

The Daffodil Days Festival in Round Rock, Texas will be Saturday, March 1. Round Rock calls itself "The Daffodil Capital of Texas".

April 12 is the date of Washington's Daffodil Festival and parade. "The parade travels through the four cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting and consists of approximately 40 float entries and over 80 other entries, including bands, marching and mounted units. The floats are decorated with fresh-cut Daffodils, numbering in the thousands. The Daffodil Festival will be celebrating it's 75th year during the 2008 festival season."

Soon. Spring is coming soon and these freezing days and nights will be a dim memory.

18 January 2008

This week's column is about two books about orchids that explain how to succeed in growing them and one coffee table book that will make you want to grow them no matter what.

Orchids are becoming one of the most popular houseplant hobbies. In fact, The National Gardening Association named two orchids in their list of the top 10 best houseplants for winter. Some types of orchids are easy to grow and bloom for weeks if not months.

The Chinese cultivated orchids 2,500 years ago and the Greeks used the tubers as an aphrodisiac. It was after 1850 that their popularity soared when wealthy collectors wanted the newest plants discovered by explorers.

Orchids are at home at the edge of the Arctic Circle and on islands near Antarctic. Most grow on trees and some are able to grow on rocks because of thick, strong roots that have so much absorption capacity that they can live on air.

Though not grown in the United States, Vanilla planifolia orchid is part of our daily life. The tiny dark specks in vanilla bean ice cream are pieces of its seed. In order to provide enough vanilla beans for the world's desserts, plantation workers hand pollinate up to 1500 flowers a day.

Steven Frowine, author of "Orchids for Dummies," "Gardening Basics for Dummies," "Moth Orchids, the Complete Guide" and "Fragrant Orchids" has a new book out called "Miniature Orchids." Published this year by Timber Press "Miniature Orchids" describes 300 of these popular plants.

The tiny orchids featured in his new book have the same brilliant colors, exotic shapes and fragrance of their larger cousins. Frowine puts these popular windowsill plants in three categories: miniature — up to 3 inches high or wide; dwarf — up to 9 inches; and, compact — up to 12-inches.

In an e-mail conversation from Mexico, Frowine suggested that those of us in Northeast Oklahoma zone 7 could start with these four: Brassavola nodosa, Neostylis Lou Sneary, Oncidium Twinkles and Paphiopedilum Maudiae. "In general the price of a plant reflects its size, maturity and readiness to bloom," Frowine said. "Usually, beginners are better off starting with as large a plant as they can find and one that is in bud or in bloom. That way they get instant satisfaction and it will re-bloom sooner."

Light is essential for blooming and orchids are categorized by their light requirements: high, medium and low. Medium light orchids can be grown on a windowsill and low light orchids are grown a few feet away from the window or are screened from direct sunlight by a sheer curtain over the window.

Since some orchids grow naturally in jungles, adequate humidity has to be provided. Pots are placed on a sturdy screen over damp gravel. As with all houseplants, a fan is recommended to provide gentle air circulation.

Not many orchids bloom in the summer so most of them can go outside under high-limbed trees or on a protected porch with 50 percent shade. They are relatively pest and disease free but Frowine has several pages of information on any problem that could come up along with its solution.

The best fertilizer choice for orchids should contain the major elements, nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), up to 15 percent calcium and up to 8 percent magnesium.

Read the labels and choose a product with trace minerals such as copper, zinc, boron and iron. "Orchids are exotic and alluring," Frowine said. "There are 30,000 species and over 100,000 hybrids so there is an orchid for everyone. You could never get bored growing a plant with such beauty and diversity."

Another new book with more general information, "Orchids: A Practical Guide to Care and Cultivation" by Mike Tibbs, provides help for a beginner and wisdom for experienced orchid growers."Orchids" has illustrations, photographs, and step-by-step directions for dividing, cultivating, selecting the right growing material, propagating, pollination, developing for sale, growing in a greenhouse and diagnosing problems.

Photographs of insect and disease damage and a four-page chart of cures will build confidence in the novice grower. The last 60-pages of the book are descriptions and photographs of orchid hybrids, divided by cool climate, intermediate climate and warm climate.

Cool-climate orchids prefer 64 to 81-degrees during the day and 46 to 61 degrees at night. Intermediate-climate orchids prefer 68 to 75-degree days and 55 to 61-degree nights. Provide Warm Climate species 75 to 81 daytime temperature and 64 to 68 at night.

Tibbs points out that there are three types of orchids: • Epiphytic — Most orchids fall into this category. They grow on trees and rocks. • Terrestrial orchids that grow at ground level. • Lithophytes, which grow on, exposed rock.

There are leafless orchids whose stems grow horizontally with the roots providing the chlorophyll needed for life.In nature, orchids produce an abundance of tiny seeds that are light enough to be carried by the wind to a tree branch or some moss on tree bark where the plant will grow and thrive.

"Orchids: A Practical Guide to Care and Cultivation," by Michael Tibbs, 2007, Ball Publishing Bookshelf, www.ballbookshelf.com. The book is well written with instructive photographs and diagrams.

One other new orchid book of note is "Orchids," with text by Pascal Descourvieres and photographs by Manuel Aubron. It is a coffee table book of stunningly beautiful orchid photographs. Published by DK Publishing. www.dk.com.

The orchids sold in garden centers are usually Cymbidium, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, and Phalaenopsis. Look for the Moth orchid, Phalaenopsis; it is easy to grow in home conditions and its flower spikes last three months.

15 January 2008

Critters in the Garden - Compost Worms

At 60-degrees and sunny this could be called a perfect day for being in the yard. I must admit that digging out weeds is getting old though and I can't wait for something that seems more productive, like seeing seeds sprout.
Where do the creatures go in winter? We rescue turtles from the neighborhood dogs' mouths and babies are born here. But where are they now?
I crawled around flower beds to seek and destroy weeds, move leaves and flower stalks but I found no wildlife anywhere.

COMPOST WORMS For Earth Day this year I'm going to give away composting worm kits, so gardeners and kids can see how food scraps can become good earth for growing plants.

So, I've been reading worm blogs on the Internet and searching for compost worm articles. Did you know that 25% of landfill is food scraps that could be composted to make rich garden soil instead?

I found worm cartoons on You Tube.

Here are some interesting sites about composting with red worms:

Red Worm Composting

Earth Worm Digest

Uncle Jim's Worm Farm

Urban Agriculture

Allied Waste Company has good basic how to info on their site and they aren't selling anything either. < ; - )

Here are their basic instructions on Start a Worm Bin
- Find or build a shallow container (about l6-l8 inches deep), wooden boxes, plastic storage containers work well. Drill drainage holes.
- Fill your worm bin with moist bedding - brown leaves, shredded paper or cardboard, straw or peat moss -work well. Add a handful of dirt.
- Add about one pound of-red wriggler composting worms (will consume about 1/2 pound of food a day)- check in friend's compost pile or call a worm supplier
- Rotate the burial location of food scraps throughout the bin.
- Every 3 to 6 months push the old bedding and decomposing scraps to one side of the bin, re-bed the empty side and start burying food waste in the fresh bedding
- After allowing the older scraps to finish for another month or so, remove the compost and add more fresh bedding

Another idea from my brother who has done this before, was to put 4-bales of straw in a square, put in the moistened bedding and previously rotted food scraps or composted manure. As the worms multiply they will move into the straw bales.

As the bales collapse, put two of them onto the garden and use the other two to start the next round.

By the way, compost worms cannot survive in the garden where earthworms thrive.

13 January 2008

Chocolate Flower - Seeds and Plants

Photos: Both photos are from Mountain Valley Growers : Chocolate Scented Daisy or Berlandiera lyrata. Their Internet site describes it as having "a quarter-size, vibrant, yellow daisy with striking red striped undersides and chocolate-colored stamens."
Mountain Valley Growers has the plants. The scoop on this beatuy - it is native to the southwestern United States, dies back in winter, and, grows to 1.5 feet tall. Blooms at night and emits its chocolate scent in the morning.

I have purchased several items from Mountain Valley Growers and most survived.

In the shed there are 3-butterfly bushes from MVG. I also bought a collection of Salvias that did well last summer and now are quite happy in the shed for the winter. The Maraschino Cherry Salvia was a knockout. I really, really want Hotlips Salvia now and will order it this month. Click here to see their list of available plants.

MVG has a 6-plant minimum, so 6-hot lips salvias plus shipping comes to about $37.00 with $13 shipping.


I planted seeds in the shed and dug more weeds out of the beds today. My mother-in-law gave me Asclepias seeds from her garden and those are being spread into places where Bermuda grass had to be removed by shovel.

Some of the seeds I planted in pots today were ones I ordered from JL Hudson Seeds in California.

J. L. Hudson Seeds sent out an email this weekend announcing the availability of Chocolate Flower Seeds (Berlandiera lyrata). They cost $3.00 per pack plus $1.50 shipping and handling.

What's unusual about Hudson Seeds is that you can get up to 20-packs of seeds for that same buck fifty shipping and handling.

USDA Plants Profile site calls Chocolate Flower greeneyes, another one of its nicknames. Its native distribution is OK, KS, CO, TX, NM, AZ which means it should grow well here. They say it is a perennial that grows to 4-feet tall. The seeds require no cold stratification to germinate. Full sun, little water, blooms mid-spring.

We need some of these.
Happy gardening.

12 January 2008

Michigan State University Weed ID Site

A new weed identification site was launched January, 2008, and is available to the public. The original intent of the site was to assist landscape students at Michigan State University with their studies.

Click here to take a look MSU Turf Weeds dot net.

One of the unique features of the site is that when you move the cursor over the name, a thumbnail photograph appears making it quick and easy to sort out what you are looking for.

Click on either the Name or the Family tab and find your turf weeds.

Being outside pulling weeds for a dozen hours over the past two days made me curious about what was what. Over the years I have made plenty of mistakes pulling out seedlings that were volunteers of plants I wanted. An Internet search led me to this site - it is hands down the best weed site I've found so far.

One year, I pulled out every seedling from a batch of seeds I had planted the previous fall. DO YOU KNOW this seedling? Now that I stopped pulling them out they re-seed every fall and fill the yard with flowers every spring.
Photo: This weed is Yellow Rocket
Photo: This is English Daisy, an escaped horticultural
plant that is now considered a turf weed.

The seedling above is Larkspur or Delphinium tricorne. Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) Family

New Oklahoma Botanical Garden Near Tulsa OK

Pearl Garrison, communications director for the new Oklahoma Botanical Garden is slated to speak in Muskogee Thursday January 17 at 10 a.m.

Here is all the infomation from my column this week

Oklahoma garden official to speak in MuskogeeJan 17 10 a.m. at Kiwanis Senior CenterPublished January 09, 2008 06:20 pm -

The public is invited to hear a presentation of the plans for the new 240-acre Oklahoma Botanical Garden northeast of Tulsa. By Molly Day

Oklahomans will soon have another reason to be proud of their state's commitment to plant diversity and the development of its natural resources. The Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden is a remarkable addition to the education of young horticulturists and will contribute to the preservation of native plants. The garden, which also will be a research and education center, is on 240 acres northwest of downtown Tulsa on the Persimmon Ridge in the Cross Timbers of the Osage Hills.

The public will have an opportunity to hear about the Garden on Thursday, Jan. 17, at Kiwanis Senior Citizens Center, Spaulding Park Drive, in Muskogee. Pearl Garrison, director of communications, will preview the garden for members and visitors of Muskogee Garden Club. At Thursday's meeting, coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. There is a brief business meeting at 10 a.m. and Garrison's presentation will be shortly after.

"I will describe the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden's master plan, what we are working on and how Muskogee residents can help achieve our dream of a premier botanical garden and education facility," Garrison said. "We are very excited about developing a world-class botanical garden," Garrison said.

"Community support, including the donation of the land, has been tremendous." Garrison said that when it is completed they expect the $40 million garden will have 300,000 visitors a year. Construction of the centennial phase is scheduled to be completed this spring, including a seven-acre lake with an island, a temporary visitor center, roadbed and parking lot. The $15 million Phase One includes an amphitheater, permanent visitor center with terraces and surrounding gardens, a main lawn and horticulture therapy, children's, watercolor and pattern gardens.

Oklahoma State University provided funding for the master plan developed by Marshall Tyler Rausch of Pittsburgh. The firm has worked on the development of 50 botanical gardens, including the U.S. National Arboretum and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

As one of four founding members of the steering committee in 1999, Barry Fugatt, director of horticulture for the Tulsa Garden Center and former director of OSU Extension-Tulsa, is a key contributor to the progress of the garden.

Last May, Osage Indians prayed, danced and sang of the peace for the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden. Assistant Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle asked for a blessing of the land.

A mature grove of more than 100 persimmon trees is an official Centennial Grove commemorating the first 100 years of statehood. The "mother trees" in the grove are estimated to be 75 years old. Creators of the Garden's Master Plan realigned an access road to preserve these trees. The Centennial Grove project is sponsored by the OK Tree Bank in recognition of the vital role trees played in environmental well being of the state and the importance of tree planting as a living legacy for future generations.

Last September during an Oklahoma Centennial celebration event, the garden dedicated two miles of walking trails and presented more than 100 programs and demonstrations typical of what will be available at the garden. The trails have been closed temporarily due to tree debris from the December ice storm.

Gardens in the final plan include: Oriental Islands, Shade Garden, Rose and Fragrance Garden, Demonstration Gardens, Mexican Garden, Cultural Gardens, Woody Guthrie Terrace, Oklahoma Wildflower Garden, Cross Timbers Prairie and Woodland, Folk Garden.

Plans also include an interfaith chapel, education buildings, three-story observation tower, conservatory, orangery and tram service.

Tulsa voters approved bond issues in 2005 that included more than $12 million for water and sewer lines and improved roads to the botanical garden site.With matching federal and state funding, more than $44 million is available for the projects. The money also will contribute to a Gilcrease Expressway extension.

Membership in the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden supports the establishment and growth of the garden's facilities, trails, education programs and gardens. Information about the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden/Research and Education Center is available at www.ocbg.org and from Garrison and Pat Woodrum, executive director, at 728-2707. They also can be reached at pearl@botanicalgardentulsa.org and Pat@botanicalgardentulsa.org.

Membership information: Send $35 for an individual or $50 for a family membership to Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden, 5323 W. 31st Street North, Tulsa, 74127, or call Carrie Henderson, development director at 728-2703.

Muskogee's Honor Heights Park, The Oklahoma Botanical Garden in Tulsa, and Lendonwood Gardens in Grove are part of a larger system of botanical gardens, called the Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum (OBGA) established in 1991. Oklahoma is one of only two states with a statewide arboretum system. OBGA is a membership organization that plays a vital role in the marketing and promotion of horticulture and landscape architecture in Oklahoma. Donna Dollins at Oklahoma State University oversees OBGA membership. Annual dues are $30 per year and information is available through OBGA, 360 Agricultural Hall Stillwater, 74078-6027, Donna Dollins at Oklahoma State University, donna.dollins@okstate.edu and (405) 744-6460.

09 January 2008

Slow Cooking, Chocolate and Zucchini, January Garden

Slow Food is a movement that began in Italy in response to McDonald's moving in.

There is a blog online that talks about the methods, recipes and fun of taking time to savor cooking and eating fresh food.

Gardeners play a role in the movement even if they do not grow fruits and vegetables because they participate in beautifying their lives, neighborhoods and world.

Check out the Slow Cooking blog - today's entry was about teaching the next generation of eaters how to read the labels on food products.

At the other end of the food trail is a site called Chocolate and Zucchini that is a treat to read. Whether or not the recipes end up on your table, it will inspire your creative, culinary juices.

Scroll to the Dec 31 entry for the Best of 2007. Each "best of" link will take you to new ways to prepare food. Examples: Avocado and Radish Canap├ęs with Smoked Salt and Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts.


Photo: This is how the strawberry bed looks today. Amazingly hardy with the below freezing weather we have been having.

Photo: This is the mustard we use in salads. In the summer it is green and then it turns purple after a freeze.

Photo: The pinks have grown larger over the winter under their oak leaf mulch, expanding the amount of ground they cover in flower beds.

Science Daily reports that a chemical in red wine, fruits and vegetables counters unhealthy effects of high-fat foods. Scientists are trying to figure out how to keep us from killing ourselves by eating the fatty foods we love. They have their work cut out for them.

The cold nights have returned so if you put any pots out to sunbathe in that warm spell, tuck them back into a safe place every night and then back into the sunshine during the day.

07 January 2008

Cornell's Citizen Science Site Wants You

Cornell University wants your opinion.

At Cornell's citizen science site, Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners, every participant is a member of a national community of growers.

If you do not have time or the inclination to enter data about the varieties you grow this year and how successful they are, you can search the information contributed by other gardeners.

For example, click on Browse Crops and a list of dozens of vegetables, fruits and herbs appears. Click on mustard and ratings for varieties appear - everything from Suehlihung No to Ragged Edge and Ruby Streaks is rated by growers.

Writing and pictures carved into rock, called Petroglyphs, are believed to have been carved by early inhabitants and people traveling through the area. They are fascinating remnants of earlier civilizations.

One website dedicated to these ancient forms of communication,
Petroglyphs.us says that they were created by
"Anasazi, Shoshone, Sinagua, Yuman, Kumeyaay, Hohokam, Ute, Fremont, Mohave and Desert Culture people who lived in the prehistoric Southwest and Great Basin." The website owner, Donald Austin, has links to dozens of photos he took around the country and a few from foreign lands.

Photos: Petroglyphs we climbed around in Utah last week.

This is the last of the 70-degree days and we dug weeds for another 5-hours. Fortunately, the freezing, normal winter weather is returning so we can resume our regular winter activities like catalog perusing for seeds to plant in Feb/March.

Stay dry and out of the tornado path tonight.

06 January 2008

Sustainable Fad? Winter Greens Today in the Garden

There is a fascinating column in the Los Angeles Times by Reed Johnson today. Primarily reviewing two films, Johnson considers the larger society's search for what is right to do at this time in our history. The movies are "Into the Wild" and "There Will Be Blood".

Johnson links the themes of the movies to the current concerns with sustainability. Maybe it is a good thing that movies alert audiences that the environment is under siege, even if the producers profit.

Here is a quote and a link to the entire column

"Eden is burning.

The garden of the American imagination is on fire with scorched-earth imagery, four-alarm prophesies of doom and the growing cult of "sustainable" consumerism.

Frito-Lay boasts about making "carbon-neutral" potato chips. Bookstore shelves sag with titles such as "The Virtuous Consumer" and "Sustainable Living for Dummies."

The planetary and human costs of over-consumption re-emerged as a major cultural theme last year, but it's an idea with deep roots in the national psyche, as evidenced by two well-received films: Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" and Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood."
Both explore the notion of America (and, by extension, Earth) as a former paradise under siege."


Wow - another day in the 70-s in January.

As I struggled to save my iris beds from the weeds, especially Bermuda grass, I remembered how they got into such bad shape: Last year at this time the only work we were doing in the yard was ice storm damage cleanup. Our days were not available for flower bed weeding - every day was filled with dragging tree limbs to the burn pile.

My dear iris beds. Hopefully there will be enough nice days that they can be salvaged for another year of beautiful blooms.


"Winter Gardening Pays Off" is the title of a blog entry at eTrish complete with recipes and great ideas for using nature's vitamin pills to make delicious stuff for the table.

I don't know about yours, but my greens had their heads frozen off last week. I should have harvested them but did not because I thought they were invulnerable. Always learn something is my motto.

One more day of nice weather before it turns into winter once again. I'm not sure how much more we can do - sore hands and shoulders may prevent a third day in a row of weeding and trimming and hauling.

05 January 2008

Plan to Grow Some Veggies and New Flowers in 2008

If you need another reason to justify the amount of work it takes to grow enough vegetables to feed your family, check out this article in the Financial Post. The author, Alia McMullen, echoes the concern of many writers and economists that a recession in 2008 will be compounded by food shortages.

If you are new to growing early season veggies, start with the simple ones such as chard and kale, leaf lettuce, beets, radishes, snow peas, green beans and mustard.

Burpee Seeds has a variety of seed-starting helpers available and it's almost time to start seeds, so ..... click and take a look.

Every year it is a good idea to try something new in your garden. A strong candidate for this year's must-have new plant -
Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery has a new Echinacea on their website that is called Echinacea Purpurea 'Coconut Lime' though it is actually white with a green pompom center. Their catalog says it ages to a pale lime with a brilliant orange cone.

Today's 73-degrees made it possible to accomplish 6-hours of maintenance work in the yard. We spread 20-bags of mushroom compost, pulled weeds, and mulched part of one of the vegetable gardens.

Photos: Sunrise in our back yard and the inside of the garden shed stuffed with over wintering flowers and pots of bulbs waiting for spring.

04 January 2008

Celebreties at Horticulture Industries Show in Tulsa

Oh, what a great day at the Horticulture Industries Show today. Tulsa Community College provided great meeting rooms and an area for lunch. The show continues tomorrow, Jan 5th.

Eliot Coleman, author of "Four-Season Harvest" was the keynote speaker. His presentation was not marred by the slide projector bulb going out because he used the bulb-changing time to tell a couple of jokes about gardeners and agriculture extension agents.

showed slides of growing equipment and implements from around the world. In addition, we saw tools he has designed for use on his own organic farm and ones he designed for Johnny's Selected Seeds.

David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Extension's Master Gardener Coordinator and head of Consumer Horticulture pitched in and gave a good workshop on using hedges and trees as green privacy fences when the presenter called in sick.

Sharon Beasley of Beasley's Bounty in Newcastle Oklahoma gave an informative workshop on what to grow to give your garden flowers in the fall and until frost/freezes arrive

John Leonard, Organic Gardens, El Reno Oklahoma, had us laughing about growing organic herbs and greens. His lively presentation was informative and delightful. (Leonard is on the right in blue - he is observing while the audio-visual equipment is being fixed.)