Showing posts from 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 …

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 …

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 g…

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 inform…

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 becau…

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

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,, organic seeds and seedlings.
• AM. Leonard, (800) 543-8955,, reasonably priced gardening tools.
• Annie's Annuals & Perennials,, (866) 266-4370, rare and unusual plus cottage garden plants. Click on tabs for easy re-seeders, deer proof.
• Baker Creek Seeds, Mo.,, (417) 924-8917, vegetable and flower seeds for our zone.
• Bluestone Perennials,, (800) 852-5243, shrubs, flowers, bulbs, herbs.
• Brent and Becky's,, (804) 693-3966, flower bulbs.
• Bustani Plant Farm, ww…

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, Ja…

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 redu…

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 …

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…

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.…
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 i…

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 CompostingEarth Worm Digest

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…

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 an…

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…

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 CanapƩs with Smoked Salt and Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts.


Photo: This is how the strawb…

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 mustardand 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, says that they were created by
"Anasazi, Shoshone, Sinagua, Yuman, Kumeyaay, Hohokam, Ute, Fremon…

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 majo…

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-degree…

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…