Showing posts from April, 2008

University of Central Oklahoma Awarded Green Honors

From: U.S. EPA

University of Central Oklahoma takes top green power honors School is among 18 nationwide to be recognized by EPA for buying renewable energy

For the second year in a row, the University of Central Oklahoma has purchased more green energy than any other school in the Lone Star Conference.

The school bought 26 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable power and earned top honors in the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007-2008 College & University Green Power Challenge.

The University of Central Oklahoma purchases 100 percent of its power from wind sources. It also has onsite biodiesel production, works with a performance contractor to increase its energy performance, and uses Energy Star-labeled products. The university’s green power buy is one of the largest by a college or university in the nation and has the equivalent environmental impact of avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 3,700 vehicles.

Green power is produced from eligible resources such …

The Future of Dirt by Drake Bennett

Today's Boston Globe, at has a fascinating opinion article about a rapidly depleting resource: soil. Take the time to click on the link below to read the entire article. It is well written, referenced and thought provoking.

"The Future of Dirt" by Drake Bennett
Highlights -
-oil reserves and dwindling freshwater supply may get all the attention, but modern society is also overtaxing the ground itself.

An increasing number of scientists are starting to emphasize the extent to which soil - even more than petroleum or water or air - is a limited and fragile resource.

Scientists in Australia and the United States have started making rich new earth from industrial waste, and research into the astonishing fertility of a mysterious Amazonian soil may lead to an additive that can boost the power of soil for thousands of years.

Dirt remains, in certain ways, a puzzle: Despite its seeming simplicity, it is a complex system whose fertility arises from the interaction of myriad…

Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

This may be the next must have book for anyone who enjoys growing vegetables.

"Perennial Vegetables" by Eric Toensmeier, published by Chelsea Green Publishing. The subtitle is From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles.

Tempted yet?
Toensmeier says that these 100 edibles are as easy to grow as any flowers you currently have in your perennial beds and borders and that they produce veggies all season.

Toensmeier's biography includes: Board member, Nuestras Raices; librarian forNew England Small Farm Institute; author, "Edible Forest Gardens: A Delicious and Practical Ecology"; teaches ISE course on “sustainable design”. Toensmeier also founded and operated Perennial Vegetable Seed Company.

Toensmeier explains how to raise, tend, harvest, and cook with plants that yield great crops and satisfaction.

OK so that's great. So, what's new?

Here are some of the foodstuffs he recommends we grow to eat - Plantain, O…

Grow Tropical Plants in Temperate Climates

If you fell in love with lush plants during a tropical vacation or just want a new look, you will appreciate knowing that tropical plants love northeast Oklahoma summers.
Popular tropical plants include: Coleus, poinsettia, pentas, geranium, elephant ears, banana palm, tapioca, caladium, calla lily, African daisy and sweet potato vine. Gardeners love them for their rich leaf and flower colors.

Tropical plants thrive in the heat and humidity we have in July, August and September when many of the plants we enjoy in the spring and early summer are exhausted.

Every spring, flats of the more common tropicals fly off the shelves at home improvement stores and garden centers but few gardeners take home some of the more unusual tropical plants.

This week, a truck pulled into Blossom's Garden Center on Hancock Road to deliver 750 tropical plants from a Florida grower. Lora and Matthew Weatherbee are betting that local gardeners are ready grow a wider variety of plants with flowers in hot …

Garden Tour, Vacation Planning, Garden Info on the Net

Sorry - no photos tonight - Blogger won't take any uploads - probably the lightening, rain, etc.

If you are in Tulsa June 7 and 8, don't miss an opportunity to go to the Audubon Habitat Garden Tour. Six gardens, $5.00 - Information: 918-521-8894.

So, here's a question for you: What will you do about your garden when you go on vacation this summer?
Do you hire someone to come water? What about deadheading, harvesting vegetables, watching for insect infestations, etc.?

J. L. Hudson Seeds issued a catalog update with new offerings. So far, I've had good luck with their seeds this spring. Let me know what your experience has been.

The American Society of Landscape Architects publishes an interesting newsletter online. This week they talked about Earth Day and linked to a great green blog called
Two Steps Forward written by Joel Makower. Makower writes about sustainable business, clean technology and green marketplace.

What's going on in your garden?

What to Plant Now for Summer

In today's garden the daffodil and the iris looked like they came from the same color palette.

The weather has given the go-ahead signal for planting. Oklahoma State University Fact Sheet HLA6004 is a planning guide that has all the information you need to get it straight. Vegetables to plant now from seed include: Cucumber, green beans, peppers, eggplant and okra. Tulsa Master Gardeners is the place to go for tips and timing on planting herbs. Most herbs need the heat we are just now getting. If you haven't started the seeds indoors yet, they can be planted outside. Then, for flowers, Renee's Garden Seeds has a chart that's handy. Direct sow in the garden when night time temperatures are 50 and above (like now): Alyssum, cornflowers, nigella, stock, calendula, etc. Start indoors: Asclepias, calendula, columbine, grasses, heliotrope, hollyhock, pansies, phlox, zinnias, etc. I've started so many seeds you can't walk in the shed tonight. We had to bring in everything…

Worm Giveaway at Earth Day

The Junior Master Gardeners and their sponsor were the big workers at the worm giveaway.

We gave away 115 vermicompost kits and ran out by 10:30 in the morning.

Channel 22 was there to interview the master gardeners about the project. They explained how to take care of the worms when adoptive parents took them home.

The Junior Master Gardeners made kits, putting in food and worms.

Everyone had a great time and more than a hundred new vermicomposters got started with saving the earth. If you came later than 10:30 after we ran out of worms, live locally and want a kit, email me at Maybe we can arrange a way for you to get one.

Best Containers for Container Gardening

Most of us plant in the ground and in pots of one kind and another. Vegetables are bred to grow in pots, collections of flowers look fabulous in pots, strawberry pots filled with herb plants cannot be beat for culinary pleasures and pots of cheerful flowers on a porch or balcony bring a smile. Fruit trees and shrubs in containers make dramatic additions indoors and out.
There are advantages and disadvantages to clay, coir and moss lined baskets, plastic, plaster, hypertoufe and concrete planters.
Concrete heats up and stays hot in the summer, clay breaks during freezing weather, plastic doesn't breathe, coir lined baskets don't hold moisture - on and on. (I wanted bamboo outside the kitchen window of a previous house and knew about its tendency to take over the neighborhood. So, we bought two huge, unmovable concrete planters. They were beautiful and expensive. Two years later the bamboo had broken both planters and moved into the neighbor's yard.)

If you tend to over-water a…

How to Set Up a Home Vermicompost System

Earth Day 2008 - Here's how to use your kitchen waste in a vermicompost bin. Growing a garden has too many benefits to list. Even if you do not have time to dig in the yard, you can help the earth by feeding your food scraps to a bin of Organic material makes up two-thirds of the waste in any city. The food in that waste can be recycled through the use of worm composting.
Compost worm information and starter kits will be given away this Saturday when Muskogee Farmer’s Market celebrates Earth Day.
The primary benefits of worm composting include the production of “black gold” worm castings to add to potted plants or back the earth and a way to use up kitchen scraps without sending them to the landfill.
Build a compost worm bin for your home or apartment —
1) Buy a plastic or wooden box 10 to 18 inches deep and drill air holes around the sides about half way up and drainage holes in the bottom. Compost worms, red wigglers or Eisenia fetida, cannot function in light so do not use a clear o…

Plant Herbs for the Kitchen

This is a perfect time to put some herbs into your life. Whether you plant them in pots or in the ground, fresh herbs have the ability to change food flavors in ways bottled herbs cannot.

Herb plants are readily available at garden centers, herb festivals and farmers' markets right now.

Culinary flavors to plant in spring include: Leeks, parsley, cilantro, chives, mint, dill, fennel, oregano and basil.

You can start seeds if you prefer that approach to buying plants. If you buy seeds, you will have dozens of plants to harvest over the next few months.

This is also the time to plant lettuce, spinach and other greens. Fresh herbs snipped into fresh salad greens is one of the real treats of spring.

Herbal vinegar is a wonderful way to use herbs if you have a successful planting. There is nothing like homemade herbal vinegar to dress fresh salads.

Frozen Vegetables

This morning at sunrise the frost on the mustard and lettuce was quite beautiful.
Fortunately, it warmed up enough that we could put all the flats of seedlings outside to sunbathe. Since it is the last freezing night of the season, we uncovered the perennials, raked leaf mulch, pulled weeds, planted lettuce and generally celebrated the coming of warm weather.

In the shade garden, native phlox and bluebells are blooming. They were just planted last year so it isn't a great big splash but it still takes away the winter blahs. Tulips are still bursting with color despite the frosty night last night. And, the daisies my friend Susie gave me last fall are in full bud. I'm eager to see what they are like in bloom.
Ready, set, go get ready to plant!

Spring Tips and Best Plants from the Experts

Lantanas have had a place in my garden for decades. This pink and yellow one has long been a favorite. New varieties have variegated leaves.

For variety, here are some
Spring Gardening Tips from White Flower Farm (used with permission)
1) Do prune roses! Remove blackened and weak stems. Don't prune too hard; leave healthy canes of floribundas and hybrid teas at least one foot above the ground.
2) Do prune Wisterias before they leaf out to promote flowering.
3) Do remove old foliage around the new growth of perennials. Keep mulch several inches away from the stems. This will help prevent disease or rotting.
4) Do plan to grow tomatoes in containers this year. It's easy, fun, and you'll get great tomatoes. Try 'Celebrity' tomato, which grows well in containers.
5) Do plant Geranium 'Rozanne', the 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year.
DO NOT'S: 1) Don't use harsh chemicals on your lawn or gardens this year. It doesn't take any longer to use organic products.

Cactus, Blossoms, Herb Festivals and Butterfly Gardens, Oh My

CHAOS CACTUS NURSERY came to Muskogee today for the Azalea festival.

One of the very cool hand made items they brought was the frog home. Terri Mann and Bill Keeth's booth was swarmed with people when we were there. We bought wonderful succulents and hand made pots for great prices.
They will be at all the various herb festivals around the area. Don't miss them at the 19th Annual Herbal Affair & Festival, Saturday, April 19, 2008 / 9 am to 4 pm, Downtown Triangle, 2nd and Main, Sand Springs, Oklahoma. I can't go because I'll be at Muskogee's Earth Day celebration promoting vermicomposting.
Click on this link to read my article about them from Sept 2007. Or, contact Terri and Bill at Chaos Cactus Nursery in Sand Springs 918.241.3252 and email

BLOSSOM'S GARDEN CENTER I was at Blossom's Garden Center yesterday and took a few photos to cheer us up through this weekend of freezing nights.

I'm growing a bunch of plants to make a native bu…

Spring Flowering Shrubs - Make More by Propagating


Published April 09, 2008 06:37 pm -
Gardening: You can propagate softwood cuttings By Molly Day

Everywhere we look right now there is something blooming. Forsythia, flowering almond, flowering quince, bridal wreath, and other shrubs grab our attention as we drive through neighborhoods.

Most of these spring blooming shrubs should be trimmed right after the flowers fade to be replaced by leaves.

But the removed cuttings can have a better fate than landing on the compost pile or in the trash bin. The tips of the branches can be rooted to make more plants to use in your own yard or to give to someone who just bought a home or who needs replacement shrubs.

Branch cuttings taken in the spring for the purpose of propagating more plants are softwood cuttings.

Softwood is not the new tender growth shrubs have now. Test for softwood stage by bending the stem near where you would be taking cuttings. If it snaps it is ready to use. If it is flexible an…

In the Potting Shed

A rainy cold day like today is perfect for spending several hours in the shed. I had the camera out there to take a few photos. When I looked up from planting, a robin was in the apple tree outside the window.


This photo of the potting shed was taken last week but it gives you an idea what we are up to - we are up to our eyeballs in baby plants that we hope will succeed! One of the re-potting pleasures was taking Bishop's Lace seedlings out of their starter pots and moving them to 1-inch cell trays.
The seeds (and the photo shown here) were from Renee's Garden Seeds.
BISHOP'S LACE I used seed starting mix and sprinkled the seeds on 4-inch pots. Out of that one pack of seeds, I transplanted 125 seedlings today. Every seed must have germinated. For the most part that is the experience I have had with Renee's seeds: terrific germination.

Rest assured, I can kill the plants after they come up so I still have a mediocre live plant rate. …

Vermicompost Worm Give Away April 19 for Earth Day

I thought you would enjoy an update on the whole composting with red wrigglers idea.

Now we have two compost worm structures going at our house. The tower of worms is outside protected by the shade of a couple of trees. The bin of worms that I'm growing for the great worm kit giveaway for Earth Day is safely tucked inside the garage.

Every day I check them, look for them, feed them, give them fresh newspaper shreds, fresh veggie and fruit scraps from the kitchen. Tonight a friend contributed some well rotted scraps for them.

For Earth Day, I bought 200 plastic cups. They are 32 ounce opaque with a large enough bottom to be stable.

In each cup I'll put used coffee grounds, compliments of our local Starbuck's.

Then, since they will be given to kiddies, I'll put food in the cups. Probably oatmeal and cornmeal for the giveaway. Then a worm goes into the cup.

Each new worm home will be topped off with crushed leaves and damp shredded paper.

Thanks to Vista Print I was able to have…

New Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch

Betsy Clebsch has done it again -
her "New Book of Salvias" is terrific.

Clebsch said that since Salvias are known for their healing properties due to the chemicals in their make-up, they appeal to peoples around the globe.

Well, that may be true but their beauty and their appeal to butterflies keeps their numbers increasing in my flower beds.

Clebsch describes herself as an amateur botanist and lover of plants. She lives in the mountains between San Jose and Santa Cruz California - my old stomping grounds. Salvias there are sometimes evergreen.

Timber Press is the publisher. The book is softcover, 344 pages and around $20.

There are so many salvias that thrive in our gardens. And, oh the colors! Of course I want the ones that are fragile here but I actually grow a dozen of them that are hardy here.

Mountain Valley Growers is one of the sources on the web. I've had pretty good luck with their organic plants.

If you have some salvias, consider adding more of these reliable blo…

Vegetables in the Flower Garden

So many thoughts came together today while I was potting seedlings of Red Russian kale, Pak Choi, bulbing fennel and other beautiful edibles that I love to grow by themselves and in flower beds.

Last year's Red Russian kale is still gorgeous despite several freezing nights this winter. It is surrounded by daffodils in the front bed right now.

Today's post from the Transatlantic Plantsman is about Joy Larkcom who evidently originated the whole idea of cut and come again salad greens as well as planting edibles in flower beds. Go figure - Who knew there was a Queen of Vegetables?

The online link is to and the author of the column and blog is Graham Rice.

Rice says Larkcom "tested thousands of varieties, identifying those ideal for the organic home gardener and, in a series of classic books, all recently updated - The Organic Salad Garden, Grow Your Own Vegetables, Oriental Vegetables (all published by Frances Lincoln) as well as Creative Vegetable Gardening . .…

Carson Borovetz Nursery for Annuals and Vegetables

Carson-Borovetz Nursery Muskogee Oklahoma

Aquilegia or Columbine is a good choice for half-sunny spots.

Annual flowers to fill a bed, a planter or hanging baskets are displayed by the thousands at Carson Borovetz Nursery, 3020 North Street, between York Street and Country Club Road.
Pete Carson has the exclusive distribution for Earth Smart chicken compost in Muskogee and he ordered seven tons of the bagged compost this year. The six tons he brought in last year all sold out.
The nursery also offers professional growing and bedding soil mix in three-cubic-foot bags for customers' beds and pots.
"Loyal customers come back to us because we have good products," Carson said. "In a small town, word of mouth makes or breaks your business."
Brenda Logan was shopping at the nursery last weekend for the Eufaula Inspiration Garden. Dr. Troy Garrett of Checotah recommended Carson Borovetz Nursery to her.
"Dr. Garrett helped us with the rose bed for the gardens," Logan…

April Planting for Fall

With the excitement of getting going on your spring garden take a minute to think about fall.
Some of the plants started from seed in April have their big payoff in October.

Purple millet is started from seed now so it can thrive in the heat of the summer, producing those glorious six-feet tall burgundy plants and seed heads that persist until a hard freeze.

Last year I posted here that I have lots of Purple Millet seeds from two years ago and anyone who wanted some could email me at Three people requested some seed. One from Alabama, one from Arkansas and one from Texas.
The requester from Texas is sending me seeds of Texas Star Hibiscus in exchange. I'm jazzed to say the least.
The photo is of a Texas Star Hibiscus that I took at a fabulous restaurant near Tulsa, called Living Kitchen.

So, when you are out shopping for spring, think about fall, too. Castor beans, Nepeta, Asters, Zinnias, Purple Millet, Asclepias, Autumn Joy Sedum, Toad Lily, Chrysanthemum, Goldenr…