29 June 2008

Help is Here

Garden Rant, one of the most popular gardening blogs on the Internet, provided a link to some great starter videos.

If you are new to vegetable gardening, especially organic methods, Ed Bruske put a dozen how-to videos on the Monkey See website.

The video topics include: Tools, Soil Testing, Seed Starting, Mulch, Transplants, Watering, Garden Pests and Weeds. Click here to view.

If you are ready and willing to start vermicomposting, here is a link to an entry on TangledFleece that shows exactly what to do through a series of photographs.

Phlox! What a great perennial - scented, dramatic, reliable, insect and disease free. What would my flower beds be without Phlox? GardensOyVey has a nice set of photos and descriptions of 8-cultivars at this link.

In our garden today, all the garlic was pulled and cleaned and hung to dry. More peppers and tomato plants went in.

The thrill for the day was that the black swallowtail butterflies found the fennel we planted for them and the caterpillars are big and fat. It is easy to see those bright green and black striped larva but I have yet to find the chrysalis. This year the fennel is in a raised bed to improve our chances of observing the entire life-cycle.

Believe it or not it is time to start planting seeds of winter vegetables. A Master Gardener newsletter from California provided this link to a chart of germination temperatures for various vegetables. The chart is from the organic gardening organization, Rodale Press.

This link will take you to their Organic Gardening blog.
Happy gardening.

28 June 2008

Train Ride in the Boston Mountains

The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad runs restored trains through the Boston Mountains and we took one of the rides today.

some of the photos we took-

the caboose and engine change directions at the end of the line

lots of wildflowers grow along the tracks

the train crosses several creeks and rivers

the brass fixtures are restored and remain

Posted by Picasa

26 June 2008

Water Logged Gardens and What to Do About Yours

Too Much Rain Causes Gardeners Pain

Weeds, insects and diseases are enough to make a gardener sigh. This year, rain is causing our problems.

Fortunately, gardeners are optimists.

We will do what needs to be done to save what we can and replant some of the rest. What cannot be salvaged or replanted we will try again next year.

Plant roots smother if they are in standing water long enough so move plants away from standing water, or create a line of drainage along the root line.

Plant leaf or foliage diseases are caused by fungi that reproduce and thrive in wet conditions. Beth Phelps, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension services said the most important activity for a gardener when we have cool wet spring weather is to go look at your plants every day.

"Some disease problems favor hot dry weather and others thrive in cool wet weather," Phelps said. "By the time a plant is covered with powdery mildew or blight it is too late."
According to Phelps, powdery mildew on crape myrtle is cosmetic and spraying is not absolutely necessary.

"Powdery mildew on phlox, small dogwoods and hollyhocks can be deadly," Phelps said. "Pay attention. Look every day for fluffy white growth that looks like flour or baby powder. As soon as you see it, spray with fungicide."

In the vegetable garden, cooler, wetter weather can lead to nitrogen deficiency and later maturing tomatoes.

"The tomato ripening season lasts longer in cool weather which is a good thing," said Phelps. "Yellowing leaves may be caused by nitrogen leaching out of the soil. Add some extra nitrogen fertilizer to help them out. The other nutrients will remain; it's just extra nitrogen they need."

Root rot is a problem in wet clay soil because it retains too much water. Once you can see the effects of root rot, the damage to plants cannot be repaired.

"Drainage is a huge issue," said Phelps. "Two hours in wet, heavy soil and a tomato will be gone. In saturated soil, the space between soil particles is filled with water. Plant roots get no oxygen and the cells die."

Create drainage in areas where standing water could harm your garden. Either make a shallow drainage ditch along rows or put holes around roots to take water away from them.

"If it is still raining, making drainage holes will collect rain and make it worse," Phelps said. "When the rain stops, holes around the roots will pull that water out from between soil particles."

Bacterial blight in tomatoes is an annual problem not just in cool wet weather.

"To control disease buy any one of the fungicides on the market that are specifically identified for vegetables," said Phelps. "Follow the directions carefully."

Watch for mildew on perennials. Most fungal diseases need a day or two of uninterrupted moisture before they take hold and multiply. Consider pruning in the center to increase airflow.
Remove diseased leaves and dispose of them someplace other than the compost pile.

You may be seeing signs of Athracnose leaf disease in shade trees, especially on young leaves. Brown irregular spots and curled or distorted leaves are the visible signs. The tree may drop many leaves from the infection but Phelps said to not worry about it because it will not harm the tree in the long run.

Weeds are thriving now, too. In addition to robbing plants of much needed nutrients, they prevent desirable plants from getting airflow and provide mosquitoes with ideal breeding conditions. Soft, moist soil makes them grow but also makes them easy to pull.

Slugs and snails seem to multiply in wet weather. They eat holes in soft leaf plants such as lettuce, parsley and hostas.

"Reduce the number of hiding places for slugs in your garden," said Phelps. "If you have things in your garden like pots and art they will collect under them. The best way to control them is with commercial snail and slug bait."

Other methods such as beer traps, egg shells and diatomaceous earth are less reliable. Stagnant air around plants helps them reproduce; weeding and plant thinning help. Encourage slug predators to hang around your garden. Predators include frogs and toads as well as birds such as robins and blackbirds.

"Mushrooms are decomposers and when you see their fruit, they are doing their job," said Phelps. "You will have fewer spores in the yard if you knock or mow down the mushrooms but they do no harm if left alone."

Other signs of wet weather such as rust galls on cedar trees and oakleaf blister can be left alone, too.

If you decide to re-plant, wait until the soil has dried out. Damping off fungus that makes tiny seedlings fall over at soil level cannot be treated. If you decide to start new seeds for your tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, etc. start them in trays or pots and transplant later in drained soil.

To read Phelps’ Home and Garden articles go to www.uaex.edu/cgi-bin/sessearch.cgi?ae=%DF&q=phelps&op=and

25 June 2008

Orchids and Hydrangeas Oh My

The garden you will see today belongs to Madeline Holbert who is lucky enough to live very close to the Memphis Botanic Garden and the Dixon Gallery and Garden.

Holbert is the gardener at her home: She grows the plants and tends them.
Look at the view that greets visitors as they walk through the gate - this panorama of hydrangeas. No photo can illustrate how beautiful it is with the expanse of lawn between the flowers and the house.

Behind the first view this vine-laden fence separated parts of the garden. I can't figure out what the plant is and it was not in bloom so

I took a closeup of the leaves for future research.

Madeline inherited her mother-in-law's orchid collection and the orchid house was built to keep them as beautiful as they were when she received them.

The temperature is kept at 60-degrees in the winter and 85-degrees in the summer.

Look at these blooms!

And, here is Madeline herself. She was a wonderful hostess to all of us as we walked through her gardens pointing, asking, oooohing and aaaaaahing.

One of our nosey questions was about fertilizer and Holbert said she uses Miracle Grow Shake and Feed and 20-20-20 just like the rest of us.

If I lived in Memphis I'd try to make her into a friend.

23 June 2008

Cloud Pruning at Dogwood Acres

A shaded walk of hydrangeas, hydrangeas growing on walls and vinca growing on statues - all of these greeted us at Dogwood Acres on our garden tour in Memphis.

Fay Sanford is the artist behind these beautiful views in every direction. She and her husband have owned the house with 3-acres since 1976.

Sanford does the planning, helps with the cloud pruning of the American
Boxwoods and mows much of the lawn.

Cloud pruning was new to me and I don't know where you could see a finer example of the art.

Sanford said she and her gardener Charlie Lee prune in the spring and in the fall to keep the boxwoods in their heavenly shapes.

21 June 2008

Welcome to Hector Salazar's Garden

The home of Hector Salazar was on the Memphis tour I've written about in the last few posts.

Salazar is a hardscape designer who has projects all around his home that reflect his artistic skills.

Tour guests crossed the driftwood bridge to walk through three garden rooms with lawn in the center and dozens of plantings around the perimeter.

The pedestal behind Hector in the photo was painted by

Architect John Tackett.

Hector did all the plantings and work himself so the gardens are delightfully personal rather than stiffly designed and executed by a third party.

With a home next to Memphis Botanic Garden , Hector has made his property a worthy neighbor.

A small building was designed by Tackett for the backyard. It is one of several charming gathering places on the property.

His collection of plants includes several types of hydrangea (including Red Cardinal), a collection of bamboo, wild begonia, Chinese parasol trees, variegated dogwood, salvias, etc.

The water features include ponds and a fountain. All in all, an enviable garden that is inviting and creative.

19 June 2008

Add More Hydrangeas to Your Garden

Grow Hydrangeas

There are four basic types of Hydrangeas and you can see all of them blooming in Muskogee area gardens.

Paniculata Hydrangeas have cone shaped flower heads and grow to 8-feet tall and wide. They need a few hours of daily sun and are winter hardy practically everywhere. They can be pruned at any time of the year without concern for next year's flowers.

Paniculata Grandiflora acquired the nickname of PG and now most Paniculata nursery stock is called PeeGee whether or not it is Grandiflora.

The typical white flowers of PeeGee turn pink as they mature, making the shrub look like a completely different plant by the end of the season.

Other sun tolerant Paniculata names to look for: Big Ben, Limelight, Starlight, Webb, Florabunda, Pink Diamond, Silver Dollar, Tardiva, Chantilly Lace, True Unique, White Lady, The Swan,

Hydrangea Quercifolia includes the popular Oakleaf Hydrangea. This American native can take the heat. Afternoon shade encourages the leaves to turn vivid colors in the fall.

Snow Queen and Alice are the Oakleafs we see most often. Quercifolia varieties Snowflake and Harmony are considered doubles. They grow in part sun and can take dry soil but not wet roots.

Harmony is ideal for morning sun and afternoon shade under a tree. Its bulky flower heads are called Sheep's Head because of their shape and tendency to hang on the branch.

Sikes Dwarf and PeeWee are Oakleaf 4-foot tall and wide selections for small garden spaces.

Hydrangea Arborescens includes Annabelle with her 10-inch flower heads. These can be grown as a hedge and are very forgiving of severe pruning in the fall since they bloom on new growth. Plant in a location that has dappled sun all day or morning sun with afternoon shade.

Arborescens flower heads can droop so plant them in groups where they can support each others' flowers. Or put a wire fence around the plant at the beginning of the season. As the plant leafs out the fence is covered while providing support for the flowers.

Hydrangea Macrophylla, the pink or blue mophead is treasured for its spring and early summer bloom. (Prune only after blooming.)

Soil composition determines whether Macrophylla will have pink or blue flowers. For blue flowers, add aluminum a high potassium fertilizer that is low in phosphorous such as 25-5-30.

To change blue flowers to pink add dolomitic lime several times a year to raise the pH to 6.0. Apply a high phosphorous fertilizer (phosphorous is the middle number in a fertilizer).

Hydrangeas planted near a foundation or sidewalk will tend to be pink since lime will leach out of the concrete and into the soil.

Hydrangea Macrophyllas that continue to bloom after the initial spring flowering include Endless Summer and Blushing Bride. Macrophylla varieties include: Lemon Zest (bright green leaves), Penny Mac, Amethyst, Harlequin (petals are pink with white edge), Forever Pink, Dooley (pink and blue flowers on the same plant), Frillibet (frilly-edged petals), Nikko Blue and Ravel.

A new series of dwarf Macrophyllas, called City Line, stay short (1 to 3-feet) and compact. Varieties include names such as Berlin, Paris, Vienna and Venice. Prune before Aug budset.

Mophead Hydrangeas make buds in the fall so severe pruning or freezing weather can damage buds. Endless Summer is remontant, meaning that it also makes flower buds in the spring.

The Hydrangeas commonly called Lace Cap Hydrangeas have a cluster of sterile blooms in the center with open fertile flowers around the outside edge.

Hydrangea anomala subsp Petiolaris is a vining hydrangea to plant at the base of a tree or on a north-facing wall where it will climb over 25-feet and bloom late spring. It can also be grown as a shade blooming ground cover.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Moonlight' has heart shaped leaves mottled with silvery highlights. Moonlight is a clinging vine for shade that is related to Hydrangea.

When deciding on a location for Hydrangeas, find a place that is close to a source of water and where it will be protected from afternoon sun.

Hydrangeas need to be planted in amended soil for good drainage. Dig a hole about the size of a bushel basket and add finely shredded tree bark, peat moss and compost to the soil you put back into the planting hole.

The Hydrangea Society closest to Oklahoma is MidSouth-Memphis. Membership is $10 a year and includes an informative quarterly newsletter and free admission to their annual members only tour in June. Contact Linda Lanier at midsouthhydrdangea@comcast.net, or, Linda Orton, president at ks_meadowlark@yahoo.com, or 901-383-4433.

18 June 2008

Hydrangea Society Tour in Memphis Tennessee

A few of us traveled to Memphis to the annual hydrangea tour. This year's tour included Memphis Botanical Garden, the gardens at the Dixon Gallery, and three private gardens.

At the sale, the volunteers had everything set up beautifully. There was a table full of hydrangea flowers labeled with the variety, so attendees would be able to identify the flower they were looking for under the plant tent.

In addition, we visited two nurseries, one of which was GardensOyVey.
As you walk through GardensOyVey, you stroll through paths of plants, pass the pond in this photo, and generally enjoy a beautiful place created by people who love plants.
This is the one I bought at OyVey. It is the climbing hydrangea that grows in practically full shade.

If you have a chance to attend a plant society tour, take advantage of it. Being around people who love plants makes for a nice vacation.

16 June 2008

Enabling Garden Planted

It is amazing what a small group of committed individuals can do to create beauty.

A little pocket park was created years ago when Okmulgee St. was extended into Chandler Road in Muskogee OK.

The park was planted with tulips by Lela Robison and her son's Boy Scout troop. Robison's family worked with Muskogee Parks and Recreation Dept. on the funding so raised beds with irrigation would be put in place.

Muskogee Garden Club voted to invest $1,000 in new plants and ten volunteers came out this Saturday to put them into the beds. In addition to the purchased plants and mulch, Blossom's Garden Center donated flats of annuals to brighten the park until the perennials get established.

The Enabling Garden is meant to be enjoyed by everyone but especially by the elderly, children and anyone in a wheelchair.

Robison's family, Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department and Muskogee Garden Club hope to bring more features to the garden in the years ahead but this is a great start.

If you are in the Muskogee area, bring a picnic and the family over to enjoy this new attraction.

15 June 2008

Build Yourself an Earth Tainer for Tomatoes with Plans Compliments of Ray Newstead

Imagine a tomato planter that holds 10-gallons of water, keeping your plants happily moist while conserving water.
Californian Ray Newstead was inspired by a product he saw and thought he could improve upon. Newstead made his planters out of easy to find plastic containers for a cost of under $25.

Photo: Valencia tomatoes
The plans are free at the Tomato Fest site though you are requested to make a donation to Feed the Children in exchange for downloading the plans.
The 16-page plan document format is Adobe PDF.
Newstead's Earth Tainer site looks new; the plans are not available on it yet.

Flowering on Father's Day

Feverfew from Moonshadow Herb Farm is gracing one of the hot beds. In our yard, a hot bed is one that is not protected by trees, buildings or shrubs.
It has two Latin names
Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium

Feverfew is of course used for for fever and headache as well as other ailments. The leaves are eaten fresh or dried and made into capsules.

I love it's flower's sunny side up egg look.

Also blooming today is this beauty of a hydrangea. It was a gift and the tag is nowhere to be found but I'd love to know its name. Any idea?

One of the vegetable gardens got a much needed weeding today since it was cool-ish and breezy until noon.
A little turtle that was living among the weeds was displaced and a few desirable plants came out with the weeds but that's all part of the deal when the weeds have become over 6-inches tall before the gardener gets around to pulling them.

More lilies are blooming today and I'll get photos of them tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I hope you men had a celebrated Father's Day and that the ladies were happy all day.

14 June 2008

Lovely Lilies

This is an exceptional time of year for those of us who love lilies. They are blooming, showing their stuff after lying dormant under the ground all winter.

What's so amazing about lilies, is that each flower lasts for several weeks before it falls. Compare that to tulips that basically last one day.

The North American Lily Society has photos to temp you to get some of these beauties into your garden beds. Click on the Image Gallery link and look at the photos - you will find something irresistible.

12 June 2008

NYT - Vegetable Gardening Popular

We are not alone in our quest for great fresh produce from our own garden.

Getting exercise and saving money while growing healthy food has hit a new high.

Click on the link to read the article.

Banking on Gardening in the New York Times

Photo: SWEATING FOR DINNER Doreen Howard, of Roscoe, Ill., has quadrupled the size of her vegetable plot because of the economy.

Published: June 11, 2008


Seed companies and garden shops say that not since the rampant inflation of the 1970s has there been such an uptick in interest in growing food at home. Space in community gardens across the country has been sold out for several months. In Austin, Tex., some of the gardens have a three-year waiting list.

George C. Ball Jr., owner of the W. Atlee Burpee Company, said sales of vegetable and herb seeds and plants are up by 40 percent over last year, double the annual growth for the last five years.

“You don’t see this kind of thing but once in a career,” he said. Mr. Ball offers half a dozen reasons for the phenomenon, some of which have been building for the last few years, like taste, health and food safety, plus concern, especially among young people, about global warming.
But, Mr. Ball said, “The big one is the price spike.” The striking rise in the cost of staples like bread and milk has been accompanied by increases in the price of fruits and vegetables.

Food prices have spiked because of fuel prices and they redounded to the benefit of the garden,” Mr. Ball said. “People are driving less, taking fewer vacations, so there is more time to garden.”

Each spring for the last five years, the Garden Writers Association has had TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, a polling firm, conduct a national consumer telephone survey asking gardeners what makes up the greatest share of their garden budgets. “The historic priorities are lawns, annuals, perennials, then vegetables, followed by trees and shrubs,” said Robert LaGasse, executive director of the association. This year, vegetables went from fourth place to second, which Mr. LaGasse called “an enormous attitude shift.”

Seed companies and garden centers say they didn’t see the rush coming. There wasn’t any buildup last year, said Barbara Melera, the co-owner of the D. Landreth Seed Company in New Freedom, Pa., who takes the pulse of gardeners at the 13 garden shows she attends around the country each year.

“We pack for all the shows and bring 16 different beans, 10 packets for each kind,” Ms. Melera said. In earlier years, by the time the shows end in March, she said, “we are lucky if we have sold two of the 10 packets.”

“This year,” she said, “we sold out the first show and literally sold hundreds. We never sell any corn; this year we sold out of corn by the end of the season. We saw the same thing in the mail order business.”

Thrilled as gardening experts are about this phenomenon, they know that many first timers don’t have any idea how much sweat equity is involved.

Mr. Ball of Burpee knows some of the new gardeners won’t stick with gardening beyond the first year. “Some people can’t get with the idea of digging a hole; getting buggy, sticky and hot,” he said. “Gardening is an active hobby; it’s a commitment.”

Doreen G. Howard, a former garden editor for Woman’s Day and now a writer for The American Gardener, is one of the committed. She has had a vegetable garden for most of the last 25 years.

This year she has quadrupled the size of her vegetable plot in Roscoe, Ill., because of the economy and because she thinks the quality of store-bought produce has deteriorated. Once vegetables were just 5 percent of her garden; now they are 20 percent.

Some of Ms. Howard’s increased harvest will also go to food pantries through an organization called Plant a Row for the Hungry, which encourages gardeners to plant extra vegetables to share with the poor.

11 June 2008

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville

Borrow some ideas for your garden
Sometimes the best idea for your garden is borrowed from someone else's garden and then adapted to your space and growing conditions.

Since you can't go wandering into other people's yards, the next best idea is to visit public botanical gardens.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks (www.bgozarks.org) in Fayetteville is a relatively new addition to the area's botanical attractions. The Gardens are easy to walk among, plants are well identified and the new space makes a pleasant outing.

It took several years for the botanical garden to move from idea to reality and now the first nine gardens are open to the public from 9 am to 8 pm every day except Monday.

“Northwest Arkansas gardeners are the ones behind this entire project,” said Sarah King,
Director of Community Programs.

It's instructive to note that The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is the result of a volunteer-led, grassroots effort. Incorporated in 1994, the Director, Donna Porter received a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust in 1997 to support a paid position for one year. The agreement with the city came in 1997 to use 90 acres of land off Highway 265 on the bank of Lake Fayetteville. Then, the Portico Group specialists in designing botanical gardens, was hired to design a Master Plan.

When Carl Totemeier, Vice President Emeritus of the New York Botanical Garden, retired and moved to the area, he became the Garden's volunteer Director from the spring of 2001 until his death in 2004.

Totemeier provided a clear roadmap for Garden construction and operation. The Fayetteville City Council approved a lease agreement that permits the Botanical Garden to use the site for a minimum of 100 years.
Construction of a timber-framed horticulture center began in 2003, and in July 2004 the Fayetteville City Council approved a grant of $750,000 to be used to complete construction of the center of the parking area.

A friend of the garden, Ed Clement, offered to pay the first year's salary of the Garden's first Director of Operations, Scott Starr.

King said, “Everything from design to plants and hardscape (sidewalks, planters, etc.) is in keeping with our mission of sustainability and using regional materials.”

Other grants aided in the garden's construction.

In 2005, a grant from the Arkansas Forestry Commission supported hydrological studies and development of a plan for stream and riparian zone restoration and in 2006 the City for Garden construction designated a grant from the State Outdoor Recreation Program.

Other major donors prior to 2007 included Tyson Foods, Inc., the Tyson Family Foundation, Barbara Tyson, Ed Clement, the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, Wal-Mart/SAM'S Foundation, and the Arkansas State Legislature. Other donors provided funds for theme garden construction.

“Fayetteville artist, Hank Kaminsky designed and constructed a bronze butterfly sculpture and fountain for the Sensory Garden,” King said. “The base will have words in several languages including Braille. The sculpture is a memorial to Master Gardener and Farmers Market vendor Martha Barton and the Master Gardeners raised the funding.”

The Carl A. Totemeier Horticulture Center and the nine Phase 1 gardens were dedicated in 2006. An individual, family or group sponsored each of the gardens.

The individual gardens surround a central lawn and include: Ozark Native Garden, Sensory Garden, Shade Garden, Four Seasons Garden, Children's Garden, Vegetable Garden and a Japanese Garden that is not completed.

“The Shade Garden has plant-laden chairs that were designed and planted by Susan Regan,” King said.

“The Children’s Garden sponsor was philanthropist Barbara Tyson,” King said. “Retired horticulturist Gerald Klingaman built the central structure which probably would have cost us $100,000 if he had not volunteered to do it.”

Membership in the garden includes free admission plus admission to other gardens around the country that are in the botanical garden community of the American Horticultural Society. Admission for non-members is $5. Another benefit of membership is an email newsletter with announcements of upcoming events such as classes and concerts. Basic annual membership costs $35 for an individual and $50 for a family.

King said, “This is a great destination for Muskogee families who love beauty, art and gardens, not just plant people. With only 8 of the 90-acres built, there will be new things to see every year.”

Upcoming evening events include: June 19 Trout Fishing in America Concert and June 22 Greenweave Firefly Festival.

Information: www.bgozarks.org/ Sarah King 479.750.2620 and sarahking@bgozarks.org

The Joys of June

THORNLESS BLACKBERRY bushes with names like Navajo, Arapaho Cherokee, Choctaw and others were developed at the University of Arkansas. The canes are erect, heavy bearing, free of thorns and relatively disease free.

Our original plants from Stark Brothers were planted in January 2000. The first year they laid on the weed cloth and did little but since then they have stood tall and pumped out the fruit.

8-years later, the suckers are producing as you can see in the photo.

GARLIC is an irresistible plant: It never lets you down, every head and every clove is valued at the stove and table as it seasons pizza,soup, salad, jars and jars of pickles, eggplant caviar, canned tomatoes etc. Have you ever had baked garlic as a bread spread? Oh, my.

The cloves we put in last October are almost ready to harvest and dry.

The photo is of the scapes that form on the top of the garlic greens. The scapes are usually removed to aid in bulb development and can be eaten in salads or made into a pesto.Waste not want not.

For the first time we are trying KANDY CORN. As you can see, the tassels are forming. Did you know that every kernel of corn on the cob is the result of a flower being individually pollinated? Keep the bees happy in your garden!

The ELDERBERRIES are blooming in the side yard and smell just like honey. We plan to put onion bags on a few flower heads so we can have some of the berries before the birds eat them. Such an easy to grow, beautiful shrub or tree.

The lettuce I planted in the front of the flower beds has mostly gone to seed from the heat. The edible pea pods, too. I'm leaving them in place to see if I can harvest the seeds for a fall planting.

10 June 2008

McGardening, Salads for All Seasons and Preserving What the Garden Produces

Remember when the expression McMansion came into our vocabulary? It was when people started tearing down small-ish houses and building big homes on the lot, crowding the neighbors. Also, the term is used when someone buys a hillside and puts up a ginormous house that isn't quite a 50,000 square foot Steve Jobs size place but an eyesore nonetheless.

Today on the radio, a panel was discussing McThinking. They say Americans McThink now that we are drowning in McFacts. We do not take the time to actually think and we are dumber than our parents were.

An Internet search on the word McThink yields the usual two-million results with hits for McWriting (blogging), McReading (scanning everything available on the Internet and magazines as well as skimming books), etc. No real reading or thinking.

Annie of Annie's Annuals calls McGardening, the practice of shopping only for common plants in full bloom.

I was doing what I considered McThinking today while McGardening. I was actually pulling weeds halfheartedly while thinking about not much at all. What are some of the other things we do half- heartedly that could be named with some sort of Mc preface?

One of the Mc-activities I love is reading books about gardens, gardening, and all the related topics. Here are a couple of new ones for your McConsideration.

Organic grower Piers Warren has a new book out, How to Store Your Garden Produce

from Chelsea Green Publishing.

The premise is an excellent one. How do you preserve more of the summer's bounty for the winter table?

Grocery bills can be reduced and health improved by growing some of our own produce. Taking it a step further, Warren suggests that we become more self-sufficient by planting enough to store food to feed a family of four.
How to cure onions, make pickles and apple cider, freeze fruit, make fruit butter and jam - all packaged in a paperback 135-pages long.

The author gardens in England but all the recipe quantities provide U.S. equivalents.

Another book I could suggest for a day of McGardening (lying in the hammock)
for your reading pleasure is
Salad Leaves for All Seasons: Organic Growing From Pot to Plot
by Charles Dowding

Stay out of the grocery produce and grow your own using the advice of experienced grower Charles Dowding. To see Dowding's organic gardening website click here.

The first eight chapters provide practical growing information. How to sow, space seeds, harvest, build raised beds, planting schedules, sowing dates, garden pests, etc.

Part two is which salad leaves to plant in each season and then about 20 pages of recipes. Part three describes possible varieties of salad greens, their growing needs and how to maximize your results.

If you love salad greens and have been wondering how to have more of them throughout the year, this volume will give you lots of ideas.

The problem with both of these books is that they are really good and they will inspire you to get up and do something which is completely out of the realm of summer McLaziness.

09 June 2008

Botanical Gardens are Rich Resources

There are many public gardens around the country. Some of them provide more than just a beautiful place to walk and observe garden design.

This photo is from a recent visit to the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
- it is a plant surrounded by glass stones in a planter that is at eye level.

The website for the New York Botanical Garden has a What's In Bloom link that shows which flowers bloom when - a useful tool for planning your garden.

Bowman's Hill Wildlife Preserve in PA provides wildflower bloom by month.

Although it's not a botanical garden per se, the University of Arkansas site is not to be missed for its informative articles on botanical topics by Janet Carson, Gerald Klingaman and Stephan Vann.

The Birmingham Alabama garden also provides a list of flowers blooming month by month.

At the Kemper Center for Plant Information in MO gardeners can explore and discover plants of distinction, pesticide information, nurseries and their plant inventories, and Plant Finder with 4,000 Kemper plants identified and described.

Photo: Lettuce and mustard
thrive in the flower beds at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville Arkansas.

UCB Botanical Garden offers a botanical photo of the day delivered to your email inbox.

Don't miss the Botanical Web Portal a sort of master site with links to all things botanical including botanical and public gardens.

Yahoo has a list of botanical gardens that makes for good plant browsing as well as vacation planning.

If learning is on your to-do list right now, Cornell University is offering online classes in botanical illustration, organic gardening and plant propagation. Tuition ranges from $300 to $500. At the link you can register or request notification of future offerings.