29 November 2008

Lycoris Radiata - Sparkling Red Surprise Spider Lilies

Lycoris Radiata is the most wonderful of surprises when it blooms in the fall. This is the time to plant some in your garden to have their red sparkle light up your 2009 fall.

Easy To Grow Bulbs

They bloom in September when you have forgotten all about them. Then, all of a sudden on 2-foot tall, leafless, stems there they are.

Spider Lilies come in other colors. Lycoris albiflora is white, Lycoris x houdyshelii is light yellow/cream, Golden is practically orange, Tie Dye is pink and blue, etc.

Like most flowers, they need some sun to bloom so avoid deeply shady spots. Also, like most bulbs they have to be in a place that drains well so a raised bed, a slight slope, near shrub or tree roots works best. If I'm worried about drainage I put a little gravel at the bottom of the planting hole.

They may not bloom the first year but when they do, you can cut them for vases in the house.

Sources with links
Easy to Grow Bulbs
Touch of Nature
Plant Delights Nursery

FERTILIZING BULBS Bulbs can be burned by fertilizer at their roots, so just sprinkle it on the top of the soil and water in newly planted bulbs. In future years, fertilize after the blooms fade.
Here's some solid advice from the Minnesota Master Gardener site about fertilizing bulbs.

Typically bulb fertilizer is slow release, like 9-9-6, 4-10-6, 5-10-20 or 10-10-20. The 9-9-6 is ideal for most bulbs including lilies, tulips, etc. Daffodil experts recommend using slow release 5-10-20 or 10-10-20.

If you do not have bulb fertilizer, use 2-3 pounds of 5-10-10 per 100 square feet.

Garden lilies are fertilized in the spring as shoots emerge. Use 5-10-10 or 10-20-20. A second application of fertilizer is recommended just before flowering.

Organic gardeners use cottonseed meal, greensand and bone meal for the 3 components.

27 November 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 was a beautiful day here - 75-degrees, sunny and not windy. What more could you ask from the weather? Little gardening happened, just a few plants watered. Otherwise just food and time to read.

I hope your day was rewarding, whether that means a big gathering or a book read or a walk taken.

Here's what's happening at our place. Out of frustration that the Aconitum, Wolf's Bane or Monk's Hood refuses to spread into a good size colony, the seed heads have been bagged so the seeds can be planted in pots when they ripen.
Doug Green has some growing tips, including the seeds' need for cold stratification. Backyard Gardener says the seeds take 20 days to germinate. Chiltern Seeds offers 14 varieties if these fail to germinate, so no problem.

The latest construction project is to update a back entry by removing a concrete step and replacing it with a little deck. Today, the concrete was hammered out. Tomorrow the area will be re-measured to decide where to put the braces.

The sandstones and concrete hunks will become the extension of the shade garden so the sunny edge can be a rock garden.

At night it dips into the 20s or 30s but during the day we still have temperate and sunny hours to clean beds and play outside.

Become A Friend of Honor Heights Park

Honor Heights Park is one of Muskogee's primary attractions for area residents and tourists. The bird sanctuary, arboretum, cookout pavilions, picnic areas, lighted tennis courts, playground, splash pad, lake and paddleboats bring thousands to the park every year.

In the spring, the Azalea Festival starts the season. Then, Symphony in the Park highlights the summer and the Garden of Lights ends the park’s busy season.

A new project on the drawing board for the park will be an update and provide an additional attraction. The back wall of the former bathhouse has already been remodeled to accommodate a Teaching Garden, Nature Education Center and Butterfly House.

For the last two years, a small group of citizens has been visiting similar attractions in surrounding cities from St. Louis to Dallas. Muskogee's version will be smaller, less expensive to build and will require less funding to operate.

At the same time, Mark Wilkerson, Director of Parks and Recreation has pointed out that some existing features of Honor Heights Park need to be improved. The waterfall needs repair work, ice storm damaged plantings should be replaced and playground equipment should be updated.

To address the new gardens and Butterfly House as well as to build a community of people who want to help improve and maintain the park, a non-profit organization was formed, Friends of Honor Heights Park.

Friends of Honor Heights Park is a registered 501c3 organization so contributions are tax deductible. A board will be formed to make decisions about how funds will be used.

Initially, the fund raising is focused on building the Teaching Gardens and Butterfly House as well as purchasing plants and butterflies to make the experience of learning about nature as exciting as possible.

The existing building is going to become a nature education center with rooms that can be used for classes, garden club meetings, etc.

The architect’s plans for the new fence-enclosed garden space show plenty of concrete surfaces with walkways to provide an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages. The area will be rented for weddings and events.

The benefits of membership in Friends of Honor Heights Park include: Free admission to the first year of the Gardens and Butterfly House operation; An email newsletter of announcing upcoming events and classes; Discounts on classes (gardening, butterflies, birding, conservation, etc.); An annual members-only event.

Oklahoma is home to hundreds of species of native butterflies, skippers and moths. Creating a habitat for butterfly caterpillars and adult butterflies preserves the plant, animal and bird diversity of the state.

The Butterfly House will have captive butterflies in an indoor garden where groups, children, visitors and students of nature will be able to enjoy watching them.

All funds collected through Friends will be used to support new projects and to continue the beautification of Honor Heights Park.

Become a Friend of Honor Heights Park. Send your name, mailing address, email address, telephone number and check to Friends of Honor Heights Park, 4211 High Oaks, Muskogee OK 74401.

Basic Membership costs $25 for an individual and $35 for a family (two adults and their children). Larger contributions can be made to the organization and naming rights are available for some features such as the education center, butterfly house, etc.

To receive a membership form by email, contact me at MollyDay1@gmail.com or information@muskogeeparks.org.

I also have the designer's plan available to send out via email upon request.

For more information, call Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department, 918-684-6302.

24 November 2008

Sissy What?

The great clean out of 2008 continues. Books are being listed on PaperbackSwap and donated to the local library for their book sales. Today boxes of books are going to a college in Tulsa for their graduate students' benefit.

There are also short stacks of those magazines you get when you join plant societies. Each year I join a different one or two to see what's going on.

In the October issue of the Iris Society Bulletin, there are 10 or 15 photos of Sisyrinchiums, otherwise known by names such as Blue Eyed Grass.

One featured plant in the article, Olsynium junceum, has a pale pale lavender flower with deeper lavender stripes. Other names are: Sisyrinchium Quaint and Queer, E K Balls, Devon Skies, Rocky Point, and then several Latin names like S. striatum. Gotta love those.

All of the Sisyrinchiums in these photos are available for purchase from Plant Delights Nursery online. The photos are theirs as well. Click to enlarge or go to their site.
Characteristically, Sisyrinchiums have leaves like an iris. They are members of the same plant family.
The S. palmifolium flower heads are more like other bulbs you have seen in public gardens and maybe in your own.

Edmund and Rita Heaton, the authors and photographers for the article said that some garden show visitors have declared their precious Sisyrinchiums to be weeds.

They say in the article that they began collecting 25-years ago and now have 250 different species and cultivars, including the related Olsynium and Solenomelus. They also have 26-genera of Tigridieae Tribe, Neomarica, Trimezia and seudotrimezia, Habranthus and
Zephyranthes (also known as Rain Lily).

Tidbits from their writing -
The Sisyrinchium genus has the greatest longitudinal range of any member of the Iridaceae (Iris) family.
They vary in height from 1-inch to over five-feet tall.
Sisyrinchium species are originally from Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, southeastern US, Uruguay, Canada - indeed a wide range of horticultural zones.
Their favorite is Devon Skies, which arose spontaneously in their yard. It is 6-inches tall, compact and its flowers are intense blue.

Dragon's Eye, from California, has large pale lavender petals with plum-purple veins. Quaint and Queer has alternate segmens of beige and purple-brown with a yellow eye; grows to one-foot tall.

Olsynium is related to Sisyninchium but blooms earlier. Their favorites are O. douglasii with an American name of Satin Flower. It's native to the west coast of the US.

The white Olsynium filifolium is native to Chile and the Falkland Islands where it is the national flower.

They grow in lush meadows, volcanic sites, bogs, swamps; acid and alkaline soil. Constantly wet feet will doom them though.

Like other iris family members, they thrive best if dug and divided every few years.

This quote is essential, "Most Sisyrinchium and Olsynium species currently available grow easily from seed." (Oh, goodie, I thought.) Then, this, "However, patience is needed for Sisyrinchium palmifolium as this species can take up to 18-months to germinate...."

Supposedly there are varieties for zones 5 through 10.
Are you growing any of these? Did you try any from seed? Do tell!

Swallowtail Garden Seeds has Blue Eyed Grass seeds - 75 for $3.00;
Prairie Moon Nursery sells the roots - $4.
But, I'm curious about the other 249 species. What do you have and how well do they thrive in your gardens?

23 November 2008

Bury Greenhouse Gas

A creative approach to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is being explored. How about capturing the gas and burying it in the ground?

It's an idea that has not been actually tested yet but MIT engineers have worked out the software to determine how much CO2 can be sequestered safely in geological formations.

The Future of Coal, says that capturing CO2 at coal-burning power plants and storing it in deep geological basins will reduce its effects on the atmosphere. They are not sure yet just how much can be stored without underground faults becoming tunnels that send the CO2 back up.

The scientists think that one river basin would hold 5 gigatons of CO2 which is more than half of CO2 emitted by the United States each year. (Half? 10 gigatons is what the US emits EVERY year? Yikes.)

MIT reported the new idea in managing greenhouse gas. Science Daily has the story on their email newsletter this weekend. Click on the Science Daily link to read more.

I am grateful that creative minds are working on solving the problem but doesn't it seem like burying CO2 inside the planet is odd?

Certainly I don't understand the scale of the problem well enough to suggest that maybe we could slow down our annual CO2 production to something less than 10 gigatons.

22 November 2008

Wooly, Needle Mouthed Bugs That Leave a Sticky Mess

Jerry Gustafson, Tulsa Master Gardener extraordinaire provided timely information about a recent infestation of Wooly Aphids. They represent another sound reason to encourage beneficial insects in our environment.
A tip of the Fiskars to Jerry for his MG work, reflected in the information below.

Wooly Aphids will twist leaves and turn them yellow. They will eat the twigs on trees and shrubs. They are pear shaped and have needle like mouths. They are covered with white fuzzy stuff and leave sticky sap wherever they eat. Ick.

When enough of them get together on the same plants, they leave a shiny appearance on the plants and anything around the plants. Weak and young trees and shrubs will die or be stunted.

If the Lady Beetles, lacewings and parasitic flies don't move in to dine on the aphids, infested branches can be pruned out, removed from the area and burned or quarantined.
Beneficial insects will come to the rescue. All we have to do is stop spraying chemicals that harm them and plant some food for their reproduction such as: Bridal wreath spirea, pussy willow, cilantro, dandylion, roquette, mustards, false dandylion (early season) and other high pollen producers, like corn, sudex, and sunflowers.

Interested in learning more about beneficials? Try these three clicks.
Only systemic insecticides will kill Wooly Aphids. Acephate can be used but will kill the beneficial insects when they do arrive. Contact insecticides and soap won't cut through the wax to kill these guys. When the infestation becomes controlled, the leaves will remain waxy and curled.

The Oklahoma Biosurvey site of plants and animals found in the state has photos of all creatures great and small including Wooly Aphids.

A North Carolina State Extension fact sheet is the source for some information above.
If you have to resort to Acephate, it can be found in products such as Orthene, Asataf, Pillarthene, Kitron, Aimthane, Ortran, Ortho 12420,Ortril, Chrevron RE 12420, and Orthene 755 (116, 9).

20 November 2008

It's Time for Holiday Poinsettias

Sarah Jane Carson, 12-week old daughter of Holly and Pete Carson. Sarah may be growing poinsettias for dad some day.

Next Monday, November 24, Pete Carson will open Carson Borovetz Nursery for his annual Poinsettia sales event. Native to Southern Mexico, Poinsettias, Euphorbia pulchenima, dominate holiday home and office d├ęcor to the tune of 80-million sold each year.

This year we are offering four sizes and most of the colors available, said Carson.

Shoppers will find over 2,000 plants in various sizes and colors at the nursery. Here is a rundown of the poinsettias choices this year at Carson Bororvetz.

Casual observers never notice the Poinsettia flowers because they are so tiny. The colorful leaves or bracts that bring seasonal cheerfulness into our winter environment are not actually flowers.

Carson pointed out that even before the bracts turn colors you could see what color they will be by looking at the petiole or leaf stem. All the plants have green leaves when they are growing in October. But the stem that connects the leaf to the main stems carries the eventual bract color. Look for red stems on red poinsettias.

Carson will have white, pink, red, Monet, maroon, Winter Rose and Marble.

I have three or four reds this year, Carson said. People have their own preferences and I try to have something for everyone.

Marble has pink centers with white fringe. New growth is pale green in the center with cream outer edges.

Maroon has large burgundy bracts.

Monet is a watercolor mix of dusty pinks and creams.

Winter Rose is double dark red bloom with curved or curled bracts.


Pixie is a 4.5-inch pot miniature with 6 to 8 blooms. Ideal for tabletop, bedside, desks.

Six and one-half-inch pots have 2 plants per container and there will be 12-blooms. This size is the most popular for home coffee tables and in churches.

Eight-inch pots contain 3-plants, planted close together to create a taller display. This height is often used around a fireplace when it is not burning.

Hanging baskets are 10-inches in diameter and will have 20-blooms.

In the middle of August when most gardeners are sipping iced tea, Carson received four thousand Poinsettia plant cuttings. When they arrived their root ball was about as big around as a ballpoint pen.

All Poinsettias are hybrids grown from cuttings, Carson said. Each variety has different growing characteristics that I’ve learned over the past 25-years.

For example, a cloudy spell will impact when the bracts become colorful. August and September heat, an October hard freeze and insect migrations, all have to be worked around. Carson keeps both growing houses controlled with fans and heaters to keep the Poinsettias at their required 75-degree daytime and 64-degree nighttime temperatures.

Carson said he has learned from experience how many of each color to grow and which size pots Muskogee area holiday shoppers need.

By the way, Poinsettias are not poisonous. A few individuals have an allergic rash after touching the sap inside the stems of all Euphorbias.

Carson Borovetz Nursery
3020 North Street between South Country Club and York Streets
Monday November 24 through December 24
Monday to Saturday 9 to 6
Sunday noon to 6
918.682.4404 and 348-1270 cell
- Temperature is critical to long lasting color. Keep away from television, stove, fireplace, furnace ducts, cold windowsills and doors that are frequently opened.
- Night temperature of 60-degrees F is ideal
- Water twice a week and drain the saucer after every watering.

17 November 2008

Felder Rushing at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville Arkansas

Have you met Felder Rushing yet? Here's a link to his website.
Rushing spoke on Saturday at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. He entertained us with his presented topic, Slow Gardening: Less Input and More Rewards.

Before the event and during the break everyone took advantage of the home cooked treats.

The Flower, Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas organized the event and put on a very impressive brunch for the 100 plant lovers who attended.
Lynn Rogers, garden writer for several NW Arkansas publications, and a friend of Rushing, introduced him.
Gail Pianalto, the co-chair of BGOzark's programs committee, spoke about the many great events at BGOZARK. Pianalto was awarded the 2008 Garden Crusader Award for Education. Gardener's Supply Company created the award to recognize individuals like Gail, who make a difference in their community through their passion for gardening. Any child or adult who has been in Gail's presence understands why she deserves that award and more.

- I have 10 bottle trees in my yard. If it is OK to hang things from holes in your ears, it is OK to do fun stuff in your yard.
- Putting feed in the bird feeder, raking leaves instead of blowing them because that rakey sound is better than the blowy sound, having a rain gauge because it makes you use all your senses — that makes you a gardener.
- You really don’t have to have your soil tested to be a good gardener even though Master Gardeners tell you to.
- You can prune roses with cherry bombs, and they’ll still bloom. You can start roses from cuttings you just stick in dirt.
- Plant any color flower next to any other color flower.
- Go to a garden center and get a nice pot and some potting soil. Stick some spring bulbs in it, then put pansies on top. Now you are gardening.
- Rushing's books are said to be equally delightful. Do you have any? Which ones do you like best?
- If he is new to you, click on the link above and check out his yard. It explodes with creativity.

16 November 2008

Huntleyas and Related Orchids - New Book by Patricia A. Harding

If you have ever wondered what leads to the writing of informative, beautiful, enviable books such as Huntleyas and Related Orchids by Patricia Harding, her preface is an ideal place to begin.
Harding writes that when she and Carl Withner completed their work on The Debatable Epidendrums, she had time on her hands and wanted to work on a similar project.

Harding is an orchid collector and grower with degrees in botany and medicine. She wanted a reference for the identification of orchid species, so she wrote one.

A fellow orchid enthusiast, Manfred Speckmaier offered his collection of difficult-to-come-by photographs. Then, modern plant DNA testing allowed Mark Whitten to publish the science needed for Harding to clarify the divisions.

Retiring provided the time and energy for Harding to continue to pursue her 30-year orchid hobby into writing books.

This is an example of how, given enough time and the right circumstances, creative individuals allow their life's work to flow through them sparked by intelligence and intuition.

It's what Carl Jung called Synchronicity or Serendipity: the happy accidents (collisions?) of thought, connection, and people that come together and lead us in Life. (You know, luck, uncanny confluence of events, meaningful coincidences, etc.)

CONTENTS Harding describes the shared traits of Huntleya Orchids. They lack a pseudobulb, or at least not a prominent one, because they grow in wet, humid, misty environments and do not need the storage capacity provided by a pseudobulb.

They have succulent roots instead and their roots grow on tree trunks or lower branches out of the wind.

The single Huntleya flowers range in colors of red-purple, brilliant red, blue lips, yellows, green, white and white-yellow. The flower shapes range from spread and flat to bell-like tubular.

Harding says that growing Huntleya orchids can become habit forming - the plants are small or moderate sized and therefore easy to accommodate.

MORE ABOUT ORCHIDS There are dozens of Internet sites dedicated to orchids for your perusing pleasure. One is www.orchidspecies.com/ and another is The American Orchid Society at www.aos.org - both sites have lots of other links to click.

THE BOOK IS beautifully illustrated with hundreds of photographs. The history of discovery and collection, the etymology, descriptive keys to the species, description, range and horticultural information are all included in one volume - a real treat for collectors.

Huntleyas and Related Orchids by Patricia A. Harding, Timber Press, www.timberpress.com, hardcover, 260-pages, about 7.5 by 10-inches, 150 photographs and 5-line drawings, ISBN
ISBN-13:9780881928846, $40 from the publisher, $27 on Amazon.

Harding wanted to write a definitive book about Huntleya Orchids and she has accomplished her goal beautifully.

13 November 2008

Russell Studebaker To Speak in Muskogee OK

Next Thursday, November 20, Russell Studebaker will be the speaker at Muskogee Garden Club’s monthly meeting. The public is invited to attend.

Studebaker retired as senior horticulturist from Tulsa Parks and Recreation Department several years ago. A well-known garden writer and speaker, In Our Gardens is the Tulsa World garden column Studebaker has written for 28-years.

(Bluebell seeds and plants are available from Prairiemoon Nursery online and 866-417-8156. Photo used with their permission.)

The topic of his slide presentation and talk for the garden club will be, Beyond Hostas: Other Socially Acceptable Perennials for Shade Gardens.

I have a small garden at home with more shade than sun, Studebaker said. I grow lots of native perennials. Spring flowers in my garden begin with ephemerals such as, Blood Root, Trilliums, Virginia Bluebells and Gold Heart Bleeding Heart.

Studebaker knows plants. During his tenure at Tulsa Parks and Recreation, over 75,000 bedding plants were grown and planted yearly, an azalea garden of 15,000 plants was established in Woodward Park, and Woodward Park's Municipal Rose Garden was increased to 9,000 rose plants.

I love cannas and have 8 or 10 varieties in my garden, Studebaker said. I have terrific perennial, narrow-leaf sunflowers in my garden, Helianthus angustifolus that becomes a 5-foot tall blaze of yellow in the fall.

Studebaker will be autographing and selling his books for $20 after the Garden Club meeting.

Jackson & Perkins Beautiful Roses Made Easy - Great Plains Edition is 224-pages of useful information and photographs for beginning and experienced gardeners. Topics include everything a gardener needs to know to grow all types of roses in our area.

I have a few roses in my garden, Studebaker said. The ones that require no spraying are the only ones that make the cut because I do not seem to have the time for weekly disease and insect spraying.

Studebaker’s other book, Jackson & Perkins Selecting, Growing, and Combining Outstanding Perennials - Great Plains Edition will help gardeners select, plant, grow and maintain perennials. It includes a directory of plant profiles and perennial garden designs.

Other reliable perennials in Studebaker’s Tulsa cottage garden include: Grasses such as Muhly Grass, Porcupine Grass, Hellebores, Senecios, heirloom and species Iris, Lilies, Hardy Begonias, Celadine Poppies, several kinds of fall Asters and the Oklahoma native Palm, Sabal minor.

This year I made a new rock garden, Studebaker said. It has Hostas, Ferns, Acorus, Chinese Gingers, Hardy Orchids, Sedges and a few summer annuals that needed the same type of bed.

Gardeners may have seen Studebaker’s writings in magazines such as Horticulture, The American Gardener, Fine Gardening and the Oklahoma Gardener. He is the chair of the Winter Lecture Series for the Oklahoma Horticultural Society, which annually brings national garden authors to lecture in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

In the early spring, Russell leads a group of 30 or more garden enthusiasts on an heirloom daffodil tour that travels by car around the Tahlequah area, ending up at the Murrell Home in Park Hill.

His home greenhouse and studio are filled with plants that over-winter here only with protection. That collection includes citrus trees.

Citrus trees give you fragrant flowers, you can crush the leaves for nice scent and then you have fruit, Studebaker said. I’m very fond of growing them.

With 40-years of gardening experience and award-winning writing, Studebaker has grown most everything you can grow.

Gardeners should have fun with gardening, Studebaker said. We don’t have to be serious and get stuck by the rules. We can learn by making mistakes and from what we observe in other gardens.

IF YOU GO Muskogee Garden Club Thursday, November 20
Coffee at 9:30 business meeting at 9:45, speaker at 10.
Kiwanis Senior Center at 119 Spaulding Blvd., one block behind Okmulgee
More information Oyana Wilson 918-683-5380, Anita Whitaker 918-687-6124, Lora Weatherbee 918-682-9276

12 November 2008

Achillea - Yarrow from Blooms of Bressingham - New Tutti Frutti

I went outside today with the camera to see what has survived nights in the 20s, an inch of cold rain and the fact that it is November and the days are darn short.

The purple
Alyssum Royal Carpet and pink Sweet Williams are holding their own, considering the conditions - under a maple tree. The Alyssum we grew from seed, the Sweet William plants were from Blossoms.

The Arugula has some (It's as cold-as-a-freezer-out-here!) burned edges but there is still plenty to make a salad. A few nights ago we had oven fried green tomatoes on a bed of chopped Arugula with a basil sauce.
All these plants were volunteers.

In the spring, I received some Achillea plants from Blooms of Bressingham.

Tutti Frutti Achillea varieties are new for B of B in 2008. They say they were chosen for vivid, lasting colors, compact, full habit and durability even in extreme heat and humidity.
So I put them in the ground and treated them the way I treat plants: With the best care I possibly can - given the fact that we have 2.5 acres and more plants and projects then two people can possibly do well.

The B of B information says that it has showy, solid flower colors. Blooms from June through August. The ones in our beds are still blooming and it is November 12th. Its full name is Achillea 'Pink Grapefruit' USPPAF, COPF "Yarrow". One source is Bluestone Perennials.

Have you had something in your garden surprise you with its strength and quality?

10 November 2008

Colder and Raining = Seed Planting Time and Tacky Gaudy Plant Lovers - Time To Be Counted

This is a wonderful day. Too cold and rainy to be outside much and just right for lining up the seeds that need cold stratification to bloom next year.

Seeds to plant starting this month include most tree seeds, Annual Phlox, Poppy, Virginia Bluebells, Hellebore, Roses, Monkshood, etc.

You can buy a generous amount of seed, mix it with vermiculite-sand and scatter it. Or, to reduce the amount of seed lost to birds and flood, you can plant the seeds in pots and flats and transplant them in the early spring.

Seeds that need the constant cold and wet of winter will do better outside. Alchemy-Works has a thorough column on the topic.

In addition to perennial shrubs, trees and flowers, many native plants need 60-days of moist cold.

Prairie Moon Nursery has these plants listed separately in their online store.
Click here to see their list.

Then, of course there is the master list at Tom Clothier's site. Not to be missed for serious seed starters. And, for the same crowd, the Thompson Morgan seed starting database at Backyard Gardener.

So, this morning I bought seeds to fall-winter-plant in the back wooded area of our little place. Specifically, I ordered one-eighth ounce Virginia Bluebells seed. Prairie Moon's site says that a packet is 92-seeds (who counts them?) and that an ounce is 9,700 seeds. So, I figured that the eighth ounce would give a good show.

Also ordered for the back area Sweet Flag, Lead Plant, Asclepias purpurascens - Purple Milkweed, and Eupatorium purpureum - Sweet Joe Pye Weed.

All for the butterflies and their friends, you know.


Leafing through old magazines in the great 2008 clean out that is happening here, I saw an article in which Steve Bender at Southern Living referred to Purple Majesty Millet as gaudy.

It does not seem gaudy at all here on our place, but maybe because we have so much space.

Then, I found a NYT article in which Tony Avent called Agapanthus and Kniphofia gaudy.

In fact the quote from the article is, They're great, tacky, gaudy plants, Mr. Avent said, and I think that's why they're becoming popular. People are inherently tacky and gaudy, and at certain times in history that becomes acceptable.

OK tacky and gaudy plant lovers. Let's all stand up and be counted.

08 November 2008

Garden Blogging and Bloggers

Till and Tell is the title of a column in the Baltimore Sun today.

The photo is what I found when I cleared out the frozen pumpkin, cucumber and gourd vines.

Susan Reimer wrote about the explosion in the number of garden blogs on the Internet. And, I must say that I have noticed it, too. Here are a few of her comments and you can click on the link above to read the whole column.

Great quote from the column: You imagine a blogger wearing pajamas, typing furiously on the computer in a home office overflowing with old newspapers. Someone with a lot to say and no one to listen to him, firing streams of words off into the ether of the Internet.

Reimer interviewed Susan Harris, a blogger on Garden Rant, one of the best-known garden blogs. Harris said she was lonely gardening so she started writing about it.

Jon Traunfeld of the University of Maryland's Home and Garden Information Center is also launching a blog to give the public information from the point of view of an ag extension office. Traunfeld said that food safety and prices are driving people to garden at home.
Oh, goodie, I'm not alone in my motivations for vegetable growing.

Which blogs do you read? I wish Oklahoma and Arkansas ag extensions would publish garden blogs.

07 November 2008

Organic Gardening Down South

This is a terrific new book by Nellie Neal.

I love it and here's why.

The size of the book - It is paperback, 135/144 pages with everything, and the font is large enough to read comfortably.

The presentation - The author has evidently been in the garden writing world long enough to have several books, a website (GardenMama dot com), a garden column and quarterly newsletter. Neal's style is grounded in stories about her grandparents and forward looking to include the latest theories about organic gardening methods.

The content - Chapter and their contents include building good soil, compost, rooting and propagating, plants (herbs, tomatoes, crape myrtles, trees, fruits, flowers, etc.), controlling pests organically, garden planning (why diversity is so important to a healthy garden), what to do month by month, which plants re-seed, etc.

Confession - The book just arrived and I have read only half of it - gardening took most of my time today - but it is a pleasure and I look forward to finishing every word.

Timing - This would be a great gift for anyone new to gardening, interested in organic gardening or new to gardening in warm and humid zones 8 or 9, which is the orientation of the material.

Ordered from the publisher, B. B. Mackey Books, it is $15.95 postage paid.

06 November 2008

Autumn Leaves Become Compost Thanks to Microbes

Leaves in autumn colors of red, yellow, orange and brown are falling. There was a time that piles were made in yards and on the street for children to play in. Nothing could compare with jumping in them and it was a sad day when they were burned for the season.

Today, leaf piles are still fun for kids to play in but for the most part they are no longer burned. Now we know that burning leaves creates fire danger, smoke and environmental hazards. Also, we have learned that composted leaves are one of the best nutritional tonics for our gardens.

Fall leaves, composted and dug into your garden will improve the soil and keep it productive longer each year. Digging in the compost makes gardening less expensive because less water and fertilizer are needed.

A simple compost bin can be set up in an area that is only 3-feet by 3-feet.

Leaves are high in carbon and low in nitrogen, so add nitrogen. Use fertilizer or organic matter such as grass clippings, manure, garden debris such as weeds, or green waste from the kitchen. Vegetable and fruit peels or scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags and similar non-meat, non-dairy products are best.

To add nitrogen fertilizer, put one-fourth cup of lawn fertilizer between layers of leaves. Or put a layer of weeds and kitchen waste between each layer of leaves.

“Piling the compost pile in layers is easier, but mixing everything with a pitch fork and watering the pile is better,” said Misch Lehrer, manager of Soilutions in Albuquerque NM. Soilutions (www.soilutions.net/) is an organic materials recycler.

Watering is required if you want to be sure to have great compost by spring. If you don’t need the compost for next spring, just let the pile sit for two years until it is ready.

Using the lawn mower to chop leaves can make them so fine that they form a compacted pile that doesn’t have enough air for the bacteria to grow. To open up the pile and add air space, mix in some small sticks and twigs or green matter.

When they are dug into beds, decomposed leaves and organic matter, feed the soil.

Lehrer said, “Compost is created when micro-organisms feed on organic materials and begin the biological process of breaking them down into a form that plants and soil organisms can reuse. Heat in compost is generated by the metabolism of the micro-organisms that are eating the plant material.”

“Technically, compost feeds the microbes. Microbe digestive waste and cadavers feed the plants like fertilizer,” Lehrer said.

You can also use leaves as mulch before they are decomposed. In this form they smother anything that could grow under them. A pile of leaves prevents sun, water and weed seeds from touching the ground. The leaves protect the ground from heat, cold, evaporation and wind.

Leaves left whole or in piles on the yard over winter will smother the grass underneath. Leaves piled onto an area where you want to make a vegetable or flowerbed next year will smother the weeds and encourage the soil below to soften.

Fall planted, spring blooming bulbs benefit from a layer of leaves on top by preventing rain from soaking in and rotting the bulbs.

If composting piles of leaves is not practical, fill trash bags with moistened leaves, close the bag and poke a few air holes in it. In the spring you can dig leaf compost into beds or use it as mulch around plants.

03 November 2008

Make Mine Green

Photo is a planter made out of a recycled something or other.
I saw it outside Memphis Tennessee at Gardens Oy Vey.

Joel Makower's blog, Two Steps Forward, is about the greening of business.
Today's blog entry is about Waste Management, the big trash company, refocusing itself into a materials management company by recycling more trash than it dumps into landfills.

Makower points out that we used to hear a lot about reduce, reuse, recycle but that the whole recycling effort has gone so mainstream that it is talked about less now.

Even our town of 45,000 has a recycling center that takes plastic, paper, glass, metal, cooking oil, auto oil etc. And it has free woodchips available for pickup.

Makower said, "I attended an event last week that reminded me of the growing sophistication of today's waste world. It was a private meeting convened by Waste Management and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth (and facilitated by my colleagues at GreenOrder). The event, consisting of senior environmental professionals from 25 major companies and a smattering of academics and government types, aimed to shed light on some of the issues related to e-waste, construction waste, packaging waste, food waste, and other forms of detritus."

Soilutions in Albuquerque NM is recycling restaurant food waste into compost by providing bins to the restaurants and picking up the waste.

At the household level, we can do a lot to slow down the wasting of our home, Mother Earth. So, I'm taking a survey. What are you and your neighbors doing? What are individuals, companies and public entities doing in your town?

02 November 2008

Seed Sale at Renee's Online Store

As my seed shipments arrive, I notice that some are 2008 seeds and some are 2009. None of them were on end-of-season sale so in the future I'll have to make sure I'm getting fresh seeds before I order.

Shouldn't 2008 seeds be on sale? Well, yes they should.

More ethical than some, Renee's Garden Seeds is selling all of their remaining 2008 seeds at half price. Many greens can be planted over the next couple of months and lots of flower seeds can still go onto the ground to get that winter cold stratification they need to pop open in the spring.

The sale ends November 20 and of course it is first come, first served.

Click here to go to the seed catalog on Renee's site.

Regular seed price is $2.69 per pack plus $4.50 per order shipping in the U.S. With a per order shipping price, it would be a good idea to get a few friends to order at the same time.

I have had good luck with 90% of Renee's seeds germinating at high rates.
Be sure to enter the sale code.
Enter END08 as your Coupon Code at checkout.

Other seed sales I found on an Internet search with links!

Jung Seed

Park Seed Sale

Post any other seed sales you have found or email me at mollyday1@gmail.com and I'll put them onto the blog.