Showing posts from January, 2009

Stuff to Do While It's Still Too Cold

IN TULSA FEB 7 AT 8:30 AM On Saturday Feb 7, I'll be attending the Oklahoma Native Plant Society "Birds Bees Butterflies Blankets and Beautiful Oklahoma" Indoor Outing. On-Site Registration begins at 8:30 am and the last event ends at 3. Click here for the roster of speakers. Admission is $5.

SAT FEB 21 AT 9:15 AM IN MUSKOGEE OK On Saturday, Feb 21 in Muskogee OK there will be a free how-to Community Gardening event at Muskogee Public Library, 814 West Okmulgee AV. The library opens at 9 and registration for the event will begin at 9:15.

The keynote speaker will be Bruce Edwards from the Regional Food Bank of OK and the Urban Harvest Program. Edwards is involved with successful community gardens all around the OKC area.

After Edwards' talk, attendees will be able to choose between two presentations. One will be a panel of gardeners helping beginning gardeners with basic information. The other track will be a presentation about growing to sell at farmer's markets.


Japanese Garden Zen at the Fort Worth Texas Botanic Garden

Just a few hours south of Muskogee, there is a wonderful haven for garden lovers. Last weekend when it was 26-degrees and cloudy in Muskogee, it was 75-degrees and sunny at the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden (
the weather station on our roof
The Botanic Garden itself looked like most winter landscapes but the seven-acre Japanese Garden ( maintains its distinct beauty in the winter.

The entire botanic garden is 109-acres with 23 gardens that are home to 2,500 species of native and exotic plants.

The Japanese Garden was the inspiration of the parks and recreation director and the botanic garden director in 1968 and it was built on a site that was originally a bluff that opened onto the Trinity River floodplain. It served as a watering hole for cattle, a trash dump and a gravel pit.

Clubs, businesses and individual donors contributed plants, materials and art objects to make the garden a reality.

The garden has three entrances, representing heaven, man and ea…

An Ice Storm, Then Snow and Sleet, More Snow, Then an Overnight Freeze

This is the view from the back porch out to the front gate. That's our driveway, somewhere.... On the far left the birds are feasting on seed we had to put on the ground since the feeders are frozen to the trees and can't be moved.

On the lower-right is a Burford Holly and the tree with ice laden branches is an elm that shades our front livingroom windows in the heat of the summer.

On the left is a large oak that is just ouside the back door. In the center is the grape arbor.

Inside the kitchen on the plant windowsill the daffodils from Touch of Nature keep us thinking of spring.

This Morning's Ice Storm In Northeast OK

This is a branch of the peach tree. Pretty but maybe not so good for this year's peach production.
The lavender has stood tall all winter. We'll see how she does when the ice melts. Thursday it is predicted to be in the mid-50s again.

The Heavenly Bamboo is beautiful iced over. When I approached it to take the photo, a family of bunnies scampered out. It was still mostly dark at 8:30 a.m.

A Few Tidbits

Just a few Sunday night tidbits ---

One tidbit - This blog author is offering a free hand made gift to the first five people who comment on her blog entry tonight. Click over and see if you can be one of the five.

Next tidbit is this website about seed starting. Great information plus photos of 700 seedlings to help you identify your unmarked ones when they come up.

Third is the National Garden Bureau's list of new varieties for 2009 at - while you are there, on the left you can click on the All America Selections link. AAS varieties go through rigorous testing at gardens all over the country to earn the AAS distinction.

My seeds are germinating and I'm repotting some already. The broccoli babies are in individual pots. Now, we need some rain and some warmer weather.

Friends of Honor Heights Park - Jan 09 Newsletter, First Meeting Feb 09, How to Join

Friends of Honor Heights Park is getting started with its first email newsletter and first meeting.

We hope to have a Friends website soon.

Here is the Jan 09 email Newsletter with the February first meeting announcement.
Membership levels are $25 Individual, $35 Family, $100 and above Donor.

Dear Friends of Honor Heights Park,


We now have 27 members and are looking forward to our first meeting on Saturday Feb 28 from 1 to 2:00 at Honor Heights Park in the newly constructed meeting rooms.

After the business meeting on Feb 28, a workshop will be offered from 2:00 to 4:00.

Matthew Weatherbee will demonstrate plant propagation techniques and Martha Stoodley will demonstrate seed starting.

Everyone will go home with cuttings and planted seeds to grow in pots and beds.
The workshop is free for members and $10 for non members.

In order to complete the 501C3 certification process, we need board members and officers. Some people have already indicated …

Gardening Is Part of Muskogee's Wellness Initiative

The Health Department held a wellness event at Muskogee's Arrowhead Mall, yesterday.

To bring potential community gardeners to the table, we put together a little display with plants, freebies, a sign up sheet and a survey.

The box in the back held Osmocote Plant Food samples and informational brochures.

The basket held free seeds from Botanical Interests and Renee's Garden. The papers on the table were coupons for Renee's seeds and seed starting booklets from Botanical Interests.

Muskogee's Wellness Initiative hopes to get more neighborhoods involved in growing vegetables and fruits for their family. The exercise of gardening is a good way to improve health and having vegetables on the table is always a good thing.

Everyone involved considered the event a success. Thanks again to the generous donors!

Perennial Vegetables

A few months ago I wrote a review of Eric Toensmeier's book, "Perennial Vegetables"

Click here to see a video of him talking about perennial vegetables in his garden.

Toensmeier's book was published by Chelsea Green.

Go take a look.

My Annual Catalog List

With some companies bought out, a few disappointing shipments to me and the need to shorten the list, this year's catalog list has changed from last year's.

In this year's catalog list, the descriptions are shorter. If there is nothing noted, the company offers a wide range of seeds, plants and supplies. A company's specialty is identified but they all offer dozens of products.

Abundant Life, 541-767-9606, Organic seeds and seedlings

Annie’s Annuals,, 866-266-4370 Rare and unusual

Bluestone Perennials,, 800-852-5243 Plants

Botanical Interests, Flower seeds

Brent and Becky’s,, 804-693-3966 Bulbs

Bustani Plant Farm,, 405-372-3379 Greenleaf plants

D Landrethy,, 800-654-2407

FedCo Seeds,, 207-873-7333 Untreated seeds, potatoes

Forestfarm, 541-846-7269. Perennial seeds, Pla…

Hanging Basket - One-Fourth of a Ton

Susan Appleget Hurst, Sr. Assoc. Editor, Garden, Better Homes & Gardens
gave us a heads-up about the world's largest hanging basket.

It's 20 feet by 10 feet and holds over a hundred varieties of plants.

Erected by winch to celebrate the opening of a hotel in Paddington, Great Britain, the Daily Mail's readers were more concerned about what would happen if it fell.

There are more photos and details at the Daily Mail. Click here to see more.

No matter what challenges I havc, trying to tame 2.7 acres, this hanging basket will remind me that it could be bigger.

On the practical side, I wonder how they water that thing and how much water it takes. And, what about passers-by who are coming to register at the new hotel and have no idea what is 25-feet over head.

44th President Sworn In, January 20 2009

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence o…

The Greenhouse at Virginia Wesleyan College

The Greenhouse at Virginia Wesleyan College has a darn good website worth a visit on one of these cold nights.

Students maintain the greenhouse under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Ressler. Use the link above to click through photos of what they are up to.

Then, click over to Araceum site. Click on English and then browse through a captivating collection of Araceae. Mother Nature either is the best artist ever known or has a sense of humor that cannot be beat.

Seed Starting Class at Muskogee Garden Club

I gave a workshop on seed starting today at Muskogee Garden Club's monthly meeting. .
We had a morning with snow and 12-degrees and still 25 brave souls came.

Daniels Plant Food, Botanical Interests and Renee's Garden Seeds contributed fertilizer and seeds for the participants so everyone went home with gifts. Park Seeds sent 2009 catalogs for everyone. Wonderful generosity. Thanks everyone. It was great fun.

Maybe you can see the blueberry boxes of soil. We filled the bottom two-thirds with moist planting soil. Then, we topped the boxes up with seed starting soil. All the participants chose a pack of seeds and planted them to take home.

The Pros Grow Seeds in January, Too

There are seeds that you plant directly in the ground outside and others that should be planted in sterile seed starting soil inside.

Cosmos, marigolds, corn and carrots are planted directly into the ground in the spring. Poppy, chamomile and larkspur seeds are planted outside in January.

The seeds of many perennials and some annuals need to have a chance to freeze and thaw before spring weather arrives. Perennial shrubs and herbaceous plant seeds were planted last September so they could get the alternating temperatures (vernalization) they need to grow.

This month, the seeds of onions, leeks, chives, Chinese cabbage, pansy and other cool weather lovers are planted inside.

Pete Carson of Carson Borovetz Nursery said that the seeds to plant now include those that enjoy a cool start such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.

I start peppers now, too, Carson said. Pepper seeds take 14 days to germinate and you need a heat mat under them to give them the 80-degree soil temperatures they need.…

Garden Notes from B B Mackey Books

This little volume from B B Mackey Books is the right way for people like me to start keeping track of gardening activities.

Cleverly enough "Garden Notes This Year" is organized by week but the year is not specified. Each week has places to enter Events this week; Seeds or plants planted or acquired, Tasks done, things to do; Weather, etc.

Each week has one page, two sides. There are a few artistic sketches scattered around some of the pages but not so much art that it overwhelms the writing space.

The book has a beautiful cover as you can see above. It's 6-inches by 9-inches - handy size for carrying with you. And, an easy size for stacking from year to year.

It costs $9.95 and is free of shipping charges from B. B. Mackey Books. Contact Betty Mackey at, 610.971.9409 and, gift cards enclosed as requested.

There are other titles of interest on the site. In particular, how about a $10 CD on papercrete trough construction. Well, that…

Classes for Plant Lovers at the Community College

Classes for gardeners at the local junior college can be just what you were looking for to brighten up your garden this spring.

A Residential Landscaping class is being offered this spring at Connors State College, Warner campus.
HORT 2301 W01- This five week course will include the basics in designing your home landscape. Special considerations will be discussed. Basic principles and some dos and don’ts will be included.
The class meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:40 pm on the Warner campus for the following weeks: January 20, 27, February 3, 10, and 17.
Participants need to enroll in the admissions office at any Connors campus. Cost is $85.07 for the entire course. For questions about the class, contact the instructor, Debby Golden at (918) 463-6265. For questions about enrollment, contact the registrar, Sonya Baker at (918) 463-6300.

Seniors 65 or older can apply to have their tuition waived by contacting Lance Alle…

Seed Starting Indoors in January

Here are some radish seedlings started inside the shed. They were out of direct light until they came up. Then, they were moved under fluorescent bulbs about 2-inches away. Notice that I plant seeds in slices of paper towel and bathroom tissue rolls. That way, the seeds stay in the center of the planting area instead of drifting off to the sides where they are difficult to prick out for transplanting.

Notice the reflective material on the back wall. It bounces the light back onto seedlings.

This plant is a salad green that I picked up in Germany last fall. It has to stay inside most of the time but is happiest on the days that are above 50 so it can spend hours outside in the wind and sun.

It's already 65-F here, so I'm headed out to sun bathe the seedlings and plant more seeds!

Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing, Saturday February 7, at the Tulsa Garden Center

Get on this and get your pre-registration form sent in before Jan 23! Here is a link to the registration form.

Welcome and on site registration at 8:30 a.m. Presentations at 9:00 a.m.
tours of areas surrounding the Garden Center ending at 3:00 p.m.

This major event sponsored annually by ONPS is hosted each year on a rotating basis by one of the four chapters of the Society: Central Chapter (Oklahoma City), Northeast Chapter (Tulsa), Crosstimbers Chapter (Stillwater), and Mycology Chapter (Edmond).

The theme for the Tulsa event is Birds, Butterflies, Bees, Blankets, and Beautiful Oklahoma.

Keynote speaker will be Mike Klemme, official photographer for the Oklahoma Centennial celebration in 2007 and photo/author of the book CELEBRATING OKLAHOMA.

Other speakers will include James Thayer (Gardening for Butterflies), Dr. Kay Backues (Bees and Beekeeping) Sutton Avian Research Center staff member Dan Reinking (Oklahoma Bald Eagle Winter Populations), and Linda Harkey (Utilizing Natural Dye…

Vegetable Gardener's Bible - 2000 Book is Still Relevant for New Gardeners

Once in a while a garden book comes along that stands the test of time. The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward Smith was published in 2000, and continues to attract the attention and praise of vegetable gardeners.

Smith's approach to vegetable gardens is based on his WORD. system: Wide rows, Organic practices, Raised beds and Deep soil.

From Seed to Harvest: Higher Yields with Less Work is the first chapter about how wide, raised beds produce considerably more vegetables than narrow rows. In a standard garden, half the space is compacted by gardeners' feet. Planting beds that are 3-feet wide and made deeper with 18-inch deep raised beds and narrow paths gives more of the square footage to production.

Wide beds save space and work. They allow closer planting and easier access for weeding and harvest. That design also conserves water.

Either building plank-sided boxes around beds or simply piling additional soil onto the rows can accomplish the recommended depth of your growin…

Guess What?

We decided it was long past time to separate our vermicomposters from their vermicompost. Here's one pile of the contents of one of the worm hotels.
Vermicompost, black gold, worm castings - call it what you prefer - the stuff is magic for plants. Did you know that one-third of the stuff being trucked to landfills is worm food in the form of kitchen, grocery store, food processing, garden, restaurant and other edible wastes? A worm bin serves the planet in two ways: 1) provides your garden with invaluable nutrients; 2) keeps the landfills from filling up with plastic bags full of perfectly good worm food. Well, in my case there is a third benefit: Now we have pets that do not give me asthma attacks. If you like scientific information to back up my casual statements about vermicompost's value to your garden, click here. Someone analyzed samples and uploaded the results. This company points out its benefits for organic gardeners.
Park Seed sells vermicompost in plastic bottles for o…


New plants are discovered and known plants enter extinction. It's a cycle that environmentalists would like to go one way only - their preference is that nothing becomes extinct.

But don't let that concern for what is lost, keep the excitement down when an undescribed, new Aroid like the one pictured here, is found. Click here and here to see more photos taken by Elizabeth Campbell.

Here's what Campbell said about the plant in an email exchange.
"...basically it is a large, free-standing (trunked) Anthurium from Section Belolonchium, and very little else is known about it.
It's currently only known in cultivation at the Quito Botanical Gardens in Ecuador, where the photos were taken; staff there think it was rescued from an oil pipeline cut in the cloud forests above the town of Mindo in Ecuador, but as it was about 10 years ago that it was collected they are not at all certain.
Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Gardens had a look at it and told me that it wasn&#…

Melting Ice and Snow Creatively

When the ice and snow come I plan to use plain old fertilizer from the farm supply store. It melts the problem without any salt damage.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story today about how creative Americans can be when they need to melt something and the price of salt seems too high.

The authors, Ilan Brat and Timothy Martin, said that towns are using molasses, garlic salt and a "rum-production byproduct that smells like soy sauce" instead of salt.

Evidently last winter the weather was so bad that prices went through the roof to $60 to $120 per ton up from last year's range of $30 to $50 a ton.

In Indiana salt truck computers calculate how much salt to drop to conserve the resource. In Hamilton County Ohio, near Cincinnati, the salt bids exceeded the entire county budget for the ice and snow removal. They are stretching the salt by mixing it with coal plant ash.

The garlic salt story is that a spice maker was dumping it in the the landfill, so in the spirit of waste not want …

Community Gardens Bring Neighbors Together - Jan 8 Event in Muskogee

A neighborhood can put its resources together to grow a bountiful garden of salad vegetables, flavorful melons, zucchini and winter squash to serve family and friends.

A plot of land, some tools, access to water and some seeds can become a source of pride, as well as building a sense of community. One conservative estimate is that there are over 10,000 community gardens around the country.

The push to grow fresh vegetables in World War Two was the last time neighbors put their ideas together to provide nutritious food for as many people as possible. In 1943 the White House lawn, vacant lots in small towns and city parks were put into production. By 1946 half of the nation’s produce was grown in Victory Gardens.

Since then, growing has become more centralized. Now agribusiness has removed the soil-to-table experience from most households.

The concerns now, are tainted vegetables, increased pesticide and fertilizer use damaging water sources, plus increased transportation costs. In the past…