30 January 2010

Central Ohio Home and Garden Show will be Feb 27 to Mar 7 - Free Tickets

The Central Ohio Home & Garden Show, Feb. 27 to March 7, has given me 10 free tickets to give away. Email me if you would like to receive some.

Here is the lineup

-TALENT: Shane Tallant, host of HGTV Designed to Sell,on Saturday, Feb. 27.

-Amateur Cake Decorating Contest on Sunday, Feb. 28 and A Professional Cake Decorating Contest will occur Sunday, March 7. Special guest judges for the professional contest will include Food Network's Ace of Cakes stars Geof Manthorne and Mary Alice Yeskey.

-GARDENS: Home & Garden show will include 14 large-sized gardens with the Art in Bloom theme, with garden themes ranging from Monet-style, French Riviera Architecture, Art Nouveau etc.

-KIDS DAY, Sunday, Feb. 28: with Kids Korner activities (from 11a.m.-1 p.m. with mascot; Columbus Zoo animals from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

28 January 2010

Free Gardening Basics Seminar Rescheduled from Jan 30 to Feb 27

So far, we just have freezing rain but it should get worse before it gets better. Not only is the weather supposed to be such that it would be foolish to be out on the roads, the church that so generously donated the space for the event is a shelter when the electricity is down.

New details (different date, same speakers, time and place)

The Muskogee Wellness Committee rescheduled it's Gardening Basics Seminar to Saturday February 27
9 to 12:30
St. Paul's Methodist Church

And, if you are stuck inside you might want to sing the suggested new state song

SNOW klahoma
Where the cold front's sweepin' down the plain
An d the piles of sleet, beneath your feet
Follow right behind the freezing rain.

SNOW klahoma
Ev ry night my honey lamb and I
Travel home from work and hope some jerk
Doesn't wreck our car passing by!

We know we belong to the land
But it could use some more salt and sand

That's why we're saying WHOA!
We’re sliding the other way YIKES!

We're only sayin'
You're slick as slime SNOWklahoma

SNOWklahoma, SNOW-K!

Free Gardening Event on Jan 30th


As part of the Muskogee City Wellness Initiative's Gardening Basics seminar on Saturday, horticulturist Sue Gray will be talking about how to grow fruit in your backyard.

Gray was the host of Oklahoma Gardening on public television for over 200 episodes, is responsible for the Horticulture Industries Show, and is the point person for commercial fruit production in Oklahoma. Gray was the 2009 recipient of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's Distinguished Educator award.

As part of her quest to help everyone grow some of their own food, Gray started a class in Tulsa called Green Acres. Through the program, Gray teaches retirees how to turn their dream of owning 10 acres into a set of reasonable goals. (Call 918-746-3707 or see www.oces.tulsacounty.org/)

If your land is ready to grow, you can add elderberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, grapes, quince, apples or cherries.

In addition to selecting a planting site and knowing which fruit varieties grow here, you need information on pollination, irrigation, weed control, fertilizer, pruning, thinning, spraying and critter control.

Pome Fruits (apple, quince and pear), Stone Fruits (apricot, plum and peach), Brambles (black and raspberry) and Heaths (blueberries) grow here.

Melons are members of the cucumber family and grow on vines. Then there are early, mid, and late season strawberries. Blackberries and sour cherries are easy to grow. Grapes and the stone fruits need the most spraying. Raspberries need mulch.

You can learn about drip irrigation, wind protection, frost, insect, and disease control by attending Saturday.

In addition, OSU Extension can provide copies of helpful Fact Sheets or you can print them from the links provided below.

Strawberries are the top fruit for home gardeners, with one quart of fruit harvested for each 5-foot row. For a family of 4, OSU recommends putting in 125 plants. See OSU Fact Sheet F-6214 at http://bit.ly/7u5Zsu and Fact Sheet HLA-6238 at http://bit.ly/4TyJGo.

Fruit and nut growing information is on Fact Sheet EP-7319 at http://bit.ly/7wKy1H
This fact sheet has charts and photos that guide the home grower from dormancy through harvest.

Pollination is required to have fruit of any kind. OSU Fact Sheet 6229 at http://mastergardener.okstate.edu/factsheets/F-6229web.pdf explains which fruits need two varieties in order to succeed and which ones are self-fertile.

Diseases - Fact Sheet EPP-7641 at http://bit.ly/7EDlsY details common diseases of stone fruits such as peaches, almonds and cherries. Color photos help homeowners identify the problem.

Commercial blackberry, strawberry and blueberry production is covered in Fact Sheet CR-6221 at http://bit.ly/6xTyzp.

Nuts, fruit, bees, and other resources are at Tulsa County Extension site, http://www.oces.tulsacounty.org/h.html.

Blueberries – Sue Gray's article for the Tulsa Master Gardener's Website on growing blueberries is at http://www.tulsamastergardeners.org/fruit/bberryprod.shtml

Oklahoman’s Guide to Growing Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables Handbook, published by Oklahoma State University, is available for $10 at www.hortla.okstate.edu/hortla/materials.htm.

A Kerr Center free on-line library is at www.kerrcenter.com/community_food/index.htm with links to sustainable fruit growing literature from ATTRA plus other resources. Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 918-647-9123.

The Oklahoma Fruit Growers Association publishes the Oklahoma Fruit Review, a quarterly newsletter. For membership contact: Dr. Dean McCraw, OSU Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, 405-744-5405.

More fruit growing information is available at the Missouri State University Libraries, Library of Fruit Science. Go to http://library.missouristate.edu/paulevans/frtlinks.shtml#pometoc

If you plan to come to the free Gardening Basics workshop on Saturday, please call the OSU Extension office at 686-7200 and let them know so there will be enough handouts for everyone.

26 January 2010

Happy Houseplants Help Humor Housebound Home-dwellers

The Website Weekend Gardener's 7-Part Houseplant series is called "How to Grow Stunning Houseplants".

It begins with diagrams of plant parts above and below the soil and soil structure. The author(s) explain the differences between plants outside and inside - moisture, drainage, airflow.

There is a helpful list of plants suited to various light levels and room temperatures.

The link above will take you directly to the article.

The left side of the web page is rich with other gardener content: How to articles, pest control, etc.

With the arctic blast on its way, you may find time to click around.

Thanks to Muskogee gardener Jan Ward for the tip!

24 January 2010

What Other Gardeners Choose to Plant

There's a fun January 21, read in the New York Times by Michael Tortorello, called Packets Full of Miracles
Tortorello called gardeners (not people like us, but big deal people) and asked them about where they garden and what they plant.

Here's a taste of the article

How wrong can you go for $2.25? That's the price of a packet of 20 tomato seeds ...

Some gardeners revel in chance and the absurd abundance of botanical diversity. For the last few weeks, I've been calling them, looking for advice. Specifically, I asked these growers for thumbnail descriptions of a few favorite seeds.

the season for seed shopping is right about now. Last year, Fedco, the Maine catalog from which I placed my order, had sold out of some popular seed varieties by mid-February, as had other sellers. (Could boutique seeds be America's next speculative bubble?)

The seeds these seasoned gardeners recommended flourished in their yards. But that doesn't mean they'll do a blessed thing in yours and mine. It's hope that springs eternal, not seeds.

Michele Owens
Rosa Bianca eggplant While big, black eggplants sputter in Ms. Owens's northern climes, Rosa Bianca perseveres. Smallish and streaked lilac and white, the comely fruit has a "melting texture," she said. Cook it, thinly sliced, under the broiler, drenched in olive oil and covered in sea salt.
Blue Coco bean Ms. Owens loves this exceptionally beautiful pole bean for its violet-colored flowers, heart-shaped leaves and purple beans. They are absurdly productive, she added, and somehow taste like summer. They are just crisper, fresher -- green bean-ier.

SHOPPING BAG Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com); Fedco (fedcoseeds.com); High Mowing Organic Seeds (highmowingseeds.com); Seeds from Italy (growitalian.com).

Holly Shimizu
ROOTS Horticulturist and executive director of the United States Botanic Garden, on the National Mall in Washington.
HOME TURF A quarter-acre yard in Glen Echo, Md., along with a container roof garden.
Brussels winter chervil Dark green and ferny-looking, this cool-weather herb tastes best raw, in soups or garnishes. I snatched some seed from a friend's garden, Ms. Shimizu said, threw them in containers and I've never been as happy.
Calendula officinalis The two-inch-wide yellow flowers on this medicinal plant look good enough to eat. Go ahead, Ms. Shimizu said. Tinctures and teas made from it are thought to soothe the skin. New types of calendula carry multiple flowers; Ms. Shimizu prefers the single-flowered, herbal variety.
Holy basil Of the 20-odd basils Ms. Shimizu grows each year, she likes this fuzzy plant mostly for the fragrance. The name comes from its status as a sacred herb. "
NEVER AGAIN After battling blights and replacing her soil, I have decided to give up growing tomatoes, she said.
SHOPPING BAG Monticello (monticellocatalog.org); the Natural Gardening Company (naturalgardening.com); Renee's Garden (reneesgarden.com).

Lis Thomas
ROOTS Horticulturist, and outreach educator for GreenBridge, the community horticulture program of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Bush Delicata squash In the spirit of so many city residents, this bush-shaped plant gets by in cramped quarters. Ms. Thomas builds a 4-by-4-foot cage for it out of scavenged wood. It's also resistant to powdery mildew, a common squash scourge.

Black Krim tomato Unlike a lot of heftier heirlooms, this red-and-purple tomato couldn't be used as a medicine ball. Its relatively svelte profile means the fruit has more time to ripen on the vine,"Ms. Thomas said, developing a full flavor before plunging to earth.

Red Russian kale Start it in a cold frame, or sow it directly in March, and you can be eating baby greens by late April. Ms. Thomas likes to raise three successive crops of this loose-leafed kale. Even then, pests like the white fly don't seem to find it. Their loss.

Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) A late bloomer, goldenrod has deep yellow flower clusters that attract monarch butterflies on their long commute to Mexico. When they descend in late September, you see hundreds of monarchs, Ms. Thomas said. Which is a neat sight, especially here in the city.

SHOPPING BAG Fedco (fedcoseeds.com); High Mowing Organic Seeds (highmowingseeds.com); Hudson Valley Seed Library (seedlibrary.org); Seeds of Change (seedsofchange.com); Territorial Seed Company (territorialseed.com).

Josh Kirschenbaum
ROOTS Product development director for Territorial Seed Company and Abundant Life Seeds.


Sun Gold tomato - I have tasted probably thousands and thousands of different varieties of tomatoes,"Mr. Kirschenbaum said. Sun gold -- an orange-yellow cherry tomato -- is his favorite. It's resistant to a few common wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. For a full flavor wallop, he said, eat it right off the vine, at the hottest hour.

Violet Podded Stringless pole bean With purple vines and stems, and purple-veined leaves, this climbing bean has the visual drama of a good church hat. They are purple, too, Mr. Kirschenbaum said, until you steam them. Then, in a flash of magic, they turn green.

Pam Peirce
ROOTS Author of Golden Gate Gardening and a horticulture teacher at the City College of San Francisco.

Costata Romanesco summer squash Ms. Peirce praises this ridged and striped squash for the speed of its growth. At pollination, the zucchinis can be 6 to 8 inches long -- perhaps twice the typical early squash size. Yet they remain tender at a foot's length. Shred, add egg and flour, and fry for a genuine veggie burger.

THE NEW GUY Ms. Peirce actually planted Millionaire eggplant last summer -- and then abandoned it in a gallon pot until early July. And yet, those darn things were setting fruits on my back porch, she said. This year, the eggplant will get a millionaire's berth.

NEVER AGAIN Slow to germinate and slower to grow, blood-veined dock -- a kind of sorrel -- fully earned Ms. Peirce's contempt. More bitter than a banker without a bonus.

SHOPPING BAG Bountiful Gardens (bountifulgardens.org); Kitazawa Seed Company (kitazawaseed.com); Native Seeds/Search (nativeseeds.org); Nichols Garden Nursery (nicholsgardennursery.com); Pinetree Garden Seeds (superseeds.com); Territorial Seed Company (territorialseed.com); Thompson & Morgan (thompson-morgan.com).

Lora May Hall
ROOTS Owner, Full Circle Gardening, a specialty gardening and consulting company in Los Angeles, and blogger for the urban homesteader site Homegrown Evolution (homegrownevolution.com).

HOME TURF A dry, sloped lot in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles.

New Zealand spinach - It's not related to any edible plant that I know of, Ms. Hall said -- including spinach. That's a good thing, because few other greens thrive in Los Angeles dry heat like this low-growing ground cover, she said. Also unusual are the triangular seeds, which Ms. Hall compared with shark eggs.

Nero de Toscana kale Ms. Hall planted these seeds last October for the kale's dark, sweet greens. More than a year later, the indomitable plant stands four feet tall, she said, with a trunk a couple of inches around. Though kale is commonly cooked, Ms. Hall prefers it raw, with chopped apples.

Verbena bonariensis Heat tolerant and a thrifty sipper, this three-foot-high shrub has slender stems and purple flower clusters. An annual most places, it's a perennial in her yard.

SHOPPING BAG Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com); Botanical Interests (botanicalinterests.com); Johnny's Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com); Renee's Garden (reneesgarden.com); Seed Savers Exchange (seedsavers.org); Seeds from Italy (growitalian.com).

Go read the whole piece at the NYT site http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/garden/21seeds.html?pagewanted=1

23 January 2010

Seed Order - Sand Hill Preservation Center

It was sunny today and the daffodils are up so I am placing my first seed order of 2010.

Here's what I ordered from San Hill Preservation Center in Iowa
Sugar Snap Peas $1.75
Armstrong Early Cucumber $2.00
Gambro (pimento) Pepper $2.00
Gill's Golden Pippin Winter Squash $2.75
Burpee Gloriana Tomato $1.75
Siberian Pink Tomato $1.75
Asters - mixed colors $1.00
Sweet Genovese Basil $1.25

Total $14.25
Shipping and handling are zero on orders over $10.00

I grew their seeds last year with really good results. If you've never looked at their catalog, check it out online.
They accept orders ONLY by U.S. Mail.

21 January 2010

Jim Wilson's new "Homegrown Vegetables" from Creatiive Homeowner

Most of the popular vegetable gardening how-to books are written on the east or west coast and have to be interpreted for the Midwest, upper south and south. For example, Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman (east coast U.S.), Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon (northwest U.S. and New Zealand), and Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (northern Utah).

Gardeners in the rest of the country rely on local university extension office publications. In our area we are fortunate to have both Oklahoma State University and University of Arkansas to provide relevant instruction in print, online and through workshops.

Jim Wilson, the former host of “Victory Garden” and his partner Jamie Lynn Mandel, garden in Missouri. Wilson, 83, is the author of 14 gardening books. And he still has an organic garden that is 1,000 square feet divided into mini plots to grow herbs and vegetables for their table and to donate to the hungry.
Wilson’s new book, “Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times” summarizes his experience with growing food. Finally! A vegetable gardening book written by experienced gardeners in our geographic area.

The writing style is reader friendly. For example, one insert called Smart Gardener says, “Please don’t whack yon serpent” and explains that non-venomous garter and rat snakes are useful for keeping rodents under control.

“Preparing Your First Garden Plot” takes a patient approach that begins with getting a soil test. After that, Wilson guides you to stake out the plot for the garden and apply an organically approved, fatty acid, top-kill herbicide.

Critical instructions are highlighted in red type. For example, “wait until the air temperature is above 60-degrees F and there is no wind” before you spray herbicide. Use water hoses to mark off strips between which to apply the spray.

The next practical advice is to rent an 8-horsepower tiller. After tilling, apply an organic fertilizer, composted chicken manure and dolomitic lime if the soil test says you need it. Apply soil conditioners 3-inches deep to create 4-foot-wide raised beds. Soil conditioners include ground pine bark, cotton hulls, and composted manure. The book has a chart of fertilizer and amendments. They apply compost, mulch and compost tea to the garden.

Wait two weeks and spray again with organic herbicide. Ten days later the new garden is ready to plant.

“If deer have been seen in the neighborhood, you can assume they will destroy your garden,” Wilson writes.

Wilson and Mandel use galvanized steel fence as a bunny blocker and fence ornaments to discourage deer.

Wilson suggests we choose efficient vegetable varieties that produce the maximum food in the shortest time. Efficient vegetables can be harvested over several weeks including tomatoes, peppers, kale, and chard. If you grow plants from seed, you save 8 weeks of the days to maturity listed on the seed packet.

In addition to hundreds of tips, the book includes 30-pages on Selected Vegetables with seed starting, transplant, and pest control. The chapter on fruit includes trees, brambles and bushes. The herbs chapter is how to grow and preserve herbs from arugula and garlic to tarragon.

Wilson had experience with Victory Gardens in the World War II era and he thinks it is time to re-invigorate the concept. He wants us to plant “caring gardens” at schools and churches where food is grown for the undernourished among us.

“Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: A Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times” is published by Creative Homeowner (www.creativehomeowner.com, 1-800-631-7795) and sells for a thrifty $17.

Learn more on Saturday Jan 30, “Gardening Basic Training” will be held from 9 to 12:30 at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Muskogee. Information 918-686-7200.

19 January 2010

In this winter of record making snow, cold, ice and rain, there is some good news for the environment

Around the world, the impact of salt applied to roads during snowy and icy weather has been reported for years.

In Germany, for example, this article notes that 1.59 MILLION TONS of salt were applied to roads to try to keep them safe.
As the snow and ice melt, the salt runs into the environment, killing trees, fish, frogs, salamanders, etc.

The good news is that some states in the U.S. are finding alternatives that are less destructive while keeping motorists safe.

In Syracuse New York, the Public Works Dept. is mixing salt with water to make a brine that can be sprayed on bridges. Cheaper and effective.

The state of Vermont actually built a brine plant.

Upping the ante to the next level, Ohio, Missouri and Maryland are combining salt with a molasses product made from sugar beets. The molasses helps the salt stick to the road, cutting down the amount of salt needed to get the desired effect.

Nevada is taking a completely high tech approach, installing brine spraying nodes into new bridges. The sensors can tell when the bridge needs to be sprayed and no one has to get up in the middle of the night and drive those trucks.

17 January 2010

Tippolly Farm Planting Plans and Garden Help

Tippolly Farm's website contains a wealth of gardening tips, links and information.

Kate and Jim Porter's Vegetable Gardening Guide is a software generated personalized planting plan.

You provide your last frost date and the number of people you feed from your garden and they send comprehensive planting lists in a return email.

Don't know your last average frost date?
No problem. A link on the site will take you to NOAA's Normal Freeze data. Here is the Oklahoma one for you to see.

The personalized plan is a chart indicating plant seeds inside, outside, fall crop, pH preferred by the plant, amount to plant (row feet), plant spacing, etc.

Another chart tells you when to plant based on your last freeze date. This is definitely worth your time. No more read the seed instructions and count backwards for each crop. The Vegetable Planting Guide is $4.00

For an additional $4, a chart for growing herbs in included in the deal with the same helpful information. Then, there is a companion planting chart included, too.

The planting guide tells you how many plants or how many seeds (by ounce) you would need to reach your goals.

Sharon Owen of Moonshadow Herb Farm said, "That’s the coolest gardening website for beginners (and/or people who hate to do the math) I ever saw. Great!"

Virginia Stanley, nutritionist for Oklahoma State University Extension Service said, "This makes is so much easier to plan and first time gardening would be a cinch with the chart of when to plant."

On the tippolly site, they have how-to build a raised bed with construction photos, basic seed starting tips, a link to Active Desktop Organizer ($30), and AWESOME LINKS that will take you far and wide into your personal gardening exploration.

16 January 2010

One Woman's Opinion - Garden Trends 2010

Jennifer Beaver writes for the weekly Signal Tribune Newspaper in Long Beach CA. Most of us can't compare ourselves with gardeners in Long Beach where the weather is ideal.

Beaver's December 31 2009 column is an example of her quick mind and gardening talents. I'll give you a few excerpts and a link to read the whole thing.

"Last year, it became politically correct to be a gardener."
"This is all very wonderful and very strange. When the things you have been doing privately in your backyard suddenly become fodder for cocktail chatter, it's quite a surprise."

"Whether you're an experienced gardener or just contemplating sticking a trowel in the soil for the first time, there’s something for you:
• Yard sharing: According to Hyperlocavore (hyperlocavore.ning.com), yard sharing is "an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources…to grow food as locally as possible…"
• Buying local produce: Watch for fresher, healthier fruits and vegetables from CSA (community-supported agriculture) farms.
• Community gardening: They sprang up all over town in 2009 and will continue to blossom this year as well.
• Free gardening workshops: Watch for free composting, container gardening, and drought-tolerant...
• Edible gardens replacing lawns: Now everyone’s doing it.
• Conserving water: As our supply dries up, gardeners are getting more creative.

Read the entire piece at http://www.signaltribunenewspaper.com/archives/5205#more-5205

14 January 2010

January 30 Free How-to Gardening Event in Muskogee - Call OSU Extension if you are coming 918-686-7200

January is a month for promising to eat better, get healthier and exercise.

There is one activity to help with all those goals, and that is growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and maybe even some backyard fruit. Gardening not only helps build physical strength, it increases flexibility and relieves stress.
Gardening also provides a connection to people that is important for personal happiness. It’s an activity for the whole family and helps builds neighborhood relationships while learning new skills and practicing patience.

Saturday January 30 from 9 to 12:30, Muskogee City Wellness Initiative is sponsoring a free event in the spirit of promoting healthier eating by building a community of gardeners growing food for themselves and their neighbors.

Here is a lineup of the topics that will be presented in 20-minute segments –

Garden Site Selection and Planning - Sue Gray, OSU Extension Tulsa
Keep your garden at its best, with the right amount of sun and closeness to a water source. A successful 10 feet by 20 feet garden will be more fun and productive than a quarter acre that is in the wrong place and takes too much work. Learn how to choose the best location, row width, and planting techniques as well as how to group plants together.

Earth Friendly Gardening - Doug Walton, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Muskogee Farmer’s Market
Doug Walton will teach you how to improve the health of your soil and your plants by using methods that will keep the garden productive for years. A garden that supports the environment preserves the soil’s living organisms, protecting your plants from disease and insects. A healthy garden costs less to grow because fewer chemicals are used.

Irrigation and Weed Control - Kim Walton, Waltons Farm
Kim grows plants, flowers and vegetables for the Muskogee Farmer’s Market and will share her best tips on how to maximize the smallest amount of water in your home vegetable garden. Controlling annual and perennial weeds can make the difference in the health of your garden and the amount of the harvest.

Selecting Vegetable Varieties - Matthew Weatherbee, Blossoms Garden Center
You have selected your site and prepped it for planting - but what to plant? Matthew will describe the differences among summer vegetable varieties in order to help you with your selection. He will explain the differences between a Celebrity and a Roma, a hybrid and an heirloom.

Seed Starting and Transplanting Tips - Martha Stoodley, Master Gardener
There is nothing like putting a seed into soil and producing healthy vegetables and herbs as well as flowers to enchant garden visitors. You will hear tips on how to grow seeds indoors to jump start the gardening season, as well as how to prepare plants for transplant to the garden in April.

Kitchen Garden Herbs - Sharon Owen, Moonshadow Herb Farm
Using kitchen herbs will make fresh vegetables into flavorful meals. Sharon will teach the basics of growing the 5 most popular cooking herbs for an Oklahoma kitchen garden. She is also providing a guide to cooking with herbs. Herbs are one of easiest ways to start growing for your dining pleasure.

Growing Backyard Fruit - Sue Gray, OSU Extension
Maximizing the amount of fruit you can harvest in a back yard is a result of planting the right varieties and giving them the correct help with mulch, spray, thinning, fertilizer, water and weed control. Learn whether to select dwarf or semi-dwarf trees, which berries to plant, and, the best pruning methods.

St. Paul’s Methodist Church provided the Activity Center and volunteers on the Muskogee Wellness Committee are providing a light snack. Daniels Plant Food, Fiskars Garden Tools and B. B. Mackey Books provided door prizes. Seed companies donated catalogs.

Gardening: Basic Training
Saturday January 30 - 9 am to 12:30
Call OSU Extension if you are coming 918-686-7200
St. Paul Methodist Church Activity Center
2130 West Okmulgee, Muskogee

13 January 2010

Flower Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas

Although it is amost a two-hour drive and they begin at 9:30 on Saturday mornings, we are members who occasionally attend the Flower, Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas.

Meetings are usually held at the Student Center of NWAR Technical Institute, 709 S. Old Missouri Rd in Springdale, Arkansas.

The reason we crank it up to go despite the early exit and long drive, is that their programs are so good.

SOCIAL 9:30 SPEAKER 10 a.m.

Publicity Chair, Lynn Rogers can be reached for more information at 479-521-9090 H. 479-841-8759 C.

The lineup for the club's year ahead

January 16 Round-table discussion, bring favorite garden tool for show and tell.

February 20 Jeb Leggett, Custom Landscape and Nursery, Mt. Vernon, AR
Unusual landscape trees and shrubs

March 20 Tony Avent, owner Plant Delights Nursery, Raleigh, North Carolina, Exploration to Exploitation

April 17 Berni Kurz, Washington County Extension Agent,
Care and Maintenance of Water Gardens

May 15 Ricky Corder, entomologist, UA Cooperative Extension,
Solitary Bees and Syrphid Flies As Pollinators

June 5 Through the Garden Gate tour at selected NWAR gardens

July 17 Joyce Mendenhall, Washington County Master Gardener,
Scenes of Monet's Garden in Giverny

August 21 Renee Reed, garden writer and owner of Reed's Designs
Landscaping, Herbs: Their Folklore and What to do with Them

September 18 Fred Spiegal, UA Professor of Mycology,
What is that Fungus?

October 16 Lynn Rogers, Tree Identification Workshop

November 20 Steve Marak, Botanical Latin

Social time begins at 9:30 with the programs starting around 10:00 a.m. Contact: Lynn Rogers, 479-841-8759. Meet in Student Center of NWAR Technical Institute, Ford Av. and Old Missouri Rd., Springdale, AR.

10 January 2010

Seed Starting - Pre Germination

Seed starting can be speeded up by placing seeds between layers of paper towel in a protected environment for a few days.

The paper towel is moist not dripping wet. The seeds are spaced far enough apart that when they sprout, they will not mold.

These are fifty cent plastic plates from a junk store. The top one is on there because our house is 60-degrees at night and most seeds want 70 degrees to germinate.

Here are a couple of sites that go into more detail if you like research.
Iowa State
Kids Valley Garden

Then, here is a YouTube video of planting seeds germinated on paper towel. I try to plant mine before they get this big though.

Also, beware of moldy seeds if you use those sealed zip lock baggies. Open the bag every day and check the seeds or put a couple of air holes in the baggie.

08 January 2010

Memphis Spring Fling March 26 & 27 2010

Memphis area Master Gardeners put on an annual two day Spring Fling.
This year it will be March 26 and 27.

Looking for the information I not only found their really good website at

but their terrific newsletter, too.

Here is the link to the January 2010 issue http://memphisareamastergardeners.org/newsletter/january_2010_web.pdf

- Tip of the trowel to Memphis Area Master Gardeners!!

07 January 2010

Reliable Perennials - Plants of the Year

Landscape designers recommend that you begin any outdoor improvement project by looking at pictures to identify the highlights of your dream garden. You can tear out magazine pages and make a collage that will become the basis of your plan.

The skeleton of the garden can be installed first. These features include storage, irrigation, trees, shrubs, sidewalk, outdoor dining patio or deck. Other specifics to consider are playground area, raised beds or brick planters, or a sunny, fenced place for vegetables and herbs, and a compost bin.

Good landscaping adds ten to fifteen percent to the resale value of your home, so the enjoyment you receive while using the additional outdoor living space, means getting paid twice for your efforts.

When shopping for suitable plants, pay attention to size at maturity, sunlight needs, water requirements, and durability in your microclimates. For example, heat accumulates on the west side of a building or fence in the summer, making it less suitable for plants such as hydrangea shrubs or Japanese maple trees. Other examples of microclimate include a part of the garden protected by evergreen shrubs or places where rain naturally flows after a storm.

Each year, members of the Perennial Plant Association nominate the best perennials based on four criteria: Suitable for a wide range of climate conditions, low maintenance, easily grown from seed or cuttings, and, good appearance over the seasons. Perennials are plants live for more than one year. All of these grow in zones 5 to 8 or 9.

In 2009 the Plant of the Year was an ornamental grass, Hakonechloa macra Aureola, or Golden Hakone Grass. It grows well in full sun in cooler climates but needs the afternoon shade provided by trees in hot summer areas. Since it prefers to be kept moist but not soggy, plant it in beds that are easy to irrigate but that drain well. The pointed leaves are stripes of bright green and gold that cascade over pots, edge a sidewalk or flow over rocks at the front of the bed. Native of Japan, Hakone Grass, grows 18-inches tall, is not favored by deer or destructive insects.

The 2008 selection was Cranesbill Geranium Rozanne with 2-inch violet blue flowers and marbled leaves. Rozanne can be grown in hanging pots, patio containers and as a groundcover or edging plant in full sun with afternoon shade in the hottest part of the summer. From England, Rozanne likes moist, well drained soil and will grow to 20-inches tall and 2-feet wide. Not bothered by deer, rabbits or insects.

The 2003 Plant of the Year was Leucanthemum Becky, a Shasta daisy variety with bright-white, 3-inch flowers on 3-foot tall, sturdy stems. Becky wants average watering and will bring butterflies and birds to your garden but not deer. Grown from cuttings and root division, Becky does not come back true from seed, meaning the seeds that fall will not produce identical plants. Blooms July to September.

The 2001 Plant of the Year was Calamagrostis xacutiflora Karl Foerster, or Feather Reed Grass, a low maintenance ornamental grass from Denmark. The leaves are deep green and the flower heads are light pink in June. As fall approaches, the 4 to 5-foot high seed heads turn tan. The clumps are 18-inches wide, can grow in clay soil in partial shade. Good air circulation and fertilization will produce the most attractive plants so plant in the open rather than against a wall or solid fence. It has been called perpetual motion grass because it moves gracefully even in the slightest breeze.

Read about the winning qualities of all the Perennial Plants of the Year at www.perennialplant.org.

04 January 2010

Seeds to Start in Feb

Move away from the window and glass doors, all your tender house plants and plants you are over-wintering inside. The leaves will be badly damaged by the weather ahead.

In spite of that forecast, planting time is coming. The temperatures will warm and the ground will thaw and drain.

Here are the seeds to have ready for February according to OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6004. Click to read the entire list.

Cabbage Feb. 15 to March 10
Carrot Feb. 15 to March 10
Cauliflower Feb. 15 to March 10
Chard, Swiss Feb. 15 to March 10
Kohlrabi Feb. 15 to March 10
Lettuce, Head Feb. 15 to March 10
Lettuce, Leaf Feb. 15 to March 10
Onion Feb. 15 to March 10
Peas, Green Feb. 15 to March 10
Potato, Irish Feb. 15 to March 10
Spinach Feb. 15 to March 10
Turnip Feb. 15 to March 10

Click here to read Sue Gray talk about vegetable gardening on the Tulsa Master Gardeners site.

Then, here is Gray's Fact Sheet HLA-6033 on raised bed gardening.

Sue will be one of the speakers in Muskogee, Sat., Jan 30. The free event is sponsored by Muskogee City Wellness Initiative. 9 to 12:30, St. Paul's Methodist Church, near 24th and Okmulgee/Broadway Streets.

Spring blooming flowers can be sown in Feb, too. I'll be putting out Larkspur seeds. The last box of daffodil bulbs still have to go in ... as soon as the ground thaws!

03 January 2010

In the Shed on a Cold Jan 3rd

It's early January in the coldest winter I've ever spent - 18 degree nights and 30 degree days. Normal for us is 48 at this time of year.
The little oil filled heater in the shed is on around the clock keeping things going and the seed heat mat is now plugged in to start early spring vegetables.

This little rainbow chard seedling is one that was part of a late summer planting. Still in a little pot when the weather turned, it now gets a spot under the grow lights.

The Chinese Cabbage seeds are planted and ready to put on the heat mat.

I'm babying the Rue plant in the shed so it will be big enough to feed Giant Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars next spring. It's surprising that the flowers are forming seeds. They must have been pollinated before the pot was dragged inside for the winter.

Ah, my Rudbeckia Chocolate Orange. Started from seed last fall and now a few are blooming in the shed even though it's only in the low 50s out there. Most of the flower buds are pruned off when the plants are potted up to the next size pot, but I couldn't resist allowing a few to bloom.