Showing posts from March, 2010

Plant Some Seeds of Four O'Clocks for a Floral Clock a la Linnaeus

Four O'Clock's are an old fashioned annual flower that blooms in the afternoon and closes at night. Marvel of Peru gives a clue to the reason they are annuals in our zone 7 weather - they are from areas where the weather is Peru-like - no freezes in the winter.

The seeds are large and come up in a week or two. The plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall in my garden by the end of the summer. I probably should pinch them a few times to prevent that end of the summer leggy look but I never get around to it.

Mirabilis is the Latin name for these summertime beauties. It means wonderful. They are very easy to grow so they are a good choice for a child's first garden. Plus the fluttery things are attracted to the flowers on sunny afternoons - hummingbirds, butterflies and skippers will visit the open blooms.

At there is a fun article from 2006 on Mirabalis. According to the author, Eric Larsen, who found the information on the BBC site, you can plant a floral clock garden for hourly…

2009 Heirloom Tomato Trials - Winners Announced

The Kerr Center’s tomato demonstration trial results were announced this week.

The trials were grown on the Cannon Horticulture Plots – a five acre site that features loam soil with moderately poor drainage, about 3.1 percent native organic matter, and a pH range from 6.5 to 7.0. Phosphorus and potassium levels are low and medium, respectively.

I've summarized the results with little editing and you can click on the link above for more info.

In 2008, the field was planted to an all season cover crop of sorghum-sudangrass to smother bermuda grass and build the soil. This was followed with a winter cover crop of grain rye, common vetch, and crimson clover, which was mow-killed with the mow residue used as mulch.

16 heirloom varieties were grown in the trial. Most were red, pink and purple fresh market types. All were grown from seed in their greenhouse on March 20 and transplanted to the field on April 30, when soil temperatures reached 67.

They used drip irrigation and applied the mul…

A Daffy Photo Album - March 28 2010


Trilliums Are Coming Up

The Trillium Discussion for Enthusiasts has a new online glossary thanks to Jim Shields at Shields Gardens and his cohorts.

Shields Gardens is in Westfield Indiana. Check out the Shields beautiful site here.

The online discussion is over my head most of the time but I joined to learn about Trilliums. The plants in my garden were sent to me by a couple of generous members of the discussion group.

Edgewood Gardens website has lovely Trillium photos.

The Trillium Discussion archives are here and it is searchable if you have a specific question about these spring beauties. The Woodland Plant Picture Gallery and Trillium Identification page is on the home page here. Have you checked? Are your Trilliums coming up yet?

Tomatoes - Grow the Best, the Biggest, and the Sweetest This Year - Tips from the Tomato Man's Daughter

Tomatoes are the most popular home grown food. Actually a fruit, most people use them as a vegetable. Once called Love Apples, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous and were grown only as ornamental plants.

Today, the competition is fierce to grow the first, the sweetest and the biggest fruit a home gardener can produce. We might all improve our chances for an abundant harvest with some advice from an area expert.

Lisa Merrell is the daughter of Tulsa's Tomato Man, Darrell Merrell. She calls her business The Tomato Man's Daughter ( At The Old Home Place-the same location of her father's business, Lisa sells tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings.
During the season, Lisa sells 30,000 plants at festivals and the Old Home Place. Most of those plants are grown from seeds Darrell and Lisa saved in a freezer over the past two decades.
If you go
The Old Home Place, 2208 West 81 St, Tulsa OK
Open Monday through Saturday April 8 to May 29
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Quotes from Duane Campbell's "Best of Green space" with photos of our daffodils with 8-inches of snow.

"Last month I resolved not to make any more New Year's resolutions. So far I haven't broken it. How are you doing with yours? But the itch is still there, so I'll make resolutions for other people. For Free."

Then, Campbell goes on to why you should get a seed starting lighting system set up in your home.

"Of course you don't want an ugly shop light hanging in a bedroom. So tart it up. Spend an extra two dollars for a can of spray paint to match the wallpaper and use brass decor hooks in the ceiling. You could even glue a little lace along the edge of the light; that's what my wife would do."

On the topic of replanting potted flowers -

"About the time the (Easter) lily fades, mothers will be wallowing in azaleas and hydrangeas and mums. Can they be planted out in the garden? I have no idea. Probably not."
"Though there ar…

Under the Bois D'Arc Trees - NE Oklahoma What a Difference Two Days Can Make


What's a Femivore You Ask?

The online magazine Grist would like to tell you.

To help you decide to click over to the link above, here are a few ideas from the piece -

Peggy Orenstein wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine called "The Femivore'sDilema".

Orenstein said she knows women who grow vegetables and now raise chickens.

She says "Femivorism" is grounded in self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment.

The author of the Grist article, Bonnie Powell, says we all need to be mindful that our organic cages do not become as tight fitting as women's cages of past generations.

Is there a growing pressure for women to work, cook locally grown food, plus grow it themselves? Thoughtful reading at those links.

Do you feel pressured to grow food, be the cook, preserve the food you grow, etc.? Are we working just as hard as our great grandmothers for no apparant reason?

Online Bird Database from Cornell University

Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society launched eBird in 2002. Whether your interest in birds is as a casual observer or someone who enjoys bird watching and photography, take a look at their website here.

Still So Much to Learn

For the best gardening advice, ask growers and gardeners who know the conditions in your local area.

Tonight, the monthly meeting of Muskogee Garden Club will be held at Blossoms Garden Center, where owner, grower and plant enthusiast, Matthew Weatherbee is giving the presentation.

Feel free to join the meeting if you are interested in learning with other local gardeners.

If you prefer learning about gardening while lying on the couch, here are some titles to consider from the recent crop of new books -

Best of Green Space: 30 Years of Composted Columns by Duane Campbell. 220-pages, B. B. Mackey Books. 16.95 Paperback

Duane Campbell gardens and writes in PA. At age 67, he has gardened for decades and has a point of view that is loaded with humor and hard-won experience. His columns of practical advice are reprinted in a monthly format.

Campbell is all about enjoying gardening on a budget and he urges you to get as many plants as cheaply as possible with tips on how to do just that.
Grow …

Wild Things 2010 Schedule

Wild Things is one of the Oklahoma native plant nurseies I have found to be reliable over the 3 years I've bought from Marilyn. Her plants live, survive, thrive.

They have no storefront so you have to show up where they are vendors. I always order in advance so my things are set aside ahead of time.

Wild Things website with the plant list

Phone 405.382.8540 or 405.255.1707


upcoming dates where they will be with plants

April 3 Norman Farmes Market 8:00-12:00
April 10 Herb Day in Brookside 9:00-4:00 41 Peoria, Tulsa
April 17 Sand Springs Herbal Affair 9- 4:00
April 24 Jenks Herb N Plant Festival 9:00 -5 :00
May 1 Norman Farmers Market 8:00- 12:00
May 7 Wild Flower Workshop -Lawton
May 15 Edmond Farmer’s Market 8:00-1:00
May 22 Audubon Garden Tour, Tulsa
May 30 Edmond Farmer’s Market 8:00-1:00
June 12 Will Rogers Park Oklahoma City 10:00-4:00
August 18 …

Mid-March Seedlings

There are thousands of baby plants coming up in the garden shed and in the cold frames. Some of them, like the pink Bellis, are too tiny to photograph - just little green dots on the top of the soil.

But, here are a few

This pan is Hanover Salad Kale. The seeds of this salad and potherb came from England. Cook's Thesaurus covers greens here.

The Five Star Hibiscus seeds came from last year's plants. I collected the seed pods in October. Originally, I received the seeds a few years ago in a trade with someone who read the blog.

Calendula officinalis is a must for a carefree garden, isn't it? Skippers and butterflies love it and gardeners appreciate its easy going nature.

At the left you'll see one cell of seedlings. On the right I'm placing one root ball into a small opening in fresh potting soil.

Basil, Scented Trio - Seeds from Renee are already pretty. Of course they are good for both the kitchen and the pollinators. The trio includes lemon, cinnamon and Red Rubin.


Feeling Daffy?

Daffodils are about the best thing that these chilly spring days have to offer. They are critter proof and multiply from year to year. And, that divine scent. What's not to like?

Midwest Living magazine ran a story called the "10 Top Daffodils for the Midwest".

For thorough information on Narcissus or Daffodils - same thing different name - go to the American Daffodil Society website.
Some of the more glamorous daffodils are available from Mitsch Daffodils in Oregon. There are 3 links at the site - Garden Daffodils, Exhibition Daffodils, and Better Mixture. The photos are from the Exhibition link - what daffodils! If you want some gorgeous daffs and want to economize, Mitsch's Better Mixture is the bargain route.
This is the time to go look at the wide variety of daffodils to choose from. The are planted in the fall for early spring bloom.We are hooked. Right now there are about 400 blooming in our back yard with an equal number still in bud. It's heavenly.

Japanese Beetles beat by pelargonium flowers, Fungus beat by compost beneficial fungus Trichoderma

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that you can beat the beetle blues with pelargonium type geraniums.

Yes, those fabulous, though a little smelly, geraniums we associate with window boxes in Germany. Geranium Photo from Maureen Gilmer's MoPlants article excerpts - Japanese beetles cost us $450 million a year.
- Within 30 minutes of consuming geranium flower petals, they become paralyzed. Within the 24 hours of paralysis, their predators eat them.
Here's the link to the entire piece.
At the link above, there is a link to another interesting piece of research - "Can the Right Potting Mix Replace Fungicide?"
The answer is yes, if the potting mix has Trichoderma strain 382 beneficial fungus added to it.
It's all about making compost and making your potting mix 20% compost to get those beneficial microbes. Read more in a 2006 article here.

Another New Coneflower - hot pink

Do you think you want this new Echinacea in your garden?
It is an AAS winner for 2010 called Echinacea purpurea PowWow Wild Berry.
Hot pink cone flowers - shriek with joy or in horror?

For a direct link to coneflower/Echinaceae seed starting tips from Harris Seed click here. Basically - 70 to 75-degrees, do not cover seed. Allow 10 days to emerge.

Seed sources:
Park Seed
Ivy Garth
called me and said they have the seeds. I couldn't find them on the website so you may have to call or email them if you want their 100 seeds for $11.75 deal. email is and phone is 800-351-4025.

It's March - the Daffodils are Calling Us Outside to Play in the Dirt

Lisa Merrell - the tomato man's daughter - is starting tens of thousands of tomato seeds in her kitchen for spring sales. Her curious cat is checking her methods.

The daffodils are blooming, encouraging us to be outside with our hands in the dirt. The area’s last average date for frost is April 15, so it’s too early to plant tender annuals. However, you can be outside enjoying the sun and laying the groundwork for a beautiful spring.

This week you could -

Dig up and divide last year’s clumps of perennial garden phlox, and thin them to five shoots. Replant the clumps six inches apart.

Revitalize perennials. Cut clump with a shovel. Use a spading fork to loosen the soil and lift plant pieces. Save the healthy outer ring. Prepare the planting hole by loosening the dirt. Add fertilizer plus compost or peat moss. Replant one segment of the plant in the original location.

All perennial flowers – When young shoots are 4 to 6 inches tall, snip the stems near ground level. Stems will be strong…

Aroids - Beautiful Photos

A Flickr photo album of Aroids from Sin Yeng and Peter Boyce is now online.

Their incredible images are here.

Bee Talk from Evolutionary Biologist Olivia Judson in the NYT Opinionator Blog

Normally, I would just provide a link to a column online but the NYT Opinionator links have been behaving unpredictably and you will want to read this one.

Here is the link - the footnotes are worth reading if you can get there from here.

"Breezy Love, or the Sacking of the Bees"

Birds do it. Bees do it. Beetles, bats and light summer breezes do it.

I refer, of course, to that raunchiest of sex acts: the pollination of flowers.

When it comes to sex, plants have more headaches than the rest of us. One problem is that they can’t travel about to find a mate — they are, after all, rooted to the spot — so they have to depend on intermediaries to bring egg and sperm cells together.

For mosses and ferns, the intermediary is water. For conifers like pine trees and cypresses, the intermediary is wind. But for most flowering plants, the intermediaries are animals.

Flowering plants are the largest, most successful group of plants on the planet today. There are thought to be more than quarter…

Until March 21, Heroes of Horticulture Show at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR

The Cultural Landscape Foundation blog has a tourism tip for those of us in northeast Oklahoma, northwest Arkansas, etc.

Until March 21st, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville Arkansas, has a photography show called the Heroes of Horticulture. Click on either of the links above for more info.

Deals on Bulbs

Brent and Becky's Bulbs 10% discount deal on bulbs
this week includes six that begin with the letter "a" -
Achimes through Anemone. Here's the link.

Gardening on This Warm Weekend

We planted seed potatoes in 8 cages and soil-surface planted the rest of the seed potatoes in the garlic bed.

The raised bed where the garlic is planted had to be weeded first, of course. For surface sowing: Place the potatoes in the bed, then put 8 inches of wheat straw on top and water it down.

I did a germination test on some winter squash seeds and this is what the seeds look like when they emerge. Huge roots and leaves grow out of the seeds. It's a true miracle, I tell you.

For perspective, here's the vegetable garden 2 months ago. A far cry from what it looks like tonight.

Basil Basil Basil

While some plants remain old fashioned, basil keeps moving ahead with the times. There are now over 60-types on the seed and plant market to choose from.

Some have large leaves and are used in place of lettuce for a modern twist on low-carb wraps. As an addition to herb and flower beds, basil has something for everyone – tall, dwarf, bush shaped, columnar, anise, citrus flavored, spicy hot for Thai cuisine, sacred, African Blue, ruffled, red, and variegated.

They are all Ocimum genus in the Lamiaceae or mint family, native to hot dry areas such as Africa and Italy. Give them full sun and a little water.

The Dallas Arboretum named Basil Pesto Perpetuo and Basil Boxwood plants of the month for March.

Last summer I grew a 3-inch pot of Perpetuo in a 5-gallon container where it grew 3-feet tall. The pale green, cream lined leaves have a fresh pesto scent. Boxwood grows to form a 12-inch tall globe.

Gardeners preserve basil by drying it or making it into pe…

And, another green thing - recycle cellphones

The wind and rain have showered trash along our streets and I'm on a mission to pick it up - all of it.
So, in the afternoon, out I go with 2 grocery bags, to pick up the litter recent winds delivered. It's gratifying work, not unlike clearing out the garden beds this time of year.

Since we recycle glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, metal, all non-protein foodstuffs and garden waste, our gigantic can is practically empty most weeks anyway. There is plenty of room for the soda bottles, chewing tobacco containers and other junk along the road. The beer cans, plastic, etc. will go into our recycling bins.

Tech Soup sent out an email of resources today, including info on recycling cellphones. Evidently, we aren't very good citizens about recycling cellphones - 90 percent of them are tossed rather than recycled.

"They" say we aren't recycling cellphones because we are worried about the data stored on them being addresses, photos, text messages, etc.


Gopher Lips

The University of Arizona Extension Service - Cochise County Master Gardeners newsletter is always worth a read even though our gardening concerns are quite different.

Photo from DesertUSA
The March issue is at this link.
One of the interesting tidbits in the March issue is that gopher lips are behind their teeth so when they are destroying your carrot crop they won't get any dirt in their mouths.

Fatal Attraction - The Plants that Hunt

National Geographic posted a series of about 30 photos of carnivorous plants.

Click over and enjoy the show. Here's the link.

There's also a good article written by Michael Pollan here. His topic is the pollination of orchids - good writing by a plant lover.

Fayetteville Arkansas - Organic Workshop

Organic Veggie Gardening For Beginners, March
Saturday, March 6 from 10:00am to noon
and repeated Thursday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m.

Leigh Wilkerson, gardener and author
beginner organic growing in any amount of space

two hour class
beautiful images of bountiful gardens
tips, techniques, and resources for beginners

$10 for members, $15 for non-members
FREE admission to class with the purchase of new BGO membership
Pre-registration requested so we'll have plenty of handouts.
Email for more information or to reserve your space

All American Selection Winner - Double Cherry Zinnia

Is there a more agreeable flower to grow from seed than zinnias? They come up from seed, add color until frost and bring skippers and butterflies by the dozens, followed by finches who want the dry flower heads.

One of the 2010 All American Selections, double cherry zinnia is widely available now.

Double Cherry Zinnia Seed Sources
Park Seed - 25 seeds $3.
Ivy Garth Seed - 250 seeds for $15.00
HPS Horticultural - 100 seeds $6