28 February 2011

Veggies - end of February

The vegetable garden is getting its spring cleaning and the little plants from the shed are finding their new home out in the dirt. Austrian peas made it through the winter and now will be soil organism food.
Inside the shed, there are hundreds of plant babies waiting for the weather to warm a bit more.

And in the cold frame, the lettuce is thriving.

26 February 2011

The Complete Kitchen Garden by Ellen Ecker Ogden

Ellen Ogden, the co-founder of The Cook's Garden, sold her seed company to Burpee and moved on. Her most recent accomplishment is the publication of this new book for foodie gardeners like me.

I've made no secret of the fact that the reasons I became more interested in gardening include: Food safety scares and the fact that the move from CA to OK sharply cut into my ability to buy vegetables I would eat.

Our dozens of local farmers markets and growers do a great job of bridging the gap and yet, many of us want to grow a bit of our own.  Many of us are growing vegetables in order to have the most nutritious choices and the prettiest tables available, right at hand.

The Cook's Garden - Seeds and Plants for the Gourmet Gardener puts the focus on us foodie gardeners in its name. We want delicious food with its nutrients still present.

Ogden's book, The Complete Kitchen Garden is just right. She had a team of contributors put together an easy reference on garden styles plus 100 recipes for using the produce. Of course the references are all from the northeast U.S., Vermont, to be exact, so her advice is not 100% relevant for the rest of the country. The northeast has unique growing conditions that the rest of us cannot relate to.

The structure of the book: the first 35 pages include the usual introductory stories that are fun to read, then a brief history of gardens, a bit on how to site your first garden, build the soil, set up compost, select seeds, fertilize, maintain the space, create attractive boundaries, choose tools, and decide on a style.

Then, comes the meat of the book, from pages 35 to 235, Ogden and her friends describe 14 kitchen garden themes, how to lay them out and what to grow in them. Each garden theme has photos, illustrations and recipes for the produce grown in them.

The recipes are fantastic - Fresh fennel salsa over herb crusted haddock, Tricolor scalloped potatoes, Arugula pesto with herbed ricotta gnocci, Fall spinach with spicy Mediterranean vinaigrette - all inspiring the reader to grow new things and serve them in fresh ways.

The bed layout designs are east-coast centric but easily translated for other climates.

Credit goes to the photographers, designers and recipe chefs for creating a welcome addition to the culinary garden bookshelf.

I do have one complaint about the book. The photos and illustrations to not have captions to identify what we are enjoying visually. We are supposed to be able to refer to the plot design and infer, but captions would have been so nice.

This is a 250-page paperback, 7 by 9-inches. List price $24.95 Barnes and Noble online has this and Ogden's previous books. Help Barnes and Noble come out of bankruptcy!

24 February 2011

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws

“Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History” is historian Bill Laws’ new book that identifies fifty plants that influenced civilizations.

To illustrate the importance of these plants, Laws wrote, “If the world’s plants suddenly expired, we would have no tomorrow.”

The book is well researched and beautifully illustrated with photographs, art reproductions, and botanical illustrations. Each entry is described with its native range and function, as an edible, medicinal, commercial or practical plant.

The list includes plants you would expect to find such as coffee and wheat and others that come as a surprise such as ginger and pineapple.

Camellia sinensis, or tea, has grown wild for 5,000 years from India to China. To encourage fresh leaves, tea trees were harvested by hand pinching. The green leaves were withered, fermented, dried and graded. Expensive tea was bulked up with elderberry flowers, ash leaves boiled with sheep dung, clay or iron filings.

Monks living in Africa in the 1500s used the fruit of coffee plants to stay awake during prayers. Since then, coffee has made millions for manufacturers while keeping the producers poor. The movement to promote fair trade coffee is an effort to correct those injustices.

Fall-blooming Crocus and its saffron, have been used to dye clothing as well as rice. Saffron comes from the yellow-red stamens in the middle of the flower. It has been used medicinally to cure indigestion, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation.

Agave has been used to make sisal, poison arrows, bullets, tequila and surgical thread. The New Mexico Apaches were known as the Mescalero because they ate the mescal agave and used the leaves to make rope, sandals and baskets.

The Spanish brought pineapple to Europe from the Americas in the 1600s. Easily grown from the leaf tops, growing pineapple in cold climates became a competitive sport among the wealthy. As a result, it is credited with bringing greenhouses to hundreds of residences during the Victorian era.

Lavender, Lavendula spp, plants itself among the rocks and grows wild in the Mediterranean. It is called a fire plant because its stems are so high in volatile oils that it can spontaneously combust in the hot, dry, Italian summers.

Wheat is an example of a plant that feeds the world. Gaining wheat fields became a reason for invading other countries and growing wheat is a sign of world power – the power to feed animals and people.

White mulberry, Morus alba, is native to China and Japan where the wood is used to make cabinets and musical instruments. Its leaves are eaten by silkworms that spin the cocoons that make up the silk trade. A single silk blouse requires 8,800 pounds of white mulberry leaves.

Gardeners know about the ability of White willow water to stimulate root growth on plant cuttings. The active ingredient, salicin or sallcyllic acid, is extracted from the bark of White Willows or Salix alba. Many of us take it every day as our daily aspirin dose but Native Americans chewed the bark to relieve pain. Today, the wood is made into cricket bats and burned as a sustainable home heating fuel.

Animals, insects and humans depend on plants to sustain our lives. Learning more about them can make these everyday things come to life.

Bill Laws is an English writer and journalist. His previous books include: “Spade, Skirret and Parsnip: The Curious History of Vegetables”, “Byways, Boots and Blisters: A History of Walkers and Walking” and “The Field Guide to Fields”.

“Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History” is a 224-page hardback, $30 from the publisher www.fireflybooks.com and $20 at online book sellers.

20 February 2011

Look what's coming up

There isn't much to say since each of these photos has the name of the plant on it. Today, a young neighbor girl looked at the seedlings and said that it amazed her that each one has a different shaped leaf.
I agree. These plants are a wonder. Every one is unique.

The wind was 35 miles an hour on a 73 degree, sunny day today. After a few hours of pulling leaves off of daffodils, pruning perennials, pulling down last fall's morning glory vines and generally being a joyful gardener, I was tired of the wind, physically tired and renewed with garden spirit!

17 February 2011

February garden to do

Some February garden task reminders from Tulsa Master Gardeners www.tulsamastergardeners.org

Spray fruit with dormant oil when the air is 40-F

Spray peaches and nectarines with lime-sulfur fungicide to control peach leaf curl. Lime-sulphur spray is not available in OK so use copper or other fungicide on a day that temperatures will not drop to freezing.

Fertilize house plants, trees, Crape Myrtle with high phosphorus fertilizer (middle number)

Prune fruit trees, grapes, shade trees, plus any ornamentals that do not bloom in the spring. Do not prune crape myrtles yet.

February is a good time to plant trees, bare root roses, berries, asparagus and cool season vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, cabbage, peas and potatoes.

Plant seeds of flowers that need a cold period, including: snapdragons, calendula, coreopsis, strawflowers, cornflowers, larkspur and California poppies.

Take cuttings of the tender plants you overwintered indoors and grow the cuttings into plants, placing them in moist, sterile medium such as peat moss, vermiculite, and/or perlite.

Wrap young tree trunks to prevent sun scald.

Bring branches of budding forsythia or Golden Bells, and ornamental flowering almond (Prunus glandulosa), inside to force blooming. Crush the bottom of the branch before putting in a vase of warm water and put in a sunny place.

If you mow, set the mower at 2.5 inches high.

Get out and enjoy this balmy weather. We know it is just a break before winter returns.

Skip West from Cohlmias speaking in Muskogee today

Skip West, the plant buyer for Cohlmias in Tulsa, just returned from a plant buying trip in Ft. Lauderdale and he is bringing several new selections to his talk today at Muskogee Garden Club.

When his talk was scheduled last year, the topic he chose was, “Preparing the Garden for Spring”. West said that while we are all eager to be out there, the recent weather will slow down some spring activities.

“I’m a Tulsa Master Gardener so I can answer any questions gardeners have,” West said. “What you can do now is turn under the green manure cover crops you grew and clean up the beds.”

When doing early spring cleaning, keep an eye out for desirable volunteer seedlings, perennial plant crowns and new growth.

West said that if you brought perennials indoors in large pots, you can prune and water them now. If the plant’s pot is not full of roots, you can just re-use it without changing the soil. Annuals that you may have had around the sides of the pot will have to be replaced.

West and his wife, Melissa met at Cohlmias and have both worked there for over 25 years. Skip’s specialty is houseplants, tropical plants and plant-scaping.

“We do the plant-scaping for all the major hotels, hospitals and banks in Tulsa,” West said. “We also plant-scape events and weddings. Couples want mainly ferns and palms for their wedding whether it is indoors or outside.”

Attendees at the Garden Club meeting will have an opportunity to purchase some of West’s new finds. He said he is bringing new Hoyas such as Lipstick plants, new Dracaena varieties, Orchids, Philodendrons and Aglaonema or Chinese Evergreen. The 6-inch pots will sell for $10 to $20.

Care tips: Hoya needs bright indirect light and slightly dry soil. Dracaena needs bright light but not direct sun, and moist, not wet, soil. Philodendrons like medium light not direct sun and evenly moist soil. Aglaonemas prefer bright, indirect light and barely moist soil.

All of these and other tropical plants can be used outside in the summer in a shady part of the garden. They can be brought indoors for the winter or left outside to die. West said he plants tropicals in potting soil that contains moisture holding polymers plus fertilizer.

“When the public buys these houseplants and tropical plants, they have already been well fertilized and most of them need no more fertilizer for a couple of years,” said West.

Cohlmias is at 1502 S. Cincinnati Place in Tulsa, phone 918.582.5572

15 February 2011

OK Native Plant Society Indoor Outing rescheduled Feb 26 2011

The Indoor Outing that was scheduled for earlier this month has been rescheduled to Feb 26th.

Visit the ONPS site to get more details.

The basics
Sat Feb 26th in Stillwater

$3.00 plus $7 for lunch
8:30 a.m. registration/ 9:20 Welcome

See the online pdf for speaker information

Registration Form

Registration: $3 Lunch: $7 _____ Number of Persons

Vegetarian Requested ___ _____ Total Amount Enclosed

Reservation required by Feb 18 Make checks payable  to ONPS

Name(s): ________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

Email address: _________________________

Home/Cell Phone: _________________________

Mail this form to: Elaine Lynch, 1502 E. Frontier Drive, Stillwater OK 74075-7306.

Questions: Contact Ron Tyrl (405-744-1559) or Elaine Lynch (405-624-1461)
Elaine Lynch mneslynch@yahoo.com
Ron Tyrl rj.tyrl@okstate.edu
Getting Here
The Oklahoma Botanical Garden & Arboretum is located on the west side of Stillwater and is easily accessed from OK Hwy 51 via Sangre Road. Visit the www.visitstillwater.org site and then “Maps & Transportation” and “General City Map” to gain an overview of the garden’s location relative to Stillwater and major highways.

14 February 2011

Even blizzards melt

Here's a property line marker at the bottom of a snow filled creek on
Old Taft RD in Taft OK.

This is the Arkansas River with chunks of ice floating on the surface.

A bird's nest left from last year. Do they return and reuse the same nests?

I'm not sure what this road is other than it being the road to the prison in Taft.
It was cleared, salted, sanded and kept that way throughout the snowfall.

Closer snaps of the icy waters around here -
and this is after a couple of sunny days.

Thankfully, we are getting warm weather. Dozens of flats of seedlings are spending the night outside tonight because ta da no freeze tonight!

Transplanted plants can endanger their new environment


Thoughtful gardeners have read about this problem and some have stopped bringing potential problems home from the store
from the LA Times
Rare plants are increasingly finding their way outside their normal habitats because of commercial sellers and citizen conservationists, two ecologists warn. Unless the movement of such plants is better regulated, it could spell trouble for endangered species as well as the environments to which they are moved.

The caution, written by Patrick Shirey and Gary Lamberti at the University of Notre Dame and published in the journal Nature, warned that rare plants grown outside their native territories can disrupt their new environment, hybridize with related plants and blur their genetic individuality, or carry pathogens them that devastate other plants. They called for more uniform and rigorous regulation of Internet trade in rare plants across the U.S.

The scientists noted that about 10% of the 753 plants federally listed as threatened or endangered are being advertised for sale online.

Though increasing the numbers of rare plants may on the face of it seem helpful, ecological disasters can occur, Shirey said. He cited the case of the Australian paperbark tree, whose coastal habitats are threatened. That same tree, imported into the U.S. in the early 1900s, is considered a noxious weed in the United States and has caused millions of dollars of damage in the Florida Everglades.

Shirey worries about Brighamia insignis, known commonly as alula, or cabbage on a stick. In its natural habitat in Hawaii, fewer than 10 individual plants remain because their natural pollinators appear to have gone extinct. The plants can be hand pollinated and cultivated and are available at online nursery websites for less than $30 a pop.

Shirey also pointed to the case of Tennessee coneflower, which is currently listed as an endangered species (although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed it be delisted). The Tennessee coneflower hybridizes easily with other coneflower species, and in 2003 a commercial grower introduced a cross to the market. Having a hybrid available to purchase could reduce the threat of poaching. But, Shirey said, if these hybrids entered the native habitat they could compete for resources and hybridize in turn with the Tennessee coneflower.

Shirey noted that there is already a population of hybrid coneflowers growing near the home of the Tennessee coneflower.

Other groups are planting rare plants far from home with altruism in mind, not profit. Shirey cited as an example the Torreya Guardians, a loose-knit group of citizen and professional conservationists who are replanting the Florida torreya, a type of evergreen tree, on private land outside its current natural habitat. The conservationists justify this action by pointing out that the torreya used to thrive farther north in the last warm period between glacial freezes.

"It's not in its correct habitat right now. It should be in the Appalachians," said group cofounder Connie Barlow.

Citizen conservationists certainly have a part to play in saving rare plants, Shirey and Lamberti said. However, they added, a better approach would be to let federal officials take the lead and coordinate with citizen advocacy groups eager to help.

"Of all the possible impacts of exotic species on the native species and communities, I think the possibility of bringing in a pathogen or pest is probably the greatest," said biologist Dan Simberloff, cofounder of the Institute for Biological Invasions biologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who was not involved in the study."

Each time I read one of the stories, I recommit to planting natives ... though I still flirt with tropicals.

12 February 2011

Feb 2011 Blizzard in NE OK

So, everyone has heard about the double blizzard in OK. 
Photos from around the house and in town will help illustrate.
Icicles on the back of the house.

After the snow plow came through and left 3-inches of ice and packed snow behind.

I stood under the loblolly in the front yard and snapped this icy scene.

The Austrian peas frozen up to the top.

The local creek
Our house from the back of the 2.5 acre lot.

We drove around every day. This guy was out with his dogsled.

What to do with herbs? Learn at the Feb 19 Flower Garden and Nature Society Meeting in Springdale Arkansas - speaker Karyn Zaremba-Culver

Karyn Zaremba-Culver, owner of Bean Mountain Farms and Herbal Simplicity, will give a hands-on program entitled: "I've Grown These Beautiful Herbs, Now What Do I Do With Them?" on Saturday, February 19th.It will feature making herbal sugars, vinegars and oils and other herbal uses.

The program begins at 10:00 a.m. with social time at 9:30, in the Student Center of the Northwest Arkansas Technical Institute, 709 S. Old Missouri Rd, Springdale, AR. (redlight at Ford Av. and Hwy 265) The programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call 479-521-9090
Lynn Rogers, Program Chair
Flower, Garden and Nature Society of NWAR
President: Joyce Mendenhall

10 February 2011

March 2011 events for gardeners

There are many events for gardeners coming in March to help us think spring.

Burford Holly in the front yard

March 2 to 6 Wichita Garden Show http://www.wichitagardenshow.com/

March 4 Will Rogers Garden, Oklahoma City, Creating Colorful Containers, 9:30 to 12:30. Register by calling 405-943-0827.

March 4 to 6 Dallas Spring Home and Garden Show http://www.texashomeandgarden.com/

March 11 to 13, Tulsa Home and Garden Show at Expo Square, 918-663-1100


March 16, Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, St. Louis, Morpho Mania with 3,000 blue morpho butterflies. Reservations required 636-530-0076 ext 10

March 17, 6 p.m. Muskogee Garden Club meets at Blossom's Garden Center, 3012 E Hancock – “What's New for Spring" by Matthew Weatherbee. Information 683-0581.

March 17, Norman Public Library, 9 to noon, Bug Fest with the Oklahoma State University Insect Adventure petting zoo. Worms, butterflies, termites and more.

March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 South Peoria, the Oklahoma Horticulture Society Winter Lecture Series will present Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery. His talk will describe how plants move from discovery to market. Free. Information at www.okhort.org

March 19 at 9 a.m. C. Colston Burrell at the Flower, Garden and Nature Society of Northwest Arkansas in Springdale http://www.facebook.com/FGNSofNWA

March 31, Claremore Expo Center, Home and Garden Show, 918-341-1101

Frank A. Smith Rhododendron Garden
at the Atlanta History Center
 If you are ready for a break and can travel to Atlanta, consider attending the Proven

Winner’s annual Garden Extravaganza on Friday, March 4.

The speakers at the event include Rick Schoellhorn, Director of New Products, Rebecca Bull Reed, Associate Garden Editor for Southern Living magazine, Walter Reeves, southern gardening expert and Carmen Johnston, owner of Nectar and Company.

Schoellhorn is speaking about new Proven Winners plants for 2011, Reed will talk about edible gardens, and radio personality Walter Reeves will talk about how to diagnose and solve plant problems.

Johnston said in a telephone interview that the Extravaganza is like a spa day for people who love plants and gardens.

Her Macon, GA, Nectar and Company, is the home base for a floral design and event and floral business. Children’s garden parties are part of her business.

“The Extravaganza is a day filled with education and inspiration,” said Johnston. “Each presenter gives a 45-minute talk with lots of hands on ideas to take home. There are free things given away throughout the day, including a gift bag and a plant.”

Johnston said that the benefits family gardening include togetherness, planning, planting, weeding and watering as well as harvesting and enjoying the produce.

The garden parties she plans are for parents and children.

“I’m in my thirties and people of my generation want to be with their children in a garden but don’t know how,” Johnston said. “In school, home, and community gardens, we can help get children’s hands in the dirt. It doesn’t have to be intimidating.”

She said that engaging children includes potting plants, seed starting and playing games such as garden bingo. In one of her projects, her company put in a parking lot garden that was specifically designed for children and parents to enjoy.

A raised bed was built on top of the parking lot, with drip irrigation, a picket fence and pine bark mulch. Then, a 4-foot square garden was installed where families could participate together. Each 1-foot square was unique: one butterfly garden, one pizza garden, a popcorn bed and a scratch and sniff scented bed.

The Garden Extravaganza will be held at the Atlanta History Center. The $80 per person entry fee includes gardening goodies, plants, lunch and door prizes.

Other Garden Extravaganza locations and dates: March 18 in Seattle, April 8 in Milwaukee, and April 15 in Toronto.

For information and registration 877-865-5818 or www.provenwinners.com.

07 February 2011

Gardening for a Lifetime by Sydney Eddison

Let me begin by saying I read "Gardening for a Lifetime" by Sydney Eddison in 2 days. Yes, we are snowed in and there isn't much to do but read, work in the shed, go to the gym and clean out closets - but, still - it is a lovely read.

Eddison is an east coast gardener, at least 78 years old, and this, her 7th book is a summary of her garden helpers, her helpmate hubby, and her many garden transitions. They lived on the same property for 50 years, a property that fronted public lands, affording them considerable privacy.

The subtitle of the book is, "How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older" and Eddison talks about reducing the number of perennials and replacing them with shrubs and small trees.

It is indeed a lovely read for those of us who can no longer put 16 hours a day into the garden. Our garden work days end long before that.

Here's what Timber Press has to say about the book -
"The garden has been an everyday part of Sydney Eddison's life for over forty years. It has witnessed the changing of seasons, her greatest joys, and her deepest sorrows. The garden and the gardener have aged and changed together. Gardening for a Lifetime is a touching memoir about having to scale back after widowhood and painful joints made it impossible to keep up with a large country garden.

Intermixing personal experience with practical gardening tips, Eddison has written an encouraging road map for accepting and embracing a new and simpler way of gardening. Elegant black and white illustrations evoke Eddison's everyday joy, sorrow, and contentment in the garden. Gentle, personable, and practical, Gardening for a Lifetime helps transform gardening from a list of daunting chores into the rewarding, joy-filled activity it was meant to be."

There is also an interview with Eddison here

May 21, 2010

"Everything in my landscape has changed all around me in 49 years," garden designer and writer Sydney Eddison said last week.

And that includes herself.

Speaking at a meeting of the Connecticut Horticultural Society, Eddison joked that she had a new "bionic hip," a new "bionic eye" and another bionic eye coming up.

"This is my first fling since I really started falling apart," she laughed.

Eddison's seventh book came out this month. Titled "Gardening for a Lifetime: How To Garden Wiser as You Grow Older" [Timber Press, 204 pages, $19.95], it chronicles how she has come to terms with the passage of time. As she grew older, she wasn't as able to do as much in her renowned garden in Newtown. She needed more help. She needed to simplify. She took out many perennials and replaced them with shrubs and grasses, which require less maintenance.

Her book is packed with insights — she calls them "gleanings" — that readers will find helpful, whether they're nearing a certain age or simply trying to plan their gardens well.

In her book, she also delves deeply into her personal sorrows, particularly the loss of her husband, Martin, and how the garden reflects that.

But her talk last week was downright merry.

She reminisced about what she and Martin found when they first moved to Newtown: High brush grew right up to the door.
"I had no idea I was making a garden, but I knew one thing, and it was that all that raggedy stuff had to go."

Though Martin was a non-gardener — he didn't like the labor, the climate, the bugs or the snakes (and there were a lot of them) — he climbed on their Gravely tractor and "bravely charged into the bush," helping her clear the land for what would become a breath-stopping showpiece.

"I simply loved digging," she said. "I like getting sweaty and dirty." And once the land was clear, she went "mad."

Showing slides that chronicled the progression of changes in the garden — from decade to decade, from year to year and from season to season — Eddison wove in numerous amusing anecdotes and asides.

In the garden's island bed, Eddison had planted a beautiful cherry tree — Prunus Hally Jolivette — in 1976, in memory of her mother. It was at the peak of bloom about 15 years later when "crusty" Harvard horticulturist Joseph Hudak came for a visit.

"Please let him say something really nice about the garden," Eddison recalled wishing.

Anyone know the significance of this clock - with two 12s and two 6s?

Groasis waterboxx - to help nourish the planet

Nourishing the Planet by Danielle Nierenberg had a fascinating article on Jan 27. Be sure to go to the waterboxx principles here and click Continue to see how this could work.

Groasis by AquaPro
Andrew Boys wrote
Nature is full of examples of efficient solutions, and an unlikely model for success in retaining this moisture has been found in bird feces. When a bird consumes a seed and excretes it onto the dry soil of a desert, its excrement serves as a retention system for moisture, allowing roots to grow. The nascent root systems immediately begins penetrating the soil and growing toward the water below.

The vital role that bird excrement plays in the germination of plant seeds is the central inspiration for the Groasis, a deceptively simple invention that promises to revolutionize aforestation efforts in arid climates.

The Groasis uses incubation to deliver water over a time-period in tune with a seedling’s demand for water. Any precipitation from rainfall or evening condensation is collected from the fan-shaped roof of the device and stored in evaporation-proof containers. A small wick delivers a steady flow of water to the plant, gradually creating a water column in the soil to support long-term growth. The water also regulates the plant’s temperature, cooling it in the day-time heat and insulating it at night. When the plant is around two feet tall, it has already established a robust root system and can survive un-aided in the harsh climate.

AquaPro, the company behind the Groasis, has developed mechanized equipment to implement this growing system for large-scale rehabilitation projects. In 2010 alone there were fifteen aforestation projects in Kenya, the United States, France and Spain that used the Groasis to help deal with strip-mining rehabilitation, desertification, and other problems.

06 February 2011

Year-Round Gardening by Delilah Smittle and Sheri Ann Richerson

I came to the party late on seeing "Year-Round Gardening" by Delilah Smittle and Sheri Ann Richerson - it was published and widely reviewed last year.

But, it is still worth talking about because it is terrific.

The authors have written an all-you-need-to-know paperback that will be appreciated by new gardeners of all ages.

Even if you do not have a need or desire to garden year-round, this is one of the best books I've seen on basic growing techniques.

It covers every one of the topics a new gardener needs to consider and it is clearly written without being dumbed down (despite the "Idiot" in the title). Each subject is covered in enough depth to get you through the first few years of gardening.

"Year-Round Gardening" is in the usual "Idiot" format: black and white on newsprint, with boxes of tips scattered on the pages.

Take a look at it next time you are in a bookstore. Used copies are only a penny on Amazon. Buy one for yourself or a young gardener in your life.

03 February 2011

The Canebrake Restaurant - food grown on site or within 50-miles - a delicious retreat

Whether you go to The Canebrake Restaurant/Resort near Wagoner for Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch or dinner any night, chances are that you will be served something either grown on the 400-acre property or from a grower within a 50-mile radius.

Owner and chef Sam Bracken said, “In the four years we have been here, there has been an amazing uptick in the local, seasonal and sustainable practices and food sources we have found to use. There are so many high quality ingredients available here.”

In the greenhouse - Sam Bracken, owner and chef, The Canebrake
The Brackens grow many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs used in the preparation of the food served in the restaurant and plan to do more. Right now, Kurt and Melba Bowman tend a fenced vegetable garden and greenhouse.

“We grow our own tomatoes, peppers, scallions, cucumbers, summer squash, wax beans and peas,” Bracken said. “We use the wild persimmons, pears and blackberries that grow naturally on the property.”

They grow the vegetables both from seed and from purchased seedlings and the kitchen staff does a lot of the harvesting.

This week, the greenhouse shelves are lined with seed-starting trays, and pots of herbs they are using in the bar and in the kitchen. Lining the other side of the greenhouse are the ferns and other large pots of plants that are being overwintered. Hanging pots hold wheat grass and other culinary plants.

A bundle of wheat grass garnishes a (delicious) cocktail.
Outside the kitchen door a recycled trough holds faded herb plants that will be replanted in the spring with seedlings. Bracken said that the kitchen staff harvests fresh herbs from the planter in the summer and from the greenhouse in the winter.

Inside the kitchen there were trays of dried herbs that were grown and preserved on-site last year. The herbs they grow on the property include garlic, chives, thyme, sage, basil, oregano, cilantro, and parsley.

Marketing director, Adam Miller said that one of the other new trends represented at the Canebrake is environmentally friendly foraging. (See http://foraging.com)

“This property has so many diverse plants growing on it that we can use,” Miller said. “Wild food we collect on the property to use includes native pecans, elderberries, morels, oyster mushrooms, and the flowers we use on the tables. And, we use the fallen hickory branches to smoke meat.”

Most of the products used in food and drink preparation are touched by local suppliers. The jam served at brunch is made on-site with Porter peaches, the sun dried tomato jam is made from their own tomatoes, the honey they use is from a farm in Bixby and they plan to put bee hives onto the property.
Trays of seeds are ready to produce this spring's fresh herbs for the kitchen and dining room.
Many of the items on the menu are not grown on their ranch but are grown locally. For example, Progressive Produce in Bixby supplies heirloom melons, squash and tomatoes as well as salad greens. Pork & Greens supplies the pork, Fioravanti Ranch raises the bison, Clear Creek Monastery makes the cheese and the beef is hormone free, sustainably raised from farms in OK, AR and MO.

“The catfish we serve is U.S. raised, the potatoes are from CO and the apples are from WA,” Bracken said.

The Canebrake composts their green waste and is interested in joining other restaurants that have set a goal of being trash free.

In recognition of the Brackens’ commitment to sustainable practices, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept and the OK Dept of Environmental Quality awarded the Canebrake their gold certification as a sustainable tourism destination.

The summer seating patio is beautiful no matter what season you go.
Guests of the restaurant and lodge can roam the property via 4.5 miles of walking paths that wander through fields and woods.

If you plan to go, it is a good idea to make reservations: The Canebrake, 33241 E. 732nd Road

Wagoner, OK, www.thecanebrake.com, 918-485-1810.

02 February 2011

Gryphon Begonia

Darn! I thought my seed purchase process was complete and then I saw this on the Harris Seed site.
Since I've never seen it before, I'll pass along what Harris said about it and provide the link
 - just in case your shopping isn't quite over yet, either.

Harris Seed - 50 seeds $9.80
A Fantastic Foliage® selection. The superb foliage of this begonia combines majestic beauty with strength and durability to make an outstanding presentation in single or combination containers.
The multiseed pellets germinate easily and will produce plants that are more tolerant to stressful conditions than Rex begonias, and size up more quickly than vegetative foliage type begonias.
Easy-care Gryphon has low water needs and produces showy displays, making it a great item for both outdoor and indoor gardens.
Height: 14-16"; 16-18" spread.

It is named ‘Gryphon’ because according to the breeding company that produces it, "The Gryphon is a mythical creature with the head and wings of an eagle, and the body of a lion. This superb foliage begonia combines the same majestic beauty with strength and durability."
They take a bit of time to germinate (10-12 days) and note that a saturated media and high relative humidity is critical for seed to germinate successfully.
For home gardeners who want to grow their own from seed, figure 8-9 weeks from sow to transplant into a 4-5 inch pot.
Grow it on for another 5-6 weeks, and then you’ll want to move it into your large container. (We used whiskey barrels here at the company.)
Once the plants are established you’ll find that Gryphon’s water needs are not too demanding and you’ll still get a very vigorous and showy plant. The breeder claims the plants can also be brought indoors, so I’ve already brought my planter at home inside to see how it fares over the winter months.

Here's a YouTube video - you'll get a sense of the size to expect Gryphon to become - smallish in a pot at the beginning of the video, then a full size one at the end.
Has anyone grown this from seed or succeeded with plants?