29 September 2011

Ease stress with gardening

Recent research around the world shows that a little garden work or a walk in a park are better for reducing stress and improving mental sharpness than coffee, candy or other quick remedies we reach for when we are tired.

The effectiveness of being surrounded by nature extends to simply having nature pictures in the work environment. Memory improves and attention to detail increases just by stopping work to fully enjoy a walk through an arboretum.

Researchers found that the same 10-minute walk, taken in town, does not boost the sharpness of our thinking or our mood. In another study, the participants took a 10-minute break in a room full of nature photos. Even the photos helped somewhat, though not as much as being among trees and plants.

One of the researchers, Dr. Marc Berman at the University of Michigan, said: “You don’t necessarily have to enjoy the walk to get the benefit. What you like is not necessarily going to be good for you.”

The difference between a walk in town and time with nature is the amount of attention we have to pay to what is going on around us. Landscape is pleasing and relaxing; busy areas such as streets require our attention to other pedestrians, cars, bicycles, etc.

Berman and his group found that a walk on a quiet sidewalk with containers of plants will also benefit our productivity and mood. The Rotman Research Institute in Toronto is studying the effect of nature on anxiety, depression, and length of hospital stays and rehabilitation.

Therapy gardens have been planted in many cities, providing wheelchair-height raised beds of scented plants and herbs. Urban designer Jan Gehl would like landscape education to require a component of this focus to improve our health.

Coffee and candy, traditionally used as afternoon pick-me-ups, actually work the opposite way, adding stress chemicals and depleting energy.

Michael Posner studies attention at the University of Oregon and has found that the ability to accurately perform repetitive tasks increased when the workers were required to take a 10-minute walk in nature.

Berman found that performance improved by 20 percent after a walk through an arboretum, even in the middle of a Michigan winter.

In addition to reducing stress, gardening has the added benefits of exercise, learning, social activity and leisure.

The core of horticulture therapy includes the tangible rewards of a beautiful landscape, home-grown food, flowers and serenity.

Recent research also indicated that people who are mentally and physically active are 47 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Neurological surgeon Dr. Paul Nussbaum of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School considers gardening to be one of the top three excellent mental workouts. See more about brain healthy activities at http://www.fitbrains.com.

How we garden makes a difference. Completing a few items on a short to-do list can increase good feelings, both physical and emotional.

Digging, chopping, pulling, reaching and using garden tools relieve stress and reduce physical tension. Take a few minutes to stretch and warm up before picking up the tools. Take stretch and relaxation breaks during a long period of gardening.

On days when there is not enough time or energy for the aerobic gardening activities, a 10-minute stroll around the garden can help center your mind.

Gardening requires mental focus, physical movement and goal setting, to say nothing of dedication and commitment. We benefit emotionally and spiritually from watching the progress of what we planted, noticing the seasons, enjoying texture and colors, as well as from using what we grow to make a bouquet, a centerpiece or a salad.

28 September 2011

Plant bulbs now for spring bloom

The last of the sunflowers are in bloom
signally that it's time to get fall bulbs
and beds cleaned and for them.

Look at the sale items from Touch of Nature at this link.

If you plan to put in 50 or more bulbs, be sure to get a bulb auger attachment for your battery operated drill. You'll be amazed how easy it can be to put in a couple hundred bulbs with a power tool!

25 September 2011

Figs for our zone 7 gardens

This is our third attempt to be successful at growing figs in zone 7. The first two plants lived long enough to produce an abundant crop - once. Then, they each died.

Because our winters are cold, figs are actually multi-branching shrubs that die to the ground, instead of becoming trees as they do in warmer climates.

The fruit is so perishable that it's a good idea to grow a couple of plants if you want to eat them fresh.

Figs pollinate themselves so one of each variety that you want to eat will work.

Luckily this year even though the fruit was half the size they usually are, there were enough to can a few small jars for a friend.

The plants need full sun (minimum of 6 hours) and water to keep the leaves from yellowing.

Our shrub/trees are Brown Turkey and Black Jack.

Like all fruit trees, shrubs, plants, they are best pruned when dormant.

21 September 2011

Art in the Garden Tour - a dozen artists and four gardens in Tulsa this weekend

Garden Tour - Living with Art in the Garden
Saturday, Sept 24, 10 to 5 and Sunday, Sept 25, 1 to 5

5707 S. Birmingham AV
3927 E. 60 ST
6150 S. Louisville AV
6110 W. Canyon RD

Information: Christy Fell, 918-607-1937

Living Arts of Tulsa (http://www.livingarts.org) is holding its tenth annual garden tour this weekend. The proceeds help the Myers Gallery, as well as contribute to art classes for adults and children. Their summer camps for children teach video, sculpture and performance arts.

At each of the four gardens there will be an artist on site displaying decorative pieces for your garden or outdoor entertaining space, and a Master Gardener to answer questions.

The garden I toured is at 5705 South Birmingham in a subdivision near 61 and Harvard, close to Southern Hills Country Club. Homeowner and gardener Beth Teel retired from a career as a special education teacher and took up the family hobby of gardening.

“My parents and grandparents were big gardeners,” Teel said.

After Beth retired, her husband Paul suggested that they take down the old chain link fence and put in a garden shed. That was 15 years ago and together they have created a haven for plant lovers.

“Texture, color and what grows well is how I choose what to plant,” said Beth. “I add a lot of herbs mixed in with other plants. I like to put light and dark plants next to each other.”

Approaching the front entry, there is a perennial bed on one side of the driveway and a newly planted vegetable garden on the other. The fall vegetables include lettuce, spinach, and fingerling potatoes.

Surrounding the entry there are several beds. Look for Japanese Painted Fern, hellebores, begonias, wire vine, Mahonia, Hinoke Cypress, Green Giant Arborvitae, Deodor Cedar and Paperbark maple.

Both sides of the house have ribbons of garden. Look for hydrangeas in bloom, Variegated Sage, Spirea, Bee balm, Artemesia, Soft Serve False Cypress, Stained Glass hosta, and Plum Yew.

The entry into the back garden from the side yard is through an arbor that Paul built. You will immediately be impressed with the well-kept beds on both sides of the lawn.

“I like a tidy cottage look,” Beth said. “There are trailing herbs, rocks, coleus, and potted plants in front of the tall shrubbery backdrop.”

In these beds look for Black Lace Elderberry, a French-cut Winter Gem boxwood hedge, salvias, and begonias and coleus.

Beth said, “My grandmother always had a vase of coleus cuttings in the house that she grew into spring plants for the garden.”

The garden beside the shed has a special feature. If you look up, you will see a gutter garden. Paul drilled holes in an 8-foot long piece of rain gutter that he hung along the roofline. After filling it with trailing plants, he attached a drip irrigation system to keep it growing over the summer.

Rhonda Steiner, who creates outdoor mosaic art, brought a few of her pieces to show us at the garden. They are all weather proof and ready to install.

“Mosaics for outdoors are more challenging,” Steiner said. “You have to know what materials and which glue to use so the pieces hold together.”

A dozen artists’ work will be displayed at Southwood Landscape and Nursery (91 and Lewis) including: Grant Smith, Donna Prigmore, Gina Dellinger, David Hoot, John Byrne, Josh Mars, Julie Thomas, Laurie Keeley, Leigh Standingbear, Linda Coward, Lisa Brownwood, Tana Van Cleave, Terri Higgs, Virginia Harrison and Yusuf Etudalye.

Come to get new ideas and art for your garden. Bring a camera!

20 September 2011

Drum Circle at Moonshadow Herb Farm in Muskogee OK

A drum circle is based less on the expertise of the players, and more on the quality of their relationship with each other to express themselves and create a rhythmical experience.
Come experience an entry level drum circle where many people who use drums (or percussion instruments) for different purposes all come together to share their rhythmical spirit to create a drum song.

Outside event in the pecan grove around fire pit. All ages welcome – family friendly.  WEATHER PERMITTING

Saturday 9-24-11 at 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
MoonShadow Herb Farm
3500 South Country Club Road

To participate call ahead:  918-687-6765
Leave your name and phone number for call-back
Minimum of 5 participants to make drum circle

Bring your own instrument – if you do not have an instrument we have a limited amount of extra drums and percussion instruments you may use.

Blessings – Sharon Owen

Ecology Blogs by the hundreds

Here are a few of the hundreds of ecology and conservation  blogs on the Internet. I can get lost for hours just clicking on their lists of favorite blogs.

Enjoy browsing - these are just the ones I liked the best.

If you have an ecology blog or a favorite one you browse or subscribe to, please let me/us know its web address. We can never read enough!

- The Prairie Ecologist -
Located between Grand Island and Kearney, Nebraska, The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies are a chain of grasslands and wetlands that are managed for biological diversity with a combination of prescribed fire and grazing. These prairies are also working laboratories for the development of innovative techniques for grassland management that restore and/or maintain the diversity of life found in high quality grasslands. Most importantly, they are full of life, including birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, and plants. Enjoy the following slide show of photos from the Platte River Prairies - or even better, come see for yourself, and enjoy our public hiking trails.
 - Timberhill Oak Savanna -
Oak Savanna is the term used to describe the mosaic of woodlands and prairie openings in south central Iowa. Before early European settlement it was the transitional zone between the eastern deciduous forest and tall grass prairie. A two-tiered community it consisted of open canopied trees that spread over an herbaceous ground layer of grasses, sedges and wildflowers. There was no woody understory
Before early European settlement thirty million acres of savanna stretched from Minnesota and Wisconsin south to the Texas hill country. Now only .02% remains. The rarest ecosystem in temperate North America it is classified G-1, globally endangered. Decatur County, Iowa has 20,000 acres of highly restorable oak savanna. Timberhill is just one example of what could be done if these acres were managed for oak savanna restoration.
 - Iowa Prairie Network -
The Iowa Prairie Network is a grass-roots, volunteer, non-profit, organization that is dedicated to the preservation of Iowa's prairie heritage. IPN was formed in 1990 by Iowans concerned that our prairie heritage was disappearing. People needed an organization that would bring those that know about prairie together with those that wanted to learn, to form a network of advocacy for Iowa's natural heritage.

 - The Prairie Enthusiasts -
The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) is a private organization committed to the protection and management of native prairie and savanna of the Upper Midwest. We have an incorporated, nonprofit status and are a grass roots organization run mainly by volunteers.
The Prairie Enthusiasts differ from other conservation groups in its sole dedication to the preservation of the last remaining pieces of the once vast, now endangered, prairies and savannas of the Upper Midwest through land protection and management.

 - Beetles in the Bush
 - Bur Oak Blog
Celebrating the nature of Iowa and the Midwest with words and images

18 September 2011

Thrifty - is everyone feeling "Pinched"?

On Book TV the weekend is dedicated to interviews with authors. It's smart TV for the most part.

Author of "Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It", Don Peck, says our culture is forever changed by this recession.This is the author who coined words like Mansession and Funemployment.

Thrift, it seems, it fashionable again. Coupon clipping, vegetable growing, home ec returning to schools, staycations, hand made gifts, etc., are all indications of the trend to pay down, pay off, save and pinch.

Add the recession to the outrageous drought, heat and floods around the U.S., greenhouses and growers are reporting a down trend and seed companies are reporting a surge in sales.

On a personal note, I spent less on my garden this year than ever, other than the water bills, of course.  When I talk with local gardeners, they say are cutting back, cutting down, giving up on some things. Their formerly large gardens will be a few raised beds, fewer pots will be planted for the patio, hardy plants will replace more vulnerable ones. One woman told me she is simply removing perennial beds in favor of daffodils in the spring and a summer off.

What about you? Will you plant as much, more, the same?

16 September 2011

Rhonda Steiner creates weather proof art for your garden

Tulsa artist, Rhonda Steiner has been designing and creating outdoor art for 15-years.
Steiner's art, ranging in price from $100 to $1,000 will be on display at
Southwood Landscape and Nursery, 91st and Lewis in Tulsa
on Sept 24 from 10 to 5 and Sept 25 from 1 to 5.

Heart on Fire mosaic by Rhonda Steiner

 In addition to special shows, Steiner's art is available through her Etsy store at this link http://www.etsy.com/people/piecexpeace?ref=pr_profile
Lotus Flower Mosaic Medallion by Rhonda Steiner

Rhonda Steiner
Living Arts of Tulsa, Art in the Garden Tour is next weekend, Sep 24 and 25.
Tickets are $10 at any home.

5707 S. Birmingham AV

3927 E. 60 ST

6150 S. Louisville AV

6110 W. Canyon RD

Bring a camera!

14 September 2011

Roses of Tulsa Inc. owner speaking in Muskogee

Roses are thought to be the most popular of all the garden flowers, and with good reason.  Whether you want a tree, climbing, shrub or trailing rose, there is a selection that will fit the space available. With hundreds of hybrids, the color choices are almost unlimited and disease resistance is practically assured.
The natural distribution of wild roses covers the world. Cultivated roses, originally from China (Rosa chinesis) and from Europe by way of China (Rosa chinesis odorata), were cultivated by the year 2736 B.C.
Mark Stelljes, owner of Roses of Tulsa (www.rosesinctulsa.com) will be talking about how to succeed with growing roses, at the Muskogee Garden Club monthly meeting today. He has been growing roses from cuttings and roots for 30-years.
 “During planting season we have 500 rose varieties in stock,” Stelljes said. “Right now we are down to two-thousand plants and only 300 varieties.”
The roses they sell include hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, mini, miniflora, old garden varieties and the largest selection of Griffith Buck roses in the country and all the All America Rose Selections.
Griffith Buck (1915-1991) was a horticulture professor at Iowa State University. He hybridized 93 named roses.  Buck, along with collaborators Neils Hanson and Wilhelm Kordes bred and grew rose seedlings that they did not water, fertilize or protect with chemicals. The rosees that thrived include: Barn Dance, Applejack, Prairie Sunrise, Spanish Rhapsody, Sevilliana, Carefree Beauty or Katy Road Pink.
The Buck roses thought to do best in the humid south include: Carefree Beauty (Katy Road Pink), Country Dancer, Distant Drums, Golden Unicorn, Hi Neighbor, Honey Sweet, Pipe Dreams, Prairie Clogger, Prairie Princess, Prairie Star, Serendipity and Summer Wind.
Floibundas are bushy shrubs with large, showy blossoms of the hybrid teas, but bloom more freely, setting clusters of three to fifteen blossoms. Floribundas are versatile; an individual shrub will fit easily into a sunny border and in a mass planting.

Hybrid tea roses are tall, long-stemmed roses ideal for cutting, with one flower per stem.
A grandiflora is a cross between a floribunda and a hybrid tea. Grandifloras are 6-feet-tall elegant plants with repeated bloom during the season, and generally feature classic hybrid tea flower clusters.
Shrub and landscape roses are naturally disease resistant and come in all shapes and sizes. Landscape roses grow close to the ground and spread. Varieties include: Knock Out, Starry Night, Day Dream and Lady Elsie May.

Climbing roses have long, arching canes that have to be trained to a trellis or fence.

Miniature roses grow from 6-inches to 2-feet tall. They are hardy and bloom continuously in containers or flower beds.

Tree roses are a hardy root with a long trunk and a rose grafted on top. They are usually grown along a path or as a flower bed feature.

Come to Garden Club today and learn how to prepare the soil, nurture and prune your perfect rose.
Muskogee Garden Club Calendar 2011-12
Sep 15, Mark Stelljes, Roses of Tulsa “A Year in the Life of a Rose”
Oct 20, Karla Groff, Grogg’s Green Barn “Eco Friendly and Organic Gardening”
Nov 17, Jon Stoodley & Oyana Wilson, “Take Care of Your Pruning Tools and Pruning Tips”
Dec 15, Christmas brunch
Jan 19, Member roundtable discussion, “Successes and Problems”
Feb 17, Skip West, Cohlmia’s, “Tropical Plants and Hope for Spring”
March 15, Matthew Weatherbee, Blossom’s Garden Center, “Whet Your Gardening Appetite”
Apr 19, Martha Stoodley, “Sowing Seeds”
May 17, Picnic for members and guests

13 September 2011

Grower’s Secret Grow Big 521

Fertilizing in the fall is such an important task for gardeners in most growing zones. Made in the U.S. Grower’s Secret is an ideal fall soil and plant helper.
Carolina Mantis Mantid - Stagmomantis carolina

The Hawaii-based company produces organics and microbial soil improvement products.

At this time of year, our garden
is host to a dozens of butterflies, skippers and other garden friends, so we don't use any chemical based products.

This Carolina Mantis would not hang around to control garden pests if the place smelled like chemicals!

Grower's Secret hose attachment
I experimented with the Grower's Secret Grow Big 521.
The bed that I'm foliar spraying doesn't look like much to us
but to the critters it is heaven - rue, asclepias, basil,
purple hyacinth vine, goldenrod, salvias and other plants that provide food and shelter for our flying friends.

The record-breaking heat and drought took a toll on our butterfly population this summer but they are almost always laying eggs or otherwise inhabiting one of our herb or flower beds.
After watering and foliar spraying several beds, we left for a 4 day vacation. Nothing was watered while we were gone.

When we went out to take a look at the beds there was a visible difference in them. The plants were greener, taller and healthier looking. Their faded, end-of-summer appearance had changed and they had grown.

I wish we had one of those time-lapse camera set-ups because I wonder if we could actually have watched the drooping plants stand up tall and brighten.

My experience is that the product worked quite well.

Used through the hose-end sprayer, none of the plants were burned by the concentrate. (It smells somewhat like fish emulsion.)

And, it is packaged in a recycled plastic bottle that is itself recyclable.

Their products are shipping-free mail order at this link. A 32-ounce bottle of concentrate is about $10.

Here's the Grower's Secret promotional information -
"Eleven years of research uncovered mushroom spores as the key to unlocking a plant’s ability to dramatically increase the acceptance of nutrients. 

Combining this discovery with an organic fertilizer yields a breakthrough product— Grower’s Secret™ Grow Big 521—now available at www.growerssecret.com for every garden across the U.S.

Grow Big 521 combines Grower’s Secret Pro, a super-concentrated root and growth energizer, with an organic fish emulsion.  It is designed to make vegetables and plants of all kinds to grow faster and healthier.  It is the only lavender-scented fish emulsion product that is ready-to-spray on the lawn, in the garden or on house plants. 

 “The Grower’s Secret Pro formula is the result of eons of evolution between a fungus and a tree, which entices a plant to speed up its metabolism, open up cells at the cellular level and accept more nutrients and water,” said Wesley Chun, Chief Science Officer, Grower’s Secret™. 

“This results in increased plant growth by 30 percent, a reduced crop cycle by 25 percent and an increased shelf life of fruits and vegetables by at least 20 percent.”

Grow Big 521 also strengthens roots, wards off disease, braves extreme weather conditions, and regulates the synthesis of proteins and starches. 

Other important features of Grower’s Secret™ Grow Big 521 include:
 • Safe for pets, people and the environment; no pesticides
• Rich source of nitrogen, phosphorous,  potassium, trace minerals, macronutrients and micronutrients
• Spray on - no measuring or mixing required
• No additional fertilizer is needed
• Apply as a foliar spray or soil drench, while watering
• Lavender scent is pleasant and easy to use"

12 September 2011

American Takii - new plants for next season

American Takii breeds and selects new plant varieties for the Central and North American markets. Knowing what they have coming out next year will help you select just the right plant for next spring and summer's garden.

I'm already planning for next summer - what to take out, what to replant and what to add. We consumers cannot purchase directly from wholesale companies but we can ask our local nursery to get things in.

Here are a few of the new selections coming from American Takii. The links I've provided will give you the most up to date information available on them!

Chloris truncate 'Flying Stars'

Flowering kale 'Glamour Red'
Burpee has these plants available now.

Gerbera 'Royal Red'
This link will take you to Express Seed where you can see all the 'Royal' Gerbera series colors!

Gomphrena 'Audray White'
Harris Seed has this variety available.

Linaria 'Fantasy Apricot'
All the in depth growing tips are here.

Salvia coccinea 'Summer Jewel Red'
Learn2Grow has tips about this beauty.

Song bird flowering kale series in Pink, Red and White
Seedman is the resource for these.

Violas 'Gem Scarlet', 'Nature Rose Picotee' and 'Floral Power Purple Face'
Ohio State University reported on its success with this viola series.

11 September 2011

Wobblers on tripods

We use these sprinklers, called wobblers.

Before the day becomes hot or at sundown, they can be just the thing to wet an area where the ground is moist enough but the heat of the day caused plants to fade and have a difficult time taking water up through the stems.

The wobbler itself is useless without a stand so if you decide to get one, be sure to get a stand at the same time.

The stands vary in quality. The one we bought has 5 legs and can be unstable on our rocky hillside. Also, the legs had to be glued in to keep them from falling out. But, all in all, it's OK for our use, folds up easily and is light for moving around.

I saw other wobbler stands online that have 3 sturdy legs and a brace between 2 of the legs - which looks more stable.

08 September 2011

Contest - Photos of butterflies, moths and skippers

Benefit Photo Contest - Photos of local butterflies, skippers or moths taken within 60-miles of Muskogee.
- Submit by September 20, 2011
- $5.00 per entry. No limit on number of entries.
- Proceeds benefit Friends of Honor Heights Park
- Mail photo on CD to 4211 High Oaks, Muskogee 74401 or email entry to photo@friendsofhhp.com with the subject line “2011 Butterflies of Muskogee Photo Contest”.

- Information 866drjsmiles@gmail.com

There are many more moth species than butterflies, but butterflies capture the attention of more camera buffs. Butterflies and skippers are about 10% of the Lepidoptera species, and moths make up the other 90%.

Many moths are just as beautiful as butterflies, so why are butterflies more commonly seen in nature photos? One reason is that moths are active mostly at night and butterflies tend to fly during the day so they are easier to photograph.

In the last few years, butterflies, skippers and moths have come to the attention of conservation efforts, including the Federal Endangered Species Act. One part of those conservation efforts includes the construction of butterfly houses around the world and a wide variety of education programs. For example, raising butterflies in elementary school classrooms is a widely accepted method of teaching science.

The members of Muskogee’s Friends of Honor Heights Park have worked for four years to raise money to build a teaching garden and butterfly sanctuary at the park both as an educational facility and a tourism attraction.

Their efforts have paid off and reaching the fundraising goal is in sight.

This month, they are sponsoring a photo contest. The entrance fee is $5.00 per photo with no limit on the number of entries. The photos will be judged based on overall quality and originality. There will be two categories of winners: Adult and Youth.

The best entries will be announced at a Friends of Honor Heights Park event on Sept 27. Then, the photos will be displayed and sold in the park gift shop, with proceeds going to Friends of HHP. The photographer’s names will accompany the photos.

The contest is open to everyone, professional or amateur, using any brand or type of camera and lens.

All the photos submitted have to be taken by the photographer named and have to be free of copyright. Contestants will retain the rights to their photos for future use, but Friends of HHP and the City of Muskogee will have unlimited rights to use the photos in materials.

Deadline to enter is September 20.

To enter the contest costs $5 per entry. Mail the entry fee to 4211 High Oaks, Muskogee 74401. To submit photos, mail a CD with your entry fees or email jpg files to photo@friendsofhhp.com with the subject line “2011 Butterflies of Muskogee Photo Contest”

Be sure to include photographer’s name, address, telephone, and email, location of shot, and Adult (18 or older) or Youth (under 18).

Patience is essential to photographing butterflies. Since they need the warmth of the sun to fly, they move around quickly from flower to flower when it is sunny. When the light is softer in the morning or evening, or when the day is a little cloudy, they are more likely to sit on a flower. Around noon, they take cover from the direct sun.

Butterflies, skippers and moths can be found on flowers most of the time. However, many butterflies eat tree sap rather than flower pollen so expand your search based on their dining habits.

Move toward them slowly so they do not fly away. Notice where your shadow is falling since they naturally protect themselves from predators’ shadows.

Butterflies can smell the nectar of flowers and will move away from perfume, insect repellant and other unnatural scents.

Moths are easier to photograph when you see them since they are usually docile during daylight hours.

Take lots of shots, moving around the subject carefully. Use a magnifying lens so you can take the photo from a safe distance.

More information: David Jones, 866drjsmiles@gmail.com. Good luck!

07 September 2011

Kudzu Bugs Asian Stink Bugs - multiplying and moving inside for the winter UGH

University of GA College of Ag Science says that Kudzu Bugs, Megacopta cribraria, are spreading throughout the south, multiplying season by season AND that they want to set up winter residences in our homes.


If you travel to, from, around and out of GA, for heaven 's sake check your shoes and gear and get a hot water car wash as you leave the state.

here's a link to the whole story by Sharon Dowdy    click

here are some of the highlights

Almost two years ago, a tiny immigrant pest arrived in Georgia, and there’s nothing the state’s immigration office can do to make it leave. The bean plataspid, or kudzu bug, munches on kudzu and soybeans and has now set up residence in four Southern states.

N.C. crops Kudzu Bug nymphs
Homeowners consider the bug a nuisance. Soybean producers shudder at the damage it causes. And many are hoping it will prove to be a kudzu killer.

By studying the pest for the past year, Gardner has determined wisteria, green beans and other legumes are the bug’s true hosts in the landscapes and home gardens. A plant becomes a true host of the insect when different life stages of the insect are found on the plant, he said.

Having a few hundred uninvited house guests is bothersome, but the bugs are not harmful, and they don’t feed on indoor plants.

They are sucking on Kudzu stems (yippee) but also valuable crops (oh, blast) AND to control them on your wisteria they would have to be poisoned every day because they hatch so quickly (yikes).

The spread of Kudzu to date from http://cobbloviate.com/2010/08/

04 September 2011

"Yes, You Can! and Freeze and Dry It, Too" by Daniel Gasteiger

A thorough, new (and cool) book is out on the topic of preserving food. And, it's written by a guy. Here's a link to his blog http://www.smallkitchengarden.net/.

In our area, the home economists at the Extension Service tell me that every canning and preserving class they offer is filled weeks before it is held. And, there is a national trend (fad?) to grow and preserve our own foods.

This is the new book, "Yes You Can!" etc.
We can a hundred jars of jam, fruit, pie filling, pickles and tomatoes every summer. Do you can or freeze produce in the summer to use in the winter months? We give lots of it as gifts for birthdays, hostess gifts, holiday gifts, etc. But we use our canned food in meal planning, too.

But on to Gastieiger's book - He covers cold storage,canning, freezing, drying, and pickling plus jelly, syrup and candy. Cold storage is not for our zone or warmer ones but the other subjects are relevant.

Here's something to remember - you don't have to grow a half acre of vegetables and fruit to want to can and preserve. The fresh produce at the stands and farmer's markets are just as worth taking home and putting up.

Blanching in the microwave will save you from heating up the kitchen to prepare veggies for keeping and you'll learn how to blanch for dehydrating vs freezing or canning.

The step by step instructions have a photo for each step so you won't misstep.

Want to dehydrate herbs or make fruit leather for nutritious snacks - he has that covered.

Have a freezer big enough to preserve vegetables, fruit, whole pies? Covered step by step with photos.

Want to learn to can or branch out into canning more things? Covered in lots of detail.

Wondering how to peel tomatoes or ripen pears? Covered.

Love home made jams, jellies and candied fruit but have been afraid to try? Photos, step by step, cautions, recipes, how to freeze, can, use and reuse. Covered.

Hot pack, cold pack, high altitude issues. Covered.

Buy it for yourself or for someone you can get to preserve delicious, fresh foods for you.

Cool Springs Press, $19.95, January 24, 2011, 256 pages

03 September 2011

Early spring flower and perennial seeds to plant in the fall

In our zone 7 gardens, we plant many flower seeds in the fall.

Look around your garden in the spring and summer, and you will notice that basil, larkspur, amaranth, dill, fennel, zinnias, euphorbia snow on the mountain, cucumbers and many other plants come up where you did not plant them. They came up from seeds of last year's plants.

Any and all of these can be planted in your zone in the fall, giving them a jump on seeds planted next March/April/May when there is so much to do outside. It's also a good way to have succession plantings without doing it all next spring.

If you want a fully flowering wildflower bed, it's definitely time to get the ground ready by killing the existing grasses and weeds so you can get the seeds down in time for the winter freeze and thaw. Easy Wildflowers has the information you need HERE.

We plant annual poppies and Johnny Jump Ups in September, Larkspur seeds by Thanksgiving and garlic by New Year's Day.

Plant perennial seeds in the fall, too.

Due to our heavy rain and strong winds, I plant them in 1-inch cell trays or pots and grow them in a protected place outside. If you have to cover the trays and pots to protect the seeds from wildlife or drowning rain, make a note to water them regularly but do not allow them to sit in water.

The best reference available online is Tom Clothier's Hort dot net. His seed propagation chart, originally developed by Thompson and Morgan Seeds, is my go to reference. Here's a link to the charts.

Lots of seed companies are having end of season sales right now so stock up! Seeds you plan to hold until late winter or early spring should be stored in a cool dry place such as the refrigerator or freezer. If you have one of those moisture protection envelopes from grain packages or product packing, slip one in with the seeds to protect them from the moisture in the fridge.

01 September 2011

Denver Botanic Gardens - well worth the trip

At the Denver Botanic Gardens (www.botanicgardens.org), there is something going on every day.

During the year, visitors might find a display of textile art, a pumpkin festival, ask-a-gardener day, plant and bulb sales, a guest-chef food festival, conservation classes, garden club meetings, a light show, a chicken coop tour throughout the Denver area, composting workshop for children, or one of dozens of other activities.

The York Street location is a 23-acre collection of 45 themed gardens with plants from around the world.

When visitors exit the gift shop and ticket building, the first exhibit is the O’Fallon Perennial Walk which is a broad sidewalk lined on both sides with gorgeous perennials in bloom. There are plenty of traditional English garden plants intermixed with drought-tolerant perennials.

The Native Roots Modern Form garden features 700 plants native to North America and Colorado specifically. One collection, Yuccarama, has a diverse collection of yuccas. The Modern Forms part of the display refers to the art of American modernist, Allan Houser, whose sculpture is displayed throughout the garden.

The El Pomar Waterway combines hardscape, water features and ornamental grasses to dramatic effect.

Denver Botanic Gardens is a voting site for All-America Selections. The contenders for each year are grown there and visitors vote for their favorite bedding plants and vegetables.

The Birds and Bees Garden, planted along a woodland path, is filled with trees, shrubs and plants that attract birds, frogs, butterflies, bees, moths and other fauna. It is a showcase of plant pollination and reproduction.

A tropical garden is contained inside the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory. The collection has thousands of exotics from the tropics. For families there is a two-story model of a banyan tree where children can get an aerial view of the tropical forest.

The Japanese Garden of Wind and Pines is a traditional setting with water, rocks, plants and a tea house that evoke harmony with nature.

June’s PlantAsia contains threatened plant species from the Asian steppes. The 8,000 exotic and fragrant plants are all in a one-acre garden. Peonies, bamboo, herbs, voodoo lilies, Asian trees, a handmade stone path, a stream, Chinese pavilion and moon gates fill the area with a quiet mood.

At this time of year — late summer — the herb garden was in full bloom. Several varieties of basil, mint, oregano, thyme and sage filled the beds with perfumed flowers and bees.

An extensive system of waterways, ponds and pools hold 450 species of aquatic plants such as lotus and water lilies.

The garden recently opened its publicly accessible green roof as a demonstration garden for homeowners who would like to create a roof garden.

One of the most famous features of the Gardens is the Rock Alpine Garden, home to over 2,300 species of plants in a rock garden setting. The rock garden was designed using 500 tons of rock that was brought in to set up a variety of habitats and environments.

If you plan a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens, leave time to visit the Alter Arboretum, too. The University of Denver is in the process of a $2 million renovation of their Humanities Garden at the Alter Arboretum which is called a living fossil forest. Denver Botanic Gardens provided the design.

About the gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, Colo., has 23 acres of gardens, two organic restaurants, library. Information: (720) 865-3585,

Other locations: Chatfield in Littleton is a 750-acre rural garden with nature trails, meadow gardens, and an historic farm; and, the Mount Goliath location in the Arapaho National Forest has nature trails at 11,000 feet.

Find out what is happening at the Denver Botanic Gardens: Blog is at www.botanicgardensblog.com and Facebook page is www.facebook.com/denverbotanicgardens#!/denverbotanicgardens.