31 May 2012

Grow your own eggs!

Now that more people are enjoying the pleasure of growing a few vegetables, herbs and maybe a berry bush or two, there is renewed interest in having a few backyard chickens.

Eggs from backyard poultry are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, have more vitamin A, E, beta carotene and omega 3 fatty acids.

The Walton Family of Muskogee has had chickens for 7-years. Charley Walton, age 15, is primarily responsible for taking care of them.

“We buy pullets (chickens that are 20 weeks old) from someone who sells at the Farmer’s Market,” said Charley. “Chickens that age are already ready to lay and you don’t have to raise them from chicks.”

The first step in deciding to raise chickens is making sure they are legal in your area. The Waltons live in the County but many families who live in towns and cities keep a few chickens as pets.

Horticulturist Russell Studebaker has raised chickens all his life and has 5 Bantam chickens in his Tulsa backyard garden.

“Select the breed that you want, and whether it is Standard or one of the Bantam breeds,” Studebaker said. “Almost all the Standard breeds come in Bantam breeds too. Bantams take less room, require less feed, lay almost as many eggs, and besides they are so cute. “

Clip feathers to prevent escape
While looking at the various breeds, consider where you can put the birds. They will need shelter, cool shade in the summer, warm sun in winter, and a place where they will be safe from predators. A doghouse with a 4-foot tall fenced yard can be used for a little flock of 3 birds. Walton said be sure to clip their wing feathers.

“Ten hens is plenty to produce eggs for a family of four because you’ll get 6 to 8 eggs a day from them,” said Walton. “After 2 or 3 years, each hen lays fewer eggs. Our five hens are 4-years old and they give us about 3 eggs a day.”

Daily fresh water is essential for chickens but be sure the sprinklers do not run in their area.

Walton said he gives the chickens 20 percent protein commercial food plus kitchen and garden greens in the morning and scratch corn at bed time.

“It’s important that they eat their food before bed in order to keep other animals away from their pen,” said Walton.

Studebaker said, “Crumbled feed is better than pellets for an older flock because they don't like the size of the pellets. Let chicks and adults have access to grass as much as possible. They love grass, it is healthy for them, and it reduces feed costs.”
Roosting box at Walton's Farm
  Hens require 14-hours of light in order to lay eggs. When daylight hours are short, add artificial light to keep them laying. One-foot wide and deep nesting boxes with perches are constructed in a separate room to make it easy to collect eggs.

And, speaking of eggs, Studebaker said, “Some breeds only lay brown eggs, some only white eggs, and some lay colored eggs (green, blue, etc). Some of the breeds are for eggs and meat; others mainly for egg production.”

Charley and Kim Walton said that raising chickens is rewarding and they are fun to watch.

“There really is a pecking order,” said Walton. “

More resources: OSU Poultry Fact Sheets http://bit.ly/KAj5Ro, Backyard Poultry Magazine (www.backyardpoultrymag.com and 800-551-5691, and a new well-illustrated book
“The Chicken Whisperer's Guide to Keeping Chickens: Everything You Need to Know and Didn't Know You Needed to Know About Backyard and Urban Chickens”, by Andy Schneider and Dr. Brigid McCrea, published 2011 by Quarry Books, www.chickenwhisperer.net.

29 May 2012

Golden Marguerite or Oxeye Chamomile is Anthemis tinctoria

Oxeye Chamomile came to live in our garden several years ago when I saw a packet of seeds called something like pollinators favorites.

Being a big fan of pollinators, I ordered.

Anthemis tinctoria foliage - stems and leaves
 This lovely flower (weed?) is the only plant from that collection that re-seeds and returns every year. 

The MissouriPlants website has not been updated since 2007 but still remains a great resource since each year I go back to it to find the name of something or another. The site is conveniently organized by flower color and leaf form, making it invaluable to those of us who have too many plant names in our heads to pull out just one at a time.

It tells me that my yellow flower with lacy leaves is Anthemis tinctoria and more than I'll enter here -
Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To +1m tall, erect, herbaceous, multiple from base, branching above, sub-tomentose, producing stolons. Vascular tissue of stem appearing as parallel vertical lines on stem. Stems fragrant if crushed.
Leaves - Alternate, mostly sessile, sparse lanate and hispidulous on upper surface, sparse lanate below, deeply pinnatifid (the main divisions again pinnately lobed). Ultimate divisions toothed and mucronate (at least on the lower leaves). Lower leaves to +/-7cm long, 3cm broad. Upper leaves shorter but slightly more broad. All leaves fragrant when crushed.

Anthemis tinctoria flower
Habitat - Waste ground, fields, moist woods, also cultivated.  

Origin - Native to Europe.

Fine Gardening Magazine suggests that Golden Marguerite be used in beds and pots from zone 3 to 7, so I guess we are at its southernmost comfort zone.

And, the ones that return and multiply each year are in half sun rather than out in the middle of the heat. And, if you look at the map on the USDA Plants Profile page, you'll note that the U.S. south is not its natural habitat.

USDA Plants Profile

Horizon Herbs calls it Dyers Chamomile, saying, "yellow daisies used to dye wool and as a salutary tea."
The University of TN points to its medicinal use: "The plant has also been used medicinally; when rubbed onto the skin its leaves can relieve the sting of insect bites."
The Illinois Wildflower site explains the pollinator connection.

"Because their nectar and pollen is relatively easy to reach, the flowerheads attract a wide variety of insects. In Europe, Müller (1873/1883) observed small bees (Colletes spp., Heriades spp., & Halictus spp.), Ichneumonid wasps, various flies (Syrphidae, Conopidae, & Muscidae), and beetles (Elateridae & Mordellidae) visiting the flowers. In North America, records of floral-fauna interactions for Yellow Chamomile are sparse. Caterpillars of the moth Orthonama obstipata (The Gem) have been observed to feed on Anthemis spp. (Covell, 1984/2005). According to Georgia (1913), grazing animals avoid consumption of Yellow Chamomile. The aromatic foliage is bitter-tasting and possibly toxic to such animals."

The Tom Clother site calls them sloppy - which they are!

These definitely are not tidy plants. They flop all over the place but I still love the flowers and will allow them their spot.

28 May 2012

Rose Campion and her Lychnis genus

In our area, Rose Campion (also called Blood Red, Abbotswood Rose) can become too enthusiastic about spreading her offspring. In a couple of years, a cluster of 6 plants will have little seedlings spread over a 5 foot by 3 foot area of the ground surrounding the bed.

The generic Campion name comes from the Greek word lychnos or lamp, describing the bright flowers atop the soft colored leaves and stems. According to "Armitage's Manual of Annulas, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials", they used to be called Champions referring to their use in garlands given to victors in public contests.

There are many Lychnis species and a few Lychnis have been moved into the Silene family so you may see references calling some of them one or the other.

One of the other common ones is Lychnis chalcedonica or Maltese Cross. Wikipedia says it is from Europe, China and Russia. The one we grow so easily is a European variety, Lychnis coronaria or Rose Campion

Rose campion in February
It is cold hardy from zones 4 to 8 and here the rosettes of leaves emerge in the winter, growing from the seed thrown the previous summer.

They prefer moist soil but tolerate poor soils with some dryness. Missouri Botanical Garden says, "A short-lived perennial that may be best grown as a biennial or annual. Freely self-seeds. Deadheading flowers from plant immediately after bloom will prevent any unwanted self-seeding."

Oh, yes deadheading is what I should do to prevent those large areas of seedlings. Maybe I'll pull the rest of them this afternoon but it's already pretty late since dozens of new plants have come up already this spring.

You can see that they bloom late spring by noticing that they are flowering with native coreopsis.

Here in zone 7 Rose Campion needs afternoon shade. The plants that are still in bloom get a full half day shade. In all the years I've grown them, they have never been bothered by insects chewing them or diseases attacking them.

Interestingly, there isn't much information about the hybrids but they are probably worth looking for if you prefer to avoid the seeding problem.

Some of the other Lychnis -
Lumina series has larger split flowers.
Angel Mix is a seed mix of peach, rose and blue.
Candida is all white.
Peach Blossom has peachy pink flowers.
Rose Angel has a dark eye in a rose flower.

Jozef Babij has beautiful photos of some varieties on his Plant Gallery blog.
Rich Farm Garden sells seeds for a cool pink and white flowering Lychnis.

23 May 2012

Hypericum is St. Johnswort and now there are well-behaved hybrids

The most familiar Hypericum is St. Johnswort, which has become a popular herbal remedy for stomach ailments, nerves and sleeplessness.

It is a European native, used by ancient Greeks and Romans to keep evil spirits away. The name comes from St. John the Baptist whose birthday is June 24, about the same time St. Johnswort is showing off its bright yellow flowers.

Last year, Green Leaf Plants (www.glplants.com) released four new Hypericums in a group they call Hypearls: Hypericum Jacqueline, Hypericum Jessica, Hypericum Olivia and Hypericum Renu.

Hypericum - Green Leaf Plants
Since they enjoy part-shade, ours were planted in a dappled shade area two years ago and this year they are growing quickly and blooming. As with most perennial shrubs, these took their sweet time becoming established but now look like they are going to fill in all the allotted space.

St. Johnswort loves heat and shrugs off our humidity, prefers well-drained soil, and is cold hardy to zone 6.

The new varieties: Jacqueline is 2-feet tall and has yellow-orange berries that mature to deep red. Jessica is a little smaller with cream-colored berries. Olivia will grow up to 3-feet tall with yellow berries that turn salmon-pink. Renu’s berries start out cream and turn bright pink. Its new growth also has a red tint.

All of them would succeed in a part-shade area of the garden or in a container. The 1-inch flowers and colorful berries grow on new wood, so prune in late winter in order to shape the plants, allowing plenty of time for new growth. Flowering continues into the fall.

Hypericums are easy to grow and require minimal care though all the varieties are known for their afternoon wilting.

Common St. Johnswort, Hypericum perforatum, is a shrubby perennial for sun or part-sun and is recommended for stabilizing hillsides because it will spread to form a dense weed-proof planting. It is cold hardy to zone 5. To use it as a groundcover or among shrubs and trees, use 5 plants per square yard.

St. Johnswort is deer and rabbit resistant because the stems and leaves contain hypericin which is an irritant to their stomachs. Bees and Syrphid flies take the nectar but there is little pollen for butterflies. The leaves are eaten by insects such as beetles, Gray Hairstreak butterfly caterpillars (Strymon melinus) and several moth caterpillars such as the Wavy-Lined Emerald and Treble-Bar.

The flowers have been used to make yellow dye and the stems are used to make red dye.

To harvest the leaves for herb tea, cut a third of the flowering stems when their flowers are open. Hang the stems upside down in a cool, dark place. Use the dried leaves within a year for maximum benefit.

There are over 400 plants in the Hypericaceae or Clusiacheae family, including shrubs, trees, annuals and perennials all over the world, growing in most areas from scrub to mountain cliffs.

To grow St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) from seed, sow seeds in fall or early spring. Seeds take 30-days to germinate. Since the seeds are tiny, they should be sown on the surface of sterile soil indoors. (500 seeds $3 at Horizon Herbs, www.horizonherbs.com).

Common, seed grown St. Johnswort, Klamath weed, common goatweed, gold flower, or tipton weed, is on the invasive plant list in several states. The hybrids are less likely to become a problem in the garden. Some varieties are not cold hardy here so read the catalog or plant tag.

The name Hypericum is Greek for ‘over an apparition’, referring to the belief that Hypericum was such an obnoxious weed that it would cause evil spirits to fly if they breathed in its scent.

22 May 2012

Hollyhocks, Althea Rosea, have come a long way

Hollyhocks, originally from China, were found in a 50,000 year old grave of a Neanderthal man and today they are the official flower of Taos, New Mexico.

This humble mallow flower was known for decades as the flower that showed visitors where the outhouse was. It grows 6 to 9 feet tall, helping to show the way.

Our Seed-started hollyhocks
 Related to okra, cotton and hibiscus (Rose of Sharon), hollyhocks are easily started from seed. Just remember that they are biennial and take two years to bloom.

Summer Carnival, a lovely, double, pink hollyhock, has been around a long time. Gardens Ablaze has a nice article about them here.

Swallowtail Gardens has a large selection of colors and varieties. They could be started now in garden beds or in pots and allowed to grow their leaf clusters this summer. Next year they will shoot up and flower.

Summer Carnival Hollyhocks - Jung Seeds

These easy-to-grow lovelies get rust, mold, caterpillar damage, and a few other diseases and bugs, but, we grow them every year anyway. The problems can be minimized by planting them in full sun with air circulation all around the plant - which means not grouping them together in large plantings.

Hollyhocks re-seed themselves so once you get a few going, they will be around for decades, leading some people to think of them as perennial.

They will re-seed and re-seed, so if you want just a few, you have to be diligent about removing the extras or cut down the stalks before they throw seed. You can always give the extra baby plants to gardener friends.

Check out this list of questions and answers for fascinating queries and tips about hollyhocks. The author is extension agent and horticulturist Ron Smith at NDSU. Someone said that the roots made their dogs sick when they ate them.

If you want to save seeds from your plants, after they flower, Wintersown explains everything you need to know.

Great for the back of the bed, along a fence, as a specimin in the middle of a cottage garden or around your outhouse.

20 May 2012

Native Plants blooming May 20 2012

In the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, in northwest Arkansas, Devil's Den State Park offers great hiking trails and native plant viewing. Here's a bit of what we enjoyed -

Blue Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) named for Jean Ruelle, the French herbalist

Devil's Den Trail

Native Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens L.

Leather Flower, native Clematis viorna available from Brushwood

Sensitive briar, catclaw, Mimosa quadrivalvis Guide to OK Wildflowers

Black swallowtail butterfly on Arkansas beardtongue, Penstemon arkansanus

Caves at Devil's Den State Park

In a good year, this is a dramatic waterfall.

17 May 2012

Land, Sea and Air - the ties that bind

Yale, Environment 360 has an excellent article by Carl Zimmer today.

Zimmer writes about science for a number of magazines. A 2007 winner of the National Academies of Science Communication Award, he is the author of six books, including Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life.

Article summary:
A new study from a Pacific atoll reveals the links between native trees, bird guano, and the giant manta rays that live off the coast. In unraveling this intricate web, the researchers point to the often little-understood interconnectedness between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

This article will stimulate your thinking about how we as mere gardeners, stewards of the soil and rainfall under our control, can positively or negatively impact the entire cycle of life.

Marine Education - Edmonds WA
Click on the link above, read the piece and let me know what comes to mind: What can we as individual gardeners contribute to the health of the earth?

New books = fresh ideas

“Bulb Forcing for beginners and the seriously smitten” by Art Wolk, $24.95, AAB Book Publishing, www.gardenlunacy.com/.
Forcing bulbs is the method used to grow flowers in pots all year.  There are ways to successfully duplicate the conditions bulbs needs to grow and flower out of season.
This hardback book is written by an accomplished home gardener who has year-round flowers using products and conditions that can be duplicated in any home by anyone with the desire.
Want to have flowers all year? Start with the right planting material, some bulbs, corms, tuberous roots, rhizomes or tubers, a well-lighted growing space, and this book.
Wolk’s writing is humorous, easy to read and understand, the instructions are illustrated with Wolk’s award-winning photographs, and he gives  practical tips and advice for gardeners at all levels based on his own experience.
“Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs: More than 1700 outstanding garden plants” by Jim Gardiner, $49.95, published by Timber Press.
The director of horticulture for the Royal Horticultural Society gardens edited this 430-page hardback filled with 2,000 photos and descriptions of 1700 flowering shrubs.
Information for each variety includes: Size, flower color and season, fruit, stem color, autumn color, soil and light needs, pruning, cold tolerance and growing needs.
The information for each plant is brief, making it easy to decide which shrubs would work best for situations in a specific spot.
Shrubs are the framework of a garden and the addition of the right ones can make all the difference.
“Fairy Gardens: A guide to growing an enchanted miniature world”, by Betty Earl, $21.95, published by B. B. Mackey Books.
A fairy garden can be a miniature garden in a bowl or a magical spot in the landscape where small plants, houses, and mini-furnishings are installed to give the illusion of a home for tiny creatures.
This whimsical paperback explains that you can design a fairy garden as part of your landscape by collecting a doll-size abode and mini accessories and placing them into a scene. The house can be homemade or purchased, the features can include acorns, pebbles, or dollhouse furnishings.
Photos, planting ideas and fairy-scaping suggestions will help you with the project.
“Mini Encyclopedia of Garden Ponds: How to plan, construct and maintain a vibrant pond that will enhance your garden“, by Linda Adkins, $19.95, Firefly Books.
The first consideration in adding a pond to your garden is the type of pond you want: Wildlife, fish pond (over 222 gallons is mid-size), large (over 2,000 gallons), or a formal feature surrounded by hardscape such as rocks or a deck.
When the style and size decision is made, it is time to consider construction: Buy a form at the home improvement center, put liner into a shallow hole, build a concrete pond, or excavate a clay pond.
Pond features such as fountains, art, rocks, a quiet stream or a canopy add beauty. Filling the pond, maturing and testing the water, setting up pumps and filters all happen before plants and fish can be added.
Every topic from planning to planting and potential to problems is covered in this little paperback.
Container Gardening for All Seasons: Enjoy year-round color with 101 designs”, by Barbara Wise, $21.99, Cool Springs Press.
There are Ten Commandment topics of container gardening: Soil, sun, low-maintenance, plants, drainage, roots, size, fertilizer, pests, and water and they are all clearly presented with lists, diagrams and descriptions.
The recipes for beautiful containers give the sun preference, container size, difficulty level, shopping list, planting instructions, water and fertilizer needs.
Go shopping with this paperback in hand and you will be able to duplicate any of the recipes.

16 May 2012

HAVAHART Deer, Rabbit, Squirrel Repellent

We love our bunnies and turtles.

With that said, we do have to deter them from eating everything in sight. The vegetable garden had to be fenced to keep them away. Before the fence, each and every low hanging cucumber would have a bite out of it, lettuce and edamame plants would be decimated up to the height a baby bunny could reach.

In yesterday's blog you could see that we allow some beds to get pretty woolly = very little structure and stuffed with plants. Bunnies, turtles and other creatures live in there. Last night a baby cardinal was receiving its flying lessons from two very noisy and protective parents.

However. We do want things to have a chance to grow into maturity.

The poppy mallow I planted from seed has the purpose of caring for butterflies later in the season. It is apparent that baby bunnies enjoy the leaves.

Purple Poppy Mallow, Callirhoe involucrata, is a perennial wildflower that grows up to about a foot tall and sprawls across the ground, with vine-like stems up to 4' long from a central taproot. Bees and skippers enjoy the nectar.

Lakota and Dakota Native Americans burned and inhaled the dried roots as a cold treatment. Roots were also boiled and consumed to treat intestinal pain.

Once established this delightful ground cover will become drought resistant due to its deep taproots.

Because of its trailing habit, Poppy Mallow is useful as ground cover and in hanging baskets. Its drought tolerance makes it attractive for baskets also.

Prairie Moon seeds - Poppy Mallow native range
But back to the bunny problem. Havahart offered me a sample of its deer, rabbit and squirrel repellent.  We know about Havahart because of their live traps - in use here a few months every year.
Havahart Deer Off

Now, this line of their products is coming to the rescue.

Within a few weeks, there should be dozens of those rosy-pink flowers for pollinators to enjoy.



15 May 2012

Terra Stone Plant Caddy - all recycled material Made in USA

TerraCycle, http://www.terracycle.net/en-US/,  uses recycled plastics to make this attractive plant caddy.

I asked the company to send me one so I could take a look at it and try it out.

I love the concrete look. And, I especially love the fact that it is as light as a feather and as strong as steel!

It measures 1-foot-square (12" by 12"), and holds as much 200-pounds of wet dirt and flower pot.

And the wheels work easily and well.

School volunteers collect those plastic drink pouches and TerraCycle makes them into their products.

The nonprofit that collects the pouches receives a donation of 2-cents for each pouch.

Available for $15 at Dwell Mart online.

TerraCycle's blog is at

TerraCycle is also giving refurbished laptop computers as an award for a contest -

Tech Titans Collection Contest

Tech Titans Collection ContestTerraCycle is gifting 10 refurbished laptops to reward each of the highest collecting Cell Phone, Laptop and Inkjet Brigade locations from April 1st through July 1st as part of the Tech Titans Collection Contest.

12 May 2012

Herb of the year is Monarda, Oswego Tea, Horse Mint, Wild Oregano, Bergamot, Bee Balm

West Coast Seeds
The Herb Society of America's Notable Native Herb of 2013 is a plant of many names including its Latin name Monarda fistulosa, Oswego Tea, Bergamot, Wild Oregano, Horse Mint and Bee Balm.

The plant I started from a pack of seeds a dozen years ago is still going strong. The reason I planted it originally is because the seed pack said Bergamot. I love Earl Grey tea which is flavored with Bergamot so I knew I would enjoy the scent of the leaves in the garden.

Of course, the pollinator feeding aspect of Bee Balm is a double bonus. The flowers are covered with bees and butterflies in the summer.

This is one herb that is native to practically the entire continental U.S. It has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Now, in the kitchen, it is used as an oregano substitute.

But, did you know that the roots are also beneficial? The Grower's Exchange said, "A very helpful companion plant, the Thymol contained in the plant's roots keep subterranean pests at bay, while the tubular purple flowers at the top of the plant attract many useful pollinators and predatory insects."

Monarda is a cold hardy perennial in zones 4-10. Give it a try in your garden, but know that if it likes where you plant it, a clump of Monarda can grow 3-feet wide and 4-feet tall. At least it did in our garden.

Plants are available from the Grower's Exchange and seeds are available from Easy Wildflowers, Prairie Moon, and West Coast Seeds.

10 May 2012

Dragon Arum, Green Dragon, Arum Italicum for zone 7

Arums are commonly planted in shade gardens and under deciduous trees where they can be protected from hot summer sun. Fleshy spikes emerge in the spring and their flowers are funnel-shaped.

A few years ago, during a long, gardening-free December, a combination of touched-up photos, spring fever and sale prices, led to a bulb order that included a bag of Arum Italicum. They were planted in the dappled shade under the Osage Orange trees

Flower gardeners know Arum Italicum, or Lords and Ladies, by their beautiful arrow-shaped leaves, white flowers, and the cluster of orange-red seeds that follow the fading flowers. Another well-loved member of the same plant family is Calla Lily which has similar leaves and growing preferences.  

Green Dragon flower

Green Dragon leaf
Other shade-loving relatives include Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, and Green Dragon, Arisaema dracontium which are native to our area.
Dragon Arum flower
For years, those sale bulbs’ fleshy, grey-green blotched stems emerged and sprouted interesting fans of leaves where the original five plants were tucked. No blooms appeared until this year and the flower that emerged is the one in the photo. It is not Lords and Ladies but a Dragon Arum.
Dragon Arum leaf
Jack in the Pulpit flower
Amorphophallus or Dragon Arums, look like they belong in the tropics but they are cold hardy to USDA zone 5. Their cultural needs include half shade and well-drained, but moist, soil.
Some of the common names in this family of Aroids include Voodoo Lily, Ragons, Snake Lily, Black Dragon, Dragonwort, Stink Lily, Snake Tongue, and Drakondia. But as with other common names for unusual plants, there is a lot of confusion. Look at a photo and especially the growing zones, before ordering. Plant Delights Nursery offers 20 different varieties of Amorphophyllus or Arum (www.plantdelights.com).
    There are 26-Arum species from shaded areas in Southern Europe, North Africa, West Asia and the Western Himalayas. They all have attractive, marked or lined leaves that are spear shaped or heart shaped. Some have sweetly scented flowers and others, such as the Titan Arum, have the famous smell of dead animals in order to attract the flies needed for pollination. Sometimes Arums are called corpse flowers because of their smell.
Titan Arums, the world’s largest flowers, are grown in a conservatory. When one of them flowers, live cameras and Internet links are set up to record every moment of its opening. At Ohio State University, seeds started in 2001 resulted in a 3-foot wide flower blooming ten years later. The opening can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Mvtle2qCM.
Amorphophyllus or Arums were discovered by early plant explorers and because of their exotic appearance, many myths developed. Titan Arums were thought to eat the gardeners who cultivated them.
Other myths: Carrying the roots or leaves will protect you against vipers and serpents; carrying a plant onboard a boat will repel sea serpents; and, washing your hands in the plant’s juice will allow you to handle snakes without harm.
The plants in this group need half shade to full shade. The roots rot in wet soil so minimize irrigation and plant in a well-drained location. Ours thrive next to a dry-stacked rock wall. Divide clumps in the fall and replant a foot apart.
To cultivate a new bed, loosen the soil 6 to 8-inches deep and add compost, chopped leaves, and/or peat moss. Dig planting holes a foot or two apart and twice as wide as the tubers, Tubers are planted on their sides with the eye barely under the soil.
To start seeds indoors, plant them late winter and keep the soil 65-degrees. To plant seed outside, plant in the fall and lightly cover with compost or potting soil. Seeds take 6-months to germinate.
Check out the International Aroid Society, Inc. Arisaema page here. The Cluture link says they are almost as easy to grow as potatoes. How to grow from seed information is thorough.
AND, if you are considering shopping beyond Plant Delights' offerings, check out Telos Rare Bulbs here. Many wow possibilities.http://muskogeephoenix.com/features/x2089088583/Arums-offer-exotic-delights

07 May 2012

Harmful and Helpful bugs in the veg garden

These little black and orange bugs have been trying to devastate my Red Russian Kale, broccoli and other cole or brassica plants.
"Both the adult and nymph suck sap from the collard/cabbage plant, causing it to wilt, turn brown and die." Clemson U.

I hand pick them off the plants though I've heard sprinkling flour on the plants help as much as poison. As you can see the broccoli heads are right there and I don't want to poison my food.

The Red Russian Kale is still in the garden because I want it to flower and go to seed - want the seeds for the fall garden, you know.
Harlequin bug Murgantia histrionica
Also in the veg garden there are Lady Beetles, the most welcome of predators!
Lady Beetles making the next generation.
When I was growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, I would have made the Lightening Bug the state insect,
but now I find out that The Convergent Lady Beetle is the state's insect. Sigh.

"Lady beetles, or Ladybugs or coccinellids, are the most commonly known of all beneficial insects. In Europe these beetles are called "ladybirds." Both adults and larvae feed on many different soft-bodied insects with aphids being their main food source. Ohioans like lady beetles so much that the Convergent Lady Beetle became the official state insect in 1975." Ohio State U.

Common Name               Scientific Name
Convergent Lady beetle Hippodamia convergens Guerin
Fifteenspotted Lady beetle Anatis labiculata (Say)
Ninespotted Lady beetle Hippodamia sinuata Muls.
Spotted Lady beetle Coleomegilla maculata DeG.
Twicestabbed Lady beetle Chilocorus stigma Say
Twospotted Lady beetle Adalia bipunctata (L.)
Red Lady beetle Cycloneda munda (Say)
Sevenspotted Lady beetle Coccinella septempunctata (L.)

Here's a lovely article in Fine Gardening by Joe Queirolo about attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

Queirolo says, "We're living in a bug-eat-bug world. And I want to keep it that way. To do so, I've transformed my garden into an insectary, a habitat where my beneficial insect friends will feel at home. I provide them with food, water, and shelter. I keep the soil covered with organic matter. And I avoid putting any harmful chemicals into their habitat.

      The menu for beneficials changes constantly as the pest population shrinks and swells, and as different flowers come into bloom. Many of the predators and most of the parasites will use pollen and nectar for food. I try to sustain them throughout the year by growing a variety of flowers that bloom at different times. Since many of the beneficials are tiny or have short mouthparts, I offer them tiny flowers with short nectaries. Many plants in the carrot and aster families offer just that.
      "I water my garden with overhead sprinklers, so insects always have puddles and wet leaves to drink from. If I were using drip irrigation, I'd offer them water in a saucer filled with pebbles, so they don't drown.
     Just like the rest of us, beneficials need protection from heat and rain. They need to hide from birds and insects who would make a meal of them. Again, a variety of leafy plants offers protection. Ground beetles hide in low-growing ground covers and in mulch or leaf litter. Flying insects hide in shrubs, on the undersides of leaves, even among the petals of marigolds.
     Beneficials also need a reason to stay on when they've finished cleaning up the crops or at the end of the season when you've cleaned up the garden. Consider trying to recreate in a corner of the yard or on the edge of your garden the thick, wild diversity of a hedgerow by using a variety of early-flowering shrubs, perennials, and grasses to provide year-round shelter and a place for alternative prey to dwell. Keep this beneficial insect reservoir as close to your garden as you dare. If the insects get too comfortable in the hedgerow, they might not be inclined to travel very far for a meal. As long as there is a place for pests, the beneficials may stay to eat in your weedy refuge rather than head for the neighbor's yard."

Don't miss the rest of Queirolo's great advice on how to keep a healthy garden.

05 May 2012

On the road to Crystal Bridges - miles of bouquets by Holland Wildflower Farm

Holland Wildflower Farm created the seed mix for the gorgeous wildflowers along the road to the museum.
It was impossible for me to just enjoy them from the car. I had to get out and breathe them in!

Holland Wildflower Farm posted on their Facebook page today that the seed mix
that created the view along the road to Crystal Bridges is called "Little Bit Shady".
If you would like to plant a wildflower garden, check out Holland Wildflower Farm.
They sell individual plant seeds and mixes such as Floodplain Wildlife Mix, Eastern Native Habitat,
Continuous Color, Butterfly, Shortgrass Prairie Flower, etc.

Email: hwildflowerfarm@cox.net P.O. Box 328, Elkins, Arkansas USA 72727
Orders: (800) 684-3734 Customer Service: (479) 643-2622 Questions/Problems

04 May 2012

Crystal Bridges Museum - the landscape

The building you see in this photo is art galleries at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville AR.

The body of water is fed by four springs on the 120-acre property.

Stella the Pig is one of the many works of art along the Art Trail.
Miriam Freedman couldn't resist stopping to pet Stella - no doubt many visitors feel the same.

This beautiful flowering American Yellowwood is on trail - so many beautiful plants to enjoy!
American Yellowwood Cladrastis kentukea, Cladrastis lutea 
University of Conn has information.

These 5 tulip trees on the Tulip Tree Trail
are called the Five Graces by Scott Eccleston and the staff.