Showing posts from February, 2013

Books for Gardeners - late winter reading

Spring garden preparation has begun: seed orders are in, pots are cleaned, leaves are raked and the remaining bits of last fall’s garden will go to the compost pile.
Early spring vegetable and flower seeds can be sown indoors under lights now to get ready for planting outside in April. Also, it is time to order from the Tulsa Master Gardener’s spring plant sale. Orders are due March 28 for April 18 pick-ups. The pre-order form is at
Between now and the first planting day of spring there will be plenty of time for learning new tricks and discovering new plants, so here are five books from a new crop of publications that would be good late-winter reading.
“Starting Seeds: How to Grow Healthy Productive Vegetables, Herbs and Flowers from Seed” by Barbara Ellis, 120 page pocket-size paperback, published by Storey ( List price $9; $4 at online vendors.
Ellis says “seeds set the rules” and to be successful we just have to discover and follow tho…

Bring Butterflies, Skippers and Moths to Your Garden

Many people love the sight of butterflies, moths and skippers in their garden. Planning ahead can help bring more this summer.

Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted a list of five actions to take to improve your butterfly gardening and it's an important place to start. Brown's blog entry is at

Maybe you have some ideas that work for you. We'd love to hear those since we always want more!

Start Here
Find out what kind of butterflies, moths and skippers are common or native to your neck of the woods so you can plant what they raise their babies (caterpillars or larvae) on. When these insects are born in your garden they tend to stick around and make a few new generations as long as the food lasts.

Mass planting instead of spot planting is a great suggestion from Brown's blog. A single zinnia here and there will bring a single adult butterfly since only one at a time can nectar. 

A mass of butterfl…

Powdery Mildew - organic remedy

Patricia Rorabaugh, assistant professor of plant sciences at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona uses no chemical treatments on her plants.

Her remedy for powdery mildew on plants is  
"We typically only have problems with two types of fungi: powdery mildew and botrytis. With powdery mildew, which almost always appears on the cucumbers, we use a combination of water (3 gallons), vegetable oil (87 milliliters) and baking soda (9 rounded teaspoons). This is a contact spray and should be sprayed directly onto the powdery mildew spots on a regular basis (once or twice a week). We also get powdery mildew on the peppers which, unlike the cucumber powdery mildew, goes into the underside of the leaf via the stomates and is then untouched by the contact spray. To get to the underside of leaves, a trans- laminar spray must be used that goes into the leaves and kills the powdery mildew from the inside."

Read the entire interview with Rorabaugh at…

Seed Tape and Seed Disks

Johnny's Seeds sent out an email blast about a sale on their seed tape and seed disks.

Tiny seeds for carrot, lettuce and thyme can wash away if they are planted in the ground. My solution has usually been to plant in flats or pots.

Have you used seed tape and disks? Would you use them again?

On the other hand, I have made my own seed tape type of planting thing with single sheet paper towel or bathroom tissue or even a single sheet of  Kleenex tissue. You can use honey or cornstarch water to mix with the seed in a squirt bottle.

Here are some DIY instructions for making your own.

At Giverslog, they use newsprint and flour-water - check it out at

My other tried and true method for starting fine seed: plant it on damp potting so…

Microgreens - grow them at home

Microgreens are vegetable and herb seeds grown in water or in soil and harvested when there are only one or two sets of leaves.

Baby greens, sold as bagged baby green salad or mesclun are essentially the same thing but grown another few weeks until the leaves are larger.

In order to have a pot full of microgreens, the seeds are sown close together. Planted that way, the seedlings grow tall and straight with a tender stem and bright-colored leaves.

The attraction of microgreens is their nutritional value. Some, such as broccoli, flax, beets, mustard, chia and wheat grass are grown for specific healing properties. Others, such as sunflowers, corn and pea shoots are grown as nutritious garnishes for the restaurant industry.

The vitamin and mineral values of microgreens is concentrated. WebMd says they are 40-times more nutrient dense than full-size lettuce, cabbage, and other green vegetable leaves.

Sharon Owen, owner of Moonshadow Herb Farm, grows microgreens to sell at the Muskogee Farm…

Easy Early Spring Choices to Grow from Seed -

Here in northeast Oklahoma fruit trees, bare root roses and seed racks are showing up in stores. That's our signal to start the early spring vegetables and spring flwoers that do not tolerate the heat of early summer.

If you are dreaming of spring, there are some plants you can get going with in February.

Cool weather flowers such as alyssum and calendula are easy to start from seed. Early season vegetables include green beans, beets, radishes, snow peas and everything in the brassicas and cole family.

If you are new to seed starting pick up a handy book such as "Starting Seeds" by Barbara Elllis. It's small enough to fit into the pocket of your garden apron and has all the basics plus some fun things to try. Published by Storey Books, $9 list price and $4 at online booksellers.

When deciding whether to start seeds indoors with heat or outside in a cold frame or in milk jugs, check a germination resource such as or htt…

Mache and Arugula = harvesting now from outside beds

Mache and Arugula leaves are abundant enough for a few salads a week at this time of year.

Seeds planted in the fall, thrive in our cold winter weather, growing through snow though ice will slow or completely stop them.

Mache or lamb's lettuce, has been cultivated in France since the 17th century. Mache's agreeable winter-growth habit make it an ideal source of folate, vitamin C, A, K. Iron, and fiber.

  When I first started growing Mache, it was called Corn Salad, Field Lettuce. For travelers it is German Feldsalat and Netherlands veld salade and in France Valerianella locusta.

Fedco offers Mache seeds as 3102VC Verte de Cambrai Mâche. Fedco says "May be the same variety Thomas Jefferson grew in 1810 under the name Candia."

I scatter seeds in the fall during fall vegetable garden cleanup but here is a thorough explanation of how to grow Mache or Corn Salad for your winter table.…

A Salvia Summit March 7-10 at Huntington Botanical Garden California

Oh, how I wish I could attend any event called a Salvia Summit with Betsy Clebsch!

Here's the registration link if you are lucky enough to be in San Marino California March 7 to 10

Registration for the conference is now open. Please keep in mind that occupancy limits at our venue mean that the conference will be limited to 90 participants, so early registration is encouraged. You can access the registration form and updated program by going to "" and clicking on the BLUE box in the upper left-hand corner of the screen where it says "Salvia Summit II", or you can just google "Salvia Summit".

On the Summit home page, click on Registration, and the instructions and link to the downloadable form will appear.
Please note that you have several ways to pay:

The money stuff
Fill out the form and send it in with a check ($230 per person)
Pay by PayPal and then send, e-mail, or fax the form.
Pay by credi…

Hot Lava Coneflower (Echinacea Hot Lava)

Echinacea 'Hot Lava' is a 2009 hybrid from the Terra Nova breeding program. The sturdy 4' tall stems are topped, starting in midsummer, with wide-petaled, orange-coned, bright reddish-orange flowers that attract hummingbirds...quite stunning.
It is available from Plant Delights Nursery and other nurseries.

The Language of Flowers for Valentine's Day

Ageratum, hardy

Delay Alyssum, sweet Worth beyond beauty Amaranth, globe Immortality; unfading love American Elm Patriotism Anemone, garden Faith; anticipation Angelica Inspiration Apple Blossom Preference Arborvitae Unchanging friendship Artemisia, silver king Power; dignity Aster Beauty in retirement Astilbe “I’ll still be waiting” Azalea First love Baby’s Breath Pure heart Bachelor’s Button Felicity