Showing posts from January, 2014

New books for vegetable gardners from Tammi Hartung and Ira Wallace

Planning for spring’s vegetable garden usually includes looking at a few books or online references to refresh and increase our knowledge. There are two new ones to consider adding to your bookshelf. Both authors are women who not only garden but also invest time in observing the natural rhythms of plants and animals.

  Colorado organic gardener and medical herbalist Tammi Hartung wrote, “The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature.” Published by Storey Publishing, the 144-page softcover book helps gardeners deal with the challenges of bugs and animals that seem determined to eat more of the garden than the gardener gest to enjoy.
Rabbits, snails, deer, moles, birds and beetles all want their share of our produce and Hartung’s point of view includes all these creatures in her wildlife-friendly plan. She observes them from various locations in the garden as well as from motion activated cameras. Her idea is to get to know wildlife in our gardens and …

American Daffodil Society - new webpage

The American Daffodil Society has a newly designed webpage that is much easier to navigate, faster to load, plenty of drop down menu items and is well worth a look if even love daffodils half as much as I do! Click over to

Join us at the 2014 American Daffodil Society National Daffodil Convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 27 – 30, for Daffodils in the Natural State. Enjoy a spectacular daffodil show, educational symposiums, and garden tours.

Inch by Inch, Row by Row, Gonna Make this Garden Grow, Gonna Mulch It Deep and Low

PeteSeeger May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014 singing the Garden Song.
Words and music by Dave Mellett

Lyrics to Garden Song
Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow.
Gonna mulch it deep and low,
Gonna make it fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row,
Please bless these seeds I sow.
Please keep them safe below
'Til the rain comes tumbling down.

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones,
We are made of dreams and bones
Need spot to call my own
Cause the time is close at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
I'll find my way in nature's chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land.


Plant your rows straight and long,
Season them with a prayer and song
Mother earth will keep you strong
If you give her love and care.
Old crow watching from a tree
Has his hungry eyes on me
In my garden I'm as free
As that feathered thief up there.


Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow.
Gonna mulch it deep…

Keep Winter Sowing

There is still plenty of time to sow seeds outdoors, even in this weather in January. You know you can plant perennial seeds all winter - shrubs and trees, both woody and herbaceous (trunks and twigs all winter or die back to the ground in winter).

Here's my Jan 2014 column about how I do it.

Andthis one from Jan 2012 has more suggestions of seeds I started that year outside in the cold.
Wow! Look at this one from Garden Tenders dot com with a fancy vent!

So far this winter I have half a dozen containers and three flats out there freezing their little seeds shells off. It's been too busy around here to do more but I have big plans for February.

There are dozens of plants that are considered single-year or annual plants that would work.

Green Roof Growers has a post about their success, with links for Chicago gardeners.

In fact, WinterSown dot org has handy lists of what you can plant outdoors -

Here is their Hardy Annual list and their Vegetable and Kitchen Herb list
for winter …

Cosmos! Best late summer and fall flowers for our area

Very few carefree flowers of summer delight so many people as the simple Cosmos. Their name evokes their appearance in the garden since the word Cosmos comes from the Greek word meaning orderly, beautiful and balanced.
Cosmos plants are members of the Asteraceae or Aster and Sunflower plant family and are native to Mexico, Central America and the southern US.
With new breeding, the 25 species range from tall and willowy plants to spreading and branched annuals. The flowers are single and double, and come in bright colors from yellows and oranges to pinks and reds plus white. The flower shapes include saucers, bowl, open cup, and tubular.Most of the flowers measure 2-inches across though some of the side branching blooms are smaller.

In Mexico, Cosmos were known to be grown by Spanish priests

who gave them the name in recognition of their balanced petals. The priests claimed that they exuded cosmic beauty and harmony.
Cosmos atrosanguineus or Chocolate Cosmos is a zone 10 tuberous perenni…

March 19 Oklahoma Forestry Services delivery to Muskogee

From Andy Qualls today - the Forestry truck delivers a wide range of native tree and shrub plants in bare root bundles or supercells. We have purchased the bare root bundles in past years and have had pretty good luck with them in our yard. We buy a bundle and give half of them away. Click on the link to see what they have to offer - great stuff for wildlife plantings! Here's Andy's email The Oklahoma forestry tree truck will be at the MCCD parking lot March 19 , 2014 pm 3001 Azalea park Drive, Muskogee. Internet tree ordering information is located at: and we have some 2014 catalogs at our office. Present information indicates that they should be arriving in Muskogee around 1 PM on the above date. If I find any more detailed information, I will advise in future emails. Thank you, Andy Qualls , Muskogee County Conservation District P.S. The D40 “Supercell” containers listed online and in the catalog are 2.5” d…

Is Horticulture a Dying Art and Science?

The recent newsletter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture ( provided a link to a sorry story in the Philadelphia dot com paper.

The substance of the article by Virginia A. Smith is that horticultural sciences are not even close to being at the top of fields of study that will survive in the next 25 years. How to make growing food and flowers appealing to generations of Tweeters and Instagrammers?

"Think of all the careers horticulture is competing against. We need to make it sexier and more relevant in a highly competitive market," said Paul B. Redman, director of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square and a strong supporter of a four-year remedial campaign outlined in the letter.

I don't know about making it sexier but there is a general lack of interest in growing food, herbs and flowers among those who see the need for wealth and fame. Getting your hands dirty doesn't even touch the problem. Kids don't even go outside is their p…

Let Beneficial Insects Help With Your Gardening Chores

Sustainable is one of the words gardeners will see everywhere in the coming year. Sustainable means employing practices that allow us to continue gardening with minimal long-term cost to the natural world.
Those practices include everything from planting appropriate trees to minimizing water use.
One practice that gardeners may forget is that of planting food for beneficial insects so they will do some of our work for us as well as eliminating the need for expensive chemicals.
Entire beds placed close to fruit and vegetable gardens can be dedicated to beneficial insect food and habitat. Many beneficial-attracting plants are attractive enough to be tucked into your existing containers or herb and flower beds. Either way, try to have something in bloom for these garden helpers all the time.
Bad bugs eat our garden plants and good bugs eat or live off of the bad bugs. Beneficials include predators, parasitoids, soil builders plus the pollinators. Parasitoids draw their food from other specif…

Plants are Thinking Beings says Michael Pollan

No matter how much we know about plants in our gardens and in general, they continue to surprise and amaze us. In a recent New Yorker article, Michael Pollan explores new scientific findings and links us back to Darwin, seeing plants as whole organisms. Brilliant.

Here's a link to the piece in print. Enjoy!

Yesterday's Wind Storm 30 year old tree down

We had a large old black walnut tree in the back yard that the wind took down yesterday.  We didn't hear it come down but all of a sudden this is what we saw out the bathroom window.

 The entire root structure broke off and lifted out.
The chainlink fence is crushed but thankfully it fell away from the house!

Sowing Seeds in Winter Months for Spring Gardens

Seeds of last summer’s flowers have fallen onto the cold ground and if conditions are favorable, they will grow into new plants next spring. In fact, many, tree, herb, vegetable and flower seeds can be grown outside in the winter. No special equipment is needed:no greenhouse, no cold frames, and no shelter required.
New Yorker, Trudi Davidorff came up with the term Winter Sowing and has successfully educated gardeners about the wonders of using Mother Nature’s methods to plant your spring garden months ahead of schedule.
Warmth loving plants such as corn, beans, and squash will prefer spring and summer temperatures but asparagus, onion, cabbage, lettuce, spinach and all the chard and Brussels sprouts family will respond well to winter seeding outdoors. Any tree, shrub, herb or ornamental plant that can take a winter freeze will also do well. This month you can winter-sow these seeds outdoors: Alyssum, asclepias (butterfly weed), calendula (pot marigold), corn flower, coreopsis, cosmos, …

Field Guide to the Jewel Beetles (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) of Northeastern North America

Entomologist Morgan Jackson's blog, "Biodiversity in Focus" describes him as a graduate student but he is now also the co-author of  newly published "Field Guide to the Jewel Beetles (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) of Northeastern North America"

Because they can cause so much damage (think Emerald Ash Borer), jewel beetles are important to notice and identify.

The Field Guide was developed and published by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the University of Guelph Insect Collection and the Invasive Species Centre to create a user-friendly resource for jewel beetle identification.

Download the entire searchable book at
just to look at the pictures if nothing else - what a incredible job they did!

The physical book is a softcover 411 page, 6×9″ and covers the 164 jewel beetle species known from northeastern North America. There are detailed illustrations and photos, as well as 2 identifica…

Callistephus chinensis is Aster Andrella Giant Mix or China Asters

In all the zones from 2 to 11, China Asters add a cheerful face to the early summer garden. Maxing out at 2 or 3 feet tall with strong stems for cutting bouquets, these beauties can be started from seed and bloom the same year. their flower colors include: White, pink, purple, blue, yellow and violet.

They are easy to grow and prefer well drained beds that are watered regularly. In our heat they will need afternoon shade.

The seeds are started indoors 8 weeks before the last average frost date. Since our last average freeze is April 15th here, they would be started mid-February.

Just press the seed into the pre-moistened planting soil, do not bury the seed or cover it.

Seed germination can be slow and or spotty so buy plenty of seed and start early enough. They like 70 degrees to germinate so if your seed starting area is really cold, you'll have to add a little bottom heat to get them going.

Since our heat can be brutal pretty early in the summer, starting them outdoors after m…

How to Kill a Tree from

This pdf graphically explains everything we have heard over the decades of classes, conferences and workshops. Thank you Treelink!

Full poster size and readable version is at

Seed Catalogs - 2014

Plant and seed catalogs are arriving daily and announcements about new plants show up on the Internet by the hour. Plant hybridizers, seed developers and garden product providers are ready for our orders and January is the perfect time to dream that our orders will transform our gardens.

Most of the companies listed below offer garden supplies. You’ll find growing containers, soil amendments, plant tags, row covers, fertilizers and insect controls as well as seeds, plants, tubers, chickens and books.
Disease and insect resistant plant varieties are widely available. Pelletted seeds are covered with a bit of clay that helps tiny seeds stay put where they are planted.
Monsanto and Seminis provide much of the seeds available ( If you want to avoid GMOs, look for terms such as safe seed pledge, open-pollinated and heirloom in the description.
Many companies offer newsletters by email and have seasonal sales if you sign up on their website. Several vendors also sell se…