Showing posts from February, 2015

Bill Welch Tulsa Mar 7 and Oklahoma City March 8

Free and open to the public - The Oklahoma Horticultural Society annual winter speaker will be Dr. Bill Welch. Dr. Welch is presently Professor and Landscape Horticulturist for Texas A&M University. 

He is a native of Houston, Texas, has an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture from LSU and did doctoral work in Horticulture and Extension Education there as well. 

Dr. Welch writes about gardening in Texas and the South and has several books that have been popular references including Perennial Garden Color, Antique Roses for the South, The Bountiful Flower Garden (with Neil Odenwald), Heirloom Gardening in the South (with Greg Grant) and The Bulb Hunter (with Chris Wiesinger). 

Welch writes a monthly garden column for Southern Living Magazine and Neil Sperry's Gardens and has had his gardens in Louisiana and Texas featured. Welch has been instrumental in the movement to collect and reintroduce old southern garden favorites into the modern plant palette. Roses have been a s…

Beneficial Insects manage garden pests

Individuals making the gradual move toward organic gardening practices can look to Cuba for encouragement. The trade embargo and financial crisis led Cuba to convert to organic gardening beginning in 1989 since there was little money for fossil fuels or agricultural chemicals.
Cuba’s food crisis led to restructuring its food growing practices. Large monocultures were converted to small, local, organic farms that used lower cost organic inputs.
By 1994, 8,000 farms were being grown in Havana where front lawns, building lots, school and office gardens were converted to organic food production. By 1998 those plots grew over half a million tons of fresh, chemical-free, food for local residents.
Practices they use to keep crops healthy and productive include inter-planting food crops with plants that attract beneficial insects, growing compost worms for the worm casting fertilizer they contribute, and leaving crop compost on the soil after clearing.
According to Oklahoma State University prof…

Balloon Milkweed was Asclepias physocarpus now Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Monarch butterflies are endangered due to applications of round up and similar products, the clearing of land in Oklahoma and extensive tree removal in Mexico.

We are all being asked to help by planting milkweed. Any variety will do as long as it is planted in swaths large enough to feed caterpillars. The plants don't have to bloom as long as you have water/mud and other nectar providing flowers available for the adults to eat and drink.

In our yard-garden I've seen the adults nectaring on many different flowers but they do seem to love the weedy, native flowering plants more than the tidy ones.

Of all this plant's names, I think I like Family Jewels the best since in addition to the appearance of the pods (ahem), I imagine that the plants will be jewels in our garden, feeding lots and lots of caterpillars this summer.

We usually plant tropical milkweed, Asclepias Tuberosa, as it's the variety I've seen the most caterpillars on. In our garden shed there are flats o…

Desert Bluebells - Phacelia campanularia

My friend, Ronn Smith sent some seeds from his planting of Phacelia campanularia last summer. This winter I planted them in the garden shed. Today, here's how the seedlings looked - tiny!
Smith lives in Phoenix and these beauties are drought tolerant and perennial in zones 7 through 10.

It is a California desert native, can grow in  sunny, tight spaces, and enjoys taking the spotlight at the front border of a flower bed in the spring. When selecting the right place for them, remember that they thrive on the dry slopes in their native Southern CA.

The entire plant is under a foot tall but has bright blue flowers with yellow stamens for a month.

They want gritty soil that drains well. Although they are annual plants they can reappear from seeds dropped after the first frost.

They are part of the Boraginaceae family and if you love Borage but can't grow it, this is your plant. I love Borage but it is too hot and humid here in zone 7 NE OK. It blooms and then dies within a few we…

American Bluehearts are hemi-parasitic Buchnera americana

American bluehearts are native to about half of the US, from TX, OK and KS east to NY and FL, usually along wet places and in limestone and sand as well as open woods.

It is important to know what they look like so we don't inadvertently speed up their extinction. They are considered threatened and endangered now.

The distinction hemi-parasitic means they are able to grow independently without a host but grow best when attached by parasitic roots called haustoria. During droughts they tend to multiply their activity to the extent that they can actually damage small trees.

Bluehearts favorite hosts are white oak, eastern white pine, green ash and cottonwood. Buckeye butterfly caterpillars use American Bluehearts as a host plant.

Click over to this post on the Arkansas Native Plant Society to read more about these fascinating plants - by Eric Hunt.

Sustainable practices for home gardeners

Andy Qualls speaking “Conservation, organic methods and cover crops in the home garden”
Muskogee Garden Club Feb 26, 9:30 to 11
Kiwanis Senior Center 119 Spaulding BL
Information – Susan Asquith 918-682-3688 -------------------------------------- The first slide of Andy Qualls’presentation at Muskogee Garden Club next week says that deficient soil can only produce deficient vegetation, deficient vegetation can only produce deficient nutrition and deficient nutrition will always produce deficient crops, livestock and wildlife.
“Healthy soil has sufficient nutrients to produce healthy plants and crops,” said Qualls. “It also has the necessary biological, chemical and microbiological balance and physical properties that allow the plants to have access to soil nutrition.”
Qualls is the technician and information coordinator for Muskogee County Conservation District. He works with land owners, growers and gardeners to help them convert from chemical-based growing methods that require a lot…

Iberis Sempervirens Snowflake is Candytuft

Candytuft seedlings are ready for transplant in the shed. Planted on Jan. 9th, it took them almost a month to grow the first set of true leaves.

This reliable perennial beauty prefers cool weather and fades in the heat of summer. Plant them where they can be in full sun in the spring and then partially shaded in the fall. When the foliage fades in the summer, it can be pruned back to keep the plants compact and more attractive.

We're putting an entire flat of them on the berm of the new bio-swale. Over there they will be in sun in the spring because the Osage Orange trees nearby leaf out very very late in the spring. Drainage is key to success so they will have a home in the gravel-sand mix that was dug out to make the swale.

Nurseries usually propagate by taking cuttings but we're big on trying everything from seed before we purchase anything. They are cold-hardy in zones 3-8. Rabbits, deer and drought don't bother the plants since they are woody-stemmed.

In Europe the Ca…

Earliest Daffodil - Rijnveld's Early Sensation

Rijnveld's Early Sensation daffodil started blooming about a week ago and is still sending up shoots and flower buds. It is planted at the northern base of the roots of an Osage Orange Tree.

Rijnveld's Early Sensation is only 6 to 8 inches tall with the classic yellow trumpet shaped flower. Since they don't mind snow and freezing temperatures, they bloom with the Crocus bulbs, making a sweet late-winter display.

This variety does not multiply very rapidly, taking its sweet time to fill a space. If a clump stops blooming, mark the spot for dividing and transplanting at the end of the summer. I use strips of narrow Venetian blinds for markers. They stay in place pretty well for a season.

For the most part, we don't prune daffodil foliage but if you like to tidy the garden, wait until after the leaves and stems all turn yellow.

Unlike some Daffodils, Rijnveld's Early Sensation are inexpensive to start, and they are easy to find at online vendors.

They are cold hardy i…

Vegetable seed planting pods?

At Lowe's today, I saw these seed pods by the seedracks. 
All the Miracle Grow seed pods in the display are for plants that require heat to germinate and I wondered immediately how many Lowe's seed shoppers would know to put a heat pad under the pods in order to be successful with them.
There were tomatoes, basil, cilantro, eggplant and a few others. If the ones on display were the other possible choices from the Gro-ables line, it would have made more sense in late-January.
For example, the lettuce, snap peas, and others that like cooler temperatures would have been a better selection.
At any rate, it's an expensive way to plant seeds though could be an ideal for some - children, beginning gardeners, anyone with arthritis in their hands, or anyone who prefers to keep their hands as clean as possible while still planting from seed.