31 January 2016

Clematis You Need

Starfish Clematis
On Saturday, Feb 20th, the Flower Garden Nature Society is hosting Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery. His vine nursery in Athens Georgia features native vines but Clematis, too.

The nursery's website has two sections: 1) for growers and 2) finished retail products. It looks like the grower side is just for a few of their hybrids.

The Gardenvines website for gardeners still says Brushwood. At any rate, there are links to their various collection of Clematis, Passionflower vines, Climbing Roses, Honeysuckle and Jasmine,
Dan Long

Long's talks on the 20th will focus on Clematis and native vines for our gardens.

The 10 am talk is titled "Clematis You Need/You Need Clematis"

His 2 pm talk is titled "Social Climbers: Native Vines that Won't Kill Your Garden Party"

$15 for both talks.

For more information contact Gail Pianalto 479.361.2198 or Joyce Mendenhall 479.7265

28 January 2016

Good Berry Bad Berry - which is which?

Between hiking, wild-crafting expeditions, children on camping trips and a simple walk in the woods, it would help us all to know what is edible and what is not.
Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo, berries
are not recommended for human consumption

Children and pets are especially attracted to berries they see in parks, back yards and in the wild. Curiosity and the impulse to try everything at least once, make the distance very short between a brightly colored berry and a mouth.

To a certain extent, we can avoid all berries other than the ones from the market but not all wild berries are bad. When you can identify the good ones, berry hunting, picking and snacking can be fun. Plus, if your child or pet eats a berry outside you will know if it is a problem that needs immediate attention.

The common plants that produce berries include: Yew, Hawthorn, Cotoneaster, several Viburnum varieties including Viburnum trilobum or American Cranberry, Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina), Autumn  Olive or Elaeagnus umbellate, Poison Ivy, Acai, Wild Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), Dogwood, Juniper, Mulberry, Sumac, Crabapple, Goji, Pokeweed, Shadbush or serviceberry and Juneberry.

Gardener and writer Helen Yoest wrote the book that will help clear up the berry identification problem. The book is spiral bound for ease of use. Each berry-bearing plant is described and clear photographs help clarify any confusion about which plant is which.

In Yoest’s book, the plant type, leaf shape, flower, berry shape, advice about eating or avoiding and the habitat where it is likely to be found are provided for thirteen bad berries, seven good berries (but a bad idea to eat) and twenty good-to-eat berries.

Beautyberries are used
for making jam.
Evergreen Japanese Privet (Ligustrum japonicum) grows rampantly in our area. The bees flock to the tiny, sweet-smelling flowers in the spring and birds love to eat the seeds. The seedling shrubs pop up by the dozens in our garden beds every spring. For humans the berries are poisonous, causing 72-hour abdominal pain and other symptoms.

Asian Dogwood tree (Cornus Kousa) fruit is also loved by songbirds. Humans can eat these fruits raw or make them into jelly.  Another Asian Dogwood that has edible fruit is Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas).

Coral Berry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), often grown as a durable landscape shrub, has drupes of red berries in the fall. The fruit is sometimes called Indian currant and it thrives among oak trees. Saponin is the chemical in the fruit that can be toxic to some pets and people.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) has gorgeous clusters of pink-purple berries. The fruit, sometimes called French mulberries, is not particularly favored by birds but is completely edible for humans. The fruit is used in preserves and wine as well as eaten raw.

Following the plant descriptions, there is a small section of recipes in the book. Then a list of the berries that are not fully described. Among the edible fruits not included: Crabapple, Rose, Wild Strawberry, Ground Cherry and Snowberry.

The noxious/poisonous fruits and berries that were not included: Jerusalem Cherry, Mistletoe, Castor bean, English Ivy and Lantana.

This little 4 by 6 inch book could be taken along on hikes and camping. “Good Berry Bad Berry” by Helen Yoest, was published 2016 by St. Lynne’s Press. $15

Foraging has become a very popular hobby, with groups going out into vacant land and parks to find free food such as acorns, dandelion leaves, nettles, mushrooms, etc. Two websites that may be of interest are www.foragingtexas.com and foraging.com. The book, “Foraging in Oklahoma”, by Chef Andrew Black is available online.

At the Foraging Texas website there is a lengthy list of edible plants that can be found growing in nature, including wild onion, passion vine, sage, cattail tubers, purslane, water hyacinth, etc. 

26 January 2016

Kansas State U Newsletter for Gardeners

The horticulture newsletter from Kansas State University is available online for your information and entertainment at http://www.hfrr.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=764
Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

The January 19 2016 issue includes:
* a video about flower bed design from Kansas Healthy Yards
* a list of upcoming events (Grow Your Garden Center Business in 2016)
* an article about fruit trees and frost
* Dutch elm disease article
* a how-to article on tree planting
* a native plant feature on Pawpaw trees
* bird feeding
* how to grow your own fire wood
and lots of links to more helpful tips

Click over and learn something new. I couldn't find any way to subscribe so I will have to bookmark it some other way.

23 January 2016

Natives in the News

Winterberry Holly
A recent blog post at Ecological Landscape Alliance posted a list of native shrubs to consider for our landscapes. The list includes: Blueberry, Serviceberry, Viburnum, Winterberry, Dogwood, Bayberry, Chokeberry, and more. Click over to the link to read about the plants and their many virtues.

We are gradually adding more native shrubs and fruiting trees to our landscape but we have learned the hard way that native does not mean plant them and ignore them. They must be watered and weeded until they become established in your home landscape.

BenjaminVogt's recent post on Houzz is about 15 native flowers for bees. His list includes Lead Plant, Boltonia or False Aster, Purple Prairie Clover, Black-eyed Susan, Wild Bergamot or Monarda, Golden Alexander, etc. The link above will take you to that fine post.
Monarda fistulosa

There's a new Native Plant Podcast that has just begun at http://www.nativeplantpodcast.com. It is from VA so will be focused on zone 7-ish gardens. They also have a Facebook page by the same name.

I've listened to the introductory podcast and it's a getting-to-know us conversation about natives and who the hosts are.

Check it out!

20 January 2016

Soil Temperature and Transplant Survival

When starting seeds in the winter to make spring transplants, we count backwards.

The last average annual frost date in zone 7 is April 15th. If I want transplants to put in the ground that weekend I count backwards 6 weeks to the beginning of March to start those seeds.


Not every year is an average year. And, air temperature is not soil temperature.

Consider the fact that tomato and pepper seeds must have bottom heat even if the temperature in your home is 70- degrees F. If the seedling pots are close to an outside window where the temperatures hover around 50 (a compromise between outside temp and inside temps) those seedlings will suffer greatly.

When deciding the plant-out-date for your hard won little plants, check the soil temperature in your area.

For Oklahomans, Mesonet is the go to resource. Here's the Mesonet Soil Temperature link

All states provide this service. Check with your local Extension office to find the resource for your state. It's one more way to ensure plants and gardens that thrive.

17 January 2016

Dutchess Dirt from Cornell Univ. Extension

Cornell University Extension publishes a monthly gardening newsletter called Dutchess Dirt. Here's a link to the most recent issue.

In this Jan 2016 newsletter the topics include: Why plants behave the way they do in fall, winter, spring and summer; why some vegetables fail to set fruit;
terrariums with references to click; photos of some plants behaving strangely; and, upcoming events.

I have subscribed for a couple of years and enjoy every issue.

Subscribing is easy. HELP SPREAD THE DIRT! Please forward a copy to anyone you think might be interested. To be added or removed from our e-mail list, or submit upcoming gardening events, contact Nancy Halas at nh26@cornell.edu, www.ccedutchess.org.

14 January 2016

Catalog List 2016

Inside our garden shed
January is seed and plant catalog month. Catalogs pour in from companies you shopped last year plus several new companies. It is too cold to do much gardening but the weather is just right for dreaming.

Maybe your garden needs more vegetables, herbs, perennials, or wild flowers that take less fuss and feed wildlife.

Whatever you imagine, online stores and mail order catalogs can help you plan and put it all together.

Seeds of many native plants, perennials, wildflowers, herbs and cold weather vegetables can be started any time through February and be ready to plant out in the garden after the last freeze.

When you know what will be on your list, check out a few vendors, their prices and shipping costs. Many offer free shipping for large orders.

If you are avoiding GMOs, order open pollinated and heirloom varieties. Vegetables in particular, can be easier to grow if you choose the disease resistant varieties.

Almost all the online and catalog stores have monthly email newsletters where they offer growing tips, sales and other useful information.  You might want to set up a separate email address to keep them out of your primary in-box.

Many seed and plant suppliers are online only; companies that offer free print catalogs are marked with an asterisk on this list.

Alpine Seeds, www.alpine-seeds.com (rock gardens)
Amishland Heirloom Seeds, www.amishlandseeds.com 
Annie’s Heirloom Seeds, www.anniesheirloomseeds.com, 800-313-9140 *
Artistic Gardens & Le Jardin du Gourmet, www.artisticgardens.com, 802-748-1446 (40c packs)
Baker Creek, http://rareseeds.com, 417-924-8917 *
Bluestone Perennials, www.bluestoneperennials.com  (plants) *
Botanical Interest, www.botanicalinterests.com, 877-821-4340 *
Bountiful Gardens, www.bountifulgardens.org, 707-459-6410 (grains, etc.) *
Chiltern Seeds, www.chilternseeds.co.uk (unique British selections)
Diane’s Flower Seeds, www.dianeseeds.com
Dixondale Farms, www.dixondalefarms.com (Onions, shallots, etc.) *
Easywildflowers, www.easywildflowers.com, 417-469-2611 (MO)
Eden Brothers, www.edenbrothers.com, 828- 633 - 6338
Evergreen Seeds, www.evergreenseeds.com (Asian vegetables) 
Ethnobotanical Catalog of Seeds, www.jlhudsonseeds.net (Seedbank of specialty seeds) *
Fedco Coop seeds and Moose Tubers, www.fedcoseeds.com, 207-873-7333 *
Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, www.gardenmedicinals.com, 540-872-8351 (herbs)
Gourmet Seed International, Italian Cook’s, Italian Seed, www.gourmetseed.com, 575-398-6111
 High Mowing organic seeds, www.highmowingseeds.com, 888-735-4454 *
Hometown Seeds, http://hometownseeds.com, 888-433-3106 (wildflowers)
Jelitto Perennials, http://jelitto.com (German perennials)Johnny’s Selected Seeds, www.johnnyseeds.com, 877-564-6697 *
Kitazawa Seed, www.kitazawaseed.com, 510-595-1188 (Asian vegetables) *
Missouri Wildflowers, http://mowildflowers.net, 573-496-3492 * (MO)
Native Seeds, http://www.nativeseeds.org, 520-622-5561
NE Seed, www.neseed.com, 800-825-5477 *
Nichols Garden Nursery, www.nicholsgardennursery.com, 800-422-3985
Onalee Seeds, www.onalee.com (free shipping) 

Park Seeds, Jackson & Perkins & Wayside Gardens, www.parkseed.com, 800-845-3369
Peaceful Valley, www.groworganic.com, 888-784-1722*
Pine Ridge Gardens, www.pineridgegardens.com, 479-293-4359 (native plants) *
 Pinetree Garden Seeds, www.superseeds.com, 207-926-3400 (herbs & supplies) *
Plant Delights, http://www.plantdelights.com, 919-772-4794 *
Prairie Nursery, www.prairienursery.com, 800-476-9453*
Renee’s Garden Seeds, http://reneesgarden.com  & Cornucopia Garden Seeds www.cornucopiaseeds.com (value-priced Renee’s seeds)
Richter’s Herbs Canada, www.richters.com, 800-668-4372 (Wholesale for Everyone) *
Sample Seed Shop. http://sampleseeds.com, 716-871-1137 (budget pricing)
Sand Hill Preservation Center, www.sandhillpreservation.com, 563- 246-2299 (heirloom chickens & seedbank)
SandMountain Herbs, www.sandmountainherbs.com (herbs, medicinals) owns www.herb-roots.com (plant roots)
 Seed Savers Exchange, www.Seedsavers.org, 563-382-5990 (Seedbank)
Seeds from Italy, www.growitalian.com, 785-748-0959 (generous seed packs) *
Seeds of Change, www.seedsofchange.com, 888-762-7333 *
Select Seeds, www.selectseeds.com, 800-684-0395 *
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, www.southernexposure.com, 540-894-9480 (heat tolerant varieties) *
Territorial Seed, www.territorialseed.com, 800-626-0866 *
Thompson & Morgan, www.tmseeds.com, 800-274-7333 (British varieties)
Thyme Garden Herb Co., www.thymegarden.com, 541-487-8671 (organic herbs, flowers)
Tomato Bob Heirloom Tomatoes, www.tomatobob.com  & www.heirloomtomatoes.com.
Vermont Bean Seed Co, www.vermontbean.com, 800-349-1071 *
 Whatcom Seed Co, www.seedrack.com, (palms, bonsai, cycads)
West Coast Seeds, www.westcoastseeds.com, 888-804-8820 *
Wild Things Nursery, www.wildthingsnursery.com  (OK native plants)
White Harvest Seed, www.whiteharvestseed.com, 866-424-3185 (heirlooms)

There are dozens more companies than can be listed in one place. Once you identify what you are looking for, search for it and you may find new providers. The more you order from a single source, the more you save in shipping.

Have fun!

11 January 2016

Monsanto (aka Seminis) Owns These Seed Companies

Here's the list of Monsanto-owned seed companies for those of you who are trying to avoid GMOs. Seminis sources are listed below the Monsanto listings.

In general, I don't order from most of these companies anyway and suspect that you don't either. I do recognize them as the companies that send lots and lots of catalogs with discount offers.
Audubon Workshop, Breck’s Bulbs, Cook’s Garden, Dege Garden Center, Earl May Seed, E & R Seed Co
Ferry Morse, Flower of the Month Club, Gardens Alive, Germania Seed Co, Garden Trends, HPS
Jungs, Lindenberg Seeds, McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers
Mountain Valley Seed, Nichol’s, Osborne, Park Bulbs, Park’s Countryside Garden
R.H. Shumway, Roots and Rhizomes, Rupp, Seeds for the World, Seymour’s Selected Seeds
Snow, Spring Hill Nurseries, Stokes, T&T Seeds, Tomato Growers Supply, Totally Tomato
Vermont Bean Seed Co., Wayside Gardens, Willhite Seed Co.
American Seeds, Asgrow, Campbell, DeKalb, De Ruiter, Diener Seeds, Fielder’s Choice
Fontanelle, Gold Country Seed, Hawkeye, Heartland, Heritage Seeds, Holdens ,Hubner Seed
icorn, Jung Seed, Kruger Seeds, Lewis Hybrids, Peotec, Poloni, Rea Hybrids, Seminis
Specialty, Stewart, Stone Seed, Trelay, Western Seeds
The source for this list is http://planet.infowars.com/uncategorized/seed-companies-owned-by-monsanto

09 January 2016

Lowe's and Home Depot Eliminate Bee-Killing Pesticides

Both Home Depot and Lowe's have announced that they are phasing out the pesticides that kill bees.

Friends of the Earth and other groups have campaingned endlessly to get movement on the issue and finally the federal government added its push.

From Garden Design Online, "The announcement followed a long campaign by Friends of the Earth and others to remove plants treated with neonicotonoids, which kill bees.  Lisa Archer, Food and Technology program director at Friends of the Earth US, said Home Depot's action shows that it is listening to consumer concerns.  A study released by the group and others in 2014 showed that 51 percent of garden plants purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Walmart contained the harmful pesticides at levels that could damage or kill bees."

Reuters reports that Lowe's will take until 2019 to accomplish this simple goal. "Last year, BJ's Wholesale Club, a warehouse retailer said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products.
Home Depot, the largest U.S. home improvement chain, also asked its suppliers to start labeling any plants treated with neonics and that it was running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health."

06 January 2016

Allison Barlow of Select Seeds

Asclepias incarnata
After thoroughly browsing the 2016 plant and seed catalog from Select Seed, I called one of the owners, Allison Barlow to ask a few questions.

One of the things that I noticed about their catalog is that they mix seeds and plants on each page which is unlike most catalogs with seeds in one section, plants separated out into another section.

"Once we started growing our own plants in our greenhouse, we thought that mixing them in the catalog showcased them better," Allison said.

Select Seeds greenhouse is on their own property. Allison said that they also have a small organic garden for growing their own organic seeds in-house.

If you read the catalog, you may notice, as I did, that their seed packets have unusual seed counts such as 58 Clary Sage seeds, 372 Dreadlocks Amaranth seeds, 113 Phlox Cherry Caramel seeds.

Most catalogs use round numbers - 250, 100, etc.

"We measure our seeds by gram," Allison said. "Rather than listing grams that can be ordered we converted the gram weight to average number of seeds per gram."

Makes sense to me.

Tithonia Torch
The item that I thought was a cool idea is their Butterfly Garden - Top 10 Nectar and Host Flowers for $19.99. What confused me was the list of plant seeds included when I compared it to the number of packets/seeds included.

Here's the clarification. For $19.99 you will receive around 1500 seeds, including a packet each of Zinnia, Cosmos, Coneflower, Tithonia, Sunflower, Liatris, Tall Verbena, Sweet Scabious.
In addition there will be a mixed packet containing seeds of Fennel, Parsley and Malva to feed caterpillars PLUS Monarch caterpillar food - one packet containing Butterfly Weed (the photo is Asclepias tuberosa or Tropical Milkweed), Milkweed (Showy or Common) and Red Swallowwort ( which is Asclepias incarnata).

Anoda Cristata
Snow Cup
One of the unique plants they sell is Wild Cotton, Anoda Cristata Snow Cup. Grows 3-4 feet tall and looks like cotton, of course.

It's in the Mallow family so you'll see the resemblance to the pink mallow we've seen growing. Cold hardy in zones 9-11.

The online store is well laid out with sections for scented flowers, deer resistant, shade, etc.

The scented fragrant section alone has 130 items for your spring dreaming delights.

03 January 2016

Anole - Green Natives and Brown Invasives

Texas Monthly
Green Anoles, once plentiful, are becoming more unusual as they are being pushed out by the invasive species, Brown Anoles. 

The Texas Invasives newsleter says Brown Anoles arrived via Cuba and the Bahamas, "Anole expert Yoel Stuart, a Harvard Ph.D. and post-doctoral researcher at UT-Austin, has studied brown and green anoles and their interactions everywhere from Florida—where they first arrived in the U.S. and are now estimated to be that state’s most abundant land vertebrate—to West Texas, where their population growth is partially stymied by desert-like conditions. Stuart believes that the brown variety has been hitching rides in potting soil all these years, first on ships coming in from Cuba and the Bahamas, and now they are fanning out across the South in the back of eighteen-wheelers, their eggs or hatchlings burrowed deep in sacks of dirt."

As a result of their transportation system, Brown Anoles were primarily spotted at big box garden centers.

"Our green anoles had all of America to themselves for four million years, Stuart says. It was a pretty cushy life: lots of bugs to eat, trees and bushes to climb, with only snakes and birds of prey to harsh their mellow existence. Then Europeans arrived, bringing their cats with them, and the green anoles had another sworn enemy, but one that pales in comparison to their spikier, fiercer, and uglier cousins from Cuba."

and this tasty comment ends the article

Brown Anole tastes like bacon says
Critter Cuisine - Eat the Weeds
"There doesn’t seem much to be done to reverse this Caribbean reptilian invasion—or is there? How about this modest proposal: If you or your cat is quick enough to catch them, it’s said that sprinkled with salt and pepper and fried in oil whole, brown anoles taste a lot like bacon, making them a delicious salad topping. (As with chickens and all reptiles, you must wash them first as a precaution against salmonella.) "