Showing posts from February, 2016

Beefsteak Begonia - Propagate Stem Cuttings

It's time to cut the long above ground root/rhizome off the Beefsteak Begonia and use the pieces to make more plants for friends.

This is such a gorgeous plant. The leaves look like lily pads and the flowers are a soft pink.

After pruning the long, fuzzy above-ground root/rhizome from the plant above, I cut it into sections and put each section into a self-watering container with sterile potting soil.

Each section of root that I plant has a leaf attached and the cutting is tucked just below the soil level.

As you can see, one of them already has a new dark-red-green leaf and a tiny pink flower bud.

Beefsteak Begonias like to be on the dry side even when you are propagating the roots to make new plants.

Witch Hazel and Fringeflower Blooming February

In our back garden the native Witch Hazel Shrub, Hamamelis virgiana, grows next to Chinese Fringe flower, Loropetalum chinese.

This has been an especially mild winter so we can be outside for several hours a day now, admiring the daffodils, cleaning out the oak leaves and prepping the vegetable beds.

The Witch Hazel shrub came from
Pine Ridge Gardens native plant nursery in Arkansas.

It was only a one-gallon size shrub so it took a few years for it to mature enough to bloom.

This year it was completely covered with flowers! Here's a Fine Gardening article link to all things Witch Hazel. MOBOT praises its ability to cover a hillside and thrive in clay soils.

The Chinese Fringe flower shrub came in a 6-inch pot probably also three years ago. It isn't as tall as the Witch Hazel yet but is equally rewarding in terms of its urge to produce beautiful flowers in late winter.

This is one of the Proven Winners varieties from Spring Meadows Nursery. This one is called Jazz Hands Variegate…

Grow Food for Money on Borrowed Land

Curtis Stone is excited about encouraging more and more people to take up urban farming ( So excited, in fact, that he has books, podcasts and websites full of free information to help anyone get started growing food for profit. 
His book, “The Urban Farmer: Growing food for profit on leased and borrowed land”, provides over 250-pages of tips, formulas, bed layout plans, plant lists and step-by step instructions.
The key message is, “The important thing is to just get started.  Because once you show people you are willing to do the work all kinds of opportunities will present themselves.  Once you move past the talk, and you put your words into action, people see those actions, and opportunities just present themselves.”
Stone farms on urban plots. He borrows or leases neighborhood front yards and vacant lots that total one-third acre or 15,000 square feet. From that one-third acre, he sells $80,000 in vegetables annually.
The Pareto Law (80/20 rule) is the focus…

Tiny Seedlings - Poppies Cold Started Outside

On a Facebook international seed swap I trade seeds with a gardener in Sweden. We exchange seeds harvested from our own gardens, usually during the winter months. For her, the goal is to get my zone 7 seeds planted before her zone 6a soil is frozen solid.

Here, I winter-sow her seeds. Her semi-double purple poppies were planted in one of my gallon jug winter sown containers on 12-26-15 and they popped up last week.

When they were up and starting to grow true leaves, I moved the container into our heated shed, opened the top and let them sit in warmer temperatures in the sun for several days.

The next step is to gradually move them into individual cells.

The cell tray on the left holds just under 100 tiny containers. Each cell was filled with sterile potting soil and then put into a bottom watering tray to soak up water over night.

I used Popsicle sticks to separate the tiny seedlings and carefully put them into holes in the new soil that I made with a pencil. Then, more damp - not wet -…

Amaryllis Gift from Longfield Gardens

Forcing bulbs inside over the winter is part of a long-standing hobby that brings beauty into the house when we really need it! Spring is struggling to arrive but isn't here yet and we want to mess around with plants.

A lovely gift box arrived this week from Longfield Gardens.

In addition to the planter, soil, bulb and topper in the box, there was something I had never seen before - a warming blanket for
the bulb to prevent it from freezing during transit.

It's pre-heated by the shipper and discarded by the recipient.

Planting instructions are included though I confess I read them after I planted my bulb.

If you are interested in sending one of these, you have a choice of Amaryllis colors. Click on this link to see photos of them all.

I'll post photos as it grows since watching the progress is half the thrill of planting one of these beauties.

Here it is in full flower

Take Lavender Cuttings Now to Make New Plants

It's time to check your lavender plants for new growth and take cuttings to make new plants. I do this every year.

Most winters we lose at least one of our lavender plants and I like to maintain a supply of them for replacements. If we don't need them in our garden, we give them to other gardeners.

At this time of year you can use either/both hardwood or softwood cuttings.

The hardwood cuttings have worked for me but can take longer to strike roots.

Cut a 4 to 6 inch long piece of the plant that includes a growing tip.

The softwood grows out of the bottom of the plant where it has recently emerged from the roots.

Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings.

Put moist sand, vermiculite or perlite into a container and make a hole in it with a pencil or other object - for each cutting. If you try to just stick the tender cuttings into planting medium it will bend.

Press cuttings in firmly, bringing sand up to the base of the cutting.

The rooting medium should be kept m…

Cold Sarting Seeds

Planting seeds outside during the winter is essential for success with many plants, ideal for others, and just plain convenient for some.

Seeds that need cold treatment (cold stratification) include the ones with protective coatings, native wildflowers, and cold-hardy perennials. The instructions for seeds such as Pulmonaria and Achillea say to try to start them at 60-degrees but if that fails, chill the containers. Or, chill them at the beginning. Go to the website for a list of seeds’ requirements.
Three cold-treatment methods that work include: 1) Plant in recycled containers that are monitored outside; 2) Pre-chill the seeds in the refrigerator; and, 3) direct sow the seeds on prepared beds that are either open to the elements or mulched.

Flowers such as Poppies, Larkspur and Nigella are planted directly on top of prepared soil now. These and other deeply rooted flowers rarely do as well if they are transplanted from containers. 
Clear the bed and prepar…

Weeds - Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science blog provided a link to their fact sheet about noxious, invasive, super and just plain weeds at

"Certain characteristics determine which term is most accurate – or whether the weed in question might actually fit into multiple categories."

" a weed as a plant that causes economic losses or ecological damage, creates health problems for humans or animals, or is undesirable where it is growing. Examples: Crabgrass (Digitaria) Giant foxtail (Setaria faberii) Common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)"

"Once a weed is classified as noxious, authorities can implement quarantines and take other actions to contain or destroy the weed and limit its spread. Examples: Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) Witchweed (Striga spp.)"

"Invasive weed Invasive weeds are weeds that establish, persist and spread widely in natural ecosystems outside the …

Native Plants for zones 7-8

One of the many wonderful outcomes from native plants becoming popular again is that state university extension services are posting lists of native plants for gardeners.

Ten years ago most of us gardeners couldn't tell an Asian invasive from a native beneficial. Today, most gardeners are at least aware of the problems non-native plants can cause, in particular, choking out the ability of native plants to thrive and support local wildlife.

The University of Mississippi Landscape Services has posted a guide to commercially available native plants for that state.

MS growing zones range from 7a in the north (just south of Memphis TN) to 8b on the gulf Biloxi and Gulfport. Here's a map.

In contrast, Oklahoma is zone 6b on the Kansas line (Bartlesville) but zone 7 for most of the rest of the state. We all know how microclimates and rainfall variations make zone 7 wildly different from one area to another.

With all that said, the current changes in climate worldwide also ha…