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Showing posts from March, 2019

Henbit is Blooming Everywhere!

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Wherever you drive now, you see patches of Henbit’s lavender and purple flowers on purple stems. 
Henbit can be confused with Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) though Henbit has heart-shaped leaves and Purple Dead Nettle has triangle shaped leaves that cluster in clumps. Both are winter annuals that get their start in the fall, form a small rosette of leaves in the winter and then have those carpets of flowers in the spring. Seed formation follows and the plants die in the summer.
Henbit leaves are high in iron, vitamins and fiber; it can be boiled, then cooked with butter, spices and a sour cream white sauce. Highly valued by foragers, Henbit and Dead Nettle are added to smoothies, cooked and eaten raw. Henbit is also eaten by some animals and can cause ‘staggers’ in sheep, horses and cattle.
Henbit’s Latin name is Lamium amplexicaule, with amplexicaule meaning clasping, or, how the leaves clasp the stems. Lamium is from Lamia, a Greek mythology creature name as such because the flo…

My Seed-Startging Tips

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There are dozens of lists of seed-starting tips out there. Here are mine. 
Seeds packaged for the current year are most likely to germinate, or come up, with healthy sprouts. Planting instructions on the package indicate planting depth, sun requirement, soil temperature, how far apart to plant, etc. Many online resources such as https://parkseed.com have  ‘Know Before You Grow’ tip sections.
For best germination results, plant seeds in sterile soil in containers or in a well-prepared bed. We start seeds in those greenhouse-imitating, clear plastic, clamshell containers from strawberries or other fruit. Mark each container or row with seed type and planting date.
Soak or scarify large seeds, provide cold treatment, etc. according to the directions.  Add no fertilizer;  seeds have everything they need.
The first leaf or set of two leaves are called cotyledon. Grasses (monocots) have one; most other plants have two tiny leaves on their first stem. Gymnosperms (pine) can have 24 cotyledons. 
T…

Grow A Scented Garden

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Using plants with scented flowers, leaves and stems adds another reason to go outside, even on the hottest days. Of course, we think of Lilacs, Mockorange, Roses, and Flowering Tobacco but there are so many more that add to the experience of being out in the yard, on a patio, or in public gardens. 
Many annual, perennial, woody and herbaceous plants call out to be touched. It is irresistible to reach out and touch Basil, Borage, Lavender, and Parsley, or, to stop and smell Pine, Mint,  Jasmine, Rosemary, Alyssum, Dianthus, and Thyme.  And, the scent of spring bulb flowers such as Hyacinths, Daffodils and Fritillaria all make us bend to their height.
Several scented plants bloom only at night and are pollinated by moths. Datura is a favorite because it begins to unfurl late in the afternoon and will bloom while you stand there for a few minutes. 
The visually impaired and children are drawn to a scented garden. Sometimes new hybrids of old fashioned plants lack the deep fragrance of the f…

Herb Beds from Cuttings

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Fresh herbs contribute scent, flavor and flowers for our gardens and our kitchens. Whether they are in the ground or in containers, just give them soil that drains well and plenty of sun. 
Common herbs can be purchased as small plants in the spring at many vendors but the plants vary in quality. 
With seeds and cuttings, an herb bed can be grown inexpensively. When planting from seed, remember that herbs need room to spread. Rosemary, Sage, and Oregano need 4 feet; Basil and Thyme, 2-feet; Cilantro, Dill, Chives and Parsley need at least one foot. Mint travels everywhere by rhizomes.
To build your collection, ask fellow gardeners for cuttings so you can collect varieties that do well in your local weather and soil. 
These herbs are fairly easy to grow from cuttings: Lavender, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Mint, Basil, Marjoram, Sage, Savory, Scented Geranium, Monarda (Bergamot for tea and salad), Sweet Woodruff, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena and Pineapple Sage.
The three types of cuttings are: 1) …

Save Native Bees - Plant Flowering Trees

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The push to plant milkweed in home gardens to save Monarch Butterflies from extinction is working. Now it’s time to focus on saving bees.
The flowers on native trees play a big role in providing food and habitat for endangered native bees. This cool weather is the best time to plant trees. 
These are some bee-favorites -
American Basswood, Tilia Americana, is native in the US  from New England through Northeast Oklahoma and South Carolina. Basswood likes humid summers, cold winters and 20-40 inches of rain annually. The edible flowers produce high quality honey. Related to Rose of Sharon, Linden and Mallow. 
Southern Magnolia,  Magnolia grand flora, and Sweetbay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, are native from MA through OK and TX, especially in wet areas and swamps.  These full sun to part-shade trees flower early summer. They mature at 30 to 50 feet tall with a 20 foot spread. 
Cherry and Plum, Prunus species (Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, Black cherry, Prunus serotina) are native here a…