Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Enchanted Bog Walk

Walking through an enchanting bog a few weeks back, I came across a large colony of Sarracenia purpurea, commonly known as pitcher plant.  In the winter the leaves turn a beautiful reddish color and provide sharp contrast when in snow.  



The really cool thing about pitcher plants is that they are carnivorous. Check out the video above.  Insects get stuck in the plant tube, often drowning in the water that collects in the bottom.  The unlucky creatures are prevented from escape by the fine, downward-facing hairs on the interior of the tube.  Digestive enzymes made by the plant and aided by bacteria turn the insect into plant food.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

!WOW!  is the response guaranteed when your outdoor holiday containers are viewed, according to a local news segment this morning.  Assembly of these 'wow' producing containers is easy, just use plenty of spruce tops, some pine cones and voila!  

Creative?  No, unless you want your containers to be as individual as the street corner Santa.  Fresh, fragrant, long-lasting, and inexpensive are good reasons consumers seek spruce tops.  The demand is huge, and they are not hard to find, they are seen in every lot of every box store around.   This lack of creativity, although bothersome and a bit worrying,  is not why I strongly object to using spruce tops.

Spruce tops are just that, the top chopped off a black spruce.  Black spruce grow in bogs.  Bogs are sensitive ecosystems with just the right acidic conditions to grow unique plants like the insect eating pitcher plant, and wild cranberries.  Of course these unique conditions support a variety of unique animal life.                                                              
sphagnum moss
black spruce bog
The harvest of spruce tops is done using ATV's that compact the sensitive mossy floor of the bog.  The bogs do not recover well from this invasion.  Because of the huge consumer demand for spruce tops, bogs on both private and public land are illegally harvested in greedy pursuit.

I urge you to use your creativity, not be like everyone else.  Forego the purchase of spruce tops, go for sustainable stems, rose hips, dried plant material...the possibilities are beautiful for your containers and the beleaguered bog.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

March Gardening Duties

It is snowing at the moment here, on top of many feet of snow and a big snowstorm predicted for next week.  Therefore, some gardening duties have been amended, specifically pruning.  Walking through the deep snow is difficult enough, and with the snow covering a good portion of the shrubs and trees, I will hold off pruning until we have a significant melt.  It is best to prune while plants are dormant, but practicality trumps in this case....whaddygunnado?

BUT don't think you can just continue to lay around watching Dr. Phil, it's time to expand the mind instead of the waistband!  Here are some garden-related duties for you to wrap your head around...



Pruning tool maintenance.  You many not be able to get out there yet, but you should make sure your pruners, loppers, shears, and saws, are all in tip top cutting shape.  Clean off resin and other gunk, disinfect and sharpen or replace blades, tighten screws, and lubricate springs.  It's important to make one clean cut for the plant, and oh so much easier on the tendons. 

Start seeds.  Set your seed starting calendar according to your last frost date.  Here is my calendar for seeding: 
Mid February:  Onions, Parsley, Peppers, Violets
March 6:  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Ageratum
March 15: Verbena bonariensis
March 21: Basil, Marigold, Zulu Prince Daisy
March 27: Beet, Allysum, Calendula, Heliopsis
April 3: Coreopsis, Dotted Mint, Tomato
April 11: Tithonia
April 17: Cosmos
May 1: Squash, Zucchini, Cucumber

Vegetable Garden Planning.  Plan your veg and herb gardens, planting veggies near their favorite companions.  Here is a table that may help with that.

Vegetable
Plant near
Avoid planting near
Asparagus
Basil, Tomato, Nasturtium, Parsley
Onion, garlic, potato
Beans
Carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, marigold
Chives, leek garlic
Broad Beans
Brassicas, carrot, celery, corn, lettuce potato
Fennel
Beets
Brassicas, lettuce, onion, sage
Bean (pole)
Broccoli
Celery, chamomile, dill
Oregano, strawberry
Brussel Sprouts
Potato, thyme
Strawberry
Cabbage
Beetroot, potato, oregano, sage
Strawberry, tomato
Carrot
Bush beans, pole beans, lettuce, onion, pea, radish tomato
Chives, dill, parsnip
Cauliflower
Beans, celery, oregano
Nasturtiom, peas, potato, strawberry, tomato
Celery
Cabbage, leek. Onion, spinace, tomato
Parsnip, potato
Corn
Bean, cucumber, melon, pea, ,pumpkin potato radish
Tomato
Cucumber
Bean celery, lettuce, pea, radish
Cauliflower, potato, basil
Eggplant
Bean, capsicum potato spinach

Leek
Carrot, celery, strawberry

Lettuce
Carrots radishes strawberry
Beans, beetroot, parsley
Melon
Corn, radish
Potato
Onion
Bean sprout, broccoli, ,cabbage, lettuce, strawberry, tomato
Bean, pea
Pea
Beans, carrot, corn, cucumber, radish
Onion family
Potato
Bean, corn, cabbage, pea, eggplant
Cucmber, pumpkin, squash, sunflower
Pumpkin
Corn
Potato
Spinach
Celery cauliflower, eggplant

Tomato
Asparagus, celery, carrot, parsley, marigold
Corn, fennel, potato
Zucchini
nasturtium


Collect newspaper for garden mulching.  I have been hoarding paper all winter, and will lay it down over weedy areas and top with compost and other mulch material.

Get your plant orders put together and submitted!  This probably should have already been done, if you have not, you may have reduced availability.

Freshen up those outdoor containers.  Get the tired old holiday stuff out, (I certainly hope you did not use spruce tops...see previous blog on how collection of spruce tops ruins peat bogs in Minnesota and elsewhere) and replace with some spring-like twigs of pussy willow. 

Keep your chin up, we're almost there.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Changed Plans

I wanted to be far away (or at least 80 miles) from home so I could continue to procrastinate.  But, travel plans changed and although I still delayed completion and/or commencement of many projects, I did complete the following useful activities (pat on back):

I took coleus cuttings from now big and bountiful fall cuttings.

I seeded parsley, yellow, and red onion today. 

How damn exciting.  But I am going to the bar tonight.