MAY GARDEN CHECKLIST
The following is a garden checklist:
County Extension Agent-
For more information on gardening, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Baxter County Extension office at 425-2335.
A delicious cake like muffin, perfect when fresh fruit is ripe like right now.
Oven: 375 degrees F.
Bake: 25-30 minutes
Yields: 12 muffins
6 T. Butter (86 g)
3/4 c. Sugar (150 g)
2 Large Eggs
2 c. + 2 T. All Purpose Flour (243 g)
1 T. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 c. Milk (122 g)
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. Almond extract
2 c. Mixed Berries:
(fresh or frozen thawed and drained)
slice larger berries
1 T. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
How to Grow Cilantro
Cilantro needs full sun or light shade in southern zones since it bolts quickly in hot weather. It grows best in a well-drained, moist soil. Cilantro plants should be spaced about 6 to 8 inches apart. To harvest fresh cilantro all season, make successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks starting in late spring.
From the time of sowing seed, cilantro leaves can begin to be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks. Cilantro seeds can be harvested in about 45 days.
Coriander / Cilantro Coriandrum sativum
Flowering Coriander for Aphid Control
In the Salinas Valley of California, aphids have been one of the worst pests in the lettuce fields. The USDA Cooperative Extension Service has been investigating organic methods for aphid control, and experimented with coriander plants and Alyssum plants; when intercropped with the lettuce and allowed to flower, they attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies, the larvae of which eat up to 150 aphids per day before they mature into flying adults.
The Herb Society of America www.herbsociety.org
Latin: Paeonia suffruticosa
Tree peonies form flowers as much as 8 inches across when they bloom in late April.As Americans, we tend to take an egocentric view of the world, often assuming that other places and cultures have little to offer. Because really old and rich civilizations such as China baffle and bewilder us, most Americans dismiss them as backwards, if they think of them at all. But, for gardeners we must embrace China for she has provided many of our most cherished garden flowers, including the stunningly beautiful tree peony.
Paeonia suffruticosa, the tree peony, is a deciduous woody shrub growing to 6 feet tall and wide. It has stout, sparsely branched stems and coarse, compound leaves with nine leaflets. The leaves are bright red when they emerge in early spring.
As the season advances, the flower buds begin to swell, reaching the size of a small apple before issuing forth in late April with a flower the size of a salad plate. Double forms are most common with the blossoms in delicate pastel shades of red, pink, white and yellow. The beauty of the flower is unsurpassed, making it easy to understand why the Chinese treasure tree peonies as Western culture does the rose.
Tree peonies have been mentioned in Chinese literature since the 4th century BC and have been an important garden plant since at least the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Chinese scholars look to this dynasty as a long, stable reign of rulers who promoted learning and the arts, including gardening.
This progressive age saw the elevation of women in Chinese culture, in large measure due to the efforts of Wu Zetian (625-705). Empress Wu was born into a noble family and, as a young girl became one of the ruler’s concubines. Through a series of deft maneuvers and palace intrigues, she had herself named Empress when her own son resigned the throne in 690, breaking with the long held Confucian teaching that only men could become rulers.
Empress Wu’s connection to the tree peony is probably pivotal in the development of the flower, for she is said to have banned it from her gardens and palaces because it failed to bloom as precociously as she felt it should. This banishment was the catalyst for breeders to develop the free-flowering forms that are found in gardens today. When European merchants and plant explorers introduced the plant to Europe, they simply purchased them from retail sources that had been growing and selling the plant for over 1,000 years.
Tree peonies can be grown in all parts of Arkansas but are less common in gardens than their herbaceous cousins. Their rarity in cultivation is because they’re difficult to propagate. The Chinese learned early on that they could be grafted onto the rootstock of an herbaceous peon, a straightforward but not necessarily easy grafting procedure. Many of the 350 named cultivars listed are old Chinese selections, simply given new names when they were introduced into Europe.
Tree peonies do best in a fertile, well drained garden soil. They will grow in full sun or light shade and are easy to grow if well sited. They should be watered during dry periods and fertilized with a topdressing of compost each spring. The flowers are susceptible to wind and weather during the time they are open, so afternoon shade and wind protection helps preserve the length of their all too short bloom display.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - April 1, 2005
This is an easy healthy dinner, you can put together in no time.
Serves 4; 3 ounces fish and 1/3 cup sauce per serving,
Total Fat: 5.5 g
Cholesterol: 57 mg.
Sodium: 329 mg
Carbohydrates: 3 gm.
Protein: 23 grams
Source: American Heart Association 2007
New Baxter County Master Gardeners Six Baxter County residents recently completed Master Gardener training offered by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. The group participated in a 40-hour training program, and each volunteer will donate 40 hours back to the Cooperative Extension Service in the areas of horticulture and ornamental horticulture within the next year.
The group will meet monthly and work on community service projects throughout the coming year. New Master Gardeners are: (from left) Rick Gatewood, Toby Klassen, Emily Roberts, Mary White and Valerie VanZuiden. Not pictured: Ginger Turk.
In 2016 the Baxter County Master Gardeners logged 4,659 volunteer hours back to the community. For more information on the Master Gardener program, call 425-2335.
April Garden Checklist
For more information contact Mark D. Keaton
County Extension Agent
Extension office at 425-2335.
This recipe is similar to one my first mother in law made for passover. It is a rich cake and great for those who cannot tolerate wheat or gluten.
Preheat oven to 399 degrees F. Grease a ten inch round cake pan.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate in the microwave or top half of a
double boiler. Pour the chocolate into an electric mixer. Cut the butter
into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, one piece at a time.
Beat in the hot sugar water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan onto a larger pan
and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
Bake the cake in the water bath for 45 minutes. The center will still look
wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the
cake pan in hot water for ten seconds and invert onto a serving plate.
Many gardeners view shade as a challenging situation for growing plants. While some plants do not grow well in low light, numerous others thrive under these conditions. Just as moisture, temperature, and soil conditions may limit plant growth, the amount of shade present may determine which plants will grow successfully. The key is to discover which ones are adapted to the conditions in your yard or garden.
Landscapes change their degree of shade over time. As trees and shrubs mature, the landscape receives greater shade. What was once a sunny garden may evolve into a shady one. Analyze the degree of shade in your garden periodically to determine if changes in plant materials may be needed due to increased shade from a maturing landscape.
Several characteristics typify shade gardening. In addition to low light levels, plants growing in the shade must compete with shading trees for nutrients and water, and tolerate poor air circulation. The best way to cope with low light levels is to choose plants that do well in less light.
Light shade may be described as an area that is shaded but bright. It may be completely shaded for only several hours each day. The sun's rays may be blocked by a wall or building for several hours at midday, but the area is sunny the rest of the day. Light shade may also be found in areas that receive filtered or dappled sunlight for longer periods. Edges of shady gardens or areas under the canopy of solitary, lightly branched trees are typical of filtered sunlight. During the heat of summer, light shade at midday will provide a beneficial cooling effect. Flower and foliage color may be more brilliant when plants are shielded from intense midday sunlight.
Partial or medium shade is present when direct sun rays are blocked from an area for most of the day. Many established landscapes have large areas of partial shade, where sections of the yard are shaded by mature trees for much of the day but receive some direct sun early or late in the day. Bright, north-facing exposures may also be classified as medium shade.
Full shade lasts all day. Little or no direct sunlight reaches the ground at any time of the day. There may be reflected light from sunnier areas of the yard or off light-colored walls. Dense shade refers to full shade under thick tree canopies or in dense groves of trees. Areas under stairways, decks or covered patios on the north side of the house receive full shade.
Keep in mind that light patterns change with the seasons. An area that is in full sun in summer when the sun is high in the sky may have medium shade in spring and fall, when the sun is at a lower angle. Study your garden through the seasons to accurately determine what type of shade is present.
Available sunlight may be increased by selective pruning. Removal of lower limbs on large trees may increase light levels significantly. Large shade trees are a valuable resource that in most cases should be preserved. However, removal of diseased, unattractive, or poorly placed trees improves the beauty of your property and increases the light available for plant growth.
Take advantage of reflected light, if possible. White or light-colored surfaces reflect more light than dark-colored ones. Light-colored house siding or fences may increase available light to plants.
Plants growing in the shade often must also compete with roots of shading trees for nutrients and moisture. Shallow rooted trees such as maples and willows are particularly troublesome.
Adding organic matter to shade garden soils will help. Most woodland species are accustomed to growing in soils rich in leaf litter compost. Raking and removal of leaves each fall in the typical landscape disrupts this natural nutrient recycling process. If leaves are not removed, they can mat down and smother shade garden plants, but shredded leaves can be safely applied as a mulch. Another option is to compost the leaves first, and apply the compost in core aeration holes or in small pockets dug into the garden. Do not haul in several inches of compost-rich amendment to till into soil under shade trees. Some species, such as oaks, are extremely sensitive to changes in soil depth within their root zone. In addition, tillage will damage many of the tree's roots, starting a decline from which the tree may never recover. If the gardener is patient, earthworms will eventually incorporate surface-applied organic matter. Organic matter loosens heavy clay soils, improving drainage. In sandy soils, organic matter will increase the water-holding capacity. As organic matter breaks down, it also releases nutrients to the plants.
Roots competing for limited surface water may cause shade gardens to dry out more quickly than sunny sites during extended dry periods. Some shade-tolerant plants are adapted to low moisture situations, while others require moist shade. Provide water according to the plants' needs.
Branches or walls that cast shade also block air movement. Poor air circulation coupled with lower light levels means foliage of plants stays wet longer in the shade than in sunny areas. Most plant disease problems are worse under these conditions. Prevent disease problems by selecting disease-resistant varieties when available. Space plants farther apart in the shade to allow more air movement around each individual plant. Water with soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to avoid wetting the foliage. Removal of lower tree limbs may funnel breezes underneath the tree canopy, thereby improving air circulation.
Bright, bold colors are less common in shade tolerant plants than in sun-loving ones. Flowers are usually produced less abundantly in the shade as well. For these reasons, shade gardens are often more subtle and restful than sunny ones. Plant textures, forms, and slight color differences become more important elements of the design.
Texture has many aspects. Large-leaved plants such as hostas have a coarse texture, while finely divided fern fronds create a fine texture. Strong contrasts in texture accentuate their differences. Use strong textural contrasts only where emphasis is needed.
Pyramidal or upright, columnar plant forms serve best as accents in the shade. Rounded, weeping, or spreading forms create a more spacious effect and can be used more liberally in the design.
Glossy leaves have more impact than dull or velvety ones. Variegated or yellow-green foliage is evident in the shade more than solid green or blue-green foliage. Light colors — white, cream, yellow and pastel pink — stand out in the shade. Deep reds, blues and purples may fade into the shade unless set off by a contrasting lighter color. To emphasize plantings in the shade, concentrate on plants with light-colored flowers or foliage.
Almost all food crops grow best in sunny locations. Not only do they need full sunlight for good growth, few tolerate root competition from trees.
Cool-season salad vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and radishes may benefit from light shading through the heat of the summer. Beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, potatoes, rhubarb and turnips will grow in light shade but not produce as large a crop as plants growing in full sun.
Currants and gooseberries are fruits which tolerate medium shade and still produce a crop. Bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries grow in light shade, but yields will be reduced.
Source: Christoper J. Starbuck
Department of Horticulture
University of Missouri Extension
A quick and easy salad to take advantage of fresh produce.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the first five ingredients and shake well.
In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach, blue cheese, blueberries and pecans. Add
dressing and toss gently.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Whether you've been babying seedlings along under grow lights or overwintering a few tender perennials you couldn't let go of last fall, it's time to start getting them outside. But you can't just chuck them out there as soon as the ground begins to thaw. Plants that have been indoors need to be acclimated to the fluctuating temperatures, wind and sunlight. In other words you need to harden them off.
It's a simple process of gradually increasing the amount of time they're outside, usually by taking flats or pots in and out of the house. As plants spend more time outside, stems get stronger and their leaves develop a thicker cuticle, the waxy covering on the surface of a leaf that prevents water loss. this helps them tolerate more varied weather conditions.
WHEN TO GET STARTED
First decide when you want to put your plants in the garden and back up a couple weeks from there to know when to start hardening off. Tender plants' planting date will be determined by your likely last frost date. If you don't know when your last frost date is check with your local county extension agency. Cool weather types such as pansies tolerate temperatures in the 40-degree F range so you can plant a month before your likely last frost date. House plants, tropicals and warm season vegetables, such as tomatoes, prefer days at 70 degrees F (or warmer) and nights in the 50's. Seedlings should have at least four to six sets of true leaves before going out.
WHERE TO PUT PLANTS
Start plants in a protected spot out of direct sunlight and strong wind for an hour or two in mid-afternoon to avoid shock. Examples include under a tree, next to a hedge and near the wall of the house or garage. Bring plants inside for the night. Each day increase the time spent outside by 35 to 40 minutes. If there are a few days of bad weather-driving rain or an unexpected cold snap- leave them inside. Once plants are used to being outdoors all days (and mild overnight weather is forecast), pull them into a protected spot out doors for the night, too.
Full sun plants will need time to get used to direct sunlight. Start them out in part to full shade on the north side of your house or under a tree. Every couple of days edge them into a bit more light until they are basking in full sun. once plants stay outdoors day or night for three or four days in a row, they're ready to go in the ground.
Excerpt from Garden Gate Magazine
Verbenas are long blooming annual or perennial flowers that possess the virtues of heat tolerance and an extremely long bloom season. Many perennial verbenas are relatively short lived, but their vigor and heavy flowering make up for this defect. They do well grown as annual flowering plants also, since they bloom quickly during the first season after planting.
Verbenas vary considerably in size. The ground skimming moss verbena and trailing verbena reach 1 foot or less in height and spread from 2 to 5 feet wide. Verbena rigida usually grows 1 to 1½ feet tall, while purpletop vervain and the native blue verbena can reach 4 to 5 feet tall, but only a foot or two in width.
Verbenas generally grow moderately to quickly, and unlike many perennials, bloom well the first season after planting. Some varieties, such as 'Homestead Purple', are extremely vigorous. If plants outgrow their assigned space, they tolerate trimming back well.
Verbenas are mainly grown for their remarkable length of bloom with most blooming from spring until close to frost if trimmed back once or twice in mid summer. Flower color ranges from white through pink, red, lavender, blue and purple.
Verbenas require a location that receives full sun throughout the day. They must have well-drained soil. They will not tolerate overcrowding with poor air circulation, shade or soil that stays overly moist. Most problems of verbenas occur in improper growing conditions.
Verbenas are best planted in the spring or summer. Pinch the tips of the branches at planting time to encourage dense branching and a fuller plant. Newly planted verbenas will need to be kept moist for the first few weeks until the roots have spread into the surrounding soil.
While established verbenas are drought tolerant, performance, bloom, and growth rate will be reduced if they are too dry for a long period. During their blooming period, give them a thorough watering once a week if they do not receive an inch of rain that week. Avoid overhead watering.
If bloom slows during the summer, trim the whole plant back by about one fourth of its height and spread, water thoroughly and fertilize lightly. The plant will return to bloom within 2 to 3 weeks.
A light application of a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8 in mid- to late spring and again after trimming back will revitalize plants, but additional fertilization is not generally required. Plants growing in very sandy, poor soil may need more frequent fertilization.
In the fall you can trim back verbenas lightly to give a neater appearance to the garden, but do not cut severely until spring as new growth begins to appear. Overly severe fall pruning can reduce cold hardiness and plants may not survive a cold winter. Most verbenas are short-lived, so you should plan on replacing them after two or three years. However, some species can re-seed and naturalize in the garden.
Verbenas, especially the trailing and moss types, grow very well in containers. Fertilize container grown plants either with a controlled-release fertilizer, or with a liquid fertilizer once a month. Container grown plants should be watered more frequently, and not allowed to dry out. All verbena will attract numerous butterfly species, bumblebees, and hummingbirds.
Verbenas can suffer from a variety of problems, but most occur when they are grown in low light, poorly drained soil, or when the soil stays excessively moist from excessive watering. Poor air circulation from over crowded conditions can also lead to disease problems.
Verbenas are relatively pest free
Cultivars & Species
Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
(Glandularia canadensis; formerly Verbena canadensis)
Trailing verbena is a native perennial throughout South Carolina. The plants have a low spreading form and will flower profusely all summer. Creeping stems often root into the soil or mulch. Plants are tolerant of heat and drought, although best growth will occur with plenty of water and fertilizer. Like most verbenas, they need excellent soil drainage. There are numerous cultivars available. Many are trailing verbenas are hybrids of G. canadensis with other species.
(Verbena rigida) This South American verbena forms spreading patches of brilliant purple. It is widely naturalized along roadsides throughout South Carolina. It spreads by long white rhizomes (underground stems) which spread out in all directions and form dense colonies. Because of this growth habit, it forms a very effective ground cover. Rigid Verbena is hardy and drought resistant.
(Glandularia pulchella; formerly Verbena tenuisecta)
Native to South America, but naturalized throughout the southern United States, moss verbena is so well adapted as to be commonly believed to be native. It is generally hardy in the lower parts of South Carolina, and often survives mild winters in the Upstate. Moss verbena has finely cut leaves and a very low growing habit, explaining its common name. Many of the cultivars are hybrids with other species.
(Glandularia x hybrida; formerly Verbena x hybrida)
Annual verbena is a relatively common garden bedding plant. Most varieties will decline once summer heat increases. Perennial type verbenas will perform better in South Carolina, and will bloom quickly the first season of planting.
Source: Clemson University Cooperative University
Latin: Gladiolus x hortulanusGladiolus are too common and mundane to be cool in the garden.
The omission of gladiolus from the garden is understandable because its blooms are fleeting - usually lasting for less than a week in any kind of pristine state - and its form is somewhat wanting.
Yet, surprisingly, the gladiolus is one of the most important summer "bulb" crops with some production in every state of the Union.
Gladiolus plants have been known since ancient times but it was not until the introduction of the African species into European gardens in the 18th and 19th centuries that hybridizers began to create the garden forms we know today. About 250 distinct species of gladiolus are described with about 15 species native in the Mediterranean region. Only the African species have been used in developing modern hybrids.
The most notable of the African collectors was James Bowie (1789-1869) who initially collected for Kew Gardens in England, but was let go when the plant collecting budget was halved in 1820. His dismissal may have also reflected the riotous life style he developed while afield in remote parts of the world. Unable to find a governmental sponsor, Bowie returned to South Africa as a private collector where he worked on a consignment basis.
The glad’s 15 minutes of fame came early in the 20th century when hybridizers such as Lemoine in France and Luther Burbank in California focused their attention on the plant. In 1910, the American Gladiolus Society was founded to promote the growing of glads and to standardize nomenclature.
But the gladiolus craze seems to have subsided by mid century, primarily because gladiolus is just not a tidy garden plant. Another contributing factor to the flower’s decline in popularity was psychological. Florists began using it as a cheap and readily available funeral flower, and only the most intrepid supporter will stay faithful to a flower associated with bereavement.
The gladiolus, a member of the iris family, does not produce a true bulb but instead reproduces by means of a corm. If cut in half, a corm is a solid starchy mass with no apparent internal structure such as you find in a true bulb. If the tunic is pulled away and the surface of the corm inspected a series of concentric rings will be found which correspond to the nodes of a typical plant.
Each year, the corm is consumed to accomplish the above ground growth of the plant with a new corm formed atop the old one as the plant begins to flower. In addition to the main corm a number of pea-sized cormels will be produced which will attain flowering size in two growing seasons.
The vegetable garden is probably the best place to grow gladiolus corms. By making multiple plantings from early to mid April until late July, cut blooms can be enjoyed all season long.
If you wish to use the plants in the flower border, plant the corms in clumps of a dozen or so in an area about the size of a dinner plate. A wire support, such as a tomato cage, will be required to keep the plants from toppling, but the spiky four foot tall inflorescence can add some nice vertical lines to the flower border. Single colors are best for this use.
Gladiolus can be left in the garden year round in most parts of the state, but hard winters which freeze the soil to the depth of the corm will kill them. Most people that grow gladiolus for cut flowers dig their plants each fall and store the corms in a dry, frost free area over winter.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - July 14, 2000
The following is a garden checklist that gardeners need to be considering for March:
For more information on any of the above points, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office at 425-2335.
Productive vegetable gardens are based on a strong foundation, and that foundation is the soil. Healthy soil consists of different non living mineral particles such as sand,
silt and clay, as well as organic matter and living organisms.
Healthy soils provide an environment conductive to root growth which leads to a healthy plant and fruit and and vegetable production.
First, start with a soil test in order to know what nutrients are needed as well as the pH and organic content of the soil. Refer to the Smart Gardening tip sheet “Don’t Guess - Soil Test!” for details on how to do a soil test. Once you have the results, you will know what amendments and in what proportion to add for best results in the vegetable garden. Only add the recommended amounts of fertilizer based on the soil test results. Over application of phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers is a known contaminant of surface and ground water.
A collaboration with Organic matter is also a very important component of your soil as it is the “glue” holding all of the soil components together, providing space for oxygen and good drainage. Organic matter includes composted animal manure, chopped up leaves, grass clippings and cover crops. These are added to sandy soils in order to improve water-holding capacity, and added to clay soils to improve drainage. Site preparation If you are breaking ground for a new garden, eliminate grass or weeds that might be in the planned garden area first. One method is to remove the grass or sod by hand. This is most feasible when an instant result is needed. The sod chunks or grass removed can be added to a compost pile and re-entered to the garden system at a later time. However, this method will also require some organic matter be added to the soil below the old turf roots.
If you are breaking ground for a new garden, eliminate grass or weeds that might be in the planned garden area first. One method is to remove the grass or sod by hand. This is most feasible when an instant result is needed. The sod chunks or grass removed can be added to a compost pile and re-entered to the garden system at a later time. However, this method will also require some organic matter be added to the soil below the old turf roots. There are several methods that employ a “smothering” technique that will accomplish this task without using chemicals. Laying down a sheet of plastic and securing it with weights around the edges will effectively kill vegetation beneath except for the most stubborn of perennial weeds.
Another easy way to smother weeds is to place several sheets of newspaper down in the is to place several sheets of newspaper down in the area and layer compost or
other organic matter such as chopped up leaves, grass clippings or mulch over the top. This is commonly called "sheet composting." The organic layers on top will degrade while weeds below are dying out, resulting in a weed-free space. This may take a few months or can effectively start in the fall with spring planting in mind. Today's newsprint is made with vegetable-based ink so there are no worries about residues left behind.
No-till farming and gardening is a method in which the soil is left undisturbed except in the planting space for the seeds or plants. For years farmers have utilized the no-till method for crops, realizing the benefits of erosion control, soil moisture conservation, fewer weeds and building soil structure and health. Excessive tillage destroys the soil structure which is the foundation for healthy plant roots that interact with the living component of the soil.
Adding organic matter also enhances soil structure by encouraging microorganisms to act as a conduit for nutrients to enter plant roots. The no-till technique leaves crop residue on the soil surface which increases the organic matter content of the soil while enhancing the environment for the living component. Many gardeners are utilizing no-till vegetable gardening.
Planning a no-till smart vegetable garden requires a little bit of thought. It is imperative that you don’t walk on the soil in the planting areas as you work in the garden. This will only compact the soil. Therefore, you need to design your garden so that you have paths to walk on between the actual planting areas. The beds should be no more than 4 feet wide so that you can reach across the bed to weed or harvest while kneeling in the walkway. In addition, create beds that are shorter in length so that you are not tempted to cut across the bed to get to another one. A good size bed recommendation is around 4 feet wide by 8 feet long.
The sheet composting method mentioned above can be used to prepare the bed the first year. After that, organic Straw mulch used in walkways will reduce compaction and retard weed growth. matter such as compost should be added to these beds each season; organic matter breaks down over time and needs to be replenished. One to 2 inches of compost may be all a garden needs for the season. It may take a couple of seasons to build your no-till beds, but once they are established, adding additional organic matter is all that is necessary. Using an organic mulch such as straw or wood landscape mulch will help prevent weeds from growing and can serve double-duty as organic matter; it’s an important component in the no-till garden.
You may want to explore other popular types of no-till systems, including sheet composting, lasagna gardening, straw bale gardens and container gardening. If you choose a more conventional method of preparing the garden such as with a cultivator, you are encouraged to reduce tilling to a minimum. As mentioned before, tilling breaks down soil structure and disturbs the environment that is beneficial to living organisms, so the less tilling, the better. The practice of rotating crops in the garden is also a smart tip. This action helps reduce pests and pathogens that may be carried on the same crop from one year to the next. In addition, crops such as beans and other legumes “fix” nitrogen on their roots which will benefit the next plant that gets planted in that space the following season.
By: Pamela J. Bennett and Denise Johnson
Ohio State University Extension
Prep time: 2o minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Source: The Sonoma Diet
Simmer budget-friendly beef stew meats to tender, fall apart perfection using your slow cooker. The trick is to tenderize the beef before cooking then let it stew slowly in the liquid using the gentle heat from your crock-pot. It’s hard to be patient when your home smells so delicious, but trust us, it’s worth the wait.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 2 cups
If you’re decorating for a St. Patrick’s Day party, you’ll want to include a potted shamrock plant or several shamrock houseplants. But party or not, the potted shamrock plant is an attractive indoor plant. So what is a shamrock plant? Keep reading to find out more about growing and caring for shamrock plants.
The potted shamrock plant (Oxalis regnellii) is a small specimen, often reaching no more than 6 inches. Leaves are in a range of shades and delicate flowers bloom off and on during fall, winter and spring. Leaves are clover shaped and some think the plant brings good luck. These leaves fold up at night and open when light returns. Also known as the lucky shamrock plant, growing Oxalis houseplant is simple and adds a touch of spring to the indoors during winter months.
Shamrock houseplants are members of the wood sorrel family of the genus Oxalis. Caring for shamrock plants is simple when you understand their periods of dormancy. Unlike most houseplants, the potted shamrock plant goes dormant in summer. When leaves die back, the potted shamrock plant needs a time of darkness to rest. Caring for shamrock plants during the period of dormancy includes limited watering and withholding of fertilizer. The dormant period when growing oxalis houseplant lasts anywhere from a few weeks to three months, depending on the cultivar and the conditions. New shoots appear when dormancy is broken. At this time, move shamrock houseplants to a sunny window or other area of bright light. Resume caring for shamrock plants to be rewarded with an abundance of the attractive foliage and blooms.
When shoots appear in autumn, begin watering the newly growing Oxalis houseplant. Soil should remain lightly moist during times of growth. Water two to three times a month, allowing soil to dry out between waterings. Fertilize after watering with a balanced houseplant food. Shamrock plants grow from tiny bulbs that may be planted in fall or early spring. Most often, shamrock plants are purchased when foliage is growing and sometimes when in flower. Many cultivars of oxalis exist, but exotic varieties provide the best indoor performance. However, don’t dig a wild wood sorrel from outdoors and expect it to grow as a houseplant. Now that you’ve learned what is a shamrock plant and how to care for a growing Oxalis houseplant, include one in your indoor collection for winter blooms and maybe good luck.
Source: Becca Badgett
Gardening Know How
Vegetable (Cool Season) - Cabbage Family
Brassica oleracea var. capitata Brassicaceae Family
This cool-season crop grows best when daytime temperatures are in the 60s F. Direct-seed or transplant spring crops for fresh use in summer. Plant fall crops for winter storage or sauerkraut.
How to plant:
Maintenance and care:
Sow seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before average last spring frost. Keep soil warm (about 75 F) until germination. Then keep plants around 60 F. Provide direct sun so plants don’t get leggy. When plants are 4 to 6 weeks old, transplants into garden 12 to 24 inches apart, in rows 18 to 34 inches apart. Use closer spacings for smaller, early varieties, wider spacings for larger, late-season varieties.Can be direct seeded as soon as you can work the soil. Will germinate at soil temps as low as 40 F. Plant ½ to ¾ inch deep, about 3 inches apart. Thin to final spacings.
Direct seed in summer for fall crop, or start transplants in late May and transplant in late June or early July.
Plants have shallow root systems. Avoid even shallow cultivation. Mulch to protect roots, reduce weed competition and conserve moisture.
Use floating row cover to protect crop from early pests.
When heads are mature, they are prone to splitting in response to any stress or a rain following a dry period. Avoid splitting by choosing varieties that resist splitting, spacing plants close together (8 to 12 inches for early varieties, 12 to 16 inches for later varieties), using shovel to sever roots on one side about 6 inches from the plant, or twisting plants after heads have firmed to break some of the roots.
To help reduce disease, do not plant cabbage or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.
Cabbage aphids - A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.Cabbage root maggot - White maggot larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants later on.
Cabbageworms - Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
Flea Beetles - Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds.
Cutworms - Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.
Clubroot - Locate new plants in part of garden different from previous year's location. If soil infested, add lime to raise soil pH to 7.2Purple blotch (Alternaria porri ) - Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants, allowing air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to increase air circulation. Practice plant sanitation. When plants are not wet, remove and destroy affected plant parts. In autumn rake and destroy all fallen or diseased
leaves and fruit.
Browse cabbage varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.Plant early, midseason and late varieties to spread out harvest. Early varieties tend not to store well. Late varieties tend to be better for storage or for making sauerkraut.
Some varieties are resistant to certain diseases and insects.
Varieties may vary in head size, shape (round, flat, conical) and colors (green, red or purple).
Savoy cabbage has wrinkled leaves, and is sometimes classed in a different group, Brassica oleracea var. sabuada. Savoy varieties are prized for their flavor as well as their good looks.
Varieties recommended for New York include:
Excerpt from Cornell University Growing Guide
FEBRUARY GARDEN CHECKLIST
For more information on any of the above points, contact the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office at 425-2335.
This salad is delicious and looks elegant. It appears that it would be
would be a lot of work.
What makes it nice is you can do the first three steps ahead
of time and just assemble it before serving.
Makes 4 servings
* Place walnuts in sauce pan, add water just to cover nuts and simmer over medium
heat until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
* Drain and transfer to paper towels to dry.
* Combine nuts and powdered sugar.
* Heat 2 tablespoons oil to 350 degrees in a heavy saucepan.
* Fry walnuts in batches until browned and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.
* Transfer walnuts with slotted spoon to a baking sheet to cool. Salt slightly.
* Store unused nuts in an air-tight container.
* Combine sugar, lemon juice and water and boil over high heat until sugar
dissolves, 2 minutes.
* Add pear halves and cook over low heat, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
* Cool, then remove pear with slotted spoon and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.
* Warm 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over low heat and saute garlic and shallot until
translucent, about 4 minutes.
* Combine garlic and shallot with balsamic vinegar in glass bowl.
* Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; add sugar to
* Gently stir in tomato and basil. Makes 3/4 cup.
* Divide salad among 4 plates and top with slices of Poached Pears, Candied Walnuts, tomato and Gorgonzola cheese.
A rubber tree plant is also known as a Ficus elastica. These large trees can grow up to 50 feet tall. When learning how to care for a rubber tree plant, there are a few key things to remember, but rubber plant care isn’t as difficult as one might think. Starting with a young rubber tree houseplant will allow it to adapt to being an indoor plant better than starting with a more mature plant.
When it comes to rubber plant care, the correct balance of water and light is crucial, as with any plant. You can control the amount of light and water it gets, which is important because they shouldn’t have too much of either.
When you have a rubber tree houseplant, it needs bright light but prefers indirect light that isn’t too hot. Some people recommend putting it near a window that has sheer curtains. This allows plenty of light, but not too much.
The rubber tree plant also needs the right balance of water. During the growing season, it needs to be kept moist. It is also a good idea to wipe off the leaves of your rubber tree houseplant with a damp cloth or spritz it with water. If you water the rubber tree plant too much, the leaves will turn yellow and brown and fall off.
During the dormant season, it may only need watered once or twice a month. If the leaves begin to droop, but not fall off, increase the water you give the rubber tree houseplant gradually until the leaves perk back up again.
Once you know how to care for a rubber tree plant and it is growing well, you can begin the propagation of indoor rubber tree plants. In order to promote new leaves on a current rubber tree houseplant, cut a slit in the node where a leaf fell off. This will allow a new leaf to grow quicker.
There are a couple different methods for creating new rubber tree plant cuttings. The simplest is to take a small branch from a healthy tree and put it in good potting soil or water and let it root. Another method, called air layering, is where you make a cut in a healthy rubber tree houseplant, put a toothpick in the hole, then pack damp moss around the cut. After that, you wrap it with plastic wrap to keep the moisture level higher. Once roots begin to appear, cut the branch off and plant. All these things will lead to successful rubber plant care.
Source: Shari Anderson
Garden Know How
This is the month of Chocolate, Happy Valentines Day!
Pie Plate: 9 inch
The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis or EAB) is responsible for the destruction of tens of millions of ash trees in 27 states. Native to Asia, it likely arrived in the United States hidden in wood packing materials.
The first U.S. identification of Emerald Ash Borer was in southeastern Michigan in 2002. There are a variety of treatment options that can serve as a control measure for the EAB, but they are not a cure. Because pesticide regulations differ from State to State, homeowners should contact their State department of agriculture or local extension office for guidance.
What is at Risk:
What is the source:
Signs and Symptoms:
What you can do:
Animal and Plant Inspection Service
Gardeners have been growing Swiss chard since the time of Aristotle, a testament to its enduring appeal; food plants have a way of making friends when they’re colorful, nutritious, delicious, and hardy.
Chard is sort of a forerunner to beets and a close cousin to spinach, close enough that in many instances it can be substituted for the latter. We’ve compiled a few suggestions here for its cultivation and storage.
Types to Try
White-stemmed varieties, consistently outperform their more colorful counterparts in terms of productivity and bolt resistance.
Brightly colored varieties, are the queens of the edible ornamental. Varieties bearing red, pink, yellow, or orange ribs are available individually or in pre-packaged mixtures.
Perpetual varieties, which are often called perpetual spinach, have thinner stems and smaller, smoother leaves than larger varieties, and they taste more like spinach. The short, stocky plants work well in small gardens and containers.
Check out our chart for growing swiss chard varieties.
When to Plant
In spring, sow directly in the garden two weeks before your last frost date, or start seeds indoors three to four weeks before your last frost date and set seedlings out just as the last frost passes.
In fall, start seeds about 10 weeks before your first frost date, and set the seedlings out when they are four weeks old.
How to Plant
Prepare a rich, fertile bed by loosening the soil while mixing in compost and a balanced organic fertilizer, applied at label rates. Plant seeds half an inch deep and 3 inches apart.
Set out seedlings 12 inches apart. Indoors or out, thin newly germinated seedlings with cuticle scissors instead of pulling them out. Chard seed capsules often contain two or more seeds. If more than one germinates, promptly snip off all but the strongest sprout at the soil line. Gradually thin direct-sown seedlings to 12 inches apart.
Pest and Disease Prevention Tips
Mother Earth News
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