16 December 2017

Poinsettia Care

Pete Carson opened Carson Borovetz Nursery for his annual Poinsettia sales event. Native to Southern Mexico, Poinsettias, Euphorbia pulchenima, dominate holiday home and office d├ęcor to the tune of 80-million sold each year.

This year we are offering four sizes and most of the colors available, said Carson.

Shoppers will find over 2,000 plants in various sizes and colors at the nursery. Here is a rundown of the poinsettias choices this year at Carson Bororvetz.

Casual observers never notice the Poinsettia flowers because they are so tiny. The colorful leaves or bracts that bring seasonal cheerfulness into our winter environment are not actually flowers.

Carson pointed out that even before the bracts turn colors you could see what color they will be by looking at the petiole or leaf stem. All the plants have green leaves when they are growing in October. But the stem that connects the leaf to the main stems carries the eventual bract color. Look for red stems on red poinsettias.

Carson will have white, pink, red, Monet, maroon, Winter Rose and Marble.



SIZE POTS AVAILABLE

Pixie is a 4.5-inch pot miniature with 6 to 8 blooms. Ideal for tabletop, bedside, desks.

Six and one-half-inch pots have 2 plants per container and there will be 12-blooms. This size is the most popular for home coffee tables and in churches.

Eight-inch pots contain 3-plants, planted close together to create a taller display. This height is often used around a fireplace when it is not burning.

Hanging baskets are 10-inches in diameter and will have 20-blooms.

HOW THEY ARE GROWN
In the middle of August when most gardeners are sipping iced tea, Carson received four thousand Poinsettia plant cuttings. When they arrived their root ball was about as big around as a ballpoint pen.

All Poinsettias are hybrids grown from cuttings, Carson said. Each variety has different growing characteristics that I’ve learned over the past 25-years.

For example, a cloudy spell will impact when the bracts become colorful. August and September heat, an October hard freeze and insect migrations, all have to be worked around. Carson keeps both growing houses controlled with fans and heaters to keep the Poinsettias at their required 75-degree daytime and 64-degree nighttime temperatures.

Carson said he has learned from experience how many of each color to grow and which size pots Muskogee area holiday shoppers need.

By the way, Poinsettias are not poisonous. A few individuals have an allergic rash after touching the sap inside the stems of all Euphorbias.
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HOME CARE OF POINSETTIAS
- Temperature is critical to long lasting color. Keep away from television, stove, fireplace, furnace ducts, cold windowsills and doors that are frequently opened.
- Night temperature of 60-degrees F is ideal
- Water twice a week and drain the saucer after every watering.
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IF YOU GO
Carson Borovetz Nursery
3020 North Street between South Country Club and York Streets
Monday November 24 through December 24
Monday to Saturday 9 to 6
Sunday noon to 6
918.682.4404 and 348-1270 cell

09 December 2017

Sustainable Gift Giving

Tulsa Sustainable held a meeting this week with a speaker from Root Tulsa, a project of the Kaiser Foundation. (Root Tulsa is a great app for things to do in Tulsa, sadly available only for Apple customers.)

With the holiday gift giving season here, these two organizations came up with dozens of ideas for our conservationist selves to consider.

In order to share the presentation with you, here are pictures of several slides.

One of the ideas, Keep it Local OK, is not available in Muskogee, but is across the rest of Oklahoma.
Purchase or give a $15 gift card for card holders to receive discounts at over 300 Oklahoma restaurants, stores, personal service businesses, clothing outlets, movie theaters, etc.
Here's a list of the businesses that sell and honor the card.

The emphasis is on locally purchased, minimally packaged items that
take as little as possible while giving as much as possible

Green, sustainable, gifting builds your community rather than an online store's profits
Focus on giving experiences rather than objects
Root Tulsa has a great list of suggestions at this link
Home made over commercial. Shop previously owned. Upcycle. Recycle,.Re-gift
"A thriving society, responsible economic growth, and environmental stewardship are the mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainability, and are the driving principles behind Sustainable Tulsa."

Oklahoma Sustainability Network includes the towns at the links below.

Rick Ewing, Muskogee Parks and Recreation has formed a committee to explore the possibility of Sustainable Muskogee. Contact him if you'd like to be involved in that effort.



04 December 2017

Gloriosa Lily Flame Lily Glory Lily

No matter what you call it, this lily is a spectacular summer flower to grow on a fence or trellis!

These summer blooming vines are cold hardy to zone 7 so we are weather compatible. A word of caution: many garden sites say they are hardy only in zone 9. Of course, they need a sunny location for the best flowering.

Gloriosa rothschildiana
A plant guru recommended Terra Ceia Farms so I ordered mine through them. The bulbs are 3 for $10 and ship in March.
There are color choices, of course but I wanted the one I saw growing at the Mobile Botanical Garden, which is Gloriosa rothschildiana, one of the red and yellow varieties.

Leafari planting guide suggests planting them with open structure perennials, "With their vining habit and need to something to climb on; flame lilies partner well with open-form shrubs, roses and sturdy mid-size perennials.

They want dry feet and average soil, "Average, moderately fertile soil with medium amounts of moisture will be fine for glory lilies. Soil that drains poorly and allows water to puddle will encourage tuber rot. Adding a slow release fertilizer when you plant can be helpful if your soil is a bit lean.

Gloriosa superba bulbs

Keep soil very slightly moist - too much water encourages tuber rot. Roots will start growing in 7-10 days and top growth will be visible in 2-4 weeks. Plant about 6" apart. "

The Garden of Eden blog from the UK says, "Despite its tropical looks the Glory Lily is relatively easy to grow. It is best off started in pots and then transferring them to the ground during May to June once the threat of late frosts have passed.

Similar to the oriental lilies the growth of the Glory Lily is upright at first, but these are climbing plants that love to scramble. If you look carefully you'll see that the tip of each leaf has a barbed end which it uses to support itself on whatever is at hand to climb on.
Using loam-based compost - with either horticultural grit, perlite or vermiculite or bark chippings to aid drainage. To help give it a head start you can also throw in a handful of grow-more or bone meal, just make sure that it is mixed in thoroughly before planting.
Gloriosa greenii flower
Plant the bulbs 3-4" deep, in larger pots you can plant several specimens so long as they are about 6" apart. Just lay them on their sides and cover them up - they will know which way is up. Water well, thoroughly soaking the compost and then allow any residue to drain away. If kept in a warm room you can expect to see new shoots in two to three weeks.

During the growing season the Glory lily should be watered thoroughly, but again, they will need to be allowed to dry out almost completely before re-watering – never leave them waterlogged or standing in water as this can encourage rots. When growing begins in the spring they should be given a liquid feed once a week to encourage new growth. Later on in the season a half strength fertilizer added to the water every two weeks will keep plants blooming strongly throughout the summer and sometimes further into early autumn."

PlantsAfrica.com
Planted in large pots, they would be easy to dig and save over the winter.

It's exciting to try new plants and at 3 for $10 it's not terribly expensive to try this beauty in your garden this coming year.

In its native setting "Gloriosa superba occurs in semi-shade or sun in bushveld, coastal dunes, coastal woodlands, forest, thicket, grassland and savanna-forest boundaries, in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and in Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe and into tropical Africa, India and southeastern Asia."

And, "Tubers are eaten by porcupines." Not a worry in Oklahoma.

28 November 2017

November Gardening in Muskogee

Because the weather has been so wonderful, I'm spending 3 or 4 hours 'out there' every day. There are lots of tasks to accomplish inside the shed and the perennial beds had grown out of control since I didn't do much out there last year.
Tropicals re-potted

The tender tropical plants that are in the shade outside in the summer were desperate for pruning, pup removal, fresh soil and larger pots.

Some of the succulents I've been starting with a leaf were ready for pots of their own plus pruning.

Agastache Apache Sunset seedlings
The tiny seedlings needed to be transplanted to six packs, separated in the 72 cell trays and checked for true leaves and root length.

Perennial beds

Salvia Azurea








 Outside, I've been working on two large perennial beds that had become overgrown with phlox and other well-intentioned plants that need to be thinned regularly.

I can't put photos of everything here because of space issues, but you get the jist.

Daffodil and Iris bulbs have become thick and in some cases three layers deep, so I've been digging, dividing and replanting them - it feels like by the hundreds!

I hope your schedule has allowed you to enjoy this incredible spring weather at the end of November.

21 November 2017

Progress on Tree and Shrub Cuttings

Cuttings taken from cold hardy perennials strike roots in weeks or months after being planted in potting soil, perlite or vermiculite and kept moist. Their containers need drain holes and the plants need a protective top until they strike roots and begin to grow.

Here are some examples from my garden shed which is minimally heated and lighted. The Plums are considered practically impossible to grow from cuttings but I had to try.
Forsythia, of course, is easily rooted to extend a green row with yellow spring flowers.
Fig cuttings are a 50/50 deal for me so I plant more than I need/want.
Lavender is also fairly easy to grow from cuttings. These will be replacement plants.



American Plum Tree cuttings taken three days ago
and planted in a plastic clamshell with a lid


Forsythia shrub cuttings taken in April
have foot-long roots in November



Three Brown Turkey Fig tree/shrub cuttings were taken a few weeks ago







On the left is a Lavender cutting and
on the right is a Salvia cutting.
Both were taken two months ago, struck roots and have moved to the light table in individual pots for growing on.






 

13 November 2017

Sand Plum is Chickasaw Plum, Sand Hill Plum, Mountain Cherry, Prunus angustifolia

Prunus angustifolia has many names but is delicious both for wildlife and human consumption.

Fall in the Ozarks

We drove over to Arkansas a few days ago to visit Pine Ridge Gardens and buy a few shrubs for our back acre where we have fruit and food for wildlife.

Native Sand Plums
Sand Plums are a great source of jelly making fruit if you can get any before wildlife takes them all.

Chickasaw plum plants grow 15 feet tall and wide in a twiggy form.
The bark is black and the stems are reddish.


MaryAnn King and Candy
Feb through May, small white flowers and little red plums appear. The flowers have five white petals with reddish or orange anthers. The plums are cherry-like and tend to be quite tart until they fully ripen later in the summer.

Chickasaw Plums thrive in low water, loose, sandy soil with sun to part-shade. The ones I planted two years ago have died without forming clumps because the area became too shady.
Native range Prunus angustifolia
In 1874 they were cultivated by Native Americans and early settlers to be used as a food source, cover for livestock, windbreaks, erosion control and wildlife food. If you want them for your kitchen, protect the plants from rabbits, deer, birds, squirrels, etc.

I asked MaryAnn King, owner of Pine Ridge, if she had any special planting suggestions and she responded, "They grow alongside the road so you know what to do."

Since I'd like to have many more than I could afford to purchase, I'm going to try my hand at propagating them by cuttings.

Pine Ridge Gardens native nursery

Pine Ridge Gardens has provided many of the native plants we have added to our backyard landscape in the past 15 years. King sells at her nursery (open houses continue this month) as well as selling at many festivals around the Tulsa area.

This is the ideal time to plant shrubs, trees, spring blooming bulbs, garlic, onions, perennial flower seeds, native plant seeds, etc.




04 November 2017

Leeks - order seeds or starts now

Leek seedlings
Lancelot Leeks are those beautiful, mild-onion-like vegetables that are easy to grow in our zone 7. And, they don't require the deep, fertile soil that beets and other root vegetables need. We live on a rocky hill and have had zero success with beets, turnips and other roots but leeks work just fine.

In years passed I've allowed one or two to go to seed and kept the same crop going for four or five years before the seed failed to return.

This year I've ordered one bunch of starts (30 seedlings $14) from Dixondale Farms. They won't be delivered until mid-February 2018 - at planting time. I ordered now because by then they will be hard to find.

Planting Leek Seedlings
Like all vegetables, Leeks need lots of organic matter in the soil. Since I'm emptying one of the compost bins right now, I'm putting buckets of compost into the bed where they'll be planted.

At planting time, an 8-inch deep trench is made and the leeks are planted at the bottom of the trench, 6-inches apart.  Rows can be as close as 5-inches apart.

Then, add enough soil to cover the white part, leaving the green part exposed, above soil level. Fertilize with some version of 10-10-10. Water thoroughly. Then, mulch the bed with loose straw or similar organic material.

When the stems are an inch thick, add more soil to the trench, eventually filling it to the same level as the surrounding soil. The underground part of the plant will be the head of your leek so you want it protected from sunlight that would make it turn green (just more stem).
Soil goes up to the green only

 - Check out this Getty Stewart resource for more pics and tips http://www.gettystewart.com/how-to-plant-leeks-in-the-garden/
 - Also this guide from Gavin Webber, Greening of Gavin
http://www.greeningofgavin.com/2013/04/how-to-grow-onions.html

But if you want to plant leeks this winter, buy seeds now to start at home to make your own seedlings or order seedlings for winter delivery and planting.

Seedlings are 75 days to harvest. If you want to start yours from seed, add that length of time to the 75-days; most say 110 days to harvest from seed.










29 October 2017

A Few Winter Tips

Plant containers for cuttings
When taking cuttings of cold hardy perennials for rooting over the winter, you can use your bare bed space to keep them outside.

 Instead of putting the containers on top of the soil where you have to keep them watered, plant the containers in the ground. The soil will keep them warmer, rain and snow will keep them moist and they can easily be covered late winter for getting jump start on growth.

Clamshells for winter sowing
 I also use this method for planting seeds (in clear plastic clamshells) that need cold stratification to germinate.

  In these two are Agastache and Chinese Parasol tree. Over the next couple of weeks  they will have lots of company.

  If winter sowing seeds is new to you, here are a few sites
 - http://wintersown.org/
 - https://getbusygardening.com/winter-sowing-seeds/
 - https://www.facebook.com/groups/wintersown/
 - http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/winter-sowing-101-6/
 - https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-winter-sowing-1403095

  The basic idea is that perennials need and want cold, moist, stratification in order to germinate. Putting them directly onto the ground risks their being washed away by hard rains. The containers can be left on top of the ground but  you have to water them more.

My go-to seed germination chart is at http://tomclothier.hort.net/

DIY mini greenhouses
In order to protect my herbs a little longer, Jon wired together salvaged house windows that I use as mini-greenhouses out in the beds.

Under glass there is parsley, oregano, marjoram, sage, lovage and rosemary.

Since the glass is there, I stuck several Red Russian kale seeds in the ground. The seeds are up and were undisturbed by the freezes we had the past two nights.

Lots of plants were not damaged by the freeze including perennial herbs that can take a real beating and keep on producing delicious leaves as well as food for pollinators.

Our garden has lavender, lemon balm, oregano, mints, sage, thyme, rosemary, sage.

Of course, the basil turned black. I put in 20 or more basil plants this year from seed but didn't buy seed for next spring. I'm anticipating lots of volunteers from all those gone-to-seed giant basils out there.


20 October 2017

Pine Cones - How-to Treat for Crafting and Gardening

If you have pine cones on your property it is tempting to use them for 1) seasonal crafts and 2) to top newly planted fall crop beds (keep out neighborhood cats and dogs).

There is more than one method to kill the insects and mold living in pinecones but I have always used the oven rather than the chlorine bleach or vinegar methods.

Heating them in the oven for 30 minutes at 250-degrees F not only makes them better (debugged) household decorations, it causes them to dry out and expand to be a bit larger as the sap melts and the moisture evaporates. The melted sap adds a little sheen, too.
Single layer on cookie sheets in oven
Collect the number of pinecones you need for beds and/or crafts.
We filled a wheelbarrow in 10 - 15 minutes in our back yard, picking up the in-tact ones and leaving the broken and moldy ones.

We're collecting for newly planted beds at a local school plus tiny ones for holiday table decorations.

We constantly pull pine tree seedlings from our flower beds but if you want to grow trees from the pinecones you collect, there's a YouTube video for that. Read the comments section, too, where others give more tips on their methods.

You could also make these cute sprouted pine cone bonsai for your holiday table.
Put the bottom of a lime-Sulphur-treated pinecone in a cute container filled with soil and keep it moist.

If I had any crafty ability at all I'd make these cute people!

We have lots of pine cones if you want some.




16 October 2017

Water Primrose is Ludwigia peploides glabrescens

Spaniard Creek on the Arkansas River
During a visit to Spaniard Creek Park  yesterday we saw an aquatic plant that was attracting hundreds of fall pollinators including bees, wasps, butterflies, and skippers. The patches of flowers were covered and abuzz to the point that we all squatted down to watch.
It turns out that this source of insect pollen is none other than Creeping Water Primrose. The South American variety is Ludwigia hexapelata and the US native variety is Lusdwigia peploides glabrescens.

South American Water Primrose is so invasive in fact that in many states there are programs to eradicate it to prevent its clogging irrigation channels, rivers and lakes. In addition it is well known as mosquito breeding heaven. The native variety, L peploides is called aggressive rather than invasive.

Ludwigia peploides glabrescens
 Illinois Wildflowers says "This perennial plant is ¾–2½' long. It either floats on water or sprawls across the ground. The stems are light green to red (often the latter), glabrous to sparsely pubescent, and terete. Alternate leaves along these stems are 1¼–3" long and ½–1" across; they are elliptic, oblong-elliptic, oblanceolate, or oblong-oblanceolate in shape and smooth along their margins. The leaves are usually glossy green in appearance, although sometimes they develop patches of red or yellow. ... The blooming period occurs from late spring to early fall, lasting several months. The flowers are diurnal.
"The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bees, including honeybees, digger bees (Eucerine), and Halictid bees. Other visitors, such as flies and skippers, are less effective at cross-pollination. These insects obtain nectar and/or pollen from the flowers. Some insects feed destructively on Creeping Water Primrose. This includes the flea beetles, Altica litigata and Lysathia ludoviciana, and a leafhopper, Draeculacephala inscripta. The Mallard and possibly other ducks feed on the seed capsules. Because of the large dense colonies that this plant often forms, it provides good cover along shorelines for various insects, frogs, and other wetland wildlife."

We saw several box and snap turtles in and among the Water Primrose at Spaniard Creek Park.
If you haven't visited Spaniard Creek Park, this is a gorgeous time of year to walk along the water's edge as the trees enter their fall stage and drop acorns. There are very few campers now so walkers have plenty of room to roam and appreciate the beauty of Oklahoma fall.