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Gardening Blogs

25 October 2020

Gardening Blogs
  • Types Of Corn And Why We Love Them All
    24 October 2020

    The post Types Of Corn And Why We Love Them All is by Lorin Nielsen and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

    There are many types of corn, used historically for many different purposes. Here we explore the history and diversity of this plant!

    The post Types Of Corn And Why We Love Them All is by Lorin Nielsen and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

  • bee-friendly garden cleanup, with heather holm
    24 October 2020

    IN A RECENT conversation with Doug Tallamy about ecologically minded fall cleanup, he raised the name of Heather Holm, and how some of the pollinator..

    The post bee-friendly garden cleanup, with heather holm appeared first on A Way To Garden.

  • How to Grow and Care for Garden Geraniums
    24 October 2020
    Pelargonium x hortorum

    The garden, or zonal geranium, Pelargonium x hortorum, aka annual, common, horseshoe, horticultural, or storksbill geranium, is an herbaceous evergreen in the Geraniaceae family.

    A perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11, Pelargonium x hortorum may be grown as an annual elsewhere. It’s suited to beds, borders, and containers, and can be wintered over indoors as a houseplant.

    Today’s color palette includes shades of orange, pink, purple, red, white, as well as bicolored and double-petalled varieties.

    When I was growing up, with every spring came the annual geranium sale.

    In this event, all of the students in the band, chorus, and orchestra were challenged to walk from door to door in our neighborhood taking orders for the colors available then: pink, red, and white.

    The one who sold the most plants won a prize. Since I never won, I can’t remember what it was!

    After racing around trying to outsell our classmates, we soon retraced our steps with pots of blooms tucked into our wagons, bicycle baskets, and the family station wagon, if we were lucky.

    As if by magic, flowers appeared in front yards for six square miles.

    In this article, you’ll learn all you need to cultivate and care for the classic garden geranium in your yard.

    Read on to meet a dependable bloomer you’re sure to love.

    What Are Garden Geraniums?

    Pelargonium x hortorum (Pelargonium x hybrida) is an umbrella term for cultivated interspecific hybrid crosses of different Pelargonium species – most notably the zonal geranium, P. zonale and the scarlet geranium, P. inquinans.

    The “zone” of zonale refers to a band of color on the leaf surfaces, parallel to the scalloped margins. Generally green or purple, it may also be light or dark.

    There are also unusual variations, like the yellow, purple, and green of Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Tricolor.’

    The banded leaves are generally green to dark green, fuzzy, and have a pungent fragrance, especially when crushed or rubbed.

    Thick, branching stems are visibly scarred where the petioles have fallen away. Heights range from one to three feet tall and equally wide, depending on the variety.

    From late spring until first frost, showy inflorescences of round clusters of blossoms form atop slender stems.

    As the flowers fade and wither, they form elongated, needle-like pods that resemble the bills of storks, and the name Pelargonium is derived from the Greek pelargos, which means stork. Hortum is Latin for garden.

    Plants typically have a mounding, shrubby growth habit, although there are some variations. In tropical regions, the stems may become woody.

    They thrive in a full sun location but can benefit from part shade in the warmest locales.

    The soil should be organically rich, moist but not soggy, and well-draining.

    It is important to note that these plants don’t like wet feet or moisture-laden leaves, two problems that may invite fungal disease.

    I mention my dad here, because years ago he tried to raise these plants as perennials in Florida, reminiscent of our annuals at home. Whether due to poor drainage or poor spacing, he found that they could not withstand the persistent humidity and rainfall, or the occasional frosts.

    How he would have loved to give some of today’s varieties a try!

    Originally classified in the Geranium genus, zonal or garden geraniums were reassigned to the Pelargonium genus in the 1700s, when ornamental cultivation was already well underway.

    However, the name “geranium” had become so entrenched in common usage that even today, we don’t call these plants “pelargoniums,” as proper nomenclature would require.

    Why does this matter, you ask?

    Because there are other exciting Pelargoniums to explore, such as the ivy geranium, P. peltatum.

    And because the true Geranium, the hardy cranesbill, offers its own wonderful array of colors and winter hardiness in Zones 4-9.

    Propagation

    There are two propagation methods used by commercial growers: from seed and vegetative.

    Seed geraniums are grown from F1 or first generation hybrid seed and typically reach a height of 12 to 18 inches. Flowers have a single row of petals.

    Seed varieties are often considered inferior to those propagated vegetatively, because they tend to have smaller flower heads, and the single row of petals may not withstand heavy wind and rain. However, as you will discover in the cultivars section below that there are noteworthy exceptions.

    Plant breeders have developed the so-called “designer varieties” with semi-double or double rows of petals that grow up to three feet tall. These are propagated via cuttings and produce clones of the parent plant. In many cases, these plants do not produce viable seed.

    You can start your geraniums from seed or by taking a cutting from an existing plant.

    In addition, you may also buy plants from your local nursery at the seedling or established stage. These plants will either be grown from seed or propagated vegetatively.

    Let’s look at each propagation method.

    From Seed

    To start geraniums from seed, purchase F1 seeds from a reputable purveyor. Do not try to save seed from an existing plant as the second generation will not grow true to the parent plant.

    According to experts at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, you should start seeds indoors in mid-February to get a jump on the 13 to 15 weeks it takes the plants to grow and flower.

    You may sow seeds outdoors in Zones 10 to 11 at any time.

    Sanitary conditions are essential to prevent damping off, a fungal disease that causes the sudden death of seedlings.

    It’s recommended to use a sterile, soilless potting medium, such as Espoma, available via Amazon, and clean containers or seed trays that drain well.

    Espoma Soilless Starting Mix

    Fill the containers to about 1/2 to one inch below the pot rims.

    Before sowing, gently scarify the seeds with an emery board to break the seed coats.

    Place seeds two to three inches apart in larger containers or one seed per cell and barely cover them with 1/4 inch of potting medium.

    Give the containers a thorough soaking to saturate the potting medium and cover them with clear plastic wrap.

    To ensure germination, the soil temperature must not go above 75°F, so place containers out of direct sunlight in a room with a daytime temperature of 70-75°F, and 60-65°F at night.

    Water when the potting medium is dry, you want to keep it moist but not waterlogged.

    Remove the plastic wrap when you see the first sprouts.

    After germination, the Iowa State horticulturists recommend placing containers four to six inches below a 40-watt fluorescent grow light for 12 to 16 hours per day.

    When the seedlings have a set of true leaves, thin them out unless they are growing in individual cells. Choose the strongest in each container to keep and pull up or cut the rest down.

    Alternatively, pot up all of the seedlings into individual six-inch diameter pots filled with soilless potting medium.

    At this time, you can dilute houseplant fertilizer and apply it to the seedlings every two weeks.

    After all risk of frost has passed, acclimate the growing plants to the outdoors gradually, setting them out for a few hours each day, for about a week, before transplanting them to the garden or containers.

    Plants should flower 13 to 15 weeks after the seeds are sown.

    From Cuttings

    You may also start new plants by taking stem cuttings from existing plants.

    It’s best to take cuttings from fresh green growth, rather than old woody stems. The best times to do this are in early spring, or just after a new flush of growth following blooming.

    Sanitize a sharp knife and make a clean cut about six inches down from the stem tip, preferably just above a leaf node. This helps to stimulate the existing plant to grow new foliage.

    Cut off all but the top few leaves at their points of origin, so you have a length of bare stem about four inches long.

    Pinch off any flower or leaf buds, as they might direct energy away from root formation.

    Place the cutting into a clean, transparent container. Fill the container with three to four inches of water, ensuring that the water isn’t in contact with the leaves at the top of the stem.

    Choose a location that is out of direct sunlight and change the water daily to keep it fresh.

    In approximately one month, you will start to see roots growing from the bottom of the stem.

    Wait until the roots are well established, approximately one to two inches long, before transplanting the rooted stem cutting to the location of your choice.

    Alternatively, instead of placing it in water, you may start your cutting in sterile soilless potting medium.

    The pros at Purdue University Extension recommend a sterile, soilless potting medium with added vermiculite or perlite, to keep it airy and conducive to root formation.

    When you have taken your cutting as described above, moisten the cut end and dip it into powdered rooting hormone.

    Make a three to four-inch hole in the potting medium, and place the stem into it.

    Firm the soil securely around the stem and place it in a sunny location where temperatures remain between 65-75°F.

    Keep the potting medium moist, but not soggy. Never allow it to completely dry out.

    Some folks like to create a mini greenhouse for a cutting by placing a clear plastic bag over the pot. This is a clever way to maintain the appropriate ambient temperature and moisture required.

    If you choose this method, be sure not to seal the bag or expose the plant to direct sunlight or it may become overheated.

    The roots underneath grow first, so it will take longer to notice foliar growth on top. When you see new green growth, it’s time to plant the rooted stem.

    Transplanting

    You may also start with seedlings, rooted cuttings (called plugs), or established plants from your local nursery.

    To transplant, choose a location with organically rich, well-draining soil, and work it to a crumbly consistency to a depth of at least eight inches.

    Alternatively, fill the container of your choice with a good quality potting soil.

    Choose a pot that can accommodate a mature width of between one and three feet, depending on the mature size of your plant, and with a depth of at least eight inches, to give the shallow roots ample room to absorb nutrients and water.

    Set the plug, seedling, or plant at the same depth as it was in its original container.

    Tamp the soil down firmly and water thoroughly.

    If you have planted in a container, water until it runs out of the bottom, and then water a second time.

    How to Grow

    When planting outdoors, either in the garden or containers, choose a full sun location. For regions with scorching summers, a spot with some afternoon shade is best.

    Your garden soil should be moderately fertile and well-draining. The ideal pH is between 6.0 and 6.5.

    Conduct a soil test if necessary, to determine if any amendments are needed. Use a good quality potting medium for container gardening.

    Space plants eight to 12 inches apart in the garden, and six to eight inches apart in containers.

    Apply a balanced 20-20-20 (NPK) fertilizer per package instructions at the time of transplanting to the garden, and use a water-soluble plant food for containers. Continue monthly applications throughout the growing season.

    Be vigilant about watering new transplants to help them establish sound root systems.

    Mature plants don’t like “wet feet,” but should be watered before the soil completely dries out. You may want to use a moisture meter as a guide.

    If you’re in a warm region, add a two-inch layer of mulch around the plant to cool the ground, aid in moisture retention, and promote good drainage.

    For those growing geraniums in cooler regions, I know you’ll be happy to learn that you can winter your plants over indoors.

    Another option that is especially useful for growers of annuals is to sink potted plants into the garden soil up to their rims for the spring and summer, and then take them up in the fall to winter over indoors.

    Growing Tips

    Growing geraniums is easy when you remember these essentials:

    • Provide a location with full sun, or afternoon shade in the warmest regions.
    • Space plants eight to 12 inches in the garden, and six to eight inches in containers to maximize airflow and inhibit moisture buildup.
    • Apply a two-inch layer of mulch to cool the ground, facilitate moisture absorption, and inhibit oversaturation.
    • Water before the soil completely dries out but don’t allow it to become oversaturated.
    Maintenance

    Perlagonium x hortorum are low-maintenance plants that won’t take up much of your time and will reward you with abundant blossoms.

    To encourage repeat blooming throughout the growing season, deadhead spent flower heads. To do this, snip off entire stems, or inflorescences, at their points of origin.

  • Hugelkultur Raised Bed Gardens From Start To Finish
    24 October 2020

    The post Hugelkultur Raised Bed Gardens From Start To Finish is by Lorin Nielsen and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

    Building a hugelkultur raised bed can be fantastic if done correctly. We'll examine all aspects of this process and help you get started!

    The post Hugelkultur Raised Bed Gardens From Start To Finish is by Lorin Nielsen and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

  • GardenDC Podcast Episode 34: Colorful Foliage and Longwood's Chrysanthemum Festival
    24 October 2020

    This episode we talk with Karl Gercens of Longwood Gardens about fabulous fall color from foliage as well as Longwood's legendary Chrysanthemum Festival. Theplant profile is on Wild Ageratum and I share a bit about the Pink Muhly Grass in my garden.


    BTW, YOU can become a listener supporter for as little as $0.99 per month!
    See how at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/support. 

    The episode is posted at: https://anchor.fm/gardendc/episodes/October-24--2020---Colorful-Foliage-and-Longwoods-Chrysanthemum-Festival-elg4r6

    It is also available on -
    • Google Podcasts at this link, either now or soon (note that currently, this link will only work on Android devices)


    We welcome your questions and comments! You can leave a voice mail message for us at: https://anchor.fm/kathy-jentz/message Note that we may use these messages on a future episode.


    PIN THIS FOR LATER!
  • Six on Saturday - October 24, 2020
    24 October 2020

    https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/24/six-on-saturday-24-10-2020/

    The Frosts arrived Thursday night. I'd also turned on the living room heater on Thursday.  Friday morning I turned on the car heater instead of the air conditioner or vent for the first time too.  So long summer and lovely early autumn.  It's all down hill from here!   Easier gardening though as I don't plant cool season crops until peas in February, and Wintersowing doesn't start until the end of December.

    1 - I'll start off with the frost.  Here it is on the ground cover wallflower.

     
    2 - Pretty yellow leaves on the pomegranate and wisteria.











     

    3 - An unwelcome visitor grasshopper on the cosmos.  I left it there.

     
    4 - Dragon Tongue bush beans are my new favorite kind to grow!  I got mine from Baker Creek. These didn't go in until August, and while they were killed Thursday night, produced amazingly well in such a short time.  Imagine a full growing season!  Plus, the large ones I missed cooked up just as tender as the smaller ones.  Funny how they cook up light green.  Below they are shown with Slenderette.
     








    5 - Trying my hand at drying yarrow. It's supposed to make a great dried flower.


    6 - Another unwelcome visitor, this time in the shed.  I had to bring my saved and new seeds indoors, as a "something" I suspect is a rat was eating them!  It got a lot of the large Russian sunflower seeds before I noticed.  I like rats (they make wonderful, intelligent, clean, sociable pets), so will not set traps.  It's welcome to whatever tomatoes are left, it's been helping itself to those recently too.  

     
    Here's to the approaching winter!
    Keep those masks on and get your 'flu shot! 




  • The Best Snow Boots for Men and Women – Bring on Winter!
    24 October 2020

    When there is ice and snow on the ground, spending time outdoors can mean feet quickly become cold. There is also a chance of slipping over if you don’t have the right grip. This is where a good pair of snow boots for men and women can really make a difference, especially if you work outside, need to see to livestock, walk the dog and more!

    Here’s a guide to some of the best snow boots for outdoor activities, for both men and women.

    Ladies First!

    Women’s Snow Boots

    Sorel Women’s Caribou Winter Snow Boots
    Sorel Caribou Women’s Snow Boots

    These fine pair of Sorel Caribou snow boots not only look great, but they are more than capable of standing up to cold, wet and frosty conditions.

    The waterproof rubber acts like a good pair of wellies, but with the added warmth of nubuck leather up and over the ankles. There is a thick inner lining, preventing cold from creeping into your boots.

    Standing around in the cold at outdoor events, working outdoors, or visiting a cold country, these women’s Sorel Caribou are a stylish pair of boots that will last for years.

    The only possible negative with these boots is that they are on the chunky side, and perhaps a little heavy for many hours of wear. Yet, they are still lightweight enough to move comfortably for walks in the snow.

    Also, these boots are roomy to take into account the thickness of the inner sock. It is recommended to choose a full size lower than your actual shoe size.

    Sorel Caribou snow boots are stylish, fully waterproof, and will keep your feet warm in minus temperatures.

    Check the latest price.

    Merrell Women’s Approach Tall Snow Boots
    Merrell Approach Women’s Snow Boots

    If you like a taller boot, the Merrell Approach snow boots for women are a chic option that stands up to the tests of snow and frost.

    Made from waterproof-treated suede, and a waterproof inner membrane, you can be sure that your feet will stay dry.

    The nylon quilt that covers the calves is flexible, adding to the comfort of the fit when you walk, and there is a quick adjust toggle at the top so you can secure it over your trousers.

    A non-slip rubber sole means it performs well on icy surfaces, so those frosty school runs and dog walks should be no problem.

    What sets this boot apart is the comfort rating – you are literally walking on air thanks to the air cushion within the EVA sole. You will be able to walk for hours in these!

    They are also available in a silver/grey colour, so you are spoilt for choice with these snow boots!

    Check the latest price.

    Merrell Women’s Thermo Chill Snow Boots
    Merrell Thermo Chill snow Boots

    If you prefer women’s snow boots that look more like a good hiking boot, the Merrell Thermo Chill are a fantastic option.

    The contoured shape and flexible fit make it as comfortable as wearing a pair of trainers, but ones that are waterproof and warm. This means you can spend a long time outdoors on your feet.

    Made from a PU coated leather, moisture will stay outside. On the inside, 200 grams of insulation keeps you cosy in freezing temperatures, plus there are antibacterial agents that help prevents them getting smelly!

    Overall, these are a great all round pair of snow boots. One possible negative is that while the soles give good grip on snow and mud, they may not perform as well on ice. But, when you are on ice, there are not many boots that you could fully count on.

    If you want something warm, waterproof and supportive to your feet, Merrell are always a good bet!

    Check the latest price.

    Groundwork Women’s Muckers
    Groundwork Mukker boots for women

    If you are looking for budget-friendly snow boots that perform well in cold conditions, you won’t go wrong with Groundwork Muckers.

    A thick, cosy faux fur lining keeps those feet snug in cold temperatures, making them ideal for working in the yard, stomps through the woods or splashing in cold puddles! The non-slip sole prevents slipping over in icy or muddy conditions.

    Forget faffing about with laces! One of the best things about these boots is that they are quick to pull on and fasten with a zip and Velcro strap. When you get home after being outside, you just want to kick off your boots, and these muckers are just as easy to take off.

    One thing to note is that these boots tend to run large, so it may be better to order a size smaller or wear thick socks. They are also good for a wider foot.

    The budget friendly price means you get quality women’s snow boots that are durable and comfortable, without paying a fortune.

    Check the latest price.

    München-ST Gore-Tex Women’s Snow Boots
    München Gore-Tex women’s snow boots

    These gorgeous München women’s snow boots off plenty in style and performance in cold weather.

    The Gore-Tex membrane means they are both waterproof and breathable, so you can spend many happy our outside without getting damp feet. The warm lining will keep your feet warm in minus temperatures, often without the need for thick socks.

    If you have a wider than average foot, these boots have a generous width at the toe. Elsewhere the fit may be snug, but that is what adds to the sleek profile of the boot.

    Available in black or brown, these are a trendy pair of snow boots that will look great on a chilly school run, but are also comfortable to wear on snowy walks and other activities outdoors.

    Check the latest price.

    Men’s Snow Boots

    Your turn, men!

    Sorel Men’s CARIBOU Snow Boots
    Sorel Caribou snow boots for men

    Sorel Caribou men’s snow boots are famous for good reason! Designed for temperatures as low as minus 40, they are warm, waterproof and extremely durable. They look pretty good too!

    The sealed foot area prevents water leaking in, while the removable inner sock lining keeps your feet warm in minus temperatures. They perform well in slippery conditions, and have grippy soles with deep tread.

    While these boots may be too heavy to go hiking up mountains, they are great for walking a few miles in the snow, or if you have to stand or work outside.

    One of the main points about these boots is that they run large. This is great if you have a wider foot, but even them they may still be big. It is recommended that you measure your foot, and choose the corresponding size shown on the sizing chart.

    There are 4 colours to choose from, so you can pick your preference.

    Check the latest price.

    Sorel Men’s Conquest Winter Boots
    Men’s Sorel Conquest snow boots

    Another fine example of men’s snow boots by Sorel, the Conquest boot have a different look to them with added features that perform well in cold conditions.

    400g of Thinsulate Ultra insulation provides warmth, and the extra strap around the back of the boot means you can adjust the fit.

    The rubber outer sole gives good grip in snow and ice, and the toggle at the top can be adjusted to prevent snow and debris from entering the boot.

    Lightweight enough for hiking as well as standing or working out in the cold, these men’s snow boots are good for long-time wear.

    While the Sorel Caribous boots tend to run large, the Conquest boots are reported to be on the smaller side. Again, it is best to measure your foot and go by the sizing chart provided.

    Check the latest price.

    Merrell Men’s Thermo Snowdrift Snow Boots
    Merrell Thermo Snowdrift men’s boots

    Merrell are a brand that is renowned for its quality footwear, and these Thermo Snowdrift boots are as comfortable as they come.

    Fitting more like a trainer than a boot, the flexibility means the move with your foot so you can wear them for hours. This makes the fantastic for winter hiking.

    The waterproof leather upper and impermeable membrane keeps water out, yet it is also breathable so you won’t have sweat building up inside.

    It’s annoying when you get bits of twigs or stones in your boots, but these boots help prevent that by the bellow-style tongue.

    The clever design is complete with a heat-reflecting insole that sends your body heat back towards your feet. With insulation going over the toe, your feet will be warm in minus temperatures.

    With great traction and grip, you can have peace of mind when walking on icy or muddy surfaces.

    All in all, it’s another superb men’s snow boots by Merrell that offer good value for money.

    Check the latest price.

    Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Plus
    Columbia Bugaboot Plus for men

    These Columbia Bugaboot Plus men’s snow boots bring together style and technology to create a boot that can handle extreme weather.

    The waterproof upper with taped seems does a great job of stopping water getting in, while the interior is breathable and allows sweat to escape.

    The rubber sole give excellent grip on rocks and other slippery surfaces, including ice and snow.

    The specs say these boots have 200g of insulation that will keep your feet warm in temperatures down to minus 32. However, you get the odd report of this not being the case. If you just want a pair of boots to keep you warm in the British winter, rather than the Arctic, then these are a good option.

    If you want to go for long hikes, or are spending lots of time outdoors, the Columbia Bugaboot provides a cushioned insole to keep a spring in your step!

    See the latest price.

    Groundwork Mens Mucker
    Groundwork Mucker boots for men

    Looking for a budget-friendly pair of boots that are waterproof and warmer than wellies? The Groundwork Men’s Mucker boots are the answer!

    The bottom half of the boot is waterproof, while the nylon uppers give flexibility and comfort. The thick faux fur lining keeps your feet warm, and are removable so can be washed easily.

    These are great boots for yard or stable work, yet are also light enough to wear on winter walks. The sole provides good grip on muddy surfaces, ideal for that slush and mud combo!

    Some users have reported these snow boots need wearing a few times to break them in before they get used to them, but that is the case with many brands of boot.

    Easy to put off and kick off, these boots offer all the warmth and convenience you need at a low price. Available in black and navy.

    Check the latest price.

    A good pair of snow boots will last you many winters. You might also like to read about waterproof hiking jackets for men and women, as well as a guide to hiking boots for wide feet. Make the most of the great outdoors and stay warm this winter!

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    The post The Best Snow Boots for Men and Women – Bring on Winter! appeared first on Let's Grow Wild.

  • How to Make Pumpkin Puree
    24 October 2020

    Cool evenings and fall foliage trigger cravings for everything pumpkin from drinks, to cakes, pies, muffins, breads, and soups. Skip the can and make your own homemade pumpkin puree to use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes.

    Learn how to make pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin you grew or picked up from a local farm stand. You can use this homemade pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin!

    Making pumpkin recipes can be as easy as buying a can of pumpkin purée at the store, but roasting and pureeing your own pumpkins isn’t that difficult.

  • Fall 2020 Update Part 2: Cactus & Succulents Part 2
    24 October 2020

    Hello everyone. I hope this post finds you well. This is the second part of the Fall update with more photos and measurements from October 15 when I moved the plants inside.

    The former Western Auto building is being torn down so I decided I would get some boards from the building to make a couple more plant shelves. The shelves will replace the tables I have been using in the two front bedrooms. I may write a post about the old building in a future post… I think the old building, which is on one corner of Main and Benton Streets, was originally a bank (there was once a bank on all four corners). After the bank closed, the building was rented by Western Auto in 1938. The building itself is 140 years old. I may do a future post about the building so maybe I should take a few photos before it is completely gone… When I was in the building last week I was amazed by the number of laths on the walls and ceiling. Can you imagine how long it took to put them there?

    OK, enough about the building. I am updating the plant’s pages as I go along and you can go to them by clicking on their names under the photos (not in the captions).

    Let’s get started with…

    <<<<Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’>>>>

    Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ at 2 3/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-18.

    The Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ is still alive and well and looking very good. This controversial little gem is very-slow growing and has FINALLY made it to 2 3/4″ tall. It was 2″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016 and has remained 3 1/2″ wide… I brought home my first ‘Ming Thing’ from Wal-Mart in Greenville Mississippi in 2009 when I was living at the mansion in Leland. I was glad to find another one to replace it, although MUCH smaller. I really like this cactus because it is so odd-looking being a monstrous form of the species. It has been doing much better since I started putting the cactus on the back porch during the summer. The crickets really did a number on this poor guy where it was before but it has healed nicely.

    <<<<Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus>>>>

    Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus(Fairy Castles)at 8 tall x 6 3:4 wide on 10-15-20, #747-19.

    I must say the Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus (Fairy Castles) has done much better over the summer on the front porch. I brought this plant home from Wal-Mart on January 28, 2016 and it was in a plastic sleeve and it was soaking wet. I removed the entire plant, dirt and all, from the pot and let it dry out for a few days. It has a lot of scars from crickets in 2017 but they haven’t been a problem on either the back or front porches. It has had issues growing because new growth from the scars on top of the stems are more fragile. When it was on the table on the back porch sometimes a cat would hit the top of the plant and knock new growth off while jumping on the railing. This summer I had this plant on the front porch in less sun and its color is looking much better. It actually grew 1 1/2″ taller and 2 1/4″ wider over the summer to 8″ tall x 6 3/4″ wide. Bravo!

    This is the species that gets confused with the Acanthocereus tetragonus â€˜Fairytale Castle’. Both are miniatures of their species. I am not sure if Fairy Castles is a cultivar or a common name of Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus. It is a common name, but it may be a cultivar name as well since this subspecies can grow to 33′ tall in the wild… The species, Cereus hildmannianus, is usually a spineless cactus and there is an AWESOME monstrose form.

    I could go on but I better move along because I really have no idea what I am talking about… I am not sure anyone really does. It would be great to see both species in the wild…

    <<<<Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’>>>> 

    Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’ at 8 1/4 tall x 4 1/4 wide on 10-15-20, #747-20.

    I really like the Cereus repandus f. monstruosus ‘Rojo’. I brought my first one home from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi while I was living at the mansion in 2010. It looked nothing like this one and was much bigger around but not this tall. I brought this one home from Wal-Mart on March 19, 2018 when it was 5 1/2″ tall x 3 3 3/8″ wide. It is now 8 1/4″ tall x 4 1/4″ wide. So, it grew 1/4″ taller and 1/2″ wider in the last year. The industry is still using the name Cereus peruvianus f. monstruosus ‘Ming Thing’ although Cereus peruvianus has been considered a synonym of Cereus repandus for a while. Plants of the World Online lists 28 synonyms of the species…

    <<<<Crassula ovata â€˜Gollum’>>>>

    Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ at 8 1/2″ tall x 9 1/2″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-22.

    The Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ did very well during the summer despite a little neglect. I brought this unlabeled plant home from the Kuntry Store (one of the Amish owned stores) on May 5, 2018. I was hoping it was a ‘Lady Fingers’ like I had before but it has turned out to be ‘Gollum’. At least it seems to be ‘Gollum’. Some of the leaves look like ‘Lady Fingers’ but most of them look like the photos of ‘Gollum’. Anyway, it measured 8 1/2″ tall x 9 1/2″ wide which is an inch taller and 1/4″ wider than a year ago. I neglected to measure it when I brought it home but it was MUCH smaller. The leaves are much different than the classic Crassula ovata (Jade Plant, ETC.) which gives them their uniqueness.

    <<<<Crassula tetragona>>>>

    Crassula tetragona (Miniature Pine Tree) at 9 3/4″ tall on 10-15-20, #747-23.

    My first Crassula tetragona died last winter for some reason. I had brought it home from Wagler’s in September 2018 and it grew to 16 1/2″ tall. When I finally gave up on it recovering I went to Wagler’s and brought home another one on March 28, 2020. She has a HUGE plant she uses for cuttings but she only had one smaller one. Its stem is crooked because it was growing sideways (I turned the pot so you can’t tell) but it was a nice plant otherwise so I brought it home. It measured 7 3/4″ tall at the time and now it is 9 3/4″ tall. It grew 2″ over the summer. It is quite common for the leaves to fall off and root in the pot as you can tell in the photo.

    <<<<Echinocactus grusonii (var. albispinus)>>>>

    Echinocactus grusonii (var. albispinus) at 3 1/2 tall x 2 3/4 wide on 10-15-20, #747-24.

    When I measured these two characters they seemed to be the same size… The Echinocactus grusonii (var. albispinus) (Golden Barrel Cactus) are always joking around with me so I thought they were doing it again. The green pot is a little shorter than the other one, but oddly enough their measurements were the same. Usually one is a little taller and one is a little wider but I measured several times and I kept coming up with 3 1/2″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide for both of them. Last year one was 3″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide and the other was 2 7/8″ tall x 3″ wide. I always called one “Greater” and one “Lessor” but I can’t tell which is which. When I ask them which is which they point their fingers at each other. I always ignore the spines when I measure cactus otherwise they would be much bigger. They are intimidating enough as it is. Oh yeah, and if you water them a lot a day or so before you measure them they will be bigger than if they have been dry for a while. Maybe that’s just my opinion…

    Echinocactus grusonii (var. albispinus) from the top on 10-15-20, #747-25.

    These spiny guys always show a little color on their heads but their spines are whiteish. The species has smaller spines and are more yellow. Plants of the World Online listed “var. albispinus” as a synonym mainly because the variety name was invalidly published in 1981. When you sit the different varieties of a species together you can definitely tell there are differences which should be recognized with different variety names. Just makes sense but they didn’t ask me… I have had this discussion with “the guy” and I am told I can call them what I choose. GEEZ!!! Are there no rules? Maybe I better check the link on the page for this plant to see if the intraspecific name is accepted yet…

    WHOA! WAIT A MINUTE!!! 

    I just checked the link for the species and the name has changed!!! Echinocactus grusonii is now Kroenleinia grusonii!!! How did that happen?

    OK, so with that, I am going to bed. I was on a good roll and it is late. I was going to finish this post before I went to bed then I hit this snag. GEEZ! Now I will have the THREE “W’s” on my mind while trying to sleep… WHY, WHO, AND WHEN.

    DAY TWO…

    The history of this species is interesting because it is one of very few that have had the same name since it was named and described the first time. It was named by H. Hildmann was back in 1886 and has remained unchallenged. The genus, Echinocactus, was named in 1827 and there were never very many species included. My last update on this species page was October 11, 2019 when I added the photo from when I moved the plants inside. There were still only six accepted species in the genus and Echinocactus grusonii only had three synonyms. Two of the synonyms were other Echinocactus species that were determined to be E. grusonii and the third synonym was… you guessed it… Kroenleinia grusonii (2014). Even though the later name was..

  • Country life in autumn
    24 October 2020

    There is a quietness that descends as autumn progresses. The weather turns more unstable, with rainy days and cold mornings, deterring weekend visitors to the countryside. Although my social media feed seems filled with complaints from people who would much rather live in a warmer and sunnier climate, I love this time of year! The gardens take less and less of my time with only some carrots and beetroots left in the ground and most perennials entering their dormant period, so consequently there is time for other things in life.

    I continue drying herbs and filling up my spice rack. The tarragon I grow is much milder than the one I can buy in shops, but I actually think it is a good thing as sometimes the scent and taste can be a bit overwhelming. There are lots of great recipes that require just a whiff of the spice, and my home dried variety is perfect for these. I also dry parsly just because I think it is so pretty to decorate the food with; as it also has a milder flavour I chop and freeze parsley for dishes that require more taste. Nowadays you get fresh parsly all year round from the supermarkets so obviously this is a typically random waste of time activity, but I remember with fondness my grandmother saving parsley for the winter and therefore I like to do so too.

    Meanwhile the forests have been filled with mushrooms this year! Picking mushrooms is one of life's simple but great pleasures, and most of my friends agree that if ever one is in a low mood everything feels much better after going out in the forrest for a few hours of mushroom hunting. Earlier in the season there was an abundance of Ceps, also called Porcini or Penny buns (Boletus edulis), Chantarelles (,Cantharellus cibarius) and Wood hedgehog (,Hydnum repandum), all of which make an excellent mushroom mix for the freezer. (I do also make individual batches of one kind, and if there is a plentiful harvest I dry them for winter storage too.)

    Although the main objective in mushrooming obviously is finding edibles, much of the time I simply enjoy the nature around me. Sometimes it almost feels as if having a basket in tow gives me permission to spend hours just walking around in the forrest. While on these walks I often think about the NHS in Scotland prescribing nature walks as medicine and the practice of Forest Bathing in Japan to combat depression, and how lucky I am to just step out of my front door into a fairytale forest world. Such a blessing!

    Perhaps one of the ugliest edible mushrooms is the black chanterelle or horn of plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides) which in fact is a great delicacy. In Swedish it is called black trumpeted while in French trompette de la mort (which gives the Italian trombetta dei morti) or trumpet of the dead. It comes quite late in the season and grows amongst damp moss under spruces, kind of where you'd expect trolls to live.

    Last but not least this year has been an amazing year for the funnel chanterelle, or yellowfoot/ winter mushroom (Craterellus tubaeformis). I have brought home basket after basket of these, and although it takes some time to prepare them for storage they are such a delight to have all winter long. My favourite method of preserving them for winter is to dry them and store in glass jars. They can be a bit tough or rubbery once rehydrated, so one tip is to soak them in half-and-half of milk and water if you like them as tender as when they are fresh. Personally I like it when used in stews and they come up a little bit al dente. Such luxury and completely free to boot!

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