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Blog Calendar - Nature / Outdoor / Green

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Gardening Blogs

09 April 2020

Gardening Blogs
  • Still Rainy and Cool...and COVID-19
    09 April 2020
    Spring bloomers: alstroemeria, Irish bells, sunflowers, iris
    Bearded iris
    Exquisite freesia
    Nasturtium "ocean"
    Melianthus blossom stalks still dramatic
    Peas coming on
    Dancy tangerine
    Spice Zee Nectaplum
    Tomcat Apricot
    Arbutus, flowering maple
    Chocolate geranium - it only looks like it has a chocolate smear, it doesn't smell like chocolate
    Calendula blossoms above nasturtium foliage
    Feijoa blossoms - they're edible!
    Camelias are still blooming
    Boysenberry shoots that I potted up to give away because they're thorny offshoots of my thornless plants.
    Fig cuttings potted up until they've rooted
    I've planted 4 rooted cuttings of the same variety a foot apart in 1 hole. Hopefully at least one will survive. If they all thrive, then I'll have a clump of plants that I'll keep pruned to about 5 feet tall.
    Three stages of lettuce plants: the big one is ready to harvest, the stalky one has just been harvested, and the tiny seedlings in the back were sown before our last rain and they've sprouted nicely so await transplanting.
    Once a lettuce plant starts to bolt (go to seed), the leaves will start to taste bitter. Each plant and each variety will turn bitter at its own time. So be sure to taste-test a leaf from each plant before you harvest the whole plant to determine if it's still edible to you. Once it's too bitter, you can decide whether to pull the plant for the compost pile or let it bolt further so you can harvest the seeds for sowing in the fall.
    Bearded iris
    Bearded iris
    Bearded iris
    Cilantro bolting (going to seed). The leaflets are still edible (they don't go bitter like lettuce does), but the stalks are too tough to eat, so you have to pull each leaflet from the stems.
    Baby grapes set
    Rooted grape cuttings transplanted 6 inches apart. Hopefully at least 1 will survive. If they all do, I'll let the most vigorous one develop fully to my 3-level trellis system.
    Boysenberry blossoms
    Bee enjoying a boysenberry blossom
    Overdeveloped cauliflower head is referred to as "ricing" because it looks like little pieces of rice. It's still very tender and sweet, all the way down the stem as well as the head.
    Novel coloration of normally brown Ferraria crispa
    Carrots pushing their shoulders out of the soil so it's easier to see which is broad enough to harvest.
    Tatsoi gone to seed. When seedpods are still small, they're tender and have a bit of a bite when tossed into a salad.
    Baby bok choy is still sweet and tender when bolting. I harvest almost the entire plant - down to the bottommost still-healthy leaves. Because it's hormones have shifted to go to seed, new shoots will also blossom quickly but are also sweet and tender, so keep harvesting!
    Mulberries are slowly ripening since the weather is still so cool. But we'll have lots to choose from once they fall loosely into my hand with a bit of "tickling", just like boysenberries. Picked too soon by tugging them off, they're pretty tart.
    Yellow clivia
    Camelias still blooming
    Sugar Snap peas almost ready to be harvested. Most never make it to the kitchen 'cuz I've munched them as soon as I've picked 'em. Yum!
    Painted Lady butterflies love Limonium, statice.
    Looking forward to summer's tomatoes. This volunteer is two-rungs tall and well developed, so I'm letting the blossoms set. Until then, I prefer to remove the blossoms so all of the plant's energy goes into developing an extensive root system.
         Like our last couple of years, we continue to have a stretched-out Spring, with cool temperatures that give us an extended length of time to plant cool-weather-loving vegetables and flowers and vines and trees. 
         Unlike past years, this year’s COVID-19 directives are for staying safe at home and avoiding travel to nonessential destinations. 
         Although many plant nurseries remain open as essential, their online-ordering and curb-pick-up procedures preclude the recreational shopping value that I always look forward to – traveling far and wide to nurseries throughout Southern California, wandering through the nurseries seeing what’s available (especially those items I wouldn’t ordinarily have thought of), choosing the exact plants that I want, and visiting with the staff and other customers. 
         Ah, how our lives change in unforeseen ways!
    Here are some of my favorite nurseries and botanic gardens that are still open to some degree. Be sure to check their websites before venturing out, however, in case another last-minute change has been made.
    Nurseries Open With Limited Hours               
    Nurseries Open for Online Ordering and Curb Pickup  
    Botanic Garden Open for Walking Only (no other services)  
    Sharing Your Seedlings, Cuttings and Other Plants
         If you started a batch of seeds before we knew about this COVID-19 business, and now you have billions of seedlings ready for transplanting but can’t drive around sharing them at your garden meetings, here’s a thought:  Put them on your curb so passersby can take them. 
         I suggest that you add a “FREE” sign, label each plant, and provide your name and email address or phone number so takers unfamiliar with gardening or those particular plants can contact you to discuss how to grow them. 
         Might I also suggest that you recommend my website so they can become more familiar with gardening in general.   
         This way, we’ll “grow” our neighborhoods one plant at a time!

    For more garden tasks, see April.
  • What to grow when you don’t have ‘proper’ supplies
    09 April 2020
    I had the pleasure of chatting to the lovely Sam and Julia on Newstalk ZB this morning and one of the things we talked about was things that can be growing things from the kitchen when you don’t have ‘proper’...
  • 9 Best Brush Cutter for Maintaining Yard: Which One is Worth Your Money?
    09 April 2020
    One of the most common recurring themes among homeowners is their consistent struggle to keep their garden looking great and keeping the pathways and other …

    9 Best Brush Cutter for Maintaining Yard: Which One is Worth Your Money? Read More »

  • What Is Aster Yellows Virus?
    09 April 2020

    Aster yellows is a plant disease caused by phytoplasm. It manifests like a virus, and sap-sucking insects spread it.  The main vector of the disease is... [Read more]

    The post What Is Aster Yellows Virus? appeared first on Plant Care Today.

  • Quick and easy gardening jobs for each month
    09 April 2020

    Welcome to your one-stop resource for quick and easy gardening jobs each month. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you!

    Each month I share quick and easy gardening jobs to help you stay on top of things when time is tight. The idea here is to stop being daunted by a huge garden to-do list, and instead focus on the key jobs that will help to keep your garden looking great. Finding ten minutes to garden here and there is much more achievable than carving out a large chunk of time, and by not letting the garden get out of hand you’ll avoid having to tackle a big task at some point too.

    Click on the relevant link to see my quick and effective gardening jobs for the relevant month.

    Gardening jobs for every month

    Quick and easy garden jobs for January

    Quick and easy garden jobs for February

    Quick and easy garden jobs for March

    Quick and easy garden jobs for April & May

    Quick and easy garden jobs for June & July

    Quick and easy garden jobs for August

    Quick and easy garden jobs for September

    Quick and easy garden jobs for October

    Quick and easy garden jobs for November

    Quick and easy garden jobs for December

    You might also like…

    My What to Plant Now series which has my top picks for what to plant each month, including flowers, fruit, vegetables and bulbs.

    My In Season Now series which helps you to eat seasonally, with lists of fruit and veg in season each month.

    Pin for later

    The post Quick and easy gardening jobs for each month appeared first on Growing Family.

  • Early April Wildflower Update
    09 April 2020

    Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket, Etc.)

    Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Even though COVID-19 is keeping us more at home the early wildflowers are keeping the early pollinators busy. I didn’t start getting more into wildflower ID until last summer, so I am getting an early start this year.

    The Barbara vulgaris in the above photo isn’t a new one in more ways than one. They grow in abundance and provide a great bright yellow color. It goes by many common names including Yellow Rocket, St. Barbara’s Herb, Herb Barbara, Wintercress, Bittercress, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Wound Rocket, Creasy, Creecy, Creesy, Cressy Greens, Upland Cress and probably others. With that many you know there have to be more. It was named and described by William Townsend Aiton in the second edition of Hortus Kewensis in 1812. Plants of the World Online lists 27 accepted species in the Barbara genus and is a member of the Brassicaceae Family (Mustard Family) which includes 345 genera.

    Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse)

    I often wondered what those plants are that are growing in ABUNDANCE along the edge of the driveway in the gravel. Even though they keep getting mowed off and only grow a few inches tall they flower up a storm for several months. Well, I found a larger plant growing next to a parked car that didn’t get mowed off so I took photos and was able to identify these wildflowers as Capsella bursa-pastoris. Its common name is Shepherd’s Purse… The above photo was taken of a larger colony behind the barn…


    Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse) on 4-4-20, #683-5.

    It gets its name from the triangle-shaped fruits that resembled a shepherd’s purse…

    Analysis has concluded that Capsella bursa-pastoris had a hybrid origin within the past 100,000-300,000 years. It has evolved from being a diploid, self-incompatible species to being a polypoid, self-compatible species. This has allowed into become one of the most widely distributed species on the planet. Scientists refer to this plant as a “protocarnivore” because it has been found that its seeds attract and kill nematodes. Seeds contain mucilage that traps nematodes.

    The species was named and described as such by Friedrich Kasimir Medikus in Pflanzen-Gattungen in 1792.


    Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed)

    I stumbled across this interesting species while I was taking photos of one of the Buttercups (that isn’t flowering yet). That will be a story for another time. Anyway… There are several small colonies of this plant growing in an area next to the pond intermingling with other species. The stems grow from a cluster of small basal leaves that grow very close to the ground that you wouldn’t notice unless you take a look. After taking a multitude of photos (GEEZ) I identified this species as Cerastium glomeratum commonly known as Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed, Clammy Chickweed, Mouse-Ear Chickweed, Sticky Chickweed, Glomerate Mouse-Eared Chickweed… One thing for sure it is some kind of chickweed.  

    The species was named and described as such by Jean Louis Thuillier in Flora des Environs de Paris in 1799. It is a member of the same family as Stellaria media (Common Chickweed), Caryophyllaceae.


    Cerastium glomeratum (Sticky Mouse-Ear Chickweed)

    The leaves and stems are VERY hairy which is probably why it is called “sticky”. Hmmm… I didn’t notice and “stickiness” when I was handling this plant.

    I do not have a page for this plant yet…


    Galium aparine (Cleavers)

    You may be thinking I slipped a cog to even take a photo of this plant let alone wanting to get an ID. What is even weirder is I was wondering what happened to it because I didn’t remember seeing it since I was a kid. I think that is because I must have blotted it from my memory. So, when I saw a small clump growing behind the house I was kind of excited… Now I see growing in a multitude of places where it has always been. Of course, this is Gallium aparine commonly known as… Cleavers, Catchweed, Bedstraw, Catchweed Bedstraw, Goose Grass, Sticky Willy, Sticky Weed, Sticky Bob, Stickybud, Stickyback, Robin-Run-The-Hedge, Sticky Willow, Stickyjack, Stickeljack, Grip Grass, Sticky Grass, Bobby Buttons, Velcro Plant. Yeah, that one…

    Joking aside, this plant has found several uses in the past. Shepherds used to kind of wad it up and use it to strain milk… Dried plants were used to stuff mattresses… It is also edible but you have to cook it first to get rid of the tiny sticky hairs. It also has medicinal value.

    This is one of many species we just deal with when we have gardens and flower beds to clean out and maintain. What do you call this plant? I am sure you have a preferred name for it.


    Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy, ETC.) from a colony growing around a maple tree.

    AH HA! Isn’t it strange how we miss some of the coolest things because they are so small? I had posted photos from 2018 of this plant on iNaturalist along with Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit) because I hadn’t paid attention to it being another species. Well, I was a wildflower newbie at the time. A member pointed out the photo was of Glechoma hederacea so I took another look. Sure enough, he was right.


    Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy, ETC.)

    So, this spring I looked for it to flower but I couldn’t find it. The early leaves of Lamium amplexicaule and Lamium purpureum and this species are very similar until they start flowering. Then, on April 4 when I was mowing “the other front yard” in front of the old foundation I saw the colony growing around a maple tree were flowering. There is a HUGE patch between the trees but I had never seen them flower before. The above photo was taken of a smaller colony growing among the Lamium purpureum in a sunnier spot. Common names include Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Gill-Over-The-Ground, Alehoof, Turnhoof, Catsfoot, Field Balm, Run-Away-Robin… The species was named and described as such by our old friend Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.


    Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit)

    The Lamium amplexicaule is among the first wildflowers to start blooming in the spring along with Veronica persica (or V. polita). It seems the size of the colonies of the Henbit are getting smaller.


    Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle)

    While the colonies of Henbit are getting smaller, the Lamium purpureum (Deadnettle, ETC.) is becoming more abundant. This is also happening in the fields. Many people think the Deadnettle is Henbit but their leaves on the upper part of their stems are much different.


  • Brian Minter: Plant small berries for a tasty treat
    09 April 2020

    COVID-19 has created a shift in our thinking and priorities, and more people have become focused on planting their own gardens this spring. In terms of food security, what can we plant in our gardens now, apart from traditional vegetables, and expect a crop this year? Not a two-year-old fruit tree — it would still need a couple more years before it could provide a crop. However, many small fruits, especially larger-sized plants, can give you something tasty to enjoy this season.

    Everbearing strawberries, for example, planted now will produce a reasonably good crop this year. I love their versatility to perform well in containers, hanging baskets and gardens. Varieties, like “Albion”, “Quinault”, “Eversweet” and “Seascape” are among the best. Day-neutral varieties, like “Tristar”, are also excellent and produce over a very long period. Most strawberries are started from “runners”, but many growers today are using seed varieties which, when started very early, will also produce nice crops all season long. Varieties, such as “Berri Basket” and “Berries Galore”, will have beautiful pink or red flowers for some added colour.

    Everbearing raspberry production has surged in the past few years. While main season varieties, planted now, will produce sucker growth for next season’s harvest, everbearing varieties produce fruit on this year’s shoots that come out of the root system below. Older varieties, like “Heritage”, are now being replaced by newer, more productive varieties with larger berries, such as “Autumn Bliss” and the new hottie “Cascade Delight”. “Fall Gold”, an older yellow variety, remains very popular because of its mild but sweet flavour. These varieties can be planted in the ground or in larger containers. “Raspberry Shortcake” is an attractive container variety that is very compact and produces tasty berries, but it is not as productive as everbearing varieties.

    Well-draining soil is a must for raspberries as they hate wet feet. Planting four or five canes in a larger container will get you a fairly good crop this year. Be sure to cut your canes back to about 10 cm (four inches) to encourage new shoots to develop. Adding composted manures to your soil and using slow-release fertilizer will help achieve a more continuous production. In colder areas, mulch them heavily for winter protection.

    Blueberries round out the top three favourite small fruits, and there have been some positive changes here as well. I always suggest planting early, mid-season and late varieties together for a more constant supply of berries. Vaccinium “Early Blue” is one of the earliest to produce. The mid-season favourites are “Blue Crop”, “Duke”, “Reka” and “Chandler”, which has the largest berries of all. “Elliot” is the last variety to ripen, giving you fruit well into September. Although the berries are smaller, a newer variety, called “Perpetua”, is amazing. One of the earliest to produce, it keeps going well into fall. For very cold areas, “North Blue” and “North Country” are hardy to Zone 3.

    In terms of space, some innovative growers are planting three varieties together, both for good pollination and for extended production times. It’s a great idea and one you can do yourself by picking the varieties you want and growing them together as one plant.

    Blueberries grow nicely in containers if they have well-draining soils and have fine fir or hemlock bark mulch worked into the mix. To maintain good health and steady fruit bearing, make sure your blueberries are well fed by applying a slow-release fertilizer, like 14-14-14.

    Even though the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island have an abundance of “thorny” blackberries growing wild, “thornless” blackberries are the fourth most popular garden fruit. They are not as invasive as their prickly cousins and when grown espaliered on a fence or trellis, they will give you a considerable quantity of fruit the first year, especially if the plants are larger in size. Over the years to come, they will provide a profusion of large, sweet, delicious fruits. “Black Satin” is one of the favourite varieties and for colder areas of the province, “Chester” is the hardiest. If size matters, the “Prime-Ark Traveler” has huge, eye-popping fruits.

    A whole range of novelty fruits, such as jostaberries (a black currant and gooseberry cross), tayberries (a blackberry and raspberry cross), “Munger” black raspberries and haskap berries, will produce fruit this year. Elderberries, with their high antioxidant content, will provide berries for preserves and wine. Today, vastly improved varieties of most small fruits are readily available, and they will perform exceedingly well. In these challenging times, if you have a garden or a sunny patio pot, all of these fruits are not only a great food investment, but you’ll also love harvesting your own home-grown bounty.

  • An Asian garden in North Rosedale
    09 April 2020
    Every year, though perhaps not in 2020, I see more gardens than I have time to share. That’s why our armchair garden tour brings us close to home with this small but standout garden in North Rosedale from Through the Garden Gate 2017. I got the impression that this lovely garden is a DIY. As the […]
  • A Short History of the American Lawn
    09 April 2020
    The history of the American lawn was driven by technology, desire for social status, and marketing. Its roots are in the estate gardens of the Middle Ages. Continue reading → The post A...
    Click on link to
  • Three Sisters Legend – How Three Sisters Garden Planting Got Started
    09 April 2020

    Anyone familiar with companion planting has likely heard the tale of the Three Sisters garden. Corn, beans and squash comprise this trio featured in the Three Sister’s legend, all of which were sisters that were different, yet love and thrive next to one another. Passed down by Native Americans for many generations, this is a familiar tale. With minor variations, three sisters lived in the field. In some stories, they lived in the garden.

    History of Three Sisters Garden

    The theme of the tale is to promote compatibility and growing together. Many indigenous tribes grew these vegetables together as a staple of their food crop. It is said they tilled the soil in these spots three times.

    Some versions indicate that the sisters did not get along before being planted. The story outlines how their differences created conflict for other family members. The theme basically demonstrates how these differences effectively work together for the greater good. In this case, companion planting effectiveness comprises the heart of the Three Sisters planting story.

    The latter part of the story indicates how a crow sneakily came and removed the squash and the bean sisters during the night. This caused so much sadness and turmoil for the older sister that the bird was forced to bring them back to the planting site. Another version of Three Sisters planting story came from the Haudenosaunee tribe. This one describes a young Indian boy instead of the crow. In this version, the two younger sisters, beans and squash, voluntarily followed him home as opposed to being taken.

    The same theme in a Canadian version plays out with a Mohawk boy and the younger sisters following him home as well. Eventually, all three sisters end up in his family’s lodge as food for the winter.

    In all versions of the story everything ends happily. It is an effective way to remember the vegetables that easily grow happily together. We can continue to plant these three vegetables next to one another in the garden, substituting pumpkins for squash if need be. Allow plenty of room in the ground for the large root systems.

    Pass this story along to younger gardeners in your family. It is simple to grasp and easy to remember. This tale will likely stay with them throughout their gardening life.

    The post Three Sisters Legend – How Three Sisters Garden Planting Got Started appeared first on Gardening Know How's Blog.

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