Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January 23, 2018 Kim’s Weekly Garden Blog

Hi Gardeners
Remember spring?
The last few days have been mild if a bit gloomy here.  Most of the snow is gone again, but as I gaze out my office window I can see it’s snowing here again. There have been incredible swings in temperatures and some really unusual weather in many parts of the country.  I know many gardeners are anxious about how their gardens are holding up.
Gardeners and farmers are at the mercy of nature in most cases.  All we can do is hope our plants survive and if they don’t, well, it’s an opportunity to start fresh.  There’s still a lot of winter left, unfortunately, but when it’s over we’ll take stock and move on, because we are gardeners, and gardeners are resilient people.  We will persevere, like the daisy growing in the crack of the sidewalk.
Bury yourself in garden catalogs and plans.  Start some seeds or buy a new houseplant.  I’ve been pulling houseplants for a good grooming, cutting out dead leaf tips, removing faded flowers and dusting leaves. 
My puttering led me to clean off the top of the refrigerator- because I wanted to move a spider plant there that wasn’t getting enough light.  Way at the back of the refrigerator top I found a plastic tub.  It had some seeds I had been looking for – a couple years ago.  Yes, it’s been a while since that frig top got cleaned off and I’m a short person. 
Inside the tub I was excited to find the very tiny, dried pumpkin-like fruits that I had bought from a farm market vendor one year.  Last year I thought I had found the correct plant to produce those tiny pumpkin look -a- likes, but it turns out the eggplants I grew called “pumpkin on a stick” were a bit bigger.  While the pumpkin on a stick fruits were pretty in fall arrangements they didn’t dry as nicely as I would have liked.
I think I remember the vendor telling me the tiny seed pods I found in the tub were a type of pepper.  I am guessing it has been 7 years (I brought the tub from my old office when I retired, it hasn’t been on the frig 7 years) since I bought those little fruits and I have only a slight chance of growing anything from the seeds inside.  But I am going to try.   There were also several opium poppy seed heads in there, which had spilled a lot of tiny black seeds.  I can’t remember why I collected those, whether it was some special variety someone gave me or what.  But I’ll try to grow some of those too.

My mystery "pumpkins".

Humidity and houseplants
If you are having trouble with browning foliage on indoor plants, especially on leaf tips, flower buds that shrivel and fall off and houseplants that just don’t look good your plants may be suffering from low humidity in your home.  Spider mites, which cause leaf yellowing and make small webs across leaves and in leaf joints, are also more likely to occur when humidity is low.
Warm air can hold more moisture but the heat in our homes in winter months is more likely to result in low humidity inside.  That’s because most modern furnaces remove moisture from the air as they heat it. The colder it is outside the more the furnace runs.  If you have a humidifier on your furnace you may not have to worry but many people don’t have this feature.
People in warm climates may experience low humidity when air conditioners run constantly also.  Air conditioners remove moisture from the air even more than furnaces.  Raising the thermostat setting so the house is warmer will raise the humidity.
Most houseplants, with the exception of desert cacti, need humidity levels above 40%. Some do best at much higher levels.  The average heated home in the winter with no humidifier will often range in the 30% range or less.  Air conditioned homes also run around 30% humidity. This is stressful for plants and not too good for humans either. A good humidity range for most houseplants is 60-80%. 
Plants rarely suffer from too much humidity indoors but the ideal humidity for plants may not be the ideal humidity for you and your home.  When humidity levels inside are higher than outside condensation may form on windows.  High home humidity can cause mold to grow and people with allergies to mold will experience symptoms. Some viruses and bacteria grow better in high humidity. However, homes that are too dry can cause dry skin, cracked lips, sinus problems, asthma attacks and other allergic problems. Some viruses, notably colds and flu, spread better in dry air.  Dry air feels colder than moist air. There’s a balancing act between keeping things good for plants and keeping things good for people.
 So how do we balance what’s good for people and what’s good for plants?
Experts on human health seem to think homes should be kept between 30- 40% humidity but most plants would prefer 50-60% humidity or more. So what can you do to keep everything happy?  You can buy cheap humidity gauges, often combined with thermometers, in most hardware stores.  People with houseplants need these in various rooms with houseplants if you don’t have a whole house humidifier.  Some rooms may have higher humidity than others.  These gauges will help you regulate humidity.
First try to get your home humidity up to that 40% level or slightly higher. Do this with humidifiers, either room size units or whole house furnace add ons, and perhaps lowering your inside temperature a bit so the furnace runs less.  Cool air humidifiers save energy and may be better for your health.
Keeping a pot of watering simmering on the stove or on top of a wood burning stove can help humidify air. Aquariums and indoor fountains also add humidity to the air. Locate plants near them.
We can help our plants by providing zone humidity, keeping the humidity highest where the plants are at.  Kitchens and baths have higher humidity levels than other parts of the home.  You may want to move plants that require the highest humidity to those rooms.  Also grouping plants together can raise humidity around them.
Humidity trays can be used under plants.  These are filled with water and pots set on top of them. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water, the pots are set on grates above the water or rocks added to the tray to keep pot bottoms above water.  These trays should be dumped once a month and scrubbed to keep mold from growing. The pots plants are in must be able to drain freely.
The double pot method can be used to increase humidity.  Fill a large pot with moist peat or sphagnum moss and place the pot with the plant in it.  Keep the moss/peat moist but don’t overwater the plant.
Should you mist plants?  Some experts advise against it, saying the wet foliage is more prone to disease. But if the home is very dry misting the plants once a day can be very helpful and is unlikely to raise disease levels. It’s especially helpful to plants with buds, to keep the buds from drying and falling off.  However, try not to mist the buds directly, mist the foliage around them.  Most plants with hairy or fuzzy leaves should not be misted.
Prayer plant like high humidity.
If spider mites are a problem you can take plants to the shower and give the foliage a good spraying, including the underside of leaves.  Then mist frequently, even daily.  This often controls the spider mites without having to use any pesticides.
 Finally, if you have plants with high humidity requirements you may want to give them their own room in winter, which you can keep humid with a humidifier.  These plants have high humidity needs, most ferns, gardenias, camellia, caladium, Acalypha ( Chenille plant), African violets (don’t mist these), Allamanda, Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen),Anthurium, Aphelandra ( Zebra plant), Croton, Coleus, Columnea (Goldfish plant), Cyclamen, Dizygotheca (False Aralia), Episcia, trailing and creeping types of Ficus, Gloxinia, Medinilla, some Maranta species( Prayer plant) most orchids, Venus Fly Trap,

From poison arrows to prophylactics

Centuries ago the people of East Africa were known to dip arrows in a poison that when injected by the arrow into flesh caused the heart to stop. The poison that the arrows were dipped in was made by boiling one of 2 species of plants, Acokanthera schimperi and Strophanthus gratus into a thick black tar-like substance.  The arrows were used for hunting and later to try and stop the invasion of Europeans.

Strophanthus gratus
Wikipedia
Europeans were always curious about plants, especially ones that were a potent poison like these.  They brought plants home to experiment with and scientists were eventually able to identify the substance that caused the heart problems, a chemical compound named Ouobain.  Some doctors began to experiment with using the drug to actually help people with bad hearts.  Even today there is a German heart drug that is used for certain heart problems which contains Ouobain.  American doctors have sometimes championed the drug despite its being banned here.

In the last century researchers discovered that the human body also produces Ouobain, in very small amounts.  It’s produced by the adrenal glands and is used to regulate blood pressure and electrolytes in the blood.  This has led to increased interest and study of the compound for medical use. 

Acokanthera schimperi
Wikipedia
One of the possible uses of Ouobain is as a male contraceptive according to a report published recently in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. (See reference.)  In an animal study Ouobain that had been modified to limit its heart toxicity caused male sperm cells to have little or no mobility. If sperm can’t swim they can’t fertilize an egg. 

The Ouobain based treatment only affected mature sperm, which means that if the chemical treatment was stopped immature sperm would mature normally and fertility would be restored. In animals the modified Ouobain had no effect on the heart or other systems.

This new Ouobain based medicine has only been tested on animals but if its effects are the same in humans it could mean a major breakthrough in contraception.  An effective male contraceptive has long been needed.

People should not experiment on their own with the plants Ouobain is produced from.  A very small amount of Ouobain can stop the human heart in 3-10 minutes.  

Reference: Design, Synthesis, in vitro and in vivo Evaluation of Ouabain Analogs as Potent and Selective Na,K-ATPase α4 Isoform Inhibitors for Male ContraceptionJournal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00925


That Zone thing

The planting zone concept is often hard for new gardeners to understand.  And truthfully I find some people who have been gardening a while don’t seem to understand what a gardening zone is.  It’s very important to know what planting zone you live in so you don’t waste money buying plants that won’t grow or won’t over winter in your garden.  Here’s the scoop on planting zones.

A gardening zone is determined officially by the United States Department of Agriculture but a few other places have developed their own zone charts.  The charts are revised every 10-15 years.  The latest map was issued in 2012.  Zone maps can help you decide what plants you should purchase for your garden.

A zone chart divides the country into areas by the coldest winter temperatures they may experience and numbers them. That’s called your winter hardiness zone for gardening. There’s another USDA zone chart for heat hardiness but it is little used. Each gardening zone may be further divided into part A and part B. 

The colder the winter, the lower the number assigned to the zone. In the US mainland area, we currently have zones three to eleven. A state can have several planting zones.  For example in Michigan, the cold hardiness zones range from 6, in the Detroit area and along some southwestern coastlines, to 3, in tiny areas of the upper lower peninsula and the U.P

The USDA gathers data from numerous places around the United States to determine an average maximum low temperature from an area.  The newest gardening zone chart that the USDA published in 2012 has taken into consideration the data from a much greater number of places than previous zone maps. Even without climate change, the increased range of data may have changed the zone map from previous ones for your area.  Always consult the latest zone map.

Where to find your gardening zone

Gardening zone maps are available from a variety of sources such as garden reference books available at your local bookstore or library, but these may be outdated. A great source for a free, up to date gardening zone map is your favorite gardening catalog. Here’s a link that will allow you to find your garden zone by state or zipcode.   http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

Some places devise their own gardening zone maps, such as the Arbor Day Foundation and Sunset Gardening Publications. Since most plant sellers use the USDA chart to rate the hardiness of their plants it’s probably best to look up your gardening site on the official USDA zone map.



How to Use the Gardening Zone Map Information

The gardening zone chart is used to inform consumers which perennial plants will survive the winter in their area. Most plant labels and gardening catalogs will put the zone hardiness rating somewhere in the plant description. When you choose plants for your garden choose plants that will grow in your zone or a lower numbered zone.

If you are a gardener in zone five you will want to choose plants that are rated hardy to zone five, four or three. (Zone three is about the coldest area of the mainland United States.) A plant rated hardy to zone seven would probably not survive the winter in your garden.

While most plants that have been in the market for a while will be accurately assigned to their gardening zone, new plants may be less accurately placed. When new plants are put on the market they will probably have been trialed in many places, but until thousands of gardeners are growing the plant, the information about their zone hardiness may be only a guess. When purchasing new plants, even new varieties of familiar garden plants, be aware that the zone hardiness may not be accurate.

How to Cheat a Gardening Zone

What if you live in gardening zone five and you really, really, want a plant that is listed hardy to zone six. You may be able to cheat nature. In every yard there are areas we call micro-zones, areas where the climate is just a little different from the surrounding area. It may be up against the south side of the house, in a courtyard, or in a sheltered pocket surrounded by heat holding rocks or cement. A zone six plant might survive there.

There are other gardening tricks to try too. Deep mulching or a protective cover might do the trick. Sometimes plants that manage to survive a few milder winters in your zone will acclimate enough to survive a harsher one. Start with small plants of the variety you want to try and plant them in the spring. Only spend what you can afford to lose on the plant too.

If you have always wanted to grow certain types of plants in your garden but you don’t live in the right gardening zone, don’t despair.  New varieties of the plant you are interested in may be developed that expand the gardening zone range.

And when you have been successful in getting a plant to grow in your gardening zone that wasn’t rated hardy for it, share the information with gardening friends and organizations. That may inspire others in your zone to grow the plant and ultimately get the gardening zone rating changed.


Starting a plant based business- consider a niche market

If you are wanting to start a plant based business you have many choices.  You can start a conventional greenhouse, selling tomatoes and petunias or you can specialize in succulents or orchids.  You can plant evergreens for Christmas trees or rare and unusual conifers for collectors.  You can grow wheat or amaranth, strawberries or goji berries.  There’s nothing wrong with starting a retail greenhouse if there are no greenhouses for 20 miles and a population near your greenhouse that might be interested in buying your product.  But if the population in the area is small and there’s already a well-established greenhouse nearby you may struggle to make your greenhouse profitable. 

You may want to grow vegetables for the farm market.  If you live near a thriving farm market which is close to a densely populated area you may be able to make decent sales at that market with your conventional garden produce, even with many other vendors selling similar produce.  But you might consider a slightly different approach from other vendors by growing Asian vegetables, unusual fruits, specialty peppers and so on, and make even better sales.  You might want to turn your blueberries into jam or pie.  When competition is stiff and even when it’s not, a niche business is often more profitable than more common ones.

What is a niche business?

A niche is a small, defined market.  Demand for a product may be limited because of cost to the consumer, because the product is scarce, because it is unknown, or because it appeals to only certain people.   A niche or specialty market is a small business that is producing an item that is uncommon because of its variety, method of production, quality, or uniqueness in the market place.  Many niche markets that are plant based involve food products although there are many non- food items that can be profitable when produced by a niche business.  Niche businesses are generally run by a family or small partnership.

Niche businesses sometimes evolve into larger enterprises and products produced by them may be taken over by larger markets as demand for the product increases.  For example ten years ago anything organically produced was largely a niche market product. As more and more Americans become willing to pay for organically produced food, some organic foods are being produced on what only can be called large scale farms.

Niche businesses can produce a product that was never available before, at least in a specific area, or they can take an old product and produce it in a better way.  Everyone will not pay $5.00 for a loaf of organic, specially made bread, there will still be a market for $2.00 a loaf, white, sliced bread found in the supermarket.  But there are many places where a person producing a quality, delicious bread from organic flour will be able to make a good profit.

In niche businesses the profit lies with making each item produced achieve the maximum profit per unit through added value.  In traditional farming and greenhouse/nursery operations the focus is on producing volume, with each individual item producing only a small amount of profit.   More corn per acre, instead of unusual or high-quality corn per acre for example.  Hundreds of 10 inch hanging baskets in white pots instead of unique plant combinations in hand made pottery containers.

Niche businesses make their own market to a large extent.  If there are hundreds of people producing geraniums and the market is full of geraniums to purchase for example, a large buyer will be able to set the price he wants to pay for geraniums and producers will have to sell geraniums for that price if they want to sell at all.  The niche business can set the price they want to get for their goods (within reason) because they have something that few other people are offering. The niche business goal should be to produce a product that has value independent of traditional markets.



Uniqueness

Having a unique product is key to a successful niche business.  That doesn’t mean that the product has never been produced before.  Apples can be a unique product of they are a rare heirloom variety sold in a special gift basket.  Niche products may be unique to your area, they may be unique because of how you sell or process them, or they may even be something no one has seen on the market before. Uniqueness will only take a product so far however.  If the food product doesn’t taste good and isn’t a quality product, it will quickly lose its appeal to the customer.  If the perennials you offer aren’t really perennials in your market area people will stop buying from you.

If a product is successful it will soon become less unique as others try to emulate your success with it. A niche business only fills a niche as long as there is a niche.  That means when demand for a product becomes widespread enough that many people are producing it in large quantities, the niche business owner is either very rich or has went on to another product. 

There is one thing I must mention here about uniqueness.  If something you are trying to sell is completely new to the customers you will be trying to attract, you must be prepared to do some clever marketing.  You may have to offer samples of an unusual fruit, or take some of your beautiful unusual succulents to display at garden clubs and shows.  When deciding on niche products one must also consider the typical buyer in your market.  If you are at a farm market where college students are frequent shoppers, for example, selling organic tomatoes individually will probably work better than selling bushels of tomatoes for canning.

Empathize on quality not quantity

A niche market succeeds because the customer believes that the product has limited availability.  If he or she could get it anywhere why should they buy it from you?  If the product is a common product, such as petunias which can be bought outside the supermarket, why seek out the niche seller? 

Niche markets thrive because the product they produce is of a higher quality than what conventional agriculture produces.  The niche petunia seller will offer big, beautiful plants and rare varieties and colors.  When someone sees those petunias in a pot somewhere and asks the owner where they got them, the quality must be so obvious the customer is willing to seek out the seller.  A niche business owner must constantly empathize that the product is of high quality and it simply must be of high quality to succeed.
                        
Artisan concept

This leads us to the artisanal concept.  Your product is produced in a particular environment in a way only you produce it.  The water, the potting medium you use, the oven you bake in, the attention you pay to detail, all those things are part of your unique product.  It is like a dozen painters all looking at the same scene and painting a picture of it.  Each painting will be different. Some artists will paint a picture that will command a higher price.  They may be more skillful, they may take more care, they may just be lucky in that they produced a picture that people find more appealing. 

That is the artisan concept for plant based businesses also.  A small farm or greenhouse/nursery owner produces a product that does not always taste or look exactly the same-unlike a big food processor or a plant wholesale operation that sells to big box stores who strives for just that thing.  The niche business owner has a close association and interest in the product, which tends to lead to higher quality and a better product.

Many niche markets grow out of a hobby or begin because someone is intensely interested in the product they sell.   If brugmansia is your favorite plant and you have dozens of varieties of the plant and you love to propagate them, a niche business in brugmansia cultivars would probably suit you. Most people enjoy buying a product from a creator of the product.  They want to talk to the artist that created it.  That is part of the value of niche products, the closeness of the producer and the consumer.  The most successful niche products capitalize on this concept.

Distance marketing

While the relationship between the producer and the seller is important in the niche market that doesn’t mean one cannot develop catalog or on-line sales of a niche product.  This can allow you to reach many more potential customers for your specialty product.  There may be only 6 people interested in carnivorous plants in your immediate area but thousands across the country. If you don’t have what is known as “people skills” distance marketing may be easier for you. Distance customers may make the difference between a successful niche market and an unsustainable one.

You will need to consider how practical distance selling is for your product, what costs will need to be added to keep a good profit margin, and what additional rules and regulations there will be for selling your product across state lines or country borders.  And you will also need to consider how comfortable you are with the technology needed to develop the distance market.  You may need to work a little harder to make that special connection with your customers that defines a niche market.

If you are considering a plant based business put on your thinking cap and ponder how you can develop a niche business. The correct product, quality of that product, how it’s marketed and the skills and hard work of the people running the business are what will determine whether a niche business is successful or not.  Next week I’ll continue this plant based business topic with an article on adding value to products.


Pepper Pie

You can make a pie out of just about anything as this pie will attest.  This is a custard style pie and uses sweet peppers.  But for a twist you could try adding some of your favorite hot peppers too.  It might make a good superbowl party dish.

Ingredients
¾ cup flour +3 tablespoons
¼ cup cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 tablespoons – (1 stick) butter
1 ¼ cup half and half or milk
1 egg
1 large sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 medium sweet peppers of various colors, washed, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Hotter peppers can be substituted for some of the sweet peppers.  A blend of pepper colors looks best.

Directions
For the crust combine ¾ cup flour, cornmeal, baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, blend well. Cut in 4 tablespoons butter until the mixture is crumbly.

Add a little half and half or milk, about 1/3 cup, and blend until the mixture appears like a crumbly dough.

Press the dough in a 10” pie pan on the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.

Now place the pepper pieces into a pot of boiling water and boil 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Put the remaining butter in a pan and sauté the onion until golden. Turn off heat.  Stir in the pepper pieces, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons flour and the oregano.  Toss the ingredients to combine them.

Fill the pie shell with the pepper pieces.

Beat the egg with ¾ cup half and half or milk until frothy, pour over peppers in pie pan.

Bake at 400 degrees F about 30 minutes.  The top should be golden and the custard filling in the center soft, but set.  Let the pie cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting.


Did you know the fear of snow is called chionophobia?

Kim Willis
 “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing” ― Cicero

© Kim Willis - no parts of this newsletter may be used without permission.

And So On….

Find Michigan garden events/classes here:
(This is the Lapeer County Gardeners facebook page)
An interesting Plant Id page you can join on Facebook

Here’s a seed/plant sharing group you can join on Facebook

Newsletter/blog information

If you have a comment or opinion you’d like to share, send it to me or you can comment directly on the blog. Please state that you want to have the item published in my weekly note if you email me. You must give your full name and what you say must be polite and not attack any individual. I am very open to ideas and opinions that don’t match mine but I do reserve the right to publish what I want. Contact me at KimWillis151@gmail.com

I write this because I love to share with other gardeners some of the things I come across in my research each week. It keeps me engaged with people and horticulture. It’s a hobby, basically. I hope you enjoy it. If you are on my mailing list and at any time you don’t wish to receive these emails just let me know. If you know anyone who would like to receive a notification by email when a new blog is published have them send their email address to me.  KimWillis151@gmail.com



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January 16, 2018 Kim’s Weekly Garden Blog

 Hi Gardeners

It’s snowing on and off today here, with big light fluffy flakes.  I went outside this morning to go feed the chickens and a bit of pale sun poked through the clouds.  As much as I hate winter I had to admit that all the trees and shrubs covered with fluffy snow looked pretty.  So, after the barn chores were done I went inside and got my camera.  I ended up spending quite a while taking pictures of snow covered plants and birds around the bird feeders.
Pretty snow aside, I am tired of shoveling, scary roads and dealing with frozen pipes.  We have had enough winter thank you.  The plants have had their required cold dormancy.  Let’s transition to spring.  The weather report is hopeful, it seems like toward the end of the week the weather pattern will be changing over the entire continent.  We are predicted to have a milder but more stormy, whatever that means, weather pattern for the rest of the winter.
The garden catalogs are piling up here, it makes winter evenings more bearable to sit and look at them.  There are lots of deals to be had early in the season so get shopping if you need lots of plants this spring.  If you don’t get catalogs, there’s a huge list of catalogs and websites on the page listed to the right of this blog or you can click here:
If you find a company has went out of business or you have a company you would like to add to my list please email me kimwillis151@gmail.com  I am trying to get through the list to check all the links but a plant lover looking at places selling plants gets sidetracked a lot.
 Below you’ll find some plants I found looking through print catalogs that look interesting and are new. 
More New Plants
Last week I wrote about some new plants in shades of purple, the plant color of the year.  This week I’m going to show you some other new plants that took my eye.  Remember when you shop catalogs and on line the word new may mean a plant that’s been newly introduced, or it may mean that the plant is just new to this company’s offerings.  I think the plants below are new introductions to the plant market.

Zinnia, Garnet Treasure Hybrid- zinnias are loved by butterflies and bees and make great cut flowers.  This disease resistant variety has huge fully double deep red flowers.  Seed sold by Burpees.


Petunia, ‘Pink Sky’-I loved last years petunia ‘Night Sky’ which bloomed very well for me all summer.  This one is its cousin, ‘Pink Sky’ and its deep pink with the distinctive white spotting of it’s cousin.  The plants bloom continuously all through summer.  The weather can change the spotting pattern but it’s always pretty.  Many stores will be carrying this plant and I hope to be able to get some to mix with the blue of ‘Night Sky.’

 Brown Leaf Ice Plant - Nananthus transvallensisfor those of you who like something different this South African succulent plant may be what you’re looking for.  Thick brown leaves set off the yellow flowers marked with red pin stripes.  It’s a plant for sunny, dry areas, preferably among rocks.  Hardy to zone 6, sold by High Country Gardens.
 Monadenium (Monadenium ritchiei) -another succulent, this one is for warm zones or it can be grown as a houseplant. It forms a red flushed columnar shaped stem with a spiral of bumps or tubercles.  Small leaves are also present part of the year.  In late summer the tips of the stems produce pink flowers.  Grow as a potted plant in zones lower than 10.  It can be found at Logee’s Greenhouse.

Polaris Big Bang™ Series Coreopsis x verticillata -coreopsis are the workhorses of the sunny summer garden.  The old fashioned coreopsis were all yellows, but many new colors are being introduced. Polaris is a white coreopsis with a yellow button center and it blends easily into many garden color palettes. This is a compact plant with fern like leaves.  Hardy to zone 5.

 Desert Eve™ Terracotta Achillea millefolium  - another summer garden favorite is achillea, sometimes called yarrow.  This one is lovely shades of brick red and toasted orange with yellow highlights.  It’s a long blooming selection and yarrow is one of those low maintenance perennials every garden should have.  Hardy to zone 4. You can find this at Bluestone Perennials.
Grace and Grit™ landscape rose- I like landscape roses because they are long blooming and easy to care for.  This one has bi-color floribunda type flowers in a swirl of red and yellow.  It’s grown on its own roots and very hardy, to zone 4, growing 3-4 feet tall, disease resistant and self-cleaning. Introduced by Monrovia and sold in many garden stores.


Autumn Glow Tricyrtis formosana – toad lilies bloom in late summer and early fall when color is needed in the garden.  They also do well in partly shaded locations.  This one adds pretty variegated foliage to the mix, deep green leaves edged with lime-gold.  The flowers are a creamy yellow with purple freckles.  Hardy to zone 5.  Available from Bluestone perennials.


Pollypetite® rose of Sharon- if you didn’t have room for a rose of Sharon bush before you may now.  This compact shrub grows only 3-4 feet tall and wide, in a compact rounded shape.  It’s loaded with large blue-purple blooms in late summer and has nice blue-green foliage.  It also produces very few seeds which limits its spreading.

'Stand by Me' Bush Clematis – for those who don’t have the place for a clematis vine this clematis will please you.  It’s an upright non-blooming shrub type, although it may require some staking or the support of other plants.  It’s considered a repeat bloomer with several flushes of pretty blue nodding flowers. Hardy to zone 3b.  Many garden stores will be carrying this plant.


Czechmark Sunny Side Up Weigela florida- this is an improvement on old fashioned weigela, it’s loaded in late spring with crisp white blooms with a yellow throat. Very showy and distinctive, growing about 5 feet tall, its hardy to zone 4a.  It will be sold by many garden stores this spring.

New vegetables

Kolibri-spinach- a lightly crinkled type with high resistance to downy mildew. Johnny’s seeds.
Biquinho Red  pepper- small beaked, very red, fairly hot peppers from Brazil.  Johnny’s seeds.

Pepper, Sweet, Confetti Hybrid- a nice sweet pepper that’s excellent for container growing.  It’s compact bushy shape is pretty when it’s loaded with tiny peppers that begin green with red stripes and ripen to glowing red.  The fruit is small but delicious.  Burpees seeds.
Tomato, Atlas Hybrid- here’s a beefsteak type tomato that will grow in patio containers.  The sturdy stems will support a full load of large (up to a pound), juicy heirloom flavored red tomatoes. Burpee’s seeds.

Damsel
Tomato, Damsel Hybrid- a pink beefsteak tomato that combines excellent disease resistance, including late blight resistance, with heirloom flavor.  Compact indeterminant plants are very productive. Burpees’s seeds.


Naked Bear Pumpkin Seed- for those fond of pepitas, this pumpkin is for you. The small 2-4 pound fruits are light yellow, flecked with deeper gold and plants produce abundantly. Inside there are lots of semi-hulless seeds perfect for roasting.  It has good disease resistance. Johnny’s seeds.


Mashed Potatoes Hybrid Winter Squash, -  I don’t think anyone can convince me that any squash will taste like mashed potatoes, but this one can look like mashed potatoes.  The white fruits have white flesh that when baked and then fluffed with butter look like a bowl of mashed potatoes.  The vines are vigorous, with 3-4 fruits per vine. Burpee seeds.

Starting a new plant from a leaf

When a plant can regenerate from a single leaf, without a node, it is said to have adventitious rooting.  Not all plants can be started this way, most plants that are grown from vegetative parts of another plant need a cutting that has at least 2 nodes- or points along a stem where new growth can occur. But some plants have the remarkable ability to grow from a single leaf or even a piece of a leaf.
Certain plants develop little plantlets along the leaf edges.  When these are knocked off or plucked off and placed on potting medium they will grow roots.  In other plants leaves easily fall off and if they land on soil or potting medium they may begin to grow roots and develop into a new plant.  In some plants a mature leaf with it’s stem can start a new plant.  In still others a leaf can be cut into pieces and the pieces will start new plants.  Most of the plants that can form adventitious roots from a leaf are kept as houseplants by gardeners.
Many of the plants that start from a leaf are succulents. Jade plants (Crassula argentia), echeveria species, kalanchoe species, sedum species, and String of Beads (Senecio rowleyanus), are examples. Sanseveria species can be started from a leaf or pieces of a leaf.
Peperomia species can be started from a leaf.  African violets, (Saintpaulia species), some streptocarpus species, Rex begonias and some other begonias also can be started from a leaf.  The forest or holiday cacti, Rhipsaldopsis species, Rhipsalis species, Zygocactus will start from stem segments, which look like leaves.

Methods of leaf propagation
 When you want to propagate one of the succulents it’s best to remove a mature leaf near the bottom of the plant.  If you accidently knocked leaves off a plant you can use those too. Succulent leaves generally do not have stems or have very small stems. Let the leaves of succulents sit in a warm dry place for 2 days before you attempt to root them.  This forms a callus on the place where the leaf detached from the stem and the process of making the callus brings plant hormones to that area which will help rooting.  The callus also keeps the leaf from losing too much water.  You probably won’t notice this callus though.
Fill a small pot with a good potting medium that’s been moistened.  Don’t use garden soil or compost as these can bring in bacteria or fungi that may cause the leaf to rot or bring in a disease.  On top of the moistened media you can add a thin layer of fine gravel (parakeet gravel works) or sand.  This helps keep the surface drier, and leaves are less likely to rot.  This isn’t absolutely necessary, as long as you don’t keep the potting medium too moist. 
For succulents I don’t think it is necessary to use rooting hormone on the callus end before inserting them in planting medium.  But if you have rooting hormone already it can make your success rooting the leaf a little more likely.  Don’t push the bottom of the leaf into the potting medium, make a hole with a fork handle or pencil first.  Insert just the very bottom of the leaf and firm the potting medium around the leaf.  That’s it.  You can use the same technique with the holiday/forest cacti stem segments.
Some very tiny succulent leaves, like those from Burro’s tail, string of beads, and some sedums can just be laid on top of the moist potting medium, without sand or gravel, and lightly pressed against the medium and many will root.  You will need to water carefully so the tiny leaves aren’t being disturbed as they try to put down roots.
For peperomia, African violets, begonias, and streptocarpus remove a mature leaf near the bottom of the plant leaving as long a stem as possible.  These do not need to form a callus or be left out, they can be planted immediately.  A leaf that’s been lying around for a day or two may still root but it’s chances of surviving may be less. 
These types of plants are more likely to root when the leaf stem is dipped in rooting hormone before planting.  Many garden stores carry rooting hormone.  Fill pots with moistened potting medium as described for succulents above. The base of the leaf of these types of plants should not touch the potting medium or rot is likely to start.  So for them using gravel or sand on the top of the medium is a good idea.
Many people use the foil method of rooting leaves with stems.  Cover a pot filled with moist potting medium with foil, secure it with a rubber band.  Poke holes in the foil and insert the leaf stems through them, into holes you have made with a pencil in the planting medium.  The holes in the foil and in the potting medium should fit the leaf stems pretty snugly. The foil keeps the leaf base off the moist potting medium.
Jade leaves ready to root
You can also melt or cut holes in plastic lids and use those on top of moist potting medium, the leaf stem or base goes through the hole into the potting medium.  I use these for starting various types of cuttings, including leaves of succulents. The lid keeps the soil moist beneath it where the stem or leaf base is while allowing the majority of the leaf to remain dry and keeping them upright.  The plastic lid can be lifted carefully once roots have started and cut apart if needed to release the new plants.  Make the holes in the plastic a bit bigger than the stem or leaf base so a new plant can begin growing there.
Sanseveria and rex begonias can be started from just pieces of leaves.  For sanseveria chose a mature leaf and cut the long leaves into several pieces about 2 inches long. As you cut each piece make a little notch on the bottom of each piece, the side that was closest to the root on the original plant.  The notched side is the one you insert into the planting medium.  They root better if “down” is kept down, in the original growing orientation.  Place them in potting medium as described above for succulents.  (One note; for some reason variegated leaves cut into sections usually produce plain green sanseveria plants.)
There are a couple of ways to cut a leaf of rex begonia for propagation.  Choose a mature, larger leaf.  Turn it over and make several small cuts with a razor across the raised veins of the leaf.  Lay the leaf on moist potting medium with the cut side down. Weigh or pin the leaf down so it is snug against the medium.  You can use small rocks, large staples, marbles, bent pieces of fine wire and so on.  Hopefully a new plant will develop at each cut.
Rex begonia leaves can also be cut into several sections.  Each section needs a portion of a bigger vein.  Like sanseveria the pieces seem to root better if the original orientation of the leaf is kept, with the down side inserted in the medium.  The vein will usually be thicker at that end.  Pots of rex begonias you are trying to root should be enclosed in plastic bags to increase the humidity.  If the bags get coated with moisture droplets open the bags for a few hours to lower the humidity.
The white lines indicate where I would cut this leaf 
I’m trying a new idea for starting rex begonias from a cut leaf.  I placed the leaf on the moist potting medium and then covered it with a piece of plastic from a can lid that I cut to fit in the pot.  I’ve pushed the leave against the medium by pressing the lid a little into the soil and weighing it down.  I am hoping the plastic will let light through and hold humidity around the leaf to encourage rooting.  See the picture below.  I’ll let you know how it works.


You can root several leaves in one pot or one to a small pot.  The hardest part of propagating by leaves is keeping the potting medium moist but not too wet.  I don’t encourage enclosing the pots in plastic bags, except for rex begonias, I think it keeps things too moist and results in more rotting than rooting.  Your pots should be in bright light, in a warm place, but not in direct sunlight or very hot or cold areas. 
When several new leaves have developed on your original leaf or leaf piece you know the plant has rooted.  It should look like a baby plant near the base of the old leaf. You can carefully transplant them now if needed and move them into full sunlight if that species prefers it.  Not every leaf will root even in the most propagation friendly plants.  If the leaf looks like it’s rotting instead of rooting, toss it.  Use new potting medium if you try to start more leaves. (The old medium can be used to pot up other mature plants.)

Good things and bad things about trees

When you walk into a forest you immediately notice the smell, a woodsy aroma that’s soothing and invigorating at the same time.  That aroma comes from gases that trees give off and it’s most noticeable when trees are concentrated in groups, but all trees emit gases.  The gases contain biogenic aerosols -- particulate matter that originates from plants. (Tree poop)  When exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere these particulates cling to other particulates in the air, gradually growing larger, forming clouds that reflect the suns heat, cooling the earth and forming raindrops.  This function of trees emitting gases is helpful, and works to offset global warming, because as the world warms, trees produce even more gases. 

In forested areas of the world gas emission by trees can reduce the effect of global warming by about 30%.   Rain falls more frequently and regularly where there are forests because of favorable cloud formation.  And even in urban areas where they are not as concentrated, trees provide a cooling effect as well as making your property more valuable and desirable.

A tree’s bad breath

But there is a bad side to the gases that trees emit also.  Trees emit isoprene, a chemical manufactured to protect leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations.  Isoprene is abundant in the atmosphere but it’s not helpful to humans. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that isoprene unites with air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides emitted by cars and coal burning plants to form harmful particulates at least partially responsible for lung cancer, asthma, and other lung disorders.  These isoprene-nitrogen oxide combinations also produce smog and are damaging to the environment in other ways. It’s important to remember that without humans producing those nitrogen oxide emissions though, isoprene would be harmless.

And here’s some more news about the breath of trees. When trees are attacked by insects, particularly bark beetles, the trees produce chemicals to protect themselves and these chemicals are released into the atmosphere. The chemicals are predominately a monoterpene called ß-phellandrene.  This chemical is also part of unhealthy smog and haze and harmful to those breathing it.

It gets worse.  Researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Australia found that trees produce electrically charged ions in their vicinity.  Charged ions are more likely to attract other molecules to stick to them and they are also more likely to “stick” to your lungs when breathed in.  One of the molecules that charged ions like to collect is radon. 

Trees may expose us to radon. Here’s the connection between radon and trees.  Radon is produced when rocks containing radioactive material gradually breakdown in the soil.  It is water soluble and radon is often found in ground water.  Radon emissions from the soil as a gas, and from the ground water, vary in concentration from one area to the next depending on the rocks underlying the area.   Radon is known to cause cancer.

Trees with deep root systems act as pumps for radon, bringing the radon in ground water and from the soil to the surface, discharging it attached to charged ions in their gas admissions when they transpire (or breathe).  Recent research suggests in areas with deep rooted trees, tree transpiration accounts for more than a third of the radon in the air.

So why plant a tree?

In fact, there is more reason than ever to plant trees.  Trees help regulate the climate and they become even more important as our climate changes.  The small health risks associated with the “breath” of trees are generally caused by our own pollution of the planet.  While trees may emit radon when they emit water vapor during transpiration they are also unlocking water stored in the soil and returning it to the atmosphere.  Without rain we couldn’t grow crops very well and our world would be a dry and barren place.

A real estate agent will tell you that large, mature, well cared for trees add value to your property and make it easier to sell.  And who can deny the beauty of trees as well as all the useful products they supply us with, including food?  It is said that you plant trees for your grandchildren.  All I know is that I continue to plant trees because I like them.  One should always replace a tree that you have had to remove, maybe with a more suitable tree for the area, but always keeping the balance Nature is working to achieve.

Several studies of urban trees have found that more than 2/3 of the trees in cities were from natural regeneration, they grew from seeds floating in the air or carried in by animals and were not deliberately planted.  However, the remaining third of trees in a city, those planted by us, had a somewhat higher survival rate and were healthier overall.  This is probably because they were more valuable specimens, and because if you plant something you tend to care for it.

There is a tree for every garden and every garden should have trees.   While trees affect the natural world in ways that may not always be good for us, we are only one species on the planet.  And the value of trees far outweighs their bad breath.


Starting a plant based business

When I worked at the Extension office several people would show up every month who just had a brilliant idea.  They were going to make some money off their plant hobby.  Maybe they were going to quit their jobs and start a whole new career- farming.   Or maybe they just wanted to make some quick money on the side selling houseplants on line.  

Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to make some money on a gardening/farming based business and working for yourself.  But many of the people who walked through that door had just that - an idea.  They had not done the slightest amount of homework on what they wanted to do nor did they have any experience, even with a business startup. 

I had a gentleman come into the office and tell me he had just finished planting 5,000 raspberry plants.  He wanted some information on how to care for them and a list of places where he could sell them.  On questioning him I found he had planted the raspberries too closely and on land that had been in field crops the year before.  No soil test had been done, but he had applied lime on the ground before planting because a neighbor told him to do it.  He had never grown raspberries, but he liked to eat them.  He had just moved to the area and wanted to make enough money from the raspberries to retire next year. 

When you approach people and want them to help you with your new idea, it helps to have done some groundwork.  When a client emails and says “I want to start a greenhouse.  Can you tell me if I can do that where I live and how to do it?”, it’s a sure thing they haven’t the slightest clue about what they are doing. The chances of them putting together a successful business are almost nil. I referred the raspberry guy to Extensions fruit educator for the area.  Later he told me he visited the new raspberry business, which was already overgrown with weeds.  He said the gentleman seemed astonished that he would have to weed, train and prune the plants and probably wouldn’t make any profit for a couple years.

So, if you are dreaming about a plant business what do you do? You could of course pay someone to do all your research.  Most people do not have the means to do that.  You also shouldn’t expect to get every scrap of information about how to raise a product and take it to market handed to you free from Extension or worse, from another person who has a successful business in the field.  Instead, ask yourself these questions first.   Then expect to do some work to answer these questions.

What do I know about the product I want to sell?  Do I have experience growing or producing it? 

First read all you can about how to grow/produce the product you have an interest in.  It helps if you also have experience in raising, growing or producing the product even if on a smaller scale.  For example, if you have been raising vegetables for several years and selling excess vegetables to neighbors and friends you have some idea what is necessary to raise vegetables for sale.  The internet, the library, books and magazines about the topic, and people who are in the business are good places to start.   Your county Extension office can also help on most topics.  Become a mini expert on your topic. 

If you find out that you cannot produce a product- say pineapples - in your area, it’s time to move on to another idea or move to another state.



Can I legally produce the product on my property?

Doing something as a hobby is different than doing it as a business. You need to know how your property is zoned and what activities your municipality allows in that zone.  You need to know what the legal production of your product entails, what kind of inspections, licenses and facilities it requires.  You can get your zoning regulations and find out what planning zone you are in from your township, city or village offices.  You may be surprised that even a road side stand for fruit and vegetables won’t be allowed or that you can’t put up a greenhouse or use your garage to package and ship houseplants. 

Two types of laws could help you; any Right to Farm laws and any Home Cottage Industry act/laws for your state and if you have those in your state you should read and understand them.  You will also need to see if the product(s) you are considering needs inspection or licenses/permits from the USDA or your states department of agriculture.  You need to know what it costs, how to apply and what it takes to pass that inspection or get a license.  Every state has a list of what plants cannot be sold/ and or produced in the state. The USDA also has rules about what plants can be shipped and how they are shipped. Take time to familiarize yourself on all rules and regulations.

If you are producing a processed edible (jellies, pies, herbal teas and so on) or medicinal product (healing salves, lip balms and so on) your county health department may also require inspection of your production facilities and/or the purchase of a license. 

Once you know what rules and regulations affect you then you may be able to petition for a zoning change or exemption, or ask for an exemption from the USDA or state ag department.  You could also locate your new business where it is allowed by buying, renting or leasing a store, land or a greenhouse.  But don’t start a business knowing you are doing something illegal, you’ll find nothing but trouble and expense.
  
While I said that your county Extension agent won’t be able to give you all the information you need to grow and produce a product they may be able to direct you to classes for entrepreneurs wanting to produce agricultural products. Your state may have a dedicated Extension program or State Department of Agriculture program that helps guide people in beginning agricultural businesses – or any business.  Utilize these programs if you can.

Can you make a living or break even with your business idea?

Once you know how to produce the product and if you can produce it on your property you need to decide if you can obtain the kind of income you want or need from the product.  There are no sure things in any business start-up, especially an agricultural based business, but you should begin with at least some expectation of profit, unless this is purely a labor of love.

What does the product sell for in your area?  Are there competitors and how many?   Is there a demand for the product you want to produce?  You may be able to produce 20,000 cucumbers and make a profit if you sell them at 10 cents each but if no one wants to buy them in your area will you make a profit if it costs you 5 cents to ship each cucumber somewhere else?

If you go to the local farmers market and 6 people are there selling organic buffalo meat can you succeed in an organic buffalo meat business in this area?  If the demand is great or you have some better idea about marketing it’s possible, but you would want to carefully research this before jumping in.

Knowing the potential market for your product is crucial for starting a successful business.  It doesn’t matter how much of anything you produce if you can’t sell it.  You may get some idea of market potential by researching sales of the product in other areas, and comparing the population and competitors in your area. Check out local sales of your product, look actively for places you could sell the product.  If you are considering an on line market how many sellers already offer the product?  If you can’t come up with a reasonable estimate of marketing potential you could start small and build your market with time and experience, but be wary of investing everything you have in the startup.

How much will you have to invest in your business just to get started?  Add up fee’s, licenses, equipment, buildings, utilities, supplies, labor, shipping and marketing costs.  Your expenses could be small- a bag of potting soil, some plastic pots and shipping boxes.  Or they could involve building and heating a greenhouse, potting soil and pots and a truck to deliver plants.

If you need to make a living from this project how much “pay” do you need?   Play around with the figures and get a rough idea of what you will need to produce the kind of income you expect.  If a plant commonly sells for $3.00 and it takes $1 to produce each plant, you have a net profit of $2.  Now do the math.  If you want to produce income of $100 a week you will need to produce and sell 50 plants. And don’t forget- you need a market for 50 plants before you can sell them.  


There are many things to consider about marketing. If you can produce 50 bushels of wheat off the small piece of property you own in a good year and wheat is selling for $3 a bushel, wheat probably isn’t the crop for you.  But what if you took that wheat- make it organic wheat - and ground it into a specialty flour and let’s say each bushel gave you 50 little bags of flour you sold for $5 each - well now you might have some decent income, realizing that your expenses will be greater, and you will have to do some clever marketing.

You will need to decide if you want to be a wholesaler or retailer of your product.  Wholesalers get less for the product, but they also have fewer expenses and don’t have to deal with the public, which takes up time you can’t allot to production.  Internet sales have made it easier for a producer to deal directly with customers but there is the expense and hassle of shipping and one still deals with customers worries, complaints and questions and the time involved.

Be wary of scams

I had the sad experience of sitting down with an 80 year old gentleman who had just invested a considerable amount of money in buying ginseng plants, which someone had told him he could plant on his wooded land and make a lot of money from.  Like the raspberry man he was here to get information on growing the plant and a list of places to sell it.  In his case the plants hadn’t even been delivered yet.  Since growing ginseng wasn’t something I knew a lot about I went on line, downloaded and printed some information for him from a reliable source.  We looked over it together and I explained to him some of the work involved and more importantly the years it would take to get a crop to sell.  His spirits weren’t diminished, and he still was sure he’d be rich soon and I was a bit worried.

I asked the gentleman to bring his son in to see me, since he told me his son had agreed to help him plant the ginseng.  The next week they did come in together and when I explained to the son about the ginseng he knew immediately that his father had fallen for a scam.  He convinced his dad that they would ask for a refund of the $5,000.00 the man had invested. I don’t know if they ever got it. 

I have heard dozens of “get rich quick by growing X” scams over the years.  Before you invest any money and time into a business of any kind do your homework.  Be skeptical of any claims of fabulous money to be had in a short time with little work.  Unfortunately, some popular magazines and websites feed into this idea with glowing reports about making a living off a half acre of land for example.  It may be possible, but something that’s possible isn’t always probable.  It also depends on what you call a “living”.  Do your due diligence in research for your area before investing time and money into any business project.

People at Extension and at farm or horticultural service operations can help you and direct you to valuable resources once you know what you want to do and have some basic knowledge of your desired business.  If you have an idea for marketing a product, there are people that can help you decide if it will work, although this consultation is not always free.  But the ultimate decision to start a plant based business, or business of any kind, should be made after you have thoroughly researched the idea.

Next week look for an article on niche growing/farming- a way to increase your profit on a small business.

Cowboy beans for a crowd

If you need a good cold weather recipe to feed a lot of people cheaply these cowboy beans should do the trick.  I cook them in a crockpot, for several hours but they are also easy to cook over a campfire if you are outside hunting or fishing in cold weather.  I cheat a bit because I use canned, cooked beans but it makes the recipe easy to fix. The recipe includes beer, but don’t worry, the alcohol will evaporate off when cooking, leaving just the flavor.

Serve this dish with shredded cheese and corn chips or corn bread and you will get rave reviews.  You can freeze any leftover beans.  It will serve 10-12 people.

Ingredients

1 lb. thick cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound of ground hot sausage, chorizo works
1 pound of hot dogs, cut into 1-inch slices
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cups of beer, a stronger beer, like brown ale, works best
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
3 (22 oz.) cans of baked beans- your choice of flavor
2 (22 oz.) cans of spicy hot chili beans  
1 (24 oz.) bottle of ketchup

Corn chips, or cornbread, shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese optional.

Put all the meats and the onion in a large skillet and cook until the bacon is crisp and the sausage browned.  Drain off any grease.

Add all the rest of the ingredients to a large crock pot or kettle type pan.  Stir in the cooked meats. Stir well to mix ingredients.

Cook over low heat on a campfire or stove or put in a crock pot/slow cooker.  Cook until the sauce is thickened and bubbly.  (This can also be baked in the oven.)  If using a fire or stove top stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

On the stove or fire this will take 1-1 ½ hours, in the crockpot 4-6 hours, in the oven 400 degrees F about an hour.

Pour over corn chips or cornbread and sprinkle with shredded cheese to serve.


Spring is a state of mind
Kim Willis
 “He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing” ― Cicero

© Kim Willis - no parts of this newsletter may be used without permission.

And So On….

Find Michigan garden events/classes here:
(This is the Lapeer County Gardeners facebook page)
An interesting Plant Id page you can join on Facebook

Here’s a seed/plant sharing group you can join on Facebook

Newsletter/blog information

If you have a comment or opinion you’d like to share, send it to me or you can comment directly on the blog. Please state that you want to have the item published in my weekly note if you email me. You must give your full name and what you say must be polite and not attack any individual. I am very open to ideas and opinions that don’t match mine but I do reserve the right to publish what I want. Contact me at KimWillis151@gmail.com

I write this because I love to share with other gardeners some of the things I come across in my research each week. It keeps me engaged with people and horticulture. It’s a hobby, basically. I hope you enjoy it. If you are on my mailing list and at any time you don’t wish to receive these emails just let me know. If you know anyone who would like to receive a notification by email when a new blog is published have them send their email address to me.  KimWillis151@gmail.com