September 30, 2014 Kim’s Weekly Garden Newsletter
These weekly garden notes are written by Kim Willis, unless another author is noted, and the opinions expressed in these notes are her opinions and do not represent any other individual, group or organizations opinions.
|Anise hyssop in fall.|
I was sure glad to see the rain last night. Our road was resurfaced with limestone last week and the dust has been terrible. Clouds of white lime dust have been floating by and settling on all my plants and the lawns. It made the plants look gray and I’m sure all that lime will wash into the soil and wreak havoc with soil pH. My soil is already alkaline so that isn’t good. I’ll need to use acidic fertilizer everywhere next spring.
It’s nice to have freshly resurfaced roads but I don’t know if it’s worth the damage to my lungs, the cars, electronics and the plants. I am glad the rain has settled the dust for a while at least.
Cooler weather is on the way and since tomorrow is October a hard frost is bound to come soon. If you haven’t moved in those house plants better jump right on it. Harvest any remaining tomatoes, peppers and such. You can wait until frost kills the tops of tender bulbs like cannas, dahlias and glads but do dig them before a hard freeze if you want to save them. And if you want to save any tender perennials like geraniums get them potted and moved inside soon.
It’s a good time to move perennials that aren’t in the right locations. You’ll have a good feel for their mature size and how they will fit in the new location. I spent more than an hour on my belly under a huge Euonymus shrub which had devoured a peony bush complete with its support cage. I got the notion I would rescue the peony and move it to a new location- something I should have done 2 years ago or so.
After sweating and cussing for an hour or so, with cats gleefully jumping on me and swatting my hands and face because they thought I was playing some kind of game under there I managed to wrestle the peony and its cage out of the ground. I can’t even remember what color it was but at least it’s in a new location where it can get some sun.
I found that at the end of summer I had quite a few plants that needed moving because they were either too crowded or could no longer be seen behind other plants. In the spring when everything is smaller I may forget how they looked later so I am moving them now.
The hummingbirds have left although I am still seeing turkey vultures. Migrating flocks of songbirds are moving through my pond area, eating various berries and seeds and making bird watching fun. Keep your feeders full this time of year to aid them on their journeys and let you see some different birds.
Fall color could come later
I am seeing some pretty trees now but the full show is yet to come as far as color goes. Whether we have good color this fall or not depends on the weather in the next couple weeks. We need cool but sunny weather for the best show.
Several studies done in the last few years have found that the trees are getting color later in the fall than in previous times. Trees use both cold temperatures and decreasing daylight to begin the process of shutting down photosynthesis, which causes tree leaves to change from green to various colors. Because the climate is warming trees wait until later to begin getting color.
Some tree species are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than others when it comes to fall coloring. The further south deciduous trees are the more they respond to cold as a trigger for coloring up too. Researchers predict that fall color will peak in November rather than October in the Midwest and lower Eastern coast within the next 50 years.
Ember days weather predictions
The ember days in September are supposed to predict the weather for October, November and December. Let’s see if it holds true. Sept. 17 was a beautiful sunny mild day which indicates that’s the way our October weather should be. Sept 19 was also sunny but a bit chillier than normal that’s the weather predicted for November. The 20th was warmer than normal, muggy and stormy, and that is supposed to indicate our December weather. Time will tell.
Using bees to treat trees
Researchers in Australia have found an environmentally friendly way to deliver a non-toxic treatment to cherry trees that prevents Cherry brown rot, a fungal disease that causes millions of dollars of loss to cherry growers. They had a good fungus that attacked the bad fungus but no good way to deliver it to the cherry blossoms, which the brown rot fungus colonizes.
The problem was solved by putting bee hives in the orchards with small trays of the good fungus just outside the hive opening. As bees left the hive their feet and body hairs picked up the good fungus and delivered it to the cherry blossoms they visited. In Europe similar tactics are being used to help control strawberry gray mold. Scientists call this novel method of controlling pests “entomovectoring.” They are working to develop other bio-controls delivered by bees to other fruit crops. What a great idea- its harmless to the bees by the way- and more orchards will be keeping bee hives on hand to help them out. Let’s hope we can solve the problems we have in keeping bees healthy too.
That cut grass smell means a plant is hurting
I love the smell of cut grass or hay meadows but it turns out what we smell when we mow grass is the distress signal plants emit when injured. When plants are attacked they respond by making defense proteins, one of which is jasmonic acid, which volatizes in the air and accounts for part of the “mown grass smell”.
As the plants silently bleed their distress smell draws insects intent on attacking them while they are hurt but it also brings helpful insects intent on feasting or laying their eggs on the harmful ones. So remember that when you mow the grass the smell that drifts in your window is the smell of thousands of bleeding and distressed grass blades. Kind of makes you want to re-think that whole lawn business doesn’t it?
Chokeberry may help pancreatic cancer
Chokeberry, ( Aronia melanocarpa) is a plant native to the wetlands of Eastern North America but it took some researchers at King's College Hospital and the University of Southampton in England to discover that they could help pancreatic cancer victims. (Aronia has naturalized in Europe and Russia.)
|Aronia or Chokeberry. Credit: commons. wikimedia.org|
The researchers added chokeberry extract to a conventional chemotherapy drug gemcitabine and found that it greatly increased the effectiveness of the drug, so that the amount of the drug could be greatly reduced. And in test tubes chokeberry extract killed cancer cells while not harming healthy cells. Since pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate finding something that helps destroy it is big news.
Chokeberries (not the same as Chokecherries), are in the rose family. They are sometimes used as ornamentals or actually cultivated for the berries which are high in antioxidants and vitamins. There is also a very similar species Purple Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia) that is found in Michigan and a red berry species, Aronia arbutifolia. Chokeberries have long been used for making wine and jelly. They are now being used in juice blends for their unique flavor and high level of antioxidants.
Native Americans used chokeberries to make pemmican, in Europe and Russia the berries are dried and used in teas. The berries are used to reduce high blood pressure, as a liver tonic, for indigestion and are now being tested in the treatment of several forms of cancer other than pancreatic. The berries are high in niacin and are also being evaluated for cardiovascular benefits.
Aronia makes a decent landscape plant forming a large bush. Black and purple aronias are less invasive than the red berried form but all spread by suckering. The Chokeberries have clusters of pretty white flowers in the spring followed by black, purple or red berries in late summer and great red fall leaf color. Birds do not eat the fruit very often which is why they are great for late summer to mid-winter color. There are several commercial varieties on the market.
Fake beetles help stop Emerald Ash Borer
Penn State researchers are using decoy beetles to lure Emerald Ash Borer beetles to a trap that electrocutes them. They used two methods to make the lures. In one method they coated dead female beetles with a nickel vapor to make a mold then cast beetles out of plastic using the molds. These models even mimicked the surface texture of the beetle and were painted metallic green. The second method used a 3D printer to make the fake bugs out of plastic but this method didn’t create a surface texture.
The researchers found that the beetles preferred the molded bugs with texture. They found that the texture of the beetle shell disperses light in a way live beetles recognize but that might not be seen by human eyes. This explains why beetles find it easy to spot a green mate sitting on a green leaf. The beetles aren’t fooled for long by the fakes. As soon as they touch them they realize they aren’t what they seem. But if the fake beetles are electrically charged all it takes is that one touch to do them in. It’s good that Penn State has developed a non-toxic way to destroy these evil beetles. Maybe they will have more success eliminating them in their state than we did.
Planting spring flowering bulbs
If you ordered your bulbs from a catalog they will begin arriving about late September. If choosing bulbs from the store look for plump, big, firm bulbs with their papery skin attached. They should not look shriveled, moldy or soft, or have big cuts or chunks out of them. They definitely should not be sprouting.
It’s good to get your bulbs into the ground at least six weeks before the ground freezes in your area. In Michigan this means before Thanksgiving. This gives the bulbs time to grow a root system. If you can, plant them as soon as you get them, especially lilies. If you can’t plant them right away store them in a cool, dark, dry place. Your refrigerator crisper is a good place.
Bulbs look better in drifts or groups of the same kind. You can use a few colors, or use a cottage garden approach and blend all colors together. To prolong the season of bloom start with early blooming bulbs like crocus and then blend tulips, narcissus and alliums that have early, mid-season and late blooms. If you choose carefully you can have bulbs in bloom from the moment the snow melts to late June and if you include lilies, through much of the summer.
If you are planting a lot of bulbs in a spot where nothing is currently planted you could excavate the whole site to the proper depth. Many of us, however, will be tucking the bulbs in among plants that are still growing. This requires a small hole that won’t damage the roots of perennials in the bed.
The rule of thumb is to put the bulb in the ground about three times as deep as it is high. A bulb that is one inch high would be planted three inches deep. Read the directions supplied to you with the bulbs and see if you have an exception to the rule. You may want to plant the bulbs a little deeper in very sandy soil and a little higher in heavy clay.
In most bulbs there is a narrow or pointed end and that end goes up. Some small bulbs are extremely difficult to determine which side goes up or down. As a last resort plant them sideways. Some bulbs will grow and eventually right themselves if planted on the side. Most bulbs can be planted about four to six inches apart.
You can buy a little bulb fertilizer to put in the holes as you plant if you like. Don’t use bone meal or blood meal. These are often recommended by older books but research has found that while they do contribute some nutrients, they often attract pests like squirrels and mice, who also eat the bulbs.
Squirrels and mice can be the biggest cause of bulb failure. Moles don’t eat bulbs but their tunneling sometimes gets bulbs down too deeply to grow well or pushed out of the ground. Cats may also uncover bulbs when using the fresh turned soil as a toilet. If you are planting into an established garden the existing plants may hide your new bulbs. If you are planting a bare area you may want to cover the area with some wire fencing to keep animals out.
Narcissus, daffodils and alliums are seldom eaten by pests. These bulbs are poisonous though and should be kept out of reach of some less discriminate animals like dogs, which could die from them.
This weeks weed- Pokeweed
Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana), is an interesting plant because it is both eaten and poisonous. It is a native American plant with both ornamental and useful qualities. It can be found both in gardens and along roadsides and in fields. Some other common names for the plant include Ink Plant, Pokeberry and American Cancer, (for reasons unknown).
Pokeweed becomes a large plant, up to 6 feet high, with thick, sturdy reddish stems. It is a perennial plant that dies to the ground each year and forms progressively larger clumps when it returns. The leaves are thick, long and oval in shape, larger at the base of the plant, and arranged alternately on the stems. New spring leaves have red veins and may be tinged with red. The plant has a big, thick taproot. The impressive size and color of the stems convince many gardeners to plant it for visual interest.
In Michigan Poke begins blooming in July. The small greenish-white flowers are on long spikes at the top and sometimes on smaller side shoots of the plant. Each flower turns into a green berry that ripens to purple black. The juice of the Pokeberries is a deep red. It will stain hands and clothing and was used by early settlers in place of ink. Birds love the berries and spread the seeds far and wide. The plants prefer rich soil and grow in full sun or partial shade.
All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, although few deaths occur from it. It is the thick succulent shoots of new leaves that are sometimes eaten and known as Poke Salad. These greens must be boiled in at least 2 changes of water to be safe. Berries are attractive and care should be taken that children don’t eat them.
It’s chili weather, have you made some?
“He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing” ― Cicero
Consider cereal rye if putting your garden to bed for the winter
Cereal rye makes an excellent cover crop for the garden during winter.
Posted on September 26, 2014 by Hal Hudson, Michigan State University Extension
Fall is the time of year when gardeners are cleaning up plant debris from their gardens. One often overlooked practice before closing out the garden for the season is seeding the garden plot to the grain crop rye, Secale cereal, before leaving it until next spring.
The grain crop rye has a number of advantages gardeners need to take into consideration, including being a nutrient catch crop, erosion reducer, fits many rotations, provides plentiful organic matter, suppresses weeds, suppresses pests, and works well in companion crop or legume mixtures.
Rye is one of the best nutrient cover crop choices for gathering and holding (recycling) remaining (unutilized) nitrogen in the soil from previous crops. Rye brings potassium up through the soil profile to increase the concentration of exchangeable potassium near the soil surface. Rye’s fibrous root system increases soil drainage and can help conserve late spring soil moisture. The fibrous root system of rye helps to reduce soil erosion. Rye holds soil loss to a tolerable level from the elements, mainly water and wind.
Rye is an excellent fit for home gardeners as it works in rotation with other garden vegetable crops. Rye works well as a strip cover crop and windbreak between vegetables. In fact, when used in strips between vegetable crops it creates a microclimate warming up the soil quicker so vegetables can grow faster.
Rye produces plentiful organic matter. There are a number of benefits to organic matter, including improved soil structure, increased infiltration and water-holding capacity, increased cation exchange capacity, or the ability of the soil to act as a short-term storage bank for positively charged plant nutrients, and more efficient, long-term storage of nutrients.
Rye has an allelopathic effect on many weeds, meaning it performs like a natural herbicide to inhibit germination of some weeds. Rye is known for outcompeting weeds, especially small-seeded, light-sensitive annuals such as lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, velvetleaf, chickweed and foxtail.
As a pest suppressor, rye reduces insect pest problems in rotations and attracts significant numbers of beneficial insects such as lady beetles. Fewer diseases affect rye compared to other cereal grains.
Rye is an excellent companion crop to mix with other legumes or grasses. Including legumes with rye helps offset rye’s tendency to tie up nitrogen. Rye helps protect less hardy legume seedlings through winter. Some legumes that may be used in combination with rye include hairy vetch, crimson clover, medium red clover and mammoth red clover.
In the spring, rye should be terminated or killed at least 30 days prior to planting of the garden crop by tilling it under or by mowing and tilling it under the soil surface. Due to the allelopathic effect of rye, it could slow the growth of some garden crops if not terminated soon enough prior to transplanting or seeding.
Educational information for this article is from “Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd edition,” Handbook Series Book 9, a publication by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). This publication is available for purchase or free download online.
For more information from Michigan State University Extension on consumer or commercial vegetable production, contact Hal Hudson at 989-672-3870 or email@example.com.
Events, classes and other offerings
Please let me know if there is any event or class that you would like to share with other gardeners. These events are primarily in Michigan but if you are a reader from outside of Michigan and want to post an event I’ll be glad to do it.
Master Gardeners if you belong to an association that approves your hours please check with that association before assuming a class or work day will count as credit.
Do you have plants or seeds you would like to swap or share? Post them here by emailing me.
New- The World of Cactus & Succulents Wed, October 8, 11:45 at Big Beaver United Methodist Church, 3753 John R Rd, Troy, MI
Sponsored by the Troy Garden Club and presented by Kerry Krivoshein. Cost $7. For more information contact www.TroyGardenClubMI.com. Register: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New- Seasonal Interest in Your Garden Sat, October 11, 9am-1pm - Oakland Co. Exec. Office 2100 Pontiac Lake Rd, Waterford Township,
Presented by MSU Extension-Oakland. Explore plants that add interest throughout the year. Cost $20 Register: 248-858-08
New-Backyard Gardener: Tree Fruit Workshop October 13, 2014, 5-9 p.m. Fruitful Orchard & Cider Mill, 5740 W M-61, Gladwin, MI
Are you a backyard gardener? Do you need help with the fruit trees in your backyard?
Join us for a fun, hands-on workshop for any backyard gardener with fruit trees! Participants will learn about the selection, planting, care, pruning, and protection of tree fruits from insects and diseases.
This workshop will take place in two locations. Beginning at 5 p.m., Fruitful Orchard & Cider Mill on 5740 W M-61 in Gladwin, MI 48624 will host a live pruning demonstration. Then at 6 p.m., participants will travel to the Gladwin County MSU Extension office at 555 W Cedar Ave. in Gladwin, MI 48624 for classroom instruction using the new MSU Extension Master Gardener Chapter on Tree Fruits.
Workshop will be held rain or shine so dress appropriate for the weather that day!
Presenter: Steve Fouch, co-owner of L&S Tree Health Care Services, brings with him 32 years of experience and knowledge as a retired Michigan State University horticulturalist and educator.
Registration fee is $20 per person. The last day to register online is Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. On-site registration is available at $30.00 per person.
Please visit the Backyard Gardener: Tree Fruit Workshop registration page for more information. http://events.anr.msu.edu/event.cfm?folder=GladwinTreeFruits2014 Or contact: Marybeth Denton, 989-539-7805, Denton.Marybeth@anr.msu.edu.
Smart Gardening Roadshow, October 16, 2014 5:30 - 9 p.m., Kettunen Center, 14901 4-H Drive, Tustin, MI 49688
Two classes in one night! Bright and colorful gardens using native plants in garden designs for eco-friendly gardening! Join Consumer Horticulture Educators Mary Wilson and Rebecca Finneran from Michigan State University Extension for an evening of fun! Bring your gardening friends, neighbors and spouse to learn the latest in Smart Gardening!
Greening the Garden… A Smart Gardener’s Journey
If you love plants and garden design, but find yourself making resolutions to “green your garden,” don’t assume that all things beautiful must be put out to pasture. During Finneran’s presentation, you will get ideas for plants and design that are water smart, pest free and low input!
Native Trees and Shrubs with Bling!
There are many reasons you might want native plants in your garden, yet a common perception is that they are drab and boring. Not so, as we’ll learn from Mary Wilson. Mary will share some of her favorites, both native species and their cultivars, for a bright and colorful garden in various seasons. No longer the step-children of the plant world, but those with attitude and bling!
Registration fee is $25.00 by Oct. 9, 2014. No refunds will be made after this date, but substitutions are welcome! On-site Registration is $35.00. Contact: Marybeth Denton: Denton.Marybeth@anr.msu.edu, 989-539-7805
Genesee County Master Gardeners Fall into Spring Conference Saturday, October 4, 2014 - 8:00 am - 4:00 pm- Mott Community College Events Center, 1401 E. Court Street, Flint, MI 48503
Fall Into Spring - what a wonderful way to experience tips and ideas to create a beautiful garden for next year. October 4th will be a fun-filled, inspirational day full of ideas and guidelines to aid the gardener from the basic to the most experienced.
The Garden Market will include MG Garden Stones, garden art, herbal products, and gardening supplies. Please bring CASH or CHECKS for your purchases. Speakers and Topics are subject to change. Open to Master Gardener Volunteers and the general public. Master Gardener Volunteers will earn 5 hours of education credit
Registration is $65.00 by September 26th. Registration after September 26th will be $70.00. REGISTER EARLY AND AVOID AN ADDITIONAL $5.00 FEE. Make checks payable to: MGAGCM
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Download the registration trifold flyer at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByaD3jouRMNReFhKRnpYal9xdVk/edit?usp=sharing
Mail Registration To:
Genesee County Master Gardeners Fall into Spring Conference
PO Box 34
Flushing, MI 48433
Phone: (810) 244-8531
Cottage to Commercial: Ingredients for a successful food business- Several locations and dates
Michigan State University Extension and MSU Product Center Educators will conduct four food business planning classes September through November in Berrien, Muskegon, Ingham and Kent County, Michigan locations.
The two-hour session addresses basic food processing, regulatory requirements, business development resources, and related topics. The program targets individuals who are interested in starting a licensed, commercial food business.
The Niles session will be held 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Niles Entrepreneur & Culinary Incubator (NECI) 219 North 4th Street/2nd Floor, Niles, MI 49120. NECI, a program of Niles Main Street, is designed to help local entrepreneurs start and grow food businesses. There is a $25 fee. Make checks payable to Niles Main Street, and mail to 333 N 2nd Street Suite 303, Niles, MI 49120 by the deadline of Sept.26, 2014. For more information call NECI at 269-687-4332.
The Muskegon session will be held 3:00-5:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1 at the Muskegon County (South Campus) Building, 133 E. Apple Avenue, Muskegon, Michigan 49442. The fee is $20, and registration is available online through Sept. 26. For more information, call 269-944-4126.
The Ingham County program will be held 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., Tuesday, October 16, 2014 at the Hilliard Building, Conf. Room B, 121 E. Maple, Mason, MI 48854. The fee is $20, and registration is available online through the Oct. 10. For details, call 517-526-7895.
The Kent County session is scheduled for 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 at Kent County MSU Extension 775 Ball Ave. N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. The fee is $20 per person, and registration is available online through Nov. 4, 2014.
The MSU Product Center helps aspiring entrepreneurs and existing businesses to develop and launch new product and service ideas into food, agriculture, bioenergy and natural resources markets. A statewide network of Innovation Counselors is available to counsel individuals interested in starting related business ventures. Last year the MSU Product Center assisted 647 clients with business planning.
Those who are unable to attend one of the offerings are invited to request counseling with a field- based MSU Product Center innovation counselor at www.productcenter.msu.edu , or by phone at 517-432-8750 This article was published by Michigan State University Extension.
Grow it! Cook it! Eat it! Workshop, Oct. 1 or Nov. 12. MSU Extension Ingham County Lansing Office and MSU Extension – Livingston County
Learn how to grow, store and prepare a variety of fresh vegetables by attending one or all of these mid-Michigan workshops.
Posted on August 12, 2014 by Diane Brown, Michigan State University Extension
Home vegetable gardening is once again popular. In addition to vegetables you grow yourself, a bounty of beautiful produce awaits at farmer’s markets and from community supported agriculture (CSAs). But do you know the best varieties to select for your home garden? Do you know how to tell when a vegetable is ready to harvest, or what to look for at the market? How to store them? How to cook them? Get answers to these questions and more during a series of three Grow it! Cook it! Eat it! workshops from Michigan State University Extension designed to help you make the most of fresh garden vegetables. Cost: $20 for one session/$50 for all three.
Oct. 1, 2014, 6-8 p.m. Root for the Root Vegetables – beets, carrots, kohlrabi, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips
Location: MSU Extension – Livingston County, 2300 East Grand River,Howell, MI 48843
Nov. 12, 2014, 6-8 p.m. Pumpkins and Their Kin – winter squash and pumpkins Location: MSU Extension Ingham County Lansing Office, 5303 S. Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911
Register online for these exciting workshops, and save $10 over individual workshop pricing when you register early for all three events. Contact the Ingham County MSU Extension office at 517-676-7207 for more information.
If you would like to pass along a notice about an educational event or a volunteer opportunity please send me an email before Tuesday of each week and I will print it. Also if you have a comment or opinion you’d like to share, send it to me. Please state that you want to have the item published in my weekly notes. 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.
Once again the opinions in this newsletter are mine and I do not represent any organization or business. I do not make any income from this newsletter. 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 local people and horticulture. It’s a hobby, basically. I hope you enjoy it. If at any time you don’t wish to receive these emails just let me know. If you know anyone who would like to receive these emails have them send their email address to me. KimWillis151@gmail.com